Charles B. (Charles Benjamin) Tayler.

Facts in a clergyman's life: online

. (page 13 of 21)
Online LibraryCharles B. (Charles Benjamin) TaylerFacts in a clergyman's life: → online text (page 13 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


asked, with such a kind voice after my health ; though
your coming displeased me. You sat down and read
to me those beautiful words : I knew they were not
your words, but God's own words, and I was silent.
You shut the book, and I thought you would begin to



188 TIIR WKirrEX WORD.

reproach me, and tell nie what a sinful wretch I was,
and then would be my time to speak ; but I looked up
and saw you on your knees, and heard you praying to
G-od Almighty for me, and then, without another word,
you were gone." Thus it was that he spoke ; I recal,
as well as I am able, some of the words which he said,
but I cannctt do justice to them. He was a man of
strong and superior mind, and well educated for liis
station. I hsinit from him, on my next interview,

that before he came to H 1, some years before,

when residiiiir at , he had taken oflTence at some-
thing that I'.ad occurred between himself and the cler-
gyman of the parish, and had grossly insulted him.
He had always been a man of strong passions, and of
a violent, nngoverned temper. " Before that time,"
he said, " if 1 went anywhere I went to church ; but
I then made up my mind never again to enter the
doors of a church. For the hatred I bore my own
clergyman, 1 swore a deadly hatred to all clergymen,
and when I saw you, I hated you becau.se you
were a clergyman. I longed for an opportunity to
insult you. I feared no man, and nothing would
have given me greater pleasure (I use his exact
words) than to have shaken my fist in a clergyman's
face. Every thing went wi 11 witli me in this world,"
lie said, on another occasion, " I succeeded in my bu-
siness ; I had plenty of money, as much or more than
I wished for. I was independent of the world. I had
strong health. I am not olil, and I thought that 1 had
many years to liv(!. 1 bought this piece of ground.
I built this house to my own liking, and I came here
to enjov myself, and live at my ease for many years.



THE AVRITTEN WORD. 189

All at once I found myself laid low, my strength and
my healtii gone, my money of no use to me, my house
built, but not for me to live many more months in.
All my favorite plans had come to pass. I had not a
wish ungratified. But what good had I got ? of what
use was all to me ? I was unable to enjoy anything.
I was about to be taken away from all. I was a
dying man. My heart was heavy enough, Sir, as you
may suppose, but it was full of bitterness and anger
against Grod — affliction did not soften me. You
came ; and, as I told you, if you had spoken one word
to lecture me, even in a kind way, or, I may say, one
word of your own, as to my state, which I expected
you would do, I would have turned you out of my
house."

Ah I my reader, " what had God wrought ?" His
word is truly the " sword of the Spirit, quick, power-
ful, and sharper than any two-edged sword — piercing
even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of
the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the
thoughts and intents of the heart." " Is not my word
like as a fire, saith the Lord ; and like a hammer that
breaketh the rock in pieces ?" Is it not also, " as the
small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers
upon the grass ?" The powerful and the gentle influ-
ences of that wonderful word had been brought to bear
upon the mass of resistance in the heart of that bold,
bad man. No power short of the power of God, how-
ever, can change the heart of fallen man. There is
the same natural and radical opposition to the things
of God in the heart of the gentlest, and the kindest
human being, as in that of the most stern and savage.



190



THE WRITTEN WORD.



The carnal mind, under all its disguises, is the same —
it is enmity to God. If any of my readers are sensi-
ble of mild and kindly affections, and of their own
gentleness of disposition, but at the same time con-
scious that Grod is not in their thoughts — that their
chief desire is not to please Him in all things — that
they neither love Him nor seek to love Him with their
whole heart — that, in a word, the precepts of His
word are not the principles of their lives, let them not

conclude that the state of Mr. D was necessarily

more desperate than their own.

