Page images
PDF
EPUB

honourably occupied, at Stepney meeting. The character of the man and the minister are sketched with great truthfulness by Dr. W. Every one who had the happiness to know the original will instantly recognise the portrait.

An affecting account of the last illness and death of Dr. F., from the pen of one of his children, heightens the interest of the discourse. He died as such a man should die, with a solid hope, and unshaken confidence in Christ, which kept his mind in perfect peace.

May the blessing of the head of the church richly descend on the rising ministry among us—that the breaches caused by the removal of such men as Dr. Fletcher may be suitably filled upand that, in these eventful times, when the vital truths of christianity are assailed, by men who are solemnly pledged to maintain them, religion may not lack defenders-men who need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth !

S. B. S.

Thoughts upon Thought, for Young Men.

In three parts. London : John Snow, 1843.

This is a very interesting and instructive volume. It is suited especially to readers of a contemplative turn of mind, and is likely to prove useful to the young inquirer after truth. The volume is divided into three parts. The first treats of the responsibility of man in relation to his thoughts; the second, of the government of the thoughts; the third, of the influence of thought in the formation of character. We recommend the author to transpose parts 2 and 3, in future editions. It seems to us that the practical remarks upon the government of the thoughts ought to come last, as the improvement of the whole.

The Philanthropist : a Monthly Journal, devoted to Social,

Political, and Moral Reforms. Nos. 1–3.

Unquestionably one of the best written papers of the day, and worthy the name which it assumes. We have read the first three numbers with more than satisfaction. It augurs well for " the times we live in” that such a paper can find readers and supporters. We wish it all the success which it so eminently deserves.

THE

INDEPENDENT MAGAZINE.

NOVEMBER, 1843.

WHY SHOULD NOT THE VOLUNTARY PRINCIPLE

SHOW ITSELF? We know some persons who, from constitutional shyness, or nervousness of temperament, are unwilling to meet the gaze of their fellow-men. The glance of a stranger is sufficient to discompose them; and the fixed look of half-a-dozen fellow mortals is almost enough to annihilate them. Their only hope of peace is to be found in retirement from the world, either to the society of intimate friends, or the solitude of their own musings. As a general rule, however, it is a bad sign when a man is afraid to show himself in open day: especially so if it be discovered that he can roam abroad in the twilight, or amid the shadows of the evening. Even in the present age the neighbours of such a man would think nothing the better of him for such conduct. In bye-gone days they might have classed him amongst those who are in league with “the powers of darkness.” And perhaps even the most charitably disposed might apply to him the language of Christ—“Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds

may be made manifest, thạt they are wrought of God." We have written the above for the purpose of introducing a few remarks on the subject of the proposed anti-church-andstate conference, to which we adverted in our last. One of the objects of that conference will be to make a moral demonstration

Y

of our principles and strength. Other ends may ultimately present themselves to the assembled delegates. This is, however, the foremost and most obvious one. Those who, from the seclusion or great elevation of their position in the community at large, have never heard anything of voluntaryism, will perhaps be compelled for the first time to inquire into the matter ; and those who have laughed at voluntaryism as an impoverished system, and derided its pretensions through a mistaken estimate of the number of its adherents, will perhaps for the first time be astonished at their own ignorance and folly.

For our part we can see no reasonable objection to such a demonstration as the one proposed. If our principles be worth maintaining; if they are, as we verily believe, scriptural ; their violation has, in our judgment, opened the flood-gates of error and superstition to an awful extent; if we hope to see the day when they will be recognised as “from heaven;" why should not every legitimate means of bringing them into notice be employed by those who have embraced them? We have hitherto acted too much as if we were ashamed of our own system. It

may have been lauded amongst ourselves ; have not liked to exhibit it in open day, and in the face of the world. Our light may have shone, but not sufficiently “before men.” We have perhaps imitated too much the nervous individual referred to above-shrinking from public notice as if that would have a killing effect upon the principles we so highly esteem. And no wonder, therefore, that those who differ from us have learnt to think and speak of voluntaries, as men are accustomed to do of those who appear to shun the day. The compulsory principle is visible enough—in acts of parliamentdistraints for tithe-enforcement of church rates—visitation charges-diocesan gatherings--and other things innumerable. Why, we ask, should not the voluntary principle SHOW ITSELF ?

but we

THE LIFE OF JOHN BUNYAN.

