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His trust in Divine Providence was equally remarkable. When his father turned him out of doors for preaching the gospel, “ Now, Sir,” said he, “I take God for my father and my friend; and if ever I am reduced to want, you may blame my religion.” While he possessed money of his own, he took nothing for his itinerant labows, when in the Countess of Huntingdon’s connexion. Once, when his stock was quite expended, and his poor horse without food, he called at a house on the road, when he was informed a paper was left for him; which, upon opening, he found contained two guineas.
When he inarried, he was under the necessity of taking 100). of Mrs. Eyre's property, to buy them furniture. Several years,
, when his family increased, and his income appeared to be inadequate to their expences, his confidence was unshaken; and be. fore the end of the year, adequate supplies came in. His large family, notwithstanding his tender allection, never seemed for a moment to awaken anxiety about their provision. This state of mind was attained, no doubt, by a watchful observation of Divine Providence, as well as a firm belief in it; and by making his wants a matter of prayer, and his supplies of praise t.
Tloly zeol was the prominent feature of his character. It was not the spirit of party, but liberal and amiable. He loved all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity; and laboured to unite real Christians, of every denomination, in the bonds of love. Nor was it contined, in its exercise, to his own congregation; but meditated schemes for the general increase of the Saviour's kingdom.
The first thing of public notoriety, was the Evangelical Magazine. Mr. Eyre han observed the high degree of importance which periodical publications had obtained in the world, by their extensive circulation. Philosophers and politicians had availed themselves of this aid, to extend the boundaries of Science, or strengthen the intcrest of Party. A periodical publication exhibits a inode of instruction, with which the world was formerly unacquainted ; but since it has been adopted, bas produced a surprizing revolution in sentiments and manners. Thousands read a Magazine, who have ncither money to purchase, por leisure to peruse larger volumes. Perceiving that a certain description of writers, by monopolizing a work of this kind, bad made more converts to their opinions, and done more mischief to the cause of vital religion, than the folios of Socinus, or the laboured productions of his more infidel followers, he justly concluded, that an engine, so capable of a destructive or salutary tendency, ought to be applied for evangelical purposes; remarking, that should the servants of Christ neglect the use of those means which circumstances
+ He has repeatedly remarked, as an instance both of the kindness of Providence, and the generosity of his people, that when he was robbed one night of most of his own and family's linen (it being collected together for washing) a few days afier, some of his friends left in the hands of his banker, 100 l. for his use, without a nane,
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. JOHN EYRE. 281 bad "rendered favourable for the propagation of evangelical sentiments, it would argue a criminal supineness, or total indifference to the best interests of society.
Of this indifference, be found no reason to complain. No sooner was the nature and design of this work made public, than Mr. Eyre received the warmest encourageinent from his brethren in the ministry. It was agreed, that the editors of such a work should be composed of Churchmen and Dissenters of different denominations; upiting their efforts in the common cause of gospel-truth; and, at the saune time, diffusing liberal sentiments, wheresoever the providence of God might direct their little confluence of Christian doctrine and Catholicism to wind its peaceful and salutary course.” Pecuniary reward was abandoned, when they resolved to devote the profits to alleviate the distresses of Widows of Evangelical Ministers ç.
In July 1793, their first Nuinber was published; and, in the Preface to the volume of the following year, they had to acknowledge the Divine Goodness for an extensive circulation of their pamphlet. The Hyann,“ Sacred to Truth,” prefixed to that volume, was written by Mr. Evre. With gratitude we are bound to acknowledge, that, under the auspices of Heaven, and much indebted to the laborious attention of its late valuable Editor, this work has increased in its sale to an extent exceeding the most sanguine expectations of its authors; and, we trust, attended with the Divine blessing to many of its readers.
Scarcely had this Magazine been published one whole year, before a paper appeared in it, written by one of its first Editors, the Rev. D. Bogue, addressed to the Evangelical Dissenters, calling upon them to unite in exertions for evangelizing the poor Heathen; and concluding with a particular exhortation to the ministers of the metropolis, “ To consult together on this important subject; and, without loss of time, to propose some plan for the accomplishment of this inost desirable end;" that our Lord Jesus Christ may have the Heathen for bis inherit, ance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession." This address gave occasion to various private conversations on the subject. At length, on the 4th of November, 1794, the first meeting, with a view to forming the Missionary Society, took place. It was a sınall, but glowing and harmonious circle of ministers, of various connections and denoininations; and, in this number was Mr. Eyre. The active part he took in the formation of this Society, and the steady zeal he manifested towards its important object, are well known to thousands.
