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The village of Wilford is situated on the banks of the Trent, and at the foot of Clifton Woods. These woods were the favorite resort of the late lamented Kirke White, and form the subject of the longest poem in the volume which he published. He delighted, says his biographer, to point out to his friends the scenery of this poem, the islet to which he had often forded when the river was not knee deep, and the little hut wherein he had sate for hours, and sometimes all day long reading or writing, or dreaming with his eyes open. He had sometimes wandered in these woods till night far advanced, and used to speak with pleasure of having once been overtaken there by a thunder storm at midnight, and watching the lightning over the river and the vale towards the town.
In this village his mother provided lodgings for him when his employers gave him a month's leave of absence from the fatigues of a lawyer's office, that he might pursue those studies which were more
VOL. IX. 3rd SERIES.
congenial to his taste, uninterruptedly. This he did with so much ardour, that his health gradually declined, and at length he had a sharp fit of sickness, on his recovery from which his “ Lines written in Wilford church-yard" were composed.
" THE RACE SET BEFORE US."
(Continued from page 312.) We have already devoted our thoughts to the nature of the Christian Race; to the mercy of Him, who has opened such a way to glory and to God; and we have shewn, in whose strength alone we can enter, or proceed therein. For the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but it is God who worketh in us, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure.
But while there is one way, and one alone, by which wandering sinners can return to God; there is, in the occurrences of our lives, a distinct race set before each of us. Well would it be, if we bore this in mind, and always acted in accordance with it. For too often we entertain little more than vague, undefined ideas of the excellency of the Christian character; productive of no benefit, because they are not applied to our own individual case. Whereas the design of our all-wise Redeemer, in every event and object we meet with, is to promote our spiritual good; to exercise grace
he has bestowed; and to give us opportunities of glorifying him, whose we are, and whom we profess to serve. We are ready to call this a hindrance, that a calamity; to exclaim, “If I were not placed in such trying and provoking circumstances, my spirit might be calm and holy: if my occupations were congenial, I should be fervent and diligent: if my means were ample, I should be kind and generous : if my companions were lovely in their temper, I should be affectionate and amiable.” A reason. able “ if” indeed! What is it but saying, “if every person around me would be perfect, and every thing pleasant, so that there were nothing to stir up my corruptions, perhaps they would lie quiet.' Perhaps so, but not long: under this tender consultation of their propensities, they would only be gathering strength to rise invincible on the first, the slightest occasion. Yea, the mind, untutored by salutary discipline, would make causes of disquiet, if it
could not find them. Therefore, in the race set before us, our Heavenly Instructor permits us to meet with that which shall humble and prove us, and shew us what is in our hearts; that, which shall lead us duly to value, both the mercy that forgives, and the grace that helps in every time of need.
Many, however, who would not exactly adopt the above expressions, manifest by their murmuring, rebellion, and envy of others, their utter dissatisfaction with the arrangements of providence. “I could willingly bear,” they will say, “ the trials of such and such persons, if I were but in other respects, placed in their situation. How thankful I should be in such a quiet comfortable lot as my neighbour enjoys ;-how warmly should I engage in those interesting duties to which my friend has been called.” And yet, perhaps, these very individuals are fretting under their own appointed trials; lightly esteeming their unnumbered mercies ; and neglecting the duties of that station, in which the Lord has seen fit to place them. Now, what is the real meaning of all this? I almost hesitate to write it, though multitudes hesitate not to speak and act it. It is plainly, “I could run well in a variety of ways, but God has set the wrong race before me,” My young friends! perhaps this has been too nearly the language of some of you, though you knew it not. Let it be so no longer. In dependance on Divine strength, address yourselves with all diligence, to your own peculiar race : your present duties and daily occurrences meet with cheerful readiness, because they are set before you, by unerring wisdom and unfailing love. Believe that no other path could be equally profitable for you: and endeavor so to pass through things temporal, that they may help, rather than hinder you in your progress to things eternal. A few illustrations of the subject will probably render it more clear, and also more interesting.