THIRD PERIOD-OR FROM HIS CONVERSION TO HIS

IMPRISONMENT.

Our limited space forbids our dwelling upon a deeply interestng period of Bunyan's history. We refer to his religious experience from the first moments of conversion to the time when he found "peace and joy in believing.” In general terms we alluded to this subject in our last : we cannot do more now. To do justice to Bunyan's character, and the various questions suggested by the remarkable record which he has bequeathed to the church respecting this matter, would demand a volume.

“Bunyan's conflicts” were such as few mortals have been called upon to endure. To a worldly man they wear an air of fiction; and one of Bunyan's biographers has treated them almost as such. Every regenerated man, however, can in some measure understand and account for them. Philip, in his Life of Bunyan, has grappled with the entire question. We thank him for the skill with which he has met the foes of evangelical truth, and the candour with which he has expressed his view of the whole case.

The ignorance of Bunyan, the remarkable sensibility of his conscience, the vividness of his imagination which almost realized its own conceptions, and the superstitious views which he had derived from his age, account for much that he suffered. We do not enter into the question whether he was beset beyond other men by satanic agency. In all cases of temptation, it is difficult to say how much arises from the natural or acquired tendencies of the heart, and how much from the assaults of our great adversary;” Suffice it to say then, that Bunyan was for some time the subject of perplexities, doubts, fears, awful apprehensions, fits of depression and despair, such as scarcely any besides have experienced. But eventually he found “peace through the blood of the cross.” Weeping endured for a night, but joy came in the morning. The lurid horizon, the pitchy sky broken in upon by fearful lightnings, and the quaking ground, were at last succeeded by the radiance of a glowing morn. He escaped Doubting Castle and Giant Despair, and “went on his way rejoicing."

In 1653, Bunyan joined Gifford's church in Bedford. Of this church the three women, who were instrumental to his conversion, were members. Much tenderness had been shown him, and doubtless his whole case was well known to the little flock. It was a Baptist church, and he was admitted in the usual way, namely, by immersion. But it is singular that the whole account he gives of his reception is in the following words : “After I propounded to the church my desire to walk with

66

them, I was admitted by them.” We might have expected from one so ready with his pen a further detail of the whole transaction, and are somewhat disappointed. There can be little doubt, however, that he was admitted without difficulty, in consequence of the remarkable change which took place in his demeanour.

Three years after this, or at the age of twenty-eight, he was called to the ministry. He shrank at first from an office involving so high a responsibility. For a long time he felt himself unable to comply with the pressing invitation. He deemed himself unfit for, and unworthy of, so sacred a work. He therefore declined the request made to him, at some of the more private meetings of the church, to expound the word to the people. Eventually, however, he yielded. His own account of the matter is as follows. • After I had been about five or six years awakened, and helped to see for myself both the want and worth of the Lord Jesus Christ, and also enabled to venture my soul upon him, some of the most able among the saints with us (I say the most able for judgment and holiness of life) did perceive, as they conceived, that God had counted me worthy to understand something of his will in his holy and blessed word, and had given me utterance to express, in some measure, what I saw, to others, for edification: therefore they desired and that with much earnestness, that I would be willing, at some times to take in hand, in one of the meetings, to speak a word of exhortation unto them.

“The which, though at the first it did much dash and abash my spirit, yet being still by them desired and entreated, I consented to their request, and did twice, at two several assemblies, (but in private), though with much weakness and infirmity, discover my gift amongst them; at which they not only seemed to be, but did frequently protest, as in the sight of the great God, they were both affected and comforted; and gave thanks to the father of mercies for the grace bestowed on me.

“ After this, sometimes, when some of them did go into the country to teach, they would also that I should go with them; when, though, as yet, I did not, nor durst not, make use of my gift in an open way, yet more privately, still, as I came amongst the good people in those places, I did sometimes speak a word of admonition unto them also; the which they, as the other,

me,

« PreviousContinue »