thus shown to be always necessary, she had previously secured and long enjoyed.

At ten o'clock on the following morning her mortal remains were deposited in the chapel-yard, where they rest beside those of her two predecessors, Mrs. Atkins and Mrs. Rowden, until "the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised."


43. DIED, December 22d, 1843, at Cockermouth, in the Workington Circuit, aged forty-nine, Mr. John Rigg. He was a native of Bowness, in Westmoreland, and removed to Cockermouth in his twenty-fourth year, when he was induced to join the Wesleyan society, and soon experienced the converting grace of God. From a boy he was remarkable for three qualities: intrepidity, perseverance, and eagerness to acquire gain, connected with great parsimony. The two former dispositions were, from the time of his conversion, sanctified to the cause of Christ; but the latter was an impediment to him in the way to heaven, till it pleased God to instruct him by a dream, and deliver him from this too common and successful snare of the devil. The particulars need not be enumerated. It is sufficient to record, that he was led to think of the subject, and to examine himself in the light of the written word. He saw that he was wrong; and by the grace of God renounced his error, and became in this respect thoroughly an altered man. His situation in life was somewhat humble; but industry and economy afforded him more than his own wants needed, and he devoted the overplus to God. He no longer hoarded up what he was not likely to require, but made his own hands the almoners of the bounties of Providence; so that he was noted for his liberality, in proportion to his ability, both to the poor and the cause of religion. Towards the erection of chapels, and the support of our foreign Missions, he was diligent and importunate with others, and generous himself, to the time of his death. His temporal calling, to the duties of which he attended diligently, enabled him to form an extensive circle of religious acquaintance in Cumberland and Westmoreland, and in some parts of Lancashire and Scotland. It was his custom to devote a brief period annually to the immediate work of religion, by attending class-meetings, visiting those who would receive him from house to house, and preaching in the open air. In these engagements he was plain and energetic, and he was made very useful. He sought to follow the leadings of Providence, and to do good as opportunity might be afforded him, in those seasons of the year when not required to be so much engaged in his occupation, which was that of a catcher of moles.

For some time in the course of the year, towards the conclusion of which he rested from his labours, his health appeared to be declining. Thinking that change of air might be beneficial, in the month of August he visited Keswick; but after preaching there one Sabbath evening, he caught a cold, which appeared to settle in his chest, and from which, indeed, he never recovered. Ten days before his death, he became unable to leave his bed, and almost immediately fever ran so high that for six days he was, with few and brief intervals, delirious. When

this obscuring cloud had passed away, however, he was so completely exhausted as to be unable to speak. He never rallied, but gradually sunk till he quietly expired. But though his tongue spake not, his countenance was most expressive; and with that he replied to any inquiries that were addressed to him. His face appeared to beam with the delightful anticipation of approaching glory. His character was very exemplary. His behaviour and his profession were mutually consistent. His zeal was ardent, his temper was affectionate, forbearing, and forgiving. He lived a life of cheerful self-denial, and was active as well as fervent in charity. He prayed much, and lived by the faith of the Son of God, who had loved him, and given himself for him. He was highly esteemed as a good man; and by all who knew him, his death, though submissively, is deeply lamented. It may be added, now that the call for increasing support for the Missionary cause is so urgent, that Mr. Rigg was an industrious Missionary Collector; and, besides his annual subscription on his own book, as an example for those to whom he applied, he gave £5 annually at the Cockermouth Anniversary Meeting. MOSES RAYNER.

44. Died, January 4th, 1844, Anne, the wife of Mr. Joseph Webb, Wellington, Salop, in the seventy-ninth year of her age, having been an exemplary member of the Wesleyan society fifty-five years. As she was favoured from childhood with the means of distinguishing between a mere profession and the happy enjoyment of religion, her views early became correct, clear, and strictly evangelical. The plan which divine wisdom had contrived, and infinite love executed, for the salvation of fallen man, she well understood, and the effects of Gospel truth were powerfully and pleasingly seen in the change wrought in her heart and life while she was yet young. As religion was, at that time, to many, a matter of ridicule and contempt, a more than ordinary degree of fortitude and determination was required for its visible and consistent profession; but none of these things moved her. Though she did not possess the same degree of vivacity by which some are characterized, nor feel those great transports which others experience, (and this she often lamented,) yet the principles of Christianity were so deeply planted in her soul, that her course was truly peaceful, regular, and improving. Religious truth was in her a strong and abiding principle of action, and produced a steady uniformity of life. In her character appeared that delightful feature which adorns those whom the Saviour has pronounced blessed: she hungered and thirsted after righteousness. With much feeling she complained of her small attainments, and expressed her anxious desire for an increase of faith, love, and holiness. She diligently sought what she earnestly desired, believing her Saviour's promise," Ask, and it shall be given you," &c. She faithfully maintained the spirit, conversation, and conduct of a Christian wherever her lot was cast. To an amiable and generous disposition was united a self-denying and charitable conduct. In the exercise of her benevolence, it was with difficulty she could be restrained, feeling that "it is more blessed to give than to receive." She often appeared regardless of her own interest, in the concern she manifested for the well-being and comfort of her poor neighbours, some of whom were daily assisted by her. With a large family, and cares proportionably great, she nevertheless contrived punctually to attend the public and private means of grace. She was a pattern as a wife and

