Abbildungen der Seite

Years, and contains many valuable medi to liope there will be such tears in tations, has the following passage upon

heaven." death and heaven:

Mr. Miller was in his seventy-third “I have had some thoughts about year at his death. His remains were my own latter end-praying that I may interred at Brompton Cemetery, and be found wrapped in Christ's righteous an impressive funeral discourse was ness. I am thankful that I have been preached at Chiswick, by the Rev. J. E. able to weep lately; for it is never Richards, on the following Sunday, to better with me than when I can sit or a numerous auditory, many of whom kneel before the Lord, and feel my cheeks lamented the loss of a faithful pastor moistened with tears of penitence, love, and a spiritual father. gratitude, and joy. I seem then almost



In a village near the town where I hearers into conscious communion began my ministry, more than thirty with the Divine Instructor when readyears ago, lived a very poor labouring ing the Bible, or hearing it expounded man, with one daughter, both of whom in the pulpit. Be that as it may, it were members of my church. Robert was of unspeakable service to me, and, bore, for years, an honourable and con I have reason to know, to not a few in sistent character, which commanded my congregation. Some circumstances the respect of all who knew him. He have recently recalled some of these was remarkable chiefly for the cheer scenes of young pastoral labour to my fulness of his piety, and the quiet good memory, and I know not of any pages sense with which he spoke on religious in which they can be so fittingly retopics. In his time he had been a corded as those of the EVANGELICAL great reader of the Bible and of the MAGAZINE. Pilgrim's Progress, and his conversa Robert Gray had received in his tions was dyed, so to speak, in the early days what I call a good education sacred element of the purest theology. for a peasant. He had been taught Hardly anything was more useful to by his mother to love the Bible as his me, as a young preacher, than the long mother's book,'and he soon learnt to untalks I had with Robert on many ques- derstand it as the book of his own heart. tions which perplexed me, but which The plainer portions of its histories, never appeared to him in any other its moral maxims, and its broad, light than that of Scripture, inter- shining doctrines of righteousness and preted, by his beautifully simple and mercy, gradually became familiar to clear understanding, according to his him; and the thoughts of them were own experience; and often it has struck the most familiar, and at the same time me, in after years, that it would be a the most reverential and the most great advantage to theological students practical that ever occurred to him ; to be brought into contact with such and they were always occurring to him

in the daily labours of the field. No It is to be feared that, for want of one would have taken him for a clever such contact, our young men fail in that man. No one suspected him of being a mode both of apprehending and stating fool. Every one believed at once all divine truth, which would bring their he said ; and it was impossible to know


him without feeling sure that, in all gathered in the hedgerows, so with weathers, whether times were good or me the first lessons in real theology bad, Robert was a truly happy man. were learned in the cottage to which But they were only few that knew they led me. Robert taught me infihow intelligently Robert could speak nitely more than I ever taught him; of the reasons of his being happy. He though he was the most attentive, and, was naturally of a cheerful habit of | I may add, the most grateful of hearers. mind; but living almost in solitude, He had evidently no notion of teaching and being one of the most orderly and his minister; his whole conception of sober men you could meet with in the the Christian ministry, and of the duwhole parish, he had scarcely any op- ties of a Christian hearer, would have portunities of indulging in displays of made him shudder at such an idea, if it cheerfulness. His landlord, who was an had ever crossed his mind, which I intimate friend of mine, and an officer in believe it never did. The delight of our church, had long noticed his regular it was to see how inartificially, how unattendance at the chapel, and as he ostentatiously, he let one see the unusually came a good while before the conscious workings of his mind, and time on Sunday mornings, had almost how easily one might observe the laws weekly opportunities of marking the according to which it did work, and fine qualities of the good man's mind produce its blessed results. That he and heart; and between the Sundays, was no hasty, or superficial, or indolent when his business called him into the thinker, was most manifest. His movecountry, he often took occasion to callments were slow; his manner of asking at Robert's cottage, and have what he questions was singularly modest; and called “a good crack" with him. He yet the questions he asked would have mentioned him to me soon after I took been quite a capital in the hands of a charge of the congregation; and I captious critic. And what a treat it gladly awailed myself of the opportu- was to see him working his own way nities so readily afforded, to improve in some questions which have puzzled my acquaintance with him. I cannot not a few men who deservedly enjoyed tell the times in which I went from the reputation of being profound ! my books to walk in the fields and Robert's plan, if he had one-which I spend an hour with my old friend, but much doubt--was, to go as straight as I never spent time which was so profit he could to the heart of a subject, and, able to me. When in his company, I when he had reached it, to grapple was always sure that I was in the com- with it there, till he saw either how it pany of one whose daily talk and walk could be explained, or that it was bewas with our Saviour, whose inward yond his powers. He never imagined life was uniformly with Him, on whom that his powers were anything parthe gentle spirit of Jesus was breathed, ticular ; but for these powers, and for and whose simple words had in them a rightly using them, he felt that he was power which I never felt in the words responsible to God, and he did his best; of other men; because I supposed they just in the same spirit in which he left came fresh from his heart, and that heart his bed at five o'clock, that he might was continually renewed by unforced begin his daily labour with a mind communion with the greatest and prepared by conscious fellowship with noblest Heart in the universe. His his best Friend, for the toils of the day. religion had the naturalness and beau-Seeing, as he did every day, the outtifulness and perfume of the wild ward differences between his own lot flowers that were sprinkled along the and that of many men around him, he hedges and fields through which I had avoided the ordinary speculative diffito walk to and from his dwelling; and culties, by seeing that if he had been as the first lessons of botany are qualified for situations filled by other

