Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

The Rev. George Edmonds, the Vicar, who assiduously visited Mr. Perks during his sickness, on the evening after his decease delivered the following testimony to his memory and Christian example ; and has kindly given me permission to subjoin it here. It formed the concluding part of his discourse on the Sabbath evening.

“ I have taken up the present subject, that I might refer (though, from the shortness of my opportunity to prepare for it, very briefly) to a Christian friend and brother, whose place in this church, to which he diligently resorted, is now vacant and will know him no more. Indeed I could not be silent in reference to him that is now dead, without an injury to you that are alive, and without wrong to his memory. Not that it is my intention to speak in his commendation, (a thing that I am indeed unpractised in doing,) but for our imitation. · I refer to the death of George Perks, the aged. Many of you have known him. I have had that happiness now nearly three years; and I freely profess that all who knew him have lost a real, wise, and godly friend; the church has lost an eminent member; and this neighbourhood has lost an ancient, faith. ful, and Christian example; a living epistle, who, by his prayers and holy life, did seek to keep the judgments of God from falling upon us. The best way that I can deal with this subject is, by mentioning a few of those excellencies which marked his character and bearing as a Christian, and which it should be our desire to emulate. It is for your imitation and benefit I name them. He has died the death of the righteous; and therefore he is above our eulogy. The chief excellence that adorned the Christian walk of our departed brother in the Lord was his sincerity and uprightness of heart. This is not a single grace ; but the soul, the centre, as it were, of all grace. For what is faith, if it is not unfeigned ? What will love to God profit you, if it be not without dissimulation ? What is repentance worth, if it be not sincere? As his body is now lying without the soul, which is gone to heaven, a poor decaying carcase, so is religion without sincerity. Our Christian friend was a true Nathanael, in whom there was no guile ; I mean, no allowed hypocrisy. This contributed much to carry him through the pangs of death with comfort ; for he could say, with St. Paul, *This is my rejoicing, the testimony of my conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity I have had my conversation in the world.'

“ Another part of his character which I should just glance at, was his humility. This was a grace with which he was clothed : and in truth it is a rare grace ; for God dwelleth with the lowly. He resisteth the proud, but he giveth grace to the humble. Our departed friend was low in his own eyes, and therefore very high in the eyes of God. He had a mean esteem of himself; and therefore he was high in esteem with God. He was, as Jacob said of himself, less than the least of God's mercies ; ' and therefore he was made a partaker of the best of God's mercies.

“Another excellence by which he was distinguished was his high valua

tion of Jesus Christ. O, his was a written copy for us to follow. Having seen him much in bis sickness, I can declare that it was his great desire to be spoken to respecting Jesus Christ. He said, “When I consider my best duties, I sink, I despair ; but when I think of Christ, I have enough; he is all in all. I desire to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I account all things dung and dross, that I may be found in Christ.' To this effect he constantly spoke to me, frequently reiterating, and putting his hand on his breast; thus intimating that he had something within him which proved to him that the Christian religion is not a 'cunningly devised fable,' but that there is a blessed reality in it.

" There was another thing in which he excelled,-his acquaintance with God, and communion with Him; for he was of long standing in the school of Christ; a contemporary with the pious Mr. Fletcher ; and what was more, he was a good proficient in that school. Yes, he had much acquaintance with God; and, consequently, his conduct was marked by constancy and perseverance. He was not a reed sbaken with every wind; but in religion he was a house built on a rock, not on the sand.

" And as he lived, so he died, holily; he died in the Lord, as the ancient Patriarchs, that died in the faith, and endured faithfully unto death. This eminent servant of Christ is now gathered to God, to Christ, and the blessed company of saints and angels : and comfortable, indeed, was his passage out of this world, dying with calmness, and serenity upon his conscience. Last night, an hour before he died, though he waited patiently upon the Lord, he spoke to me on the anxious desire and prayer of his soul, that he should spend bis Sabbath in glory. O my brethren, it is one thing to speak of Christ and of heaven, and another thing to feel the consolations of Christ and of heaven, as he did at his dying hour; at the dying hour of one who, like that devout and just man who waited for the consolation of Israel, and who, with Christ in his embrace, cried out, ‘Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.' Go to your homes now, brethren; and, as you proceed, let your minds solemnly advert to the death of the righteous; and pray that your end may be like his, full of Christ, full of hope, and full of heaven. Think of his example ; for as Abel, being dead, yet speaketh, so should the words and example of every other child of God. These are the talents that God has placed in our trust; and for them we shall be accountable when we appear before the tribunal of our God.”

