« AnteriorContinuar »
to us all, and the Lord invites ns to ascend. Do not think that what the Lord wrought in the early saints cannot be wrought in jou, It is because you think so that you do not pray for it, and because you do not pray for it you do not attain it. The grace of God sustained the apostles, that grace is not less to-day than it was then. The Lord's arm is not shortened ; his power is not straitened. If we can but believe, and be as earnest as those first saints were, we shall subdue kingdoms yet, and the day 6hall come when the gods of Hindooism, and the falsehoods of Mohammed, and the lies of Rome, shall as certainly be overthrown as were the ancient philosophies and the classic idolatries of Greece and Rome by the teaching of the first ministers of Christ. There is the same table for you, and the same food is there in emblem, and grace can make you like those holy men, for you are bought with the same blood, and quickened by the same Spirit. Believe only, for all things are possible to him that believeth.
Another inference, only to be hinted at, is this—that the wants of the Church in all ages will be the same, and the supplies for the Church's wants will never vary. There will be the table still, and the table with the same viands upon it—bread still, nothing more than bread for food; wine still, nothing less than wine for drink. The church will always want the same food, the same Christ, the same gospel. Oat on ye, traitors, who tell us that we are to shape our gospel to suit this enlightened nineteenth century! Out on ye, false-hearts, who would have us tone down the everlasting truth that shall outlive the sun, and moon, and stars, to suit your boasted culture, which is but varnished ignorance! No, that truth which of old was mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, is mighty still, and we will maintain it to the death! The church wants the doctrines of grace to-day as much as when Paul, or Augustine, or Calvin preached them; the church wants justification by faith, the substitutionary atonement, and regeneration, and divine sovereignty to be preached from her pulpits as much as in days of yore, and by God's grace she shall have them too.
Lastly, there is in this truth, that Christ has brought all his disciples into the position of table-companions, a prophecy that this sliall be the portion of all his people for ever. In heaven there cannot be less of privilege than on earth. It cannot be that in the celestial state believers will be degraded from what they have been below. What were they, then, below? Table-companions. What shall they be in heaven above? Table-companions still, and bleEsed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. "Many shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God," and the Lord Jesus shall be at the head of the table. Now, what will his table of joy be? Set your imagination to work, and think what will be his festival of soul when his reward shall be all before him and his triumph all achieved. Have ye imagined it? Can ye conceive it? Whatever it is, you shall share in it. I repeat those words—whatever it is, the least believer shall share in it. You, poor working-woman—oh! what a change for you, to sit among princes, near to your Lord Jesus, all your toil and want for ever ended! And yon, sad child of suffering, scarcely able to come up to the assembly of God's people, and going back, perhaps, to that bed of languishing again—yon shall have no pains there, hut you shall he for ever with the Lord, and the joy of Christ shall he your joy for ever and ever! Oh! can you not realise those words of Dr. Watts :—
"Yes, and before we rise
In the anticipation of the joy that shall he yours, forget you present troubles, rise superior to the difficulties of the hour, and if you cannot rejoice in the present, yet rejoice in the future, which shall so soon be your own.
We finish with this word of deep regret—regret that many here cannot understand what we have been talking about, and have no part in it. There are some of you who must not come to the table of communion because you do not love Christ. You have not trusted him ; you have no part in him. There is no salvation in sacraments. Believe me, they are but delusions to those who do not come to Christ with their heart. You must not come to the outward sign if you have not the thing signified. Here is the way of salvation—believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. To believe in him is to trust him; to use an old word it is recumbency ; it is leaning on him; resting on him. Here I lean, I rest my whole weight on this support before me; do so with Christ in a spiritual sense: lean on him. You have a load of sin, lean on him, sin and all. You are all unworthy, and weak, and perhaps miserable, then cast on him—the weakness, the unworthiness, the misery and all. Take him to be all in all to you, and when you have thus trusted him, you will have become his follower; go on by humiliy to be his disciple, by obedience to be his servant, by lore to be his friend, and by communion to be his table companion.
The Lord so lead you, for Jesus' sake.
YORKSHIRE FARMER, AND "TRAVELLING LOCAL PREACHER."
BY J. L. KEYS.
[paet n.] kNE cause, among others, which doubtless contributed to Mr. Dawson's
popularity, was the freshness with which he invested the entire service by the fertility of his imagination and his aptitude to illustrate the old familiar histories and doctrines of the word read or preached, or the sentiment of the hymn to be sung. He was not content with the orthodox style of the day in conducting the "preliminary services," as the exercises of praying, reading, and singing are sometimes contemptuously called. Most of us remember that style—a long chapter read in a sepulchral tone, or with a tincture of pulpit whine in it; the hymn "given out" by some utterly incompetent "clerk;" while the man of the hour
sat stately and solemn, conning his notes, or turning over and over
'True, 'tis n strait and thorny road,
and enquired, 'Why do they tire?' Is it because it is 'strait and thorny?' No—
'But they forget the mighty God,
Thus gliding into the succeeding lines without suffering the congregation to feel any interruption by the break, while he furnished them with a subject for reflection, showing them that they should 'sing with the understanding.'
