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When I retired to rest, I found at once, from the numerous fires blazing forth from the furnace chimneys, that I was in a coal and iron part of the country; and the first glance from the window in the morning presented the appearances which I had therefore expected to witness. The prospect from it was limited; and though here and there were green fields, yet for the most part there was the wild disorder which vast and numerous heaps of the refuse of the coal-pits, and iron mines, and furnaces, always occasion. This, however, was only my first view. In a day or two, I learned that there were others of a very different character. But as my first view was taken on the Sabbath morning, I had other occupations than those connected with searching out the picturesque or beautiful in natural scenery; and by these, I need not say, the day was engaged. To these engagements I now refer only so far as they enter into the reminiscences of my excursion to Madeley. In the evening, my appointment was at MadeleyWood, a place which at once called up the recollection of the sainted Fletcher. I confess I had formed an incorrect idea of the place, expecting to see what should be literally a wood. And in Mr. Fletcher's days, the number of trees would be far greater than at present; and the aspect of the country around made it plain that there must have been, formerly, an extensive wood, if not a forest. But I was not prepared for what I saw. After going some little distance from my temporary but pleasant home, towards the church-portion of the village, we turned off the Shiffnall-road, keeping to the right, down what soon became a steep descent. I then found that Madeley stood on high ground, and that Madeley-Wood was on the road, about half-way down, which conducted to the Severn, and its iron bridge, about which what might almost be called the town stood. Madeley at the top ; Madeley-Wood half-way down; and by the bridge which gave name to it, the pleasant village of Iron-Bridge, a mile or so from Madeley itself. Rising from the river banks, allowing room only for a turnpike-road, was the opposite hill, which, with the one on which I stood, constituted the valley along which the Severn runs. The view was beautifully grand. At the very top of the hill, I saw some portion of
what I afterwards found to be the handsome little town of Broseley. But I had no time to look on the scenery before me, attractive and, on one side, extensive as it was. I saw the chapel, and the congregation moving towards it. On the other side of the road, however, stood a building, smaller than the present chapel, but of respectable size, and looking not unlike some of the old Presbyterian meeting-houses that I have seen. “ That," my friend said to me, “that is. Mr. Fletcher's chapel!” With what interest, what dignity, did that old, dingy-looking brick building become immediately connected! It is not merely when sunlight is withdrawing from the earth that “the glimmering landscape fades from the sight” in the increasing obscurity of “parting day.” The beautiful stars that shine in darkness, by ceasing to be visible, tell of approaching day, and its brighter light. And imagination, associating the present with the past, may give to an object, in its appearance so insignificant that we might otherwise pass without notice, such a splendour that even the lovely real with which it stands connected to the outward sense, for the time fades away entirely from the view. It is true, I was not standing at Runnymede, nor at Waterloo ; and many whom either of these would move into rapture might see no more of greatness in the recollections which the sight of the building called up, than in the building itself. Here is a building erected by the pure and loving zeal of the “parish Priest,” that those who dwelt farthest from the parish church, and whose characters marked them out as most of all needing the preaching of the Gospel, might not make distance the excuse for their absence. I thought of some cold morning, still dark; and I saw the spiritual watchman, lantern in hand, going through the neighbourhood, ringing his bell, that none might say they knew not the time, or that they were not called. In this meeting-house had the poor and ignorant farm-labourers, colliers, miners, been congregated by the earnest invitation of their vigilant Pastor; and that Pastor, John Fletcher. Here had he poured out his soul to God in mighty prayer with them, and for them. Here had he preached to them, beseeching them to turn from the error of their way to that Saviour whose love to them had kindled his
own soul with a flame that at length destroyed his body. Here he entreated them, instructed them, wept for them, and laid the foundations of a church whose walls have continued 10 this day to arise, and which yet bears, in spiritual, but legible, characters, the inscriptions of holiness which he marked on them. I asked no questions about the consecration of the place. So far as, under the Christian dispensation, space included by material walls can be holy, his labours, so visibly connected with the presence of the Lord, the Spirit, had made that place holy. Questions of irregularity disturbed me not. I saw here the proof that John Fletcher ceased not to remember his solemn ordination vow, “never to cease his care and diligence, till he had done all that should lie in him to bring all committed to his charge, to that agreement in the faith and knowledge of God, and to that ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ, that no place might be left among them, either for error in religion, or for viciousness in life.” I could not help asking what would the country have been by this time, had every church, chapel, and meeting-house in it, witnessed the continuance of ministrations like those of that true successor of the Apostles, the Vicar of Madeley?
