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fenetratedt further into eternal things than I ever did before, spent sonic hours on my knees, in earnest wrestling with God. I think 19aw more than ever of the vile corruptions of my heart: they distressed Me; but I was led to the blood of* Jesus for pardon, and to his Spirit for grace to subdue them. la confessing my sin, my heart loathed and detested exceedingly all sin, for its own internal odiousness. I supplicated the divine blessing; and longed for nothing so much as conformity to the Lord Jesus, and the advancement of bis kingdom. In thanksgiving, how was my hard heart melted into affection to God! Oh, to dwell ever in this frame! surely, it is Heaven oa Earth!' .
On April 27, 1803, many respectable ministers assembled at Birdsbush*, to set'him apart to the pastoral office. Few services of that nature have afforded, on reflection, more real pleasure thart this. The feelings of our brother on this occasion may be learned from the following remarks:— ' It was a refreshing season to many!—it evidently appeared that the Great Head of the Church was present, both with ministers and people; and it will be long remembered with satisfaction, and delight.—O that the union now formed may be useful and lasting!
His peculiar devotedness to God, and conscientious discharge of every ministerial duty, were considered by those who best knew him, to have been far beyond the powers of his bodily frame. He did all as in the sight of God! He laboured in the word and doctrine as though all depended on his exertions; yet no one could more abhor human merit, or think less of his services than he did. On reviewing his own conduct, he exclaims,' I long to be more devoted to the service of my dear Master! I feel an ardent desire after conformity to Him: I thirst after more communion with the Father, Son, and Holv Spirit! How weak my exerjions in divine things! I am selfcondemned: I plead guilty. I cry for mercy: Saviour, spare a wretched sinful creature, who does not deserve to breathe on thy earth! I am astonished that any one will be troubled with such an useless mortal, but much more the infinitely Holy God!'
His conversation, as well as his preaching, was much blessed. He considered those visits, in a great measure, useless, where he could not bring forward some useful topic.
* The pious and learned Peter Ince, known by the name of the Praying Shepherd,-*TM the first pastor of the church at Birdsbush. He had been rector of Donhead ; from whence he was ejecleJ with Hie 9000 worthies, in 1662. To avoid his persecutors, he hired himself in tha honest and peaceful employment of a shepherd, to Mr. Grove, of Fern-bouse, whose spiritual shepherd he afterwards became. — The interesting: manner in which he discovered him, is related at large ia Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial, vol- iii, page. 363.
XVIII. - I
SO JtfEMOIR OF THE REV. JOHN M'gibbon.
Christ dwelt in his heart; from which he felt such real delight, as constrained him to wish that all could' tasjte and see that the Lord is good/ Indeed, this was alleged against him as a fault, by one congregation; and as a reason why he .did not suit them. 'I find/ says he/by a letter from Mr. ——•, that one objection made against me at -——', was my introducing religious conversation. I confess, it has been my principal study, and is my. chief delight. Want of ability for religious, eonversation has been a source of grief, to me: how much, therefore, was I astonished at this*complaint*!'
He was an admirer of the doctrines of free discriminatinograce; and ardently longed to feel daily their sanctifying influence on his own soul. He could appeal to.Cod, that he wished to be holy as, well as happy. Lord, I hate sin! O deliver me from this body of sin and death! Give me glorious views of my Saviour and his salvation! Jesus, my Lord, t cannot live as a Christian, much less as a Minister, without thee: 1 feel my weakness and my need of thee! I pant for universal and perfect holiness, — I desire to be free from all sia: I would not rest in present attainments; but aspire after greater degrees of grace, till 1 arrive at glory!'
As a pastor, he was ' diligent to know the' state of his flock;' and always adapted his sermons, prayers, and advice accordingly. The people would open their hearts on all important occasions to him, without reserve; and never left him without receiving suitable advice. Several of them have acknowledged that' his words, on such occasions, were like those of a venerable parent;' and that they never ' had reason ,to regret following his advice.'
