« PreviousContinue »
afterwards more fully developed, even then discovered itself: his powers of description and narrative rivetted the attention of all who listened to him; and his schoolfellows were willing to oblige him in anything upon the condition that he would thus amuse them. Many still live who can attest the accuracy of my present statement. I lost sight of him for three years before I went to the university; there I found him, still the same amiable, virtuous, and interesting person-and likely to distinguish himself in academic honours. This he did in 1817, when he took his degree as ninth wrangler, and bearing also a high character for classical attainments. The following year he was admitted into holy orders. Retiring to the country village of Clare, in Suffolk, he devoted himself to the work of a parochial minister; at the same time receiving a few pupils into his house. It was here, in the conscientious pursuit of his spiritual duties, that a change passed over his opinions and his heart; without any human instructor, by the light of God's own word and Spirit, he was guided into those truly scriptural, evangelical, and protestant principles which he subsequently maintained with so much stedfastness, and so much purity and talent. As these principles deepened in his mind, he was impressed with an earnest desire to devote himself more exclusively to the blessed work of an evangelist; and, though the most flattering prospects opened before him in the way of pupils, and several persons of distinction were anxious that he should educate their sons, he declined all these tempting offers, and entered on one of the most extensive and laborious parochial cures in the vicinity of the metropolis. This was in the opening of the year 1824. From that
time our intimacy ripened into closer friendship; and I have subsequently had the privilege of enjoying his confidence to the sad moment of his departure from among us.
As curate of Chelsea, his indefatigable zeal, his attractive manners, his persuasive, simple eloquence, and his scriptural fidelity, soon attracted the attention not only of his parishioners, but of many others; and at length, in the year 1830, greatly to the satisfaction of a numerous and attached people, he was presented to the new church of the Holy Trinity, Upper Chelsea. There his character, his principles, and his peculiar talents fully displayed themselves: for five years he pursued a course of unrivalled usefulness; drawing around him the most influential congregation in London or its neighbourhood. Nobles, peers, commoners, tradesmen, and the poor, alike hung upon his fascinating discourses. And what was their peculiar charm? His manner was calm and sedate; his voice was feeble, yet wherever it reached it rivetted attention; there were no high flights of eloquence, no rhetorical flourishes, no meretricious embellishments-certainly no puerilities, nor conceits-he never stooped to such means to produce a momentary effect. The charm of his preaching was its simple truth, its evangelical fidelity: he preached the truth in love; he was affectionate, earnest, persuasive; his style was chaste—I might almost say elegant-and he had a singular power of adapting the word of God to the peculiar habits, feelings, and circumstances of his auditors. Abstract truth by the touch of his pen became a living and practical principle, comprehensible and individual, so that each man felt himself addressed. Wonderful, certainly, was his suc
cess at that period; and few men could have sustained the weight of applause which was laid upon him, with such unaffected modesty and humility, as he did. But how inscrutable are the ways of God! Just when hundreds of the great and the noble were crowding around him-not only in his church, but in his more private and domestic instructions (for no one despised the character of a mere popular preacher more than he did, and no one took a higher standard of parochial and daily labour)—just then it was that it pleased God, in his inscrutable providence, to suspend him in the midst of his usefulness. His frame, always feeble and delicate, gave way to his incessant labours; and the seeds of that fatal disease which has at length carried him off, then made their too evident appearance. I rejoice that I have preserved a most beautiful letter which I received from him at that interesting period; a letter which displays his mind and spirit, his glowing love and faith and hope, his ineffable peace, and his profound humility, far better than any language, however eulogistic. It was dated from Brighton, Nov. 7, 1835, when he was on the eve of seeking the milder climate of Devonshire, for the winter. I give it here almost entire. I force the privacy of Christian friendship for the good and comfort of the church of God.
