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while we ourselves are compassed with a variety of besetting and variously injurious peculiarities and sins, we are too apt to be severe upon those of others, and too forgetful of learning wisdom from the lessons of experience they teach.
The year 1850 has been a memorable period in the history of the Church of England. We have been engaged in a contest against the combined attacks of open foes and false brethren; and while the battle has been at the fiercest, many a honoured standard-bearer has been summoned to lay down the sword, and to receive that "crown of life" which is promised to all who, like them, shall be "found faithful unto death." Who, amongst us that remain, is sufficient for the days in which we live, and for the times which are hastening on, fraught with so much that appears dark and threatening to the peace of the Church and the world? We well remember the expression of a longvalued friend, when writing some years ago, of the even then overcast sky, he remarked that he should hold it to be an especial mercy to be allowed to take part, and to be on the Lord's side, in the great battle of Armageddon. Happy is it for us that our great Captain orders both our times and our places, and with unerring wisdom raises up, or takes away, the soldiers of the cross, when we are either despairing of leaders, or too fondly imagining that we cannot do without those who have long proved themselves to be able wielders of the sword of the Spirit.
We must now turn to the immediate object we have in view, and give some short details which we have gathered from various sources, relative to the life and history of the
Rev. Thomas Mortimer, and in doing so, as unexpected impediments have prevented our gaining additional information, we have to acknowledge our obligations to the accounts furnished by the Rev. Mr. Cottle and the Rev. John Garwood in their funeral sermons.
It appears that Mr. Mortimer was born in London, in the year 1795, and that in his early infancy, he very shortly passed from the arms of his own dying mother into the watchful care of his father's second wife, who became to him, in very truth, a loving, anxious, pious mother. Mr. Cottle, in his funeral sermon, at Trinity Church, Weymouth, thus shortly sketches the history of one valued and lamented by a numerous circle:
"Even when quite a child, he was the subject of religious impressions; but at the early age of sixteen years, the words of St. Paul, 'He loved me and gave himself for me,' were applied with power to his soul, and led him from that time, with adoring gratitude and love, to devote himself to God.
"He was now placed under the care and instruction of his brother, the Rev. George Mortimer, then Curate of Madeley, in Shropshire. Here he not only made satisfactory progress in his studies, but devoted himself with much success to the religious instruction of the villagers. In 1818, he dedicated himself to the Lord in the work of the ministry, and was ordained in London on Easter Sunday in that year, the anniversary of which was generally observed with feelings of solemn awe. He entered on his work with fear and trembling, and under a deep sense of his responsibilities. He delivered his first sermon in Madeley church. His first curacy
MEMOIR OF THE REV. THOMAS MORTIMER.
was at Mirfield, in Yorkshire, and his second at Woburn, in Buckinghamshire. His labours were blessed in both these spheres, and many were turned unto the Lord. In 1821 he removed to London. At the time, the wisdom of this step was doubted; his friends fearing lest his plain and frank addresses, though well received by country congregations, should prove less attractive to a more refined London audience. Their fears, however, were never realized.
"About this time it was his wish to
have proceeded as a missionary to India, but the death of his first-born altered his intentions.
"His first London duty was at St. Olave's, Southwark. In that sacred edifice thousands listened with earnest attention to his thrilling appeals; enforced as they were with youthful energy, glowing with a Saviour's love. So much interest had he excited here, that when he preached his farewell sermon, it was difficult even to approach the church; so great was the multitude, that he was obliged to be lifted over the heads of the congregation into the vestry.
"For nine years he was Incumbent of St. Mark's, Pentonville. Here his labours were indeed abundant, and highly honoured of God in bringing many sons to glory. But the chief scene of his Gospel triumphs, was the ever memorable St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, where, for sixteen years, as afternoon lecturer, he 'lifted up his voice like a trumpet, and showed the people their transgressions.' His heart overflowed with love at the sight of the multitude, and he longed to impart to them, not only the Gospel of God, but his own soul also. It was with no feigned affection that he besought them to come to Christ,
with an eagerness of desire that shook his frame to the very centre.
"He preached at St. Mark's every Sunday morning and evening, and at St. Leonard's in the afternoon. On Mondays he had private interviews with anxious and enquiring souls, at his house. Besides his numerous other parochial duties, he also made journeys in aid of the Church Missionary, and other religious Societies. These efforts began to tell on his constitution, and on one occasion great alarm was excited, by his fainting in the pulpit of St. Leonard's. preached his last sermon in this church from these words, 'Strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God.'