§ In a letter to a friend, dared June 8, 1802, Mr. Eyre, says, “ We have given of the profits to distressed objects (widows of ministers, &c.] 23631. 2 s.; and to the support of Missious, 2601. 105.: amounting together to 26231. 125. ; and, I hope, we shall not give less during the same number of ynars ensuing.' This account has been found a tridde under the truth; and since that tiine, 316 l. more have been distributeds making in the whole 29391. 125.
# The present sale of this work is 12,000 monthly.
At the first yçarly meeting of the Society, when they declared their unanimous approbation of the design to establish a Society for sending Missionaries to heathen countries, an overpowering pleasure attended in the breasts of many, on the passing of that important resolution. Mr. Eyre, when words, almost interrupted with joy," found out their way," introduced a plan which had been proposed, for the consideration of this meeting, by a series of historical observations, pointing out the analogy between the first propagation of the gospel by the apostles and others in the early ages, and the work then in view; and explaining the manner in which Christianity had been in latter ages introduced into some countries, formerly Payan, together with an account of Missionary attempts since the period of the Reformation. Of all objects, this engaged most of Mr. Eyre's zealous attention, in discharging his duty as a Director, and af. terwards as the Secretary of this Society. He has been in weaFiness and painfulness, in watchings often, in fastings, and in cold. Many ardent prayers has he put up to the great Head of the church for its success; and, could we favour our readers with extracts froin his letters to the Missionaries, they would then perceive how much bis heart was occupied in this work.
At the formation of this Institution, a hope was indalged by its members, that salutary effects at home would be seen to arise from such combined benevolent exertions. “ Ministers will return to their particular work with increased fervonr, coarage, end union of spirit. The people will be awakened, to regard more seriously, and to search inore deeply into that divine treasure, which they have theinselves pronounced worthy to be carried to the uttermost ends of the earth.” In this they have not been disappointed. Many thousands hear the gospel, in villages and towns, where it was not preached before the formation of this Society. Mr. Eyre, in particular, besides his perpetual attention to rhis Society, in the year 1796 formed another, Pouiposed of five or six affluent and pious persons of his own congregation, for the purpose of propagating the gospel at home, in villages or towns notorious for their ignorance and vice. This Society, of which Mr. Eyre was the Secretary and Treasurer, fixed its attention on a part of the county of Hants ; where it has been productive of great good. Two congregations have been raised, and two decent buildings erected for public worship. The gospel is preached by useful ministers, to multitudes in different villages around; and many persons have been savingly called to a knowledge of Christ in different places, and are now blessing God for the religious advantages they have received, and still continue to enjoy.
The interest he took in the welfare of this Society, and the able manner in which he directed its operations, will appear by a few extracts from his letters to one of the ministers.
“ Push forward the work (said he) while weather and opportunity are
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. JOIN EYRE. 283 favourable: we shall have a blessed season for rest when, through the grace of God, we have finished the work he has mercifully given us to do."
When, in the course of their labours, these good men met with opposition, he encouraged them, by saying,
“ The great opposition you have experienced, is no more than we might have expected. ` A wisdom that cannot err has assured us, that the carnal mind is enmity against God; and where there is an enmity against the physician, there will be no love for his prescriptions. If we press the new cessity of submission upon them, they will oppose us in proportion to our earnestness, till a divine influence softens their hearts, and gives them a discernment of their danger. At present, they are objects of our com. passion; and, I trust, many of them will be subdued by the grace of out Lord Jesus Christ, as Paul was, even at the moment when his heart was full of rage against him and lris people.”
“I am thankful to God for the faithful testimony you have borne at Rogate, and other villages, which have been altogether unaccustomed to the gospel. - The gospel being in the church near Hoinmerford, renders Sunday visits inexpedient; but if our service once now and then will be acceptable, it may share with the villagesin proportion to its importance."
“ You labour, you suffer reproach, you rejoice. This is apostolical! -Go on in the same spirit; and be assured, not only of my friendship and esteem, but, what is of infinitely greater consequence ; be assured, " that your labour will not be vain in the Lord.”
Much of the success of ministers depending, under God, npon the ineekness of their own temper and conduct, Mr. Lyre did not fail to inculcate these on his younger brethren :
“ It will give me no small pleasure to hear that you go on comfortably and prosperously. Bear the infirmities of the weak, and expect no more than the nature of every one's standing, and experience will warrant. if we would attract numbers, we must win them by a continual exemplifia cation of the gentleness of Christ. No bonds are so powerful as those of love. The force of kindness is inconceivably great. I do not wonder that Mr.N's popularity has increased with Iris years, and that he has as many friends almost as he has acquaintances; since no minister lias discovered towards his people stronger affection, or taken more pains to encourage every hopeful appearance in those who indicated any desire to read the 'scripture, or attend occasionally or constantly on the means of grace."
