Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

[Concluded from our last.] Our readers have, we doubt not, felt themselves deeply interested in the former part of the Memoir of this truly valuable Minister of Christ, which was given in our last Number; and have probably expressed their warm approbation of his zealous exertions, and their satisfaction in his suffering persecations with such a truly apostolic spirit. We now proceed to gratify our friends with a further account, hoping ihat, by the blessing of God, his example may prove beneficial to many. The life of Mr. Denshamn, though short, was active and full of incidents. In the life of a worthy pastor, who carefully tends his flock in one place; and who beats on “ the even tenor of his way” perhaps for balf a century, the history of one year is the history of a whole life; but the itinerant, who rambles far and wide through the wilderness to seek the lost sheep, presents us with something new at almost every step. The most important and busy life in the whole world was, without all question, the public life of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the short space of three years and a half, numberiess discourses, journeys, miracles, sufferings, &c. &c. are crowded together without one idle moment, by four of the most impartial historians that ever sat down to write. They relate the most wonderful events without emotion, without censure or praise. They keep themselves in the back ground to bring forward their Lord, who, like the sun, enlightens the world ; and who reseinbled that luminary with only one exception, that he was without a spot. The life and labours of the apostle Paul form the only counterpart to the life of his Lord and Master. After the lapse of eighteen centuries, at a humble distance, followed the modern apostle of Britain, the illustrious George Whitfield. That Mr. Denshain possessed, if not his mantle, yet a portion of his spirit, has already appeared in the former Number, where, though dead, he has yet spoken to us by such of his writings as were found after bis decease. The task of the impartial historian is difficult.

Ce

X11.

The biographer is always the friend; and the warmth of affection may betray him into mere panegyric. Where shall we look for impartial biography bit in the Sacred Scriptures, where every character is shaded with its faults: Intimate as the writer and subject of this Memoir were, and though Mr. Densham certainly was not without his faults, yet he can only say he knew them not. .

We shall now lay before our readers a few more extracts from his letters. " If,” says he in a letter to a friend, " opposition and persecution be any evidence that the Lord is at work, I may hope some good is doing here. Since I wrote you last, I have been endeavouring to preach in several new places. These poor villagers are as ignorant and wicked as any Heathens can be. I feel compassion for their souls; and I must acknowledge, that what I have seen and felt, since I commenced itinerant, makes me wish and pray for the zeal and talents of a Paul, or a Whitfield, to fly front place to place to diffuse the sweet savour of our Redeemer's name. I cannot now enumerate my texts without referring to my journal ; but I have preached fifty-three times in the last twenty-five days, besides expositions at our prayer-meetings in twelve different places, five of which are new. The old serpent hisses; and I find opposition not only from the carnal but profossing world. Many of our genteel professors are displeased at my conduct, and think I disgrace them and myself, in going out and being treated thus. Blessed be God, I hope not to be discouraged from any quarter. The state of the souls of our fellow-countrymen calls loudly on us for help. There is a considerable town near Winchester, called Alresford, totally without the gospel. I expect to make an attempt there soon, with the assistance of three of my brother ininisters, in this neighbourhood.”-Of the result of this attempt he writes in another letter.

“Monday, Aug. 18, went to Alresford, according to appointment, and met our friends. We commenced our service at half past six : - some appeared to hear with attention. I addressed the crowd in the street from the window, stating our motives in coming, assuring them I had no intention to oppose the church, but to recommend to them the very doctrines and truthis the church professed ; and to enable them to judge of our principles, I would give them some Religious Tracts. I reminded them of our religious liberties, and that the place was licenced according to law. After reading to them the licence, I dismissed them with a blessing, and published preaching next week. But when we came into the street, the whole town apo peared in an uproar. They had placed an engine to play on us as we passed; and after I was on horseback, they insulted me in the most shameful manner, playing the engine, hissing and hooting, and even stoning me out of the town. Some of our friends, who went a contrary way, escaped unhurt; but others leti the town literally at the hazard of their lives. They took one of our horses out of the stable, and cut the bridle to pieces; and it was with much difficulty the person got his horse; and was then obliged to ride home with a halier. Many of the stones that were thrown at us were very large ; but we were all mercifully preserved. The inn-keeper intreated us to come no more to his house; and the owner of the room wished us to give it up, as he intended to sell the premisses. Still I am persuaded that, could a room be procured for a longer time, we should go again, and not suffer them ihus to insult us in triumph, when we have the law to protect us ; particularly, as there are several respectable persons who would attend, provided it could be established. “I find that the minister of the parish has preached a sermon against us, and called a general meeting of the inhabitants to prevent our returning.-0) what an awful state these poor blind souls are in ! - how distressing the thought, to leave a whole town thus, to fill up the measure of their iniquities!"

These are only a few, out of many instances, that might be adduced of the violent opposition he encountered in propagating the gospel in dark places. -- Of his patience in suffering, we might mention, that the honourable testimony borne by Mr. Eyre, as recorded in his life, alluded to Mr. Densham *. .

The violence of this opposition, however, considerably abated latterly.-He says, in another letter, “ I cannot refrain froin expressing my gratitude to God for his great' goodness towards Ls. The change is truly wonderful in this country since I came here. The prejudice, which was so strong against us, has, in a great degree, subsided; and inany, who were in total darkness, are now rejoicing in God their Saviour, while others are seeking the Lord. I waited on the Rev. Rector, who is our Justice of Peace, to confer with him about a better observance of the Sabbath. He received me with great respect; and we had an hour's conversation together on very important subjects. - He expressed his readiness to render me any service in preventing any disturbance or insult, which might be offered me in any of the villages. I consider this circumstance to be of very great importance, and it demands my utinost gratitude to God, as it will, in a great measure, prevent the outward persecution fendured last sumuner.”

Mr. Densham was no stranger to that mental conflict so common to ministers on their continuing in the arduous work of the ministry, under a feeling sense of the importance of the work, and their utter insufficiency for it. The charming grace of humility shone conspicuously in him, in his readiness to esteem all before himself. Accordingly he writes thus to a friend :-" I feel myself so inadequate to the work, and my mind is so very uncomfortable, that I could wish to resign. I should do so instantly, but for the precious proinises, which are

. See Evan. Mag. 1803, p. 283.

Сce .

all my support. lam also encouraged with some fresh success with which the Lord is pleased to bless the labours of such a poor worm. Being engaged in examining the people previous to their joining with us at the Lord's table, I am constrained to acknowledge, that many are savingly converted to God. In hearing the experience of some, my soul is filled with joy, which came very seasonably now, is for some time past I have been lamenting my want of success; but this fills my mind with gratitude and encouragement. A young man came to me last evening, who has attended for some time :- he blessed God for ever sending me to Petersfield. He dates his first impressions from a discourse I preached from 2. Cor. iv. 3. “ If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them who are lost,” when he first discovered his real character.

"There are several instances in villages : one in particular is very striking :- A very wicked man was brought to hear (what induced him to come I cannot say); but he came, last week, to the shop of one of my people, who, being glad to see him attend so constantly, asked hiin, it be inad got a Bible? He could read, having had a decent education ; but had been always such a drunken spendthrift, that he could not keep even a lodging;, but often lay about in barns. He said, “yes, Sir; I had a vile fiddle; but I sold, it, and bought a Bible; and it was the best money I ever laid out :” and he requested the person to purchase hin a Hymn-book. I hope the Lord will go on to bless him! And do you, my dear friend, still pray for me. I really feel 1 stand much in need of all the prayers of my friends. I often tremble, from a feeling sense of my own insufficiency."

Not many weeks before his death, he wrote to a young friend of his, a student at Oxford, which, as it was one of the last letters that ever fell from his pen, we cannot deny our readers the pleasure of perusing, particularly as it expresses the feelings of his soul on the loss of his beloved patron and friend, Mr. Eyre, as well as his views as a Christian : - little could he then suppose how soon he was to regain his company in yonder bright and happy world, never, never more to part ! - You have, no doubt, heard of the death of my very dear Mr. Eyre; and will join with me in regretting such a loss. I feel it very sensibly. How dark are the dispensations of Providence! May the Lord sanctify it to us all! The subject on which you write, is the most important that can possibly occupy our thoughts, or engage our affections. Indeed, every thing else dwindles into nothing, like the taper before the sun. The Lord Jesus Christ, in his person, work, offices, and character, is the only foundation on which we can build for peace and felicity in this world and the next; and in proportion as our faith beholds him, and as we are enabled to live upon him, is the peace of our souls promoted. To be enabled ihus to live

« PreviousContinue »