Page images
[ocr errors][merged small]

this description, who have withstood that awful suspense between life and
the temptations and opposition which death which a battle occasions.
the present state of the military calling He frequently called upon me during
presents; and who have unremittingly the continuance of the regiment in my
persevered in the profession and prac. neighbourhood, and every succeeding
tice of religion, notwithstanding the in- interview gave me fresh proofs of his
fluence and persuasion of evil compan- religious attainments. At that time
ions, nay, 100 often the threats and per- he was the only man in the regiment
secution of their officers. The trials who made any profession of religion,
to which those, who are more than and on that account was ridiculed and,
usually concerned for the welfare of despised by the greater part of his
their souls, are exposed to from the companions.
ill-will and derision of the world, is well

At length the regiment having nearknown, but few, if any, are placed under ly repaired, by fresh recruits, the loss more trying circumstances than the re- sustained in Holland, was ordered to ligious soldier.

The hatred, scorn, join a camp then forming, for the purand persecution, which he generally pose of collecting troops for the Egypmeets with, is far greater than that tian expedition, under the command of which usually falls to the lot of reli- Sir Ralph Abercrombie. A few days gious people of the lower classes, who before their departure, W for are placed in other situations of life.

that was his name, brought with him Shortly after the return of the Duke another private of the same regiment, of York from Holland, one of the regi- who had expressed a particular desire ments, which had suffered very mate

to speak with me, but of whom he knew rially in the different


little, except that in some of the was quartered in my parish. A private engagements in Holland he had been soldier called upon me one evening observed voluntarily to seek danger, after divine service, with a request that and needlessly to hazard his person, as I would explain a particular part of if with a desperate resolution of ridding my discourse, which he had just heard, himself of life. On being introduced expressing, at the same time, much in

to me alone, the stranger said, that he terest in the general subject of it. I found him to be a very well informed hoped I should excuse the liberty he man, of distinguished piety, and much had taken of coming to request that I religious knowledge. His language

would purchase a small parcel which

His language he had brought, in order to enable him and address betrayed evident marks of strong natural sense, aided by an unu

to supply himself with a few necessasual acquaintance with the word of ries preparatory to his voyage to Egypt, God, and the operations of his

as he had no other means of raising a grace

He was

a tall young upon the heart.

From this man I received a most in- man, of a dark sun-burnt countenance, teresting detail of circumstances which having something in his aspect, speech, occurred during the campaign in Hol- and address, which struck me as being land, including a particular account of

above his present appearance.

On the temper and beliaviour of many indi. opening his parcel, which he did not viduals before and during the heat of do without some confusion, it proved battle. Such anecdotes, from a sensi. to consist of some clergyman's bands, ble and pious man, I consider as very

one or two religious books, and some valuable ; for although we are at no manuscript sermons. - Sir," said he, loss in obtaining minute details of mili- "you will hear with surprise, and I tary operations from various quarters,

cannot mention it without some uneaboth public and private, yet the religious siness, what I have for a long time conhistory of a battle is one not always to

cealed from every one around me, that be procured. I may possibly take I am in reality a brother clergyman, some future opportunity of communi- though now disguised in the habit of a cating to you this good man's remarks common soldier. My father is a cleron the state of his comrades during gyman in Wales: he educated me

little money.

[ocr errors]

