Изображения страниц

time,” we know what he says of his own style of preaching: And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech and of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified; and I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling; and my speech and my preaching was not with the enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and with power.” (And that for this astonishingly wise reason ;) “ lest your faith should stand in the wisdom of man, and not in the power of God."

Spri. What an astonishing sermon Mr. Merryman preached from the last clause of those words, about a month before he was taken ill !

Loveg. I dare say he did. “ The demonstration of the Spirit and power of God upon the soul,” was the grand subject that seemed at all times to occupy his mind, and warm his heart.

Spri. Yes, and almost every sermon he preached, he was sure to bring to bear upon that essential point, and at all times with so much tender and affectionate zeal for our eternal good. No wonder his ministry was such a blessing among us-And that dear man, we are now to hear no more for ever!

Loveg. [To Mr. Sprightly.] But have you not great reason to hope, to see a resurrection of him in the person of Mr. Brightman ?

Bri. Alas, Sir! how faint a resemblance of what he was, I fear will be found in me! As for the sacrifice of my character as it may respect any literary acquirements, that I can easily make. I know it will be my duty to speak, or rather converse from the pulpit, in such a plain and easy style, as every unlettered person may under. stand; yet to get into the spirit and life of such a style of preaching, as rendered Mr. Merryman so useful as a

minister, though I shall aim at it, yet I fear a material difference will still be felt.

Wor. Why, Mr. Lovegood has been as much for reading and thinking as yourself, yet he knows how to leave it all aside, when he gets into the pulpit. There he can dress his good sense and scriptural divinity in such plain but powerful language, as not only charms a few of us who may have been favoured with education, but preaches equally to the delight and edification of all the poor peasants, who are charmed with sermons they can so easily comprehend.

Loveg. Dear Sir, if I am to be the subject of conversation, do let us wave it for the present, that we may settle with Mr. Brightman concerning his return to Sandover.

Bri. I wish, if I could, to go off early to-morrow morning

Spri. Sir, if you do, it will be impossible for me to attend



know the broker that was to have attended this day with the appraisement of Mrs. Merryman's goods, is not to come till to-morrow morning, and we shall have enough to do, to determine what is to be sold, and what is to be kept; so that we shall not be able to return till the Saturday afternoon.

Just then Mr. Considerate came in, on behalf of a poor man who laboured in Rector Dolittle's garden. His crime was, that he occasionally stole away to Brookfield Church on a Sunday; so that the poor man, his wife, and family, must have been sent to the parish, had not the benevolent Mr. Worthy given him employ. But it seems the Rector had become more furious than ever, having lately taken up the old Popish doctrine of Baptismal regeneration, with a considerable degree of High-church zeal,

It was late on Saturday evening before Mr. Sprightly

and Mr. Brightman could return to Sandover. The deserted Rectory being now no longer a proper abode for Mr. Brightman, he took up his residence at Mr. Sprightly's habitation; so that he was scarcely known to be in the town till he was seen walking to the church on the Sunday morning. Though it was universally known that a petition had been sent to the Patron on behalf of Mr. Brightman, yet little or nothing of what had passed between Mr. Tugwell and Mr. Brightman could have transpired. As far as rumour prevailed, it seems it was of an unfavourable nature. Many knowing the character of Mr. Merryman's uncle, concluded it was scarcely possible to expect any favourable report from such a quarter; while another report, more generally prevailed, that sunk their spirits exceedingly: viz. That Mr. Madcap had actually succeeded with Mr. Merryman, to give his nephew's living away to a wild and rakish brother of his, who unfortunately was put into holy orders ; and that immediately upon his return from Newmarket races, he was to be inducted into the living: upon which all the people were determined to run away from the church, as fast as ever they formerly collected together to fill it. But this it seems was only a wanton report, though as matters go, a very probable one, which was raised by one, who wished to make the cause of the people's grief, the subject of his sportive mirth.

In short, the agitation of the minds of all was not to be expressed; no wonder that one and another of the congregation pressed in upon Mr. Brightman as he was advancing towards the church, with their anxious queries. “ Sir, I fear it will be one of the last Sundays we shall see you, or any one like you in our church." Another added, Where must we all go when young parson Madcap is sent among us. A third cried, o Sir! for the Lord's sake, if you are turned out of the church,

us his

don't leave us. As you loved Mr. Merryman, so love

poor disconsolate flock. We'll build a place for you, we'll do every thing we can to support you, and make you happy, if you will but feed us with the word of life as Mr. Merryman did. Being much overcome, to this he could but just add, “ Don't be downcast; all is well; the Lord will be better to you than all your fears." Even this bint, soon created a general rumour among the people, which gave a gleam of hope to some, while sad desponding fears among others more generally prevailed.

Thus he entered the church, and attempted to begin the service, but seeing the pulpit and reading desk hung in black, and all the congregation dressed in mourning, together with the sad and sorrowful looks of such a numerous assembly, he had enough to do with the feelings of his mind before he could begin the service. But when he was reading the psalms for the day, which happened to be very appropriate, it being the twentyseventh day of the month, his countenance began to brighten remarkably, and the emphasis with which he read different passages, surprised the people not a little; for thus he began :'“When I was in trouble, I called upon the Lord, and he heard me.” Then again, when those verses were read out of the 122d psalm ; “O pray for the peace of Jerusalem! they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces; for my brethren and companions' sakes, I will wish thee prosperity;" the very looks of Mr. Brightman almost indicated the suitability of the words, as being an applicable prayer for the restored mercy they were still to enjoy. But when Mr. Brightman continued reading the first of the psalms appointed for the evening service, whether through absence or design, I cannot say; yet from the pleasant emotions that appeared to possess his mind, at once all the congrega

tion seemed to feel themselves elevated with a hope, that they might yet sing as Sion did, when these appropriate words were read. “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Sion, then were we like to them that dream; then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with joy. Then said they among the heathen, the Lord has done great things for them, yea, the Lord hath done great things for us already, whereof we rejoice."

The hopes of the people thus greatly revived, were soon afterwards completely confirmed, by the giving out of an appropriate hymn, before Mr. Brightman began his first sermon, as curate of the parish. This hymn, together with another designed for the conclusion of the service, unknown to Mr. Brightman, was put into Mr. Sprightly's care, that it might be handed to the clerk. Though Mr. Lovegood was a better man than be was a poet; still I conceive it will be a gratification to the reader, if a copy of these hymns be given as each comes in its place. The clerk being rather of the countrified sort, thus gave it out :

Let us sing to the praise and glory of God, a thanksgiving hymn, for sending Mr. Brightman, to be the minister of this parish, in the room of Mr. Merryman deceased.

And how delighted and surprised the people were at the sound of a thanksgiving hymn, is not very easily to be expressed! Though the first part of the hymn they could scarcely sing for grief, yet the latter part of it they all could sing in a more cheerful key,

Submissive at thy throne, O God,
We own the justice of thy rod ;
'Tis thine to send thy judgments down,
'Tis ours to say, “Thy will be done.”
Vanish'd from our enraptur'd sight,
Late shone a star divinely bright;

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »