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interests, seldom touch upon mere extraneous themes; and to teach us that humility and modesty becoming our condition, they condescend not to reconcile the views they exhibit with our conceptions. We are to receive each announcement upon the faith that it is God's testimony, without requiring that divine truth should be brought down to our own alphabet. Thus the nature of the Deity, infinitely transcending the combined comprehension of the human intellect, is made known to us as it is," one God in trinity and trinity in unity — but the secret is not explained — all is mystery and incomprehensibleness -- and every attempt to render the mystery conceivable by the human mind must in the nature of things be abortive. It is the duty of man to discern the limitations put upon his mental capacity, and reverently to keep within his prescribed circle — to ascertain, in this respect, the “ bounds of his habitation” — and not to strive vainly to surmount the barrier“ fixed by a perpetual decree,” within which the tide of legitimate inquiry is to be confined. This is the rock upon which Dr. Watts splits : he endeavours to reconcile what to human wit is irreconcileable – to explain what is inexplicable - to make the existence of the Supreme Intelligence in its mode plain and palpable to a finite intellect -- and not to receive the plain doctrine of scripture, that there is in the divine nature a strict unity and a three-fold personality, without ascertaining the why, the how, and the wherefore. In vain he speaks of consulting the oracles of God in the spirit of prayer, humility, and submission, to remove the difficultie which he meets with — to make the crooked straight to man's hoodwinked mind, and the rough places plain to his intellectual vision : this is not their object: they reveal for the exercise of faith - to solve for the gratification of curiosity would be to defeat in part their professed design. An opportunity by searching “to find out God,” is scarcely consistent with humility to expect, or the dignity of Divinity to grant. That he entered upon the inquiry with the purest motives, and was
led to it with the most benevolent aim, every one must grant - he devoted himself to his task with a sanctity of feeling and a holy determination of purpose which we respect and admire, however much we may regret the subject upon which his energies were exhausted. It was not a love of subtle disputation, but a pure and disinterested wish to do good, to heal the distractions of the church, by discovering the regions of unclouded truth, that led him to venture beyond his depth, and boldly enter the wide ocean of infinite being.
WATTS IN DECLINING LIFE.
AT TUNBRIDGE:-ILLNESS AND RECOVERY.-THE “WORLD TO COME:"
REMARKS UPON IT, - ESSAY ON “CIVIL POWER:” — ITS SINGULAR SCHEME.--"SELF-LOVE AND VIRTUE."_"RUIN AND RECOVERY:"-CONTROVERSY ON THE DOCTRINE:-DR. TAYLOR, DR. RIDGLEY, MR. HEBDEN, MR. J. WESLEY, AND PRESIDENT EDWARDS. — EXTENT OF THE ADAMIC CURSE.-SINGULAR OPINION CONCERNING INFANTS.-SPREAD OF ANTINOMIANISM:-CURIOUS NOTICES OF IT.-MR. JOSEPH WILLJAMS:-HIS LETTER."
“QUESTIONS FOR STUDENTS.” - DECLINING HEALTH.-"IMPROVEMENT OF THE MIND:”-OPINIONS OF DR. JOHN. SON AND ROBERT HALL: SECOND PART. - MR, NEAL'S LETTER. “HARMONY OF ALL RELIGIONS.”_DODDRIDGE'S “RISE AND PROGRESS OF RELIGION:"-WATTS RECOMMENDS IT IN HOLLAND.-OPINIONS ON BLAIR'S "GRAVE."-CORRESPONDENCE,
In resuming the narrative of Watts's life, we find little besides the productions of his pen to notice. He kept no diary of the events that checquered his lengthened pilgrimage; he neglected from principle to journalise his thoughts and feelings, aspirations and fears; he wished, as he often remarked, to live in his works, not in the pages of a biographer. The modesty which dictated this procedure is to be admired and regretted ; for some memorial from his own pen, of his engagements, connexions, and experience, would not only have tended to private edification, but would have thrown some valuable light upon the history of our churches. At this period the serious apprehensions of those around him were excited by his evidently fast decaying frame. In some of the Countess
of Hertford's letters she seems to have been anticipating the termination of his career; and, indeed, forty years of ceaseless mental labour might have exhausted the energies of a far more robust constitution than he possessed. The greater part of the year 1739 was spent in extreme debility and suffering. His disorder was paralytic. In August he was advised to try the waters and air of Tunbridge, but was wholly incapable of any public exertion. Mr. Barker, writing to Dr. Doddridge, Sept. 14, observes, “I spent the last month at Tunbridge Wells, where I had the pleasure of Dr. Watts's company during some part of the time; but he would not preach, and indeed has not done so since his return, and is not any better for the air or water of that place.” His recovery was a subject of public prayer with many of the metropolitan and country churches; and towards the close of the year his health and spirits were in a great degree restored. “ I read,” says Doddridge, in November, to his friend Dr. Samuel Clark, “ Dr. Watts on the future state with a great deal of pleasure, in my last journey from Northampton to Berkshire, in July; and I am glad to hear that the excellent author is on the recorering hand. The hint you gave me in your letter, was the means of my engaging the repeated prayers of our brethren for him in our day of fasting and prayer.” The prayers of the dissenting churches were indeed peculiarly due to him who had so largely assisted them in their praises.
The work on the future state here referred to, is the well. known “World to Come,” a series of invaluable discourses on the scripture doctrine of reward and punishment. • Carefully abstaining from the vanity of human speculation avoiding the inquiries that marked his “Death and Heaven," which, however innocent, are still not directly authorised by revelation - he attempts to unfold the discoveries which the gospel brings to light, and to place in the most impressive manner before the reader the solemn sanctions they give to the practice of virtue and religion. In this and similar com
positions, we may trace the spiritual and heavenly temper of the writer, and the daily preparation in which he lived for his own rapidly approaching change. He made himself familiar with the future — with the servant of Elijah he was ever intently looking towards heaven — and his mind expanded in satisfaction and swelled into triumph in the prospect of its imposing realities. But the hope he expresses never savours of presumption, or his confidence of pride. He remembers the exhibitions of nature's infirmity and human sinfulness which the past presents; and as the “unprofitable servant" he casts himself upon the merits of his Saviour for acceptance. Some of the discourses in this work were composed upon occasions of bereavement, and addressed to the Abney family. The sixth, on the vain refuge of sinners, was sketched out on the rocks near Tunbridge Wells in the year 1729. All the topics introduced are of the utmost moment, and are discussed in a manner calculated to alarm the careless, arouse the supine, and cheer the sorrow-stricken believer.
The “ World to Come" first appeared in two volumes octavo, but the second was not published until the year 1745: the introductory treatise, on the separate state of souls after death, printed anonymously at an earlier period, was appended to the first volume. The sermon on the end of time" has been often printed separately as a tract; it has been translated into most European languages; and a large edition in modern Greek, from the Scio college press, is now circulating in the Levant. Of all the prose works of Dr. Watts, none have perhaps been more useful than this; it has led many to serious concern by its impressive and affecting appeals; and the last moments of the timid Christian have been cheered by its delightful exhibitions of “the recompense of the reward.” Justly may it be said of the author, that it was good for him that he was afflicted; the heat of the furnace might be keenly felt, but the influence of the fire refined and purified; with Baxter he sought consolation amidst present trouble in medi