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when my reason was restored to me, and I had so much need of a religious friend to converse with, to whom I could open my mind upon tlie, subject without reserve, I could hardly have found a better person for the purpose. My eagerness and anxiety to settle my opinions upon that long neglected point, made it necessary, that while my mind was yet weak, and my spirits uncertain, I should have some assistance. The doctor was as ready to administer relief to me in this article likewise, and as well qualified to do it, as in that which was more immediately his province. How many physicians would have thought this an irregular appetite, and a symptom of remaining madness! But if it were so, my friend was as mad as myself, and it is well for me that he was so. My dear Cousin, you know not half the deliverances I have received ; my brother is the only one in the family who does. My recovery is indeed a signal one, and my future life must express my thankfulness, for by words I cannot do it."
He now employed his brother to seek out for him an abode somewhere in the neighbourhood of Cambridge, as he had determined to leave London, the scene of his former misery; and that nothing might induce him to return thither, he resigned the office of commissioner of bankrupts, worth about 601. per annum, which he still held. By this means, he reduced himself to an income barely sufficient for his maintenance; but he relied upon the gracious promise of God, that bread should be given him, and water should be sure.
On being informed that his brother had made many unsuccessful attempts to procure him a suitable dwelling, he, one day, poured out his soul in prayer to God, beseeching him, that wherever he should be pleased, in his fatherly mercy, to place him, it might be in the society of those who feared his name, and loved the Lord Jesus in sincerity. This prayer, God was pleased, graciously to answer. In the beginning of June, 1765, he received a letter from his brother, to say, he had engaged such lodgings for him at Huntingdon, as he thought would suit him. Though this was farther from Cambridge, where his brother then resided, than he wished, yet, as he was now in perfect health, and as his circumstances required a less expensive way of life than his present, he resolved to take them, and arranged his affairs accordingly.
On the 17th of June, 1765, having spent more than eighteen months at St. Albans, partly in the bondage of despair, and partly in the liberty of the gospel, he took leave of the place, at four in the morning, and set out for Cambridge, taking with him the servant who had attended him while he remained with Dr. Cotton, and who had maintained an affectionate watchfulness over him during the whole of his illness, waiting upon him, on all occasions, with the greatest patience, and invariably treating him with the greatest kindness. The mingled emotions of his mind on leaving the place were painful and pleasing; he regarded it as the place of second nativity; he had here passed from death unto life —had been favoured with much leisure to study the word of God—had enjoyed much happiness in conversing upon its great truths with his esteemed physician; and he left it with considerable reluctance; offering up many prayers to God, that his richest blessings might rest upon its worthy manager, and upon all its inmates.
The state of his mind on this occasion he thus affectionately describes:—I remembered the pollution which is in the world and the sad share I had in it myself, and my heart ached at the thought of entering it again. The blessed God had endowed me with some concern for his glory, and I was fearful of hearing his name traduced by oaths and blasphemies, the common language of this highly-favoured but ungrateful country; but the promise of God, 'Fear not, I am with thee,' was my comfort. I passed the whole of my journey in fervent prayer to God, earnestly but silently entreating Him to he my guardian and counsellor in all my future journey through life, and to bring me in safety, when he had accomplished his purposes of grace and mercy towards me, to eternal glory."
Removal to Huntingdon—Sensations there—Engages in public worship for the first time after his recovery—Delight it afforded him—Gommences a regular correspondence with some of his friends—Pleasure he experienced in writing on rel'gious subjects—Anxiety of his mind for the spiritual welfare of his former associates—Attributes their continuance in sin chiefly to infidelity—Folly of this—Beauty of the Scriptures—Absurdity of attributing events to second causes, instead of to the overruling providence of God—Dependence upon Divine direction the best support in affliction—Forms some new connections—Becomes acquainted with the Unwin family—Happiness he experienced in their company.
After spending a few days with his brother at Cambridge, Cowper repaired to Huntingdon, and entered upon his new abode, on Saturday, the 22d of June, 1765; taking with him the servant he hadf brought frrm St. Albans, to whom he had become strongly attached for the great kindness he had shown him in his affliction. His brother, who had accompanied him thither, had no sooner left him, than finding himself alone, surrounded by strangers, in a strange place, his spirits began to sink, and he felt like a traveller in the midst of an inhospitable desert; without a friend to comfort, or a guide to direct him. He walked forth, towards the close of the day, in this melancholy frame of mind, and having wandered about a mile from the town, he found his heart so powerfully drawn towards the Lord, that on gaining a secret and retired nook in the corner of a field, he kneeled down under a bank, and poured out his complaints unto God. It pleased his merciful Father to hear him; the load was removed from his mind, and he was enabled to trust in Him that careth for the stranger; to roll his burden upon Him, and to rest assured, that wherever God might cast his lot, he would still be his guardian and shield.
