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ing winter in study at Utrecht; but the state of his health rendering it very doubtful whether a residence in so damp a climate might not prove permanently injurious to him, he changed his plan, and determined to winter in Italy. He seems to have come to this resolution not without considerable hesitation, arising from the conscientious doubt, whether it was consistent with his duty to spend so much time in the mere pursuit of information and the gratification of taste, instead of entering upon the discharge of the duties of that profession to which he had devoted himself. In a letter written while he was in London, preparing to embark for the Continent, he thus expresses his feelings.
" The tone of my feelings has been lowered by an innocent remark of a friend here. “He came from home just when he had collected all the instruments of usefulness, and now goes to let them rust in France and Italy. Am I in the path of duty ? That is the one great question. In that day when God shall judge the world by Jesus Christ, will it be answer sufficient for the use of my time- He left off preaching the gospel, to go and see St. Peter's, and the place where Satan's seat is?' Oh! I had rather be with you at the sick man's couch; but this cannot be. I am now in a course which I cannot decide not to be the course of duty. We shall know in that day. Meanwhile, if I have erred, pray for me that my sins may be pardoned, and that while I suffer loss, I be not lost.”' p. 32.
The tenderness of conscience which he exhibited on this occasion, attended him through all the engagements of his future career, and formed one of the most striking traits of his character. That it was sometimes carried to a morbid excess, so as to dimi. nish in a serious degree the peace and consolation which as a Christian he might otherwise have enjoyed, seems too evident from some of the letters in the volume before us; but that his error, if such it may be deemed, rather his infirmity, was on the safe side, will not be questioned by those who are acquainted with the temptations to which men of literary tastes and habits are peculiarly exposed. They will see, in this tendency of his mind, the best preservative against the encroachments of that spirit which too often leads such persons to prefer the cultivation of the intellect to the discipline of the heart, and the gratification of the taste to the exercises of devotion and the conscientious discharge of the more private and less exciting duties of religion.
In pursuance of the plan which he had formed, Mr. Bruen spent the winter of 1817, and the spring of the following year, in a tour through part of France, Switzerland, Italy, the Tyrol, part of Germany and of Holland. His letters written during this period, present to us many very lively and interesting sketches of the manners, habits, and appearance of the people, as well as the general features of the countries through which he passed. He seems to have kept a pretty full journal of his adventures and feelings, the substance of which he afterwards published under the title of - Essays, Descriptive and Moral, of Scenes in Italy and France. By an American.” The chief excellence of this volume, his Biographer remarks, is, that it gives us a moral view of Italy. Others have described palaces and pageants, churches
and ceremonies: Mr. Bruen's aim is, to describe the effects of despotism and Popish superstition on the national character, the
private morals, and the spiritual interests of the people. A work that should occupy this field in all its wide and momentous extent, has long been wanting among our works of travels in Modern Italy; and as tending in some degree to supply the desideratum, the “ Essays” of Mr. Bruen may be regarded as valuable contributions, which an individual of more extensive observation, and of a more highly philosophic cast of mind, might advantageously employ as materials in constructing such a work. From the copious extracts which are given by his Biographer, we select the following remarks on St. Peter's, as a fair specimen of Mr. Bruen's general style and manner.
««. When, at the first view of the interior of St. Peter's, for I think we were all disappointed with the exterior, until we examined it closely, we behold the mighty columns, the magnificent statues, the brilliant roof, the rich chapels, and the brazen baldaquin under the mighty dome, we feel that we stand where Charlemagne and Hildebrand might have met as compeers,—we see, as in one perspective, what we have before gathered in detail, that it was indeed an immense structure, which bound together the remotest parts of Christendom under an iron domination, which gave the right to a proud priest to force emperor and king to hold his stirrup.
