Page images
PDF
EPUB

able either to refute his arguments or defend their own system, and therefore proceeded to gibe him for having changed his faith ; and when they saw that this made no impression upon him, they jostled him from place to place on the road; but as he still continued patient and unmoved, the time was fully come to adopt their ulterior measures ; and when the embryo Priest gave the word of command, “Now, boys, mind what I told you," they ran upon him with one accord, and he fell and was much abused. But recollecting that there was a respectable Protestant family residing on the road-side at a short distance, he collected all his remaining energy, sprang up, suddenly rushed forward, and so eluded their grasp as to dart before them towards the place where he hoped to find refuge from their diabolical fury. Providentially the door of the house was open; and though his persecutors, like so many fiends, were hard after him, he was enabled to gain the goal just in time to be preserved from the effects of their murderous rage. As they appeared still intent on the accomplishment of their wicked purpose, there is little doubt but he would have fallen a martyr on the spot, if God had not so ordered matters, that the master of the house in which he sought shelter was present, and promptly came forward to his rescue, by seizing a loaded gun, and firmly assuring them that he would shoot the first person that dared to offer him any further molestation. The person by whose interference God so providentially delivered him was afterwards very urgent upon him to institute legal proceedings against his persecutors; but he meekly refused, and committed his cause into the hands of Him that hath said, “ Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Rom. xii. 19.) And the event proved, that, at least in one sense, he did not err in his Christian forbearance ; for the young man who was then preparing for what are called “holy orders," when he reflected on the unprovoking, the patient, and the meek deportment of the person they had so shamefully treated, concluded that there must be something in Protestantism more than he had previously suspected. This conviction induced an examination as to the probable cause of Magorian's Christ-like demeanour ; and the result was, that he abandoned his intention as to the priesthood, and gave such marked evidence of a thorough change in his religious sentiments, that his friends, dreading an open declaration of his altered opinions, hurried him off to America, where, on his arrival, report says, he formally identified himself with the Protestant Church ; and, instead of striving to disseminate the unscriptural dogmas of the Council of Trent, he opened a school for the education of youth in the principles of the religion of Christ.

Another instance of outrageous persecution was by two near relations, who went to Magorian's own house ; and, after having exhausted every argument they could invent, without prevailing on him to abandon what they considered the new faith, they waxed desperate, and could not think of leaving the house till they had effected their purpose ; but he still retained his integrity, so that they became quite infuriate, and determined on hanging him, as a punishment for his obstinacy. With this view they prepared a rope, which they duly adjusted about his neck, and seemed fully bent on the accomplishment of their diabolical object. He, however, all the while was enabled to continue “unmoved by threatening or reward,” lifting up his heart to God, and requesting that he would either deliver him from their fury, as he did Daniel from the den of lions, or prepare him to submit with patient resignation to a martyr's death, as he did Stephen, when the Jews “grashed on him with their teeth, and stoned him " till he died. He firmly believed, that if God had not interposed for his deliverance, they actually would have destroyed him. But as they were raising him up, some circumstance so disconcerted them, that they suddenly relinquished their hold, and left him to die by some other means.

During the whole of these painful conflicts, he was diligent in his attendance on the ordinances of God; and, being a man of peace, as much as lay in him, he lived peaceably with all men. And though, for a long time, peace seemed to flee from him, he continued to “ seek and ensue it.” Hence he “grew in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” It was therefore no wonder that he acquired the confidence of his Christian brethren, and was, in due time, appointed to the responsible office of Class-Leader. In the execution of the duties of this office, he was punctual and persevering; and lived in the esteem and affections of those with whom he was associated. Though his residence was about three miles from the place of meeting, which was usually held early in the morning, he was scarcely

ordinary mind, he cheerfully surmounted, and delighted to be found at his post of duty. His family were in the habit of putting many hinderances in his way, sometimes neglecting to prepare for him suitable articles of clothing, and sometimes hiding those which had been prepared, solely for the purpose of keeping him from the class-meeting. But he always found means to disappoint their expectations, and meet with his brethren. One winter morning, when the weather was extremely cold, he found that his shoes and stockings were secreted, and he was not able to find the place of their concealment; but, though the alternative was forbidding, he readily embraced it, and proceeded through frost and snow to the place “where prayer was wont to be made!"

After class-meeting his practice was to attend religious service in the established Church in the forenoon, that being the most convenient place; and then he walked to Downpatrick to attend preaching at night. Though he thus walked about fourteen miles every Sunday, this was his usual practice for many years, and indeed as long as he was able to bear it.

mained us to put a on against

hotel what a gloves inong to the out of dark darkness

As might be expected, after his conversion, he was very solicitous to Benefit his family and neighbours, by placing within their reach religious ordinances similar to those which had' proved to him so singularly useful. He therefore opened his house for prayer and the ministry of the Gospel of Christ. But as he stood alone, the powerful agencies which the Papists brought into operation against the work in which he engaged were so successful, as to put a stop to these ordinances; and he, for a long time, remained “ as a sparrow alone upon the house-top." His conduct, it is true, was remarkably exemplary ; his temper uniformly peaceable; and his life, from the time of his conversion, irreproachable. But being of good character and devotional habits previous to his change of heart; all his uprightness and kindness were attributed to the religion which he took with him from the Church of Rome, and not to any grace which he had afterwards attained. Thus the effects which his Christian temper and holy life were, under other circumstances, calculated to produce, were artfully prevented. Hence, his wife was frequently heard to say, that she could not tell what made her James, above all persons, turu Methodist; because, before that time, he was as good as he could be. Had she seen by the light which shone upon his mind, how differently would she have felt and spoken ! With what a glow of grateful feeling did he usually, at the quarterly lovefeast, bear his testimony to the obligations under which he was laid to God, for having “brought him out of darkness into his marvellous light !" His own expression was, “Gross, gross darkness; a darkness which was felt; a darkness tenfold worse than that which the Egyptians endured when the destroying angel slew all their first-born throughout their land!” It was his custom to stand up at the beginning of the meeting, and, with tears streaming down his manly face, to express himself as one of the greatest debtors to the free grace of God that ever lived. On these occasions his Christian friends always listened to his clear and effective testimony with the greatest delight.

