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THE

EVANGELICAL MAGAZINE,

DECEMBER, 1805.

M EMOIR

Op

THE LATE MR. JOHN WHITTENBURY,

OF MANCHESTER.

To praise1 the dead, whose lives have been unholy, is a very common and dangerous sin. How often are they, who have lived and died enemies to God, extolled as the virtuous and pious! Sucli false encomiums tend much to delude the ignorant; and they who pass them, act a more uncharitable part than even the lost spirits in Hell: for Dives would gladly have sent a messenger to warn his brethren. But to record the excellencies of eminent saints, whose deaths are precious in the sight of the Lord, is a duty. Their memory is blessed. To grace alone all their real worth was owing; and grace is honoured in recording their excellencies. Of this latter character was the subject of the following Memoir.

He was born in the year 1742, of pious parents, who brought him up in the " nurture and admonition of the Lord." In the sixteenth year of his age, soon after the death of his father, he came to London to be an apprentice. Although the religious principle* in which he bad been instructed, had not hitherto been effectual to his conversion, yet they proved very useful in restraining him from many sinful practices, and preserving him from the influence of error. This powerfully recommends the furnishing young minds with evangelical sentiments: for being taken to a place of worship where the gospel was not preached, he said, " This preaching is not sucli as I have been used to hear: it will not suit me." He was advised by a friend to hear Mr. Hitchin, minister of White Row Meeting. Thither he went; and there the Lord met him in mercy. In one of his papers, containing an account of his conversion, he thus writes : — "The place was crowded; and I was forced to stand upon the head of the gallery-stairs. I was first struck •with Mr. Hilchin's portly appearance; then the thunder of liis voice, the solemnity of his prayer, the liveliness ofjiis de

XIII. "3 X

liverv, and the energy or his expressions, thrilled through all nay soul. He prayed, and I wept: he preached, and I cried for mercy." Air. Whittcnbury continued a long time in a stale ot distress, bordering almost on despair. He haddieadi'ul apprehensions of a judgment to eouie ,• and he has said, that the least noise sometimes made him tremble, and look round, fearing that Satan- was coming to seize him. At this time he was awfully teirrtcd to cherish Atheism in his heart: his sins, w hich had appeared dead, revived, and struggled with ten-fold vigor: he summoned every excuse which he could plead, for their indulgence: he was afraid of reading his Bible, lest he should find his favourite carnal pleasures'condemned by the word of God: he prayed that he might forsake every sin; but, with the famous St. Augustine, it was with this secret reserve, " Lord, not yet." He was greatly perplexed about the doctrine of Election. Being naturally very shy, he could not open his case to every one. To use his own words: "Like a lonely dove, in silent grief he bewailed his depravity and wretchedness." This shews the importance of persons under convictions.of sin, disclosing their feeling to somejudiciotis Christian fiiend. However, the Lord at length shone into his mind, and he was enabled to believe the gospel-testimony. He found, that faith in a crucified Saviour mortified those corruptions, which neither vows, repentance, nor his own strength could subdue. He saw that salvation was entirely of sovereign grace, which, traced up to its source, was no other than eternal electing love. After the death of Mr. Hitchin, lie sat under the ministry of Mr. Rotnaine, whose public and private instructions were greatly blessed in confirming Mr. \Y hittenbury in the faith of Christ.

In the year 1778, he removed to Manchester, where hecontinued lib his death. lie carefully observed the apostle's direction: "iNot slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." He was a striking proof, that a person may use the world, and n,ot (dime it; may be assiduous in his temporal concerns, and yet pay supreme regard to his immortal interests. For though Mr. V'< hittenbury was very extensively engaged hi commercial affairs, yet he generally devoted'Vhree or four hours every day to reading. He was, therefore, very frugal of time. His favourite authors were the most celebrated of the Puritans and Nonconformists. Possessing an enlarged capacity and a retentive memory, he became skilful in the word of righteousness. Tor many years past, he had been accustomed to wiite skeletons of sermons, on which he enlarged on Lord's Dav evenings, in his numerous family. Being mighty in the Scriptures, and having considerable power ot language at command, on these occasions he was very edifying. Indeed, a day seldom passed on which he did uot compose some pious meditations: a specimen of this sort is the following, called "A Saturday Evening's Meditation," from Amos iv. VI, " Prepare to uutet thy God."

