Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

lative enactments, such as the abolition of the slave trade, and of slavery itself, in the British dominions; the foundation of important institutions of a philanthropic character, and the births or deaths of distinguished philanthropists, as Vincent de Paul, Howard, and Clarkson ; all these, though not directly bearing on religion, may yet furnish, it is thought, even to a Christian mind, a variety of materials for devout consideration and thanksgiving in the retirement of the closet.”—pp. 5, 7.

The only point, among the many suggested by these extracts, to which we shall invite attention now, is the union which this method cultivates between piety and zeal, the retired exercises of the closet, and the active duties of life. To do less for Christ than we are doing—not to strive to do more for him than we are doing, would be manifestly wrong; but how shall we prevent this activity from absorbing and annihilating contemplation ? Evidently, by making it, in part, the matter of our contemplation, and so assimilating it, by a spiritual digestion, for the strengthening and growth of piety. In this way, that which, too frequently, is mere dissipation under a mask of charity, may become the instrument of the Divine life in the soul, and the most specious of our snares may be rendered not the smallest of our safeguards.

It is interesting to observe how old many things are which seem new, and it will gratify this interest, as well as enforce the previous suggestions by a weighty example, if we append an extract or two from the life of the good Philip Henry, as recorded by his son, and enlarged by Sir J. B. Williams. Matthew Henry writes ::

“ He was born at Whitehall, in Westminster, on Wednesday, August 24th, 1631, being Bartholomew's Day. I find, usually, in his diary, some pious remark or other upon the annual return of his birthday. As in one year he notes, that the Scripture mentions but two who observed their birthday with feasting and joy, and they were neither of them copies io be written after; namely, Pharaoh, Gen. xl. 20, and Herod, Matt. xiv.6. 'But,' saith he,ʻI rather observe it as a day of mourning and humiliation, because shapen in iniquity, and conceived in sin.' And when he had completed the thirtieth year of his age, he noted this, - 'So old, and no older, Alexander was, when he had conquered the great world; but,' saith he, “I have not yet subdued the little world, myself.' At his thirty-third year he hath this humble reflection—A long time lived to small purpose. What shall I do to redeem it?' And at another, I may mourn as Cæsar did, when he reflected upon Alexander's early achievements, that others, younger than I am, have done much more than I have done for God, the God of my life.' And to mention no more, when he had lived forty-two years, he thus writes- I would be loth to live it over again, lest, instead of making it better, I should make it worse; and, besides, every year and day spent on earth, is lost in heaven.'

" He always kept a will by him ready made; and it was his custom, yearly, on the return of his birthday, to review, and, if occasion were, to renew and alter it. For it is good to do that at a set time, which it is very good to do at some time. The last will he made bears date, * This 24th day of August, 1695, being the day of the year on which I was born, 1631, and also the day of the year on which, by law, I

died,* as did also near two thousand faithful ministers of Jesus Christ, 1662.' Allud. ing to that clause in the Act of Uniformity which disposeth of the places and benefices of ministers not conforming, as if they were naturally dead.” Life of Philip Henry, c. i.

The last paragraph exemplifies, it will be noticed, not only the review of personal events which Mr. Sheppard recommends, but also that reference to public interests which we have enforced above. The following is to the same effect, and reminds us of the Scripture precedents which may be pleaded for such commemorations ; commemorations unenforced by temporal power, and only profitable through the severity and depth of feeling with which they were observed :

"On the return of his birthday, his diary contains the following affecting record 1663, August 24th. This day thirty-two years, I was born; this day twelve-month I died; that fatal day to the godly, painful, faithful ministers of England, among whom I am not worthy to be numbered. We mourned and prayed before the Lord, at W. B.'s house, if so be there may be hope,' Zech. vii. 3 ; compare Jer. i. 3.

“The Jews, in their captivity, fasted in the fifth month, because in the fifth month Jerusalem was carried away captive; and in the seventh month, (Zech. vii. 5,) because in the seventh month Gedaliah was slain, Jer. xli. 1."

To assist the younger members of our churches in carrying out this exercise in practice, we purpose to notice in each month's publication this year, a few of the memorable anniversaries which occur in the month. This will be accompanied with brief details of two or three of the most interesting of them, and references to books. It is hoped that this may produce in some an interest in the study of our church history. The Outlines of this calendar are sold for the benefit of the Congregational Union.

