صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

put some lights into a drawing which I had finished some months before; and even so late as half past six o'clock he told me to put up his own drawing of Staffa, in order that he might look at it.

At half past eleven at night, the thermometer having fallen considerably, I shut the window, and told him my reason. In a minute he called me to his bedside, told me to keep a good fire for myself, but to open all the windows and doors as much as I could bear. He then complained of great embarrassment in his respiration, and expressed a doubt whether he should get through the night.

I made some parting observations. He rejoined, "I will not make speeches; but I have two things to say."

The first was an affectionate farewell to myself. In reply, I reminded him of the superior satisfaction he possessed of having promoted my happiness, not only in this world, but also, as I trusted, in the world to come.

He answered meekly, "It was not I." Here he was interrupted by coughing. When he was again quiet I reminded him that he had another thing to say, and begged him to take the earliest opportunity of doing so. He then added, "The second is soon said. Christ is all in all to me. I have no hope but in him. He is indeed all in all.”

I quoted "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." He said, "They do comfort me. There is no darkness. I see Jordan, and the heavenly Joshua passing over dry shod."

Throughout the night, when awake, he was perfectly calm and collected. At his request I read the fifteenth chapter of the 1st Corinthians; and at a later period he begged me to repeat texts, which I did from time to time. He frequently asked whether I was cold or tired; made inquiries as to whether I was adequately clothed, and proved, in various ways, that he retained his faculties, and his characteristic solicitude for others. He also directed me what medicines to give him, how to prepare them, altering the quantities, and making medical observations from time to time on his state.

At ten minutes to two he said, "You see it will not do ;" and repeatedly urged me to go to rest," as I must be tired," promising to waken me when he came to the last!

At ten minutes past three he left a parting message for Theodore, directing him always to pray to God. He then begged me not to make him speak, as it would cause him to go sooner. A minute after, he said in a quick, lively tone, and with a smile of joy:

"I am going now: I shall soon sleep." "And you will wake again?"


Day beginning to dawn, he looked out of the window; and I remarked

"What a glorious day is dawning on you, my dearest !"

He assented with a look of joy.

I said, "There will be no sun and no moon there; for the Lamb will be the light thereof." Looking fixedly before him, he murmured, "Christ," "angels," "beautiful," "magnificent," "delightful;" and then turning to me, with a look as if re-assuring me, "Indeed it is." At one time he said, "This suffering is little to what Christ suffered on the cross."

I quoted, "But our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

A few minutes afterwards he said, "I thank God!" And these were the last connected words which he spoke.

I also read several texts, to which he assented either by word or sign. I continued to do so at intervals so long as he breathed; but he soon ceased to respond, though he must have heard them, as he gave the following sign of consciousness.

At ten minutes past four, being tired of standing, I removed to the opposite side, and sat down on the bed. He missed me immediately, and, following the sound of my voice as I continued repeating texts, turned his head with great effort towards me, and, grasping my hand, gave me a dying look.

His hold relaxed immediately; and he gave no further sign of consciousness, except occasionally turning his eyes to me. He continued to breathe till twenty-three minutes past four, when he slept in Jesus.

What a peaceful close to an active and faithful life! How completely the fear of death was taken away! How thoroughly all regrets at his early doom, at prospects so bright and so suddenly overcast, at so abrupt and final a termination to all his labours, and studies, and projects for the benefit of his fellow-creatures, were quenched in the anticipation of approaching glory!

Does it not prove the justice of his favourite position, that, "if religion was any thing, it must be every thing"? and bear out the conclusion of the celebrated William Grimshaw, addressed to Mr. Romaine, in the year 1763, "When I die, I shall then have my greatest grief and my greatest joy; my greatest grief that I have done so little for Jesus; and my greatest joy, that Jesus has done so much for me?"

This was no passing or evanescent feeling. One day he met Dr. Chambers in consultation at the house of a patient; and, having alluded to his approaching death, Dr. Chambers

I quoted "Those that sleep in Jesus will God kindly answered "that he ought not to despond, for that he bring with him.”

"He will."

