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he had done, an almost patriarchal age, he has not left behind him any contemporary, (save, perhaps, one,) to tell us of bis antecedents ; or a large number who were acquainted with him in his palmy days, to inquire after his end. It is, therefore, very pleasing when younger Christians like yourself, who knew a little of him, and heard much of bis excellency, would fain contemplate the faithfulness and grace of God in the final close of his extended life. A solemn feeling steals over me, while in the strictest adaptation I write, · Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright ; for the end of that man is peace. We can often find a resemblance of one friend in another : but, you will be quite aware, our dear Mr. Middleton carried with him an impressive identity of character. With all the grace of a Christian [there was combined] such a gentlemanly bearing. Quiet and punctual in every movement, he fulfilled each duty in its time and season, with a beautiful composure and tranquillity of spirit. When he could no more go in and out among us, all this—especially the latter features -adorned his seclusion for above two years. To one naturally so active, such a retirement must have been trying; but there was no repining, no questioning of the wisdom and love of God in the dispensation. It was truly edifying to wituess with what childlike simplicity and confidence he acquiesced in it. Of course, we gladly availed ourselves of the access granted us to that sacred enclosure, where our beloved friend held constant communion with God. We, who looked and listened, as he dilated on the Divine goodness, and besought those around him to devote themselves fully to the Saviour, beheld in his own bright example as strong an inducement as any arguments he
He was seldom, if at any time, in ecstasy : but it was always refreshing and encouraging to mark the sweet serenity and calm devotion impressed even upon his countenance. In him we witnessed an exemplification of the great truth, that the branch which abides in Christ continues fruitful in old age. The fruits of the Spirit fell so fragrant and mellow on all around, and on many afar off, — liberality to the cause of God, benevolence to the poor, kindness, patience, and love,—that it was truly delightful to contemplate a branch so richly laden.........Nearly to the period of his last attack, his mind would enter with surprising discrimination and ardour into all the local and general interests of Zion, the city of our solemnities;' and his liberality was gerially spontaneous.
Of the great events of the wider world, too, he desired to hear; and his comments on them invariably pointed to the happy conclusion, The Lord reigneth.' Thus it was up to the morning of October 18th, 1856 ; when his attendants saw a little alteration in him, though nothing to excite alarm. On the 20th lae received intelligence of the death of his brother, Mr. Sampson Middleton. Though he said not much about it, there is reason to think it shook his system ; for a slight paralysis took hold of his right hand and arm. The following day his speech was affected ; and, almost from that time, articulation failed. We were thus precluded from knowing what was revealed to his departing spirit; but, having for so many years witnessed his
confirmed spirituality and heavenly-mindedness, we felt sure that Christ was now to him ALL IN ALL, and that the eye of steadfast faith would rest upon Him alone ; that, “beholding with open face the glory of the Lord,' the adoring believer would be changed into the same image from glory to glory.' It affected us much to see him linger in this enfeebled and speechless state for more than a fortnight; but so it seemed good to his heavenly Father, whose love and wisdom we do not impugn. It behoved us meekly to say, (as the silence and placidity of the suffering one emphatically spoke it,) • Thy will be done.' He fell quietly asleep in Jesus, and awoke in glory, about half-past four on Sabbath morning, the 9th of November, 1856 ; after an earthly pilgrimage of ninety years."