MEMORABLE DAYS IN JANUARY, WITH BRIEF DETAILS

AND REFERENCES.

The list for the present month must be a brief one, and being prepared on short notice, it has been impossible to restrict it to very important or remarkable facts. But we have enough of them for our immediate purpose, which is to show, by a few varied instances, how the recollection of remarkable events connected with the spread of the Gospel, and the history of the most distinguished individuals who have

* When that eminent martyr, Master George Wischard, was prohibited preaching, " he grew pensive, and being asked the reason, said, What do I differ from a dead man, but that I eat and drink?"" Clark's Gen. Martyrology, p. 263, fol. 1677.

been raised up by God to diffuse, explain, or defend it, may be made subservient to personal edification.

January 1, 1484. Zwingle born.

4, 1580. Archbishop Usher born.
5, 1782. Dr. Robert Morrison, (the first Protestant missionary to China,

and, in conjunction with Dr. Milne, the translator of the Scrip

tures into the Chinese language) born. 7, 1651. Andrew Rivet (Professor of Divinity at Leyden) died. 12, 1723. Jonathan Edwards (President of the College at New Jersey) dedi

cated himself to God. » 14, 16, and 18, 1604. The Hampton Court conference was held. 14, 1622. Paul Sarpi (usually called Father Paul), the historian of the Council

of Trent, died. 19, 1733.* Commencement of the United Brethren's Mission to Greenland

Ordination of Christian David, Matthew Stach, and Christian

Stach, at Herrnhut. 20, 1568. Miles Coverdale died. 20, 1790. John Howard, the philanthropist, died. 22, 1690. Mr. Robert Porter (ejected from Pentridge, in Derbyshire, by the

Act of Uniformity) died.
22, 1696. Mr. Samuel Shaw (ejected from Long Whatton, Leicestershire) died.
22, 1555. Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, examined by Queen Mary's commis-

sioners.
25, 1626. Robert Boyle, the philosopher, born.
26, 1715. Dr. Daniel Williams died.
26, 1818. Robert Moffat entered on his labours at Africaner's Kraal.

The births of Zwingle, Usher, Morrison, and Boyle, are all memorable events, viewed in connexion with the interests of religion and science. The hand of God is to be devoutly acknowledged in raising up and fitting for their work, all who instrumentally become the benefactors of their species. Thus God declares to Jeremiah, that he had sanctified him before his birth, and ordained him to be a prophet to the nations, Jer. i. 5; and Paul, having received his apostolic commission from our Lord, declares in the same spirit, Gal. i. 15, 16, that God had separated him from his mother's womb, and called him by his grace, and revealed his Son in him, that he might preach him among

the heathen. Into the particulars of Zwingle's history we shall not now enter, as we shall have a better opportunity of doing it when we come to his death. He is, of all the reformers, the one to whom the least justice has been done. The reproach which, in this country, has always, more or less, attached to the name of Calvin, has, on the continent, especially among the Lutherans, been heaped on that of Zwingle. Solely in consequence of his sacramentarian opinions, he is, even now, and by Protestants, spoken of as a man of unsound views on the essential doctrines of the gospel. The best account of him, hitherto,

* Misprinted July 19, in the Outlines to the Calendar. Introduction.

(for there is no good life of him) is that contained in D'Aubigné's History of the Reformation. Usher was distinguished for the most extensive and accurate knowledge, (especially in theology, theological controversy, and church history) the deepest piety, and the most fervent charity. His moderate views of episcopacy, and his genuine catholicity of spirit, would have caused him, had he lived in our day, to have used his great influence in promoting those efforts in favour of brotherly communion between all true Christians which have been lately made. As he is not with us to promote them, we should derive courage and stimulus from his example as recorded in his Life. He was also greatly honoured in checking the influence of popery. See his Life by Barnard, or the accounts of him in Gillies's Historical Collections, and the Religious Tract Society's short memoir. Morrison was a devoted man, known to many of our readers. His indefatigable exertions, and unwearied devotion to his work, are described in the Memoirs by his widow. For a brief account of Boyle, we must refer to the late Mr. Thornton's “ Piety Exemplified,” which we hope is not out of print.