Such were my thoughts as I regarded Mr. Fletcher's chapel ; (now, since a larger has been erected, used for a Sabbath-school ;) but the time for my own services had arrived, and I hoped that the reflections which had so strongly moved my own mind, had not, in anywise, rendered me unfit to engage in them. When I had concluded, I returned to my home, anticipating the solemn pleasure which the morrow would afford me, in visiting the church in which he had laboured, the house in which he dwelt, and the tomb in which his remains had been deposited, where still his flesh rests in hope, awaiting the resurrection of the just, when "they that have turned many to righteousness, shall shine as the stars for ever and ever.”
(To be continued.)
SCRIPTURE ILLUSTRATIONS. Rev. i. 11. “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” -Alpha is the first letter of the alphabet, and Omega is the last, which contain between them all the signs whereby speech of God or man is recorded. When Christ therefore saith, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” he seems to me to claim himself to be the whole recorded word of God, to be that which is written of, to be the whole truth, which hath been, and is capable of being, uttered by human speech, or expressed by letters, the symbols of speech. While I give this enlargement to the usual interpretation of this symbol, I do not deny the other, which I am well aware was become a kind of proverbial expression with the Rabbins; who, when expressing from the beginning to the ending, were wont to say, from Aleph to Tau. But still as letters can only by a secondary application be the symbols of number, being in their primary application the symbols of speech, I think it the more worthy interpretation, to suppose that Christ here meaneth, that he was the substance of all intelligence, which all speech doth communicate. Letters are the symbols of speech, and speech is the form of the intelligent mind. Wherefore Christ doth here appropriate to himself the bounds of all reason, claiming to be the Lord of all the invisible creation, its sustenance and its life; just as in the next title, “ the beginning and the ending,” he claimeth to be the Lord and life of the visible material creation.
Word is to reason, what form and succession is to matter. The pure reason subsisteth not under the condition of space and time. It hath its form, and its only form, in speech; which, again, is an intelligent form only to the reason of another reasonable creature. Therefore it is that Christ is called the Logos, or the Word of God; because word is the only full expression of a spiritual being, and the only way of communicating with other spiritual beings. O what a dignity there is in the faculty of speech! It is the indubitable stamp of God that the creature who hath it is formed in his own image. And what a godlike power it is to communicate our thoughts by speech! It is the continual evidence both of
the necessity and of the manner of revelation. The beings who communicate with one another by speech or word must themselves be communicated with likewise by speech or word from God their Creator. Their noble faculty of understanding speech or word were otherwise unoccupied by God. Yea, verily: and therefore it is that perhaps the highest and noblest title of the second Person in the Godhead is “the Word;" that is, the communication between the Father of spirits, and the spirits which he hath made, the Word not for the sense, but for the reason, in which God may be beheld. Such is the dignity, as I conceive, of the title or name of Christ now set before us.
In so far forth as truth is expressed therein, Christ is the author, Christ is the substance of them all. Wherefore he is called “the Truth” in one place, and in another place “ the Word;” and in the place before us, “the Alpha and the Omega.”—Irving on the Revelation, Lect. ii.
SINGULAR BUT MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT. On Thursday afternoon, January 25th, a fatal accident occurred on the Great Western railway, by which two men were hurried into eternity; so suddenly, that they would die without any consciousness of having sustained injury; without, therefore, a inoment's time to commend themselves to God. Never was there a more impressive fact to remind us that wherever we are, “IN THE MIDST OF LIFE WE ARE IN DEATH;" and thus to say unto us, “ PREPARE TO MEET THY God!”
Two men, of the names of Halt and Bishop, residing in the neighbourhood of Southall, on the Great Western railway, not many miles from London, on the road down to Slough, both of them cattle-dealers, had been to London on business connected with the Middlesex Sessions. Halt had been summoned before the Magistrate on a charge of cruelty to animals, for carrying two calves to the London market with their heads hanging from the tail of the cart. On an appeal to the Sessions, which had that day been held, it was decided in his favour; he was acquitted from the charge, and