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station, a violent storm of wind and snow riod of eighteen years, he had ascertained, came on. His wife and children urged from his journal, that during that period, him not to go out on a night so boister- he had preached statedly in nine villages, ous and full of danger; but binding a and occasionally in several others; had large shawl over his hat, and securing it travelled 16,000 miles, 14,000 of which round his throat, he walked the five miles, he had travelled in village preaching, and in spite of the rough weather, found and the greater part on foot. Preached the farm-house kitchen full. “Well,” | 3,556 sermons; baptized and registered said he, as he looked around, "if you will in the chapel register. book, 923 children, come to hear I will come and preach.” and buried fifty persons in the chapel
The following document, addressed to yard. And through the goodness and his then beloved wife, but now sorrowing mercy of God, though at times exposed widow, will give some idea of the kind to very severe weather, he had not been of life which our departed friend led | laid aside from his arduous task more during the thirty-six years be was mi- than six sabbaths during that long nister of Heathfield chapel. The date is period. not recent :
" To the above statement allow me to
add, that from the 23rd of February, "Heathfield, September 29, 1836. 1829, to the 25th of September, 1836, a “My beloved Jane,-As you have fre- period of seven years and seven months, quently expressed a desire to have a I have preached statedly in six villages, statement of my ministerial labours, and occasionally in others; travelled since we have been at Heathfield, I feel 5,978 miles in village preaching, the great pleasure in presenting to you the greater part not on foot ; preached 1,398 following extract from the Evangelical sermons; baptized 367 children, and Magazine, for December, 1829.
buried seventy-one persons in the chapelApril 23, 1829. The Rev. John yard; and through the goodness and Press, formerly of the Island of Guern- mercy of God, have not been laid aside sey, and eighteen years assistant to the for more than six sabbaths. During this late Rev. George Gilbert, of Heathfield, later period, and when you consider my in Sussex, was ordained pastor of the age—having entered my seventieth year Independent church of Christ, formerly -have we not both cause to exclaim, with under his pastoral care. The Rev. Mr. heartfelt gratitude, ‘Bless the Lord, O Harris, of Lewes, began the service by my soul, and forget not all his benefits.' prayer and reading the Scriptures; the From the foregoing statement, it will Rev. Mr. Drury, of Shoreham, described appear that I have entered upon the the nature of a gospel church, asked the seventieth year of my age; that we have usual questions, and received the confes- been at Heathfield rather more than sion of faith ; the Rev. George Evans, of twenty-five years; that during that time London, offered up the ordination prayer; I have travelled, in village-preaching, the Rev. Mr. Bannister, of Arundel, 19,978 miles ; have preached 5,554 serdelivered the charge in a most affectionate mons; baptized 1,290 children, and manner; and the Rev. Mr. Edwards, of buried 121 persons in the chapel-yard. Hanover chapel, Brighton, preached to “ That the Lord should have afforded the people; the Rev. Messrs. Thornton, strength of body and mind for the perof Bognor, Smith, of Lindfield, and Le- formance of the above-stated labours, fevre, of Cuckfield, gave out the hymns; demands our most sincere and grateful the service was solemn and impressive. acknowledgments; nor should we forget In answer to one of the questions pro- the almost numberless acts of kindness posed, Mr. Press stated, that from Feb. we have received from the church and 23, 1811, when he first came to Heath- congregation in general. May the Lord field, to the 23rd of February, 1829, a pe- abundantly bless them, and may our
service continue to prove both acceptableceived from them; and I cherish the and profitable.
hope that the Lord will not cast me off, “Yours most affectionately, and that the church and congregation at
“JOHN PRESS. Heatbfield will not forsake me now my "Mrs. Jane Press,
strength faileth. “ Chapel Cottage, Heathfield."
