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Meat out of the Eater.
129 breadth of its popularity attest; and that that utility was such as the author intended, namely the service of religion, is the only fair conclusion.
The year 1662, in the course of which The Day of Doom came out, was a dreadful time for Puritans, whether in England or in America: in that year the.“Act of Uniformity" was passed, and the newly restored Stuart dynasty was "breathing out threatenings and slaughters ” against all Nonconformists. The Colonial Charters and liberties of New England were in the utmost peril, and the Puritans there were in dread of losing all they had found and made in the land of their choice. They were also afflicted with epidemic and a great drought; and it is not unlikely that these considerations, added to the personal sickness of Wigglesworth, helped to determine him in the selection and elaboration of his grim subject; for in this poem “ Justice, with the terrors of her law, fearfully overshadows mercy.” In the same year the author produced another shorter poem, which is not forthcoming at present, but which was seen by Dr. McClure when he compiled the Bi-Centennial Book of Malden : it was entitled God's Controversy with New England.
After the sale of the first edition of The Day of Doom, the poet of justice triumphant made a voyage to Bermuda, in the interest of his health, and returned within a few months. How his time was occupied after his return to Malden, we are not fully informed; but he must clearly have done some preaching and teaching; and about seven years after the issue of The Day of Doom he completed a new poem,-Meat out of the Eater; or, Meditations concerning the Necessity, End, and Usefulness of Afflictions unto God's Children; All tending to prepare them for and comfort them under the Cross. This subject was the natural complement of the subject of his other chief poem, and it was nearly as successful. The references made in the Common-place Book to this second work are particularly characteristic:
Sept. 17, 1669.—I have been long employed in a great work composing Poems about the Cross. I have already found exceeding much help and assistance from Heaven, even to admiration, so that in three weeks' time I have transcribed three sheets fair, and made between whiles a hundred staves of verses besides. Some days the Lord hath 80 assisted me that I have made near or above twenty staves. For which His great mercy I bless His name from my soul, desiring still to make Him my a and w in this great work. Lord, assist me now this day. Tu mihi principium, tu mihi finis eris : a deo et ad deum: Ta navra. . . . . Sept. 29.—The Lord did assist me much this day, 80
VOL. XXXIX. NO. LXXVII. . K
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that I wrote five sides fair and made out eleven or twelve staves more, though the day was cold and I wrought with some difficulty .... And now through Thy rich grace and daily assistance I have done composing. Laus deo. Amen. October 18.-My birthday, and it was the birthday of this book, it being finished (i.e. fully composed) this morning.”
At this time ten years had passed since the death of his wife, and he seems to have remained a widower another ten ; but in 1679 he married one Martha Mudge, aged eighteen. His friends and relatives disapproved of the marriage ; but he himself expresses the opinion that, under God, she was a means of his recovering a better state of health, and he does not seem to have regretted the match. She died after about eleven years, leaving him a son and five daughters.
In 1684 Increase Mather wrote to offer him some weighty post at Harvard College, probably the presidency, which he declined; and by about 1686 his health was so far restored as to admit of his re-entering on the active duties of his ministry: as Cotton Mather says, “It pleased God, when the distresses of the Church in Malden did extremely call for it, wondrously to restore His faithful servant. He that had been for near twenty years almost buried alive, comes abroad again.” And his ability as a preacher was put in requisition in May 1686, at no less important a matter than the annual election, at which he preached the customary sermon before the General Court of the Colony. On this occasion certain functionaries of the Court were ordered to “Give the Rev. Mr. Michael Wigglesworth the thanks of this Court for his sermon on Wednesday last, and to desire him speedily to prepare the same for the press, adding thereto what he had not time to deliver, the Court judging that the printing of it will be for the public benefit:" whether this was done, does not appear.
In 1691 or 1692 he married a third wife, Mrs. Sybil Avery, a widow, who survived him. The year 1692, whether the year of his marriage or the year after, is memorable for the fearful delusion concerning witchcraft which led to so much bloodshed and persecution in New England; but there is no evidence that he took an active part on either side,-though he certainly belped in the work of allaying the troubles occasioned by the delusion, after its subsidence.
In 1698 he had a severe illness, which so much alarmed his flock, that they “came together with agony, prayed, fasted, and wept before the Lord, with supplications for his life ;' and on his recovery, they voted him a short respite from his
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labours : but in June 1705 the respite granted from death expired; he was attacked in that month by a fever, which ended fatally on the 5th. It will be seen he was in his seventy-fourth year, notwithstanding the ill-health he had suffered from a great part of his life.
