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In the third place, no Periodical extant has done so much as the Evangelical Magazine to cheer the widows and orphans of faithful ministers. To our beloved brethren in the ministry, therefore, we make our confident appeal. Nor do we merely request that they will continue their wonted aid. We even look to them for an increased effort, and venture, with affection, to say that it is their duty to recommend it to the attention of their friends, both in private and public. Never, up to the present moment, have the Trustees refused to relieve a single case that came within the rules of distribution; but widows have so much multiplied of late years, from the vast increase of faithful labourers, that, unless our clerical brethren, in town and country, do their duty, in the way of pressing the peculiar and tender claims of the work upon the attention of their several congregations, the Trustees cannot hope to be any longer able to state that they have never refused one authentic and suitable case.
In urging what they venture to call the conscientious grounds of continued attachment to this Magazine, the Trustees have no wish whatever to depreciate the merits of any other periodical extant; nor have they any sympathy with those who would check that eager spirit of religious inquiry which distinguishes the present age. Their sole aim is to show, by solid arguments, that, whatever other periodicals their friends may place on their tables, they ought not, in a single instance, to discontinue the Evangelical Magazine.
In closing these remarks, the Trustees cannot but call to remembrance the solemn fact, that the year which has just closed has been one of intense interest to all the nations of the civilized world. A mysterious disease, which has hitherto baffled all medical skill, after having swept its desolating career over the fairest portions of Asia and Europe, at last reached our own shores, and filled all hearts with terror and dismay. The people have been roused to thoughtfulness; churches and chapels have been crowded with attentive worshippers; united prayers have been presented to heaven; and God has been pleased to listen to the cry of his servants, and to say to the devouring pestilence, "Thus far shalt thou come, and no farther." May this instance of divine judgment humble us for our sin, and may God's answer to the prayer of his servants stimulate them to call upon his holy name as long as they live!
The Trustees of this Magazine would not forget that the venerable man by whom it was superintended for more than the space of twenty years has recently been called to his eternal reward.* But they are persuaded, from what they knew of his views and feelings in reference to this work, that he would very cordially have united in most of the remarks contained in this address. May his holy and devout walk be imitated by those who have entered into his labours! And may it be found, in the day of the Lord, that, amidst the agencies which it has pleased Almighty God to employ, for the extension of divine knowledge, this Periodical has held an important and undisputed rank!
* The Rev. George Burder.
FOR JANUARY, 1832.
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. THOMAS LAIRD,
OF PUDSEV, YORKSHIRE.
In the walks of biography it is no unusual thing to meet with exhibitions of character on which flattery has been employed with an unsparing hand. The writer of this article has no intention of forming a panegyric; besides his disinclination to appear in such a light, the humility which so visibly distinguished the subject of the memoir which he has in contemplation would preventhim from making the attempt. Could the voice of our deceased brother be heard, he would say, "Spare your encomiums; 1 have been an unprofitable servant. Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy and thy truth's sake."
Thomas Laird was born at Boltonle-Moors, on the 28th of February, 1761. His parents belonged to the middle classes of society. The following account, left among his papers—which has been transcribed by another hand, but which has received his own corrections (probably at his entrance into the academy), adapting it to the occasion
on which it was ultimately delivered—contains, perhaps, the clearest description of his early life that can be furnished.
"In infancy I had remarkable concern of mind arising from affecting thoughts of the day of judgment, eternity, and the soul's immortality, which were occasioned, as I think, by the instructions given me by a tender parent. Also, when young, I was assaulted with and laboured under uncommon temptations, which rendered my life very uncomfortable during the time they lasted. Satan was permitted to go a great length in distressing my mind with horrible and strong suggestions, but as their effect proved them not to be evangelical I forbear to insert them. 1 had a strong propensity to mischief and play; in the practice of the former I scarcely had an equal, and counted it one of my chief delights. I pursued vanities with greediness, even with increasing intenseness, until they seemed to lose their sweetness on account of the remorse that followed them; and my delights began to decline because conscience testified and remonstrated against them, so that I could not be easy. 1 thought my case singular, and envied my associates, thinking them more happy than myself. I went to places of worship just as inclination or company led, all being alike estimable in my case. However, there seemed to be something different in the preaching of Mr. Wraith (the Dissenting minister), although I could not account for it. Still I was not
happy, not knew what could make me so. I changed my recreation several times; but all was ineffectual to produce tranquillity of mind and peace of soul. I loved to hear Mr. Wraith preach, and have gone with my companions to the church door, then left them and returned to hear him. I was brought to give attention to the word with a degree of pleasure; and my knowledge thereof increasing, I saw that to be quite wrong in which I before thought there was little or no evil.
