« AnteriorContinuar »
suming all your strength; you will unfit yourself both for present and future usefulness. You are in danger of forgetting the living, by a mournful recollection of the dead. God acts as a sovereign, he claims nothing but what is his own. You are still surrounded by many mercies. The past dispensation has been peculiarly blest to your own family. You have another son, who will occupy, both in your heart and in the church of God, the place that is now made void. Your parish loves you ; the cause of God prospers beyond former precedent ; you have gained more than you have lost, and your child is in glory, would you wish to call him back again ?"
“ All is well,” he replied, “as it relates to these things; but there are times when we are led deeply to consider, not merely the trial itself under which we labour, but how far it has answered its appointed end. Whether it is sanctified to our own souls ;what is the reality of our own hope ;--the foundation on which we ourselves stand ;- the evidences of a renewed mind;-and whether we can appeal to the great Searcher of hearts, that all is right within.”
“ But you have this hope," I said ; why then does it not support you with its consolations ?"
“God,” he answered, “ is sifting me; he is weighing me in the balance of the sanctuary. I have been preaching all my life to others—how far am I myself interested in these great truths? Yes, God is searching me, and proving me, and seeing if there be any wicked way in me.”
“ He will do more," I said, “ than this,--he will lead you in the way everlasting."
“God grant it,” he replied ; “God grant I may have as assured a hope for myself, as I have for my beloved child.”
The tears flowed down his cheeks during these few remarks, and his whole manner evinced the inward conflict and agitation of his mind.
The following interesting meditation, which was written in the privacy of his study, to which he was confined by indisposition, will further disclose the state of his feelings
“I am this day staying at home, during divine service in the afternoon, owing to a cold,-Mr. Ayre being here to assist me. The last Sunday afternoon on which I was similarly detained, was in December, 1824, with my dear Wilberforce; he was then within a few weeks of his decease. This day twelvemonth was the day preceding his death.
“ Dear, blessed boy! in the midst of our daily domestic. cheerfulness of spirits, how my heart moans and mourns in tenderest recollections! I see the dear child in all his debilities of body;
I hear him speak,-) retrace the look of his eye,—I hang upon his spiritual language-his affectionate expressions,-his devotedness to God, - his faithful admonitions, --his languid frame,-his sweet countenance,- his willingness to die.
“ I lament my own want of more feeling : and yet I feel much. O blessed God! help me ;-strengthen me ;-save me! Make his death to be a source of life to me, through the death of Christ,—sanctifying his memory to my soul! I want to see more deep and solemn seriousness amongst my children at this time ; and yet I know they are not deficient in much good feeling on this subject. Lord, help, bless, and save them also!
My Nugent, too, is since gone--or rather, I have since heard it ; for he died some months before his brother, little as we apprehended it, when Wilberforce was so beautifully speaking about him, a few days previous to his own death.
“Oh, my dear boys! your memorials are most dear to my soul !
“ I tremble when I think how poorly I have profited by these parental warnings ; yet I take some encouragement from the feelings which I am conscious I retain. Lord, increase their influence ! In the midst of life I am in death. Who may be taken away next? I sometimes have fearful forebodings—I look around my beloved little circle, and sigh. I check these feelings, again, and am ashamed of my weakness. Lord ! make Christ to be every thing to me—and then all will, all must be well. Oh! keep my Fanny in a serious frame. Let her not forget her past impressions! Bless my Henry, and preserve him in a steady mind, untainted by levities ! Cherish my poor Legh, and let not my good hopes concerning him be blighted ! Bless the little ones, and make them thine own for ever! “ Pardon
weakness, O God! and bless this whole meditation to my own soul !
66 L. R. Turvey, Sunday, Jan. 15th, 1827.”
CHAPTER XVI. Closing Scene-Funeral—Remarks on his character, &c. We are now drawing to the close of the life and ministry of this excellent man, whose labours were singularly attended with the blessing of God to the end. The last two Sundays on which
he preached were in the beginning of March, 1827. On the former of these occasions, a person attended the church, who, having taken some offence, had secretly made a rash resolve never to enter it. He was both thoughtless and dissolute, and a bitter persecutor of religion in tho: e who professed it ; but on this day was constrained, by circumstances that need not be mentioned, to alter his determination. The text of the sermon was taken from Psalm li. 10, “ ('reate in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Sharper than a twoedged sword is the word of God; and in its appli ation by the power of the Spirit to this poor man, it proved to be the hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces." He confessed that immediately on his return home, he fell for the first time on his knees, and with crying and tears poured forth the strong emotion of his heart in the language of the publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
Should this record meet the eye or the ear of the individual so deeply interested in it, we would remind him of that hour of divine mercy, and of the day when he bore to the grave the body of him whose dying lips had conveyed the message of life to his soul. We would remind him of his bitter anguish, when he descended the vault, and knelt, weeping, beside the coffin. We would exhort him to cleave with full purpose of heart to the Lord, and to continue faithful unto death; that in the day of Christ's appearing, may he be found among those who will be the crown and joy of him whose loss he now deplores.
