Зображення сторінки

Surely, the memory of the just shall be blessed; and as an additional tribute to departed worth, I subjoin the following letter, written by an absent friend, on being informed of Mr. Menhinnick's death by a member of his class:

“ The mournfully pleasing intelligence contained in your late epistle, greatly obliges me. I could not but feel deeply affected by it; for our deceased friend was indeed very dear to me, and I still give thanks unto God on every remembrance of him. In the multitude of my thoughts within me, I looked about for some consolation, at least for some reconciling thoughts, some healing sentiment, when the following words powerfully arrested my attention: •The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness. The striking propriety of this passage, both as a description of character, and a call to acquiescence, could not fail to occupy my thoughts; and I know not how I can answer your letter more suitably than by communicating what was thus suggested :

If righteousness consists in rendering to all their dues, I know no person more justly entitled to the character of a righteous man than our late highly esteemed friend and brother Menhinnick. In every relation sustained by him; and in all matters of commerce, he studiously attended to the demands of equity; herein exercising himself to have always a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men. Hence his body, soul, and various talents became a continual sacrifice by voluntary consecration. In all his purchases and sales, in his shop, and in his field,-in his devotional exercises, and amidst the usual dissipations of social intercourse, the oracles of God were attentively consulted, the presence of God was seriously recollected, and the hand of God was duly acknowledged. But his righteousyess, though conspicuous and bright, was not the only shining part of his character. As he practised. justice, so he loved mercy, and shewed it wherever he found a suitable object. He heard mercy itself, in the person of our adorable Redeemer, saying, Whosoever shall do the will of my Father, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.' He heard this, and admired what he heard, and felt what he admired, and his feelings influenced his conduct. Next to those of his own family, the household of faith, however distinguished by names or creeds, became the first objects of his affection. Of all who feared God, he was the companion; and in those who excelled in piety was all his delight: yet even these did not exclusively share his benevolent regards; for in every human being he recognized the immortal offspring of his heavenly Parent, and the purchase of his Redeemer's blood. His heart being thus enlarged, his mouth was frequently opened for the edification of others. In his tongue was the law of kindness, and he spake the truth in love. His compassion was also manifested by more than kind word :: it regulated his tempers, and appeared in acts of beneficence. Its benign influence was felt by the ignorant, the indigent, and the wretched. The blessing of them who were in every way rua 'y to perish, came upon him. He was respected by his neighbours as one that sat chief among them, and chose out their way: he was beloved as one that comforteth the hiourners.

But in the language of mortals, this righteous and merciful man perisheth, and is taken away. His days are past, never to return, and with them the opportunities of repeating his wonted labours of love. These he kindly purposed; but his purp are broken off, even the thoughts of his heart. Those eyes v lich so piously examined the word and works of God, are now clc ed in darkness. Those lips which fed many, are sealed up in l. sting silence. Those hands, so often stretched out in disper ing happiness, --and those feet, so habitually employed on errands of benevolence, are now laid inactive in the dust. The forsaken friend, the bereaved church, the fatherless child, the desolate widow, each indulging a peculiarity of grief, is ready to exclaim,

• Who feel the loss, come share the smart,

And mingle tears with mine.' Even when pouring out their hearts before God, they can hardly refrain from thus blending the language of expostulation with that of acquiescence: Righteous art thou, O Lord, when we plead with thee; yet let us talk with thee of thy judgments. While the wicked prosper, are planted, take root, and bring forth fruit, even the 'fruits of impiety, impurity, and mischief, why are the righteous and merciful doomed to perish ?' In our great Disposer we find comf issionate Father, who considereth our frame, and remembereth we are but dust; therefore, though not amenable to us, he graciously condescends to auswer thr; for himself :-'He is taken away from the evil to come ;--he rests ;-he is entered into peace; -he walks in his uprigåtness.' Hence, respecting our departed friend, we are taught not to sorrow as those without hope; being assured,

1. That he is taken away from the evil to come.-Though not continued with us, he does not cease to exist; he is only removed. He did not meanly, sullenly, and rebelliously quit the station assigned him, without due authority, for he is taken away, and taken by him, whose he was, and whom he served. He is taken, not driven away; his removal met with his own cheerful concurrence, for he knew that it was appointed in love, and designed to promote his best interests. He is taken away from evil to come ;

* 3 T 2 *

And win shall never enter there.'

taken to a world where his ear shall no more be pained, where his soul shall no more be sickened by the din of war, the fall of empires, and the distress of nations; where he shall no more witness human follies, crimes, and miseries; no more feel the anxieties of commerce, nor the infirmities of mortality; and no longer be exposed to the fiery darts of the wicked. Hence it follows,

2. That he is at rest. At rest from all the conflicts of probation; for being transplanted to the paradise of God, where no root of bitterness can spring up; resident where the wicked cease from troubling; and fixed in a state of inviolable security; he is now exempted from the solicitude of watchfulness; the strife against sin, and the militant exercise of self-mortification. The work of faith is succeeded by glorious vision, and the patience of hope lost in blissful enjoyment.

