Imágenes de páginas

Mr. Jowett, with reference to these fishing towns, says :—“After a very feverish and wakeful night, I was quite unable to ride to the ruins of Capernaum. While Mr. Fisk did this, I stayed within doors the whole morning. He brings back a very meagre account indeed of the remains of that city-once exalted unto heaven, but now barely leaving a relic sufficient to attest its former existence. He found Bethsaida also existing in little more than the name.” — Researches.

Dr. Richardson says, that on asking some natives of a village at some distance from the lake, if they knew such a place as Capernaum, they answered, “Capernaum and Chorazinthey are quite near, but in ruins.”

from another place of the same name, situated in the tribe of Asher, in the neighbourhood of Sidon, John xix. 28. The town shown as the scene of our Lord's first miracle is situated about eight miles north of Nazareth. About a quarter of a mile from the village is a copious spring, which is supposed to be the same which supplied the water that was turned into wine. Mr. Carne, in his letters from the East, observes :-“The same kind of waterpots as are mentioned by John are still in use in the village of Cana. We saw several of the women bearing them on their heads as they returned from the well.” Mr. Jowett adds, “Cana is at present a very small and poor village. With some difficulty we found out the Christian priest. We went with him to church, in which he showed us, fixed in the wall, one of those waterpots referred to, John ii. 8. The population was stated to be about thirty houses Mussulman, and thirty houses Christian, of the Oriental Greek Church.

CANA OF GALILEE. And the third day there was a marriage in

Cana of Galilee. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the

purifying of the Jews.”—John ii. 1, 6. This village was so called to distinguish it


REV. J. BERRIDGE, M.A., VICAR OF EVERTON In connexion with the great spiritual ing these friendly invitations. But movement now going forward in the having obtained the reputation of being North of Ireland, it may be useful to pious child, he was afraid to risk it by show that, precisely this time one hun- a refusal. On his return from a fair, dred years, a corresponding movement where he had been to enjoy a holiday, burst forth in many parts of England. he hesitated to pass the door of his We shall confine ourselves, however, young neighbour, lest he should be for the present, to the parish of Everton, accosted as before. The youth, howand to the labours of the justly celebra- ever, was waiting for him; and when he ted John Berridge.

approached, renewed his invitation, and, John Berridge, son of John Berridge, in addition to his former request, asked á reputable and wealthy farmer and if they should pray together. In this exgrazier of Kingston, in Nottinghamshire, ercise it was that he began to perceive he was born at Kingston, March 1st, 1716. was not right, or the amusements of a Being a particular favourite of an aunt, fair would not have been preferred to who resided at Nottingham, he spent the pleasures of devotion; and such was the greater part of his early years with the effect of this interview, that not a her in that town, and there he received great while after he himself adopted a all the education which was necessary similar practice with his school comto qualify bim for business. His father panions. intended to bring him up to agriculture; At the age of fourteen, God was but God designed him to occupy a more pleased to convince him that he was a exalted station in society; and began to sinner, and must be born again. About prepare his mind for it, at so early a this time he left school, and returned to period, that his piety excited the atten- his father, with an intention to apply tion of all who knew him. But the himself to business. A tailor who was circumstance to which he ascribed his occasionally employed in the family, first serious impressions was singular. being a man of strict sobriety, and Once, as he was returning from school, struck with the uncommon appearances a neighbouring youth invited him into of piety in one so young, conversed with his house, and asked if he should read him on serious subjects, whenever he a chapter to him out of the Bible. He came to the house on business. As consented. This being repeated several opportunities of this nature seldom times, he began to feel a secret aversion, occurred, his love for religion induced and would gladly have declined accept- him to cultivate a more intimate ac



quaintance with this man, by going frequently to his house for the purpose of serious conversation. His relations, at length, suspecting he had too much religion, and fearing to what it would grow, discovered some inclination to discourage it. They insinuated, that since his attachment was so strong to his new companion, he should be bound to him in articles of apprenticeship.

