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the want of that habitual reverence for God, which I ought to feel in my own mind? I desire to be very thankful for so seasonable a reproof; resolving by divine assistance to lay it seriously to heart and examine myself for the future, in some special regard to it." Such was the strong sense this excellent man expressed of his own weakness, imperfections and defects; at the same time that some, who knew him most intimately, were ready to admire the zeal, activity, and success, with which he exerted himself in his master's work. In him was eminently fulfilled that saying of our Lord, He that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.
His Patience, Serenity and Chearfulness under Afflictions, and upon what Principles these Graces were exercised and supported.
IN all ages God hath been pleased to visit those with afflictions, who have been dearest to him, and most active in serving him. By purging and pruning the branches, which bring forth fruit, he hath enabled them to bring forth more fruit. This was the case with Dr. Doddridge; and we are now to see how his heart was affected with his afflictions, how he was supported under them, and improved by them.
His health was not often interrupted so as to render him incapable of business; and he frequently recorded and devoutly acknowledged the goodness of God in this respect. But he was visited with some threatning fevers, which might have been prevented, or sooner removed, had he taken due precautions in time. But the ardour of his spirit in his master's work made him too much disregard the body; and, as he found some public services gave him a present flow and chearfulness of spirits, he did not sufficiently consider, how much his health might be impaired, and beginning disorders increased by neglecting a timely recess from business, and the use of proper remedies. He once lay long under a violent fever, which gave his family and friends many painful fears. But he bore the affliction with great patience; and, as soon as he was able to write, gave an intimate friend an account of his recovery; to which he added, "It is impossible to express the support and comfort, which God gave me on my sick bed. His promises were my continual feast. They seemed, as it were, to be all united in one stream of glory, and poured into my heart. When I thought of dying, it sometimes made my very heart to leap within me, to think, that I
was going home to my Father and my Saviour, to an innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect. Animal nature was more than once in great commotion; my imagination, just at the height of the fever, hurried in the strangest manner I ever knew. Yet even then, Satan was not permitted to suggest one single fear with regard to my eternal state. I can never be sufficiently thankful for this. Assist me in praising God upon this account. O, may I come out of the furnace like gold!" Speaking of another illness some months after, he saith, "I did not experience so much of the presence of God in this illness, as I did in the former; but I bless God, I have not been left either to dejection or impatience.' Concerning another he saith, "I have been confined of late by a threatning disorder; but I thank God, through the prayers of my friends and a blessing upon the use of means, I am now well. Assist me in acknowledging the divine goodness. He hath filled my soul with joy by the light of his countenance, and given me, I hope, more and more to rise above every thing selfish and temporal, that my soul may fix on what is divine and immortal. The great grief of my heart is, that I can do no more for him. O, that my zeal may increase; that I may know how, on every occasion, to think and speak and act for God in Christ, and may spend all the remainder of my days and hours upon earth, in what may have the most direct tendency to people heaven. I am so crouded with cares, that they almost bear me down; yet if they may but be cares for God, they are welcome."
He had much affliction in the sicknesses and other distresses of his friends and near relations, with whom he affectionately sympathized and for whom he earnestly prayed. He thus expresseth himself to a friend, concerning the dangerous illness of his wife and the anxiety he had upon her account; "Ibless God, my mind is kept in perfect peace, and sweet harmony of resignation to so wise and gracious a will. And indeed, the less will we have of our own for any thing but to please him, the more comfort we shall find in whatever circumstances he is pleased to allot us. Self-denial, mortification and taking up the cross, giving up our own schemes, and being sometimes censured and condemned, even for things in themselves right, and, in the circumstances in which they were done, requisite, is a very wholesome part of discipline. Though this be sometimes distasteful food, the soul often thrives by it, as I hope I have in many instances fou..d.” Upon another afflictive occasion, he thus expresseth himself; "I am ready to resign my agreeable circumstances, and to come, if such were the will of my Lord, to bread and water and
to a dungeon, if his name may but be glorified by it; provided he will but look through the gloom and chear me with the light of his countenance. Yea, I am willing to submit in the midst of inward as well as outward darkness, if his name may but be glorified. And when I feel this, as, I bless God, at some times I do, then a living fountain of consolation springs up in my soul, and the waters of life do, as it were, overflow me."-His heart was so affectionate and tender, that the death of some of his brethren in the ministry, his friends in private life, and his pupils, wounded him deeply.
In his reflections on one of his birth-days he thus writes; "Most awful things God hath shewed me since the last birthday; such as all the years of my life can hardly equal: The death of four such valuable friends, that I question, whether the whole sum of my remaining comforts could, all things considered, furnish out such another field of slaughter. My hands are indeed weak this day, and have long been so. How soon he may add me to the number of my fathers and brethren, he only knows. I thankfully own, that I am not solicitous about it. I trust, through his grace, that I have in the sincerity of my soul devoted myself and my labours to him. Him do I honour and love above all; and it is the joy of my heart to serve him with my spirit in the gospel of his Son. I hereby leave it under my hand before him, that I am his property; that I have no greater ambition than to be disposed of by him; to be silent till he commands me to speak; to watch his eye and hand for every intimation of his will, and to do it, and bear it, as far as my little strength will carry me; waiting upon him for further strength in proportion to renewed difficulties: and all my interests and concerns I do most cordially lodge in his hands, and leave myself and them to his wise and gracious disposal."-In one of his reflections on the frame of his spirit in the services of a sacrament day, he writes; "This day my heart hath been almost torn in pieces with sorrow; yet, blessed be God, not a hopeless, not a repining sorrow; but so softened and so sweetened, that, with all its distress, I number it among the best days of my life; if that be good which teacheth us faith and love, and which cherisheth the sentiments of piety and benevolence. I desire very thankfully to acknowledge, that days of the sharpest trial have often been days of singular comfort. The repeated views I have had of a dear dying friend, who is expressing so much of the divine presence and love, have comforted rather than dejected me. Blessed be God, who hath sealed us both with his those that are to
be companions in eternal glory! A thought which now hath a relish, that nothing can exceed, nothing can equal.”
In a letter to one of his pupils, concerning the joy and triumph with which one of his friends had died, he saith; "O, what a gospel is this! I protest by our rejoicing in Christ Jesus, that I see and feel more and more of its excellency; that I esteem it the greatest madness in the world to oppose it, and next to that, to neglect it. Who would not rejoice in that gospel, which is such a cordial to the soul, when every thing else loseth its relish? Who would not delight to preach it, and adore that gracious hand, which imparts the consolations of it to our companions in the ways of religion, when their flesh and heart faileth? Thus, do I hope he will comfort us, when we are capable of labouring no longer for him; and convey us into a blissful eternity under his sensible smiles: but if not, we know whom we have believed, and the surprise of glory will be but so much the greater." At another time he thus writes; "Such things have lately befallen me in the death of some friends and the removal of others to a distance, that had I not been peculiarly supported, I know not how I should have borne them; but, through the undeserved goodness of a gracious God, I have found very great consolation. The divine presence hath made my work my joy amidst all its fatigues, and hath caused my soul to overflow with such unutterable delight, that I have hardly known how to quit it. Other things, that used to be pleasant, have been painful to me, as separating me from that delightful intercourse with God through Christ, which I have known in prayer, meditation and reading devotional pieces. It hath been like a fire glowing in my heart; so that I could scarce forbear speaking to every one I met with, about their souls and divine things; and have longed for opportunities, both in public and private, of imparting the fulness of what I felt within."
But there was no affliction which lay with greater weight upon his mind, than the death of his eldest daughter, who lived long enough to give him very agreeable hopes as to her pious disposition.* In the sermon he published on that occasion, the world hath seen how his heart was affected, and what considerations supported him under that affliction; and many mourning parents have been comforted and instructed by the arguments and consolations he hath suggested
* A very amiable and hopeful child of nearly five years of age.—K、
in it.* I wish such may reap a like advantage from viewing some of the workings of his heart in secret, which he recorded at once for his humiliation and thankfulness: And then my design will be answered; though others, who are strangers to the tender feelings of nature on such an occasion, may be unimpressed with his reflections. "I have been preaching from those words, It is well with the child? And she answered, It is well. But surely, there never was any dispensation of providence, in which I found it so difficult to say it. Indeed some hard thoughts of God were ready to arise; and the apprehension of his displeasure against me brought my mind into a painful situation. But it pleased God to quiet it, and lead me to a silent, cordial submission to his will. I see that I doted too much upon her; my heart was opened to her with a fond flattering delight. And now, O my soul, one of thy earthly delights is gone. Seek thy greatest delight in heaven, where I trust my child is; where I am sure my Saviour is; and where I trust, through grace, notwithstanding some irregularities of heart on this occasion, I shall shortly be. This circumstance I must record, that I recollected this day, at the Lord's table, that I had some time ago taken the cup at that ordinance with these words, 6 Lord, I take this cup as a public, solemn token, that, having received so inestimable a blessing as this, I will refuse no other cup, which thou shalt put into my hands.' I mentioned this again to day, and publicly charged the thought on myself, and christian friends who were present. God hath taken me at my word, but I do not retract it. I repeat it again with regard to every future cup. Much sweetness is mingled with this bitter portion, chiefly in the views and hopes of the eternal world. May not this be the beauty of this providence, that instead of her living many years upon earth, God may have taken her away, that I may be better fitted for and reconciled to, my own dissolution, perhaps nearly approaching? Lord, thy will be done! May my life be used for thy service, while it is continued, and then, put thou a period to it, whenever thou pleasest."
The next evening, after the funeral, he adds, "I have
* The sermon which he preached on this event, and which was published in 1736-7, is entitled "Submission to the Divine Providence on the Death of Children recommended and enforced." It is an admirable discourse which displays in a very strong and striking light the united piety and tenderness of the author's mind. Few superior instances of pathetic eloquence are to be met with in the English language.-K.