Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

As frequently as his breath allowed hiin, he continued to ani. mate his attendants, especially those who were members of his church ; observing to them, the ground of their hope must be the same as his, the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, He added, “ Oh; live near to God; that is the way to live comfortable, and die happy.” Sometime after, seeing him unappalled by the rapid approach of death, one of them enquired into his present views of the gospel; he answered,

“ Firm as the earth thy gospel stands,

My Lord, my hope, my trusts
If I am found in Jesu's hands,

My soul can ne'er be lost!" One saying, How blessed it is to have nothing to do in a dying moment? he replied, “ If I am saved, it must be as a paor sinner, by grace alone.”. In the evening, one of his deacons enquired if he preferred any text, from which his death might be improved to his people; he said, “ No;" but pausing a moment, added, “except that which has been my living doctrine, and is now my dying hope : It is a faithful say iny, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am cbief.' Give my love to my church, and say that I wish them a better and more faithful pastor." On account of his frequent convulsions, and the agitation of his mind on seeing Mrs. Jackson, together with her very weak slate, their friends kept her from his chamber the greater part of the day ; but hoping an interview in his present happy frame inight prove to her a source of future consolation, she was introduced; but it proved a scene too painful for either; and he could only say, as she was carried out,“ My dear Mary, I commit you to the care of a covenant God.” On a relative's leaving his room about eleven o'clock, he impressively said, “ Mary, I have always loved you; be kind to my wite and children. --Good night :- good night for ever !"

His convulsions now succeeded quicker and with greater violence; nature continued to struggle, and grace to triuinph. A few days before, he had said to a friend, “ I do not wish the stroke lighter;" and in his last minutes, on telling another that he had never before known bodily affliction, he added,

" He will not always chide;

And when his strokes are felt,
His strokes are fewer than our crimes,

And lighter than our guilt." At his urgent request be was again assisted to his chair; and, when seated, he said, “ Once more, and I shall cease to trouble you :--you take great pains to keep a wortbless crea ture here, but it is in vain. Ashe was guided back to his bed, he prayed, “ O Lord, cut short thy work in righteousness, and let ine enter into rest ! Lord Jesus receive my spirit!" On lying down, he looked up on bis attending friends, and seeing them much affected, said, “ You must b. pleased with your Father;" and, turning on his side, was again convulsed, and received the accomplishment of his last petition ; thus illustrating his own remarks on a funeral occasion, That the departure of good men naturally tends to impress us with the vanity of life, to convince us of the worth of religion, - to affect us with the preciousness of Jesus, – to deliver us from the fear of death, and to animate us in the expectation of eternity:

Giace in the heart, like the process of the laboratory, converts the most deadly poisons into salutary medicine. Strong powers, with impervous passions, indefatigable diligence, and obstinate perseverance, distinguished the successive stages of Mr. Jackson's childhood and youth.

These characteristic traits, so, dangerous wliile unrestrained by religion, became, under its benign influence, by separating the evil fri m the good, most subservient to a successful ministry. While the courage of the lion, and the wisdom of the serpent are reained, the ferocity of the former is converted into the harmlessness of the lamb, and the venom of the latter into the innocency of the dove. Such was the change Divine Grace effected on Mr. Jachson's mind, that tlie most intimate friend of his last years never witnessed an ebullition of anger, naturally so prominent in his temper.

His acquaintances were numerous, and his friendships not a few. Like the oak, they were of slow growth, but strong and durable. He was accustomed to remark, that he had never Jost a friend. If he erred respecting them, it was in his persevering efforts to cxcuse their faults, or bear thein througli tlie difficulties they had to encounter. The poor ever found him an earnest advocate and a warm friend; whose liberality abounded with the increase of his ineans.

In the pulpit be had few equals, and still fewer superiors. Whatever subject he took up was thoroughly investigated. He read and reflected much; was always fuit, and ready. If in preaching he had a fault, it was excess; and yet bis divisions weie so just and natural, so comprehensively expressed, and eminently simple, that an attentive hearer couid, without pain, carry away nearly his whole discourse. lle was peculiarly hapis in exhibiting divine truth in its own most lively colouis. Ai tines, his hearers were indiwed, reversing the apostle's creer, to consider elcrual things as visible, while they experienced present ones as obscured; and were ready to exclaim, Let us nuke tents, that we may abide l:ere." But while the saint was thus carried, on the wing of divine contemplation, into the bus 900) of bis Saviour, the sinner's lieart was alarmed with fearful anticipation of fiery indignation. : In the neighbouring churches he was highly esteemed, for his great prudence and wisdom in council; and among luis

[ocr errors]

bretliren, the solidity of his judgment, and the urbanity of his manners, gave weight to his opinion, and pointed hin out as their adviser in every difficulty.

He read on almost every subject, and converted every thing he read to some useful purpose. He carefully examined sentiments before he appropriated them; was a decided defender of what he esteemed to be truth, but always a liberal opponent. As a private Christian lie ranked bigii, uniformly living very near to God, and usually feeling the sweet effect of his heavenly intercourse in his own frame and temper. God honoured his private devotion with public enlargement. To a friend, a short time before his death, he observed, That he had not known, for eighteen months, an impleasant season in public prayer.

Full of fruit, in the midst of usefulness, and in the prime of life, he“ finished bis course with joy" - but only to himself. The most unteigned concern was visible throughout the town, as weil in those that differed from himn in religious sentiment, as in the members of his own congregation. Every token of respect was inanifested at his interinent; which, at the solicitations of bis people, was conducted by themselves. The ministers, residing within twenty miles, preceded bis corpse, and his congregation followed. Mr. Morren, of Shaftsbury, and Mr. Kingdon, of Frome, prayed; and Mr. Sibree delivered the funeral oration, Mr. Wilks, of London, preached a funeralsexmon on the succeeding Sabbath evening.

