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with before; and exhorted him by all means to be watchful. Mr. R— being himself the reporter of these conversations, it is to be supposed that they impressed him. Admonitions from such lips, and in a dying time too, must have their weight; and it is well with the hearer, when the instruction abides with him. But our own view of these matters is, I believe, that alone which can effectually
The representations of a dying man may strike us at the time; and, if they stir up in us a spirit of self-examination and inquiry, so that we rest not till we have made his views and experience our own, it is well; otherwise, the wind that passes us is hardly sooner gone than the effect of the most serious exhortations.
Farewell, my friend. My views of my spiritual state are, as you say, altered; but they are yet far from being such as they must be, before I can be enduringly comforted. Yours unfeignedly,
The Diary of Dr. Johnson, adverted to in the last letter, created both surprise and disappointment. The great moralist of the age there appears in his real character, distinct from that external splendour with which popular admiration always encircles the brow of genius. The portrait is drawn by his own hand. We cannot withhold our praise from the ingenuousness with which he discloses the secret recesses of his heart, and the fidelity with which conscience exercises its inquisitorial power over the life and actions, We are also affected by the deep humility, the confession of sin, and the earnest appeal for mercy, discernible in many of the
prayers and meditations. But, viewed as a whole, this Diary creates painful feelings, and affords occasion for much reflection. If therefore we indulge in a few remarks, founded on some of the extracts, it is not to detract from the high fame of so distinguished a scholar, whom we consider to have enlarged the bounds of British literature, and to have acquired a lasting title to public gratitude and esteem, but to perform a solemn and conscientious duty.* We are now arrived at a period when it is high time to establish certain great and momentous truths in the public mind; and, among those that are of primary importance, to prove that Conversion is not a term but a principle ; not the designation of a party but the enjoined precept of a Saviour ; the evidence of our claim to the title of Christian ; and indispensable to constitute our meetness for the enjoyment of heaven.
We now extract the following passages from the Diary of Dr. Johnson, with the intention of adding a few comments. Easter-day, 1765.—“ Since the last Easter, I have
“ If there is a regard due to the memory of the dead, there is yet more respect to be paid to knowledge, to virtue, and to truth.”
“ It is the business of a biographer to pass lightly over those performances and actions which produce vulgar great. ness; to lead the thoughts into domestic privacies, and display the minute details of daily life, where exterior appearances are laid aside." —Rambler, No. 60, vol. ii.
reformed no evil habit; my time has been unprofitably spent, and seems as a dream, that has left nothing behind. My memory grows confused, and I know not how the days pass over me.”
“I purpose to rise at eight, because, though I shall not yet rise early, it will be much earlier than I now rise, for I often lie till two; and will gain me much time, and tend to a conquest over idleness, and give time for other duties.” Sept. 18, 1768.-" I have now begun the sixtieth
life. How the last year has past, I am unwilling to terrify myself with thinking."
Jan. 1, 1769.—“I am now about to begin another year: how the last has past it would be, in my state of weakness, perhaps not prudent too solicitously to recollect.”
1772.—“I resolved last Easter to read, within the year, the whole Bible, a very great part of which I had never looked upon. I read the Greek Testament without construing, and this day concluded the Apocalypse. I think that no part was missed.”
“My purpose of reading the rest of the Bible was forgotten, till I took by chance the resolutions of last Easter in
hand.” “ I hope to read the whole Bible once a year, as long as I live.”
April 26.--" It is a comfort to me, that at last, in my sixty-third year, I have attained to know, even thus hastily, confusedly, and imperfectly, what my Bible contains."
1775. —“ Yesterday, I do not recollect that to go to church came into my thoughts; but I sat in my
chamber preparing for preparation ; interrupted I know not how. I was near two hours at dinner.”
1777.—“ I have this year omitted church on most Sundays, intending to supply the deficiency in the week. So that I owe twelve attendances on worship.”
“ When I look back upon resolutions of improvement and amendment, which have, year after year, been made and broken, either by negligence, forgetfulness, vicious idleness, casual interruption, or morbid infirmity; when I find that so much of my life has stolen unprofitably away, and that I can descry, by retrospection, scarcely a few single days properly and vigorously employed, why do I yet try to resolve again? I try, because reformation is necessary, and despair criminal ; I try in humble hope of the help of God.”*
Our sole object, in the introduction of these extracts, is to found upon them an appeal to those who question the necessity of Conversion, in that higher sense and acceptation which implies an inward principle of grace, changing and transforming the heart. We would beg to ask whether it was not the want of the vital power and energy of this principle, that produced in Johnson the vacillation of mind and purpose, which we have just recorded ; the hours lost; the resolutions broken ; the sabbaths violated; and the sacred volume not read, till the shades of evening advanced upon him? What instance can be adduced that more clearly demonstrates the insufficiency of the highest acquirements of human learning, and that nothing but a
See Diary of Dr. Johnson.
Divine power can illuminate the mind, and convert the heart ? Happily, Johnson is known to have at length found what he needed, and to have died with a hope full of immortality.* But we would
further. We maintain that all men, without respect of character or person, need conversion; for “ all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" all partake of the corruption and infirmities of a fallen nature, and inherit the primeval curse. Shall reason, shall philosophy effect the cure ? Reason sees what is right; erring nature, in despite of reason, follows what is wrong.
Philosophy can penetrate into the abstrusest mysteries, ascertain by what laws the universe is governed, and trace the heavenly bodies in their courses, but cannot eradicate one evil passion from the soul. Where then lies the remedy? The Gospel reveals it. And what is the Gospel ? The Gospel is a dispensation of grace
mercy, for the recovery of fallen man, and the application of this remedy to the heart and conscience effects that Conversion of which we are speaking. But by whom or by what applied ? By Him who holds “ the keys of heaven and of hell,” who
openeth, and no man shutteth,” and whose prerogative it is to say, “Behold, I make all things new.”+ And how? By his word, and by his Spirit.
66 He sent his word and healed them.” I
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."$ The word is the appointed instrument, the See vol. ii. p. 269-271.
+ Rev. xxi. 5. # Psal. cvii. 20. § 1 Pet. i. 23. See also Heb. iv. 12.