« הקודםהמשך »
racters, who, like the luminaries above, give light to a dark world, that others seeing their good works may glorify their Father who is in heaven.
“ Mr. Adam, though mentioned last, is not the least. His character approaches nearer to an apostolical one, than any one I ever yet met with ; the simplicity of his life, and the eminent piety of his writings, place him, I think, in the first class of Christians. Some of his thoughts are startling: if, however, he has so little to say for himself, or so much to condemn in himself, how important is the consideration to more imperfect Christians! God help us! However, his thoughts are the reflections of a christian of deep experience.
Poor Mr. Winstanley is sometimes better, sometimes worse : he frequently mentions you with marks of deep affection and respect, and Mr. Adam's posthumous works are never out of his hands; he
says, he reads nothing but them and the word of God, and they are the food of his soul. No man, he says, ever wrote so much to his feelings and experience as good Mr. Adam, and he thinks no writings he ever met with breathe the genuine spirit of the gospel equal to his. Mr. Winstanley reads over and over his • Thoughts, which, he says he considers as an invaluable treasure. I will now only add, that with our very affectionate compliments to you
yours, “ I remain, your very sincere and " affectionate Friend,
“ RICHARD POWNALL."
The above is the Rev. Mr. Winstanley, to whom
Dr. Johnson applied in his last illness, which occurred about two years before the date of this letter. The views of Mr. Winstanley were in unison with those of Mr. Adam. Dr. Johnson doubtless was acquainted, at least as a matter of literary curiosity, with the religious views of such clergymen as Mr. Winstanley. The Doctor found the religious opinions of these divines the only ones on which he could rest in the immediate view of death.
The next letter, from the same to the same, is equally satisfactory in regard to the character of Mr. Adam.
“ Dear Sir, “I beg you to assure Mr. Thornton that I am sensible of his politeness in permitting you to transscribe the extracts from Mr. P and Mr. R.__'s letters ; I read them to Mr. Winstanley. No man rejoices more than himself to hear that true religion is gaining ground in the world, over vice and infidelity. He seemed much pleased with the extract from Mr. R.—'s letter, but thought Mr. P.--'s objectionable as to manner; it was not, he was of opinion, expressed with that christian gravity; that so eminently distinguishes the writings of good Mr. Adam, who, in imitation of the great apostle of the Gentiles, ever speaks the words of truth and soberness; there is a chastness and simplicity in the writings of that excellent man, which recommend them more and more to bim every time he peruses
them. “ Such a pattern of excellency, my young friend, I am persuaded, will never lose sight of; he will not adopt an unamiable singularity of conduct, or be
warped by illiberal sentiments ; but, at the same time, he strenuously supports the cause of true Christianity and solid piety, will be candid and charitable, and unite the pleasing manners of the wellbred gentleman with the seriousness and simplicity of the Christian.
“ Your affectionate Friend,
“ RICHARD PowNALL."
The two following letters from the same pen' to the Rev. Mr. Storry, show the warmth of christian attachment to the rector of Wintringham.
what he says,
Abingdon-street, Jan. 17th, 1788. “ My dear Sir, “ Your enclosed sermon, like all the rest from the same hand is, I had almost said, unequalled. There is a force and weight in what falls from the pen of Mr. Adam, that the more you reflect
upon the more you are impressed with the solidity of his evangelical sentiments : they mark a heart deeply experienced in all the great and essential truths of the gospel.
“I am glad to hear John Foster is yet alive, and that the seed the late good rector sowed at Wintringham is springing up: God's time is always the best time; he has infinite wisdom, goodness, and power, to make it succeed.
“ I am, my dear Sir,
“ Your's sincerely,
" RICHARD PowNALL."
My dear Sir, “ Mr. Adam's deep experience of all the great truths of the gospel will be only comprehended by a few select Christians, except those who knew his practice was consistent with the great truths he delivered. His Thoughts are too deep for the gene rality of professing Christians, and not agreeable to their own experience.
“ I have been reading the Rev. J. Milner's second volume with all the attention I was able, and I think it a very elaborate and ingenious work, which does credit to his talents as well as his principles.
“ St. Augustine's Confessions mark out a mind deeply affected with the errors and corruptions of a past life of pride, folly, and criminality.
“ Mr. Adam, as far as I can learn, never deviated into the dangerous errors, or criminal and sensual pursuits, that Augustine long lived in ; and in this surely our friend had the advantage of the saint, however they may resemble each other in humility, and charity, and piety, by which their lives were afterwards regulated. I look upon Mr. Adam to be far superior to most of the fathers in divine knowledge and experience. " I remain yours truly,
“ RICHARD POWNALL."
READERS who have perused the Life of Mr. Adam, will be disposed to view his character and writings with varied feelings. Some perhaps will suspect, from the deep self-debasement expressed in his · Private Thoughts,' that his conscience was harassed with the remembrance of secret crimes; no such inference, however, can be fairly drawn from his life. In the common acceptation of the terms, he ever bore a strictly virtuous and moral character. He passed through the periods of youth and manhood without a blemish. His career at the Universities was marked by the same correct tenor of conduct. His mind was resolutely opposed to vice, and to whatever militated against conduct proper to a gentleman and a believer in the truth of Christianity.
It may seem paradoxical that with such acknowledged endowments, he could sincerely adopt the humiliating views of his own state and character before God, which he has recorded. But a close and accurate survey of the requirements of God's law, will solve the difficulty. The sermon of Christ upon the mount, exhibits the commandments of God as making far larger demands of piety, justice, and purity, from those who would keep them, than a