Thinking he was going immediately, I said, "Lord Jesus, receive his spirit."

This he repeated after me three or four times, and also some other things, of which I only caught the words "God," "Christ," "triumph.'

would be quite well yet." Dr. Hope stopped him with an assurance that he needed not to be thus cheered, for that he was well aware of his condition; that, besides, the nature of Dr. Chambers' communication was not cheering, for he should be sorry to be detained long from his heavenly inheritance, and to exchange its prospect for the toils of his profession.


A Sermon*,

BY THE REV. F. B. ASHLEY, Vicar of Wooburn, Bucks.

2 CHRON. xxix. 11.

"Be not now negligent; for the Lord hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye

should minister unto him, and burn incense."

HEZEKIAH lamented the desolations that existed, and directed this pathetic address and exhortation to the priests and Levites. He would have them stirred up to increased exertions in cleansing and adorning God's temple. There was filthiness to be taken away, incense to be burned, and burnt offerings to be made unto the God of Israel. Now we are called together to-day from our respective spheres of labour, where we have a spiritual temple to serve, by holding forth the word of life, by pointing to the "one oblation once offered," and by the incense of prayer burning in our hearts: so the subject of the Christian ministry generally may furnish us with profitable matter for contemplation.

Each of us, I doubt not, must be painfully sensible that much remains to be done: much corruption cleaves to ourselves; and we are ever liable to lose a sense a deep and due sense of our great responsibility, while multitudes of precious souls in our parishes need to be converted to God, and cleansed from the filthiness of the flesh and spirit, that they may be as "polished stones" in Christ's temple. Therefore every stirring call in the word of God to ministerial diligence and duty may well fall on our hearts as from the lips of our divine Master: "Be not now negligent; for the Lord hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense."

The pulpit is an awful place on usual occasions, and I feel it not to be less so now; but, though under a deep sense of my own unworthiness, I would in all humility and simplicity seek to speak every word to the honour of our Lord. May he be present, and bless the consideration of the subject to us, so that we may partake more of his Spirit, and give ourselves more fully to that blessed and glorious work, in which we are labourers together with God.

"The Lord hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him." All God's children are called "to serve him ;" and this is

* Preached in Wycombe church, on Wednesday, May 31,

1848, at the visitation of the venerable the archdeacon of


no light matter; but there is an especial sense in which the minister of God is "chosen to serve him." He is outwardly "chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them" in the church: he is inwardly brought to it; for he declares that he "thinks in his heart that he is truly called;" that he "trusts that he is inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon him this office and ministration." Thus is he peculiarly "not his own :" he is set apart by the church to the service of the temple, that he may give himself wholly to this office," "and draw all his cares and studies this way." He is not only called to be a saint, but to be a messenger and "servant of Jesus Christ;" "separated unto the gospel of God," by him who "counted him faithful, putting him into the ministry." Such is the real minister. He must be one under the influence of God the Holy Spirit. External work may be done by the natural man; but spiritual work must be effected by living principles. If spiritually dead, he does not feel the weight of responsibility: if spiritually blind, he does not see the danger in which unconverted souls are: he must have felt his own need, and experienced the grace Christ, and thence long to tell others of him. He must have tasted of the love of Jesus, to have a yearning love for his fellow-sinners' souls. He must have an experimental acquaintance with the faithfulness, power, and transcendent grace, and all-sufficiency of Christ, ere he can speak with feeling, with power, or with truth, of his Redeemer's unsearchable riches to others. Without this he is but a blind guide, a sign-post without arms. O, my brethren, are we not in a position of which we need well ponder the solemnity and responsibility? Are we not apt to think too lightly of our post, "chosen to stand before God and serve him?" And, when we think of the awful consequences to ourselves and others, if we are ignorant, faithless, or indolent, and miscarry, can we too seriously, too deeply, too anxiously bethink ourselves of the peculiarity of our office, and our solemnly affecting situation? It is, I think, a good plan, and one I have no doubt adopted by many, to read over, to study prayerfully, the ordination-service at least once in every year, in order to sustain and deepen our apprehension of our station, duties, and responsibility.

