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WESLEY PREACHING ON HIS FATHER'S TOMB.
Ouston, where the Clergyman "offered him the church, and then altered his mind;" Belton, where he stood “under a shady oak;" Overthorpe, Haxey, and Wroote, where John Whitelamb, his brother-in-law, lent him the church, which “could not contain the people, many of whom came from far,"— were all summoned to repentance by the clarion-blast of his trumpet. In addition to this, he visited the sick, and as many others as desired it, at their own homes; he held long conversations with some who had gone astray from the simple doctrine of Christ; and he carefully examined the members of Society “one by one.” He had also to throw his shield over some of the poor people who were harassed and “
“persecuted for righteousness' sake;" his own record of which is really too choice to be omitted. “Wednesday, 9th.— I rode over to a neighbouring town, to wait upon a Justice of Peace, a man of candour and understanding; before whom, I was informed, their angry neighbours had carried a whole wagon-load of these new heretics. But when he asked what they had done, there was a deep silence; for that was a point their conductors had forgot. At length one said, 'Why, they pretended to be better than other people : and, besides, they prayed from morning to night.' Mr. S. asked, “But have they done nothing besides?' 'Yes, Sir,' said an old man: 'an't please your Worship, they have convarted my wife. Till she went among them, she had such a tongue! And now she is as quiet as a lamb.' "Carry them back, carry them back,' replied the Justice, and let them convert all the scolds in the town.''
We have thus sketched Wesley's first evangelistic visit to his native place; and, if our space permitted, we would gladly follow him through the deeply-interesting records of his subsequent labours in that interesting spot. The town held a large place in his affections to the end of life. “I rode to Epworth,” says, he, on one occasion, “which I still love beyond most places in the world." At least fifty-one times did he visit it in forty-eight years; and generally one Sabbath, and two or three week-days, were spent within its borders. He saw what he regarded as a large and handsome "house" of worship erected; he beheld the Society “multiply and grow," until they became a model to all the Societies in England; he had to mourn over their decline in piety and numbers, until, at his last visit, he was compelled to tell them frankly that they were but "a shadow of their former selves.” His visits on several occasions were at the time of his birth-day; and in the place of his nativity he wrote two or three of the loveliest pictures of old age which ever flowed from human pen. To the end of his days his Epworth congregations continued to increase rather than decline ; and on his last visit, only seven months before his death, he writes : “As soon as the afternoon service ended,” that is, in the church, “I began in the marketplace to press that awful question, 'How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation ?' on such a congregation as was never seen at Ep:oorth before.” It is worthy of remark that his pulpit on this occasion was not his “ father's tomb,” but the “MARKET Cross.” The year after his first visit, he again stood over the ashes of his father, and preached THE SICK MAN'S MISTAKE; ON, AM I RESPONSIBLE FOR MY BELIEF?
from, “And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest." (Heb. viii. 11.) But ever after that he preached either in “ the house," or in the “market-place." The reason probably was, that Mr. Romley, the intolerant Curate, who was the first Clergyman to refuse him the holy Sacrament of the Supper, forbad Wesley any more to preach on his father's tomb.
THE SICK MAN'S MISTAKE; OR, AM I RESPONSIBLE FOR MY
BELIEF ? In a large hospital-ward, where lay many sick men, there was one whom we will call Green, though that was not his name, who was one of those strange compounds of oddities and talent, very useful when they are good, but very difficult to manage when unrestrained by right principle. His life had been crowded with incident: he was a travelled man: born in America, he served in her navy, knew her cities, visited her prairielands, and imbibed much of her spirit and tone. Afterwards he entered the East India Company's service; and when, happily, both masters and men were discharged from further active duty, he enlisted into a distinguished English regiment, in whose hospital he now lay sick. At his bed-head hung a paper on which were entered his name, age, rank, disease, diet, order, and religion. The latter was “ Wesleyan ;” and as such he was visited ; and he gave his spiritual adviser as much difficulty in dealing with the disease of his heart and soul, as he did his physician with his complication of bodily ailments. There was some strange terrible disorder of mind or soul, that baffled all attempts at cure. With a new month, there was a new description-paper at the bed-head; and now his religion was marked “Roman Catholic.” His Wesleyan visiter, sitting on the next bed talking with another sick one of his flock, noticed the alteration, and called him by name; but there was no
reply: there was a suppressed titter among his comrades; but, as he saw that feigned sleep would not be taken for sufficient excuse, he turned in bed, and looked at his visiter.
“Why, Green, how is it you are called Roman Catholic on your card this month? Do you want the Priest?"
“No, no, Sir," said he ; “but the fact is, I am as much one thing as another. I have gone to all sorts of religions. I go where I like best. Just now, at this garrison, I go to the Wesleyans; but, may be, I should change at the next station, if the Parson didn't suit. I am no ways particular where I go.”
