but to exhort and press them to seek the salvation of their souls, and to enforce what he had delivered to them from the pulpit.

At this period also, he began himself to pray in secret four times a day. A blessed practice, which there is reason to believe, he never left off. The God of all grace, who had now prepared his heart to pray, soon also gave the answer to his prayer: not indeed in the way in which he expected; not in a complete victory over his corrupt nature, nor at that time in the joy of a conscience bearing him witness, that in simplicity and godly sincerity he was walking before him; but by bringing upon him very strong and painful convictions of his own guilt, and helplessness, and misery; by discovering to him, what he did not suspect before, that his heart was deceitful and desperately wicked; and, what was more afflicting still, that all his duties, and labours, and goodness, could not procure for him pardon, or gain him a title to eternal life. Very painful apprehensions therefore now seized his mind, of what must become of him; in the midst of which, he was often ready to accuse God, as dealing hardly with one, who was now no more a profane or careless liver, but seeking in earnest o obey him. But this was the work of the law upon his conscience, and the preparation of his soul for the gospel of peace. Under this, he was indeed exceedingly miserable, being buffeted with blasphemous thoughts and horrid temptations: And about this time also two of his parishioners attempted to make away with themselves, though their lives were remarkably preserved. Being sent for to one of them, the thought struck him, that very possibly he might ere long do the same, for aught he knew or could do to the contrary.

In this state of great trouble, he continued more than three years, not daring to acquaint any with the distress he suffered, lest they should report that he was either mad or melancholy. But by these lasting and deep convictions being brought to a deep acquaintance with the corruptions of his own heart and to the knowledge of its sin by the law of God, enforced upon him by the spirit of God, and being therefore male willing to receive salvation freely, and to consider himself humbly as a brand plucked out of the burning; the day of his consolation and knowledge of Christ, infinitely precious to his soul, graciously drew near. The bible began now to appear quite a new book. He found the rich import of those scriptures, which declare the sacrifice and righteousness of Christ to be the whole atonement and justification of a sinher before God; and which testify the remission of sins to believers on his name, and sanctification as the blessed effect of this believing in growing evidence of that remission. “ I was now (says he) willing to renounce myself, with every degree of fan. cied merit and ability, and to embrace Christ only for my all in all. O what light and comfort did I now enjoy in my own soul, and what a taste of the pardoning love of God!”

As he was thus taught of God in his own experience, so his preaching, in the year 1742, began to be clear and profitable. He dwelt much in representing the nature and excellencies of christian faith, and salvation by Christ alone. All this time he was an entire stranger to serious persons, or to those who were the occasion under God of the revival of religion among us. He was also an entire stranger to their writings, except a single sermon upon Gal. iii. 24. and a letter to the people of England, published by the reverend Mr. Seagrave, in which he was surprised to find the nature, life, spirituality, and power of truth and doctrine, in all material points, to be the very same with what he now saw clearly in the word of God, and from which his peace had entirely flowed. Dr. Owen's book on justification was also of great use to him about this time.

In the month of May, in the same year, instructed in this manner, Mr. Grimshaw came to the people and church at Haworth near Bradford, in Yorkshire, and very soon the good effects of his preaching became visible among a people ignorant and brutish, as the face of the country is wild and rugged. Many of his careless fock were brought into deep concern for the salvation of their souls, and were filled with peace and joy through believing. And as in ancient times, before preaching was debased by modern refinement, and alas! to such a cold and languid exercise, that generally one can scarce observe a decent attention to the minister in the pulpit; his people felt in their hearts a deep conviction of sin; and the whole congregation have been often seen in tears, on account of their numerous provocations against God, and under a sense of his goodness in yet sparing them, and waiting to be gracious unto them. This lively, powerful, manner of representing the truths of God could not fail of being much talked of, and bringing, out of curiosity, many hundreds to Haworth church: And there they received so much benefit by what they heard, that when the novelty was long over, the church continued to be full of people, many of whom came from far, and this for twenty years together. Indeed, nothing but this will draw souls heartily together, or (according to the prophet's language) as doves to their windorus. Mere morality, derived from man's ability, neither comes warni from the heart, nor goes warmly to it. With the trash of human

attainments and human endeavours, all fallen, corrupt, feeble, and depraved, no soul living can be satiated.

Mr. Grimshaw was now too happy himself in the knowledge of Christ, to rest satisfied, without taking every method, he thought likely, to spread the knowledge of his God and Saviour. And as some indigent people constantly make their want of better clothes to appear in, an excuse for not coming to church in the day time, when their want would be visible to the whole congregation, he contrived, for their sakes, a lecture on Sunday evenings, though he preached twice in the former part of the day. In this lecture a chapter or a psalm, after the primitive custom of the christian church, was expounded. God was pleased to give great success to these attempts, which animated him still more to spend and be spent for Christ's cause: So that the next year he began a method, which was continued by him ever after, of preaching in each of the four hamlets under his care three times every month. By this means the old and infirm, who could not attend the church, had the truth of God brought to their houses; and many, who were so profane as to make the distance from the house of God a reason for scarce ever coming to it, were allured to hear, and at length received with joy the word of life.

