Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Thus much we can give in evidence to support our opinion. From our College we have in a considerable number of instances sent forth men to preach where there was no church to support them, finding them maintenance for a season, and promising aid for the needful expenses of worship at the commencement. The brethren at home have mentioned these pioneers continually in their prayers, and the Lord has heard their requests. From the efforts of these brethren churches have sprung up in quarters where no Baptists were known to exist, and such churches have been a clear gain to the denomination. There is, under God, no limit to this work so far as we are concerned, if we had the pecuniary means. We are content to wait the Lord's mind as to further effort; he will indicate it by furnishing supplies. The experiment, however, has succeeded beyond our hopes.

The Colportage Society also is a fine instrumentality for ploughing up new ground. The Colporteur takes a full survey of the country while selling his books, and his calls bring him into personal conversation with each inhabitant-he is therefore one of the best of pioneers. In the course of time by holding cottage meetings, and preaching out of doors he collects the nucleus of a congregation, perhaps he is able to do so in each of the larger villages of his district, and thus he prepares the way for the settled ministry. He is the cheapest and most efficient agent for clearing the backwoods, and preparing for future tillage.

Now, work like this, it seems to us, should be carried on widely, and be made the specialité of the churches. Not alone should colporteurs and young students be employed in it, but some of our very best men should be set apart to it. Think of an apostolic man in the neglected county of Surrey ; or better still, in those parts of the crowded regions of Lancashire and Yorkshire where our community is scarcely represented,—what might he not achieve, with God's blessing ? Let him be a man fit to lead others, a genial spirit who will co-operate with those who are already on or near the spot, a man full of faith and mighty in the Scriptures, and, by the power of the Holy Ghost, bis work would soon prove the sacred value of his office. One or two wealthy men may, perhaps, be led to find the silver and the gold for such a man's support, and we believe they will never spend money in a manner more profitable for the cause of God and truth: but the churches also, as such, should undertake the work, which beyond all others is their own.

WE MUST GROW. We MUST make the pure gospel to be known in every corner of the land. Public meetings, in which we glory in our principles, are well enough if they do not lead to glorying in the flesh; but we must put forth vehement efforts to spread those principles. He knows not the truth who does not desire others to know it. The religion which is not worth propagating is not worth believing. Prayer to God for the advance of the Redeemer's kingdom is most commendable, but the prayer which does not lead to effort is hypocrisy. Effort, then, there must be; let it be wise, let it follow the New Testament model, let it be most hearty and sustained. With all our heart we beg the churches to consider the question which we have now raised. Ought we not to pray for evangelists, and prepare to support them when the Lord sends them, even as at this time we support the pastors of the churches ?

The founder of Pennsylvania.

BY G. HOLDEN PIKE,

[PART 11.] DUT while the peace-loving and philanthropic Quakers were con

D gratulating one another over the quick progress of civilisation in their colony ; while the young city, Philadelphia, was raising her roofs and towers above the virgin wastes; and while the enlightened governor was himself sending home accounts of the limitless animal, vegetable, and mineral resources of his unexplored forests, letters from England arrived with sombre news, and with news such as filled many noble hearts with grief and concern. His wife Guli, whom Penn very fondly loved, was ailing. His dear friend, the patriotic Algernon Sydney, had perished by the axe of the executioner; and enemies were already at work blackening the Governor's character with the government of James the Second. Penn perceived the necessity of at once returning home.

A stumbling-block in the path of many good people has been Penn's friendly connection with the royal House of Stuart. They haye been unable to comprehend how a man of high patriotism and of undoubted piety could live on intimate, or even affable, terms with a character like James the Second. Before making hasty conclusions, such persons should take care to properly understand Penn's surroundings, and the relation of parties in England. James the Second was the Quaker Governor's appointed guardian, so that the acquaintance with the king came to Penn more as an inheritance of his house than as anything he himself had sought. The king treated him with great uprightness and kindness; why, therefore, should the Quaker have quarrelled with his sovereign merely because their principles were at variance. It would have been both unchristian and impolitic to hare lived on unfriendly terms with the king and government in such times; and those who raised the cry of “ Trimmer” or “ Jesuit,” knew well enough that Penn counted royal favour, and all worldly advantage, light as feathers when weighed against religious principle. By frequenting the court, he exercised a great and beneficial influence in favour of the oppressed Nonconformists. It was largely owing to his instrumentality that more than twelve hundred Quakers were released from their dungeons at one time. Then while his heart was wrung with anguish over the atrocities of “The Bloody Assize,” he begged twenty persons from among the condemned victims for the American settlement, where peace and plenty awaited them. In every work which promised to advance religion, or to promote the welfare of man, he was ever ready to take a lion's share.

