Page images
PDF
EPUB

of knowing that they are walking by the same rule which the Apostle of the Gentiles laid down, namely that “all things be done to edifying ;” and that in keeping their Christian feast days, they are regarding the days "unto the Lord," not keeping them in honour of the Saints and Martyrs commemorated thereon, but to the praise of God and the profit of their own souls.

And thus may we still proceed, celebrating at every appointed season, the grace and glory of God, as reflected back by those whose lives were our example, and their deaths a testimony, until with them we stand before His Throne; until with “the glorious company of the Apostles, the goodly fellowship of the Prophets, and the noble army of Martyrs,” we celebrate that grace which redeemed both them and us, and that glory which was manifested both to Jews and Gentiles, in a Festival which shall never have an end, even the eternal Sabbath of the Lord of Hosts.

ICHTHUS.

A MISSIONARY'S FUNERAL.-A DAY IN NEW JERSEY.

Having heard with the deepest regret of the sudden death of the Rev. Thomas Tanser, long a faithful and laborious missionary in the most desert places of New Jersey, the writer of this article, once a brother missionary, hastened to pay the latest tribute of respect and affection we may offer to those who are "gone before." An early ride of sixteen miles, much of it through weary sands, brought us within sight of the village where was fixed the Missionary Parsonage. This village, called “Mullica Hill,” derives its singular name in part from its remarkable situation. A deep hollow intersects the main street at right angles, and the houses are placed upon two bills, on one of which is the unpretending parsonage, and upon the other, “high and lifted up,” stands the church which was the centre of the Missionary's services It occupies, as the church should ever do, a commanding position. This fact has been noticed to explain the striking spectacle which met our gaze as we rose over the brow of the hill, and came in view of the village and the church. The funeral had left the home of the living to bear the ashes of the dead to their abode of rest. The solemn train was winding, with slow and measured step, up the steep ascent, led by the Bishop and

clergy in their proper robes—the living priests in white, the dead covered with the sable pall. From all the surrounding country there came a long array of mourners, showing how the faithful Missionary is to be honoured. Among those who assembled for this good purpose was the Governor of the State, who thus did honour to his high office at the lowly bier of a man of God. As many of the clergy as could come upon this sudden call of God, were there.

The dead was placed before the chancel wherein, on the Sunday before, he stood with the words of life eternal upon bis living lips. By a happy arrangement, each clergyman had a part in the solemn service-meet requiem of brother-voices mingling in love over a brother's ashes! The Bishop made a most affecting and solemn address to the bereaved people, and one full of comfort, from those most appropriate words of David—“And so He giveth His beloved sleep.” It was a plain, simple, truthful tribute, right from the heart. And we felt the full beauty of the Bishop's allusion when, in accordance with the request of some, the coffin was opened and we looked upon the face of the dead, and thought of our Saviour's words, “ He is not dead, but sleepeth ;', and calm, and holy, and peaceful, seemed that sleep—a Sabbath rest!

Mr. Tanser went to bed in his usual health on Tuesday night, 8th instant, having written, as was his wont, in his Diary, and making no mention of any symptoms of sickness. At the same hour of the same night, (11 o'clock) at which that venerable brother in the same ministry, Dr. Milnor, sunk to rest, he also fell asleep in Jesus. His wife who was in the room had no other warning than a slight cough and gurgling in his throat, and life's struggle and toil, and weariness, were at an end! Happily chosen was the Bishop's text_“So He giveth His beloved sleep!

I am not one of those who think that the memory of the sainted dead is fitly embalmed with overstrained adulation. And never would it be more out of place. I am writing about a plain simple-hearted man, who adorned an humble path of duty with a high and holy devotion not common in these days—not exceeded by many whose missionary zeal carries them to the sands of Africa. In the straggling hamlets amid the pines, or in some single secluded dwelling, wherever an ear could be found to listen, it was this good Missionary's delight to preach “in season and out of season.” There was a quaintness in his manner, and a vigor in his style, which could hardly fail to arrest the attention.

He had the peculiar faculty of introducing successfully the great subject of his thoughts, on occasions when others would have failed. He seldom left a company without some pungent remark, enforcing the truth of God. For years of unremitting zeal he has pursued this work, covering with his labours a vast extent of territory; doing, as the Bishop declared, labour which he could hardly get five men to perform as well. He had learned-a hard lesson now—not only to deny, but to annihilate self. Interest, ease, comfort, all were offered a willing sacrifice. And who is worthy of homage if such a man as this claims it not ?-God in His mercy, send more such to build up the waste places of His Church! No greater blessing can we pray for, in the Church's name, than that Christ would raise up for the edification of His body, ministers inspired with the devotion, the simplicity, the singleness of heart, the self-sacrificing spirit, which made the Rev. Thomas Tanser all you called him, in your brief notice of his death, (and it is much to say of mortal man,) “ A GOOD OLD FAITHFUL MISSIONARY.” To the world such a title may seem despicable--but it is more glorious far to lie in the humble tomb whereon this might be truly written, than to slumber beneath the uneasy weight of the proudest monument which ever bore the pompous inscription of pride and vanity! Brethren in the Lord, let us strive to earn the faithful missionary's epitaph !