The next Sunday Mr. Richmond's sermons were particularly solemn. In the morning he preached from Col. iii. 2 ; your affections on things above.” And this address was directed to the true disciple for his comfort and confirmation. In the afternoon he preached from Psalm cxix. 52, 53. "I reniembered thy judgments of old, O Lord, and have comforted myself. Horror hath taken hold upon me, because of the wicked that forsake thy law.” This sermon was an awful and solemn appeal to the consciences of unawakened sinners. It was remarked by a person going out of church; “this sounds as if it came from the lips of a dying man.
From this time the disorder visibly increased : Mr. Richmond caught a fresh cold, and could only speak in a whisper. It was nevertheless, with some difficulty that he was restrained from being carried to the church ; but he never more left his house, and soon became sensible that his beloved flock would "6 face no more.” A gloom of sorrow overspread the parish, and "prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God,” for
his recovery. But the time was come when he was to enter into his rest. Few of his brethren had the privilege of conversing with him at this time, and the editor being abroad, on account of his own health, had no opportunity of any personal interview, during the season of his final illness. The last interview which he enjoyed with his esteemed friend, was in the preceding autunin. Little did he think, at that time, that they parted to meet no more! The following letters supply the most ample and interesting details on the closing scene of life.
“My dear Friend,- 1 unite with you and the neighbourhood, in deeply lamenting the decease of our much-valued friend, the late Mr. Richmond. Every day and occasion will remind us of our loss. He was indeed a bond of union in all our meetings, both public and private ; we bowed to his authurity, for he had an excellent judgment, and his fine temper never failed to diffuse a kind and brotherly feeling among-t us.
It was the spontaneous remark of every one who had any acquaintance with him, “ You have only to know Legh Richmond to love him.'
My interview with him a few days before his death, concerning which
you desired to be informed, was highly interesting, though I have but few particulars to communicate.
“Mr. Richmond had been declining in health for the last two years. A visible alteration took place in him alter the death of his son Wilberforce. The intensity of his feelings was at all times disproportionate to his strength; and some things, especially his dear boy's removal, seemed to lay hold of him with a degree of poignancy which he himself, in common with his friends, greatly regretted. He felt, and expressed resignation and thankfulness in the event; yet it was evident to us all that his frame had received an irreparable injury.
“ His brethren saw little of him during the last few months of his life. He continued the regular performance of the duties of his parish till within a few weeks of bis death, and we did not apprehend that he was so s.on to be taken from us.
" In his confinement, he shrunk from all intercourse beyond the circle of his own familv.
“After making repeated inquiries about his state of health, and receiving very unsatisfactory answers, I consulted his medical attendant, whose report determined me to lose no time in seeking an interview. Of his spiritual state there could be no doubt; but I thought if, like his family, he felt persuaded of his recovery, it might be important on many accounts that he should be apprized of his approaching end,
" I wished, among other things, to induce him to use his influence with the patron of the living in the appointment of a suitable successor.
We had a conversation of some length on this subject, and which I regretted when I perceived how greatly it exhausted his weak and shattered frame, and disabled him from entering on matters of' still deeper interest. I was anxious to hear his dying testimony to the great truths he had so long taught, and so strikingly exemplified by a consistent and holy conduct. The idea too, that a friendship which had suffered no interruption for more than twenty years, endeared by the remembrance of his judicious advice and affectionate sympathy in my hours of trial and affliction, was soon to be dissolved, gave a solemn and affecting interest to this interview, and I longed to express my gratitude, as well as to be quickened and confirmed by his dying counsels.
“ An opportunity offered, and I said, ' Dear brother, I owe you much love, and am pained to be the messenger of evil tidings. Still I cannot think it right to withhold from you my apprehension of the dangerous nature of your disease.' I know it, brother,' he replied, “ seven months
I was well satisfied from whence this cough came; that it was a messenger from above. I knew what it meant-but I cannot talk: F--, do you
talk.' “ I had scarcely resumed the conversation, with a remark on the immense value and importance of our principles, when be raised himself upright in his chair, and with great solemnity of manner, said, ' Brother, we are only half awake-we are none of us more than half awake.' He seemed unable to proceed, for his feebleness was extreme, and to relieve him I began again; but he made another effort. • The enemy, as our poor people would say, has been very busy with me. I have been in great darkness—a strange thought has passed through my mind-it is all delusion. Brother, brother, strong evidences, nothing but strong evidences will do at such an hour as this. I have looked here and looked there for them all have failed me- --and so I cast myself on the sovereign, free, and full grace of God in the covenant by Christ Jesus ; and there, brother, (looking at me with a smile of tranquillity quite indescribable, and which I shall never forget,) there I have found peace.'
“I could utter nothing in reply. My heart was quite full. I grasped his hand and left him, with a promise of a speedy return, musing on the similarity of his experience with that expressed by Hooker, a favourite with us both, • To name merits, then, is to lay their souls upon the rack, the memory of their own