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over which he has little control. He cannot order his own lot, or fix his own habitation, or "determine the times before hand." He cannot arrange the endless and multifarious events which make up the sum of human existence, and contribute to the formation of character. All that he can do is to labor and suffer according to the will of God, and to study that he may not receive the grace of God in vain.
As some plants and animals arrive at maturity sooner than others, so do some Christians. After we have made every possible allowance for natural talents, and diligence in their cultivation, we have still much in particular instances which can be accounted for only from the peculiar measure of spiritual influence, with which the individual has been favored. In this respect, the divine "Spirit giveth to every one severally as he willeth." Though God is not capricious in the exercise of his kindness, or actuated by the principles of favoritism in bestowing his gifts, it is very clear that there are instances of a peculiarly felicitous combination of gifts and graces; of mental endowments and spiritual excellences; which must be referred to an exercise of the divine sovereignty. They may also be considered as designed to show, what God is capable of making man, even in this state which is altogether vanity.
The rapidity with which God brings his work to perfection in some cases, appears to us very marvellous. In colder regions we have scarcely an idea of the rapidity of nature's progress in warmer climes, or of the amazing luxuriance of her productions. Plants which are slow of growth,
and lowly in appearance with us, under the tropics vegetate almost to the eye, and rise to a magni
tude and a beauty of which we scarcely believe them to be capable. The author of reason is the author of instinct; yet the former advances by slow degrees, and can never be pronounced perfect; while the latter is perfect in every individual of the species; and that, not gradually, but at once. We have only to do with the facts; in these cases we know nothing of the mode of operation.
That the Christian character usually rises by slow degrees to the measure of conformity to the divine image, which is attainable in this world, is at once the testimony of Scripture, and of experience. There are instances, however, in which the celerity of growth and maturity of character are such as to command general observation and wonder. But we are so familiar with a slowness of growth and advancement in the life of godliness, as to cease being struck with it: while, if we attend to the nature and provisions of Christianity, this circumstance would appear to us very unaccountable indeed. Such is the nature of the heavenly seed, and such the resistless power of the sacred influences which are engaged to water and nourish it, that the mystery is, not that some plants thrive with great rapidity, and are soon fit to be transplanted to the garden above; but that there are so many feeble and sickly shrubs, where trees of righteousness the planting of the Lord might be expected to flourish.
Few things in the history of religion are more interesting than the commencement and progress of Christianity, on a young, an ardent, and a highly cultivated mind. It cannot take hold on such a mind without producing the most marked and important results. Its adaptation at once to all the finest feelings of our nature, and to the
most powerful of its intellectual faculties, makes it capable of producing all that is refined in moral sensibility, and all that is lofty in enterprise. It presents to such an individual a new world, teeming with objects of intense interest, and calling forth his deepest sympathy, and his noblest ambition. It conducts into scenes of pure and ravishing sweetness, and diffuses over the spirit the peace of God, and the bliss of heaven. It presents a theatre, not for display, but for action and suffering, in the most glorious of all causes;-the glory of God, and the salvation of men. Hence the ardor with which many a young disciple has begun and prosecuted his heavenly course, and the rapidity with which he has reached the goal and gained the prize. He has done his appointed work in a comparatively short time. He has more effectually served his Master, than many who have spent a great number of years in his service; and is called off, not prematurely, but at the full time, to receive the promised reward.
While we are wondering and sorrowing at the strangeness of the occurrence, and almost tempted to blame God, for only showing us as it were, the finest specimens of his polished workmanship; angels and perfect spirits are, perhaps, astonished, that we are so slow to comprehend the fact, that the purpose of heaven has been served. The lustre of the jewel having been displayed, it is proper to preserve it from being injured, by removing it to that crown where it shall sparkle and shine with ever increasing splendor. If to each individual believer there is an allotted portion of labor, as well as of suffering for Christ, it ought not to be matter of regret that this labor is in some cases more quickly performed than in others.
Blessed is he who does the work of the Lord heartily, and who does it well. The fruit of his labor is to depart and be with Christ, which is far better than the most brilliant earthly career.
Should it be said, that as the degree of future reward will bear some proportion to the degree of successful exertion in the cause of Christ, it must therefore be more desirable to have opportunity for full, and even long continued employment in this world, than to be cut off at an early period. It is admitted that there is force in this consideration. But to balance it, we must recollect that men do not always keep up the pace at which they set out on their Christian journey;-that there are many drawbacks as well as bounties, on a long enjoyed sphere of active employment;-and that an individual's usefulness does not always terminate with his death. The effects of his example, the remembrance of his testimony,-his spirit and his prayers, may produce effects long after he has left the world; the fruits of which will follow him into eternity.
"It is," says Howe, "a brighter and more unsullied testimony, which is left in the minds of men, concerning such very hopeful persons as die in youth. They never were otherwise known, or can be remembered, than as excellent young perThis is the only idea which remains of them. Had they lived longer, to the usual age of man, the remembrance of what they were in youth, would have been in a great degree effaced and worn out by latter things; perhaps blackened not by what were less commendable, but more ungrateful to the greater part, especially if they lived to come into public stations. Their just zeal and contestations against the wickedness of the age,
might disoblige many, and create them enemies, who would make it their business to blast them, and cast upon their name and memory all the reproach they could invent. Whereas the lustre of that virtue and piety which had provoked nobody, appears only with an amiable look, and leaves behind nothing of such aspersion, but a fair, unblemished, alluring, and instructive example; which they that observed him might, with less prejudiced minds, compare with the useless, vicious lives of many that they see to have filled up a room in the world, either to no purpose, or to very bad."
These miscellaneous observations are designed to prepare the reader for what he is to expect in the following pages. The writer of them has no romantic tale to tell; but he regards it as one of some interest, or he would not have told it. It will be found to contain nothing of the poetry or fiction of religion, which are so eagerly sought by the sickly sentimentalists of the age. It records none of those splendid acts of religious heroism, the external glory of which, the men of the world are sometimes disposed to admire, while they hate the principles which produce them. His aim is to present a faithful, though he is conscious it is only an imperfect, portrait, of one dear to himself by many recollections; whose mind was cast in one of nature's finest moulds, and highly polished, not by art and man's device only, but by the Spirit of the living God;--whose character rose to maturity more rapidly than that of any individual he ever knew, and who lived as much in as short a time as most who have been honored to adorn the doctrine of the Redeemer. Should the simple story of his short pilgrimage enforce on the minds of his youthful associates, the importance of cultivating his