« ZurückWeiter »
it may have been renewed by the Spirit of God, will not deny that it is more than possible that this zeal may have somewhat relaxed in the bright sunshine of academical honour: and certain it is that his standard of duty, though superior to that of the world, was at this time far from reaching that degree of elevation which it afterward attained. Who can wonder, then, that a person trembling!y alive to his best interests, should be not wholly free from apprehension, and should be continually urging on his conscience the solemn sanctions of the Gospel, entreating him to aim at nothing less than Christian perfection.
Returning to Cambridge in the summer of this year, he past the season of vacation most profitably; constrained happily to be much alone, he employed his solitary hours in frequent communion with his own heart, and with that gracious Lord who once blessed Isaac and Nathaniel in their secret devotions, and who did not withhold a blessing from bis: “God was pleased to bless the solitude and retirement I enjoyed this summer," he observes, “to my improvement; and not till then, had I ever experienced any real pleasure in religion. I was more convinced of sin than ever, more earnest in fleeing to Jesus for refuge, and more desirous of the renewal of my nature."
It was during this vacation, also, that an intimate acquaintance commenced, as much distinguished for a truly parental regard on the one hand, as it was for a grateful, reverential, and filial affection on the other. Having long listened with no small degree of pleasure and profit to Mr. Simeon as a preacher, Henry now began to enjoy the happiness of an admission to the most friendly and unreserved intercourse with him, and was in the habit of soliciting and receiving on all important occasions his counsel and encouragement. By Mr. Simeon's kindness it was, that he was now made known to several young men, with some of whom he formed that most enduring of all attachments--a Christian friendships and it was from his conversation and example also, that he imbibed his
first conceptions of the transcendent excellence of the Christian ministry : from which it was but a short step, to resolve upon devoting himself to that sacred calling--for till now he had an intention of applying to the law, “ chiefly,” he confesses, “ because he could not consent to be poor for Christ's sake.”
The great advancement which he had made in genuine piety at this period, from intercourse with real Christians, and above all from secret communion with his God, is discoverable in the following extracts from two letters—the first dated September 15, 1801, and addressed to his earliest friend ;-the second written a few days afterward, to his youngest sister. you may be enabled to do the will of your heavenly Father, shall be, you may be assured, my constant prayer at the throne of grace; and this, as well from the desire of promoting the edification of Christ's body upon earth, as from motives of private gratitude. You have been the instrument in the hands of Providence of bringing me to a serious sense of things : for at the time of my Father's death, I was using such methods of alleviating my sorrow, as I almost shudder to recollect. But, blessed be God, I have now expcrienced that Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God. What a blessing the Gospel! No heart can conceive its excellency, but that which has been renewed by divine grace.
“I have lately," he writes in the second letter, “ been witness to a scene of distress. town, with whom I have been little acquainted, and who had lived to the full extent of his income, is now dying--and his family will be left perfectly destitute. I called yesterday to know whether he was still alive, and found his wife in a greater agony than you can conceive. She was wringing her hands, and crying out to me, ' O pray for his soul!--and then again recollecting her own helpless condition, and telling me of her wretchedness in being turned out upon the wide world without house or home. It was in vain to point to heaven; the heart, distracted and over
* * * in this
whelmed with worldly sorrow, finds it hard to look to God.-Since writing this, I have been to call on the daughters of ***, who had removed to another house because, from the violence of their grief, they incommoded the sick man. Tbither I went to visit them, with my head and heart full of the subject I was come upon; and was surprised to find them cheerful, and thunderstruck to see a Gownsman reading a play to them. A play-when their father was lying in the agonies of death! What a species of consolation! I rebuked him so sharply, and, I am afraid, so intemperately, that a quarrel will perhaps ensue. But it is time that I should take some notice of
letter : When we consider the misery and darkness of the unregenerate world, O with how much reason should we burst out into thanksgiving to God, who has called us in his mercy througb Christ Jesus! What are we, that we should thus be made objects of distinguishing grace! Who then that reflects upon the rock from which he was hewn, but must rejoice to give himself entirely and without reserve to God, to be sanctified by his Spirit. The soul that has truly experienced the love of God, will not stay meanly inquiring how much he shall do, and thus limit his service; but will be carnestly seeking more and more to know the will of our heavenly Father that he may be enabled to do it. O may we be both thus minded! May we experience Christ to be our all in all, not only as our Redeemer, but as the fountain of grace. The parts of the word of God you have quoted on this head, are indeed awakening-may they teach us to breathe after holiness. to be more and more dead to the world; but alive unto God through Jesus Christ. We are lights in the world ; how needful then that our tempers and lives should manifest our high and heavenly calling. Let us, as we do, provoke one another to good works, not doubting but that God will bless our feeble endeavours to his glory.--I have to bless Him for another mercy I have received in addition to the multitude of which I am so unworthy, in his having given me a friend indeed, one who has made much about the same advances in religion as myself. We took our degrees together, but Mr. Simeon introduced us to each other.
