« IndietroContinua »
The Beginning of Better Days.
Have mercy, Lord, on me,
As thou wert ever kind;
Thy wonted mercy find.
And cleanse me from my sin ;
Psalm li. 1, 2, 3.-Brady and Tate.
When the Lord Jesus first revealed himself to me, he did not reason with me about truth and error; but he attacked me like a warrior, and felled me to the ground by the power of his arm.- Vander Kemp.
The most eventful date in a human history is the commencement of its heaven-ward career; and, provided it is really to the Better Country that the pilgrim is travelling, it is immaterial whether hope or fear had the greatest influence on his outset. “Wherever it begins, every conversion ends in Christ. Some, like Matthew Henry and Henry Martyn, may have made the transition, they scarce know how : but all agree to approve of God's way of saving sinners by Jesus Christ alone; all desire to advance the glory of God their Saviour; all regard Christ's yoke as easy, and his burden as light; all combine to mourn for sin with deep and godly sorrow; all arrive, sooner or later, at a good hope through grace concerning their own personal salvation; all profoundly revere the statutes and ordinances of their Lord; all desire to spread the savour of his name; all long and pray for the day
when they shall be perfect in holiness, even as their Father who is in heaven is perfect." *
No contrast can be greater than between a Christianity thus practical, and the ordinary course of the world. Such a contrast was now about to be exhibited in the character of Mr Williams; and, from a paper in his own handwriting, we are apprised of the circumstances in which it originated. These are so peculiar, that some may think it would have been wise to suppress them. But on the principle of allowing the subject of this memoir to be, as much as possible, his own biographer, we could not ignore facts which he has detailed so fully. They have their own significance. They harmonise with the eager temperament and lively imagination of the writer. They are not without their import as a contribution to spiritual pathology. Nor should the value of the result be affected by the anomalies of the process.
The last three books of The Course of Time were written in the inspiration of a hectic fever, and Kubla Khan was composed in a dream; but they are fine poems, notwithstanding. And, even allowing that a good deal of the morbid and visionary may have mingled with higher processes at this juncture of Mr Williams's history, the result was a sober and healthful reality. That result was, a disposition so devout and benevolent, a life so holy, a spirit so
* Lights and Shadows of the Life of Faith. By the Rev. W. K. Tweedie, Edinburgh.
self-sacrificing, that, whatever circumstances may have attended its commencement, every Christian will feel that God himself was its Author.
Mr Williams's mind was marked by a certain fervid exuberance. However charming in personal intercourse, with a fluent pen this fulness of emotion is apt to produce redundant writing. For the sake of our readers, we shall, therefore, take the freedom of shortening the paragraphs, and omitting expletive words and unimportant sentences. Were we editing a British classic, we should not venture on such retrenchments; but in the present case, we feel that our responsibility is for the author's sentiments and statements of fact, and that condensation is not a licence, but a duty. With this preliminary remark, we proceed to give Mr Williams's narrative of the singular illness which issued in his conversion.
6. I bless God that ever I was afflicted. Not only do I date my conversion from my illness, but
, I believe that this illness was designed for my conversion. It was a seizure more remarkable than any of which I remember to have heard or read; and, apart from the inward working of the mind, it presented a series of extraordinary symptoms, which seem to defy solution. Myself a medical man, and for many years accustomed to witness disease in every form, I have been able to explain,