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WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, Esa.
My Dear Sir,
I am not certain that my motive was quite pure, wlita I felt a very powerful desire that, in a way of some little publicity and continuance, I might appear associated with one so esteemeg and illustrious as the man whose name dignifies this page, and a whose feet I presume to lay these volumes.
A writer of judgment and wit has somewhere said, that “there are good persons with whom it will be soon enough to be acquainted in heaven.” But there are individuals with whom it is no common privilege to have been acquainted on earin.
It is now more than forty years since the writer of this address was indulged and honoured with your notice and friendship. During this period, (so long in the brevity of human life!) he has had many opportunities of deriving great pleasure and profit from your private conversation ; and also of observing, in your public career, the proofs you have displayed of the orator, the statesman, the advocate of enlightened freedom, and the feeling, fearless, persevering, and successful opponent of a traffic “ that is a reproach to any people.” But he would be unworthy of the ministry he fills, and be ashamed of the age he has now reached, as a professed follower of your Lord and Saviour, if he could not increasingly say, with Young,
“ A CHRISTIAN is the highest style of man."
All other greatness is, in the view of faith, seducing and dangerquy; in actual enjoyment, unsatisfactory and vain; and in duration, fleeting and momentary. “ The world passeth away, and the lusts thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” The expectation of the man who has his portion in this life” is con tinually deteriorating; for every hour brings him nearer the loss of all his treasure; and “ as he came forth of his mother's womb. naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of ,
bis labour, k ich he may carry away in his hand.” But the good hope through grace," which animates the believer, is always approaching its realities; and therefore grows, with the lapse of time, more valuable and more lively. As it is spiritual in its quality, and heavenly in its object, it does not depend on outward things, and is not affected with the decays of nature. Like the Giastonbury thorn, fabulously planted by Joseph of Arimathæa, it blooms in the depth of winter. It “ brings forth fruit in old age.” “At evening-tide il is light”—“ For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day."
And this, my dear sir, you are now happily experiencing, at the close of more than “threescore years and ten." And I hail you, not as descending towards the grave under the applause of nations, but as an heir of immortality,“looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Attended with the thanksgivings of the truly wise and good on your behalf, and in the comforts of the Holy Ghost, and with an unsullied religious reputation, you are fisishing a course, which you have been enabled to pursue through evil report and through good report ; undeviatingly, unabatingly; forgetful of none of the claims of personal or relative godliness, amidst all the cares and engagements of a popularity peculiarly varied and extensive; neglecting, in addition to the influence of example, no means to recommend the one thing needful to others; and, even from the press, defending the interests of practical Christianity, in a work so widely circulated, so justly admired, and so pre-eminendly useful especially among the higher classes in society.
Nor can I omit the opportunity of acknowledging, individually, the obligations I feel myself under to your zeal and wisdom, when, in the novitiate of my ministry, your correspondence furnished me with hints of admonition, instruction, and encouragement, to which I owe much of any degree of acceptance and usefulness with which I have been favoured. Nor can I forbear also to mention another benefactor, whose name I know is as dear to every feeling of your heart as it is to every feeling of my own--the Rer. John NEWTON. With this incomparable man I was brought into an early intimacy, in consequence of his addressing me without solicitation, and when personally unknown to him, in counsels and advice the most seasonable, jast as I had emerged into public life, pecularly young, and inexperienced, and exposed. These opportune advantages, for which I would be daily thankful, recal the exclamation of Solomon, "A word fitly spoken, how good is it!" and lead me to lament that persons so seldom, in this way seek or even seize opportunities of