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would be a loathsome and detestable creature, to any Christian man who knew his inner life. In such lands, parents are murdered, children are got rid of, lying is as common as the air they breathe ; fraud and violence are resorted to on every occasion. In New Zealand, forty years ago, a woman could confess, as no uncommon or remarkable fact, that eight murdered infants lay buried in the earth beneath her hut. In Persia, at this moment, the "common social life" is such as we must not describe; to call it " loathsome” and “horrible” is to use language quite inadequate to the case. But how exceedingly different is the scene, when we turn to consider the domestic life of England. We do not speak of the known lepers, for we have too many of them still; but of those whom Christianity has cleansed, without saying; of those who resemble the nine who had experienced Christ's power. Looking to our metropolis only, and especially to its private habitations, what thousands have we, of the middle and higher orders, from whom the leprosy appears to have been driven away. Worthy citizens, faithful husbands and wives, fond parents, honourable dealers, and even "religious men." And yet, if we look a little closer, how continually do we find, that neither “with a oud voice," nor even with a soft voice, neither “falling on their faces," nor standing on their feet, do they "glorify God;" but that the week passes over, and the month, and the year, with no utterance save that of a vague and general profession, and with no attempt to “glorify God” beyond the ordinary half-crown in the collection-plate two or three times in the year.
We believe this narrative to contain a lesson of deep import to England at this moment; and hence our first wish is, that it should be understood, accepted, and appreciated.
Every man or woman that is born into the world in England at the present day, is infected with the malady of sin. Had he or she been born in Persia, Madagascar, China, Burmah, or any other heathen country, the poison would have shown itself in the ordinary and natural way. The leprous man or woman would have grown both intrinsically and visibly loathsome and abominable. But it has been granted to him or her to be born into a society already purified by the cleansing power of Christianity. The Word of God has gone forth in England; the Law of God is everywhere acknowledged; and among the larger portion of our middle and higher classes, to lie, to defraud, to murder, to commit adultery, is deemed and declared to be intolerable and outrageous. The voice of society, instructed by the voice of God, rebukes and puts down open sin of this kind. The community is cleansed, as were the nine lepers; but, like them, the community is not saved.
Unhappily for England, this distinction is not remarked, is
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not insisted on, in the ordinary preaching of the Word. Our churches are filled by tens of thousands who resemble the nine, but who do not resemble the one. And our ministers, for the most part, make no distinction. They see around them, in a well-filled church, the self-satisfied faces of eight hundred or a thousand men and women, who lead moral and “respectable" lives—who do not lie, or cheat, or poison, or seduce—who come to church Sunday after Sunday, and give their guinea to the schools, or to the Church Missionary Society, and they greet these as all alike "children of God, through faith in Christ Jesus," when, in reality and truth, nine out of every ten stand exactly where the nine lepers stood ; never wishing or attempting to "give glory to God;" and, in fact, not feeling any love to God, or any desire that His name should be glorified.
Why is this? Can it be right that the nine and the one, whom Jesus separated, should thus be mingled together? Can it be the duty of the “messengers of Christ” thus to " speak pleasant things, and to prophesy deceits”?
How can the Church of Christ flourish, if the truth is not spoken from her pulpits? Is there any real progress now making? Are souls converted? are men now brought "out of darkness into light, and from the power of Satan unto God”? Are such changes as these often heard of? Does every man who preaches the pure Gospel of Christ, find souls flocking into the fold of Christ after every sermon? Is every pious and earnest layman able to count up the scores or the hundreds of conversions which have occurred all around him within his own memory ?
Let us compare the state of things in England between 1850 and 1870, with the state of things in Englaud between 1750 and 1770. A volume has, very lately, issued from the press, bearing the well-known and highly-honoured name of * J. C. Ryle," which volume reminds us of some things which it is not safe to forget. It is a rapid sketch of eight or ten persons, all clergymen of the Church of England, who lived about a century ago, and who, under God's blessing, raised both the Established and the Dissenting Churches of England out of a slumber which seemed likely to be fatal to both. We are not going to review this book, or to give any regular and connected account of it; but a few facts, borrowed from Mr. Ryle's pages, seem to have a direct bearing on our present subject,*
The foremost man of this band of Christian heroes, is,
* The Christian Leaders of the Last Century. By the Rev. J. C. Ryle. London : Nelsons. 1869.
naturally, George Whitfield. This remarkable man was educated at Oxford, and he continued to labour within the pale of the Establishment so long as he was allowed to do so; but when pulpits and church-doors were closed against him, he went to Moorfields, to Kennington Common, and to many other open places, and preached to 20,000 people at a time.
He spent thirty-four years in labours scarcely ever equalled by mortal man. In these thirty-four years it is computed that he preached eighteen thousand times, and almost always to vast multitudes. His ordinary engagements, when in London, included thirteen sermons per week. Nor did his sermons ever degenerate into rant, or common-place. The most competent judges were the most warm in his praise. Chesterfield was frequently his delighted auditor. Bolingbroke says of him, “He has the most commanding eloquence I ever heard.” And David Hume declared that it was worth going twenty miles to hear him.
Never did he descend to the rank of a mere declaimer of sermons. His whole heart was in his work. One of his intimate friends, Cornelius Winter, declares, that he hardly ever knew him get through a sermon without tears. This was the secret of his wonderful command over the hearts of others. And, as a natural consequence, the practical results of his labours were prodigious. Wesley, in his funeral sermon, asks, “Who ever called so many thousands, so many myriads, to repentance ?” In one single Whitsuntide week, after preaching to multitudes in Moorfields, he received a thousand letters from persons awakened to spiritual concern, and admitted as many as three hundred and fifty to the Lord's table! And this was but a single week, out of an active life of thirty-four years.