pears under a

the good city of Oxford-predecessors with the sins of mankind ; saw in it of our modern gownsmen. There had the judgment of God, and dwelt on cerbeen thirty thousand, but the number tain speculations of his times about the had fallen off. Wicliffe applied him- downfall of Roman power, the estabself in earnest to his studies—canon lishment of a purer Church, and the law, civil law, municipal law engaged speedy approach of the world's endhis time and thoughts. He became all of which gave a character to this familiar with the schoolmen. With his first production. But he could rest logical formularies he was at home. in faith on the Redeemer's love. The The real treasury of truth and wisdom, book indicates his devout spirit, and the as well as the idle subtleties contained germinant formation of opinions which in the books of Aquinas and the rest, were destined to unfold in later life. He would be mastered by the young man had evidently begun to see something from Yorkshire. In scholastic dispu- of the ecclesiastical corruptions of his tations he excelled. Indeed, Henry age, and had begun, too, to form that Knighton, who hated his opinions, and acquaintance with Scripture truth which denounced the effects of his teaching, ultimately made him so true a reformer. was forced to confess that he was most Four years afterwards Wicliffe apeminently learned in theology, was

new character. He second to none in his philosophical is a controversialist. The Mendicant knowledge, quite incomparable in all | Orders—the friars black and grey—had school learning, and in his power of acquired a wonderful ascendency in vigorous and acute debate, almost many parts of Christendom. Their superhuman. But in Wicliffe's cell at popularity was felt at Oxford. Their Merton was there not one book above existence and power had arisen out of all others he loved to search into and the condition of the Church, which repray over? Had he a Bible of his quired reform. The founders of the own, or only one, or a part of one, bor- Mendicant Orders had sought to meet rowed from the shelves of the college the want, but they had proved in the library? Be that as it may, he made long run poor reformers. Being ignorant good use of such access as he had to of the root of the evil, never thinking Holy Scripture, pondering often and to dig below the surface, their efforts deeply the words of prophets, of apostles, to cure the priesthood of the pride of and of Christ in the Latin Vulgate wealth, and to make the Church spi. dress.

ritually efficient, had totally failed. In 1356, Wicliffe comes before us as. The priesthood had become prouder, the author. We find him writing and pub- Church more secular than ever; and the lishing a book called "The Last Age of Mendicants, after all their porerty and the Church.” It is of a melancholy zeal, had themselves been made richer cast, as its title indicates. It was and more idle than others of the conwritten at a melancholy time-pestilence ventual brotherhoods.

Wicliffe saw was sweeping away multitudes—all this—saw much of the mischief the Europe was ravaged. In England the friars had done, and charged them with plague began at Dorchester, travelled their offence. He refuted their pretenup to London, and in a few months sions from Scripture. They had appealed greatly reduced the population of the to Christ's poverty, to the teaching of city. In a few hours the infected Scripture as a pattern and authority. perished. Fear magnified the calamity; To the Holy Gospels and Epistles, the and in a frenzy of horror, men said clear-sighted controversialist followed nine-tenths of the race had perished. his antagonists, and showed that no Wicliffe probably believed that one-half valid defence of their assumptions could of the population had been hurried into be discovered there. “The Objections to eternity. He connected the visitation Friars," the work of a later period of the

reformer's life, fully makes known to us. The scene changes to Bruges. Wicthe grounds of his opposition; and it is liffe is commissioner, to treat with a apparent, that “while other dispu- papal embassy respecting the reservatants sought to reform particulars, tion of ecclesiastical benefices. Rome Wicliffe saw the institute itself as un- had been growing in rapacity. Statutes commanded, and of evil tendency; and of “provisors” and “premunire” had instead of supposing, as some good been passed to curb its covetousness of men had done, that the introduction of wealth and power. Further interference such agents formed the most efficient was necessary. So a meeting was apmeans by which to elevate the charac- pointed between the ministers of the ter of the more authorized priesthood, pope and the messengers of the king. he inculcated strongly, that nothing Wicliffe was among the latter. The short of a removal of the intruders city was then in the height of its comcould restore the Church to its long-lost mercial splendour and civic freedom. order and prosperity."

