« AnteriorContinuar »
In the County of Warwick,
great Head of the Church, who dispenses his favours to his servants as he pleases, does not ordinarily manifest his approbation of the extent and measure of their gifts, so much as of the faithful use of thein. “If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath.” In the judgment of wise and good men, also, they are more highly esteemed who magnify their office, and labour according to the ability which God giveth. In the church of Christ the most splendid talents lose their lustre in the loiterer, whilst the humblest, plodding labourer, it sincere, seldom lives without the comforts of a good conscience, the respect of men, and the plaudits of his Divine Master. If the subject of these memoirs possessed not talents of the first inagnitude, he possessed an excellent substitute,-a disposition always to do good.
So far as men are concerned in introducing others into the work of the ministry, they are bound to promote in the candidate a due attention to every needful branch of human learning and knowledge. It is evident, however, that the blessed God, who is a wise Sovereign, often raises up obscuro, and even unlettered men, whom he qualifies with gifts, and makes eminently useful in his church. This was exemplified in good Mr. Parsons. The only seminaries of human instruction that offered him their aid, were the pious families in which he lived a servant; especially the Rev. Mr. Talbot's, late Vicar of Kine. ton, and that of the late Mr. Wilberforce, uncle to the present amiable Meinber of Parliament of that name. The first serious impressions of Mr. Parsons were in early life, and appeared to originate froin his own private reflections upon the precious Scriptures. One time, in particular, he would make mention of to his friends, when a farmer's servant, and but a boy, he was melted down, while at his work in the fields, under a sense of *11.
the love of God in sending his dear Son into this lower world to save guilty sinners. These solemn convictions led him to retire under the branches of a spreading tree, and pour out his soulto God in prayer. While in the family of the pioas Vicar of Kineton, these early impressions matured into a life of faithe and steady obedience; the preaching, family-worship, and walk of his master, all under God, contributing to promote these.
Whoever might at all he acquainted with the rules of the late Mr. Wilberforce's family, in which Mr. Parsons lived more than twenty-two years, will not wonder that he found an abode here every way calculated to nourish his graces and expand bis mind. After the death of his master, Mr. Wilberforce, , so long as health would permit, conducted the worship of the house one part of the day, and Mr. Parsons (if no minister was visiting, very frequevily the other. This pious lady, who had an excellent discernment in divine things, appears to have discovered the lalevis of her servant for public usefulness, as she would frequently say, “ Charles, when I am dead, your will go into your own country, and preach the gospel to the poor. This little pleasantry turned out to be a true prediction.
After the decease of Mrs. Wilberforce, some of her domestics, now advanced in years, retired to enjoy, in a country retreat, the fruits of their servitude; which, with a small annuitv granted by a near relation of this respectable family, was found sufficient to support them without necessitous labour. The subject of these Memoirs, with his wife, settled at Reading, thas they might share the friendship of two of their old fellow-servants who resided in that town; and, at the same tiine, sit under the ministry of the late Rev. and Honourable Mr. Cadogan, for whom they had a great partiality. But Mr. Parsons was not to stay long here, having work provided for him to do by the great Lord of the harvest. During the period of his abode at Reading, a gospel ministry was removed from the parishchurch of Kineton, a spot dear to this pious man, not only because it was within a few miles of his birth-place, but equally so on account of the spiritual benefits he had received in his youth under the ministry of the then excellent vicar. A number of spiritual people were now left as sheep without a shepherd; and, what must necessarily increase their grief, there was little prospect of the gospel returning to the church, as the new patron of the living appeared inimical to evangelical doctrine : - a painful consideration, which the following anecdote will serve to confirm :- The Rev. Mr. Cadogan, on a journey, passiug through Kineton, felt a strong desire to preach in the church: accordingly, he made application in form, but was peremptorily denied ; upon which a friend's house was offered him, where a considerable number soon collected together, to whom, with much aflection, he expounded the Scriptures,
