Imágenes de páginas

some, in the course of their nefarious gains, have been detected and put away with disgrace; but Mr. M.'s fidelity was such that never was a suspicion entertained as to any part of his management; and I saw it recorded as the opinion of one who had long been his superior, "that while in some departments they had been deceived, they had always found him accurate and trustworthy."

By the workmen he was beloved and revered. Though colliers are easily imposed on by the artful, and are apt to become tumultuous, they were calm and contented under his management. Such was their confidence in his goodness of heart and uprightness of intention, that his orders were obeyed without a murmur. He had no partialities to indulge, no prejudices to gratify, and no selfish plans to carry on. This confidence will appear the more honourable to him when it is considered that he had no plausibility of manner, and nothing of that cajolery which is thought essential to the dexterous management of the vulgar. He said little, but what he did say was firm, while it was mild in manner. Their anxious inquiries respecting him during his long illness, and their grie-f at his funeral, were honourable testimonies to his worth. It was the universal opinion that they never had a better master.

Of all the collieries which I have seen, those under his care presented the most gratifying appearance of improvement in the habits and in the condition of the workmen. He encouraged the sober and the industrious by marks of approbation, and laboured to promote among,them a taste for neatness and comfort in their dwellings, and for the reading of books suited to their sphere and capacity. It was truly delightful to see houses swept and garnished that used to be hideous for dirt and nakedness; and the time spent in profitable reading, instead of being occupied iri the excesses of brutish folly. Much remains to be done for the improvement of this class in society, and in it the interests of the community at large, as well as their own comfort, are deeply concerned.

He had considerable talents for business, and though slow was very steady and correct. There was a maxim to which he scrupulously adhered in his own practice, and to which he insisted that others under his direction should conform—that every thing should be done at the proper time and in the proper place. He never left

his duty for any recreation or festivity and such was his strict attention to it that when he was at last prevailed on to accept the office of the eldership it was on this express condition, that he should never be required to give such attendance at church courts as would call him away from the service of his employers.

Inoffensiveness was a leading feature in his character, and never did he, by his temper, language, or manners, excite the disgust, or wound the feelings, of any, and he was thus treated in return. Persons accustomed to speak to others in a haughty and domineering tone addressed him in civility and kindness; such is the power of meekness. Fierce passion has been checked by the sight of a smiling infant; burning wrath has been quenched by retiring to the stillness of nature, when nought was to be seen but the serene sky, and the plants opening quietly for the evening dew; and such has been the influence of the presence of a man whose mildness was known not to be the assumed manner of one that wished to deceive, but the genuine expression of gentleness and good will.

He was exemplary in his respect to all the offices of religion. He was never absent while in health from public worship; and while some in situations like his employ their Sabbath in posting their books or writing their letters, he never, even in the retirement of his family, nor even in the closet, executed any piece of secular business on that day. All that was required to be done was finished in due time on Saturday evening. He was sent for by the head manager of the works for which his colliers laboured on the Sabbath, to receive his commands, but he mildly stated his wish to be excused in future from any attendance on this day, and that as late as they pleased on Saturday evening, and as early on Monday morning, he was ready to serve them; and he was seldom troubled in that way afterwards. What makes this circumstance the more worthy of notice is the fact of his being a member of a dissenting congregation, which, in many cases, would have made him be thought a fit subject for the insolence and the taunts of office; but such was his weight of character that it never subjected him to a single animadversion. He laboured to promote among the colliers the sanctiftcation of the Lord's-day. In this point they are proverbially negligent. No person can pass through a village of colliers on

tie Sabbath without being shocked by seeing some of them lounging in groups before their doors in the same ragged and dirty state as they issued from their pits, and their looks and conversation indicating their utter indifference to holy wisdom. Mr. M. used to expostulate with those who acted thus stupidly and carelessly, and his pious and prudent efforts and example had considerable influence.

As a proof of his nobleness of feeling I ought to mention that for some years he was chief clerk to the manager of an extensive colliery, and that this person was represented to its proprietors as acting improperly in his trust; but though Mr. M. knew that if his master was dismissed the situation would be given to him, he firmly stood by him, and showed such statements of his proceedings as led to Viis complete vindication. That gentleman died soon after, and Mr. M. was called to take possession of his office and dwelling; and how different were the feelings with which he occupied them compared with what they would have been had he gained them by deserting a master and friend in the evil day!