The hours which I afterwards passed with that
once obdurate and violent man were many, and they
were among the happiest and the most prolitable I
have ever spent. He loved me with all the warmth
of his strong affections ; but his love for me, much as I
valued it, was of little moment, — I saw that ho loved
God with his whole heart. He knew, he believed, that
God loved him, that he had given his own Son to suf-
fering and to shame and to death for him. Xever
have I witnessed a deeper sense of guilt and sin and
utter vileness and worthlessncss than in that man ;
never a more earnest desire to be delivered from the
pollution and the power of .sin. He was thoroughly
aware that he had long been the bondslave of ►'^atan,
and he often spoke of his anxious desire to be entirely
freed from his helli.sh power. One evening I found
him lying on his bed in a state of quiet, but awe-
struck thought fulness. His look and manner were
peculiarly solemn. I had often spoken to him of that
great and inspired assurance, those commands and
promises so inimitably linked together for our instruc-



THE WRITTEN WORD. 191

tion in righteousness. (.lames iv. 7, 8.) " Resist the
devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God,
and he will draw nigh to you." — " He has been here
and I have had a severe conflict ;" he said, looking
earnestly upon me as I entered, " the Evil One has as-
saulted me sharply, but I have been enabled to resist
him. G-od has been with me too. God is on my side,
and in the strength of the liord Jesus Christ, I have
conquered."

1 do not dwell, however, on the state of this re-
markable man, after it pleased God to turn him from
darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto
God. His conversion was unquestionable, and satis-
factory in every sense. His repentance v/as evidenced
not only by a godly sorrow, but by the energy of a
new and spiritual life. He had become jealous for the
honor of God, and during the short time of his sojourn
on earth, he endeavored to serve Him with his whole
heart, and with his whole house. One Sunday eve-
ning he said to me, " I hope, Sir, that you found no
one drinking below. I am afraid that my wife is in-
clined to admit some of our former customers. She
knows that I will not allow it, but, I am sorry to say,
I mistrust her. I have told her plainly that it ^hall
not be. The Lord's day shall be kept sacred in this
house, and the doors shall not be opened. I cannot
go down to see that she obeys me in this ; but as long
as I live, I will be master in my own house ; and
when I am gone I trust she will attend to my desire."

I was called away from home some days before
his death, to take leave of one of my brothers who was
about to sail for India ; when I returned, and before I



192 Till', WUITTEX -WORD.

entered my own doors, I went to the house of my dying
friend. He did not know me. Death was now very
near. 1 knelt be.side his bed. I could no lonsrer pray
ivith him, but I could still pray for him, and commend
his departing spirit into the hands of that great and
glorious God, who had so wonderfully called him by
his grace, and revealed his Son in him. It was a
lovely day in the early part of summer. The trees
were clothed with their full foliage, but still in all the
brightness of their freshest green ; the birds were
singing their wild, sweet songs among the branches ;
the banks and hedge-rows were bright with the rich
ro.sc-colored blossoms of the campion, and the lovely
blue of the germander ; these, and many other flowers
were Iherc in gay profusion, and all was steeped in
a flood of glorious sunshine, while the soft fresh breeze
brought with it on its fitful breathings the exquisite
fragrance of a field of bean-blossoms. I had left the
chamber of death, and I was walking slowly and
thoughtfully homeward, and the contrast of the scene
without to that melancholy chamber, filled me with
sadness. I turned to lof)k again towards the friend
whom I had left. There stfKxl the pleasant dwelling
which he had built, and there was the window of the
room in which that once proud, sinful n)an lay dying.
His hopes of earthly happiness were all faded, and he
himself lay gasping in the struggles of death. In a
little while all that would remain of him on earth
would be but an unsightly and corrupting corpse.
But why was I sad ? There were no bands in his death.
The sting of death was not there. The redeemed and
rescued spirit would soon be free. The earthly house



1



/



THE WRITTEN WORD. 193

of that fleshly tabernacle would be dissolved, and he
would be absent from the body to be present with the
Lord.

There is a passage of the inspired word — one full
of comfort to the minister and preacher of that word
— I saw its accomplishment before me. My readers
will find it in the fifty-fifth chapter of the book of the
prophet Isaiah. The Lord God is speaking, and
speaking of his word. He describes the effect of the
rain and the snow which came down from heaven
upon the natural earth — in the springing blade, and
the bud, and the harvest fruitage, by which seed is
given to the sower and bread to the eater, and he says,
" So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my
mouth : it shall not return unto me void, but it shall
accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in
the thing whereto I sent it :" — I could not be sad. I
went on my way rejoicing.



I



CHAPTER XrV.



TRANSFORMNG GRACE.



