Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

owned him as their Pastor. The secret of his success was his patience, his gentleness and his tender sympathy—in a word, his love.

• Wouldst thou the life of souls discern ?

Nor human wisdom nor divine
Helps thee by aught beside to learn;

Love is life's only sign.' The weak felt that he was strong, and clung to him; the erring, that he was pure, yet not harsh to their shortcomings; the holy, that in him they discerned the likeness of Christ, and one in communing with whom they could learn much; whilst those who dwelt in the dusky valleys of life came to feel that he had climbed the peaks that shut them in, had breathed a keener air, had looked forth upon a wider view, and therefrom was filled with a deeper knowledge than any they had known, and that perchance he could lead them up also to those unclouded heights.

In most places in which Mr. Barrett laboured it was his custom to establish a ladies' Bible-class; and there are even now scattered up and down the country many in whose memories the spiritual instruction and blessing of those happy meetings are still fresh.

The Bible-classes conducted at Manchester and during his two terms of residence at Leeds acquired something more than a local celebrity, possibly more from the influential position of those who attended them in those places, than from any innate superiority of instruction at one period over another.

A special feature of Mr. Barrett's pastorate was his assiduous care for the children of the wealthier and more educated members of his congregations. He felt, and has often said, that these were in danger of being relatively overlooked, and of being the most neglected, or the least carefully tended, class in Methodism. He recognized the necessity and benefit of nurturing their loyal attachment to the faith of their fathers; and certainly, under his pastorate, comparatively few instances can be recorded of the secession of such as we have alluded to, to other sections of the Church. Nor were the poor forgotten. The godly, humble members of his flock always felt they had a true friend in him, and he, firm friends in them. To acknowledge a true fellow-feeling with such was natural to one who could never forget that it was the poor who were the friends of his Lord, and who was richly endowed with that rare virtue—humility, which, like its emblematic lily, is painted with the brightest hues of heaven, yet still bends lovingly over the soil of earth,

We may quote here, relative to Mr. Barrett's performance of the duties of Preacher and Pastor, the affectionate words of his dear friend and quondam colleague, the Rev. Edward Lightwood. This gentleman writes to a ministerial friend :

"You say rightly that I "loved him well.” I did ; and so did all who truly knew him. His memory is very, very dear to me. I love to think of his pure and beautiful life, and of the time when I enjoyed the pleasure and the benefit of his friendship. That which

was very conspicuous was the self-denying devotedness with which he gave himself to his work. Not only in the more important services of the pulpit and pastoral visitation, and Bible and Society-classes, but in a most diligent and careful attention to all the details of subordinate duties he gave "full proof” of his ministry.

* Mr. Barrett was a hard student. He loved literary pursuits, especially that sort of reading which bore upon the manifold questions of theological enquiry; and his mind was enriched with ample resources for the demands of his work. When in full physical and mental vigour, and released from the depression which so often harassed him, his pulpit ministrations were of a very high order. His sermons were remarkable for range and depth of thought, freedom, fulness and force of language, and very impressive energy in their delivery. But he frequently suffered keenly from a constitutional tendency to depression of mind, and there were periods in his life wben these attacks were prolonged through days and weeks of wearisome gloom and sadness. At such times the claims of public duty were felt to be a severe and almost overwhelming demand upon him. Only those who were intimately acquainted with him could have any idea of the hard strain and pressure under which his work was done. It was wonderful how patiently and how bravely he bore up amidst such painful conflicts. “Serving the Lord with...many tears...and temptations which befell me,” are words that well describe the “ fears within ” that so often harassed our beloved friend.

'I do not know whether you ever had an opportunity of observing Mr. Barrett's remarkable power in prayer. As I refer to this, recollections of our Quarterly Fast days more particularly occur to me. Sometimes nearly half an hour would pass away in pleadings, so fervent in spirit and rich in devotional thought, that no one present was conscious of weariness, for all through the exercise the deepest interest and the most hallowed feeling were sustained. The memory of these outponrings of ardent, importunate prayer comes to me with great freshness while I refer to them. And no doubt it was his own intimate communion with God which gave him that great force of personal and ministerial character, of which all who came within the circle of his influence were conscious. Most eminently he “walked with God," and had “power with God.” Often when in view of the purity of God and the requirements of Christian, and more especially ministerial, responsibility, he was mourning over defects and failures, others were admiring the saintliness of a life that seemed to be adorning “the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." He won universal respect, affection and confidence, and I am persuaded no one ever thought too highly of him. Whatever may be said in commendation of Mr. Barrett, whether as Preacher or Pastor, will meet with a cordial response from many whose religious life has been quickened and strengthened by expositions of divine truth in the pulpit, and by wise and loving counsel in the Class and in the home.'