On another occasion he announced the two hundred and fourth hymn. A number of musical instruments being in use in the services, and each performer evidently bent on attracting attention, he turned suddenly round to the orchestra, on coming to the fifth verse, and with a mixture of holy jealousy for his God and fear on account of the persons engaged, exhorted them with a rebuking eye, to guard against the evils to which they were exposed; and then slowly and gracefully turning to the assembly, he said in an earnest plaintive tone, and with an expression of pity in his countenance,—' 0 friends! pray for them—pray for them—for they are in danger!' proceeding with the verse,—
'Still let us on our guard be found,
With sacred jealousy;
In this way he showed the depth of his piety, being anxious to preserve the spirit of public worship in all its simplicity, purity, and power. At another time, at Colne, during a period of great commercial distress, when the spirits of the people were depressed, he commenced the service by saying, as he opened the hymn-book,—" When I am engaged in preaching occasional sermons, I am often presented with a number of notes containing different announcements. After reading them I put them into my pocket, where they sometimes inconveniently accumulate, till I reach home. Going into the fields, I sometimes take them out and look at them, to see whether any of them are worth preserving. I read one; not being worth anything I tear it into fragments;—up comes a breeze, and away the shreds fly;—I look at a second, a third, a fourth, and a fifth,—tear them and scatter them in the same way." "While he was narrating this little incident, imitating himself by putting his hand into his waistcoat pocket, as if reading, tearing, and scattering, —the congregation meanwhile on their feet waiting for the hymn, and wondering what the relation might mean,—with the shreds of paper drifting like flakes of snow in the imagination across the field, he suddenly adverted to the depressed state of the trade of the place, directed his hearers to an overruling providence, exhorted them to exercise confidence in God, gliding into the hymn, announcing, with the number of the hymn and page—
'Give to the winds thy fears;
Hope, and be undismayed;
Through waves, and clouds, and storms,
The effect was overpowering; and the sermon being of an encouraging character, the whole had a permanently soothing influence on the minds of devout persons, who were exhorted, as he had done the flying shreds, to ' give to the winds their fears.'"
He was equally striking when he referred to hymns, as illustration?, in the course of his sermons. Adverting to the fourth verse of hymn five hundred and ninety-nine, he observed, that a boy, weak in mind, was asked, while rubbing a brass plate on a door, what he was doing? when he replied, " I am rubbing out the name." "Little," said Mr. Dawson, "was the poor boy aware that the more he rubbed the brighter it shone. So it is with Satan, who wishes to obliterate the word of God from the memory, as well as every impression of its internal evidence from the understanding and from the heart. But," continued he, in holy triumph,—
'Engraved as in eternal brass,
Then shouting amain, as if the chief fiend of hell were as idiotic as the poor boy, and engaged in the same useful employment, 'Hub, devil—rnb! but all is vain; the evidence only brightens by the attempt; for of the Lord—yes, of the Lord may it be said—
'His hand hath writ the sacred word
Who could repress a smile at the grotesqueness of this illustration; and who, on the other hand, does not see that in the speaker's mind there may have been an entire absence of any design to divert his hearers; while, in a style peculiarly his own, he gave utterance to his heart's deep loyalty and love to the dear old Book, and its unfaltering faith in the exceeding great and precious promises. Well might the common pecple hear him gladly.
Scattered here and there in the pages of Mr. Everett's hook, are short fragmentary passages from Mr. Dawson's sermons, but the ministerial reader is left without the means of judging of his abilities as a sermon maker, which a few well-chosen outlines might have afforded. Perhaps good Mr. Everett had so frequently heard his brethren in the ministry, in Conference assembled, pray, "Lead us not into temptation," that he felt moved to consign all such precious manuscripts to oblivion. For the gratification of any very original brother, who, of course, will not be likely to fall into the snare we have hinted at, we hereby inform him that we once saw in a public library a volume containing thirteen of "Dawson's Sermons;" date, 1860; in which there is a very short and imperfect sketch of Mr. Dawson by Mr. R. A. "West, who had frequent opportunities of hearing him preach. He gives the following description of Mr. Dawson's outer man :—
"I first heard Mr. Dawson from the pulpit in the year 1828. His apparel and demeanour struck me as unclerical. True, he wore a black coat and vest, and a white neck-cloth; but his lower extremities were incased in a pair of drab breeches, and he wore what are technically called 'top boots,' such as are, and were at that time, universally worn in England by substantial farmeis as apart of their Sunday or marketday attire. He crossed the floor of the chapel on his way to the pulpit, with a rolling gait, as though he were traversing a ploughed field, with a hand in each pocket of his drabs, half whistling, half humming the air of a good old Methodist tune. Of this he was apparently unconscious, for his eyes were turned downward in a reverie, and he seemed shut in from all surrounding objects. In all my subsequent knowledge of him I never saw a repetition of the mood."
A writer whose particular vocation was to besmirch the reputation of popular preachers in general, and the most gracious and useful in particular,—himself, by the way, the most highly desiccated of the Dr. Dry-as-dust school who ever inflicted a sermon upon us, classes Dawson as one of " those who in every denomination occasionally spring up, preaching with eccentricity enough, and drollery enough, to afflict the church and to amuse the world." He knows better now: we believe he has joined William Dawson and many of his spiritual children in the better land, where " he now admires what here he spurned ;" for over his mortal remains "dust to dust" has appropriately been pronounced.
It is quite possible that in so long a course of public ministry there were incidents which would "amuse the world," a very dreadful thing to do, no doubt; and, what is even more dreadful, there may besome sinners in the church who would be willing to suffer the infliction of a few anecdotes illustrative of Mr. Dawson's easy method of amusing the said world and afflicting the church; and, when they have heard the worst, will pronounce it a "light affliction," and be ready to pray the Lord to raise up many more such, whose words may fill the mouth ot his people with laughter and their tongues with singing. But now to our anecdotes. ,
"Preaching on the returning prodigal, Mr. Dawson paused, looked at the door, and shouted out, after he had depicted him in his wretchedness, 'Yonder he comes, slipshod! Make way—make way—make way,