« 前へ次へ »
It was Mr. Hine's privilege, when very young, to make the acquaintance of an excellent yeoman, who to diligence in business added ferrency in spirit. That good man was enabled humbly to declare, that, when he passed his ripe corn-fields on the Lord's day, on his way to the house of God, he was not troubled with distraction of mind. By him Mr. Hine was conducted to the Methodist chapel at Radwell, in the Bedford Circuit. At first his visits were but occasional ; but these were made so great a blessing to him, that he soon became a regular attendant. Under the earnest, affectionate, and faithful preaching of the late Rev. Isaac Bradnack, he became deeply convinced of sin, and earnestly sought the blessing of conscious pardon through our Lord Jesus Christ. He was enabled to exercise faith in the blessed atonement, and happily realized “the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins.” The time and place of his conversion he ever afterwards remembered with devout gratitude : and often has he remarked, that on the following day he felt as if in a new world ; every object he beheld seemed to wear a new aspect, as if specially designed to augment his happiness.
Immediately after this important change, he united himself in church-fellowship with the Wesleyan Methodists; among whom he remained faithful to the day of his death. He became a Methodist in 1811, being then twenty years of age. This was an important era in his history; and he was wont to refer to it, in time following, with unmingled satisfaction and ardent gratitude. The pleasures of the world were open to him : he had both means and opportunities of plunging into them. His disposition was remarkably sweet and amiable. Nature had cast him in one of her finest moulds. His company was much sought after; and, moving in a respectable spliere, he might have followed the amusements of the chase, and the gaieties of fashionable life. But he was fully resolved that bis asso. ciates should be few, and those only such as feared God; and that his employments and recreations should accord with the apostolic precept : “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 8. 31.)
The subject of union with the Lord's people had already engrossed much of his attention. He felt it an imperative duty to profess the name of Christ by joining His visible church. In taking this important step, he acted most conscientiously; and hence the consistency of his future course.
The doctrines of Methodism he firmly believed ; its privileges he highly appreciated ; and its ecclesiastical polity he warmly admired. He manifested great love for the means of grace. The chapel at Radwell, which he usually attended, was four miles distant from his residence : but he was very seldom absent from the prayer meeting at the early hour of seven on the Lord's day. “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.” (Psalm v. 3.) He consecrated himself to Christ and His church, and early manifested a burning and quenchless zeal for the salvation of souls. Anxious to do good in whatever department of Christian service the
providence of God might open to him, he soon found a sphere of usefulness in the Radwell Sunday-school. It was his delight to gather a group of children around him, and to instruct them, net merely in the art of reading, but also in the high and noble science of the Gospel of Christ. In this way he sought to achieve the great end of his labour. The Teacher who neglects this omits the most important part of his responsible function. The art of reading will be a blessing or a curse; and, surely, no means ought to be spared to make it a source of good to the scholar himself, and, through him, to others. After being some time employed as a Teacher, Mr. Hine was called to the important office of Superintendent of the school ; and for years he discharged its duties with credit to bimself, and great benefit to the institution. Some of the happiest days of his life (as he testified in later years) were spent in that school.
While training others for the service of Christ, he himself was in course of education for a more extensive sphere of labour under the same blessed Master. In a cottage of his native village he collected a few poor people, sang and prayed with them, and read to them short, plain, practical sermons on the great doctrines and blessings of the Gospel. . Encouraged by Christian friends whose opinion and advice he valued, he was induced to take a text, and attempt extempore address; and, by careful reading, devout meditation, and much prayer, he became an acceptable and useful Preacher. For the long period of forty-three years he discharged this arduous duty, and with signal success. Several years he laboured in the immediate neighbourhood of his native village ; and, when the Providence of God removed him to the adjoining Circuit of Biggleswade, he still pursued the same happy toil. For this important department of usefulness he was more than ordinarily qualified. His understanding was strong, clear, and well stored; his powers of imagination and invention were remarkable, but regulated by judgment and a correct taste. The great Gospel scheme he well understood; and he knew, by happy experience, how to answer the momentous question, “What must I do to be saved ?” Most highly did he estimate the holy Scriptures, and most ardently did he love them. Unequivocally, and without reservation, did he receive and acknowledge the Bible as the rule of man's faith and practice. He took special delight in the Book of Psalms. That rich fund of inspired poetry seemed just to suit his lively fancy and glowing heart ; and for years preceding his death his texts were almost exclusively taken from this portion of the word of God.* His discourses, replete with good common sense, and enlivened with striking imagery, were remarkable alike for clearness and spirituality. The appointments allotted to him he punctually and
* In this particular, we do not desire his example to be copied. “ All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. iji. 16, 17.)-EDITORS.