himself for the church, and procured advice, and the offer I had made, yet me ordination, with a title to a curacy I was sorry to perceive a great relucat ~, in the county of W-:my tance on his part to avail himself of my name is E-. I continued upon that counsel, and but little appearance of cure three years, during which time, remorse for what had past: he talked I am sorry to say, through much im like a man weary of the world, who prudence and inattention to the deco. had no desire to continue in it, and no rum which suited my character, I con hope of sustaining a respectable char. tracted several debis which I had nei. acier in it; it was plain that no imther means nor prospect of paying pression of a religious kind had been Fearing disgrace and imprisonment, made upon his mind. The peculiarity and knowing my father's inability to of his situation, and the occasion of his assist me, I quitted the town, and form- coming, led him, at the same time, to ed the resolution of enlisting as a sol. pay altention to what I said. I enterdier, which I shortly afterwards did, ed into a long conversation with him and was soon sent on the expedition on the nature and design of Christianto Holland, whence I lately returned. ity in general, as well as of the pastoral That you may have no doubts as to the office in particular, examined him as truth of my story, which may possibly to his views of the doctrines of the induce you to sympathize with a broth- Gospel, and explained my own to him er clergyman in distress, I will shew very fully: I entreated him to take you several letters and papers which, what I had said in good part, and urged when you have read, I trust you will him, by every sacred consideration, to give me credit for the truth of my re- act the part which it appeared to me lation.” He also wrote some sentences his duty and interest to adopt. He in my presence, which proved his hand- said but little in reply, and almost dewriting to be the same with that of the clined saying any more. I therefore manuscript sermons he had requested purchased his little parcel, gave him a me to purchase. On examining the couple of books, and dismissed him letters, (some of which were from his with a blessing, once more entreating father, expostulating with him on his him to lay to heart what I had said. extravagance ;) and putting a variety In two days the regiment went away, of questions to him, I felt fully satisfied nor did I see either W-, or Mr. as to the truth of his story.

Ebefore their departure. I was greatly concerned at what he A circumstance of so singular a nahad related, and began to enter into a lure frequently occupied my thoughts close and friendly expostulation with afterwards, and whenever I wore the him on the inconsistency of his present bands which I had purchased from Mr. situation with the sacred profession to E-, I felt an increased interest in which he was bound by ties he most his behalf. From that time, till the indissoluble : I urged the duty of his return of our troops from Egypt, I had endeavouring to return, if possible, to no opportunity of hearing any thing res, the discharge of his ministerial duties pecting him, except that a clergyman with a mind influenced and improved of his name had certainly officiated at by the experience of past hardships the town which he had specified, a few and misfortunes. As he did not ap- years since: this I learned from a napear disposed to follow this advice, I tive of the place. brought forward, with much earnesto In June last my old acquaintance ness, every argument which Scripture W-called upon me, and said he or reason suggested to my mind on the was just arrived from Egypt, and had subject, and begged that he would per- , a great deal to say to me. With the mit me to endeavour to procure his same excellence of heart and head, as discharge from the army, by a repre- he had testified on every former occasentation of his case to the Duke of sion, he entered into a clear and satisYork. Although he spoke to me with factory account of the events of the much civility, and thanked me for my Egyptian expedition, describing, in a

Christ. Obsery. No. 12.

5 G

very affecting manner, the outward endeavours. We derived much benefit hardships and dangers he had encoun- from these meetings. Mr. Em, in tered, as well as the inward consolation particular, expressed himself highly and support which he had derived from delighted by such a profitable mode the power of religion on his mind. of passing those hours which in our

"I have now,” continued he,“ a story line of life are loo generally devoted to relate which I am certain you will to drinking, debauchery, and profanefeel a deep concern in. You, without ness. In his confidential conversations doubt, "remember that young clergy- with me, he frequently mentioned your man whom I brought to your house the name, and shewed me the substance of year before last, the Reverend Mr. your friendly advice to him, which he E--. At that time I knew very little had from memory committed to paper. of him ; he, however, shortly after we

“ When we arrived on the coast of had left you, observed, with some eino- Africa, Mr. E—and myself were in tion, that what you said to him had the same boat at the time of our landmade more impression upon his mind ing at Aboukir. Throughout the whole than any thing he had ever heard in of the tremendous fire which, for a conthe course of his life. He then made siderable time, the French artillery me also acquainted with his history, to kept upon us, I observed great coolness which I was before a stranger. From and patient fortitude in his countenance. that day I was confined in the hospital His deportment was very different from with a fever, and did not see him again what I had seen when we served to.

