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as a master, he was not only just, but kind and generous to all in his employ; he would have scorned the thought of anything mean or dishonourable; he had a strong sense of the importance of religion as right in itself, and as beneficial to society ; and he paid great respect to the institutions of public worship, attending regularly the house of God. But till he was perhaps more than sixty years of age, he was a stranger to the vital, saving power of the gospel. He then began to feel that he required something more. His mind became the subject of conviction; he saw that he was a sinner needing mercy; he recognised the Great Propitiation as the only source of peace; and in the exercise of a simple, heartfelt faith, he confided in the righteousness of Christ. From that time his profession of the gospel was humble and consistent ; his mind was sustained by its truths in advancing infirmity; and when death approached, it found him calmly resting on the Rock of Ages. The which led to this happy change in his religious sentiments will not be uninteresting.
First and foremost in those causes must be specified domestic influences. Mrs. B- was a lady of rare excellence. Prudent and active in the management of her household, she was also a woman of decided and consistent piety. There, in his own dwelling, was constantly before him a living exemplification of the power of religion. Though that example seemed long unavailing, it could not be without its force; and he afterwards gratefully acknowledged that it was not. A truly pious wife, possessed, as Mrs. B
was in an eminent degree, of the confidence and affection of her husband, may, in a thousand ways, if she be thoughtful and judicious, exert a powerful influence for good upon his mind. It was no slight advantage to Mr. B- that the influence of his wife was all in the right direction. How much he was indebted to her prayers, may perhaps be known hereafter. Her christian influence on her family had been very great. It is a comparatively rare thing to see nearly the whole of so large a family as that of Mr. and Mrs. B—, a family consisting of nine children,-affording hopeful evidence of conversion ; but this was the case with theirs. One and another, as their children grew up, or soon after they reached maturity, yielded themselves to God, till at length nearly all of them were walking together on the way to heaven, and maintaining a consistent and useful profession of the truth. They, too, whilst sedulously guarding against anything that might offend by its officiousness, sought every opportunity of drawing the attention of their beloved father to the great concerns of eternity.
It is a rare circumstance that worldly prosperity and honour lead the mind to serious thoughtfulness. They ought to do so, since they are the gifts of God's kind and distinguishing providence. The tendency is very frequently far otherwise. Yet this was the case with Mr. B- á Thankfulness for the divine goodness,” says his son, his able and accomplished biographer, to whose excellent memoir of his father we are indebted for many particulars in this sketch, “which had so abounded to him and his large family, became deep and lively. When returned to parliament, instead of being elated by the honour, he felt humbled before God under a sense of unmerited favour, and also afraid lest the absorbing cares of parliamentary life should extinguish his too feeble religious feeling. He at once resolved to avoid all business or parties on the Lord's day.”
In this respect, we may remark, his conduct was most exemplary. The habitual disregard of the Sabbath by public men has often exerted a most injurious influence, not only on themselves, but also in the way of example, on others. It is highly gratifying, therefore, to find a man like Mr. B. steadfastly resisting every temptation to desecrate that sacred day, and conscientiously devoting it to its important and legitimate purposes:
Providential dispensations, which removed by death, in the course of two or three years, two brothers, a sister, and a brother-in-law, deeply affected his mind, and led him to anticipate seriously the time of his own departure. On the sudden death of his brother-in-law, he thus wrote, in March, 1839, to one of his children :
- To all of us this must be an awful admonition ; but to me, who am of the same age as your uncle, who have known him so long and so well, it must be peculiarly forcible. My generation is rapidly passing away. The death of my brother. John so short a time ago, and now the death of another brother, not indeed united in blood, but so long united by other bonds, but too plainly announce this truth in language that cannot be mistaken."
It was the privilege of Mr. B- to attend the ministry of the Rev. J. E. who was greatly instrumental in leading him to a saving acquaintance with the truth. The power of Mr. E-'s ministry was seconded by a thorough and undeviating consistency and completeness of character. `In his pastoral relation he was unsurpassed. He was ever on the watch for the opportunity of promoting the spiritual welfare of his people.
He was remarkable alike for uncompromising faithfulness, and for great judgment and kindness. A letter
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY, 27, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON
which he wrote to Mr. B- -, on the occasion of the death of his brother, is a beautiful specimen of ministerial solicitude. The following extracts will be read with interest :
“ My dear Sir,—I left my own house yesterday with the purpose of making a call at King-street, hoping to have the pleasure of an interview with yourself, and wishing once more to offer condolence on occasion of the late bereavement. Disappointed through your absence from home, I cannot deny myself the satisfaction of a brief communication, assured that you will not deem these few lines offensive.
I trust that one great end will be answered by the recent affliction, and that you do feel that God is making the voice of the rod speak with an awakening energy in your mind. I hope it will be sanctified to all, and I am ready to believe that it is sent in special kindness to yourself. Have you not (I know you will suffer me to speak with all plainness) have you not, my dear sir, felt for some time past a growing sense of the spirituality of religion ? Were you not, amid the press of affairs, ready to lose that stronger sense of its importance which some little time ago you felt ? And was it not at a critical juncture that God removed your brother, to renew your personal solicitudes for the enjoyment of His favour and the experience of His grace? You have seen in one and another of your own family what a spiritual change is.