"In consequence of that I left off breaking the Sabbath, to the wonder of my companions, who often told me on Monday evening the pleasure they enjoyed on that preceding. 1 became more intent upon hearing the gospel, giving more attention to it, and embracing more opportunities for hearing it. When I was in company with my companions I was not as usual; instead of complying with them in their sinful ways, I exhorted them to a reformation of life and practice. My conversation was disagreeable to them, and a total separation took place.
"The salvation of my soul was my greatest concern. I saw the vanity of my former course of life, and bewailed the loss of so much precious time; and in the use of appointed means of grace I received comfort and hope. Grace excited me to be diligent in waiting upon God, and made me to delight in all his statutes and ordinances. I found new dispositions wrought in me;—I saw an ungodly life to be odious and pernicious, and the contrary to be delightful and reasonable, attended with happy and lasting consequences. It was the joy of my soul to think, read, or talk about the Saviour. I was enabled to turn my back on the world, and to resolve to live and (if called) to suffer with the people of God. I now became a wonder to our family and neighbourhood, having formerly been injurious to both. I took delight in hearing divine things spoken of; hence it was that for many months I heard four or five sermons on the Sabbath, and several on the week-days. I both heard and read the Calvinistic and Arminian doctrines, and it was some time before I coincided with the former. My doubts occasioned a diligent and close inspection into myself, for I was more afraid of falling away than any thing else. It was constantly matter of prayer that I might do honour to Christ's cause and continue firm to the end; and I found my motives were good, for I sought not the praise of men nor worldly gain, nor was I actuated by fear of hell and punishment, but by a real concern for the glory of God and the good of his church; and my views being quite altered, and my affections
Sliced on quite different objects, and my elight in quite different things, hence my joy remains and continues to increase to the present day. My grtatest and, indeed, my
only delight is in the glorious gospel. I am concerned for the world lying in sin and wickedness; and can truly pity the poor abandoned wretch who is an utter stranger to the blessings which I enjoy. I have heard the joyful sound constantly for about four years and a half, and that with increasing delight; for the comfort I have had the two last years exceeds all that I have enjoyed before; but never had I more of the doctrine contained in Romans, from the seventh chapter to the end of the epistle, than in the twelve preceding months.
"With respect to the ministry, ever since I felt the power and tasted the sweetness of the gospel, I have had a prevailing inclination to it; but judging the thought vain and presumptuous I long attempted to quench the increasing flame, seeing no probability of having my desire for it granted; but being assured that the Lord is a powerful and sovereign God, I committed the affair to him by prayer—not doubting but that if he intends me for the work he will open a way in providence and bring me forth. About three quarters of a year ago a person who preaches the gospel told me that serious young men, who inclined to engage in studies with a view to the ministry, were much wanted, and asked my thoughts upon it. Conscious of my insufficiency I concealed them at the time, but told him afterwards that I had a strong and increasing inclination."
He was admitted into the academy at Northowram, under the tuition of the Rev. S. Walker, in the month of October, 1782, where he spent four years. His education, in the first years of life, had been neglected, and his academic advantages did not much tend to supply the deficiency.
He had been accustomed to keep a diary for about two years when at home, and at the academy he pursued the same practice, which was continued after he had left Northowram, till he settled at Pudsey, in 1792. In the year 1787 he supplied Skipton, then vacant, and, in 1788, he received an invitation to settle at Keighley, which he accepted; and, on Sept. 4th, in that year, he was ordained pastor of the Independent church in that place. In assigning his reason for undertaking the work of the ministry, he expresses himself thus,—