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witticisms are grossly out of place in dealing with the solemnities of the Christian faith. Low allusions also are to be avoided. The common people perhaps relish such aids to exposition as little as their "betters." The Great Teacher drew many of his illustrations from every-day objects; but in the parables of the Redeemer, simplicity is united with dignity, and while the understanding is enlightened, a just taste never receives offence. The same is true of the inspired lessons of the Apostles. Mr. Hill was reckless in such matters. He was often a rambling preacher. He was quite indiscrimating in his allusions, and even coarse in the topics he introduced as illustrations of his subject. It was all one with him. In this department of his labours the end appeared to sanctify the means an apology not allowable in novels, nor here also. He rode his horse slowly, and that was "a gospel pace." And at Wapping, the main locale of the shipping-trade in London, he thundered forth his rebukes to " Wapping sinners." In certain respects, however, old Rowland was a man of his day. Towards the latter end of the last century there were intellectual giants in the earth, but there was room and need for mediocre talent, if associated with zeal and hardihood. There was more favour then shown towards the intellectual and the useful in society. We have got more into a starched and severe habit of judgment than our ancestors. Persons once esteemed and enobled to be useful, would cut but a sorry figure in our day. And after all perhaps intrinsically regarded, we have lost rather than gained by a superinduced severity of judgment. The times in which Mr. Hill were cast were exceedingly exciting to a generous mind. Piety had largely decayed; education was but scantily diffused, and some of the proud ones of the land doubted whether it would be right to educate the labouring classes at all. From the Church a deal of its active life had been absorbed. Multitudes of our people were ignorant as the beasts that perish. The labours of such men as Whitefield, Wesley, and Hill, had therefore a suitableness, and was, we believe, instrumental in many instances in doing good. Of the three evangelists named, Whitefield and Hill were Calvinists-Wesley, an Arminian. All had been ordained in the Church of England. All became itinerant preachers. Wesley was the antipodes of Rowland Hill. Without possessing the popular gifts of Whitefield, whose brilliant elocution is matter of history, he was the decorous Churchman in dress and manner. Hill had little to do with either ecclesiastical etiquette, or etiquette of any kind. In certain respects he evinced the manners of a gentlemen; but his whims and little follies, and his sieve of a memory, (almost realising the absence of Parson Harvey of Thames-Ditton), rendered him regarded in the lower departments of character as a queer and odd specimen of humanity. His errors leaned to virtue's side, but still he would have been the better of wanting some of the number.
It is not our intention to enter upon any comprehensive view of the character or labours of Rowland Hill. We merely intend to select a few of the anecdotes supplied by his successor in the pastorate of Surrey Chapel, the Rev. Mr. Sherman, and what we find contained in a
rather handsome small volume recently published,*—at the same time connecting with the text a slight and brief commentary. We need scarcely say that Mr. Sherman is a fervid admirer of his predecessor, and can see nothing but good about his proceedings.
The following anecdotes are told as to circumstances connected with his first essays as a preacher.
"A cottage on his father's estate was the scene of his first attempts to expound the Scriptures. Some of the tenantry attended there to hear him, which, coming to the ears of Sir Rowland, he determined to inquire into the truth of the report before he noticed it to his son. He accordingly asked a half-witted boy, "Who preaches at your mother's house?" The lad replied, "The young man that fettled mother's clock ;" and Sir Rowland, not being aware that the young preacher had amused himself in repairing the old woman's clock, supposed he had been misinformed; consequently, no interruption was given to the preaching in the cottage. On another occasion, at a friend's house, he had retired, as the company supposed, before preaching, to consider his sermon; but on his host's entering the room to inform him that the time had arrived for going to the place of worship, he found him with an old clock, all to pieces, on the table. Mr. Hill said: "I have been mending your old clock, and I will finish it to-morrow." He preached with more than usual ease and fervour, and drew several beautiful images from the occupation in which his friend, to his surprise, had found him engaged."
A very pleasing anecdote is given of Mr. Whitefield, which, on Mr. Hill's part, requires some ingenuousness to relate :
"Mr. Hill used to mention an interesting incident, which took place during one of his visits to Mr. Whitefield. This eloquent and successful preacher was requested to visit a poor woman, who had been dreadfully burnt. He promptly obeyed the summons, and prayed with the sufferer. Immediately after he left her, she exclaimed, "Where is Mr. Whitefield? I must see Mr. Whitefield." Her friends urged Mr. Whitefield to visit her a second time, when he again went and prayed with her. They came e third time, when Mr. Hill, perceiving the painful impressions the affecting scene had produced upon his friend's mind, urged him not to go, as he could not expect to do any good. “I shall never forget," said Mr. Hill, "his reproving words; Leave me, sir: my Master can save to the uttermost,-to the very uttermost ;'" and then he again proceeded to the distressed female."
