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Where the soul sours, and gradual rancor grows,
So Scipio, to the soft Cumæan shore
“Oh, grievous folly! to heap up estate,
ISAAC WATTS. 1674-1748. Isaac WATTS, whose reputation as a prose writer and as a poet is as wide as the world of letters, was born at Southampton on the 17th of July, 1674. At the age of but four years he began to study the Latin language; but as he was a « dissenter” from the “established" church, he could not look forward to an education in either of the great universities, and therefore, at the age of sixteen, he was placed under the care of the Rev. Thomas Rowe, who had charge of an academy in London. At the age of twenty he returned to his father's house, and spent two years in studying for the ministry. At the close of this period he accepted the invitation of Sir John Hartopp to reside with him as tutor to his son, and remained with him five years, devoting most of his time to a critical knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures, and entering, during the last year, upon the duties of his profession.
In 1698 he was chosen as an assistant to Dr. Chauncey, pastor of an Independent church in Southampton, and on his death, 1702, was elected to succeed him. Soon after entering upon his office he was attacked by a dangerous illness, from which he but very slowly recovered. In 1712 he was again seized with a fever so violent and of so long continuance, that it left him in a feeble state for the rest of his life. In this state he found in Sir Thomas Abney a friend such as is not often to be met with. This gentleman received him into his own house, where he remained an inmate of the family for thirtysix years, that is, to the end of his life, where he was treated the whole time with all the kindness that friendship could prompt, and all the attention that respect could dictate.! Here he devoted all the time that his health would allow to the composition of his various works, and to his official functions; and when increasing weakness compelled him to relinquish both, his congregation would not accept his resignation, but, while they elected another pastor, continued to him the salary he had been accustomed to receive. On the 25th of November, 1748, without a pain or a struggle, this great and good man breathed his last.
1 "A coalition like this-a state in which the notions of patronage and dependence were over
ered by the perception of reciprocal benefits, deserves a particular memorial."- Dr. Johnson Accordingly the great biographer has given in his life of Watts a long ext touching account of Watts's residence in this family, and then adds: “If this quotation has appeared long, let it be considered that it comprises an account of six-and-thirty years and those the years of Dr. Watts."
In his literary character, Dr. Watts may be considered as a poet, a philosopher, and a theologian. As a poet, if he takes not the very first rank in the imaginative, the creative, or the sublime, he has attained what the greatest might well envy,-a universality of fame. He is emphatically the classic poet of the religious world, wherever the English language is known. His version of the Psalms, his three books of Hymns, and his “ Divine Songs for Children," have been more read and committed to memory, have exerted more holy influences, and made more lasting impressions for good upon the human heart, and have called forth more fervent aspirations for the joys and the happiness of heaven, than the productions of any other poet-perhaps it would not be too strong to say than ALL OTHER poets, (the sacred bards of course excepted,) living or dead.
As a philosopher, he has the rare merit of always being practically useful, especially in the education of youth. His « Logic, or Right use of Reason," was for a long time a text-book in the English Universities, and of his « Improvement of the Mind," no happier eulogium can be given than that by Dr. Johnson :2 « Few books," says the sage, « have been perused by me with greater pleasure than this; and whoever has the care of instructing others may be charged with deficiency if this book is not recommended.”
As a theologian, the compositions of Watts are very numerous, and “ every page," says Dr. Drake, “ displays his unaffected piety, the purity of his principles, the mildness of his disposition, and the great goodness of his heart. The style of all his works is perspicuous, correct, and frequently elegant; and happily for mankind, his labors have been translated and dispersed with a zeal that does honor to human nature; for there are probably few persons who have studied the writings of Dr. Watts without a wish for improvement; without an effort to become wiser or better members of society."
A SUMMER EVENING.
How fine has the day been, how bright was the sun,
And there follow'd some droppings of rain!
And foretells a bright rising again.
1 When he was almost worn out by his infirmities, be observed, in a conversation with a friend, that "he remembered an aged minister used to say that the most learned and knowing Christians, when they come to die, have only the same plain promises of the Gospel for their support as the common and unlearned.” “80," sald Watts, “I find it. It is the plain promises of the Gospel that are my support; and I bless God they are plain promises, and do not require much labor and pains to understand them, for I can do nothing now but look into my Bible for some promise to support me, and live upon that."
9 "He is one of the few poets," says Dr. Johnson, "with whom youth and ignorance may be mately pleased; and happy will be that reader whose mind is disposed, by his verses or his prose, to copy his benevolence to man and his reverence to God." Read-his Life in Drake's Essay Jobmon's LeMemoir, by Southey-Memoirs, by Thomas Gibson.
Just such is the Christian; his course he begins,
And travels his heavenly way:
Of rising in brighter array.
How fair is the rose! what a beautiful flower,
The glory of April and May!
And they wither and die in a day.
Above all the flowers of the field;
Still how sweet a perfume it will yield! So frail is the youth and the beauty of men,
Though they bloom and look gay like the rose; But all our fond cares to preserve them is vain,
Time kills them as fast as he goes.
Since both of them wither and fade;
This will scent like a rose when I'm dead.
FEW HAPPY MATCHES.
Say, mighty Love, and teach my song
And who the happy pairs
To soften all their cares.
As custom leads the way:
And be as blest as they.
To dull embraces move:
And make a world of love.
The purer bliss destroy :
On Ætna's top let Furies wed,
T' improve the burning joy.
Nor the dull pairs whose marble forms
Can mingle hearts and hands :
With osiers for their bands.
Not minds of melancholy strain,
Can the dear bondage bless :
Or none besides the bass.
Nor can the soft enchantments hold
The rugged and the keen:
With firebrands tied between.
For Love abhors the sight:
Rise and forbid delight.
Two kindest souls alone must meet; 'Tis friendship makes the bondage sweet,
And feeds their mutual loves : Bright Venus on her rolling throne Is drawn by gentlest birds alone,
And Cupids yoke the doves.
The heavens invite mine eye,
The stars salute me round;
Thus grovelling on the ground.
And make attempts to fly;
To raise me swift and high
Beyond those crystal vaults,
And all their sparkling balls;
And paintings on thy walls.
Vain world, farewell to you;
Heaven is my native air :
Impatient to be there.
From their old fleshy clod;
And set me near my God.
SEEKING A DIVINE CALM IN A RESTLESS WORLD
Eternal mind, who rul'st the fates
With one unchanged decree;
Afford a smile to thee?
The bubbles and the ore:
For shells upon the shore.
And warriors win and lose;
As power decays or grows.
And yet they can't agree:
To sit and smile with thee.
LAUNCHING INTO ETERNITY.
Such is the soul that leaves this mortal land,