"Various causes led him to renounce the living of St. Mark's, and to become, in 1837, Minister of the Episcopal Chapel, Gray's-inn-road. This was the period of his heaviest trials, and, from circumstances entirely beyond his control, he was unexpectedly involved in pecuniary difficulties. His mental sufferings at this time were great, but his faith failed not, and in due time deliver
"Though scarcely beyond the meridian of life, his strength now began to fail, and he retired from the ministry of this chapel on the 2nd of December, 1849. It was on Advent Sunday; and in his address on this occasion he said, 'I can look back with delight upon Advent Sundays. Oh, the day was always sweet. I can look back with pleasure to days that are past. What blessed Advent Sundays we used to have at St. Mark's! What blessed Advent Sundays we used to have at St. Olave's! Ah, well, the ecclesiastical year goes its round, and by-and-by we shall stop
going our rounds with it; but happy for us, if, when our Lord comes, all shall be well.
"O that each in the day of His coming may say, 'I have fought my way through,
I have finished the work, Thou didst give me to do.'
O that each from his Lord may receive the glad 'Well and faithfully done: [word, Enter into My joy, and sit down on My throne."
"It is remarkable, that our friend fell asleep just at the close of that ecclesiastical year, and that his Advent Sunday this year, was his first sabbath in glory. Happy change!
"In the same sermon he says, 'I am speaking to you in weakness, and in fear, and with much trembling; because I feel that I am concluding a ministry for which I must one day go and give an account before God. Perhaps I may be speaking in the presence of some, who may be ready to say that they have often been wounded by the harsh and severe things that I have uttered, during a ministry of thirty years' duration. Now, mark, I do not say that I have always spoken with the kindness that I ought to have done; but I will say this, God knows I have been intensely desirous to save the souls of men; and as you must feel, that in your calmer moments you would not be angry with a fireman, who should rush into your chamber at night, and, after trying in vain to awake you, should seize you by the hair of your head, and thus drag you out of the burning house; so I say, forgive me whatever harsh words I have used. I have often felt, whilst speaking to you, that time is short, that death is near, that truth is infinitely important, and that without a knowledge of Christ, you must sink into the burning lake.'
With these solemn and awakening words, he terminated his ministry in London."
In the close of the year 1849, Mr. Mortimer removed to Weymouth, with the hope of recruiting his shattered health; not expecting at the time any public clerical duty. But his love for his Master's work was so great, and "a door of utterance" having been unexpectedly opened, he, on the first Sunday in 1850, preached in Trinity Church, from the words of Haggai, "Whence comest thou, and whither goest thou?" He said to a friend, in reference to his removal to Weymouth, "This is my last stage to heaven." He preached on Sunday, July 21st, for the last time, from these words: "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together."
"In describing on this occasion," remarks Mr. Cottle, "the prospects of the children of God, he was almost carried beyond himself in holy rapture, and he made the church resound with the words, 'Death is not terrible to the Christian.' How soon was the preacher called to verify the truth of his words! This service closed his labours, not only in this church, but for ever. He had selected for his text on the following Sunday evening these words, Thou mayest be no longer steward,' but he was not permitted to preach from them; his Heavenly Father had determined otherwise, and before that day ar
MEMOIR OF THE REV. THOMAS MORTIMER.
rived, He had sent His messenger to say, 'Behold I come quickly.'
"I esteem it one of the most ines timable privileges of my life, that in the wonder-working providence of God, I was associated with him, almost from the first, in the duties of this church and parish. As a son with the father, I served with him in the Gospel; and it refreshes and consoles my spirit, now that he is gone to his rest, to remember how often he spoke of the comfort he enjoyed from our friendly and united labours.
