« AnteriorContinuar »
reveals it fully in its glorious consequences, that they may be prepared to live for ever. And there is not a stronger suspicion, that a man is not well acquainted with the nature of eternal life, when he knows not how to live in this world, or when he rashly ventures to hurry himself out of it. When God says, “ Come up hither;" in the same moment he enables the soul to quit the house of clay, and to stand among the spirits of the just before his throne.
The Lord hath revealed, and often gives very manis fest impressions of, eternal life to his redeemed, in order to abate, if not intirely remove, the fear of death: and (as an ingenious author hath observed) “ for a Christian to be amazed at death, I cannot see how he can escape this dilemma,-either that he is too sensible of this life, or hopeless of the life to come.”
Usually, the Spirit of grace affords a particular support to the faithful in this most trying revolution of nature. In some cases, the effects and demonstrations of his presence have been wonderful. A Christian cannot read over Melchior Adam's Lives and Deaths of Eminent Believers, without an equal measure of delight and veneration, or without wishing to live and die like them. I have my eye at present upon his Memoir of the learned and ingenious Italian lady OLYMPIA Fulvia Morata, who was one of the earliest and brightest ornaments of the Reformation. She was brought up in the court of Ferrara, under a very eminent and learned father, who was preceptor to the young princes of that house; and she formed a particular, intimacy with the princess their sister, being both of the same age, and both educated together. Her literary abilities astonished every body; for she could declaim in Latin, converse in Greek, and was a critic in the most difficult classics. But divine grace afforded her far more valuable accomplishments than these. Upon the death of her father, the affairs of his family necessarily called her from court; and about this time a learned physician of Germany, a pious man and a protestant, made his addresses, and married her. With him she retired from Italy, and, upon seriously and diligently reading the scriptures, to which she had formerly been a very great stranger, it pleased God not only to convert her from Popery to Protestantism, but (which is a more difficult work) to translate her from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his own dear Son. From henceforth all her joy was in that superior learning, which, beyond the minute objects of time and sense, consists in the knowledge and enjoyment of divine and eternal concerns. To this effect she wrote to the princess, her fellowpupil and friend." When, by the particular goodness of God, I was delivered from the idolatry of my own country, and had retired with my husband into Gera many; the change made by his grace upon my heart, could I express it, might seem almost as incredible to you, as it is astonishing to me. The dislike which I once had to the scriptures, from which I had kept, and been taught to keep, at the greatest distance, was turned into the greatest delight and pleasure I had in the world : and now my soul is principally engaged in this most blessed study, Here, I may say, is my
sweetest and happiest comfort. My thoughts, my industry, my concern, are fixed upon this object: so that the world, which once I too fondly admired, and all its joys and pursuits, which then employed and took up my time, are become not only indifferent, but even contemptible to me.” The end of such a life was answerable to its beginning. After much trouble and danger from the wars then carried on in the empire, she at last settled with her husband at Heidelberg. Here it pleased God to call her from the world. Her joys, upon the view of this change, were as extraordinary as the troubles of her life which preceded it. She was almost distressed, when her friends indulged any presages of her recovery: and told them, that “the Lord had been pleased to give her a short course, but full of agitations and troubles : and that she could not desire to return again to them, now she seemed so near the port." Upon being asked, whether she had any doubts upon her mind respecting her spiritual state? she answered ; "For these last seven years, during which I have known God and embraced his truth, I have seldom been free from some assault or other of Satan against my faith and hope : but now, as though his darts were expended, he troubles me no more in this respect; nor have I any other impressions at present on my soul, but an inexpressible tranquillity and peace with God through Jesus Christ." She expressed herself without a doubt upon her state as a child of God. A little before her departure, waking out of a slumber, she looked with a smile of unusual chear fulness and affection upon her husband; and, upon his asking her the cause she replied; “O I have now had a view of my
rest, rest in a most delightful and excellent place, shining with glory and brightness altogether unutterable.” Upon her husband's telling her, that indeed she had reason to look so happy, since in a very little space her spirit would fully enjoy all she had been seeing; she had only strength to answer, with a smile of the utmost complacency and delight, “I am nothing but joy; but now I know you no more.” It was all she could speak, before she was “ graciously dissolved to be with Christ.”
Her excellent husband, Dr. Grunthler, says, that this was only a specimen of the joy and peace she expressed during her last illness: her mouth was full of the praises of God, for calling her out of darkness into his marvellous light, and for bringing the knowledge of his salvation into her soul.
Some of your readers may wish to know, that this fæmina doctissima ac plane divina (as the editor of her works styles her) " this very learned and truly divine woman” departed at Heidelberg in October 1555, and only in the twenty-ninth year of her age.
UPON HARDENED IGNORANCE OF RELIGION.
Errare possum : hæreticus esse nolo.
AMONG all the circumstances which at present attend this country, scarcely any one seems more alarming to a serious mind, which reflects upon the proximate causes of God's judgements in times of old, than the immense ignorance of divine things, and the consequent dissoluteness, which appear in all quarters of the land. In the country parishes, especially, the coarseness of manDers is not to be mentioned with the inundation of wickedness, idleness and debauchery, which sweeps, like a plague almost all before it, and particularly in those neighbourhoods where the summer-residence of some profligate great or wealthy man forms a lodgement for all sorts of vices, brought thither by themselves or by abandoned servants. The havock in every thing decent which these uuhappy people make, during their temporary excursions from the taverns, bagnios, and other debauched seminaries of the town, is truly lamentable to every man, who prefers honour, virtue, and religion, to titles, gold, and sin.
If you ask nine-tenths of our country people what they understand by the Christian religion, and how they