« AnteriorContinuar »
ister of the Scots Church, St. Mary's Abbej, Dublin.
The church formed at Highbury Grove, when our reverend friend took it in charge, consisted of only twenty members; but such was the impression made upon the minds and hearts of numerous hearers by the truly Scriptural, serious, earnest, and affectionate style of his preaching, that considerable accessions were made to his little flock, in a comparatively briof period. The early proofs thus afforded him of the Divine aanction and blessing greatly sustained and cheered him in his work.
Both from his labours and his living, it was evident to all, that Mr. Lewis sought only to approve himself the servant of Christ. His ruling desire—tho one great end for which he put forth all that was in liim—was to exalt his Lord, and to bring sinners to His cross, that they might be saved, j This was the secret of his success; and his experience bore striking testimony to tho truth of his promise, which tbe Lord gave by his prophet, "Them that honour me I will honour." In the prosecution of his ministerial and pastoral duties, ho was indefatigable. He was ever at his post; for, whether in the pulpit, or in the parlour, he was still tbe Christian minister. Acting on the counsels of tho apostle to Timothy, he "preached the gospel; was instant in season, out of season, reproving, rebuking, exhorting with all long-suffering and doctrine."
While in his pastoral visits he was systematically diligent, he was also a frequent attendant at tho bedside of the sick and the dying, wherever he might be called. His conversation on these occasions was always suitable; always faithful; in most cases, highly profitable. He had a deep sense of the grave importance of his duties in this department. Writing in his Diary on the subject of sick-bed visits, he says, "I desire to be very particular in visiting
the sick. Truly it is a task of awful responsibility! Let mo never foil to probe them to the bottom; let me take nothing for granted, merely on the ground of their having attended a gospel ministry. Sin is of a stupifyiny as well as of a hardening nature. May I always consider every one I visit as a lost sinner; and never think of administering the consolations of the gospel, till I find them deeply convinced of sin, and humbled before God on account of it, lest I foster the delusions of hypocrisy. In prayer, I would never allude to them in flattering terms. Teach me, 0 Lord! to avoid everything upon which a hypocrite, or formal professor, might lay hold!"
In the |year 1800, Mr. Lewis was appointed one of the directors of the "London Missionary Society;" and on the death of his much-esteemed and venerated friend, Dr. Waugh, succeeded to the office of chairman of the "Committee of Examination;" of which, indeed, he had been deputy-chairman for several years before. His attendance at the Directory Board, and at the several committee-meetings, was constant and punctual. He never absented himself, except when under affliction.
To the service of the Missionary Society, Mr. Lewis was warmly devoted; and ever ready, as often as his pastoral duties permitted him, to render whatever help he was invited to give it. He accompanied the first deputation of that society to Bristol, with the Revs. Dr. Waugh, G. Burder, and G. Clayton; and made one of a second deputation to the same place with the Revs. M. Wilks, and Edward Parsons, of Leeds. Many preaching tours also did he mako on behalf of the Society; having travelled on that mission through the counties of Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Hants, &c. On these occasions he appears to have been instrumental in the conversion of not a few who listened to his discourses from the pulpits he then happened to fill. A worthy and much beloved minister, who had been a Missionary abroad, and who subsequently laboured extensively among the churches at home, has publicly and privately testified, that he hardly ever entered any county without meeting some individuals who declared, that the preaching of Mr. Lewis had been the happy means of their first serious impressions, and of their coming to Christ.
Of the character of our late friend, much might be said, for he had many excellences; but we must be brief. He was well known among a large circle of friends and acquaintances as a man of many virtues, and of each in the highest style. His kindness, generosity, and affability, were among his lesser attributes. He was especially distinguished by the Christian graces of meekness, lowliness, long-suffering, and charity. Though he possessed not a powerful, he had what was better, a pure mind. If he was not the great man, qualified to lead and command, he was the good man, made for imitation. In manner and conversation he was peculiarly amiable. To all, he was courteous and condescending. In his friendships, he was affectionate and faithful. He scrupulously regarded the feelings of others; and such was his command over his own, that he was rarely surprised into an angry expression.
But for the farther delineation of his character, we cannot, perhaps, do better than lot two of his ministerial brethren, who knew him well, speak of the impression it made on them.
"He was," says the one, "distinguished by great method and order. There was nothing like irregularity, or eccentricity, in any of his movements. It was evident in his engagements, his studies, his sanctuary. The whole beautifully manifested the spirit of order which actuated the presiding mind.
"He was eminently of a meek and quiet spirit. I never once saw his mind ruffled by irritation. This was one great secret of his strength. No
one could mistake his eminent prudence. This defended him from many dangers to which less cautious public characters are exposed.