We have chosen to make a brief abstract of Wigglesworth's life, rather than to devote the same space to the criticism of his works, feeling that the course adopted affords a better explanation and illustration of the influences acting on New England Puritan literature than could have been got by extracts from and critical remarks on these extremely local poems. Nor do we propose to end this sketch with any detailed examination of The Day of Doom and Meat out of the Eater,—which works are in our own days far more interesting as facts than as poems. It must not, however, be understood that they are without literary merit: on the contrary, they are written in good vigorous English, and with a very fair measure of rhythmic and rhetorical excellence. The Day of Doom has also, amid its terrors, many truths of general import, as good for the men of to-day as for the men of the author's own time and land ; and it is full of that unmistakable genuine piety shown in the Autobiography and Common-place Book. But the small element of general interest in it would not have sufficed for that popularity which began with its publication and lasted for some generations. The fact is, that in these pages the Puritans of New England saw honestly and strongly expressed the theology in which they believed ; and they read in overwhelming language of the terrors of the Day of Judgment, the awful wrath of offended Deity. The mature man, accustomed to the sombre side of life, turned also instinctively to the sombre side of death and eternity; and the “imaginative youth devoured with avidity the horrors” of The Day of Doom, "and shuddered at its fierce denunciations. In the darkness of the night he saw its frightful forms arise to threaten him with retribution, till he was driven to seek the ark of safety from the wrath of Jehovah.” Perhaps there were some who experienced a morbid satisfaction in gazing on Wigglesworth's grim pictures, convinced of immunity, on their own individual parts, from the terrors of the day of doom; but this special complacency in respect of the just punishment of sinners is an element in the Puritan religion that has almost passed out of existence, and can well be spared. Would that the earnestness of those noble though imperfect men were, in other respects, more diligently studied and emulated.
ART. V.-Christenthum und Lutherthum (Christianity and
Lutheranism]. Von Dr. KARL FRIED. Aug. KAHNIS,
Franke. 1871. Our readers have been furnished from time to time with general notices of the progress and tendency of theological thought on the Continent, especially in Germany. To many this has proved a valuable enlargement of the scope of their knowledge, and tended to promote in their minds that catholicity of sentiment which in our days is so specially desirable. It is well to mark how the Spirit of Truth is guiding other evangelical inquirers, subserving His own ends by the labours of earnest men in all communions and widely separated on subordinate points. The following pages will give a brief analysis and running criticism of one of the most striking works that have lately appeared in Germany. It is a selection of essays, dealing with some of the most important topics that are made prominent in modern Lutheran theology.
Dr. Kahnis is one of the ablest representatives of what may be called the Lutheran Confessional theology. He belongs to a class of divines who strive to combine scientific precision and progress with resolute adherence to the old standards of the German Reformation: the standards, that is, of the Augsburg Confession, as illustrated by other formularies of the sixteenth century and the great dogmatic divines who vindicated them. They have set before themselves an exceedingly difficult task, but they have for the last thirty years accomplished their task nobly. Although some of them have diverged, on the one hand, towards a doctrine that savours too much of Romanism, and some, on the other hand, have conceded too much to the spirit of liberalism, the best of the school have remained faithful, and we owe to them some of the noblest theological labours of the century. Dr. Kahnis has laboured long as Professor of Theology in Breslau and Leipzig : his chief works have been an unfinished description of the doctrine of the Holy Ghost, and an elaborate treatise on the Eucharist. The present volume contains an expansion of lectures delivered at various times on the Confessional subjects that now engage the attention of Germany; but its real value is its presentation of the system of doctrine that Confessional Theology.
may be said to be distinctively Lutheran, as opposed to the Reformed doctrine in all its shades. Believing most firmly that Lutheranism stands or falls with the conviction that the substance of the Augsburg Confession is founded on the Word of God, Dr. Kahnis strives hard to bring back the reviving faith of his country to the old standards, not, indeed, in the way of a simple “repristination”--the spirit of the age and the spirit of Christianity would not tolerate that-but in that of a pure reproduction of the doctrines so earnestly contended for by the Lutheran Fathers, as they are based on Scripture, and essential to the integrity and the defence of the Faith in the present age.
We heartily sympathise with our author's vindication of the necessity of a sound confession of faith. The most obvious proof of this necessity lies before us in the history of free thought in religion during the last century. The tendency which in philosophy and moral life vainly called itself Illuminism, is in the Church and in theology Rationalism. The same tendency which displaced positive legal enactments in favour of the vague generalities of natural right, and the historical forms of political life in favour of the Rights of Man, found the sum of Christianity in the doctrines concerning God, duty and immortality, and reduced everything positive in the Christian faith to the level of mere supports which Providence had appointed for that more rational and simpler edifice of all religions. Jesus Christ, the centre and substance of faith, was made simply and only the teacher and the pattern of virtue. Through many phases this error passed into a strictly cognate form; that of Schleiermacher, who made religion matter only of sentiment and of life. Its most subtle and most beautiful shape was assumed in the feeling of young evangelical Germany, that Christ was a present influence descending into the heart of everyone who cried to Him in faith-"My Lord and my God!” This warm sentiment, in itself, and as based on a sound theology, so noble, was misleading as it respects the Church, however fruitful and full of salvation to individuals. “We have found the Lord !” was the sole confession of this first love of reviving Germany. But this was not enough for the establishment, defence, and spread of the Christian cause. However, dear to the Saviour this individual confession of the soul, His wise foresight did not entrust to it alone the diffusion of His kingdom. And the history of Pietism in Germany, as of other similar forms of religion in England, shows, as clearly as Rationalism itself, that something more is wanting than a
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