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Methodists was then attracting crowds in London, and one evening Mr. Madan, in the midst of a gay and careless circle at a coffee-house, was dispatched by his companions to go and hear Wesley, who was preaching that evening in the neighborhood, and then to come back and "take him off" for their amusement. He entered heartily into the joke, but it happened that just as he took his seat in the chapel with that purpose, Wesley was repeating his text, Prepare to meet thy God, with an intensity of solemnity and awe that arrested Madan's conscience at the outset. The impression deepened as Wesley went on with his rousing and fervent appeals on the destiny of the soul and the necessity of repentance; and when Madan returned to the coffee-house, and was asked by his laughing companions if he had taken off the old Methodist, all the answer he could make was, "No, gentlemen, but he has taken me off." He then left the gay circle and never returned to it, but was soon ordained a minister of the Church of England, and preached his first sermon to a great crowd of curious, wondering listeners of all classes in All-hallows Church, Lombard-street. He was a heart-felt Christian and an able preacher, and thus was prepared the first Evangelist who was to meet Cowper when half distracted and trembling under the overhanging crags and flashes of Sinai. So he met him, and preached Christ to his wounded spirit,
MADAN AND COWPER.
then upon the verge of madness; and immediately after that consolation, which seemed a visible preparation from heaven for the storm he was to encounter, Cowper passed into the gloom of utter insanity and despair. It was almost like putting a chronometer into the cabin of a vessel, when there were none on board of sufficient intelligence to consult it; but who can tell how far the first gleam of light, the first word of mercy, the first revelation of the Gospel, may have wrought in Cowper's heart, even during the dethronement of reason, and among his wandering thoughts prepared him afterward to lay hold on the hope set before him?
In a letter written to his cousin, Mrs. Cowper, the sister of Martin Madan, soon after Cowper had taken up his residence in the family of the Unwins, he described his feelings in regard to Mr. Madan, contrasting them with what they had been formerly. "Your brother Martin has been very kind to me, having written to me twice in a style which, though it was once irksome to me, to say the least, I now know how to value. I pray God to forgive me the many light things I have both said and thought of him and his labors. Hereafter I shall consider him as a burning and shining light, and as one of those who, having turned many to righteousness, shall shine hereafter as the stars forever and ever."
It was Mr. Madan by whom the instructive
anecdote was preserved and related in regard to the interview between Lord Bolingbroke and Dr. Church, a prominent divine of the Church of England, who, with Bishop Lavington and others, rejected and ridiculed the doctrines of grace. The anecdote was given to Mr. Madan by Lady Huntingdon herself, who received it from Lord Bolingbroke. As it combines with other occurrences to form a vivid picture of the times, such as we would like to convey, it may not be a digression to repeat it. Lord Bolingbroke was employed one morning in his study reading Calvin's Institutes, when Dr. Church, a divine of the English Establishment, called on him. The deist asked the divine if he could guess what book it was that he had been studying? "Really, my lord, I can not," answered the doctor. "Well," said Lord Bolingbroke, “it is Calvin's Institutes. What do you think of such matters ?" "Oh, my lord, we don't think about such antiquated stuff; we teach the plain doctrines of virtue and morality, and have long laid aside those abstruse points about grace." "Look you, doctor," said Lord Bolingbroke, "you know I don't believe the Bible to be a divine revelation; but they who do can never defend it on any principles but the doctrine of grace. To say the truth, I have at times been almost persuaded to believe it upon this view of things; and there is one argument which has gone very far with me in behalf of its
authenticity, which is, that the belief in it exists upon earth even when committed to the care of such as you, who pretend to believe it, and yet deny the only principles on which it is defensible." Dr. Stonehouse was one of the crowd of deists who, along with Lord Bolingbroke, attacked Christianity at this period, but was also one of the remarkable fruits of the mighty work of grace by which so many of the higher classes, as well as the lower, were snatched as brands from the burning. Dr. Doddridge was the happy and honored instrument in his conversion, and, like Mr. Madan, Dr. Stonehouse also renounced his profession and became a preacher of the Gospel. Dr. Cotton, the eminent physician and poet, who kept the lunatic asylum at St. Alban's, where Cowper's bark, though tempest-tossed and half a wreck," was to find shelter, was a friend of Dr. Stonehouse, and by him was introduced to the notice of Lady Huntingdon, about ten years before Cowper came under his care. On the publication of Cotton's volume of poems, "The Visions in Verse," the author sent a copy to her ladyship, who, with her accustomed sweetness, delicacy, and faithfulness, on acknowledging the receipt of the volume, pointed out to the amiable author what she felt to be its deficiencies (considering its subjects) in consequence of the absence of religious truth. Dr. Cotton received her remarks most kindly, and Lady
Ꭰ Ꭱ . COTTON.
Huntingdon thus speaks in one of her letters in regard to the incident. "I am glad that my good friend was not offended at my late well-meant admonition and reproof. We must be faithful to each other, or else how can we expect to meet with joy at the great tribunal? I trust he will yet be enabled to see by faith the Lord's Christ. Blessed be God, in Him all fullness dwells, of merit and righteousness, of grace and salvation, and this for the vilest of the vile, for whoever will. O, then, my friend,
"If haply still thy mental shade
Dark as the midnight gloom be made,
"Thus much I have written to my worthy friend at St. Alban's, and I trust God will bless my poor unworthy services to his eternal good. I long to see his fine genius consecrated to the best of causes, the glory of our incarnate God, and the salvation of souls redeemed by His most precious blood."
If these lines ever fell under the notice of Cowper, during the darkness of his mental shade,