« VorigeDoorgaan »
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 of to bear. Happy in being beloved, for several of the last years
his life, by ery 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.
SERIES OF LIVES.
THE LIFE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL.
[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
created him anew, and on whose grace he was dependent for every attainment, he deeply felt: and hence he was led to describe himself as the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints. The whole tenor of his conversation in the church appears to have been influenced by this pure and amiable temper. He is everywhere the least and the last, and the servant of all. Whereever the honour and success of the gospel is not concerned, he , waives all superiority of character. The prejudices, ignorance, and weakness, of mankind, he views with deep commiseration. He condescends to men of low estate, and instead of referring all things to his own standard, as far as is consistent with the truth of the gospel, he adopts theirs: in short becomes all things to all men.
Nor is the apostle more distinguished for humility than for every other kind and holy affection. In his epistles we find several passages inimitably tender, which surprise us as coming from Paul's pen, until we recollect that nothing is impossible with God, and that the genuine tendency of the gospel of Christ, is to form the soul to tenderness and love. No trace of his former cruel and injurious mind seems to have remained; but he longs for the welfare of the flock, with the very bowels of Christ. His pains and solicitudes for the conversion of the Galatians are those of a mother travailing in birth; and his gentleness among the Thessalonians, that of a nurse cherishing her children. Such is his affectionate love to his converts, that he is willing to impart to them, not the gospel of God only, but his own soul. Pages might be cited from his writings to exemplify the paternal mind with which he presided over the churches. His interests are all identified with those of Christ, and every affection made congenial. His life is bound up in his ministry; Now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. The flock entrusted to his care are his crown and rejoicing. Christian minister, are the souls of thy flock thus dear to thee? Art thou labouring, according to thy dispensation of the grace of God, to keep thyself pure from the blood of all men, and to present thyself and thy flock faultless before the Great Shepherd?
Who can avoid being struck with the delicacy of this great apostle in pecuniary concerns, even at the time when he was suffering hunger and thirst, and cold and nakedness? Ye yourselves know, saith he to the Ephesians, that these hands have ministered to my necessities, and to those who were with me. Have I committed an offence, he asks the Corinthians, in abasing myself that you might be exalted? because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall rob me of this boasting
in the regions of Achaia. For it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. Wherefore? Because, I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from those which desire occasion, that wherein they glory, they may be found even as I. But while the aid of the wealthy and factious Corinthians is thus firmly declined, the generous apostle accepts and acknowledges the liberality of the humble affectionate Philippians with gratitude and dignity. Ye Philippians, know that at the beginning, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me, concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even at Thessalonica ye sent once, and again, unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent of you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing unto God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ. How shall worldly and sensual ministers, wealthy pluralists, and idle non-residents, stand before Christ in the presence of this man!
St. Paul on no occasion affects the solemn imposing air, the fastidious decorum of assumed dignity; but when the occasion calls for it, he shows himself to possess real greatness. Is the truth of the gospel or the honour of his apostleship in question? He opposes the venerable Peter, and avows his opposition before the churches. However humbly he thinks and speaks of himself, yet for the glory of Christ and the good of the church, he magnifies his office, contends that in every apostolic gift he yielded to none of his brethren, and that in labours and sufferings he surpassed them all. He asserts the discipline and doctrine of the thurch with vigour, and with a tone of conscious authority, which strikes offenders with awe. The sword and the olive are in his hands; he binds and looses, and speaks as the legate of the Imperial King. Where shall we find an instance of more intrinsic greatness than is exhibited in the following passage? Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus; who for my life have laid down their own necks; unto whom not only I give thanks, but all the churches of the Gentiles. Exalted man! the Gentile churches shall for ever feel their obligations to thy generous preservers. On earth their names shall be associated with thine in honour and blessing, and in heaven we will thank them face to face before their Lord and ours.
Firm, active, intrepid, St. Paul's life is a succession of labours and sufferings. He is never weary in well doing. Danger seems VOL. II. Yy