O.'fE of the most affecting comments perhaps ever
maae on a well-known portion of the eleventh chapter
of Isaiah, was given by a poor African woman, a
newly awakened convert to the Christian faith. She
had come from the interior of the country of the
Bechnana tribes, and was one of the first thirty disci-
ples of our blessed Lord in that once dark and barren
wilderness. She had been but during two months an
enlightened and converted believer, but she realized
the description given by the sacred historian of the
gentle Lydia — " whose heart the Lord opened, that
she attended unto the things which were spoken of
Paul."

She came to the Missionary on the morning after one
of their Missionary prayer-meetings — She came and
said, " I have somewhat to say." Her teacher encour-
aged her to do so. She hesitated — her modest diffidence
needed more encouragement, and she received it. She
said, " I was going to talk to you about tiie word of God
— I could not understand you last night. I never heard
the word of (rod as I did hist night." I asked, said the
missionary, " what struck her particularly." " Oh ;" she
replied, " I could not understand it ; it was not what I
had heard before." The eleventh chapter of Isaiah



TRANSFORMING GRACE. 195

was altogether a new subject to this young woman.
She said, " I have been thinking about it all night. I
could not sleep." "I asked," he continues, "whether
it w^as that portion which I had expounded, or that
which I had only read !" She replied, " what you
unfolded, I understood, I could not go wrong, because
you put words into my ears. It was what you did
not expound." He had only expounded the first five
verses of the chapter. He asked ; " "What was it ?"
A tenacious memory enabled her to repeat nearly the
very words she had heard. ' " The wolf shall lie down
with the lamb." ' I do not know,' she said, ' what
kind of wolves they are in your country, but I know
that our wolves will not lie down with the lambs, till
they have devoured them all — " The leopard shall lie
down with the kid." I do not know what leopards they
are in your country, but ours will not lie down with
the kids, till they have eaten them up. Again — "the
calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and
a little child shall lead them." Now that is like bear-
ing the point of one needle on another, it cannot stand
there ; this is puzzling a person, and I know God does
not like to puzzle us. It makes things altogether in
confusion ; it makes darkness ; I cannot understand
it — " and the cow and the bear shall feed, their young
ones shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat
straw like the ox." This is surprising ! I do not
know wdiat kind of lions you have, but I know that
our lions will not eat straw till they have first eaten
the ox. Bat that which makes me wonder most,' she
continued, ' is this : " the sucking child shall play on the
hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand



196 TRANSFORMING GRACE.



on the coclcatrice den." ' He had translated the cocka-
trice by the word sheushuane, a little deadly-biting
serpent. ' The idea,' she said, ' of a man, or a woman,
or a child, putting their hand into the hole of the
sheushuane, and living I How can these things be ?
This is puzzling ; I cannot understand it I' He begged
her to tell him what she had been thinking about, for
he saw that she had been thinking. He wished her
to state the exercises of her mind, and the conclusions
to which she had come. ' You would only smile at
me,' she replied. He said, ' I M'ill not smile.' ' How
can you ask me,' she added, ' the light .shines upon
you from this side, and that side, and behind, and be-
fore ; you are surrounded with liglit, but as for me, it
is only the rays of the sun just rising which light on
me. Ah, you would only smile at my simplicity !'
'No, I will not smile. Tell me what were your
thoughts ?' After some hesitation, she said : ' Do the
leopard and the lion and the shcf/shi/ane, mean men
and women of such and such a character ; men like
lions, who have been changed into the nature of lambs,
and put into the church of Christ V Pressing her
hand to her bosom, the tears trickling over her cheek.«,
she said ; 'Was not I like a wolf; did not I possess
the very nature of the lion ; and the poison of the
sheushuane, until tliis gospel changed this heart of
mine?' Ah. she was a noble commentator I

But we need not go to Africa, we need not turn to
some newly-awakenc^d savage for an illustration of that
glorious prophecy of the transforming inlluence of the
grace of God, on hearts as hard and natures as fierce
as those of the lion of the desert. In the bosom of



TRANSFORMING GRACE. 197

our own church, in this most blest and civilized of
christian lands, the same wild passions, the same un-
holy violence may too often be found ; and here, where
■we have "light on every side ;" to use the words of
the African woman ; there can be, alas, no light with-
in, till the light of the knowledge of the glory of Grod,
in the face of Jesus Christ, hath shined in the heart ;
and the transforming power of the grace of God hath
renewed the spirit after the image of Christ.