"But you are doing wrong by that sort of thing: there is no consistency in such conduct."
“Very true, Sir; but indeed I've met with very little of that article, consistency, in all my travels. But to me it seems that all religions are alike: Parson and Priest say the same things, or pretty nearly that. So my custom is, to go and hear the man that can say what he has to say in the best style : anyhow, I'm consistent in that. I always choose the Parson that pleases me most. Some folks quarrel a vast deal about their faith, as they call it: Catholic and Protestant get to blows about their religion ; a pretty proof to me that neither is worth much: so I have no faith, and am neither Protestant nor Papist, and therefore never quarrel.”
“Well, I intend to talk the whole question with you ; because it is of great importance, and I shall try to impress on you the fact that you are
THE SICK MAN'S MISTAKE; OR, AM I RESPONSIBLE FOR MY BELIEF
responsible to God for your belief, a man can't help what he believes ; it and that that responsibility is very, is as he is made to believe; and if very great. First of all, let us settle God does not make me believe right, as to names. You are neither Protest- what can I do ?” ant nor Papist, you say ; but what He had become serious in tone, and were you originally? What should appeared anxious. The reply was, you be, say, if you took your parents' “ That is the very thing you ought faith?"
to think about. You are certainly “A strange compound, Sir; a mix- wrong: what can you do to be set ture of the two; and indeed in faith right? Now let me tell you plainly, much like the wine they give us in that the great mistake of your life is, hospital, none the better for its that you imagine you are not respondilution. My father was a Protestant, sible for your belief. But you are who never protested; my mother a responsible for it, and that responsiCatholic, who never confessed: what bility is heavy. Just think how imin the world should I be, Sir, if I portant God makes it in the Bible. followed them ?”
After our Saviour Jesus Christ had This conversation became
very died for us, and risen from the dead, popular among the sick soldiers in the He came to His disciples, and told ward; for it was on a subject that had them to go into all the world, and often been mooted in barrack and preach the Gospel to every creature;' hospital, and was one on which Green and He said to them, “He that believeth was great: consequently several men and is baptized shall be saved; but he were very attentive listeners.
that believeth not shall be damned.' The visiter said, “We will leave the
So that you see your eternal salvation question of Protestantism and Roman- depends on your believing on Christ: ism alone for awhile, because there is a if you believe aright on Him, you will matter of more pressing importance to be saved ; if you do not so believe, you you. Here you lie sick; your dis- will be damned." ease is chronic; the rest of your life “I never disbelieved the Bible, Sir," will be spent between duty and hospi- said he. tal, and most likely the largest part of “No, that may be ; but there is a your time will be spent under medical great difference between disbelieving treatment: now this cannot last very the Bible, and believing on Jesus long, a few years at most,--and what Christ for salvation." then? You have had many a change “How, Sir ?” asked poor Green in your life; have been in the service earnestly. of two countries ; been in the navy of “Why, in this way: a man may one, in the army of another, and believe all that the Bible says, and yet borne arms in a third ; you have been fail to secure for himself the blessings a sailor, a soldier in the line, and are of the salvation of Jesus Christ. As I now in the cavalry; you are living; passed up the garden just now, the you will die: you are on earth now, sun was shining gloriously. It was where God's truth is taught you ; you very bright and warm. A number of will be--where?"
the patients were out sunning them“O, Sir! how solemn you talk! I've selves, and looking very happy : but scarce ever thought about that seri- under the porch, and in the corridors, ously. But I ain't like some fellows, were some others, who were cool and that don't believe nothing, and make a hidden from the sunshine; but then the mock at everything : only I believe one fault was their own : they knew that thing as much as another; that is, that the sun shone brilliantly outside, and, all religions are good : and you know if they would, they could go and
THE SICK MAN'S MISTAKE; OR, AN I RESPONSIBLE FOR MY BELIEF:
bask in its rays; but if they preferred " True ; you would be responsible for the dark, long, brick corridor to the your unbelief: so in reference to the open air and green sward and sunlight, affairs of your soul. The flag of danthey must take the consequences.
So ger is hoisted, the flag of salvation too: in reference to religion, the Sun of if you will not heed them, the fault is Righteousness is shining, and every yours. If you will, you may be saved ; one that comes under His beams re- or, in the words of St. Paul, *Believe joices. He shines for every person in on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou the world ; but God gives to each one shalt be saved.'” liberty to choose whether he will go “ This is a thing I shall think in the sun, or stop in the shade. about till you come round again, Sir: Hitherto
you have preferred the shade. anyhow, I sha'n't trifle about it again. You believe the Bible, you say; and It seems something terrible to me, those comrades of yours in the corri- looking at it in your way; and yet my dors believe that the sun is shining; mind was peaceable enough about the but, like them, you have not come into future before. You see I did not know, the warmth and light.”
