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MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. JOHN EYRE. 075 pulpit, a local preacher, a great stickler for Arminianism, and who probably attended on that occasion, for the purpose of opposition, stepped forward, in the face of the congregation, and with great effrontery, charged Mr. Eyre with having advanced, in his sermon, a point of doctrine which he was not able to defend. Upon this a debate commenced, which was supported on the part of Nr. Eyre with so much ability, that his antagonist left him to be borne away in triumph. This circumstance is still fresh in the memory of several persons in that neighbourhood. But, firmly as Mr. Eyre held the doctrines of grace, he did not imitate some modern preachers, wlio, to use his own words, “ Not only deny the moral law to be a rule of conduct; but, by the whole tenor of their spirit, behaviour, and preaching, encourage pride, envy, malice, wrath, serenge, and every other evil disposition.”
Qf man, as born in sin, and going astray from the womb, he drew no flattering likeness. lle presented him in the plain faithful manner of Scripture-delineation :
“ Worse than this,” said he,“ he cannot be; and better we dare not represent him. If such a guilty creature be saved, it must be by grace alone ; if such a polluted creature be made meet for Heaven, it must be by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost."
While he thus huinbled man, he was no less desirous to exalt the Saviour.
“ If we ascribe to him,” said he,“ in consequence of his meritorious death and righteousness, as our surety, substitute, and representative, de. liverance from the guilt of sin and the wrath to come, reconciliation to God, pardon, justification, sanctification, adoption, and eternal life, we ascribe no more to him than the Holy Ghost has taught us to do in the Scriptures. If we attribute to him all divine perfections and operations, and honour him, in erery respect, even as we honour the Father, we shall not offend the God of Truth. In short, exalt him how we will, we shall never exalt him higher than the Father did, when he exalted him at his own right hand in glory. As Christ and his Spirit cannot be di. vided in a sinner's salvation, the blessings procured must be applied. It is as necessary that the Holy Ghost should make us meet for Heaven, by his efficacious grace, as that Christ, by his meritorious obedience and suta ferings, should redeem us, and prepare a place for us f.”
These specimens will give such of our readers as did not know Mr. Eyre, soine idea of his sentiments in divinity. They must not conclude, Lowever, that his ministry was contined to these important truths alone. He was not afraid to warn inen of their danger, to invite them to the Saviour, to charge the impenitent sinner with self-destruction, or to insist upon all the precepts of God as of universal obligation. He knew how to encourage the diffident, to strengthen the weak, and console the distressed,
His manner of preaching was, for the most part, simple and unadorned. He always appeared much more desirous of im
“ Union and Friendly Intercourse," &c.; a Sermon preached at Mr. Westley's Chapel, City Road, 1798.
pressing his audience with the great subjects of his ministrý than of exciting their attention to the dress in which they were delivered. In his esteem, that preacher who does not aim at the conscience, forgets the end of his mission. With a taste capable of perceiving and relishing the beauties of composition, he possessed a mind superior to the art of hunting similies, adjusting periods, and studying cadences, when he ought .to be alarning the supine and impenitent sinner; or establishing, comforting, or directing the Christian. Though his manner was simple, “ The plainest words with him, acquired the truest character of eloquence; and which is rarely to be found, except where a subject is not only intimately known, but cordially beloved.” In a letter to a friend, he says of himself, 6. I am nerer satisfied with what I do. I can assure you, it is my constant grief that I serve the Lord no better. I never preach a sermon but I groan over it in spirit, and reflect on myself, a thousand times, for taking so little pains in winning sinners to Christ, and exciting believers to live more devotedly to their adorable Saviour.
more glory in Christ than my lips can utter; and I condemn myself for coming so short of my own views and conceptions ; and while I lament my unskilfulness, and want of fervent zeal in his service, I wonder that he suffers his precious treasure to remain in such an earthen vessel.”
Humble as was his opinion of his own talents, his ministry was very acceptable to real Christians of every denomination; and, in general, to others. Ile says, however, on this subject, * The pleasure many professors express (viz. to have received under his ministry) is not the criterion of profit to be relied on. Nor do I ever venture to conclude, that because congregations are pleased, they must, therefore, be profited.”
Popularity alone has too often, perhaps, been deemed a decisive text of talents and usefulness in a preaclicr. We cannot * always allow the claim.
