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thing to carry the desolate mind forward in anticipation of a blessed sequel elsewhere. You will have pleasure, too, in considering how soon, comparatively, at so advanced an age, you may expect that the future you are looking forward to will become present, and restore to you, in a far higher condition of excellence and felicity, what you are now mourning as taken away from you for a while.....


London, July 17, 1841.

I do most truly thank you for your kind invitation, which, supposing the case exactly your own, you would feel yourself under an inhibition to avail yourself of. Imagine yourself to have been more weeks than you could reckon, and which you were reluctant to try to reckon, absent from your habitat, workshop, and domestic associates, spending a long succession of days in just sidling about to see sights for much of the time, and rambling through the Isle of Wight the rest of it,having exceeded, by at least an entire month the time you had intended when you left home-having three or four times over told the people there that you were on the point of returning; having not even read what would turn to sixpenny-worth of account and having become, even weeks since, desperately ashamed of your course of life-in such a predicament you would be forced to say, "No, much as I should like to see my good old friends, I must not and cannot, for shame, take such a new licence for dissipation; the pleasure of the interview would be interfered with by the consciousness that I had no business to be there."

... I should have delayed coming hither till after the bustling season but for the unpleasant cause of coming at all, my anxiety to obtain professional advice for some morbid symptom on my only remaining ear (the other having declined its office many years since). My apprehension of more than the possibility of wholly losing the services of the one that has remained faithful hitherto, and by which I have continued to get on tolerably for the last

dozen years, is much alleviated by an assurance from the highest professional authority that there is not serious cause for such apprehension.

. . The removal of your brother to a scene and a condition of existence how transcendently different! excited a pensive emotion in those of us who had seen him excited and animated in a social hour, even while confined to his bed. But another feeling mingled and even predominated -that which congratulated him in thought on his blessed exchange. In attending his quiet funeral (just such a one as I should wish for myself), I thought of the difference between such a close of life, such a calm affectionate conveyance of the remains to the grave, and such a sequel elsewhere, as compared with the death and pompous obsequies of some wicked proud monarch or conqueror.


It is odd I should not till now have been reminded of political matters. Sad state of things,-to result, at no distant time, according to the auguries I am in the way of hearing, in great and perhaps terrific national calamity. No doubt God has a fearful controversy with a nation on the whole so irreligious and so immoral; and the infliction of a bad government bears strongly the marks of vengeance.


London, July 20, 1841.

Once landed in Northampton, I might not be as much disposed as I ought to put myself speedily in motion homeward. I can imagine strong anti-movement feelings and influences, quite additional to your friendly disposition to induce a longer stay.

I will confess too, that the inconvenience of travelling by changed routes, brings all my sedentary and old man's feelings very strongly in favour of the one single run of a few hours.

This same marvellous facility renders it very much less unlikely than it would otherwise have been, that I may be here again at no very distant time, supposing even a short

prolongation of life, in tolerable health. But for this grand achievement of science and energy, I might have deemed it little likely I should ever see London again—unless obliged by a necessity of the same kind as that which brought me hither. This may recur, though professional judgment seems to allow me to hope not. But where there 18 something confessedly, though not ominously wrong, one cannot feel an assurance that it may not become more wrong. As yet there is no interference with the performance of the proper function of the " peccant part," nor any

actual inconvenience.

Besides the variety of sights, exhibitions, &c., to which I have paid a competent attention, I have necessarily become a little acquainted with some matters and things not unreservedly let out through the general public channels, snatches of secret history, political intrigue, electioneering tactics, characters and anecdotes of considerable personages, &c. &c. The general effect of such information is, that the state of society is bad-bad beyond any thing that even a cynical judge of human nature would antecedently surmise. A total want of moral principle in the vast majority of figuring persons is a very sad phenomenon. This is proved against one after another of them, even of some that one might have been disposed to think moderately well of. A minor arraignment is, that of all sorts of perversity, folly, and absurdity, of opinion and prejudice. And Religion! there might be no such thing recognized as in existence, except as an object of jeering reference as embodied in a church and parsons. When I say "jeering," I speak of the clever fellows of the "liberal" party, some of them in parliament, others the journalists, the literary adventurers, political economists, &c. A life spent much in the company of this sort of people would be very injurious. to a man's personal religion. I have seen but few of them: but I suppose some fair samples.


In the first triumph of having obtained the Reform Bill what augur would not have been scouted as an idiot who had predicted that ten years of its operation would end in such an election as this!

