Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

been corrected by a letter from Dr. Williams to Mr. Parsons, published in a well-written pamphlet *.

When Mr. Parkin's studies at Rotherham were nearly com. pleted, he was sent, on probation, to the congregation in Wigan. After preaching there a few Sabbaths, he received a unanimous invitation to exercise his ministry among them statedly. This invitation he accepted, and entered on his labours in August, 1803. In the same month of the following year, he was ordained to the pastoral office; and, in four or five weeks after that, he married Miss Wightman, of Mansfield, a young lady of amiable manners, of unaffected piety, admirably calculated to be a helpmeet to him, and a grand-daughter of the venerable Abraham Booth, of London.

As a Christian and as a minister, Mr. Parkin excelled many. He possessed an uncommon degree of prudence. He united in. flexible firmness and fidelity with an equal degree of meekness and affection. His devotional temper, and relish for religious conversation, were manifest to all who enjoyed the pleasure of his acquaintance. In his preparatory studies for the pulpit, he was exceedingly close ; and his sermons displayed deep thought, as well as much seriousness and fervour. Very few young ministers, perhaps, possessed a more ardent thirst for ministerial improves ment. Under the direction of his respected tutor, he had col.

* Parsons's Vindication of the Dissenters against the Charge of Democratic

Scheming.

We take the liberty of introducing this letter, not merely because it relates to ae interesting circumstance in the life of Mr. Parkin, but because it serves to explain the origin of a case, which might have produced the most lamentable effects :

To Mr. Parsons, Leeds. Dear Sir,

Rotherham, Dec, 12, 1801. . In reply to your enquiry concerning a passage in a late pamphlet, which relates to granting licences to boys (without any education) of seventeen, I have reason to think that the declarations made in the British Senate, by one of its Members,' was in allusion to a student under my care. At the Quarter Sessions held at Rotherham, October, 1799, the student, whose name I need not mention, except by the initials J. P. applied for a license, as a Dissenting teacher. The chairman, observing his youth, intimated that he would bring forward the case of limiting the age of applicants for licenses. The truth is, the young man was then in his twentieth year.

You may suppose it gave me some alarm, that a mistake of this nature should be the oștensible occasion of a legislative step, so important in its consequences ; 1, therefore, concluded to write to the gentleman who announced the design, and to state that, if this was the case to which he alluded, his information was not correct, stating to him the real case. Had the allusion been maile to any other fact, I have reason to think the civility of Mr. M. A. T-r would have given me the information.

I must add, That I believe he was the youngest who ever applied from this seminary for a certificate. He was, however, at this time, a divinity student, of good abilities, regularly admitted into this place by a committee of gentlemen, whose business it is, ip conjunction with the tutors, after four months probation, closely to investigate the natural capacities, the moral character, aod religious knowledge of the candidates. Should this plain statement appear calculated to rectify any published mistake, it is very much at your service, from, dear Sir,

your Friend and Brother, EDWARD WILLIAMS,

lected, though a small, yet a very valuable library ; which, with him, was not for shew, but for use. Following the apostolical exhortation, he gave attendance to reading; and his profiting ap. peared to all. On every occasion, he manifested an earnest concern for the cause of Christ, not merely by indolent wishes, but by arduous exertions. His labours were not confined to his own congregation, though they ju tly claimed and enjoyed his principal attention ; but, in the villages around, he preached the glad tidings of salvation by Christ; and the fruits of his ministry, when observed in the conversion of sinners and the edification of saints, afforded him the liveliest satisfaction. His personal religion, his ministerial di igence, his fervent desire of usefulness, and his anxious concern for the purity and strictness of Christian discipline, in the church under his care, might be exemplified by extracts from his Diary ; but these would extend the Memoir beyond the bounds of a periodical publication.

The ministerial labours of this excellent young man were, alas! soon completed. In the latter end of the summer 1807, his health appeared to be in a declining state, though not so as to create any considerable alarm. In the winter he grew worse; and his disorder seemed to be much increased by a short journey, in which he was exceedingly wet, both in going and returning. Several of his friends attributed his illness to too great exertion,, especially in preaching in the neighbouring villages. Their intimation of this, cut him to the very heart. To a very intimate acquaintance, he spoke of it with tears, saying, "My friends accuse me, in this respect, very unjustly. I am sure I never suf, fered any harm from preaching. It grieves me exceedingly to hear them say that I have; and, especially, lest the report should prove an occasion of causing any of my brethren in the ministry to slackeri their diligence in the work of the Lord.' . . !

