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he said, Who am I, O Lord God ? and what is my house, that Thou hast brought me hitherto ? And this was yet a small thing in Thy sight, O Lord God; but Thou hast spoken also of Thy servant's house for a great while to come.”
We are instructed to pray “ for all that are in authority.” Let us continually do so : “ That it may please Thee to bless and keep the magistrates, giving them grace to execute justice, and to maintain truth. We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.” Amen.
MEMORIAL SKETCH OF MR. WILLIAM HARRISON ROBERTS, OF STANNINGLEY, NEAR LEEDS.
BY THE REV. JOSEPH RHODES (A). The Christian homes of our country furnish many illustrations of the good that may be accomplished in one short life : but it would be difficult to find a brighter example than the subject of this Sketch.
WILLIAM HARRISON ROBERTS was born at Stanningley, in the Bramley Circuit, February 16th, 1852, and by the grace of God, for twenty years set forth, with extraordinary clearness, the blessed advantages of a religious training. His bodily constitution was remarkably strong, so as to foster the reasonable hope that he would be blessed with long life in this world—a hope which has been mysteriously cut off.
His earliest ideas were mixed with thoughts of “Jesus and His love.” The days of infancy were prayerfully watched by one who thought it wise to sow the “good seed” before the tares of a corrupt nature had time to spring. The result signally proved that the promptings of that mother's heart were right. Well would it be for the Christian Church if all the mothers of England would do “likewise.” She prayed that before and above everything her boy might be good. And because of the prayers and tears of that early seed-time, he brought forth in the Spring of life, not leaves or blossoms merely, but “fruits of righteousness” such as the cultivated soil of a genuine Christian heart can alone produce. While very young, Gospel truth took a strong hold upon him, and the first impulses of his soul after God were carefully encouraged. The great Master Builder laid the foundations of his beautiful and noble character in the quiet chamber, at the family altar, in the Sabbath-school and the sanctuary.
At the age of ten he left home for school. Though always of a playful and joyous disposition, yet his amiable and consistent conduct attracted much attention. During a revival of religion in the school and neighbourhood he received deeper impressions, and began to meet in Class. There can be no doubt, from his frequent declarations in after years, that he was then truly converted. Through a short period of carelessness, however, he lost the blessing ; but at fourteen years of age he became once more deeply convinced of sin. It was no effervescence of superficial emotion, but an intelligent and spiritual perception of the truth, followed by "works meet for repentance.” While in this state, under a sermon preached in the Wesleyan chapel, Stanningley, by Mr. Bretherick, he was made happy in the assurance that his sins were forgiven. From that hour to his death, he adorned the doctrine of God his Saviour in all things.
Some people act as though the service of God had nothing to do with the market, the office or the workshop. Not so William Roberts. His religion was a living reality; he was in the habit of doing the least thing as in the sight of God. He was hourly under the influence of the mightiest moral power
that can form the character of man. To our young brother, the Class-meeting was a privilege most highly prized. His experience was given in clear, original and forceful language, such as ever filled his Leader and his Class-mates with admiration for him, and tearful gratitude to God. His utterances are still frequently referred to as the means of blessing to many.
With grateful satisfaction his parents watched the workings of the Holy Spirit as manifested in his daily life. They were seen in his choice of amusements, the constant sunshine of his countenance, and the punctuality and faithfulness with which he attended to every duty. They were ascertained too by means of a practice which had a large share in the development of his character: with unreserved and loving confidence he frequently poured into his mother's ear a full expression of the innermost feelings of his heart. Those were blissful moments when mother and son privately talked of Jesus and knelt together at His feet. Here in times of temptation William received counsel and strength that led to more than conquest.
Why should we not have more of this in Christian homes? Why should religion be carefully kept out from private and social conversation ? It is the fashion in some Christian families never to speak of Jesus in the home circle. There are mothers who know no more of their children's hearts than the remotest stranger. But this is a great loss both to parent and child. If parents would take their children more frequently to the throne of grace, and by private, judicious and tender inquiry, inspire a loving confidence, how much less of sorrow and ruin there would be in the world! In this respect the subject of our Sketch was highly privileged, and by God's grace he was enabled to take full advantage of it.
