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and another, " Hark! my soul, it is the Lord," and containing that well-known verse—
"Mine is an unchanging love,
How fall of deep thought and of consolation is the hymn, "God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform." With what beauty does he apply to the Christian life the figure of a vessel in a storm, "The billows swell, the winds are high," and what loving trust is expressed in the hymn beginning, "0 Lord, my best desires fulfil."
But although a ray might now and then pierce through the heavy clouds which overhung the sky, the darkness of his spirit was never destined to be wholly removed. To the close of his life he remained in the gloom of this terrible night.
A yet further trial awaited him, which tended greatly to increase his constitutional malady. Mrs. Unwin, his faithful friend and companion for many years, whose tender and watchful care had so often soothed his spirits and alleviated the gloom of his prison-house, was fast passing away, her faculties enfeebled, her life at its lowest ebb. Hoping some benefit for her from change of residence, Cowper left Weston. On his journey he conversed pleasantly with his nephew, Mr. Johnson; and this conversation, says his biographer, "was almost his last glimmering of cheerfulness." in 1796 Mrs. Unwin died.
The deepest darkness before the dawn was drawing near. On the 20th of March, 1799, he wrote his last poem, "The Castaway." English literature probably contains no more affecting piece of spiritual autobiography than these stanzas furnish. The wonderful force and vigour of the poem itself, as contrasted with the enfeebled health and despairing mind of the writer, make it interesting as a study in psychology, as well as in connection with the life of a man so honoured and beloved. The concluding stanzas are, in this light, deeply touching.
"I therefore purpose not, or dream
Descanting on his fate,
A more enduring date;
No voice Divine the storm allay'd,
No light propitious shone,
We perish'd each alone;
The next year he died. The last words he was heard to titter were in reply to an offer of some refreshment, " What can it signify?" and then he gently passed away.
May we not, in such a case as his, imagine "the moment after death." What a stupendous change! Darkness, which no ray even of heavenly light seemed able to dispel; a fixed persuasion that he was abandoned by God to utter destruction; an absolute inability, the result of his malady, to recognise even the possibility of deliverance; a mind self-torturing, perverting, with the ingenuity of insanity, the most glorious consolations of the gospel, so as to make them new instruments of torture, and not a sign or a word even to the last to indicate hope!
This, on this side of the river. But what beyond? What light, what joy, what triumph' must have been his! To reach the home from which he had believed himself, by a mysterious Divine decree, eternally banished! To behold the Saviour whose mercy he thought he should never ehare! To be welcomed by the Father's voice, he who had thought himself an outcast for ever! To find his shattered bark brought triumphantly into port, with glad songs of praise, who had called himself the castaway! One might fancy that his friend Newton's hymn had been written in anticipation of a deliverance so glorious as this :—
"In vain my fancy strives to paint
One gentle sigh their fetters breaks,
We scarce can say 'they're gone,'
Her mansion near the throne.
Faith strives, but all its efforts fail
To trace her in her flight;
Which hides that world of light.
Thus much (and this is all) we know,
They are completely blest,
And with their Saviour rest."
WHAT BETTEK IS A CHRISTIAN THAN ANY BODY
"Eoom for one here, sir," said the guard of a railway train' which had just drawn up at a station between one of our great northern towns and London. "Quick as possible, if you please," he added, decidedly, but respectfully. "Train's late—we're due at the next station."
• So saying, he opened the door of a carriage which •was filled, with the exception of one seat, by a party of young men who were starting, for a three weeks' holiday, to the continent.
The gentleman addressed was a quiet, thoughtful-looking man, apparently on the verge of forty, who might have passed for a solicitor or a bank-agent, though scarcely for a clergyman. He was none of these; for he had been engaged abroad in commercial pursuits, and had been compelled to return to England for the take of his health. His name was Senior.
"Bother!" exclaimed two or three of the party, all of whom had been especially wishful to have the carriage entirely to themselves. There was no alternative, however; and having courteously expressed a wish that he should not incommode them, he took his seat in a corner of the carriage, and after a few moments he produced a book from his satchel, and began to read.
"Any objection to a smoke, sir i" said one of the party, Mr. Brice, who seemed to be looked up to very much by the rest, and who had received sundry hints from several of them, in the shape of significant glances, to ask the question.