Apprehending that he was threatened by a pulmonary consumption, he consulted Dr. Jarrold, of Manchester ; through whose skilful prescriptions the progress of his disorder appeared, for a season, to be hopefully arrested. In the spring of 1808 he seemed to revive ; and, in the month of May, was attended by Mrs. Parkin to the Isle of Man, in hopes that the voyage and the sea air might be serviceable. In about nine weeks he returned home, apparently much recovered; and immediately, after a silence of several months, resumed his labours on the first Sabbath in August. His first discourse after his return, was a very impressive ene, evidently the language of his own experience and prospects, from 2 Cor. iv. 17, 'Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us à far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.' - During upwards of four months after, he continued to preach generally twice on the Sabbath, one of the members of the church, when necessary, engaging in prayer and reading a sermon. Every persuasion of his friends to

[ocr errors]

spare himself was unavailing, till his strength was completely exhausted. “I must study and speak for my Master, said he,

as long as I am able.' His last sermon, which was preached on Dec. 18, 1808, was from Heb. iii. 1. Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.' He had scarcely strength to ascend tbe pulpit; or, when there, to sustain hiin. self. His thoughts were luminously arranged ; and it was evic dent that he felt his subject; but his voice was feeble, and all present were persuaded that this was bis last public effort. After: the service, whilst the congregation were separating, he stood pene sively, leaning on the desk, for a few minutes, as though he were taking his solemn farewell of the place where he had delighted to publish the salvation of Jesus. *. After he had ceased from pulpit exercises, his mind was still

intent on usefulness. Among other schemes of doing good, he wrote a little piece to be pasted at the beginning of Bibles, to be given to the Sunday School Childien ; exhibiting a comprehen. sive view of the plan of salvation : which was, probably, the last effort of his pen : but, owing to the rapid progress of his disa order, it proceeded no further, before his death, than a proofsheet, which he revised.

Towards the latter end of January, 1809, he grew considerably worse; and, for some days, cornpletely lost bis voice. This, he whispered to a friend, was peculiarly afflictive to him, as it prevented him from expressing how inestiinably precious the Lord Jesus was to his soul; adding, He i: beiter in sick. ness than in health.' On the 28th, one of his dear friends called to see him, Entering the chanıber, he found him laid on a sofa, just recovering from the fatigue of being lifted from his bed. Feeble as he was, peræiving his friend, he beckoned with his finger; desired him to sit beside him ; and, clasping his hand with the most affectionate tenderness, he held a long and most interesting conversetion; in which he dwelt especially on the preciousness of Christ, - on his firm reliance on the word of God, on the support whic! he derived from the well-ordered covenant of grace, -- on his trieciom from the tmrror of death. After thus enlarging on ihe state of his own mind, he enquired after one of bis Christian friends; and exclaimed, wich an expressive emphasis, “I do love the image of Jesus in his people !! His visitant, perceiying that he was much exhausted, expressed his fears that he would injure himself by too much exertion; to which he replirdi, I am, indeed, very weak; - I have, for some time, ministered to you ; -- you must now minister to me.'' He then desired prayers; in which he united with delightful fervour.

On the 29th, which was the Sabbath but one preceding his death, another of his friends spent the whole day with hi n. On

entering the chamber, ab ut eight in the morning, Mr. P. gave · him his hand, and whispered, (for he could only whisper) My XVI.

Kk

[graphic]

days are now fast concluding : - but I know whom I have believed, and find him all-sufficient: -- he is faithful. His friend reminding him of the strong desire which he had formerly expressed, that he might be enabled to glorify God in his denth, and of his desire beirig now fulfilled, --- he answered, Yes! a Father afflicts, and a Father supports.' Speaking of the frame of his mind, he said, 'I feel no rapturous cinotions, but I feel myself safe in the hands of Jesus; ~ because he lives, I shall live also.' After a fainting fit, of which he had several in the course of the day, looking at his friends, he said, I am returned to you again. I hoped, - but let me not inclulge an impatient . desire : - my time is in thine hands, my God.'

