網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

quick in perception, strong in apprehension, happy in combination, and ready, honest, and argumentative in the development of its stores. His intellectual powers were much assisted by his moral qualities. An unusual freedom from selfishness, vanity, and irritability, made him see every subject in the clear day-light of truth, and stamped a peculiar value on the decisions of his judgment. In attempting to portray this part of his character, the language of his friend, Mr. Price, must again be adopted. "If there be one quality more than others which in him manifested itself with singular felicity, it was sweetness of temper. When sweetness of temper is combined with strength of understanding, soundness of principle, and corresponding exertions, it constitutes the greatest charm of earthly existence. Oh! what an appalling sum of misery in domestic and social life is the product of violent, of sullen, of envious, of obstinate, of jealous and froward temper! Throughout the whole of our thirty years' friendship, some of which were passed in almost constant and close intercourse, although we occasionally thought differently, and came to opposite conclusions upon subjects which cannot be deemed of minor importance, and in which both of us were seriously interested, yet during that period of thirty years I ne ver heard one unkind word, I never saw one unkind look, I never had known cause to suspect, and I never did suspect him of one unkind thought towards me. Nay more, I never knew him (and I think I was continually admitted to his inmost privacies,) I never knew him ut1er, or appear secretly to entertain, one unworthy thought of any human being! Hence it was that with due allowance for the decided opinions which such an understanding as his could not but form, and the decided line of conduct which such principles as his could not but pursue, no man living perhaps, within an equal circle, ever had fewer open enemies, and more private friends. Wherever he went, affectionate and warm-hearted friends seemed to spring up around him at once, to hail him as almost of a higher order of created beings, and to increase in numbers and in demonstrations of increasing regards. An effect so happy was the result of a most felicitous combination in which sweetness of temper beaming in a countenance which was its most suitable index, seemed to hold a very prominent place. This temper, when combined with such principles, such talent, and such exertions as his, seems to form what the holy Apostle has

distinctly designated the good man, for whom " peradventure some would even dare to die."

"In juxta-position with this very conspicuous feature which disposed him to uniform cheerfulness in himself, and to the promotion of it in others, I would place (what might surprise many) a constantly prevailing and most powerfully operating impression of the vanity of life, and the nearness of every man to his final destination. He ever appeared to me, from the very first of his religious impressions to the last, to have upon his mind a more habitual and realizing impression of the near approach and certainty of future judgment, than most other men. He had less of prospective plan, and looking forward to years to come, than most other men; and was always, though unobtrusively, disposed to that seriousness of view which easily admitted the possibility of that day or that night then passing being his last. This possibility, which others would coldly allow, he would feelingly believe; and where a strong shock would be necessary to impress it vividly upon the minds of others, an apparently trivial incident would suffice for a most operative influence on his own. It was not death, nor any of its circumstances; it was not alarm of dying, for I know not that he ever had any; it was not apprehension of pain or disease, or any violent or lingering mode of dissolution;-it was the moment after death; it was the instant of passing into the presence of his God; it was the hour when the Son of Man cometh; it was the swallowing up of time into eternity' it was the sudden burst upon immortal scenes; it was the instantaneous call to a state to be fixed for ever, be it what it may; it was an awful though adoring apprehension of the unutterable Majesty of the Most High; it was the act of giving account to God; it was something, perhaps, stronger and clearer, than I can state to you, which in an instant, and at any instant, could impart a holy solemnity to his cheerful mind, which could as instantly dispose it to the more direct impulses and acts of religious duties. Thus to him, time and eternity were (if I may so express it) closer together than to most men. To him the veil which hung between them was of thinner texture; the line which separated them of shorter length. Hence, perhaps, he was habitually nearer to his God than many other real Christians; and without a particle of unbecoming levity on the one hand, or of severity and harshness on the other, was at once the humble, the earnest, the energetic minister of Christ."

But, one of the most striking features in Mr. Cotterill's character was his disinterestedness. They who best knew the interior of his mind, and who, during a series of years, had abundant opportunities of discovering its real tendencies, never could perceive the least approach to an undue consideration of himself. On the contrary, he was ever willing to give up his own just rights, if he could thereby contribute to the happiness of others. In the intercourse social life, tests of character in this respect are of constant recurrence and of various description. Many who may be disinterested in pecuniary concerns, are extremely selfish with regard to their personal gratifications. They will sacrifice their money, but not their ease, their reputation, their feelings, or their opinions. But the disinterestedness of Mr. Cotterill was of a very different order; it extended to all those particulars, and plainly proved to those who had any knowledge of him, that he sought "not his own, but the things of Jesus Christ." In public and in private life, the glory of God, and the good of his fellow creatures appeared to be his constant and undivided aim; and though he could have turned aside into the paths of ease and worldly emolument, he deliberately chose the path of labour and comparative poverty. It is evident that these qualities of mind and heart, for which Mr. Cotterill was chiefly distinguished, were peculiarly adapted to give effect to his ministerial instructions. His conduct was uniformly consistent with a remark which he frequently made, that he was always ready to sacrifice feelings, but never principle.

To those who were not personally acquainted with Mr. Cotterill, the character which has been here given of him may possibly appear partial or exaggerated; but they who know him best, will, it is firmly believed, most clearly acknowledge its faithfulness. Did he then, it may be asked, possess all this excellence without any countervailing defects? It may perhaps be questioned, whether, whilst he was ever ready to attend to the temporal wants of others, he paid all that regard which was necessary to his own worldly circumstances: but, if he did fail here, this did not arise from indolence or self-indulgence; few men were ever more free from these vices. It was the infirmity of human nature, which, in avoiding one error, verged towards another. He had a very strong convic tion upon his mind, of the extreme sinfulness of a worldly-minded spirit in a minister of Christ, which made him

22 MEMOIR OF THE REV. THOMAS COTTERILL.

shrink from every approach to it. Beyond this it would not be easy to fix upon any thing in his conduct of a questionable nature. Doubtless he partook of that depravity of heart which has spread itself through the whole family of fallen men; and whatever he was, as he himself would have been the first to declare," he was by the grace of God."

The differences in natural disposition are so great, that the conflict between the two opposing principles of the flesh and spirit which takes place in the heart of every Christian, is far less observable in some characters than in others. But we must not therefore rashly conclude that they have had less to overcome, because their trials and temptations have been of a different nature. Nor should any omit to follow their example on the ground that they do not possess an equally happy temperament of mind. With respect to those virtues which are peculiarly adapted to recommend religion to the world, it is indeed strange that any persons should neglect to exercise them, and yet imagine that they are actuated by a supreme desire to promote the glory of God and the salvation of men. Had there been no express command in Scripture to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things, it would have been included in the law of love; and it is difficult to believe that man sincere in his Christian profession, who alleges any natural disposition whatever as a sufficient excuse for not exhibiting religion in an attractive form. There are so many subordinate motives to impel men to the cultivation of what is amiable and praise-worthy in the sight of their fellow-creatures, that it might have been imagined an apostolic injunction to this effect was unnecessary. But the Spirit of God knew better the backwardness of the human heart to all that is good, even when renewed by Divine grace. St. Paul therefore was taught to urge his beloved converts to the study and prac tice of the social virtues, by positive precept, by personal example, and by the promise of the Divine favour, and of that blessedness which is inseparable from an intimate communion with the God of peace. "Finally, brethren," he says, "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things which ye have learned and received, and heard, and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you."

COLLECTS.

CLOSING FORM FOR EACH PRAYER.

First Week.

OUR Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; give us day by day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour, and from the Holy Ghost the Comforter, be unto us this day [night] and for evermore. Amen.

« 上一頁繼續 »