Imágenes de páginas

and found one in the Rev. Dr. Reed, of Wycliffe Chapel, with whose church he was connected for some years, and for whose faithful instruction and efficient ministrations he ever felt deeply grateful. He immediately inquired what he could do for the glory of God, and the good of his fellow men. His mind was not of a contemplative cast, nor much inclined to quiet and retiring meditation. He could not remain long in a state of inactivity. He had no taste for asceticism-the cloister would not have suited him; and, had he lived in the middle ages, his name would not have flourished in the calendar of those saints whose chief merit consisted in retirement and meditation, and a lazy routine of fastings and bodily mortifications. He was naturally restless-he must be up and busily occupied. As soon therefore as he joined Dr. Reed's congregation, he took an active part in the labours of the Sunday school. His kindly manner and pleasing address, soon gained the affections of his pupils, and the esteem of his fellow-teachers, and he became a great favourite. His aptitude for imparting religious instruction, and the facility with which he gave utterance to his thoughts, did not escape the notice of the superintendent and elder teachers. He had not been long in the school, when they urged him to deliver an address. He hesitated at first, but overcome by their importunity, at length yielded. This was a sore trial: with much prayer and meditation he prepared for the ordeal. On the following Sabbath, with much fear and trembling, he began his address, but found that the task was not so fearful as he had anticipated. The matter had been carefully studied, and the words came as they were needed. A remarkable circumstance which attended this first attempt in public speaking, gave an impetus to his zeal for preaching the Gospel, that was felt to the end of his life. That address was the means of the conversion of two persons-one of them a little girl, who, with joy lighting up her countenance on a dying bed, expressed her gratitude that through his instrumentality she was about to enter life eternal, where she hoped to meet him in the presence of the Lamb. The other was a teacher, who though he had for some time pointed out the way of life to others, was himself a stranger to the saving grace of the Gospel. These results of his address had an important influence on his future career. They seemed to point out the path of duty. He began to seek for opportunities of usefulness, and to address the poor and the outcast in the back streets and lanes of the metropolis, with a power and frequency very unusual at his age. In these efforts he was encouraged by Mr. Smith, at that time the most popular street preacher in London, especially to sailors. Mr. Boaz accompanied him to the floating Bethels on the

Thames to mean hovels in dark dingy courts and alleys, and to the narrow streets and passages in the neighbourhood of the Minories and Shadwell, and took a part in all the services that were carried on in those places.

His sphere of labour gradually extended. He often went to the villages around London, and preached to small but attentive audiences in humble cottages, and sometimes in school-rooms. His ministrations among those poor simple cottagers were acceptable, and the young parson, as they called him, was always received with hearty welcome. His manner was pleasing and familiar. He sympathized with all their little trials and sorrows. He had nothing of the appearance of condescension about him; he did not seem to make an effort to come down to their level, but he spoke to them after their own fashion in a familiar easy style, in such a way as they could understand and appreciate. They perceived they had a man of their own class among them-one who could understand them, and enter into their feelings. His easy and playful manner gained the affections of the younger portion of his hearers, and the esteem of his seniors in years. Not only the young, but the hoary-headed and horny-handed labourers would hang upon the lips of the youthful preacher, and listen to his simple but earnest. entreaties to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, with as much interest as if he were an old and practised expounder of the mysteries of godliness. In this humble walk of usefulness he was not left without seals to his ministry. Some of these poor cottagers who had long lived without God and without hope, were led, by his instrumentality, to forsake their evil ways, and turn to Christ with full purpose of heart. Long was he remembered among them as the young parson with the kind heart and smiling face. This was a good training for the sphere in which he was afterwards occupied. It was thus he acquired the habit of extemporaneous preaching, in which he excelled, and that facility of expression for which he was remarkable; for whatever might have been the deficiencies of his pulpit ministrations in other respects, he was never at a loss for words. Though he might not (to use Bacon's words) be a full man, nor at all times a correct man, he was always a ready man.

In the midst of these humble labours, he was unexpectedly invited to preach to a stated congregation in the suburbs of the metropolis, the pastor of which was suddenly taken ill and laid aside. No provision had been made to supply the pulpit on the coming Lord's day. In the emergency, the deacons sent a deputation to the young Sunday school teacher, to invite him to conduct one of the services. He was not prepared for such an undertaking,

but he was not the man then, nor at any subsequent period, to escape from what he considered the call of duty. He carefully prepared for the services of the sanctuary, and went and preached with comfort to himself and edification to the people. They were so satisfied, that he was invited once and again to minister to them the words of life. At this time, however, Mr. Boaz had received no theological training, and had but little Christian experience; his stock of knowledge was exceedingly meagre, and derived principally from his Bible and the few works of practical divinity within his reach, but his heart was fired with zeal for the conversion of souls, and he drank deep at the fountain-head of spiritual truth-the pure Word of God. Although he was well and usefully occupied on the Sabbath, he was still in business, and his weekdays were necessarily devoted to the service of his employer, so that he had little time for study and intellectual culture. He felt his deficiencies, and ardently longed for opportunities of improvement. His thoughts were also directed towards missionary labour, and he made known his wishes to Dr. Reed, and the deacons of the church, as well as to his friend, Mr. Townsend. By their advice, he became a student in the Theological Seminary at Newport Pagnall, in Bucks, they engaging to defray a part of his expenses while there. That seminary was then under the management of the pious and able Rev. T. B. Bull, who is still remembered with affection by the ministers who were trained under his instructions.

