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Spirit, the mighty agent which gives the quickening power : * not by any supernatural revelation, but in the ordinary operations of divine grace, and consistently with the freedom and co-operation of man as a moral agent ; speaking pardon and peace to the conscience, and delivering from the tyranny of sense and the slavery of fear, by proclaiming “liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”
The last subject for reflection suggested by the Diary of Dr. Johnson, is the frequent neglect of the Sabbath, and his confession that he had lived a stranger to the greater part of the contents of his Bible till the sixty-third year of his age. This is an afflicting record, and we notice the fact, from a deep conviction that piety can never retain its power and ascendancy in the heart, where the Bible is not read, and the ordinances of God are habitually neglected. When will genius learn that its noblest attribute is to light its fires at the lamp of divine truth, and that the union of piety and learning is the highest perfection of our nature ? We beg to commend to the earnest attention of the student the following eloquent testimony to the sacred volume from the pen of Sir William Jones.
“I have carefully and regularly perused these Holy Scriptures, and am of opinion that the Volume, independently of its divine origin, contains more subli
*“ It is the Spirit that quickeneth.” John vi. 63. The union of the Word and the Spirit in imparting spiritual life to the soul is forcibly expressed in the same verse: “ The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”
mity, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains of eloquence, than can be collected from all other books, in whatever language they may have been written.” *
Having quoted Sir William Jones's testimony, we conclude by urging his example.
“ Before thy mystic altar, heavenly Truth,
I kneel in manhood, as I knelt in youth :
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
Olney, August 27, 1785. My dear Friend—I was low in spirits yesterday when your parcel came and raised them. Every proof of attention and regard to a man who lives in a vinegar-bottle is welcome from his friends on the outside of it; accordingly your books were welcome, (you must not forget, by the
that I want the original, of which you have sent me the translation only,) and the ruffles from Miss Shuttleworth most welcome. I am covetous, if ever man was, of living in the remembrance of absentees, whom I highly value and esteem, and consequently felt myself much gratified by her very obliging present. I have had more comfort, far more comfort, in the connexions that I have formed within the last twenty years, than in the more numerous ones that I had before.
* See Lord Teignmouth's Life of Sir William Jones. † Ibid.
Memorandum.— The latter are almost all Unwins or Unwinisms.
You are entitled to my thanks also for the facetious engravings of John Gilpin. A serious poem is like a swan: it flies heavily and never far; but a jest has the wings of a swallow that never tire, and that carry
nook and corner. I am perfectly a stranger however to the reception that, my volume meets with, and, I believe, in respect of my nonchalance upon that subject, if authors would but copy so fair an example, am a most exemplary character. I must tell you nevertheless that, although the laurels that I gain at Olney will never minister much to my pride, I have acquired some. The Rev. Mr. Scott is my admirer, and thinks my
second volume superior to my first. It ought to be so. do not improve by practice, then nothing can mend us; and a man has no more cause to be mortified at being told that he has excelled himself, than the elephant had, whose praise it was that he was the greatest elephant in the world, himself excepted.
If it be fair to judge of a book by an extract, I do not wonder that you were so little edified by Johnson's Journal. It is even more ridiculous than was poor -'s, of fatulent memory. The portion of it given to us in this day's paper contains not one sentiment worth one farthing except the last, in which he resolves to bind himself with no more unbidden obligations. Poor man! one would think that to pray for his dead wife, and to pinch himself with
church-fasts had been almost the whole of his religion. I am sorry that he who was so manly an advocate for the cause of virtue in all other places was so childishly employed, and so superstitiously too, in his closet. Had he studied his Bible more, to which by his own confession he was in great part a stranger, he had known better what use to make of his retired hours, and had trifled less. His lucubrations of this sort have rather the appearance of religious dotage than of any vigorous exertions towards God. It will be well if the publication prove not hurtful in its effects, by exposing the best cause, already too much despised, to ridicule still more profane. On the other side of the same paper, I find a long string of aphorisms, and maxims, and rules for the conduct of life, which, though they appear not with his name, are so much in his manner, with the above-mentioned, that I suspect them for his. I have not read them all, but several of them I read that were trivial enough: for the sake of one however I forgive him the resthe advises never to banish hope entirely, because it is the cordial of life, although it be the greatest flatterer in the world. Such a measure of hope as may not endanger my peace by a disappointment I would wish to cherish upon every subject in which I am interested: but there lies the difficulty. A cure however, and the only one, for all the irregularities of hope and fear, is found in submission to the will of God. Happy they that have it!
This last sentence puts me in mind of your reference to Blair in a former letter, whom you there permitted to be your arbiter to adjust the respective
claims of who or that. I do not rashly differ from so great a grammarian, nor do at any rate differ from him altogether—upon solemn occasions, as in prayer or preaching, for instance, I would be strictly correct, and upon stately ones; for instance, were I writing an epic poem, I would be so likewise, but not upon familiar occasions. God, who heareth prayer, is right: Hector, who saw Patroclus, is right: and the man, that dresses me every day, is in my also; because the contrary would give an air of stiffness and pedantry to an expression that, in respect of the matter of it, cannot be too negligently made up.
Adieu, my dear William! I have scribbled with all my might, which, breakfast-time excepted, has been my employment ever since I rose, and it is now past one.
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.*
Olney, Sept. 24, 1785. My dear Friend—I am sorry than an excursion,
would otherwise have found so agreeable, was attended with so great a drawback upon sures as Miss Cunningham's illness must needs have been. Had she been able to bathe in the sea, it might have been of service to her, but I knew her weakness and delicacy of habit to be such as did not
* Private Correspondence.