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out life the story of the confession of the Apostle Thomas-all seem to have vanished away and never again to have diverted him from the decisive choice and energetic pursuit of what he set before him as his end and duty. From this time forward no careful observer can fail to trace that deep consciousness of the invisible world, and that power of bringing it before him in the midst and through the means of his most active engagements, which constituted the peculiarity of his religious life, and the moving spring of his whole life. It was not that he frequently introduced sacred names in writing or in conversation, or that he often dwelt on divine interpositions; where many would have done so without scruple, he would shrink from it, and in speaking of his own religious feelings, or in appealing to the religious feelings of others, he was, except to those most intimate with him, exceedingly reserved. But what was true generally of the thorough interpenetration of the several parts of his character, was peculiarly true of it in its religious aspect: his natural faculties were not unclothed, but clothed upon; they were at once coloured by, and gave a colour to, the belief which they received. It was his common acts of life, whether public or private, that most exhibited the depth of his religious convictions; it was in his manner of dwelling on religious subjects, that the characteristic tendencies of his mind chiefly displayed themselves.
Accordingly, whilst it is impossible, for this reason, to understand his religious belief except through the knowledge of his life and writings, it is impossible, on the other band, to understand his life and writings without bearing in mind how vivid was his realization of those truths of the Christian Revelation on which he most habitually dwelt. It was this which enabled him to undertake labours which without such a power must have crushed or enfeebled the spiritual growth which in him they seemed only to foster. It was the keen sense of thankfulness consciously awakened by every distinct instance of his many blessings, which more than any thing else explained his close union of joyousness with seriousness. In his even tenor of life it was difficult for any one who knew him not to imagine “ the golden chain of heavenward thoughts and humble prayers by which, whether standing or sitting, in the intervals of work or of amusement,” he “ linked together” his “more special and solemn devotions,” (Serm. vol. iii. 277,) or not to trace something of the consciousness of an invisible presence in the collectedness with which, at the call of his common duties, he rose at once from his various occupations; or in the calm repose which, in the midst of his most active labours, took all the disturbing accidents of life as a matter of course, and made toil so real a pleasure, and relaxation so real a refreshment to him. And in his solemn and emphatic expressions on subjects expressly religious; in his manner of awful reverence when speaking of God or of the Scriptures; in his power of realizing the operation of something more than human, whether in his abhorrence of evil, or in his admiration of goodness ;-the impression on those who heard him was often as though he knew what others only believed, as though he had seen what others only talked about. “ No one could know him even a little,” says one who was himself not amongst his most intimate friends, “and not be struck by his absolute wrestling with evil, so that like St. Paul he seemed to be battling with the wicked one, and yet with the feeling of God's help on his side, scorning as well as hating him.”
Above all, it was necessary for a right understanding, not only of his religious opinions, but of his whole character, to enter into the peculiar feeling of love and adoration which he entertained towards our Lord Jesus Christ,-- peculiar in the distinctness and intensity which, as it characterized almost all his common impressions, so in this case gave additional strength and meaning to those feelings with which he regarded not only His work of Redemption but Himself, as a living Friend and Master. “In that unknown world in which our thoughts become instantly lost,” it was his real support and delight to remember that “still there is one object on which our thoughts and imaginations may fasten, no less than our affections; that amidst the light, dark from excess of brilliance which surrounds the throne of God, we may yet discern the gracious form of the Son of Man,” (Serm. vol. iii. 90.) In that consciousness which pressed upon him at times even heavily, of the difficulty of considering God in His own nature, believing as he did that “ Providence, the Supreme Being, the Deity, and other such terms repel us to an infinite distance," and that the revelation of the Father, in Himself unapproachable, is to be looked upon rather as the promise of another life, than as the support of this life, it was to him a thought of perhaps more than usual comfort to feel that “our God” is “ Jesus Christ our Lord, the image of the invisible
God," and that “in Him is represented all the fulness of the Godhead, until we know even as we are known.” (vol. v. 222.) And with this full conviction both of his conscience and understanding, that He of whom he spoke was “still the very selfsame Jesus in all human affections and divine excellences;" there was
a vividness and tenderness in his conception of Him, on which, if one may so say, all his feelings of human friendship and affection seemed to fasten as on their natural object, “ bringing before him His actions, imaging to himself His very voice and look,” there was to him (so to speak) a greatness in the image thus formed of Him, on which all his natural instincts of reverence, all his range of historical interest, all his admiration of truth and goodness at once centred. Where can we find a name so holy as that we may surrender our whole souls to it, before which obedience, reverence without measure, intense humility, most unreserved adoration may all be duly rendered ?" was the earnest inquiry of his whole nature intellectual and moral, no less than religious. And the answer to it in like manner expressed what he endeavoured to make the rule of his own personal conduct, and the centre of all his moral and religious convictions : “ One name there is, and one alone, one alone in heaven and earth —not truth, not justice, not benevolence, not Christ's mother, not His holiest servants, not His blessed sacraments, nor His very mystical body the Church, but Himself only who died for us and rose again, Jesus Christ, both God and man.” (Serm. vol. iv. 210.)
Whatever may have been the exact views of his future course which presented themselves to him, it is evident, that he was not insensible to the attraction of visions of extensive influence, and almost to his latest hour he seems to have been conscious of the existence of the temptation within him, and of the necessity of contending against it. “I believe,” he said, many years afterwards, in speaking of these early struggles to a Rugby pupil who was consulting him on the choice of a profession,
“ I believe that naturally I am one of the most ambitious men alive,” and “the three great objects of human ambition,” he added, to which alone he could look as deserving the name, were “to be the prime minister of a great kingdom, the governor of a great empire, or the writer of works which should live in every age and in every country.” But in some respects the loftiness of his aims made it a matter of less difficulty to confine himself at once to a sphere in which, whilst he felt himself well and usefully employed, he felt also that the practical business of his daily duties acted as a check upon his own inclinations and speculations, and when be entered upon his work at Laleham, he seems to have regarded it as his work for life. “I have always thought,” he writes in 1823, “ with regard to ambition, that I should like to be aut Cæsar aut nullus, and as it is pretty well settled for me that I shall not be Cæsar, I am quite content to live in peace as nullus.”
With these views he settled at Laleham for the next nine years. There is naturally but little to interrupt the retirement of a life, which was only broken by the short tours in England or on the Continent, in which then, as afterwards, he employed his vacaVOL. I.