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by intreating your prayers in our behalf; unworthy as we are, we do not forget you in ours. Every family, without exception, from the heights of Romas to the foot of the Influs, salutes you, and you will see our names in this letter.” p. 294.
During the whole of Neft's protracted sufferings, he seems to have been gifted with the fortitude of a martyr. His heart often turned with yearnings of affection towards his dear people, and he sent them many a testimony of his remembrance. In one of his letters, he recommends to them Bunyan's life, the Pilgrim's Progress, and the life of the missionary Brainerd, thus showing the kind of influence which had operated on his own mind, and led him to his devoted attachment to the cause of Christ. It
may be, indeed, that from the perusal of our own Brainerd's life, he first caught the flame of that holy ardor, which burned so unceasingly and so brightly in his bosom; and thus he may hereafter be seen in heaven, with Martyn and others, as another trophy of that precious testimonial to God's grace. We shall close our extracts from this most interesting volume, with a few passages relating to his dying hour. In one of his letters to his flock, he thus writes.
"My situation is indeed painful ; I, who delighted so much in an active and stirring life, have long been reduced to the most complete inertion, scarcely able to eat, drink, sleep, or speak, or to listen to reading, or to receive the visits of my brethren, and feeling it a great effort to dictate these few lines, I am weighed down by the pains of sickness, and often I am deprived, by agonies, or by the wiles of Satan and my own heart, of the sense of God's presence, and of the consolations which it would afford me. I can, however, without hesitation declare, that I would not exchange this state of trial, for that in which some of my years have been passed, even in the midst of my ministerial labors; for though my life may have been spent in the service of Christ, and may have appeared exemplary to the eyes of men, I find in it so much unfaithfulness, so many sins, so many things which, in my sight, and above all in the sight of the Lord, have polluted my work,--I have passed so much time in forgetfulness of God, that had I still thirty years to live, I should prefer a hundred times over, passing them on this bed of languor and anguish, to recovering my health and strength, and not to lead a life more truly christian, more holy, more entirely devoted to God than I have done hitherto." p. 289.
56 We had the satisfaction,” said a narrator of his dying scene, of being much with him towards the close of his painful career, and we never heard a murmur escape from his lips. Often, after our poor services, he threw his arms round our necks, embraced us, thanked us, and exhorted us with all his soul to devote ourselves to God. “Believe my experience,' said he, “He only is your sure trust, He only is truly to be loved. If you should one
day be employed in preaching the gospel, take care work to be seen of men. Oh, with how many things of this kind do I reproach myself! My life, which appears to some to have been well employed, has not been a quarter so much so as it might have been! How much precious time have I lost!' He accused himself of unfaithfulness in the employment of his time, and of having been vain-glorious; he whose labors were scarcely known to a few friends! who had refused to marry, that his heart might be entirely devoted to his Master, and whose ardent charity for his fellow creatures had brought him, at the age of thirty-one, to his bed of death. On his mother's account only, did he show the least inquietude; old, feeble, and devoted to him, she could not restrain her tears. Before her, he assumed a firmness which amounted even to reproach; then, when she left him, no longer able to refrain from weeping himself
, his eyes followed her with tenderness, and he would exclaim, “my poor mother! The last night of his life, we and some other persons remained to sit up with him. Never shall we forget those hours of anguish, so well called the valley of the shadow of death. It was necessary to attend him constantly, and to hold him in his convulsive struggles; to support his fainting head in our arms, to wipe the cold drops from his forehead, to bend or to straiten his stiffened limbs, for the center of his body only retained any warmth. During the long night of his agony, we could only pray and support him. In the morning, the fresh air having a little revived him, he made a sign that he should be carried to a higher bed. They placed him on this bed in a sitting posture, and the struggles of death began. For four hours, we saw his eyes raised to heaven; each breath that escaped from his panting bosom, seemed accompanied with a prayer; and at that awful period, when the heaviness of death was upon him, in the ardent expression of his supplication, he appeared more animated than any of us. We stood around him weeping, and almost murmuring at the duration of his sufferings, but the power
of his faith was so visible in his countenance, that our faith was restored by it: it seemed as though we could see his soul hovering on his lips, impatient for eternity. At last, we so well understood what his vehement desire was, that with one impulse we all exclaimed, “ Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.” pp. 296 --300.
In closing this most interesting volume, our only regret is, that there is not more of it. We have rarely met, in our reading, with an example of such uncommon devotedness. The author of the memoir compares Neff with Bernard Gilpin, Herbert, Martyn and Oberlin; but we must say, that in our view, Neff in some respects, surpasses them all, especially in the hardships he endured, and the indefatigable perseverance, and the indomitable energy, which he
manifested. We can easily conceive, that unconsciously to himself, the eclat which attends missionary exertions like those of Martyn, may sometimes contribute its support, to enable a man to endure like him. He was to leave behind him, a translation of the scriptures, which would one day spread among millions of men; he enjoyed too, the pleasure of traversing scenes which are equally celebrated in history and romance, and of meeting with many who were distinguished for their rank and talents. Neff's retirement among the wretched, degraded people for whom he labored, we can conceive of no possible impulse, but his benevolence, and his strong feeling of indebtedness to "the Lord who bought him.” It amounted to what the eloquent Foster so strikingly calls, “an inconcievable diffusion of obligation;" and it prompted him to forego every comfort, to extinguish his love of natural scenery, and to bury himself almost in the caverns of the earth; patiently bearing with obstinacy and waywardness, and descending to the drudgery of the most menial offices, and all, not to establish a name, but to win souls to Christ. In the whole record of missionary exertions, we do not know of an instance more truly exemplifying the power of the gospel, than this of Felix Neff. In his history, as well as that of the persecuted people to whom he ministered, we have a striking proof, that the piety which is formed amidst trials and sufferings, takes a deeper root, and becomes more thoroughly incorporated with the whole man, than that which springs up in the sunshine of prosperity. The impression of obligation penetrates to the very heart's core, instead of being painted merely on the outward surface. Accordingly we find that those who best stood the times of persecution, forsaking every thing rather than succumb to the yoke of papal tyranny, were characterized by a deeper devotion, than those who yielded to the seductions of ease, or to the frowns of power. They not merely drew near to heaven outwardly, by mounting the high Alps, and dwelling amid the glaciers, where eternal winter thrones himself in the terrors of the stormy blast and the driving snow; but they were nearer inwardly too, catching thence a flame which might warm their hearts, and keep them alive and happy, amid the chill apathy which reigned around them.
Art. VII.—McIlvaine's EvideNCES OF CHRISTIANITY, The Eridences of Christianity, in their External Dirision : Exhibited in a courg
of Lectures delivered in Clinton Hall, in the winter of 1831–2; under the ap pointment of the University of the City of New York. By CHARLES P. Mc ILVAINE, D. D. Rector of St. Ann's Church, Brooklyn, Professor of the Esidences of Revealed Religion, and of Sacred Antiquities, in the city of NewYork. 8vo. pp. 565.
DR. Johnson has remarked in relation to Homer, that nation after nation, and century after century, has been able to do little more than transpose his incidents, new-name his characters, and paraphrase his sentiments. The same thing must be substantially true in regard to the argument for christianity. At this period of the world, it would be as vain, as it is undesirable, to expect much that is new. The beauty of Homer, the sweetness of his numbers, and the grandeur of his sentiments, are not injured by the lapse of time. So it is with the arguments for the truth of christianity. They lose nothing by being often repeated; they will be as fresh in the next generation as in this; as much fitted to convince the mind centuries hence, as they were in the days of the apostles. The demonstrations of Euclid will be as clear to the last generation of mathematicians, as they were to his countrymen; nor will they have lost any of their freshness and importance, when the last human mind shall contemplate the wonderful clearness and acumen of the ancient Grecian.
The peculiar character and claims of christianity, subjected it to the severest scrutiny, on its first promulgation to the world. It struck at all existing institutions. It demanded absolute supremacy over human things. It claimed authority to dictate in regard to all opinions and laws, and movements of individuals, and nations. It opened a warfare against all philosophic doctrines, all customs, idols, altars, that had usurped dominion over men; and claimed the authority of dethroning all supremacies, and of sitting down in the vacated seat of influence and power.
It moved on to displace all the pontiffs of superstition; to close all pagan temples, or to re-consecrate them to a holier service; to annihilate splendid and imposing rituals ; and to break up establishments of grandeur and pomp, that had been securely based on the opinions and customs of centuries.
It was impossible that these apparently arrogant claims, should make their way without meeting the most determined resistance. Men do not surrender ancient opinions and religious rites without a conflict
. We should erpect, therefore, to trace among the men who have opposed or defended christianity, some of the profoundest movements of intellect that ancient or modern times could furnish. We should be surprised if we did not find that the chief talent of
the world had met here, as on an arena suited to all that is great in intellectual strife, keen, acute, and profound in discussion, or tender, thrilling, and mighty in appeal. “Never was there a finer field for eloquence and argument, than was furnished when the christian fathers presented their “ apologies” to the Roman emperors. Never were the acuteness and power of pagan philosophers more demanded, than when they saw the imposing rites of the ancient worship neglected; the temples of their gods beginning to be forsaken; the “ execrable superstition” of Judea, as Tacitus called it, advancing to take possession of the Roman empire ; and the last remnant of the system which had received the homage of her warriors, and orators, and statesmen, in the pride of her conquest and glory, departing from the capital of the world. It is curious, therefore, at least, as part of the history of the human mind, to look at the christian controversy. It presents struggling chanpions, in some of the most interesting attitudes in which we can contemplate them. The dying efforts of paganism, the throes and contortions of this mighty system expiring in the greatness of of its strength, might be expected to exhibit scenes of the highest interest and power. The grand question which presented itself to the Roman world, at the advance of christianity, was, how it might be crushed. The strength of the Roman arm was put forth. The emperors expected to destroy it by power. They deemed it unworthy of an intellectual struggle. They knew no other way to conquer it, than that by which they had conquered the world— by arms. Still it lived. Philosophy next entered the lists, and paganism summoned men to defend its system by eloquence and argument. The battle was fought where it should have been at first-not with the bodies of men, and amid the fires of persecution; but in the arena of intellectual warfare, and by the power of reason and persuasion. We scarcely know of a more instructive employment for a christian, than to contemplate the various attitudes into which opposition to christianity has thrown itself; and the positions in favor of unbelief, which have been successively assumed and abandoned. We propose, therefore, to call the attention of our readers, in this article, to a brief notice of the state of the christian argument, at certain prominent points of the christian history.
The main facts in regard to christianity, in its early progress, have become a part of the records of the world ; and never will or can be, called in question. He that should assail those facts, would assail at the same time all ancient history. There are no facts better established than those relating to the small beginnings, the rapid spread, and the final triumph of christianity in the Roman empire. These great facts are not called in question by infidels ; and here we meet on common ground. All modern as well