« PreviousContinue »
glorious peculiarities of the gospel, and reminding men that there is no possibility of being in the way of duty without the love of God, which can never take place in the heart without a sense of redeeming mercy. Moral writing and preaching only, is destructive of morality, as it concerns the inward man, and has a fatal tendency to make persons, even of the best natural tempers, fly to an outward behaviour, and lay the weight of their salvation upon it, instead of faith in the pardoning love of God, humbling the soul, and producing real holiness. Mr. Venn's performance, I imagine, will, in the main, be a working upon this plan; and I hope he will convince us of the necessity and great efficacy of gospel principles, in order to our acceptable obedience; and, that what is too generally thought the whole duty of man,' is neither the whole, nor the better half of it, but self-deceit, and a poor substitute for them.
“I cannot find Rivington's letter to Mr. Venn, but suppose it is not of consequence. I hoped I should have delivered Mr. Walker's · Helps,' &c. into your own hands, but, if you do not come shortly, will send it, if you desire it.
“ The archdeacon, who will be glad to see you, told me lately he had written for a number of the • Ordination Question, but could not get them. Pray tell me where and how they are to be had. What is become of the clergyman of Truro ? (the Rev. S. Walker :) I have not heard from him for several months, though my last letter to him was of an interesting nature.
“I am obliged to Mr. Venn for his sabbath-sermon, and heartily wish it may have an effect far and near; but there were some leaves wanting. It is very much to be lamented that men of learning and piety should ever have struck in with the corruption of mankind, as they once did in this nation, to weaken the obligation of a command, which is not only of a moral nature, as a guard and security to all the rest, but more especially sacred for its spiritual import, as the soul's call from earth to heaven. Certainly more was intended by it than to take the servile labour from off our necks; and the man has no more benefit from it than his beast, who sees nothing else in it but a liberty to skip and play in his pasture. I trust you are always in the right school, and know that your fall and fever were lessons of the day : perhaps you find too, by experience, that knowledge and strength are gained in the school of affliction ;—I do, for domestic trouble presses hard
What is the use of this but to humble us in the dust, to ground us in the sense of our weakness, and thereby hindering us from thinking a lie of ourselves; to make us call louder, and keep us close to our remedy? Dear sir, God bless you! Come when you can; it is but a day's journey, and you will be heartily welcome to
• Your affectionate brother,
“ THOMAS Adam."
The foregoing letter shows the lively interest Mr. Adam took in the progress of religion, and the labours of his brethren in the ministry. His lamentation over those who were disposed to weaken the obligations imposed upon Christians to observe the sabbath, may be seasonably made at the present day. The letter also may serve to prepare the mind of the reader for the death of the pious and well-beloved wife of Mr. Adam, which shortly after took place. It also shows that Mr. Adam was desirous to bring Mr. Venn into contact with Lord Dartmouth; as well as to encourage him in composing the “Complete Duty of Man.”
A few months after the date of the above letter, Mr. Venn acknowledged the encouragement he received from Mr. Adam while engaged in the work, upon
which his usefulness as a Christian author in no small measure rests. We shall see, by-and-bye, that Mr. Venn had not only encouragement from the Rector of Wintringham; but that the “Complete Duty of Man" was read and canvassed by Archdeacon Basset and Mr. Adam before it was published.
In a letter to Mrs. Knife, sister to John Thornton, Esq., Mr. Venn writes, December 21st, 1760—
“ If it were not for dear Mr. Adam's encouraging approbation, I should faint in my book ; but this, , when I receive it, is a strong incentive to persevere. In a letter a few days since he writes me word that he had an opportunity of reading my two chapters last sent to him, to Archdeacon Basset; and the result was, an earnest desire to have them printed. I keep close to the work now; and hope to bring up with me, if God continues to bless me with health, twelve chapters out of fifteen.* In July, 1760, Mrs. Adam died, in the faith and
See Life of Rev. H. Venn, Rector of Yelling ; by Rev. H. Venn.
hope of the gospel. Mr. Adam felt the separation deeply, as will appear from the following meditation, found in his own hand-writing after his decease. “ ON THE DEATH OF MY WIFE.
" July 19th, 1760. “ If I have true charity, I shall never want a wife. My parish, my relations, my friends, every soul, will be the object of my conjugal tenderness; and the exercise of it, from a root of love and obedience to my Saviour, a never-failing source of the purest delight.
“I find I have settled that love upon one which is due to all. This is a painful stroke ;-but I am sensible it is in order to another and a more painful one; and may my God enable me to submit to it, and make it effectual to his own blessed end. Now is a time for a total separation from the world and the flesh, by the sharp knife of circumcision. Now God calls me to a full choice of him. Now Christ says to me, Wilt thou be made whole ?' Now the Spirit stands ready with his purifying fire to do his office in me. Holy and Eternal Trinity! Amen.
“O my soul! thy lawful comforts have been a snare to thee, and thou hast well nigh ruined thyself by creature-dependence! Know thy support. Know it is thy God. Know how wretchedly thou hast been deceived, and turn to him that smiteth thee.
“ O Lord! thou hast struck me to the ground, and what wouldst thou have me to do? I know, speak it evidently to my heart,—if my own rebellious will does not oppose thy gracious design,—I know, I shall not want illumination and help.
“I see plainly that I am come to the turning point. From this day forward, a life of faith, or of sensuality; of heavenly affections, or prevailing love of earthly things ; of slavery, or freedom ; of selfpleasing, or entire devotedness to God.
“One chain may bind us as fast to the world as a thousand. I have seemed to myself to be above it in
many respects, but am sadly convinced it has all along had possession of me, and that my love of it, though less discernible, was perhaps more strong through centering in one object. Oh! that I might be buried in the same grave with her! and that henceforth I had nothing to do in the world but to live to him that died for me and rose again ; and to love God with a pure heart fervently!
“ It is necessary for me to obliterate, as much as possible, all such thoughts and remembrances of the deceased as may augment my sorrows, make resignation to God more difficult, and obstruct his salutary operations. “ Affliction, in common with
powerfully to the healing of the soul; and if the former does not send us to the latter, we shall not experience the healing benefit of the great Physician. I can now think, if the dear deceased was alive again, what would I not do, forbear, or suffer for her sake; but if I am not willing to do as much for Christ, what can be the reason of it but want of love?
“O my heart !-Nature has its turn in great weakness. When I went into the room where she was laid out, the sight of a breathless, extended, icy corpse, so loved, drew a flood of tears from me with
many sobs. I had not fortified myself beforehand by prayer and the exercise of resignation.
“ Blessed be God, I was more strengthened at her