His hands were now full of business connected with his province and home matters : besides which the boundary of his territory was disputed by Lord Baltimore. Hence Penn took lodgings at Kensington, so as to be near the court at Whitehall; and to Kensington, therefore, Guli and her family were removed.

While Penn thus lived in London, ready to defend his rights and character, he tried unceasingly to exercise a good influence over the strong-headed James after that monarch's accession to the throne. Had Penn's advice, offered day after day in the royal closet, been accepted and acted upon, instead of living to stir up strife, to become the ruin of his house and a by-word among European nations, James would have stood forth as an enlightened reformer and the benefactor of his country, whom posterity would have remembered with respect. Penn would bave healed the quarrel which occurred between the King and the University of Oxford; he would have saved James from the humiliation he suffered in the affair of the Seven Bishops, and also from the ruin engendered by a long catalogue of lesser blunders. As an advocate of entire freedom of conscience, the Quaker hailed the indulgence of 1687 as a real boon under the circumstances, even while he mistrusted any concessions not sanctioned by Act of Parliament. James's mistakes brought him to ruin ; but the chronicles of the day will show that whatever the King did to promote his own discomfiture and to bring disaster on his subjects, he did in opposition to the views, and, in many instances, contrary to the advice of the unflinchingly outspoken and patriotic Quaker.

After the Revolution, Penn found himself overwhelmed with trouble of various kinds. The principles on which the great reforms of the Revolution were founded were Penn's own; but none the less on that account was he suspected by the new government. The timeservers of the hour, over anxious, like all their race, to profit by any means within reach, stood ready to inform against a man they hated, and in the meantime they renewed the old charges of Jesuitism and other crimes. To lying slanders were now added a new accusation—that of being in treasonable communication with James in exile. Penn was arrested and arraigned before the authorities, but his ingenuous behaviour and straitforward replies ensured an honourable acquittal. Besides slanders, other things exercised a baneful influence on the governor's fortunes. William the Third was almost instinctively a man of war, and his greatness most appeared when he fought with the enemies of freedom in the open field. The one great object for which William lived, and to secure which he consented to rule as King of England, was that of crushing Louis the Fourteenth-the arch enemy of the peace and prosperity of Europe. The French were established in Canada, and on that account it accorded with English policy to establish a more warlike rule in Pennsylvania than that of Penn, the peace-loving governor, whose only arms of defence and aggression were such as the gospel supplied. Accordingly during thirty months the province was placed under the authority of Colonel Fletcher. This blow fell heavily on a man who loved the colony he had planted with as much unselfishness as a father might love a family. It was an unexpected return, moreover, for the toil and self-denial to which Penn had been subjected, for instead of having enriched himself by securing a property of twenty million acres of land, he had actually become impoverished by the transaction. To these trials were now added other sorrows in the loss of his wife and eldest son by death. Penn would have been weighed down by calamity had not sustaining

grace borne him up. As it was, he found himself well supported—50 well, indeed, that nothing sufficed to hinder his usefulness. He Jaboured still in writing for the press and in preaching the gospel. His name also appears among those Quakers who visited Peter the Great at Deptford with the laudable object of converting that semibarbarian to Christianity.

In 1699 Penn again embarked for the New World, having been reinvested with the governorship of his province. The manor house he erected for himself on the Delawere River was called Pennsbury. Surrounded by an estate of six thousand aeres, including beautiful and well-kept pleasure grounds and productive kitchen-gardens, Pepnsbury must have embodied the realisation of its owner's most cherished daydreams. On all hands nature blossomed and budded like the garden of the Lord. It was a land of plenty and of peace. “The mansionhouse was erected on a moderate eminence," we are told. “A broad walk through an avenue of poplars led to the river, descending from the upper terrace to the lower grounds by a flight of steps. The house was surrounded by gardens and lawns, and the more distant woods were opened in vistas, looking down the river and upward to the falls. These woods had been laid out in walks at the proprietary's first visit, and the preservation of the trees is enjoined in several of his letters. The proprietor sent out from England walnuts, hawthorns, hazels, fruittrees, and a great variety of rarest seeds and roots. While in this country he procured from Maryland several panniers of trees and shrubs indigenous in that province, and he directed by his letters that the most beautiful wild flowers should be transplanted into his gardens. On the whole, his directions indicate a love of nature and an elegance of taste which are very ren arkable."*