A similar change is indispensable to us all; the process may vary, the result must be the same.
May I beg that you will take that chapter that was, perhaps, the Spirit's weapon for subduing your brother's mind, the third of John, that you will retire in solitude and diligently peruse it, and spread the whole case of your own spirit before God; and that you will surrender yourself to be saved by a Saviour's merit, and dedicated to His glory ? A solemn personal act of humble application and self-devotement cannot be in vain."
By and by the result of these combined influences began to be manifest. “He took a greatly increased interest in the religious readings and conversations of his wife and daughters on the sabbath, and he listened with a humility that surprised them, when intelligible allusions were made to the importance of his own interest in the Saviour. His faithful pastor, who had addressed to him so earnest an appeal, was perhaps the first to discern the evidences of a softened mind and deeper concern in religion ; and he greatly strengthened the impression by his personal appeals in conversation.” In a letter written to Mr. E about the beginning of 1840, he thus writes, in a spirit of deep and touching humility :
“I humbly hope, though I cannot confidently assert it, that the work of divine grace has begun on my heart; and that through the mediation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and by the influence of the Holy Spirit, the dormant embers may be fanned into a flame of holy zeal. I cannot longer delay the expression of my wish, to make all worldly concerns subordinate to my spiritual duties. I feel how unsatisfactory are all worldly honours and engagements, and I can sincerely join in the exclamation of the wisest of men, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity: My determination is, with the divine aid, to devote the residue of my life, whatever station I may occupy, to the glory of God, and the promotion of the happiness of my fellow men, and more especially of my fellow-christians.”
It is possible the thought may arise in some minds, that all this may be accounted for by supposing that the time had come when the power of enjoyment had gone, that the mental faculties of Mr. B- had become enfeebled by age, and that, as is the case with only too many, he enjoyed this world as long as he could, and then, when he could enjoy it no more, began to think about preparing for a better. But it were a great mistake to think so.
His religious decision took place before there was the slightest decay of his faculties, “ and whilst he was enjoying the honours, and diligently discharging the duties of a member of parliament.”
“ He had never any reason,” continues his biographer, “to suspect that the new and deeper views of religion he had acquired were delusive ; but on the contrary he became more established in them; and when he stood on the verge of life, and was able to take a just retrospect of the past, as well as felt the importance of a right foundation for his immortal hopes, his sense of unworthiness became more profound, and his trust in the Saviour more exclusive and absolute than ever."
But the time of enfeebled health and of decay did come. After many premonitions of dissolution, he was at length stretched on the bed of death. He displayed throughout the whole of his illness the utmost gentleness and patience. Though often the subject of much pain, not a murmuring or fretful expression ever escaped his lips. There were no raptures, but his mind was calm and composed. His prevailing frame was humility and self-distrust. Asked by the writer whether he could rest entirely on the merits of the Redeemer, his reply was, “It is my desire to do so.” On another occasion he said, “ When I consider my own imperfections, it seems impossible that the Almighty should ever look upon me with favour ; I have done so much that I ought not to have done, and left undone so much that I ought to have performed.” Again,
when the text was mentioned, “Going about to establish our own righteousness,” he remarked, “That has never been my besetment at all. I see so much of my own sinfulness and unworthiness, that I have no confidence whatever in myself.”
On the Sunday before his death, the members of his family were hastily summoned, with the intimation that there was reason to believe their beloved parent had changed for the worse, and that an early dissolution might be expected. Hastening to his bedside, they found him almost insensible, and with a deathlike countenance. The administration of stimulants, however, by the medical man, caused him to rally. One of his daughters then said to him, “Do you know us all, father ?" “ Yes,” he replied in a faint yet distinct voice, “and love you all as tenderly as ever. It is a great consolation to me to see you all in so hopeful a state. Next to the assurance that one's self is interested in the love of God, is the happiness and joy of knowing that those we tenderly love are in possession of that great blessing."
Inquiring for his beloved wife, who was seated behind some of those who were surro
rounding the bed, she came close to him. He gave her his hand, and gazed on her very tenderly, as if about to bid her farewell. She, however, was the first to speak; and she did so by reminding him of the many seasons in which they had prayed together, and by enquiring, “Can you entirely trust your soul in the hands of the Saviour ?" “ Yes," he replied, “ but I feel diffident in speaking of my own religious feelings, and wish not to use too strong expressions.” Soon after, turning his eyes towards his children, he said to them, Dr. Hsaid, “Be very kind to my wife when I am gone. I ask you kind to your
mother.” In the name of all, one of his daughters responded, “ We will.” “I have very much reason to ask it," he said. “Through God all the implantation of good in you
has been on her part.' He then took leave of his children individually, addressing a word of appropriate counsel to each, and also to three of his grandchildren. He took leave besides of two boys in his employment, the sons of town missionaries, by whom he sent a kindly message to their fathers. It must indeed have been a most affecting and impressive scene; a scene never to be forgotten by those whose solemn privilege it was to witness it !
Mr B continued till the following Thursday. Sensible that his end was approaching, he looked round with a placid smile on his assembled family, and said in a feeble voice, “ The Lord bless you !”
“ The grace and love of our Lord and Saviour be with you all.” He added afterwards, in broken
all to be very