The deaths of valuable men suggest many appropriate thoughts. Sometimes the manner of it is highly edifying. Such was Rivet's, mentioned above,-admirably calculated to show in what peace and triumph a Christian can die when the sting of death has been removed, and to encourage the timid in looking forward to their change. See the account of it in Thornton's Piety Exemplified. Others interest us, as instances of Mr. Hall's beautiful remark, that “heaven is attracting to itself whatever is congenial to its nature, is enriching itself with the spoils of earth, and collecting within its capacious bosom whatever is pure, permanent, and divine.” Such is Samuel Shaw's. Catholic as Usher

, and heavenly as Janeway, he has left us in the preface to his "Welcome to the Plague,” one of the humblest, holiest, and most affecting acts of worship ever penned ; it is a tale of sorrow kindling into a hymn of praise ; it shows faith and patience triumphant over five bereavements in a few weeks, when the mourner, shut out from all intercourse with the world, was obliged to bury a sister, friend, two tender babes,' and a servant, with his own hands, in his garden. See an account of him in Palmer's Nonconformist Memorial, a book which erery Congregationalist should study. Others again, like Howard, are a sacrifice for their fellow-men. We shall have occasion to notice various ways in which life may be thus sacrificed. Howard fell a victim to malignant fever, contracted in his attendance on the sick. See his Life by Dr. J. Baldwin Brown, or in Thornton, as before, or the Religious Tract Society's Biography. Coverdale's was the happy death of a faithfal servant of Christ, worn out with years and intirmities. As a translator of the Scriptures, when the kings of the earth took counsel together to prevent and punish their diffusion, as an indefatigable scholar, laborious preacher, and self-denying confessor, his memory

N. S, VOL. IX.

с

will ever be dear to the lovers of real godliness. His countenance (in old age, at least, if we may trust his portrait) was pinched and withered to moroseness itself, but his mind was both placid and transparent. He judged not others for doing what he dared not do himself, when he believed that their own consciences did not accuse them. An account of him may be found in Fox's Acts and Monuments, and Brook's Lives of the Puritans.

We have noticed President Edwards's dedication of himself to God, chiefly to direct attention to the account of the transaction as given in his Life by S. E. Dwight, (imp. 8vo. edition, p. lxvii.) and the Hampton Court conference, to suggest that, as one of the plainest instances on record of foolish intermeddling with religion, it reminds us of the duty of praying, that He who has the hearts of all men in his hand, would teach the princes of the earth their true duty in reference to his cause.

We may desire that the civil power should be restricted to its proper limits; and it is our duty to put the sacredness of religion and conscience from civil interference in clear light, before those in authority and our fellow-subjects; but we must not hope for the consummation of our desires, but as the granting of a thing for which the Lord will be inquired of, to do it for us.

The mission of the United Brethren to Greenland, presents a most expressive lesson and example of faith and devotion. It originated in a trifling circumstance. Count Zinzendorf being at Copenhagen, in the year 1733, with some of the brethren, saw there two Greenlanders, who had been baptized by Mr. Egede. What followed, we translate from the Gedenktage der erneuerten Brüderkirche, [Memorable Days of the Revived Church of the Brethren,) published at Gnadau, 1821. “When now the Count heard how many difficulties that excellent man [Egede] had already passed through, and how little fruit he had hitherto realised from his zealous efforts, it touched him sorely, and he began to consider if it was not his duty to take up the Greenland mission in good earnest. This brought him to the determination to provide all the help in his power for that faithful servant of the Lord ; and the spirit which was at the same time aroused in the congregation at llerrnhut, assisted the effecting of his purpose. For when, on his return to the congregation, the mission to St. Thomas came to be considered, and the brethren related what they had heard in Copenhagen of the Danish mission to Greenland ; by means of this recital God awaked in the hearts of the brethren, Matthew Stach and Frederick Böhnisch, a strong desire to go to Greenland, and labour for the conversion of the heathen there. Of this first movement, and how it was brought to maturity, Matthew Stach speaks as follows:

“When I heard the letter of the two brethren, who wished to go to St. Thomas, read in public, the impulse which had been raised within me, by the first news respecting Greenland, and which, in considera

« ZurückWeiter »