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nothing could be more admirably adapted to his case than the instruction so conveyed.
Lady Huntingdon at one time sent to Dr. Cotton the religious work of Marshall, entitled "The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification." Dr. Cotton
entered into some little controversy with his friend Hervey, the author of the "Meditations," in regard to Marshall's sentiments, which he thought unscriptural and unreasonable. Mr. Hervey endeavored to enlighten Cotton's mind as to the truths of the Gospel as set forth in the work by Marshall, but with what success we know not. Cowper understood and admired the volume, if Cotton did not; and very likely it was in the lunatic asylum, and under Dr. Cotton's care, that he met with it; so that Lady Huntingdon's gift reached the right recipient, a heart prepared for it, and one that needed it. Cowper says, in one of his letters, "Marshall is an old acquaintance of mine. I have both read him and heard him read with pleasure and edification; the doctrines he maintains are, under the influence of the Spirit of Christ, the very life of my soul and the soul of all my happiness. I think Marshall one of the best writers, and the most spiritual expositor of the Scriptures I ever read."
The characteristics of this era of the Holy Spirit's power in England can not be better conveyed than by the relation of some of the extraordinary
cases of conversion through the preaching of Whitefield, Romaine, Wesley, and others. One of the most singular was that of Mr. Thorpe, who afterward became an effective minister of that Gospel which at first he ridiculed. He was one of Whitefield's most insulting opposers, and possessing an unusual talent for mimicry, he not only interrupted his sermons in public, but ridiculed them in private in convivial theatrical circles. On one occasion, at such a gathering for pleasure, revelry, and wit, he and three of his companions laid a wager for the most effective imitation and ridicule of Whitefield's preaching. Each was to open the Bible at random and preach an extempore harangue from the first verse that presented itself, and the audience were to adjudge the prize after hearing all. Thorpe's three competitors each went through the game with impious buffoonery, and then it came his turn. They had the table for their rostrum, and as he stepped upon it, confident of his superior ability, Thorpe exclaimed, "I shall beat you all." They handed him the Bible, and when he opened it, the invisible providence of God directed his eye at the first glance to the verse in the thirteenth chapter of Luke's Gospel, "Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish." He read the words, but the moment he had uttered them he began to see and to feel their full import. The sword of the Spirit in that pass
age went through his soul as a flash of lightning, revealing and consuming. An instantaneous conviction of his own guilt as a sinner against God seized hold upon him, and conscience was aroused, as it sometimes is, suddenly and unexpectedly, and always will be when God sets our sins before us in the light of His countenance. The retribution in that passage he felt was for himself, and its terrors glared upon him in array against his own soul, and out of that rapid and overwhelming conviction he preached.
The truths of guilt, death, eternity, and the judgment to come, were never proclaimed in gloomier aspect, for there was no mixture of grace with them. Yet he frequently afterward declared that if ever in his life he preached by the assistance of the Spirit of God, it was at that time. The whole subject was revealed before him, the necessity of repentance, the threatened perdition of the soul, the terrors of the second death; and he preached to his companions, guilty, reprobate, and dying, as himself reprobate and dying. His fervor and fire increased as he went on, and the sympathetic gloom of his audience deepened the convictions on his own soul, and the sentences fell from his lips with such intense and burning imagery, and such point, pungency, and power of language, that, as he afterward related, it seemed to him as if his own hair would stand erect with
It was as a blast from
terror at their awfulness. the lake burning with fire and brimstone. Yet no man interrupted him, for all felt and saw, from the solemnity of his manner, what an overwhelming impression there was upon him, and though their astonishment deepened into angry and awful gloom beneath the lurid glare of his address, yet they sat spell-bound, listening and gazing at him, and when he descended from the table a profound silence reigned in the whole circle, and not one word concerning the wager was uttered. Thorpe instantly withdrew from the company without uttering a word, and, it is needless to say, never returned to that society; but, after a season of the deepest distress and conflict, passed into the full light of the Gospel, and at length became a most successful preacher of its grace.
Two other cases may be named, occurring under the ministry of two of Lady Huntingdon's chaplains, at Oat Hall; the first under the preaching of the celebrated Mr. Romaine, and the last under that of Mr. Venn, scarcely less remarkable as a devout experimental preacher. The two cases are from extremes in society, and therefore are with greater propriety presented as illustrations of the all-pervading power of this work of God's grace. And the time of these two striking instances was very near that of Cowper's own spiritual arrest and conversion, from 1762 to 1764. The first was
of a military gentleman of an ancient family, Captain Scott, who had been a soldier from his seventeenth year, and was one of the officers exposed to imminent peril at the battle of Minden, in 1759. A sense of his danger led him to the daily reading of the psalms and hymns in the Church lessons of each day, but beyond this he advanced not a step to the knowledge of the grace of Christ as the way of salvation. At length, being quartered in the neighborhood of Oat Hall, a pious farmer invited him to go and hear a very famous man in the Hall preaching for Lady Huntingdon. It was Mr. Romaine, and thither he went to hear him the following Sunday; and Mr. Romaine's text was as if aimed and meant for the very condition of Scott's awakened but ignorant soul. It was the words of our blessed Lord in John, xiv. 6, "I AM THE Way.” It was accompanied by the Spirit of God, and from that time Captain Scott was a changed man, and speedily began to preach to his own soldiers the truth which he had learned to love. He exhorted his dragoons daily, and would not be deterred by any of the annoyances and opposition which he had to meet in the army. Fletcher described him to Lady Huntingdon as preaching publicly in his regimentals to numerous congregations at Leicester in the Methodist Meeting-house. "This red-coat," said he, "will shame many a black one. I am sure he shames me." At length he sold his mili