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JOHN FOSTER says, "The story of many a common soldier, or a highwayman, or a gipsy, or a deserted child, and many a beggar, will keep awake the attention which is much inclined to slumber over the account of a philosopher." Perhaps, therefore, little interest will be excited in some minds by this account of Mr. Rhodes, in whose life the principal events were processes of thought, and who had but little "external biography;" who passed through no strange scene,


and was the subject of no picturesque adventure; yet he was such a noble and holy man, was endowed with such rich gifts as a Christian teacher, and was at the same time so withdrawn from society by severe afflictions, that in love to the church as well as in gratitude to the Saviour whose grace made him what he was, it now seems to be the duty of some one who knew him to show the world how he lived and died.

He was born in the year 1792, in the Wiltshire village of Damerham, where his father was a carpenter. Looking back, through many years, to his first impressions of existence, he could recall with keen distinctness some tender words of his sister while nursing him; the charm which certain sights in nature had for him; the unspeakable love which he felt for a child of his own age, who was a little after his companion in wild, playful, daring mischief; the rapture with which he spelt his way through some poems and romances contained in two ancient black-letter volumes, almost the first books he ever saw. "Those days," he used to say, "are still quite a scene of light in my memory. I often find it

very pleasant to revive the faded and beautiful images of my childhood, the May-flowers of my spirit, and can sometimes make them almost as fresh and simple as they were at first."

This, however, was not his "golden age," and sorrow even then shed the prevailing colour over his life. Let us hear his own account :

"My sorrows began early. I clearly recollect the season of dreadful scarcity in 1795, when I was three years old, and the hunger I often felt. At seven years old I went to work, and toiled through a variety of rural employments till I was twelve, when I began at my father's business. My home was a home of misery which I have never seen equalled. Want in every shape, turbulence, sleepless nights, a brokenhearted mother, full of weeping tenderness; what a melancholy picture could I give you! all caused by the prodigality and intemperance of my poor father. All this time I had an affecting sense of the awful and alarming in religion, with a strong propensity to muse on the future, but I had no conception of a Saviour, and when I used to tell these feelings to my mother, she very lovingly encouraged them but knew not how to direct me."

If he felt a peculiar interest, as he did, in calling

to mind his earliest experiences, it must indeed

have been in the spirit of Southey, who says,

"Yet is remembrance sweet, though well I know

The days of childhood are but days of woe."

During the next six years, rough labour shattered his health; grave cares acting on a mind that was delicately balanced so disordered it, that he frequently passed through "months of unspeakable horror," and was never after free from a melancholy cast of thought. Worst of all, his religious feelings melted away. Thrown amongst companions of the worst description, he was by them frequently urged and charmed to the brink of utter ruin, and though drawn back from this by an invisible hand, and saved from those sins of the senses by which his companions were lost, these were years of mental sin which he always trembled to remember:

"Yet," said he, "it is a sad comfort that I have not to reproach myself with neglecting the means of religion, for I never knew any: and God, in his adorable wisdom, has turned this sad part of my existence into good for me, by making the recollection of it enhance the sense of obligation to my Redeemer; giving a

deeper sweetness to his mercy, and making me feel that it will excite through all the days of heaven a more vivid admiration of his love than if my whole life had been devoted to his service."

In the autumn of 1811, he was led by the duties of his employment to reside for a few weeks at Ringwood. This was to be his second birthplace the scene of the grand change in his spiritual history. We know that there is an almost infinite variety in the instrumental methods by which this change is effected in men. "When the palm of Zeilan puts forth its blossom, the sheath breaks with a report which startles the forest; but at the same moment millions of surrounding blossoms are opening in silence."* Some hearts open to God suddenly, some slowly; in some cases the external means are violent as the earthquake which shook open the prison at Philippi; in others, they are gentle as the morning light upon the flower; but how rarely do we hear of the Spirit converting a soul without external agencies of some kind! So it seemed to⚫ be, however, in the present case. It is true, that

* Mr. Spurgeon's "The Saint and his Saviour."

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