« ZurückWeiter »
serving, however, with pain and sorrow, one of the candidates for ordination in an apparently careless and unconcerned state, he took an opportunity, though the party was not personally known to him, of admonishing him privately on the subject: and in what a strain such a man would speak at such a moment, may more easily be conceived than expressed.--A deep conviction of the necessity of reproving others, and not suffering sin to remain in them, often induced Mr. Martyn to do violence to the retiring tenderness of his disposition. He felt reproof to be "a duty of unlimited extent and almost insuperable difficulty”. but, said he, “the way to know when to address men, and when to abstain, is to love," and he resolved “not to reprove others, except he experienced at the time a peculiar contrition of spirit, where he could conscientiously be silent."
The exercise of his pastoral function Mr. Martyn commenced, as curate to the Rev. C. Simeon, in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Cambridge, undertaking likewise the charge of the parish of Lolworth, a small village at no great distance from the University. There it was, on the Sunday after his ordination, that he preached his first sermon, on the following words: “If a man die shall he live again--all the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come;" Job xiv. 14. At which place, after delivering his second sermon on the succeeding Sunday, an incident occurred on his way home, which is recorded in his Journal, and which could not well be effaced from his remembrance. An old man, who had been one of his auditors, walked by the side of his horse for a considerable time, warning him to reflect, that if any souls perished through his neglect, their blood would be required at his hand. He exhorted him to show his hearers that they were perishing sinners; to be much engaged in secret prayer; and to labour after an entire departure from himself to Christ. “From what he said on the last head (observes Mr. Martyn,) it was clear that I had but little experience ; but I lifted up my heart afterward to the Lord, that I might be fully instructed in righteousness," --So meekly and thankfully did this young minister listen to the affectionate counsel of an old disciple.
On Thursday, Nov. 10, he preached for the first time at Trinity Church to a numerous and earnestly attentive congregation, upon part of that address of Jesus to the Woman of Samaria:- if thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water," John iv. 10: when it was his fervent desire and prayer to enter fully into the solemn spirit of those well-known lines,
“I'd preach as though I ne'er should preach again :
I'd preach as dying unto dying men.”
Nor could words characterize more justly the usual strain of his preaching: for whether the congregation he addressed were great or small, learned and refined, or poor and ignorant, he spake as one who had a mes. sage to them from God, and who was impressed with the consideration, that both he and they must shortly stand before the Judge of quick and dead.,
The burthens and difficulties of his sacred employments lay heavily at first on Mr. Martyn's mind, and considerably depressed his spirits : bút he endeavoured, he writes, in a letter to his earliest friend, to keep in view “the unreasonableness of his discontent (who was a brand plucked out of the fire) and the glorious blessedness of the ministerial work." At times, he confesses, he was tried with a “sinful dislike of his parochial duty”—and seemed frequently “as a stone speaking to stones”-and he laments that “want of private devotional reading and shortness of prayer through incessant sermon-making, had produced much strangeness between God and his soul."__"Every time," he remarked," that I open the Scriptures, my thoughts are about a sermon or exposition, so that even in private I seem to be reading in public." Young
ministers, those especially who are placed in extensive spheres of action, are not ignorant of the temptations of which Mr. Martyn here complains—and to them it must be a consolation to be assured, that the same afflictions were accomplished in one of the most devoted and most faithful of their brethren.
Added to those duties which had now become his peculiar care, and in which, notwithstanding some momentary depressions, he continued steadfast and immoveable, always abounding in his work, an office of another kind devolved on him towards the close of the year 1803--that of one of the public examiners in his college : and if it were too much to say, that an examination in the classics at St. John's has rarely been conducted more to the credit of the societyor to the advantage of the students-or to the honour of the examiner--certainly it would not be declaring too much to aver, that never since the foundation of the College has one been held in a more Christian spirit, and in a more strict accordance with that extensive apostolical injunction-"whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." The vigilance with which Mr. Martyn prepared for this duty, and the humility in which he speaks of himself when engaged in the execution of it, show that bis Christianity was of the highest proof.
