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Religion tend to melancholy! Did Wesley curse the day of his birth ?
“I bless the day that I was born."
Was Doddridge miserable when he penned the lines,
“God of my life, through all my days, etc." ?
“ Their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.” Godliness does not shrink from the stern test which modern science insists upon applying to all things,—the test of experience. are warned not to be satisfied with any authority, or to obey any command to believe anything; for observation, experiment and experience must settle everything. And we are prepared to submit to this test. Apply the laws of experimental science to our religious experience, and a vast and varied testimony proves the power of the religion of Jesus to comfort in life, and cheer in death. It pours radiance on the darkest lot; it soothes in declining years, and sustains in failing strength. When the hope of the worldling dies, the believer's hope is strongest : “The righteous hath hope in his death.” It provides for all the experiences of life, and fills with blessing the circle of our days : “ Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
4. “ And of the life which is to come.”—Argument is no longer needed. If " the world,” and “ things present," be included in the catalogue of the Christian's possessions, none may dispute his claims to the “ things to come.” The present and the future are inseparably connected. The future inevitably grows out of the present, as the fruit out of the seed. “ Glorious things are spoken of thee, O City of God !” We need only refer to the “ exceeding great and precious promises" of the life which is to come, and to the descriptions of that life in the Word of God.
“Is it possible to make the best of both worlds ? ” We answer this question by another, What is the best ? If the best of this world, in our estimation, be equivalent to the possession of property, wealth, power, learning, then, certainly, the best of this life would be absolutely beyond the reach of the vast majority of men, who have always been the poor, and unknown, and uncultured. There are many “good things not accessible to all: to repine at such an arrangement is to complain of the providence of God. But the highest blessings, the best things are accessible to all. The air we breathe is for all. The same sun shines upon us all. The heavens are spread over us all. And this is true of gifts nobler and more enduring. That which is better than silver and gold ; than health and beauty; than learning and genius ; that which is far more enriching and more ennobling than all these,—is within the reach of all. By the grace of God, all may accept the gracious invitation, “If any
man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” “The pleasures of sin" are but “for a season ;” the happiness of which godliness is the source, endures through health and sickness; through prosperity and adversity ; through life and death, and beyond both.
“Who will show us any good ?” While we do not make utility the standard of virtue, but assert that godliness-the glorifying God, should ever be the chief aim of man, we are nevertheless warranted by the Scriptures to appeal to man's natural and God-given desire for happiness. Do you desire the highest happiness which the heart of man can enjoy ? Wealth saith, It is not in me; Pleasure saith, It is not in me; Learning saith, It is not in me; Fame saith, It is not in me. “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness;
“ live unto the Lord.” “ Fear God, and keep His commandments : for this is the whole duty of man.”
MEMORIAL SKETCH OF MRS. THOMPSON, OF ARDMORE,
CO. ANTRIM, IRELAND.
BY ONE OF HER GRANDSONS.
Mrs. THOMPSON was born on the 4th of September, 1791. The people of Ulster are chiefly of Scotch extraction, as may be easily observed by their names, characteristics, dialect and physiognomy. This fact accounts for the prevalence of Presbyterianism in the Province. Mrs. Thompson's parents, sprung from this sturdy stock, were originally Presbyterian, but began to worship with the Methodists when she was very young. Men often choose the well-watered plains though it lead them to live in Sodom or Gomorrah; but this was not the case with Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair." They were residing in Belfast when they joined the Methodist Society, but removed to the country, thinking that it would be more conducive to the spiritual welfare of their children.
There was no Methodism in the part of the country to which they removed, but they at once invited the Methodist preacher," and the ark of the Lord continued in the house” till the family broke up, and of Henry Sinclair, as of Obed-edom, it might be said, “ The Lord blessed him, and all his household, ... because of the ark of God.”
Mrs. Thompson's mother was no ordinary woman : intelligent, of blameless reputation and captivating spirit, and above all, deeply pious. She exerted a wonderful influence on her own immediate circle. Religion is not hereditary ; but the influence of sound teaching, pure example and earnest prayer, should descend from one generation to another. Paul certainly thought so in writing to Timothy: “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” And to Mrs. Sinclair may be traced the religious influence that has permeated every branch of her family, and led to the conversion of many; "unto the third and fourth generation."
Happy she who had such a mother! Mrs. Thompson's conversion took place early. We are wont, in Methodism, to look for sharp and welldefined experience, but we sometimes overlook the fact that “there are diversities of operations.” Conversion comes to some suddenly and vividly as the flash of lightning, to others slowly and stealthily as the breaking dawn, Mrs. Thompson could never state the time or place of her conversion; but this did not trouble her. Like the blind man harassed by the captious Pharisees, circumstance was little to her : consciousness was everything. “One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.” On another point we are apt to dogmatize too readily : forgetting that there are varieties in disposition as in degrees of grace, we too often expect all to be alike communicative in matters of personal experience. Whilst Mrs. Thompson delighted in religious conversation, she found a great difficulty in speaking freely of her own experience.
Having been converted early, grace had ample opportunity to mould and beautify her life. Love was the leading trait in her character : this gave to it a mellowness and warmth which won the love of all who knew her. In training her children, though she avoided the cruel indulgence of Eli, she believed that the spirit of obedience was more likely to be evoked by gentle reasoning than by “many stripes.” In dealing with servants, “in her tongue was the law of kindness ; ” whilst to the poor of the neighbourhood she was an humble follower of Dorcas.
Her quiet daily life was an embodiment of the text “ Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” Paul unites in this golden precept the truths perverted in the extremes of Carlylism and Monasticism, and teaches that we must be both diligent in business and fervent in spirit in order to serve the Lord. She saw nothing incompatible in the claims of earth and heaven; and in the full-orbed practical religion of every day, it was difficult to say, to the duties of which world she paid the most loyal service.
