Page images

lowship to all who seem to have the root of the matter in them, though they may not split the hair exactly, or trip a little in pronouncing the word Shibboleth.

“ Mr. Thornton dined with me lately, and his discourse turned much upon the point of mutual forbearance amongst serious persons, who, as we both agreed, generally differ more in words than reality, make sport for infidels by quarrelling with, and too often anathematizing, one another. He, a Calvinist, has been charged by some of that opinion with lukewarmness, desertion of the truth, &c., for declaring for moderation, if not total silence, in the case of the Decrees; but where essentials are not concerned, he steadily prefers peace to endless wrangling, heartily laments the mischief of some late disputes, and wishes that all would evidence the truth of their profession, and the efficacy of their principles, by their subdued temper. You have the impression he left upon me warm, and I am thinking of self-application.

“ The day you left me I had a return of my disorder, and once since. God is too much my friend to consult me how I am to be blessed. I know this in speculation, but must deal sincerely with you, and tell you, what perhaps you know by experience, that the acquiescence of the heart is a different thing. When pain comes, God comes, and I can hardly think of anything else ; when it is removed, the world is within call, and whether I do or not, I have cause to wish for the rod again.

My dear sir, as I cannot come to you without the chance of being a troublesome guest, come as often as you can to " Your most affectionate,

" THOMAS Adam."

The things

We cannot look back upon the controversies which then unhappily rent the rising church of Christ, and alienated the minds of good men, and even ministers, from each other, without blushing for human nature. We see, also, that where experience and deep piety, together with competent learning, have a place in the heart, men more readily perceive the true bearings of disputes about words. in which true Christians agree with one another, are more numerous and essential than those in which they differ. Besides, disputing will rarely lead to any benefit. Experience will strip novelty of its charm; and a very favourite notion will often lose much of its interest, after a time, even with the inventor himself. This is probably true respecting pardon and justification ; the former, according to Mr. Hervey, by the passive obedience of Christ, and the latter by the active. The learned Dr. Owen seems to resolve the whole of Christ's obedience into what he terms active: since he voluntarily endured the cross, and afterwards delivered up his soul to his heavenly Father. These, are however matters far too subtle for the common classes of Christians ; and they argue right very frequently, from principles imperfectly understood; while, on the other hand, insulated doctrines, however true, are seldom improved to edification.

Mr. Adam alludes to his disorder ;. and the editor will here introduce a prayer which he wrote, and used during his frequent paroxysms of pain, when he was unable otherwise to collect his thoughts, and apply them in acts of devotion.

“ O Lord, my Maker and Redeemer, I thank thee for all thy goodness to me, thy unworthy creature, and especially for the great mercy of the stone. I know thou sendest it for good, that I may make deep search into myself, and improve the pain of my body to the health and everlasting salvation of my soul. I confess my sins are more in number than the hairs of my head, and deserve a more severe chastisement than I now endure : but thou dispensest thy corrections with unerring wisdom, and I desire to submit myself in all things to thy gracious disposal, and to choose what thou choosest for me. O let me say, by a mighty power from thy grace, ' It is a good thing for me I have been afflicted;' that my life may be a continual preparation for death, and death welcome, through a living faith in Jesus Christ, who hath taken out the sting of it, redeemed us unto thee by the blood of his cross, and insured our justification by his resurrection from the dead.

Bless, I beseech thee, the means used for my ease and recovery; for my help and trust are only in thee: and if thou dost not think fit to grant my request, enable me to bear what thou layest upon me, without a murmuring thought, and with perfect resignation to thy blessed will.

“O Lord God of my life and of all my mercies,

[ocr errors]

deal with me as thou pleasest. Do thy own work in thy own way. Into thy hands I commend my spirit. Grant me thy peace. Carry me safely through all trials; and make it the desire of my heart to know, love, and bless thee, and be prepared for the everlasting enjoyment of thee, through Jesus Christ. Amen."

The disorder was not that which the physicians at first supposed.

Toward the close of the year 1773, Mr. Adam probably began a series of letters, addressed to his friend Colonel Pownall, uncle to the late Sir George Pownall, knight, and governor of Canada. These letters, to a Christian and a gentleman, show that he was capable of supporting an elevation in his epistolary style, different from the plain and homely language which he sometimes adopted, when writing for the instruction of the middling ranks of his parishioners.

The first letter which we have, shows the frankness and Christian affection of Mr. Adam, and his desire to see persons of education, experience, and piety, undertake the office of the ministry.

[ocr errors]



Wintringham, Nov. 6th, 17"3. My dear Sir, “ Ever since you were here my house has been full of company, and though I often think of you, and always with pleasure, could not find time to acknowledge the favour of your letter, and short visit.

What now first occurs to me I must say first, which is, that I shall be extremely glad to see you and Mrs. Pownall at Wintringham, whenever it is agreeable to you, and convenient to make a longer stay. When my disorder, which returns frequently, is upon me, I am fit to be nowhere but at home, and can enjoy my friends nowhere else. At such times, society is some relief to me, and your conversation would not be less so, for being, as it is generally, serious.

“I was really more than half in earnest when I spoke to you of entering into the ministry, and do not think you less qualified for the important office, for having a due sense of your unworthiness. You may have many years to come, and having nothing to do will neither suit your active spirit nor inclination to be serviceable to your fellow-creatures in some capacity or other. If it should be in their eternal interests, so much the better ; and if

you are disposed to take the matter into consideration, I pray God direct you for the best.

for the best. I should rejoice to hear you speaking boldly in the name of Jesus, and bearing witness to the glorious truths of the gospel, which I hope you find to be the cordial of your life, and can inculcate from the experience you have of their influence on yourself. My intention in what I say, is not to flatter, but to suggest a hint for self-inspection.

My dear sir, the truth, if not the whole truth, is contained in those words of St. Paul, 'I determined to know (make known) nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.' This profession may be more in the head than the heart, and in too

« PreviousContinue »