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asked, for his own satisfaction, "if she was afraid to die 1" She replied, "I have no fear of death." About ten o'clock the same night, her leader called once more, and found her quite cheerful, to whom she said, "A few more storms, and it will be all over. It will be eternal glory." After this she dozed until about half-past two o'clock in the morning, when she sweetly fell asleep in Jesus.
She died on the 9th of October, 1841, in the 27th year of her age.
'* Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."
MEMOIR OF THE LATE MRS. MARY MABBOTT,
By Mr. W. Jones.
Religious Biography is intended to give exercise to the tenderest affections of the human heart—to impart a chronicled perpetuity to the virtues of departed saints—and to exhibit the reality and efficacy of the Christian religion. It is hoped that some of these objects will be accomplished by the following brief memorial.
The late Mrs. Marv Mabbott, whose maiden name was Potterton, was born at Hough, near Grantham, Lincolnshire, Feb. 5, 1803. Her parents were industrious cottagers. Little is known of the early period of her life. She was considered a person of good moral character before she was experimentally acquainted with the renewing power of Divine grace.
In the commencement of 1826, whilst witnessing the afflictions of a portion of the family, with whom she lived as a servant, she became the subject of religious impressions, and was induced to examine her state in reference to a coming eternity. From this time she became an earnest seeker of salvation, and attended the preaching of the Gospel among the Wesleyan Methodists. In 1828 she joined the Wesleyan Society; and in the course of the following year obtained the knowledge of "redemption through the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of sins." In May, 1830, she was united in marriage to Mr. Mabbott. They went to reside at Spalding, and continued there about thirteen months. From Spalding they removed to Setchey, in Norfolk, where they lived nine years. In June, 1840, they removed to Gaywood, near Lynn; our sister then left the Wesleyan Society, of which she had always been a consistent member, and joined the Wesleyan Methodist Association. Her husband had been a member of the Association almost from its commencement in Lynn; and he is now an accredited Local Preacher among us. He states, in allusion to their leaving the Conference Connexion to join the Association, "that neither of them have had any reason to regret taking that step; but rather to rejoice that they had the privilege of belonging to a body of Christians with whom they have enjoyed superior advantages, which they duly esteemed." The subject of this memoir had been
in a delicate state of health for several years, but more especially for the last six months of her life. She caught a violent cold towards the close of last January. On the 3rd of February she attended her class for the last time.
Her affliction, which proved to be typhus fever, was severe in its operation, and soon dislodged the deathless spirit from its 'earthly house.' During her illness she was composed and submissive; and though the fever sometimes rendered her insensible, yet when she had the command of her reasoning powers she would exclaim, * Praise the name of Jesus! He is precious!' When informed that there was no hope of her recovery, she meekly acquiesced in the will of her heavenly Father, and resigned her husband and five children into his hands. When some one asked, 'Can you rely on the merits of Jesus?' She replied, 'I feel him to be an all-sufficient Saviour.' When I visited her on the Tuesday preceding her death, she was unable to articulate with distinctness, but appeared to possess perfect peace of mind, and took an evident interest in the petitions that were offered up at the throne of grace. After this, she seemed to rally a little, but it was only for a time. When asked, 'if she felt safe and happy?' she answered, 'How can I sink with such a prop, as bears the world and all things up?' The last time she spoke was about half-past eleven on the Sunday evening. Her husband asked, 'Are you happy?' When she replied, 'Yes. Bless his name! perfectly happy!' After this she lost the power of speech, and gradually sunk away until two in the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 28, 1842, when her freed spirit entered the paradise of God. She was in the 39th year of her age. Her death was improved by the writer, in a sermon from 1 Cor. xv. 55—57.
Our departed sister was mild, sedate, and unassuming in her spirit and deportment. Although her residence was a considerable distance from the chapel, she was seldom absent from her class, and attended the various ordinances of the sanctuary as often as health and circumstances would permit.
