페이지 이미지

Canticles, where he is described as watching over the spiritual state of his people!" I went down into the garden of nuts, to see the fruits of the valley; and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded," Sol. Song v. 11. I would not wish to strain the sense of scripture beyond its plain sense and meaning; but I would ask, is it not following the steps of this "Lord of the vineyard," when, as labourers sent by him into it, the faithful servant of such a master goes down into the several inclosures of his garden, the church, to notice the growth, and actings, and exercises, of those graces among his people which are the fruits of the Spirit; and which are called, perhaps, "the fruits of the valley," not only because they grow out of humble souls made humble by his power, but also, because in the humbler seasons of sickness, trials, temptations, and the like, they bring forth, under the same power, their fruits in greater abundance. And can the imagination form an idea of any path of duty and of usefulness, among the labourers in the vineyard, which carries with it a more striking resemblance to what is here said of the blessed Jesus, than when, like him, they carefully notice the increasing fruitfulness of old believers, which, as the vine, "bring forth fruit in old age, and are fat and flourishing;" and when also, like him, they as diligently mark the first manifestations of grace in young beginners, which may no less be compared, to "the tender buddings of the pomegranate ?"

Perhaps, the reader may feel a curiosity to know the result of my visit to the sick man. I confess it might be interesting, had I the power of conveying the particulars. But it would carry me much beyond the limits of a work like this, to relate all that passed in this interview. I can only say, that I found in him what, from the accounts I had before received of him, I expected to find, namely, the sweet effects of a sanc

tified affliction; and I brought away with me what, under divine teaching, will for the most part be the general improvement to be gathered from sick and dying chambers; I mean, deeper conviction of the emptiness of all creature enjoyments, and increasing evidence of the preciousness of the Lord Jesus.


On Tuesday morning, May 24th, I commenced afresh my labours of the pulpit in preaching for the Charity School of Christ Church, Spitalfields, from those words of the apostle," Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us," 1 John iv. 10.

The plan of this school is similar to that of St. Paul's, Shadwell. It consists of one hundred children; viz. fifty boys and fifty girls. They are instructed in the principles of the established religion: they are annually clothed, taught to read, write, and cast accounts; the girls learn also needlework; and the boys, when of a proper age, are put out apprentices. The school is supported by voluntary contribution. The school-house is near the church, where benefactions are thankfully received.

And here I pause, to pay the token of affectionate remembrance to that man of God who accompanied me from the church to the house of my much honoured friend, and so abundantly refreshed the minds of all that were present, in following up the service of the sanctuary with the pious and edifying conversation of the parlour.

There is a shyness, and surely it must be a very blameable one, even among the most gracious minds, in speaking of the best things. How often have I known a company of truly serious persons, whose hearts I have been convinced, like musical instruments all in tune, have only waited for the sacred string to have

been touched, when the affections of every one would instantly have joined in concert, and all have sweetly vibrated in the same key; and yet, through this unpardonable timidity, have sat mute to this most melodious of all subjects until the opportunity hath been over, and not a note all the while hath been raised by any to the Redeemer's praise. Not so the man of whom I speak. Unrestrained by fear, he soon called up the attention of all around to the charming topic. Taking occasion from the subject we had just been attending to in the church, of the love of God, he traced the evidences and effects of that love, in some few of the leading points of it, by which the soul is ripening in grace for glory, until in imagination he had led our minds to the very paradise of God, and we were sat down under the tree of life. To tell the reader how he discoursed on these sublime points, or to describe the graceful manner in which he spake, is what I cannot do. I may adopt the poet's figure, and say :

"Had he dropt

That eagle genius! Oh! had he let fall
One feather as he flew, I then had wrote

What friends might flatter, prudent foes forbear."-YOUNG. While I have ventured to say so much upon this subject, I care not for the consequence of reproof, if I add a little more. It was not certainly without reference to such conversation, that our Lord delivered that well known axiom, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh :" for if the heart be full of divine things, the overflowings from the lips will manifest what is uppermost within. I remember to have observed in the writings of Dr. Arbuthnot, (in his Treatise on Aliment, I believe it is) that in general, whatever be the state of the tongue, the same is that of the coat of the stomach.' Whether this be so or not in nature, I will not determine; but in respect to spirituals, as manifested in the conversation, we have authority to assert,

that "a good man out of the good treasure of the heart, bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things." Matt. xii. 35. And hence, perhaps, in allusion to the former state it is, that the Redeemer is represented (in the book I just before noticed) as commending the church, in that "her lips dropped as the honeycomb ;" (Song iv. 11.) meaning, no doubt, that as this sweet food falls without pressure, so the lips of him that hath received the grace of God will need no constraint, but will be always free to speak of "the things which he hath heard and seen.' And as the honeycomb ceaseth not to let fall its golden treasure, but as soon as it hath deposited one of its sweet drops, another is instantly forming for the same purpose on the comb; so the speech of the believer is unceasingly engaged in communicating, from the grace of the lips, the words of life, which David says "are sweeter than honey and the honeycomb." And may we not add, that wherever such auspicious effects, resulting from pure and undefiled religion, manifest themselves in the whole life and conversation, there is an holy communion kept up in the soul amidst divine and spiritual things, which, like the apostle's, is breathing an heavenly atmosphere, while surrounded with earthly objects. It was charmingly said by Dr. Preston, when dying, 'I shall change my place, but not my company;' for he had been long in the familiar enjoyment of this society, and by faith had been living, as it were, in the very suburbs of heaven, before the time came that he was called up to the actual enjoyment of it.


The school of St. Ethelburga consists of fifty-six poor children; viz. thirty-six boys and twenty girls. They are all annually clothed: their education is upon the general plan of charity schools. Five pounds are

given by the trust with every boy on going out of the school, as an apprentice. The school-house is at No. 14, Helmet Court, Wormwood. Street, where benefactions are received.

It may be proper to inform the reader, that together with the St. Ethelburga Society, formed for a charity school, in the year 1719, there was also a Sunday Evening Lecture, established at St. Swithin's Church, London Stone. This service was performed for many years by some of the most approved ministers of the day in which they lived. The Rev. Mr. Jones, of St. Saviour's; and Mr. Romaine, of St. Ann's, Blackfriars, were among the number of those who laboured in the word and doctrine upon those occasions. I confess I felt a very peculiar pleasure in ministering for this charity, in the recollection how many eminent servants of the Lord had gone before me in this office; and to how many souls, now resting with them from their labours, their services had been made eminently useful. To be the follower of them in this work of love, whose ministry had been so graciously commissioned, afforded a satisfaction of a very interesting nature, and served to awaken an earnestness corresponding to it. It was an evening service, on Tuesday, May 24, at which I preached for this charity, at St. Helen's Church, Bishopsgate Within, from these words of David, "Lead me in thy truth and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day," Psalm xxv. 4 I have not the honour of acquaintance with the clergyman who officiated in the desk upon this occasion, but I cannot withhold testimony to the superior manner, in point of solemnity and earnestness, with which he read prayers; I was very much pleased with it.


If my reader should be of that class of persons, who conceive that even a good thing may be carried too far,

« 이전계속 »