"Our friend was not exempted from the afflictions of life; he had his trials, great and many. In him was experienced the truth, 'as many as I love I rebuke and chasten.' In 1836, his affectionate heart was wounded by the loss of a holy, meek, and devoted wife, who was a blessing to his home, and an ornament to the christian profession. He was deeply affected, but divinely supported in this trying bereavement, and he would often say to others, in reference to this event, 'get a religion that will support you, when you hear the undertaker's feet coming up stairs.' In 1846, he lost the elder of his two daughters, an amiable and lovely young person of the age of twenty-five. A few years ago, when delivering a sermon on the death of a relative who had been snatched away in the prime of life, he took an opportunity of making the following touching remarks: 'I am not, I trust, the person to intrude upon the notice of an affectionate people any family details, in which, of course, they cannot be supposed to feel any interest; but I do consider myself at liberty to mention, what I confess has made a very deep impression on my own mind, connected with the present bereaving providence, that the worthy
and amiable man whose removal has furnished us with the subject of our present consideration, has, by his decease, left him who now addresses you in a situation at once peculiar and solemn. Of eight grandsons on his maternal side, the preacher of the present discourse this day alone remains. Thus do the families of men pass away to the grave! Thus does it sometimes please God to take away a number of young men as they reach the flower of their age. For let it be remembered that, of the beloved brothers and cousins of whose removal I have spoken, one only,-the subject of the present discourse,-died at the age of forty-five. The rest, with one exception, (my youngest brother, a youth of seventeen,) were removed between the ages of twenty and thirty. Yes, all young men, and men as likely to live as any of those by whom I am surrounded. I trust that this circumstance, together with others which I shall have presently to mention, may plead my apology, if any be necessary, for my present attempt, in humble dependence upon the Lord's blessing, to take, as it were, of the ashes of my departed relatives, and sprinkle them over the flock committed to my charge, as solemn mementos of their own mortality, and as a solemn call to prepare themselves to meet their God.'
"On the 25th of July last, Mr. Mortimer was seized with a fit, which was then thought to be apoplectic, but which afterwards was found to proceed from the pressure of a growing substance on the brain. This, however, proved the harbinger of death. After two days of delirium, he partially recovered; and the first words he uttered were, 'I little thought suffering awaited me, but the Lord
has done it in righteousness.' His greatest trial in this illness, was that of not being permitted to share in the public duties of the sanctuary. In conversing with him shortly after, he said to me, in his own energetic and striking manner, 'I have learnt one thing by this seizure: it is this, all this side the grave is shadow, all the other side is substance.'
"With the hope of benefiting his health, he removed soon after to Brosely, near Madeley, a spot endeared to him by youthful and holy associations; but before he was able to inhabit his new abode, the messenger, at the end of two months after his first attack, smote him the second time, at an inn in Burton-on-Trent, and from which he never recovered. In the midst of depressing weakness, he said, 'How happy am I without care, without sin, (you know what I mean,) unpardoned sin.' All other thoughts were now banished from his mind, that he might contemplate Him only whom his soul loved. He was a great admirer of nature, but now the trees, the flowers, the hills, had lost their charms, and Jesus, the rose of Sharon, was the only object of his love. He would frequently say, 'Unspeakably happy; Christ is all and in all; I am prepared to die.' On one occasion, when his medical attendant came into his room, he said, 'Doctor, you are come to try to keep me here a little while longer, but I don't wish to tarry; I want,-I long to get home.' Then, taking the hand of his adopted son, he added, 'My boy, I am going home.' He then fell back on his pillow, and, looking up to heaven, said, 'O my Saviour, my Saviour.'
"On Sunday, the day before his spirit fled from its tenement of clay, and the last day of his consciousness, he
was asked if Jesus was precious? He raised the hand of the speaker with his arm, in the attitude of adoring praise, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, evinced the inward peace he enjoyed.
"He lingered until the following Monday, when, about half-past three o'clock in the afternoon of the 25th of November, our friend sweetly fell asleep, and the angelic convoy came and bore his happy spirit to the bosom of his God. and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace.' The Lord grant that we may die the death of the righteous, and may our last end be like his.'
'Mark the perfect man,
"His dear remains were on the following Saturday deposited in Madeley churchyard; a spot selected by himself a few weeks before his death. In this church he had preached his first sermon in 1818, and there the immortal Fletcher had preached his last in 1784. Dying at the same age, though separated in their death by an interval of nearly seventy years, these devoted friends of the Saviour repose near each other, until the morning of the resurrection, then, amongst the wise, shall they shine as the brightness of the firmament; and as those that have turned many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever."
We now extract from Mr. Garwood's sermon, and we do so with the especial object of shewing of what character was the life and ministry of Mr. Mortimer.
"His feelings were very acute. He possessed largely of the bowels of affection. There was nothing of coldness in his character. He was (if I may use the expression) all heart. It was manifest in his public ministry. Often have I seen the