If sensible things are signs of our spiritual state, the general arrangement and appearance of her house, would serve as an index to the order and sanctity of her mind. The estimation in which she was held will appear from the following extract of a letter, written by a lady, with whom she lived nine years, and addressed to her bereaved husband :— "I am indeed deeply grieved, to hear the mournful intelligence that has just reached me—the death of your dear and valuable wife. I do most sincerely sympathise with you on this very trying occasion, and trust you are supported under it. She was an excellent wife and mother, and her loss cannot easily be made up."
"Calm on the bosom of thy God,
Fair spirit! rest thee now!
His seal was on thy brow.
Soul to its place on high!
No more may fear to die.'' *
AN ESSAY ON DEVOTIONAL MUSIC.
At the present time, particular attention is directed to the acquirement of the art of singing scientifically, in consequence of Mr. Hullah having introduced into this country the system invented by Mr. Wilheim of Germany. Mr. Hullah has taught a great number of persons, in Exeter Hall, under the sanction of the Committee of Education appointed by the government; and many persons, who have been taught by him, are now teaching the system in different parts of the country. We are told that, by such means, very great improvement will be effected in our congregational singing; so as to make it, more than heretofore, an interesting, impressive, and effective part of public worship. To realize this,—attention must be given, not only to singing, scientifically,—and this is of much importance,—but it must also be remembered that, good singing is an exercise which requires high-toned devotional feelings. In the American Biblical Repository there is an excellent article on this subject, written by Mr. T. Hastings, Professor of Vocal Music, which we have slightly altered, and abridged, to bring within our limits, and now present it to our readers.
Praise, like prayer, is an important Christian duty devolving upon every individual of the human race. The obligations to praise God are unspeakably great; and whether we take into view the glorious perfections of his nature or the infinite blessings he bestows, the duty is evidently one that should neither be neglected nor misunderstood.
Among the authorized methods of praise, that which employs devotional songs holds a distinguished place; and to this method the precepts, examples, and exhortations of Scripture seem chiefly to refer. God requires the whole earth to become vocal in his praise; nor can we for a moment suppose him indifferent either as to the manner or the spirit of our songs. And to bring our offerings with cold indifference on the one hand, or to cause them, on the other, to minister chiefly to the gratification of taste, must doubtless be displeasing to him, as well as injurious to the public edification.
The subject of praise has not, in the present age, been often discussed with that freedom and fulness which its importance demands. The reasons for this neglect may be sought for in the unsettled state of public opinion in matters of taste. One class of Christians, distinguished for their love of music, have laid such peculiar stress on the cultivation of a favourite art, as to awaken the prejudices of another class, who, deficient in musical taste, have regarded praise chiefly as a spiritual exercise. Both extremes have been in fault, and the disagreement has operated in various ways unfavourably to the interests of church music. But if we would fully understand the claims of duty in this matter, we must descend to first principles. Here the two parties may meet, and build together in repairing the wastes which have been occasioned through mismanagement and neglect.
To say nothing of the higher claims of music, there are certain properties of style which may well be termed fundamental. There must be melody, and harmony, and measured time, or there will be no music in our performances. There must be articulation, accent, and emphasis, or there will be no distinctness or propriety of utterance. Music in the absence of these properties degenerates into jargon. But melody and harmony, time, articulation, accent, and emphasis, are things which do not spring up spontaneously. They are the results of patient, well directed effort.
There must also be an expressive utterance of the sacred text, accompanied with devout affections. And this, most of all, requires critical attention and mental discipline. Even in secular music, which employs feigned emotions, there is need of special training; and how much more is this essential where the nature of the exercise requires "truth within ;" when all our motives, and feelings, and purposes, are to be consecrated to the great object of religious worship!