Our position, or calling, leads us next to consider its object. The object of our office is the glory of God in the salvation of sinners. Fallen men are utterly depraved and lost, slaves to the world and the prince of this world, unable to do or even think what is

Father, was accomplished in the life and sufferings of the Eternal Son, and is applied with power and energy by God the Holy Ghost. It is divine in counsel, divine in the justice which it exacts, divine in the mercy which it proclaims, and divine in its saving and sanctifying effects. It is "the gospel of the grace of God," the free, rich, sovereign grace and unmerited love, which you and I are commissioned to declare faithfully, boldly, and affectionately to our fellow-sinners. We are to declare it faithfully; for we are stewards of the mysteries of God, and will be called to an account. We are to preach it with all boldness; for many will not endure sound doctrine," and "the fear of man bringeth a snare." We are to deliver it affectionately; for we are but frail, weak, earthen vessels ourselves, and may well have feeling, sym


out of which we profess to believe we have, by the grace of God, been recovered, and, while we are faithful to their eternal interests, we must "speak the truth in love;" while we seek that the word may be as an arrow to the soul, are energetic and earnest, and close and wrestle with the doubts and difficulties of the mind and conscience, we must not be wanting in persuasive arguments, fervent beseechings, and affecting addresses to the heart.

right from good and acceptable motives; and the object of the ministry is to restore such to the favour and image of God, to direct them to the ark of Christ's church, to bring them into the fold of the chief Shepherd and Bishop of souls, that in him they may be children of God and heirs of heaven. It is not only to "bring them into the fold, but to feed them in the fold, and to lead them onward to the heavenly fold." It is "to teach, premonish, to feed, and provide for the Lord's family," and "to seek for his sheep that are dispersed abroad, that they may be saved through Christ for ever." So great, so blessed, so glorious an end, that the choice it as the object of our life is the highest and holiest end for which we could live, and may I not add, the wisest? for "he who winneth souls is wise." But what is the means whereby this won-pathy, and tenderness for souls in that snare, derful result is to be effected? The effectuation of it rests solely with the Supreme; for, as "he who made the world can alone make a minister," so it is God only who can convert a sinner. But, in his infinite condescension, he employs man-unworthy vile earth -on this stupendous errand of mercy. Yes, brethren, upon us devolves the delightful labour of carrying a message of mercy to our fellow-sinners; not to speak our own words, not to devise any human methods, but to deliver our commission as faithful ambassadors, to take God's charter of salvation, and "preach the word." Leaving human systems, we are to speak all that the scripture speaks, and as the scripture speaks, in the same unqualified way, not as though we were wiser than its Author. There we find the way whereby God can be just, and yet justify him that believeth in Jesus. While man would in part or in whole have the justifying of himself, God has propounded a plan, which, while it exalts the Saviour alone, humbles, sanctifies, and saves the sinner. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John ii. 16). This is the gospel. It proclaims love from heaven, that it may produce love on earth, grateful love from man; and here is the principle of all acceptable obedience. The love of God has provided an all-sufficient atonement for sin in the sufferings and death of Jesus, and an all-perfect righteousness for the justification of the believer in the life of his dear Son. The justice of God exacted on the cross of the Holy One the penalty due to us; so that a channel is opened for his mercy to mankind, and "the kingdom of heaven opened to all believers." Here is a scheme which originated in the love of the Almighty

What an example we have of the ministerial character in 1 Thess. ii. "We were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention:" ""As we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God which trieth the hearts:" "Nor of men sought we glory;" "but we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:" "For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail." Here we see the apostle's faithfulness, and his manner, uniting the boldness of the lion with the most tender feeling-the tenderness of woman. And we must seek to follow him, as he followed Christ, in self-sacrifice, long-suffering, patience, gentleness, compassion, and holy firmness, with meekness of wisdom. Again: what an example we have of his doctrine when he says, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him; not having my own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith :" "I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified;" "for we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and our

selves your servants for Jesus' sake!" And he tells us what the effect of this course was among the Thessalonians: "The word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." Here we see the power of the Christian minister: it is to hold up Christ as the alpha and omega, the all and in all; and, as Christ lives in the heart, so Christ will be the life of our ministry.

