« AnteriorContinuar »
What was always the bitterest ingredient in his cup, was to observe professors, satisfied with the form, while ignorant of the power of godliness. Over the deplorable state of these persons, has the writer of this seen him shed many tears. On their account has he heard him preach many an awful sermon, while they sat with all the ease and confidence imaginable, the effect of their awful delusion! The servant of the Lord marvelled at their unbelief; and was grieved, because of the hardness of their hearts : yet he seldom lost his labour; for these sermons were blessed to the awakening of others, while those whom he had in his eye, sat them out like pillars of marble, or statues of brass.
When the Missionary Exertions began in England, his very soul entered into the views of those who were active in it; and he scarcely preached or prayed without evidencing how much his heart was in that work. At the same time he found the use of an evangelical application of Jethro's counsel to Moses; and as he had a goodly number of well instructed and judicious Christians in his church, he called for their help in the Lord's service. A number of Sabbath-schools were opened; at which hundreds were instructed in Huntly and the adjacent country, in the truths of the gospel. These institutions were much counte anced of God; and considerable nuinbers were by their means added to the church. In one of these schools such a soc ey was collected, as found themselves able to support a gospei ministry; and have now Mir. D. Morrison, late of Hoxton Academy, for their pastor. As an additional inducement to others to begin, or encourage such means of usefuiness, I shall transeribe a paragraph or two from his Diary about this time, to shew the effect they had upon his mind:• In attending the Sabbath evening-schools in the chapel, I found things which I did not find before. The scholars gave many proofs from Scripture of the evil of the sin of pride. I felt a power attending the repetition of so many Scriptures, to which I had been too much a stranger hitherto. I saw, by a kind of spiritual intuition, that man is an accountable creature; and that there was a fault, w.ong, or evil, in sin. This did not arise from any process of reasoning, but appeared self-evident; and that our minds were so made, that we could not but think so. I felt this strongly and powerfully; and that it was just with God to put away sin and sinners from him, or to punish it. I also felt a love to, and approbation of, that work of God, whereby he punishes sin ; and my heart loved his doing so; — I saw it to be a desireable part of God's character."
At another time he writes, 'This night in the school, an immense number of texts were repeated, upon man's being in a state of sin, and on salvation by Christ. These were at tended with so much power to my soul, that it revived the ex
perience of my early years, when I commonly thought the Bible the plainest and sweetest of all books; and used to say, That the waters tasted sweetest at the fountain. In these instances, I found a power attending the repetition of the Scriptures in the schools, beyond any thing that has hitherto attended sermons, or even meetings, for this long time back. I know it was from God, by its power and light, and its turning my natural notions upside down. These exertions were also accompanied with a considerable revival in Mr. Cowie's congregation; many of whom enjoyed a short millennium : but neither their activity, success, nor enjoyments, gave security against opposition and persecution ; for some of the Antiburgher ministers in his connection, coinplained of what they deemed irregularity in such proceedings, repeatedly censured his conduct, and at length excluded him from their communion, On which occasion he thus wrote to a friend:-“This is not the first time that I have been excommunicated by men upon earth; and richly do I deserve to be forever excommunicated by Him whom I have offended more than any other ; but instead of frowning on me when the world have, he meets me in love, as he did my brother, the blind man of old.' · It was a singular blessing to him at this time that his people clave to him as one man; and, excepting three or four, whose detection was little felt, continued to do so till his death. It pleased the Great Head of the church in May, 1805, to send the harbingers of death to his honoured servant, while his people viewed him as newly entered upon a more enlarged sphere of usefulness. He was seized by a violent fit of apoplexy, which threatened immediate dissolution. He, however, jecovered from this alarming stroke so far as to appear again in public; although it was too obvious to others that his continuance on earth was near its close. The above Mr. Morrison, formerly one of his Sabbath school teachers, left the Academy to supply luis church; yet, so knit was Mr. Cowie's heart to his people, that, for the ten months he lived after these shocks, scarce a Sabbath passed without addressing them in some form from his beloved pulpit. About this time he was favoured with a remarkably reviving and heart - ravishing view of the manner in which the whole salvation of God is exhibted to and received by us. What he intended to convey, by the manner in which he expressed himself on this occasion, was precisely that of the prophet in Isaiah, lv. 1, • That the blessings of redemption were to be obtained without money, and without price. At one time, for example, he said, That he had learned more under his late illness, the meaning of one simple word, better and to more advantage, ihan he had done before by all his study. It was that word for ROUGHT; he told his people, that if they only understood in reng on how to receive al from Christ for nought, it would be
their making for eternity; and by looking at the truth and glory of this, his hearers and himself were soon dissolved into tears; which was usually the case in the last years ot his ministry, before they separated. During the last few months that preceded his death, his mind was peculiarly intent on examining how far he was the subject of that work by which the Spirit of Christ fits his people for glory. When told by one that he had little cause to be afraid, after so long an experience of the power of the Word and Spirit of God in his soul, - he replied,' I hope so; and yet seeing myself verging on a vast eternity, and just ready to enter it, I require all the certainty attainable in this life respecting my faith and hope, therefore let me examine. I know that man is inclined to take all on trust; which I fear will bring a woful disappointment upon most of those who do so.' He could take very little comfort in any period of his life from past experience, without the present vigorous exercise of grace. This occasioned much pain to him, now that the weakness in his nervous system unfitted him for that intense application of his mind to divine things, which, in the time of his health, he was habituated to, and which, by the condescension of his Lord, enabled him dáily to draw water out of the wells of salvation. This weakness greatly distressed him. Once a friend asked him, Whether he could really think that the Lord would forsake him after all he had done for him in time past? He instantly replied, If that thought were allowed to enter my mind, I should soon become a terror to myself and to all around me; yet how can I but mourn, when the promises of the gospel are not accomplishing in me, as Psalm i. 3, and xcii. 12; John iv. 14.'
