Images de page
PDF
ePub

even in his time, begun to show itself within the pale of the protestant church. And in the succeeding period of very general infidelity, the temptation of lapsing to Romanism was strongly felt by many of the more honest and pious Protestants. His views have been likewise a means of preserving very many from schism; and his warnings against infidelity, and against its awful consequences, will be found of use to those who have not yet learnt openly or secretly to abet it. Such warnings, moreover, have proved most efficacious, when drawn from apocalyptical considerations; and Bengel's manner of conceiving and giving them was most unaffected. They were uttered from the convictions of his heart; from convictions impressed upon him by the word of God. And as conscience obliged him to cause his warning voice to be heard, who can condemn him for following that voice himself ? Lastly, should what may happen in future years, render such apocalyptical admonitions more necessary for Christendom than ever, will it not appear a peculiar providence, that Bengel was gifted, more than a hundred years ago, with such deep insight into the mysteries of the kingdom of God?

GG

PART IV.

BENGEL'S PRIVATE LIFE.

CHAPTER I.

AS A FAMILY MAN.

[ocr errors]

Soon after Bengel had become settled in his permanent station at Denkendorf, he looked out for a pious helpmate to share with him the vicissitudes of human life. He was persuaded, he said, that “ the heart is so formed by nature, that it cannot easily renounce every

kind of recourse to and refuge in the creature, and that the married state is one of his own wise and gracious ordinances." Such a friend he found in the family of Frederic Seeger, Esq., receiver-general of the provincial estates, whose daughter, Joanna Regina, became endeared to him, as much by her simple piety as by her excellent understanding and disposition. She was engaged to him in April 1714, and they were married in the following June. As, in forming a connexion of this kind, very much depends on how persons understand each other at first setting out,” (which is another of his own remarks,) some passages of his letters to this lady will show how important he considered it, that their mutual alliance should be hallowed by mutual union with Christ.

" Jesus is all in all !
“My beloved and esteemed Friend,

April 17, 1714 I have continual confidence that what has commenced between us will, by the blessing of the Most High, be the occasion of constantly renewed felicity. May the pure love of Jesus fully occupy us, and keep us in tranquillity and peace !"

* Rom. viii. 19.

20th April. "Qur absence just now from each other may be turned to our spiritual benefit, if we make a proper use of it.

Souls that would depend only on God, and live entirely to his glory, have to undergo many self-denials to deliver them from all undue attachment to the creature. Let our mutual absence, therefore, which will be but short, be employed in learning to find our chief delight, more in Him, yes, than in each other. Though we have never seen Christ in the flesh, we cleave to him in spirit; and we know that our love of him, and our desire to enjoy his perfect presence, are to be of far more consequence to us than each other's company. May he therefore dispose our united hearts more and more to himself, and possess them entirely. Thus I remain, now and for ever, my beloved friend's most faithful and attached,” &c.

27th April “Only let us endeavour more and more unremittingly to exercise lively confidence in God, and to be conscious that we really love him, and we shall never want any manner of thing that is good. This, too, will be the best preparation we can make for our marriage."

“ 4th May.

“ No greater joy can I have than to see that my most valued friend is enjoying the grace of God, walking in the love of her Saviour, and thus realizing every true enjoyment at once. This must be the one great concern with us both, and must never, through our alliance with each other, be lost sight of, much less hindered; but promoted. Our heart should be quite as decidedly with the Supreme Lover of our souls, as yours, I am sure, is with me; and we should believe His love towards us to be infinitely greater than we are able to imagine. The best way to experience the truth of this, is to retire into quietness of spirit, into secret communion and childlike converse with him. This is a grace indeed; and as I heartily desire it for us both, I make it a subject of prayer continually. For it is the best foundation for the permanency of our mutual affection, and for the happiness of our union; a union, the comfort and benefit of which are not to be confined to a few early days. And in this way I am, and by God's grace intend to be through life, a life to be spent by us according to his will, My highly esteemed and truly dear friend,

Yours,

7th May. The account which my best beloved friend gave of herself, at the conclusion of her letter the day before yesterday, has greatly delighted me. God grant power, grace, and blessing. I am at present, by his great goodness, well and happy both in spirit and bodily health."

[ocr errors][merged small]

My beloved Friend, -At this moment of my wishing to write to you, the above words occurred to me, and I could not refrain from heading my letter with them, as a salutation and expression of my best wishes to you; and may the power and import of such words be manifested as shed abroad in both our hearts! I continue, through the divine goodness, quite well and happy, and hope to hear the same and more of my beloved friend. The arrangement between our parents respecting the marriage ceremony quite accords with my own feelings, particularly about not inviting too large a company on the occasion."

14th May. “I must now close my letter; and I do it with sincere

prayer to God, that at this pentecostal season, he may fill the heart of my beloved, and my own heart likewise, with the spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind.”

“ 18th May. “Time will not allow me to add more, or I should most gladly have concluded with a few christian thoughts of a pentecostal kind; but the Spirit of grace can himself teach us all things. To Him let us open and surrender our hearts, that he may sanctify us wholly, and may glorify in us the name of the Lord Jesus.”

“21st May. “If my beloved friend has enjoyed through this closing festival season the same spiritual comfort which it has brought by divine grace and goodness to my own unworthy self, I shall have a fresh occasion to rejoice and be thankful."

The following remarks were made by him in reference to his marriage.

“ The marriage service in the Würtemberg liturgy is very beautiful, and I have reason to remember to the present hour the deep impression it made upon me.

I came to the ceremony quite in a collected frame of spirit; and when that part of the form was read, which relates to the cross, (which no married person can expect entirely to escape,) the whole subject of the cross came into my thoughts; and my heart was inclined, though with much fear and trembling, to resolve entirely to take it up. But when the words, 'O well is thee and happy shalt thou be,' were read, a sweet and cheering composure, with respect to any trials in the married state, came over me, and has never left me to this day."

The choice he had made proved indeed a happy one. He spent the remainder of his life, namely, thirty-eight years, in the married state; and all those years were marked with contentment and the divine blessing. He said, "all along I have been blest with a most valuable helpmate; which has often induced me to pray fervently to God, that, notwithstanding her many critical casualties, he would grant me the mercy of retaining her to the end of my pilgrimage. My petitions have hitherto been answered.”

“ The married state has been the means of so much benefit to me in the way of christian experience, that even on this one account, I have the highest esteem for it as an ordinance of God. It is only the pride of self-sufficiency that makes some persons disparage and distrust it. What God has ordained for the happiness of his creatures, must surely be ever preferable to what men in their own wisdom prefer.”

His following words will tell us how his own marriage became so peculiarly blest. “ Real communion with each other in prayer is above all things needful between two married persons: and, next to this, there should be a kind of emulation to outdo each other in mutual forbearance. Patience is at first particularly necessary, till both have learnt how to adapt themselves to each other's dispositions. The greater their mutual esteem, the more tenderly is their love carried on. No other communion, as between brothers, neighbours, friends, &c., is equal to this, in which the parties are always together, and have continual attentions to pay each other. Thus, if they know how to improve their moral and social advantages, they may do it to their daily mutual refreshment. Even when the first charm of novelty is over, the communion between such a christian

« PrécédentContinuer »