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A POETIC EPISTLE.
The precepts, demanding obedience, I read,
But, neither the danger of hell I was in,
Could turn from the love or the practice of sin,
Too often I vowed, if the Lord would forgive
How holy and just I in future would live,
But vows, when my passions recovered their fire,
Till infinite mercy from Calvary flew,
'The Power that first made thee must form thee anew, Or glory can never be thine!
Thy thoughts are polluted, thy heart is depraved,
Thy passions and powers are by satan enslaved;
No sinner, except he is born from above,
Or meet the pure eyes of his Maker with love,
Scarce had I objected, 'How can this thing be?'
That moment a spark of celestial desire
Was kindled, and flamed in my breast; I wrestled with God, and began to aspire To hope I should enter his rest.
Amazed at myself, that I dared be so bold,
I wondered still more on the cross to behold
Myself and my Saviour I saw with new eyes;
A POETIC EPISTLE.
His glorious perfections with pleasure I saw,
As God all-sufficient I knew he was mine-
What pleasures I tasted in that sacred hour
When Christ was revealed to my conscience with power, And formed in my heart by his grace!
The love and the guilt of transgression at once
The service of sin I resolved to renounce,
The service of God to begin.
For wisdom and strength I looked up to my Lord,
No sweet silver trumpet saluted my ears
But all was as silent as springing of flowers,
When mercy descended, like soft summer showers,
Almighty the voice was, yet perfectly still,
So great was the change I experienced within,
I thought it was glory commencing below,
As love to the heart, and as light to the eyes,
Which filled me with calm and delightful surprise,
ANECDOTES, SELECTIONS, AND GEMS.
The Spirit of Jesus revealed him to me,
Now near fourteen years I have lived on his grace,
And oft, as I gain a fresh glimpse of his face,
His frown more than death or destruction I dread;
His mercy full orb'd, when it shines on my head,
And soon, when my work in his vineyard is done,
To sit with my Lord on his glorious high throne,
To HIM that is holy, and righteous, and true,
TO HIM all the glory for ever is due,
Which flows from REDEMPTION BY BLOOD!
Oh help me, dear brother, to shout forth his praise,
For nothing but sovereign, omnipotent grace,
Anecdotes, Selections, and Gems.
JOSEPH SWAIN.-The poetic epistle on the preceding pages was addressed by Mr. Swain to a christian minister in Birmingham, in which town Mr. S. was born in 1761. He removed to London when young, where he indulged in many sins and follies. Having a poetic turn of mind, he wrote several songs and other light pieces. In 1782, he was convinced of the sinfulness of his course, and as stated in the letter, was very apprehensive of divine displeasure. He says: "I then attempted to seek to God by prayer; and was assisted with such a spirit of supplication as till then I was a stranger to. I then had many passages of scripture brought to my remembrance, wherein I saw myself as a sinner, and Christ as a Saviour. Yea, I saw and believed that he died for me, and that I should soon be with him in glory, at the right hand of God. And oh! how did my enraptured soul rejoice in this great salvation at this time! So great were the peace and satisfaction I enjoyed, that I thought I could bear to be confined in the darkest dungeon for ever, provided I might always feel what I then felt of the presence of God in my soul." "Thus it pleased God to bring Mr. Swain to the knowledge of himself without the use of any external
ANECDOTES, SELECTIONS, AND GEMS.
means, except the bible. It is worthy of devout observation that, under such remarkably unfavourable circumstances, the holy scripture should prove effectual to his conviction and conversion-should make him ‘wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.' No sooner was he acquainted with the way of salvation, than he began to warn his companions of their danger; and told them plainly that, if they would not go to heaven with him, he would endeavour to go by himself. An excellent example this for all christians to follow! Reader, has the blessed Redeemer made you a partaker of his great salvation? Then
'Tell to guilty sinners round
What a dear Saviour you have found;
He was advised by a friend to attend the ministry of the late Dr. Rippon: "Accordingly he went, and found the ministry very much blessed to his edification. After having attended a considerable time, and formed a friendly acquaintance among the people, he was desirous of being baptized, and of joining the church; in pursuance of which he was proposed as a candidate for communion: he publicly professed his faith in Jesus Christ; was baptized on May 11, 1783, received into fellowship with that church, and went on his way rejoicing. In the beginning of the year 1784, he instituted a religious meeting at his own house, for prayer, and for the mutual communication of christian experience. The opportunities thence arising were edifying to many, who remember with pleasure those useful and solemn seasons. He likewise belonged to a society meeting in Castle Street, Leicester Fields; in which some of its members used to speak from passages of scripture, and where his endeavours to explain the word of God were very acceptable to those who occasionally attended. At length the church to which he belonged, supposing him to possess talent for the public ministry, tried his gifts, approved of them, and gave him a solemn call to preach the gospel." This was in 1791. In 1792, he was ordained pas. tor of a newly-formed baptist church at Walworth. His labours were very acceptable, and three times the place of worship was enlarged. In four years, the church increased from twenty-seven members to two hundred. In labours he was more abundant," But he was soon removed from this sphere of useful labour. On the 14th of April, 1796, his earthly course terminated; so that he was but in the 36th year of his age when he died. The dying scene was affecting."He said to Mrs. Swain, 'Oh, my dear, I perceive I have been under a mistake; I thought I was getting better, but I now feel I am very bad. I have been seeking the Lord about my case, and can get no other answer but this-Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live." On seeing her much affected, he said, 'Oh, my dear, dont grieve; the Lord can make you a happy widow. You were happy in the Lord before you
ANECDOTES, SELECTIONS, AND GEMS.
knew me, and he can make you happy when I am gone.' He reminded her also of a christian friend, who had been greatly supported and comforted under the loss of a valuable husband. He then exclaimed, 'Oh, my dear Redeemer! am I coming to thee so soon? Is my work done? It is just fourteen years since I first knew thee, Lord! If it were thy will, I should rejoice to labour a little longer with thy dear people; yet not my will, but thine be doue!" His interment in Bunhill Fields was attended by thousands of weeping friends. In the preceding year, he wrote in his diary,—“This has been a week of solemn work in visiting the dying. Three brethren are probably near eternity. Lord, enable ine to profit myself and others by their experience; and uphold them, in sickness and death! Mr. Romaine, and Mr. Clarke of Exeter, are also lately fallen asleep. All these voices call to me, saying, 'Be thou also ready!"" And again, a little after, "Mr. Bentley, of Camberwell, is also fallen asleep in Jesus! I hear that he died very happy. Lord, grant that I may live the life and 'die the death of the righteous!' A little while ago Dr. Stennett died; and since their decease the aged Mr. Beddome departed; besides many other gospel ministers during last summer."
'Heaven draws my spirit towards its blissful shore,
And bids my beart to things eternal soar;
Earth holds my senses by a thousand strings,
And, when my thoughts would mount, contracts their wings.
1 long to die, yet still am fond of life!
I bless the Lord who lends me vital breath;
-At home, what tender cares and sweets combine,
Where many hearts with mutual kindness glow,
Yet, though 'tis heaven's sweet dawn, it helps to bind
And one bright glance of Jesus makes him say,
'IVE NONE ON EARTH-IN HEAVEN I'VE NONE BUT THEE!"