Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

attack; and, when she seemed to recover a little, they appeared again, and laid her still lower.

Then followed a removal to Bath, in the hope that a milder and drier climate might at least retard the progress of the disease, and mitigate her sufferings. There also kind friends and a skilful physician lovingly ministered to her; but before this time the false flattering hopes characteristic of the disease had lost their power, and had passed away; and thankfully she received the kindnesses as helps, not to bring about her recovery, but to ease her passage to the tomb. The Divine Worker was with her all the time, carrying on His own processes for the perfecting of the work He had begun. The graces of her renewed character were to be “made perfect through sufferings."

When able to gaze upon an extended landscape," the blushing flowers, noble trees, smiling fields, and glorious sunshine charmed her," and spoke to her of the lovingkindness of her God. When" a prisoner of the Lord” in her room in Bolton, the tree which waved before her window was both a study for her instruction and an object of admiration. “She saw it put its spring dress on, sport its summer garment, cast its faded leaves, and sleep in winter. It was like herself,” she said. Transparent and truthful, she grew increas. ingly watchful against every temptation to insincerity and hypocrisy. “She dreaded appearing even to mortals, much more to God, what she was not, and assuming more than corresponded with what she deemed her true character.” The great thought of her heart was, that it was with God she had to do. Her concern was a very different one from that of the dying Addison, saying to a profligate youth, “I have sent for you that you may see how a Christian can die;" with her rather it was how to die a Christian. And God gave her her desire; and, as she died the Christian's death, the living saw it, and laid it to heart, unwittingly to her. Her desire for the glory of God, and for the salvation of souls, now gathered strength. When, to a dear friend in Bath, she was lamenting her uselessness, that friend said, “Who best bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best.” “Yes," was her reply ; " but it is such a privilege to do something. It is only worth living for to be useful.” The salvation of her children, and other kindred, was much upon her heart,-it became a great anxiety, and earnestly did she labour for it by conversation, and letter, and prayer. Ever appreciative of acts of kindness, her long illness was a growing display of gratitude and affection. She frequently reflected on the pitiable condition of the afflicted poor who were without the comforts in which she abounded, and she wondered at the goodness which had made her “ to differ.” She was thankful for everything; thankful for those who ministered around her, and for those who lovingly ministered to her from a distance. The

prayers of the people of God, too, were frequently referred to with gratitude, and she spoke of the benefit she was deriving “in sickness and solitude" from them. There also grew within her a strong love for Christian society. Ever jealous over her own heart, and watchful lest any expression should drop from her lips savouring of insincerity, she get gladly and conscientiously availed herself of opportunities for Christian converse. Before her strength had utterly failed, we find her, with the prospect of being carried to a kind friend's house for the evening, in the interval going to ber weekly class-meeting, moved by the thought, that, if affection and pleasure would draw her to the house of a friend, duty should much more draw her to the weekly, sacred converse with the Church of God. Christian fellowship was a true joy to her, and she spoke of the "sweetness ” of communion with friends on earth. With a deep sense of personal unworthiness and shortcomings, and with her characteristic fear of self-deception, she was led through many soul-exercises to a surer and stronger trust in Christ than when she first believed. For a time, when a hymn describing a high state of grace was read to her, she would say, "That is beautiful; but it is too good for me : read a hymn for a poor sinner." At another time, when the hymn,“ Would Jesus have the sinner die ?” was read at her request, she said impressively, "He is my Saviour: I will hold to Him." The hymns she had shrunk from as “ too high" for her were gradually adopted, and at length repeated, as the testimony of her own heart. Still the sense of personal unworthiness continued. The stanza beginning, “There we shall see His face,” was often repeated to or by her. Once, after its repetition, as she lay very ill, she asked, “How can I see God ?" " It is Jesus whom you will see," was the answer. “How can I see Jesus?" she then exclaimed, and with tremulous voice she added, "I will cast myself at His feet.” But her song rose higher. With triumphant emotion she exclaimed once,

“0, what a mighty change

Shall Jesu's sufferers know !” At another time, she broke the silence by a quotation from Heber's Easter Hymn,

“Roses bloom in the desert-tomb,

For Jesus hath been ther.” When the verse, “ There is my house and portion fair," was repeated to her, she said, “Yes; and I need not mind going : the others will come after me: I shall not leave them long behind.” Subsequently, when she thought there was no one in the room, her sister overheard her saying, "All is love: I am going to Jesus: I am going to heaven: I am going home: this is not my home.”

Thus the work advanced from day to day towards beautiful com

[graphic]

ad all been need reatness of her to prepared to die. less for my

pleteness. The Word of God, too, was read, and heard, and meditated on with increasing faith, reverence, and gratitude, as the Word of Life and salvation to her, and she gloried in its truths as Divine and eternal. Communion with God Himself increased also in frequency and in hallowing efficacy, filling her with love, and peace, and joy, and rendering her countenance at times even radiant. And patience had its "perfect work.” “If grace did not support you, you could not be so patient,” said her kind and pious physician in Bath one day, as he witnessed the indications of her sufferings, and the spirit in which she bore them. “I am thankful that I never have a murmuring thought against God," she said with emphasis. On a certain day, her husband entered and found her spitting blood. “All right! all right!” she said to him; “I am as bad as ever again ; it is all as it should be.” On his continuing to pray for her recovery, she advised a better thing : “You must submit, and pray less for my recovery, and more that I may be quite prepared to die.” When a friend referred to the greatness of her sufferings, her reply was, that they had all been needed, and had all been salutary.

