« PreviousContinue »
THE PURITAN PREACHER.
1644 he was set apart to the work of the ministry by the Presbyterians. His first station was at Cliffe, in Kent; but the people did not like him, he was a puritan, and they wanted a "jovial parson” like the last; so they hailed him into the parish “with spits, forks, and stones," and said they would kill him. This was a rough reception for a modest youth not much above twenty! But he stood his ground, and by kindness and good conduct “ the storm was soon husbed.”
These were the days of the “Great Rebellion," as it was called, which ended in the death of the King, and the instalment of Cromwell as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth.
When he left Cliffe to go to London, the people parted with him amid “many tears and cries." He had led many of them into the way of life, and what should they do now without him? What a wonderful change!
Dr. Annesley preached in London in various places until the death of Cromwell, and the restoration of Charles II. But when the infamous “ Act of Uniformity" was passed in 1662, he was one of the nearly two thousand puritan ministers who, refusing to subscribe, were turned out of their livings, with their wives and families, without receiving their accustomed payments !
We almost lose sight of him for the next ten years. What he and his wife and their large family of children suffered no one can now tell. He had a very large family. When the last child was born he humourously observed to a friend that he did not know whether it made up two dozen or a quarter of a hundred; but his wife did !
But happier days were coming! Royal persecution slackened its band. Dr. Annesley took advantage of this to license a "• Meeting House' in Little Saint Helen's, Bishopsgate Street. He soon gathered a large congregation and a flourishing church. Loving his flock and loved by them in return, during the next quarter of a century he was one of the most attractive, laborious, and useful preachers of his day.
His personal appearance was noble and commanding. Fine figure ;' dignified mien ;' highly expressive and amiable countenance,' are the phrases used by his contemporaries. Hardy in constitution and almost insensible to cold, hat, gloves, and topcoat were no necessities to him, even in the depth of winter. The days of hoare frost' and chilling winds found him in his study, at the top of the house, with open window and empty fire-grate. Temperate in all things, he needed no stimulants, and
THE PURITAN PREACHER.
from bis infancy hardly ever drank anything but water. He could abe endure any amount of active exercise and toil, preaching twice
or thrice every day of the week without any sense of weariness. -is! Until the time that the Divine Voice said unto him, Get thee up
and die,' his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.'
Dr. Annesley was a Presbyterian, but he was no controversialist. Preaching was his great work, and he loved it. But
"he was a man of marked prominence among his sect; a very lei prince in the tribe to which he belonged. He possessed an ti intellect capable of grasping the leading points of the discussions
going on around him. His judgment was apparently clear and Til
serene. The weight of his moral character was beyond all price her
to his party. He could not be indifferent to his principles, for bin he had sacrificed seven hundred a-year rather than abjure them.
How was it, then, that he stood aloof from the all-absorbing at
strife? There were other themes more congenial to his thoughts, and in the contemplation and enforcement of which he probably believed he could more glorify God, and better serve the spiritual interests of his community." His preaching was lively, simple, and attractive. The celebrated Daniel Defoe, the author of
“Robinson Crusoe," was one of his hearers. He speaks of “his att taking aspect" and his “charming tongue,” and gives the followDea ing description of his pulpit style :
“ The Sacred Bow he so Divinely drew,
That every shaft both hit and overthrew.
Which made his actions and his words agree."
He consecrated a tenth of all his own substance unto the Lord ; and was a faithful almoner of many. “ The sick, the widows, the orphans, were innumerable whom he relieved and settled.” The poor looked up to him as a common father.
He spent much in the relief of needy ministers, in the education of candidates for holy orders, and in the circulation of Bibles, Catechisms, and profitable books. 0, how many places had sat in darkness,” exclaims Williams in his funeral sermon;
6 bow many
THE PURITAN PREACHER,
ministers had been starved, if Doctor Annesley had died thirtyfour years since ! The Gospel he even forced into several ignorant places, and was the chief instrument in the education as well as subsistence of several ministers.” But he died poor, bequeathing to each of his surviving children one shilling each !
