Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

brother dead at the foot of the chair on which he had rested. He seemed to hare slid rather than fallen from the seat. There was no discomposure: the spectacles, which he usually wore, remained nearly in their ordinary place: the right-hand glove was grasped in the left: his loved companion, a small copy of the New Testament, was in his pocket; and every appearance of the lifeless remains made it plain, how gently, as well as suddenly, the spirit had been emancipated.

It was known to some of Mr.Weaver's friends, that although, through faith in Him who " abolishod death," he was not, like some of God's people, afraid of " the last enemy," he was afraid of dying; and it is not improbable that, in the surprising suddenness of his removal, his own supplications were kindly answered.

The following Friday, the precious relics were deposited in the same grave in which he placed those of Mrs. Weaver, thirteen years before, in the burial

ground at the back of Swan Hill Meeting-house. The attendance at the sad solemnities only made it additionally evident in what high and general esteem he was held.

Some days afterwards, a Funeral Sermon was delivered by the Rev. J. A. James, and in that eminent preacher's best style, from Gen. v. 24, "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not, for God took him." The Discourse, with the Addresses of the Rev. Joseph Pattison, of Wem, and Mr. Thorp, on the day of interment, has been published.

The only thing Mr. Weaver wrote for the press, was a Memoir of his venerable deacon, Mr. Joseph Parry. It appeared in the twenty-fourth volume—for 1816—of the Evangelical Magazine.

Mr. Weaver left a will, providing suitably for Miss Weaver; and, after her decease, a considerable portion of what God had given him, is left to various institutions connected with the holy cause he loved.

KNOX AND CHURCH POLITY.

"and what shall this man do?" whispers imagination, hope, and joy, as the illustrious Knox appears on the stage of the Reformation, with a visage rough and stern as his native hills; with a footstep firm as the mountain base; with a mind luminous and penetrating as the Aurora Borealis, when it darts its vivid beams across the northern sky; and with a soul as full of ardour and love to the great Immanuel as his, who said, "What mean ye to weep and to break my heart? I am ready, not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." What shall this man do? Faithful history records the reply.

Scotland, the noble kingdom of the

North, and the most romantic and diversified portion of the British Isles, was as much, and as long, under the dominion of the "Man of Sin," as any other part of Europe; and the abbeys, and monasteries, and other religious housos of the Papal hierarchy, were as numerous in proportion there, as in the more populous district of the South. Indeed, it would almost seem, that, in accordance with the sturdy and determined character of its inhabitants, the errors of Popery had taken a deeper hold, and were less likely to be yielded on its plains than in any other region of its dark domain, and that it would require a stronger instrumentality of a human kind, and a more manifest operation of Divine power, to eradicate itfrom its soil. It was as when some granite rook, which frowns defiance on all above the surface, and has sent its roots deep into the strata below, requires a more ponderous assault, and a more violent explosion, to bring it down. Ordinary efforts will not succeed. There must be the hydraulic press and the engine power. So with the fabric of the Papacy on the other side of the Tweed. It had reared its frowning brow, and struck its foundations so deep into the imperturbable soil, that it required a mighty upheaving to loose it from its hold, and a powerful attack to demolish it. Nothing else apparently than an earthquake from below, and the continuous appliance of the battering-ram from above, would be likely ever to lay it in ruins. It is the city of Jericho, with its walls thick and high, and the ministers of Jehovah must encompass it with blasts louder than usual, and for more than "seven days," before the hosts of Israel can enter in.

That instrumentality, so obviously requisite and indispensable, if ever Scotland was to be won over to the cause of light and truth, and annexed to the dominions of the Prince of peace, was prepared by Him who is " wonderful in counsel and excellent in working," just at the period when the state of Europe and the world required it, and the set time to favour the northern British Zion was come. There was a lad of East Lothian, who first breathed the vital air in 1505, much like him of the house of Jesse, of a "ruddy and fair countenance," in similar circumstances as to his earthly parentage, and destined liko him at a future day to take a stono from the brook and hurl it successfully at the monster's head. His education was liberal, unusually so for his day. In the Grammar-school, at Haddington, and the ancient University of St. Andrew's, the years of his youth passed away. In all knowledge, human and Divine,

his progress was remarkable, and at the feet of an able tutor in divinity, and from the lips of the saintly Wisheart, he imbibed notions which rendered it very unlikely that he would long be satisfied with the proud pretensions and daring impositions of the ecclesiastical rulers of his native land. The precious seed had been sown in his heart, and it quickly grew up. The rays of celestial light had beamed into his youthful mind, and they now set him at war with all the darkness around. The "truth as it is in Jesus" had taken possession of his soul, and he would not give place, "no, not for an hour," to the errors of Popery, from whatever quarter they came, and by whatever power they were sanctioned or sustained. Every opportunity was embraced by him to diffuse the doctrine he had received: and within the walls of St. Andrew's he first opened his lips to preach "the acceptable year of the Lord."

