Imatges de pàgina
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MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. JOHN EYRE. 285 mourned over it for many years and yet I mourn that it is not sufficiently subdued. I am apt to fix my eye upon another person's faults, while i overlook his excellencies; and, being of an open disposition, I am led to pronounce his character, inerely from a view of his defects. This is the more blameable, because I have so ofren discovered that I was wrong, and experienced much inconveniency. by being constrained to go out of my way, to give some signal token of affection to those whom I had sa misrepresented, through precipitancy of judgment.

“The e thing I meniion, 10. pue you upon your guard. You area younger man than an; and being of the same sanguine disposition, you may be liable to fall into the same error."

Useful as this society then was, Mr. Eyre projected a plan to enlarge its sphere of action and utility, in a very considerable degree. He had found, upon a careful investigation, that, notwithstanding the number of ministers furnished by our seninaries, a very small proportion indeed was einployed in breaking up new ground. He had repeatedly applied to one of the most popular and useful Schools of the Prophets, near London, for young men to act under the direction of his own Society; but could not obtain even one. Nor had he the least hope of doing so in future, as he was given to understand, that that seminary had for its object, solely toe furnishing of pastors fot churches. He had also considerable doubts, whether the mode of education adopted in that and other academies, were such as would fit young men to answer his purpose, however useful they might be in another line. He observed, that a considerable portion of a short term allotted to the students, was occupied in learning a language in which they were never to speak or write; and to read what they were never designed to teach, viz.“ Heathen Historians, Poeis, Rhetoricians, Orators, and Philosophers;" and this very frequently, to the gross neglect of their own tongue: and, what is of still greater importance, to the awful neglect of solid Biblical and theological knowledge. He noticed, that in consequence of such a mode of education, many forgot what they had so imperfectiy learned; and that those who had been the most diligent and successful in such acquisitions, frequently lamented they had spent their time without acquiring suitable mental furniture for the discharge of ministerial duties. These observations he had communicated to two or three valuable correspondents; and, finally, induced the Society to educate, under their own eye, and in their own mode, those young men they might in future send out.

In the execution of this plan, he was assisted by his friends, and particularly by Mr. Hanson and Mr. Townsend: the latter of whom generously agreed to give 500l. per annum during his own life; and to pay by installments, or give by his will, the principal sun of 10,000l for the same purpose I.

A plan of education was drawn up, excluding the dead languages, except so far as to read the Scriptures in the original,

Mr. Eyre intended to give a Memoir of Mr. T's Life ; and the materials he has deki perill be shortly presented in the public, with his Portrait, in this Magazinc.

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to consist of twelve courses of lectures : six of which were to be Biblical and Theological; and six on Science, Literature, and the Duties of a Preacher. Students were collecting, a tutor was engaged, and the time of commencement was fixed, but has been protracted by his death.

Under the auspices of the same Society, he instituted schools in Spital-fields and Bethnal-green, for the purpose of teacbing poor ignorant children to read the Bible, and to understand the first principles of Christianity, from well-known and approved catechisms. The teachers were some of his own congregation, who freely gave their labours in so good a work; and the schools were open for public inspection.

Pitying the state of the poor in these parishes, many thousands of whom never attend any place of public worship on the Lord's Day, he designed to obtain a spacious chapel, to be regularly supplied by an evangelical minister, of respectable character and talents, solely for the use of the poor, without any cost whatever on their part. How mysterious the Providence which removed a man so devoted to his Lord and Master, at a time when his greatest plans appeared near to an accomplishment!

Humility was another prominent feature of his character: those who were best acquainted with him, will recollect in what modest terms he spoke of his own talents and attainments. Ao extract from a small paper, which he wrote with his pencil, and gave to Mrs. Eyre, during an illness, six or seven years before his death, and which he styled his Epitaph, will illustrate this observation :

“ Here lies the mortal part of John Eyre, the chief of sinners, saved by grace : - But he was the chief of sinners, in a sense very different from that in which the expression could be used by St. Paul : for the apostle viewed himself in that light, from the greatest degree of holiness which any mortal in this life perhaps ever attained ; but he from the greatest degree of sinfulness, which ever subsisted in a soul renewed by the Spi. rit of God; and which actually polluted every operation of his body and mind for the space of upwards of years ; during which he made an open profession of faith in Christ; when God, moved with compassion, released him from the bondage of corruption, and took him up to Heaven.”

