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Alr. Newton. At the recommendation of the latter, Mr. Cota per's capacity of doing good to the poor, was enlarged by the liberal assistance of the late Mr. Thornton, who secretly distributed the bounties which the providence of God had signally conferred upon him, by a variety of confidential alınoners, exclusive of the sums which he personally administered to the Telief of the distressed, and to the advancement of the gospel. Mr. Cowper had previously exerted to the utmost his confined ability for similar purposes. While at St. Alban's, he had undertaken the charge of a little boy, who was in imminent danger of ruin, through the depravity and consequent inisery of his parents. At Huntingdon he had put this child to school; and having brought him to Olney, be re-visited St. Alban's the following year, in order to bind him apprentice to a useful trade. This lad, whose name was Richard Coleman, afterwards settled at Oluey, and married a favourite servant of Mrs. Unwin, whose daughter, by a former husband, was brought up by that Ludy. It is to be lamented, that neither she nor her father-inlaw proved worthy of the charitable advantages by which they were distinguished; but the acceptance of such exertions in the sight of our Heavenly Father, is independent of the success with which they may be attended on earth. Mrs. Unwin, whose income was larger, employed it, to an unusual degree, in the relief of poor families.
Nr. Cowper's epistolary intercourse with his friends and relations, became, froin whatever cause, less frequent, after his settlement at Olney. The distance from Cambridge being greatly increased, he could only occasionally enjoy interviews with his brother. In February, 1770, he was called thither to attend one whom lie so dearly loved, in his last illness. He expired the 20th of the following month, after baving afforded the most satisfactory evidence, that his brother's zealous and affectionate endeavours to promote his spiritual welfare, had not been in vain.
During the interval that elapsed between Mr. Cowper's retirement from London and this period, it does not appear that he had employed his poetical talents, except in a few occasional hymns. They were, however, then called forth, by a friendly compact with Mr. Newton, to supply his congregation with a new assortinent of bymns for public worship: Those which, in the first edition of the Olney collection, are distinguished by the letter C. prefixed, deinonstrate how well he could adapt his compositions to the purposes of evangelical devotion. The degree to which his mind was then absorbed in religious engagements, and the exalted comfort he enjoyed in communion with Christ and his people, would not probably have been accommodated with ease to subjects of a less spiritual nature. It is remarkable, that as the afflictions which suspended his poetical essays, preceded his religious convictions, so his MENOIR OF W. CowPER, ESQ.
137 attention to composition was renewed before his privation of spiritual comfort. Religion, therefore, appears rather to have stimulated than to have impeded his poetical exertions. Had his spiritual enjoyments extended throughout his life, it is probable that he might not have written so much; but whài he had written would doubtless have been more uniformly marked with spirituality, and more elevated by heavenliness of mind.
An important change would, in that case, also have occurred in his temporal condition. Mrs. Unwin's son had taken orders; and her daughter was married to an evangelical clergyman. Her intimate friendship with Mr. Cowper had been matured by an exchange of mutual kindnesses for several successive years, and, after their removal to Olney, by dwelling together without other inmates. The cordial esteem' and filial affection whichi. Mr. Cowper had at first entertained for her, gradually assumed
e si tade of a conjagal attachment. They had no prospect of separation during life; and without a thatrimonial union, so intimate a connexion between them was liable to malévolent aspersion. The difference of their ages was trifting, compared to that which had subsisted between a Howard, or a Jobnson, and the companions for life who were chosen by those eminent men: probably from motives somewhat similar to those which induced Mr. Cowper to propose marriage with Mss. Unwin. The time for accomplishing their union was fixed, when his te lapse into constitutional melancholy frustrated their design. It afforded to Mrs. Unwin an occasion of proving herself worthy to have been the wife of Cowper. She devoted her own life to the préservation of his; and it pleased God to prosper her efforts to that effect, though not to fulfil her hopes of his complete recovery Her fortune, her time, her health, her comfort
, and (in some degree) her reputation, were sacrificed to his safety and relief. His heart' was deeply sensible of what he owed to her'; and he only waited for deliverance from the distress of mind which unfitted him for every social engage. ment, to complete that which he had formed with Mrs. Unwin. He has repeatedly said, That if he ever again entered a church, it would, in the first instance, be to marry her, So groundless were the reports that have been circulated, at later 'perjods, of the probability of his marriage with other persons. a
(To be conchided in our next.)
1. How may we diseover a call to fill any particular situar tion in the dispensations of Providence ?
2. lp after having obeyed a similar call (in consequence of divine diñection) is it lawful to recede ?
HOPE, IN THE LAST EXTREMITY,
• THE SUBSTANCE OF A DISCOURSE FROM JONAH 11. 4., Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight ; yet I will look again
toward thy holy temple. TIE
greater part of the prophecies contain but little bistory, but this book is an exception. It is a history of a prophecy against a city, which at that time was the metropolis of the world. It affords a' singular example of the influence which the true religion, as presented among the Israelites, had upon the surrounding nations, When we read of the idolatrous Gentiles, we are apt to think they were altogether sunk in ignor, ance; and without any means of knowing better, except what were afforded by the light of nature. But in those early times, , God had a people, as he hath now, who were witnesses for him and whose testimony left, a strong impression on the minds of mankind about them. If Jonah, when overtaken by tempest, had been a Heathen, and had committed'a crime, the mariners might have been alarmned ; concluding; from their general notions of an unseen Providence, that vengeance had overtaken him ; --- but when they were told that he was an Hebrew,- and feared Jehovah, the God of Heaven, who made the sea and the dry land, but had fled from his presence, then were they exceedingly, afraid.” They had heard, no doubt, of this God of gods, who was worshipped by the Hebrews, and trembled at his judgments. So when Jonah entered into Kineveh, and threatened its overthrow, it he had been an Heathena soothsayer, his message might have influenced a few;' buť government would doubtless have, apprehended“ him, and either have punished him as a disturber of the public peace, or confined him as a madman ; but finding him to be a prophet, sent by Jehovah, the God of Israel, whose judgments upon Egypt and other nations had rung thro' the world, they were struck with amazement. The king rises from his throne, lays aside his robe, covers himself with sackcloth, sits in ashes, and causes à fast to be proclaimed, accompanied with an admonition for every one to turn from his evil way, saying, “Who can tell if God will repent, and törn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not ?" Great is the force of truth and true religion upon the conscience!
