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MISTAKES OF PRIDE.
abasement and self-loathing at the feet of the Saviour, and the truth of the worthlessness of human virtues without faith in His redemption, and reliance upon that alone.
But in such very indignation at the imputation of utter worthlessness to what is assumed as human virtue; indignation, as if the noblest qualities were despised, belied, and libeled; in that very indignation which seems to the deluded mind but a noble fervor of admiration for what is admirable in mankind, and the defense of humanity itself from slander, there is the plain development of the sin by which the angels fell; the pride that challenges the regard of God himself for pretended human goodness, and demands the mercy of God on account of such goodness, and not merely on account of Christ. But, as Cowper remarked in one of his letters, mercy deserved ceases to be mercy, and must take the name of justice. Here, then, must the purest being.come where Cowper came, here the most unsullied soul, the loveliest and most amiable nature, the strictest and most virtuous moralist, to this position at the foot of the cross, on a level with the most miserable publicans and harlots, or there is no piety and no salvation. Let this be understood, or nothing in the Gospel is understood rightly. We know nothing truly of Christ, or the way of salvation, till we
know Him in the self-abasement of a contrite
It might have been expected that at so late a period as 1836, such a biographer as Southey, with Cowper's own Memoir, and the whole series of his letters in full before him, would not have stooped to join in the hunt with such sneering infidelity. Yet we find him writing strange things in reference both to Cowper's own religious enjoyment, which it is intimated was delusive, and ought not to have been sustained as true, and also to the influence of those dear Christian friends, among whom Mrs. Unwin and John Newton were the most intimate, who rejoiced with him in his religious joy. Southey argues that they ought to have discouraged that joy as an illusion, and that their not taking that course, but on the contrary confirming him in the belief that his happiness was the work of God's grace, prevented their having any power afterward to comfort him in gloom, and dispossess him of the delusions of despair. They encouraged him at first in what Southey intimates were false raptures of piety, the work of an insane mind, and the consequence was that they could do nothing with him to dissipate his darkness, when the clouds came upon him, or to convince him that his despair also was a false despair. Because they did not in the first case believe, and labor to make Cowper believe, that the light and grace of that
ecstatic blessedness which he knew when first he saw the Lord, were a mere illusive fancy, the heat of a mere delusive imagination, therefore they could not in the last case persuade him or encourage him to believe that the gloom and blackness of a despairing soul were of the same imaginary nature. The argument is, that if they had denied the grace and light at first to have been from heaven, they might have persuaded him afterward that the darkness and despair were only a dream from hell; but that, having encouraged him in a lie at first, as from heaven, they could not dispossess him of the lie afterward, as from hell. Such, says Southey, "are the perilous consequences of religious enthusiasm. He had been encouraged to believe that there was nothing illusive in the raptures of his first recovery; and they who had confirmed him in that belief argued in vain against his illusions when they were of an opposite character." A singularly wise physician of a madhouse would a writer like this have made! One can not help reflecting how fearful from the outset must have been the result, had the care of Cowper's soul fallen into the same hands with that of his memory.
THE CURE BY DIVINE GRACE.-THE MENTAL MALADY MADE SUBSERVIENT, BY SUCH GRACE, TO A SWEETER POETRY.-SECRET OF THE ALL-RULING CHARM OF COWPER'S POETRY.
THE autobiography of the poet is a demonstration that nothing but Divine Grace effected the completion and permanence of Cowper's cure, and that nothing but the ministrations of the Spirit of God preserved his mind from utter ruin. We say completion and permanence; and in the best sense, the true, eternal sense, such was the cure. Cowper could say, though "I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me." Those heavenly ministrations, having renewed his heart, and sanctified the fountain of principle and feeling, enabled him to write with all the sweetness and glory of a piety kindled at the cross, even at the very time when, through the partial prevalence of his mental malady, his own personal Christian hope was in a state of suspended animation. For more reasons than one, if it had not been for Cow
per's piety, we should never have had his poetry. His sweet religious experience was a quiet harbor, a serene and lovely nook, into which the shipwrecked mind was guided, that otherwise would, by the ragged reefs and waves, have been quite dashed in pieces. There in that undisturbed retirement he lived as a mental and spiritual Robinson Crusoe, cut off from the great world, in a solitude peopled mainly by his own affections. His mental malady indeed returned at intervals ; it deepened and darkened at the end of life, till beneath its thickest gloom he went down into the grave. He could say with Job, "I have made my bed in the darkness, and on mine eyelids is the shadow of death ;" and in truth no small portion of his life was a passage through the valley of that dread shadow. But his spiritual malady had been cured forever, and the vision of his soul had been purified, so that never again did he see through the eye of this world merely, nor ever again did that madness return upon him, which Divine inspiration hath assured us is in the hearts of all men naturally while they live, who live astray from God.
From that madness he had been completely redeemed, and to that glorious redemption he owed it, beyond all doubt, that the recurrence of the mental disease did not swallow up every thing. He lived in the light of heaven for many years;