« AnteriorContinua »
alone. I am nothing; he is my all. Having given you this account of
JAMES WILLIAMS, jun. This account being approved of by the church, he was received into communion,
Previous to Mr. Williams's joining the church, he felt deeply concerned for the salvation of others, especially in the heathen world. While he resided in London for some time, he formed an acquaintance with two young men of kindred minds, Jarvis and Lawson *; by conversing with whom, this disposition was greatly increased ; so that he would often say, That nothing but unavoidable necessity should hinder him from joining his dear brethren in India. Accordingly, after his gifts had been tried by the church, he was accepted, on probation, by the Baptist Mission Society, and sent to the Academy at Bristol, to pursue his preparatory studies. He went thither in the beginning of June, 1807, where he continued till the commencement of his last illness, in October 1808, when he was obliged to return to his parents. While he was in the academy he made considerable proficiency in learning, and obtained the esteem and affection of his tutors, by his whole deportment.
Some extracts from his Diary would shew the state of his mind at this time; but would render this account too tedious for insertion : suffice it to say, that they indicate a great degree of humility, spirituality, and ardent zeal for the divine glory; and a most affectionate concern for the good of souls.
In a letter to his sister, dated Bristol, Feb. 22, 1808, he writes thus:
"That subject which chiefly oceupies my thoughts, must occupy the first place in this letter. Since I returned to B. my desire to be engaged in missionary work is become more ardent. If ever I felt any reluctance, it was on account of my mother's unwillingness ;-but such seasons have been transient. Now I feel so disengaged from every thing bere, that I could depart immediately, not only without reluctance, but · with the greatest alacrity. The voice of Jesus seems to sound in my ears, with accents more than human, Follow me! If I could be of some use in his cause, I should reckon this an ample recompeuse for every saccifice I could make, and every trouble I could endure. Wbo can survey the conduct of Providence towards me of late, without concluding it to be my duty to leave kindred, and friends, and oative land! It appears to me as if the hand of God were in every circumstance of my life, to bring about my present design. If now I should draw back, I should repay the mercy of God with the deepest ingratitude, by looking back after I have put my hand to the plow ;-well might I for ever hide my face, and be secluded from the company of every Christian, as unworthy to be called by that holy name. If I forget thee, 0 Jerusalem! if I desire not thy prosperity above my chief joy, let my tongue cleave to the roof my mouth.' Since I see my duty in so clear a light, notbing but force must prevent my obeying: "It does not appear to me that the unwillingness of my friends will be a sufficient excuse for not obeying the commands of Christ, when every one must give an account of himself upto God.'
* Since gone to lodia.
After his illness obliged him to leave Bristol in Oct. 1808, he remained at King's Stanley till Spring 1809, when his strength appeared somewhat recruited, and he returned to the academy till the vacation ; after which he supplied the church at Coleford with much acceptance, and then returned home, and from thence went to Olney, and pursued his studies under Mr. Sutcliff's care, till Feb. 1810, when his illness obliged him to return home. The best advice was procured for him, and in the summer he seemed much recovered ; and often preached at Stanley, Pitchcomb, Cambridge, and other places. The following winter he served the church at Stokegomer; but in February, 1811, was obliged to return in a very weak'state to his father's house. All his afflictions were bore by him with much patience and cheerful resignation to the divine wisdom. In March he was very ill, but revived again, and preached once ; which was the last time he was employed in public work. In April and May his disorder wore an alarming aspect, and portended a speedy dissolution. But though his parents and friends were much distressed on his account, yet he appeared not at all alarmed at the visible approach of the last enemy, over whom he obtained the victory, July 3, 1811, in the twentieth year of his age.