I did not think: everything seemed “No, that is true ; but how am I to great about me, and I felt safe : just do it?"
like a Muscovy duck that I have seen “By exercising the power which washed overboard at sea ; it swam so God is willing to give you ; by believ- proudly in the waters as the ship ing in Christ. You have never yet dashed on ; it was free from coops and tried to believe in Him: and therefore the knife. I felt free like that, bound you cannot say you are not responsible by no creeds, but swimming where I for
your lack of faith ; for you do not liked." know that you do lack power to “ That is rather a strange illustrabelieve. God has given the men tion, Green ; but, as you have given it, down-stairs limbs by which they can let us press it a little further. Did walk to the sun-light; and He has you ever think that though that poor given you a heart by which you can bird was free from coops, free on the believe unto salvation, through His broad waters,
waters, swimming proudly promised grace.”
enough, yet that it would never reach “ The fact is, Sir, I don't think the a shore of safety, never meet its mate, importance of the thing ever fixed but must ultimately perish on those itself on my mind before.”
waters?” “Well, be thankful if you see the “Bless me, Sir, how the things turn need of deeper thought on the subject against me: you mean that in my
You are an old sailor : just tell freedom I shall be lost.” me what you would do, if some day at “No, I do not mean that exactly ; sea you were sent out with the boats for, thank God, there is a refuge for to another ship, and the yellow flag you. If you stayed on the troubled was hoisted as you pulled towards waters of unbelief, you could reach no her."
shore of safety ; but Jesus, who of old “O, I should keep as far off the walked on the waters to His disciples, strangers' ship as possible, and get comes now to you, and will guide you back to my own as soon as I could." to Himself, if you are willing. Now, “But why ?"
I must leave you. Say these two " Because I should
prayers very earnestly from your heart: there was infection on board."
"God be merciful to me a sinner ;' “Yes, but if you did not believe it, Lord, I believe: help Thou mine what then?"
C. H. K. « Ah! that would be my look out.”
ALONE IN DEATII AND JUDGMENT.
ALONE IN DEATH AND man as for one in circumstances not JUDGMENT.*
his, circumstances different from any We all speak of death familiarly, as others, and in which there is no if we knew what it was, as if we had partaker. taken its measure and weighed its In death we shall be alone ; and can import. But who amongst the living we follow the soul one step further, can tell us what it is? There are some and see it standing in judgment before points in the subject which are only the throne of God? Whatever be the painful, only humiliating; not practical, actual meaning of the word judgment and not profitable. But there is one as applied to that last act of decision point which is truly and deeply so: I and discrimination by which the mean, that in death we shall be alone, eternal state of each one of us is to be and shall feel ourselves so to be determined, thus much we may say of Friends may or may not be around us ; it, that it will be an individual act ; they will have ceased to be with us. that neither nations, nor churches, nor We must feel that we are going, and families, will, in that sense, be the they (for the present) staying; we subjects of judgment, but the soul have that in hand with which they itself, and by itself; that, in the cannot intermeddle; we have that in strictest meaning which can be given prospect, which is only for us, not for to the words,
every one of us shall them; to give in an account, in which give account of himself to God.” their names indeed may occur, but not You must all die alone; you must all as the debtor, only as creditors ; they be judged alone. Do not hide from may have been sinned against, and yourself these two certainties. It is they may have forgiven, yet are we not most important that you should well hereby justified; for no
remember them. They have a direct deliver his brother from the con- bearing upon your life here and now. sequences of sin even against himself, If you are to die alone, if you are to be nor make agreement unto God for him. judged alone, must it not be good for Often, indeed, the presence of mourn- you sometimes to live alone ; to practise ing friends must be an aggravation, it as a thing which has to be learned, rather than alleviation, of the pains of and cannot be learned too early ? dying. We shrink instinctively from There are two senses, at least, in the thought of dying in solitude : which you ought all of you to practise in proportion as it is the latest moment
the being alone. of human companionship, it is clùng to First. One of these is, being alone in with tenacity, though we know that it prayer. I do not mean that you must is the latest, and even then superficial, necessarily be in a place by yourselves if not illusory. Already is the soul, in order to pray: if this were essential if consciousness be granted and truth to prayer, then the poor and the young, felt, alone with God; viewing itself as in most cases, could never pray. But in His sight, and preparing for a yet I mean that in praying, whether by eloser access. The words of a Christian
yourselves (which is, no doubt, a great friend may suggest thoughts of solem- advantage) or in the presence of others, nity or of hope ; his prayers may you should try to shut out the reencourage, comfort, and help: but he collection of any other presence than is no longer with us as he once was : that of God : you should feel yourselves he speaks to us as departing, as going, to be alone with a Father who is in and that alone : he prays for the dying secret; as much alone with Him as if • From Memorials of Harrow Sundays.
you were in a waste wilderness : upon By Charles John Vaugban, D.D. Second your being able so to feel depends the Edition. London ; Macmillan and Co. question whether your prayer is a