Page images

he could feel for the miseries of his brethren; and thus stand a proper, and in every way a duly qualified mediator between God and man; of God, to represent his justice to the sinner; of MAN, to represent his miseries to the divine mercy.

[To be continued.]




BY THE REV. JOHN HANNAH. Miss CHARLOTTE SINGLETON was born at Nottingham, March 7th, 1778. When she was nearly fourteen years of age, she was seized with a violent attack of sciatica, which disabled her from walking for three years, occasioned a considerable degree of lameness for life, and, by preventing her from using proper exercise, seriously injured her constitution. Some time before this she had occasionally attended the Methodist ministry, though her father was much opposed to it. It was under this affliction, however, that she became decidedly serious, and began to make her spiritual and eternal happiness the grand concern of her life. It seems to have been some months, if not years, before she obtained a satisfactory and abiding evidence of her acceptance with God; but on this point her experience was afterward very clear, consistent, and scriptural. From the period of her finding " redemption through the blood of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins,” her growth in grace was rapid, and her religious attainments of no ordinary description. She was severely tutored in the school of affliction, and happily proved that “tribulation,” when sanctified by the blessing of God, and improved by the exercise of faith, in an eminent degree “worketh patience; and patience, experience, and experience, hope."

By degrees her health and strength were partially restored; and, when about thirty years of age, she began to engage more publicly and extensively in the service of the church. For several years she was actively employed as a class-leader, a visiter of the sick, an assistant at prayer meetings, and a diligent supporter of the weekly band; in each of which exercises her valuable services will long be remembered. She was remarkable as a leader, for her affectionate and unwearied attention to every member of her class, for the spirituality of her views, for the variety and suitableness of her counsels, and for her truly Christian fidelity. As a visiter of the sick, she was ready to attend every call, was uncommonly skilful in ascertaining the spiritual state of the persons she visited, and well knew, for she had herself suffered, how to temper the occasional severity of reproof and admonition with the most tender and engaging sympathy. In her conduct as an assistant at prayer-meetings she was never forward and assuming, never censorious, but eminently distinguished by her humility, her consistency, her chastened and holy fervour. At the weekly band, she almost invariably found herself in her proper element; and by the rich and copious statement of her religious experience, by the encouraging directions which she sometimes ventured to give, and by the spirit of devotion which glowed with intense ardour in her own bosom, she was often rendered highly useful to her Christian associates. Many who yet survive can recall to mind the refreshing communications which they enjoyed at such seasons with their departed friend, when they seemed conducted in spirit to the “holy mount,” and were permitted by faith to behold the “glory” of their “transfigured” Lord, to “hear him” as the great teacher to whom “Moses and Elias” willingly resign their office, and to realize the benefits of the decease" which he has “accomplished at Jerusalem,” until they unitedly exclaimed, well knowing also “what they said,” “Lord, it is good for us to be here!” In her, as in the disciples at Antioch, the “grace of God” was seen, and in her the triumphs of that grace were eminent and glorious.

Under the influence of a modesty, which her friends cannot but think in this instance, excessive and indiscreet, she almost entirely destroyed her diary, and other papers, a short time before her death. The loss of these renders it difficult to take any thing more than a general survey of her character. Among the particular excellencies which, by divine grace, she possessed, may be noticed the following:

Her command of temper.-She was “adorned” with the “ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.” It was a rule with her in the most provoking and irritating circumstances, to observe a profound silence; nor do her most intimate relatives and acquaintance remember ever to have known her indulge an angry or passionate temper from the time of her conversion to God.

Her dislike of human praise.--She endeavoured to seek the “honour that cometh from God only,” and never loved to receive commendation from man. It was a remark which she frequently made, that she thought praise, in any shape, was exceedingly dangerous to young converts, and had often proved equally destructive to their piety and their usefulness.

Her sincere regard for the ordinances of religion.-Notwithstanding her afflictions and infirmities, she was remarkable, when at all able to go abroad, for her punctual attendance at the house of the Lord. In sitting under the ministry of the gospel she did indeed hear “uncritically and devoutly;" and though, to her spiritual and experienced mind, the preaching of some was undoubtedly more suitable, and consequently, more profitable than that of others, yet she was never in the habit of censuring or depreciating any. She sat ás a learner, not as a judge, and was observable, when the service was concluded, for retiring in silence. At such times she appeared desirous of conversing with none before she had indulged in holy meditation, and conversed in her closet with God.

Her fidelity, as an adviser.-Though her disposition was unusually mild and unpretending, yet, when occasion required, she was willing to give her friendly counsel to any that were in doubt and perplexity: and when she had reason to fear that any of her friends were in danger of losing the power of religion, or saw that they were evidently neglecting their eternal concerns, her admonitions, which still, however, breathed the genuine spirit of Christian meekness, were uncommonly faithful, pointed, and earnest. From letters which are yet extant, it appears how well she had learned to conceal the “lancet” of reproof in the “sponge” of insinuating and affectionate address.

Her decision of character.-She naturally possessed a mind of superior order; and, during her retirement through affliction, she had cultivated it with care and success, especially with reference to the subjects of religion and Christian morality. Her principles were therefore enlightened and firm ; nor would she on any occasion, notwithstanding her kind and flexible temper, allow herself to depart from what she deemed to be truth in sentiment, or duty in practice. Her decision was not the result of obstinacy, but of conviction; not the wayward ebullition of self-will

, but the homage which she yielded to the requisitions of divine authority.