"Awful thought! awakening call! — to meet thy God I Where? when? and how? To meet thy God! Who speaks? Art thou conscious he sees thee, knows thy ways, and notices tliv designs? And dost thou listen to his call? ? — calls of his word, cails of his rod, calls or his providence, by which he repeatedly, yea, continually, says, " Where arc; thou? Behold, I come quickly!" .-••>.'

"Now I coine in mine ordinances to refresh thy soul, to heir tlryfrayers, to accept thy praises, and to smell the fragr incy ot my O'Vii "races in believing exercise within thy-breast. These are the* pleasant trims {'' delight to find flourishing in those who are planted in my hoiuc; :md I will meet thee there.

"The day which I have consecrated for thy reft is at hand ; — tlie day on which I rose from the ton.h, the Conqueror of Death and Hell foryoa; —the day on which 1 made my-elf known to my first disciples, to their exceedingjoy ; —the day on which my people now meet to contemplate my works, and commemorate my love. Wilt thou ne-lcct to prepare thyself for these enjoyments? When I knock, must I wait for admittance until my locks be filled with dew, because thou art too lukewarm to rise and let me in? Must worldly cares, with which the temple of thy heart has been defiled, still occupy my throne, and their foul stains remain unwashed by blood divine, by secret prayer, and pious meditation? Are these the returns of my love to th'ee, thus to make me serve with thy sins? Thou wilt outwardly adorn tliy body, to appear decent with thy fellowworshippers to-morrow ; — and must my temple remain a den of thieves, filled with buyers and sellers, or more filthy guests? Retire, retire.

"Seek the purifying influences of my Spirit; —entreat his enlivening and enlightening rays; — plead lo enjoy that liberty of access to thy Fathcs, which he only can give ; — request him to shew thee my giory, and communicate to thee a fresh taste of my love. Oh, ask him to unloose thy bonds, to enlarge thy heart, to assist thee to ascend the Mount of Communion, that thou mayest, in liv ly faith, get near to me, and with holy boldness in my name, cry Abba Fa-iif r I

•* Have I not presented thee before him without spot, and caused thee to triumph in my righteousness? Hast thou not known the imspeakable sweetness of sitting at my feet, and receiving the law at my mouth as a law of love, when I have :i I litted thee into my banqiieiing-h.-i.s'. and eaused thee to cry out, My Lord and my God? Aiu: wilt thou >:oi prepare thyself for the renewal of these enjoyments, which are fou-iastes of the pleasures at my right hand for evermoie? Have I promised, in vain and for nought, that they who seek shill hud —a id that I will come in and sup with him who hearrth and attcndctli to mv voice, and openeth unto me? Trust, and put honour upon my tuithtulnrss. No* 1 st.ind at the door, anrfknock again. What says thy shwsTi.li soul?

"Lord, I obey thy call. I would prepare thee room: 1 vould gladly entertain ihee! A«ake.O north wind, and come thou south! blow upon my garden, that the '->ices thereof inayflowo.it; let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleas.nt fruits. I long to meet thee in thine earthly temple, to see thy glory, and feel the power ot thy love as in days past! Oh, my soul, prepare him room 1 Bid hint welcome. Entreat liiin to draw near, to unveil his beauties, to let thee gaze upon his lovely face, to view the love-prints in his hands and pierced side; from whence flows that precious blood, the price of thy redemption, — that blood divine, on which he calls thee to exercise thy faith whenever thou comest to hi* church, — that mount Zion which he loves, that mountain-of

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