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DELIVERED IN ZION CHAFEL, LONGTON, ON OCCASION OF THE DEATH OF WILLIAM BAILEY, ESQ., OF LIGHTWOOD LODGE, STAFFORDSHIRE POTTERIES.
BY SAMUEL HULME.
"And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years. Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.”—Ğenesis xxv. 7, 8.
ABRAHAM is the most venerable name which occurs in the history of the patriarchal church. He was the father of the Jewish nation, and stands at the head of that dispensation of mercy which travelled through long ages, and culminated in the advent of the Messiah-"the father of circumcision to them, who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being uncircumcised, and the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised." The excellencies of this patriarch grew out of that principle of faith of which he, amongst all the scripture saints, is the most perfect example. Jehovah sealed the genuineness and pre-eminence of his virtues when he referred to him as "Abraham, my friend." The floods of many centuries have swept over the world's history, but the name of Abraham is as fresh in its memory as ever. Many generations have lived and died, but his name is still the talisman of the heavenly pilgrim, who " is looking for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
I love to walk, contemplatively, along the Scripture gallery of portraits, and study the religion of the Bible in these its living examples. That which experiments are to the abstract laws of matter; that which pictures and statues are to the principles and rules of art; the lives of holy men are to the doctrines and precepts of Christianity, -they illustrate them, invest them with life, beauty, and power. On this principle funeral sermons are not only admissible but most useful. "The works of the Lord are marvellous, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein." Men examine the forms of animal and vegetable life, they dig into the bowels of the earth, and climb amongst the
stars to search out these works; and shall we overlook the new moral creation, which is the noblest work of God, and the brightest expres-sion of his character? We not only adore the " power of God by which these spiritual changes are produced, but we would recognize the excellencies which they develope, that we may admire them, and admiring emulate them.
We have selected the text not for formal discussion, nor yet for the purpose of pursuing a comparison in the qualities of their character and the facts of their lives, between Abraham and our departed friend. In the artlessness, uprightness, generosity, piety, and venerableness of both, there was a close resemblance. The circumstances of the two were widely different, and these circumstances necessarily diversified the aspects of their character and history. We are gathered once more around the bier of the departed, to recall the facts of his life, not for the purpose of pronouncing a flashy panegyric—than which nothing could be more repugnant to the wishes of our friend or offensive to the temple and service of Him who abhors a flattering tongue-but to mark the grace of God in him, and to learn those lessons which this providence is calculated to teach, and by which we may be prepared the better to live and to die.
HIS EARLY LIFE.
The providential government of God is special as well as general, and controls not only the affairs of nations but of individuals, not only events which affect the welfare of large masses of men, but those apparently little incidents which make up the history of the everyday-life of the humblest believer. This is the doctrine of the Scriptures. God hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation." "God setteth_the solitary in families." "A man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord_directeth his steps." "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." Events, ofttimes unpremeditated, occur in the lives of individuals, which have so important an influence in the formation of their character and in determining their relation to society, that reason accepts the agency of providence as the only satisfactory solution of the case. Deny that agency and human life becomes little better than a thing of chance, like the feather on the breeze, or the log on the flood. Mr. Bailey was emphatically a child of providence, and how tenderly He, who is the Father of the fatherless, and the Judge of the widow, cared for him, the facts of his life will strikingly demonstrate. Our friend devoutly noted these mercies, referred to them again and again with grateful acknowledgments to Him whose goodness had passed before him all his life long.
Mr. Bailey was born, December, 1767, in the village of Bleak Hill, near Gnosall, Staffordshire. The period of his birth was one of great trouble to his mother, his father having died a short time before that event. She was left a widow at the age of thirty, with the care of three children. By prudent industry she was enabled to provide temporal comforts for her children, and she was not less assiduous in promoting their spiritual welfare. In his tenth year William was bound apprentice to a tailor in Eccleshall. His master was intemperate, and treated him with great cruelty. The privations.