Imágenes de páginas

for the kind interest which he has shown, and the help he has rendered to the present undertaking.


[ocr errors]

In the reign of Charles I. there was an orchard at Whitehall, and the keeper of it was John Henry, a Welsh

His wife, Magdalen Rochdale, was a pious woman who took great pains with her children, and instructed them carefully in “Perkins' Six Principles,” and the other lessonbooks which preceded the Shorter Catechism. When dying, she said, “My head is in heaven, and my heart is in heaven; it is but one step more, and I shall be there too.” The name of their only son was Philip. Having become a thoughtful boy at Westminster school, and, at Oxford, under such teachers as Owen and Goodwin, having grown into an enlightened Christian and an accomplished divine, he became a minister, and was settled in Worthenbury, a little parish of Flintshire.

The playnıate of princes—for Charles II. and James II. were near his own age, and, when children, were often in his father's house-a gainly suavity marked the demeanour of PHILIP Henry all his days; and the memories of his boyhood mingled with the convictions of his manhood, and, without diluting his creed, softened his spirit. When a Presbyterian and a Puritan he still remembered Whitehall; how he used to run and open the water-gate to Archbishop Laud, and how his father took him to visit the Primate in the Tower, and how the captive prelate gave him some pieces of new money. He recollected the crowd wlich assembled before the palace that dismal 30th of January, when a king of England lost his head. And he treasured


up the keepsakes which the royal children had given him. His father died a sturdy royalist; and though he himself loved the large Gospel and strict religion of the Commonwealth, with a filial tenderness he always cherished these personal recollections of the reign.

The people of Worthenbury were very few. Though a popular preacher, Philip Henry never counted eighty communicants. And his parishioners were poor; they delved and ploughed, and made the most of hungry little farms. But though they were neither numerous nor learned, their minister felt that they were sufficiently important to demand his utmost pains. He visited and catechised them till he diffused a goodly measure of Christian intelligence; he took an affectionate and assiduous interest in all their concerns, and by the amenity of his disposition as greatly endeared himself as by the blameless elevation of his life he commended the Gospel; and, though destined for a small and homely congregation, he laboured hard at his sermons. Indeed this latter part of his work was hardly felt as a labour. He had an instinct for sermon-making. To his quaint and ingenious mind there was the same enjoyment in a curious division, or a happy plan, which an enthusiastic artist feels in sketching a novel subject or a striking group; and it was a treat to his methodical eye to see accumulating in his cabinet piles of clear and evenly written manuscript, and systems of pungent theology.

Few have surpassed Philip Henry in that trim antithesis and exact alliteration which were so prized by our ancestors. If it were asked, “ What are the Promises ?” the answer was, “Articles of the Covenant; Breasts of Con


solation ; Christian's Charter:"- and so on through all the alphabet down to “Wells of Salvation ; ’Xceeding great and precious; Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus; Zion's peculiar." And even his common conversation shaped itself into balanced sentences and proverbial maxims. "If I cannot go to the house of God, I will go to the God of the house.” “Forced absence from God's ordinances, and forced presence with wicked people, is a grievous burden to a gracious soul.” “ Solitariness is no sign of sanctity. Pest-houses stand alone, and yet are full of infectious diseases.” There are two things we should beware ofThat we never be ashamed of the Gospel, and that we may never be a shame to it." “There are three things, which, if Christians do, they will find themselves mistaken :- If they look for that in themselves which is to be had in another, viz. righteousness; If they look for that in the law which is to be had only in the Gospel, viz. mercy; If they look for that on earth which is to be had only in heaven, viz. perfection.In defiance of modern criticism, we own a certain kindliness for this old-fashioned art; it has a Hebrew look; it reminds us of the alphabetic psalms, and the “six things, yea seven” of Solomon. And we believe that it has a deep root in nature—the love of alliteration and antithesis being, in another form, the love of rhyme and metre. We never see in an ancient garden, a box-tree peacock, or a hemisphere of holly, but we feel a certain pleasure; we cannot help admiring the obvious industry; and we feel that they must have been a genial and gayhearted people who taught their evergreens to ramp like lions, or flap their wings like crowing cocks. And, more especially we feel that but for this grotesque beginning we might never have arrived at the landscape gardens of later times. Though they were the mere memorials of whatamused our fathers we could tolerate these conceits in cyprusand yew, but when we recollect that they were the first attempts at the picturesque, and the commencement of modern elegance, we view them with a deeper interest. Doubtless this alliterative and antistrophic style was eventually overdone, and like the Dutch gardener who locked up his apprentice in the one summer-house because he had secured a thief in the .other, the later Puritans sacrificed everything to verbal jingles and acrostic symmetry. But Philip Henry was a scholar, and a man of vigorous intellect, and, in the sense most signal, a man of God. Translated into the tamest language his sayings would still be weighty ; but when we reflect that to his peasant hearers their original terseness answered all the purpose of an artificial memory, we not only forgive but admire it. Many a good thought has perished because it was not portable, and many a sermon is forgotten because it is not memorable; but like seeds with wings, the sayings of Philip Henry have floated far and near, and like seeds with hooked prickles, his sermons stuck to his most careless hearers. His tenacious words took root, and it was his happiness to see not only scriptural intelligence, but fervent and consistent piety spreading amongst his parishioners.

When he had settled at Worthenbury, Mr. Philip Henry sought in marriage the only daughter and heiress of Mr. Matthews of Broad Oak. There was some demur on the part of her father; he allowed that Mr. Henry was a gentleman, a scholar, and an excellent preacher, but he was a stranger, and they did not even know where he came from. " True,” said Miss Matthews, “but I know where he is going, and I should like to go wit'i him:" and she went. There is little recorded of her, except that she was very kind-hearted, devout, and charitable, "and always well satisfied with whatever God and her friends did for her." Five of their six children grew up; and when Bartholomew-day banished Philip Henry from his pulpit and his people, his wife's inheritance of Broad Oak supplied a better home than was found by the families of most ejected ministers.

Seldom has a scene of purer domestic happiness been witnessed than the love of God and one another created there. Ensconced in his well-furnished library, transcribing into his folio common-place book choice sentences from Cicero and Seneca, Augustine and Ambrose, Calvin and Beza, Baxter and Caryl, or writing out courses of sermons which he yet hoped to preach; the industrious divine improved his abundant leisure. And whilst his partner looked well to the ways of her household, the thriving fields and tasteful garden proclaimed their united husbandry. Standing hospitably by the way-side, their house received frequent visits from the most renowned and godly men in that vicinity, visits to which their children looked forward with veneration and joy, and which left their long impression on youthful memories. And on all the inmates of the family, the morning and evening worship told with hallow. ing power. Seldom has this ordinance been observed so sacredly, or rendered so delightful. Alluding to the words

« AnteriorContinuar »