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66 You, my
at that time certainly announced, a seriousness more suitable to the occasion could hardly have been inspired; and indeed in Mr. Hordle's charge there were passages which in the sad sequel of this his. tory appear most singularly appropriate-bordering even on the prophetie! One in particular deserves to be recorded :
dear young brother, must die, and stand at the bar of God. Your ordination service
be only a prelude to your funeral service, for what is man? Man is but of yesterday, and his days are as a shadow. How often have we seen the sun go down while it is yet day! and while the church has been pleasing itself with the prospect of enjoying the pious fervent labours of an endeared minister for years, has an unexpected stroke separated them forever! Mourning survivors wondering have said, • Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour."
Too often such remarks as these are passed by unnoticed by the thoughtless—are merely considered as expletives to supply the want of other matteror splendid furniture to decorate and give effect to the address. The antieipation, though founded in reason, warranted by scripture, and authorized by experience, is yet unaccompanied by any just assurance of the event it realizes; and its connexion with any special decree of God is concealed from mortals. But there are seasons when the lips of holy men seen, to utter something more than those vague admonitions of death, which, from their frequent re. earrence, or the uncertainty of their immediate accomplisbment, lose their power to impress. And to
those who admit the doctrine of divine influence upon the minds of men, and more especially upon such as are appointed to state and enforce the solemn doctrines of revelation to mankind, it can be no source of astonishment that God should sometimes direet the thoughts and expressions of his ministers into a current adapted to certain ends he has to answer, or particular events he intends shall shortly come to pass. With respect to the passage above cited, and its corresponding event, persons will forna their own opinion. I eannot, however, but regard it as adding somewhat to the force and propriety of observations sueh as these, since here was another instance, in which the event anticipated by the speaker as possible, though at the time, perhaps, regarded by the hearers as highly improbable, was but too surely realized !
Mr. Spencer was now fully invested with that sacred office, which from his infancy he had desired ; and he set himself diligently to the discharge of its momentous duties. That he felt its importance, was evident to all. His habitual eonduct and conversation proved it. To his most intimate friends he free. ly expressed his anxieties respecting it, and earnestly did he implore an interest in the prayers of his people and his brethren in the ministry. In the assurance that he laboured amongst a praying people, he felt confidence : and no consideration is more adapted to relieve the mind of a faithful minister than this while it pours unseen a thousand blessings on his head, it secures to his labours an affectionate attention, and an carnest desire rightly to. appreciate and improve them. That which persons
make the subject of earnest prayer, they will usually value; and it is hardly possible but that good must be uniformly the result, when both minister and people come from their closets, which have witnessed their fervent intercessions for each other, to the house of God. The apostle knew how to estimate the prayers even of the meanest Christians who enjoyed his labours. "Brethren, pray for us.'* -It is true that a people will for the most part take the cast of their religious character from that of their minister: if he be much alive to God, and zealous in the discharge of his ministry, he will communicate the sacred flame to all around him, and cause his people to refleet on every side the light his preaching and his example shed. But, on the other hand, are there no instances in wbich the reverse of this has been the case; the minister has been gradually disheartened and dispirited by a cold, supine, and worldly-minded people, who have con, tinually thwarted him in his generous designscounteracted his benevolent efforts and quenched, by indifference and neglect, the ardour of his zeal. Instead of assisting him in his glorious work, they have hung like weights about his garments; and instead of acting as pioneers to prepare the paths of Christian benevolence for his willing feet to tread, they have clogged up the avenues with obstacles, and lined the way with insuperable difficulties. The
* See an admirable sermon upon this subject by the Rev. William Jay, of Bath, preached at the settlement of the Rev. llenry Forster Burder, A. M. at Hackney. Every pious minister, who knows its worth, 'must wish to see this excellent discourse in the hands of his people.
spirit of the man has been broken by perpetual dis. appointment-vexation has gradually enervated his mind--and by slow and imperceptible degrees he has sunk into torpor and indifference
and the langour of the pastor has at length presented an unhappy counterpart to the supineness of the people. And even where neither the cause nor the consequences obtain to so alarming and fatal degree, still it is to be deplored that any approach to them should be suffered to exist. Here the stated attendants on a gospel ministry may often find a reason for that want of pleasure and improvement which sometimes they deplore, though most unjustly, at the preacher's cost. If prayer, special and fervent, for a blessing on their pastor's labours, has been neglected, the mystery is at once developed. For they have no right whatever to expect a blessing without prayer; and as they have no right to expect it without prayer, neither are they in a suitable frame to receive it; and thus it often happens, that where the prayerless soul departs empty away, the humble and earnest petitioner obtains a rich and suitable supply from the same table, and of the same food. It is light bread to the one, but it is life-giving and substantial provision to the other. • Ask and ye shall receive.'
On the first Sabbath in July Mr. Spencer dispensed, for the first time, the solemn ordinance of the Lord's supper. It was a time of love a season of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. The sweet impression of that happy day still remains, and its memory is yet dear to many. On the following Monday, at the social prayer meet:
ing in the evening, in the bosom of his people, he again solemnly dedicated himself to God, and renewed his vows to consecrate all his powers to their service in the work of the ministry. Indeed, all he wrote, or said, or did, indicated the holy fervoor of his soul. Tenderly alive to the sacred delicacy of his character, he was anxious to sustain it well, that the cause of Jesus might not suffer by any spots it might contract. Conscientiously awake to every call of duty which his most responsible station might involve, he was ready to obey them all-that the ministry might not be blamed !- The following letter is from his correspondenee about this time, and may
be numbered with the last he ever wrote. The expressions which I have copied, are mingled with others sacred to the privacy of friendship. They promise pleasures never realized-unfold prospeets suddenly destroyed--and record arrangements he was not permitted to fulfil !
TO MR. HADDON.
Liverpool, July 8, 1811. “ MY DEAR FRIEND,
* * * * * « The ordination has, for the last fortnight, occupied almost the whole of my attention, and the impression, the solemn, the holy impression of which I trust I shall never forget. Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I administered the ordinance of the Lord's supper, and found it to be indeed a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. My da