It is soothing to the carnal mind, not only to be made easy under the indulgence of our malignant tempers, but to have that very malignity sanctified with a good name. So little talent is required here, that some, who have courted popular applause, recur to defamation, especially of their brethren in the ministry, as the easiest substitute for it. “ I knew a preacher," says a good writer, “who, by this expedient alone became, all of a sudden, the idol of the populace.” To lead a sect, to infuse party-spirit, to make men arrogant and malevolent, is the easiest task imaginable, to which almost any man is equal, and can be no proof of usefulness; but to produce the contrary effect, to subdue spiritual pride, to inspire genuine devotion, to influence men to deny all ungodliness and worldly lust, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, is the genuine test of usefulness, because it is the legitimate ends to which the talents of a preacher should be consecrated ; and MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. JCHN EYRE. he whose ministry bas this tendency, and, by the influence of the Holy Spirit, is made eminently useful in producing such effects, possesses that popularity alone worthy of enjoyinent:such was Mr. Eyre's. He who gave him talents, enabled hiin to devote them, in the purest manner, to the best of purposes; and crowned his efforts with success. Under his ministry many have been turned from the error of their ways; who will be his crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord.
fle regularly preached, when bis health would permit, three times every week to his own congregation; beside sermons on particular occasions. lle conciuded every year with a discourse, in which he enumerated general and particular mercies during that period'; and cominenced every year with another, to engage his people to devote themselves anew to the glory of God their Saviour.
He did not consider his duties as confined to the pulpit. He laboured to instruct the young people, of both sexes, in his congregation : appointing the young men to meet him on the Tuesday of one week; and the young females, on the saine day of the following. A lady, of piety and intelligente, formerly one of the society, has favoured us with the plan he adopted on these occasions :
“ They began by repeating the Assembly's Catechism; which he ex. plained to them regularly through. In these Lectures, the leading doctrines of Christianity, comprized in that excellent formulary, were set forth with perspicuity and plainness, and at the same time with affection, prompted by a desire to impress their minds with these important truths. After this, the young people, in rotation, were expected to answer quiestions proposed by him, on the subjects it contained; and, on these occasions, he entered more fully into the meaning of that excellent body of divinity, so as to apply it in an experimental way. The affection and soli. citude lie discovered for the spiritual improvement of those who attended these meetings, will be long remembered by them with sentiments of grateful affection. This plan being finished, he entered on a course of Lectures on Scripture History ; which were well calculated for instruction and improvement, as they were treated in a religious and philosophical manner. The Lectures on Creation, the Flood, &c. were interspersed with many philosophical remarks. At each of these Lectiires, passages of Scripture were explained, which were given him by those who attended; and the meetings concluded with prayer. The condescending manner in which he behaved to his young friends on these occasions, had a tendency to endear him much in iheir esteem; and it seemed his chief aim to remove any difficulties which might arise, and place the interesting subjects brought forward in such a light, as to encourage their minds in the pursuit of divine things.”
He also preached a sermon every Whit-Monday to young people. Indeed, his love to them was almost unexampled. Scarcely did he ever address the throne of grace in public, without pleading earnestly for them; and they, in return, loved him with an ardour bordering on enthusiasm.
While he was thus attentive in instructing the children of the rich, he did not neglect those of the poor. A school was instituted, under his influence, by the ladies of his congregation, for teaching and clothing thirty poor girls; which was followed by a similar institution by the gentlemen, for twenty poor boys. - Writing to a friend, he says, on this subject, * Blessed be God, I have lately experienced the most pleasing proots of his goodness, in the disposition of my friends, to exiend their benefits towards the children of the poor. Being a father myself, and knowing the advantages of instruction, I cannot but rejoice in this provision for the children of the poorer part of any flock."
These institutions gave a new direction to his pastoral visits. In one week he met all the subscribers to the female school at the house of each lady, in rotation ; and, after engaging in prayer, spoke from some passage of Scripture, given by the lady for the occasion. In the following weck, he met the gentlemen, subscribers to the boys' school, in the same manner.