Taking with me a young friend, whom I will name Susanna, I called one morning on a lady, who had been confined some years to her couch, from a complaint in the spine. Susanna was a warm, a zealous Christian, (I trust a sincere one) and she was placed in a wide sphere of active usefulness. My friend enquired respecting the various institutions, with which her parents, and consequently she in her humbler measure, were engaged. After listening, with her own kind interest, to Susanna’s intelligence, she asked more particularly about her mamma. And while, with glowing anima. tion, the affectionate daughter was so speaking, as to bring forcibly to one's mind the passage, “When the eye saw me, then it blessed me, and the ear gave witness to me,' I observed an unbidden tear start in the eye of the invalid. It was checked, however, as quickly as it started, while turning to me, with a look of the sweetest tranquillity and resignation, she said, “ That was a sinful tear. “They also serve, who only stand and wait:' and 0, how condescending is the love which permits us to render either active or passive service.” How evident was it, that the gracious discipline my friend had endured was made truly salutary. Her heavenly Father was leading her by a right way, to a city of eternal habitation : and she had indeed learned to run with patience the race set before her. Not so my young associate. She had not yet discovered, that outward circumstances are nothing, but what God makes them to us. On our return therefore, when I remarked, “How much I feel for poor Mrs.--," she replied, “O cousin, I am more inclined to envy her. That couch seems such a quiet, holy place of communion with God, that I could almost wish myself laid on a similar one. Nothing to distract the mind, or draw the heart from its true rest and centre. Her situation must be highly favorable to her soul's prosperity.'
“ It has been made so, dear Susanna," I answered ;“ but without the Divine blessing, it would have been a restless, fretful couch. Continued affliction would have induced hard thoughts of God, and driven the soul to a greater distance from him. But sanctified by effectual grace, sickness or health, action or repose, may be alike, profitable.
Susanna was soon convinced ; and doubted not, that the Lord could be as powerfully about her path, as about her bed ; and that those who have an eye unto Him, may meet Him in all
Another lady was threatened with the loss of a beautiful and engaging boy She was almost distracted : her friends felt much for her sorrow, and more for her rebellious spirit. She was reminded of an acquaintance, who had lately been most graciously supported through a similar trial. “O, I could have borne Mrs. Newman's bereavement without a murmur," was the reply, “she has another son. I could bear almost any other affliction : but
this is my tender point.” Poor thing! she forgot that her own, not Mrs. Newman's path, was set before her, and that her wisdom and happiness would be, to seek grace, that she might walk therein. The child however was mercifully spared. But the next trial was quite as insupportable; and, alas! it appeared too plainly, that she was tender at all points.
To mention one more instance,-A young man had been six months in a situation of his own choosing. His employments were by no means unpleasant, and many hours of leisure were at his disposal. The Sabbath especially, he could entirely devote to learning and teaching: and often had he expressed satisfaction at the many interesting occupations in which he was permitted to engage. But, as I before observed, six months had passed away ; and the following were the remarks, which he uttered one evening, to a young acquaintance : 'I do not know how it is, but my spirits have not felt at all good these last few weeks. I cannot follow my pursuits with the same vigour and interest that I did at first; I begin to require a little change. If I could but sail up
the Rhine with my uncle, and get a few fresh ideas to feed upon, till I could have an opportunity of enlarging them again, I think it would be very useful to me.” The Pastor happened to be of the party; he heard all, though he took no notice; and the next morning he took a note to Edward, which I will here transcribe. “ My dear young Friend,
I know you did not deem the complaint you uttered last night, to be one of a spiritual nature: yet I view it in that light; and, as your spiritual Physician, hasten to give you such advice, as I hope, under the Divine blessing, may remove it. A roving, unsettled disposition, seems to me one great evil of the present time; and I question whether our forefathers, (some of whom thought a journey of fifty miles scarcely practicable, and a little circle of duties so all-important, that they could not be transferred for a single week,) I question whether even they did not enjoy more solid peace of mind than their restless sons and daughters. For the belief that they were filling the place assigned them, promoted contentment; they had at least an end to live for; and were not worried with the continual looking out for something new. Far be it from me, however, dear Edward, to advise any narrow rejection of opportunities to enlarge the mind, or recruit the spirits.