I do not wonder much at the backwardness you complain of before * * *, having never been in much company.
But the Christian heart is ever overflowing with good-will to the rest of mankind; and this temper will produce the truest politeness, of which the affected grimace of ungodly men is but the shadow. Besides, the confusion felt in company arises in general from vanity: therefore, when this is removed, why should we fear to speak before the whole world? The Gownsman I mentioned, so far from being offended, has been thanking me for what I said, and is so seriously impressed with the awful circumstances of death, that I am in hopes it may be the foundation of a lasting change."
It will be highly pleasing to the reader to know, that the anticipation with which the above letter concludes was verified. Mr. Martyn had afterward the happiness of labouring in India together with that very person who had been reproved by him, and who, from the divine blessing accompanying that reproof, was then first led to appreciate the value of the Gospel.
From this time to that of proposing himself for adumission to a fellowship in his college, Mr. Martyn's engagements consisted chiefly in instructing some pupils, and preparing himself for the examination, which was to take place previous to the election in the month of March 1802, when he was chosen fellow of St. John's. Soon after obtaining which situation, as honourable to the society in the appointment, as it was gratifying to himself, he employed some of his leisure hours, as he expresses it, in writing for one of those prizes, two of which are given to those who have been last admitted Bachelors of Arts: and although there were men of great classical celebrity, as it was well known, who contested the palm with him, the first prize was assigned to him for the best Latin prose composition; a distinction the more remarkable, as from: his entrance at the University he had directed an unceasing and almost undivided attention to Mathematics. Having thus added another honour to those for which he had before been so signally distinguished, Mr. Martyn departed from Cambridge, on a visit to his relations in Cornwall-making a circuit on foot through Wenlock, Liverpool, and the vale of Langollen. Of this tour, (on which he was at first attended by one of his friends,) he has left a Journal, briefly and hastily written, from which a few extracts, as illustrative of bis character, may not prove uninteresting.
“July 9, 1302. We walked into Wenlock along a most romantic road. My mind, during these three days, has been less distracted than I expected; and I have had, at times, a very cheering sense of the presence of my God."
“ July 17. I went on board a little sloop, and began to beat down the Mersey. The Mersey is here more than four miles broad, and the wind now increas. ing almost to a storm, the ship was a scene of confusion. One wave broke over us, and wetted me completely through. I think there was some danger, though the composure I felt did not arise, I fear, so much from a sense of my acceptance with God, as from thinking the danger not to be great. I had still sufficiently near views of death, to be uneasy at considering how slothful I had been in doing the Lord's work, and what little meetness I possessed for the kingdom of glory. Learn then, O my soul, to be always ready for the coming of thy Lord; that no disquieting fear may arise to perplex thee in that awful hour."
“ July 23—Holywell. Found myself very low and melancholy. If this arises from solitude, I have little pleasure to expect from my future tour. I deserve to be miserable, and I wish to be so, if ever I seek my pleasure in any thing but God."
“July 25---Carewys. I did not go to Church this morning as the service was in Welch,
but went through the Church service at home--in the evening read Isaiah."