As an Author, it may not be too much to assume that Mr. Barrett has left works that, in his own Church, will live. Writing he often felt to be a duty, but it was always a delight. He turned to his study and his desk for recreation ; there indeed he found almost the only recreation he allowed himself. All other claims being satisfied, he would retire with a secret satisfaction to pursue the work in hand, and often found it hard to tear himself for needful food or rest. In forming an estimate of his power as an author, the very constant and arduous nature of his other engagements must be taken into account. He had no literary leisure to fall back upon ; no comfortable periods of long consecutive hours wherein he could pursue the needful train

thought undisturbed; but he had to acquire his scholarship and apply elf to authorship by snatches, using up all those odds and ends of time most men are accustomed to devote to recreation, repose or vacuity.

away

[graphic]

Bearing this in mind, it can hardly be doubted that no mean result was attained, and had it been his lot, or consistent with his idea of bis own duty, to be at liberty to fully devote himself to writing, like the favoured dwellers in college quadrangle or cathedral cloister, it is reasonable to suppose that his contributions to the literature of the Church would have been richer and fuller than they were. Even as it is they are marked by wide culture, an almost fastidious taste, a clear insight into human nature, a logical power in argument, a grasp of reality, and a profound reverence; while through all glows rich and warm the holiness and devotion of a heart filled with the Spirit of God, suffusing its subject with a tranquil glory like summer sunset on woodlands and bills.

Which of his published works is the best has not been definitely acknowledged, the most competent judges awarding the palm to Christ in the Storm, whilst the popular preference is for the Pastoral Addresses.

The following is a list, in chronological order, of the chief of Mr. Barrett's works :

I. A Prize Essay on the Pastoral Office. This was written principally at Cheltenham before his marriage, and finished at Trowbridge after it. There is a very graceful and interesting story of how Mr. John Fernley, of Manchester, the giver of the prize, and his wife, drove over from Bath to Trowbridge to see the unknown but successful competitor and his young bride-who was also its transcriber-and of the lively and interesting visit that ensued. This work decided his literary status.

II. Catholic and Evangelical Principles. This was written at Holbeck, Leeds, whilst the writer was in the Oxford Place Circuit, and suggested by frequent earnest conversations and discussions between Mr. Barrett, Mr. George Morley, then a prominent medical man in Leeds and a most cultivated, philosophic and Christian man, and a clergyman of the neighbourhood.

III. Pastoral Addresses, written at Hackney (Islington Circuit). This work has undoubtedly obtained the widest popularity as it has also been of the widest usefulness. Very many were the letters of heartfelt thanks that poured in upon him from all parts after the Addresses had been read.

IV. The Life of Mrs. Cryer (the wife of an eminent Missionary in India). This was written at the earnest request of the late Mrs. Christopher Dove, of Leeds, a lady who, from her sorrows and her saintliness, will still be remembered by very many there. This book also was written at Hackney. In addition to these two works, completed whilst Mr. Barrett was at Hackney, he conducted two large and influential Bible-classes, and was also the prime mover in the erection of the present Richmond Road Chapel, which was built and paid for under his auspices, and owing to a great extent to his exertions.

It may be mentioned that the frontispiece of the above work, as well as that of the Boatman's Daughter, were kindly drawn by Miss Elizabeth Farmer, now Mrs. Henry Atkinson.

V. The Boatman's Daughter : A Narrative for the Learned and the Unlearned. This was written at Hackney Road at the solicitation of an Irish

gentleman who was deeply interested in the subject of the sketch and supplied the facts.

VI. The Devotional Remains of Mrs. Cryer. These were merely edited by Mr. Barrett, also whilst at Hackney Road.

VII. Christ in the Storm ; or, The World Pacified. Written in Manchester whilst the author was in the Oxford Road Circuit.

VIII. The Ministry and Polity of the Christian Church. This book, which is mainly a defence of the Church polity of Wesleyan-Methodism, was begun, partly in deference to the request of some of his ministerial friends, in Manchester and finished in London when Mr. Barrett was in the Great Queen Street Circuit. It has been alluded to on a former page, and it is scarcely necessary to add that he felt called to undertake it by the discussion and strife that had arisen on the subject of which it treats.

IX, Consolator. A Memoir of the Rev. John Pearson, a young Minister of great promise and force of character who died early in his career. Written at Leeds whilst the author was in the Brunswick Circuit.