I have been the honored witness of many such
wondrous changes ; and a striking instance now
occurs to me.

During a period of six months, at the request of

my diocesan the Bishop of W , I agreed to take

the temporary charge of a parish in H — shire. It was
a small town in one of the loveliest parts of England ;
and had been under the pastoral care of a truly devoted
and faithful minister of Christ. But his health was
delicate, and he had broken down under his arduous
duties, and was ordered by his medical attendant, to
seek rest and change of scene for a time, in order that
he might recruit his exhausted powers. Among the
members of his flock, whom he especially mentioned
to me, before his departure, there was one gentleman
in whom he felt a peculiar interest. But after descri-
bing to me his state of mind, and his rapidly declining
health, for he was apparently in the last stage of a
consumption, he added with a sigh of melancholy
regret ; ' But it would be almost useless for you to
attempt to see him. I believe he is now in earnest
about his soul, but his natural character is peculiar,
and I think he would not see you.' I resolved,



198 TRANSFORMING GRACE.

however, to make the attempt to see him, though I
felt convinced from what my brother Minister had told
me, and from other remarks which he made as to the
peculiar disposition of the sick man, that anything
which he might construe into an attempt to force
myself upon him, would defeat my object. The way
that I took was a very simj)le one I I called daily at
his door, and begged he might be told that I had come
to inquire after his health. My plan succeeded.
After a few of those daily calls, the servant told me
that her master had desired her to say, if I called again,
that he hoped I would come up to see him. I was
taken to his chamber. It was a lovely day in May,
and I found the sick man seated by a window which
looked out over the pleasant garden attached to his
house.

I sat down beside him ; and, when my first greet-
ing was over, I made some remark about that
pleasant garden, and the wild and lovely country
which we could see beyond it. With an air of the
deepest sadness, he said, " The trees and plants are all
bursting into leaf and flower, but before they are
clothed in their full foliage, I shall be in my grave. I
shall see them no more." It was but the passing
regret of the mere natural man. I soon learned, from
his conversation, that his heart was yearning for a
better, brighter state, and for a place where the leaves
and flowers change not as a fleeting summer-season
passes away. J soon found, that though troubled at
intervals by doubts, and disturbed by fears, he was
looking unto Jesus with a glorious faith in His finished
redemption and His perfect righteousness. I soon



TRANSFORMING GRACE. 199

saw that he had been truly regenerated by the word,
and the Spirit of God, and had passed from death unto
life, though still in this body of death and corruption.
Many were the interviews which I afterwards had
with him, and deep was the interest which he
awakened in me. He was a remarkable man — a
clear-headed decided character ; he had always been
so. What he did, he did heartily and resolutely, but
he had been, not long before, a bold and violent op-
poser of the truth ; hating and despising it, and all
who held it. His spirit was naturally proud and
overbearing in no common degree, his temper fiery,
and many of his neighbors had accustomed themselves
to yield to his insulting conduct, rather than provoke
his resentful violence. So brutal and overbearing: had
he been, that it was said, and I believe truly, that
because his wife, a very gentle and amiable person,
whose ap})earanee and manners were peculiarly pleas-
ing, was lame and walked with some difficulty, she
had been forbidden by him to walk to church. He
did not chose that an infirmity, which in fact created
an interest in her, but which he fancied might be re-
marked upon, should be seen by others. He had been
an officer in the navy, and was still a young man, but
the lines of his countenance showed what its expres-
sion had once been. He owed any thing that made
existence happiness, under God, he told me, to the in-
struction of that faithful preacher of the gospel, whose
place I then occupied, and who had first mentioned
him to me. For a long time he had never entered the
church-doors, nor even seen the minister of his parish,
but in the streets. On one occasion, he said, he had



