ページの画像
PDF
ePub

Gouge, a hundred

years before,*

* his was the one towards which most home-feeling flowed. It shed a Sabbatic air through its environs, and the dingy lanes around it seemed to brighten in its religion of life and hope. Full of sober hearers and joyful worshippers, it was a source of substantial service to the neighbourhood in times of need ; and whilst the warm focus to which provincial piety and travelled worth most readily repaired, it was the spot endeared to many a thankful memory as the Peniel where first they beheld that great sight, CHRIST CRUCIFIED.

Beside the London Mansion House there is a church with two truncated square towers—to all appearance the stumps of amputated steeples-suggesting St Mary Woolnoth, and St Mary Wool-Church-Haw. Could the reader have visited it sixty odd years ago, he would have seen in the heavy pulpit a somewhat heavy old man. With little warmth he muttered through a pious sermon-texts and trite remarks

till now and then some bright fancy or earnest feeling made a momentary animation overrun his seamy countenance, and rush out at his kind and beaming eyes. From Lombard Street bankers and powdered merchants lolling serenely at the end of various pews, it was evident that he was not deemed a Methodist. From the gaunt north-country visage which peered at him through catechetic spectacles, and waited for something wonderful which would not come, it was likely that he was a Calvinist, and that his fame had crossed the Tweed. And from the fond up-looking affection with which

many of his hearers eyed him, you would have inferred that himself must be more interesting than his sermon. Go next Friday evening to No. 8, Coleman Street Buildings, and there, in a dusky parlour, with some twenty people at tea, will you meet again the preacher. He has doffed the cassock, and

* See“ Christian Classics,” vol. i.; p. 331.

'TIS SIXTY YEARS AGO.

251

own.

in a sailor's blue jacket, on a three-legged stool, sits, like the successor of St Peter, in solitary state, at a little table of his

The tea is done, and the pipe is smoked, and the “ teathings” give place to the Bible. The host inquires if any one has got a question to ask; for these re-unions are meetings for edification as well as for friendship. And two or three have come with their questions cut and dry. A retired old lady asks, “How far a Christian may lawfully conform to the world ?” And the old sailor says many good things to guide her scrupulous conscience, although it may be rather surmised that the question was asked for the sake of the young gentleman with the velvet coat and frilled wrist bands next the door. “When a Christian goes into the world because he sees it is his call, yet while he feels it also his cross, it will not hurt him.” Then guiding his discourse towards some of his city friends—“A Christian in the world is like a man transacting business in the rain ; he will not suddenly leave his client because it rains; but the moment the business is done he is gone; as it is said in the Acts, ‘Being let go, they went to their own company.'

This brings up Hannah More and her book on the “Manners of the Great ;" and the minister expresses his high opinion of Miss More. Some of the party do not know who she is, and he tells them that she is a gifted lady, who used to be the intimate friend of Johnson, Horace Walpole, and Sir Joshua Reynolds, the idol of the West-end grandees, and the writer of plays for Drury Lane, but who has lately come out with some faithful appeals to her aristocratic acquaintances on the subject of heart-religion, and which are making a great sensation. “Aweel,” says an elder from Swallow Street, “ Miss Moore is very tawlented, and I hope has got the root of the matter; but I misdoubt if there be not a laygal twang in her still.” And the minister smiles quaintly, and in partial assent to the criticism, but repeats his admiration and his hope for the accomplished authoress. And

