« AnteriorContinuar »
As a man of business Mr. Cartwright was highly esteemed ontside the circle of his religious acquaintances. He was most honourable in all his transactions. His word was his bond, and was accepted as such by all who knew him. Nature and grace united to make him a Christian gentleman, without affectation or self-assertion. His bearing towards social inferiors was respectful and considerate. Great confidence was often placed in his integrity by parties who needed a friend to manage affairs for the benefit of the widow and the fatherless; and in this way he was frequently able to glorify God and serve his generation.
Mr. Cartwright's pilgrimage stretched beyond threescore years and ten, but his general good health and his regular habits warranted the expectation that years of usefulness would be added; yet his final summons came when least expected. His sister in London was nigh unto death, and greatly desired the comfort of his society; and the journey was likely to be refreshing to bimself; nor was it until after the morning service on his third Sunday in town that he felt anything amiss. After dinner he was taken slightly unwell, and had medical advice. The next day or two he was thought to be getting better, but subsequently he began to sink, and the following Sabbath he passed away to be ‘for ever with the Lord.' His death-bed was a beautiful scene. Surrounded by the members of his family, he lay in serene and holy joy, perfectly collected, and submissive to the will of God, waiting for the Bridegroom. His condition and surroundings were a vivid realization of Blair's picture :
*Dehold him in the evening-tide of life,
High in his faith and hope.' He had no conflicts of thought or feeling, but seemed to bask in heavenly sunshine, and was like Bunyan's Pilgrim conversing with the shepherds on the plains of Beulah. He often repeated appropriate portions of Holy Scripture and hymns. Again and again were the words upon his lips :
Live happy in my Saviour's love,
And in His arms expire ;' and,
"The thoughts of such amazing bliss
Should constant joys create.' He frequently broke out in prayer for his family, his Class, and Methodism throughout the world; and calmly continued waiting at the river's brink until the Sabbath dawned, when his sanctified spirit passed over, on February 18th, 1877.
MEMORIAL SKETCH OF THE REV. BENJAMIN FIRTH. Mr. FIRTH was born at Attercliffe, Sheffield, in November, 1803, and was blessed with a pious mother, under whose care he was guarded from outward immorality and taught to reverence God. He did not, however, submit himself fully to the Saviour until he was about nineteen years of age, when, through the preaching of the Rev. J. Hanwell, he was thoroughly awakened. His penitence was deep, and for a long time he remained in distress, fearing much lest he should deceive himself. At length, under a sermon by the Rev. W. E. Miller, the testimony of God's adopting love was borne to him with such clearness and vividness that his soul was made unspeakably happy.
Now he could not refrain from seeking others for Christ, and as a Sundayschool teacher, Tract-distributer, Prayer-leader and Visitor of the sick, he laboured fervently and joyfully. After employment for some time as a Local Preacher, with marked approval and success, he was accepted by the Conference of 1827 as a probationer for the Ministry.
Mr. Firth's first appointment was Nottingham, whither he was sent by the President to supply the place of the Rev. John Smith, who was laid aside by affliction. During his residence with Mr. Smith he was much blessed and strengthened in spirit, and caught some measure of the earnestness and intense love for souls by which Mr. Smith’s very successful ministry had been characterized. He realized also a deep conviction of the prevalence of faithful intercession on behalf of those who have not known the Saviour. He was next sent to Brecon, where he resided with the Rev. Charles Haime, well known as a powerful and awakening Preacher. After labouring in the MarketHarborough, Daventry and Sevenoaks Circuits, he was received into Full Connexion at the Conference of 1832.
