« FöregåendeFortsätt »
on Friday, Dec. 7th, 1798; the result of which was, that he was prohibited from preaching any more while the existing symptoms continued. A schirrus in the cæcum was now apprehended, and his condition was thought dangerous. The following Sunday, a most affecting scene took place at St. John's. He had been announced on the preceding Sunday, to preach a sermon in the morning of this day, Dec. 9th, for the children of the Sunday School attending the Chapel, and another in the evening to their parents. Notwithstanding his prohibition by his medical friends, he determined to make an attempt to address the people
more. Many circumstances conspired to render the scene affecting. A friend remarked, that a side view which he caught of his face before he uttered a word, chilled him to the heart. Sunk-worn--and dejected! The strong was, indeed, become as tow! and the mighty fallen! His text added to the solemnity of the scene :-He, which testifieth these things, saith, Surely, I come quickly, Amen! Even so, come Lord Jesus!
He told his congregation that he was preaching contrary to the advice of his Physicians, and that he should not be able to meet them in the evening. He had not preached more than five minutes, before it was visible that he was in extreme pain, and his feeble tone of voice proved that he was worn down. He could not continue his discourse more than 20 minutes, and then dismissed the congregation—not with the usual benediction, but in the last words of the Bible, immediately following his text. The presentiment of many that this sermon would close his ministry gathered strength from his having chosen the concluding subject of the Scriptures, and ending his discourse with the benediction following it. After this period it pleased God, whose ways are not our
His thoughts our thoughts, to add twelve years to his life.
During the above confinement, in the winter of 1798, Mr. Cecil put down for his own use some of the particular impressions made on his mind through this illness, but never designed it for publication. He had many MSS. by him, which were INTENDED for the press, but his declining health, together with his public occupations, prevented their being finished. On this account, he had solemnly enjoined me to consume all his papers, whenever his death should take place-assuring me, that they were in too unfinished a state for public benefit. *
In his last illness at Clifton, of which notice will be taken hereafter, when he apprehended that he should not live to return to town, he repeated his injunction—with the most anxious entreaty that I would relieve his mind, and meet his wishes, by destroying all his papers after his disease. Find
* Though Mr. Cecil's projected plans were arranged with clearness to his own perception, yet they were unintelligible to any other eye; por were they in such a state of preparation for the press, as would admit of their being finished by any other hand than his own; as he had often assured me.
If, however, this had not been the case, it would still have been impossible for me to have preserved them from destruction, in my RELATIVE situation; and while the precipitance resulting from his diseased nerves, in this and other instances, took place of that calm deliberation and wisdom peculiar to him when in health. It is some alleviation to be convinced, as I fully am, that, generally speaking, his papers could not have been rendered useful to the public, but by his own hand.
His anxious desire to do good, and his ever active and ardent mind, led him to form plans which his long and painful complaint rendered it impossible for him to bring to perfection : otherwise I am persuaded, that he would not have destroyed any thing that might promise to prove useful. And a proof of this appears, in the fact of his having permitted the publication of the “ Fragment,” printed in the third volume of his Works; and also in his reserving a MS. for my own use, consisting of sentences which he had collected and intended for publication,
ing that nothing short of my giving him a faithful promise to execute his command would pacify his agitated mind, I relactantly yielded-and promised to execute his desire on one condition onlynamely, that he would allow me to preserve, for my own use, the above mentioned MS. written in 1798, (which I knew was not unfit for publication) and also permit me to subjoin it to this Memoir whenever it should be made public, to which he agreed. *
Mr. Cecil, however, contrary to his apprehensions, lived to reach home; when his determination respecting his papers was put in force by his own hand. He consumed every other MS. but the one I had before redeemed from the flames; and which is, by an after arrangement, attached to his works. It will appear, both from this MS. and from the following extracts, (taken chiefly from my own private memorandums, and which are distinct from the fragment published in his works,) that, during this confinement, his heart was receiving important lessons in the school of affliction. Saturday night, Dec. 8th, 1798.
“ This is a mysterious dispensation; but I know it is a wise
I did not THINK of ever feeling so much pain. I have not prayed against THAT. I am now to glorify him by suffering—I am not afraid of consequences—It is well !!
Dec. 10th. To the Rev. Mr. Newton, who was dropping him a seasonable word of consolation,
* Mr. Cecil's reply to his son Israel, on his mentioning to his father his feelings on reading this MS. then in the possession of a friend, may not be uninteresting. “I do not wonder that you felt as you express, at reading my feelings on passing through the deep waters. Alas! you saw but a small part of what occurred : but, by these things men live; and in all these things is the life of my spirit. They are what a University cannot yield; nor is a Prince, as such, favoured with a taste of them. I sincerely pray that you may know how a thorn in the flesh becomes a special blessing."
he replied, “It is consistent neither with reason nor religion, to oppose sufferings to the love of God; for, Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth; and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” In the evening of the same day, to another friend, (the Rev. Mr. Venn,) he said “I am not afraid to die; but I am afraid of being worn out by pain. Nature shrinks at this prospect."
Wednesday, 12th. To the Rev. Mr. Pratt, he said—“My illness gives me stronger hold of two points :—ist. God must be brought near, to be lived on and fled to: 2d. Comfort, to be sensible to my heart, must spring from God's making Himself sensible to me. There must be an Incarnation. I must, by faith, lay hold of my God-as | he became man!"
Dec. 14th. In bed— To the same friend, who spoke to him of the rumoured death of Bonaparte, and the failure of the French expedition against Egypt, he replied—“But is Egypt to be left in its present horrid state of depravity and wretchedness under the Turks?-How unsearchable are the ways of God! He giveth no account of His matters. If God should restore me again to health, I have determined to study nothing but the Bible. Literature is inimical to spirituality, if it be not kept un. der with a firm hand. A man ought to call in from every quarter, whatever may assist him to understand, explain, and illustrate the Bible: but there--in its light and life—is all that is good for
All important truth is there; and I feel that no comfort enters sick curtains from any other quarter. My state is an admonition to young men. I have been too much occupied in preparing to live, and too little in living. I have read too much from curiosity, and for mental gratification. I was literary, when I should have been active. We trifle too much. Let us do something for God.
The man of God, is a man of feeling and activity.
sufferings, except when my pain is extreme, I think I can in some degree say—I take pleasure in them: but when I am in torture, I seem to be glad that I can bear it without a MURMUR, which I have not felt that I know of; but I cannot say, I take pleasure in it. As to being broken down, I perfectly agree to it; distress, poverty, reproach, infirmity, are fine things to humble a high spirit. The Physicians do not know iny case-but I do: it is the finger of God—and I am to learn from it various important lessons; and, among the rest, the surFICIENCY OF HIS GRACE. I have prayed thrice : sure I ought to be content with the answer to St. Paul !"
To a friend he said—“ It has been a night of great pain, but it was a night appointed me by Jesus Christ; and sure it must be a good one, that He appoints ! Had I laid down my life for you, your good nights would have been my anxious care." At another time—“I have great peacenot a ruffled breeze-night nor day—and this is all grounded on the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Give up that, and I should have no sleep to-night. All is pitch darkness without it-dark as a Sociniandark as a Moralist. There is no light, but what Christ brings.” At another time, while attending him in the night, he said to me—“It is an extraordinary statement, that though God loves me much better than you do, yet he does not relieve me. I am to partake, as a member of Christ, the sufferings of Christ. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him, for the good of man; and he afflicts man, for his good. If I recover, I shall be a better preacher -that is, I shall be more humble! I have many