Her patience in suffering.--Conformity to the will of God was what she constantly sought, and in no ordinary degree, attained. During the severe affliction which terminated in her death, she was not only never heard to complain, but she scarcely ever mentioned her sufferings. “I used to wonder," said she one day to one of her nieces, “ at what is related in the Life of Gre. gory Lopez, that for three years successively, he was constantly praying, “Thy will be done,' and seldom uttered any petition besides. I now, however, perceive and feel the propriety of it.”

“I have lately," says she, in a letter to her sister, Mrs. Brewster, “ had such views of the necessity and good effects of affliction and trials, as have tended to cheer and strengthen my mind, and make me think those happy that endure.' My first desire for my suffering friends is, that they may not be more sensible of the painful, than of the beneficial part of the crucifying process. The former they cannot miss; the latter they may, but need not ; since the hand that afflicts is ready to save. I have thought that the first step toward improving by trials of any kind, is, to examine whether we are willing to bear them just in the way they are sent. If we find we are not, let

[ocr errors]


us not be discouraged or even surprised, (for what good is there in us?) but ask this willingness of him who loves whom he chastens, and can as easily instruct as afflict. Another step toward improvement may be, a determined acknowledgment of the hand of God in affliction. Here is a call for the exercise of our faith. Sense leads us to look at second causes, and at those circumstances which seem to us peculiarly to aggravate our sufferings. It is the work of faith to fix the attention of the mind upon the unseen hand and design. If faith be kept in exercise we shall receive the help we need, and feel the happy as well as the painful effects of our afflictions. If the discouraging thought that these afflictions are the fruits of our own unfaithfulness, folly, or supineness, arise in our minds, still let us not fear, but ask that they may produce in us the disposition we rejoice to see in a child whom we reprove or chasten. Would our heavenly Father afflict if he had no hope of our amendment, or no love toward us? Surely not. The language of affliction is the language of love. Every pain may be considered as a persuasive call to die to self and the world, and to enter more fully into the spiritual life which is “hid with Christ in God.'”

In the unrepining and cheerful submission of Miss S., these views were happily exemplified.

Her particular attention to the motions and suggestions of the Holy Spirit.-Of the communications of divine influence under the Christian dispensation, she entertained exalted views. She loved to consider the Spirit as a comforter and monitor, sealing the disciples of Christ, and dwelling constantly in their hearts; and while she was careful not to "grieve" him, she was specially attentive to the still small voice” of his intimations and directions. She found that the “minding of the Spirit is life and


" The divine light,” says she in another letter, "shines at intervals upon my mind, and I rejoice in its effects; but the brightness of its rays is sometimes obstructed by an intervening cloud of earthly objects, or, perhaps in my present situation, by omitting the exercise of that faith which brings light, power, feeling, and energy into the soul. I want what you recommend, a disposition to apply now for divine aid, influence, and unction. When I have these, I can do and suffer in the spirit of a child, cheerfully and patiently, referring only to the will and glory of my heavenly Father, but when, for want of pointed application, I seem almost destitute of these, my attempts to act and speak, with reference to spiritual things, appear to myself so forced and constrained, that it is labour rather than enjoyment; and I painfully feel the difference between acting from mere knowledge, and acting from love. Yet such are the kindness and condescension of my Divine Master, that I sometimes feel the influence communicated, when I am acting from the former and inferior motive ;-thus are my infirmities helped and my mind encouraged. But were I always ander such a degree of divine influence as I see to be my privilege, I should be more prompt in embracing opportunities to do good, my enjoyment or my abasement in them would be greater, and the effect more powerful; because there would be less of self, and more of the leaven of grace. O how wonderful are the operations of grace upon the mind! How they strip it of all hurtful self-dependance and selfimportance, and yet exalt it to partake of the divine nature !"

Her heavenly-mindedness.- In the midst of her various sufferings, she devoutly aspired after the “divine presence,” to use her own language, “ in a future state of blessedness, where our communications with each other will be free from any mixture of complaint or grief, purely good in their nature, and permanent in their duration.” On this point the following extract from one of her letters may not be inappropriate.

“I have thought lately that the state of public affairs, and the common trials of life, have caused my mind to advert more frequently to eternal things. I think, at least, that the expectation of rest and enjoyment from external objects abates in my mind, but not the conviction that there is a true and satisfying rest to be enjoyed by faith here, which at once gives the soul a foretaste of eternal rest, and a preparation for it. What heaven is, I believe is best understood by the enjoyment of divine love in the heart: but what our measure of happiness will be, when not only the soul is purified, but the body glorified, is, at present, among the things which we see through a glass darkly.' But though the revelation which is given of that happiness is partial, it is ample enough to excite desire and hope in the mind, with love to the author of such a revelation, and of such unspeakable beatitudes. We may attain these blessings; we may fall short of them. Let our privilege and our danger stimulate us to diligence and watchfulness, and to a proper attention to the direction given by our Lord, · Occupy till I come.”

For some years she had been incapable of her former exertions in the more active service of the Lord, and had gradually declined in health : but eight or nine months ago she began to sink rapidly. It was now that her Christian graces seemed to acquire their full maturity. When the writer of this memoir has visited some others in affliction, he has ventured to admonish and teach : when he visited her, he always went to listen and learn ; nor could he, on retiring, avoid indulging the reflection, “I have attempted to preach conformity to the divine will, and attention to the influences of the Spirit; but never did I see them more strikingly exemplified.” One who visited her repeated those lines from Young's “ Last Day :"

“In hopes of glory to be quite involv'd,
To smile at death, to long to be dissolv'd,
From our decays a pleasure to receive.
And kindle into transport at a grave;-
What equals this ?-
Religion ! O thou cherub heavenly bright!
O joys unmix'd! and fathomless delight!

Thou, thou art all !" She desired a copy of them, and more than once remarked, “That is just my experience.” The day on which she died,

« PreviousContinue »