Gravesend, Ashbourne, Ripon, Lincoln and Yarmouth were his next scenes of labour. In Lincoln he was associated with the Rev. J. Hanwell, under whose preaching he had been awakened. At Yarmouth he, for the first time, bad the charge of a Circuit. As a Superintendent, he displayed much wisdom, zeal and faithfulness, giving painstaking attention to every part of his duty, and winning the regard of those among whom he toiled. From Yarmouth be removed to Burnley. One of his friends there, Mr. P. Phillips, thus writes of him :
*As a Minister, Mr. Firth brought into the service of the sanctuary very considerable qualifications, all of which were most willingly offered. He threw his whole mind and soul into his work, and his physical strength was often taxed to the very verge of prudence. He was so popular in the Burnley Circuit that his services were in constant request for Sabbath-school anniversaries, and but rarely was a stranger brought from a distance for these special occasions. As the Superintendent of a Circuit, Mr. Firth was one of the most admirable I have ever known. His conduct was distinguished by unremitting attention to even the most minute matters, by great business tact and ability, and by the strictest impartiality. No private friendship ever swayed him in the slightest degree from what he held to be his duty; and if he had any enemies, not one would be able to accuse him of any personal feeling in the administration of Circuit affairs. As a Pastor, Mr. Firth was universally beloved, especially by the poor. He seemed to know every one, and at all times manifested an interest in even the humblest.'
In 1845, when he was appointed to Preston, Methodism was hardly known in Lytham. Mr. Firth formed a Class there, and a room was secured for preaching. Shortly afterwards, T. C. Hincksman, Esq., went to reside there, with whose generous cooperation a site was obtained and a chapel built. On Mr. Firth’s removal to Lytham, as a Supernumerary Minister, in 1874, it gave him much joy to mark the development of Methodism in the town. A new and beautiful chapel had taken the place of the first, and the Society was flourishing.
Grimsby was his next Circuit. The labours of himself and colleagues and their willing helpers were much blessed by God, and three hundred members were added during the three years spent there. Thence he removed to Holmfirth, at what was, on the testimony of Mr. Woodcock, 'a very important crisis in the history of the Circuit. The Societies in most parts of it had been rent by strife.' Mr. Firth and his colleague, the Rev. Thomas Garbutt, entered on their work with prayerful zeal, and were gladdened by seeing spiritual improvement in all the Societies.
The same gentleman thus characterizes Mr. Firth's work: **As a Superintendent he was wise, prudent and thorough in his attention to all the duties of his office. He was never wearied in praying with the penitent and directing him to Jesus. The people heard him gladly, We lost hundreds during the storm of the agitation, but a foundation was laid during the three years of Mr. Firth's ministry for building up our broken walls, and in a few years we regained our lost ground. The results of those three years' labours are still felt by many, and Mr. Firth’s name is held in affectionate remembrance. His deep sympathy with the suffering, and his manifest interest in the spiritual and temporal welfare of all classes, greatly endeared him to our people. He was with us when a great calamity came upon the town and neighbourhood by the bursting of a large reservoir, by which more than soventy persons were drowned. Many have a vivid recollection of the large-heartedness and practical sympathy with the sufferers evinced by Mr. Firth and his excellent wife on that occasion.'
Bramley, Haslingden, Runcorn, Bradford (South), and Truro were the Circuits where he afterwards laboured, in each of which he spent three years, and was permitted to rejoice in the prosperity which attended the toils of his colleagues and himself. Devonport was the last sphere of his vigorous and persevering activity as the Superintendent of a Circuit. The Rev. E. Dodds writes : “No duty was neglected, and his anxiety for the conversion of souls was unceasing. Several were added to the Lord.'
In 1871 such serious symptoms of failing health appeared, that at the Conference his name was placed on the list of Supernumeraries. He fixed on Exeter as the place of his residence, where he spent three pleasant years, during which he often preached in the city chapels and in other places, and his ministry was highly valued. He took the charge of a large Class, and by its members was much venerated and esteemed. He and his devoted wife took part in various schemes of usefulness.
In the hope of recruiting his strength somewhat by a more bracing climate, he removed to Lytham. In the spring of 1875, Mr. Firth's health received a severe shock, and from that time his strength gradually failed. But the end was sudden. During a visit to his daughter at Bramley, the Master's call reached him. After taking a short walk one day with Mrs. Firth, he sat down in a chair to rest, and without a sigh or any indication of pain, passed away to the city above.