MEMOIR OF MRS. MARY BRAILSFORD: BY HER HUSBAND, THE REV. W. BRAILSFORD. Mrs. Mary BRAILSFORD, the eldest daughter of Mr. Peter Buck, Danby-Mills, near Middleham, Yorkshire, was born June 5th, 1810. Her parents, who 'for thirty years have been members of the Methodist society, being decidedly pious, as well as intelligent and judicious, she

was subjected from infancy to the restraining and stimulating influence of an enlightened, religious, and prudently-administered discipline. The “ fear of the Lord” was not only the lesson in which she was first instructed, but in which she was instructed most, and which she was taught to consider the most important. The Christian temper, affectionate solicitude, and exemplary piety, of her father, was with her a subject of favourite and frequent reference through life, and one to which she never adverted without emotions which declared a high sense of esteem and obligation. The blessing of God was given ; and the seed, thus sown in soil graciously prepared for its reception, soon burst into life, and became apparent in such preferences and behaviour, as decisively proved that the elements of genuine piety not only existed, but were under cultivation. So exactly did these indications appear in connexion with the dawnings of reason, that I have heard it frequently observed in reference to her, “ She was always pious ; ” “ She was never otherwise than pious." Of course the term piety is here to be understood as applying to some of the incipient stages of personal religion. I have, I believe, very sufficient reason for stating, that a great fear of offending God became with her a governing principle at the earliest period to which her recollections were able to recur, and diffused a general seriousness over the whole of her behaviour. There was observed a singular absence of childisha levity and trifling ; and, in all she did and said, she appeared to be regulated and influenced by a fear of doing wrong. While yet a child ber attachment to reading and other exercises, for which retirement furnishes facilities, was such that she has frequently been known to absent herself for these purposes from the rest of the family for lengthened periods; and, in proof that, at such times, her reflecting faculties were brought into exercise, and subjected to a discipline (considering her age) unusually severe, it may be noted, that within the last two or three years of her life, she repeated trains of thought which had passed in her mind during childhood, and which had been suggested by her early reading and reflections. Opportunities of attending the house of God, of being in the company, and hearing the conversations, of those whose " theme was sacred,” never failed to elicit from her involuntary expressions of high pleasure. In short, she possessed in earliest youth all the evidences of initial piety.

Owing (in part, at least) to her habit of serious thinking, it was, that, when not more than eight or ten years of age, she passed through a season of great anxiety and distress, on account of what appeared to her to be unavoidable; namely, that the foreknowledge of God should necessitate the actions of his creatures. I am not acquainted with the circumstances which suggested to her attention a subject so disproportionate to the capabilities of so young a person ; but such was the fact. She made the most discouraging use of the notion of which it is capable ; for it was too natural for her to infer consequences of the gloomy kind. This was her constitutional infirmity; and was, no doubt, laid hold of at this time by satanic agency, with the view of doing her that injury which it has been the instrument of doing to many. She fell a prey to the fear that possibly her final separation from God might be determined; and the impression was deep. She retained, at least, the remains of it up to a few months previous to her last illness; but of no one fact am I more certain, than that it never was allowed to exert any baneful influence of a practical kind. The notion had haunted her like an evil genius, but it never was entertained. It never became an article of her faith. She knew, she felt, that, in an important sense, man must be the arbiter of his own destiny; and she laboured to have a "conscience void of offence," and to “ work out her salvation." Her habits of reflection, however, were rendered productive of great good. She becaine accustomed to inquire after the reasons of things, in relation to her own experience; and to try, by the only authoritative test, the ground and character of her faith. Her investigations of this kind were very frequent, and were always conducted in conjunction with feelings of such extreme caution, that her piety was of the timid and mistrustsul kind, but per. haps was not the less sase.