"MY DEAR FRIEND,-I feel your very kind and affectionate letter much. I assure you I did not need you to remind me of your valued promise, for it has been often, and more especially of late, upon my mind. My state of health, however, is probably what would be called not one of immediate danger; that is, by God's blessing, upon mild climate of Devonshire (we hope to go to Torquay next week)
I may creep through the winter; but the disease in the lungs is considered by the medical men too far established to allow them to speak confidently of any lengthened period; the symptoms having now, without a single day's intermission, lasted since this time twelvemonth. I merely mention this because you. desire to know exactly how I am -and yet, after all, it does not tell you; it says how the body is, but, thanks be to God, the body is not I. I can truly, and I trust gratefully say, that I never was better; that in the fullest enjoyment of Chelsea work (and you know something of what that feeling means) I never experienced such unbroken peace and uninterrupted comfort. I do not even want to be up and doing,' which for me is wonderful, but I am content to be laid aside, and to be taught what I have been long teaching.
'It was an often expressed desire of mine to die in the midst of my work, but I now feel glad that the choice was not left to me, and am truly thankful for the quiet season which I hope by God's mercy lies before me.
"I trust that both you and I, my very dear friend, have long known something of the value and of the strength of the promises, but even you can, I think, hardly tell what adamant I find them now: I think of death, and for a moment tremble; and then of him in whom we are made more than conquerors; and really I am almost surprised to find how entirely the sting of death is drawn. I am afraid of presumption; and, perhaps when I come into close quarters with the great enemy, I shall find him more powerful than I feel him now. And yet I cannot think it: to be in Christ-O, the blessed reality!-is and must be the strong tower;' and, seeking all in him, I am per
Such was this good man's preparation for death eight years ago; during that chequered period of his life which has since elapsed, he has only at times been able partially to resume his labours. But his Lord has showed that he had not forgotten his faithful servant; for then it was that a distinguished nobleman, unsought and unasked, presented him with the rectory in which he has spent his declining years, and drawn his last breath.
He is now no more! And how did he die? How interesting to the Christian are the dying moments of a good man! That little cloud of fear which he seemed to anticipate in the nearer approach of death, was entirely dissipated, and the words of my text are a perfect picture of
my dear friend's last moments"He has entered into peace. They shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness." On Wednesday, July 19, he became suddenly worse: he laboured under great bodily suffering then, which was not generally the case during his long illness. At the
close of that day he exclaimed— "Great bodily suffering, sometimes agony, yet all is peace, perfect peace, remember that; I am enjoying it now, I know I shall throughout eternity; there is no cloud, no doubt on my mind-God is allsufficient." And then he repeated with great fervour, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." Yes," he added, I this is a faithful saying, or what should I do at this hour?" On Thursday morning early, he I was so feeble that he could not speak, but he waved his hand in token of farewell to his friends; and drawing his breath heavily twice, his spirit departed. So calm was his departure, that the hand which was beneath his head never moved. He fell asleep in Jesus. "He rests in his bed;" his winding-sheet is wrapped around him; the habiliments of death are upon him; the coffin has not yet closed over him; but I have heard that his manly countenance never looked more calm, more benevolent. He will soon sleep in the grave, and there will he remain until the last trumpet sounds, and then he shall leap forth from his prison-house, at the joyful summons of his Lord! His 66 spirit now walks in its uprightness;" sweet, high, and holy is the intimacy he enjoys; he holds converse with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the dead who have died in the Lord.
IN resuming the subject of our Justification before God, by Faith, I proceed to develope a second observation, viz.: that this very mode of justification was necessary both for the glory of God and the restoration of man. Of course the term " 'necessary" is used in a subordinate and limited sense. I do not mean to imply or to lay myself open to the charge of incautiously assuming, that, in the illimitable range of the Almighty's unknown powers, there could be no other mode by which he could lift up a fallen creature to holiness and happiness. All that is meant is this: that taking all the elements of the case into consideration-the revealed character of God, the equity of his government, the due vindication of it, the natural character and relations of man, the motives that are likely to work effectually on him, and the way in which they do work-there is no other way; and it is impossible for the sound reason and ingenuity of man to point out any other way in which the full restoration of the sinner can be readily and satisfactorily accomplished but through a justification by faith.
sented to the human mind; that it lies at the root of the whole system of morals and religion; and that instead of being discussed and settled by a few smart cross-questions, it presents to the most acute intellect large considerations which may be followed out in almost endless ramifications, and from which the most deeply-philosophic mind will rise humbled and improved.