A character like his must possess influence; and, in his circle, a very powerful and extensive one. It was justly remarked by Mr. Inte, in the sermon preached at Mr. Eyre's funeral, and the remark is highly important, “ That ministers very much impart their own spirit and temper to their congregations. Ilumble and affectionate ininisters difuse the same spirit amongst their people; as ministers that are full of spiriipal pride, generally bave their people puffed up with pride and self-conceit.” Vr. Eyre’s congregation, in a great measure, imbibed his generous and enlarged views, his humble Claristian temper; and, like him, they devoted large portions of their property to the cause of Christ: nay, such was bis influence, that even those of his hearers, who never gave any decisive evidence of genuine religion, were so far acied upon by his example, as to contribute largely to any cause advocated hy him. Perhaps fcw, if any, ministers in the united kingdom, from a congregation of equal number, could command such pecunury aids ; and so frequently as he did.
As his influence was great, his desires were equally strong, to use it for the glory of his Lord, No man on earth can charge the memory of Mr. Eyre with abusing the influence he possessed, or turning it to his own temporal advantage. He bas been known even to refuse munificent offers made to hiin. “God," said be, one day to a friend," has given me influence among my dear people, and I am bound, by the strongest ties, to use this, perhaps weightiest talent I possess, to his glory.".
No man ever knew better how to entploy every talent in bis congregation. Froin the rich he obtained money; and from that part of his congregation who bad little money to bestow, but were influenced by the love of Christ, be obtained what is above all price, -- their personal labour in visiting the sick, and teaching the ignorant. By their assistance he carried on his Sunday-school, and Society for Visiting the Sick
Here the following incident occurred, which, in some of its circunstances, is *Scaicely to be paralleled. - A poor man in Hackuey, finding hinselt, as be, thoughts
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. JOHIN FYRE. 279 Few men ever displayed a nobler or more disinterested spirit of benevolence. “ Such was his generosity," says a friend, « that inany times he has been known to give away his last mite." When he was at Reading, a Dissenting minister, yet living, was about to remove from a place in that neighbourhood; but was unable, for want of money. The applied to Mr. Eyre, told him his case, and informed him that he inust raise the inoney by the sale of his books. Mr. Eyre begged he would not do so, but leave the matter to him. By his own liberal contribution, and the aid of his friends, he procured kim upwards of fitty pounds : - a sma which was received with tears of gratitude to God, for raising up such a friend in the time of distress. - To benefit the pious and industrious poor of his congregation at llomerton, he lent out small sums of money, to be repaid at a certain time, without any interest; and although his generous and unsuspecting spirit was sometimes imposed upon, he had the pleasure of seeing, in several instances, the good effects of his exertions.
For erecting buildings in the country for the worship of God, and preaching the gospel, he gave liberally out of bis own purse. “ There," said he, to a minister who called with a case of this nature,“ is my poor mite towards this blessed work (giving him fire pounds); and I wish I could give you fifty.
In the last year of his life, when the Society we shall soon notice, determined to educate their own preachers, he generously gave his own house for that purpose; and begged it might be considered as property consecrated to the cause of God. - From the same principle, be never received any thing from the situations le filled in the Missionary, or any other Society, though his application was intense.
As he one day stood talking with a person of his own congregation, a poor man, in great distress, asked him for some
Mr. 'Eyre gave him a guinea. The tears of gratitude started into the beggar's eves; who could hardly believe what he saw. Mr. Eyre's friend hinted to him, he should consider his own large family, and not be so profuse of his money. “O)! (answered he) I shall soon have it repaid, with interest." The next day a present of considerably greater value being sent him, he pleasantly rallied his neighbour on his olin tou catitious and illiberal disposition.
at the point of death, begged his wife to enquire, if any thing could be found to take away the distress of mind which he felt at the thought of dying. “ Look," said he,
iato Moore's Almanack, perhaps he says something about it. His liude girl, who arterided the Sunday-school, bing present, said to him, ' Father, there is a good man, belonging to our school, who visits sick people, to pray with them; and if he knew you wanted him, he would come to you.'. " Run for him!” said the poor creature, The girl went, and returned with one of her teachers, who was surprized to find any man in Hackney so ignorant, as not to know even of the exisience of the Bible. The teacher read and explained, as simply as possible, some of the host suitable parts of the New Testament; and, by repeated visiis, was the instrument of giving to this poor ignorant creature, a clear view of the way of salvation. When he died, we ar: informed, de gare satisfactory evidence of faith in the Son of God.