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His feet being guided by a narrow pathway trodden in the grass, he went forward till he came to a more open part of the park, where, sitting down to rest himself on the root of an oak, which formed a convenient seat, he fell into a long and deep meditation.
There was much in the present prospect which reminded him of scenes to which he had been accustomed in India, and of one especially near his own habitation, where a wide and spacious lawn was richly adorned with groups and clusters of forest trees, under which herds of buffaloes were frequently seen reposing at noon-day. There wanted only, to render the illusion complete, some trees resembling that beautiful and peculiar family of vegetables with which the tropical forests are ever adorned—but an obelisk, or rather shaft of stone, fixed on a pedestal, tastefully placed in a situation where two groves approached each other, near the brow of a hill, supplied in some degree to the old gentleman the absence of a favourite palm tree, which occupied a somewhat similar situation in the well-remembered oriental scene to which he compared the one now presented to his view.
Mr. Eliot remained for awhile quietly contemplating the surrounding objects, and then broke out almost unconsciously, in words to the following effect: "O India! ever dear! O! scenes of tranquillity, which while I live I shall never cease to regret! O my poor people! my forsaken, neglected ones! why am I thus separated from you V Here the old man wiped away a tear; and, yielding to his imagination, visited again, in thought, all those beloved scenes which he now never expected to behold in any other way.
At length, recollecting himself, he called his wandering fancy to order, and enquired of himself what it was which made him thus deeply to lament that he was never more to return to his former mode of life in India? "And what is it," asked he, "which, in this highly-favoured and enlightened country, frequently renders me so extremely uneasy, that I am ready to separate myself from all my connexions, and escape to some place where my name and person are equally unknown?"
The answer to this question was—" A want of Christian simplicity."
"And what is Christian simplicity?" again enquired the venerable saint; "what but a determination to seek the Lord, and him only, and to renounce all earthly and secondary motives of action? Joshua had this Christian simplicity, when he thus addressed the people of Israel—And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served, that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lori. (Josh. xxiv. 15.) Abraham possessed this Christian simplicity, when he lifted up his hand to slay his only son upon the altar. The prophets of Israel possessed this Christian simplicity, when they rebuked the idolatrous kings and princes, and stood up alone in the face of infidel multitudes, to serve and adore the Lord Jehovah. These holy and blessed ones of the Lord had but one motive of conduct: neither have the archangels and celestial hierarchies of heaven any other. The glory of the Lord Jehovah is their supreme and only object: no other name but his enters into their songs. There is no idolatrous love of self, or exaltation of the creature, throughout the regions of eternal blessedness; but the song with which heaven resounds, and shall resound through all eternity, is Blessings, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever." (Rev. vii. 12.)
Mr. Eliot then put this further enquiry to himself: "But the region from which I now regret my absence, is not yet christianized; it is a heathen land, a very small number of whose immense multitudes are truly converted: how then happens it that I have found reason to regret my separation from the simplicity of that land V He paused a moment, in consideration, and then mentally replied—"A real Christian in India lives among the heathen population as a race of men with whose opinions and customs he has nothing to do: their praise or dispraise is nothing to him: he has no concern with their unholy customs: he lives among them as a stranger and pilgrim on earth: he feels that he, and the few who think with him, must be wholly se parated from the world: and he is sensiblethat he, and the little Church of whom he forms a part, must be as a garden inclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. (Sol. Song iv. 12.) But in a country where all are nominal Christians, where the profession of piety is as honourable as it is general, where the children of the world assume the garb and affect the language of God's children, there the influence of mixed motives must needs be felt, Christian simplicity will be frequently forsaken, and human idols will be set up even in the courts of the sanctuary. But is it not the work of the Spirit to cleanse the sanctuary, to cast away the idols, and to purify the altar of incense V
Vol. ii. Z
He then proceeded to meditate on the nature and offices of the Holy Spirit, and to consider his peculiar influences as exercised in emptying man of self, and in continually restoring that Christian simplicity from which the Church departs whenever it ceases to give the glory on all occasions to God. The good old gentleman then began to consider the circumstances of man's condition, with his utter inability either to promote his own salvation or to further that of others, in any degree beyond what the Lord appoints. He well knew that unconverted men are as dead and dry bones, upon which it is the office of the minister and teacher to call both in and out of season, commanding them to live and perform all the functions of life. But the minister can do no more for them; so that unless the divine and revivifyng influences of the Spirit attend his labours, the dead will remain dead, and the dry bones will remain dry, to all eternity: Paul may plant, and Apollos water; but it is God only who giveth the increase.
