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felt no languour in his Master's service, he took for granted that the minds of his audience were similarly constituted. But to those who had the undoubted privilege of sitting under his ministry, he never was tedious even in his longesi dis
They knew the man. They loved the venerable, the fervent, the edifying divine. Out of the pulpit, his fraternal and brotherly ministrations of truth and soberness; of consolation and piety, are fresh in the recollection of many who read the pages of “ The Bible Christian." The poor man, who wished his presence, not only had his christian advice and admonition, and his prayer, which no man could hear without being made wiser and better ; but he had his money as freely as his counsel and his prayers. *
It was at the bed-side of the sorrowing, downcast penitent, or the caged prisoner, that James Davis shone forth in all his brightness and power. When you met him there, you met a man whose athletic arm and cheering smile were but faint types of the spirit which animated them; but which now, alas, for many, has filed! Then and there—the tongue which is now mute in death, and the friendly hands, now returning to their kindred dust, were lifted up in adoration, with a sincerity, a collectedness, and a power which convinced you that Christianity had accomplished in the speaker her perfect work. Mighty was he in prayer,” and “mighty in the Scriptures,” when engaged in prayer. They were familiar to him as household words. He frequently included in one prayer the sum and substance of all religion, natural and revealed. And his power in the Scriptures in prayer was greatly owing, pot only to his intimate acquaintance with the Sacred Writings in their original tongues; but to the deep knowledge which he possessed of some of the best commentaries, which have been written upon them. His most valuable, his very excellent, and very extensive collection of books, were not brought together to be looked at, or to make him pass in vulgar eyes as a man of letters. He read them; he understood them ; he brought the knowledge acquired from week to week from all sources, Trinitarian and Unitarian, to bear directly on his services every where as a Minister. His own writings and his books show plainly that he never read on one side alone of any question ; that he read more closely the arguments against than for his own views. . If he was an eminent, a heart-stirring, and a very distinguished preacher in the pulpit,- he was still more so out of it, wherever he knew that his presence, prayers, and counsel would be acceptable. Not one member of his congregation had ever just reason to complain of his want of readiness most promptly to attend upon him when indisposed; or to lament his want of sincerity; that he was lukewarm, indifferent, and unconcerned in the salvation of men's souls. On the contrary, hundreds will bear witness gladly, as honest men ; men of sentiments the most discordant from what his were, will speak the truth, when they declare, that he was particularly assiduous, whether formally invited or not, in attending on any one, whom he had reason to believe he might benefit. And his services and visits abounded in proportion to the emergency of the case. The writer here declares, in the most solemn manner in which it can be put, bis belief,—that out of the thousands and tens of visits which Mr. Davis paid in the course of his Ministry, he never set out on one of them with the view of making a proselyte. No, no; his views were much too pure for this. His mind was so nobly constituted, that he would have loathed the very idea of such a purpose. But from the much higher motive of being, in any degree, instrumental, (to use a common phrase of his own,) in bringing about results everlastingly happy to the dying sinner; no earthly consideration, no apology of inconvenience, the want of time, that he was not a member of his congregation, did ever for a moment enter his mind, or prevent him from acting the part of a kind and faithful Minister and friend to any member of the human family in such circumstances. And although he did cheerfully forego many of the pleasures of social life for this purpose ; al. though he would have left any employment under heaven to wait on him whose heart was yearning for christian consolation, or whose habits had turned him from the great end of his creation ; yet, who knew better, or who was more inclined. to “ rejoice with those who rejoice ?" Who was more innocently gay than he? Who ever carried more fully into daily life, the preacher's doctrine, where he says,
* His heart literally bled for the miseries of the poor ; and his purse strings responded to heart's beatings, to a degree which appeared to many charitable men imprudent.
“I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made everything beautiful in his time.” “I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life ?” Who has ever been able to carry the Apostle Paul's advice to the Romans “rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep," as literally into practice as our departed friend ? Not one. And again, where can we find among the living a more faithful friend, a more improving, a safer companion ? No coasideration could induce an insult to the memory of the departed one, (the greatest insult that could have been offered to him when living would have been fulsome flattery) and it is here fearlessly stated,--that we do not know one. Most men have some sincere friends, and many well-wishers; but the man does not breathe, to whom ( I cannot here avoid speaking in the first person,) I could unburthen my whole soul, as I could, and as I have most unreservedly done to the Rev. James Davis.
