Page images
PDF
EPUB

nemt manner, the wisdom and power of God to the salvation of lost souls.

As this was a new erected parish, and Mr. Guthrie the first pastor of it, the people had been very much neglected, and had not enjoyed the means of grace with that ease and advantage which others were favoured with: the melan. choly effects whereof, were evidently discernible in the rudeness and gross ignorance of many of them; and, consequently, in a too general neglect of God and religion.

But under all these disadvantages, that heavenly zeal for the glory of his great master, which animated the labours of this excellent minister, his fervent love to the souls of men dying in their sins, and his holy wisdom and diligence in reclaiming and instructing them, were so honoured in God, and accompanied with the powerful influences of his Holy Spirit, that in a little time a noble change was wrought upon a barbarous multitude ; they were almost all persuaded to attend the public ordinances, to set up and maintain the stated worship of God in their fam. ilies; and scarce was there a house in the whole parish that did not bring forth some fruits of his ministry, and afford some real converts to a religious life. And thus he was made the instrument of many notable triumphs of victorious grace, which Jesus Christ leads over the souls of obstinate transgressors, when he turns them from their ways, and subdues the people’under him. And what can be more worthy of everlasting remembrance than such glorious achievements in the spiritual warfare, and successful battles with the implacable enemy of the happi. ness of mankind, and the kingdom oftheir Maker? which will one day shine with an eternal lustre, and be celebrated with louder and more lasting acclamations of an endless world, than the fading honour of an earthly diadem, orthe bravest actions and most finished victory of any of the heroes of war, who make now such noise and bustle upon the stage; and how little needed the man we are nowspeaking oftoenvythe dazzling pompandshow ofthis earth, or to be desirous of its richest treasures ? He possessed another portion, since almost every family in his parish, however little and obscure, afforded a shining ornament for that divine crown of glory and rejoicing, which shall be beautified with the lustre of an eternal excellency and be, by the triumphant King of the church, bestowed upon all those who have turned many unto righteousness.

Mr. Guthrie was possessed of all these qualities which became a' minister of the gospel ; and, being accompanied by the powerful influences of divine grace, gave a happy prospect of uncommon success : for, besides his excellent endowments which were discovered in the pulpit, he was eminently fitted to improve, for the edification of his people, the ministerial duties of visiting and catechising ; in performing whereof, he joined an indefatigable diligence to a holy skill, knew how to embrace every opportunity of discoursing upon the most important and awful subjects, in a plain and familiar manner, and of recommending religion to the consciences of evcry one in the way which their special circumstances called for. And it was his peculiar care to endear the ways of God to the youth of his parish, and give them early impressions of an eternal world, before the devil and theirlusts had seized upon their hearts, and enslaved them : and the seed of grace, that was thus sown during the spring of life, was, through the divine blessing, preserved in many as they advanced in years, and brought forth much fruit. Nor did Mr. Guthrie neglect, in visiting poor families, to join works of charity to his instructions, and imitate his great Master, in showing compassion both to the bodies and souls of men. By all which winning methods he engaged their esteem and affections, which could not fail to add, a mighty force to his exhortations and reproofs.

He excelled also in that useful mean of knowledge, catechising; and avoided those mistakes, in the management of this exercise, which frequently lessen the advantage thercof. His questions were mostly confined to such truths of the doctrine according to godliness as were recommended by their great importance, and extensive influence upon practical religion ; herein confining himself to the apostolical injunction, by insisting upon these things which were good and profitable unto men, and avoiding foolish and tri. fling questions that were vain and useless : and knowing that it was his business to feed the meanest and weakest of the Christian flock with wholesome instructions, he adapted these exercises to the lowest capacities; began with the most easy and obvious truths of religion, and

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

so prepared the way for those which required a more enlightened understanding. He was careful not to expose the ignorant, so as to beget a distaste in them of the means of knowledge, nor to confound the modest and bashful, but by his meekness and condescension he encouraged and engaged them ; whereby catechising became a pleasure to them and he had the joy to see useful and solid knowledge spreading itself among a people whom he found grossly ignorant.

His own experience in the ways of God, and the great depths of troubles and sorrows, doubts andfears, whereby awakened consciences are exercised, into which, he himself was often plunged, eminentlyqualified him forassistingand comforting others in the like circumstances,for strengthningthe weak hands, and confirming the feeble knees; and could not miss to beget in him that affectionate concern for poor souls, those bowels of tenderness and sympathy, which can never be found with any but such who themselves have had a feeling acquaintance with the methods of the spiritual life, and the work of the Holy Spirit in their own hearts and lives. And it were easy to enlarge upon the uncommon dexterity which this excellent person had in improving sickness, and the approaches of the King of Terrors, to the advantage of those who were exposed to them ; so that though instances of a death-bed repentance rarely happen, and it be indeed infinite madness to delay to the last hour that work, which is of eternal consequence, yet there wanted not evi. dences of the divine blessing upon his endeavors to reclaim sinners, and call them to God, even in the last hour.

b

It would be justly blameable if we neglected to mention one other noble quality of Mr. Guthrie's. The state of his health made it necessary for him to use frequent and vigorous exercises ; and this made him choose fishing and fowling for his common recreations; but as he was always animated by a flaming zeal for the glory of his blessed Master, and a tender compassion to the souls of men, and as it was the principal thing made him desire life and health, that he might employ them in propagating the kingdom of God, and turning transgressors from their evil ways, so the very hours of his recreation were dedicated to this purpose; which was so endeared to him, as he knew how to make his diversions subservient to the nobler ends of his ministry : he made them the occasions of familiarizing his people to him and introducing himself to their af- . fections; and, in the disguise of a sportsman, he gained some to a religious life, whom he could have little influence upon in a minister's gown; of which there happened several memorable examples.

Some of the parish were so extremely rude and barbarous that they never attended upon divine worship, and knew not so much as the face of their pastor ; to such, every thing that regarded religion was distasteful; a minister would have been enough to have frightened them, nor could he have access either to visit or catechise them. But what Mr. Guthrie might have almost otherwise have dispaired of, he effectuated by his diversions : in the habit which he then wore, he conciliated the esteem and love even of

« PreviousContinue »