This threat had not the desired effect: for so prevalent was his bias to reading, prayer, and serious discourse, that he Frequently repeated his visits. Finding this their scheme unsuccessful, and conceiving that his predilection for reading and religion would entirely unfit him for business, they resolved, though reluctantly, to send him to the University. In this determination, which was perfectly congenial with his own inclinations, he most readily concurred; and, after previous preparation, entered Clare Hall, October 28, 1734, in the nineteenth year of his age. A neighbour soon after meeting his father, and inquiring for his son, he jocosely replied, “ He is gone to be a light to the Centiles.” This testimony was true.

Being now in his element, he pursued his studies with uncommon avidity, and made such progress in every branch of literature as rendered him in no respect inferior to any of his contemporaries. But as he seemed to have known very little of the plague of his heart, and less of Jesus Christ, it required more grace than he yet possessed to withstand the temptations of his situation and connexions. Favoured with a good understanding, improved by literature, and possessing a natural vein of Laumour, which was extremely fascinating, he rose in respect; and his acquaintance was courted at the University by ecclesiastics of superior rank, though of wider principles, and less rigid morals. As evil communications corrupt good manners, he caught the contagion, and drank into the Socinian scheme to such a degree as to lose all serious impressions, and discontinue private prayer, 'for the space of ten years, a few intervals excepted. In these intervals he would weep bitterly, reflecting on the sad state of his mind, compared with what it was when he came to the University, and would frequently say to a fellow-student, an eminent minister in the Establishment, “ () that it were with me as in years past!” Conscience, however, at length resuming

her authority, he was compelled to relinquish sentiments so derogatory to God, and so subversive of every good principle and practice. He now discovered, that they not only lessened God the Son in his esteem, but God the Father also; and tended to promote no higher a morality than what comported with all the maxims and pleasures of the present world. With the renunciation of his former errors, be returned to the regular exercise of devotional religion, although it was but a small remove, if any, from pharisaical.

Soon after this, he began to feel strong inclinations to exercise his ministry, and accordingly, in the year 1749, accepted the curacy of Stapleford, near Cambridge, which he regularly served six years from college. His parishioners were extremely ignorant and dissolute, and he was much concerned to do them good. He took extraordinary pains, and pressed very earnestly upon them the necessity of sanctification; but had the mortification to find that they continued as unsanctified as before. “ There was indeed a little more of the form of religion in the parish ; but nothing more of the power.” In the year 1755, on the 7th of July, he was admitted to the vicarage of Everton, in the gift of Clare Hall, where he continued to reside to the end of his life. Here again he pressed sanctification and regeneration upon his hearers as strenuously as he could, but with as little success as before. “ Nor was it to be wondered at, as his preaching rather tended to make them trust to themselves as righteous, than to depend upon Chri-t for the remission of sins, through faith in His blood."

Having continued for two years in this unsuccessful mode of preaching, and his inclinations to do good continualiy increasing, he began to be discouraged. A doubt now arose in his mind, whether he was right himself, and preached as he ought to do. This suggestion he rejected, for some time, with disdain, supposing the advantages of his education, which he had improved to a high degree, could not leave him ignorant respecting the best method of instructing his people. This happened about Christmas, 1757; but not being able to repel, though he strenuously opposed these secret misgivings, his mind was wrought to a degree of embarrassment and distress, to which he had been hitherto a stranger. This,


however, had a happy effect, as it led him to cry mightily to God for direction. The constant language of his heart was this: "Lord, if I am right, keep me so; if I am not, make me so; and lead me to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.” After the almost incessant repetition of a prayer, so evidently sincere and childlike, it is no wonder that God would lend a gracious ear, which He did by returning him an answer about ten days after, in the following remarkable manner. As he sat one morning musing upon a text of Scripture, these words were, in a wonderful manner, darted into his mind, and seemed indeed like a voice from heaven: “Cease from thine own works; only believe.” No sooner were these words impressed upon his mind, than the scales fell from his eyes, and he perceived the application. Just before this occurrence he was in a very unusual calm; but now his soul experienced an immediate tempest.

