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unable to behold the things of the Spirit of God, and they may even be regarded as foolishness.

Thou art arrived where of itself my ken
No further reaches. I with skill and art
Thus far have drawn thee on.
Sanction of warning voice, or

Expect no more sign from me.


Southey knew no more of religion, in its spiritual discernment, than Virgil, unless he had been taught it by the Spirit of God in his heart; and if he had been thus taught, he would certainly have been more careful not to deride, or caricature, or deny, the work of the Spirit of God in other hearts.

One of the main purposes in this volume has been to illustrate more fully the religious experience of Cowper, and to trace the causes and the manner of his religious gloom. Some very manifest sources or occasions of its exasperation there lie scattered along in the course and manner of his life, which might have been removed by the wisdom of experience, and would have been, could his life have been lived over again; but the secret spring disordered, the point and manner of entanglement and confusion, remain as much a mystery as ever, and always will. The chords of the mental harp elude the sight, and so do the pressures that interfere with its freedom and melody.

The first dethronement of Cowper's reason being before his conversion, his coming forth from so thick a gloom an entirely changed being, a new creature in Christ Jesus, was so surprising a phenomenon, that it is not much to be wondered at that the world could not comprehend the scene. If Cowper had returned to his chambers in the Temple, and to his gay and irreligious life, they would have thought him perfectly cured. But it was as



if some magician had come forth from a prison in the shape of an angel, and it seemed a trick of legerdemain or madness. They thought it but a change in the same tragedy, the more especially as madness has its passages from tragedy to comedy, and from comedy to tragedy. Some said his religion was owing to his madness; some said his madness was owing to his religion; some intimated both, and would not even receive his own testimony, not even after the production of a poem of such consummate bright perfection as "The Task" had proved that his mind was as transparent and serene in its faculties of genius and of power, almost as an angel's.

But the second access of his malady came on, a second and sudden dethronement of reason, at the close of eight years of angelic light and peace, and enjoyment in Christ Jesus; and out of that he came as with a vail over his spiritual vision, or as one bound hand and foot with graveclothes, or as one emerging from a fog, with the remnants of the thick cloud hanging to him; and after that, he never could recover the brightness of his former hope, nor the joy of his first experience. What a strange and melancholy intrusion of the expelled delirium, when it could go no further, when it was cured, indeed, all but that gloom! and what a caput mortuum of despair, left in the crucible after such a fiery trial of his intellect! A recovery in every other respect, save only the delusion of a gloom so profound, that it produced the reality of anguish all the keener, because of the strong and undiminished affection of his heart still turned heavenward, and like the magnet of a compass as true in midnight as at noon!

His prevailing insanity, so far as it could be called insanity at all, in those long intervals of many years, during which his mind was serene and active, his habit of thought playful, and his affections more and more fervent, was simply the exclusion of a personal religious hope to



such a degree as to seem like habitual despair. This despair was his insanity, for it could be only madness that could produce it, after such a revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ as he had been permitted in the outset to enjoy. If Paul had gone deranged after being let down from his trance and vision in the third heavens, and the type of his derangement had been the despair of ever again beholding his Saviour's face in glory, and the obstinate belief of being excluded by Divine decree from heaven, though his affections were all the while in heaven, even that derangement would have been scarcely more remarkable than Cowper's. In the case of so delicate and profound an organization as his, it is very difficult to trace the effect of any entanglement or disturbance from one side or the other between the nervous and mental sensibilities of his frame. There was a set of Border Ruffians continually threatening his peace, endeavoring to set up slavery instead of freedom, and ever and anon making their incursions, and defacing the title-deeds to his inheritance, which they could not carry away; and Cowper might have assured himself with the consolation that those documents could not be destroyed, being registered in heaven, and God as faithful to them, as if their record in his own heart had been always visible. We have endeavored to bring into plainer observation the course of the divine discipline with this child of God walking in darkness, and to illustrate some of the neglected but profoundly instructive lessons of the darkness and the conflict.

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