« IndietroContinua »
prescribed for himself the tonic opiate, need not surprise us. Suggested by some constitutional craving, invalids often fancy that if they could only obtain a given antidote, they would instantly be well. And they frequently are right. Sometimes the specific is a strange one, and would not readily have occurred to a man of science. In the present instance we presume that science would have countersigned the patient's prescription, had it only known all the circumstances; but then it must be remembered that in the present instance the patient himself was a doctor.
“ Intense mental conceptions so strongly impressed upon the mind as, for the moment, to be believed to have a real existence," are amongst the most frequent spectral illusions.* As coming near this class, we must regard that “extraordinary sense of the bodily presence of the Power of Darkness standing by the side of his bed,” which filled the imagination of the patient towards the close of his illness, as well as the brilliant light which fol
received any blow or fall, stating to the friends that I had never seen such symptoms but where a nerve had been irritated. Ex. amined the mouth; the teeth perfect, undecayed; but still dissatisfied, I took out my pencil-case and gently struck each tooth ; on tapping the second superior molar of the affected side, great pain ensued, and on repeating this it was increased.” On removing the tooth it was detected that pus was pressing on the pulpy portion of the nerve ; and thus incipient mania was cured, and the life of the patient was saved.-See Williams on Insanity, p. 260.
* See Libbert on Apparitions. Abercrombie on the Intellectual Powers, Part 3
lowed. To bystanders no light was visible, no presence was palpable. Unlike the voice and the light on the road to Damascus, which the spectators heard and saw, these manifestations were confined to the individual's own mind.
Still these ideas were substantially correct. Disease might embody them in forms too material; and yet they were truths. It was true that sins unnumbered stood chargeable against one who had hitherto lived without God in the world. It was true that God was offended, and death was coming. It was true that boundless dismay and terror environed the Christless transgressor. The name of Jesus had no more effect in tranquillizing the conscience and kindling hope than that blessed name should ever have. And the instinct which shrank from the Power of Darkness and cried to Jesus for protection, was itself a token that a new life was dawning. There might be nervous excitement, but there was also a spiritual awakening. There might be morbid sensations; but the pervading conviction was scriptural, and the consequent change of thought and feeling was permanent. That change we shall leave Mr Williams to describe.
“It was on the fifteenth day of September 1846 that I was taken ill. It is now September 1847 when I am writing this. The delightful feelings of the first few days of convalescence I remember well. Joyfully exulting in the interposition of Divine Providence and mercy, which had brought me out of thick darkness into the glorious light of truth, O what a heaven flitted through my soul! Holiness with its celestial gilding seemed to tinge every object around me.
The world was no longer the same world; its people no longer the same beings. Myself and my fellows I no longer regarded as creatures of a moment's duration, but I saw eternity impressed as a seal on the whole generation of men. The universe was no longer a confused assemblage of indistinct parts, moving towards a gloomy terminus, but, as far as the Divine purposes were concerned, a bright whole of uniform perfection, and the entire expanse filled with love, unbounded love. God himself seemed to move everywhere. All was joy to my soul. I looked on myself as a brand plucked from the burning, and rejoiced in the sure hope of salvation. Jesus was most precious to me,—my glory and infinite joy. The Bible, hitherto a sealed book, was now a river of water to my thirsty soul. I was astounded with its contents. As I turned over its pages, wonder upon wonder ravished my delighted heart. I felt that I would care to live only for the sake of reading it. It was a glorious light. At times its heavenly rays would subdue me into a mellow and peaceful benignity; at others, rouse me into ecstatic bliss. Everywhere was the authority, the love, of God recognised. Its power to command my obedience was as the thunder-clad arm of Omnipotence; and its pleadings for holiness were as the gentle whisperings of love, to which my heart, my mind, my soul answered assent. How I wondered at my former darkness! How amazed did I feel that the precious light had so long shone in my way, and I never had perceived it! I resolved to make it the absolute rule of my life.
come over me.
“ These first days were as though they had been a foretaste of heavenly peace. Never shall I forget my first mortification at finding that sin still existed within me. There had been no actual committal of an offence that my conscience charged me with ; yet a sudden and unexpected change had
There was a cloudiness in my mind; my faith was dim; my heart had ceased to exult. It was as though all had been a bright and glorious dream, and I had now awakened to the stern realities of a cold and miserable world. Alas, the bitterness of that moment! I strove to recall my hopes—they seemed delusion. I read my Bible—the bright revealing light which had heretofore almost made the very print more clear was gone; and, although I still knew it to be the Word of God, the page had ceased to enkindle rapture or inspire emotion. I knew not how to account for this state. I had believed that the work of change and renovation had been completed, at least carried to so high a degree that it was impossible I could wilfully sin against God again. I
abhorred the thought, yet here I was in darkness, and sin palpably abounding in my heart. How sad was the sight of myself! It was the first glimpse at the inherent corruption and original depravity of my heart. It was the first of a series of painful but important lessons which convinced me that God had only hitherto instructed me in the first principles, and laid the foundation for my faith ; but that the work of grace had to be carried on, and an absolute change of heart effected, by many a severe and fiery ordeal.
“ In the course of weeks, I was enabled to take a trip into North Wales; here my connexion with the world was first re-established. All the avocations of man, that were apart from his religious duties, appeared to me to have vanity legibly stamped on them. On my route I stopped a short time in Liverpool, but the bustle and commotion excited no pleasurable sympathy; for I felt that it all was vanity. The whirl, the din, the confusion, all told me of the world's spirit; and in the countenance of the busy throng I could not read one expression in unison with my own feelings, or which came home to my heart. At Beaumaris I abode at a commercial hotel, and there, in the presence of the usual visitants of an inn, I took out my Bible, glorying in the thought that I was thus unfurling Christ's banner. One of the company entered into conversation, and boasted of his religious acquisitions, and of the high position he held