The following day he went to church, for the first time after his recovery. Throughout the whole of the service, his emotions were so powerfully affecting, that it was with much difficulty he could restrain them, so much did he see of the beauty and glory of the Lord while thus worshipping Him in his temple. His heart was full of love to all trie congregation, especially to such as seemed serious and attentive. Such was the goodness of God to him, that he gave him the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; and, though he joined not with the congregation in singing the praises of his God, being prevented by the intenseness of his feelings, yet his soul sung within him, and leaped for joy. The parable of the prodigal son was the portion of scripture read in the gospel appointed for the day. He saw himself in that glass so clearly, and the loving kindness of his slighted and forgotten Lord, that the whole scene was realized by him, and acted over in his heart. And he thus describes his feelings on hearing it:—" When the gospel for the day was read, it seemed more than I could well support. Oh, what a word is the word of God, when the Spirit quickens us to receive it, and gives the hearing ear, and the understanding heart! The harmony of heaven is in it, and discovers clearly and satisfactorily its author."
Immediately after church he repaired to the place where he had prayed the day before, and found the relief he had there received was but the earnest of a richer blessing. The Lord was pleased to visit him with his gracious presence, he seemed to speak to him face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend; He made all His goodness pass before him, and constrained him to say with Jacob, not " how dreadful," but "how lovely is this place! This is the house of God, and the gate of heaven."
He remained four months in the lodgings procured for him by his brother, secluded from the bustling and active scenes of life, and receiving only an occasional visit from some of his neighbours. Though he had little intercourse with men, yet he enjoyed much fellowship with God in Christ Jesus. Living by faith, and thus tasting the joys of the unseen world, his solitude was sweet, his meditations were delightful, and he wanted no other enjoyments. He now regularly corresponded with all his intimate friends, and his letters furnish the clearest proofs of the happy, and indeed, almost enviable state of his mind, during this period. To Lady Hesketh, in a letter dated July 5, 1765, he thus discloses his feelings:—"I should have written to you from St. Albans long ago, but was willing to perform quarantine, as well for my own sake, as because I thought my letters would be more satisfactory to you from any other quarter. You will perceive I allowed myself a sufficient time for the purpose, for I date my recovery from the latteT end of last July, having been ill seven, and well twelve months. About that time, my brother came to see me; I was far from well when he arrived, yet, though he only remained one day, his company served to put to flight, a thousand deliriums and delusions which I still laboured under."
"As far as I am acquainted with my new residence, I like it extremely. Mr. Hodgson, the minister of the parish, made me a visit yesterday. He is very sensible, a good preacher, and conscientious in the discharge of his duty: he is well known to Dr. Newton, Bishop of Bristol, the author of the treatise on the Prophecies, the most demonstrable proof of the truth of Christianity, in my mind, that was ever published."
In another letter, a few days afterwards, to the same lady, he thus writes;—" Mentioning Newton's Treatise on the Prophecies brings to my mind an anecdote of Dr. Young, who you know died lately at Welwyn. Dr. Cotton, who was intimate with him, paid him a visit about a fortnight before he was seized with his last illness. The old man was then in perfect health; the antiquity of his person, the gravity of his utterance, and the earnestness with which he discoursed about religion, gave him, in the doctor's eye, the appearance of a prophet. They had been delivering their sentiments on Newton's Treatise, when Young closed the conference thus—' My friend, there are two considerations upon which my faith in Christ is built as upon a rock: first, the fall of man, the redemption of man, and the resurrection of man; these three cardinal articles of our holy religion are such as human ingenuity could never have invented, therefore they must be divine: the other is the fulfilment of prophecy, of which there is abundant demonstration. This proves that the scripture must be the word of God, and if so, Christianity must be true.'"
Cowper now lived in the full enjoyment of religion. Its truths supported his mind, and furnished him with an ample field for meditation; its promises consoled him, freed him from every distressing sensation, and filled him with joy unspeakable and full of glory; its duties regulated all his conduct, and his chief anxiety was to live entirely to the glory of God. The following beautiful lines of the poet are strikingly descriptive of his feelings at this period:—