The English commissioner would see A year later, A.D. 1361, Wicliffe is much of quaint architecture, sumpin academic office. He was appointed tuously furnished dwellings, gay and warden of Baliol College, and after- glittering attire, processions and pawards of Canterbury Hall. A reversal geants; and something too he would disof his appointment was sought, and cover of a stern, indomitable, resistful the case was submitted to Urban V. will in merchant princes, who could While it was sub judice, the pontiff beard even despotic monarchs. The revived certain claims in the form of former would only impress him with tribute on the English nation, which the world's vanity; the latter, in which Edward III. was determined to resist. he could sympathise, might strengthen Wicliffe in the dispute took part against his own strong individuality and force of the pope, a proof of his disinterested independent purpose. Perhaps, too, the ness, while his own official position reformer might at Bruges hear somewas at the mercy of the court of Rome. thing of men who along the Rhine, and Nor can his attacks on the papacy, when in German and Flemish cities, were, the cause had been decided against him, under the name of " friends of God," be ascribed to resentment, inasmuch as promoting spiritual religion-underhis battle with the papacy had begun mining formalism and priestcraftbefore. In 1372 he took his degree as and preparing for changes they little Doctor in Divinity, and was chosen a dreamt of. Moreover, at Bruges, we theological lectarer. A work which he know, he learnt so much of the corrupwrote on the Decalogue, about this tion of the Roman court as made him time, illustrates the growth of his reli- more its enemy than ever. gious views; with a few exceptions, We must now visit old St. Paul's. there is nothing in the treatise which There Wicliffe stands forth in his procould offend any Protestant reader. “I per character as Reformer. He was say thee for certain," he boldly writes, cited to meet charges of heresy. John " though thou have priests and friars of Gaunt—whom he had known on the to sing for thee, and though thou each Continent—accompanied him to the day hear many masses, and found tribunal, where the scene took place so chauntries and colleges, and go on pil- graphically described by Foxe and grimages all thy life, and give all thy Fuller. “The Lord Percy, Lord Margoods to pardoners; all this shall not shal of England, had much ado to bring thy soul to heaven. While, if the break through the crowd in the commandments of God are revered to church; so that the bustle he kept with the end, though neither penny nor half- the people highly offended the Bishop penny be possessed, there shall be ever- of London, as profaning the place, and lasting pardon, and the bliss of heaven.” disturbing the assembly. Whereon

men, he might have had similar situations thought he understood something of opened to him; and also, by seeing that both. He did not pretend to undera poor peasant must be incapable of stand much in either, but what was judging the wisdom of the ways of plain in the Bible was equally plain Providence, because he is not in a in Providence, and what was dark in position to judge, in most instances, the one was equally dark in the the wisdom of the ways of men. He other. His talk did not differ much felt that his lot was—to work, and that from that of other men in his position, it was his duty to wait upon God in excepting that he preferred to talk on working; and to me there always ap- Christian topics when he had a fair peared as real dignity in this poor opportunity ; and when he had, I obman's working, as there was in my served that he never used any of those own, or in that of a bishop, or an em- expressions which are commonly called peror. He often said to me, that he "cant” expressions. This it was that could not do much to honour his Lord, drew me so much to him. As he had but that he was happy in doing the read his Bible very much, was familiar best he could in his station. It never with “ The Pilgrim," “ The Holy seems to have struck him that there War," and other writings of Bunyan, was anything degrading in working knew a little about Ambrose, and for small wages, and he never mur- Sibbs, and not a little about Matthew mured that he had not been taught Henry; his language, when he spoke some skilful art. His wants were few freely, as he always did with me, was and simple. His family consisted of wonderfully rich, strong, and good, one daughter, who was out at service, and seemed to express exactly what and he spent his solitary hours in sleep, he meant. He could not talk obor in reading good books, or in com- scurely, because when he did not see pany with good men who met together clearly he would not talk at all. He to pray. Nothing seemed to delight was most sensibly and most gratefully him so much as the visits of his mi. alive to the advantages he enjoyed, nister, which were always made at his but I never had any evidence that would noon-tide hour of rest, or in the even- justify a suspicion that he was proud ing of the day. These were, to his of them. I have known men among minister, golden hours, and richly did our English peasantry a good deal like he enjoy them. Few subjects, that him in many respects, but I think I find their centre in the Bible, were hardly ever saw so much of a man in omitted in these calm cottage col- his situation whom I respected and loquies. Robert's nature was not really loved, as I did him. sceptical. Nothing could have driven I had not known him more than it out of his mind that scepticism was four or five years, when I missed him a hard word for weakness of mind. one Sunday morning from the chapel, When he found anything too hard and on a week evening, soon afterwards, for his own mind, he gave it up he was not present in the village chapel as a matter which he had nothing to at the service. On visiting his cottage, do with, exactly as he never plagued I found that he was able to go daily to himself about geometry or Greek. He his work, but not able to walk to the knew that there were geometricians town, and unable to go out in the evenand Greek scholars, but he was not ing after his return from labour. I one, and had no ambition to become could not stay long with him then, one. The providence of God and the but took the first favourable opporBible lay open before him. . In his tunity of repeating my visit. It seems thoughts he compared the one with the he had been labouring for some years other, and he saw in them distinct under a painful internal disease, which chapters of the same revelation. He the medical adviser told me was aggra

« ZurückWeiter »