I hope I shall be just able, after such an interval, to recognize the countenances of our few Bristol friends when I

meet them again. I am saying "few;"-to me how very few, after the removals by death, and that gradual declining out of society, which has of late years been increasing my insulation. I earnestly wish that my diminishing communication with men may be replaced by more communication with Heaven.

Still, and again, and ever, wishing every blessing that such an imperfect state as this mortal sojourn must ever be, can admit to yourself and Mrs. R.,

I remain, my dear sir, most truly yours,



[In answer to one in which he stated his inquiries and difficulties on the subject of the eternity of future punishments.]

September 24, 1841.

DEAR SIR, If you could have been apprised how much less research I have made into what has been written on the subject of your letter than you appear to have done, you would have had little expectation of assistance in deciding your judgment. I have perhaps been too content to let an opinion (or impression) admitted in early life dispense with protracted inquiry and various reading. The general, not very far short of universal, judgment of divines in affirmation of the doctrine of eternal punishment must be acknowledged a weighty consideration. It is a very fair question, Is it likely that so many thousands of able, learned, benevolent, and pious men should all have been in error? And the language of Scripture is formidably strong; so strong that it must be an argument of extreme cogency that would authorize a limited interpretation.*

* On the subject of this letter, it may be interesting to reflective readers to compare Mr. Foster's views with those of his two distinguished contemporaries, Hall and Chalmers. The following extracts (whatever estimate may be formed of their argumentative force) are beautifully characteristic of their respective writers, and equally remote from the dogmatism and flippancy which are so often displayed by inferior minds. "For my own part, I acquiesce in the usual and popular interpreta

Nevertheless, I acknowledge myself not convinced of the orthodox doctrine. If asked, why not ?—I should have little to say in the way of criticism, of implications found tion of the passages which treat on the future doom of the finally impenitent. My reasons in brief, are as follows:-I assume it as a maxim, that we are utterly incompetent to determine, à priori, what is the amount of guilt incurred by such as reject the overtures of the gospel, and further than God has been pleased to make it the subject of express revelation; that the terms expressive of the duration of future misery are as forcible as the Greek language supplies; that the same term is applied to the duration of misery as to the duration of happiness, or even the eternity of God himself (Matt. xxv. 46; Rev. xix. 3); that the exclusion of the impenitent from happiness is asserted in the most positive termsThey shall not see life,' &c., &c.; that their worm dieth not, and their fire is not extinguished; that positive terms may be understood in different degrees of latitude, but this is impossible respecting negative terms, since a negation admits of no degrees.

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"If the eternal misery of a certain number can be rendered conducive to a greater amount of good, in relation to the universe at large, than any other plan of action, then the attribute of goodness requires it; for I take it for granted, that the Supreme Being will adopt that scheme, whatever it be, which will produce the greatest quantity of happiness on the whole. But our faculties are too limited, and our knowledge of the laws of the moral world, and of the relation which one part of the universe bears to another too imperfect, to enable us to say that this is impossible. For aught we know, therefore, the existence of eternal misery may not only consist with, but be the necessary effect of supreme goodness. At all events, it is a subject of pure revelation, on the interpretation of which every one must be left to form his own judgment. If the milder interpretation can be sustained by a preponderating evidence, I shall most sincerely rejoice; but I have yet seen nothing to satisfy me that this is the case.

"I would only add, that in my humble opinion, the doctrine of the eternal duration of future misery, metaphysically considered, is not an essential article of faith, nor is the belief of it ever proposed as a term of salvation; that, if we really flee from the wrath to come, by truly repenting of our sins, and laying hold of the mercy of God through Christ by a lively faith, our salvation is perfectly secure, whichever hypothesis we embrace on this most mysterious subject. The evidence accompanying the popular interpretation is by no means to be compared to that which establishes our common Christianity, and therefore the fate of the Christian religion is not to be considered as implicated in the belief or disbelief of the popular doctrine."-ROBERT HALL (Letter to a Gentleman at Trinity College, Cambridge), Works, v. 527.

"On the subject of the eternity of future punishment I do not want you to hold with me the language of a stern dogmatist; but sure I am that the cause of practical religion will suffer greatly in your hands, if you gloss over or reduce the plain literalities of scripture on the awful question. We cannot hesitate a moment as to what the distinct understanding of every plain unsophisticated man must be in regard to the sense and doctrine of

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