Page images
PDF
EPUB

position. In 1815, he was ordained to the ministry of a Congregational Church in Sloane Street, Chelsea, but on account of a hyper-Calvinism prevalent among the members, his usefulness was soon marred. He therefore retired from an uncongenial atmosphere, and resolved to establish a congregation in the neighbourhood where he would be less trammelled. His efforts was successful. Trevor Chapel, in which he ministered till his death, was opened in December, 1816. There God prospered him with spiritual fruit. In 1829, he could say of his communicants, that “ full two-thirds of them have been brought to the knowledge of the truth, under my feeble labours.” In 1834, he remarks, that during three and a half years, one hundred and fifty had been received into fellowship, one hundred of whom were the seals of his ministry. There were struggles in the early history of the chapel, the congregation was small, and the income scanty for a minister with a family-Mr. Morison married in 1815. Faithful labour was at length rewarded, and in 1848, besides the support of the ministry among themselves, his people collected nearly £400 for the cause of missions abroad. In 1832, the University of Glasgow gave him the degree of D.D., and an American College conferred on him the degree of LL.D.

Dr. Morison gave much attention to the young of his flock. In 1817, he established Sunday schools, and shortly after, a society for their support. Its efficiency was studiously promoted by him, and he felt intensely desirous to see more conversions as the result of the labours of Christian teachers. He did not think the success equal to reasonable expectation. He had passed some ten thousand scholars through his schools, yet how few joined the Church. He regretted that generally so many of the senior scholars were not preserved to the Church, and wished that members of congregations would watch more anxiously over those who were about to pass from the class into the temptations of the world. Every year he preached an annual sermon to the young, and in the preface to one of these discourses, published in 1842, he could thus write: “The author desires most humbly and devoutly to acknowledge the special tokens of divine favour which have attended his annual sermons to the young. For twenty-six years it has been his unspeakable happiness to find that every successive discourse has been blessed to the conversion of souls.What encouragement was this to effort on behalf of the rising generation! Might not much more be expected if a monthly as well as an annual sermon were preached to the youth of each congregation. “The Spirit of God blesseth the reading, but especially the preaching of the word,” and more conversions might be looked for, were such an effort earnestly put forth by those who are as ministers specially charged to "feed” the “lambs.” This matter is growing in importance, and deserves serious consideration. Dr. Morison took great interest in young men.

Occasionally he addressed them in a special course of lectures, and it was no small success to find on Thursday evenings, when these were delivered, between “four and five hundred full-grown well-dressed young men to hear them.” Candidates for the ministry found in him a con genial friend, and many received great kindness and useful counsel at his hospitable board.

Missions early secured his regard, and, as a director of the London Missionary Society, he evinced peculiar interest in the labours of those who had gone among the heathen to preach “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” He was ever ready to advocate their cause, from the pulpit, the platform, and the press. One of his daughters became, in 1839, the wife of a missionary--the Rev. Dr. Legge, of Hong Kong—and manifested in her devotion and labour how largely she had been imbued with the missionary spirit in her home at Brompton. We had once the pleasure of seeing three of her husband's Chinese converts admitted to the Church by baptism. Dr. Morison entitled to a place among

" eminent evangelists,” by his literary efforts to spread the gospel. The preacher can only reach a limited number. The itinerant can seldom again reach those whom he has once addressed. But the periodical writer can gain the attention of many thousands, and again and again get entrance to their thoughts and feelings. In the calmest moments, and in the solitude of a chamber, the monthly magazine is read; and it can make its appeals directly to the heart and conscience, while it enlightens the mind by more than a passing sound. It can be reperused, and all its subjects leisurely thought over. It was Dr. Morison's high honour to edit the Evangelical Magazine for thirty-two years. For a time he assisted the Rev. George Burder in conducting that valuable periodical, but in 1824 he was appointed editor, and he continued until his death. It stood almost alone for a considerable time; it commanded a catholic sympathy, and had a good circulation. It diffused much gospel truth and missionary intelligence, and was calculated to stimulate thought and call forth activity. Who can tell how extensive and how permanent has been its influence, and how much many thousands throughout a generation may be indebted to the faithful editor. While he stimulated country ministers, like Dr. Hamilton of Strathblane, and refreshed missionaries, like Henry Martyn, he quickened the piety and prompted the liberality of the Christian people who perused it. In an age like the present, when periodical literature is so largely used as the daily sustenance of myriads of minds, there are few positions so influential or so responsible as that of an editor. Dr. Morison fully realized his high office, and fulfilled it to the satisfaction of all concerned. He, received several testimonials from the trustees of the magazine, in token of their gratitude, and continued to be admired by numerous readers. It was not the least of the subsidiary benefits of his labours that, by the profits of the magazine, many a minister's widow's heart has been made to sing for joy. By its portraits of eminent servants of Christ, it also contributed to the family love of the members of Christ.

Several separate works proceeded from Dr. Morison's fertile and busy pen. In 1822 he published a volume of “Lectures on the Reciprocal Obligations of Life; or, a Practical Exposition of Domestic, Ecclesiastical, Patriotic, and Mercantile Duties.” In 1827-32 he produced, an “Exposition of the Book of Psalms, Explanatory, Devotional, and Critical," in three volumes. In 1836 he published a “Book of Family Worship,” which contained prayers for every morning and evening throughout the year, and of which twenty thousand copies have been circulated. This was followed, in 1839, by a history of “The Fathers and Founders of the London Missionary Society.” “Counsels to Young Men on Modern Infidelity," “ Lectures to Young Men,” “Counsels to a Newly-Wedded Pair,” were also published by him. The latter has run through fifty or sixty thousand copies, and is admirably calculated to effect the object designed. By these books Dr. Morison extended his Christian influence and usefulness, and, after he has slept with his fathers, his prayers still rise in many families and his counsels still guide the dearest relationships of life.

The later years of Dr. Morison were shaded by suffering and trial.

His “ friends often wondered how he found time and possessed strength for the amount of work which he accomplished. Now the fact is, strange as the statement may seem, that even his busy brain and industrious hand would have been altogether inadequate to the performance of so much labour but for the necessity imposed upon him by disease! For nearly twenty-five years of his life he was so afflicted by asthma that he was oftener than otherwise compelled to leave his bed by two or three o'clock in the morning; and although refreshed by occasional slumber on his chair, it was no unusual thing for him to have done a hard day's work with his pen before the arrival of the breakfast hour, and at the breakfast table he would appear as fresh and cheerful as if he had only just risen from the enjoyment of unbroken rest.”

His affliction was eminently sanctified. He realized the consolation of Christ and the support of grace. Hence he was able to comfort others in a skilful manner. Bereavements set in upon his family very thickly. In 1827 he lost an infant son. Various sore afflictions followed. In 1836 his son James was removed, but not

« EelmineJätka »