John Wesley said, “Sour godliness is the devil's religion.” Mrs. Thompson most surely believed this saying. Acidity had no place in her temperament; gloom and melancholy never clouded her face. She was not jubilant, but she was always happy. She had her share of affliction, but proved it quite possible to have two opposite emotions at the same time, so that though often “sorrowful,” she was yet " alway rejoicing." Cheerful piety like this has a wondrous charm. The “lovely tempers, fruits of grace,” that appeared in her, were so fascinating that one of her daughters writes, “I remember so well resolving, when quite a child, that by God's grace I would seek and obtain the religion that made mother so lovely."
To those who knew her well, prayerfulness was one of the most prominent features in her character.
“Her eyes were homes of silent prayer.” We
e never realise the blessedness of prayer till it rises to the dignity of communion with God. With some it is the mere pleading of a culprit; with Mrs. Thompson it was the fellowship of friend with friend. She had an almost morbid dread of parade of religion, but yet at times she was so oblivious to all outward circumstances that her “ strong crying and tears
were heard outside the closet door, and on these occasions one large-hearted prayer was always most distinct; pleading for one beloved soul after another, by name, she would say, “ Lord, bless
a thousand times !
Concerning the close of her life her daughter supplies a few particulars. She had a serious illness two years ago, and many of the friends thought it would
prove fatal. Her soul was exceeding joyful, and her tones and looks bespoke the happiness within. In this illness her wonted reserve entirely fled ; she spoke freely to all of her comfort in Christ. Nothing conld exceed the loving ministry of the Rev. James Oliver and the Rev. S. Hollingsworth, B.A., in this protracted illness. She was so much better in May that she was able to leave home for three months. But this was only the flickering of the flame of life. On her return“ the grasshopper became "a burden," and "desire" completely " failed,” and for ten long months she looked for death, as the watchman for the morning. In her former illness she had ecstasies unknown in any previous period of her life ; these high emotions now sobered down into unruffled peace. At all times she revelled in Wesley's Hymns; they now supplied her with “ songs in the night” of her weakness. The tender and delicate attentions of her children were repaid with abounding gratitude; and in emulation of the good woman who said " I feel like the Psalms,” she never drank a cup of water, and never even tasted medicine, without first offering thanks to God. Prayer had become so habitual and intense that attendants often entered and left the room without attracting her notice ; so deeply was she absorbed in loving fellowship with God. There was in her no trace of the selfishness which often marks suffering; her only grief in these months of weariness and pain was the fatigue imposed on others. On the 18th of May, 1875, after uttering some words of affectionate apprehension about the health of the daughter who was always at her side, she sank into a slumber soft as that of an infant, and without a sigh or struggle, sweetly fell asleep in Jesus.
Loved and revered by the community in which she had lived a loving, blameless life for fifty years, a large company of rich and poor followed her remains to the grave, where the Revs. James Murdock, Samuel Hollingsworth, B.A., and Charles Baskin conducted a most tender and impressive service.
R. C. J.
Next to Praise, Penitence claims Methodism being, like the Primitive precedence in the Psalmody of a Christianity of which it is a revival, Church. This is in accordance with a call to repentance, demands an both Nature and Revelation; Nature ample supply of hymns appointed as“ brought to light by the Gospel.” "unto them that mourn in Zion.”
And is there any Hymn-book that “ Could we but hear Creation's voice; From glowworm up to sun,
can compare in this respect with that 'Twould speak with one concordant
of Methodism ? Indeed, the large voice :
proportion of such hymns has been Thy will, o God, be done!
made the ground of severe depreci“But, hark ! a sadder, mightier prayer, ation by more than one of its critics. From all men's hearts that live :
Four whole sections, Praying for Thy will be done in earth and heaven ; And Thou my sins forgive." *
Repentance, For Mourners Con
vinced of Sin, For Persons Convinced The Psalter contains many more of Backsliding, and the Penitential than “ Seven penitential Psalms; Hymns in the Supplement, are and in it, as in the sublime litanies devoted to this benign service, the of Solomon, Daniel and Nehemiah, administering relief to sacred sorrow doxology is combined with depreca- by giving it expression. This is one tion. And this too is in harmony of the true functions of Poetry : with Christ's pattern-prayer, which, beginning and ending with adoration,
“For to the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies.” in its central petitions breathes the spirit of dependence and contrition.
The section Praying for Repentance A due proportion of penitential is unique, and every hymn it comhymns is specially required in the
prises is from the Wesley poetry. Hymn-Book of a Church the great
The heart that has begun to feel its majority of whose congregations use
coldness and its hardness needs the no prose liturgy at all, and none of softening influence of tender, yearnthem any in the afternoon or even
ing hymns, to aid the process of ing; with whom the Hymn-Book is, transforming stone into flesh. And in fact, the Book of Common Prayer.
there is a peculiar appropriateness To a complete liturgical service the in this profusion of penitential hymns litany is as indispensable as the Te
to a Church whose first watch word Deum or the Jubilaté. Still further,
is Repentance ; its second, Faith ; its
third, Holiness. Yet, the tide of * The unwarrantable suppression by penitential song, deep and broad as Carlyle in his memoir of Stirling, of the it was, has received many tributaries, above quoted death-song of his doubtharassed friend, is almost paralleied by the
gushing from the melting snow of total concealment by the Editor of
holy sorrow, Macready's Reminiscences, of the great
“ Streams that come actor's connection with Methodism, after his retirement from the stage. Biogra
Running down from Libanum." phers should remember that the withhold.
That exhaustless reservoir of sacred ing of significant facts has often the effect of misrepresentation, leading inevitably to
song, the Wesley Poetry, has yielded conclusions not in accordance with facts. fresh supplies. First, we have two