66

[ocr errors]

then he opens his Bible, and after singing one of the Olney hymns, reads the eighteenth chapter of the Acts. “ You see that Apollos met with two candid people in the Church ; they neither ran away because he was legal, nor were carried away because he was eloquent.” And after a short but fervent prayer, catholic, comprehensive, and experimental, and turning into devotion the substance of their colloquy, it is as late as nine o'clock, and the little party begins to separate. Some are evidently constant visitors. The tacitum gentleman who never spoke a word, but who, at every significant sentence, smacked his lips, as if he were clasping a casket over a gem, and meant to keep it, occupied a prescriptive chair, and so did the invalid lady who has ordered her sedan to Bedford Row. In leave-taking, the host has a kind word for every one, and, recognising a north country pilgrim, he says, “I was a wild beast on the coast of Africa; but the Lord caught me and tamed me, and now you come to see me as people go to look at the lions in the Tower." Never was lion so entirely tamed as JOHN NEWTON.* Commencing life as a desperado and dread-nought, and scaring his companions by his peerless profanity and heaven-daring wickedness, and then by his remarkable recovery signalising the riches of God's grace, you might have expected a Boanerges to come out of the converted buccaneer. But never was transformation more complete. Except the blue jacket at the fireside, and a few sea-faring habits -except the lion's hide, nothing survived of the African lion. The Puritans would have said that the lion was slain, and that honey was found in its carcass. Affable, and easy

of

access, his house was the resort of those who sought a skilful spiritual counsellor, and knowing it to be the form of service for which he was best fitted, instead of fretting at the constant interruption, or nervously absconding to some calm retreat, his consulting-room, in London's most trodden thoroughfare, was

* Born 1725. Died 1807.

a

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

always open. And though he was sometimes disappointed in those of whom his confiding nature hoped too soon, his hopefulness was the very reason why others turned out so well. There was a time when Christian principle was a smoking flax in Claudius Buchanan and William Wilberforce ; but on Newton's hearth, and under the afflatus of God's Spirit, it soon burst forth in flame. And if his conversation effected much, his correspondence accomplished more. His narrative is wonderful, and his hymns are very sweet; but his letters make him eminent. Our theology supplies nothing that can rival them; and it is when we recollect how many quires of these epistles were yearly issuing from his study, that we perceive what an influential and useful man the rector of St Mary's was. Many volumes are in print, and we have read others in manuscript. All are fresh and various, and all distinguished by the same sagacity and seriousness, the same sprightly wisdom and transfusive warmth. All are rich in experimental piety, and all radiant with goodness of heart and genuine happiness.

Time would fail to tell of Scott the commentator, of Andrew Fuller, of Charles Simeon, of Richard Cecil, and other preachers and authors who are claimed by the present century, although so much of their work was done among our predeces

And of some of them, as well as of Cowper, Hannah More, Wilberforce, and other coadjutors among the laity, we hope to give specimens as we proceed.* Meanwhile, we trust that even this hasty retrospect may bring some readers to a better acquaintance with those men of faith and fervour who broke the death-slumbers of a former generation, and to whom, under God, we are indebted for the evangelistic institutions and benevolent undertakings by which the present age is distinguished.

* Our specimens of Venn, Toplady, and Newton, are also postponed to the subsequent sections.

VOL. IV.

sors.

a

Y

SPECIMENS.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD.

MANY of Whitefield's sermons were taken down by the celebrated stenographer, Gurney; but, like the speeches of Chatham, Sheridan, and other great parliamentary orators, it needs an imagination capable of calling up the actual scene and all the circumstances, in order to account for their wonderful effect. The following specimens, however, may give some idea of his warmth, his tenderness of heart, and affectionate importunity

The Offering up of Isaac.

And yet

I see your hearts affected, I see your eyes weep. (And, indeed, who can refrain weeping at the relation of such a story) But, behold, I shew you a mystery, hid under the

? sacrifice of Abraham's only son, which, unless your hearts are hardened, must cause you to weep tears of love, and that plentifully too. I would willingly hope you even prevent me here, and are ready to say, “It is the love of God, in giving Jesus Christ to die for our sins.” Yes; that is it. perhaps you find your hearts, at the mentioning of this, not so much affected. Let this convince you, that we are all fallen creatures, and that we do not love God or Christ as we ought to do: for, if you admire Abraham offering up his Isaac, how much more ought you to extol, magnify, and adore the love of God, who so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son Christ Jesus our Lord, “that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life"? May we not

« 前へ次へ »