Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

was something during this life to be had in religion of which he was not yet in possession; and also that the preaching of the gospel ought to produce effects which he had not yet seen, In this situation a natural and obvious dilemma occurred to him:- Is the gospel of peace no longer the same as formerly?

has it lost its influence? — or do I fail in the use and application of it? is the Lord's hand shortened ? - or am la workman who ought to be ashamed, because I do not rightly divide the word of truth? From the moment these doubts laid hold of his mind, there was an end of his tranquillity. The man was too much in earnest, and had too much light to be satisfied with pharisaical forms, or even with external morality; but as yet, he had not light enough to comprehend the nature and extent, either of the healing or the sanctifying efficacy of the religion of Jesus. The sense of his own unworthiness increased, his anxieties grew inore distressing, and his conscience more and more troubled. He prayed fervently and incessantly: he searched the Scriptures with unwearied dili. gence, and he conversed with serious and godly people whereever he could find them; and it was in the diligent use of these means that he was at last brought to have peace of conscience and peace with God, whom he served in newness of life. The all-important Scripture doctrine of Justification by Faith Only, in a practical way, took firm possession of his heart, and soon displayed its healing power, in its application to a wounded spirit.

From the commencement of this change to the time when his judgment became settled, an interval of at least two years elapsed. However, when first perceived, it excited the suspicion of the better sort of his hearers. They did not iinpiediately abandon him, but made attempts to reclaim hiin; but all in vain. Mr. Milner's company was no longer called for in genteel and convivial meetings : he had left off playing at cards; he was no longer seen at the playhouse or the assembly; his presence checked and rebuked indecent conversation and irregularities of every kind. Men of the world no longer felt at ease in his company. On the other hand, he devoted the time he could spare from absolute duty, or from private study, to those pastoral visits which had the express design of promoting the interests of religion.

These and similar causes concurred to separate Mr. Milner from the people of superior rank. When he preached, they were never seen at church, except once a year. He has beert heard to say, That this dislike proceeded to such a degree, that few persons, with a tolerably good coat, would notice him. Nevertheless, the cominon people beard him gladly.' The large church in which he preached was crowded beyond example; - the care of the soul became the topic of conversation ;-great seriousness prevailed, drunkards and debauchees

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

brother, under Pi and elevated situati College, and Protes Cambridge. Indeed, same brother; and I tion, with tears of gr. glad with his acts, and

The dutiful and kina to his brother Isaac. I ing old: she had gone was living at Leeds, in sent for her to Hull to house; which she did wit upwards of 20 years. He the children of his eldest their education.

Mr. Milner, froin his first nest and zealous; but as he He preached himself, and not he delivered at Hull gained h is supposed to have contribute Certain it is, that Mr. N. wa trons, the Mayor and Aldermei years after luis election ; and it important revolution took place about that time; which revoluti his election, would, in all prol having a single vote for either of 1 lution was neither partial nor cont to the time of his death, he became ferent man from vhat he had been b Hull did not think any change in b or desirable: they were highly ples schoolmaster and popular preacher provement in him, they wished fi his talents and attainmenis. His mor spot. Regular, temperate, and decor duct, crthodox in his religion, and loy ments, he was esteemed a model for in circumstances which accompanied bis gress are as follow:

Mr. Milner began to suspect he had vous edifice on a sandy foundation. I know them. He always considered stone of sound doctrine; and hther in his own mind, nor those fruits produced, sally ascribed to th received into the

[ocr errors]
[graphic]
[ocr errors]

2 of opposition began to subside after the first ht vears, owing to the steady, upright, perseversted conduct of the preacher, - the practical ich he preached the doctrines of the gospel, and harge of licentious instruction. Several persons, vigour of health, had displayed a bitter enunity 'ilner and his doctrines, were staggered in their · prospect of the grave. Some of this descriphiin; anid found the uncharitable parson their t faithful adviser. By these and other causes laced once more in the esteem of the inhabitHe did not reiurn to them, - they came oven 't, the sentiments which he defended in the

fashionable, that no clergyınan was well reDE ORTE. " ) opposed, or did not support them.

servant of God neither colirted nor desired

world. His eve was single. He used to lathi

deavours were less effectnal in the latter years con

hen he was become a sort of favourite again,

ľ, during the violence of opposition. He gen

about religion abounded; but there was ever

All were become approvers of Christiana mean

hers, in the midst of their profession, re

like the rest of the world, - ambitious,

lowers of pleasure. He complained also, Only,

je gospel so long, without bearing fruit, and so

ned and incurable. wound

ued labouring to advance the Redeemer's From

year of his age, 27 years atter his conreshis judg

receive that very ainple and decisive tega elapsed.

