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seeds of divine truth in the minds of children! Though they may be long buried, we seldom find that they are totally lost. "The great Assize, or Day of Judgment," a little book that used to lie in his father's window, so struck him by the beauty and richness of its imagery, that he could once nearly repeat the whole.
Religiously disposed, as he appears to have been in the earliest part of his life, at Tavistock he became the very reverse. It will not, indeed, be matter of surprize to those acquainted with the wickedness of the human heart, that a young man, sanguine in his temper, of quick perception, and eager in his pursuits, unrestrained by parental authority, destitute of religious instruction, placed in a town where vital religion was but little known, and associating with companions more dissipated than himself, should, occasionally at least, exhibit affecting instances of dissipation and depravity. It was on the day following one of those scenes of revelling, in which he had been personally engaged, as Mr. Eyre was travelling alone in a chaise, on the road from Tavistock to his native place, that a passage of the holy Scriptures, which he had formerly read, rushed on his recollection with all the force of truth, aided by the poignancy of guilt, and "the powers of the world to come." Deep conviction, accompanied with the greatest distress, immediately seized his mind. The arrows of the Almighty drank up his spirit; and this anguish, no doubt, urged him to fervent prayer. On his return to Tavistock, instead of seeking his former associates in sin, he ardently enquired after those whose conduct had before convinced him, that they were seriously concerned for their immortal happiness.
There were, at that period, two brothers, young men, of a very respectable family, both of whom have since proved "burning and shining lights," as ministers of the gospel, who for some time had laboured under similar convictions. These he found, and with then he formed a cordial and lasting friendship.
What pious reader can review, without sympathetic interest, a scene which presents three young men, all destined to be eminently useful in the church of Christ, meeting together and forming au acquaintance from their mutual experiences: now confessing their sins and deprecating divine wrath, and then enquiring with ardour what they must do to be saved :as yet ignorant of the truth as it is in Jesus; and without a preacher of the gospel, or any kind Christian friend, to shew unto them the way of salvation!
One of this little company yet survives, to inform us (of what it is reasonable to believe) that, "being ignorant of God's righteousness, they went about to establish one of their own;" and that, although the reformation of Mr. Eyre's character was visible to all, none but his associates knew the horror of mind
* Messrs. John and Wm. Saltern.
which he suffered whilst, remaining ignorant of Jesus as a Saviour, he incessantly laboured to fulfil the moral law of God for his justification. Nevertheless, he that permitted Saul, of Tarsus, to remain three days in a state of anxious doubt, and then sent the messengers of grace to instruct him, alleviated the distress of our friend by a gleam of hope in the divine mercy. Prompted now by a fervent zeal for the salvation of others around him, but as yet possessing a very indistinct knowledge of the gospel, and of religious characters, he applied to a minister, begging him to preach a sermon every Lord's Day even ing, in hope that it would be useful to young people. This minister happened to be one of Socinian sentiments; yet the frigidity of his system gave way, for a season at least, to the warm zeal of the young disciple; who assiduously went about to collect hearers to fill the house, and obtain subscriptions to increase the salary of the preacher.
In this twilight state, however, he did not long remain. He, "who is the light of the world," and has engaged, that those who follow him shall not "walk in darkness, but have the light of life," ordered him, in his providence, suitable and effectual relief. What he had sought in vain from a living instructor, he found in the writings of one, who, although "dead, yet speaketh." The Dialogues of the late ingenious and pious Hervey, were now put into his hand, by Mr. Barnett, an old disciple, who is still living; and these opened to him the doctrine of justification by faith alone. His mind was particularly struck with Rom. iii. 24-27. "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." He rejoiced that he had found a passage in which the way of salvation, by faith in the mediatorial righteousness of Jesus Christ, was so unequivocally revealed.
Mr. Barnett, perhaps diffident of himself, now advised his young friends to seek additional instruction, by an interview with the late Rev. Andrew Kinsman*, of Plymouth Dock. To this they consented, and obtained what they sought; and of that interview, we can relate the following anecdote. It appears that these young disciples, in their way, having called upon a member of Mr. Kinsman's church, to whom they had been recommended, expressed to him a wish to partake of the Lord's Supper, which was that day to be administered. Upon his in-forming them that no persons were admitted to that ordinance who had not given satisfactory evidence of being true Christi
See a Memoir of his life in our Magazine for August, 1793.
ans, Mr. Eyre replied, "In case that were refused, he hoped they might be present, at least, as spectators, to feed by faith on the atoning sacrifice, if they did not partake of the elements." When, however, they were introduced to Mr. Kinsman, that worthy minister was so pleased with their Christian conversation, that he, and some of the members of his church, gave them the right hand of fellowship, and admitted them to communion at the Lord's Table.
Edified by this interview, charmed with the society of Christians at Plymouth Dock, and convinced of the great advantages enjoyed under the sound of the gospel, they could not but form a contrast between the state of religion at that place and the dark and deplorable condition of Tavistock. Their conversation, in going home, naturally turned on measures proper to be taken to recommend the gospel to their ignorant townsmen. Mr. Eyre proposed hiring a room, and inviting all around to meet with them, in order to converse on religious subjects. A room was accordingly procured;, the time of meeting was fixed; notices were given; and, at the appointed hour, the place was filled by a numerous audience, among whom were many of the most genteel people of the town. To the surprize of all, even of his friends, Mr. Eyre, on that occasion, arose, and delivered a most striking and pathetic address; and, like another Melancthon, in the transports of his joy and zeal, conceived he had nothing more to do, to secure the conversion of his hearers, than merely to state that gospel which was so delightful to himself.
