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FOR NOVEMBER, 1832.
A BRIEF NOTICE OF THE LATE REV. WILLIAM WILLIAMS,
LATE OF NORWOOD.
[We have extracted the following notice from a pamphlet just published, by one of Mr. Williams's sons, and which is referred to in the Review department.']
It would have been gratifying to the family of the late Rev.W. Williams, could they have discovered any documents detailing his early history, and manifesting the gradual development of those characteristics by which he was distinguished in after life. .Unhappily such a document cannot be found, and, therefore, any narrative will be necessarily defective. Mr. W. was a native of London, where he was born January 24th, 1774. He enjoyed the advantage of a liberal education, and at a suitable age was entered as a student at law, being designed for the profession of a practising barrister. Till nearly the close of his legal studies, he appears to have been in spiritual darkness. At this period, however, he was induced to become an occasional attendant at Surrey Chapel. Here the preaching of the venerable Rowland Hill was blessed to the awakening of his conscience. He was led to behold himself as a sinner in danger of perdition, and taught earnestly to apply for
salvation to a crucified Redeemer. He now became a stated worshipper at Surrey Chapel, and continued rapidly to grow in grace. Having been taught rightly to estimate the value of his own soul, he soon felt deeply interested in the well-being of those by whom he was surrounded. Beholding the spiritual destitution of the villages in the immediate vicinity of the metropolis, he felt an intense desire to convey to them the gladdening intelligence of salvation through a crucified Saviour. Actuated by these powerful motives, he joined the London Itinerant Society, and commenced his ministerial labours under theirauspices. Shortly after, having frequently and fervently prayed for divine direction, Mr. W. came to the resolution of giving up the profession of the law, with all its prospective advantages, and wholly dedicating his talents to the ministerial work. Having taken this resolution, Mr. W. acceded to the request of the Church of Christ assembling in Paradise
Chapel, Birmingham, to preach before them as a probationer for the pastoral office. The result of this engagement was an invitation to Mr. W. to become their pastor. With this invitation he complied, and in September, 1802, was solemnly set apart to the pastoral office over that church. In 1806, Mr. W. removed to Warwick, as successor to the Rev. Mr. Moody. Disunion having crept into the church at this place, he thought it most beneficial, for the church and for himself, that a separation should take place. Having, after fervent prayer, arrived at this conclusion, in 1808, he resigned the pastoral office at Warwick, and removed to Edmonton, where he laboured for nearly twenty years, happy in witnessing, during the greater part of that time, the most complete harmony amongst the people, and the warmest affection towards himself.
In 1805, Mr. W. was united to Miss Richards, sister to the Rev. J. Richards, of Birmingham, with whom he lived in the greatest happiness for more than seventeen years. During the year 1822, he was visited by a succession of most afflictive and mysterious providences. In February, he was called to surrender a beloved son to the hands of his Maker. Within three short months the endeared partner of his life was called to enter into the joy of her Lord; and in the following September a third breach was made in the family, by the death of his youngest son. Under these distressing visitations, Mr. W. was enabled to say, with pious resignation," The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, and blessed be the name of the Lord." In the latter end of 1823, Mr. W. was married to Miss Cawley, a Christian friend of his former wife, who, on her dying-bed, speaking of Miss C, said, " She is the only
person in the world with whom 1 can entrust my family." It is no small commendation to say of the bereaved widow, that she has uniformly acted the part of a kind parent, and enjoyed the affectionate esteem of those whom Providence has committed to her care. In 1825, Mr. W. buried his third son, after a protracted illness of more than two years, during which the sufferer had given satisfactory evidence ■ of an interest in Christ. In addition to these family afflictions, Mr. W. suffered many heavy pecuniary losses; but with all these accumulated trials he was never heard to repine. When the fears of friends were excited, his constant expression was, "The Lord who hath provided will provide." The following extract from a letter, bearing date August 7, 1828, will convey some idea of the serenity of his mind, and likewise the ground on which it was founded.
"In this world we are to expect trials and disappointments. Some are more severely tried than others, but none escape. Prosperity and adversity, afflictions and consolations, are wisely and mercifully blended together. I have had my share of trouble, but I have no reason to complain, for I have many mercies. I have never had reason to despond, for the promises are my portion, and I have witnessed the fulfilment of them re
?eatedly, seasonably, and graciously. Though have experienced some severe calamities, I have not endured the heaviest that might have befallen me. I have followed a wife and three children to the grave. I am deprived of their society, and shall not see them again till I pass beyond the barrier which separates this world from the world of spirits. Then I shall be re-united to them, for two of them died in their infancy, and the other two gave satisfactory evidences of conversion. They all sleep in Jesus, and are blessed. In my four eldest surviving children I can rejoice, for I trust that the good work is begun both in Sarah and in Margaret,* and that it is gradually advancing. There is not one of my children who manifests an aversion to religion, or disco
* Since the period in which this was written, the deceased father enjoyed the privilege of beholding both his daughters united to Christian churches.
vera an inveterate propensity to sin. While I can rejoice in my children, I cannot be unhappy."
The increase of his family, and a variety of other circumstances, concurred to induce Mr. W., in 1829, to remove, with his family and school, to Chelsea. Having occasionally supplied at Norwood, and given great satisfaction, he was requested to become the successor of the Rev. J. Richards, who removed from Norwood in 1830. With this request Mr. W. complied, and continued to labour, with great success, till within a few days of his lamented decease.
