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all on before me. But do not mistake me when I say, 'all on before me. I do not mean that I read indiscriminately whatever comes to hand-whether it be Longinus, or St. Paul's Epistles ; I look upon my books like a house full of servants, who with good looking after are generally speaking honest fellows, but I have not equal confidence in them all. There are some of them that would not mind a fig to put a bit of arsenic in my gruel and, perhaps, think they were doing God's service thereby. So I keep a pretty sharp look out over them, and select a few on whom I can most rely to be about my table. Dr. Clarke's Commentary and some devotional writers are the principal. Sheppard's “Thoughts on Private Devotion’ has become a great favourite, and is not likely to be displaced by any succeeding competitor for the place of honour.”
Though naturally modest, and without the slightest disposition to put himself forward, honours gathered around him, and on two occasions he was raised to the Presidency. The last election took place in 1841, a time ever memorable in our history for painful conflicts and divisions, occasioned by the defection of a popular minister who was found unfaithful, not only to our Church principles, but to Christ, who bought us with His blood. On the first Sabbath morning of that Conference Mr. Wilson preached a powerful sermon from Matt. xvi., 17—“Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church : and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” That able discourse clearly demonstrated the Divinity of Christ and the security of His Church, and it was hailed with delight as an admirable introduction to the business of the ensuing week. Though well known to be a personal friend of the offender, Mr. Wilson had the entire confidence of the brethren, and when called to preside over the deliberations of that eventful Conference, all parties felt safe in his hands. As might be expected, different views were entertained as to the real merits of the question itself, and likewise as to its issue ; but neither the accusers nor the accused had one single word of complaint to make as to any want of courtesy, prudence, impartiality, or firmness on the part of the President who directed the proceedings.
Though Mr. Wilson was not a great talker about the Connexion, he was warmly attached to its principles and organisations, and never shrank from any personal sacrifice required to serve them. Three times he was elected on the Stationing Committee, and on two of those occasions he gave up comparatively easy Circuits to take the most difficult and harassing places in the whole Connexion. And what is still more noteworthy, at the time of our great commotion, and when sustaining the office of President, he consented to take the very ground occupied by the Connexion's great adversary, and there manfully struggled with him face to face. What he suffered
by those appointments no one can tell, yet he never complained. It often appeared to the writer as though both nature and grace combined to fit his old friend for such trying posts. This impression was strengthened by advancing years, and placed beyond all doubt in 1851, when he wrote expressing a strong desire that I would accept an invitation from Liverpool. Fearing, however, to urge this to any undue extent, he concluded by adding, “ But none of us are wise in choosing for ourselves ; I hope Providence will order all things for the best. I don't think that, so far as I have been personally concerned, I ever lost an hour's rest on the subject, not even when appointed to face Barker in Newcastle.”
He was always a good though not a very quick correspondent, and at times, he threw a good deal of humour into his letters. Referring, on one occasion, to a few little incidents in a family with which we were both pretty familiar, he says : “Mrs. S. is about being married again, her eldest son is also on the point of marriage. What a strange world is this! What a trifle either in time or circumstances there often is between our sorrows and our joys, between our tears and our smiles, between the grave with all its crapes and hoods and the hymeneal altar with all its feathers, fribble and feasting, laughing, skipping and dancing. Truly every man in his best estate is altogether vanity.”
The writer was Superintendent of the Irish Mission at the time the two next extracts were written, and this will explain their references :
“ April 9th, 1845. My dear Mr. Baggaly—It gave me great pleasure to hear from you, and I am much obliged for the enclosed pamphlets. Any tract throwing light on the subject of the craft of Popery is very agreeable to me. Like you, I was greatly grieved that our Mission was withdrawn from the South of Ireland, the part above all others requiring the pure light of the Gospel. But what gives me still more sensible pain is, that our legislators, both Whig and Tory, are evidently disposed to favour the idolatry of Rome, not only more than any class of Dissenting religionists, but, it is to be feared, more than the Established Church itself. A Protestant country is to be taxed to support colleges for the sole purpose of training a set of Catholic priests to spread their poison, and ultimately to destroy the Government itself. But let us look to God, who will arise and plead His own cause against every adversary. Truth is great, and must prevail.”
• May 4th, 1846. I am very unable to write, but must nevertheless endeavour to gratify my own feelings as well as your wishes, in acknowledging the receipt of yours by Mr. Robinson. .. . I have also to thank you for “The Priest's Curse '-a thing which I should think no one ever did before. Thanks have often been returned for
the priest's blessing, and perhaps upon occasions something more substantial than thanks : but I fancy I have the honour to be the first that ever returned thanks for his curse.”
Mr. Wilson's inner life was remarkable for its uniformity: He lived by faith, and being grounded on the Rock of Ages he could not be moved. His religious views, principles, feelings, general course of actions and pursuits, knew but little change. He was not like a spider's thread, oscillating at every breath, but, like a cedar in Lebanon, he stood and braved the fiercest tempest with as much calmness and dignity as though it were merely an evening zephyr. And as he drew near the close of life, it was gratifying to observe his increased spirituality of mind, if possible a more habitual preparation for his Master's coming, as the following extracts sufficiently illustrate :
“October 10, 1839. My continuance in public life cannot be much longer, and the sale of the library is a preparatory and necessary step towards my retirement. At that period I shall no doubt have much to regret and much to be thankful for. I hope by the Divine mercy that my retiring moments will be unclouded by the darkness of sin; and that the character which I have hitherto endeavoured to maintain will be borne out to the very last breath of life. In regard to my internal experience of Divine things, I could wish that it were more spiritual. I am prone to be too philosophic in the general tone and complexion of my mind. I wish to be more divine and heavenly in the interior exercises of the soul. Sometimes, indeed, I have uncommon sensations of happiness, but these are principally while preaching. In general my mind is like a calm, unruffled sea. And even when a storm arises it makes but little difference with my pacific lake; it can scarcely raise a ripple on any part of the surface. Some reckon this a very happy state of mind, and it no doubt has its advantages ; at the same time there is the danger of settling down to a state of perfect indifference, not only to all the good and ill of life, but even to life itself! So
prone to extremes.”