Tears gushed forth like a torrent. He saw the rock upon which he had been splitting for near thirty years, by endeavouring to blend the law and the Gospel, and unite Christ's righteousness with his own. Immediately he began to think upon the words Faith and Believe, and looking into his concordance, found them inserted in many successive columns. This surprised him to a great extent, and he instantly formed a resolution to preach Jesus Christ, and salvation by faith. He therefore composed several sermons of this description, and addressed his hearers in a manner very unusual, and far more pointed than heretofore.

Now God began to bless his ministry. After he had preached in this strain two or three Sabbaths, and was ruminating whether he was yet right, as he had perceived no better effects from these, than his former discourses, one of his parishioners unexpectedly came to inquire for hiin. Being introduced, * Well, Sarah," said he. She replied, “Well, not so well, I fear.” Why, what is the matter, Sarah ? " Matter, I don't know what's the matter. These

I find we are all to be lost now.

I can neither eat, drink, nor sleep. I don't know what's to become of me." The same week came two or three more, on a like errand. It is easy to conceive what relief these visits must have afforded his mind, in a state of such anxiety and suspense.

So con

firmad was he thereby, in the persuasion that his late impressions were from God, that he determined in future to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. Now he was deeply humbled, that he should have spent so many years of his life to no better purpose than to confirm his hearers in their ignorance. Thereupon immediately he burnt all his old sermons, and shed a flood of the tears of joy in their destruction. These circumstances alarmed the neighbourhood, the church quickly became crowded, and God gave testimony to the word of His grace, in the very frequent conviction and conversion of sinners.

Hitherto he had confined his labours to his own parish, and had been accus. tomed to wiite his sermons

at full length; but an accident occurred, as unexpected to him as it was povel in itself, which led him to preach extempore. He had not exercised his ministry in an evangelical strain many months, before he was invited to preach what is commonly called a Club Ser

Ali his old ones were burnt, and much of his time was engrossed in writing new discourses. When he intended to compose this, he was so much engaged with people, who came under serious impressions, that he found himself straitened for time, and therefore resolved to give the people one of his new discourses, which he had delivered at home, not expecting that any of his parishioners would be present. On the Sabbath evening, one of his hearers informed him of his intention to accompany him the next day. This was an unwelcome intimation, and be endeavoured to dissuade him from his l'esolution, but to no purpose.

Upon this, he resolved to rise very early, pursue his journey, and compose his serinon at the place where it was to be delivered, that he might not be interrupted by the visits of his people. In going he comforted himself that there would be but a small congregation, and that a shorter discourse might be dispensed with. But to his great surprise, on his arrival, he was informed that all the clergy and people of the neighbouring parishes were come to hear him. This wrought up his mind to such a degree of agitation, as absolutely incapacitated him for study; and he was therefore obliged to ascend the pulpit, and to preach, bonâ fide, an extempore sermon. But here God wonderfully and most agree

[ocr errors]

new sermons.

ably disappointed his fears, by affording him such extraordinary assistance, as enabled him to rise superior to all his embarrassment, and to command the most solemn attention from his numerous audience. This was a happy event both for himself and others, as it released him from the toil of writing his sermons before he delivered them (for he never afterwards penned a discourse, except on a very particular occasion), and gave him the opportunity of preaching more frequently, not only at home, but in the adjacent villages.

Hitherto, Messrs Wesley and Whitefield were personally unknown to him; and as common report had operated much to their disparagement, he found no inclination to seek an acquaintance with them. But as his ardent zeal and peculiar success became the general topics in religious circles, a correspondence was soon opened; this prepared the way for an interview, and a perfect intimacy succeeded.

His acquaintance with Mr. Wesley commenced on the 2nd of June, 1758; and on the 2:2 pd (not more than six months after the change in his religious sentiments), he began to itinerate. August 1st, in the same year, God was pleased to bless his ministry to the Rev. Mr. Hicks, a clergyman of Wrestlingworth, about four miles from Everton, who, we find, became afterwards a very useful man, and a companion with him in his travels.

We learn, by the following extract of a letter, that his first sermon out of doors was on May 14th, 1759 :—“On Monday sennight Mr. Hicks accompanied me to Meldred. On the way, we called at a farmn-house. After dinner I went into the yard, and seeing near a hundred and fifty people, I called for a table, and preached, for the first time, in the open air. We then went to Meldred, where I preached in a field to about 4,000 people. In the morning, at five, Mr. Hicks preached in the same field to about 1,000. Here the presence of the Lord was wonderfully among us, and I trust, beside many that were slightly wounded, near thirty received heartfelt conviction.”

