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THE BLIND PREACHER OF THE WILDERNESS. hands were involuntarily and convulsively clenched. But when he came to touch on the patience, the forgiving meekness of our Saviour ; when he drew to the life his blessed eyes streaming in tears to heaven; his voice breathing to God a soft and gentle prayer of pardon on his enemies, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!”—the voice of the preacher, which had all along faltered, grew fainter and fainter, until his utterance being entirely obstructed by the force of his feelings, he raised his handkerchief to his eyes, and burst into a loud and irrepressible flood of grief. The effect was inconceivable : the whole house resounded with mingled groans, and sobs, of the congregation. It was some time before the tumult had subsided so far as to permit him to proceed. Indeed, judging by the usual, but fallacious standard of my own weakness, I began to be very uneasy for the situation of the preacher. For I could not conceive how he would be able to let his audience down from the height to which he had wound them, without impairing the solemnity and dignity of his subject, or perhaps shocking them by the abruptness of the fall. But-no: the descent was as beautiful and sublime as the elevation had been rapid and enthusiastic. The first sentence with which he broke the awful silence, was a quotation from Rosseau : “ Socrates died like a philosopher, but Jesus Christ like a God.” I despair of giving you any idea of the effect produced by this short sentence, unless you could perfectly conceive the whole manner of the man, as well as the peculiar crisis in the discourse. Never before did I completely understand what Demosthenes meant by laying such stress on delivery. You are to bring before you the venerable figure of the preacher; his blindness, constantly recalling to your recollection old Homer, or John Milton, and associating with his performance the melancholy grandeur of their geniuses; you are to imagine that you hear his slow, solemn, well-accented enunciation, and his voice of affecting trembling melody; you are to remember the pitch of passion and enthusiasm to which the congregation were raised; and then the few minutes of portentous deathlike silence which reigned throughout the house: the preacher removing his white handkerchief from his aged face, even yet wet from the recent torrent of his tears, and slowly stretching forth his palsied hand which holds it, begins the sentence: "Socrates died like a philosopher"—then pausing, raising his other hand, pressing them both, clasped together, with warmth and energy to his breast, lifting up his “sightless balls” to
THE BLIND PREACHER OF THE WILDERNESS,
heaven, and pouring his whole soul into his tremulo'is voice“but Jesus Christ-like a God !" If he had been indeed and in truth an angel of light, the effect could scarcely have been more divine.
Whatever I had been able to conceive of the sublimity of Massillon, or the force of Bourdaloue, had fallen far short of the power which I felt from the delivery of this simple sentence. The blood, which just before had rushed in a hurricane upon my brain, and, in the violence and agony of my feelings, had held my whole system in
suspense, now ran back into my heart, with a sensation which I cannot describe : a kind of shuddering delicious horror! The paroxysm of blended pity and indignation, to which I had been transported, subsided into the deepest self-abasement, humility, and adoration. I had just been lacerated and dissolved into sympathy for our Saviour as a fellow-creature; but now, with fear and trembling, I adored him as—“God!"
If this description give you the impression, that this incomparable minister had anything of shallow theatrical trick in his manner, it does him great injustice. I have never seen in any other orator such a union of simplicity and majesty. He has not a gesture, an attitude, or an accent, to which he does not seem forced by the sentiment which he is expressing. His mind is too serious, too earnest, too solicitous, and at the same time too dignified to stoop to artifice. Although as far removed from ostentation as a man can be, yet it is clear from the train, the style, and substance of his thoughts, that he is not only a very polite scholar, but a man of extensive and profound erudition.