*« But these reflections are too stern to bear their sway long; for the admiration of the work shadows our remembrance of the infamy of those who built it. We would not mingle the memory of the prodigality of Leo X., or the crimes of Alexander VI., or the tyranny of Sixtus Quintus, with our elevated feeling in beholding this masterpiece of human science and sentiment; for what richness of sentiment is there in all the paintings, and what immense knowledge in raising these mighty arches !”. p. 70.
«« I saw St. Peter's when it was illuminated by the cross suspended from the dome; and the effect of light and shade was superlatively fine. Nowhere did it strike me more than when the light fell upon the gigantic statues which adorn the tombs of the Popes, especially upon that of Clement XIII., where we see Canova's Sleeping Lions, and watchful Genius, which is the most affecting representation of an angelic being I ever beheld in marble.
*« On the following Wednesday (Ash Wednesday), at the Sixtine chapel, the first Miserere is sung, and can never be listened to without profound feeling. It is said that the music, which was written for this chapel, cannot be performed elsewhere with the same effect; and in a matter where fancy has so much play as in the effect of music, it can easily be imagined, that the associations of the place should give an exquisite tone of sentiment to the whole. I shall never lose the recollection of the solemn sensations produced by the first note of • Miserere mei Domine.' The evening had gradually shut in; I had been observing the Last Judgement of Michael Angelo, which occupies all the large space of wall behind the great altar. The scene had faded to my eye until only the more vivid tigures could be perceived ; and when realities almost sunk into shades, and pictures seemed realities—as the lights upon the altar were all save one extinguished — the cardinals and the whole assembly fell upon their knees, and in the dead silence the choir chanted . Pity me, O God.'
6" It was the single occasion in which, as a Protestant, I could not, and did not wish to restrain my sympathy. And so much did the music force each one to shrink from contact, and prepare for a spiritual supervision, that in the crowd I felt alone, and could willingly have wept in penitence for myself, and in adoring commiseration for my Lord.”' pp. 71-73.
From this extensive tour, Mr. Bruen returned to England in July 1818; and after a short excursion to Ireland, he once more found himself at his Scottish home, where he spent a few weeks
rich in intellectual and Christian enjoyment' with his much valued friends. Of these precious weeks', his Biographer speaks in terms of fond remembrance, as not unmoved by the solemn consideration that their enjoyments can never be renewed on earth, and yet cheered with the prospect of their resumption in that eternal abode' where no enemy can ever enter, and whence no friend shall ever depart.'
"How chastened', she elegantly remarks, is that friendship which must transfer its hopes of future personal intercourse to another state of being! How sore the penalty paid, in such circumstances, even for the highest moral delights! How vainly, during the last days, did we endeavour to interest ourselves in subjects of general philanthropy, or our own future plans of usefulness! They were not to be accomplished, if ever accomplished, but in stations far remote from each other. We exclaimed with Klopstock, in sadness of heart,
“ Alas! they find not each the other ; they
And now long ages roll their course between.”' p. 92. In the month of September, Mr. Bruen left Scotland for Liverpool, with the intention of sailing from that port to America; but when on the point of embarking for his native land, he was arrested by a very urgent and pressing solicitation from some Americans resident in Paris, who had formed themselves into a small Christian Church, that he would visit them, and endeavour to establish amongst them regular preaching and the dispensation of the ordinances of the gospel. So strongly expressed was their wish, and so clear to Mr. B.'s mind did the call of duty in the matter appear, that he immediately resolved to comply with the invitation; though, from several passages in his letters written at the time, it is evident that the resolution cost him no small degree of pain, as obliging him to relinquish, at the very moment when there seemed a prospect of their being speedily realized, all his fondly cherished desires after the enjoyments of home.
