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particular comfort and encouragement in meditating upon the words of the Psalmist, ‘Lord! my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty. As far as I know any thing of my own state, I should have expected reproach for almost any thing rather than haughtiness of demeanour, or high thoughts of myself. But even were it an admonition of the Lord's sending, I cannot exculpate those by whom it is sent, from having gone beyond . their commission, as they were not satisfied with conveying it to me only, but have thought it necessary to circulate written copies of it elsewhere; and this supererogation of zeal may prevent not a few from benefiting by my humble efforts; for many, who disagree with Rock in every thing else, appear ready enough to hear any thing he may have to say against me. As to whether they are acting with God's approval, the day will declare it.My belief is, that God will yet raise up other and better witnesses than such as these. The longer I live, the more strictly do I adhere to and depend on his (written) word, which is ' tried unto the uttermost;' neither shall I have to repent of so doing at the last moment of my life, though it should come to-day."
In 1745, a person of the name of Streib, of M., imagined himself to be one of the “ two witnesses" in the Apocalypse. He even came to Bengel, who, after kindly and patiently hearing all he had to say, frankly told him what part of his views he considered untenable, and endeavoured to show him how easily corrupt notions of every sort may intermix with what in the main is excellent and scriptural. All Bengel's remarks being accompanied with much love and mildness, were kindly received; but Streib, persisting in his own notions, Bengel wrote of him as follows: “ Even what flows from the truth itself, may become strangely mingled with fallen nature's impurities; this too may happen to sincere and honest persons, and the mixture be so inconceivably subtile, that whoever is not aware of the variety of its strange results, can have but little suspicion of such a thing. In conversing with Streib, I was quite prepared to regard him as a pious person of some spiritual experience. But as to his prophetic qualifications, I was not able in so short a time to give him sufficient attention; and chronology is not the only disputed point upon which I advised him to be prudent for his own sake, and moderate in what he uttered upon such subjects to others. I observed to him how particularly desirable it was that he should refrain from declaring himself one of the 'two witnesses;' that he should not thus speak of himself, even in the most private manner; no, nor allow his heart to suggest such a thought. The human heart, unless restrained and regulated by the word of God, proves deceitful above all things;' and though it may be drawn off from worldly cares and lusts, still it will seek its own, even in spiritual things themselves, (so as to become wonderfully inflated with spiritual pride.) He ought, therefore, to take seasonable warning, lest his own heart should easily become so inflated, as to be very injurious to his welfare, both temporally and spiritually. I am perfectly willing that this warning, and the remarks which have occasioned it, should be communicated to him; indeed, I request that it may be done, with my kind regards. I am still in the same mind as when I conversed with him, both with respect to every kind feeling towards him, and not less with respect to that careful discrimination which is so indispensable upon all subjects of this nature."
HIS LAST ILLNESS AND DEATH.
BENGEL inherited a weakly constitution, and was always of delicate health. But, by the divine blessing, upon careful attention to it, he reached the age of sixty-five. He sometimes had dangerous illnesses, and felt more and more the frailty of his earthly tabernacle, especially in his later years.
To a feeling of this sort we may ascribe a remark he made long before his last illness, that “ the life of man is a constant tendency to death,” (perpetua tendentia ad mortem;) but he gave full scope to his religious convictions, not wishing to hide from himself the thought of dying, but endeavouring to become familiar with it. And “as he did not consider theology to be a mere knowledge of the art of dying, so he held it to be the Christian's most important business to emerge from a state of sin to a confirmed state of grace; and herein to wait, not for death, but for the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he regarded death as only a thing by the way, and not properly a part of God's arrangement for man, because not originally such.” Accordingly his whole spiritual life was so occupied with the consideration of our mortality, that it would be giving a very imperfect account of him not to notice how he endeavoured for years together to become familiar with the business of departure. Here then we may properly insert some extracts from his correspondence, in which may be discerned all along, from an early period of his life, the same feelings which he expressed at his last illness and death.
