« 前へ次へ »
deep communion with himself and God-did he pass the allotted period of his stay at Harwich.
As the term (a year) fixed for his residence with Mr. Hordel drew towards its close, his anxiety considerably increased; he anticipated, with regret, a departure from scenes and society so much endeared to him; and the trial through which he was to pass previous to his admission into the academy at Hoxton, when viewed in connexion with his youth, excited in his mind considerable apprehension and dread. But the hope of success never entirely abandoned him; whilst the pleasing prospect of being again associated with his friend, who had by this time entered as a student in the same academy, tended not a little to gladden and animate his heart.
In November he drew up a statement of his religious experience, his views of theological truth, and his reasons for desiring the Christian minis. try, according to a standing order of the academy with respect to young men proposing themselves as candidates for its patronage. These papers, written in a style of dignified simplicity, and disclosing a knowledge and experience of divine things, which in a youth, scarcely sixteen years of age, must have excited the admiration of all to whom they were submitted,were duly presented to the committee, and passed, though not without some difficulty, arising from his age; but the extraordinary qualifications he appeared to possess, and the strong recommendations of his friend and tutor, Mr. Hordle, overcame this obstacle, and the 5th of January following was appointed for his personal appearanee before the constituents of that institution, in order to give them a specimen of his talents for public speaking.
Mr Spencer left Mr. Hordle's family on the 18th of December, and spent the interval of time between his departure from Harwich and the day of his examination at Hoxton (which was postponed to the 7th of January) at his father's house a Hertford.
Whose imagination does not follow this beloved youth into the bosom of his family again; who does not picture to himself the charming scenes of social and domestic joy his presence would inspire. With what tenderness and affection would his venerable father bid him welcome to his paternal home again; with what delight would he gaze upon the animated features of his countenance, smiling in all the ingenuousness of youth; while with nobler feelings of delight he marked the unfolding graces of his mind, saw his improvement in the best of sciences religion, and beheld him daily growing in favour both with God and man. With what adoring gratitude would they retrace together the scenes of his childhood, and the many alarming obstacles which once almost forbad the indulgence of a hope that the object of their ardent wish would ever be obtained ; and how, in the transport of those happy hours, would his family anticipate for him they loved, in the future stages of an honourable ministry, years of usefulness and comfort. Ah! pleasing visions never to be realized! Little did that interesting group conceive that it was his appointed lot but just to taste the joys and sorrows of a pastor's life, and then expire. Already they had seen
the bud swelling with fulness-teeming with life ; now they beheld the blossom, and admired its beauty; and they thought long to gaze upon the promised charms of tls unfolded flower; happy strangers of the melancholy and mysterious fact, that so soon as it had opened it must be suddenly cut down and die! But such and so frail is man6 In the morning they are like grass that groweth up, in the evening it is cut down and withereth."Psalın xc. 5, 6. Such and so uncertain is human life" It is even as a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”—James iv. 14.
At this interesting period of Mr. Spencer's life it will be perhaps gratifying to the reader to pause, and gain a more familiar acquaintance with him, than can be supplied by a narration of events and cir. cumstances in his history, by perusing some extracts from his correspondence and other papers, which will throw much light upon the formation of his character, and afford a pleasing specimen of his early genius.
I have now before me a packet of letters addres, sed to his friend Mr. Heward, dated at various periods, from October, 1805, to December, 1806. Though at the commencement of this correspondence he had not attained his 15th year, these letlers breathe a spirit of the purest piety, and often express sentiments by which age would not be dishonoured, in a style remarkably correct and vigo
But the reader shall participate with me in the pleasure which the perusal of this interesting correspondence—this simple and unaffected utterance of early piety and friendship, has afforded me.
Hertford, Oct. 16, 1805.
As for the manner in which I have and do employ my time : my father employs me either in writing or in his business, more than I expected. What leisure time I do have, which is but little, I employ in reading, writing, and meditation. I hope he will not press upon me that employment which I dislike, but which however I have been engaged in.
66 Mr. Wilson wrote a letter to my father, the substance of which is as follows: he informs him that if it is possible he will get a minister to take me, in order to see more of my piety and talents ; and hopes that it will be agreeable for me to be at home with my father till Christmas.
66 These are the circumstances under which I am now placed. I know it is my duty to be submissive and resigned to the will of God, but this is a lesson which, like all others, is to be learned at the cross of Christ: 'tis there alone, my dear friend, we can study all heavenly graces and duties
It is pleasing to observe with what deep seriousness of mind he conducted those favourite exercises in exhortation and in preaching, before referred to,* and with what humility and even thankfulness he listened to the animadversions of any who were disposed to criticise. In another part of the same
better he says
* See page 21,
I am not without hope, that I shall praise and adore a blessed God, for the ill opinions those persons formed of me, who heard me preach at Mr. T's. Methinks I cannot be thankful enough to you for informing me of it. It has I trust made me more watchful and prayerful than before, that I may be accounted righteous not in the sight of men, but in the view of a sin-avenging God, Thus we may see a little of the dealings of Providence with his children. When he distresses them in any way he does it for their good. All things, saith the inspired Apostle, work together for good to them that love God, and are the called according to his purpose. Since that evening I have felt a little more eomfort in my own mind rt 'ecting eternal things.
God forbid it should be a false peace. Hope you keep close to a throne of grace in personal prayer. 'Tis from thence we are to draw all our comfort; 'tis there we can get a soul-transforming spiritual view of Jesus; 'tis from thence we get every necessary weapon, wherewith to combat our spiritual enemies.
“ So often called away to attend to different things, like you I cannot say I have written such a letter as I could wish. If I should be placed under a minister, I think I should have more opportunity for writing long letters. However, letus, whenever an opportunity offers, write to each other. Such love as ours is not easily quenched. Let us then manifest it by writing to each other, so as to stir up one another to the exercise of every Christian grace. Still let us keep our eye upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and be constantly concerned to honor his