« 前へ次へ »
LIAM GRIMSHAW. Like many in his day, he struggled through years of doubt and perplexity into that region of light and assurance where he spent the sequel of his fervent ministry. His parish, and the radiating centre of his ceaseless itinerances, was Haworth, near Bradford, in Yorkshire—a bleak region, with a people as wild and almost as ignorant as the gorse on their hungry hills.+ From the time that the love of Christ took possession of his soul, Mr Grimshaw gave to His service all the energies of his ardent mind and powerful frame. His health was firm, his spirit resolute, his understanding vigorous and practical, and having but one object, he continually pursued it, alike a stranger to fatigue and fear. With a slice of bread and an onion for his day's provision, he would trudge over the moors from dawn to summer-dusk in search of sheep in the wilderness, and after a night's rest in a hayloft would resume the work. In one of his weekly circuits he would think it no hardship to preach from twenty to thirty times. When he overtook a stranger on the solitary road, if riding, he would dismount and talk to him, and rivet his kind and pathetic exhortation with a word of prayer; and into whatsoever company thrown, with all the simplicity of a single eye and the mild intrepidity of a good intention, he addressed himself to his Master's business. It was he who silenced the infidel nobleman with the frank rejoinder," the fault is not so much in your Lordship’s head as in your heart;" and many of his emphatic words haunted people's ears till they sought relief by coming to himself and confessing all their case. When his career began, so sottish were his people, that it was hardly possible to draw them out to worship, but Mr Grimshaw's boldness and decision dragged them in. Whilst the psalm before sermon was singing, he would sally forth into the street and the ale-houses to look out for loiterers, and would chase them into the church; and one Sabbath morning a stranger riding through Haworth, and seeing some men bolting out at the back-windows and scrambling over the garden-wall of a tavern, imagined that the house was on fire, till the cry, “The Parson is coming," explained the panic. By dint of pains and courage, he conquered this heathenish parish; and such was the power which attended his preaching, that, in later life, instead of hunting through the streets for his hearers, when he opened his church for a short service at five in the summer mornings, it would be filled with shopmen and working people ready to commence their daily toil. And so strong was the attraction to his earnest sermons, that besides constant hearers who came from ten or twelve miles all around, the parsonage was often filled with Christian worthies who came on Saturday nights from distant towns. And when they crowded him out of his house into his barn, and out of the church into the church-yard, he was all in his glory, and got up on Monday morning early to brush the shoes of the farcome travellers. He was a gallant evangelist of the Baptist's school. Like the son of the desert, he was a man of a hardy build, and like him of an humble spirit, and like John, his joy was fulfilled when his Master increased. At last, in the midst of his brave and abundant exploits, a putrid fever, which, like Howard, he caught when engaged in a labour of love, came to summon him home. And when he was dead his parishioners came, and—fit funeral for a Christian hero-bore him away to the tomb amidst the voice of psalms.
* Born 1708. Died 1763.
+ Many of our readers will recall the vivid description of this region in Mrs Gaskell's “Life of Charlotte Bronte."
But perhaps among all these holy men, the completest and most gracious character was HENRY VENN* of Huddersfield. Certainly we have learned to contemplate him with that patri
* Born 1724. Died 1797.
archal halo which surrounded and sanctified his peaceful old age—and we have listened to him only in his affectionate and fatherly correspondence; but, so far as we can gather, his piety was of that winsome type, which, if it be not easy to record, it were blessed to resemble. Simeon of Cambridge loved him dearly, and tried to write his life ; but in the attempt to put it upon paper it all appeared to vanish. This fact is a good biography. No man can paint the summer. Venn's was a genial piety, full of fragrant warmth and ripening wisdom, but it was free from singularity. And his preaching was just this piety in the pulpit—thoughtful, benignant, and simple, the love of God that was shed abroad in his heart often appearing to shine from his person. But there were no dazzling passages, no startling nor amusing sallies. A rugged mountain, a copsy glen, a riven cedar, will make a landscape, but it is not easy to make a picture of a field of wheat.
