Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

this beautiful and striking passage, he might, probably, in the first emotion of his feelings, form a determination to search out misery, and to administer to it consolation and relief. So much, indeed, may he have become the creature of sentiment as to feel himself impell- i to execute his designs. yet can we harbour a doubt that the first sight of loathsome and miserable wretchedness would banish from his mind every thought of prosecuting schemes founded on so slight a principle ; and send him back to ideal scenes for that interesting distress which is rarely to be found in the realities of human misery?

Poverty, in its genuine appearance, is not to be endured by a nature so refined. Would the sufferers hope to engage his compassion, they must be well grouped, their attitudes must be picturesque, their cottage covered with ivy, and the windows entwined with jessamine, while the interior presents nothing unsightly. The 'fatherless' must be collected into an enchanting circle, their countenances marked with an expression of pathetic sweetness ;-the 'widow' must be seen extending her arms over them, her knees bent, and her eyes suffused with tears, raised towards heaven;—these are scenes which will engage his whole attention,—that will excite his warmest feelings.

Even among those (a large proportion of mankind, we would hope) who are actuated by more generous, more just feelings, how few can be found who will subject themselves habitually to visiting the abodes of sickness and want. Is there in human nature, abstractedly considered, a principle or passion capable of producing a constant endurance of all that is revolting to the feelings, and offensive to the senses ? Surely, nothing but an ardent zeal for the glory of God can induce a habit of selfdenial so sublime. No inferior principle can inspire that energy of soul which elevated the Apostle, when, with a burst of eloquence, he exclaimed, 'Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword ?'

The following quotation from Dr. Millerdole's recommendation of this interesting little work, will explain the accasion of its being written.

• The Almshouse and Hospital of this City (New York) were previously to the year 1810, in a very destitute situation, in point of Gospel privileges. The attention of the religious public has for some time past, been called to this subject by the Rev. Ezra Stiles Ely, a member of the Presbytery of New York. In June, 1810, he began to preach at the Almshouse, and in the month of October, of the same year, in the Hospital. In November following, a form of subscription was drafted and subscribed by a number of individuals, who were principally of the Presbyterian or Dutch communion of this City, for the maintenance of the gospel in those places. Mr. Ely was retained as their stated preacher, and has laboured in the charge assigned him, from that time to the present, with approved ability and indefatigable zeal. Of the nature and success of his labours, some estimate may be formed from the interesting journal contained in this book. These documents prove their author to have taken a deep interest in his work. They prove also, with overwhelming conviction, the importance of missionary labour, in those asylums of wretchedness and woe, with which he has been conversant.'

Respecting his entire disinterestedness, the Doctor goes on to say,

· Solely dependant on a precarious subscription which he has now entirely relinquished, his receipts have never exceeded the necessary support of a single man."

This is indeed a servant worthy of his divine Master. To give our readers a further idea of the ardent zeal which impelled him onward in the prosecution of his glorious object, we select what follows in his own words.

· Had an enemy seen me to night, he could not have wished me a more unpleasant situation than I had; or a friend to Jesus, he could not have desired a better employment than I found in the Almshouse. The ward of blind people was crowded, and many who sought to enter were unable. The room was warm and the atmosphere odious ; but since our Master stooped to the meanest condition, yea, endured the hardest fare, how could ministers retreat until they had de. livered their message? The singing was animated, and the attention of the hearers compensated for the want of wholesome air.' p. 79.

• A few days after, he requested to see me, when I had been preaching and praying with other sick persons Such was my fatigue, and indisposition of body, that I excused myself for that time ; but the next morning I found that he died, while expressing a wish that I were present to pray for him. This is the only instance in which I have excused myself from any unpleasant duty of this kind ; and, although I cannot severely censure myself, because I really was ill, yet I think it will be the last. If I can stand and speak, I am resolved to pray with dying sinners, who request me to lead their devotion.' p. 90.

