Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

which had often proved a source of consolation and encouragement in time of trouble, Mrs. Schofield emphatically replied, “ Oh, yes; they have frequently comforted me. From them, and from many other 'exceeding great and precious promises,' I have often derived comfort." How consoling to be able to refer to the past, and thus demonstrate from our own personal experience the goodness and faithfulness of God. An affectionate partner and endeared children stood weeping at her side, but they could afford no assistance. To whom, then, could she look for help? Not to man, but to God. Yes, to that God in whom she had long trusted, and by whose almighty arm she had always been sustained. To him she looked with confidence, knowing that he was able to hold her up. He had delivered and would deliver, because she trusted in him; and therefore, “ committing her soul to him, as unto a faithful Creator," she exclaimed,

His love in times past forbids me to think
He'll leave me at last in trouble to sink;
Each sweet Ebenezer I have in review,

Confirms his good pleasure to bring me quite through.
Well might David say, “ They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount
Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever."

The nearer a saint approaches the heavenly world, the more transient and worthless all earthly things appear in his estimation. But at those awfully solemn and affecting times, there are two objects which always seem to retain all their power and influence upon the Christian's heart. I refer to the Church and to the members of his own family. These two objects were powerfully present to Mrs. Schofield's mind when the world was passing from her vision, and her spirit was about to ascend to the paradise of God. At that solemn noment her thoughts turned to this place. She remembered the sanctuary and those estimable friends with whom she had been long associated in “ works of faith and labours of love;" but she was called to enter into the joy of her Lord. To ner the change was glorious; but, as if to soothe the grief and encourage the dejected hearts of those with whom she had worshipped and laboured, she said, “ But you can do without me.” How expressive of her humility and childlike simplicity! You must do without her, but her absence will be felt and universally deplored. But there stood her sorrowing husband and ever-affectionate children; and how could she part with them? The thought was distressing, the struggle was severe; but reflection brought relief. She loved them dearly, and would have lived for their sake; but the Lord determined otherwise. In giving them up she thought of the resurrection, of the Paradise of God, and the final gathering together of the saints. Yes, she thought of that day, and cherished a blessed hope of meeting them all again, where

Death shall all be done away,

And bodies part no more. And therefore, pouring out her expiring breath in prayer, she exclaimed, " Oh that at the last day I may be able to say, Here am I, and all that thou hast given me !" Amen. God grant that not one of them may be lost, but may they all stand accepted with her before the throne in peace!

But oh, how enchanting are the thoughts and prospects of heaven, especially to one who is suddenly torn away from everything that is near

and dear to him on earth! The Christian often ascends the skies in anticipation, and thus scales the mount of God before that welcome voice falls upon his ear, and ravishes his heart, saying, “Come up hither!" And when the pinions of faith carry the struggling soul away, and show him visions of God; when his astonished eye rests on the celestial city, with its walls of jaspar and streets of gold, he is enchanted. He sees the city which has no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God enlightens it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. The nations of them which are saved walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth bring their honour and glory unto it. Sin and suffering are no more known, for “God" himself “shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying ; neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away." I say, when these blissful visions of a glorious immortality are presented to the eye of a dying saint, no wonder that he longs to drop the robe of mortality, and enter into the joy of his Lord. It was just so with our sainted sister. She caught a glimpse of the new Jerusalem and sighed to be there. It could not be otherwise. Such prospects were transporting; and as heaven opened she was in raptures. And then, full of joy and hope, she exclaimed, “Oh, what a happy place !" Yes, it is a world of bliss ; and with such prospects of her future home it was impossible to enchain her any longer to this vale of tears. “Oh, what a happy place !" And again she added, “ Oh, how happy I shall be in that place,

Where congregations ne'er break up

And Sabbaths never end." It was enough. The desire of her heart was granted. God in mercy cut short his work in righteousness; and at forty-five minutes past eleven o'clock on Monday morning, Oct. 27th, 1851, the pearly gates of the celestial city opened, and sister Schofield entered into that region of endless felicity