After the services the remains were taken to Moorestown, to be interred in the churchyard there. To this place, a distance of more than twenty miles, the Rev. Mr. Harrold accompanied the procession, where other brethren (not able to come further) were also expected to meet at the missionary's grave. The interment took place just at the going down of the sun. Let me here add, that as Mr. Tanser had long been struggling, like too many Missionaries, with almost penury, he left his widow and child of twelve years old, to a clergyman's heritage--poverty! The Bishop, with usual promptness, brought the subject forthwith before the clergy, and it was agreed to address a note to each minister in the diocese, urging them to collect and bring to the Convention a meet offering to aid the Missionary's family. Should any without the diocese be moved by this call of mercy, their contributions can be sent to any clergyman of New Jersey.

Our day in New Jersey ended not with “ the Missionary's Funeral;"—We proceeded to afternoon service in one of the churches, where the Missionary's voice had often been heard. It was a place of much interest on many accounts. For many years it had remained unroofed and desolate--its original builders

being scattered by disease and death. The Bishop succeeded in exciting an interest about it, and a gentleman in the neighbourhood having taken the good work in hand with a Churchman's zeal, the Moravians were induced to make over the property to the Church—and the building being duly repaired, it is one of the neatest and most commodious edifices in the country. The taste of the sexton's wife, at a very small cost, has made it even beautiful, by training up its old walls plants of the honey-suckle and rose-bushes, one of the latter having found its way within the sanctuary. The text was well chosen for that sweet spot“Son, give me thy heart.” This gentle invitation of mercy seemed more winning amid the past and present associations which clustered around the holy place.

With an evening service, at Swedesborough, the church being filled with a large and attentive audience, when the holy rite of confirmation was administered to a goodly number of candidates, we ended our “Day in New Jersey;"—not the least profitable, we trust, among the number of our days; a day of pleasantness and of peace, though its path was near the valley of the shadow of death. And as we closed our eyes beneath the kind shelter of a hospitable roof, amid the quiet comfort of a Christian home, we reposed with tranquil hope upon those words of peace and eternal rest—"So He giveth His beloved sleep."

FRATER.

SUNDAY SCHOOLS IN FACTORY DISTRICTS. The benefits of the Sunday Schools, hitherto enumerated, * though great, are in a manner indirect, and chiefly affect the teachers, the parents, and the general peace of society; but with regard to the children themselves, the advantages are neither doubtful nor small. I know it has been asserted that Sunday Schools, of and by themselves, are altogether ineffectual for the purposes of education. But if children at Sunday Schools may learn to read and understand the Bible, and receive, at the same time, some training in morals and religion—if they may be taught to love and dislike those things which are worthy of their love and dislike,—we must not say that Sunday Schools, even of and by themselves, are of no power, no worth. I have witnessed instances of this kind, and have known persons who, with no other instruction than than that of a Sunday School, have attained

* Page 26.

to a competent knowledge of the Bible, with the ability to read it, indeed so far as to be well qualified to act as teachers in a like way. Some people, indeed, would say, this knowledge is very insufficient and meagre; but a better authority has told us, “This is LIFE ETERNAL, to know God and Jesus Christ, whom God has sent.” But, of course, for the purposes of secular instruction (of which I do not in the least dispute the necessity and use) the Sunday School is, or should be, powerless, because it is, or should be untried; and I rejoice greatly, that none of the Sunday Schools connected with the Church in Birmingham have been tempted, even in self-defence, to mix secular subjects with the peculiar and appropriate studies of the holyday. In some other towns the managers of Church Sunday Schools have felt themselves constrained to permit instruction in writing, to prevent the children falling off to other places where such inducements are held out. The objects and subjects of instruction in our Sunday Schools are simply religious. The majority of the children attending them have, in some week-day school, or otherwise, learnt to read, and are desirous of retaining and increasing their stock of knowledge, and of receiving counsels and directions from their superiors in age, attainments, and experience. And as their teachers are full of zeal to guide and instruct, so many of the scholars, at least of those most advanced in age, are full of desire to be ordered and instructed. Such zeal, meeting with such desires, cannot fail of beneficial effect. The elder and more advanced scholars are frequently engaged in examining the Church Catechism and Articles, looking for proofs during the week, which are submitted in the morning to the teacher, who is provided with notes, or a commentary approved by the clergyman. Afterwards they will probably read the Scriptures: the teachers, and, in many cases, the scholars also, having Bibles with marginal references, by means of which they obtain clearer and more enlarged views of the passages in hand, and of the whole Scriptures, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. The junior classes, as they are able, read the Scriptures, and repeat portions which have been committed to memory during the week, with various catechisms and hymns. The Church Catechism does not appear to be repeated so frequently and carefully as might be wished. The youngest children are either learning to read, or repeating hymns and catechisms by dictation. The effect upon the understanding of such brief and slender instruction might, and probably would, in most cases, quickly disappear, did not the value which the

« PreviousContinue »