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Jiverer in her dream. His sermon affected her exceedingly. After the conclusion of the service, Mr. Bliss visited her, and found her anxiously concerned about her salvation. He gladly embraced the opportunity of administering the consolation of the gospel to her, and was the means of healing the wound which his preaching had occasioned. The above-mentioned dream he had from the woman herself; and since his being removed from that part of the country, though he has made frequent enquiries respecting her, he has always had the pleasure of hearing, that she was an exemplary and eminent Christian, who adorned the doctrine of her God and Saviour.
By a MS. found among his papers, we are informed that Mr. Bliss was elected Student in Christ-church in July 1758, commenced Bachelor of Arts in April 1759, was ordained Deacon in June 1760, and Priest in April 1762. After preaching at various places, we find him licensed, in 1766, as perpetual curate of Broadwoodwidgen, in the county of Devon. In 1770, he was instituted to the vicarage of Ashford and Yainscombe, in the saine county. At the former place (Ashford, near Barnstaple) he resided for many years, constantly and faithfully performing the duties of his important function, till he was absolutely incapacitated for it by disease.
Mr. Bliss, through the greatest part of his life, was subject to considerable weakness of body. This circumstance, in addition to his lameness, kept him much at home. As he was fond of reading, and had procured a good collection of valuable authors, he spent, as it is natural to supposc, much of his time in his study. He perused, with the utmost avidity, every evangelical author of eminence, both of the present and past age: but he read with much attention: to his favourite authors, he made marginal references in almost every page; and left behind him fourteen volumes of extracts from their writings, fairly written out with his own hand.
In the very retired village of Ashford, to which he devoted the greatest part of his ministerial labours, he was able to pursue his studies unmolested; but, when duty called him forth, he was never inattentive to its voice. Here he preached the pure gospel for many years, with the seriousness and earnestness of a man who had a deep conviction of its truth and value.
As he considered the welfare of the rising generation to be an object of very high importance, he catechised the
cbildren children of his parish from a forin which he drew up himself, in a manner plain and impressive. But it is a mysterious circumstance, which this good man used frequently to lament, that he knew not of having been instrumental to the conversion of any one of his hearers, notwithstanding his having laboured so long in the vineyard, with the exception of the solitary instance before mentioned; yet this one seal to his ministry kept him from despair, and encouraged him to go on with his work so long as his strength would permit.
About the year 1792, the period of his incapacity for public services arrived. Having taken a solemn farewell of his parishioners, he removed to Biddeford, to reside with his daughter. .
A long train of nervous complaints, which, for many years, had considerably afflicted him, now appeared to have taken fast hold of his constitution. Though, even in the latter part of his life, there were intervals in which he was tolerably free; - at others, during the immediate paroxysm of his complaints, his depression was extreme. The language of Dr. Young's Night Thoughts, at these seasons, was more than fainiliar to him. Such lines as these were uttered by him with that energetic feeling, which is probably inconceivable to those who are strangers to nervous depressions:
" From short (as usual) and disturb'd repose
“ Is sunshine to the colour of my fate." A friend one day calling upon him, and asking him how he was, he answered, “I am tremblingly alive all over. Every nerve is the seat of torture. Though, to lull my pains, I take opium enough crery day to kill three strong. men, the anguish I feel is so inconceivably excruciating. as can only be exceeded by sutiering the flames of Hell." At other times, he would frequently say, “ My life is so unspeakably burdensome, that nothing short of the mighty power of God, and the supports which real and experimental religion affords, could restrain me from laying vio
lent hands on myself.” Our worthy friend was not in the slightest degree tinctured with insanity; his conduct, amidst it all, was perfectly rational and consistent: his agonizing sensations arose from a complication of disorders, particularly of the nervous kind, wrought up to a very high pitch. If our great adversary Satan (who loves to fish in troubled waters) often assaulted him, it is not to be wondered at. The language of this good man frequently was, “ Christ is my only dependence; but my evidences of a personal interest are awfully beclouded; and, as to present enjoyments and sensible manifestations, I am a total stranger to them.” And often would he add, “ If death at a distance is so very formidable, how, O! how can I endure his near approach! How shall I be supported in going through the dark and gloomy passage!”