Mr Venn had a rich and spontaneous mind, and from its affluent soil the crop came easily away, and ripened uniformly, and except that it yielded the bread of thousands, there is little more to tell. The popularity and power of his ministry are still among the traditions of the West Riding-how the Socinian Club sent its cleverest member to caricature the preacher, but amidst the reverential throng, and under the solemn sermon, awed into the feeling, 'Surely God is in this place,” he remained to confess his error and to recant his creed-how the “ droves” of people came from the adjacent villages, and how neighbours would go home for miles together so subdued that they could not speak a word. He published one book, “The Complete Duty of Man.” It is excellent; but like Wilberforce's “ View," and other treatises of that period, it has fulfilled its function—the world needs something fresh, something older or something newer, something which our immediate predecessors have not commonplaced. Still, it is an excellent treatise, a clear and engaging summary of practical divinity, and it did much good when new. Some instances came to Venn's own knowledge. Soon after its publication he was sitting at the window of an inn in the west of England. A man was driving some refractory pigs, and one of the waiters helped him, whilst the rest looked on and shouted with laughter. Mr Venn, pleased with this benevolent trait, promised to send him a book, and sent him his own. Many years after, a gentleman staying at an inn in the same part of England, on Saturday night asked one of the servants if they ever went to a place of worship on Sunday. He was surprised to find that they were all required to go at least once a-day, and that the master of the house not only never failed to attend, but maintained constant family prayer. It turned out that he was the waiter who had helped the pig-driver-that he had married his former master's daughter, and that he, his wife, and some of their children, owed all their happiness to the “ Complete Duty of Man.” The gentleman told the landlord that he knew Mr Venn, and soon intended to visit him, and in the joy of his heart the host charged him with a letter detailing all his happy history. Once at Helvoetsluys, when waiting for a fair wind to carry him to England, he accosted on the shore a gentleman whom he took for an Englishman ; he was a Swede, but having lived long in England, knew the language well. He turned out to be a pious man, and asked Mr Venn to sup with him. After much interesting conversation he opened his portmanteau, and brought out the book to which he said that he owed all his religious impressions. Mr Venn recognised his own book, and it needed all his humility not to betray the author.
WILLIAM ROMAINE* began his course as Gresham Professor of Astronomy, and editor of the four folios of Calasio's Hebrew Concordance. But after he caught the evangelic fire he burned and shone for nearly fifty years so far as the Establishment is
* Born 1714. Died 1795.
concerned—the light of London. It needed all his strength of character to hold his ground and conquer opposition. appointed Assistant Morning Lecturer at St George's, Hanover Square; but his fervent preaching brought a mob of people to that fashionable place of worship, and on the charge of having vulgarised the congregation and overcrowded the church, the rector removed him. He was popularly elected to the Evening Lectureship of St Dunstan's; but the rector there took possession of the pulpit in the time of prayer, so as to exclude the fanatic. Lord Mansfield decided that after seven in the evening Mr Romaine was entitled to the use of the church ; so, till the clock struck seven, the church-wardens kept the doors firm shut, and by drenching them in rain and freezing them in frost, hoped to weary out the crowd. Failing in this, they refused to light the church, and Mr Romaine often preached to his vast auditory, with no light except the solitary candle which he held in his hand. But, “ like another Cocles, he was resolved to keep the pass, and if the bridge fell to leap into the Tiber." Though for years his stipend was only £18, he wore home-spun cloth, and lived so plainly, that they could not starve him out. And though they repeatedly dragged him to the courts of law, they could not force him out. And though they sought occasion against him in regard to the canons, they could not get the bishop to turn him out. He held his post till, with much ado, he gained the pulpit of Blackfriars, and preached with unquenched fire till past four-score, the Life, the Walk, the Triumph of Faith. For a great while he was one of the sights of London, and people who came from Ireland and elsewhere to see Garrick act, went to hear Romaine discourse ; and many blessed the day which first drew their thoughtless steps to St Dunstan's or St Ann's. And in his more tranquil evening there was a cluster of pious citizens about Ludgate Hill and St Paul's Churchyard who exceedingly revered the abrupt old
Of all the churches in the capital, as in the days of