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25. Died, April 30th, at Witney, (being one of the oldest members of the Wesleyan society in that Circuit,) Martha Mumford, aged eighty-two. In early life, she was graciously preserved from many of the evils to which young persons are prone, and often said that she hated the follies after which many were running with such eagerness. She was, however, a stranger to the doctrine of the Gospel, and the necessity of seeking forgiveness of sin and spiritual regeneration through faith in Christ. When little more than twenty years of age, she was deeply convinced that her morality, however valuable in its place, was insufficient for her acceptance with God, and could not of itself prepare her for heaven. This was followed by such a discovery of her condition as a sinner, that her strength Was seriously affected, she lost her appetite, and could scarcely attend to the duties of her station as a domestic servant. She was thus awakened through a terrific thunder-storm, which hung over Witney for some time, and of which the late Mr. Rodda furnished an account which was published in the “ Arminian Magazine" for 1784, p. 467. He says: “On the 29th of last June, I preached on Wood-Green, at the end of Witney, in Oxfordshire. While I was preaching, something uncommon impelled me to say, “My dear friends, take notice of what I am going to say. Before this day month, you will hear and see something very uncommon.' On Wednesday, the 2d of July, it began to thunder and lighten in a very dreadful manner. The people cried out that I had prophesied the world was to be at an end in a month; and they thought it was now fulfilling. Two persons were struck dead by the lightning. Numbers had their sins set in order before them, saw the necessity of a Saviour, and some groaned after him. On the 10th, the Lord thundered from heaven, and sent forth his lightnings a second time. On the 11th, it was more dreadful than it had been before. Now, indeed, the most stubborn heart trembled, and bowed before the Lord. The numbers that flocked both to the church and meeting were incredible ; and there was such an awakening among them as the oldest man living could not remember, in consequence thereof. The next time I came there, I added fifty new members to our society.” This storm is also mentioned by Mr. Wesley in his Journals: “ Monday, 14th (July, 1783).— I took a little journey into Oxfordshire, and found the good effects of the late storms. The thunder had been uncommonly dreadful ; and the lightning had torn up a field near High-Wycomb, and turned the potatoes into ashes. Wednesday, 16th.-I went on to Witney. There were uncommon thunder and lightning here last Thursday ; but nothing to that which was there on Friday night. About ten the storm was just over the town; and both the bursts of thunder and lightning, or rather sheets of flame, were without intermission. Those that were asleep in the town were waked, and many thought the day of judgment was come. Men, women, and children flocked out of their houses, and kneeled down together in the streets. With the flames, the grace of God came down also in a manner never known before ; and as the impression was general, so it was lasting : it did not pass away with the storm ; but the spirit of seriousness, with that of grace and supplication, continued. A prayer-meeting being appointed on Saturday evening, the people focked together; so that the preaching-house was more than filled ; and many were constrained to stand without the door and windows. On Sunday morning, before the usual time of service, the church was quite filled. Such a sight was never seen in that church before. The Rector himself was greatly moved, and delivered a pressing, close sermon, with uncommon earnestness. When I came on Wednesday, the same seriousness remained on the generality of the people. I preached in the evening at Wood-Green, where a multitude flocked together, on the Son of man coming in his glory. The word fell heavy upon them, and many of their hearts were as melting wax. Thursday, 17th.–At five they were still so eager to hear, that the preaching-house would not near contain the congregation. After preaching, four-and-thirty persons desired admission into the society; every one of whom was (for the present, at least) under very serious impressions : and most of them, there is reason to hope, will bring forth fruit with patience.” This remarkable natural phenomenon was the instrument of the conversion of Martha Mumford. She was one of those who thus flocked to the preaching of God's word, and one of the thirty-four who “ desired admission into the society.” She did so, because she was resolved to “ flee from the wrath to come.” Her sincerity was soon after put to the test. Her mistress, who knew nothing of religion, told her on the race-day, that she might go to the races. She replied that she had no desire to go to such places, but she should like to go to chapel. As the storm was not forgotten, the late Mr. Bolton preached on the afternoon of the race-day, and Martha gladly attended; and under the preaching of the word she found peace with God, and was enabled to rejoice with a joy strongly contrasted with the frivolous and sinful gaiety of the multitude, from many of whom their former fears and resolutions had passed away. Martha did indeed “bring forth fruit with patience.” Her religion was a happy religion; and during the whole of a long life she was enabled to maintain the uprightness of her character. She walked in humble consistency with her profession; and when the infirmities of age came upon her, she still found that God was the strength of her heart, and rejoiced in the hope that he would be her portion for ever. In protracted and painful affliction, her mind was kept in peace and patience. Towards the close of life, she was too weak for much conversation ; but when she could speak, she assured her friends that all was well, and that she was peacefully resting in the merits of Christ. After years of suffering, she died, as she had lived, in the Lord.