He had very awful views of the state of formal professors, especially among his own people and förmer connection. A few weeks before his death, while conversing in his own house, he spoke of their fearful situation in such a manner, as obliged Mrs. Cowie to retire to her closet with anxiety and alarm; whilst a serious minister present, sat with silent awe and trembling, convinced of his statement of their case, and the truth of his conclusions, from the scriptural and rational arguments by which he supported them.
It pleased his gracious and sovereign Lord, five weeks before his death, to grant full relief to bis heart from all his conflicts and distress relating to his own soul; after which no more complaints were heard from him. His constant reply to all enquiries was, I am well, all is now settled; my only remaining wish is to be relieved froin this prison, this state of inactivity, and to be present with the Lord
A week before his death, he was seized with another fit of apoplexy, which terminated in an inflammatory asthma, which released himn from all the evils he ever saw cause to
pray against, or to mourn over, on the 4th day of April, 1806, being the 57th year of his age, and the 37th of his ministry.
This solemn event was a severe shock to the minds of pious people of all denominations in the north of Scotland; for as Mr. Cowie was for some years freed from the restrictions to which the Seceders submit, while his health permitted, he occasionally itinerated through the country; by this means he acquired a general acquaintance, and had sweet fellowship with the people of God, who had now to deplore the awful breach made in the church by his death.
It is well known that the district in which he lived, was among the last in Britain into which the light of the Reformation penetrated. It is not pretended to say how far Mr. Cowie was instrumental in the great change which has taken place in the sentiments of that populous country; but this is a known fact, that the grand and distinguishing doctrines of the gospel, which subjected Mr. Cowie to scorn forty years ago, are become the foundation of the hope and the joy of the hearts of many; whilst they are allowed by all to be the doctrines of the Bible. He, indeed, learned them more upon bis knees, and in the exercise of his soul, than by human teaching. He felt their truth, and wished others to feel it. Nothing disgusted him more than to observe men amusing themselves with speculations on truths involving their eternal fate; - but, as I understand a fuller account is collecting from his own Diary, in which the situation of his soul is distinctly described, the public may yet see him again.
Mr. Cowie is succeeded in the pastoral office over the church at Huntly, by the Rev. John Thomas, late of Founders' Hall, Lothbury, London.
ON FRIENDSHIP TO CHRIST.
If there is a period of life when the mutual kindness of friends rises to its highest pitch, it is at the moment of separation, or on the near prospect of it. When those who have been dear to one another in life, apprehend that death will soon cut asunder those ties by which their kindred souls bave been united, their affections glow with more lively ardour, and they meet the moment of separation with the greatest reluctance, that moment which will close the scene of their earthly fellowship for ever.' In such circumstances, words are often wanting to give expression to their love; and no service that friendship claims, however painful, is withheld. Every thing is said and done that love can dictate, or friendship can demand, to fulfil the last duties of an intercourse that is soon to subsist no more. We have a lively picture of this in the
history of our Lord and his disciples, who, though their friendship had subsisted but a few years, looked forward to the moment of separation with the most sorrowful concern. These disciples needed consolation from his lips, who was himself left to complain of the want of comforters in the awful crisis of his departure. They needed consolation to support them under those evils to which his absence would necessarily expose them. Their Master, alive to a sense of their infirinity, and sympathizing with them under those afflicting circumstances in which they should be left, administered to them such instructions as the love of his own heart dictated, and their peculiar circumstances required. The discourse which he addressed to them, as recorded by the evangelist John, must have relieved their minds under that extreme sorrow which the near prospect of his death had occasioned. In a particuJar manner the endearing title under which he then addressed them was calculated to soothe their minds, and reconcile them to the sufferings they were cailed to endure for his sake. Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends.'
What is included in this title may prove a useful enquiry, and assist the people of God in forming a just view of their own character.
This title, under which Christ addressed his disciples, supposes love to him. There is no truth more obvious than this, That friendship cannot subsist without mutual love. Wbal is necessary to friendship among men, cannot be dispensed with in that which subsists betwixt Christ and his people. They love him who first loved them; and, in the exercise of this love, friendship between them is maintained. As lis friends, it is an essential part of their character that they love him, that they love him above all others, and that they love him to the end.
This title Friend supposes confidence in Christ ;--that friendship cannot be sincere where there is not mutual confidence. If you find a friend who has shewn himself friendly, you confide in him as a friend, - you unbosoin yourselves to him without reserve, you can ask his counsel and advice, - you can tell him all your cares, - you can throw yourselves on his assistance and protection, you can look to him without distrust for renewed acts of kindness, without thinking that you presume on any thing but what his friendship for you warrants you to expect. If all this is true with respect to those friendly connections that are formed among men, much more will it be realized in that friendship which subsists betwixt Christ and his people. As the friends of Christ, you can never doubt his love, but pour out your hearts before him, in perfect corfidence that he takes an interest in your welfare, that he cannot betray you, and will never cast you off. You can reveal to him all your thoughts and cares, supplicate his counsel and