His mother, who attended him in his last illness, being deeply affected to see him so rapidly declining, was much distressed, fearing he did not apprehend the danger she perceived, and felt it a hard task to inform him of it; but he soon dismissed her fears on that account. One Lord's Evening, his father being from home, she was conversing with hiin, when he said, “I cannot expect to have the complaint removed; nor do I wish to have much to do with any thing here ;" and then repeated those lines of Dr. Watts :
• Oh, if my threatning sins were gone,
And death bad lost his sting, • I could invite the angel in,
• And chide his lazy wing.' He then remarked how needful it was to have a well-grounded lope of an interest in Christ. She asked if he had any doubts relative to his own safety. He answered, that he was mostly pretty well satisfied of his state.
Some time after this conversation, he observed, that death appeared the more familiar to him the nearer it approached. At another time, conversing about the joys of the heavenly state, he said, “O yes ! how good, how exalted must that assembly be! If it is so delightful to be engaged in the worship of God on earth, how will it be there, where no imperfection shall attend our services! His mind was often engaged in contemplating the sufferings of Christ. One night, when his mother was assisting him, she was obliged to stop for some time, when he seemed lost in deep thought, and suddenly ex
claimed, “A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." He often admired the compassion of the Saviour, and his sympathy with his people in all their afflictions, repeating these lines,
“ Poor, weak, and helpless as I am,
“ I have a rich Almighty Friend." To a friend, who called to see him after he was confined, he said, with a heavenly smile on his pale languid countenance, “I feel myself quite safe in the hands of God.” When his mother thought his spirits seemed low, and enquired if his mind was easy and happy, he replied, “ At the worst of times I ain enabled to rely on the mercy of God.”
He had very low and humble views of himself; and observed that those who seemed to entertain a high opinion of him, did not know what a sinful heart he bad. All his hope for acceptance with God was fixed upon Christ above. He once said, “ Oh the doctrine of the atonement has been increasingly clear to me of late!-in my preaching I have recently been led to insist upon it more than ever." He often said, that great mercy was mingled with bis affliction. He once observed, “ Well, if I had been to chuse, I could not have wished for any other kind of illness.” So passive did he lie in the hands of his Heavenly Father. Though his disorder was very trying toward the last, his patience held out unexhausted, and he retained a surprizing degree of composure; and after the most straining reading, would lay down his head with singular calmness and submission.-Surely, this was the Lord's doing, and marvellous in the eyes of those around him. He repeated with peculiar pleasure those lines :
• This world's a dream, an empty shew :
• When shall I wake and find me there!' He observed, that the dying experience of Mr. Francis of Horsley was very sweel 10 him, and that he thought he could say, like him,-that there would be no employment for him in Satan's kingdom. I cannot curse God; I cannot join with wicked men in their services; nor any thing can my soul do cheerfutiy but love and praise my dear Jesus. If I ain not the Lord's, I know not whose I am. He mich admired Dr. Stenneti's Works, especially his Sermon on John xiv. 2.
When his Father enquired of him concerning his views of death, and the ground of his bope, he replied, -Ăs to my mind, lam comfortable; but enjoy inore at some times than at others. Death is very familiar to me now; Christ is the only Saviour, and'a most compassionate Friend. He cannot but be faithful. 1 rely upon him alone.
On Lord's Day evening, July 1, 1811, altering visibly for death, of which he had frequently spoken as an enemy that had lost its sting, he was then able to say but little, but re tained his senses to the last. In a severe fit of vomiting, which he had a few minutes before his departure, he burst a bloodvessel; and when he recovered a little he said, “ It must be so;' and stretching out his pale, trenibling hand, he bade his parents and friends " farewell; but the morning of the resurrection will unite us again.” When labouring for breath, and unable to speak, his father asked him to lift up his head, if he felt himself happy, which he did immediately, and very soon after yielded up his immortal soul into the hands of his Redeemer.
THE SUCCESSFUL RESOLUTION.
And so will I go in unto the King, which is not according to
Law; and if I perish, I perish.. Esther iv. 16.
