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ness, shall shine as the stars for ever and ever," Dan. xii. 3.
THE FRIENDLY FEMALE SOCIETY.
This institution is of modern rise, under royal patronage. It was my privilege to be called upon to preach the first sermon in its behalf, which I did in the parish church of St. Saviour's, Southwark, on Tuesday morning, the 10th of May, 1803. The foundation of this discourse was taken from the words of the prophet Isaiah, xliii. 8. Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears,” &c.
The leading object of this benevolent scheme, is to provide for the necessities of poor aged women in declining years. It is well known, that the female character in every period of life is exposed to peculiar trials: it is at all times in itself defenceless; and makes an appeal, indeed, from its very form and tenderness, to any and to every one that can befriend it. But in the more advanced season of old age, when growing infirmities are sometimes added to the distress of a lonely unprotected state; when the body is bowed down perhaps with pain, and the mind depressed with sor- , row; without any husband's love to assuage, or the child's help to relieve the pressing want: situations like these (and they are not a few in life) plead very powerfully with the finer feelings of our nature.
It reflects the highest honour upon the nature at large, that a plan for softening the various burthens of poor aged women, which hath been long wanted, is now, by the fostering hand of a few individuals, brought forward to public notice, and puts in its modest claims for favour among the other noble institutions for charity, which distinguish the liberality of the present day.
There is one distinguishing feature by which the
Female Friendly Society is marked; and which, in the very first appearance of it, cannot but prepossess the mind of those for whom it is designed in its favour, and that is, that it is wholly under the management of women themselves. So that it ensures all that tenderness, sympathy of character, fellow feeling, and female knowledge in the conducting of it, which peculiarly belong to the rex. Every thing that is gentle, soft, and affectionate, is called in to its administration; and a poor woman will find no restraint in communicating what she feels, and what she needs, when she unbosoms herself to one that can enter into a proper apprehension of what those feelings are, and what those wants may be. And it need hardly be observed, that there are a multitude of circumstances, arising from distress and poverty, among the weaker part of our nature, connected with the delicacy and tenderness of the character, which none but one of the same sex can be informed of, or become suitable to relieve.
But, though the whole government of this admirable charity is vested in the hands of women, it hath the best of all appeals to the affections and generosity of men.
It proposeth to stretch forth its liberal hand to the aid of those who have known better days, but by the dispensations of a power, whose wisdom none can dispute, are reduced to want. Here, therefore, is a fine occasion opened to the man of opulence, who can best suppose, and ought at least to feel, what a reverse of such a situation must be. It hath for its objects of relief also, the case of servants, who have spent the youth and summer of life in labour without having been able to lay up any provision for the winter of it. Here again, the kind master finds scope for the exercise of his generosity, who would blush to see the labours of a faithful servant, when those labours are fairly over, recompensed with starving. And as
the Friendly Female Society desires to take into its benevolent arms the mother and the widow of every description, who may need its care; here every man who would lay claim to the character of an affectionate husband may consider himself appealed to, who would tremble at the idea that the partner of his heart, or the mother of his children, should in old age be reduced to want. In these, and similar cases, the Friendly Female Society holds forth its unanswerable arguments for support; and every man is called upon, under one or other of those rules, to prevent that distress in others, which, in a reverse of circumstances, would be so painful in his own.
The reader will not be displeased, I hope, if after saying so much in the recommendation of this charity, I only add the names of those respectable bankinghouses, which kindly receive donations for it: these are, Messrs. Down, Thornton, and Free, Bartholomew Lane; and Messrs. Ransom, Morland and Co. Pall Mall.
THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY.-May 11, 12, 13. The annual Meeting of this institution on those days, which called together from all parts of the kingdom so much of the religious world, superseded the exercises of my poor ministry during the remainder of the week. I only preached once at St. John's church, Horselydown, on Thursday evening. Text, , Heb. iv. 14, 15, 16.
It was at one of those solemn services, I glanced for the first and last time, at that faithful servant of the Lord, the Rev. Mr. Newel, Vicar of Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, who died very shortly after. The errands of grace which we were sent out upon lay in different directions, so that, like the throng passing and repassing in the street of Cheapside, our time
afforded no more than the momentary glimpse of each other: but had I known that the evening of his day was come, and that “ the eye that then saw him would see him no more," I would have stopped him, though in his work of mercy, to have learnt from his lips, how sweetly those doctrines of salvation, which he was dispensing to others, comforted his own soul.
It is probable that as, at this very time, the Lord of the vineyard was about to call this labourer home, he might have been imparting to him more manifest tokens of his love. Many a believer, like Moses, hath ascended the hill by faith, and not only seen the promised land, but anticipated the possession of it before that he hath been taken up to the actual enjoyment. Perhaps this may have been the lot of this dear servant of Jesus. And had I asked him what his feelings were, when, as it proved by what followed, his steps were nearly approaching the suburbs of the heavenly city, he might have told me, that such were the lively exercises of his faith upon the person and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ; so gracious and manifold were the communications of the love of his Lord; and so sweetly did he find his soul drawn out in increasing longings after him; that every earthly tie was loosening in his affection; that the gates of the new. Jerusalem seemed magnifying to his view, and the shouts of the glorified inhabitants increasing upon his ear.
Reader! I would pause to ask, what is your experience of these things ? Sudden death, you know, is nothing uncommon. Most men may be said, in the strictest sense of the word, to die suddenly: for, independent of those instances of it which none will dispute, even in those diseases also in which death gives intimations of his approach, yet even here his hasty strides are hid as much as possible from the person himself for whom he comes by surrounding friends; partly, as it is said, by way of supporting the
spirits, and partly out of affection and good-will; so that the last hour is frequently an unexpected hour, and calls upon him by surprise. For an event, therefore, which in general is sudden, and may for ought you know happen to-morrow, how is my reader prepared? An unsettled state of unconsciousness concerning our interest in Christ, must always produce an unsettled frame for departure out of life. A soul that is wedded to the world will never leave the world but with reluctance. And if with a worldly spirit, the mind be under the dominion of any one affection that is earthly and sensual; if there be sin on the conscience; a loose and careless walk in the life and conversation ; if there be no knowledge of God the Father's love, and the Redeemer's grace in the covenant of redemption; and the heart hath neither felt, nor desired to feel, the quickening, reviving, and renewing influences of God the Holy Ghost, dreadful will be the sound of the keys of death, hanging at his girdle " who openeth and no man shutteth; who shutteth and no man openeth.” But, if a well-grounded hope of God's mercy through Jesus Christ hath wrought in the soul a life of faith and expectation of the coming of Christ, and of devotion to him, the dying day will then be considered as a welcome day: and the believer, like one long waiting for his Lord's approach, will rejoice when his chariot wheels are heard; and when the carriage shall stop at the door, he will leap up, and arise, and leave every thing behind, to spring into it, that he may mount up
66 to meet the Lord as in the air, and so be for ever with the Lord.”
THE PHILOLOGICAL SOCIETY.
I had preached in the morning of the Lord's day, May 15, 1803, at St. Saviour's church, from the pre