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his favourite subjects, literature and theology, did not abate any part of the due. attention he felt himself bound to pay to his master's business, is best proved by that master's conduct; for his apprenticeship expired in 1753, and Mr. Hookham continued him for twelve months in his employ as an assistant; and the next year, 1754, when he was only twenty-two years of age, rewarded his fidelity, and his upright conduct, by giving him a share of his business, and constituting him a partner.
Soon after this most advantageous change in his worldly circumstances had taken place, it appears that the constant attention paid by him to the immediate duties of his station, and his laborious studies, overpowered his health; for I have heard him frequently state, that his friends dreaded his falling into a decline. Accordingly we find that he was advised to go to Bristol Hot Wells, where he put himself under the care of Dr. Randolph, a very eminent physician, uncle to the late Bishop of London, of that name, and father of the Rey. Dr. Francis Randolph, and of Mrs. Gunning, the lady of the Rev. Dr. Gunning, of Farnborough, near Bath. I mention these persons more particularly, because the acquaintance, thus commenced with Dr. Randolph, as the able physician, note withstanding the disparity of years, grew up into a sincere and deep-rooted friendship, which only ceased upon the death of the latter. Their opinions were similar, and the Doctor, though much engaged in the exercise of this very honourable profession, was a deep and learned scholar and divine, a character which his young patient was no less desirous of attaining, and which he after-, wards lived to attain. Dr. Randolph died in the year 1765; but Mr. Stevens appears to have transferred all the affectionate friendship he entertained for the father to the son, Dr. Francis Randolph, and to his daughter, Mrs. Gunning, in the house of which most amiable woman he spent a great part of many of the latter summers of his life.
That Mr. Stevens was early tinctured with the deepest convictions of religion; and that it formed the consolation of his life in the very precarious. state of health, under which he was then labouring, appears from the following letter written from Bristol to a young friend, who seems to have even then profited by his instructions and example.
The letter is dated the 31st August, 1756, from Bristol Hot Wells.
“ I thank you for sending a letter to my tenant: you did not forget to urge him to see the work was well done. I hope it will please my heavenly landlord likewise thoroughly to repair this poor ruinous clay cottage of mine, that I may live snug and comfortable: or if it is his good pleasure to pull it down to the ground, that he will raise me up a building of more durable materials, which shall not decay, by time, but last for ever. Though the present building, notwithstanding it seems weak and crazy, may in the opinion of the workman, who has surveyed it, one Randolph) stand many years, there being no apparent danger at present of its falling ; what a windy night or a hard rain might do, one cannot say: to be sure a house out of re-pair is sooner blown down than one that is tight and whole. In short I cannot be more particular about myself than that I am much the same upon the whole ; and whether I shall get the better of my disorder is quite uncertain; but the Doctor does not apprehend any danger, as the phrase is. I wish, my dear friend, I was as able to comply with one part of your request as the other; and had it in my power to afford you instruction and comfort, as well as to write to you by the first post. If I have been any way instrumental to your good I thank God for it: and by the weakness of the means: is his strength made perfect. To him be all the glory! for what am I ? a worm, and no man. Of this truth I am more and more convinced every day. You need not desire me to excuse your faults: I see too many in myself to be severe on others. Besides, the honesty of your confession would be a sufficient cover for all other defects. Give my best respects to Mr. Hookham; and as the prayer of the righteous man (one made righteous) availeth much, let me have your's for God's blessing on the means used for my recovery; that he may give me patience under my sufferings, and a happy issue out of all my afflictions, for Christ's sake.
“I am, &c." It is apparent from this letter, that this excellent youth had already begun, both by precept and example, to allure other young men into those paths, from having walked in which he was himself deriving consolation, in those trying hours of sickness, which left it doubtful whether his then flattering prospects of worldly prosperity might not close in immature death. It pleased God, however, to order otherwise ; and this his faithful servant was ordained to continue to be a burning and shining light to all, who had the happiness of coming within his sphere, to a ripe old age. His life was spared ; and his pious sentiments and constant resignation to the will of God were now become the governing principle of his conduct: and what he had thus learnt himself, he endeavoured to teach and impress upon others. I have already said, that Dr. Randolph, the physician, died in 1765, and soon after his death Mr. Stevens wrote the following letter to his widow:
5th March, 1765. “Dear Madam, “ Knowing my own inability to afford you any comfort in your affliction for the loss of the best of husbands, I declined writing to you on the melancholy subject, least I should only increase your
ing may for os, those who not to sorpre
sorrow : for indeed I was too sensibly affected mye' self, on being deprived of so good a friend to be able to speak comfort to others, and had myself' need of a comforter. But I trust it has pleased the Father of Mercies so to comfort you in your tribulation, that you are now reconciled in some degree to the parting for a season, in hopes of again meets ing to part no more for ever; and are disposed to consider my dear friend's gain more than your own loss. We are exhorted not to sorrow for them that are asleep, as those which have no hope : mourn we may for our friends departed : but our mourning must be as becometh Christians, not hopeless ; for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him, when we likewise shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so with them shall ever be with the Lord. "Wherefore, says the Apostle, comfort one another with these words;' and comfortable words they are indeed. Nature suggests that our friend is dead, and we shall behold him no more in the land of the living : but faith assures us, he is not dead but sleepeth; and we know, if he sleep, he shall do well, he will wake again to health and joy in a better life, when all tears shall be wiped away from all eyes; and we may be refreshed with his company, without danger of separation any more. Such consolation does this Scripture afford us: and if we are not too selfish in our affections, we may be further comforted by considering, that though we for the pre. sent are losérs, yet he whose absence we lament is infinitely the gainer; and it is no small satisfaction to think that those whom we love are happy. • Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord,' saith the spirit; "for they rest from their labours.' And well might he, whom we deplore, take up the words of the Apostle, and say, to me to die is gain;' for, like our blessed Lord, in whose steps he trod, he
was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; he drank deep of that cup of affliction, which is more or less the lot of us all: but now has exchanged a life of labour and sorrow for a state of peace and rest. As it behoved the master, so did it the disciple, through suffering, to enter into glory. And whilst our hearts are troubled, methinks I hear him addressing us in the words of Christ to the disciples, when they were sorrowful, that he was going to leave them: 'if ye loved me, ye would rejoice;' then let us not repine that he is now numbered among the children of God, and that his lot is among the saints; but let us rather endeavour that our afflictions may have the intended effect, weaning our hearts from the world, and fixing them upon God, who can abundantly supply all our deficiencies, and has promised never to leave us nor forsaké us, if we will put our trust in him. I doubt not, dear Madam, that you have with thankfulness experienced, and do every day acknowledge, that God in Christ is to you, instead of a father, husband, brother, friend: and it is my earnest prayer that his comforts may abound in you more and more. I am of very little use in life; but if it is in my power to render you any service, no one will do it more cheerfully, and you may freely command
: Your affectionate friend." .
That God in Chris friend: and hound in you
- It is impossible to conceive any letter written upon such a subject, full of more genuine pathos, and of the best arguments for consolation to the afflicted, with a ready application of the best texts of Scripture to such an occasion. How highly too is our admiration necessarily raised, when this letter is known to be the production of a young layman of thirty-three, and that layman a tradesman, whose general employment was so uncongenial to studies calculated to produce a letter of this nature, so full