As it was necessary, before he entered upon the functions of a Pastor, that he should be solemnly set apart to that office, he proceeded to London for that purpose ; and about the beginning of November, he was publicly ordained to the Christian ministry, at the chapel of the Rev. Dr. J. P. Smith, who, with Mr. (now Dr.) Fletcher, Dr. Winter, the late Dr. Waugh, and a Presbyterian clergyman from Greenock, officiated upon the occasion. To a mind constituted as Mr. Bruen's, it may easily be conceived, that the services of the day would be peculiarly and almost painfully impressive. Tenderly alive as he was to his own imperfections, and deeply sensible of the responsibility attaching to the office, it was with no merely perfunctory solemnity that he took upon himself the office of an ambassador for Christ. To so high a degree, indeed, were his feelings excited, that he seems to have been thrown into a state almost bordering on despair, and from which even the contemplation of the Divine promises of strength and guidance failed for some time to recover him. That so excessive and inordinate anxiety is not only unauthorized by the religion of the Bible, but even positively discountenanced by it, hardly needs be pointed out. Yet, who that has seriously reflected upon the subject, and, with the word of God as his guide, has endeavoured to take the gauge and dimensions of the responsibility involved in the solemn vows of the ministerial office, would not rather participate in the exquisite anguish into which Mr. Bruen was plunged, than enter upon that office with the unhallowed confidence and almost callous indifference that too many persons on such occasions exhibit ? Happy the individual who, under such circumstances, can so far forget himself, as to feel that he is but an instrument in the hand of the Al. mighty, by whose grace alone he is to be fitted for his work, and to whose glory all his exertions must tend !
Mr. Bruen remained in Paris for about six months. Finding, however, that there was little prospect of his efforts reaching beyond the few who had first invited him to become their pastor, and feeling that his own country had much more imperative claims upon his exertions, he resigned his charge, and returned to America in the summer of 1819. Almost immediately after
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his arrival, he commenced his labours for the spiritual benefit of his countrymen, preaching wherever he had an opportunity; sometimes in farm-houses and private rooms, and sometimes in deserted chapels where not a single pane of glass remained, so that the wind had free liberty of entrance. While thus usefully occupied, circumstances occurred, by which he was induced again to cross the Atlantic, and revisit this country. What these circumstances were, we are not informed. A desire once more to mingle in the society of those friends whom he so much loved, before he should be placed in circumstances that might render a visit to them scarcely practicable, had, probably, some share in his decision. With these friends, the months of February, March, and April, 1821, were spent; during which, some afflictive occurrences in his own family and in that of his friend's, afforded an opportunity for the display of all the more amiable and attractive elements of his character, and for exhibiting to the fullest advantage the tenderness of his heart and the depth of his piety. To his friends, ' he was every thing that a brother in adversity can be'. He despised fatigue, he forgot his own griefs, and seemed only solicitous to minister to the welfare and comfort of those around him. In May, Mr. Bruen returned to America, where he resumed his former labours, employing himself chiefly in itinerant preaching, and in attending to the interests of the Home Missionary Society, of which he had been elected secretary. In the discharge of the duties connected with this office, a large portion of his time was occupied ; and he seems to have watched over its procedure, and to have sought the success of its object, with a zeal and assiduity not less advantageous to the society than it was honourable to himself. About this period, he entered into the marriage relation with Miss Davenport; a lady who seems to have been in every respect qualified to become the wife of such a man, and between whom and her husband there existed, we are told, 'an entire sympathy in taste, principles, and habits.' Early in 1825, they were called to endure the loss of their only child. Deeply as this affliction seems to have affected Mr. B., it did not prevent him from prosecuting his exertions as a minister of the gospel, or dischargirg his duties in connection with the Home Missionary Society. In June of the same year, he entered into a stated engagement with the church which had been collected together through his ministrations, and the members of which had built a commodious and elegant place of worship for him in Blucher Street, in the city of New York. He now felt it to be his duty to resign his situation as Secretary to the Home Missionary Society; and as soon as a suitable successor was found in the person of the Rev. Absalom Peters, Mr. Bruen devoted his undivided attention to the instruction of his flock, and to preaching as extensively as he had opportunity. Successful in his ex
VOL. VIII.- N.S.