Writing to Marthius, as far back as in the year 1725, he says, “What if I should go before you, my dear friend, into the eternal world! When I was travelling last summer on a very windy day, upon a visit to my friend Weissensee, I experienced such a weakness in the head and stomach, as to have been in great danger of apoplexy. Having reached Boll, I was confined to bed, without any human adviser or any medical
me that I could put confidence in; so that you
may well imagine I must have had many a painful hour there. But it was a time for seeking the face of God. This I did ; and he sent help from above. For immediately after I had been praying to him, it occurred to me that I ought to be satisfied with the nearest medical assistance I could procure, and that he could show his favour towards me just as well by a person of ordinary skill, as by one of the greatest repute. I therefore sent for one who lived close by; and as I had believed, so was it done
I am now quite recovered, and at my work again, but longing and praying for the rest which remaineth to the people of God, whether I am to enter into it earlier or later. Indeed I have a foretaste of it already, in my daily employment.”
“Jan. 2, 1727. “ Last Thursday I suffered violently from cholic and gravel. Some of the paroxysms were unusually severe; but at present I am without pain, and even indulge a hope that I shall continue so for a while. I am thankful to God for such chastenings, as well as for his previous and subsequent sparing mercy and help."
In November 1735, a serious epidemic prevailed ; and Bengel himself began to suffer by it on the fourth of that month. But even after this disease had gained considerably upon him, he could not think it right to remain within doors, but continued to preach till after the sixth, when having delivered a sermon upon Matt. xviii. 20—35, “On the three sorts of reckoning which God makes with men,” he became, as soon as the service was over, considerably worse. He had felt weaker while preaching; but had gone on with his sermon, because he was experiencing such spiritual joy, that he could gladly have died in the pulpit. During the fever he had strong delirium; but at intervals “ endeavoured to collect his thoughts, that he might be in readiness for whatever his heavenly Father should appoint.” His cousin, the Rev. Mr. Schmidlin, stood at his bedside, and heard him express himself as follows:
“In my inward man, things go on by sudden impressions (celeres puncturas.) It often happens that all joy is denied me. I have frequently a deep and awful sense of eternity, unaccompanied by any immediate pleasure or pain. Neither bliss nor perdition are at the time in my thoughts, and yet the impression grows so awful that my mind is at length pained by it. A charming state of thought gleams at intervals, but soon leaves
me. However, I try in quietness and composure to improve my small gifts (minutiæ); for I know that even with these I must be faithful. My mother has often given me a gentle rebuke for over-scrupulousness ; saying, that if the main matter be attended to, all will be well. But I retreat behind some such arguments as the following. There are vegetables which would satisfy our absolute wants, just as they are gathered; but good housewives do not suffer them to come to table without a careful picking and cleansing. When a garment has ever so small a rent in it, neat persons will always get it repaired, though for its main use it might answer the purpose as it is.”
On November 10, his remarks were continually upon the subject of death. He was cheerfully preparing himself by prayer for joining the church triumphant, and for being numbered with God's saints in glory everlasting. He was frequently breathing the words of the psalmist, “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” Ps. xlii. “I have nothing," he said, “to detain me here; God only vouchsafe to open my eyes, reveal every thing to me, and make me perfectly humble and submissive to his will."
“I commit myself,” he said, “to my faithful Creator, my intimate Redeemer, my tried and approved Comforter. I know not where to find any thing comparable to my Saviour. Only let me be made no account of, especially when I am gone. I wish my spiritual experience to be no more obtruded upon the world after my death, than it has been during my life. As 'man's judgment' can neither benefit nor hurt me, so things will appear in quite a different light at the great day. “Judge nothing before the time.' Is it not better that it should be said to me in that day, “Art thou also here?' than that it should be said, 'Where is such and such a renowned saint?' Much human infirmity still adheres in this life even to gracious characters. Let nothing be made of any expressions that I may happen to. utter upon my death-bed. Jesus, with his apostles and martyrs, is light sufficient for all that survive me. I am no light. The example of a dying Christian in the present day, is for the benefit of his family in private ; not for the gaze of the world. Human beings are often made too much of by one another, and things are cried up about them which turn out to be nothing at last. I can fully confide in pious persons, as such, however the world may despise them. But still they are creatures, and they are human ; so that it seems impossible to confide to any one