Penn could enjoy an elegant retreat in the wilderness-like Pennsbury in a manner which a mere worldly man could never have done. Not having coveted wealth for wealth's sake, he could yet appreciate the gifts of Providence. He was as humble as he was condescending. Though he kept a coach, as he would have done in England, the vehicle was seldom used, the roads over the new country being so indifferent that the Governor preferred travelling either on horseback or in a barge. While out riding he once picked up a bare-footed little girl, and placing the delighted urchin behind his saddle, carried her to her destination. But if amiable and obliging, Governor Penn was not free from prejudice, or what would be called prejudice in these days of psuedo-liberalism. Thus he abhorred tobacco, as appears in a passage of the New Jersey Historical Collections. When passing in his barge between Philadelphia and Pennsbury, he frequently stopped at Burlington to see Governor Jennings, of New Jersey, who was also an eminent minister among Friends. On one occasion, Jennings and some of his friends were enjoying their tobacco, a practice which the gentlemanly Penn disliked. On hearing that Penn's barge was in sight, they put away their pipes, that their friend might not be annoyed, and endeavoured to conceal from him what they were about. He came upon them, however,

* Quoted by Janney, from “ Fisher's Discourse on the Private Life of William Penn."

somewhat suddenly, and pleasantly remarked that he was glad they had sufficient sense of propriety to be ashamed of the practice. Jennings, rarely at a loss for an answer, rejoined, that they were “not ashamed, but desisted to avoid hurting a weak brother!”

While living thus in the midst of the prosperous colony which he had founded, we must remember that the source of the Governor's strength was God himself. Penn sought daily supplies of grace with an earnestness which few now-a-days would consider practicable. He lived in an atmosphere of devotion and prayer. Three times every day did the inmates of Pennsbury meet to worship their Maker. Thus we are told that “ When he was visiting meetings in Pennsylvania, he lodged one night at Merion, where a boy, about twelve years old, son of the person at whose house he lodged, being a lad of curiosity, and not often seeing such great men, privately crept to his chamber, up a flight of steps on the outside of the building. On peeping through the latchethole, he was struck with awe in beholding this great man upon his knees by the bed-side, and in hearing what he said, for he could distinctly hear him in prayer and thanksgiving that he was then provided for in the wilderness.”

Penn went out on his last voyage with the intention of finishing his days at Pennsbury, and he had taken bis second wife and family thither. This intention was frustrated by the activity of enemies in England. It was sought to deprive the governor of his colony by Act of Parliament, and therefore again, to defend his rights, he hastened home in the fall of 1701. The obnoxious Bill was abandoned, and, with the accession of Anne, Penn rose again into court favour, though he never returned to Pennsbury.

We are conscious of a feeling of sadness as we follow this great man to those closing years of a busy and eventful life, when disease added its burden to the weight of years, and when his noble intellect became partially clouded. Having always believed the world to be vanity, he now realized the truth of what he had believed. In prosperity he showed that he counted such days as lost wherein no progress was made towards the higher life: now he tasted the blessedness of having run a course which had been a life-long preparation for death. After carefully looking into Penn's character and life-work, we cannot discover that mere ambition weighed with him in founding the colony named after his house. Probably a more unselfish character does not shed its lustre over the page of English history. To such men disaster never comes. Life is to them a discipline for immortality, the lights and shades of which are equally turned to profit. Yet, as seen from the human standpoint, what a depressing spectacle does Penn, in his last years, present to view. His estate was impoverished by the expenses of the colony, and he suffered as the victim of shameless cheats and two-faced friends. Many dearly-cherished hopes were disappointed. His first-born son lay in the grave. A second son-also a child of the beloved Guli-as a worn-out profligate, broken both in purse and health, was hiding on the Continent, far from the sight of virtuous connexions. The younger children of the Governor's second wife alone stood around him in his last days at Ruscombe, in Berkshire, in 1718. It, indeed, was a happy day when the Governor's spirit passed into the rest which,

« AnteriorContinuar »