Should one soul be saved in the course of a year's service, I shall be compensated, and those benevolent persons who contribute to my support will not lose their reward.' p. 20.

It is more painful to ask than to bestow, I have found by experience; and witness, angels, if ever I beg a cent in any other name than that of the Lord Jesus Christ. Had be not been poor, one might be ashamed of poverty; but for him a Christian can beg, without deeming it a degradation.' p. 37.

We shall now give a few promiscuous passages, and regret that we have room but for few.

• From this place I went to the abode of those maiden females, who befriended the sick soldier. I raised the outer cellar-door, and knocked upon the inner, which opened into their abode. A feeble, hollow voice said, “ Come in,” I descended, but ou entering saw no person. Something like a coverlet was suspended, as a curtain, to divide the cellar into a kitchen and bed-room. The sick woman drew this curtain to behold her visitor. “What! are you alone ?" “ Yes alone; but not alone neither." She stretched forth her hand, and after a few convulsive struggles with the enemy at hec vitals, said, “I am glad to see you : I rejoice to see any Christian being." Her sister was gone out to work for the day, but being near ran in frequently to assist her patient. I expressed my surprize, that when she was so dangerously sick, she should be deserted; but she replied, that it was necessary for their subsistence, and she was as willing to die with God alone, as with any other company. After I had prayed with her, she said, “What a mercy it is to me, that God has afflicted mel that he did not cut me down, and sweep me away in a moment ! that he has not punished me as I have deserved! He has visited me with lingering sickness, that I might know him and love him better.” Such is the humanity, gratitude, and faith of this woman, that in prayer I had little else to do than to thank God for giving such rich consolations of grace as she experienced, to miserable sinners' p. 74, 75.

In the evening, a room in the Almshouse was again my Church. All were attentive. Many on each side of me were on beds of sickness, and several were near the close of life. Who would not, have been affected at such a sight? Many have frequented this place of suffering with me, and have been so overcome by their emotions, as to be unable to speak. Once I could' weep; but of late I have been so conversant with disease and death, that my feelings are somewhat blunted. Instead of obtaining relief by the free perspiration of grief, my heart swells and burns with an unremitting, fever. After public worship was concluded, a warm debate arose about the nomination of the ward where I should next preach. Seven or eight women were entreating for their turn next, and' naming the number of their sick for arguments. In most of the rooms are several who cannot move ; and from these I receive messages, entreaties, and gentle remonstrances. What can I do but, serve them all in rotation?' p. 29.

The following may furnish a useful hint to those who are zealous to do good.

* An old Scotch woman has repeatedly amused me, while she taught me the important lesson of doing much good at little expence. She comes to the Almshouse with a bundle of tracts; the children flock around her, and she says to one, “Dear child, do you want to buy a book ?”? “I hu’nt got no money, cries the boy." “ But would you give me two cents for this little book if you had them ??? “ That I would.” “Well, then, if you will learn-five questions and answers, I will give you one cent; and when you have learned five more, I will give you another cent which will buy the book.” The lad consents; she calls again to hear him repeat his lesson; and in this manner she has sold a cheap copy of the catechism to very many of the poor children.' p. 117.

This volume contains some very important instruction to the profligate : they will meet with awful relations of the wretched end of vice, and of the aggravated misery which will fall upon those who follow no guide but inclination, and who obey no law but passion. We would recommend to those who may feel inclined to follow Mr. Ely's plan of writing à journal, when, for the purpose of more accurately describing characters they give any thing in the way of dialogue, to avoid the error into which many have fallen of spelling the words as they were mispronounced by the illiterate persons who spoke them. On common subjects it may sometimes be preferable, but it is highly objectionable on the subject of religion. Whatever on such an occasion, has a tendency to excite a Judicrous idea, should be conscientiously avoided. The author has indeed seldom fallen into this error--we recollect but two instances, and which occur at pages 55 and 97.