His remains were interred beside those of the late Mrs. Middleton, in the cemetery of the Wesleyan-Methodist chapel, George-street, Cheltenham. A funeral sermon was preached in due course by one of his former Pastors and friends, on Job xix. 25—27: “ For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth : and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God : whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” The following sketch of character, prepared by the Rev. Samuel Walker, his Pastor at the time of his death, was read on the solemn occasion :
"I knew Mr. Middleton only during a portion of the time he spent in retirement from public view and church-service. This was not a time of suffering merely, or of inaction, but of preparation and waiting for his change. It was in his life the calm season of autumn, when the ripe fruit, still gathering richness, was ready to be gathered up in store. It was not a season of bitter lamentation over neglected ordinances and opportunities : yet there was neither rejoicing nor * confidence in the flesh'-no reference to long and faithful service, to deeds of charity, or regular attendance in the sanctuary. Had these been matters for trust, he had ground for glorying: but I do not remember to have heard, in any visit, the slightest reference to * works of righteousness' which he had done.' His sole dependence for peace, salvation, and final happiness, was in the merit of bis Saviour. Christ was his life. His affections were set on things above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.' In that direction his thoughts seemed naturally and constantly to go. It was evidently a high gratification either to hear or to speak of Christ and His love, and of the Spirit and His work. He had equal pleasure in conversing on the subjective part of religion--the life of God in the soul; the evidences of its health, growth, and maturity. He • believed, and therefore spake :' he willingly declared what God had done for him, expressing his own desires, and seeking counsel and satisfaction from the testimonies of others. He dwelt with relish on Divine themes ; thinking over inspired thoughts given for meditation and for delight. He did not, however, rest in the luxury of quietism. Ilis religion, of high and benevolent tone, did not unfit him for
marking with lively interest the progress of things in the world he had known so long. He did not forget it, though he had retired from its busy scenes, and felt no desire to return. He did not despise the world; but there was another—a better country—which occupied the first place in his affections. Most of his friends were already there. He was not unmindful of the starting-point, though about to finish his course ; or of the protracted course of discipline in years gone by, though the goal was in sight, and the crown of righteousness,' which the Lord, the righteous Judge,' stood ready to award to the victor. His Christianity did not border on the sickly sentimentalism of the religious house;' nor was it the towering pretension which cannot attend to anything secular. It was the strong and healthy Christianity of a man of good sense, who had carefully and prayerfully read his Bible, who loved it reverentially, and was guided by its unerring light. It was a Christianity that fitted him to live in the world, to attend to its legitimate affairs, and to sanctify them by doing all to the glory of God. He was a selfdenying man, and yet one who knew the happiness of not condemning himself in that which he allowed; using this world, as not abusing it. He was upright, conscientious, temperate in all things, yet enjoying perfect freedom while under the law to Christ.' His long life must be partly ascribed to that “moderation' which was in his case ' known unto all men. But, if there was one desire which he more frequently and strongly expressed than another, it was for more intimate communion with God, and a more abiding and satisfactory evidence of His love. Not that there was any doubt or painful uncertainty ; but a longing for clearer and more powerful manifestations. This was expressed, just before he lost the power of utterance, in the words of the hymn,
"O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame !! The desire is fulfilled, and he is satisfied.”
TIIE SPIRIT'S MESSAGE TO TIIE CHURCHES :
A SERMON PREACHED BEFORE THE CONFERENCE, IN BRUNSWICK CHAPEL, LIVERPOOL, MONDAY MORNING, AUGUST 30, 1857,
BY THE REV. ROBERT YOUNG,
(PUBLISHED BY REQUEST OF THE CONFERENCE.) “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Rev. iii. 22.)
Our Lord, being about to leave His disciples, said unto them, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” They soon realized the truth of His statement, in the cruel persecutions they endured from an evil and perverse generation. Some of them were immured in loathsome
dungeons; others were barbarously tortured, and put to death; and others were compelled to forego all the pleasures of home, and become wanderers in lands of exile.
The beloved John was of the latter number. He was banished, by the Roman Emperor, to the desolate isle of Patmos, “ for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Here he received the splendid revelations contained in this book. Being, as he informs us, " in the Spirit on the Lord's day,” he beheld the Saviour in His glory: “ His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire ; and Ilis feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars : and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” In this imposing vision, so much calculated to excite adoration, the Saviour revealed to John many things respecting the seven Asiatic churches, which he was to “write in a book," and communicate to the parties concerned. He did so, and in each epistle embodied the words of the text.