But let us observe more partieularly the story of Jonah, in which we see an affecting example of human depravity, and of the systery of Providence. God commands him to go and prophecy against Nineveh : a great city, north of Judea. He dislikes the errand; and, in downright rebellion, takes a ship for 'Tarshish, - a sea-port of the Mediterranean, in nearly az
MOPE, IN THE LAST EXTREMITY,
199 southern direction. But whither can be free from God's presence? Though suffered to take his course for a while, he is scon pursued. A tempest overtakes him. One would have thought his restless mind must have anticipated it, and been the first to interpret it; but instead of this, all parties are alarmed before him :- he is asleep at the bottom of the ship. A guilty mind cannot be always on the rack of reflexion; yet its repose is not peace, but the stupidity of horror and wretchedness. The rebuke of the ship-master seems scarcely to have awakened him. At length, however, the lot of God falls upon his guilty head : and now we have to witness a most humiliat ing sight; -a prophet of the Most High God, arraigned' at the bar of a company of Heathen sailors! We should have said, Let it not be known to the Heathen! He, if he could have prayed at all, would have said, “ Make me not a reproach to the foolish.” But God says, “ It shall be known.” He knows how to vindicate the honour of his name, without having recourse to the little arts of concealment, of which creatures commonly avail themselves. The whole must come out:
his country, his religion, his character, his sin ! And do the Heathens reproach him? If they had, we could not have wondered; but it operates in a different way. God knows how to soften the hearts of men by that which we might expect would barden thein; and things which appear to us injurious to his cause, shall tend to establish it. They appeal to him what they shall do to him; and he pronounces his own doom. Humanity, notwithstanding, and the fear perhaps of incurring the displeasure of his God, struggled hard for his deliverance; but struggled in vain. He must be cast away, or they must all perish. No time is to be lost, - they must come to a decision. Lifting up their eyes to Heaven, they appeal to God for the painful necessity under which they acted; and then, taking up the unhappy man, “ cast him into the sea."- Reader, had you and I been spectators of this affecting scene, and in possession of our present views, we should probably have not only dropped a tear over the watery tomb of the prophet, but have exclaimed, How unsearchable are God's judgments, and his ways past finding out! Viewing the effect of all upon the mariners, we should have seen men, who till now were strangers to Jehovah, calling upon his name; — we should have seen, perhaps, the hopeful conversion of many, and rejoiced in the " sacrifices and vows," which on this mysterious occasion were offered ; but, what would have been a damp to our pleasure, we should have seen Jonah himself committed to the deep, prayerless, and, to all appearance, without a ray of hope! But o! the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! When the closing wave had parted him from human observation, divine Providence still follows him. He is swallowed by a great fish;
probably a shark*. In this perilous situation, his life and cone sciousness are preserved; and here he is brought to his right mind. From hence, he who could not offer one petition while in the presence of the mariners, “ prays unto Jehovah his God.” What were his prayers and the works of his mind, he recorded after his deliverance. A part of it is contained in the sentence on which this discourse is founded." Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.” It describes the crisis of his distress, the moment he was sunk to the greatest despondency, bordering on utter despair; out of which he is recovered by the hope of divine mercy,
“ I said, I am cast out of thy sight.”-Did he mean that he was now beyond the reach of God's omniscience : No; though mortal eyes could follow hiin no farther, he was well aware of his being naked to the eyes of him with whom he had to do. His meaning was, I suppose, that he was cast out of God's favour; alluding to the practice of princes and great men, who admit their friends into their presence, but banish those who have of fended them out of their sight. Thus the divinely-favoured land of promise is described as that on which “the eyes, of the Lord were set, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year:” and thus the children of Israel, when they had for a long time offended God, are said to be removed by captivity out of his sight. Now Jonah had been favoured of God in several ways:-As an Israelite, he had long enjoyed the means of grace, of which those of other nations had been destitute : but now he is deprived of them. “No more shall I peruse the lively oracles of Jehovah! no more frequent his temple, in company with bis people! no more join in the melody of Sion! Far from the holy abodes of hope and peace, I die alone! no fellow-servant of God to attend me in my last lours ! no eye to pity me, nor hand to help me! I die an outcast, an outcast of the heathen!”. He bad also been highly honoured in being made a prophet. The Lord had employed him as an ambusşador extraordinary; but having offended bim, he appears now to be cast off. God,” as if he should say, “ will employ me no more. In this shameful and painful manner ends my stewardship.” Finally, As a religious man, he had enjoyed communion with God, and cherished hopes of everlasting life : but now, what can he think of bimself, and of his prospects for eternity? It by this language he meant that all was over with him, for this world and that to come, it is po more than might be ex. pected. Siu must needs cloud our evidences for Heaven, and render our state doubtful.." They that observe lying vanities, forsake their own mercies.”,
There is something ju this language peculiarly awful. Of all the ills that can betail us, being cast out of God's sight is the most to be dreaded, because this is the source and sum of evil,
+ See Parkhurst's Greek Lexicon, on **TOS.