He was characterized by submission to the will of God, and it was peculiarly tried by sickness and death in his family. He was twice married, and both of his wives died before him, and two of his children died of the same disease, and within a few hours of each other. After having laid one of them in the grave, as they were preparing to place the coffin of the other above that of his brother, his heart failed him, and he required to be supported by his friends. After the burst of nature was over, he said, "The will of the Lord be done!" He thought much, under this trial, on the conduct of Aaron on the death of his two sons by fire from the Lord; and said, "If Aaron held his peace when two of his sons were taken away by the avenging hand of God, why should I complain when mine have been taken from me in a mode common to man?"

He lost what was to him a considerable sum of money by the bankruptcy of one in whose hands he had lodged it; but wis circumstance, which with so many tails forth feeling and language bitter and vindictive, he meekly submitted to, and *as thankful that the sum was not greater. It is peculiarly trying to a man to lose ">e earnings of a laborious life," to which he had looked as the means of making Ms retirement in old age comfortable, and

of assisting his children in establishing themselves in the world; and it is still more so when his situation precludes all those speculations in which the success of one year may more than compensate the losses of another; but though all this was felt, it produced not even one abusive expression.

He was a very humble man, disliked all parade, and shunned, when it was in his power, marks of honour which were intended for him. When placed in a superior situation to that which he had before occupied his temper and manners were still the same, and his devotedness to business was as unremitted as ever. The change was felt in greater liberality to others, not in more indulgence to himself. His temper and conduct during his long illness discovered the reality and the power of religion. At its commencement he saw that it would be lingering and probably fatal, but he wished to leave himself, without solicitude, to the disposal of his God. In a letter which he sent to a son, who was from home, informing him of his illness, he says," What may be the issue I cannot tell, bat I will submit to the disposal of Him who has led and fed rue all my life long to this day." He had been accustomed to an active life, and was in his element when engaged in business, and on this account confinement must have been more painful to him; but he never uttered a murmur. As his illness advanced, and as the time of his departure seemed nigh, he was still calm and resigned. How beautiful is it to see the meek and quiet spirit, whose mildness was marked with delight amidst the varying scenes of life, placid, and unruffled in circumstances which seem adapted to agitate and to dispirit. These words of the 23rd Psalm were happily realised in the scenes through which God led him, and in the lowly and gentle dispositions in which he lived, suffered, and died: "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters." To him Jordan had no swellings, and before him the dark mountains of age rejoiced.

A person who called for him in his illness mentioned the good life he had led. This he did not relish; but remarked to one of his sons a little after that such language was fulsome to him, and that upon the footing of his own works no man could be justified. This was not the cant of a man who wished to depreaiate good works to screen the wickedness of his life from censure, or to repel the accusations of conscience, for he deeply felt the beauty of holiness, and gave all diligence to make his calling and election sure. He remarked to a friend how grateful he was to God that he had kept him from gross irregularities in his conduct in life, and that his last days were not embittered by reflections on the dishonour he had brought on religion, or the injuries he had done to others. The testimony of conscience is a valuable part of the happiness of a good man's end. Though the hope of every true Christian must rest on the same foundation, yet the reflections of a death-bed must vary in their influence; and he who must look back on the unhappy effects of his sins, though pardoned, cannot have the calm satisfaction which fills his breast who can say that he was kept from the pollutions of the world, and was enabled to spend youth and manhood in sobriety and uprightness.

It seemed peculiarly pleasant to him to think of the Lamb in the midst of the throne, and he spoke much to a religious visitant of the comfort to be derived from the exaltation of Christ, of his gentleness and kindness in his glory, and how delightful it was that he was so accessible that the poorest and the guiltiest might go to him with hope. At the footstool of that throne on which Christ sits humility wishes to kneel, hope to look up, patience to wait, and love to adore.

His pious concern about his family was strongly expressed, and often did he entreat his children to mind the one thing needful and to prepare for eternity. To one of them he said, "Let us be conversing about the world into which I shall soon enter—about the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." He regretted that he had not enjoyed more of such conversation. He charged his children to live a holy and pious life, and said, "I commit you all to the Redeemer. I hope to meet you in a better world. I charge you all to meet me at the right hand of the Judge. What a delightful thing will it be to meet there! I will look for this happiness." The idea of parting with any of his children is painful to a good man, even when he has the hope of meeting them again; but what a pang must it be to part with them for ever! Happy is the good man who has no cause for such apprehensions; and to those who have, it may be said, Your pangs in death shall be your last concern

ing them; and it is one of the wonders of the day of judgment that such separations shall be made without sorrow on the part of the good.

