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her death. She ever manifested the spirit of her Master and exampler; and, especially as far as meekness is concerned, it may be emphatically said of her, that she followed Christ. She was always characterised by "humbleness of mind;" and this was seen, especially in her manner of performing her religious duties. Benevolence was another feature of her character, and one which shone with peculiar lustre. Her means of manifesting this were not extensive, yet to the tale of woe her ear was ever open; and to the wants of the needy, especially the needy of " Christ's flock," she was ever ready to minister. In zeal she was excelled by few. The kind and affectionate manner in which she reproved and warned the ungodly; and the earnestness with which she recommended religion to all who came within the reach of her voice, indicated the strength of her regard for the honour and glory of God. To the means of grace she became scrupulously attentive, and her seat in the place of worship was never vacant when her health, which was never good, permitted her to leave her house; and in her attendance upon the private means of grace she was an example worthy of universal imitation. Indeed after her conversion she gave constant proof that she had made a full surrender of herself to God; and that every feeling of her heart was absorbed in a feeling of love for Him. Her path was "as the shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day." She not only " held on her way," but regularly advanced towards perfection. Her light never ceased to shine till it lost its twinklings in the glorious effulgence of a perfect and heavenly day.
For the last few years of her life she was the subject of severe affliction, and at length the symptoms of pulmonary consumption made their appearance, and deprived her family of all hopes of her recovery. She evinced a desire to know the nature of her complaint; and when informed by her husband, who did it with considerable reluctance, she exclaimed, 'It matters not, I am in the Lord's hand, and let him do what seemeth him good;' and perceiving that he was deeply affected, she added, "Weep not—your loss will be my ' infinite gain,' hold on your way a little longer, and then we shall both be where—
14 The pain of life will all be o'er, The anguish and distressing care; Where sighing grief shall weep no more, it' And death shall never come."
During this affliction she frequently suffered the most excruciating pain; and when it appeared almost insupportable she would mildly say,
"Who suffer with our Master here,
Her replies to enquiries relative to the state of her mind were most satisfactory. She expressed herself as resting exclusively upon the atonement, and as confident that God would bring her safely through. On one occasion she concluded her reply with, 'And I shall soon be with Jesus— I can praise Him for the prospect, but I shall soon praise him without this weak body.' And again gave expression to feelings of the strongest confidence in God. It now became apparent that her end was approaching; and as life ebbed out she appeared to ripen for glory. Her overflowing heart appeared to expand and fill with the richer and more maturing influences of Divine grace. She relied upon the divine promises; she could say, when " My strength and my heart fail.God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever;" and frequently quoting the 23rd Psalm, said "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." Her complaint deprived her of her rest at night, but even then she was frequently known to be holding intercourse with God; once she awoke her husband, who lay sleeping by her side, by repeating with great earnestness and emphasis the verse—
"With Thee conversing we forget
All time and toil and care,
If thou my God art there."
The respect entertained for her by her Church associates brought her many visitors, and on many occasions the room in which they prayed and praised was "none other than the house of God, the very gate of heaven." They were astonished at the strength of her confidence, and benefited by her advice and exhortations. For some time before her dissolution she appeared to be quite delivered from the fear of death; and on referring to it on one occasion, she lifted her eyes to heaven and with deep feeling said:—
"Other refuge have I none,
And would have gone further but could not on account of her extreme weakness. To the will of God she was perfectly resigned, and appeared to give up all her ties to earth without any reluctance. A few days before her death she requested her children to be brought to her bedside; and in the most affecting manner kissed them, and commended them to the care of her heavenly Father. She now began to draw near her heavenly home, but as strength failed and her end approached, she appeared to increase in spiritual vigour. The person who attended her says, that, she invariably found her rejoicing with "joy unspeakable, and full of glory;" and hopes never to forget the lessons she learned from her. Mrs. Wood expressed a desire for her husband to be with her when she died; but said to him, if you are not then present "I will shout victory ! victory ! through the blood of the Lamb." A short time before she expired, she said, " Come Lord Jesus, come quickly;" and, as though checking herself, added, "but thy will, not mine be done." At this time her sufferings appeared very great, but amidst them she exclaimed:—
"To patient faith the prize is sure."