“ That the Lord may bless you, your But the following document is still beloved wife and numerous family, with more interesting. It is a brief review of the best of blessings, and long spare you ministerial labour the very day before he to render efficient aid to the cause of was called upon to leave his people and God at Heathfield, is the desire and his beloved work for a higher and holier prayer of,
Dear sir, state. It is not necessary to state to
“ Yours respectfully, whom it was addressed :
“J. Press." “As a proof that I have done what The above was written on Saturday, I could to promote the glory of God and August 1, 1846. He departed this life the prosperity of the church and congre- the following Lord's day, August 2nd, at gation at Heathfield, permit me to state, a quarter past two P.M., after administering that I came to Heathfield in year 1811; the ordinance of the Lord's Supper in the from that time up to year 1831, a period chapel at one o'clock. He was in the of twenty years, I preached twice at bosom of his family; his friends were Heathfield on the sabbath, and once a around him; his God and Saviour was month in nine villages, and occasionally present; his end was peace. A few days in several others. For the last fifteen afterwards, and his mortal remains were years I have preached twice at Heath- committed to the tomb, in that burial field on the sabbath, twice a month at ground in which he himself had interred Burwash on the sabbath, and for some so many. The Rev. W. Davis, of Hastings, time twice a month on the week-day; addressed the weeping assembly in the once a month at Cowbeach; and, until chapel and at the grave; and on the 9th the death of Mr. John Reeves, once a inst., the funeral sermon for our departed month on the sabbath-day at Waldron ; father in the gospel was preached by the once a month at Peckhill; and occasion- same minister. The congregation, alally in several other villages; and it ap- ways interesting, from the circumstance pears from my journal that, during this that the chapel is situated in a very thirty-five years, I have travelled, in thinly populated district, and yet attended village preaching, nearly 26,000 miles, by from four to five hundred persons, the far greater part on foot; that I have was on that day peculiarly so. About baptized and registered 1,703 children fifty vehicles of different kinds brought and 3 adults ; that I bave buried in our the distant friends of the departed; not chapel-yard 217 persons. For the last a few of the most respectable inhabitants twelve years I have been obliged to ride of the neighbourhood were present; numto the different villages where I preach, bers could not crowd within the thronged my bodily infirmities having rendered sanctuary; and deep was the emotion me incapable of walking any considerable with which all listened to the character distance without suffering great pain. of their late pastor by one who had
“That I have been thus enabled to known him nearly thirty years. A scene labour for so many years together, with somewhat similar was witnessed at Burvery little interruption, has appeared a wash on the evening of the same day. wonder unto many, but more especially | The chapel was crowded, and imprèsto myself, and demands increasing praise sions, we trust deep and permanent, were to the Lord for his goodness, and sincere made. thanks to you, sir, and many other Thus has passed away, in his eightieth Christian friends, for the kindness re- year, a plain (we may say it without
offence to his family), rustic minister of mercy, in good health and understanding, the gospel. He knew little of literature, although in the sixty-fifth year of my of science, of taste, or of refinement. He age, do, for the settling of my temporal was not a scholar: and, in one sense of concerns, and the disposal of what little the term, he knew nothing of theology. property it hath pleased the Lord in his He had studied no ancient, no modern, good providence to give, or may be systems of divinity. He knew nothing pleased to give me, make this my last of Carlyleism, of anti-supernaturalism, will and testament, as follows :or of the jots and tittles of biblical criti- “ First, I most humbly commit my cism; but he knew, what it well behoves soul to my most gracious God and Saviour, every minister of the gospel to know,- who mercifully spared me, while living that man is a sinner; that Christ is the in open rebellion against him, called me, only Saviour; and that “without holi- by his grace, in my one-and-twentieth ness no man can see the Lord.” This year, and for the last twenty-six years was the sense of his preaching, the secret has condescended to permit and enable of his holy and consistent life, and his me to preach the glorious gospel of the spur to exertion in the work of the Lord. blessed God. I rely with humble con
One document our departed friend left fidence upon the atonement and rightebehind him, which is not deficient in ousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, for instruction. This document is his will. pardon and acceptance, and eternal life, We not infrequently see our journals being the only foundation whereon a noticing the wealth which the sons of sinner can build his hope, trusting that affluence leave behind them reckoned by he will graciously guard and guide me hundreds of thousands. Its distribution through the remainder of my life, support is also sometimes noticed, so that indivi- and comfort me in death; and that he duals and societies, for whom little or will then be pleased to admit me into nothing was done during their life, have his blessed presence and heavenly king. reason to be thankful for their death. dom.
