« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
friends, and their ignorance of the interior of his heart, would render them incapable of giving a faithful memorial of him. Subsequently to this, however, he virtually withdrew this injunction by commencing to dictate to me his own account of the dealings of God with him, for the purpose of printing after his death. But the overwhelming sense of his former state of alienation from God, together with his admiring love of the tender mercy which had drawn him so powerfully, yet so gently, to the Saviour, was too much for his then weak bodily frame. He acquiesced in the reasons urged by me to prevent this exertion, and desisted from his design.”
But, if liberty to commit some memorial to the press was thus more than conceded by the manifest design and wish of the deceased, there still remained another difficulty, arising from the very nature of the undertaking itself. This cannot, perhaps, be better expressed than in the following additional extract from the above-mentioned communication to me.
“ That greatly-valued clerical friend (Mrs. Neale writes), whom it pleased God to make the instrument of so much spiritual good to the subject of this Memoir, speaks thus of him in a letter written some months after his death— I know enough to assure you that it will be no easy matter to convey to others the divine simplicity of your husband's faith'; the holy determination of his mind; and the deep, child-like humility with which he listened to everything which was fairly proposed to him from the word of God. Of his previous character and sentiments, (except so far as general expressions dropt in our conversations led me to infer,)-I know nothing positively: but I should suppose that he had been, in heart, not far removed from infidelity ; that he seldom prayed in secret, and was deeply imbued with the pride of literature. To show his long continuance in unbelief ; and then fully and fairly to state, that a few poor words were accompanied with such a mighty effect, continued, and increased, to the overthrow of the great idols, Reason and Literature,--this will be no easy
It can excite no surprise, that, shrinking from a task so arduous, and so acutely touching to the memory, Mrs. Neale should, in her letter to me, sum up her remarks in one brief sentence, “ This difficulty has long been most fully felt.” The effort, however, having been thus made, I would venture now to state my opinion, grounded on the internal evidence contained in Mrs. Neale's portion of the Memoir, (see Chapter IV.) that it was well for her and for her friends that she was persuaded to encounter this severe task. The difficulty is adequately surmounted. That series of circumstances, and those reflections upon them, which her lamented husband expressed to her in his last illness, and was preparing to dictate for her pen, together with a variety of other instructive incidents and observations treasured up in her retentive memory, are here communicated in the most simple and natural manner.
Among the papers committed to me for inspection was a Memorial sketch of him, drawn up, not long after his death, by our mutual friend, the Rev. Thomas Grinfield.* Of this, by Mr. Grinfield's kind permission, I have been enabled to avail myself so far as to give an account of Mr. Neale's earliest youth
:-more than this could not advantageously be used, as the remainder consisted chiefly of extracts from letters describing the circumstances of his death, all which are to
* In pages 1 and 15 of the Memoir, Mr. Grinfield's name has been printed Edward instead of Thomas, which the reader is requested to correct.
be found more exactly detailed in the account written by Mrs. Neale. It was also necessarily wanting in all the more important circumstances concerning his conversion; which were not fully related by him to any one but his wife, and this chiefly in his last illness.
Some account of the interval extending from his school-days, through his Collegecareer, and nearly up to the time of his marriage, has been supplied by myself. Of these memoranda I can only say, that they are strictly faithful ; having been drawn from a memory ever most tenderly mindful of that period.
The value of this work to his family and friends must depend upon its accordance with truth. That the God of Truth and Love had special designs to answer by the remarkable course of his servant, cannot be doubted : under this conviction, care has been taken not to colour, or to disguise, a single sentiment or fact. As to any possible abuse of a narrative of this kind, such an account must, it is true, contain some particulars, illustrating the deepest workings of the corrupt human heart; the knowledge of which may be turned into an occasion of evil, especially by persons of a congenial taste and temper
ament. But the account carries with it the appointed antidote; and if his friends, the younger among them especially, will but peruse the whole of this volume from the beginning to the end, and carefully compare its representations with the Scriptures of Truth, they will find their judgments, not bewildered, but, rather, cleared and confirmed as to the certainty of things sacred, unseen, and eternal. It would, indeed, have been a bitter, though not uninstructive, review to his friends, had the moral of his life been merely to be summed in the words, God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions. Wakened, however, from his dream of vanities, and roused to put on the armour of Light, he has illustrated the brighter and more cheering side of Truth; leaving us a pattern of Christian simplicity and devotedness, beautifully adapted to display the reality of that divine principle, on which he rested, and by which he lived,-FAITH WHICH WORKETH BY LOVE!
September 10th, 1833.