Tribulation, by which so many of the Lord's servants have been prepared for their future labours, awaited this ardent disciple; and sufferings, neither few nor small, were the process through which he was to pass in order to be "made perfeot," and duly qualified for that mighty work in Scotland which he was destined to perform. As the finest gold requires the strongest fire, and the infant hero must be cradled in a storm, and the Elijah of the Reform must be first expelled to the desert, so the youthful Knox, having become an object of suspicion to the Romish powers, is first condemned as a heretic, then besieged in a castle, then expatriated from his native soil, shipped to the shores of France, and, with some others, doomed to work in the galleys, where " his feet were laid in iron," and he was treated with much severity. In this painful condition, as they were cruising off the coast of Scotland on one occasion, a fellow prisoner pointed out to Knox the spot on which St. Andrew's stood, asking him if'he knew it; to which he replied, " Yes, I know it well; I see the steeple of that plaoe, where God first opened my mouth in public to his glory; and I am fully persuaded, how weak soever I now appear, that I shall not depart this life till my tongue shall glorify his name in the same place." That prophetic language was Terifled. After two years of bitter suffering ho returned to the British Isles, and exorcised his ministry in various towns of the north: though London, Buckinghamshire, and Kent, also enjoyed for a season the labours of this extraordinary young man.

He had spent but a few years in these evangalizing efforts in different portions of the kingdom, when the tempest of persecution again burst forth upon him and his fellow labourers in the work of the Lord. Knox, being the principal one among them, was closely watched by the priestly party; and his friends, perceiving that his life was in danger, urged him to withdraw. At first he hesitated, hut at length yielded, and wrote to his mother-in-law from Dieppe: "Some will ask, why did I flee? Assuredly I cannot tell. But of one thing I am sure, the fear of death was not the chief cause of my fleeing. I would not bow my knee before that most abominable idol, the Mass, for all the torments that earthly tyrants can devise, God so assisting me, as his Holy Spirit now moves me to write unfeignedly. And albeit I have in the beginning of this battle appeared to play the fainthearted and feeble soldier, (the cause for which I remit to God,) yet my prayer is, that I may be restored to the battlo again." His prayers were heard. He soon was. In the meantime he wrote from abroad most stirring epistles to his suffering brethren at home: and at Frankfort, and, for the first time in Geneva, exercised his ministry of the word of the Lord.

In 1555 lie returnod to Scotland, but his " full time was not jot como." He

preached for a few days in Edinburgh, and powerfully pleaded the cause of Protestant truth in other places. But the heavy storm was still lowering over the hills of the north. Whilst thus occupied, and oftentimes exposed to danger, he received an urgent invitation from the English Church at Geneva to become their pastor; and as ho hod already formed an intimate acquaintance with Calvin, who supported the request, and of whom he longed to know more, he listened to the call of present duty, and returned an affirmative reply. In 1550, he and his family proceeded to that interesting city. There he became a most devoted and useful labourer in the work of the gospel. The friendship and counsels of Calvin wero the privilege ond joy of his life. And from that arrangement of Divine Providence concerning him, and the intercourse wbioh it brought, may be dated his future oharaoter as a Reformer, tho distinguishing features of his theology, and the nature of the ecclesiastical polity he was to impart to his native land.

That 1 and was ero long destiued again to receive him, and to become the scene of his settled, longest, and most successful labours in the Saviour's cause. Often had his thoughts and tenderest affections yearned towards it, and no scenes of enjoyment or of labour could blot out the image of his beloved Scotland from his soul. With equal affection he had been remembered by others, who had embraced tho evangelical doctrine, and longed for his presence again among them. The Protestant nobles and commons of the people had now heroically united in a bond of mutual assistance, and were determined to invite Knox to return. This they did. The invitation reached him in 1558, and in the year following he landed onco moro on the shores of the north, never to leave them, but to share in the exertions and sufferings of the faithful followers of the Lamb, and to seek with them the utter subversion of the "mystery of iniquity," and its oxtirpation from their native soil.

Peculiarly and eminently qualified was he for the arduous undertaking to which he was now called, and for all the labours, sufferings, and oonfliots which that undertaking involved. Standing at the head of the reformed party in Scotland, as their first of preachers, counsellors, and champions, it was his to lead the van in every attack upon the Papal hierarchy, and to endure the burst of tho opposition and onslaught in return. By his eloquent and faithful preaching of " the doctrine according to godliness," the citizens of Edinburgh, and thousands besides, wero roused together around the cross of Tmrnanuel, and to gird on the armour to fight the battles of the " Captain of salvation" against the priestcraft and power of Borne, which had usurped and trampled under feet the prophetic, priestly, and regal honours of the Son of God. The anger and malice of the "Man of Sin" were now raised to their utmost pitch, and as ho saw his strongholds one by one falling under him, his emissaries wero summoned, and his agents were collected to stand" firm at their post, and commanded not to yield whilst aught of hope, or help, or possibility of retrieve remained. 'The powers of earth and hell were invoked and employed. Dreadful was tho assault. All that intimidation, threats, treachery, and porsoontion could do, under the instigations of an infatuated queen and her llomish adherents, was incessantly directed against tbe advocates of pure worship and evangelical doctrine throughout the land. But all was in vain. "She had hoped," declared tho mistaken Mary, "beforo a year was expired, to have the Mass and Catholic profession restored through the whole kingdom." "I assure you," writes the ambassador of England, about the same timo, " the voice of one