The sums are large which thus fall to 101. Secondly, as to my body, I will and
the lot of heirs and legatees—so large, in desire, if I should die at Heathfield, that not a few instances, as to induce us to it may be decently interred in the burialask, how so vast an amount of the mam-ground belonging to the chapel in which mon of unrighteousness was gathered I have long laboured ; and I indulge the together. No inquiry of this kind is hope that, in consideration of my long suggested by the will of our departed and faithful services, the church and confriend. He did not leave his thousands, gregation will pay the expenses attendant or even bis hundreds. No legacy duty upon my funeral, and also, that they will can be claimed, no solicitors will be kindly assist in making provision for the either troubled or benefited. There will support of my beloved wife. be no family disputes, no bickering nor “ To those highly respected Christian strife, as to the distribution of the effects friends, whose kindness and liberality of the late Rev. J. Press.
have so greatly contributed to the comHere is the document; it was without fort and happiness of my life, I return a date, but evidently written many years my most hearty thanks, and feel assured before his death:
that they will do what they can to pro" In the name of God, amen. I, John mote the comfort of my beloved wife and Press, of the parish of Heathfield, in the family." county of Sussex, pastor of the church of Nearly twenty years have elapsed since Christ of the Indpendent denomination, this document was written. His family assembling for worship at the chapel in have grown up, and are settled in life. But the parish of Heathfield, in the before there had been no accumulation in the named county of Sussex, being, through interim. He left a small quantity of
household furniture, a few books, some one more beloved by his children. So garden plants and shrubs, and a small true is the Divine maxim of our Great sum—under, I believe, twenty pounds Teacher : “The life of a man ”-his due to him from his people. In addition true happiness—"consisteth not in the to this, he left two Bibles for two of his abundance of the things which he poschildren; and these were all his worldly sesseth.”
W. D. effects. And yet I never met with a Hastings, April, 1847. more cheerful or more happy man, nor
NONCONFORMITY VIEWED IN RELATION TO VITAL GODLINESS. The Substance of a Discourse delivered before an Association of Ministers and Churches
at Oxford, on the 27th April, 1847. “We have heard with our ears, O God; our fathers have told us what work thou didst in their
days, in the times of old." Psa. xliv. 1.
As Protestant Nonconformists, looking may try to estimate the characters of our to the word of God as our sole guide, in ecclesiastical forefathers, that we may matters pertaining to conscience and truthfully determine our own actual poreligion, we are but little disposed to sition and standing as their children of boast ourselves of our spiritual ancestry. | another generation. If the principles espoused by our fathers If, from the very complexion of our were not in accordance with the “living religious belief, as Nonconformists, we oracles of God," no lapse of years could are less accustomed, than in some other invest them with the attributes of truth; religious connections, to pay an inordiand however strict their harmony with nate deference to the men of other times, the Divine standard, they could avail us it is not because we are incapable of nothing in the way of mere ancestral estimating their virtues, or because we reliance, if it could be shown that we had are insensible of the honour of claiming lost their vital power.
