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father's godfather's * comment on the Gospel for the 24th Sunday after Trinity, where he says, “So provident is God in all his dispensations, so gracious even in withholding his mercies and supplies for a season, that the very delays we suffer in temporal affairs are for our own advantage. They do not only contribute to our improvement of another kind, but oftentimes make way for a more surprising and bountiful grant in the same kind. And provided we may make the right use of them, (as you eminently do) wait God's leisure with patience, consider his methods with prudence, and trust in his power and goodness with perseverance, these will not fail in the end to render us both happier and better.'"
The next letter is relative to his own, as well as Mrs. Gunning's illness...
« Ewell, Dec. 8, 1794. :." I take the opportunity of what I call a lucid interval, with which a gracious Providence sometimes indulges me, to thank you for your very affectionate letter, so close on the heels of the former. To receive two letters when your general state of health seldom, without pain, admits of your writing one, is, a mark of your solicitude for me, so much beyond any pretensions of mine, that I feel quite ashamed and confounded; and I am ready to ask you the question I did Frere, in reply to his friendly enquiries—Why all this bustle about a. poor insignificant old woman, who has been long past labour, and is fit only to sit mumping in a chimney corner ? You are kindly anxious to know how I am attended in my crazy condition of body and mind; for never having heard me speak much of female friends, you are fearful I have none to . * George Stanhope, D.D. Dean of Canterbury, author of the Comment on the Epistles and Gospels,
rely on in my distress, but male friends; and of them you seem to think as Job did of his, that miserable comforters are they all. To be sure they are not to be compared with the others, and could I have had you to shake the vial, and pour out the draught, it would have lost all its bitterness : but such assistance as was necessary having been sup. plied, I have done tolerably well, and in being much alone there is no harm. Sheep, you recollect, when they are ill, and find their end approaching, separate from the rest of the flock, to lie down in solitude and die in peace. And can we, the sheep of God's pasture, act more sensibly than to follow their example, and do likewise? However, except for the first fortnight after the knock on my pate, I have made the usual excursion to Ewell, (Mr. Cal. verley's) not on horseback, indeed, but in a chaise, from Saturday till Tuesday, which, it is supposed, may do good like a medicine : though when I consider my time of life, with the nature of my com, plaint, I have no reason to expect much in the way of recovery* As our days, at most, are but a span long, the measure remaining to me must be short, and all that cometh is vanity.
“ It was no small relief, after the wretched account given of your health, to hear that though you had very many hours of darkness and horror, you had some of light and gladness, and had experienced that the sharpest afHictions, through the tender mercy of God, have their intervals of ease and comfort. Gold is tried in the fire, and for every trial it comes forth the purer, as you have the satisfaction to find. When the furnace is heated seven times more than it was wont, it is that the vessel may be the fitter for the master's use, purged from all dross, and sanctified. You sus
* He, however, was spared to his friends and the world for above twelve years longer.
pect that you lament so much the want of health, as not to be sufficiently thankful for the many blessings you enjoy: but let not your heart be troubled, be of good cheer. The very suspicion is a sign to the contrary: the fear of not being sufficiently thankful is an argument of thankfulness.”
: It is now time to introduce Mr. Stevens to the reader in another character, namely, that of an author; for he has at several times produced very learned works. But such was the excessive humility, which ever marked his character, that his name was never prefixed to one of them for many years. In the year 1773 he first appeared as an author, by sending forth a work entitled “ An Essay on the Nature and Constitution of the Christian Church, wherein are set forth the Form of its Government, the Extent of its Powers, and the Limits of our Obedience, by a Layman.” The period chosen for this publication was most happy; for it was “at a time (as the preface states) when the press teemed with the most scurrilous invectives against the fundamental doctrines of our religion: and even the newspapers were converted into trumpets of sedition by the enemies of the Church;" ánd, therefore, this good man thought, and justly, that silence on the part of its friends would be criminal, and a cold neutrality inexcusable. The object which this excellent writer had in view in the publication does honour to his head and heart, as explained by himself. He concludes the preface by praying “ that the publication may prosper to the edification of the ignorant, the conviction of the erroneous, and the establishment of the faithful: that the ever blessed Trinity may be worshipped as such, in all sincerity and truth; that Christians may no longer dissemble with each other, in transactions of the most serious nature; that their conduct may be directed by knowledge,
neither swerving towards an enthusiastic contempt of all order and decency on the one hand, nor towards a lukewarm indifference to every thing that is sacred on the other: but that all who profess and call themselves Christians, may hold the faith, in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.” It may well be believed, from what I have stated of the author's views, from the soundness of his principles, and the extent and nature of his reading, that no man was better qualified to give a right notion of the Church of God; whose foundation he lays in the Scriptures; and apon that, ably raises the superstructure of her government, her authority, and powers: and, by the like authority of Scripture proves the duty of obedience from her sons. The opinion of an obscure individual upon such a subject is of little consequence: but the venerable Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge deemed it so admirably adapted for the instruction of those who have thought but little on this important point, that about thirty years after its first publication, they put it upon their catalogue to promote its extensive circulation; and for the first time, the name of its highly respected author was prefixed. .. · That the opinions of Mr. Stevens, respecting the Sin of Schism, underwent no change after he first published his Essay on the Church, appears by a private letter now lying before me, dated September 8, 1798, in which he says, after speaking of a work on this subject, “ I am afraid the principles are so uniformly right and correct, it is more than the age will bear. We are rather mended, perhaps, but is there not reason to suspect the goodly apple is somewhat rotten at the core?. Some will approve one part, and some another; but there are few doubt who will subscribe their unfeigned assent and consent to the whole. I question if the article on Schism will - not be as much objected to as --any; and yet one does not see why. It certainly speaks the doctrine of Scripture and the Church of England. There is undoubtedly such a thing as Schism, and it is as undoubtedly a sin as adultery or drunkenness: and the being guilty of it, the Apostle says, is being carnal It surely behoves every one to enquire wherein it consists, in order to avoid it. Our Church teaches in her catechism, that there are two sacraments generally necessary to salvation, Baptism and the Lord's Supper: and if so, the inference is fair, that without them, gene. rally speaking, there is no salvation. And, if they are necessary, it is necessary to know where they are to be had : for it is not to be supposed that every man has a right to administer them, any more than every man has a right to use the king's seal. The Scripture is express, that the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved; it is in the Church, therefore, that the means of salvation are to be had, and consequently it is incumbent on every one to be added to the Church, and to keep in it, as he has no right to expect the end, but in the use of the means in the way which God has appointed. As to the doctrine being uncharitable, which some object, so far is it from the want of charity, that to warn people of their danger is surely the truest charity; and we know what was to be the fate of the watchman who did not warn the people. And the adulterer and drunkard may as justly call it uncharitable to be told, that such shall not inherit the kingdom of God, as the Schismatic that he must be of the Church to be saved.
To ask what is to become of those who are without the pale, is nothing to the purpose; God will judge no man, but by the law which he has given him ; nor will any be responsible for opportunities they never had. As many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law; and as many as have Binned in the law, shall be judged by the law. God.