By this time, the great attention and labour, with which he instructed his own people; the circumspection and holiness of his conversation; and the lasting benefit, which very many from the neighbouring parishes had obtained, by attending his ministry; all concurred to bring upon him many earnest intreaties to come to the houses of others, who lived in neighbouring parishes, and to expound the word of God to souls as ignorant, as they were themselves, before they had heard instruction from his lips. As the purest benevolence was the only motive to this request; so all, who knew Mr. Grimshaw, are assured, (and what others think or say matters not) nothing but love to the souls of men, and a desire of proving a blessing to them, engaged him to preach, as occasions offered, in other parishes. So that whilst he was one of the most diligent in overseeing, and providing abundantly for all in his own flock, he annually found opportunity of instructing, near three hundred times, large companies, and sometimes large congregations besides. After he had preached for the first time in any place, he commonly thanked the person into whose house or barn he was received, and added; “I hope you will give me leave to come again.”

Mr. Grimshaw thus went on preaching fifteen, twenty, and often thirty times in the week, and that for fifteen years,' or up

wards, besides visiting the sick, and other occasional duties of his function. To one of his friends in a neighbouring parish, whose wife had been sick, he thus apologized, “I am sorry, that I have not been able to visit your wife: I have not wanted inclination, but time; for I have had thirty times to preach this week.” It is not easy to ascribe such unwearied diligence, and all amongst the poor, or at least very obscure people, to any motive but the real one. He thought his tongue should never lie still in guilty silence, whilst he could speak to the honour of that God, who had done so much for his soul. And whilst he saw sinners perishing for lack of knowledge, and no one breaking to them the bread of life, he was transported by love to pity them, and, notwithstanding the selfish reluctance he felt within, to give up his name to still greater reproach, as well as his time and strength to the work of the ministry. What a reflection should this afford to that laziness of of heart (to call it by no worse a name,) which thinks the service of God, after naming it in prayer before him a “perfect freedom," to be a hard burden, and which courts easy duty, and large fees only for an indulgence to the flesh, and to hold up a sort of foolish and unmeaning respect in the world.

During all this intense and persevering application to what was the whole delight of his heart, God was exceedingly favourable to him; for, through the space of sixteen years, he was only once suspended from his labours by sickness, though he ventured in all weathers upon the bleak mountains, and used his body with less consideration, than a merciful man would use his beast. His soul, at various times, enjoyed very large manifestations of God's love, that he might not faint; and he drank deep into his Spirit. His cup ran over, and at some seasons, his faith was so strong and hope so abundant, that higher degrees of spiritual delight would have overpowered his mortal frame. These are the things, which sweeten and which prompt to duty.

In this manner Mr. Grimshaw employed all his talents even to his last illness : And his labours were not in vain in the Lord. He saw an effectual change take place in many of his flock; a a deep sense of evil and good, and a striking restraint, from the commission of sin, brought upon the parish in general. He saw the name of Jesus exalted, and many souls happy in the knowledge of him, and walking as becomes the gospel of Christ. Happy he was himself, in being kept by the power of God, so unblameable in his conversation, that no one could prove, that he, in any instance, laid heavy burdens upon others, which he himself refused 10 bear. Happy in being beloved, for several of the last years of

his life, by e sy one in his parish; who, whether they would be persuaded by him to forsake the evil of their ways, or not, had no doubt that Mr. Grimshaw was their cordial friend, and in every labour of love their servant to command. Hence, at his departure, a general concern was visible through his parish.

His behaviour, throughout his last sickness, was all of a piece with the last twenty years of his life. From the very first attack of his fever, he welcomed the approach of death. His intimate experimental knowledge of Christ abolished all the reluctance which nature usually feels to a dissolution; and, triumphing in him, who is the resurrection and the life, he departed April the 7th, 1763, in the fifty-fifth year of his age, and in the twenty-first of eminent usefulness in the church of Christ. His body was interred with what is more ennobling, than all the pomp of solemn dirges, or of a royal funeral: For he was followed to the grave by a great multitude, with the most affectionate sighs and with many tears; and who cannot still hear his much-loved name, without weeping for the guide of their souls, to whom each of them was dear as children to their father.



[Concluded from page 311.] Though the natural characteristics of St. Paul have already been distinctly exhibited, it cannot be improper to dwell a little longer on his christian and apostolic character. The basis of both was a profound humility. He was intimately acquainted with the total and radical depravity of his nature, which had displayed itself so awfully in the proud rage and madness of persecution, and had driven him to the verge of perdition. That humility which commenced in the knowledge of himself, was completed by the knowledge of Christ. While he lay trembling with fear, and stung with shame and remorse at the feet of the blessed Jesus, he was rooted in lowliness of soul, rendered still more deep by the astonishing mercy which had been shown him. In the school of the once despised Galilæan he learned the true standard of selfestimation, and what he learned he seems never to have forgot. Even when encircled in the blaze of apostolic glory, he continued to view himself as the persecutor of Damascus. That his sins were his own, and that his virtues and good works were HIS who

« VorigeDoorgaan »