When she entered the valley she was supported by the rod and staff of Jehovah. And conscious that she was just passing the boundary line of time, she said to her attendant, "The Lord be with you— the Lord bless you. This is the last struggle, this is the last—I am on the verge of heaven—I shall soon be with Jesus—Farewell." And almost instantly fell asleep in Jesus. She died June 10, 1841.
THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE.
The Substance of a Sermon, delivered by Mr. ROBERT ECKETT, August the 2nd, 1841, in Pleasant Street Chapel, Liverpool, before the ANNUAL ASSEMBLY of the Wesleyan Methodist Association; and printed at its request.
"The Holy Scriptures, which are able to make wise unto salvation."—
Tim. ill. 5.
There is no subject which can engage the attention of man, more important than the question—Have we a written revelation of the will God, designed to teach us our duty to him, our conduct towards each other, and to make known the relations subsisting between us and a future state of being? The consequences dependant upon this enquiry are so important, that it ought to have our first and most serious attention.
By some persons it is asserted, that God has not given to man a direct communication of his will. Many of the rejecters of the Holy Scriptures have affirmed, that all truths needful to be known concerning God, and the duties we owe to him and to each other, may be understood without such a revelation; that God may be known and his will ascertained, by reasoning upon His works, and observing His method of governing the world. The Bible, however, claims divine authority: it professes to contain the will of God, made known by direct communications from Him; and all Christians admit the Bible to possess divine authority,—that holy men, taught by God, have therein recorded His word for the instruction of mankind.
Those who profess to believe in the divine authority of the Bible, ought to be acquainted with the evidences by which its claim to a divine origin is sustained; and should also be able to give to others the reasons which induce them to affirm the Bible to have been given by God to man. We fear, however, that this knowledge has been much neglected, and that there are many who profess to believe the Bible to be God's word, who have never examined the evidences by which its divine authority is firmly established. This is a topic not sufficiently attended to in the regular services of public instruction, and it has not received that share of attention in the usual course of Sabbath School instruction to which it is justly entitled. Although the time allotted to this service is too short, to allow us to bring forward the mass of evidence belonging to the subject which we wish now to consider, we may nevertheless, give a general outline of the reasons which induce us to believe the Bible to be a revelation given by God to man. We observe—
I. That there is no antecedent impossibility obstructing the Divine Being from revealing, or man from receiving, verbal knowledge of the divine will.— Man is an intelligent being, capable of communicating knowledge; and as he is a creature made by God, he derived his mental and physical powers from his Creator; and as the Creator must be superior to the creature, and as man is an intelligent being, the Creator of man must also be an intelligent being, who can communicate knowledge, and enable man to receive knowledge from Him; and He must also be able to give evidence to man by which he may be assured, that communications made by God did proceed from Him; and ought therefore to be humbly and thankfully received, honoured, and obeyed. We observe:—
II. God has made man a Moral Agent. A Moral Agent is a being possessing power over the quality of his own actions, and who therefore is responsible to his Maker for the use he makes of this power. Man is conscious that he has power to do good, or evil, and to forbear to do—that he does many things which he might leave undone, and that there are many things which he does not do, which he might do. We are told by some persons that man is necessitated in all his actions,—that he is always controlled, so as to be compelled by the force of circumstances, or by his own nature, to act without choice: but, plausible as are the arguments by which this hypothesis is supported, they are nevertheless most fallacious. The consciousness of every man contradicts and refutes the doctrine, which asserts, that man has not power over his own actions. If it were true, that man does not possess power by which he may choose between good and evil, so as to be able to practise either the one, or the other, according to his own will, then he would not be responsible for his actions,—he would not be an agent,—but a mere instrument or machine, acting involuntary, as necessitated, or compelled, by uncontrollable circumstances; and men therefore could be neither virtuous, nor vicious, and would neither deserve blame nor punishment, commendation or reward, for any act, however pernicious, or beneficial.