About this time, the work went on with great power, in Everton, and throughout the surrounding districts. Wesley and Whitefield, it may well be supposed, were deeply interested in the .conversion and the labours of this remarkable man. In the month of May,

1759, Wesley and a friend paid him a visit. The following is Wesley's report, in No. XI. of his published Journals, of the things he saw and heard on the occasion :

Sunday, May 20.-Being with Mr. B- -II, at Everton, I was much fatigued and did not rise. But Mr. B. did, and observed several fainting and crying out while Mr. Berridge was preaching. Afterward, at church, I heard many cry out, especially children, whose agonies were amazing: one of the eldest, a girl ten or twelve years old, was full in my view, in violent contortions of body, and weeping aloud, I think incessantly, during the whole service. And several much younger children were in Mr. B- -ll's view, agonizing as this did. The church was equally crowded in the afternoon, the windows being filled within and without, and even the outside of the pulpit to the very top; so that Mr. Berridge seemed almost stifled by their breath. Yet, feeble and sickly as he is, he was continually strengthened, and his voice for the most part distinguishable, in the midst of all the outcries. I believe there were present three times more men than women, a great part of whom came from far; thirty of them having set out at two in the morning, from a place thirteen miles off.

The text was, Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.' When the power of religion began to be spoken of, the presence of God really filled the place. And while poor sinners felt the sentence of death in their souls, what sounds of distress did I hear! The greatest number of them who cried or fell were men: but some women, and several children, felt the power of the same almighty Spirit, and seemed just sinking into hell. This occasioned a mixture of various sounds; some shrieking, some roaring aloud. The most general was a loud breathing, like that of people half strangled and gasping for life; and indeed almost all the cries were like those of human creatures dying in bitter anguish. Great numbers wept without any noise; others fell down as dead ; some sinking in silence; some with extreme noise and violent agitation. I stood on the pew seat, as did a young man in the opposite pew, an able - bodied, fresh, healthy countryman; but in a moment, while he seemed to think of nothing less, down he dropped with a violence inconceivable. The adjoining pews seemed shook with his fall. I heard afterward the stamping of his feet, ready to break the boards, as he lay in strong convulsions at the bottom of the pew. Among several that were struck down in the next pew, was a girl, who was as violently seized as him. When he fell, B-ll and I felt our souls thrilled with a momentary dread, as when one man is killed by a cannon-ball, another often feels the wind of it.

“Among the children who felt the arrows of the Almighty I saw a sturdy boy, about eight years old, who roared above his fellows, and seemed in his agony to struggle with the strength of a grown man. His face was as red as scarlet; and almost all on whom God laid His hand, turned either very red, or almost black. When I returned, after a little



Falk, to Mr. Berridge's house, I found it full of people. He was fatigued, but said he would, nevertheless, give them a word of exhortation. I stayed in the next room, and saw the girl whom I had observed so particularly distressed in the church, lying on the floor as one dead, but without any ghastliness in her face. In a few minutes we were informed of a woman filled with peace and joy, who was crying out just before. She had come thirteen miles, and is the same person who dreamed Mr. Berridge would come to her village on that very day whereon he did come, though without either knowing the place or the way to it. She was convinced at that time. Just as we heard of her deliverance, the girl on the floor began to stir. She was then set in a chair; and after sighing awhile, suddenly rose up, rejoicing in God. Her face was covered with the most beautiful smile I ever saw, She frequently fell on her knees, but was generally running to and fro, speaking these and the like words: 0 what can Jesus do for lost sinners! He has forgiven all my sins! I am in heaven! I am in heaven! O how He loves me! And how I love Him!' Meantime I saw a thin, pale girl, weeping with sorrow for herself and joy for her companion. Quickly the smiles of heaven came likewise on her, and her praises joined with those of the other. I also then laughed with extreme joy ; so did Mr. B--11, (who said it was more than he could well bear.) So did all who knew the Lord, and some of those who were waiting for salvation ; till the cries of them who were struck with the arrows of conviction were almost lost in the sounds of joy.