"Ho was always about his Father's business; and distinguished by a constant attention to his duties, which were very numerous, arising from his flock, his writings, the committees he attended, and his various other labours. He condescended to men of low estate. He had always a word, and a book, for the servant, as well as the mistress; the child, as well as the parent. Kindness appears to have been the ruling principle of his mind. This was evident in his words, his acts; and the construction he put on the conduct of others. I never heard a rash, or an uncharitable judgment, that I recollect, proceed from his lips. His whole spirit and conduct was a living illustration of the 13th chapter of the 1st Corinthians. He delighted to praise; but seemed to shrink from the task of censuring.
"It was his excellence as a good »an that constituted his great charm. He was an eminent Christian. This imparted a peculiar beauty to the whole of his character; and gave unity and power to all his various qualifications for the work of the Christian ministry. I never expect to meet with an individual possessing more qualifications for the effective service of a Christian church, than our beloved and lamented friend and brother, Thomas Lewis."
"He was," says the other, " a rare character. His excellences were symmetrical. There was an adjustment and proportion in what he said and did. His countenance, his words, his head, his heart, were in happy unison. Christ shone in him; and he shone for Christ Every one acquainted with him, and capable of appreciating real worth, must have loved him; and with such his memory will be fragrant."
Our friend's last illness, an enlargement of the heart, proved a very protracted affliction. Many tedious months did hesnffermuch from pain and general debility; but he was wonderfully supported. Not a murmur escaped his lips. He reposed on the Divine love; and looked forward to his departure with a calm and settled assurance of his entering the kingdom of his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. This event took place on Sunday morning, the 29th February last. His remains were in
tered in a new vault in Abney Park Cemetery, on the Saturday following. The Rev. J. Watson, of Hackney, pronounced the funeral oration, and the Rev. H. Allon spoke at tho grave. On the Sunday morning after, the Rev. Dr. Leifchild preached the funeral sermon to a crowded and deeply attentive audience, from which we hope to give some extracts.
THE CLAIMS OF THE MISSIONARY ON THE SYMPATHY OF
A THOUGHT FOR THE MAT MEETINGS.
Whilst there is a class of feelings in the mind of man whose tendency is to separate the human family into fragments, and to render each one forgetful of the joys and sorrows, tho duties and difficulties of others, the sentiment or principle of sympathy serves, in some measure, to counteract this tendency, and to bind mankind together in the exercise of mutual charity and goodwill. All men have more or less felt the power, and witnessed the effects, of this principle. It is scarcely possible, indeed, without doing violenco to our common humanity, to conceive a man so cold, or so petrified by selfishness, that he feels no emotion of sympathy when the tale of distress is unfolded, and the weeping victim of misfortune or oppression stands before him; and when prosperity crowns tho efforts of the diligent, and the sunshine of happiness surrounds the generous.
But whilst feelings of sympathy do, to a certain extent, lead all men to "rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep," Christians are summoned to tho highest exercise of such feelings in reference to those who, in the spirit of self-sacrifice and holy zeal, have devoted themselves, for the sake of Christ, to duties which are arduous, difficult, ordangerous. The sym
pathy which extends as a universal principle among all classes of men, frequently expends itself in a sigh, and contents itself with the contribution of a tear; but that which is domanded of Christians in reference to " men that have hazarded their lives for tho name of our Lord Jesus Christ," must be distinguished by a living and practical activity. And hence, whilst many, under the mere impulse of a common sympathy, may shed the tear of pity, and experience emotions of wonder and admiration when they read of the privations, tho fortitude, the zeal, and the self-devotion of the Christian Missionary, but do nothing practical to aid him in his work,—tho professed disciples of Christ are called upon to cherish towards those devoted men who have gone forth to heathen lands to preach the gospel, not merely feelings of compassion or admiration, which expend themselves in words, but a robust and deep-seated sympathy, that will embody itself in earnest prayer and substantial effort.