The character of princes seldom appears more illustrious than in acts of clemency extended to unfortunate malefactors. See the culprit confined in his gloomy cell, awaiting, in awful solitude, the warning of execution. His crime is such, that he deserves death in its most terrific form ;--but we feel for him; he is one of our own nature; and Conscience compels us to acknowledge, that if left to ourselves, we can boast of no superiority. We hear the prince has shown him mercy; a free pardon is granted, life is spared, and we re joice; but how much more are we struck at the great condescension manifested, when royalty comes down to visit the gloomy dungeon, there to let mercy triumph over guilt and misery!
Reader, if unconverted, your state is but faintly represented by ihe above unhappy character. “ He that believeth not, is condeinned already.” John iii. 18. “The wages of sin is death.” Rom. vi. 23. “The wicked shall be turned into hell.” Psi ix. 17. "Verily. I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the utmost farthing." Matt. v. 26.--Are you not impressed with this view of yoar state? Do you desire to be delivered from it? But are you afraid no one can or will deliver you? Banish these fears. It is the glory of the gospel to reveal a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. Luke ij. lt. He is King of kings, and Lord of lords. He is not only infinitely above earthly potentates in majesty, power, and glory, but in the exercise and condescensions of his grace towards rebels. Eph. iv. 16. He delights in mercy. Mic. vii. 18. He is ready to forgive. Ps. Ixxxvi. 5. Yea, the Lord will wait to be gracious! Isa. xxx. 18. Are you trembling under a view of your sins, and their fearful conse: quences? Your safety lies in an immediate approach to this gracious Prince. No svoner do you approach him than, to shew his willingness to forgive, you will hear him kindly saying, " What is thy petition, and thy request, and it shall be done unto thee?” Be encouraged then to go and throw your petition
at his feet. You cannot labour under equal discouragement with Queen Esther, when she approached the king Ahasuerus. A positive law baried her way, which declared it death for any one to come. unto the king who was not called. You cannot say any such law stands against you; you cannot say you are not called; for it is the excellency of our Jesus that he not only calls, but urges every one, who is taught to praise his mercy, to come unto him. See Matt. xi. 29. Rev. xxii. 17. Were this then your only advantage, surely, were you to stay away from Christ, this Queen of the East would rise up in the judgment and condemn you. For how great the contrast ! she is prohibited with the threatening of death if she approach! you are invited with the promises of eternal life!--and it is death eternal if you stay away!
Your remissness will be further aggravated if you consider she hazarded her life to plead principally for the lives of others; and said, “ If I perish, I perish:” but your approach to the King of Sion is your own personal concern. While the sacred word declares your sin and its consequences, your own conscience addresses you, saying,' Thou art the man! To this you are compelled to plead guilty, saying, ' I have sinned! what shall I do to be saved ?' Will you then, with this conviction of your guilt and danger, neglect your own salvation, while Esther is intent upon securing, if possible, the lives of her kindred ? - Yes, and that at the hazard of her own life! Raiher let Joshua's example be followed:- As for me, I will serve the Lord.'
Once more. Esther endangered her life, with a view to the temporal deliverance of her people. Your approach to Christ is for the eternal salvation of your precious soul. Christ came, that we might have life: and this is life eternal to know the true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. Eternal life is the gift of Christ. I give unto my sheep eternal life.' Dearly indeed has the Redeemer obtained this life ; ' he gave his life a ransom for many! But, blessed be his name, he as freely gives it. To obtain then the pardon of sin, deliverance from its endless curse, and present victory over its dominion, should be the objects leading unto Christ. And shall we hesitate when we see the way drawn out in the invitations, calls, and promises of a gracious Saviour? Surely, Esther's decision, should rebuke our hesitation; and as much as the value of the soul exceeds that of the body, and as much as eternity exceeds time, so much greater should be our concern to fly to Christ for the unspeakably precious blessings of redemption.
Is the question still asked, “ But will Chríst receive me?' Let it be answered by considering, that if Esther is received in the face of a stera decree against her, how much more will a gracious, faithful, and condescending Saviour the rather save e you, Oye of little faith! She knew, it' death was probable in her