"Two or three well-dressed young women, who seemed careless before, now felt the power of God, and cried out with a loud and bitter cry. Mr. Berridge, about this time, retired; and the Duke of M- with Mrs. A-11, came in. They seemed inclined to make a disturbance, but were restrained, and in a short time quietly retired. We continued praising God with all our might; and His work went on as when Mr. Berridge was exhorting. I had, for some time, observed a young woman all in tears, but now her countenance changed. The unspeakable joy appeared in her face, which, quick as lightning, was filled with smiles, and became of a crimson colour. About the same time, John Keeling, of Potton, fell into an agony ; but he grew calm in about a quarter of an hour, though with a clear sense of pardon.

"Immediately after, a stranger, well dressed, who stood facing me, fell backward to the wall; then forward on his knees, wringing his hands, and roaring like a bull. His face at first turned quite red, then almost black. Не rose, and ran against the wall, till Mr. Keeling and another held him. He screamed out, - what shall I do? what shall I do? O for one drop of the blood of Christ ! As he spoke, God set his soul at liberty; he knew his sins were blotted out; and the rapture he was in seemed too great for human nature to bear. He had come forty miles to hear Mr. Berridge, and was to leave him the next morning: which he did with a glad heart, telling all who came in his way, what God had done for his soul.

" I observed, about the time that Mr. Coe (that was his name) began to rejoice, a girl,

eleven twelve years old, exceeding poorly dressed, who appeared to be as deeply wounded and as desirous of salvation as any; but I lost sight of her, till I heard the joyful sound of another born in Sion; and found, upon inquiry, it was her, the poor, disconsolate, gipsy-looking child. And now did I see such a sight as I do not expect again on this side of eternity. The faces of the three justified children, and I think of all the believers present, did really shine; and such a beauty, such a look of extreme happiness, and at the same time of Divine love and simplicity, did I

see in human faces till now. The newly justified eagerly embraced one another, weeping on each other's neck for joy. Then they saluted all of their own sex, and besought both men and women to help them in praising God.

“I have mentioned only one man, two women, and three children, at this time justified in the house, but have, perhaps, omitted some; and it is probable there was more than one justified at the church, though but one came to speak of it; for all are not equally free to glorify God in the midst of His people. I wish all who find the same salvation with Mr. Coe, were as ready to proclaim redeeming love!

Thursday, 24th.—Mr. B--lland I went to hear Mr. Hicks, at Wrestlingworth, four miles from Everton. We discoursed with him first, and were glad to hear he had wholly given himself up to the glorious work of God, and that the power of the Highest fell upon his hearers, as upon Mr. Berridge's. While he was preaching, fifteen or sixteen persons felt the arrows of the Lord, and dropped down. A few of these cried out with the utmost violence, and little intermission, for some hours; while the rest made no great noise, but continued struggling, as in the pangs of death. I observed, beside these, one little girl deeply convinced, and a boy, nine or ten years old. Both these, and several others, when carried. into the parsonage-house, either lay as dead, or struggled with all their might; but in a short time their cries increased beyond measure, so that the loudest singing could scarce be heard. Some at last called on me to pray, which I did, and for a time all were calm; but the storm soon began again. Mr. Hthen prayed, and afterward Mr. B-; but still, though some received consolation, others remained in deep sorrow of heart.

"Upon the whole I remark, that few ancient people experience anything of this work of God, and scarce any of the rich. These generally show either an utter contempt of, or enmity to it. Indeed so did Mr. H-8 himself some time since; having so deep an aversion to it, that he denied the Sacrament to those of his parish who went to hear Mr. Berridge. Neither of these gentlemen have much eloquence, but seem rather weak in speech; the Lord hereby more clearly show

is His own work. It extends into Cambridgeshire, to within a mile of the University, and about as far into Huntingdonshire; but flourishes most of all in the eastern and northern parts of Bedfordshire.

" There were three farmers, in three several villages, who violently set themselves to oppose it; and for a time they kept many from going to hear; but all three died in


ing that

« AnteriorContinuar »