These are sufficient to shew the propriety of giving the simple language in correct spelling.

The book concludes with some highly interesting cases of insanity, but they are all too long for insertion. The whole is written in a perfectly unaffected style ; and many passages might be pointed out, of just and lively description, and some which are exquisitely pathetic. We can afford room only for two short extracts more.

• The wind blew the piercing cold from the North ; but the Southern Sun illuminated the abode of the widow. The children had recovered their ruddy countenances, and were seated round a frugal fire. They had a little wood still remaining, and a loaf of bread in reserve. The widow was restored to wonted strength, from the debility induced by long watchings with misery; and contentment was in her countenance. This sight gave new vigour to a heart which had been depressed with the remembrance of wretchedness which it could not dispel. it encouraged me to take a missionary tour through some of the wards of the Almshouse. p. 33.

• The good matron, from Berwick-upon-Tweed, was seated with her cane in her hand, and clad with a blue cloak which was become almost white with age and use. It is a cloak by day, and a covering by night. From its texture, I am led to suppose that it must have seen better days, when its owner had not outlived all her friends. Happy is that person, who being free from debt, and at peace with mankind, can wrap himself in his mantle, and say I have hope in Christ ; I brought nothing into the world ; I can carry nothing away ; let this garment be my winding-sheet; I am ready to depart; come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.” There was no object in the room which did not excite compassion, except a little bird, which sung occasionally a soft song to a poor invalid mistress. She listened to me to-day, and after service besought me with tears that I would not set it be “ so long" before I came again.' p. 77.

Art. IX. The Practical Expositor : or Scripture illustrated by Facts,

and arranged for every Day in the Year. By Charles Buck, 12mo. pp. 492. Frice 6s. Williams and Son. 1813. THE intention of the author, in collecting the variety of

anecdotes, quotations, biographical sketches, &c. of which this little work is composed, was to form a practical exposition of various passages of Scripture, wbich should, at the same time, comprize an interesting mass of biographical and historical information. The work is thrown into the form of a class-book, for which purpose, if the matter were somewhat more equally divided, it would be well adapted. So far as it consists of anecdotes, we think the volume singularly unexceptionable. It is free from the objections which lie against religious story-telling in general, and is, obviously, of a useful tendency. We regret to learn from the preface that the compilation formed the author's solace in hours of languor and pain.

In giving the following specimens of the work, we have been compelled to regard their brevity.

• March 30. Acts. xxi. 13. “ I am ready, not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. Bishop Ferrar martyred at Carmarthen, 1555. What was said of Epaminondas might be, with the greatest propriety, said of this good bishop, that he was truly magnanimous. Epaminondas, while bravely fighting in the thickest of the enemy, received a fatal wound in the breast. But seeing that his army was conquered, he exclaimed, “The event of the day is decided, draw now this javelin from my body, and let me bleed.” This was to die covered with glory, and shewing magnanimity to the last. But what shall we say to the courage and fortitude of this worthy bishop. A little before he suffered, a Mr. Richard Jones, a young gentleman of family in the country, lamented to him the severity and painfulness of the kind of death which he was to undergo. The bishop, with all the firmness which was celebrated in the primitive martyrs of the church, immediately answered in these words, “ If you see me once stir while I suffer the pains of burning, then give no credit to the truth of those doctrines for which I die.” Undoubtedly it was by the grace and support of God, he was enabled to make good this assertion, " for (says Mr. Fox) so patiently he stood, that he never moved, but even as he stood holding up his stumps, so still he continued, till one Richard Gravelle with a staff, dashed him upon the head, and so struck him down.”' pp. 96, 97.

Sept. 20 Eph. vi. 16.“ Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Chabrias defeated the Lacedemonians, B.C. 377.' This Athenian general ordered his soldiers to put one knee on the ground, and firmly to rest their spear on the other, and cover themselves with their shields, by

6

« AnteriorContinuar »