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tell them where to see the substance, more beauteous
than the picture Sir, I shall, by the grace of God,
wait upon you to-morrow, and do the office you require; and shall hope that your little one may receive blessings, according to the heartiness of the prayers which I shall then and after make for him."
Taylor to Evelyn, May 12, 1658. —" Sir, I am
well pleased with the pious meditations, and the extracts of a religious spirit which I read in your excellent letter. I can say nothing at present but this, that I hope in a short progression you will be wholly immerged in the delights and joys of religion, and as I perceive your relish and gust of the world goes off continually, so you will be invested with new capacities, and entertained with new appetites."
We meet with several other letters from Taylor to Evelyn, after these, but the replies of Evelyn are lost. It is pleasing however to observe how high a value Taylor sets upon his friend's prayers; thus in one letter he says,— "I beg of you to assist me with your prayers, and to obtain of God for me that I may arrive to that height of love and union with God, which is given to all those souls who are very dear to God." Several of these letters were written from the north of Ireland, where Jeremy Taylor had accepted a lectureship, in part through the influence and advice of Mr. Evelyn. But soon after the Restoration, all vestiges of their correspondence are at an end.
Mr. Evelyn's consolatory letter (Dec. 15, 1656,) to his brother George, on the death of a son, affords proof that the gospel had taught him in what spirit afflictions ought to be received. He confesses that " there is cause of sadness;" he acknowledges that " it were as well impiety as stupidity to be totally without natural affection; but we must remember withal," he says, " that we grieve not as persons without hope: lest while we sacrifice to our passions [strong feelings] we be found to offend against God, and by indulging an over-kind nature, redouble the loss, and lose our recompense. Children are such blossoms as every trifling wind de-flowers; and to be disordered at their fall, were to be fond of certain troubles, but the most uncertain comforts; whilst the store of the more mature, which God has left you, invite both your resignation and your gratitude. So extraordinary prosperity as you have hitherto been encircled with, was indeed to be suspected; nor may he think to bear all his sails, whose vessel (like yours) has been driven by the
highest gale of felicity God has suffered this for
your exercise; seek then as well your consolation in his rod as in his staff. Are you offended that it has pleased Him to snatch your pretty babes from the infinite contingencies of so perverse an age, in which there is so little temptation to live? At least consider that your pledges are but gone a little before you; and that a part of you has taken possession of the inheritance which you must one day enter, if ever you will be happy. Brother, when I reflect on the loss, as it concerns our family in general, I could recal my own, and mingle my tears with you (for I have also lost some very dear to me); but when I consider the necessity of submitting to the Divine arrests, I am ready to dry them again, and be silent. There is nothing of us perished, but deposited; and say not that they might have come later to their destiny: it
is no small happiness to be happy quickly But I
have now done with the philosopher, and will dismiss you with the divine. Brother, be not ignorant concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope; for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. They are the words of St. Paul, and I can add nothing to them .... Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
About a year after, he had occasion to avail himself of the same store of divine consolation. To the death of one child he refers in the above letter, and the beginning of the year 1658 was darkened with sorrow by the loss of two more, one of whom was a child of great promise. His Diary records the following particulars relative to this afflictive dispensation :—
1658, 27 Jan.—" After six fits of a quartan ague, with which it pleased God to visit him, died my dear son Richard, to our inexpressible grief and affliction; five years and three days old only, but at that tender age a prodigy for wit and understanding; for beauty of body a very angel; for endowment of mind, of incredible and rare hopes. To give only a little taste of some of them, and thereby glory to God, who out of the mouths of babes and infants does sometimes perfect his praises;—at two years and a half old, he could perfectly read any of the English, Latin, French, or Gothic letters, pronouncing the three first languages exactly. He had before the fifth year, or in that year, not only skill to read most written hands, but to decline all the nouns, conjugate the verbs regular, and most of the irregular; learned out Puerilis, got by heart almost the entire vocabulary of Latin and French primitives and words, could make congruous syntax, turn English into Latin, and vice versa, construe and prove what he read, and did the government and use of relatives, verbs, substantives, ellipses, and many figures and tropes, and made considerable progress in Comenius's Janua; began himself to write legibly, and had a strong passion for Greek. The number of verses he could recite was prodigious, and what he remembered of the parts of plays, which he would also act; and when, seeing a Plautus in one's hand, he asked what book it was, and being told it was comedy, and too difficult for him, he wept for sorrow. Strange was his apt and ingenious application of fables and morals, for he had read jEsop; he had a wonderful disposition to mathematics, having by heart divers propositions of Euclid that were read to him in play, and he would make lines and demonstrate them. As to his piety, astonishing were his applications of Scripture upon occasion, and his sense of God; he had learned all his catechism early, and understood the historical part of the Bible and New Testament to a wonder, how Christ came to redeem mankind, and how, comprehending these necessaries himself, his godfathers were discharged of their promise. These and the like illuminations, far exceeding his age and experience, considering the preltiness of his address and behaviour, cannot but leave impressions in me at the memory of him. When one told him how many days a quaker had fasted, he replied that was no wonder, for Christ had said, man should not live by bread alone, but by the Word of God. He would of himself select the most pathetic psalms, and chapters out of Job, to read to his maid during his sickness, telling her when she pitied him, that all God's children must suffer affliction. He declaimed against the vanities of the world, before he had seen any. Often he would desire those who came to see him, to pray by him; and a year before he fell sick, to kneel and pray with him alone in some corner. How thankfully would he receive admonition,—how soon be reconciled I How indifferent, yet continually cheerful! He would give grave advice to his brother John, bear with his impertinencies, and say he was but a child. If he heard of or saw any new thing, he was unquiet till he was told how it was made: he brought to us all such difficulties as he found in books, to be expounded. He had learned by heart divers sentences in Latin and Greek, which on occasion he would produce even to wonder. He was all life, all prettiness, — far from morose, sullen, or childish, in any thing he said or did. The last time he had been at church, (which was at Greenwich,) I asked him, according to custom, what he remembered of the sermon?" Two good things, father," said he, "bonum gratia and bonum gloria;" [the blessings of grace and glory]; with a just account of what the preacher said. The day before he died he called me, and in a more serious manner than usual told me, that for all I loved him so dearly, I should give my house, land, and all my fine things, to his brother Jack; he should have none of them ; and next morning, when he found himself ill, and that I persuaded him to keep his hands in bed, he demanded whether he might pray to God with his hands unjoined; and a little after, whilst in great agony, whether he should not offend God by using his holy name so often, calling for ease. What shall I say of his frequent pathetical ejaculations uttered of himself;—Sweet Jesus save me, deliver me, pardon my sins, let thine angels receive me I—So early knowledge, so much piety and perfection I But thus God having dressed up a saint fit for himself, would not longer permit him with us, unworthy of the future fruits of this incomparable hopeful blossom. Such a child I never saw: for such a child I bless God, in whose bosom he is! May I and mine become as this little child, who now follows the child Jesus, that Lamb of God in a white robe, whithersoever he goes : — even so, Lord Jesus,_/?<3rf voluntas tua! [Thy will be done I] Thou gavest him to us, Thou hast taken him from us; blessed be the name