Such was Whitfield; but it may be said, that there never was more than one Whitfield. We pass on, then, to look at two or three other men of his time.
Daniel Rowlands was nothing more than a poor Welsh curate, who was born, and lived, and died in a village in Wales. He was too poor to obtain a University education, but walked up to London, and received ordination at the early age of twenty. For five years more he remained just like other Welsh curates; but in his twenty-fifth year it pleased God to open his eyes, and he became in Wales what Whitfield was in England. Speaking in another language, and labouring in a country of which Englishmen at that time knew but little, he produced, on the whole, a wider and more lasting result than even Whitfield himself. Wales, when his ministry of the Word began, was a dark, ignorant, and exceedingly corrupt and vicious country. He preached incessantly, and from county to county, for almost half a century, and at the end of that time he left the Welsh a religious and moral people.
He lived for one object only—to preach Christ. Of other things he took little heed. While the Established Church would tolerate him, he preached within her pale; when his bishop cancelled his license, he did as Whitfield and Wesley had done—he went on preaching ; not deeming such circumstances to be worth his care. People now came from all parts of Wales to hear him. A journey of fifty or sixty miles was thought of no importance, if taken to hear Daniel Rowlands preach. When he administered the Lord's Supper, it was not unusual for him to have 1500, or 2000, or 2500 communicants; and the people afterwards returned to their homes, singing hymns on their journey, like the Jews on their return from the annual visits to the Temple.
We are now at a distance of more than a whole century from the zenith of Rowland's ministry, and can only gather, by distant and faint report, an idea of his prodigious power. It is quite clear that there was nothing of rant, or of empty declamation, about his preaching. The testimony of many who knew him agrees in one point-the dignity, the grandeur, the majesty of his appearance in the pulpit. Mr. Jones, of Creaton, who had heard all the best preachers of his time, said, that “ he had never heard more than one Rowlands." Charles of Bala, himself a star, spoke of the profound thoughts, the dignity, the strength, the majesty of Rowlands' preaching. A Birmingham minister, who came accidentlly to a place where Rowlands was preaching, said, “I never witnessed such a scene before; the striking appearance of the preacher, and his zeal, animation, and fervour were beyond description. His countenance glowed almost like an angel's.” Christmas Evans, another excellent judge, says, “There was nothing low or disagreeable about him; all was becoming, dignified, and excellent. There was such a vehement, invincible flame in his ministry, as effectually drove away the careless or worldly spirit; and the people drew near, as it were, to the bright cloud ; eternity, and its amazing realities, rushing into their minds." So one who went out of Carnarvonshire to hear him preach, says, “He dwelt with such overwhelming thoughts on the love of God, and on the vastness of His gift to man, that I was swallowed up in amazement. I did not know that my feet were on the ground: I had no idea where I was,—whether in earth or heaven.”
Rowlands, like Whitfield, lived the life of an apostle in the eighteenth century, “Having food and raiment, he was therewith content.” Twice were livings pressed upon his acceptance, and refused. He says himself,“ We used to travel over hills and mountains, on our little nags; without anything to eat but the bread and cheese we carried in our pockets, nor anything to drink but water from the springs. If we had a little buttermilk in some cottages, we thought it a great thing." His motto was, “ One thing I do," and that one thing was, “to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ." His reward in this world was, the planting of such a Church of Christ in Wales, that, one hundred years after, clear, powerful Gospel sermons were preached in hundreds of pulpits in Wales, which, as far as we can see, would never have been preached but for the great work done by Daniel Rowlands a whole century before.
We pass on, to observe the same thing under different circumstances. Whitfield was a wonderful preacher on Kennington Common or in Moorfields; Daniel Rowlands, a Welshman, could touch the hearts of Welshmen, either inside Llangeitho church, or preaching from a stone in the churchyard. Henry Venn, as vicar of Huddersfield, was merely an English parochial minister in a large town. He found it "a huge, dark, ignorant, immoral, irreligious population.” He gave himself so heartily to the work of reclaiming this heathenish mass, that in twelve years his strength was spent, his constitution was broken, and nothing but a timely retire. ment to a rural village saved him from a premature death.
"As soon as he began to preach at Huddersfield, the church began to be so crowded that numbers were not able to obtain admission. Many soon became impressed with a concern for their souls; people flocked in from the surrounding hamlets, enquiring, 'What must they do to be saved ?' Mr. Venn would often begin the service with a solemn and impressive address; in preaching, his whole soul was engaged. When unfolding the terrors of the law, he could make his hearers tremble : when turning to the offers of grace, he would go on entreating till his eyes filled with tears.” One eminent man of Leeds used often to drive over to Huddersfield to hear Mr. Venn preach; and once, in returning home with an intimate friend, they neither of them opened their lips till they reached Leeds, a distance of fifteen miles; so deeply had they been impressed. Another, Mr. Brook of Longwood, says, “I went with my uncle, W. Mellor, to the church one Thursday evening. There was a great crowd in the church, all silent, and many weeping. W. Mellor was deeply attentive, and when we came out of church we did not say a word to each other till we got some way into the fields. Then Mellor stopped, leaned against a wall, and burst into tears.” A third says, “Nobody could help being affected; I could have heard him all the night through." A fourth, “He was a wonderful preacher. He made many weep: I have often wept at his sermons. I could have stood to hear him till morning.”
We must remember, that the sermons thus spoken of were Vol. 69.-No. 374.