Music, when applied to the praises of God, should serve to dothe words with the power of eloquence. This is its express design. The words being given, the singer, like the individual who officiates in prayer, is to utter them impressively, as conveying his own sentiments in the presence of the heart-searching God. This view of the subject evidently accords with the whole tenor of the Scriptures. It shows us the very soul and essence of devotional song; and every thing short of it, however decent or tasteful in regard to manner, must fail to secure the Divine acceptance. Nor can such a method of singing be attained without a two-fold preparation of the voice and the heart. To meet in the presence of God, as is too often done, without this preparation, is to offer the lame, the blind, and the torn in sacrifice. It is to bring an empty oblation.
And is it possible that a principle so obvious and so important as this, can be practically disregarded? Can the entire musical arrangements of a Christian assembly be so ordered, as virtually to set it aside? Nothing is more common. Instances occur throughout the land. To say nothing of the general deficiency in elementary cultivation, by which the praises of Zion too often become a dead letter; it not unfrequently happens, when there is much appearance of talent, that the leading singers of either sex are persons who make no pretensions to personal religion, while most of the associated band appear equally indifferent to the subject. Here of course the pleasures of taste are substituted for the fervours of devotion. At least this is true of the performers; nor is it for a moment to be imagined that they are alone in the transgression.
Let us inquire, then, what methods of improvement can be adopted, which will prove equal to the exigency?
1. Correct information must be widely diffused. The conviction on the public mind with regard to the duty is altogether too indefinite. The responsibility is, in imagination, so divided and subdivided, as to apportion a trifling share to individuals. This is a delusion that must be broken up and dissipated. A general disregard to the duty forms not the smallest excuse for individual neglect, but, on the contrary, is a powerful motive to personal activity.
Information should also be given in reference to physical capabilities. A multitude of prejudices, false maxims, and principles, would thus be annihilated. The want of talent, which is so generally exhibited, is in most cases the mere result of neglect and mismanagement. All, it is true, have not been equally favoured. Some have ten talents, some have five, and some have one. But, to say nothing of music as a fine art, requiring peculiar genius and susceptibility, we may venture to affirm, that God our maker has been sufficiently bountiful for all the purposes here under consideration. This accords with the testimony of intelligent musicians on either side of the Atlantic— testimony which has been given under all the advantages of practical demonstration. So far as regards the interests of devotional song, it is evident that taste and talent lie much within the power of cultivation. Our ordinary methods of instruction, in reference to the fundamental properties of style, are, however, susceptible of great improvement; and specific information respecting them should be every where supplied.* Where there is also the right disposition, there will in general be sufficient leisure for practice. Most of us can doubtless command as much leisure as fell to the lot of the sweet Psalmist of Israel, sitting upon the throne of a mighty nation.
* The following hints may serve as some illustration of what is needed:
1. During the period of infancy, the voice maybe trained in song, as much as in speech, and with about the same facility ; while in later years the process becomes more difficult in proportion as it has been longer neglected. This shows the importance of early culture. Still adults should not be dissuaded from effort. All are susceptible of some improvement; and multitudes, if duly encouraged, might in time become useful singers.
2. Qualities of tone, whether agreeable or disagreeable, depend chiefly on the habitual treatment of the vowels; as upon these the voice i3 wholly formed. The amount of power, delicacy, &c., often depends on the character of training. Every teacher, therefore, should labour to improve his own voice, as well as his power of discrimination with regard to the voices of others.
3. Singing in just tune is by no means an instinctive faculty, but is in every case the result of well directed imitation. Voices once well trained in this respect may afterwards be vitiated by neglect, or by the bias of an imperfect teacher:
4. The due observance of measured time is a mere species of mental calculation, rendered habitual by persevering practice.
5. A good articulation may in most cases be easily obtained where habits have not become too inveterate. Here almost every thing depends upon the right treatment of the consonants. While vowels only are to be sung, consonants are to be articulated at certain given moments, with great precision; and with a force always adapted to the circumstances of the auditor. Suitable reference must also be had to the power of accompanying instruments.
6. Music makes some general provision for accent and emphasis, but in sacred song, the sense of the words must take precedence of musical rules. Yet the latter must not be wholly disregarded. Breathing, too, should as far as possible be regulated by the punctuation and the sense of the language;