Soon after this event, which might in no small degree contribute to subsequent pleasing circumstances, Mr.Parsons being on a visit among this people, was requested to improve big talent in praying and exhorting among them from day to day. These simple attempts were so blessed to many, that they earnestly solicited his residence in that town; with which request, after due consideration, he complied. It was now, at the advanced age of fifty-five that our friend, like another Abrahain, resolv. ed to relinquish his own ease, to obey the divine impulse and command. He took a liouse at Kineton, and engaged himselt heartily in the work of the Lord. A neat chapel was soon erected for his use, in which he preached twice every Lord's Day, and very often the other part in a neighbouring village ; seldom preaching at Kineton at the hour when divine service was at the church, lest it might be construed into opposition. If he might, in this instance, be scrupulous to an extreme, it must be noticed, that himself and hearers were all partial to the prayers of the established church, where they continued to hold communion, although they lamented that the bread and wine were not administered by one whose sentiments might better accord with their own. For the space of thirteen years, few men could have discovered greater ardour and seriousness in the work of winning souls than Mr. Parsuns. According to the ability given him of God he laboured abundantly, nor was his work unrewarded; for the Chief Shepherd, who had furnish, ed him with engaging gifts, condescended to own these for the conversion of many souls. To bis animated pulpit-labours he united an holy, huinble, exemplary conduct. Like a true imitator of Jesus, he was ever doing good; being ready, as opportunity offered, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and admi. nister to the necessities of the poor of his flock. So unblameable, affectionate, and upright was his conduct before men, that no one dared move a tongue to reproach bim, nor could envy itself lay an improper thing to his charge! Among the many excellent qualities which associated in this man of God, modesty and humility were not the least conspicuous. Very. far from many, who, destitute of literary advantages, envy their brethren who have shared them, he always esteemed ministers in proportion as they were eminent, or bovoured of God. He has been heard to say, when in company with his brethren, " He was not worthy to loose the latehets of their shoes."
The spiritual joys of this poor but affectionate flock, which had been uniforıniy promoted by the doçurine and life of their godly minister, were as suddenly blasted by his unexpected and instantaneous death. He left his habitation in the morning in the most cheerful frame, with the design of returning the same evening to preach to his people, which he was accustomed to do every Wednesday. The sale of a deceased clergyman's Library had occasioned the little excursion, at which he considered he might buy some useful books to give away in the village where he resided. These he purchased ; and now the sale ended, and hastening to get home, to save time, he put the catalogue into the hand of a friend; and while desiring him to pay for such lots as he was pointing out, - in the act of folding down the leaf he fell, and, without sigh or struggle, instantly expired.
Thus ended the course of this precious man, whose meinory will ever be dear to the many souls who sat under his ministry ; but especially to those who were his work in the Lord. His funeral exhibited an affecting scene. Many inhabitants of the village came into the room where his coffin lay, to drop a tear upon his body before it was finally closed; some exclaiming, "Alas, my friend !" and others, " Alas, my father!" As he was dearly loved by all about him, so they testified their afiection by falling in with the mourners, and following hiin to his grave. The sermon preached on the solemn occasion, directly after the interment, attracted a concourse far beyond what the chapel could comfortably contain; all of whom, even to the children, appeared during the service bathed in tears.
This people, mostly poor, and altogether unable to support a minister, are now deprived of the blessing of stated preaching, notwithstanding there is a great thirst of hearing the word. Most varnestly it is wished that the great Head of the Church would incline many pious men of gifts, of leisure, and of independence, to tread in the steps of good Mr. Parsons; and, like him, to consecrate their service to the Lord. Warwick,
ON JUDGING BY APPEARANCES.
11 is truly astonishing to observe how much we are taken by outward appearances, in inatters of commerce, in forming connexions, in judgivg of character, and in the concerns of religion; and yet our own experience, confirmed by the testimony of all past ages, proves this conduct to be injudicious, partial
, and deceptive. How a splendid shewy shop attracts notice, - how the outward manners and dress of invite friendship or affection to the ruin of the young and unthripking, - how candid are our examinations of the character of the rich and great among our connexions, - how the outward forms of religion often engage our attention, while the inward and spiritual grace is neglected !
Do we judge after the outward appearance? then we, 1. Act contrary to the injuctions of Scripture *.
2. Then we do not, in this particular, imitate Christ. It was foretold in the prophecies which went before, that the Messiah
2 Cor, X. 7. John vii. 24, &c.