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abated; and Mr. Cecil was so far recovered, that he ventured, on the 24th Feb. 1799, to preach the Evening Lecture at St. John's. Though he began with the precaution of reading his sermons, yet he found the exertion too much for his broken state of strength and spirits; and he was convinced that God called him to retirement and repose. Such a dispensation, to a mind like his, required no common measure of faith and patience. He was, at length, by a blessing on the means used, enabled to resume his usual duty, though under much remaining infirmity.
Speaking of his afflicted state, he said, “ My dispensation is wonderful. That I am able to meet the frequent returns of my public duty is almost miraculous. Not one of my hearers has any idea of the quantity of pain I endure in the course of twenty-four hours; and yet, if it were ever to be upon me at the moment I was called to preach, it would be utterly impossible for me to begin.”
But it was not only during the above period that Mr. C. suffered much pain; but, year after year, , it remained as a clog on his efforts, and as a worm at the root of his constitution. Frequently, after suffering greatly all the preceding night, he has gone forth in the morning to his public duty so feeble and emaciated, that I have dreaded the consequences of his entering the pulpit. But, still stimulated and animated by love and zeal, he went through his duty, by divine assistance, without any
appearance of his suffering state, or any other perceptible effect, save that feeling and unction which it produced. As the face of Moses, when he came down from the Mount, was seen to shine: so was it evident, in Mr. Cecil's discourses, that he had not suffered so many things in vain; but that he was refined in the furnace of affliction, to shew forth His glory who had called him. He acquired a more keen perception and feeling of the vanity of all human things: he stripped off the mask from the face of the world-shewed its poverty and emptiness-its enchantments-its snares—and its pretensions, as delusive and fallacious : he drew aside the veil--and exhibited those glorious realities in reversion for the faithful, on which his soul delighted to dwell, and of which he is now in the full enjoyment.
Thus exercised with affliction, he persevered in preaching (making use of a seat in the pulpit) till a paralysis deprived the Church of his labours. His patience under his great and long sufferings was surprising. By them many interior experiences and excellent ideas were wrung from him, while a word of complaint was never heard to come forth from his lips.
In June 1798, previous to the above confinement, Mr. C. sent the following reflections to a friend under affliction, to whom they were peculiarly appropriate, and by whose favour I obtain them
* Sunday noon.--In great pain—disposed to preach again, on a new text-She answered, It is well. That is, God is wiser than I am. He knoweth the way that I take, and, when I am tried, I shall come forth as gold. He knows how to bring good out of this evil. What can He take away, that He cannot make up to me? Pain, loss, solitude—what are ye?—The way home!- He knows the way :--that is enough. He has promised to be with me in the way: that is more than enough.
“ It is well—that is, God is MIGHTIER than I am.--He can make this dying and painful way, the way of life--the way of comfort—the way of joy, as well as holiness. He has done it ten thousand times: I have seen it done. What child is he whom his Father chasteneth not? I would be a son, but not scourged. I am a fool, whom even experience can scarcely make wise.--I see and
and whom he does not chastise ; all professors—but are they sons?-I see
who are sinking under their troubles, and going to Satan for comfort, because they are not sons.
“ It is well—that is, He is better than I am. He has thoughts of peace, while I indulge thoughts of evil. He means better than I can give Him credit for. He asks me for nothing but time and trust, in order to make the whole plain and gra
" No!” say
“shew it me now,
cious to my eye:
and it sufficeth.”—“ What !” saith He-Am I ALONE not to be trusted? How many of my creatures have you trusted for what you could not see! How often have you rested on dust and ashes, as on a sure foundation!-Go-Go-and learn your horn-book, and then you will say without stammering It is well !"
“ Wednesday morning.- Pain left me after the above was put down, and then it was thrown aside; but returned this morning at four o'clock, and drove me from the bed to begin again. But with nothing new.- It is well--God is more Holy than I, and will burn up the dross. He is more FAITHFUL, and does not forget his promise, to purify the sons of Levi, that they may first present a pure offering, and then be offered up themselves !”
I proceed to the year 1800—when Mr. Cecil was requested by Samuel Thornton, Esq. to take the Livings of Chobham and Bisley; which his father, the ever-memorable John Thornton, Esq. had bought, and had left in the hands of trustees. Mr. Cecil, though duly sensible of the favour, yet could not be prevailed on to think of accepting these Livings; and was so fully determined against it, that he returned several refusals, in answer to pressing requests by letter, that he would accept them. He was also informed by Mr. Thornton, that it was his father's intention, that the unbeneficed trustees, (of whom Mr. C. was one) were to have the first offer, and he repeated his wishes, with many
friendly arguments-particularly, 'the danger in Mr. Cecil's state of health, of his becoming incapable of going on at St. John's, without some relief from that arduous post. Mr. C. continued, however, to retain his objections : but an old friend hinted to him, that he might be resisting a call in providence. To this intimation he listened, and consented to refer the business to the trustees, and a few select friends who should meet for the purpose of determining the question. They accordingly met together, and were unanimous in resolving it to be the duty of a man in Mr. Cecil's circumstances, family, and health to accept the Livings, and serve them in the summer. *
But, in going to these Livings, he went rather to labour than to rest. He forgot his broken state of constitution, when he set up in the Church two extra Lectures-one on the Sunday evening, and the other on a week-day. During the first years, he principally preached them himself, and with great success. To conciliate one of his parishes, he left the tythes to be fixed by three neighbouring
By these Livings about 150l. per annum was added to his income. After his fatal malady took place, and his pecuniary affairs naturally de. volved on me, I judged it expedient to inform myself correctly respecting them. Accordingly I had a minute account taken, both of the income and of the expenditure of the Livings of Chobham and Bisley. In the account returned to me, both were stated at large : the net income was 2351, per annum: out of this remained to be deducted, the expence of supplying St. John's during Mr. Cecil's absence; and that attending the removal of our family to Chobham and back again. All these deductions taken into the calculation, the whole advantage to Mr. Cecil's income could not, at most, be estimated at more than 1501.