" March 2nd, 1843. My bodily health is but indifferent. My spiritual frame is good, indeed, never was it better, perhaps never so divinely healthy at any former period. I keep losing family, friends, and early acquaintances fast, very fast, and so am reminded that my own time will come shortly. I have been burning a large lot of my manuscripts, which had cost me many an hour in hard reading, study, and writing, and it mournfully intimated what indeed I have often feared, that most of my works will not bear the fire, but that I shall suffer loss, and my own escape be attended with hazard. I often mount the fearful precipice, and, by the help of Divine revelation,
look through the valley into eternity. But when I return from the observatory, I exclaim with the Apostle, “Now we see through a glass darkly.' At all events, my dear children, work whilst it is day, for truly the night cometh when man cannot see to work. Mind that.”
The last letter from which we shall cull a few lines is without date, but bears internal evidence of being written in the spring of 1851 :
“I hope I shall never find fault with the order of Divine providence, but I seem to myself at times to be living longer than there is any occasion for. I have been very ill lately of something like influenza, and am still very indifferent. How rapidly we fall! Haslam, Harrison, Seaton, Salt! Few of my old and early acquaintances left! But the Gospel of Christ sheds a cheering light upon the gloom of the grave and the mysteries of E-t-e-r-n-i-t-y. One of my most pleasing anticipations respecting it is the hope of meeting there those we have loved on earth! What an everlasting theme of wonder and of praise is the work of Human Redemption !”
In 1843 Mr. Wilson ceased to travel, and settled as a superpumerary in Liverpool, where he served the Circuit regularly for eight years on the Sabbath day with unwearied diligence and zeal. There, after all the tossings and changes of the itinerant life, he found a sphere of usefulness in every way genial and suited to his declining strength. To say merely, that he was comfortable with our dear friends in that town would not be sufficiently emphatic, for he was peculiarly happy amongst them. And that feeling was mutual. He always held a warm place in their affections, their love for him amounting to a passion.
In 1851 his long and oft expressed desire for the writer to be associated with him in a Circuit was realised by his appointment to Liverpool. The year opened auspiciously, and our social intercourse with each other was pleasurable and mutually endearing. But a few short months brought the labours of our venerable friend to a close. One Sunday evening when conducting the public service in Bethesda Chapel his hand was observed to tremble, and the book fell. He was attacked by paralysis. That cruel stroke reduced him to a state of child-like feebleness, and for months an early departure appeared inevitable. Yet he still lingered. The kindness of friends, the oft-repeated visits of his brethren, and the more than filial affection of his attached son-in-law, Mr. J. R. Williams, with the loving attention of his family, was a great comfort to him in his long affliction. Sastained by grace, in patience he possessed his soul, and endured 25 seeing Him who is invisible.
When leaving his room one evening he seized the writer's hand and said with great earnestness, and as distinctly as his imperfect
power of utterance would allow, “You'll-preach-my-funeralsermon.” To divert his attention from the subject I immediately adverted to some other topic, and apparently with success. But in a moment or two he came back to it again, saying, “ You know the text, ‘By grace are ye saved,'—that is the best for me.” • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Though so very feeble and emaciated, almost beyond description, yet to the surprise of all, he continued until Saturday the 17th of November, 1855, when, having just completed the seventy-first year of his life, and the forty-fourth of his ministry, he left this world of sin and suffering to enjoy an immortality of bliss.
The funeral obsequies took place at the Necropolis, Low Hill, Liverpool, in the presence of many attached friends, who cherished his memory with veneration, and embalmed it with tears. And now,"he being dead, yet speaketh."
“Farewell ! dear brother, may thy mantle rest
THE LESSONS OF CHRIST'S POVERTY. As we read the Gospel narratives it is of importance to remember that there is nothing fortuitous, nothing accidental, notbing that occurs in a haphazard way, about the life of Christ. The development of His moral character was moulded by a sublime necessity. We cannot but suppose that the incarnate Son of God would be intinitely perfect in every exercise of the intellect, in every volition of the will, and in every affection of the heart. To our apprehension He could not be otherwise than free from error and from sin.
But with respect to the outward circumstances of His life, it is clear that they might have been different to what they were; they therefore were the subject of preference and choice. His parentage, the locality of His birth and life, His [social relation to mankind and the temporal condition of His life, with the time and character of His death, were all arranged and determined in the counsels of the Eternal mind ere He became man with men.
At first sight His choice of social position and external circumstances surprises us. We marvel at what we see, and learn that “God's ways are not as our ways, nor His thoughts as our thoughts." We should have made the Saviour the son of some powerful and wide-reigning monarch, and not the child of a lowly carpenter ; His birthplace would have been a palace and not a stable ; His first couch a bed of down and not a comfortless manger; His attendants courtiers and men of birth, the nobles of the land, and not unknown