When those who mourn his loss look back upon the cheerfulness and mellowness of piety which were manifest during this visit, they can joyfully confess how completely the Lord had prepared His servant for such a sudden departure, and give glory to Him Who doeth all things well.
Modest and retiring, of genial disposition, thoughtful for others, and ready to sacrifice his own convenience and wishes for their good, Mr. Firth won the full confidence of those with whom he was associated. Faithful and earnest in the pulpit, a watchful and loving Pastor, sparing not bimself in labour and living in close fellowship with God, his ministry was effective and awakening. In his attachment to Methodist doctrine and discipline, and in all his work as a Methodist Preacher, he was thorough, fulfilling diligently the pledges given when he was admitted into Full Connexion with the Conference, His life was happy. The wife of his youth was a true help meet for him in all his cares and responsibilities, sustaining and encouraging him, and entering heartily into his work. She was spared to him throughout
course, but did not very long survive him.
SERMON PREACHED ON BEHALF OF THE THANKSGIVING FUND,
IN CITY-ROAD CHAPEL,
SUNDAY MORNING, DECEMBER 1ST, 1878 : BY THE REV. J. H. RIGG, D.D., PRESIDENT OF THE CONFERENCE. •Unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ :......
by that which every joint supplieth.'—EPHESIANS IV. 13, 16. The Unity of the Church in Christ, and in the Spirit of Christ, that is the main subject of this chapter. There is one body, and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, Who is over all, and works through all, and is in all.' And there are gifts and offices bestowed upon the Church, defining and constituting its order and concord, and contributing to its growth and living unity. Some are appointed to be apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers,' not for the sake of their own glory or perfection, but in order to the perfecting of the saints, to the work of the Ministry,...to the building up of the body of Christ,' 'until,' as the final and glorious consummation, we shall all come,' says the Apostle—all the true people of God in Christ Jesus——to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.' This grand passage is introduced, as you will see if you look back to the third verse of the chapter, by an earnest and tender exhortation to the Ephesian believers to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace'; and it is wound up by the forecast and anticipation of accomplished unity of experience and affection, the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God'--through the means and agencies appointed in the Church by its Divine Head--the whole body making increase of itself in love by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part.'
If the unity of the Church in Christ, however, is the main thought which pervades this noble passage, another and scarcely less cardinal thought, colouring and inspiring the whole, is that of the perfection of the Church as consisting in the perfected humanity, which, through the man Christ Jesus, God's eternal Son, is to become the attribute and character of the finally matured Church of Christ. When the Church shall have become all that it should be, according to the Divine ideal; when it shall have attained to absolute unity and to Divine perfection, then it will exhibit and embody the perfection of all that belongs to a true humanity. The Church will be among men as an embodied Christ, an Omnipresent Christ in the Aesh. Present everywhere among men by and in His Church, Christ Jesus will be the universal Healer and Saviour, going about in the persons of His saints doing good, fulfilling every human virtue, exemplifying every human grace, saving the souls and the bodies of men. The Church of Christ is · His body,' the 'fulness of Him that filleth all in all.' The standard of perfection for the ideal Church is nothing less, nothing else, than 'a perfect mad,
the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. This is the leading thought in our immediate context : ‘Till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.' And the means whereby this result is to be attained are further described in the words that follow. It is by speaking, or, rather let us say, for this is a fuller and truer expression of the meaning of the word aanbevovzes—it is by 'living the truth in love' that we are to 'grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ; from Whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, maketh increase of...itself in love.' It is a great thought, dear brethrer, that the perfection of the Church means the perfection of humanity in Christ, and of the living outgoings and manifestations of that humanity, from man to man, and all in and for Christ.
It appears, accordingly, that when in this passage St. Paul speaks of all Christians coming to a perfect man,' he is not speaking directly or primarily of the perfection of the individual Christian, but of the perfection of the Church as a corporate whole, as an ideal embodiment of humanity-humanity redeemed, renewed, sanctified in Christ Jesus. Nevertheless, inasmuch as such corporate perfection of the Church could be attained only through the growth and perfection in Christ of the several parts, only by means of that