, The older branches of the family he enjoined to be peculiarly solicitous about the young. He had one son by his second wife, a little boy of eleven years of age, very sweet in his temper, his looks, and his manners. The beautiful words of Judah

about Benjamin were most applicable;

"He is the child of his old age; a little one: he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him." Yet he never manifested any indiscreet partiality to him, and the peculiar attentions paid to him by the members of the family, while they prove the amiable dispositions of the boy, show their solicitude to fulfil the wishes of their father's heart, and that in every one of them he shall find a father.

To a son of his who had been licensed to preach the gospel he said, " Serve God with your spirit in the gospel of his Son. I hope the Lord will make you useful." He had expended without a grudge a large sum of money on his education, was solicitous that nothing should be neglected which was requisite to make him respectable as a divine, and accomplished as a scholar; and though he lived not to see him fixed in any charge he never repined, nor did he ever wish that he had done less for him.

One Sabbath, after some of the family had returned from church, he made inquiry as to the subject of discourse. The text which had been illustrated that day was this one, " Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." His children repeated some things which their pastor had said; he then remarked, " I have had a long day of grace, long have I heard the joyful sound, the glad tidings of life and salvation have often been proclaimed to me, and I hope not altogether in vain. Oh, improve the day of grace while you enjoy it, and time while it is yours! Time will leave you as it is leaving me." One of his sons sitting by his side on a Sabbath, while the rest of the family were attending on public worship, asked him if he should read a little to him. He said, when a portion of Scripture had been read, "How many comfortable words are there in the Bible; they have often put gladness into my heart, and they are now my best support." When that text was read, "In my Father's house are many mansions," he said, "There may

be mansions there for you and me."

He was very grateful for the kind attentions of his family. He said, " I am putting you to some trouble at present; but it will not last long, and you will not become weary." He had a confidence in their filial piety which was never disappointed. It is a most admirable appointment of heaven that affection sweetens all the toils to which it calls. Thus the mother never complains of the toil to which she must submit in her love of her infant, nor the dutiful child of the ministrations required by day or by night to a dying parent. Such a child never thinks that too much can be done. There have been parents who have complained of neglect and unkindness in their old age and poverty; but in general this must be ascribed to some fault of their own, which, though it does not excuse the indifference of their children, renders it less surprising. An old man, lonely and squalid, complained to me of the inattention of all his children but one. He said that one of them, on whom he had expended a considerable sum, never entered his door, nor his wife, nor any of his children. "She was not kind to her own father, and I need not expect that she will show any kindness to me." Had the person who made this complaint been as sober as he ought, his situation in old age would have bsen more comfortable and respectable. In excesses of intoxication money was wasted which would have made his last days easy, and he had not aided his own father in his poverty and frailty as he ought to have done. On the night after he made this complaint he was seized with a fatar palsy, and was found in the morning lying senseless on the floor of his dwelling, and died in a few hours. How different is such a departure from that which affection blesses and mourns! The subject of this sketch was grateful for the mercy that was mixed with his affliction—that his disease was so moderate, that divine mercy supported him in his weak state, and that his wants were so abundantly supplied. He thanked God for his long course of health, the value of *bich sickness taught him to feel more 'tan ever. His mildness of manner continued to the last. He was glad to see h» friends and neighbours, and conversed *'th them as long as he was able. A 'Wot one day said to him, "You must tap up your spirits;" he replied, " I am not dejected; I have a lively hope." We ■w heard of the fool-hardiness Of th*

audacious, of the security of the ignorant* and of the calmness of the philosopher in death; but those are very different from the modest, enlightened, and steady tranquillity and cheerfulness of the good man. If nature hath its regrets, and penitence its tears, affection hath her smile, and gratitude her song.