In the first place, it would seem consistent with sound reason, that in a world of perfect moral beings, under the government of an infinitely wise, powerful, and benevolent Creator, the true principle of conduct must be implicit faith, an entire conviction of the wisdom and goodness of that powerful sovereign, and a full and unreserved reliance upon him in every moment, and under every circumstance and phase of existence. Any other
state of mind would be rebellion. The entrance of mistrust towards the moral character and government of God is essentially the entrance of sin, and sin of the deepest dye; a conception entertained and cherished and acted on, of the want of perfect justice and kindness, of the absence of that equitable impartiality and of a pure outgoing of all necessary care and tenderness towards the creature. So to think, is to undeify the Deity, is to rob him of his glorious attribute of perfect goodness, is to bring down a gloom over the creature's own faith, and to veil in the mists of uncertainty and doubt those countless paths of God's wide-acting providence, which should be ever sunny, shining, and distinct. is impossible, after the establish- › ment in the mind of the true thought of God, to conceive there
after of the justifiable entering in of the idea of the partiality, waywardness, neglect, or undue severity of that God. If it arise, it must be the fomes of revolt, the nucleus of a future hell. No! Surely it is essential to the very nature of the rule of a perfect being, that when the highest amidst all the varied range of created intelligences speeds forth to the least explicit and most mysterious of all biddings, he must go with the full, filial, and affectionate assurance of the purity, wisdom, and kindness of the purpose and the plan. It must be so in a world of light; and even in the regions of penal infliction, in the dark and devious paths of this wilderness to which fallen man has been driven out, the obedience and happiness of the agent will be in proportion to his trust. So Joshua swept from the earth the Canaanitish nations, till "he left not one that breathed." So
the angel waved the wand of instant death over the Assyrian host, and over the myriads of the Egyptian first-born, or the 70,000 of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, when their sovereign, in a moment of royal caprice, numbered the people. Let the objector look, then, at the outset, on this fact-All worthy obedience in the whole range of moral creation, is by faith. Instead of faith being a secondary principle-a by-play motion which may or may not be called into action-it is that implicit reliance, that unshaken and unshakeable confidence which lies at the root of all subordinate and creature good. Duty lives in it and by it; so that on the entrance of the faintest shade of any other feeling, it would wither and die. The cheerfulness of obedience is nothing but an emanation of the heart-enshrined principle of filial trust.
once to understand the nature of the evil which has entered into and ruined the human race. It was mistrust-the failure in implicit confidence the introduction of the element of doubt as to the pure, disinterested benevolence of the Creator. When the Almighty placed his new-formed creature in the Garden of Eden, surrounded with every tree that was beautiful to look upon and good for food-with every needful and ample natural enjoyment-he associated with those enjoyments, naturally and almost necessarily, a test of real obedience ; and when the fallen and wicked spirit, who kept not his first estate, desired to seduce man to an act of disobedience, he saw sagaciously that the true preliminary to it must be an act of mistrust. He misrepresented, therefore, the yet untried experience of evil, and its difference from good, as if God were in fact withholding from man that which it would be profitable and elevating in the scale of being to know; and he endeavoured to produce the impression that it was in the nature of God to depress his creature, and keep him back from a wider knowledge and a loftier exaltation. "God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." He evidently succeeded; the temptation told; the falsehood was admitted; the child-like confidence in the Creator's benevolence had vanished. The moment of mistrust was the moment of revolt. Had there never clouded the creature's mind the gloomy and distressing suspicion of the Creator's kindness, there would have been no other view entertained of his prohibition but the assurance that it must be equally wise and kind with the most liberal of his permissions: but the instant that the
We are enabled, therefore, at prohibition was imagined to origi