In this place he continued to preach nearly two years; and, to the praise of divine grace, we record, that where his example and influence had once been hostile to religion, and injurious to men, the Lord first blessed his ministry to the conversion of sou's.
A few months prior to the expiration of his apprenticeship, his father expressed a wish, that, at the end of his term, he would leave Tavistock, and take up his residence at Bodmin ; at the same time offering him a sum of money to enter into business there, on his own account.
Perhaps this affectionate, but misguided parent, unconcerned, like many others, for the eternal welfare of his beloved child, and solicitous alone for his temporal advantage, expected that, by removing him out of the sphere of his zealous labours at Tavistock, and settling him in business at Bodmin, his attention would be diverted from religion, and directed solely to the improvement of his worldly affairs.
Mr. Eyre having too much regard for that blessed cause, which was now dearer to him by far than his own life; and being too diffident of himself to take such a step without mature deliberation, and the advice of some Christian friend, went over to Plymouth, to consult Mr. Brown on the subject the con
sequence of which was, that he embraced his father's offer, with a determination to preach the gospel there also, if a favourable opportunity should present itself.
On his settlement at Bodmin, in order to carry his favourite project into execution, he requested a relation, who filled some office in the town, to use his influence to procure him the use of the Town-Hall, as the most eligible place for his purpose. This being obtained, public notice was given of his intention to preach there. The novelty of the thing, together with the growing fame of our young preacher, soon spread the report through the town and country adjoining. The rich and the poor flocked to hear him; and the Lord here also began to give testimony to the word of his grace.
This pleasing prospect was, however, soon beclouded. His father, who before had been inimical to his religion, now began to try the effect of ridicule: "Ah! Jack," said he, "you will soon be tired of this: you are of too warm a temper to keep to any thing."-True,' said Mr. Eyre, when repeating this anecdote many years afterward, I have been tired, again and again, of almost every thing else; yet, blessed be God, I am not tired of religion; but like it better than ever.' Finding that method ineffectual, and perceiving his own ends defeated, his father took the alarm, and commanded him to desist. Mr. Eyre, with the utmost desire to oblige his parent by obedience, when obc dience was his duty, was immoveably fixed in his resolution of using every talent he possessed, and of improving every opportunity he enjoyed, for the spiritual and eternal happiness of those around him. When the father saw that his com mands were disobeyed, exasperated, he expelled him from his house, and closed the door against him; giving him a single guinea, and sending a servant and horse to convey him to the next town. Thus abandoned by him who ought to have cherished and directed his zealous efforts, he once more had recourse to Mr. Brown, whose friendship he had reason to believe was firm and unwavering In his house he found an asylum and a friend. It will, no doubt, be gratifying to many of our readers to see a description of his feelings on this occa sion, preserved in a poetical letter, from his own pen, to his friend, dated April 28, 1778; for the versification of which he offers a sufficient apology, by saying, "The sincerity of my heart must atone for the uncouthness of my verse. This method of writing I should never have taken, but for the necessity under which you laid me, by your last poetical letter."
"When I, to spread the honours of my Lord,
Despis'd, disown'd, and turn'd themselves from me,
In this retreat he spent about a month: a period which, tho short, afforded him so much happiness and instruction, as to be reviewed with much pleasure and gratitude; and here it was that his friend, who had formed a just opinion of his talents, first urged him to enter the college of the late venerable Countess of Huntingdon, at Trevecka, in Wales, as a candidate for the gospel-ministry. An application, with his consent, was accordingly made; and he was accepted.
This seminary of religion and learning he entered with a heart devoted to his work; and, having before this time recovered his Latin, with literary advantages superior to the majority of his young associates. Thus qualified, and thus devoted, he made rapid advances in the sacred languages, as well as in his Theological studies.
At a season when labourers were so much wanted, it would have been highly improper to spend, in literary acquisitions, the time and talents which were so imperiously demanded in the harvest-field. Under the direction of her Ladyship, therefore, Mr. Eyre was sent into Cornwall; where his preaching was attended with great success, especially at Tregony. Hence he returned to college; and, after further time spent there, was appointed to go to Lincoln, a city awfully inattentive to the gospel, where it pleased God again to bless his labours. Talents like his, which improved so much by exercise, her Ladyship thought might now well occupy a more eminent post; and, therefore, sent him to one of her own chapels, at the Mulberry Gardens, London.
As it is impossible to comprize the incidents of this eventful Life in the biographical departinent of a single Number, we shall now pause. Surely, here it may be said, "What hath God wrought!" Behold, this young man, who lately gloried in sin, now glories only in the cross of Christ: and he who was lately proud to lead his companions into vice and folly, now devotes his life to warn men to flee from the wrath to come. Not the lips of an apostle could with more truth adopt that expression "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excel lency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dụng that I may win Christ."
[To be concluded in our next.]