Mr. Boaz felt that he who commences the systematic and critical study of the sacred Scriptures, with the very slender equipment which he himself possessed, has a difficult task to perform, he therefore determined to enter upon his studies with the ardour and earnestness characteristic of his nature. That he might not be interrupted in them by the calls of friendship, he went into the North, in December, 1828, to visit his friends and relatives before entering Newport Pagnall. While there, he was invited to preach in Wall Knoll Chapel, Newcastle, the congregation of which was, at that time, without a pastor. His ministry was so acceptable, that he was pressed, week after week, to continue his services. His remonstrances and pleas of inability were to no purpose, the deacons would not take a refusal. In this way, six or eight Sabbaths passed, his popularity continuing to increase. But now came the crisis. He knew what was not known to his hearers, that he must stop short or lose his influence. The fact was, his stock of sermons, which, it may be supposed, was a very small one, was exhausted. "The tub was empty," and he had not sufficient sources at command to replenish it. He candidly confessed to

the deacons, who urged him to remain, the real state of the case, and told them he had only another sermon left. They constrained him to preach the following Sabbath morning, promising to supply the pulpit in the evening by another preacher. After the service, some of the congregation took leave of him in the vestry. When they had all departed, the principal deacon, with a sad countenance, accosted him thus :

"My young friend, you must preach in the evening."

"No," said Mr. Boaz, "that is impossible, I am not prepared." "Oh, but," said the other, "you must preach."

Mr. Boaz remonstrated, pleaded his inexperience, and stoutly refused.

"Well," said the deacon, "you won't preach, won't you?" "No, I cannot."

"Very well," said the deacon. Then going to the door, he added, "My young friend, in that cupboard," pointing to it, "you will find a Bible and a Cruden's Concordance, and writing materials. You can prepare your sermon. I shall send you some dinner, and no one will disturb you till the evening service." So saying, he locked the door, put the key in his pocket, and went off.

Mr. Boaz did not like an impressment after this fashion, but he was under constraint, and prepared for the solemn service as well as he could. He preached in the evening with great acceptance. He received from the ladies of the congregation an elegant pulpit Bible, as a token of their esteem, and appreciation of his ministrations. During the week he went to Scarborough on his way to college and preached in his native town to a crowded audience, among whom were his parents, who, as may be supposed, were delighted with their young son.

He entered Newport Pagnall, in June, 1829, and continued there about four years. He was much engaged during his stay in preaching. This materially interfered with his studies, but activity was an essential element of his character, and he seldom passed a Sabbath without preaching. In 1833 he left Newport Pagnall, and as the delicacy of his health caused his friends to object to his becoming a missionary in a foreign land as he desired, he accepted an appointment to one of the stations of the Surrey Mission at Elstead, near Farnham. Here he laboured happily and usefully for some months, but his health becoming established, he offered his services to the London Missionary Society, and was accepted. He then resigned his charge at Elstead, and went to the East India College, at Haleybury, to study the Oriental languages under Professor Johnson. He resided at Hertford during his attendance on the

college, and preached either in the town or the surrounding neighbourhood every Sabbath, and often on week days. He was popular as a preacher, and his services were much sought after. These engagements were, however, very serious interruptions to his studies, so that his proficiency in the Oriental languages fell far short of what might have been expected from a young man of his abilities. But the Lord was preparing him (unknown to himself) for the work to which he had appointed him-to preach the Gospel in a heathen country, not in a foreign tongue, but in his own language. He regretted these interruptions at the time, and his friends witnessed with sorrow how much his preparatory studies were broken in upon. They disapproved of this, and wished to see him apply more vigorously and constantly to those pursuits which were necessary to qualify him for missionary labours. But these preaching engagements were the proper school for fitting him for the work for which God, and not man, had designed him. They were the best preparation for the sphere which he was afterwards called to occupy, and in which he was more useful than he would have been had he laboured directly as an evangelist among the natives of India. While there, even, he did not lose sight of Elstead. It seems to have made an indelible impression on his mind, which no change of place or association could efface. From the banks of the Ganges he addressed the children in the Sabbath school at Elstead, in the following simple and characteristic style:



'Little children, love one another.'

"MY DEAR LITTLE CHILDREN,-Perhaps you have almost forgotten me. I have not forgotten you. Sometimes I pray for you. Will you pray for me? Do you pray for yourselves? If not, God will not love you, and I shall not meet you in heaven, if Jesus kindly takes me there. Since I saw you, God has been very good to me. He carried me safely over the great sea, a great distance-15,000 miles. I wish to be thankful to Him for his goodness; we should always be thankful for mercy. Will you thank God for me? He brought me to this city, and the Christians are glad through my coming, for they say, 'Now we see that Christians in England love the Christians in India.' One Indian Christian cried when he saw me, and said, 'We have been praying a long time, now God is answering our prayers. You little people can assist in making these Indians happy. If I were to tell you, that if you gave a little money you could do it, you would say, 'Oh, I will give something every week.' Give it, then, and be honest; but, above all, love Jesus Christ. And you should try to send missionaries to preach to them, and teach them the Bible. I have said that the country in which I am living is a large and beautiful country, but here the people are very wicked. There is a house where your home is, a large and

« AnteriorContinuar »