THE SACRED FIRE OF THE JEWISH SANCTUARY,
A SERMON :
BY THE REV, PETER C. HORTON. * Tiie fire shall ever be burning upon the aktar; it shall never go out.”- Lev. vi. 13.
ONE of the most general principles in the divine economy of purpose and arrangement is that which has been termed the principle of progression. “Small beginnings” are seen to issue in “great endings." You see this principle in nature. The sun, when he leaves the other hemisphere to visit our half of the globe, does not burst upon us all at once. He sends notice of his coming. Pale, faint streaks of light appear in the eastern heavens, as if to bid the shades of darkness go, and make way for his appearing. Twilight precedes the sunrise ; morn precedes the refulgent noon. The glorious sovereign of the skies, by slow and measured step, mounts to his own meridian throne. In nature, indeed, you almost everywhere see this principle. You take a little bulb, not larger than the tip of your finger, and cover it with earth; there the moisture and the heat of heaven find it out, and make it put forth its feeble sprout and its tiny root, that the tread of a beast might injure, or the hand of a child destroy. But in that little bulb you have the future monarch of the forest, that for a thousand years shall keep its hold of the earth, and lift its head towards heaven, and then help to form your ships of commerce and of war. Look at the new-born babe. You see a little form of animated matter. He has limbs, it is true, but as yet they are useless; his hand cannot grasp, his foot cannot walk. He has senses; but they are not capable of being exercised : the only sense he seems to use being the sort of instinct that leads him to seck the gentle nutriment which the Creator has so generously provided. He has faculties ; but they are all as yet unfolded. And yet, in that feeble infant form, whose breath the pressure of your hand would take away, is found the future man of gigantic stature and herculean strength; or the man of noble heart, of lofty mind, of capacious intellect ; a Howard, a Milton, a Newton; whose line of existence shall run parallel with that of the everlasting God.
You see this principle in grace. There is the germ, small as a grain of mustard-seed, the shoot, the “ tree filled with the fruits of righteousness;" the grain, the blade, the ear, “the full corn in the ear.” That saint of God, whose head is a lamp of light, whose heart is a fire of love, whose life is one continued service of benevolence to man, and of devotedness to God, was once a babe in Christ. When he was born of God, a thousand Herods sought to destroy
VOL. IV.-FOURTJI SERIES.
him, any one of whom, if not restrained, could in a moment have destroyed his spiritual life.
You see this principle of progressive development in the church of God.
“ When He first the work began, ...
Small and feeble was his day.” The first church on earth, of which we have any record, consisted of a single family. The covenant was made with Abraham ; and in that covenant Abraham's house alone was included. By and by, the church comprised a nation. Such was the Jewish church. The Christian church, on the first day of its existence, collected a few from almost “every nation under heaven;" and ever since it has been gathering some of every realm within its pale. The millennial church is to comprise every nation and kindred and people and tongue; all on earth are to know the Lord, “from the least to the greatest ;" "every knee" is to bow either in fear or love, and “every tongue” to confess to God. The heavenly church shall be the full development of this principle of progression. It shall comprise the holy of every world. The principalities and powers of heavenly places, united with the ransomed and sanctified multitudes
of earth, shall form “one army of the living God;” “one flock . under one shepherd;" “one family” of love in the universal Father's house; gathered together and united by that precious name, above every other name, of which the “ whole family" even now is named.