"Let every minister, therefore," said Mr. Eliot, "and every teacher, be content with his own reward in the good-will of his brethren; but let him not desire that praise which is due to God alone; and let him, above all things, beware of robbing the Holy Spirit of his due, in taking to himself the honour of man's conversion, which is as entirely and completely a divine work, aa the￼ first formation of man in an infant state, or the raising of the dead to life." The old gentleman was hence led to reflect on the injury done to individuals in particular, and to the Church in general, by the praise of man, which, like the smoke of this nether world, rises and obscures the glories of meridian day. Mr. Eliot then took out his Pocket-Bible, and marked several texts which he thought particularly to his purpose.
While turning over his Bible in search of those passages which confirmed him in his opinion of the actual blasphemy of man in challenging for himself that praise and honour which can be due only to God, his thoughts were led by the perusal of a part of the sixty-seventh Psalm to such a wonderful and delightful view of what will be the glorious state of the earth when man shall cease from seeking the honour which cometh of man, and shall be led by the Spirit to devote his then sanctified powers to the glory of the Lord, that he remained for a considerable time silent and without motion, as one in a dream or vision.—Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. O let the nations be glad, and sing for joy; for thou shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him. (Psalm lxvii. 3—7.)
In this waking vision, all the blessedness of the Millennium arose before him—the external, as well as internal, glories of the kingdom of Christ. He saw with wonder and delight fresh fountains gushing forth in the barren wilderness, and, as in a second Eden, every tree which is good for food or pleasant to the sight, springing up from the earth now no longer accursed. He beheld, in imagination, the snows melting from the frozen poles, and verdant continents appearing in the solitary south. And whence this lovely change?—Because the people magnified the Lord; because every hill and every forest, every valley and every plain, resounded with the praises of the Lord Jehovah; and because the mountain of the Lord's house was lifted above the tops of the mountains; mankind confessing no other gods but the Lord Jehovah, and all human idols being cast unto the moles and the I bats, The following verses, which he remembered to have heard in his younger days, came to his mind at this time; and he had just succeeded in recalling them all in their due order, when he was interrupted by a peasant, who came into the park to number the cattle and deer. The verses remembered by Mr. Eliot were to this effect—
"O days of bliss!—The lambs, behold, Play with the wolf, or sleep devoid of fear;With kids the leopards fill the fold,
And heifers gambol, though the lion's near.
"By babes the lion led in bands,
"The suckling sees, without dismay,
Smiles at his fire-fed eyes, and strokes his glittering crest.
"In all my holy mountain, they
Shall hurt no" more; no more shall they destroy:
And grief's cold creeping venom yield to joy."
Dr. Butl's Versification of Isaiah.
The old man who approached Mr. Eliot wore the dress of a common labourer, and appeared hale and hearty, having a fresh and florid complexion. He entered the park by the same path which had brought Mr. Eliot there; and as he had his back towards the stranger, he was close upon the old gentleman before he was aware that any one was near him. The old man addressed Mr. Eliot in the half-familiar, half-respectful way which old people often use; when Mr. Eliot, in returning his compliment, perceived that, however fresh the old peasant appeared, he had symptoms of some violent humour in his eyes. As Mr. Eliot had often observed and been enabled to curesymptoms of the same kind among the natives of India, it occurred to him, that, by apply