Christ the believer is " a new creature," a new creation (kan Kris); and from Christ does he draw his life, and bring forth the fruits of the Spirit. The faith which has brought him to the Saviour purifies and sanctifies him: it leads him to sit at the feet of Jesus, and learn of him; to the sceptre of Jesus, to be ruled by him; and to the footsteps of Jesus, to follow him. Christ is "the Lord his Righteousness;" but how came he so? Because his whole life, from the manger to Calvary, was a fulfilment of every jot and tittle of the law. Therefore, his steps, his holy, faithful, self-denying example, must lead all his disciples to track the precepts of the law. Love to his Lord is the Christian,s constraining principle: the spirit of bondage is cast away, and he serves in the Spirit of adoption. His obedience and service is not a servile task-work to a hard master, but a willing, grateful, unreserved obedience, and hearty labour of love to a tender Father. He "delights in the law after the inner man ;" and thus is the decalogue transferred from tables of stone to the fleshy table of the heart*. But, though love is the principle, our hearts are deceitful; and this principle is subject to incessant variations; therefore the believer needs the law as a standard. By applying it as a rule of life he is ever kept low in his own eyes: he is not only brought to the cross, but kept there: the Saviour becomes increasingly precious to him: he is ever brought nearer and nearer to Jesus, to a closer walk with God, and a growing conformity to his image. Thus, though he is accounted righteous by the merits of Christ imputed, he walks in holiness by the grace of God in him; and, while the righteousness which justifies and saves him is perfect and imputed, the holiness which renders him meet for heaven is inward, and, though imperfect, real, and progressive.

But "wherefore then serveth the law"? The law has its scriptural and necessary uses. And, as our ministry will be dead if we put it in the place of the gospel, so will a professed gospel be uninfluential in the life if the law be neglected. The gospel, while it fulfils the types and shadows of the ceremonial law, brings out the moral law in all its original purity and spiritual extent. Its exceeding breadth, reaching to the thoughts and intents of the heart, convinces of sin. Its demand of perfect, entire, unceasing obedience shows the impossibility of by it being justified before God. Its condemning power, when manifested to the soul, drives the sinner to the Saviour. Over each one out of Christ, every unrepentant, unconverted sinner, it hangs its bitter curse: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal. iii. 10). Thus, with the accompanying grace of God, is it "the schoolmaster to lead us to Christ." The believer there finds an infinite expiation for his sin, and a divine righteousness to clothe him with acceptance before God. He offends not the infinite holiness of God by pleading the filthy rags of his own righteousness: he points to the atonement on Calvary, and pleads a fulfilled law, an immaculate, a divine obedience; and thus is the law established, magnified, and made honourable, and God's justice magnified equally with his mercy: the penalties of Preaching the word, then, is the grand the law are met, and its requirements main-means, in the hands of God, of restortained to the uttermost; so that, while the ing fallen man to holiness and happiness : believing sinner is restored to God's favour and "the word is the sword of the Spirit;" the family, all the divine attributes are manifested law humbles, the gospel comforts, and "the in fullest harmony and richest effulgence. truth sanctifies." The scripture expounded and applied, unfolded and enforced only the mind instructed, but the heart influenced; not only doctrine laid down, but led to its legitimate result in the characteris the great means of breaking down the natural man, and building up the new man. In short, the gospel is the only remedy for perishing man: the blood of Jesus, applied by the Holy Ghost can alone give peace, and reconcile the heart to God.

But this is not all: justification ever originates sanctification. If it were a mere logical matter, it might be otherwise; but it has to do with the heart rather than the mind. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." It is the work of the Holy Spirit within reconciles the heart to God and to holiness, sheds abroad the love of God, and gives the Spirit of adoption. Where the Holy Ghost dwells sanctification must proceed: hence saving faith always produces a holy life. In


* See "Church and Churches." By the rev. Dr. Mc Neil. Messrs. Hatchard.