In addition to these Mr. Barrett wrote a biographical sketch, for private circulation, of a young member of the Budgett family ; and lastly, but not by any means least, an unfinished and unpublished Commentary on the Gospels. It was for many years Mr. Barrett's earnest wish to leave the above-named work to the Church as the magnum opus of his life. It was the addition of page after page to the slowly growing mass of the beloved Commentary that occupied all the hours of what, by a façon de parler, may be termed bis leisure whilst at Richmond. It was the child of his maturer age, and was as dear to him as such, Over its pages he found rest from care, recreation after public ministrations and duties, and a solace to troubles. When one thinks of all the circumstances under which it was produced, there is a deep sadness about this unfinished manuscript. Dr. Moulton says: 'I have seen but little of what he wrote : what I have seen has impressed me much. The comments were not usually of a critical kind, but were practical and most useful. If ever this work should see the light, it will probably be acknowledged to be inferior to none of its predecessors, and to reflect, as faithfully as those do, the spiritual outline, tone and colouring of him whose last word thus reaches us.

Mr. Theodore Martin, in his Life of the Prince Consort, almost plaintively states that not the least of his difficulties has been that in all his researches he has come ó upon no such defect as would have furnished that relief of shadow which would have made the portrait

, if not more impressive in itself

, yet more acceptable to many who are reluctant to believe in the highest order of human worth.' This is very truly said. The most inexpiable fault in the eyes of the average man or woman is to have none. It is the weakness of human nature that it cannot, without impatience, contemplate a faultless example. We approach therefore now the only shadow, so far as the present writer can discover, that is cast upon the life or character of Alfred Barrett

. The writer of the Obituary Notice in the Minutes of the Conference (1877)

has most justly observed : 'No estimate of Mr. Barrett's life and character would be complete which did not take note of his constitutional tendency to depression. His temperament was not naturally sanguine or buoyant, bu even in health was tinged with pensiveness, and sometimes, but by no means always, clouded by a gentle melancholy. As an example, take the following passage in one of his works, amongst many which occur elsewhere :

The world around us, as seen by the eye of sense, except so far as its physical scenery is concerned, is a mass of confusion. We see large towns composed of the mansions of the rich, the houses and shops of the commercial, the cottages or tenements of the indastrions, and the squalid hovels of the indigent. We see the bustle of commerce, the excitements of legislation, the rise and fall of grandear, and inexpressible struggles for sabsistence and advancement. These last are energetic everywhere, but especially in the bosom of every distinct family, which knows its own sorrows, and lives over and over in the separate history of each of its own members. You follow each movement to its close, each individual to his grave, and meet with nothing to relieve the scene ; nothing to cast light upon the question, why so much life and thought and feeling and mind should be called forth, and to so little purpose. All this is sorrowful ; and men who have been strangers to Faith have mused over the matter until there has been no strength left in them.'— Pastoral Addresses, vol. i., p. 85.

The probable causes of this cast of mind have been set forth on a former page. But the constitutional tendency to depression' was, in reality, a physical tendency to attacks of illness with painful and definite symptoms, coming at first at long, but latterly at shorter intervals of time. During these attacks, in addition to the bodily suffering, which was great, he was mentally prostrate ; hope was dead within him, the darkest clouds of gloom gathered around him, God seemed far distant and deaf to his cries, the world was cold and cheerless, and even the fount of Faith was almost dry.

*A grief without a pang, void, dark and drear ;

A drowsy, stifled, unimpassioned grief,

Which finds no outlet nor relief

In word, or sigh, or tear.'— Coleridge. Ode to Dejection. A short poem written during one of his earliest attacks has a painful interest from the illustration it supplies of his state of mind at these times : The sammer hastes again

* There is a calm in me Upon his burning wing,

Unruffled by a breath,
O Earth, thy flowers again

The stillness of the Sea
Are brightly picturing!

Where Sodom sleeps beneath. And fair until this time

It is the calm of woe ;
To me was every form,

Where Memory, like a star,
Most fair the heaven sublime,

Gleams on a deep below,
And grand in might the storm.

Which sleeps all waveless there. • Thy breath, O breezy night!

• The holy, heavenly Dove, Came like the Spirit above ;

Whose blessed, brooding wing
The waves of starry light

O’er me did freely move,
Did thrill with joy and love.

Hath left His shadowing. • Bat, ah ! I feel no more

• This world of harmony
My spirit's ardent glow;

Is voiceless as a ghost ;
The light that passed o'er

How better far to die
Is far and faint and low.

Than live where all is lost!'

« AnteriorContinuar »