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but a crime of a still higher magnitude. Souls are betrayed, for every one of which he must render an account to Him who has authoritatively proclaimed, “their blood will I require at thine hand."
Another very important lesson to be learnt from the preceding narrative, is the necessity of discriminating morality from religion. The principal error in Mr. Richmond's former views consisted in this, viz. that they were deficient in the grand characteristic features of the Gospel. Not that he actually denied a single doctrine which the Gospel inculcates; but his conceptions were far from being definite, clear, and comprehensive. They wanted the elevation and spirituality of the Christian system. They were founded more on the standard of morality, than on the principles of the Gospel; and therefore were defective as it respects the motive and end of all human actions, the two essential properties that constitute an action acceptable in the sight of
A Heathen may be moral, a Christian must be more ; for though true religion will always comprise morality, yet morality may exist without religion. There was a confusion also in his notion of faith and works, and of the respective offices and design of the law and of the Gospel. The Saviour was not sufficiently exalted, nor the sinner humbled; and there was wanting the baptism of “the Holy Ghost and of fire.”— Matt. iii. 11. His sermons, partaking of the same character, were distinguished indeed by solidity of remark, force of expression, strong appeals to the conscience, and a real and commendable zeal for the interests of morality ; but they went no further. As regarded the great end of the Christian ministry—the conversion of immortal souls—they were powerless ; for moral sermons can produce nothing but moral effects; and it is the Gospel alone that is "mighty through God to the pulling down of the strong holds of sin ; and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”--2 Cor. x. 4, 5.
There was, indeed, an external reformation produced among his people ; but the renovation of the heart, the communion of the soul with God, the inward joy and peace of the Gospel, and the hope full of life and of immortality—these were not experienced and felt, because they were not known: and they were not known, because they were not preached : and they were not preached, because they were not adequately understood by the preacher. And is there no ground for apprehension that the same deficiency still exists amongst us to a considerable extent? Are the peculiar doctrines of Christianity commonly brought forward with sufficient clearness, fidelity, and zeal ? Are the corruption and lost state of man, the mercy of God in Christ, the necessity of a living faith in the Saviour, the office of the Holy Spirit in his enlightening, converting, and sanctifying influences* -are these grand themes of the Christian ministry urged with the prominence that their incalculable importance demands? Deficiencies in points like these are serious impediments to the growth of true religion, and cannot be too sedulously reproved by those who are the constituted guardians of sound doctrine. For with the mere moralist, the grandeur of the Christian dispensation—the divine love so conspicuous in the whole of its stupendous plan—the beauty, order, and symmetry of its several parts, are all reduced to the rank and level of a secondary and subordinate scheme. Christ is not the centre of the system, but rather occupies the extreme point; and is brought in as a last expedient to cover the nakedness and insufficiency of our own works. The moralist, according to his own creed, does all that he
can, and then-looks to his Redeemer to perform the rest. On the other hand, where the moralist ends, the believer begins. With him, every work is begun, continued, and ended in God. He draws from above every motive for his obedience, every promise for his encouragement, and strength to subdue all his corruptions. Christ is the sun that illuminates his moral horizon, the living water to refresh his thirst, the heavenly manna by which he is fed, the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, the “all and in all.”-Col. iii. 11. He is the Prophet, by whose wisdom he is taught; the Priest, by whose sacrifice he is pardoned; the King, by whose authority he is swayed; and the Shepherd, on whose tender care he reposes
all his wants. What then is the remedy for the defects to which we have alluded, and for the fatal consequences resulting from them!—The knowledge of the Gospel; and the full, free, and faithful declaration of its truths. There must be its tidings on the lips, its grace in the heart, and its holiness in the life of the preacher. Such was the case in the instance of Mr. Richmond, after the change above recorded ; and crowded auditories, an inquiring people, and numerous conversions were the bappy result. And such will ever be the case where the Gospel is faithfully preached. The same causes will always produce the same effects. The blind will receive their sight, and the lame walk, and the deaf hear, and the spiritually dead be raised up to life eternal.
* See Dr. Owen's celebrated Work “ On the Holy Spirit,” and Doddridge's "Seven Sermops on Regeneration,” for an able elucidation of this subject.
Developement of his character--- Dedication of his time and
thoughts to profitable objects—Fondness of the scenes of Nature--Spiritual reflections upon them--Zeal in his ministerial duties--Letters and Diary--Remarks on the foregoing.
In the preceding chapter, we have recorded the remarkable change of which Mr. Richmond was the subject, and explained its nature and character. We shall now proceed to illustrate it by its effects, which form the best evidence of its existence, and one of the strongest arguments for its necessity. With this view, we shall consider its operation and influence on the qualities of his mind and heart—his ministerial habits-his epistolary correspondence—and in the more solemn and impressive exposure of the inward recesses of his soul.