For some time previously to his death, his persecution was considerably abated; so that he passed on with comparatively little molestation, and was generally esteemed by those who knew him, as a worthy man and sincere Christian. Such was his general health and appearance, that most persons acquainted with him would have supposed that his life might have been spared for many years to come. God, however, in whose “ hands” our “ times are,” had determined to bring him to the grave much sooner than his friends anticipated.

It is highly probable that the affliction which terminated his life was induced, or considerably increased, by the affectionate assiduity with which he attended a beloved son during a long and tedious illness. During his son's affliction he watched his bed with parental solicitude ; and earnestly prayed, that, if agreeable to the will of God, his life might be spared. His son was spared, and he sincerely believed that it was in answer to his prayers. His own death speedily ensued, and he as sin

might reco make every efforon, he should"a lin

cerely believed that it was the result of the affliction of his son. Be that as it may, he has gone to the grave in peace.

He had long feared, that if he should die by a lingering illness, or if, during the time of his affliction, he should be at all insensible, his friends would make every effort to secure the visit of the Priest, that be might receive the benefit of the last rites, prescribed for the dying by the Church of Rome, and without which, the members of that community are taught to believe, there is no salvation. If report be true, attempts were made to persuade him to consent to the adoption of this measure. But when urged to a compliance with the wish of his family, in this matter, by a reference to the authorized version of the New Testament, where it is written, “ Is any sick among you? Let him call for the Elders of the church ; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;" (James v. 14;) it is said, he firmly refused, saying, he had “ an unction from the Holy One," without which all the oily anointing, which every Priest upon earth could administer, would avail nothing.

It was fully expected that his friends would not allow any Protestant to see him in his affliction ; but the writer visited him twice during the short time of his illness, and met with no obstruction whatever. Other Protestant friends were favoured with the same privilege.

To a religious friend, who visited him only a few days before he died, he said that he was very happy, and had no cloud on his mind, no fear, no temptation. “My Christian course,” he observed, “ in the commencement was very thorny. I had to contend with many difficulties, great dangers, and powerful enemies. Indeed, my way, during the whole of my heavenly journey, has been exceedingly rough. But He that can do nothing wrong, knew that I needed these things; and if I had not been so tried, perhaps I should have grown careless, and fallen short of that heavenly rest of which I have so glorious a hope. And now, as I am approaching the end, my path grows smoother and smoother. I draw very fast towards the end; and, I think, we may fairly calculate, that the end will be peace! O the love of Jesus ! How sweet to me is the love of Jesus! I cannot describe how happy I am in the love of my blessed Saviour. The enemy is not permitted to come near me. He has not, during my illness, been suffered to assail me by even one temptation. I calmly wait till the Lord shall set my spirit free, and translate me to his glorious kingdom.” Then, quickly adverting to the seasons of hallowed delight with which they had frequently been favoured at their class-meetings, he said,

“ What peaceful hours we have enjoy'd !

How sweet their memory still !” The writer's last visit was on the day before Magorian died. He then found him very weak, but free from any violent pain. His mind was calm and peaceful, trusting in God, and patiently waiting for

was on the day any violent pain, waiting for

“ mortality to be swallowed up of life.” He did not appear to experience such extraordinary rapture as some have been permitted to enjoy ; but he had no guilty dread, no anxious fears; “ he knew whom he had believed, and was persuaded that he was able to keep that which he had committed unto him.” (2 Tim. i. 12.) He longed to depart, and be with Christ; for

“ His hope was full (O glorious hope !)

Of immortality.” While the writer sat by his bed, some of his acquaintance, who were in the room, made very kind and strong remarks regarding the excellency of his character; the humiliating considerations suggested by death, when so amiable a person as he had been must die; and the certainty of his future happiness, because he had been so good a man on earth! These observations appeared quite ungrateful to his feelings, and he exclaimed, in an emphatic and deeply-affecting tone, "My friends have a much better opinion of me than I have of myself. One would think that they imagine me worthy of heaven on account of the goodness of my own works. But, O! I am a poor hell-deserving sinner; and all my hope is in the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ, my blessed Saviour!

Jesus, to thy dear wounds I flee,

I sink into thy side ;
Assured that all who trust in thee

Shall evermore abide !'” After remaining with him near an hour, he seemed afraid lest the writer should be benighted; and requested that they might have prayer. Having commended him to God, the writer withdrew, hoping that he should have the pleasure of seeing him once more before his “ spirit returned to God who gave it.” But in this he was disappointed, as he died on the evening of the next day, Sunday, the 9th of December, 1838, aged sixty-six years.

“ Sure the last end Of the good man is peace! How calm his exit! Night-dews fall not more gently to the ground,

Nor weary worn-out winds expire so soft ! ” Thus died James Magorian, than whom, in humble life, modern times have produced few more striking instances of the power of the Gospel, and the sufficiency of the grace of God. It is not pretended that he was infallible, or that he had no infirmities or defects; but in him there were as few defects as in most persons, and these were completely lost sight of in that purity of mind, integrity of purpose, and consistency of Christian character, which he uniformly manifested. For even “ his failings leaned to virtue's side.” And whether we consider the gross darkness out of which he was called; the darkness by which he continued to be surrounded; the temptations and persecutions to which he was incessantly exposed; the holiness of heart which he attained

« PreviousContinue »