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REVIEWS The Final Triumph of God's Faithful Servants. A Sermon preached in Stepney Meeting House, on the morning of Lord's Day, June 18, 1843, on occasion of the lamented death of the Rev. Joseph Fletcher, D.D. By R. Wardlaw, D.D. Το which is prefixed the Funeral Address. By H. F. Burder, D.D. London, J. Snow. p. 52.
This is a work which will be read with deep interest, by the religious public generally, and especially by the numerous friends, and admirers of the estimable man, whose lamented death has called it forth. Dr. Fletcher was no ordinary man ; and his removal has produced a chasm in our denomination, which will not easily be filled up. The occasion was adapted to elicit the highest powers of the preacher's mind, and to touch the finest chords of feeling in his heart. The departure of such a man as Dr. F., after a long, and honorable, and eminently successful ministerial career—the removal of an intimate and beloved friend of thirty years--are no common occurrences; and could scarcely fail to awaken trains of thought at once elevating and consoling. The discourse produced a deep impression when delivered from the pulpit; and the reader of it will not be disappointed. It is beautiful and impressive; full of fine thoughts and felicitous illustrations of scripture; and throughout there is a tone of hallowed feeling which touches
The discourse is founded on Isaiah xxv. 8 : “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth; for the Lord hath spoken it.” The passage is explained as relating to the period of the resurrection of the just. When the prediction of the seventh verse shall have had its accomplishment, and when the glory and felicity resulting from the universal diffusion and influence of divine truth shall have lasted its promised time, then cometh the end as described in the words of the text: “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces, &c.” The victory referred to is then illustrated as consisting of the destruction of death : the cessation of sorrow : the vindication of character. “ The victory and the destruction will be, 1, conspicuous; 2, perfect; 3, eternal.” These particulars are illustrated in a beautiful and eloquent manner.
The following passage is in Dr. Wardlaw's happiest style of scripture illustration; he possesses the rare power of at once seizing the exact figure, and catching the spirit of a scripture text.
“The image in our text is a very interesting and beautiful one: “ The Lord God shall wipe away tears from off all faces.” It is the image of a kind and benignant father, delighting to make his children happy, putting a perpetual termination to all their sorrows. By every heart of sensibility, it is tenderly experienced, how large a portion of the pleasure of having our tears wiped away, arises from attachment to the relation or the friend whose hand performs the office of sympathizing kindness. It is not the mere drying of the tears; it is the hand that does it, that constitutes the pleasure. The pleasure springs from the assurance of its being the expression of the love of a beloved object. What fond wife or fond husband has not felt this, when the starting tear has been kissed away by the tenderness of conjugal affection? What loving child of a loving father has not felt this, when, in the hour of sickness or of trial, that child has known, by experience, how it is that “a father pitieth his children;" when, with the tear trembling in his own eye, the pitying parent has wiped away those of the gentle sufferer? Is there a child in the family of
your lamented pastor, and my lamented friend, that will not, from sweet recollection, set his and her seal to the truth of the sentiment? Now, it is the hand of a Father's love of a Divine Father's love--that shall dry his children's tears ; and when they are then and thus wiped away by a Divine hand, who shall ever be able to open the fountains of sorrow again? “There shall be no more pain, neither sorrow nor crying; for the former things are passed away.""
We cordially recommend the discourse to our readers. It will richly repay a careful perusal. We hasten to notice the brief sketch of the departed which is appended to it.
Dr. Fletcher was born at Chester, on the 3rd of December, 1784. In 1801 he was received into church fellowship at Queen Street Chapel, Chester. And in May, 1803, he was received as a student at Hoxton Academy. Previously to his entrance into that institution, he preached frequently in the villages and smaller towns of Cheshire, where the estimable character of his father, together with his own youthfulness, and the excellence of his addresses, even at that early period of his course, rendered him a general favourite. We happen to know that his first sermon was preached at Middlewich in that county, to a few pious persons, who then worshipped in a room. After the service, he repaired to the house of an elderly female relative, who resided in the neighbourhood; and having, in the course of conversation, disclosed the fact that he had been preaching, the youthful herald of the cross received a severe reprimand for his presumption in daring to enter a pulpit. The good lady's notions of propriety were shocked. How little did she imagine what an honourable and distinguished career awaited her youthful relative!
In October, 1804, Mr. F. went to the University of Glasgow, as a student on Dr. Williams' exhibition ; and in May, 1807, he became the pastor of the Congregational Church at Blackburn in Lancashire. There “he remained till 1823, and during the latter and larger portion of the sixteen years which he spent there, he discharged, along with his pulpit and pastoral engagements, the duties of the theological chair of the Blackburn Academy, which was then instituted under his tutorship.” Greatly was he beloved by the people of his first charge; and after his removal to London, his occasional visits to the scene of his earlier labours were hailed with delight by his numerous friends there. Well do we remember one of those occasions. The Dr. had preached a beautiful and heart-stirring discourse from 2 Cor. v. 14. “For the love of Christ constraineth us,” and was seated in the vestry after the service; when so great were the numbers, who were anxious to speak to him, that the two doors of the vestry were thrown open, and the crowds passed through, entering at one door and retiring by the other. It was touching to witness the cordial greetings that took place, and to hear the many inquiries which the Dr. made, after the health and prosperity of his former flock; all whose faces, and names, and families, and circumstances, seemed to be quite familiar to his mind. The scene presented a beautiful example of sincere affection between a pastor and his charge.
In 1823 Dr. F. removed from Blackburn, and entered on the important sphere of ministerial labour, which he so long and
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.
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