Christ is said to have dictated these epistles both in sentiment and language, thus giving them the authority of verbal inspiration ; and yet, in the text, all is represented as done by the Spirit. This, however, does not indicate discrepancy in the statements, but unity in the Persons : “ He shall receive of Mine,” says Christ, “and shall show
Each epistle is addressed to the angel of the church, as if it were designed exclusively for himself : but the text shows that it was in tended for both Pastors and people. The angel, or presiding Pastor, being the medium of communication, was to make known to the people of his charge the mind of the Spirit, and to employ all his official influence to secure its observance. The same is required of every Christian Minister. How honourable, and yet how responsible, his position! The Spirit speaks by and through him to the church. How necessary that he should live and walk in the Spirit ; yea, that he should be filled with the Spirit, that no earthly tendency or unholy passion may corrupt the channel, and give to the communication a wrong bias or colour !
In these epistles are many things applicable to the churches of the present day, which ought to engage the serious and prayerful attention of both Pastors and people; but especially of the former, whose imperative duty it is to speak“ not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth,” that their ministrations may be efficient, and tend to edification and comfort. that bath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” This form of speech is intended to call devout and special attention to what is spoken. It indicates the dignity of the Speaker, and the importance of His communication.
* “What the Spirit saith unto the churches,”—though Christ is the Speaker : Because this is, emphatically, the dispensation of the Spirit ; and every voice in the church can be heard with salutary effect only as the Spirit repeats and applies it.Dr. Arnold.
it unto you.
The Spirit speaks in these epistles words of comMENDATION, words of REPROOF, words of PROMISE : and, in each case, it is most important that we hear what He saith unto the churches.
I. The Spirit speaks words of COMMENDATION. In six churches, out of the seven, He finds something to commend, which He graciously notices, before alluding to other things calling for reproof. A suitable lesson this for Christians, and especially for Christian Ministers. many a declining church there is something good remaining; and, in our zeal to arrest the progress of declension, that good should not be overlooked, but generously recognised : such a course being much more likely to excite hope, and to induce wholesome effort, than that of unmingled censure and reproof. Christ thoroughly knows humau nature; and this is the way He deals with it.
1. Works are commended by the Spirit.—In the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, and Philadelphia, works generally are mentioned with approbation ; but those specially acknowledged are “labour," "service," and decided opposition to various forms of evil as existing in some of the churches. Thus did the parties approved show their faith by their works. Religion is a practical thing. It makes good the tree, and the fruit is good also. It cleanses the fountain, and the streams become pure. We do not make void the law through faith. “ The carnal mind is enmity against God : for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
But Christianity, where cordially received, destroys that enmity, and graciously qualifies and prompts its recipients to perform works of faith, and to engage in labours of love. Constrained by the love of Christ, they feel it a duty to press into His service all their powers, and to become "a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God.” In sustaining the institutions of Christianity, in relieving the distressed, and in seeking to save souls from death, they are found rendering service according to their ability. They vigorously oppose sin, under all its aspects ; delight daily in the means of grace; and bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in a renewed life and conversation.
Let works, then, be properly appreciated in the church ;-not, indeed, substituted for that faith by which alone the soul is justified before God; but regarded, and valued, as the invariable product and evidence of its saving power. • Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Such is the witness of God. Some men, in their hatred of Pelagianism, very eloquently declaim against works, as if they had no connexion whatever with saving religion, and seem to forget that Christ is King as well as Priest—that Ile rules those whom He saves, and that the decisions of the last day will not be according to professions of faith, but according to men's works. The great soul-saving doctrine of justification by faith alone may be perverted, and, we fear, too frequently is so, by persons of antinomian tendencies. They extol faith, but decry works. Christians are they in name, but not in practice ; saying, “ Lord, Lord,” but doing not the things which Christ commands. The Apostle, being aware of this tendency of human nature, said to Titus, for liis guidance as a