Thus was she made, under the hand of God, “perfect and entire, wanting nothing ;” and then the end caine. “God hath been with me in six troubles ; will He not”-she could only, after a pause, add _" in the seventh ?" He was with her " in the seventh.” On the forenoon of the day before the end, when her feet and her hands became numbed and swollen, she said to her husband, “I think, when I die it will be in a sleep. Now I want very much to sleep. If I die in my sleep, do not be troubled on that account. I am going to Jesus : I cannot doubt that I am going to Him. So kiss me, and let me say, Good-bye." As the day advanced, the pulse became imperceptible; then the face became chilled, not with a cold sweat, but a marble coldness. The vital force was retreating from the extremities, and her feebleness was extreme. Her flesh and her heart were failing, but God was “the strength of her heart, and her portion for ever.” In the afternoon she quoted the line, “Will He not His help afford ?” and added, " Tell me the verse; I cannot think of it.” Her sister repeated it, and she seemed comforted by the words,

“Will He not His help afford ?

Help, while yet I ask is given ;
God comes down, the God and Lord

That made both earth and heaven.” About eleven at night her husband bent down, and began to repeat, “My God, I am Thine.” She added with a smile, “ What a comfort divine !” And as he continued,

“What a blessing to know that my Jesus is mine ! ” she pronounced the word “know," while in her mind she evidently

, do not oubt thats the day hilled, 1

followed the words spoken. Soon after, her thoughtful concern for others gave repeated expression to the earnest entreaty, that one of her attendants should immediately take rest. This done, her senses were shut up from the objects around, and all became darkness and silence to her; and then came up vivid memories of the past, in the midst of which the mind wandered on its mysterious path,utterances being heard which told that she was concluding her earthly exercises in love and charity with all. Then her husband, and her children, and her sister seem around her again ; but it is for a last look. As she passes away, " Good-bye! Good-bye!” are her softly reiterated words; and the articulations are followed by moans -gentle, lessening moans; and these at length cease as if she had sunk into a quiet and refreshing slumber. It was the sleep in which she should “do well,”—the repose which is taken is the grave, and from whence the Lord Himself will awake her to newness of immortal life. God had said, “ It is done;" and, satisfied with the beauty which the pencil of His truth and love and grace had wrought, in the early morning of Friday, December 16th, 1864, He called the perfected spirit to Himself.

"And through the future shall undying Love

Perfect the soul of beauteousness, and shake
Decay from those she dwells with, to adorn
Through endless years the palaces of heaven.”

FAITHFUL STEWARDSHIP:
A SERMON PREACHED IN CHESTER, BEFORE THE MINISTERS OF THE

LIVERPOOL DISTRICT, MAY 16TH, 1867, AND PUBLISHED BY THEIR
REQUEST;

BY THE REV. JOSEPH HARGREAVES. "Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mys.

teries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." (1 Cor. iv. 1, 2.) In the preceding chapter the apostle guards the members of the Church at Corinth against the evil of unhallowed rivalry and partisanship in relation to ministers. They were not to glory in any man, so as to forget the nature of his office, or to lead to the depreciation of his brethren. Ministers stand on one common level, and a diversity of gifts" ought not to be made the occasion of undue partiality or contention. In this chapter the subject is continued, and the rela

tion of ministers to Christ and His Church is clearly stated. i In the present day we find, on the one hand, a disposition to magnify the ministerial office above all scriptural warrant, and, on the other, a tendency to deny its just claims, and impair its due influence. One class of persons assumes that all real Christians have an equal right to the office of preaching. Others scornfully denounce, as unauthorized intruders into the sacred office, all who do not belong to their fancied line of “apostolical" succession.

[graphic]

While carefully avoiding unnecessary and unprofitable controversy, it may be considered every way suitable, on an occasion like the present, to show who are true ministers of Christ, to explain and defend our own position, and to protest against dangerous error. The text directs our attention

I. To the office and work of Christian ministers.
II. The fidelity required in the discharge of their duties.

III. The esteem in which they ought to be held by the people under their care.

I. The ministry is an institution of Divine appointment, designed to continue through all time, and to benefit all classes of men. A minister must be called of God. No human authority whatever can give any man a right to discharge the functions of this office unless he is inwardly moved, by the Holy Ghost, to take upon himself its responsibilities and duties. Ordination is the public and formal recognition, by those in the ministry, of persons well reported of in the Church, and believed to be Divinely called to the work. The episcopal laying on of hands is not essential to scriptural ordination. Ministers who indulge in the delusion of an unbroken line of apostolical succession represent those of our own and other Churches, however eminent or successful, as intruders into the sacred office. It is unseemly arrogance in men with fantastic dresses, demure looks, and simpering boasts of "endless genealogies," to affect to despise those who have hazarded their lives for the Gospel, and have, by God's blessing, raised whole nations from the lowest barbarism to high civilization; elevating multitudes of the most degraded of savages into the dignity of men, and the happiness of Christians. These boasters of exclusive privileges would cut off from the Christian Church more than two-thirds of all the Protestant ministers and members in Christendom. The form of ordination among Wesleyan Methodists is properly Presbyterian, and is in accordance with the Word of God, with primitive usage, and with the Articles of Religion, as set forth by the Established Church. (See Article xxiii.) “We have not only as legal an authority, but one as fully scriptural, as the national clergy, to discharge all the functions of ministers of Christ, both to our own Societies and to the world;" and our people bave as valid a ministry, and as true sacraments, as any branch of the Church of Christ.

The most eminent divines, including bishops and archbishops, have freely admitted that the terms“ bishop" and “presbyter" refer to one office, and are applied to the same persons, throughout the New Testament. There is no intimation of distinct qualification, ordination, or

« AnteriorContinuar »