•. The assiduity with which he laboured to establish the Sunday-School at Birdsbush will not be soon forgotten; and he had the satisfaction to find his exertions cordially seconded by his flock. In this establishment, the instruction of the adults was not wholly omitted. Little Societies were formed of about six in each company, for the purpose of subscribing one . penny per month to purchase the Evangelical Magazine. After each had read them, they were sold; and the profits devoted to augment the funds of the school. This plan has been admired by many; and, in a variety of instances, signally ow^ied of God.
The illness, which has now terminated the short but valuable life of our dear friend, seems to have commenced about five years ago, in a violent cold. During that period there were many intervals, when hopes were entertained of returning health: but lie, in whose hands our breath is, had otherwise determined.
* Is it not much to be lamented, that there are so many likely to suit «irh a congregation,, without incurring tbucensure our friend brought oa iiiiiucir? ....
About 18 months ago, the most alarming symptoms appeared, and threatened his speedy removal. The medical attendant left him at one time, as he supposed, in the agonies of death. At this period, with what sincere affection and importunity did his people supplicate the divine throne on his behalf J He thought, and it was also the general opinion, that, in answer to prayer, he was restored from the confines of the grave: but his work was not quite done, — he was to'love Christ and preach Christ a little longer!'
A few months prior to his death, he had a strong desire>to visit his native country. This, in conjunction with the advice of his doctor, led him to resolve on leaving home for Scotland: but when the plan was fixed, the expectation of seeing an aged parent, perhaps for the last time, with some distant hope of recovery, on the one hand, — and leaving his beloved wife, as well as an affectionate people, on the other, were almost too much for his feeble frame to sustain. The Sabbath before he left his family and flock was truly an affecfemg season. The subject chosen was Acts xx. 26. Hie earnest and peculiarly interesting mariner of expression, together with his piercing look, all indicated that he (as well as the people) considered it his farewell-discourse; which was really the case. Soon after leaving home, he was seized with a complaint which brought on uncommon debility. Every account respecting his health was discouraging; and no hopes were entertained of his return to England. The frame of his mimd, during his absence, may best appear from his own pen:— ' I long to see my de*r wife and congregation again: though absent, you lie much on my heart. The medical men * all recommend a total cessation from public labours; but this is very hard for me: yet if it be the will of my heavenly Father, I submit, All is right that he does: it is in mercy he afflicts me. If it end in health, it will be in mercy; for I shall praise him in the land of the living; — if it end in death, it will be in mercy; for I shall sing his praises among the living in Jerusalem! Indeed, 'I desire to depart, and be with Christ, which is far better.* I see nothing in this vain world to fix my heart on it; but, ever}' thing in Heaven to attract my affections. My treasure, my Saviour, my heart, is there; and I long for the day when I •hall ascend to take possession of the everlasting inheritance; yet I must wait the Lord's time. If he has more work for me, he will restore me: 1 only dread being laid aside; yet, in all cases, his will be done i At this season, I wish you, my dear wife, to cast all your cares upon the Lord. Do not burden yourself with them, when he has been graciously
* Tht medical gentlemen in Edinburgh were remarkably kind in their attention to him; but of. the kind visits and pleating conversation of Br Stuart, he often spoke with uncommon gratitude.
52 MEMOIK Of THE REV. JOHN M'gibbox.
pleased to promise he will take them on himself: — ' He will never leave you, nor forsake you: he will be your Guide, even unto death; and surely that is enough. We are in good hands, — we need not fear. Do, give my love to all my dear people. I do not mention names, because they are all on my mind. I hope each enjoys; the presence of the Saviour; and is walking in the comforts of the Holy Ghost.' ;; •
On finding there was little hope of receiving benefit from his native air, he seized the first opportunity of returning to his dearest earthly friend and beloved congregation, though rt was with much difficulty, and to the astonishment of all. It was 'just in time,' as he expressed it himself/ to lay his bones \>?ith }hem.'
During his long illness, his mind was peculiarly calm; often blessing God for his temporal, as well as spiritual comforts, — especially for giving so great a mercy in nis beloved partner. Indeed, her unwearied attention and soothing concern were conspicuous to all; and were the means, not only of making his last days more tranquil, but of protracting them beyond nil expectation.
The sweet serenity which had been apparent during a long illness, did not forsake him in his last moments. The eqemy of souls was not permitted violently to assault him. Those blessed truths, which had been the subject of his ministry, were now, in an especial manner, the support and solace of his own mind. At. different times, many weighty and precious sentiments dropped from his lips; most of which are now lost. A few days prior to his death, he 6aid, several times,' I know in whom I have believed.' The gospel is my support. What could I now do but for the support which the gospel gives:' • Then, clasping his hands together, and lifting his eyes to Heaven, he exclaimed,' Blessed'be God for the salvation of Jesus!' At another time, he said,' The sting of death is taken away.' The grace of patience daring his illness was abundantly conspicuous in all he did or said. If at any time he was desirous of length of days, it was, to use his own words,' To serve God 111 the sanctuaiy; which has been many years the delight of my heart.' To a friend, who spoke of his many afflictions, he said, 'Not one too many! I do not wish one less! My heavenly Father does all well.'
As he was now unable to serve his people in the pulpit, his active m'nd could not be satisfied without seeking their advantage in some oilier way. It was, therefore, his employment, for the last week of his life, to select suitable tracts,'and send them to individual.';, with his dying wishes written on each tract. — May they yet speak, and be accompanied with a divine blessing!
A» the Sabbath drew near, he seemed verv desirous to sit down with his people once more at the Lord's Table. Though there had not been the usual notice given, his friends, seeing how much his heart was set on it, did not object. He seemed ready to adopt the words of his dying Lord: —' With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.' In the services of the Sabbath he was very happy; but especially during the administration of the Lord's bupper. Here he seemed to be taking a solemn farewell of his charge and the ordinances; and, in the most significant manner, giving himself and all into the hands of Iris Lord. While the minister was uttering these words of our Saviour to his disciples,' I will henceforth drink no more of the fruit of the vine till I drink it new in the kingdom of my Father,' — his eyes directed 11 pwards, lifted hands, and solemn countenance, proclaimed ia silent, but forcible language, that he nearly anticipated that joy on which he was soon fully to enter. It was indeed his last Sabbath on earth; and he realized it as such. On entering his own habitation, he exclaimed,' I have had a blessed day!'■— «md repeatedly spoke of it as a foretaste of Heaven.
On the following Tuesday he appeared better than usual, fend enjoyed the conversation of a friend, who sat with him, beyond any thing he had felt for a long time. In the evening he became fatigued; and on being helped up to his chamber, and retiring to bed, he desired to be left quite alone, evidently with a view, in a more free and solemn manner, to commune with his Lord, and finally commit himself into the hands of his Redeemer. At 11 o'clock he looked at his watch, spoke in the most cheerful and affectionate manner to Mrs. M. and soon fell into a sweet sleep. Towards morning he was observed to breathe with much difficulty, and evidently appeared to be in the arms of Death. In this situation he remained till about II o'clock/on Wednesday, October 12, 1808, when his happy spirit was dismissed from a poor emaciated body, and entered into the joy of his Lord.
On Thursday, October 20, all that was mortal of our dear friend was committed to a vault, prepared for that purpose, in the meeting-house, amidst a crowded and deeply-affected congregation.- The pall was borne by six of the ministers in the neighbourhood. The solemn service commenced by Mr. Loader, of Fordingbridge, reading suitable portions of Scripture and offering up prayer; Mr. Adams again supplicated the divine throne; Mr. Morrin delivered an appropriate oration; after which the body was committed to the tomb; Mr. Tracy then prayed; after whUih Mr. Weston delivered a discourse, Irom Mat. xxv. 21.
'" Such are some of the chcumstances of the life and death of this pious young minister, who was cut off in the 32d year of his age, and the llfh of his ministry.— How inscrutable are the ways of God in thus removing from the church such a useful young minister! But such acts display the sovereignty of Je