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to some extent at least, almost every case ; but for the cause of
my own illness, and for the explanation of its strange symptoms, my knowledge and means of judging fall far short. But whether mere natural causes occasioned all the bodily sensations or not, scarcely signifies: the mental changes, I am fully assured, were altogether the work of God.
“At the very outset, I should acknowledge that I had no previous belief in the truth of Christianity. I viewed it sometimes in one light, sometimes in another. I regarded it, for the most part, as an absurdity. At its many votaries I wondered, and their understandings I looked down upon as strangely deluded. I could not comprehend how a God should die, nor even bring my mind to admit that an atonement was necessary.
The works of infidels, however, I always read with dissatisfaction or disgust; and any scurrilous attack on the faith of others I should have been ready to oppose. But into the truth of the matter I never thought of inquiring; and, as far as my perusal of it went, the Bible was a mere lumberbook. Science, literature, and my profession, were my whole delight; but the truth or falsehood of Christianity I felt it no part of my business to examine.
“ Of natural religion I had something in my heart. Many a time have I lifted my eyes from nature up to nature's God, and have adored his
excellency as revealed in his beautiful and magnificent works. I knew myself to be a creature sprung from God; but I never dreamed that I was a creature accursed before him. I knew God to be infinitely just; but I never feared that that justice would consign me to eternal misery. I knew that I oftentimes acted contrary to my conscience; but I believed that intellectual enlightenment and the mere force of reasoning could carry human nature to perfection, and place it far above the control of passion. I deified human nature as capable of transcendent virtue, and absolutely denied its innate corruption. I hoped that the soul was immortal, but could never feel convinced that it was so; but as to everlasting torments,I viewed the doctrine as sacrilege and a defamation of the justice of God. The existence of a devil I believed no more than any other bugbear.
“ The only instances when confidence in opinions has been altogether shaken, were, I well remember, moments when, without an assignable reason, I have awakened from sleep, and an indescribable awe and terror have seized on my soul, filling it with undefined apprehensions of the future.*
* To such lucid moments does Jane Taylor refer, in lines not the less poetical because of their simple truthfulness :
“And yet, amid the hurry, toil, and stri
The claims, the urgencies, the whirl of life,-
“Such is a slight picture of my state of mind previous to my illness. Up to the moment when it seized me I had been engaged in the active duties of my profession. I had visited many patients, and during the evening had felt fatigued and languid, and anxious to seat myself comfortably in my arm-chair. A little after ten o'clock I saw the last of the persons waiting for me, and instantly I felt myself severely unwell. I went up-stairs, and threw myself on my bed. In a few minutes I felt inexpressibly ill. The first sensation was an amazing weight on the chest, with difficulty of respiration; the carotids of my throat striking like hammers on my head, and a feeling as though torrents of air were rushing into my brain, and the head were
When things to come, without a shade of doubt,
Essays in Rhyme.
itself expanding. The agony became insupportable, and I knocked for some one to come to me. Meanwhile my mind acquired a wonderful vivacity. Thought upon thought came pouring in with a distinctness of apprehension, enlargement of view, and faithfulness of memory,
I never before experienced. A power to comprehend my personal identity, and to understand my relation to time and eternity, was wonderfully given me.
The passing moment seemed without beginning or end. I felt as though immortal faculties, immortal relations, were beginning to be recognised. The thought began to stagger me, that the hand of death was grasping the cords of life. With the thought, darkness—thick, palpable darkness-gathered on my soul. A mountain load seemed to crush my breast. It was girt as with bands of iron. My heart felt too big for its wonted space. A horror of anguish filled my whole being. Unnumbered sins sprang up
before my astonished conscience, and Death in his terror rose up to my gaze. Look where I would, there was no hope. One wide, unbounded ocean of dismay and terror, lashed with tempestuous howlings, roared on every side; and the thought of an offended God pierced my soul with madness and despair.
“In this state I lay for hours. Meanwhile my sister, alarmed by my knocking, had come and found me speechless. Others of
Others of my friends we sent for, then medical attendance. Recourse was
had to remedial measures ; but I still grew worse. The night passed, and the morning found me the same. A painfully vivid consciousness of everything going on around me added greatly to my distress. The first faint glimmer of light that broke into my soul was when the name of Jesus was uttered. With the very thought of that name the hope of mercy was allied, and like a drowning man I clung to that hope. In the agony of my soul I called upon that name; and in the meanwhile, finding that one of God's servants (Mr M., senior) had entered the room, I felt a new hope, as if the very presence of a man of God was a source of safety. He bade me look to Jesus. With the very bidding, I felt an infinite joy in so doing. Faith in that holy name rapidly gained the ascendant. My darkness was turned into light, and in a short time I felt a sweet sense of the pardoning mercy of God. After this I grew better and better, and all my symptoms remitted, till I felt nothing except the languor resulting from the violence of my previous sufferings.
“ Towards the evening, however, a relapse took place, with phenomena essentially different. Beginning with the same contraction of the chest as before, there followed tetanic spasms—a violent jerking of the upper part of the body from side to side, interrupted by quiet intervals, sometimes by a complete rigidity of the neck and spine. So sensitive was I to touch, or to the impression of a breath