It bas been remarked, that those believers, who “ through fear of death are all their life-time subject to bondage,” have often found, by happy experience, that dying supports are reserved for dying moments. Seldom has the observation been realized more reinarkably than in the instance before us; which instauce we mention as a particularly prominent feature in our memoir. His last sickness was peculiarly distressing, as his complaint prevented him froin swallowing the least particle of food, or solids of any kind, insomuch that he was literally starved to death ; and, as his appetite for food continued, his pains of body were excessive: but in these circumstances, when he was actually grappling with the king of terrors, the frame of his mind was tranquillity, patience, and resignation; and so it continued from the commencement of his last illness to the period of his removal. The medical gentleman who attended him having said, with a view to keep up his spirits, “Don't be afraid, my good Sir, we shall, I hope, be able to bring you about again,” he eagerly replied, “ Afraid, Sir! afraid ! No; blessed be God, my fears are gone, for iny hopes are firmly placed on the Rock of Ages.” To those that surrounded his bed, he enlarged with great delight on the fulness, the freeness, and the suitableness of the gospel; on the efficacy of the great atonement; on his confidence of a personal interest in it, and his unshaken trust in his God. A few days before his dissolution, he preached a sermon from his pillow, on “ Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord,” with an astonishing energy and pathos. He might, on this occasion, have literally adopted the lines of the eminently pious Baxter: VoL, X 72
" I ♡ I preach, as if I ne'er should preach again;
“ And as a dying man to dying men" To a friend who called on him about this period, “I see, I feel (said he) that the gospel dispensation is exactly suited to my needs. In such circumstances as mine, what could I do without its supports !” It being observed to him, “ You, Sir, find now, by happy experience, the truth of that declaration, God is a refuge and strength, and a very present help in time of trouble !"- he repliech, with joy sparkling in his eyes, “ I do indeed, I do indeed :" and added, “ Death at a distance used to appear to me very formidable; but, now that I know, I feel, and (looking on his emaciated body) I see that I am a dying man, I think of it with the utmost composure and calmness. Blessed be. Gou, its sting is gone. My only dependence, with eternity full in view, is on the righteousness, the atonement, and intercession of Emmanuel. May God's will be entirely done as to the manner of my death, and every circumstance of it: I really don't wish to live. You see the tears dropping from my eyes, but- but they are tears of joy;" and added, with great seriousness and confidence, 6 I am going to see the King in his beauty ; going into the company of my beloved Jesus. I wish to glorify him in my dying moments; and I believe, -- yes, -- I believe, I shall glorify hiin in Heaven, through boundless ages of eternity.”
During the few remaining days of his life, though his pains were acute and agonizing, expressions of a similar nature dropped from his lips, plainly indicating the continued happy state of his mind.
On January 13, 1802, his frail tabernacle was taken down, and he' entered into the joy of his Lord. On the 18th, his remains were removed to Barnstaple for interment; to which place the Rev. Mr. Smith, rector of Biddeford, and the Rev. Mr. Rooker, dissenting minister, attended the corpse.
We cannot conclude without remarking, that, if the preceding memoir should meet the eye of any disconsolate believer, who is often fearing how he shall sustain the last conflict, he should recollect, that in the happy experience of Mr. Bliss, and of thousands of others, these words have been fulfilled : “ As thy day is, thy strength shall be ;" 'and, F! At evening-time it shall be light.”
ETERNITY, strictly taken, is the peculiar attribute of
Deity. Creatures may be immortal and exist for ever; but it is God alone who knows no beginning In this view, however, it is in vain to attempt a distinct or accurate idea. “God is great, and we know hiin not.” The most acute philosophers dispute in vain of his existence; nor can the genius of an Aristotle, or a Cicero, - of a Bacon, a Newton, or -a Locke, penetrate the clouds of mystery which surround his throne; or even, as Watts expresses it,
« Stretch out a thought half way to God.” But, applying the term, in its more restricted sense, to creatures, we begin to comprehend it. We can conceive existence without end, because we cannot conceive an end to all existence. In this view, Eternity gives perfection to happiness, and extrcinity to misery. With this attribute, the enjoyment of a worm would exceed the temporary pleasures of a man; and the sting of a fly become more intolerable, by its perpetuity, than the torture of the stone. Human ingenuity has been exhausted, as the wisdom of an angel might be, in attempting to delineate existence without end. The days of Eternity have been compared, to the leaves of the forest, and to the blades of the ineadow; to the drops of the ocean, and to the sands upon its shores; — to the stars of the sky, and to the beams of the sun: but what are leaves and blades, and drops and sands, and stars and sun-beams, to Eternity? Add the whole, and multiply them by each other, subtract the mighty sum, and it would dininish nothing from the ages of immortality, - from the duration of a soul!
It is this idea which gives importance to human life. Considered in itself, “ What is our life? It is a vapour." But consider it in connexion with a future state, and it is of infinite importance. The vappur ascends and loses itself in the atmosphere, till, by and by, the whole horizon is covered, and the heavens are clothed in blackness. Thus time expands into eternity; and human life, vain and transient as it is, acquires the character of infinity. ጊ Z 9