In our intercourse with men, we meet with an almost endless diversity of character; and he who studies human nature is apt to classify those who are the subject of his contemplation, according to their respective shades and gradations. But how painful is the discovery, when we see persons endowed with the finer qualifications of the mind, and the interesting sensibilities of the heart, wasting on unprofitable objects the powers which, rightly directed, might render their possessor the instrument of extensive usefulness and good. We seem to behold a beautiful and imposing structure, but it is not occupied by the rightful
The lord of the mansion is absent, and a stranger has usurped his place. We turn with disappointment from the contemplation ; nor can we withhold the prayer that ere long the fatal illusion may cease, and the chain of the captive be broken.
In Mr. Richmond, every qualification became consecrated to Teligion. His imagination, taste, affections, and endowments received an impulse which directed all their energies to the glory of God, and to useful and profitable purposes.
To illustrate what we have said, we subjoin the following passage from one of his popular tracts, which, while it shews his powers for descriptive scenery, proves at the same time how much his admiration of the scenes of nature was made the occasion of elevating the heart to God.
“It was not unfrequently my custom, when my mind was filled with any interesting subject for meditation, to seek some
spot where the beauties of natural prospect might help to form pleasing and useful associations.
“South-eastward, I saw the open ocean, bounded only by the horizon. The sun shone, and gilded the waves with a glittering light, that sparkled in the most brilliant manner.
On the north, the sea appeared like a noble river, varying from three to seven miles in breadth, between the banks of the opposite coast, and those of the island which I inhabited.* Immediately underneath me, was a fine woody district of country, diversified by many pleasing objects. Distant towns were visible on the opposite shore. Numbers of ships occupied the sheltered station which this northern channel afforded them. The eye roamed with delight over an expanse of near and remote beauties, which alternately caught the observation, and which harmonised together, and produced a scene of peculiar interest."
The reflections awakened by these scenes are thus expressed :
“ How much of the natural beauties of Paradise still remain in the world, although its spiritual character has been so awfully defaced by sin ! But when divine grace renews the heart of the fallen sinner, Paradise is regained, and much of its beauty restored to the soul. As this prospect is compounded of hill and dale, land and sea, woods and plains, all sweetly blended together, and relieving each other in the landscape: so do the gracious dispositions, wrought in the soul, produce a beauty and harmony of scene, to which it was before a stranger.”
We insert one more brief reflection.
“What do they not lose, who are strangers to serious meditation on the wonders and beauties of created nature ! How gloriously the God of creation shines in his works! Not a tree, nor leaf, nor flower; not a bird, nor insect, but it proclaims in glowing language, ‘God made me.' "
In his parochial engagements, we find him fulfilling all the duties of an active and zealous parish priest. The important and essential doctrines of the Gospel were now made the power ful and affecting themes of his public addresses. As we shall have occasion hereafter to enter into a more minute detail of the subject and manner of his preaching, it is sufficient in this place to observe, that man's fallen and ruined state, and his deliverance and redemption by Jesus Christ, formed the grand outline of his discourses ; and if the degree in which the truth is preached be best estimated by its effects, he could appeal to unques
# The Isle of Wight:
tionable evidences of his faithfulness ; for God blessed his testimony, and numerous converts were the seals of his ministry In addition to the usual and appointed duties of the Sabbath, he visited his flock, and went from house to house, taking care not to make these opportunities the mere occasion of friendly and condescending intercourse, but the means of real improvement, and spiritual edification. The children of Brading were also the objects of his tender solicitude. They were in the habit of repairing to him every Saturday for the purpose of religious instructior; and his memoir of « Little Jane” records one of the happy results of these youthful meetings.
Within the parish of Brading was situated the hamlet of Bembridge, at the distance of about two miles. To this place Mr. Richmond went once in every week to expound the Scriptures, and to meet those wh«,, through age and infirmity or other causes, were unable to attend the parish church. A chapel of ease has since been erected, and consecrated in the summer of 1827. He had likewise the care of the parish of Yaverland ; and as the scenes of his early piety and zeal cannot but be interesting to his numerous friends, and the following description presents them vividly to the imagination, we insert it in his own words :
“I had the spiritual charge of another parish, adjoining to that in which I resided. It was a small district, and had but few inhabitants. The church was pleasantly situated on a rising bank, at the foot of a considerable hill. It was surrounded by trees, and had a rural, retired appearance. Close to the churchyard stood a large old mansion, which had formerly been the residence of an opulent and titled family; but it had long since been appropriated to the use of the estate, as a farm house. Its outward aspect bore considerable remains of ancient grandeur, and gave a pleasing character to the spot of ground on which the church stood. In every direction the roads that led to this house of God possessed distinct but interesting features. One of them ascended between several rural cottages from the sea shore, which adjoined the lower part of the village street. Another winded round the curved sides of an adjacent hill, and was adorned, both above and below, with numerous sheep, feeding on the herbage of the down. A third road led to the church by a gently-rising approach, between high banks, covered with young trees, bushes, ivy, hedge-plants, and wild flowers.
“From a point of land which commanded a view of all these several avenues, I used sometimes for a while to watch my congregation gradually assembling together at the hour of Sabbath worship. They were in some directions visible for a considera