The pulpit and galleries were hung with black on the occasion ; and an elegant monument will testify to posterity the alifiction of his people in the following lines :

This tablet records

the mournful feelings of
This Church and Congregation,
On the death of their beloved Pastor,

the Rev. EDWARD DUDLEY JACKSON,
who entered into rest Oct. 3, 1803, aged thirty-four years ;

(and whose inortal remains
are deposited in the vault beneath.)
Superior talents, an amiable disposition,
glowing zeal, and eminent success,

distinguished his labours
during a residence of near ten years
in this part of the Lord's vineyard.

The cross of Christ was his glory;
Salvation by Hiin alone was his doctrine ;

and that faith
which worketh by love,
and produceth che fruits of holiness,
was his constant and delightful theme.
Such was the preacher :,: as a Christian,

his life was a continued sermon;
and the end of this excellent man

was peace.
Q may his death a lesson still impart,
And write PREPARE TO DIE" on ev'ry heart!

1

MISSIONARY WISH OF DR. DODDRIDGE.

This excellent man, in his “ Family Expositor,” makes some Reflec.

tions on the Third Epistle of St. John, verses five to eight, which breathe the true spirit of Christian Philanthropy; tlie insertion of which may be acceptable and usetui. Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the

brethren and to strangers; which have borne açitness of thy charity before the church; whom, if thou bring forwurd on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt doüill; because that for his name's sure they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We, therefore, ought to receive such, that we inight be fellow-helpers to the truth.

“ May seutiments of true generosity fill and expand our hearts inore and more! May we act toward strangers, and especially our brethren, in all the instances in which they need our assistance, in a inanner worthy of God, worthy of the reJation in which we and they have the honour to stand to our Heavenly Father! and especially let our love abound to those who have a desire to spread the gospel! And O, that it were more universal! O that divine grace would excite more to quit the indulgence of their homes, or their countries, if there be no bond of duty to detain them there, that they may go and preach to the Gentiles! And though there may be no prospect of any requital from them, God will open to them the inexhaustible stores of his celestial treasure, and they shall be rea compensed in the resurrection of the just! Let them but see to it, that their intentions are pure, that they do it for bis sake, and their labour shall not be in vain in the Lord."

APOSTACY IN PROFESSORS OF RELIGION.

There have been always many professors of religion (and great ones too) destitute of grace, The church has been imposed upon by such persons, in all ages; for it has admitted numbers of them to its communion. Nay, the apostles theinselves, though endowed with extraordinary gifts, were frequently deceived by them. They ordained Nicholas a deacon; Demas was ine companion of St. Paul; Hymeneus and Alexander, Phygelius and Hermogenes were highiy respected by him. The deception lasted, in some instances, for a shorter, in others for a longer time; and, in many mstances, was probably never discovered : from whence we may inler, That a mere professor may speak and act in such a way as to impose upon the most judicions and discerning Christians; he mity possess great gifts, and be called perhaps to the ministry, and made useful.

I apprehend that mere professors are not always aware of

their hypocrisy. It is a sin that lies deep, and works much in secret. A designing hypocrite is undoubtedly conscious of bypocrisy; yét many are fatally deceived thereby, who are not at all suspicious of their danger : they have something very like religion, — feelings which very much resemble those of the people of God: they have the exact counterfeit of grace; and as they have never experienced the reality, they are the less able to discover that it' is only the counterfeit. Or they inay play the hypocrite, designedly at first, till God is provoked to punish them with judicial blindness; making theni fall miserable victims to their own hypocrisy.

I think, however, there is frequently something in these persons, calculated to awaken a suspicion of their sincerity ; yet not always. When nothing suspicious appears, I believe it is commonly attributable to one or other of these causes. There is a natural ainiableness of disposition, or agreeableness of manners, which, when softened, refined, and polished by the common operations of the Spirit, appears more beautiful and lovely than grace itself, when the temper is rugged and the manners coarse. There is an easiness of disposition, a want of character, which causes people to take their complexion froin those with whom they associate. There is a natural warmth of feeling and affection, which looks very like love to God and zeal for his glory, when the inclinations take a religious turn ; and there is sometimes a designing head and a dissembling heart, which uses religion merely as an instrument to promote its personal and worldly interests. Frequently, bowever, there is something which marks them for doubtful characters, and, in most instances, of notorious declension or apostacy; the sinful propensity which occasions it, is discoverable before the declension, or apostacy, itself is apparent. Indeed, in the cases of designing hypocrites, the apostacy is very often sudden; the mask is worn most carefully, just before it is thrown off. - These, I think, are some of the most common symptoms. They like to talk about doctrinal subjects much better than about experimental and practical; and when it happens that they converse upon them, it is with reference to others; seldom to themselves. Their conversation is rather dry than savoury and profitable. There is something in their manner inconsistent with the Spirit of Christ. There is an apparent conceit of, and complacency in, themselves: they seem to possess their own good opinion :- there is a sort of supercilious pride, and contempt of others. An attentive observer may perceive, that Self is too prominent; either Selfconceit or self-interest. Their religion seems more for shew than use. If you catch them off their guard in private, they are not the same men that they are in public; and their good qualities are partial, not universal; the offspring of some naturally amiable dispositions, not of sanctifying grace.

There are several causes which may induce people to profese

« PreviousContinue »