• The toils and pains of life are o'er,

The anguish and distracting care;

There sighing grief shall weep no more, 3. He is entered into peace.—Though all that was mortal in the saint rests among the clods of the valley, not to awake again till the heavens are no more; yet the immortal spirit enjoys conscious felicity in the presence of God. Felicity, most suitable and gratifying: exactly adapted to the views and feelings of a reprieved criminal; a restored patient; a ransomed captive; and a favourite subject, raised from the lowest infamy and wretchedness, to the highest honour and dignity. Felicity, without alloy; that can never be impaired by any species of affliction, nor menaced by any shadow of evil. Felicity, without defect : being fully commensurate to the capacity of enjoyment. Felicity, eternally permanent, secure from internal decay, and external violence. And felicity that must still improve, as its existence is protracted. 4. He walks in his uprightness

. The loss of his services in the church militant, we feelingly and justly deplore; but though taken away, he is not lost to God, for all who are his, live to him, With the light of Divine revelation in our hand, let us only draw aside the vail, and we shall behold our dear departed friend, serving and adoring his Maker, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, day and night in his holy temple; or perhaps, occasionally enlarging his capacity, and heightening his gratitude, by contemplating the wonderful display of Divine perfections in the works of nature, providence, and grace. Or, it may be, in executing commissions of love, as a ministering spirit to those, whose interests lay so near his heart, while he yet visibly went in and out among us, Or, in anticipating that glorious period, when there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor pain; when the ransomed of the Lord, completely redeemed both in body and soul, shall return to Zion with songs, and crowned with everlasting joy.

[ocr errors]

In the mean time, we should improve our loss, 1, By laying his removal to heart-This will be done more effectually by regarding our bereavement as a stimulus to greater exertions, in getting and doing good. His removal reminds us of our own, and should make us all eye, all ear against the coming foe.' It is a public loss, and should excite our endeavours in some measure to supply it, by following him as he followed Christ; in doing which, we shall daily manifest the truest respect for the deceased. • He mourns the dead, who lives as they desire.' Much prayer should also be made to him with whom is the residue of the Spirit; for when the godly man ceaseth, and the faithful fail from among the children of men, then the help of God becomes peculiarly requisite, Psa. xii. 1.

The lamented removal of our friend should be farther improved, 2, By considering that he is taken away from the evil to come. To him, his removal is infinite gain; to his friends in Christ, it is replete with salutary instruction. They lament his absence, but hope assures them they shall see him agaio, and that their sorrow shall be turned into joy: that his very dust shall be restored with glorious improvement, to die and to suffer no more. That the heavens will soon pass away; that the empire of death is hastening to its destined period; that the grave must refund its spoils. Hence we know there is verily a reward for the righteous; that God's judgments are right; that he does all things well. Thus all complaints are silenced; all murmuring is precluded.

* And darkness and doubt are now passing away,

No longer we roam in conjecture forlorn ;
So breaks on the iraveller faint, and astray,

The bright and the balmy effulgence of morn:
See truth, love, and mercy, in triumph descending,

And nature all glowing in Eden's first bloom;
On the pale cheek of death, smiles and roses are blending,
And beauty immortal awakes from the tomb.”


The substance of a Sermon preached in Edinburgh, on the 2d of

July, 1816, at five o'clock in the morning, to the Preachers of

that District. By V. Ward. " But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”

Acts vi. 4. The words now read in your hearing, contain a resolution formed by the first preachers of the gospel, by which they engage to prosecute the two main parts of their infinitely important work with diligence and constancy.

The first great daty in which they resolve thus to engage is one which concerns all persons, and especially all Christians; it is

prayer. It scarcely becomes us to inquire why God has made it our duty to pray; it is enough for us that we know it to be our duty, and inseparably connected with our present and eternal welfare. No man can become a Christian, without prayer. Those penitents mentioned in Scripture, as well as those whom we have known, were all persons of prayer; nor can any man expect to prevail, who does not wrestle. And as it is undeniable that none can enter upon the Christian race without prayer, so it is equally certain that no one can persevere but in the same spirit, and in the cordial and diligent discharge of the same duty. I say cordial, for you know prayer is not a mere matter of words, but the heart speaking to God, and pleading with him. If it be inquired whence prayer derives its efficacy, I answer, from the appointment of God.

But if all should pray, much more should the Christian Minister! He is separated from worldly employments partly for this purpose, that he may have leisure to talk with God, and may wait upon him without distraction. He is called a Man of God, and should therefore walk with God. Not only should he be a priest in his family, but be mighty in public and social prayer. Not having God to seek when called upon to pray, but carrying about with him an experimental sense of his presence and favour. Such a man will not address the Most High as a stranger, but as a friend, with whom he holds constant fellowship. In order to this, however, be it never forgoiten, the preacher must pray much in his closet. Never can any one walk with God in public, who does not enter frequently into his closet, and pray to liis Father who is in secret. It is there that the servant of the Lord can most freely and unreservedly tell all his wants, his fears, his complaints, and desires to his Divine Master.

A variety of incidental and occasional subjects of prayer will occur to the mind of the praying Pastor, arising sometimes from his own situation, the circumstances of his people, or from passing events. But there are a few particulars of such high concern, as always to demand a prominent place in his addresses to the throne of grace; Such as,

1. The preservation and increase of his own personal religion. Nothing can be more inconsistent, than for a man who does not possess true piety, to pretend or attempt to preach the Gospel. Morality is indispensable; but morality alone is not sufficient. A preacher of the Gospel must testify to all who hear him, repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the nature and necessity of conversion, of being sanctified, of invincible patience and meekness, of heavenly-mindedness, fervent love, and burning zeal; in short, the Minister of Christ is sent to open people's eyes ; to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; that they may receive the forgiveness of their sins, and

« НазадПродовжити »