At sixteen years of age he left school for business. In every department of work, in the world and the Church, his strong faith was shown by his works. Without the least ostentation, it was wonderful how brightly Christian principle shone through all his business transactions. Never in haste, his work was always done, well done, and at the right time. He was a pattern of diligence, and a model in the spirit as well as the method of his work. Affable and kind to all, his hold on superiors and subordinates was alike irresistible, In all his father's business circles, both in Leeds and London, he was loved and honoured for his straightforwardness and unwavering integrity.
He quickly sprang into the healthy activity of Christian manhood. The reason of such early maturity is easily explained. From the time of his conversion he loved his Bible, and never neglected closet prayer. The writer well remembers his punctual attendance at a Bible-class, in which he showed the liveliest interest. He took great care in the preparation of answers to Bible questions and joined in special prayer for the conversion of every one in the class. He was thus furnished with qualifications for Sabbath-school work, upon which he entered with the utmost energy and zeal. Every book likely to help in winning the children for Jesus he carefully sought and studied. No one can look over his private library without being deeply impressed with the conviction that this young servant of God did not seek for himself amusement, so much as profit and power to do good. He became secretary of the Sunday-school, manager of the Juvenile Missionàry Society, secretary for the Stanningley“ British Workman,” and president of the Mechanics’ Institụte. His efforts never flagged; and in the management of everything he undertook, he has left the mark of his peculiar tact and thoroughness.
In self-denial and prayer he followed the example of Daniel. Every approach to youthful extravagance and self-indulgence was carefully guarded against. In consequence of this his life was all the more filled with cheerful enjoyment. It was his habit to retire after each meal for pr er. This was especially noticeable after a meeting held to welcome the Rev. John Rossell to the Bramley Circuit. Mr. Rossell urged all the members of the Society to meet each other at the Throne of Grace every day at noon to pray for a blessing on the Circuit. William Roberts, with others, entered into an engagement to comply with this request, and most faithfully did he remember it. What the results may be eternity alone will disclose, yet it is instructive and encouraging to learn that in eighteen months from that time the number of members in the Circuit went up from four hundred and ninety-seven to six hundred and nineteen, with more than one hundred on trial.
April 5th, 1873, will long be remembered in Stanningley as a day of wonder and excitement. Almost miraculously William and his brother were saved from sudden death. The former was fond of saddle exercise and had for a long time been proficient in the management of his horse. But on this day his brother was placed upon the old and favourite pony, while William rode one which had been recently bought. His brother lost command of his horse, fell, and with his foot in the bridle was dragged at great speed along the road for a considerable distance, with his head on the ground. Anxious only to save the life of his brother, William dashed on. His horse ran with full force against the shaft of a wagon which stood in the way, and was almost instantly killed. William was thrown several yards, yet fell on his hands and feet without injury. He had no thought for himself, but rose immediately, and by God's mercy saved his brother from death. With full hearts their family and friends gave glory to God.
It was scarcely a year after this remarkable deliverance that a severe cold brought on the disease which terminated in his death. In six months his manly, stalwart form was wasted to a shadow. During his illness he manifested the most perfect resignation to the Divine will. On one occasion he said to the writer, “ Business was getting a very strong hold of me, and I feared lest it should in the least weaken my hold on Christ. So I asked the Lord to take me fully into His hands, to deal with me as He saw fit: provided only, that I should not depart from the living God. I cannot murmur. He knows what is best, both for myself and those I love. He knows too what is most for His glory. I should like to live and work for Him, but He gives me the power to say, ' Not my will, but Thine, be done.'”
Two days before he died he balanced his accounts. Examining his private cash-book, he told his parents what he desired to be done, with as much calm precision as though he were preparing for an ordinary journey. The practical sympathies of his life were strong in death. He had worked and prayed for the conversion of the world, and now that he was about to leave it, he wished to add to those many prayers a last Amen! in the form of a suitable donation to the Wesleyan Missionary Society. He had ever shown the utmost tenderness for the widow and the orphan, and now with unaffected love and genuine simplicity of purpose, he requested that a £5 note should be given to each widow connected with the Church in Stanningley he loved so well.
A short time before his death he asked his father if there would be room for him in the family vault. But almost immediately added, “ Well, never mind the body, there is plenty of room where the soul is going !” He enjoyed a settled peace, a strong confidence in Jesus that never faltered. His last words were in answer to his father's inquiry if his prospects were bright. With an emphasis that spoke of perfect victory he replied, “O yes!” And when he had said this he fell asleep, August 24th, 1874. He died, as he lived, in the clear light of God's favour, reminding those who knew him best of our Saviour's words,“ Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."
On the day of the funeral the mills of the village were stopped and hundreds thronged the road watching with tearful eyes the mournful procession. The chapel was crowded in every part, while the solemn service was conducted by the Rev. John Rossell. A gracious influence attended his words as he spoke of the departed, in language never to be forgotten. The whole district had sustained a loss which was everywhere felt.
It is not often that the death of one so young—but twenty-two years of age—moves a multitude to tears, and leaves them with a sense of personal loss. But of young or old it is equally true,"The memory of the just is blessed.”
AUTHORS OF THE NEW HYMNS IN THE WESLEYAN
BY THE REV. JABEZ MARRAT.
MICHAEL BRUCE, though one of the in extreme age, having received a lesser stars of literature, shines with few pounds from admirers of her a pure and beautiful light. His deceased son, she was seen going genius, his piety, his struggles with through the village with a basket poverty, and his early death, give a on her arm filled with small loaves. pathetic interest to bis history. He When asked by an acquaintance was born in the year 1746, at Kin- what she was about, she replied : nesswood, a village on a declivity “When heaven is raining so plentiof the Lomond Hills. His father, fully upon me, I may ay let twa or Alexander Bruce, was a weaver, and three draps fa' on my puir neighhis labours at the loom afforded him bours.” but a scanty livelihood. The words Michael received his first instrucinscribed on many old grave-stones tion from his father, and was able in Scotland, “ Ane honest man,' to read the easier chapters of the might be appropriately applied to Bible when only four years old. him, for he was never known to be When he went to the parish school guilty of any act that contravened the master was surprised to find the laws of Christian morality. him so far advanced, and was soon Notwithstanding his humble circuni- proud of him as one of his best stances he was highly esteemed by scholars. But the boy's attendance his neighbours, was elected to elder- at school was interrupted by the ship in the church of which he was poverty of his parents, who in the a member, and was able to impart summer months hired him to the such instruction to the sick and farmers to herd cattle on the dying that his visits were eagerly | Lomond Hills. To most lads this welcomed by them.
His mind was
would have been a wearisome occustored with useful information, and pation ; they would have been in the evening his house was resorted impatient for the hour to come when to by the youths of the parish who they could rejoin their companions wished for a higher kind enter- in the village. But Michael, with tainment than could be found in the a book from his father's little library, street or the tavern. Many years listening to the cuckoo in the thicket after his death, aged men acknow- and the lark in the blue sky, or ledged their indebtedness to him gazing on the wide sweep of land for modes of thought and expression and water, was happy in the solitude. which distinguished them from The beautiful poem in which he others of their own rank in life. pictured Lochleven and the surThe poet's mother had a mind of rounding scenery is a record of the homelier cast, but was not wanting impressions he received when emin the graces of a godly womanhood. ployed as a herd-boy.
a herd-boy. Poetry, She looked “well to the ways of though at that time inarticulate, her household,” and as far as she kindled in his heart as he stood on had the means was a cheerful giver a siope of the Lomonds and looked to those poorer than herself. When on the lake variegated with pleasant