The common consent of mankind, to make laws or rules of conduct, imposing punishment on those who disregard or violate them, acknowledges that men Are moral agents, justly responsible for their conduct. If men were not moral agents, a thief ought not to be punished, a murderer ought not to be blamed. If the thief, who robs the weak defenceless traveller of his little all, and the cold-blooded cruel murderer are deserving of punishment, or of censure; it must be on the principle, that they were agents, in the perpetration of their villanies, and not mere instruments, impelled by a power which they could not control. It is then, thus, admitted, that man is a moral agent, having power over the quality of his own actions; and is therefore justly deserving either of punishment, or reward; and as the Creator of man has thus endowed him with moral power—a power by which he can yield obedience to laws suited to his nature, it is not unreasonable to suppose, that God may have given to man a verbal law for the regulation of his conduct.
It is impossible to contemplate the condition of mankind, without perceiving that it must be most important to the interests of man, for him to possess a perfect code of laws, by which he may conform his conduct to those principles of rectitude which tend to promote bis individual happiness, and the peace, and general welfare of mankind.
Some persons contend, that man may obtain sufficient knowledge of moral duty by attending to the convictions of his own mind;—they assert, that Conscience alone is sufficient to teach man his duty, without the aid of a verbal law. This assumption proceeds upon an erroneous conception of the nature of Conscience. The judgment of man's Conscience depends upon the standard of right to which it refers, and by which it decides—Conscience cannot act, unless there are rules or principles of conduct, recognised by the mind, as, possessing authority, and according to which Conscience determines the questions on which it pronounces its decisions; which will be right or wrong according to the correctness, or incorrectness of those recognised rules or principles. Hence it is well known that the decisions of Conscience, in different men, are oftentimes opposed to each other. Conscience therefore requires to be directed by correct laws, or rules of conduct ;—and we ask, how and where are those laws or rules of conduct to be obtained?
Deists have affirmed, that a correct code of laws may be obtained by attending to the will of God, as indicated, in the administrations of the Divine government of the world and by the established connection between cause and effect. Virtue, it is said, is productive of happiness, and vice of misery; whatever therefore is productive of misery, is to be avoided, as prohibited by God the Governor of the world; and whatever is promotive of happiness, is to be followed and practised, as commanded by Him; and thus, it is said, men may obtain sufficient knowledge by which to regulate the whole of their conduct. To this hypothesis there are several objections.
1. Supposing we were to admit it to be possible, by the process of observing and reasoning upon, the divine government of the world and the connection between cause and effect, to ascertain the will of God in reference to the duties required to be fulfilled by man,—We then ask, what proportion of mankind possesses the qualifications requisite to make correctly those observations, and deductions? It must be admitted, that comparatively very few persons, if any, are competent to such a task.
2. If we were even to admit, that some persons would be competent to the task, before referred to, yet even to them a large portion of life would be passed, before the rule of conduct could be ascertained, and new facts in the administration of the divine government, and new observations upon the connection between cause and effect, and changes in the physical condition of men, and in the circumstances in which they are successively placed, would tend to alter the conclusions to which they had formerly arrived, so as constantly to involve them in doubt and perplexity. Thus even under the most favourable circumstances, this method appears to be a very unsatisfactory mode of ascertaining a sufficient rule by which to regulate human conduct.
8. We observe also, that supposing moral philosophers, by longcontinued observation of the divine government of the world, and of the beneficial, or baneful results of certain acts, could lay down rules for the government of the conduct of mankind—yet we ask—by what authority could they require men to observe their rules? Human laws can operate only within a much lesser circle than that which embraces the entire class of moral duties. Sympathy and benevolence towards the oppressed, distressed, afflicted, and helpless, and love to the whole human family are moral duties, but *hey cannot be