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seek to enter in and shall not be able.” Thus will the existence of man hereafter, differ in its character from the present time. While life lasts in this world there is room for hope. If a person neglect God in his youth or in his manhood, we still can seek and pray that mercy may overtake him ere he departs; we may warn, we may intreat, because we know that God is now in Christ reconciling sinners to himself. But at that day, mercy will distinguish those only who are found in Christ; justice will deal with those who finally neglected him, and to them the light of hope will expire in endless night. 0! what meaning does this fact give to the worth of mercy at that day ! Who can describe the remorse of a soul bereft of every cheering prospect, and sinking into despair! finding in that day of decision, those things to be awful realities, which it had so long disregarded or despised. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation ? "
Let us learn more believingly and practically, how mercy is concerned in the beginning, the progress, and the completion of a sinner's recovery. It pervades and characterizes every part of the system which secures this chief of blessings. Hence, “we look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. But to enjoy the triumph of mercy at last, we must be acquainted with its methods now. It calls to repentance, to faith, to holiness. Christ must be formed in us the hope of glory. His life, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, and his reign in heaven, all declare the greatness of our need, the privileges we enjoy, and the importance of securing an interest in the blessings of his kingdom. “In this was manifested the love of God towards us, in that while we were
yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly." But he who came once to die for our sins, will come a second time unto judgment. Nor let us forget how fast the rapid flight of time is hastening us on to “that day!” “What is life? It is a vapour which appeareth but a little time, and then it vanisheth away." Let us live more mindful of the future. In the solemn prospect is death, judg. ment, heaven, and hell. Divine wisdom calls us to the way of truth; and experience will substantiate its claims, through the ages of an awful eternity.
HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF THE CON
GREGATIONAL CHURCH AT BOCKING,
(Continued from Page 51.)
The Protestant dissenters are not much indebted to some clergymen, who of late years have, in common with orthodox sentiments,* professed a bona fide dissent. Imperfectly acquainted with the ramifications of the Christian profession, or retaining the prejudices while they relinquish the communion of their former years, they have stood aloof from the men whose prudence would have tempered their zeal, and whose knowledge of theological and biblical science would have improved their minds; and imperfectly acquainted with
• The writer expresses himself thus, because some clergymen who have dissented in several places, how mistaken soever in their views, have been highly respectable in their
theological subjects, and with theological writers, they have considered acknowledged truths as their own discoveries, or they have diverged into eccentricities, first of opinion, and then of practice, which have dishonored themselves and their supposed connections. Of a very different description were Messrs. Rastrick, J. Spademan, and many other clergymen, who in the earlier days of dissent embraced nonconformity. Amongst these estimable individuals, Mr. Thomas Shepherd holds a distinguished place. William Shepherd was the father of this eminent minister, and, he as well as his son, was first a clergyman of the establishment, and afterwards the pastor of a dissenting church..
The elder Mr. Shepherd was minister of Tillbrook, in Bedfordshire, and conformed on the passing of the Act of Uniformity in 1662. He is said to have been a faithful minister of Christ, and an eminent blessing to the people of his charge. But his character and his success, instead of diminishing, only increased the opposition and contempt, which are frequently the portion of the truly active minister of a national establishment. With many excellent men, in subsequent periods, he found the visitations to be seasons of trial ; for the discipline which should have been directed to the excitement of ministerial diligence and fidelity, was too often the instrument of conveying oblique reflections on the motives and endeavours of a man, who was only singular in doing good. At length, impelled by the persecutions of his enemies, and the convictions of his mind, he relinquished his connection with the established church, and became the pastor of a congregation of dissenters at Oundle, Northamptonshire. His final earthly remove was to Kettering, when he succeeded Mr. Maidwell as pastor of the Congregational Church there.
The subject of this memoir, Mr. Thomas Shepherd, was born in the year 1665, and is supposed to have been educated at one of the English Uni. versities. At an early period of his life he took orders in the National Church, and for some time officiated at St. Neots, in Huntingdonshire. His next and final situation in the establishment was in Buckinghamshire, where he was presented with a living, which his convictions did not permit him long to retain.
As Mr. Shepherd relinquished his connection with the National Church soon after his induction to a living, it is probable that the renewal of subscription induced an enquiry how far he was justified in professing before God, and before man, his ex animo belief of every thing contained in the Thirty-nine Articles and the Book of Common Prayer ; but, however this might be, Mr. Shepherd's dissent, at such a period, was an honorable testimony to his integrity, and an indication that he considered himself as continually repeating subscription, so long as he ate the bread and conducted the services of the endowed church,
But, though Mr. Shepherd relinquished his old connection at no very distant period from the time of his preferment, he does not appear to have acted with unbecoming precipitation. With great propriety he entered into correspondence with his brethren on the subject, a part of which he afterwards published, and which the writer of this article greatly laments his inability to obtain.
The event to which we are now referring, appears to have taken place towards the close of the seven
teenth century; for in the year 1697, we find him preaching as a probationary in the Presbyterian congregation, formerly assembled in Poor Jewry Lane, (now Jewry Street,) Aldgate, and by a majority of one vote, Mr. Shepherd was elected to be pastor, but through some dishonorable articles, “ the election was overruled."* A prudent minister would not accept a charge to which he was elected through so small a majority ; but it would not have been surprising if so scandalous a proceeding, in a community of Dissenters, had produced a change of feeling in a convert to their views. But Mr. Shepherd appears to have known that evils existing among his new friends were those of a single society, but that the evils of his former connexion were those of the whole body ; that the evils existing among the one were removable by the parties concerned; but that the evils existing among the other were only removable by the dreadfully forlorn hope of legislative interposition ; in a word, that the evils of the one were those of the system, but that the evils of the other arose from a departure from the system. In the year 1700, Mr. Shepherd came to Bocking, where his striking and powerful delivery attracted a great attendance. He found here a few people assembled in a barn, but through the divine blessing on his labors, before many years had elapsed, he was surrounded by a congregation, respectable in circumstances, and considerable in number, and very many of whom regarded him with peculiar affection, as their “Father in Christ.” So singularly blessed were his labours, that during his ministry at Bocking, several hundreds are said to have ac
* Protestant Dissenting Magazine, vol. vi. p. 467. Wilson's History of Dissenting Churches, vol. i. p. 55.