« PreviousContinue »
cloaths, and be a burden and charge for yourselves and servants to their mother.
But when you are married, I can say nothing of what you should do in these respects: your wife must be pleased.
But I hope my sister Mary will always look upon your house and your mother's as her home; and she should accordingly be invited ; and if your wife be a wise and good woman, she will think herself
very happy in the company and conversation of so true a friend, of so excellent a temper, and so discreet and prudent.
I hope in God you will be blest with such a woman as I wish for you; and perhaps she may bring such a fortune as may ease you in great measure of the burden upon your estate; or you may meet with an opportunity of disposing of Foulnesse to advantage (which is the only part of my estate which I wish you would ever think of selling). In either of these cases you will have money; but I would not have you obtrude upon my sister Mary the 9000l. part of what I owe her (and of which 70001. is charged on Milton); nor upon your sisters their respective portions, though when respectively required they must be paid; and in the mean time you must be more punctual than I have been in the annual payments to my sister, and also to your sisters and brothers.
If the circumstances of any of your brothers should be such as that a sum of money would be more useful towards their settlement in the world than the annuities I have settled, in that case I recommend to you to buy off such annuity; and the price which I sei between you, for 1001. annuity is 10001. which is a little less than has been given for an annuity, but more than a man will give for an annuity for the life of another. But if any of your brothers should by any folly bring himself into any occasion to sell it, in that case I am so far from recommending to you to buy it, that I had rather forbid you; for my intent in giving this annuity was, that if by misfortune or worse they had lost or thrown away their portion in money, they should not be destitute of bread; and this reason holds as strong against your buying their annuity.
The marriage of my daughter Wentworth was a great blessing to her and to me; but it hath this one circumstance that is uneasy to me, that it looks like some diminution of her two elder sisters, to whoin I could never
have answered it had this been through any partiality in me, to which I am confident they do not charge me; nay, I believe their virtue, and religion, and good nature, prompt them to rejoice at their sister's good fortune; or if one envious thought should ever occur to them, they have too much sense to shew it. But this is so far from lessening my care, that it makes ine more concerned for so good children, that they may be happily married : The father waketh for the daughter (says the wise man) when no man knoweth, and the care for her taketh away sleep, lest she pass away the flower of her age. Eccl. xlii. 9. The occasions of my family have required so great a charge upon my estate, that I could not add to it; but if ever you should be in circumstances, by having overcome this burden, I wish you would add to Charlotte and Isabella one thousand each, if it would procure a good match. I do not say this to lay any, obligation upon you in conscience or honour; I know your affection to them, which will sufficiently bias you to do whatever is fit in prudence; and it is by this rule that I leave you to judge.
As for your brothers, three of them are in ways that I believe will render them very considerable, perhaps great men; and it is with great comfort that I reflect upon
it. Harry hath neglected those opportunities, and thrown away that time which, if well employed, might have fitted him for any thing; so that I know not what to recommend hiin to, or to them; but I positively forbid you to assist Harry in obtaining any military employment. For your mother, I
can never say so much as she deserves of me and of you all ; [ know your affection to her, which I hope will induce you to a performance of all possible respect and duty to her; and remember the advice of the wise man : Forget not the sorrows of thy mother : and he that angereth his mother is cursed of God; and her curse rooteth up foundations; and therefore honour thy mother, that a blessing may come upon thee. Eccl. vii. 27; Ni. 16, 9, 8.
I have not mentioned Mr. Armstrong in my will, for I hope I have, in some measure, been my own executor towards him: I have made him ranger of my park for his life, and I have given him the lease of Matching, and would have procured him greater advantages if great men had not deceived me and him: For a wise servant shall have part of the heritance among the brethren; and C 2
the advice of the son of Sirach is to treat him as a brox ther. Prov. xvii. 2; Eccl. xxxiii. 31. You know how well he has deserved of me; and I do not doubt of his friendship and service to you; nor of your inclinations to oblige him whenever you have an opportunity; and my meaning is, that your kindness should be extend ed not only to him, but to his son too, who intends to study divinity; and I do not doubt but his virtue and industry will render him worthy of your favour.
