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—or without being supplied with fresh matter for prayer, and directed to greater watchfulness. I likewise learned the use of experience in preaching; and was convinced, that the readiest way to reach the hearts and consciences of others, was to speak from my own. In short, I gradually saw more and more my need of instruction, and was at length brought to consider myself as a very novice in religious matters. Thus I began experimentally to perceive our Lord's meaning, when he says, Except ye receive the kingdom of heaven as a titlle child, ye shall in no wise enter therein.”
If I have seemed to digress in dwelling so long on these three characters, let the reader consider the importance of the facts, and their intimate connection with Mr. N.'s history: and let me inform him, that the author has a design much nearer his heart than that of precision in setting forth the history of an individual; namely, that of exhibiting the nature and importance of vital and experimental religion: he therefore gladly brings forward any fact found in his way, which may tend to illustrate it.
But to return to the more immediate subject of these Memoirs. -
In the year 1776, Mr. N. was afflicted with a tumor, or wen, which had formed on his thigh; and, on account of its growing more large and troublesome, he resolved to undergo the experiment of extirpation. This obliged him to go to London for the operation, which was successfully performed, October 10th, by the late Mr.Warner, of Guy's Hospital. I remember hearing him speak several years afterwards of this trying occasion; but the trial did not seem to have affected him as a painful operation, so much as a critical opportunity in which he might fail in demonstrating the patience of a Christian under pain. “I felt,” said he, “that being enabled to bear a very sharp operation with tolerable calmness and confidence, was a greater favour granted to me than the deliverance from my malady.” While Mr. N. thus continued faithfully discharging the duties of his station, and watching for the temporal and eternal welfare of his flock, a dreadful fire broke out at Olney, Oct. 1777. Mr. N. took an active part in comforting and relieving the sufferers: he collected upwards of 200l. for them; a considerable sum of money, when the poverty and late calamity of the place are considered. Such instances of benevolence towards the people, with the constant assistance he af. forded the poor, by the help of Mr. Thornton, naturally led him to expect that he should have so much influence as to restrain gross licentiousness on particular occasions. But, to use his own expression, he had “lived to bury the old crop, on which any dependence could be placed.” He preached a Weekly Lecture, which occurred that year on the 5th of November; and, as he feared that the usual way of celebrating it at Olney might endanger his hearers in their attendance at the church, he exerted himself to preserve some degree of quiet on that evening. Instead, however, of hearkening to his intreaties, the looser sort exceeded their former extravagance, drunkenness, and rioting; and even obliged him to send out money, to preserve his house from violence. This happened but a year before he finally left Olney. When he related this occurrence to me, he added, that he believed he should never have left the place while he lived, had not so incorrigible a spirit prevailed, in a parish which he had long laboured to reform. But I must remark here, that this is no solitary fact, nor at all unaccountable. The Gospel, we are informed, is not merely a savour of life unto life, but also of death unto death. Those, whom it does not soften, it is often found to harden. Thus we find St. Paul went into the synagogue and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the %ingdom of God... But, when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them. The strong man armed, seeks to keep his house and goods in peace; and, if a Minister is disposed to let this sleep qf death remain, that Minister's own house and goods may be permitted to remain in peace also. Such a Minister may be esteemed by his parish as a good kind of man—quiet, inof. fensive, candid, &c. and, if he discovers any zeal, it is directed to keep the parish in the state he found it; that is, in ignorance and unbelief, worldly-minded and hard-hearted—the very state of peace in which the strong man armed seeks to keep his palace or citadel, the human heart. But, if a Minister, like the subject of these Memoirs, enters into the design of his commission —if he be alive to the interest of his own soul, and that of the souls committed to his charge; or, as the Apostle expresses it, to save himself and those that hear him—he may depend upon meeting in his own experience the truth of that declaration, Yea, all that will live godly in Christ.Jesus, shall suffer persecution, in one form of it or another. One of the most melancholy sights we behold, is, when any part of the Church, through prejudice, joins the World in throwing the stone. There is, however, such a determined enmity to godliness itself, in the breasts of a certain class of men existing in most parishes, that, whatever learning and good sense are found in their Teacher—whatever consistency of character or blameless deportment he exhibits—whatever benevolence or bounty (like that which Mr. N. exercised at Olney) may constantly appear in his character—such men remain irreconcilable. They will resist every attempt made to appease their enmity. God alone, who changed the hearts of Paul and of Newton, can heal these bitter waters. - I recollect to have heard Mr. N. say on such an occasion, “When God is about to perform any great work, he generally permits some great opposition to it. Suppose Pharoah had acquiesced in the departure of the children of Israel—or that they had met with no difficulties in the way— they would, indeed, have passed from Egypt to Canaan with ease; but they, as well as the Church in all future ages, would have been great losers. The wonder-working God would not have been seen in those extremities which make his arm so visible—A smooth passage here, would have made but a poor story.” But, under such disorders, Mr. N. in no one instance that I ever heard of, was tempted to depart from the line marked out by the precept and example of his Master. He continued to bless
* The following reflections on this occasion occur in Mr. N.'s Diary.— “Thou didst support me, and make this operation very tolerable. The cure, by thy blessing, was happily expedited: so that on Sunday the 27th, I was enabled to go to church and hear Mr. F-, and the Sunday following to preach for him. The tenderness and attention of Dr. and Mrs. F——, with whom we were, I cannot sufficiently describe; nor, indeed, the kindness of many other friends. To them I would be thankful, my Lord, but especially to Thee: for what are creatures, but instruments in thy hand, fulfilling thy pleasure? At home, all was preserved quiet: and I met with no incident to distress or disturb me while absent. The last fortnight I preached often, and was hurried about in seeing my friends: but, though I had little leisure or opportunity for retirement, and my heart, alas! as usual, sadly reluctant and dull insecret; yet, in public, Thou wert pleased to favour me with liberty.”