« AnteriorContinuar »
his humanity some years ago:— When his eldest brother was in possession of the estate, he sent Charles one day to collect rents from the poor people; but the good man saw so much misery, that it excited his compassion; and, instead of bringing home the rents, he was money out of pocket.
Benevolence was not, however, a greater trait of his character than a love of secresy; and hence but little is known of his personal experience as a Christian: instead of tulking much about religion, he endeavoured to exemplify it. It was inpossible to know his character by a short acquaintance; but those who were most and longest with him, unite in observing, that he was one of those few persons of whom esteem is created with acquaintance. After residing in lodgings a few years, at Clapton, about the year 1777, he took a house at Homerton. He used to leave business earlier in winter, and spend his evenings at home in reading, with a companion, some pions author tilt supper-time: after which, he smoked his pipe, as a relief to his asthma; and his companion read till eleven o'clock, the hour when he retired to rest. In this way the writings of Fox, Whitefield, Romaine, James Hervey, and the late Ryland, were read through, and administered to his edification. From the death of Mr. Hart, he attended regularly the ministry of the late Mr. Romaine, until the gospel was introduced at Homerton Chapel. On Mr. Eyre's settlement there, he formed an acquaintance with that zealous and active servant of our Lord; which continued to the death of Mr. Townsend, and tended greatly to enlarge the field of his usefulness, especially from the time when he became possessed of his large fortune, by the death of his brothers.
Mr. Eyre, who had greatly exerted himself in the establishment of the Missionary Society, for sending the gospel abroad, was equally zealous for its propagation at home: a society was formed for this purpose, by a few pious and affluent persons in his own congregation, which was conducted with great ability by their minister. It pleased God to bless their efforts in such a manner, as to encourage a considerable enlargement of the sphere of their labours. Mr. Eyre, in a plan which he drew up for this purpose, and laid before the society, observed, that "It appears by the returns lately made to the House of Commons, that there are about 9,500,000 immortal souls in this kingdom,which, upon an average, are about 1000 to each parish. Suppose 200 in a parish, one with another, were to attend the churches, that would scarcely amount to 2,000,000; and if 1,000,000 more were und r the instruction of Methodists and Dissenters, there would still be above 6,000,000 destitute of all kind of religious instruction." Without interfering, therefore, at all with those excellent institutions already formed, he proposed that the Societý should educate, in their own manner,
such a number of pious young men for the ministry, and so far contribute to their support as their funds would allow, and as might be necessary for introducing the gospel into such situations as would be otherwise destitute of it. The plan of education was to be confined to twelve courses of lectures; six of which were to be on the history, religion, evidences, ́and theology of the Bible; and six on science, literature, the duties of a preacher, &c. including the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. In this pian Mr. Townsend most cordially co-operated; and, by his will, dated July 31, 1802, bequeathed 40001. to the Society, to which, upon a tutor being engaged to carry the above plan into execution, he added, by his codicil, dated December 14 following, the sum of 6000l.; both which suns have been recently paid by his executors.
In the midst of his athdence, Mr. Townsend has frequently acknowledged, that additional riches brought an increasing burden; and, with many tears, complained of his state of mind, compared with former experiences. Scarcely had the good man been in possession of his fortune two years, before he began to feel the time of his departure was at hand.
On Tuesday the 28th of December, after eating a hearty dinner, he was suddenly seized, and said to his house-keeper, "I feel as if I was going to die." From this time until Friday evening, he continued much indisposed; and then his disorder assumed so serious an aspect, as to leave. no hopes of his recovery. During a few intervals or ease, he would speak to his friend Mr. Evre, in short and suitable sentences upon spiritual subjects; and on Sunday the 2d of January, he died much lamented by his Christian acquaintances, and a rultitude of poor objects who had long heaped the harvest of his bounty.
On the 16th of January, Mr. Eyre preached his funeral sermon from Rev. xiv, 13. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, suith the Spirit, that they may res: from their labours, and their works do follow them." By his will be also bequeathed to the Gloucester Infirmary, 5001. — to the Stroud Dispensary, 2001. to the Marine Society, 500l. -to the Philanthropic Society, 2001. to the Society for the Relief of Blind Persons, 5001,—to the Deaf and Dumb Society, 500l. to the Benevolent Society, held at Homerton Chapel, 501.to the Treasurer of this Magazine, for the Relief of Poor Widows of Gospel Ministers,, 100l. to the Schools at Homerton Chapel, 4001.
In the conversion of this good man, we would, first, gratefully acknowledge the advantage of an Evangelical Ministry, whilst we would point out, for imitation, the conduct of his good brother, who first invited him to hear the gospel. Let parents thus lead their children, and masters their servants.
Let those young persons who have happily been brought fron the broad road which leadeth to destruction," into" the ways of pleasantness, and the paths of peace,' labour to introduce their former associates to the house of God; and then, perhaps, they may become the instruments of their salvation.
2. Let us observe how the gospel operated on Mr. Townsend, in love to God, and benevolence to inan; especially inducing him, when he possessed but one talent, to lay it out well. In him the poet's description was verified :
"Stillest streams oft water fairest meadows;
Instead of the empty, fruitless noise of many professors of religion, Mr. Townsend silently sowed in secret, what will be reaped openly, at the end of the world.
3. How frequently one talent, well improved in praise of the Redeemer, makes a man ruler over many more. Them that honour me, I will honour." He who lends to the Lord, is frequently repaid with compound interest.
