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are never more happily employed, than when you look to the “life and immortality brought to light through the gospel.”-Read v. of St Paul's 2d Epistle to the Corinthians.—He speaks in 6th to 8th verses of the “ confidence,” the settled conviction of a Christian believer, that it is “better to be absent from the body and present with the Lord.” Now, in your prayers for your poor father, offer one supplication, that this “ confidence” may be every day more and more wrought in me! This is, I am deeply convinced, the highest attainment in this world of the Christian faith. In his Epistle to the Hebrews, ch. ii. we find the Apostle describing the state of the natural man, as in all his lifetime under the dominion of the fear of death; and while it was the great office of the promised Deliverer (Gen. iii.), to “destroy him who hath the power of death, it is at the same time the most precious fruit of the Spirit, whom He promised as a Comforter to his disciples “to abide with them for ever,” to be not only released from the natural fear of death, but to be willing to die. . I remember a remarkable passage in one of Wesley's journals, recorded by Southey, where Wesley observes, that we may consider our feelings in the contemplation of death, as a test of our progress in the Christian life. Now I feel that this is true; that when we consider what is assured by the word of Almighty God through His ever blessed Son, to be the portion of his faithful servants, there ought to be no hesitation to prefer death unto life in this world ; that is (for the expression has sometimes been sadly misunderstood), to prefer that state which the mercy of God has provided for his accepted servants, to the best happiness that this world can furnish, and in this the test consists ; for it is evident, that unless the heart be purified and the taste refined, so as to make the prospect of the employments and gratifications of a spiritual world desirable, this preference would be impossible. At the same time, for infinite are the wisdom and mercy of God, He has ordained, that in the faithful discharge of our duties in this state consists the preparation for that which is to come.
You must have read of enthusiasts who have actually shortened their own lives to arrive at the happiness of another world,—but the appointments of Almighty goodness are directly opposed to this madness, by ordaining that the endeavour at least to fulfil our obligations here, is to be the necessary qualification for a better world. So that the faith in which we rely on the promises of God, is to be the excitement to a righteous discharge of our duties in this life, while the same faith, instructing us in the unspeakable blessings and happiness, “ the rest which is prepared " for the people of God, is designed to render our removal the object of complacent regard. And here, I think, is the struggle,—the events and engagements of our days on earth are, through
the hereditary sin of our nature, calculated to engross us too much, and put out of our minds that for which they are in reality intended; and it is for this reason that I contemplate the wish, to be absent from the body and present with the Lord, as the highest attainment of Christian faith. It is a principle rendering death itself an object of more than resignation, while the alacrity and spirit with which our various duties in this world are to be performed, are not in any measure weakened or impeded. I am afraid that I have scarcely expressed myself clearly ; I have neither time nor space to do better just now : but a few words will suffice to say, that it is the earnest object of my prayers and reflections, to be able to look on “the last enemy which shall be destroyed” in this light; and the greatest blessing, in my opinion, which we can enjoy in this life, is to be actuated by the spirit which the Apostle describes in the passage to which I have referred above.
I ever am, my beloved w tionate Father,
, your affec
Believe me, I was much flattered and gratified by your kind attention in writing to me so soon after your arrival at Oxford, and have regretted every day the indisposition or interruptions which have delayed my acknowledgment of your kindness till this day; when my letter will, by all accounts, reach you only time enough to wish you a pleasant and happy vacation.
You do me the kindness to express a wish for my advice. That advice can only be of use to you when you return in October; and I am not willing to give up the hope of seeing you in your way southwards in the Autumn, when I may do better in conversation, now that you have seen something of the society and ways of the University. Still I have somewhat to say, in the opinion that you purpose to see another new place, namely, London, before you join your friends in the country.
With the present style of youthful society at Oxford, I am scarcely at all acquainted. Some features of it I am much inclined to approve ; for I am told, that, in the best circles at least, there is no drinking, which in my time was the bane of our meetings. I hear also that you are very well mannered towards each other-another very commendable circumstance. But there are dangers too, and one great evil, (I speak under correction,) is the temptation of card-playing. You remember, I dare say, Dr Johnson's definition of card-playing: in one point, that definition applies to such engagements at college; cards are a substitute, and a very bad one, for conversation, When young men of good principles and good understandings meet together frequently, the vapid nonsense, which does mighty well whispered into the ear of an un-idea'd girl at a crowded rout in Edinburgh, London, or any where else, will not after a short while, go down ; nor will the nobler argument of horses, dogs, double-barrelled guns, four-in-hand, &c. &c., stand its ground much longer ; and then, were not cards produced, such young men would, in their own defence, betake themselves to rational and literary talk. I cannot believe that it would be otherwise ;-and this is one reason for deprecating cards. A greater evil