spiritual kindred with the mighty dead. We may, indeed, be descended of a “ If any other man thinketh that he hath noble race, "of wliom the world was not whereof to boast” of those who have worthy;" and yet our spiritual pedigree partaken of bis religious sympathies in may be of as little value to us as was a by-gone age, I am bold to say, that of the scribes and pharisees in the that the Nonconformist who Juxuriates days of our Lord, who boasted that they in the records of the past, will lave po “ had Abraham to their father," while cause to blush for the fame of his ecclethe voice of Incarnate Deity proclaimed siastical ancestry. Could we ever stake in their ears the unwelcome message, the credit of our nonconformity upon the that "they were of their father the virtue of a name, or of a long succession devil, because his works they did.” of names, we might meekly brave a com
And yet there is a sense in which, not parison of our claims with those of any only lawfully, but with advantage, we may other body of professing Christians. examine the relation in wbich we stand This, however, is the last ground which, to the great and holy men, who in the as Nonconformists, we are disposed to olden time bore witness to the same take. The greatest men may be in error ; church principles with ourselves. Though and even if it were not so, it may be neither among the living nor the dead are that we are their unworthy successors. We we disposed to call
can be satisfied with nothing post-aposfor one is our Master, even Christ, and tolic, as a ground of religious belief, or all we are brethren;" yet assuredly, in as a rule of ecclesiastical practice. If surveying the retrospect of the past, we our principles are not to be found in
any man master,
the New Testament, they are not worth they ask, where our church principles professing; and all the authorities by were in the middle ages? or attempt to which we might try to prop them up tie us down to the articles of Trent, or to must fail, in the great battle of truth, the opinions put forth of late years in the which is yet to be fought, upon the sim- “ Tracts for the Times.” ple platform of the Holy Scriptures. Our church principles are where they
I feel no hesitation, however, in affirm- always were—in the writings of inspired ing, even in this stronghold of patristic men; and we dare not turn away from reliance, that all that is essential to the the pure, celestial fountain, to slake our being and form of our congregationalism thirst at the muddy streams which pour is obviously recognized in the apostolic along the channel of ages of corruption writings, and in not a single instance and darkness. We are but little troubled contravened, but rather sustained, by the when taunted by churchmen about the uninterpolated records of the age next to recency of our nonconformity in this counthe apostles.
try, though the taunt comes with an ill Our principles, brethren, are these, grace from those who have asserted parthat a church is a fellowship of Christian tial liberty for themselves. We desire to men,—that it is complete in itself, under cling to nothing in common that we are Christ, with its bishops and deacons, not prepared to defend upon apostolical that it is independent of all foreign con- authority; and here our oracle speaks in trol,—that it has the right of self-govern- a distinct and definite tone, while all unment according to the laws of the gospel, inspired antiquity presents a scene of con- that its members and officers are sub- fusion, darkness, and doubt. We feel ject to its own free choice,-and that no ourselves in no strict sense bound by the element of human authority enters into interpretations and understandings of its constitution, laws, discipline, or official catholic antiquity; nor do we for a moequipments.
ment admit the idea of catholic authority Now, these simple principles, notwith in this or any other age. “To the law standing all the lofty pretensions which and to the testimony; if they speak not have come down to us from a remote but according to these, it is because there is not primitive antiquity, are plainly and no light in them.” obviously deducible from the records of With the dawning of the Reformation the New Testament; and we ask of church in this country, notwithstanding its acmen the unimpeachable evidence, that knowledged imperfections, arose that spirit any other principles obtained for at least of inquiry, and that attention to the word 167 years of the Christian era. Sure 1 of God, which, with many other striking am that Clement of Rome recognizes no occurrences, led on first to Puritanism, other principles. The writings of Igna- and then to Nonconformity. The wrong tius have been so interpolated as to de- principles embodied in the Reformation prive them of the credit due to an histo- were incompatible with the supreme derical document. And as it respects Justin ference which it professed to pay to the Martyr, though living on the verge of a word of God; and though we look with period fast degenerating into error and profound admiration at many of the men church pretension, yet he advances no- who struggled out of popish darkness into thing that does not substantially har- the clear light of the gospel, our homage monize with the congregationalism of the is in some measure diminished by their present day. We may be asked by church. lingering attachment to that human aumen, what became of our views of the thority which had so grievously corrupted pastoral office in the third and fourth the Christian church, and which made centuries ? and what of our independency, the best of them stop short of the simple, when the reign of councils and catholi- irrefragable principle of unqualified subcism began their sway? As well might | mission to the authority of inspired men.