Thus it has been with the revealed truth of God, viewed in its connected form of doctrine and of privilege. The “pure river of water of life,” whose streams refresh and purify our hearths and homes, as well as “make glad the city of God," was small at its beginning. If you trace it towards its source, you will find it a little rill. In the patriarchal church, the truth of God for the most part was contained in promises ; “precious promises” indeed, but mere well-springs of “living water.” In the Jewish church, the truth of God was taught by type and symbol : the type containing for the most part doctrine, as the plant is contained in the seed; the symbol containing privilege, as the fragrant flower in the not inodorous bud.
The altar of sacrifice, with its ever-bleeding victims, was typical of the great atonement, made once for all, ever efficacious, ever seen in heaven as the Lamb but newly slain. The altar of incense was typical of the perpetual praise that waits for our Saviour-God even in his earthly Zion. The golden candlestick, with its numerous bowls and its ever-burning lights, was typical of the light of Christian truth, which the Ministers of the Christian sanctuary must take care never becomes extinct, or obscured, or dim. The Shechinah between the cherubim was typical of the perpetual residence in His church of Him who has said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” and whose presence is our glory and our defence. And the celestial fire of the sanctuary was typical of the Holy Ghost, who came from heaven to earth to be the
church's Illuminator, Quickener, Life-giver, Sanctifier, and Comforter. Of this divine agent's symbol it was said, “ The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar ; it shall never go out.” Let us first notice this sacred symbol as illustrative of the Spirit's influence, and then consider the instructive and directive cautions given respecting it.
I. This sacred symbol as illustrative of the Spirit's influence.
One of the noblest testimonies ever borne to the mission and work of the world's Redeemer, was that of his great forerunner : “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” This baptism of fire, however, was not to be given until after He had been glorified. It was to be the crowning proof of His divine mission as the appointed and accepted “Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” Before he suffered, therefore, he told his disciples that it was expedient for them that he should go away, otherwise the Holy Ghost would Dot be given. And after his resurrection from the dead, to keep alire their faith and hope in his own promise, and in the “promise of the Father,” in one of his interviews with them, he said, “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence." And it was so. For when the day of Pentecost was fully come, and they were all with one accord in one place, “suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing, mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." (Acts ii. 2–4.)
1. It is the peculiar property of fire to consume what is alien to its own nature. Of all earthly agencies this seems to be the most active, the most destructive, and the most mighty, as well as the most subtile and generally diffused. No material substance can withstand it, when its flame is fed, and its force sustained. When Elijah filled his trench with water, (the chief antagonist of fire, and drenched with water also the wood and the victim that he had piled upon his altar, the “fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” (1 Kings xviii. 38.)
Why was it that fire was the emblem of the Spirit when the Saviour's disciples were to be baptized ? When Himself was baptized, the Spirit descended upon him “like a dove ;” meek,---beautiful emblem of innocence, purity, and love. He needed no fiery baptism, for he knew no sin; “Satan had nothing" in him. But when his disciples are to be baptized and converted into Apostles, the Spirit comes on them as fire. Why so? Because there was much in their nature that needed to be consumed, ere they could become qualified for their Master's spiritual and heavenly work.
Was it not thus with us, my brethren, when we first received the Spirit's baptism? Were we pot “ earthly, sensual, devilish ?” “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." Was it not necessary that “old things” should pass away, and that “all things” should become new? “Marvel not that I say unto you, Ye must be born again.” And were not old things destroyed ? Was not our nature