Where glorified spirits by sight,

Converse in their holy abode,
As stars in the firmament bright,

And pure as the angels of God. And now, my dear friends, but one thing more remains to be done, and that is, to address a few observations to you who have listened to these mournfully interesting and deeply affecting details. And in doing so, it will be proper to observe

First, That this solemn event ought to remind us that we are mortal. Though here to-night in the enjoyment of our usual health, we know not what shall be on the morrow. Death is standing at the door. Our excellent friend is gone, and we must shortly follow her to the grave, the house appointed for all living. “We must all needs die." There is no exception. There can be none. The sentence of death is already in ourselves; and before long we must go the way whence we shall not return. Reflect on these things, and God grant that they may produce a salutary effect on all our hearts.

Secondly, From what you have heard to-night, it must be quite evident that the great secret of being prepared for death is to have the heart always right in the sight of God. A sense of his favour will not only comfort and support the mind under all the cares and anxieties of

life, but it will illuminate the dark valley of the shadow of death, and enable us to rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

If sin be pardosed. I'm seare;

Death Las no sting besie. If you have a lively faith in Christ you need not fear a dying hour. “A disciple" is safe whether in life or in death. The body may sink beneath accumulating infirmities, and eventually go down into the silent tomb; but even then the Christian is secure, and cheerful, and happy. “ My heart and my flesh faileth ; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever."

Thirdly, We see, also, from what has been said, that whilst a child of God is cherishing the spirit of piety, and thus seeking a meetness for the skies, he ought at the same time to be usefully employed serving his generation by the will of God. Genuine piety does not consist in entire abstraction from the world, but in a faithful devotion of our hearts and energies to the service of God. If we are preparing for liearen, we must be zealously engaged in our Master's work. Are you thus engaged ? Is it your meat and your drink - to do the will of God ?" Are you living to purpose? If so, be faithful. Prize and improve your opportunities of doing good. Your time for service cannot continue long; and oh, when the end comes, the end of your service, how great will be your reward! Keep that day in view. Live for it, and shortly your Divine Master will say, “ Well done, thou good and faithful servant ; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” And

Fourthly, We cannot forbear reminding you of those great and glorious truths of Christianity, which should soothe and animate our hearts on this trying occasion. We all feel our loss; we are distressed ourselves, and we feel for each other. There I see the estimable family whom our dear departed sister has left behind-a family long known and esteemed by us all, but never more esteemed than now. You have our warmest sympathies, and the best feelings of our hearts gather around you, especially at the present time. Your estimable partner and affectionate parent is gone. We can form some idea of the loss you have sustained ; and allow me to assure you, that the ministers, members and friends of this congregation not only offer you their sympathies, but that they will feel it to be their duty to hold you in prayerful, affectionate remembrance. May the God of Jacob be your constant and unfailing portion! But the Church in this place has likewise sustained a serious loss. One of its most pious, exemplary and useful members is taken away. We might give way to our feelings, and all weep together ; but excessive sorrow would depress our hearts, becloud our prospects, and dishonour our profession. Therefore, “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if ye believe that Jesus died and rose again, eren so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain uuto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive, and remain, sball be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: aud so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

Fifthly and finaily, as the best improvement we can make of this service will be, to allow it to exert a quickening and stimulating effect on our hearts, I trust we shall not suffer it to close without pledging ourselves, as in the sight of God, that we will not be “slothful, but fol. lowers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Our dear sister, and many other excellent saints, have left us an example that we should tread in their steps. By imbibing their spirit, and following them as they followed Christ, we may safely cherish a blissful hope of meeting them again, where

Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,

Are felt and feared no more. God grant that we all may be found approved and accepted in that day, for the Redeemer's sake. Amen.

[It may be proper to observe, that at this service a large concourse of friends assembled from all parts of the Circuit. The spacious chapel in Peter.street was well filled; and many streaming eyes and bleeding hearts bespoke the most sincere and undissembled affection for the memory of our dear departed friend.]

DISCOURSES, ESSAYS, &c.

THE DUTY OF CLASS LEADERS.