“ I trust you will yet see greater things than these. We must first sow, and then we shall reap. Few are made useful in the conversion of others, who do not fcel what the apostle expresses, by travailing in birth tili Clirist be formed them. Such strong desire to be useful, will not be .contented with any thing less than an entire consecration of our whole selves to the Lord ; and when our heart is thus in the work, labour will be sweet, and success our best reward."
" Avoid whatever tends to obstruct your efforts : idle visits, idle conver. sation, and activity itself, which does not effect your best object. Remene ber how zealous the servants of Christ are in many places; and low abun. dantly God blesses the labours of those who serve him faithfully. Above all, pray often, and read the Scriptures much, and be sure that your îninistry will be most profitable, when your own heart is most affected with heavenly subjects. Endeavour to discountenance all bitterness and ran. cour between true believers, however different their notions or views in. some non-essential points; and you will find most pleasure when love prevails. In your preaching, aim consiantly at the conscience : - but let your manner be as soft and kind as your words are searching : -- wound only with a view to heal; and lead with gentleness the sick and needy to Jesus Christ. And may the God of peace be with you continually!"
In some villages, where the preachers could not obtain licenced houses, he very warmly recommends them to attempt out-door preachin;
“ You can't preach in the villages, it seems, till places are procured and licenced ;” because you find, by enquiry, ihut the opposition will be great among some of the principal people: and as to out-door preaching, you are told it is hazardous ; and the peo; le think it prudent at present, to go on more cautionsly There is not any thing you say, which might not then have been anticipated. For, who ever expected to preach the gospel in new places withiont opposition ? And as to the hazard of preaching out of doors, it is neither less nor greater than it has always been in our time, or the time of our predecessors.- If, however, you are afraid, and no other person will undertake it, I hope soine supply will be found for my own chapel, that I may commence linerant in the villages around Petersfeld.”
When Societies, forned solely for the purpose of spreading the gospel, were falsely and maiciously charged with the infamous design of propagating political opinions of a baneful tendency I., Mr Eyre wrote thus to one of the preachers :
" Yours I received in due time, and hope all will go on perfectly well. We need not fear what the enemy can do, since he that is with us is greater than he that is in the world. Satan works by lies; and no wonder if his children do the works of their father. Blessed be God, Truth is more powerful than the weapons of our adversaries; and it shall ultimately prevail. But let us keep our temper, and learn sometimes to keep silence. Scurrility and abuse are best refuted sometimes, by answering them not. Unless I ain mistaken, we shall have great need of caution. Such exertions as are now making, will be offensive to a carnal mind; and therefore evil motives will be attributed to those who have nothing in view but the glory of God. Our lives muse speak for us, and to those who are capa. ble of discernment, our disinterestedness will appear. None will be found so faithful to their country, and so obedient to its laws, as those who seek a better country, and have put on the yoke of hin who was meek and lowly in heart. The discontented and ambitious, who have only earthly things in view, may be contentious and unruly; but the children of God seek the peace of the land where they dwell, and are intent only in pro. moting the honour and interest of the spiritual, kingdom of Christ. Blessed be God, that is Aourishing ; and it must Hourish and increase, and spread itself at last over all the earth.”
Nothing can give our readers a more just idea of the man, than a letter he wrote, respecting a slighi misunderstanding between the preachers :
“It is no easy matter to judge impartially of ourselves; and more difficult still, to decide projerly on the characters of others. The oldest and best Christians bear but a very imperfect resemblance to their Lord and Saviour ; it is not therefore to be expected that the zeal and !neekness of Christ should exactly harmonize in young persons. If the apostles, brought up under the eye of our blessed Lord, were so mistaken in their expressions of concern for hi honour, as not to know what marner of spirit they were of, which of us ought not to suspect a possibility of being mis. taken also? And if we once learn to watch over our hearts in this respect, we shall have rea on to be thankful that the error of these eminent ser. vants of God was recorded for our instruction." • A censorious spirit has ever been to me a source of grief. I have
See Mr Eyr 's masterly Review of Bishop Horsley's Charge, in our Magazine for Main ad! Bril 1801 : in which his Lordship's malevolent accusations are completely setulcd and exposed.