It was his practice, as we have seen, to conclude the old year with a sermon, reminding his hearers of the mercies they had received. The last year was improved from Ps. cxxvi. 3. “The Lord bath done great things for us.” In this discourse be enumerated signal blessings continued and enlarged; among which he mentioned, that the number of communicants was then greater than the number of hearers when he first came to Homerton. He then particularized new favours, among which he reckoned the establishment of the academy above mentioned, as likely to be a great blessing to the country:

Jan. Ist, 1803, he opened the new year with an address from Solomon's Song ii. 16:“ I am his." "Our the following Lord's Day evening he preached froin Cor, vị. 29. '“ But this I say, MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. JONN EYRE.', 287 brethren, the time is short." It was a sermon,' says one of his hearers, of uncommon elegance and ability, and strikingly prophetic, as Mr. Townsend died within four hours after it was delivered ; his dear friend Mr. Hanson, and another of his con+ gregation, within a week; and himself, within the short space of three months.'

Jan. 16, He preached Mr. Townsend's funeral sermon from Rev.xiv.13.” Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord,” &c.

Jan. 28, He preached Mr. Hanson's funeral sermon, froin Mat. xi. 28-30. “Come unto me all ye that labour,” &c. in which he declared he would rather die with Mr. H's poverty of spirit, than in the most triumphant manner; and begged the people to notice, that he desired his dying words might be those of the publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner !""

Feb. 13, in the evening, he preached from 1 Cor. vi...ll. In the course of the serinon he solennly appealed to the consciences of his hearers, respecting the doctrines he had preached

." Have I asserted that fornicators can entec the kingdom of Heaven? Have I asserted that the covetous, drunkards, and extortioners can enter the kingdom, of Heaven? I solemnly affirın, before God and you, I have not. Have [ pot declared, that the unrighteous, &c. shall not inherit the kingdom of God! I solemnly declare, that I am pure from your blood.”

This was his last sermon. The next day (Monday) he attended the Committee of Examination of the Missionary Society; and returned home in the evening, very ill of the influenza, which terminated in an inpostume of the head. This breaking on the Tuesday following, produced a great degree of deatness. About a week after being seized by this illness, his friend Mr. Wilks wrote a note, enquiring after his health ; to which he returned the following

among them.

answer :

“ My dear Brother,

"Except relief from excruciating pain, I can scarcely venture to think myself better. My strength altogether fails me, and my, spirits are greatly depressed. It is the nature of the disease. Debility is its charac. teristic. The Lord only knows when I shall be again restored to my labours; or whether I shall be restored at all, is to me very questionable, I wish to stand prepared, and know no will but his. Why did not Brother

-'s young men write their letters for the Committee? Things must move whether I live or die. Pray go forward, and believe me, with affec. tionate remembrance to Mrs. WYours, ever sincerely,

J. Eyre." After three weeks, he began, tho' slowly, to recover; and at the end of the fourth, he appeared in a state of convalescence. About this time he observed to a friend, who called upon

" The Lord has prevented me froin enjoying much of the society of my friends, on account of my deatness. I have, therefore, had more leisure for his blessed word. I have tra veiled through the book of Job and the Psalms; but found

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nothing peculiarly adapted to my state. I therefore passed on to the living word.He then related the views with which he had been favoured of the whole gospel of John : describing the glory of Jesus in his conversation with Nicodemus and the woman of Samaria; his discourses on himself, as the bread of life, fountain of living water, and the good shepherd; the glory of his actions in opening the eyes of the blind; but especially at the tomb of Lazarus, adding, “ Who would not die to be raised up by such a Saviour?” In short, he threw such a lustre upon the whole book of John, and spoke with a countenance so illuminated with joy, with an air and manner altogether so superior, scleini, and impressive, so much like a being who had been conversing personally with the Saviour, as strongly to remind the writer of that fine image of the Chris

tian poet:

« When one that holds cominunion with the skies

Has fillid his urn where these pure waters rise,
And once more mingles with us ineaner things,
'Tis ev'n as if an angel shook his wings :
Jinmortal fragrance fills the circuit wide,
That tells us whence his treasures are supply'd."