4. How much more blest are the reflections of a good man, who, from evangelicai motives, has been enabled to use his pro-perty in benefiting the bodies and souls of his fellow creatures, than the reflection of those who have laboured to acquire immense property, to leave it to others who will, perhaps, waste it faster than it was obtained! Much wiser would it be in many parents to leave to their children portions sufficient to stimulate their industry and keep them usefully employed, than such large inasses of property, as make application needless, and frequently leads the unhappy possessors to vice, profligacy, disease, and premature death! We could point out families, at this day, of the highest respectability in the religious world, whose pious fathers expended more money in the cause of genuine benevolence, than they left to their children; yet these children have been rising in the world, whilst the immense fortunes of other families, not so minded, have melted away. 66 away. There is that scattereth and yet increaseth, and there is that withholdeth more than is meet; but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself," Brethren, the time is short; it remaineth, that they that buy, be as though they possessed not; aud they that use the world, as not abusing it; for the fashion of, this world passeth away. Blessed is that servant who is found occupying at the coming of his Lord.
A MISSION TO BENGAL RECOMMENDED.
THE geographical situation of the land selected by God for the residence of his peculiar people, and for the incarnation, sufferings, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, illustrates the divine wisdom, and deserves our serious attention, partienJarly as it may afford us useful instruction for the conduct of missions.
The Scriptures lead us to conceive the following objects to have been principally intended by the dispensation which separated the Israelites from the rest of mankind:-1st, That during the long period of darkness, when the Gentiles were " conchuded in unbelief," the worship of God might not be totally, extinguished in the world, but be preserved among Israel, his peculiar people. 2d, That, even during this dark period, some rays of the knowledge of God might be coinmunicated to the surrounding nations, who should hear of his great name, and of his strong hand, and of his stretched-out arm. 3d, That an expectation of the Messiah, as the desire of all nations, might gradually be disused among the Gentiles, and pave the way for the successful preaching of his glorious gospel. 4th and last, That, after the ascension of Christ, his apostles and elect people among the Jews might publish the gospel among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Even the future and last restoration of the Jews to their own land, and their conversion to Christ, will not be beneficial to themselves only. The prophecies of Ezekiel, Joel, and Zechariah, and the eleventh chapter of St. Paul's epistle to the Romans, lead us to expect, that the return of the Jews, and their conversion and victory over their ene¬ mies, will be accompanied with such signal displays of the power and grace of God, as to be instrumental in gathering the fulness of the Gentiles into the church: "And I will set my glory among the Heathen, and all the Heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them : SO the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God, from that day and forward; and the Heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the band of their enemies; "so fell they all by the sword.”
For effecting the above purposes, what spot could have been so well selected for the residence of the children of Israel as Canaan? It adjoined to, and had an immediate communication with the empires of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia; with the rich kingdom of Egypt, and Tyre, the mart of the world, Through the gulphs of Arabia and Persia, Palestine has a ready intercourse with India, China, and the eastern coast of Africa:
s shores being washed by the Mediterranean, the inhabitants of Canaan have an easy access to the coasts of Asia Minor, the outhern and eastern parts of Europe, the northern coasts of Africa; and, through the Straits of Gibralter, they may visit all hose countries whose shores are washed by the Atlantic ocean. Such, in short, is the situation of Judea, that were the plan of an universal monarchy ever realized, this country, which infidel writers have affected so much to despise, would present itself zo the eye of an enlightened prince, as being, in every point of view, the most proper seat of empire, whether for the purposes of government, intelligence, or commerce.
If we inspect a map of the globe with the eyes of Christian philanthropy, we shall find that there is a vast and populous tract of it which extends from the Euphrates to the Sea of Japan; and from the southern frontier of Russian Tartary to the Indian Ocean; which comprehends Persia, Hindostan, Japan, China, Thibet, and a great part of Tartary: some of the fairest countries of the globe. Yet these vast regions are almost wholly unenlightened by the gospel-sun. The nations sit in darkness, and the valley of the shadow of death." They are fast bound in the chains of Satan, and perish for lack of knowledge.
With respect to these countries, the dominions of the British nation in Bengal hold a position nearly as centrical as Judea does to the whole world. If to the divine wisdom Judea seemed the most proper spot for communicating the first rays of that divine light, which is in the fulness of time to arise upon all nations, we, as humble imitators of the wisdom of God, and as workers together with Him, ought to turn our immediate attention to Bengal, as being a station whence the light of Christianity may most easily diffuse itself over the whole continent of Asia.
Were the gospel firmly rooted in Bengal, native Missionaries might penetrate from thence into Pegue and China; into Boutan, Nepaul and Thibet; into the Marratta dominions and the territories of the Shieks, and thence into Punjab, Kabool, Cushmeer and Persia.
The Bengal provinces (exclusive of the late acquisitions of the Company in Oude) are calculated to contain a population of 30,000,000 souls. In this vast harvest, the only persons who now labour are, three Baptist Missionaries at Serampore; and one person sent out by the London Missionary Society!
To Christians, it is surely superfluous to point out the deep need which the natives of the Company's provinces have of the gospel. All who have had personal experience of the Hindostan character, know the natives of India to be sunk in the deepest depravity, and their intercourse with Europeans, with the knowledge which is thereby communicated to them, have a patural tendency to increase, instead of correcting their wicked,