At that time he before our departure for Egypt. We gether in Holland. embarked on board of different ships ; always appeared desperate and careit was not, therefore, till our arrival at

less; now I thought I could perceive Malta that we

met together. Mr. a courage blended with humility, which E took an immediate opportunity evidently proceeded from a much more

exalted source. of saying, "W-, I have long wished

We both, by the mersee you, I want to tell you how cy of God, escaped unhurt on that day. greatly indebied I feel to that dear Our littie society continued its meetfriend of yours at

I can never

ings as regularly as the trying circumforget him: his words made a deep Mr. Er was three or four times en

stances of our situation would permit. impression on my heart, and I trust, by the blessing of God, they will yet make gaged with the enemy afterwards, and the blessing of God, they will yet make always behaved both before and during a stiil deeper.”

the battle with much steady, and I may I found on conversing with him, that since I saw him he had become affect.

call it, godly courage. ed with a deep sense of his spiritual of March, our whole society met toge

“On the evening preceding the 21st danger, and by meditation and secret

ther. Mr. E said, in the presence prayer during the voyage, had acquired of the rest, • I cannot accouni for the much insight into religion. ile shewed strong marks of penitence, and gave

strong impression which has seized a favourable hope of an important event of to morrow's engagement: no

my mind, that I shall not survive the change having taken place in his views such prepossession ever occupied my and dispositions. I was always happy thoughts on any former occasion, I feel, to find, on the reassembling of the re.

therefore, strongly affected by this; but giment after the voyage, that among if it be thy will, o God, thy will be the recruits were a few very seriously done!! We then united in prayer todisposed. Mr. E--- and myself soon gether for him, for ourselves, and for formed a little religious society amongst all our brethren in arms, beseeching them, which gradually increased to the God to prepare us for the awful trial, number of twenty-four: we

and give us grace either to meet death often as possible to read the Bible to

with joyful hope, or to receive bis spargether, converse on the concerns of ing mercy, if our lives should be preeternity, and unite in praver to Al served, with gratitude. Knowing the mighty God for his blessing on our importance of the next day's battle, and


met as

the little chance we stood of all meet. sented as a law of candour, not to charge ing again in this world, we embraced another with any consequences of his each other with peculiar attachment, opinions, which he chooses to and mutual recommendation to the God And this sentiment is recommended by of battle and the preserver of souls. the easy introduction which it procures Oh, Sir! it was a happy, but trying for principles, which if attended with season to us; I saw Mr. E an hour their apparent, perhaps their necessary before the horrors of that bloody day consequences, would probably meet commenced; his words were, • Pray with some resistance. On the other earnestly for me, and if I am killed, hand, when men conceive themselves and you should be spared, give my last to have an interest in the degradation blessing to our worthy and dear friend or destruction of any principles, tbey at ; tell Mr. continued he, generally act as if they considered it 'that I owe him more than worlds can lawful to charge their adversary with repay: he first opened my heart to con- all the consequences, which, with the viction, and God has blessed it to re- least shew of reason, can be deduced pentance: through the unspeakable from his opinion. So flexible a rule mercies of Christ, I can die with com- cannot be just : and upon a subject of fort.'

such importance, we stünd in need of “ After the severe engagement which a guide upon which we can depend. followed, wherein the brave Abercrom It must then be premised inat the bie fell, according to agreement, our subject here to be discussed, is not the little society met. Every life was necessary consequences of opinions ; spared except that of poor Mr. E-, for to call them necessary, is to beg the whose head was taken off by a cannon question, and to decide the matter at ball at an early period of the action. once. Neither are the consequences Such was the will of God. Whilst, into which we now propose to inquire therefore, we returned hearty thanks apparent only. For then nothing would for our preservation, we blessed God's remain but to detect the sopbistry which goodness for sparing the life of our de- unjustly deduces them. The present parted brother, till by a lively exercise subject of inquiry is much larger and of faith and repentance, as we had every much niore important. It comprises reason to trust, God had made him his all those consequences which may be own. I now also bless God, that I have denominated rational. But as upon had this opportunity of secing and re. this term the whole of the ensuing realating to you a story, which I know soning will depend, it is necessary to you rejoice to hear.”

explain with accuracy in what sense it Without farther comment, Mr. Edic is used. It is not then meant to de. tor, I send you the above relation, which scribe a consequence which is rational I have committed to writing with as upon the while; for then there would much faithfulness and accuracy as I am be little difference between a rational able.