.ch was shown to him by the Mayor anı! picion of

: Upin the decease of the Rev. Mr. T. diately a

Picar, alvost unanimously; but he surall in vai

i few weeks. His health had for years in genteel

;'n questions were directly put to him in cards; he

ile more could ever be drawn from bly; his 1

say much! I rely on the promises tör and irreg

1! Mosi probably, my dissolution is at felt at eas

here was a time when I should have the time

we had so little of sensible comfort; study, to

believe, that one of the most accepta promotin

Christian faith, consists in patiently,

in relying confidently on the written the

have been endeavouing to live fron:

in God's bounty. ilcaru to trust to lenná without fail!--lledied on the

An elegant inonment, executed by is memors bysore of his pupils:

and) The a.

These

were reformed, and the town assuined a new appearance. Great numbers were awakened under his ministry. The sick sent for him to their chambers; and when he returned home, ke found his house crowded with visitors, who had the same object in view. Mr. Milner's labours were not confined to the town of Hull: he was curate, for upwards of 17 years, of North Herriby; and afterwards vicar of the same. On the Sunday mornings, in summer, before the regular service, he heard the children repeat the catechisın; and explained it to them, in familiar language, many grown-up persons attending. After the morning-service was ended, he returned to Hull to preach in the afternoon. He continued this laborious practice for many years, and as long as his health permitted him.

As he believed the Articles of the Church of England in their plain, literal, and grammatical sense, all his sermons were penned according to that interpretation of Scripture which they contain and express. With such persons as are unacquainted with the history of religious controversy in these kingdoms, it may seem a paradox how such sentiments could, on the one hand, produce all this dislike and persecution from some of the people, and resentment from Anany of his clerical brethren; and, on the other hand, occasion such fiocking to his churches. Il may be sufficient to suggest,' That our author certainly did believe and maintain, tilt the clergy of the establishment, in general, had very nuch deviated from the principles to which they subscribe their assent, — that the reading-desk and the pulpit were often as variance, and that, instead of setting forth to the understanding with plainness, and pressing upon the conscience with energy, the great and peculiar truths of the gospel ; such 5 Original Sin, Justification by Faith, and Regeneration by the Holy Spirit, as stated in the Articles and Homilies of the Church of England, the clergy in general were substitut

g in their place a system of little more than Pagan ethics. Ir. Milner had never the least hesitation in owning that he Buimself, during the first years of his ministry, was as deeply insalved as any person, in this charge of departing from the ge. . noine religion of the Bible, and of the cstablishment to which le belonged : that he had been active and earnest in corrupting the inost important passages of Scripture and articles of faith: that, thouglı his own conscience never, in the smallest

norte, accused him of insincerity or hypucrisy, yet his zeal had been without knowledge; and that he had, before his conversion, explained away the peculiarities of the gospel, and misguided his audience; and that, in fact, he did not then understand the nature of Christ's salvation, - had never expe. rienced its humbling operation on the mind of a truly penitent sinner; but was building an edifice, both of religious doctrine asi piarice, on a self-righteous foundation.

This storm of opposition began to subside after the first seven or eight years, owing to the steady, upright, persevering, disinterested conduct of the preacher, - the practical manner in which he preached the doctrines of the gospel, and rebutted the charge of licentious instruction, Several persons, who, in the vigour of health, had displayed a bitter eninity against Mr. Milner and his doctrines, were staggered in their opinions at the prospect of the grave. Some of this description sent for himn; anii found the uncharitable parson their wisest and most faithful adviser. By these and other causes Mr. M. was replaced once more in the esteem of the inhabitants of Hull. He did not reiurn to them, - they came over to him. In fact, the sentiments which he defended in the pulpit, became so fashionable, that no clergyınan was well received there who opposed, or did not support them. .

This laborious servant of God neither courted nor desired the praises of the world. His eye was single. He used to la ment, that his endeavours were less effectual in the latter years of his ininistry, when he was become a sort of favourite again, than in the former, during the violence of opposition. He said, That talkers about religion abounded; but there was little heart-work. All were become approvers of Christian doctrine; but numbers, in the midst of their profession, remained too much like the rest of the world, - ambitious, greedy of gain, followers of pleasure. He complained also, that many heard the gospel so long, without bearing fruit, that they were hardened and incurable.

Mr. Milner coptimed labouring to advance the Redeemer's kingdom to the 54th year of his age, 27 years after bis conres'sion. He just lived to receive that very ainple and decisive to timony of esteem wbich was shown to him by the Mayor anı! Corporation of Hull. Upin the decease of the Rev. Nr. T. Clark he was chosen Vicar, alurost unanimously; but he survived that event only a few weeks. His health had for years been declining. When questions were directly put to himn int prospect of death, little more could ever be drawn from him than --'I cannot say much! I rely on the promises tor strength in time of peed! Mosi probably, my dissolution is at no great distance. There was a time when I should have been very unhappy to bave laid so little of sensible comfort; but I have seen reason to believe, that one of the most accepta able exercises of the truc Christian faith, consists in patiently waiting God's time, and in relying confidently on the wintcu word. For many years I have been endeavourine to live fron! day to day as a pensioner on God's bounty. Learn to trust to him; and he sends the manna without fail!' - Hedied on th:c 15th of November, 1797. An elegant moment, executed by Mr. Bacon, was erected to his ineniory by some of his pupils ?

« VorigeDoorgaan »