cheerfully fulfilled; allowing neither distance, nor weather, nor anything else to interfere with these solemn engagements.
In the year 1816 Mr. Iline was united in marriage to an excellent Christian lady: an event which he ever afterwards regarded with the utmost satisfaction and gratitude. He now went to reside at the village of Milton-Ernest, near Bedford ; and, as there was no Wesleyan chapel in the place, he continued for a season his connexion with the Society at Radwell. His heart yearned over the moral waste by which he was surrounded, and he was very anxious that his neighbours should hear that Gospel which had been made so great a blessing to himself. Ile soon obtained a small barn, which was fitted up as a place of worship, and regularly occupied by Ministers and Local Preachers. The people flocked to hear the word, and not in vain : a class was formed, of which Mr. Hine was appointed the Leader. The blessed influence of his talents and virtues was not confined to this one place ; it was felt through the entire Circuit. His visits to the different places, in the capacity of a Local Preacher, were eminently acceptable and beneficial. Jis many excellencies commanded high esteem ; in proof of which, he was several times elected to the office of Circuit-Steward, the duties of which he discharged with affection, diligence, and fidelity.
In everything relating to the house of God he cherished the deepest interest ; and many are the chapels in the erection of which he took a leading part. The barn at Milton-Ernest, small and inconvenient, became also sadly dilapidated : it was the best place he could secure at the time, and the people were thankful for it, and made good use of it. Mr. Hine's heart bad long been fixed, however, upon the erection of a commodious sanctuary to the Lord ; but to obtain a suitable site was a matter of great difficulty, owing to the determined opposition of the leading gentleman of the parish. By a remarkable Providence this difficulty was at length obviated. A neat chapel was raised, and opened for Divine worship by the Rev. Richard Watson in the year 1819. It is a remarkable coincidence, that the roof of the old barn fell in on the very day the new chapel was opened.
In 1827 Mr. Hine removed, with his family, to the village of Stotfold, in the Biggleswade Circuit. “A good name is better than precious ointment,” says the author of Ecclesiastes. (Chap. vii. 1.) So it proved in the case of this worthy 'man. His excellent reputation had preceded him, and he was received with the greatest cordiality.High hopes were entertained that he would prove as great a blessing to the Biggleswade Circuit, as he had been to that of Bedford; and it is only just to say, that these hopes, sanguine as they were, were fully realized. He entered heartily, and at once, into his Master's work ; and soon becanje a centre of influence of the most salutary kind. After five years spent at Stotfold, the unerring cloud of Providence conducted him to the adjacent village of Newnham, in the same Circuit. This place, situate in the county of Hertford, is one of those quiet nooks of the smiling south where nature, comparatively unobserved, revels in luxuriant foliage, rich grasses, and golden
At one end of the village stands the neat parish-church, surrounded by trees of noble growth ; and at the other end the Wesleyan chapel lifts its modest head. There is no public-house in the place; and hence the absence of scenes of riot, which elsewhere so frequently disturb the public peace. Many a noble gathering at the annual Missionary Meeting has the writer witnessed,-generally, in the charming month of June. In the afternoon a sermon preached in the chapel to an overflowing congregation, drawn together from a circle of several miles. A social meeting followed, in a large barn prepared for the occasion, and tastefully decorated with festoons and manifold devices of boughs and flowers. The chapel being too small, the public meeting was held in the spacious barn ; when hundreds of auditors (among whom might be seen the respected Clergyman of the parish) hung upon the lips of the speakers. A liberal collection gave expression to the general sentiment; and the people walked, or drove in vehicles of all kinds, to their homes, — all of them delighted with a day of innocent recreation, hallowed enjoyment, and great usefulness.
