Images de page

but more so, if possible, for his elevated piety, and the condescension of his deportment. The last feature of his character especially endeared him to his junior brethren. At regular intervals Mr. Morris and Mr. Carey met at Mr. Hall's, to benefit by his conversation and his critical remarks upon their pulpit exercises, the outlines of which they rehearsed to him. If ministers of good attainments and long standing in the church of Christ would court the society of their youthful brethren who happen to live within the sphere of their influence, and would lay open to them the results of their own theological studies, and their experience in the practical, and often painful, details of pastoral life, it would be of incalculable benefit both to ministers and people. Valuable hints might often be suggested for the solution of particular passages, for the confirmation of important principles in biblical criticism and in morals ; and such information afforded upon

of christian churches, as might prevent those painful collisions which sometimes mar the comfort of societies, and impair the usefulness of their pastors. Mr. Carey was never heard to speak of his intercourse with Mr. Hall but with the deepest emotion, such as often impeded his utterance. But among his ministerial acquaintance, there was no one with whom he assimilated so entirely as with Mr. Fuller. In decision, simplicity, and native mental vigour, they perhaps were equal ; though, in other respects, their endowments were sufficiently dissimilar to mark them out each one for eminence in very distinct departments. That intimate union between them which

the economy

· Be ye

proved of such important consequence to the cause in which each exerted so mighty an influence, and which continued for nearly thirty years, without abatement and without alloy, commenced at Northampton at a periodical meeting of ministers.

The person who was expected to occupy the pulpit failing to fulfil his engagement, Mr. Carey was requested to supply his place. He discoursed from Matt. v. 48: perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect. Upon his descending the pulpit, Mr. Fuller, seizing him by the hand, expressed the pleasure he felt in finding that their sentiments so closely corresponded ; and hoped they should know each other more intimately. He has often told me, that no event weaned him so effectually from his native country, as the death of this beloved coadjutor and valued friend.

Two subjects at this time engrossed the attention and drew forth the energies of Mr. Fuller and Mr. Carey. The first was, the duty of all men to believe the gospel to whom it is made known. The other, the duty of the christian church to publish it throughout the world. A spurious system of calvinism prevailed so extensively in the churches of the Baptist denomination, through the midland counties, as to delude and obdurate the consciences of the unconverted; whilst it chilled the sympathies, and utterly paralysed the efforts, of professing christians. The broad common-sense principle, that every human soul, when hearing the gospel, is bound to believe and obey it, and is eligible to its mercies, was then but dimly seen by many preachers, and seldom candidly announced.

The total denial of this principle by some, and the very partial admission and timid avowal of it by others, was disastrous in the extreme, as must ever be the case where the same course is followed, and which may well impress ministers with the importance of attaining clear, consistent, and comprehensive views of divine truth, and of making them known without hesitation or reserve. For, if ministers do not perceive it to be the duty of men to believe the gospel, their hearers will readily enough conclude that the sin of rejecting it is proportionably doubtful.

While the errors of this system were detected and exploded by the able pen of Mr. Fuller, and the way was preparing for the more salutary exercise of the ministry at home, the other subject, of equal legitimacy and force, employed the unremitted and anxious attention of his friend. I have been often told by his sisters, and by the deacon of his church at Leicester, that for several years he never engaged in prayer, to the best of their remembrance, without interceding for the conversion of the heathen, and for the abolition of the slave-trade.

The straits to which he was reduced whilst at Moulton, were almost incredible. It has been already remarked, in his sister's memorial in the previous section, that he was compelled to teach a school for his subsistence; and that the former schoolmaster, contrary to expectation, returning to the village, and recommencing in the same line, frustrated his attempts. The person had some degree of reputation already established, and the village was too small to supply


scholars in sufficient number for them both. Mr. Carey's school, therefore, gradually dwindled. To compensate for this failure, he had recourse to his business, working somewhat with his own hands, and giving out work to be done by others, for a gentleman residing at Kettering. But my respected friend, Mr. Gotch, the son of the above, who well remembers Mr. Carey at this time, bears no very flattering testimony to his skill, either in making up, or in superintending the work of others. There can be no difficulty in accounting for his disappointment. He had other objects of thought, and other purposes inceptively forming, the influence of which could not be supplanted, and the progress of which was not to be arrested, by other and lower pursuits, however imperative the necessity for an attention to them.

The people were so exceedingly poor, that they raised scarcely any thing for his support. Yet, I confess, it is difficult to conceive of any church, however small, and however indigent, which, with due economy and union, might not contribute something for the comfort of their minister, in many instances far beyond what is done at present. An attention to that common sense, and a deference to those principles of universal equity, which regulate the conduct of men in the ten thousand transactions of ordinary life, might prove of no small advantage to christian societies. The want of systematic arrangement for the securing both labour and contribution, are, in many instances, lamentably evident. The giving and the doing are often devolved upon less than one-third of the attendants.

One or

two deacons, necessarily inefficient by age and its inseparable infirmities, are oppressed with the secular burden of the whole duty; whereas every member of a church should hold it a sacred duty to consecrate somewhat of labour and of substance to the interest of the body. This is indubitably the law of the New Testament; that every one, receiving spiritual benefit, should yield some appropriate return. And, unless the poor as well as the rich recognize and act up to this obligation, there can be no approach to perfection in any society of christians. The poor are not generally disinclined to give to any just and benevolent object, whether foreign or domestic; and no sum, even to a fraction, should be refused, or reluctantly received, when offered in obedience to a divine injunction, and flowing, as we may trust it often does, from a righteous and holy principle. But no more ought to be expected from them than what is in proportion to their known condition; and that should be punctually obtained at the stipulated periods. Should their donations be deemed too small to be collected in detail, the poor cannot be expected to give in aggregate amounts; they will feel disparaged and wounded by the neglect; and their prayers and donations are forfeited together : and another inevitable consequence is, that, a few persons in competent circumstances, having more to subscribe than could in justice be apportioned to them, begin to wince under their burdens; the minister is ill provided for; he sighs in secret over the severity of his condition, and the hardness of his people's hearts ; and that reciprocity of

« PrécédentContinuer »