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CHAPTER IV.

“But the scene has changed too quickly; darkness has become the shroud:

Satan has prevailed to try thee, to encompass thee with cloud."

Napoleon-The moon and the laurel-Lady Huntingdon-“Man's chief end"-Indecision-Fitful gleams-Lights and shadows-"A coal from the altar"-The "Wanderer in Switzerland"-His "apostasy"-Grave thoughts-Brighter day-The prism-New poemBesetting sin-"A new thing in the earth"-The Lord's TableFulnec.

ALLUDING one day to Napoleon's passage of the Alps with his army and artillery, Montgomery characterized it as "worthy of the daring genuis of a man who would scale the battlements of the moon to gather a leaf of laurel." The poet himself has sought, for many days, the laurel-leaf with what he calls "a mad ambition;" and a "burning fever" it has been to him. But there is dawning on him now, after a season of backsliding, a brighter and more joyous morning; and its returning light is revealing to his heart a juster estimate of life's great business. "Man's chief end"--so runs the emphatic formula of Christian duty, which, suddenly starting into her memory one day, awoke the late Countess of Huntingdon out of her dream of self-pleasing,

"is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever;"* and these magic words stimulated her to a life of selfdenial. James Montgomery, now awakening as from a trance, begins anew to gird up his loins for the Christian race. "It is hard," we find him writing, in March 1807," to renounce the world and all those pleasures which the world deems not only innocent, but useful and commendable; and yet, methinks, that Christianity requires the sacrifice of them." Not willing to take up his cross and follow the despised and rejected Man of Sorrows through poverty, reproach and tribulation, he yet feels the guilt of indecision hanging heavy on his heart, and outweighing all those little joys for which he is unwilling to relinquish the world. But a "cheering ray of hope, of Christian hope," will break at times through "the pagan darkness" of his mind, "opening heaven to his desiring view;" and the period is now come, when that cheering ray is to be more than a fitful, flickering visitant. "O my friend," he exclaims, describing to a correspondent the return of a brighter season, “how does my heart expand, my soul aspire !"

Yet painfully fitful still are those gleams of sunshine. At times, he will trace with his poetic pencil the lights and shadows of the scene, thus:

"There is a winter in my soul,

The winter of despair;

*The words occur at the opening of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which she had been taught in her early youth.

O when shall Spring its rage control?
When shall the Snowdrop blossom there?
Cold gleams of comfort sometimes dart
A dawn of glory on my heart,

But quickly pass away:

Thus Northern-lights the gloom adorn,
And give the promise of a morn
That never turns to day!"

And again, he will write, in the way of apology for not sending to a friend a "methodistical hymn""I seldom dare to touch holy things. My lips and my heart want purifying with a coal from the altar." Then the cloud will brighten once more; and he will rejoice, though tremblingly, in the hope of final deliverance from his besetting sin-despair; "for it is a sin,” he will add, "to despair when God proclaims Himself to be Love-despair gives Him the lie."

This condition of heart it was, which gave its pen-” sive tone to the poem which he now published under the title of "The Wanderer in Switzerland," and which at once placed him in the front rank of the poets of his age. But the arrow is infixed too deeply in the heart of the awakened backslider, to suffer him to be lulled again, even by Fame's syren strain, into any repose save that calm rest which is found at Christ's own feet. And such rest, after his protracted wanderings, he is now once more to enjoy; "sitting down under His shadow indeed with great delight."

These years, preceding 1806, he used to describe as the period of his "apostacy." Not that he had

lapsed into any outward immorality; but business, and bustle, and exciting scenes had insensibly drawn him away from his former habits of godliness, until holiness had lost its "beauty," and his spiritual sensibilities their fine edge. But He who once said-“I will restore that which the caterpillar hath eaten," is now drawing near to him in tender mercy; and, though the eminence to which he has risen as a poet imperils his returning brokenness of spirit, the poetic laurel is not to adorn a vain-glorious brow, but to be consecrated to God as a part of his daily "living sacrifice."

Grave and earnest are the thoughts which now possess him. "Here I am," we have him saying, for example; "and what I am finally here, I must for ever be." And again—

"I stir the ashes of my mind,

And here and there a sparkle find,
That leaps into a moment's light,
Then dwindles down again in night.
Yet burns a fire within my breast,
Which cannot quench, and will not rest:
O for a sudden, secret rent,

In this hard heart to give it vent!

O for a gale of heavenly breath,
To quicken life again from death!"

And another day, alluding to a visit to Sheffield by Henry Steinhaur and sixteen pupils from Fulnec, most of them introduced into the school by Montgomery himself, he says: "Who knows what eternal

consequences may result from so many boys and girls hearing the simple Gospel of Christ crucified' preached faithfully to them among the Brethren. It warms my cold, and melts my hard heart, sometimes, when I think that I may thus, accidentally, have been the cause of promoting the everlasting welfare of some of my fellow-creatures in this neighborhood, where I came an outcast, and in which I have lived a stranger."

Montgomery has "a temper made for happiness;" and though, for a time, it has worn a somewhat sombre hue, it begins to brighten under the genial beams of that Sun of righteousness which now again shines down upon him. Writing to his brother, who has been bereaved of a beloved child, he ministers the comfort wherewith he himself has now been comforted of God, thus: "This providence of God you both feel has drawn you nearer to Him; and, the nearer you have been drawn to Him, have you not been the more strengthened, and comforted, and submissive to His will, till, at length, you had no will of your own, and were enabled to rejoice amidst your affliction, in the hope of the glory which shall hereafter be revealed?" And, in God's light seeing light, he is learning to assign to things God's own proportionsGod's great things growing great, and God's little things little. "In the Bible Society," said he, one day, in November 1813, at a large meeting in Sheffield for the formation of a Methodist Missionary Society, "all names and distinctions of sects are blend

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