Towards night, he seemed aver:e to conversation ; his countenance evinced much distress; and it was suspected that he was suffering some daikness of mind. After a long silence, his friend spoke to him of that faith which overcomes the world. Fixing his eyes upon him very earnestly, he replied, Ah! Brother, you can but judge according to appearances ; - God only knows the deceitfulness of the heart.' He was 100 weak, and too inuch agitated to proceed; but desired prayer. Afterwards he said, that the enemy had been buffetting him. During his residence at the Isle of Man, he had been dreadfully assaulled with doubts respecting futurity, - ibe immortality of the soul, &c. A recur. rence to the sacred volume had banished his suspicions, and enlivened his hope; but the very possibility of being barrassed again, in a similar manner, appeared to terrify him. Recovering from this renewed attack of his spiritual adversary, light dawned again upon his scal; he rejoiced in God his Saviour; and was much encouraged and comforted by the thought suggested to bim, “That where the head is, there the members must be; and . that nothing can separate them from his love.

On the Monday morning early, his friend lest him quite com posed and cheerful. To some others le mentioned, in the course :: of the day, the severe temptations of Satan, which he had expe' pierced in the preceding night. I had well nigh given up all for lost,' said he, 'bui Jesus reanimated me, and he is now more » precious than ever. He added, “Death and I have had a hari struggle. I am still on the field wiih him ; but Jesus is there too.' Being reminded that Christ is the Captain of our salvation; and that, looking unto him, we are directed to take the shield of faith, and the sword of the spirit, he clasped his hands, and fixed his eyes, and, with inexpreșsible feryour, cried out,

Jesus! thou didst pray für Peter, that his faith might not faii! Oh ! pray for one ten thcusand times more unworthy than Peter, that, in my last conflict, niy faith fail not.' Recovering from a fainting fit, he exclaimed, What! returned again! I thought I had been going. I hope I shall go this afternoon. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!' For some time after, he lay composed, and seemed to be engaged in prayer. At length, turning

to those about him, he said, I have not seen Jesus as he is; but · I have had a sweet interview with him: I have been holding sweet converse with my Saviour.' The same evening, apprehending that his departure was neater than it proved to be, he anxiously enquired of a female friend, - Do you thiok that Jesus will take ,me to himself to-night?' Bsing informeil that sbc thought not, he replied, "Well, I would not be impatient;' and afterwards,

If he does not receive me into his presence, I hope he will admit me into his antichamber.' Taking leave of a young friend, he said, “I trust we shall meet before the throne, and tune our harps together there. Beware of this deluding world.'

Contrary to his own expectation, and that of his friends, he lived eight or nine days after this, enjoying, with little interruption, the same happy frame of mind. On one occasion, he complained of great deadness of spiritual affections, and wondered at the possibility of being so near perfect felicity, without being absorbed in the amazing prospect : but,' said he, 'I am not yet set free from this sinful body.' His constant, darling theme, was the person, the offices, the atonement, the intercession, of the Saviour. “Oh! I wanted to see you,' said he to a friend who called on him ; I wanted to see you, that we might talk of Jesus; -- He only can satisfy me, --- all is shadow besides! How strong his love!. How wonderful his grace!!

A medical gentleman, who bad occasionally visited him, remarked to him, that he had never witnessed so much calm cola hectedness in a dying person. “Sir,' said he, “ 'tis entirely owing to my full confidence in the power and love of Christ, and his finished work of salvation : there is no other ground of hope.'

A friend from a neighbouring village, who is strenuously active in maintaining the preaching of the gospel there, visited him about two days before his dissolution ; to whom he said, “Brother, many may think you are doing too much ; - that you should not be lavish; but when you are placed in my situa-'

tion, you will think every thing you have done too little for Him - who gave himself for you.?

He was very earnest with those of his friends, who take an ac.tive part in the Sunday Schools, not to slacken their diligence.

The welfare of the church and congregation lay very near his heart; and be often expressed his fervent concern that they inight be directed, in tbeir choice of a successor, to a humble and pious, as well as a judicious and lively minister.

In the evening preceding his death, he spent above half an hour in prayer, with a distinct and audible voice, so as be had not been able to speak for a long time before. His afllicted wife, child, friends, church, the cause of Christ in the villages which he had visited, the Sunday Schoo', the nurse, the servant, all successively engaged bis attention, and furnished matter of intercession the most copious and affcting. The next day, Wednesday, Feb. 8, from ninc in the morning

« AnteriorContinuar »