CowPER. On the Lord's Day, March 28, he was attacked with very violent pains in the head. Leaning on Mrs. Eyre, he observed, " If it were so sweet to iecline on the bosom of an earthly friend, what must Juhn have felt when leaning on the bosom of his Saviour

On the Monday his pains increased; but on the Tuesday were less violent. On the Wednesday r.orning, when engag. ing in private prayer with Mrs. Eyre, before he left his room, he was seized with a páralytic affection, which impeded articulation. However, he got down stairs; and that day wrote a letter (the last he ever did write) to the Missionaries at Otaheile; and observed to a friend,“ Perhaps my chariot may be nearer than we are aware of. I have been praying for my family, and all ny friends by naine, as many as I can recollect; and the charge the Lord bias committed to me, I have resigned to him again. I do not say. I will go before, and prepare you mansions. No; blessed be God, they are already prepared ! And my friends I shall not lose : I shall meet them again, for I have long broken off all friendship with the world,"l'pon his friend observing, You have not been left in this affliction?" “Oh, no!” said he, in an extacy, “ I do not indeed know what Heaven is, but I bare had such views, that it seems worth while to leave Heaven, and come down to enjoy them over again. But on these joys I lay no stress ;- I had rather go out of the world in poverty of spirit, than with the greatest joy!"

To Mrs. Eyrë he said, “ Tiere is a portion for you, my dear Mary, in Jer. xlix. 11, “ Leave thy fatherless children, and let thy widow trust in mne."

MCHOIR OF THE LATE REV. JOHN EYRE. [085*] • Thursday morning, when at breakfast, though he ate but Little, he said to Mrs. Eyre, “ Eat a good breakfast to strengtben your body, and look up to the Lord to strengthen your mind; for you don't know, Mary, what is before you lo-day.” About half an hour afterward, he was almost insensible, and continued so during that day; but on the following, he was so much better, as to allow hopes of his recovery; and in the afternoon observed, “ Yesterday was an awful day: you could not desire my life under such circumstances; for I have no recollection of what passed.”

On the Saturday, he observed, “ The Lord gives strength in great weakness : I cannot pray for you in the family now; but Jesus ever lives to make intercession.” Mrs. Eyre observing, when he was in great pain,' The Lord will give you ease;' hie answered, “ It is all well." - On the Lord's Day he said very little; but appeared, by his countenance, very happy. During the night, he was leard to say, in a low voice, “Who is able to do exceeding abundantly, above all that we can ask or think !" and these were the last words he was heard to articulate.

While the event was dubious, bis friends prayed for his recovery. On Monday evening, March 28, a prayer-meeting was appointed; but when they assembled at six o'clock, they were informed that he had just departed.--No pen can describe the affecting scene which followed : all who engaged in prayer that evening, for the family and the church, were his own spiritual children, lamenting tlie loss of their father in Christ.

Under this great affliction Mrs. Eyre was supported in an extraordinary manner; and, we hope, her valuable life will be preserved, for the sake of eight surviving children. One of these exclaimed, in the moment of his anguish, “ O the good advice he gave us, and the many pravers he offered up for -us ! — Having such a father, who is just gone to glory, O mother! if any of us should be missing, how great will be our condemnation !"

Upon opening the head, the blood-vessels of the dura mater were found to be in a turgid state, particularly on the left side; and the falx, or septum cerebri, which is formed by a doubling of the dura mater between the hemispheres of the brain, . was found to be ossified into irregular bony patches. The

blood-vessels of the pia mater were in the same state ; and : some water was found in the ventricles on each side of the two beds of optic nerves; and a little lower, intlanınation was found to have taken place.

On April 5, his remains were interred in his own chapel. - The corpse was preceded by the Rev. Mess R. Hill, Glasscott, and Wilson. The pall was borne by the Rev. Messrs. Palmer, Waugh, Wilks, Townsend, Simpson, and Platt. Messrs. Buck, Collison, Beck, Pine, Rance, and Voss--the principal MemXI,

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