mother, as she was exemplary as a Christian. During her last affliction, she possessed a strong conviction that she was in the hands of her gracious Father, and that all that she suffered, being by his appointment, would conduce to his glory, and issue in her own everlasting happiness. Retaining a deep impression of her condition as a sinner, she exercised an unshaken confidence in her great Redeemer. About an hour before her departure, when asked if the Saviour were then precious, she replied, with emphasis, "Yes, O yes.”


45. Died, January 7th, at Bath, Mr. William B. Cook, (nephew of Mr. Thomas Cordeux, of London,) aged twenty-six. "I was born," he says, in a short manuscript account of his early days, "December 7th, 1817, at Shaftesbury, in Dorsetshire, of pious parents, who frequently directed my mind to heavenly things, and spoke to me of Christ my Saviour. Often, while they have been doing this, my heart has been affected, and I have desired to love God; but, alas! these good impressions vanished away as the morning cloud, and as the early dew. In the year 1828 our family removed to Bath. I was still led captive by Satan, and my inclinations were altogether worldly. But here it pleased God, by means of his word, deeply to affect my heart. On one occasion Mr. Rogers was preaching on the necessity of securing due preparation for another world; and, while urging this on the attention of his congregation, he said, in a very impressive manner, 'We may die in a month, in a day, in an hour; we may die now!' This so alarmed my guilty conscience, that I was obliged to leave the chapel; and I did not recover my usual feelings for several days. Willing to persuade myself that the disquiet of my mind was only the result of a disordered state of the nerves, I used various means for its removal; but I knew not my disease. God was performing a gracious work on me, in answer to the many prayers which had been offered on my behalf." These gracious visitations issued in a true conversion to God. At the death of his father in 1836, he joined the Wesleyan society; and, soon after, God heard his supplication for mercy. It was while alone, and reading the Epistle to the Romans, that he was enabled to perceive and understand the heartcheering truth, There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." From this time he went on his way steadily in religion; and although subject, through the whole of his short pilgrimage, to great bodily weakness, he was yet enabled, in conjunction with his widowed parent, to superintend a somewhat extensive business; and to stand, toward a large surviving family, in a certain sense, in the place of his sainted father. In him were displayed, in an eminent degree, what sometimes have been called the passive graces of the Christian character. Resignation to his heavenly Father's will, appeared to be in him complete: a murmuring word was never heard from his lips. The last few years of his life constituted a season of increasing weakness and suffering. The frail earthly tabernacle had long been propped up only with great difficulty. At length, rather unexpectedly, the silver cord of life was loosed. The summons, however, found him prepared for its reception; so that they who mourn for their own loss are enabled to rejoice in the persuasion of his great and eternal gain. JOHN G. COOK.




(For the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine.)

MANY of the German rationalists, as they term themselves, or antisupernaturalists, as the more truly descriptive epithet would be, have endeavoured to reduce the whole Bible to a purely natural narrative. Those portions of it which, in the letter, refer to supernatural occurrences, they represent as being only mythological; each narrative being described as a myth, a fable, in which important truths are delivered, according to the custom of the age, not by simple statement, but poetically, parabolically, so as both to conceal and to convey the supposed fact or instruction. It is one of the principles of their philosophy, that mankind, in the earlier ages, were prone to refer all events to the immediate interposition of some deity, and that their instructers, availing themselves of this disposition, presented their lessons in a form corresponding to it. Some observations on this principle may, in the first place, be made; and then it will be shown that in the New Testament, in reference to this very class of narratives, the mythological character is distinctly, and in direct terms, denied, and the character of simple statements of fact as distinctly asserted.