I ought to mention his weanedness from the world. He never felt much solicitude about his lot; and when he heard of the superior emoluments and opportunities of bettering their circumstances enjoyed by some in offices like his, he would say, "God has chosen the lot of my inheritance, and I have advantages for comfort which they may not have." As long as he could he discharged his task, and when he was unable to do this he committed it to one of his sons. One day he sat up for a short time to make some arrangement about his worldly affairs, and when he had finished it lay down on his bed and said, "I have now done with earthly things, I wish now to cast away all worldly cares. My last sands are running in the glass; soon shall this mortal put on immortality." He was through life frugal, , but not mean or parsimonious; while some in situations like his live in a style of luxury and splendour unsuited to their income, and are turned away in disgrace, his mode of living was that which prudence dictated, and he carefully avoided all waste and show. Had he been anxious to be rich he could have died worth more, but the world never had his heart. In the accidents common in coal-works he was ever ready to sympathise with the sufferers, and to assist their families when they required it. He used the -world as not abusing it; and having got what he sometimes said was all his wish respecting it, " an honest thorough bearing, he looked for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

He had no raptures of religious joy in his illness. There are some tempers so calm that it is rarely that you find them in a state of elevation and transport, and •what would raise the ardent and the sanguine to extasy, humbles them more than ever in self-denial and in awe. His evening was like his day, calm and sweet, and it had its dews from the Lord. He had comfort which the quietness of his temper led him to conceal; and the language which he uttered pointed more to what he wished than to what he enjoyed. He readily improved every occurrence, and every text presented to him for the ot> citenient of holy desire. One night when some of his family were retiring to rest, and expressing their wish that he might get some refreshing sleep, he said, "Oh, that I may rest in the arms of the Almighty! He is a refuge from the storm and a covert from the tempest!'' One of his sons said, "They are safe who have the Lord for their God;" and he replied," Oh, yes; may we all be found under the covering of the Redeemer's righteousness! There we shall be safe for time and safe for eternity."

Such was this faithful and wise steward. At the appointed seasons he gave in his account of his stewardship to men and never was found wanting. It was a high proof of the confidence of his employers that when they quitted the coal-work over which he had been stationed they did not dismiss him, saying that they had no more employment for him, but gave him a similar situation, in another quarter, with equal emolument Such is the encouragement which Providence gives to fidelity and diligence in our secular trust. The call hath been addressed to him by his Master in heaven, " Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer steward;' and we trust that it hath been given with joy, and that to him his Lord hath said, " Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

This sketch of modest worth, drawn from real life, has, I trust, been felt interesting by those who have been viewing it; and let each of us form the purpose of fidelity in our respective situations, and let it be a fidelity maintained and animated by those principles of holy obligation which the gospel reveals. Such integrity hath better results than public confidence, even inward peace now, and the testimony of the Judge of all hereafter. Let none say, my charge is too insignificant for my care; for God has allotted it, and will require its account. He marks what poverty does with its mite, as well as what wealth does with its talent—and the toils of solitary industry, as well as the labours of him on whom the public attention is fixed. Oh, let the importance of that committed to our trust impress our consciences at present, for the time will come when its weight will crush the heart now careless in regret and despair! And let us ask the aids of divine grace, for without it we shall fail in the humblest task, but with it we shall occupy the most difficult with comfort, doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God. It is to such characters that the pious delight to bear testimony, as Nehemiah did to Hananiah, of whom this is the only memorial—and who would wish for more ?—" He was a faithful man, and feared God above many."

A Lover of Good Men.


The very interesting and solemn letter in the last number of this Magazine, addressed to the Independent Churches, could scarcely fail of exciting in the minds of most of its readers sensations of the deepest seriousness. The voice of the Lord does indeed cry aloud to this nation; and happy will it be if its language is heard, and the people turn unto God. There is, however, one class of the readers of this Magazine, by whom the signs of the times must be regarded with peculiar emotion; we refer to those who are in the morning of life, and especially to such as feel their own interests identified with the prosperity of the cause of Christ. Without professing an ability to unfold the volume of prophecy, or to

understand the bearing of present events, since, from their recent entrance on the scene of observation, they "know but in part," they cannot but feel that they live at an important crisis; they hear those who have long occupied prominent stations as watchmen on the walls of Zion, declare that the "present era is pregnant with great events," and that their " pointings are ominous"—pestilence is making its inroads in our land—men's hearts are failing them for fear — and many are anxiously enquiring, " What shall the end of these things be?"

At such a crisis, will our young friends receive, through the medium of this publication, an earnest and affectionate appeal regarding the duties and dispositions

« AnteriorContinuar »