Notwithstanding the anxiety felt, and the endeavours used, by her natural guardians, in reference to the formation of her religious character, they judged it best that her admission into the Methodist society should be her own act, rather than theirs. They gave her opportunities sufficient of knowing the importance which they attached to Christian fellowship, and endeavoured to impress her with a general sense of its utility, in order to the attainment, maintenance, and improvement of personal religion; but they left it to herself to deliberate and decide. It was not, therefore, until March, 1825, when fifteen years of age, that she adopted the resolution of meeting in class; nor even then was the resolution performed without considerable hesitancy, occasioned chiefly by a fear lest she should not maintain that consistency and steadfastness which she felt to be incumbent upon every professor of religion. The means which was most directly instrumental in constraining her to this act was the public ministry, and in particular that exercised by the Rev. Francis Neale, then stationed in the Middleham Circuit. She always felt and expressed herself as being specially indebted to the public ministry of the word, and entertained an attachment to it in proportion ; but it is worthy of notice, that the success of the ministry in her case was in a great measure attributable to the high esteem in which she had always been taught to regard the ministerial office and character. In her father's house the Ministers of the Gospel had always been wel. comed, and treated with becoming respect; their visits were frequent, and to such visits the family always looked forward with pleasurable anticipations. That culpably free and derogatory strain of observation, in which some parents allow themselves, in reference to those whose office it is to “ bear the vessels of the Lord,” and that too in the hearing of their children, never occurred in their family. There were, therefore,

no unfavourable prepossessions and prejudices existing in her mind, to obstruct the influence, or diminish the force, of those advices and instructions with which, from time to time, she was favoured. She beard, she listened, she respected, she believed ; and, as a natural consequence, she complied. From this time she became more completely subjected to the influence of divine truth. She had heard, thought, desired, and striven, from her childhood; but she now began more fully to experience and enjoy. An energy and decision of character began now to be apparent, which evidenced that her spiritual senses had gained strength by exercise. She felt that an additional obligation to increase her conformity to the will of God was furnished by the new relation in which she stood to the church, and she laboured hard to fulfil it. That all her dependence for the acceptance bɔth of her person and services was placed upon the sacrificial death of Christ, there is not the slightest reason to doubt; but there was always an extreme fearfulness, and tendency to unnecessary and unprofitable reasoning, in her nature, which rendered her extremely diffident and hesitating in her professions of enjoyment. She became a pattern for unassuming piety, walking humbly with her God, in the discharge of all those social and relative duties which, in her retired station, claimed her attention.

Her marriage, which took place in November, 1829, was an event which she had for some time contemplated with fear and trembling, on account of the high and important duties which she was aware would devolve upon her, as the wife of a Christian Minister. Her qualifications she valued at much too low an estimate. She possessed many, and some of them were of a rare order; whereas the humble views which she invariably entertained of herself, led her to conceive that she was almost, if not altogether, destitute of them. Her frequent sickness, and great physical debility, together with her early removal, prevented an extensive and public exhibition of many of them; but by those who had access to her in private, they were both observed and acknowledged. Her natural disposition was retiring and timid; but kindness, and all those qualities which go to constitute the amiable, were blended in such large proportions, that the very fault of her nature became an excellency; for, although, to a perfect stranger, there might be something like the appearance of distance and reserve, to her friends, and to those with whom previous interviews had made her acquainted, she was always communicative and friendly. Spirituality of mind, the effect of regenerating grace, was also very apparent. Her conversation was almost uniformly on subjects intimately connected with Christian experience. It was necessity, not choice, which brought her down to the realities of life. It was very observable, that, when induced to take part in promiscuous conversation, she had made a descent to it for the time; nor was she ever known to depart from the dignity and purity of the Christian character, by intermeddling with the affairs of others, or by making uncharitable remarks on absent persons. Great tenderness towards the

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »