Imatges de pÓgina



In the West it is not the custom to carry the coffin on the shoulders, but by hand, which office is performed by friends, who continually relieve one another, that all may take part in this last mark of respect to the deceased. At length, they arrived at the "lych" gate, and setting the coffin upon the lych stone (a heavy slab of granite, put there for the purpose), they sang their final hymn. At the conclusion of this, I came out with my clerk to receive the funeral party and to conduct them into the church. After the service I was about to give an address, when I was told that there were more people outside than within the church. In order, therefore, not to disappoint them, we came to the grave-side in the churchyard, and from thence I addressed a great concourse of people.

I told them of dear John's conversion, and of my disappointment and distress on account of it; then of my own conversion, and John's unbounded joy; taking the opportunity to enforce the absolute necessity of this spiritual change, and the certain damnation of those who die without it.

This funeral caused a solemn feeling, and as the people lingered about, we re-entered the church, and further improved the occasion. Then we went to the schoolroom for a prayer-meeting, and many souls were added to the number of the saved.

Among the strangers present was a gentleman who had come all the way from Plymouth, in order to witness for himself the wonderful work, of which he had read an account in the newspaper. After attending several of our services, he came up to speak to me, and said that he had seen an account of "the fall of a High Churchman into Dissent," which was regarded as a very extraordinary thing, for at that time some Dissenters were becoming High Churchmen, or what used to be called then "Puseyites." Having seen me,

and heard for himself of my conversion, and my adherence to the Church, he was satisfied, and asked me to spare time for a little conversation with him.

He came to my house the next morning, and commenced by asking, "Do you really think you would have been lost for ever, if you had died before you were converted?" This he said looking me full in the face, as if to see whether I flinched from my position.

I answered, "Most certainly; without a doubt."

"Remember," he said, calmly, "you have been baptized and confirmed; you are a communicant, and have been ordained; and do you really think that all this goes for nothing?"

"Most assuredly, all these things are good in their place, and fully avail for their respective purposes, but they have nothing whatever to do with a sinner's salvation."

"Do you mean to say," he continued, "that the Church is not the very ark of salvation ? "

"I used to think so,” I replied, "and to say that 'there was no Church without a Bishop, and no salvation out of the Church;' but now I am sure that I was mistaken. The outward Church is a fold for protecting the sheep, but the Church is not the Shepherd who seeks and finds the lost sheep."

"Well," he said, "but think of all the good men you condemn if you take that position so absolutely."

Seeing that I hesitated, he went on to say that he "knew many very good men, in and out of the Church of England, who did not think much of conversion, or believe in the necessity of it."

"I am very sorry for them," I replied; "but I cannot go back from the position into which, I thank God, He has brought me. It is burned into me that, except a man is converted, he will and must be lost for ever,"



"Come, come, my young friend," he said, shifting his chair, and then sitting down to another onslaught, "do you mean to say that a man will go to hell if he is not converted, as you call it?"

"Yes, I do; and I am quite sure that if I had died in an unconverted state I should have gone there; and this compels me to believe, also, that what the Scripture says about it is true for every one."

"But what does the Scripture say ?" he interposed.

"It says that 'he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed' (John iii. 18); and in another place, 'He that believeth not shall be damned' (Mark xvi. 16). As surely as the believer is saved and goes to heaven, as surely the unbeliever is lost and must go to hell."

"Do you mean Gehenna, the place of torment?”
"Yes, I do."

"This is very dreadful!"

"More dreadful still," I said, "must be the solemn reality; and therefore, instead of shrinking from the thought, and putting it off, I rather let it stir and rouse me to warn unbelievers, so that I may, by any means, stop them on their dangerous path. I think this is the only true and faithful way of showing kindness; and that, on the other hand, it is the most selfish, heartless, and cruel unkindness to let sinners, whether they are religious, moral, reformed, or otherwise, go on in an unconverted state, and perish."

"Do you believe, then," said my visitor, "in the fire of hell? Do you think it is a material fire ?"

"I do not know; I do not wish to know anything about it. I suppose material fire, like every other material thing, is but a shadow of something real. Is it not a fire which shall burn the soul-a fire that never will be quenchedwhere the worm will never die?"

"Do you really believe all this?

"Yes," I said, "and I have reason to do so." I remem bered the anguish of soul I passed through when I was under conviction, and the terrible distress I felt for others whom I had misled.

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"When our blessed Lord was speaking to the Jews, and warning them against their unbelief and its fearful conse quences, He did not allow any 'charitable hopes' to hinder Him from speaking the whole truth. He told them of Lazarus, who died, and went to Paradise, or Abraham's bosom; and of Dives, who died, and went to hell, the place of torment" (Luke xvi.)

"But," he said, interrupting me, "that is only a parable, or figure of speech."


Figure of speech!" I repeated. "Is it a figure of speech that the rich man fared sumptuously, that he died, that he was buried? Is not that literal? Why, then, is it a figure of speech that he lifted up his eyes in torment, and said, 'I am tormented in this flame'? (Luke xvi. 24). My dear friend, be sure that there is an awful reality in that story—a most solemn reality in the fact of the impassable gulf. If here we do not believe in this gulf, we shall have to know of it hereafter. I never saw and felt," I continued, "as I do now, that every man is lost, even while on earth, until he is saved, and that if he dies in that unsaved state he will be lost for ever."

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My unknown visitor remained silent for a little time, and I could see that he was in tears. At last he burst out and said, "I am sure you are right. I came to try you upon the three great 'R's'-'Ruin,' 'Redemption,' and Regeneration,' and to see if you really meant what you preached. Now I feel more confirmed in the truth and reality of the Scriptures."

I thought I had been contending with an unbeliever all



along, but instead of this I found that he was a man who scarcely ventured to think out what he believed to its ultimate result-he believed God's Word, but, like too many, alas held it loosely.

This gentleman had experienced the truth of the three "R's "—that is to say, he had been awakened to know himself to be lost and ruined by the fall, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and regenerated by the Holy Ghost. In other words, he had been converted, and he knew it.

I found out that at the time of his conversion he was a beneficed clergyman, and that, as such, not being responsible to any rector or vicar, he began to preach boldly the things he had seen. His changed preaching produced a manifest result, and the people were awakened, even startled, and it would appear he was startled too. Instead of thanking God and taking courage, he became alarmed at the disturbance amongst his congregation, and finding that his preaching made him very unpopular, he was weak enough to change his tone, and speak smooth things. Thus he made peace with his congregation, and gained their treacherous good-will; but as a living soul he could not be satisfied with this state of things. He knew that he was not faithful to God or to his people; so being a man of competent means, he resigned his living, and retired into private life"beloved and respected," as they said, for being a good and peaceable man!

At this distance of time I continue to thank God for his visit to me; it helped to fix the truth more firmly in my own soul, and to confirm me in the course in which I was working, and even contending, in the face of much opposition. I must say that I have had no reason to waver in my conviction, and still feel that I would not, for ten times that man's wealth, and twenty times the amount of good-will which he enjoyed (if he did enjoy it), stand in his place.

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