But we hasten to detail the closing scenes of the life of this man of God. On Wednesday evening, July 25th, he, for the last time, proclaimed the sacred truths of the everlasting gospel to his affectionate people at Norwood, after which he walked home to Chelsea, a distance of nearly seven miles. On the morning of July 27th, he complained of indisposition; his illness increasing towards evening, he consented to have medical assistance called in. His medical friend found him in a dangerous condition, and remained with him during the whole night. In the morning, he appeared to be relieved, and his family cherished the hope, from the improvement which had taken place, that his valued life might be spared. During the Sunday and Monday he
continued to improve, though still he could not be pronounced out of danger. On Tuesday, no alteration to excite alarm, or to strengthen hope, was apparent. In the course of this day his medical friend, a pious member of the establishment, said, "Mr. W., if you should recover, it will be owing to the astonishing tranquillity of mind you possess." He replied, "It is all peace within." On Wednesday, strength began to fail, and a low weakening fever attacked him. But while the outer man was thus perishing, he enjoyed the renewal of the inner man. A friend from Norwood called to see him, and asked how his mind felt. He replied, with as much emphasis as his weakness would allow, "It is in perfect peace." During the ensuing night he sunk rapidly, and on Thursday morning, August 2nd, at ten minutes past 10 o'clock, he yielded his spirit into his Saviour's hands, in the fifty-ninth year of his age. So peaceful was his end, that it may be emphatically said, "He fell asleep." He has left, to mourn their irreparable loss, a widow and numerous family, many of whom are but of tender age, and consequently are dependent on their widowed mother. After contemplating the death of this good man, who can but exclaim, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like His!"
HINDRANCES FROM COMING TO CHRIST OBVIATED.
For the Evangelical Magazine.
"Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling-block out of the way of my people," was the injunction given of old to facilitate the return of the Jews from their idolatrous practices to the worship of the God of Israel. It may be considered as pointing out our duly to those whose faces are turned to flie Saviour, and the methods we should
employ to quicken their approach to him. Whatever obstructions may lie in their way, and by whatever hand they may have been placed there, we must labour to remove them by every effort we can employ. Such labour is one of the most important and necessary of the works of mercy, and one which must be peculiarly pleasing to the Redeemer, whose invitations in the gospel are so richly fraught with the blessings of his silvation, and the kindness of his heart, fn addressing them to sinners, he may 'he viewed as saying to them what Balak of old said by his messengers to Balaam though in a very different spirit, and w. th a very different object, "Let nothing, I entreat thee, hinder thee from coming to me." Such is the object of thin essay; and, while we urge, may the Lord draw with the cords of love; while w e expostulate, may the Lord persuade; und while we admonish, may he alann.
Some are kept from coming to Christ by the idea that they are not prepared for coming. They imagine that they must be possessed of certain feelings and qualifications to ensure their welcome, and that, till these are attained, it is presumptuous to think of advancing. But in what portion of his word does the Lord Jesus require such preparation? Nay, does not he invite the stout-hearted who are far from righteousness, and the scorners, who delight in scorning, to turn to him and live? Do you imagine that you must begin the work of salvation, and that then he will carry it on to perfection? Little does that man know of his own depravity and weakness, who thinks that he has the power to kindle one holy desire, or to form one heavenly purpose. It is the same almighty grace which perfects holiness that forms the first wish for it; and He alone who completes salvation can make the need of it to be duly felt. As well might we suppose that the first streaks of dawn proceed from the darkness of midnight, as that the first movements of piety originate in mere nature. It is from the sun, whose meridian glory fills nature with light and gladness, that they issue. As well might we imagine that the first buds of the spring proceed from the torpor and the desolations of winter, as that the first impressions of goodness arise from natural feelings, it is in the renovating power of the God of nature that these pledges of the summer's beauty take their rise; and to the God of grace must be ascribed the first meltings of contrition, and the first wish that is felt for mercy. Come to him, then, as you are; be willing that he should have all the glory of your salvation; and beseech him to work in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Some are kept from coming to Christ byitheir insensibility to their need of him. They suppose that conversion is necessary only Jo such as are grossly profligate, and
that their conduct has been so devout and so inoffensive, that they require no such change. But to Nicodemus, blameless as his character before men had been, our Lord said, " Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Think how deficient you have been in the best duties of charity — solicitous efforts for the salvation of your brethren; and where has been your delight in God, and your zeal for his glory—your joy in devout exercises, your desires after his image and Spirit, and your looking to things heavenly and eternal? Search your hearts, and try your ways, and you will find that your carnal minds are enmity against God; that the rules of devotion have been often neglected, or felt by you as a burden; that the prosperity of religion has been none of your cares; and that eternity has had no influence over you. You have been the slaves of the world, and as regardless of God as if he had no control over you and no charge for you. The stagnant pool, whose surface seems clear, needs only to be stirred to show its impurity; and, had the temptations been presented, corruptions in your hearts, of whose existence you were not aware, might have been made manifest to yourselves, and evil passions, which you have concealed from others under the guise of manners gentle and decorous, might have been discovered to the world in the language or the deeds of rancour and of profligacy. Implore the influences of that Spirit who shall convince the world of sin, that he may impress you with your urgent need of a Saviour, and that you may be excited to flee to him. The more you are affected with your guilt and your helplessness, the more welcome and precious will be his grace and salvation.
Some are kept from coming to Christ by the idea that they are too young to be urged to seek after salvation. They imagine that such serious concern mav well become those who are in danger of death, or who have for a long course of time sinned against the Lord, but is in them by no means so necessary. But do you think that the young have no need of a Saviour? Do not seek for your answer to this question in the praise of flatterers, the partiality of friends, or the estimate of vanity, but in the word of God. "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies. Childhood and youth are vanity." Has Christ no claims on youth? Does not