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This revelation has made manifest all that relates to ourselves, but it has not made manifest all that relates to God. With regard to the second desideratum, (the way of our acceptance with God,) it is clear and perspicuous: but with regard to the first, (the reconciliation between the divine goodness and the misery of his creatures,) it has thrown a light across the darkness, but it has not perfectly illumined it. It has shifted the difficulty, but it has not entirely removed it. It tells us that misery is the result of moral evil; but with regard to the origin of evil, it is altogether silent. It answers' the objection, "Why do he yet find fault, for who hath resisted his will?" by reminding us of our ignorance, and our weakness;-"Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?" The Bible was not intended to present us with a full developement of the divine character; but only to make known to us so much of that character as affects our own acceptance with the Deity. It was not meant to be a sun from whence might emanate a full illumination to reveal every object around us, but it was given us as a lamp to guide our own footsteps through the darkness of nature. The Day Star, it is true, hath arisen upon us, and "our path is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day;" but the day itself hath not yet dawned. Here we see as through a glass, darkly, and know but in part: but we look forward to a period of clearer revelation, when there shall beam forth upon us a brighter display of the Divine attributes in all their harmony. And then shall we see "face to face, and know even as we are known."
I shall be excused from giving my opinion of this production, when I quote the following sentence annexed to it, in the hand-writing of Dr. Chalmers: "An Essay of surpassing worth, as have been all the other compositions of its author in the Moral Philosophy Class."
From his correspondence I select the following letter to a young friend, who was then about to sustain a severe loss in his mother, a most amiable and eminently devoted christian. It is marked with much tenderness and faithfulness. As it has been furnished me by the individual to whom it was addressed, I may be allowed to express my hopes that the advices contained in it, and the prayers addressed on his behalf, by one now in heaven, will not be in vain:—
St. Andrew's, March 12, 1825.
On looking over your last letter, the most important, indeed the only intelligence it conveys, is an answer (which I regret is such a painful one) to my inquiries about your mother's health. From what my father tells me, I fear the worst, and I cannot help dreading you may have lost her ere now. At all events, from the nature and virulence of her disease, your hopes cannot be very sanguine. I am writing to one who has either just lost, or who is every day expecting to lose, the dearest of all earthly relatives;-and in either case, I should feel I was doing violence to all the finer feelings of our common nature, did I indulge in a strain of writing that was light or frivolous. There is something in the near view of death, either prospectively or retrospectively, which sol
emnizes the gayest heart, and disposes the most thoughtless to serious reflection. There is something in that tender sorrow which attends the death of one that is dear to us, which, for a time, subdues the pride of the haughtiest, and turns the eye of the most worldly, for a time, to Heaven. If ever that spiritual blindness is removed, which hides from our view all that is beyond the grave, it is, when by the death of a near friend, we are led, as it were, to the very outskirts of this world, and can thus take a nearer view of that world which lies beyond it. You will excuse me, then, if, in such circumstances, I call to your remembrance, and press upon your attention, those sacred precepts which your mother has often taught you, and of which she herself has been a living exemplification. I know the dislike of the young mind to religion; I have felt it, but it is a dislike which should be fought against. I know the alluring prospects of happiness which this world holds out, but short, as has been my experience, I have found that they are deceitful. I know the difficulty that there is in standing out against the laugh and sneer of young and gay and lighthearted companions; but, I can assure you, that you will be enabled to bear it, and even to rejoice under it. All that I wish you to do is, to consider the things of spirituality: if you but do this, your belief will follow; and your joy, in believing, as a natural consequence. Perhaps your mother is yet lingering in this world;-if so, it is my prayer, that she may yet be restored to you. But perhaps, even now, you are mourning her loss;-if so, it is my prayer, that your affliction may send you to seek for consolation in the exercises of devotion. If this be the result of your trial, it
will prove to you a real blessing, and you will find you have exchanged an earthly parent for an heavenly one.
It was towards the close of the session, he wrote for the prize at the Moral Philosophy Class, proposed by Dr. Chalmers. It appears, that, till near the end of the term, he had no intention of becoming a competitor, and that it was not till within four or five days of the period fixed for the giving in of the essays, that he set himself in good earnest to the task. To this, and several other subjects of importance he refers, in the following letter to his father:
St. Andrew's, April 18, 1825.
My dear Father;
I am happy to be able to inform you, that I did not speak at the meeting at Cupar, nor ever had the slightest intention of doing so. I have been intreated by some of our friends, and have been reproved for want of zeal by others, because I did not come forward and preach in the country, but I have withstood both intreaties and reproofs. Mr. Reid has been pressed into the service, and even Mr., at the risk of being called to an account by the presbytery, preached one Sabbath at Denino. I acknowledge that I have much higher ideas of preaching than are generally entertained among our brethren; and I do sincerely think, that it has been one of the greatest evils (perhaps, for a time, a necessary one,) in our system, to bring forward people to preach who were not rightly qualified for this most important
of all engagements. I think, from what you say in your's, you do not seem to have a right idea of the prize essay which I said I-was writing. Most perfectly do I agree with you, that I stand no chance of gaining it; but, at the same time, I should have thought it a breach of duty, and was afraid it might offend Dr. Chalmers, did I not give it in. They were entirely motives of this nature, which induced me after I had burned an essay I had written, in order to compete for the prize, to write another when the time was almost run out. I am sure you will not think me capable of so much presumption, as to expect that a production, which cost me only five days labor, at spare hours, should come into competition with those which have cost my competitors the continued application of four months.
I feel sincerely grateful for your letter. It is exactly what I need at present. I feel the praise which is of men, to be one of the severest trials I can meet with, and to be more especially the besetting temptation of an academic career.
The modesty which formed a marked feature of his character, is strongly indicated in this letter. Though he had been frequently urged to preach, and to speak at some public meetings, he had decidedly refused to do so. He considered himself much too young to appear in public; and in his ideas of preaching, I most fully concur. Those who did not know him, might suppose there was something of affectation in his intimations of having no expectation of the prize. But his friends at college, as well as myself, are persuaded that this was really the state of his mind, notwithstanding the effort which he made.