By The Rev. P. J. Wright. A SINGULAR spectacle is seen in the Church of Jesus Christ. A great battle is being fought. Priest-rule and people-right are contending for the mastery. Popery and Protestantism, a State Church and Protestant Nonconformity, the Wesleyan Conference and the Methodist Societies, are the combatants. While we contemplate the mighty struggle, our sympathies are with the “ sacramental host of God's elect;" and our prayer is, that Popery, State Churchism, and Despotism may be overthrown.

Amidst ihe strife of parties, a strange paradox meets our eye. We see a wheel within the onward wheel moving in a backward direction; a current beneath the surface-current flowing in an opposite course ; a false morement by the friends of freedom, retarding its progress and preventing its universal triumph. While thousands contend for rights, they neglect duties ; they are willing to legislate, but not willing to work ; they follow after liberty, and run away from labours of love; they spurn the authority of the priest, yet they endeavour to make the priest carry all the burdens, and perform all the toil, requisite for the evangelization of a perishing world. This is cowardly ; it is unmanly, it is unjust, and it makes that good thing, religious liberty, to be evil spoken of among mankind.

Scriptural freedom has its duties as well as its rights; and those who claim its rights ought to be willing to discharge its duties. To contend for the immunities of freedom, and, at the same time, endeavour to evade the obligations of freedom, is highly reprehensible. The liberty of the Gospel is not the liberty to adopt error and to sit at ease in Zion; it is liberty to buy the truth in the love of it, and to do all the good we can among our fellow-creatures. The slave of priestcraft may commit his creed and his duties to another, but a free man ought to think and work for himself.

We thus write, because we are anxious to arouse the leaders of classes in the Methodist New Connexion to a conviction of the reasonableness and importance of earnest co-operation with their ministers in promoting the spiritual improvement of our members and securing the conversion of sinners. Our leaders are the elders of our Churches; they enjoy the highest privileges of our liberal constitution; they legislate in our leaders' meetings, they assist to legislate in our quarterly meetings, and, by representation, in our Conference. Our leaders do not bow the neck of their souls beneath the iron heel of priestly despotism- they walk side by side with their ministers, as friends and brethren : they are free men in the noblest sense, and they ought to honour the liberty they possess, they ought to help their ministers to the utmost of their power, they ought to be valiant for the truth and zealous to do good.

Legislation, in the Methodist New Connexion, consists mainly of resolutions intended to develope our resources and energies for the defence of the truth, the edification of saints, the conversion of souls, and the enlargement of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. But if those who pass these resolutions shrink from the responsibility of carrying them out, and leave them as dead letters in the books, no marvel that we do not add converts to our Zion and extend our borders in Great Britain and in the world. We have already shown that leaders take a large share in legislating for our Churches; it is their duty, therefore, to be foremost in doing what they resolve shall be done. If they do not reduce their own resolutions to practice, to whom must we look for the works of faith which their decisions indicate as requisite for the weal of mankind ? We cannot look to the people, for, if the leaders hesitate, the people will be sure to hold back; and to look exclusively to ministers, under a free government, is a social injustice, which the most earnest eloquence carmot too sternly denounce.

How, then, stands the case? What are our ministers doing, and what more is expected from them? Here is the superintendent of a Circuit; what are the claims on his time and talents, and how does he meet those claims ? He walks many miles, and preaches five, six, or seven times every week. The people expect him to preach sermons equal, if not superior, to any that are preached by ministers of other denominations, who have been educated for the ministry, and who have far more time at command than he has for consecutive meditation. Hence, he has to study hard, that he may show himself to be a workman not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. In addition to preaching, he weekly meets a class, presides at a young men's mental improvement meeting, conducts a social prayer-meeting, and directs the business of leaders' meetings. In the course of every quarter he holds love-feasts and Sabbath evening prayer-meetings, addresses children in Sunday-schools, administers the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper, renews the tickets of hundreds of members, attends various committees, makes the preachers' plan, and presides at the local preachers' and quarterly meetings. During the year he delivers speeches at many tea-meetings and missionary-meetings, attends and speaks at meetings held by other

« ZurückWeiter »