200 TRANSFORMING GRACE.

stopped Mr. M in the market-place, and with a

loud voice and brutal manner, in the midst of the
farmers, (for it was market-day,) he had called out,
" I wish to know the reason. Sir, why you do not call
on me. You call, I know, upon my neighbors on both
sides of my house, why don't you call on me ?" But
had he called I should have insulted him," he added,
" and with his delicate health and arduous duties,
was ill fitted to bear with my violence." He had
been, he then told me, stirred up to fury, by the ac-
counts of Mr. M 's sermons, which he had heard

in the parlor of the inn, where he frequently passed
his evenings, and he had determined to seek an op-
portunity of calling him to account for the state-
ments as to the doctrine and practice, which that un-
compromising servant of God had put forth from his
pulpit. " But I will not act unfairly," he had said to
himself, " I will do him justice, I will hear him my-
self, and I will judge for myself, before I attack him."
He went to church, and the sermon which he heard
Mr. M preach filled him with rage. This is un-
bearable ! he thought, and I will certainly see him,
and ask him how he dares to .speak to us in this man-
ner. He was scarcely able to control his anger till the
end of the service. The preacher had referred to va-
rious passages of Scripture, and his impetuous hearer
had noted down some of them. With the same sense
of ju.stice, however, on which he had before acted, he
said to himself, as he walked home, " I will look into
the Bible, and see for myself whether those pa.ssages
are there, and whether he has spoken the truth. I did
so— I searched for myself;" and then fixing his eyes



)



TRANSFORMING GRACE. 201

on me with a look of deep earnestness as he paused
for a moment in his narrative. " / did so — and it
ivas all true /" How solemn, how impressive was the
tone in which he pronounced those few words ! I
thought of the words of the Apostle, " What was I that
I could withstand (rod !" Such was the deep inward
conviction conveyed, though not uttered, by that tone,
and such had been the practical effect produced
through the unsought grace of the Lord God upon
the whole future course of his life, by that heartfelt
conviction. It was all true ; and God had, by His
own living word, impressed that inspired truth upon
the conscience of that ungodly and violent man. Now
that he had been awakened from the dark dream of
his whole past life, now that he had been enabled to
realise his true state as a fallen and lost creature,
redeemed and rescued by Him, who had come down
from heaven to seek and to save his lost sheep, he was
filled with anxiety for all who were still out of the
way. There was one man who had been but a short
time his friend and associate, one from whose com-
panionship he had received much injury, for that man
was an avowed infidel. They could not meet, for they
were both confined to their sick chambers ; that man,
as it happened, still nearer death than himself. He
wrote, however, to his former companion ; he told him
with what horror he looked back on his own past life —
how deeply he deplored his senseless opposition to the
only remedy for the hopeless wretchedness of a state
like theirs! He told him what God had done for his
own soul, and he entreated him to search the word of
life which God had given them, and to seek for pardon
9*



202 TRANSFORMING GRACE.

and acceptance with Him through Jesus Christ, whom
He had sent to save sinners, and give his life a ran-
som for ours. His affectionate and earnest appeal pro-
duced no impression. The man died, as he had lived ;
and the news of his hopeless death was so great a
shock to his former friend, in his enfeebled state, that
it was some time before he was enabled in any way
to recover from it.

I soon became his constant companion ; for so far
from not wishing to see me, I found that he looked
forward for my daily visit with a grateful affection,
which went to my heart. His bodily sufferings were
great, and I saw them perhaps at their height; and
it was impossible to witness them witliout feeling, and
without expressing deep sympathy. My first inquiry,
on entering his room, was regarding them ; and I sup-
pose 1 showed, by my. manner, that they were not
matter-of-course words that I spoke, but the import-
ance of his spiritual state soon drew forth expressions
of a far deeper interest ; and one day, he said, with a
look of affection, as he fixed his eyes upon me : " You,
my dear friend, can, I see, enter into all my feelings :
and you seem as if Grod had sent you to me, at the
very time I needed such a friend. One of my kind
visitors came and stood beside me, looking like an
angel, and speaking like an angel of God ; but in his
earnest anxiety for my soul, he seemed altogether to
forget my poor suffering bodily frame : and another, in
the tenderness of his feelings, when he witne.s.sed my
severe pains, though I am sure he never forgot the
interests of my immortal soul, seemed to occupy him-
self too much with those bodily sufferings which will



TRANSFORMING GRACE. 203



soon be over. But it is so soothing, so comforting to


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryCharles B. (Charles Benjamin) TaylerFacts in a clergyman's life: → online text (page 13 of 21)