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reformed no evil habit; my time has been unprofitably spent, and seems as a dream, that has left nothing behind. My memory grows confused, and I know not how the days pass over me.”
“ I purpose to rise at eight, because, though I shall not yet rise early, it will be much earlier than I now rise, for I often lie till two; and will gain me much time, and tend to a conquest over idleness, and give time for other duties.”
Sept. 18, 1768.—“I have now begun the sixtieth year
life. How the last year has past, I am unwilling to terrify myself with thinking."
Jan. 1, 1769.—“I am now about to begin another year: how the last has past it would be, in my state of weakness, perhaps not prudent too solicitously to recollect.”
1772.—“I resolved last Easter to read, within the year, the whole Bible, a very great part of which I had never looked upon. I read the Greek Testament without construing, and this day concluded the Apocalypse. I think that no part was missed.”
“ My purpose of reading the rest of the Bible was forgotten, till I took by chance the resolutions of last Easter in my hand.”
“ I hope to read the whole Bible once a year, as long as I live.”
.-" It is a comfort to me, that at last, in my sixty-third year, I have attained to know, even thus hastily, confusedly, and imperfectly, what my Bible contains.”
1775. “ Yesterday, I do not recollect that to go to church came into my thoughts; but I sat in my
chamber preparing for preparation ; interrupted I know not how. I was near two hours at dinner.”
1777.—“ I have this year omitted church on most Sundays, intending to supply the deficiency in the week. So that I owe twelve attendances on worship."
“ When I look back upon resolutions of improvement and amendment, which have, year after
year, been made and broken, either by negligence, forgetfulness, vicious idleness, casual interruption, or morbid infirmity; when I find that so much of my
life has stolen unprofitably away, and that I can descry, by retrospection, scarcely a few single days properly and vigorously employed, why do I yet try to resolve again ? I try, because reformation is necessary, and despair criminal ; I try in humble hope of the help of God.”*
Our sole object, in the introduction of these extracts, is to found upon them an appeal to those who question the necessity of Conversion, in that higher sense and acceptation which implies an inward principle of grace, changing and transforming the heart. We would beg to ask whether it was not the want of the vital power and energy of this principle, that produced in Johnson the vacillation of mind and purpose, which we have just recorded ; the hours lost; the resolutions broken; the sabbaths violated; and the sacred volume not read, till the shades of evening advanced upon him ? What instance can be adduced that more clearly demonstrates the insufficiency of the highest acquirements of human learning, and that nothing but a
* See Diary of Dr. Johnson.
Divine power can illuminate the mind, and convert the heart? Happily, Johnson is known to have at length found what he needed, and to have died with a hope full of immortality.*
But we would further. We maintain that all men, without respect of character or person, need conversion; for “ all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" all partake of the corruption and infirmities of a fallen nature, and inherit the primeval curse. Shall reason, shall philosophy effect the cure ? Reason sees what is right; erring nature, in despite of reason, follows what is wrong. Philosophy can penetrate into the abstrusest mysteries, ascertain by what laws the universe is governed, and trace the heavenly bodies in their courses, but cannot eradicate one evil passion from the soul. Where then lies the remedy? The Gospel reveals it. And what is the Gospel? The Gospel is a dispensation of grace and mercy, for the recovery of fallen man, and the application of this remedy to the heart and conscience effects that Conversion of which we are speaking. But by whom or by what applied By Him who holds “the keys of heaven and of hell,” who “openeth, and no man shutteth," and whose prerogative it is to say, “Behold, I make all things new.' And how ? By his word, and by his Spirit. sent his word and healed them.” I “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."$ The word is the appointed instrument, the * See vol. ii. p. 269–271.
+ Rev. xxi. 5. Psal. cvii. 20. 1 Pet. i. 23. See also Heb. iv. 12.
v." + 66 He
Spirit, the mighty agent which gives the quickening power : * not by any supernatural revelation, but in the ordinary operations of divine grace, and consistently with the freedom and co-operation of man as a moral agent; speaking pardon and peace to the conscience, and delivering from the tyranny of sense and the slavery of fear, by proclaiming “liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”
The last subject for reflection suggested by the Diary of Dr. Johnson, is the frequent neglect of the Sabbath, and his confession that he had lived a stranger to the greater part of the contents of his Bible till the sixty-third year of his age. This is an afflicting record, and we notice the fact, from a deep conviction that piety can never retain its power and ascendancy in the heart, where the Bible is not read, and the ordinances of God are frequently neglected. When will genius learn that its noblest attribute is to light its fires at the lamp of divine truth, and that the union of piety and learning is the highest perfection of our nature ? We beg to commend to the earnest attention of the student the following eloquent testimony to the sacred volume from the pen of Sir William Jones.
“I have carefully and regularly perused these Holy Scriptures, and am of opinion that the Volume, independently of its divine origin, contains more sublimity, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains of eloquence, than can be collected from all other books, in whatever language they may have been written.” *
*“ It is the Spirit that quickeneth.” John vi. 63. The union of the Word and the Spirit in imparting spiritual life to the soul is forcibly expressed in the same verse : “ The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”
Having quoted Sir William Jones's testimony, we conclude by urging his example.
“ Before thy mystic altar, heavenly Truth,
I kneel in manhood, as I knelt in youth :
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
Olney, August 27, 1785. My dear Friend—I was low in spirits yesterday when your parcel came and raised them. Every proof of attention and regard to a man who lives in a vinegar-bottle is welcome from his friends on the outside of it; accordingly your books were welcome, (you must not forget, by the way, that I want the original, of which you have sent me the translation only,) and the ruffles from Miss Shuttleworth most welcome. I am covetous, if ever man was, of living in the remembrance of absentees, whom I highly value and esteem, and consequently felt myself much gratified by her very obliging present. I have had more comfort, far more comfort, in the connexions that I have formed within the last twenty
* See Lord Teignmouth's Life of Sir William Jones. + Ibid.