man is able in an hour to put more life in us than six hundred trumpets continually blasting in our ears." So it proved. The preaching of Knox was " in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." A mighty rushing wind on the valley of vision seemed to accompany him in every place; and wherever he spake of the "things pertaining to tho kingdom of God," an " exceeding great army" stood up, with sinews, bones, and flesh upon them, to fight the battles of the living God. No earthly power could resist them. "The Lord of hosts was with them: the God of Jacob was their refuge." Not more resolutely did the anoient Athenians cry, when the thunders of Demosthenes were heard amongst them, "Down with Philip of Macedon," than the noblest of Scotia's sons now demanded, "Down with every vestige of Popery throughout the landj" and forthwith, as Dagon in the temple, when the. ark of Jehovah was brought in, fell the fabric of superstition, the structure of ages of darkness and idolatry, never to rise again, The conquest was sure. It had been ob tained by tho energy of faith, prayer, and combined action. "The shout of a king" was heard amongst them. The tribes of Israel rejoiced. And as they beheld their beloved land rescued from oaptivity and bondage, they extolled the right hand of Him who "hath gotten the victory," and in adoring gratitudo and wonder exclaimed, " Tho Lord hath done groat things for us, whereof we are glad."

All this occupied about the space of twelve or fourteen years, during which time Knox had been instant in season and out of season, in watchings, painfulness, and labours of every kind, for the cause which was nearest to his heart; and no other than an invisible arm, ever around him, could have defended, or delivered him from the imminent danger to which ho was continually exposed. Nothing daunted him: nothing surprised him: nothing discouraged him. From every weapon lifted up against him, and every stratagem laid for him, or destined to strike or ensnare those who were with him, lie derived a mightier impulse to labour, and renewed courage to daro all, and to do all, for the propagation and defence of the gospel. As wise in counsel as he was bold in action, and as mighty with God in prayer as he was with man in preaching, there was no device of his enemies which he could not either evade or withstand: and no apparently dark or disastrous event to his followers which he could not transmute into a source of more powerful stimulus, and greater advantage to their common cause. The repeated instances of the treachery of the queen; the tragic scenes of murder and bloodshed which disgraced her unhappy reign; the death of the renowned and honoured regent; and all the apparently untoward circumstances which followed that mournful event, and wore a threatening aspect to the cause of reform, were but subordinated beneath the wonderworking care of its Divine Patron, to its ultimate stability and perpetuity. Protestant truth and worship prevailed throughout the land. Knox wept and rejoiced, and prayed and laboured, and suffered and triumphed, as long as his physical strength remained; till, worn out with feebleness and pain, and labours so abundant, he expired in his own house in Edinburgh, in a good old age, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost. "I am persuaded," said he, as he lay on his dying bed, after a season of considerable excitement and suffering, "that Satan will not be permitted to return or molest me any more in my passage to glory, but that I shall, without any pain of body or agony of soul, sweetly and peacefully exchange this wretched life for that blessed and immortal one which is through Jesus Christ." And ho died, having affectionately committed the care of his beloved Hock in the capital to his suc

cessor, and the interests of the Protestant Church of Scotland to faithful men around him; he calmly lifted up his hand towards heaven, indicative of his departure to the rest which "remaineth for the people of God," and peacefully slept in Jesus on the twentyfourth of November, 1672.

That this devoted man was in a preeminent degree the medium of God's mercy to Scotland, and the instrument of the overthrow of Popish idolatry and superstition in her borders, none will doubt: and that with him came that peculiar form of church-order and discipline which has so long distinguished the North from other parts of the British Isles, is equally obvious to all. Trained, for a considerable period, at the feet of Calvin, and with a mind formed to appreciate and admire all that that great "Master in Israel" did and said, it is no wonder that he imbibed his sentiments respecting the Presbyterian polity, and gradually fell into an approval of it in a city where it was exemplified, and was the only discipline allowed to prevail. Independency was yet hidden, with other precious commodities, beneath the accumulated rubbish of Rome. Episcopacy was so identified with the Papal Beast, and with all the machinations of the apostate hierarchy, that the mitre was every where odious, and had especially become so in a Scotchman's esteem. There was no probability, as the lapso of time has sufficiently proved, that it would ever lift up its front again among the sturdy sons of the North; and the man who had accomplished so much for them as their illustrious Reformer had done, might be allowed to stamp a preference, in their estimation, on whatever plan of church constitution and government he should advocate and commend. He and they had adopted Calvin's Theology; it was natural also that his platform of discipline should follow. Nor, perhaps, can it be considered otherwise than wisely and gra

« AnteriorContinuar »