And all his friends, numerous and distinguished as many of them were, had feelings in this respect similar to those described. They felt a security in the man's judgment. They were certain that their confidence would in no degree be abused; that the whole truth as it appeared to his mind would be honestly declared ; that the line of duty would be pointed out candidly to the best of his reason; or if that were necessary, endeavour would be awakened on truly christian principles. But it would be a waste of words to dwell longer on his sincerity, his honesty, his true value as a friend and counsellor. The man who knew him as a few of his brethren in the Ministry did, and who would say or think otherwise, has either a heart or a judgment very unenviable. The only other relation in which this imper-fect sketch can speak, from seeing and knowing Mr. Davis, was as a husband. This is a delicate and a tender point; but not to touch on it would be great injustice both to the dead and the living. In this, as in all the other connexions of life, he was faithful, he was considerate, he was rational.
The best authority says, that, as a son and a brother he was beyond all praise. In the honourable estate of which we are speaking, few, very few, live so peaceful ; in a manner at once so gratifying, so religiously improving; bearing and forbearing in love, the helpers of each others joy, as did he and his amiable lady. We give him no more than his due share of praise in this respect.
A more excellent woman he could no where have found to be his partner and companion. Circumstances in wedded life can easily be conceived which would have rendered him a much less happy man. From his warm, and somewhat hasty temperament, there were moments, and they were only moments ; but there were times, when all things must be ready to his hand, without inconvenience or contradiction His good and prudent wife knew that nothing but bis Master's work ever made him impatient; that his only failing “leaned to virtues side ;” and he loved her sincerely and devotedly at all times, but all the better because she did know this. As all his habits of reading and writing; and as many of his tenderest sensibilities were closely associated with her presence, he never was happy when she was beyond his call, or out of his sight. She must now have the satisfaction of a good conscience, in some degree to lessen ber deep grief.
It was she alone who nursed him by night and by day, through all his tedious and painful illness, as a fond mother would her only child, as a devoted wife her best beloved earthly treasure.
It was she who cheered him and nerved him in all his labours, in all his trials, in all his troubles, of which he had his share. On her the stroke falls heaviest, at the time when it was least expected. When her watchings had drawn to a close; when health and strength had returned, and apparently long. er usefulness and days ; even then he is snatched away. But then the accomplished scholar, the learned and pious christian, the devoted and unwearying christian Minister, the kind and unaffectedly sincere friend, the faithful and loving husband was prepared at all times, at a moment's notice, to answer the Bridegroom's call; to be crowned with endless happiness, and immortal glory; to enter on an inconceivably wider field of duty to God, and very possibly of much greater usefulness to other spirits less perfect than himself
. Through God's goodness in Christ Jesus he has gone to his reward in the way and at the time be desired. He longed to die in the active service of his beloved Master ; the inmost workings of his heart, his heart's fervent prayer has been heard. These christian considerations, the manifestation of a noble spirit and an approving conscience, must lighten the intensity of sorrow where it is most felt. May the God of all consolation support the disconsolate widow, and fulbil to her his blessed promise of special favour, and the kindest regard ! In the hope of an inseparable re-union in heaven with one so dear to her, may she be enabled to put her trust in God; and in the midst of her deep trouble be enabled to adopt the memorable words “the Lord gave, and the Lord bath taken away : blessed be the name of the Lord God !”.
Under the inscrutable wisdom of Divine Providence, the great body of the poor, and of the suffering people of Banbridge have lost another long tried friend; one of the most zealous of their Ministers; one who was ever ready to minister to them either in temporal or in spiritual things. By the same dispensation, the First Presby. terian Congregation of that place has been bereft of a Pastor, who watched over those entrusted to his care, as a father, and ministered to them in things the most important in human life as a brother, the helper of their joy for above 33 years. Whilst they mourn for him as for a father, a brother, a counsellor, the best of eartbly friends ; they have many reflections to soothe, to purify, to elevate their grief. He had a race to run, a mission to fulfil. The race is run ; the mission is pobly fulfilled. He is either in heaven just now; or if death be a sleep, he will sleep calmly, undisturbed, under the place from which, as a messenger of God, he so long spoke the words of truth, till the general resurrection, and then he will be ihere, with as many of his dearly beloved flock, as, like him, has continued faithful till death. In the honourable connexion, which has so long and so profitably been maintained with this great and good man and that influential and perfectly harmonious society of Christians, there is a permanent source of consolation. They respected and loved their Minister while living, and now that he is dead, they will not deviate from the line of duty marked out by him, in those persuasive and excellent discourses which to the end of his life he delivered to them. Through their recollection of these, he will still continue to speak to them, as well as in the good name, which among all classes and creeds he has left behind him. The Remonstrant Synod has but one feeling in the sudden removal of one, who assisted in planting, and one who tenderly and zealously watered it. It was his hand which drew up the able remonstrance presented to the Synod of Ulster in 1828. The common feeling is, that in our capacity as a christian brotherhood of freemen, we have lost one who dispelled gloom from our Zion; who made our meetings together useful and innocently cheerful; whose faith was triumphant in every case of doubt; and whose counsels, now taken from our church, has left a corner and a seat unoccupied, a chasm and a vacancy never here to be filled up in our affections and our hearts. But we must not “sorrow as those who have no hope.” God will raise up other men, in our church or elsewhere, who will be zealous workmen in his Son's vineyard. Resigned to God's holy will, brought to see man's entire dependance on heaven in this striking lesson, either we, or those who may follow us, will live to see good brought out of this apparent evil; and to feel an honest pride, at the mention of the name of him, of whom any church of Christendom must have felt proud. On the escutcheon of his remembrance, there is not a blot, a stain, a speck.