The final scene is thus described :- During a severe and long.continued affliction, he was perfectly resigned to the Divine will. He charged those around him not to entertain hard thoughts of God because he suffered so much in his last end. · Blessed be God, he exclaimed, “I have been faithful in the work of the ministry above fifty-five years!' Having enjoyed uninterrupted peace and assurance of God's love for above thirty years last past,' the holy calm of soul was not broken when the waves and billows of death went over his head. • I have no doubt, nor shadow of doubt! All is clear between God and my soul. He chains up Satan; he cannot trouble me.' His mind had so long been filled with thoughts of God and heaven, that, even in moments of mental wandering, ‘he still breathed the same spirit, and spake of Divine matters most consistently. His head was not free of those projects for God which in health it was ever full of.' Come, dear Jesus! the nearer the more precious, and the more welcome,' was a sentence often falling from his lips. Then the flood of holy joy so inundated his soul that he exclaimed, 'I cannot contain it! What manner of love is this to a poor worm! I cannot express a thousandth part of what praise is due to Thee! We know not what we do when we aim at praising God for His mercies! It is but little I can give; but, Lord, help me to give Thee my all! I will die praising Thee, and rejoice that there are others that can praise Thee better. I shall be satisfied with Thy likeness !-Satisfied !---Satisfied ! O, my dearest Jesus, I come !"
But one more most remarkable fact of this eminent man must by no means be omitted. Among his children who survived the perils of infancy were several daughters. One of these, Susanna, became the wife of the Rev. Samuel Wesley, afterwards Reétor of Epworth. They, too, had a numerous family, on all of whom the mother bestowed much labour. JOHN WESLEY and CHARLES WESLEY were her sons. Some affirm that she was the FOUNDER OF TÀE METHODIST SYSTEM which John and Charles built up. At all events such a mother was worthy of such sons, and such sons were worthy of such a mother!
OUR CITY ABOVE.
O CITY, golden-bright!
Transparent as the day!
For pilgrims far away!
E'en now peryades my breast;
Thy jasper bulwarks rest.
So safe, so satisfied !
Lead home the sanctified.
No more earth's wailing cry!
And hush each heaving sigh.
By faith thy light I see,
O sun, that rules the day,
Stand still, and hear the tale !
Thy brightest beams would fail!
The city needs not thee;
The light and temple be.
Shall walk those streets of gold,
In ecstasies untold.
Those blissful courts shall gain,
And love supreme shall reign.
Transparent as the day!
For pilgrim's far away!
Their highest joy, shall be,
To know, and love, and see :
There they shall in raptures live, Glorious ecstasy is given ;
This is their supreme delight,
And makes a heaven of heaven.
To him they glory give,
As long as God shall live.
While eternal ages roll,
Thus employ'd in heaven they are :
With all thy servants there!
GOD, OUR CREATOR.-By the character of God as Creator, we are called upon, in the most solemn and affecting manner, to regard him with unceasing admiration, reverence, and awe. There is something singularly awful, something singularly fitted to inspire profound reverence in the character of God as our Creator-in the consideration of him as the Being by whom we were made. On this Being, we cannot but feel, if we feel at all, that as we derived our existence from him, 80 we absolutely depend on him for our continuance in being, and for all which can render that being comfortable or desirable. In this view we can scarcely fail to realize that we are nothing, and that he is all. At the same time, the amazing nature of his works, their number, their variety, their beauty, their grandeur, their magnificence, the glory of the end for which they are made, and the astonishing fitness of the means by which it is accomplished, necessarily excite, in every sober and contemplative mind, the highest possible admiration, an admiration which will continue and increase for ever!
DIVINE LOVE.—“God is love." All his perfections and procedures are but so many forms of his love. What is his omnipotence but the arm of his love ? What his omniscience but the medium through which he contemplates the objects of his love? What his wisdom but the scheme of his love? What are the offers of the gospel but the invitations of his love? What the threatenings of the law but the warnings of his love? they are the hoarse voice of his love, saying, “Man I do thyself no harm;" they are a fence thrown round the pit of perdition to prevent rash men from rushing into ruin. What was the incarnation of the Saviour but the richest illustration of his love ? What were the miracles of Christ but the condescension of his love? What were the sighs of Christ but the breath of his love? What were the prayers of Christ but the pleadings of his love? What were the tears of Christ but the dew-drops of his love? What is the earth but the theatre for the display of his love? What is heaven but the Alps of his love, from whose summits his blessings, flowing down in a thousand streams, descend to water and refresh his church situated at its base ?
JOHN WESLEY had full measure of lying slanders poured out upon him; and that might have been expected, for like his Great Master he spent his life in throwing light upon the darkness of wicked men, and they hated him for it. But Wesley was as wise as he was meek. When a friend told him of an evil report a certain man in high position had spread about him, and that he ought to expose the falsehood, he only replied, “I am serving God, and I cannot leave my work even to defend my own character."