The man who quits his native laud, forsakes his kindred and friends, ana" encounters perils by sea and land, that he may preach the gospel to the perishing heathen, possesses the highest claims to a share in our best and holiest sympathy. He deserves to be an object
of warmest fooling and distinotest remembranoe with all who profess to admire what is great, to love what is disinterested, and to support what is good. But we cannot help fearing that this is not the case with multitudes in reference to the Christian Missionary If he is not altogether forgotten, he is not, it is to be feared, remembered with that intense sympathy which is animated and sustained by the principle of Ioto, and shown to bo practical by the frequency of its exercise, and the abundance of its fruits. Ho is, in too many instances, permitted to slide from our remembrance, and to lose that place in our sympathies and prayers which peculiarly belongs to him. Distance and lapse of timo tend to throw an obscuring haze around him, and to strip him of much of the interest and moral dignity whioh surrounded him at the time when he parted from kindred and country, to go "far henco unto the Gentilos." Besides, tho duties and claims connected with persons and things which appeal directly to us, and press immediately upon our notice, aro pormittcd oftentimes so entirely to engross tho attention, and absorb the sympathies, that tho distant but imperative claims of the Christian Missionaryare in danger of being overlooked and forgotten. He may be called upon to struggle with difficulties—he may have to encounter privations, or may sink unattended and alono amid tho ravages of disease, but this is unknown to the multitude; and,hence, sympathy is permitted to slumber when it might be intense in its exercise, and abundant in its fruits. When the Christian Missionary is on the point of embarking for the distant fiold of his toils and conflicts, ho appears invested with special interest, and awakens the deepest and holiest sympathies of our nature in every assembly where he avows his intentions and pleads his cause. Every heart that is suscoptible of impression, and has not learned to silence tho dictates of
our common nature, is moved by the presence of a man who forsakes his kindred and his home, not that he may gather riches, or aggrandize himself, but that he may "turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God." He is looked upon with that interest which is uniformly kindled by the sight of what is speedily to pass away, blended with emotions of admiring wonder at the decision and moral power that can subordinate all the softer feelings of our nature, together with every desire of ease and indulgence, to the demands of disinterested compassion and holy enterprise. But it cannot be concealed that, notwithstanding the deep feeling and admiring wonder of which the Christian Missionary is the object, when standing immediately before us, and appealing directly to our sensibilities, his claims upon the living, active, practical sympathy of his brethren and the churches of our land are oftentimes overlooked and forgotten, when he has passed away to tho field of his labours, and tho scene of his conflicts and sufferings. The departure of many a devoted Missionary to tho field of his future labours, has not unfrcqucntly a melancholy resemblance to tho casting of a stono into a glassy, slumbering lake. The stone, as it falls, produces a transient stirring of the tranquil element, but the waters speedily close in stillness over it, and that which ruffled their surface is forgotten. In like manner the departure of tho Christian Missionary to some distant climo may awaken admiration, and kindle sympathy; but too frequently, when tho excitement produced by his parting appeals has subsided, his memory passes into forgctfulncss, and the sympathy that promised to engrave his name upon the heart, and to blend it in every prayer that is offered to God, sinks into cold and glassy stillness, concealing, rather than pleading, the claims of tho man who has gono "far bence unto tho Gentiles."
But admitting, as we must do, that forgetfulness of the Christian Missionary, who has gone to "the high places of the field," is too frequent among multitudes who profess to serve the Lord of Missions, we must not only lament it as a defeot, but pronounce it a grievous dereliction of principle, that men, who leave their native land on an enterprise intimately connected with the glory of God and the highest interests of mankind, should share hut scantily in the sympathy of their fellowChristians, when other men, going forth on a merely human enterprise, necessarily inferior in its nature, and transient in its results, are held up and remembered as objects of deep and universal sympathy. When the navigator has devoted himself to the task of discovering some continent or island hitherto unknown, or of forcing his way through some strait that has baffled all former attempts, all who take an interest in the objects and issues of his enterprise feel deep sympathy with him, not merely at the time of his departure, but until ho returns to tell of his failure or success. They never cease to admire his courage and self-denial; they form a thousand conjeoturcs as to his safety, progress, and ultimate triumph, and are ready to peruse with the deepest interest every despatch or communication that relates to himself and the objects of his enterprise. When the traveller has gone to a distant clime to explore the source of some river, or the interior of some continent, all who feel an interest in the geography and physical history of our globe are not forgetful of tho man who has left his home, and is prepared to encounter perils and privations, for the purpose of extending the empiro of science, and accelerating the progress of civilisation. And when tho soldier has departed for the scene of a conflict, on the issno of which tho safety or overthrow of his country is dependent, every heart beats with feelings of intensest sympathy, and prayor
for his success ascends from the lisping tonguo of childhood, and the trembling voice of age.
All this is just as it should bo. Anything short of it would imply a degree of stolidness and insensibility dishonourable to our common nature It is right that the navigator, the traveller, and the soldier, when engaged in a righteous struggle, should be surrounded and sustained by the sympathies of their fellow-men. We only lament that the Christian Missionary is not uniformly the object of that widespread and effective sympathy which properly belongs to him ; —we only maintain that, distinguished as the merits, and important as the enterprise, of the navigator, the traveller, or the soldier may be, the merits of the Christian Missionary are superior, the enterprise in which ho is engaged is of a higher order, and his claims on tho sympathy of his fellow-men more imperative; — wo only venture to affirm that in partially or entirely forgetting "men who have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," and who evince at once the courage of the soldier, the charity of the philanthropist, and the fortitude of the martyr, Christians belie their professions, and overlook the bonds and brotherhood of the gospel.
Let us reflect for a moment on the privations, difficulties, and trials of tho Christian Missionary, and every heart that is not a stranger to all the better and gentler feelings of humanity—not to speak of the principles of the gospel— must admit that his claims on our sympathy are of the highest order. He quits the land of his birth, where the dream of childhood threw its bright visions upon his spirit; where tho friends of his youth still dwell; whero the graves of his kindred and the homes of his fathers are to bo found; whero tho temples of his God, and the shrines of his earliest piety, aro left behind. He embarks on tho deep to encounter