L. R. and a necessary consequence. But it

is intended to signify such a conse

quence as is deduced by the most leFor the Christian Observer.

gitimate ratiocination; the particular ON THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MEN FOR THE

principle alone being considered from CUNSEQUENCES OF THEIR OPINIONS,

which the consequence is derived. la The question under what circumstances this sense, universal happiness is a conmen may be charged with the conse. sequence rationally deducible from the quences of their opinions, is of great divine goodness. importance to the decision of many Now to deterinine in what cases men controversies, at least, to the determin- are chargeable with the rational conseation what judgment we ought to form quences of their opinions, the subject concerning them. The popular senti. of those opinions, or the degree of ment upon the subject, as most popu- knowledge which we possess concernlar sentiments are, is at variance with ing it, must be considered. Upon the itself. On the one hand, it is repre. nature and extent of human knowledge,


the decision will entirely rest. Perfect receive from credible authority, of a ignorance and perfect knowledge are foreign country ; in which the operahere, for obvious reasons, equally out tions of nature are so different from of the question. But the interme- what passes under our own experience, diate space is vastly extended; and be- that our inferences from the known to tween the highest and the lowest dc- the unknown phenomena, are almost grees of human knowledge, there is a totally precarious. How far this is the very considerable distance. For the case in divine subjects, will be appapurposes of the present argument, it rent, when we consider that the rationwill be sufficiently accurate to divide al consequence, from the divine goodthe province of human knowledge into ness, of universal happiness, is directly two parts; the first of which compre- contradicted by the most certain evihends those subjects which are beyond dence of experience by plain and palthe reach of our faculties, and of which pable fact. our knowledge is consequently imper Not only the goodness, but the wisfect; the second relates to those sub- dom and power of the Divine Being, jects, which may be represented as lya obliges us to infer the non-existence of ing within the sphere of our compre- evil. Nevertheless, in the portion of hension, and concerning which we may the universe with which we are conattain a considerable degree of know- cerned, we see evil, both moral and ledge.

natural, abound. What then is our On subjects confessedly beyond the conduct? Do we deny the divine perreach of human comprehension, we fections? Do we give up the evidence ought not to be made accountable for of experience and our senses? No: we the consequences, which nevertheless, acknowledge both the one and the we cannot deny to be rationally deduci- other; but we acknowledge them to be ble from our principles ; unless the irreconcileable.* This is an instance connection of the one with the other be full to the point. It establishes, in the matter of certain knowledge or of high- most decisive manner, the position, that ly probable inference,

And we are

cases may exist, in which we are entiexempted from the necessity of admit- tied to the privilege of holding the ting such consequences, and of being principle, and yet disclaiming the conaccountable for them, in all cases in

sequence. For in proportion as any which the degree of evidence derived

case approaches to that which has been to them from their original principle is mentioned, so far is the same conduct over balanced by a greater degree of evi

admissible. Under this description, dence arising from some other source. therefore, is obviously included the case It was represented as a rational in- of those, who consider themselves jusference or consequence from the divine tified in uniting the belief of the abso. goodness, that universal happiness lute dependence of man upon divine should prevail. It will be readily ac


with that of such a degree of knowledged, that of all subjects, the freedom in rational agents, as renders nature and operations of God, both from them responsible for their actions. Yet their sublimity and their magnitude, from these two principles may be deare the farthest removed from the com- rived by a process, the legitimacy of prehension of man. The information

which cannot be disputed, consequenconcerning this subject, which reason and revelation afford, is far from being other. For it is easy to perceive, that

ces diametrically opposite to each perfect. The general knowledge,

were it not for the controul which these however, which we derive from these, sources, is certain; and so likewise are

two principles mutually exercise over

each other, the natural conclusion from many important particulars conveyed

the first would be, that man is a mere to us by the same means. Nevertheless, divine science is not systematical

* The methods by which some have attempt. ly communicated. We do not behold ed to account for the origin of evil, reminds it in all its relations and consequences. Mathematicians, that nothing divided by nothing,

one of the opinion held by several eminent It resembles the information which we may produce something.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »