Oldalképek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

enough to arouse the most timid to activity, and inspire the most desponding with hope. Last night I addressed about 2,500 from the request of Moses—I beseech thee, show me thy glory.' Six persons were received into the church at our last church-meeting, and on every hand the word of the Lord appears to have free course and be glorified."

As the clock struck twelve last night, I rang the bell, having been on an errand of mercy, with the record of which I commence the new year."

I ought to feel the deepest and most unfeigned gratitude to God that my ministry was never more prosperous than it is at present. We never had the chapel so completely crammed as it has been this winter. I have commenced a course of lectures on the doctrines of the gospel, and delivered the second lecture this evening. They promise to be very useful. My pastoral duties keep pace with my increasing congregation. Seven members were proposed for admission into the church at our last church-meeting; and, what with visiting the sick, baptizing children, burying the dead, attending committees, preparing sermons and preaching them, my time is wholly occupied. A few weeks ago I baptized twelve children at one time, and seveu last Sunday. A stated charge of 2,000 souls is an awfuland oppressive weight upon my spirits, and often, when I think of the account I shall have to render at the tribunal of God, I am ready to exclaim, “Who is sufficient for these things ?'”

I have this week been to the district meeting of the County Union at North Meols. Preaching was not expected, but the place was crowded, the congregation being assembled by the proclamation of the bellman. In the evening the place overflowed. A simplicity approaching to that of primitive times prevails among the people. The eagerness with which the people flocked to hear the word, the deep seriousness, and profound attention which marked every countenance, were truly affecting."

- I am well worked with public labor. I preached last Saturday night, last night, and am to preach again at Surrey Chapel tonight. The congregations have been very large, particularly at Hoxton. It was not known in London that I had come, for some time, as I preached at Paddington the whole of the first Sunday, and Mr. Wilson kept his promise not to announce my coming."

The following letter to Dr. Raffles, which we here insert, is full of encouragement to all faithful ministers, for it shows that even when they see no extraordinary results from their labors, they may be doing an amount of good which they do not dream of :-“If prayer for those who do ns good and wish us well, is our bounden duty, then how ought I to pray for you! To your preaching I believe I ain mainly indebted as a means employed by that God who is rich in mercy, of preserving me from total declension and final apostasy, within a few years of your first coming to exercise your ministry in this town, and also of leading me in the way of truth until nowif, indeed, I am in that way. And for a considerable period of late, during which troubles upon troubles have been coming

[ocr errors]

a

upon me, and which do not seem as if they would soon come to an end, were it not for many of the subjects to which a compassionate Saviour has especially directed you, and enabled you to dwell upon in such a manner as to impart the most abundant encouragement and strength to my soul, I should be overwhelmed and sink the victim of despair. Still I am enabled to hope, and though I am a subject of nervous debility, etc., which produces much depression of spirits, and almost continual fear of death, and a looking too frequently to the dark side of almost every case, yet I am constrained to say that to your ministry I owe it in a great degree, that I am able still to trust--and at times to feel—that all is well, and to believe that all shall work together for my good, and that when I am sufficiently humbled, God will remove his chastening hand from me."

It was at an early period of his ministry in Liverpool that Dr. Raffles wrote the life of Spencer, his lamented predecessor. It reached its seventh edition in England, and many editions also appeared in this country. The last of these was published in New York, by Dr. Patton, with an introduction from his pen. The author often expressed his astonishment at the reception it met with. “ Its usefulness," he writes to a friend, “has overwhelmed me; and when I consider that there are many, both in Great Britain and America, whom I have never seen, nor shall see in the flesh, who will have cause to all eternity to bless God that they ever perused that book, I am truly confounded and humbled. I am now most deeply conscious of the Divine goodness in leading me to publish it, though with how little faith and how much trembling it was committed to the press the Searcher of hearts knoweth. It has been the means of sending many pious young men into the ministry.” Owing to the pressure of public and pastoral duties, the volume was written chiefly after midnight.

It was this production chiefly which made the author's name a familiar one in this country. Subsequently there were many on this side the water, who came to know him personally and to esteem him highly. His biographer writes :—“He was constantly visited by Americans, on their way to or from Europe. Many agreeable acquaintances, some of which ripened into friendship, were thus formed; for few came to Liverpool without finding their way, on the first Sunday after their arrival, into the chapel, and subsequently to the vestry in Great George Street. In the early part of this year, the Rev. Dr. Sprague, of Albany, U. S., arrived with a letter of introduction from the Rev. Dr. Spring, of New York. Dr. Raffles and Dr. Sprague had already corresponded while unknown to each other, except by reputation. They now became personally acquainted, and the friendship which was thus formed continued unabated to the last. In addition to the ordinary grounds for mutual esteem on which friendship is, for the most part, based, there was a strong bond of sympathy in an antiquarian taste, which was common to both. Dr. Sprague was a great collector of autographs; and an interchange of MSS. was constantly taking place, by which each enriched the other's collection."

Dr. Raffles, like his American antiquarian friend, made himself thoroughly acquainted with his own accumulations. Toward the close of the volume the biographer says: “The collection of autographs which Dr. Raffles had been gradually but steadily accumulating, had now become very extensive and interesting. He had, for some years past, been engaged, during the few spare hours which he could devote to the purpose, in arranging and illustrating them. In this task the editor had been his chief assistant, and among the happiest reminiscences of the past, is the memory of the evenings which he was now and then privileged to spend with his father, surrounded by his manuscripts, and agreeably occupied in investigating the past history of those whose autographs were from time to time before them for the purpose of illustration and arrangement. The editor soon became inoculated with the taste for biographical and historical research, which such an occupation can scarcely fail to create, and which his father did all in his power to foster and develop by amusing and instructive anecdotes, and remarks from his own large stores of information. To attempt a description of the contents of the collection would be quite impossible within the limits of this biography. One series alone consists of forty folio volumes, with illustrations, and there are at least as many quarto volumes of various kinds, exclusive of an extremely rare and valuable collection, in seven volumes, of distinguished Americans.”

The writer of this article will long remember the pleasure he experienced at the sight of some of these treasures on a visit to Liverpool, heightened as it was by the warm hospitality, the kindness, and genial manner of their owner, as he exhibited them to him for inspection. Strangers, whether from other parts of his own country, or from America, were sure to find themselves at his hospitable table on the morning following their introduction, when, with a delightful frankness of manner and the utmost Christian courtesy, he would in every way in his power lay himself out for their entertainment. We can never forget the keen interest with which we examined a little manuscript book, which he placed in our hands, perfectly circular in its form, each page of which, not including the margin, was only an inch and a quarter in diameter, and which contained the entire Koran, written in Arabic. It was worn on the arm of a prince, and a priest of Mahomet, from which it had been taken as he lay dead, after the storming of a citadel in Java, in 1816, while Sir Stamford Raffles was governor.

Doctor Raffles seldom came home empty-handed from any of his journeys, as his biographer tells us, and his friends throughout the country were only too well pleased to gratify him by procuring any interesting letters or other documents which they could obtain. In this way, for the most part, his valuable collection was gathered together. He purchased comparatively few autographs, but he attached to them portraits and other illustrations, at a considerable cost in the whole, which he had picked up from time to time.

With his antiquarian tastes he had a strong turn for the humorous. This trait of his character constantly showed itself in company, and it accounted for his irrepressible disposition to treasure up droll things in his memory. Many were the curious epitaphs which he conld repeat, discovered by him in his rambles, and which his memory tenaciously retained. Few men were ever gifted with greater powers of attraction, and, notwithstanding his exceeding frankness, it is not known that he ever uttered a word to give pain, or which could be construed into disregard for the feelings of others who might differ from him in opinion. He had the good sense which is a characteristic of his nation, joined to a childlike simplicity which prevented him from constantly taking care of his dignity, under the queer impression that he was huebanding his influence.

Before Dr. Raffles' settlement in Liverpool, the Congregational ministers in Lancaster County had established what is called the Lancashire Congregational Union, for the purpose of spreading religion in the rural districts. He soon became aware of its great value, and his attachment to it constantly increased. For the purposes of efficient work, the county is divided into districts, and each district contains a number of stations. Preachers and teachers are secured for all the stations, and the funds of the Union, raised by appeals to the churches and to benevolent individuals, are used for the erection of suitable buildings, chapels, etc., in the several stations, and for the support of the missionaries and teachers whose services are enlisted. In time the people learn to depend mainly upon themselves for the support of the gospel, instead of looking for aid altogether from the Union. Every year there is a meeting of the Union in one of the large towns of the county, when a report from each station is read, in regard to its religious condition, and also the report of the treasurer of the Union as to receipts and disbursements. These reports are afterward printed. There can be no doubt that the dissenting denominations of England, each of which has done so much in this way, or in similar ways to promote religion among the neglected population, have greatly stimulated each other in the good work. It will never be known how much the church of Christ owes to their labors. There are the clergy of the Establishment, and abundant provision is made for their support, but the instruction by their exertions of all the population in their parishes is not to be looked for. The people belonging to their parishes have ever been left, to a great extent, uninstructed, and were it not for the efforts of Dissenters, a large proportion of them would be in a state little above heathenism. And this, although so

« ElőzőTovább »