There is in this simple story the expression of both benevolence,wisdom, of a thorough understanding, too, of the benign aims of the Christian religion. It is a just maxim that while there is life there is hope; or, as the paraphrase expresses it
"While the lamp holds on to burn,
The greatest sinner may return."
The sentiment here implied is deeply felt by the pious friends of the sinner struck down by disease, and precipitated forward to the seat of judgment. Their's is a truer philosophy than what man's wisdom
* Memorial of the Rev. Rowland Hill, chiefly consisting of anecdotes illustrative of his character and labours. By James Sherman, Minister of Surrey Chapel. London: Gilpin.
teaches, and as they conclude that human guilt can never rise above and go beyond the infinite merits of the Saviour, they continue to pray and read the Scriptures beside the death-bed of the afflicted, whose iniquities have separated him from God,—and that affection exhausts itself in intreaties to be reconciled to a God that delighteth in mercy. This is a scene peculiarly suitable for the faithful and devoted minister of Christ, who is not to despair, but to labour to obtain success. Nor may the doubts, and fears, and terrors of the expiring child of humanity, notwithstanding his cries for mercy, be set down as evidences of reprobation, which seems to be the fashion with certain people perhaps, but too well assured of their own security,-or people who have a purpose to serve by the display of horrors. The cry of anguish has often been heard by a pardoning God. And in the final issues of eternity not only may the first be last, but the last first.
Mr. Hill was an exceedingly popular preacher. Goldsmith could afford to praise some of the preachers of his time whom probably he regarded as fanatics in religion. Rowland was wonderful in what may be styled his pulpit oratory. Mr. Sherman says—
"The great secret, perhaps, of the amazing effect of Mr. Hill's preaching was its being all nature. Thus, on every occasion, whether joyous or grievous, he found his way to hearts whose strings vibrated in unison with those of his own. Sheridan used to say, I go to hear Rowland Hill, because his ideas come red-hot from the heart." On another occasion, Dr. Milner, the celebrated Dean of Carlisle, was so worked upon that he went to him, and said, 'Mr. Hill, Mr. Hill, I felt to-day, 'tis this slap-dash preaching, say what they will, that does all the good."
"The energy of his manner at times, and the power of his voice, were almost overwhelming. Once, at Wotton, he was completely carried away by the impetuous rush of his feelings, and raising himself to his full stature, he exclaimed, Because I am in earnest, men call me an enthusiast, but I am not; mine are the words of truth and soberness. When I first came into this part of the country, I was walking on yonder hill; I saw a gravelpit fall in, and bury three human beings alive. I lifted up my voice for help so loud, that I was heard in the town below, at the distance of a mile; help came, and rescued two of the poor sufferers. No one called me an enthusiast then; and when I see eternal destruction ready to fall upon poor sinners, and about to entomb them irrecoverably in an eternal mass of woe, and call aloud on them to escape, shall I be called an enthusiast now? No, sinner, I am not an enthusiast in so doing; I call on thee aloud to fly for refuge to the hope set before thee in the Gospel of Christ Jesus.
And a "pawky" carle he was in drawing the dust from his hearers, who, however, being English, were more inclined to liberality than the "canny Scot." Mr. Sherman, on this point, supplies the following anecdote:
"On announcing the amount of a liberal collection to his own people, he remarked: "You have behaved so well on this occasion, that we mean to let you have another collection next Sunday. I have heard it said of a good cow, that the more you milk her, the more she will give.""
"Once, when preaching for a public charity, a note was handed to him in the pulpit, inquiring, If it would be right for a bankrupt to contribute to the collection? He referred to the inquiry, and answered it firmly in
the negative. He then added, 'But, my friends, I would advise you who are not insolvent, not to pass the plate this evening, as the people will be sure to say,There goes the bankrupt !'
We doubt, however, that principle and practice were here at variance in the ethics of the preacher. The bankrupt was not to give alms: certainly not; for people must be just before being generous. But the veriest insolvent in circumstances was deterred from passing the plate without a contribution, as the preacher had taught the audience to single him out in his real pecuniary character from that circumstance. This was hardly fair dealing.
His allusions were at times very homely. Preaching in an agricul tural district, and touching upon the salvability of the heathen, he proceeded in this way—
"I admit,' said he, that the heathen have some natural light, but they do not use even this aright. Now, suppose the whole family in a farm-house assembled round the large kitchen-fire on a winter's evening, all peaceful and happy. Presently, the stableman opens the door, and cries out, Master, master, the thieves are robbing the hen-roost! Up they all start; the farmer rushes to his closet for his lantern; he lights the candle, and runs out, and, holding up the light nearly to his head, advances with cautious steps. The wheelbarrow has been left in the way, and over it the good man falls; and why?—because he has no light ?-no, because he used it improperly. Thus it is with the heathen.'"
Mr. Hill, as we are told by his admiring biographer, often acknowledged that he introduced into his sermons what he had better left out; but he would add, "the queer thought came into my head, and out it came, and I could not help it. I wish I had kept it in, though." The wish was very proper under the circumstances, but we fear it was seldom the parent of corresponding conduct. On one occasion, we are told
"The venerable man gave out his text, "We are not ignorant of his devices; and immediately told the following tale :- Many years since I met a drove of pigs in one of the streets of a large town, and to my surprise they were not driven, but quietly followed their leader. This singular fact excited my curiosity, and I pursued the swine, until they all quietly entered the butchery. I then asked the man how he succeeded in getting the poor, stupid, stubborn pigs so willingly to follow him, when he told me the secret. He had a basket of beans under his arm, and kept dropping them as he proceeded, and so secured his object. Ah! my dear hearers, the devil has got his basket of beans, and he knows how to suit his temptations to every sinner. He drops them by the way-the poor sinner is thus led captive by the devil at his own will; and if grace prevent not, he will get them at last into his butchery, and there he will keep them for ever. Oh, it is because we are not ignorant of his devices,' that we are anxious this evening to guard you against them!"
It would seem he read almost every paper put into his hand when about to engage in divine service in the pulpit. We are sorry to note in this a correspondence between Mr. Hill and many of our divines at present, who, after sermon, make all manner of announcements—at times of matters beneath the dignity of the pulpit. This mode of advertising de
serves censure, and should be steadily opposed by ministers desirous to preserve the dignity of their profession, and to uphold the order of public worship. Mr. Sherman thus relates the annoyances to which Mr. Hill was subjected in certain instances, though at times the "notices" were of a different and more becoming character :—
"Notices were often put into Mr. Hill's hand as he was entering the pulpit or reading-desk, containing instances of conversion, or expressing deep anxiety. Sometimes when these papers were given him, he would read them aloud; and once an impudent fellow placed a piece of paper on the reading-desk just before he was going to read prayers. He took it and began- The prayers of this congregation are desired-umph-for-umphwell, I suppose, I must finish what I have begun-for the Rev. Rowland Hill, that he will not go riding about in his carriage on a Sunday!" This would have disconcerted almost any other man; but he looked up as coolly as possible, and said, 'If the writer of this piece of folly and impertinence is in the congregation, and will go into the vestry after service, and let me put a saddle on his back, I will ride him home instead of going in my carriage.' He then went on with the service as if nothing had happened."
Mr. Hill was a benevolent man, though we consider not always consistently so. He was peculiarly solicitous in his attention to malefactors condemned to die, and but too many of such were to be found at a tim when pecuniary offences were visited with the scaffold, and the hangman made to support the integrity of paper credit. He was the means of bringing over to a holy life infidels, profligates, and criminals. One of the latter class he not only by the divine blessing reclaimed to virtue, but finding him worthy, placed him above the temptations of poverty. Of his kindness of heart the following anecdote is given :
"A respectable female once called on him, expressing a wish to be united with the Church. He at first misunderstood her state of mind. Among other questions he put the following- Have you a good heart?" She replied, I hope I have, sir.' Mr. Hill called the attention of a friend to the reply, and said, 'Come and see a wonderful woman, who has a good heart. I'm sure it's more than I can say.' The worthy female was much affected, but most judiciously answered, I trust, sir, I have a new heart; and I did not think it wrong to call the work of the Holy Ghost a good work.' This remark touched Mr. Hill, who immediately apologised in the most Christian manner for having wounded her feelings."
No doubt a sanctified heart is a good one; but as the agent of holiness, in dealing with the subjective mind, finds but too much opposition from the carnal will and corrupt affections, the best believers are more apt to complain of a " deceitful heart" than to boast of the contrary property. The worthy lady ought to have expressed herself differently. She was wrong, not Mr. Hill.
But our good old gentleman could be very tart and severe, as a bad professor had experience of :
"An individual, who had done great discredit to a profession of religion, was standing at his door, just as he was going out, and hypocritically greeted him with, How do you do, Mr. Hill? I am delighted to see you once more.' With an air of perfect amazement, he exclaimed, What! ar'n't you hanged yet?' and returned to the house till the astonished visitor departed."