The relator then proceeds to express his most profound admiration of the inimitable eloquence of this blind preacher of the wilderness. But let us not wonder that he was eloquent; the theme on which he dwelt was the most glorious and transporting in the universe. These things angels desire to look into, The sufferings of Christ and the glory which should follow, were the burden of inspired prophecy. The love of Christ is the most astonishing subject that can occupy the attention of men or angels. Is not the apostle eloquent when describing the original dignity and voluntary humiliation of the Son of God?—“Whọ, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he
THE BLIND PREACHER OF THE WILDERNESS.
numbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every name should bow, of things in beaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that. every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”-Phil. ii. 6–11. Reader, this. glorious Redeemer left heaven for you-he died for you—he rose again for youhe lives to intercede for you. The tongue cannot express, or the heart imagine the worth of this adorable Saviour. He is our light, and life, and salvation, our all in all. O seek, my dear reader, his favour; he waits to receive you Seek him: give your heart to him, and you will find what you never will find except you do-real happiness. Then you will siny, “God forbid that I should glory save in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Then you will not wonder at the fire of sacred eloquence, which dwelt upon the lips of James Waddel, the blind American preacher; you will rather wonder that all the world do not admire and love the glorious Redeemen, and. most of all you will wonder at yourself, that you should haxe lived so long in a christian land, without the experimental enjoyment of those blessings which the divine Saviour left his. glory to bestow.
When I survey the wondrong cross:
On which the Prince of glory diod,
And pour contempt on all my pride
I sacrifice them to his blood..
Sorrow and love flow mingled downt;
Or thorns compose so rich a groww?
Spreads o'er his body on the tree,
And all the globe is dead to me.
That were a present far too small;
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
HAPPINESS AND SAFETY.-Happy is the man who fears the Lord, and delights in his commandments; who sets God always before him, and acts under the constraining influence of redeeming love. He is the real friend and the best champion of his country, who makes not the vague notions of human wisdom and honour, but the precepts and example of the blessed Jesus, the model and motive of his conduct. He inculcates, as occasion offers, the great traths of religion in his conversation, and demonstrates them by his practice; yet the best part of his life is known only to God and himself. His time is divided between serving his country in public, and wrestling for it in private. Nor shall bis labours or his prayers be lost. Either he shall have the desire of his heart, and shall see the religion and liberty he so highly values transmitted to posterity, or if he should live when wrath is decreed, and there is no remedy, the promise and the providence of God shall seal him as the peculiar charge of angels, in the midst of public calamity. And when all things are involved in confusion, when the hearts of the wicked shall shake like a leaf of the forest, he shall be kept in perfect peace, trusting in the Lord.
BY ALBERT MIDLANE, NEWPORT, ISLE OF WIGUT.
“IF I COULD WRITE."
Of battles lost and won :
I would not look upon.
The deeds of mighty men-
The thousands they have slain !
Of kings, and emperors, bold,
By subtilty, or gold.
Of statesmen's craft and wile;
Nor art, my pen begaile.
And this should be my theme:
Poor sinners to redeem !"
If I could write, I'd farther tell
That man is full of sin;
Who trusts alone in him!
I'd publish far and near-
Be lost in wonder here.
RESIGNATION. Enough, my Lord, I see thy gracious hand, So, here resigned, to thy will I stand. Heaven is my home, the bible is my guide, Christ is my Saviour-nought I wish beside. While here in this bleak world I weeping roam, 'Tis sweet to think of my eternal home. O help me, Lord, thence oft to cast my eyeHelp me, by faith, to pierce the distant skyEnter the mansions of eternal love, And feel a foretaste of the joys above!
This is enough. Refresh'd I onward go, Nor care what ills I meet with here below: The crown—the palm--the robe of spotless whiteThe streets of gold-the realms of perfect lightMy God-my Saviour-angels-seraphimArchangels-saints, and glorious cherubim, Allure me homeward. Soon my soul shall fly, And join the noble phalanx of the sky.
All things are possible if thou believest ;
For faith is that which overcomes the world. Hast thou it not? Then thou, thyself, deceivest,
And shall at last from life and heaven be hurl'd! For without faith no sin can be forgiven, And without faith no soul can enter heaven!
'Tis faith which takes the Almighty at his word
'Tis faith an earnest gives of joys to come; Faith is a gift implanted by the Lord,
To cheer the pilgrim on his journey home :A christian's faith upon that word is built“Be it unto thee, even as thou wilt."