I am very sensible that the charge I have laid upon my estate is very great; but when you consider for whom I have thus encumbered it, I hope you will not regret it; and when you consider how small proportions I have carved out for them to whom by nature and religion I stood indebied, you will not think I have used you hardly. And when you consider the vast sums I have paid, viz, above 30,0001. for taxes; 34,0001, for the marriage of my three daughters, and 35,0001. for my house, in all, I may say, about 100,000l.; and yet, when all that which is charged npon my estate is paid and deducted, there will still remain to you a better estate than I had at my father's death, by 1000 or 1500l. per ann.; and I hope you will think I have not been an isl steward for you; nay, I am persuaded you will rejoice that I have not stoopt to some vile practices, by which I might have left you richer,
I shall say nothing to you of your conduct in public affairs; the circumstances in so uncertain an administration as we are, and are likely to continue under, are not to be foreseen, and therefore it is impossible to say any thing that is proper, if I should attempt it; so that your own discretion, acting by the rules of honour and virtue, must guide you; or rather, I hope the good Providence of God will lead you through this labyrinth in which our church and națion seem to be entangled ; and that you may be entitled to it, let it never slip out of your thoughts, that you are always in the presence of God, who sees and knows the very secrets of your heart; and whatever thou takest in hand, remember the end, and thou shalt never do amiss. Eccl. vii. 35.
I shall conclude this letter, as I shall do my life, with my prayers to Almighty God to give you his ølessing, to direct you in all your ways, and to guide your feet into the paths of peace. Farewell.
Your most affectionate father,
Sequel to REFLECTIONS on Join iii.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
SIR, As you have done me the honour to insert my Reflections on the third Chapter of St. John's Gospel in your Miscellany, I now proceed according to my proposal, to offer you the sequel of those reflections; its tendency is to shew, that my interpretation of our Lord's celebrated declaration to Nicodemus, relative to being born again, is not inconsistent with the rest of his discourse to Nicodemus; and that ile lustrations of my opiniou may be found in other parts of the Holy Scriptures.
I am, Sir, &c. &c.
THAT seems already proved to have been the scope
of our Lord's address to Nicodemus, is, that the religion of Moses, when compared with that of Christ, was ceremonial and external; and that the religion of Jesus was to be moral and internal : insomuch that, in a brief and summary way of speaking, Judaism might be called the Flesh, Christianity the Spirit:—that Christianity was not to be a continuation and improvement of Judaism, but a new religion, though in some respects built upon the religion of Moses; and that baptism may be considered as an emblem of acceptance of converts on the part of God, and of mental purity on the part of Man. As we proceed, we should particularly keep in mind what has been shewn concerning our Saviour's plan of opening his system of divine truths gradually; which must occasion his sometimes throwing out obscure hints and imitations, to be weighed afterwards candidly and seriously; and to be referred to new incidents, and subsequent expressions.
1. First then, in our Lord's declaration of the necessity of being born again, there is something which
pleres Nicodemus, and misleads him. In verse 7th he marvels ; in verse 9th he says, "how can these things “ be?” The case is, he takes the word “ born” in its literal sense. Being a great man,
a Ruler of the Jews," he probably expected, that Jesus would think himself highly honoured by his visit, and would be glad to have an opportunity of being perfectly open and explicit. There is a kind of loftiness in speaking figuratively and obscurely, which would be quite out of the thoughts and expectations of such a personage as Nicodemus, when conversing with one of a mean and humble appearance. Besides, as the Rabbi's error lay where his pride was most prevalent, he would be the less likely to comprehend the True meaning of any figurative expression concerning it. He was a distinguished son of Abraham, an eminent disciple of a Divine Teacher. This was his pride :She little thought that such self-esteem was the ground of his fault and his error; thevery object of reproof; the very thing to be re-formed.
It may not beamiss to take notice here, that though Nicodemus says several things under erroneous conceptions, they are all reducible to one mistake. A single misunderstanding branches out into several particulars.
In this manner may Nicodemus’s surprize and perplexity be accounted for, without any injury to our interpretation.
2. In the next place, it is observable, from the 8th verse, that Jesus must mean to speak of something invisible, and known only by its effects. “ The wind bloweth," says he,“ where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth : so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” The similitude here made use of agrees perfectly well with our idea, that the attention of Christians is to be directed to moral and spiritual qualities, in op position to the visible, external observances of the Mosaic law: moral qualities inight well be compared, and ceremonial opposed to the invisible motions of the air. Virtrie is invisible, and can only be known by its effects: ceremonies strike the sight and other senses: every thing carnal must be, in some way, sensual.
It would tend to candour and caution, if all readers of the Bible were constantly aware, that it is the same word in the original (Ilverpa,) which, in this single verse, is first translated "wind," and afterwards “spirit.” I have