W. B. M.
Died, on the 9th ultimo, at the Burne, Ballyhemlin, in the 76th year of his age, William M KELVy, Esq. He was an Elder and very influential member of the Remonstrant Congregation of Ballyhemlin. He was remarkable for his diffidence and courtesy to all his fellow Christians; but at the same time, very tenacious of his own religious rights and privileges.
When the Synod of Ulster, by suppressing inquiry, and preventing the free expression of opinion, had sacrificed all claim to the name of Protestant, he separated from that communion and joined the "little flock” that afterwards erected a Church to freedom, to truth and righteousness.
His character was perfectly consistent with his profession — mild, conciliating, and truthful ; and he consequently possessed the love and the confidence of all his acquaintances, of every class, and of every religious persuasion.
NOTICE TO CORRESPONDENTS. -- St. Dillon in our next.
IRISH UNITARIAN MAGAZINE.
[The Editor wishes it to be understood, that he is not, in any way, for the publication of a Paper inserted as an Advertisement in the last number of the Magazine, and entitled “ The Recent Attack on Mr. Maginois, by Members of the Non-Subsribing Association.” It was the act of a Committe over which the Editor has no controul.]
SOME ANCIENT CUSTOMS THAT ARE ALLUDED TO
IN THE GOSPELS.
Christ and the Apostles, in their public discourses, frequently refer to certain customs which prevailed in the days and in the countries in which they lived, and which were familiar to those whom they addressed. As, however, these customs have passed away with passing time, and as a person unacquainted with them, loses more than half the beauty and applicability of the various illustrations and arguments founded thereon, I have thought it might be both interesting and useful to explain a few of the most important, at the same time quoting the passage in which the allusion occurs.
1. " And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea."-[Matt. xiv. 25.] Here we have an allusion to the Jewish mode of dividing time. The Jews, like their conquerors, the Romans, divided the day into “ hours," and the night into “ watches." The Jewish day began at six in the morning and ended at six in the evening, so that when we read in the Scriptures of the “third hour,” the period referred to is nine o'clock in the morning ; the “ sixth hour" is twelve o'clock at noon; and the “ ninth hour" is three o'clock in the evening. The Jewish night began at six o'clock in the evening, and terminated at six in the morning, and was divided into portions called “watches,” each
watch consisting of three hours. The “ first watch ” lasted from six till nine, the "second" from nine till twelve, the "third" from twelve till three, and “the fourth" from three till six, at which hour the day began. These periods of time were called "watches," because, in the principal towns of Judea and the other countries which the Romans had conquered, they kept sentinels on watch during the night, to prevent insurrections and other disturbances of the peace. Each band of soldiers watched for three hours at a time, and was succeeded by another company who kept guard for a similar period. The time at which one company was to go
off duty and another to come on, was denoted by the blowing of a trumpet, so that the trumpet sounded each night at the hours of nine, twelve, three, and six o'clock, respectively. The trumpet which sounded at three o'clock was called the “Cock-crow," because it is at that hour of the morning that this fowl usually hails the coming dawn. – Hence, when you read that passage where Jesus says to Peter“ Before the cock-crow thou shalt deny me thrice," you are not to imagine that Christ refers to the actual crowing of a bird, but merely to the trumpet's blast, which had obtained this appellation. Christ, in these words, merely prophesied, that, notwithstanding Peter's present professions of attachment, before the hour of three o'clock that same morning he would have denied him three several times. When, therefore, we are told, in the verse under consideration that Jesus walked to the ship "dur. ing the fourth watch of the night," we are to understand that he visited her between the hours of three and six in the morning, he having spent the preceding part of the night in prayer upon
2. “ Ye blind guides which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." [Matt. xxiii. 24.] In this passage we have an allusion to another ancient custom. The word “strain" does not here mean, as many suppose, to stretch the jaws as in attempting to swallow a thing inconveniently large, but to put liquid through a sieve in order to catch any motes that may have fallen into it; and the verse would be better if it read thus : “strain out a gnat, and swallow down a camel." It was, and still is, customary in hot countries, where flies are abundant, to strain wine, water, and other liquids before being drunk. In every climate, if you examine the purest water with a microscope, it will be found to contain myriads of animalcu. les that subsist in that element, and which are so small as to be in.