It will be at once allowed that when the light of Christianity had shown clearly the falsehood and absurdity of the grosser forms of idolatry, as well as of the tales delivered by the poets respecting the actions of the supposed deities, the philosophers of the empire, particularly those belonging to the Alexandrian school, who wished to revive Platonism under a new form, and to present it as a rival to triumphing Christianity, did, being ashamed of their systems, and smarting under the sarcasms of their Christian opponents, endeavour to represent the old tales as so many instructive fables. And it may be allowed, too, that in an earlier age, especially in Egypt, truths, both natural and moral, had sometimes been thus represented. The Priests were wishful to perpetuate their rule over the masses of the people, by perpetuating their ignorance, and by presenting truth in forms that should be, in reality, the entire and ultimate objects of belief. Still, it is historically demonstrable that, by the vast majority of society, both the great statements of idolatry, and the numerous tales connected with them, were believed to the very letter. In most instances, the truths supposed to be represented were brought to the explanation of the fables long after the fables had been invented. Many of the Priests were well aware of the frauds by which they practised on the credulity of their votaries, and appear, from their general viciousness, to have cherished no sense of religion at all. Perhaps we should scarcely call them even atheists, in any positive sense of the expression. They did not think enough of the subject to have formed any direct system. St. Paul is as profoundly philosophical as he is historically correct in using the phrase, respecting the earliest generations of idolaters, "They did not like to retain God in their knowledge." The idea of a holy Ruler and just Judge was not suited to their abandonment of themselves to the world and sin, and therefore they sought to free themselves from it, by forgetfulness, 3 U


and by numberless inventions; and some were so far successful, that the truth, imprisoned in unrighteousness, was stifled and forgotten. And so with many of the philosophers. Some were content to believe with the vulgar, thinking very little about the matter; and later ages, even with Christian light, have proved, that gross absurdities, by being long and widely talked about, may easily obtain a sort of general admission from the more learned, amounting to something very like belief. The ridiculous legends about miracles among the Roman Catholics furnish a melancholy illustration of this. As to the more deeply-thinking among the Heathen of Greece and Rome, they saw plainly that such gods as the vulgar received, furnished no causality adequate to the effects shown in the creation and sustentation of the universe. They bewildered themselves in seeking to account for what they could neither deny nor explain,—the traces of power and wisdom in the works that surrounded them, and which could never have proceeded from their Saturns and Jupiters. Falsehood they could detect; but though the simple and magnificent truth was proclaimed to them from Judea, where God was known, and his name was great, they refused to receive it, and went on in their darkness, assigning various explanations to causality, but losing themselves in abstractions, because they refused to set out with the principle of a personal First Cause, who had condescended to reveal himself to man. The true theology of nature they could never understand, and therefore they never arrived at its true conclusions. We, who study nature in the light of revelation, are able to solve the problem, because we set out with an intelligible enunciation of the problem itself.

Lord Bacon devoted some of the power of his mighty, but poetical, mind, to the investigation of various portions of the old mythological system of this western part of the world, and has given us the result in his "Wisdom of the Ancients." We much question, however, whether the ancients were ever aware that they possessed so much wisdom. At all events, the fables had long been believed as simple facts, when the attempt was first made to impress a mythical character upon them.

And as to the tendency of mankind, in remote ages, to refer events to the immediateness of divine interposition, the fact may be both admitted and explained without supposing it to be one of the laws of progressive mental development, as latterly stated in France by M. Auguste Comte. The truth of Scripture is to be established-and, we are bold to say, is established-on independent evidence; and being established, another explanation is immediately given of the facts. M. Comte is not to assume the law, and then range the facts under it. This is not philosophy, but gross empiricism. The facts are to be taken by themselves; and thus proceeding, with the proved volume of inspiration in our hands, it is plain that in the earlier ages, and among those whom God had chosen to be the depositaries of his truth at a period when men were everywhere departing from it, there actually were frequent and immediate divine interpositions. And when the geographical situation of Palestine is remembered, just in the centre of the nations to whose annals we must refer for the facts of the proceedings of mankind in the first ages, it will at once be seen to be highly probable, both that accounts of these interpositions should spread from Palestine among other people, and take their place, often as fragments, often with additions, often distorted, among their traditions, sometimes in part recorded by their poets and historians, more generally floating at random in the popular mind. It is a fact, that,

« VorigeDoorgaan »