But we are called not only to teach the "doctrine according to godliness," but to administer the sacraments ordained by Christ. These are precious means of grace, not to be lightly esteemed. In neither does the mere outward sign become necessarily the channel of grace, but in both, by faith and prayer, the richest blessing may be confidently expected. In the one we dedicate the lambs of the flock to the chief Shepherd for his blessing, and admit them into the fold to fight under his banner. In the other we have the most significant emblems of Christ crucified set before our eyes for a continual remembrance of redeeming love, and feast at his table in repentance, faith, charity, and praise. It is the place where the minister loves to meet his people; but it were a profanation of the sacrament if we urged any to the table without the work of grace in their hearts. Here is manifested the disciples' continuance in the faith, and we see the number of faithful members of Christ; and, alas! who can look to his speculum gregis, and without weeping compare his list of communicants with the number of never-dying souls in his parish, of whom he must give an ac


Our admirable liturgy, too, should not be passed over; for there our people are led to pour out their hearts in devotion. None can enter cordially into its language without feeling how deeply it is imbued with the spirit of scripture; how low it lays the sinner; how high it exalts the Saviour, pleading his blessed name as our only and all-sufficient hope, and how earnestly it implores the grace of God's Spirit for newness of life. As has been said by one, and he not of our own church," the evangelical purity of its sentiments, the chastened fervour of its devotion, and the majestic simplicity of its language combine to place it in the very front rank of uninspired compositions." So that as our articles ought to be the standard of our doctrine, and our homilies the standard of our teaching, we may well take our liturgy as the

standard of our devotion.

Again: : the various offices in our church, baptism, marriage, churching, and burial, all form so many links between the minister and his flock. If lightly performed, they weaken the ties of religion, and, with the poor and ignorant degenerate into little better than a mere superstition; and, if the party subsequently becomes a subject of grace, that church is disesteemed in which they were suffered to enter on solemn duties as a mere form. But, when the office is previously explained, and the service intelli

Robert Hall.

gently entered into, and also impressively administered, such become admirable helps to connect the people with the sanctuary, spiritualize their minds, and lead them to look to God in every thing. Preparation for the rite of confirmation, as also for partaking of the holy sacrament of the Lord's supper, form especial and precious reasons for seeking to sow the word in the hearts of our charge, and endeavouring to melt and win them to the Saviour.

The messenger of Jesus Christ, whose efficiency is of such everlasting consequence to the souls of men, has need, and is called to use all means for touching the hearts of his people, for awaking the dead in sin, consoling the penitent, directing the inquirer, raising the fallen, and "for the perfecting the saints" (Eph. iv. 12), that they may wax stronger in faith, and ripen in fruitfulness. And, though this spiritual result is the object of our ministry, external means which conduce to this end are not to be neglected. As a building needs scaffolding, so a church needs ordinances and discipline. And methinks the discipline of the established church might be more applied with advantage. As we are not to over-magnify the ecclesiastical polity of the church, and place it in the stead of Christ for salvation, or substitute the external form for the inward principle, or the fulfilment of the ordinance for the devotion of the heart; so we should not run into the opposite extreme of undervaluing the sacraments, and the authority of an apostolical episcopacy, and of leaving all rules and order to be utterly disregarded. A sound mind sees beauty in order and regularity; and loose churchmanship will never make matured and established Christians. Parochial discipline, too, if kindly, gently, and judiciously brought into action, will be a happy means, tending to make each individual feel his position in the church, the high and holy profession he makes, his duties and responsibilities, his blessed privileges, if faithful, and his awful danger, if with " a name to live he is dead."

But, besides the regular official duties of the minister, much depends upon his personal intercourse with his flock. He is to be instant in season and out of season ; to testify not only publicly, but "from house to house," "repentance towards God, and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ;" not to confine his visits to those in ease and comfort, but go bible in hand amid scenes of wretchedness and degradation, where only Christian love can carry him; forget self, "and go after that which is lost." He must go in and out among his people, know them and

« السابقةمتابعة »