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defence and reply of my father, which appeared in several of its numbers for the year 1822, have been stvled equally important, judicious and convincing; while even an opponent could admit them to be temperate and courteous.
In consequence of the appearance of these papers, my father was urged to embody the substance of what he had written, with some additions, in a pamphlet for popular use. This was an object he intended to accomplish; nor did he ever lose sight of it; although for a time it was laid aside, and as it proved, for ever!
He purposed to concentrate much that had been advanced by the most approved authors on prophecy, with especial reference to the millennium; shewing what may be its expected nature and character, and proving the improbability of the theories of the millennarians, and their inconsistency with the general language and tenor of scripture respecting it. He intended also to reprint with it, as an instance of the injurious effects of these speculations on the christian character, a scarce tract, containing an authentic account of the delusion of several hundred persons on this subject, in the county of Bucks, who, towards the close of the seventeenth century, embraced the supposed doctrine of the personal reign of Christ upon earth; in consequence of which they fell into a state of superstition, enthusiasm, and disorder, of as gross a character as any that has occurred since the period of the Reformation. My father thought, that the fact of a large number of persons being left to so deplorable a state of fanaticsm, went far to prove that they must first have been led into doctrinal error; and that the great Head of the church would never suffer such results to ensue from the acceptation of scriptural truth. The tract is entitled, "An impartial Account of Mr. John Mason, of Water Stratford, and his Sentiments; by H. Maurice, rector of Tyringham, Bucks." London, 1695. Thirty-five copies only of this tract were reprinted by the late Rev. Mr. Cooke, rector of Haversham, Bucks, to distribute as presents among his friends; one of which came into my father's possession. To this he would have added an extract from the history of Water Stratford, contained in "the History and Antiquities of the Town, Hundred, and Deanery of Buckingham; by Browne Willis, Esq. L.L.D." London, 1755; a quarto volume, now very scarce; shewing some of the lamentable extravagances eventually produced among his followers.* Among my father's papers is the following brief notice of Mr. Mason :—" The Rev. John Mason was for many years a zealous, exemplary, and faithful minister of the church of England. He was the author of a most valuable and well-known little volume, entitled, 'Select Remains of the Rev. John Mason, M.A., late rector of Water Stratford,' which was published by his grandson, the Rev. John Mason, of Dorking, in Surrey, author of the excellent and popular work on self-knowledge. The
* The account, as transcribed from the history of Water Stratford, contained in the scarce volume referred to above, may be found in the Appendix.
Select Remains is a little book on practical and experimental religion, held in high esteem to the present time, as the fact that it has passed through an unusual number of editions, and that it is always in print, will demonstrate. It is strongly recommended by the late Rev. Dr. Watts, in a letter to the Rev. Mr. Mason, the grandson, which is prefixed to the preface of an edition published by the latter, A.D. 1741, and which bears the most ample testimony to the excellence of his moral, religious, and ministerial character, previously to his embracing sentiments and opinions, which, alas! marred and defaced the whole."
While engaged in his comment on the Revelation, my father published another sermon; omitted to be mentioned in its place, in order to avoid breaking in on the history of that work. This was preached at the visitation of the Archdeacon of Bucks, held at Stony Stratford. August 3rd, 1820.*
I now return, with a feeling of mournful pleasure, to the domestic history of the period. From the commencement of the year 1819, his family began gradually to separate; and this was a circumstance productive in my father's mind, of very painful emotions, and occasionally of much depression. Nor could his children, as one after another left the paternal roof, but keenly feel the separation also. But they were accompanied and followed by their beloved father's blessing, prayers, and counsels. When either of them was about to leave his dwelling for a season, the individual was led by him into his
• See Sermon VIII. of the present work.
study, and with supplication and tears commended to the protection and guidance of the Father of mercy. "The God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless them!" His letters to them when absent, abound with expressions of strong affection and earnest desire for their welfare; and convey, at the same time, salutary advice and instruction. A few of them will, from this time, appear in the course of the narrative. The following extracts are from letters addressed to his eldest daughter:
"Olney, August 9, 1821.
"Thursday night, 11 o'clock. "My Dearest * *,
"You must not think that I forget you, as you may be assured no day passes in which I do not think of you with anxious affection. I earnestly hope and pray that God may bless and sanctify your present situation, so as to promote your advantage in all things; but especially that he may render it conducive to your highest welfare, your spiritual and everlasting benefit. I hope, my dear girl, that you will see and feel the importance of our gracious Lord's apothegm, that ' one thing is needful,' and that by his grace you will be led to choose that ' good part which shall not be taken away from you:' the portion you will never lose, when all other acquisitions, however important in your present view, will be of little or no comparative worth. Give the Lord Jesus your heart, acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will direct your path here, and receive you to glory hereafter. All the world can afford, unconnected with his grace, you will find to be vanity and vexation of spirit; and to those who have no interest in his salvation, the enjoyments of time and sense must terminate in complete misery. But I trust, my dear child, that you will seek happiness where only it is to be found ; and it is my earnest prayer, that you may obtain that wisdom from which it proceeds, and of which it is said, 'Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her, and happy is every one that retaineth her.' • • • •"
The chief object of my father's desire for his children was, that they might be blessed, and become blessings; and thus pass through the world as the friends of God and of their fellow creatures. Nor did he allow any mere worldly considerations to bias his judgment in this respect. For one of his family, who in early youth displayed great musical talent, he received an offer from a gentleman of eminence in the profession, to educate and bring him up, free of expense, with the promise of succeeding to an extensive connexion; but my father could not consent to this disposal of his child. He rather dreaded the temptations to which the younger members of the musical profession are often peculiarly exposed. Of this son he writes—
"I should rejoice if God would give him grace, upon right motives and principles, to sacrifice music as a profession upon the altar of the cross. I had rather, if it should please God, see him a useful minister of the gospel than a Handel or a Mozart. Music as a profession, generally speaking, is dangerous; at the same time I know that He, who has given him his talents, can give their possessor grace to preserve him from the dangers and snares attending them. I therefore leave him to God, in the hope that he will direct him to pursue the profession that will conduce most to the divine glory, his own benefit, and the good of his fellow creatures. * * *
"Mr. F.'s death, I should fear, will be a source of great trial and affliction to his widow and family, as they probably depended on his profession. It is, however, consoling, under a bereavement of this kind, to reflect that there is one who has promised to bp the Father