"Well, sir," replied Mr. Senior, "I am not a smoker, and I can't say I ever enjoy smoking; but I should be sorry to interfere with your enjoyment; and I dare say, if the windows be opened, I shall not find much inconvenience from it."
In common civility, seeing his evident reluctance, they ought to have denied themselves the pleasure. Indeed, they did hesitate; but after a few minutes two or three of them produced their cigars and their fusees, and began to smoke, and the rest soon followed the example.
Mr. Senior made no complaint; but, though it was quite plain that he felt the annoyance, he bore it patiently. There was this good result, however, from his doing so, that the young men were favourably disposed by it to ponder what he said to them in the course of conversation afterwards. ,
"Any word lately of Holton, Brice?" asked one of the party.
"Well, yes," was the reply. "I had a letter from him about six weeks ago. He is still at Crozier's, in Liverpool, and he seems to say he is doing very well. But what do you think? He says he has turned over a new leaf, and become a Christian."
"A Christian!" said Mr. Prince, whose question had elicited this information; "why, we're all Christians, are we not? We were born in a Christian country, and baptized, and all that; if we are not Christians, what are we? At all events, we are not heathens."
"Well, perhaps we are," answered Brice; "but he means, I fancy, a good deal more than that. I suppose he means that he has become very religious, and reads good books, and goes regularly to church and to prayer-meetings, and such like. I confess it rather surprised me."
"I don't think," said another of the party, Mr. Cochrane, "that he's any better to be liked for that. I've seen and heard a good deal of your extra religious people, and I don't think they are any better than other people; many of them are even worse."
The opinion thus expressed was received with approval by most of the young men; but. glancing round from behind his book, Mr. Senior thought''that two or three of them looked scarcely satisfied with it, and as though, if they had not lacked courage, they would have said something at least in qualification of it.
"I think I see how it is," said he to himself. "At all events they know better, and if I speak I shall have their consciences on my side; but whether or not, I shall be unfaithful to Christ if I suffer such statements to pass unquestioned." So, lifting up a silent prayer for direction from heaven, he resolved to speak.
"You seem to have a very low opinion of Christians, sir," said he, addressing Mr. Cochrane, "and to deem it a reason for special distrust if a man becomes decidedly religious. May I ask if all the religious people you have met with or heard of are such as you have described?"
"Well," replied Mr. Cochrane, "I would hardly like to say that; and I must admit that I know religious people of whom I never heard any harm; but I have heard of many bad things done by men who made large professions
oftreligion. Just now, everybody in B - is talking of the
most dishonourable failure lhat has happened for years; and the man was a great professor, and gave lots of money to religious objects, and had ministers and that sort of people always at his house. He was a town-councillor, and a leading member of the Chamber of Commerce."
"I was deeply grieved to hear of Mr. 's failure," paid
Mr. Senior. "1 read about it in the newspaper; and 1 regretted much to find that it not only involved many in great loss, but that it cast great discredit on religion. May 1 ask for what your Chamber of Commerce was established? I am aware that it exercises a watchful supervision over our commercial relations with other countries, especially as
they affect the B trade; but does it not also take up
questions of commercial morality?—and has it not been specially severe in this very case?"
Mr. Cochrane admitted that Mr. Senior was right.
"Then, may I ask you," resumed Mr. Senior, " if it would
be a fair thing for me to say that the members of the B
Chamber of Commerce ought all to be deemed dishonourable
men because Mr. , who was one of its leading officers,
has done the dishonest things of which we ,have been speaking? Or what would you think if, hearing that a young merchant had joined the Chamber, I were to say, 'A bad sign that. I thought very well of him before, but now I've loet all confidence in him ?'"
The young gentlemen all saw at once the drift of Mr. Senior's argument, and every eye was turned on Mr. Cochrane, waiting his reply. It was rather a home-thrust, though Mr. Senior was unaware of it; for, singularly enough, Mr. Cochrane was the very last member who had been admitted to the Chamber.
"Well, sir," he replied, slowly, and with a somewhat consoious smile, "I must admit that it would be scarcely fair of you to argue in that way; but you see the cases are altogether different."
"The only difference appears to be this," said Mr. Senior, "that the one is religion and the other business."
"But," interposed Mr. Brice, "there are some other differences. For one thing, religious people make such large professions; and, for another, there are so many who come so far short of what they profess."
"I should like to know," replied Mr. Senior, " whether