As at Milton-Ernest, so at Newnham, Mr. Hine was the honoured instrument of introducing Methodism ; and in both instances he lived to see cheering results. At Newybam he occupied a very large farm, and many of the villagers were in his employ : but he laboured also to cultivate the moral soil; and his efforts, crowned with the blessing of God, were very successful. He introduced preaching into a cottage, formed a class, and met regularly in Christian fellowship with his poorer neighbours, some of whom were his own labourers. At length, in 1834, a chapel was erected, mainly through his own liberality ; and it was opened for Divine worship by the Rev. Dr. Dixon.
For several years during Mr. Hine's residence at Newnham, in addition to other and kindred engagements, he held the office of Circuit-Steward, and was enabled to discharge its onerous duties to the entire satisfaction both of Ministers and people. He was now in the prime of life, and earnestly did he consecrate bis powers to God. In business, he was prudent, active, diligent, and successful. On matters connected with agriculture, he was an acknowledged authority; and such was the estimate of his information, judgment, and well-known probity, that in cases of valuation and arbitration he was sought after far and near. Though entirely free from the vice of covetonsness, he prosecuted his daily calling with habitual earnestness, impelled thereto by a sense of duty to himself, to his family, and to the church of God. As a master, he evinced a lively interest both in the temporal and the spiritual welfare of his servants, contributed in many ways to increase their little comforts, and generally won from them, in return, high esteem and sincere affection. Respected by the rich, he was beloved by the poor, to whom he was ever accessible, considerate, sympathizing, and liberal. He would counsel them in difficulty, pray with them in sickness, and console them under the strokes of berearement. He was always well received in their hunible dwellings. That fine, ruddy countenance, lit up with benevolence,
and beaming with the happiness which reigned within,-all truly indicative of his readiness to do anyone a kindness,—obtained a welcome wherever he went.
In him all good institutions found an able advocate and supporter. He was the stanch patron of a scriptural education for the masses of the people, and often publicly pleaded on behalf of Christian schools. The British and Foreign Bible Society he warmly loved. Missions to the Heathen engaged very much of his attention, and obtained a large share of his bounty. He was one of a sacramental band who feel that the world is their parish. The magnificent object of converting the nations to Christ was quite congenial to his large soul, and awakened all the yearnings of his benevolent heart. He often presided at Missionary Meetings, to the signal benefit of the good cause, and the edification of thousands. In addition to free pecuniary aid, he gave addresses which were soul-stirring and eminently practical. These were thoroughly evangelical in sentiment, rich and full in matter, and always catholic in tone and spirit. They were, moreover, truly origival ; often striking in conception, ingenious in construction, picturesque and beautiful in illustrations; and were delivered with much energy, pathos, and power.
Attached as he was to the cause of God in general, he was especially 80 to that great branch of the parent tree which is called Wesleyan Methodism. In support of its various institutions, his generosity kept pace with his means; and he was one of those “cheerful givers” whom “the Lord loveth.” In the Biggleswade Circuit, where he spent the best portion of his life, he rejoiced to witness, from time to time, the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom. At one period,
, within the space of three years, he saw seven excellent chapels erected, --two of them considerable buildings, involving a large outlay of money. In each case he was a liberal contributor, and one of the most active Trustees. By the blessing of God upon prudent management, he lived to see those establishments greatly reduce their responsibilities, and contribute an important amount, quarter by quarter, in support of the Circuit ministry.
His house was ever open to the Lord's servants ; and frequently did he entertain, under that most friendly roof, the officers of the entire Circuit assembled at their Quarterly Meetings. Many years the Ministers in their regular visits found there a quiet and happy home ; and never did he appear more highly gratified, than wben giving them a welcome for their Master's sake.
In 1845, partially retiring from business, he relinquished the farm at Newnbaw, in favour of his son; and removed to Bedford, where he remained three years, spending most of his time in works of piety and benevolence. The failure of his son's health induced him to return; and be took up his abode at the village of Stotfold, near Newnham. He was soou elected to some of the most important Circuit-offices, to which he cheerfully and efficiently applied himself as long as he lived.
During his latter years his interest in the cause of Christ suffered