5 I read Mitford's History of Greece, as I am to be classical examiner. To keep my thoughts from wandering away to take pleasure in those studies, required more watchfulness and earnestness in prayer than } can account for. But earnest ejaculation was effectual to make me return to the word of God with some de. light. The carnal mind is enmity against Godand so I find it. was forced to reason with myself, and force open my eyes, that I might see the excellency of divine things. Did I delight in reading the retreat of the ten thousand Greeks, and shall not my soul glory in the knowledge of God, who created the Greeks, and the vast countries over which they passed I examined in Butler and in Xenophon ; how much
pride and ostentatious display of learning was visible in my conduct! how that detestable spirit follows me whatever I do."
It was customary with Mr. Martyn, at the commencement of a new year, to take a solemn review of the time past, and to contemplate his future prospects. In the review of his Journal of the year 1303, he judged that he had dedicated too much time to public ministrations, and too little to private communion with God. Yet he trusted that he had grown in grace, inasmuch as the bent of his desires was towards God more than when he first thought of becoming a Missionary. “ In heavenly contemplation and abstraction of mind," he adds, “my attainments have fallen far short of my expectation; but in a sense of my own worthlessness and guilt, and in a consequent subjugation of the will, and in a disposition for labour and active exertion, I am inclined to think myself gaining ground. My soul approves thoroughly the life of God, and my one only desire is to be entirely devoted to him; and O may I live very near to him in the ensuing year, and follow the steps of Christ and his holy saints. I have resigned in profession the riches, the honours, and the comforts of this world; and I think also it is a resignation of the heart." Then, after having set apart a day for fasting and prayer, he besought God “for understanding and strength, to fit him for a long life of warfare and constant self-denial; and that he might see clearly why he was placed here, how short the time was, and how excellent to labour for souls, and, above all, to feel his desert of hell.”—He prayed also for grace, "to enlighten him in the dark seasons of trouble and desponding faith; that he might not shrink from cold, and hunger, and painful labour, but follow the Lamb whithersoever he went." His soul longed for perfection, but he “feared that he had not yet learned the secret of happiness--a poor and a contrite spirit."
In the early part of the year 1804, Mr. Martyn's expectations of becoming a Missionary were considerably damped by the very trying event of his losing all his slender patrimony ; a loss rendered more severe to him by the circumstance of his younger sister being involved in the same calamity. His designs of leaving England were in consequence of this disaster likely to be frustrated : for his pecuniary resources were cut off
, and it appeared to him scarcely justifiable to leave his sister in actual distress, when his presence in England might alleviate or remove it. In order, therefore, that he might consult some of his friends in this emergency. at the end of June he left Cambridge for London.
The situation of a Chaplain to the East India Company had long appeared to many of those who took a lively interest in him and his work, to be peculiarly eligible, as offering singular facilities for Missionary exertions among millions of Idolaters. The pecuniary advantages of the appointment were at first wholly out of their contemplation; and for himself, when it was intimated to him that there was some expectation of his leaving England in the capacity of Chaplain to the East India Company_his private Journal contains this remarkable reflection,-" The prospect of this world's happiness gave me rather pain than pleasure, which convinced me that I had been running away from the world rather than overcoming it.”That unexpected change which had now taken place in Mr. Martyn's circumstances caused an increased anx iety among his friends to procure, if possible, the appointment which before they had deemed so desirable ; and they were not without hopes of seeing the Mission Church at Calcutta placed under his pastoral superintendence. Insuperable obstacles however interfered with this arrangement, and “ a veil was thus cast over his future proceedings."
The patience which Mr. Martyn manifested under this disappointment was as edifying and extraordinary, as the watchfulness which he exercised over his mind during his visit to London, lest scenes so different from those of Cambridge should prove to bim a source of distraction and dissipation. He speaks at this time of returning on one occasion to his room, after having