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Both the delight and the profit which are derived from the study of biography have been freely acknowledged by the consenting testimony of the literature of every nation. It were wonderful had it been otherwise. For the men, whose lives are deemed worthy of the study and attention of mankind, have been exceptions to the common rule of mediocrity in one or more particulars of their character, to which they are indebted for a place in the history of their country. These have thrust them forward in bright relief from the midst of the general surrounding darkness, and, according to the number and degree of these, they stand out, one with but v the head, another with but an arm, or even a leg, one with but the bust, another with the whole front protruded into the full light of fame and glory. But this imperfect view, and such only it is which history can supply, serves but to excite our curiosity, and bestir ourselves to examine what still remains of those figures plunged in the obscurity and shade in which we ourselves are found. We like to feel and



handle, and find that here they after all resemble but ourselves, when traced to our own condition of privacy and seclusion. Here we meet them with all our own weaknesses and unsteadiness. We see how men who achieved such mighty deeds in the world, on such critical occasions, did things which we do every day, and perhaps in our more ignoble feelings we are unconsciously gratified in discovering that they did them no better, nay, even worse : that they paid a price, and a dear price too, for their possession of fame, and that our solid happiness would be ill-exchanged for their barren splendour. But we

are moved also by nobler feelings. We wish to V arrive

the germ of those admired characters, to trace the connection between their private and their public life, so that we may learn to improve what we already have in common with them into that which they have peculiarly to themselves. For this purpose we must follow them beyond the distraction of their attendant crowd, and bustle, and pomp, and gaze at them alone as at some celebrated single statue. There is also felt a calm and pleasing melancholy in having tracked them home afar from the noise and tumult of their fame. We sit as it were at the silent and lonely fountain, lapped in moss and rock, of some celebrated stream whose course we have painfully traced amid broad plains, and seen it watering fields of battle, girding fortresses whose sieges are still thundering in history, encircling with opportune bays cities of busy trade, and reflecting in his waters the domes and spires of the palaces and cathedrals of noisy capitals. When we have thus tråced even a warrior like Marlborough home, how


soft, how quiet, how holy (we might almost say) seems the spot, compared with the noisy course of public life through which we have followed him. Such are the duties and such the advantages of biography in general ; as where it takes for its subject the characters which by their pen or by their sword have created, maintained, or overthrown the glories of the empires of Greece, of Rome, of Italy, of France, of England, of all the perishable kingdoms of this perishable world. What then must they be when we come to a close study of the characters which stand illustrious in the annals of the everlasting kingdom of Christ, of the Church of God ? Here, to further our loftiness of contemplation, we have the builders of an eternal empire, we have kings, priests, prophets, apostles, and mighty men of valour, especially raised up by God, and sent into the field clad in the whole armour of his light. Here to engage our interest, we arrive at the source of events which are proceeding unwearied in their prophesied and prophetic course at this very hour, by which we are equally affected as they, and influenced both in this life, and in the life to come. Our own salvation is in question, our own redemption is in debate. To amuse us we have infinite variety set before us, men in all ranks of life, in all stages of society, in all circumstances of trial, the fisherman Peter, the king David, the faithful John, the traitor Judas, the patriarch Abraham, the Jewish Hezekiah, the Christian Paul. And yet all these in their several ages and stations, however far removed asunder, whether by two thousand years, or by all the distance between the slave and the king, are seen conspiring in


their variety of action and means to one end, converging to the same loveliness and sublimity of character, moved as they were by that one eternal invisible Spirit which came down upon them from heaven. By the effects of this certain but unseen agent we are affected in our mental eye much in the same way as by those of the wind in our bodily, which here ripples the calm water, there raises the stormy wave, here bows the cedars, shakes the towers, carries on their course the snow, the sleet, and the rain, and here blows up the fallen corn, scatters through the air the downy-feathered seeds, and makes every blade and leaf to dance with glad

But above all, to encourage us here, we have the certainty that none of their more estimable excellences are hopelessly removed beyond our attainment. They are even promised to us we will but strive to attain. As members of God's Church we are entitled as well as they to the sanctifying riches of its treasury, may clothe ourselves from its vestry with the same robes of righteousness, be girt from its armoury with the same sword of the Spirit, and

ually with them may in our day of trial stop the mouths of lions, and extinguish the power of fire ! In all that have been we see what we ourselves may be, if we will but have resolution to begin and perseverance to proceed. We also may be ready servants and faithful honoured agents when God shall determine in his purposes to call us forth to stand in the battle-array of his saints. Cold indeed must be that heart which does not glow with a generous

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1 Heb. xi. 33.

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