« PreviousContinue »
FOR JULY, 1852.
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. D. W. ASTON,
FORTY-SEVEN YEARS PASTOR OF THE CHURCH ASSEMBLING IN THE NEW
“ Precious in the sight of the Lord", and Dr. Butler, late Bishop of Lichare the lives and deaths of “his saints.” field and Coventry. The last men. The world often treats both with indif- tioned was his chief companion, and ference or scorn ; but the blessed God for whom he long entertained an ardent observes them with condescending at affection. Mr. Aston's parents were tention, and affectionate regard. “He strongly attached to the Established keeps their feet;" he "fixes the bounds Church, and as strongly opposed to all of their habitation;" he "chooses their Dissentients. They were strictly moral, inheritance;" he “supplies all their and diligently observed the outward need;" and graciously appoints the forms of religion ; but they were ignotime, the place, and the manner in which rant of its saving power. The sound they shall be gathered to their rest and of "the glorious gospel” was not heard their reward. The subject of this sketch by him until he had reached his sixwas one of the Lord's "saints;" and, teenth year, when it pleased God, in as his life was useful, and his death in his providence, to remove his parents structive, so is his “memory blessed." with their family to another village in The Rev. D. W. Aston was descended the same county, about fourteen miles from a respectable family in Warwick- distant. Here he was taken, by a pious shire. His ancestors, through several grandmother who came to reside with generations, were of the class of sub-them at that time, to a cottage, where stantial yeomen, and cultivated their he heard, from the lips of a plain and own estates. He was born in the year faithful preacher, truths to which he 1773, in the far-famed village of Kenil- had hitherto been a stranger. “ This worth. When six years of age, he was was the period,” to use his own words, sent to the Free Grammar School,“ in which light began to dawn on my where he was associated with some mind.” That precious “ light” proved youths who afterwards rose to the to be from heaven, and “increased highest ecclesiastical honours, among more and more until the perfect day." whom were the present Archbishop of Feeling a strong attachment to the Canterbury, the Bishop of Winchester, forms of worship in which he had been
brought up, it was a long time before rence. After two years' application to he could bring his mind to unite with the classics and theology, in which he any body of Christians out of the pale made good progress, he was introduced of the Establishment; and it was only to the work of the ministry among the by slow and almost imperceptible de Congregationalists, whose doctrines and grees, that he was led to separate him- discipline he regarded as more accordself from her communion. Being ant with the New Testament than those brought to love the Saviour himself, he of the Denominations with whom he soon felt a benevolent and ardent desire had hitherto associated. His first place to make his grace known to others. of settlement was Stratford-on-Avon, After the lapse of a few years this de- where he was ordained, and continued sire was gratified. By a singular train to minister during two years," the of circumstances, which need not be Lord giving testimony to the word of related here, and while occupying an his grace," by attracting many to lisimportant situation on the estates of a ten, and to believe. It is interesting to distinguished nobleman, in one of the record, that during his stay here, he midland counties, he was induced by was instrumental in the conversion of some pious friends to commence preach his own mother, and the lady who aftering the gospel in the benighted villages wards became his wife. His second around, in connexion with the Wes- and last sphere of pastoral labour wus leyan Methodists. His first effort was Buckingham. His union with the peoowned of God in the conversion of one ple in that town was attended with who afterwards lived to “adorn the blessed results. Previous to his acceptdoctrine of God our Saviour.” He was
ance of the charge, it was with the encouraged to proceed; many souls Church "a day of small things;” but were awakened under his ministry, and in reference to him was that encouraging "much people added to the Lord." His word exemplified, -" Though thy bezealous efforts roused the opposition of ginning was small, yet thy latter end the neighbouring clergy; and he soon shall greatly increase.” Most assidufound, that he must either desist from ously did he plant and water the portion preaching, or resign his situation. He of the vineyard committed to his care, preferred, however, the service and “re- and with much success. Numbers are proach of Christ," and devoted him now before the Throne of God, and self entirely to ministerial work; and, many are on their way to “the kingat the urgent request of thsoe who dom,” who have ascribed their spiritual had derived profit from his labours, he change to his earnest and affectionate continued among them two years. A ministrations. He did not confine his great revival of religion was produced cares and labours within the circle of in that part of the country, as the re- his own pastorate. Treading in the sult, under God, of his self-denying steps of his Divine Master," he went exertions. In his Diary are related about doing good." The surrounding many remarkable facts of powerful im- | towns and villages, many of which were pressions and awakenings, similar to sunk in “great darkness,” shared in those recorded in the lives of Whitfield his benevolent regard. Nor did he fail and Wesley. At the close of his en- in his efforts. “ The wilderness and gagement with the Wesleyans, with solitary place was made glad for him, whom he was never formally united, he and the desert blossomed as the rose." was introduced to the Rev. J. Moody, He was one of the founders of the North of Warwick, who kindly assisted him Bucks Association, and was its able in his studies for the ministry, and and devoted Secretary from its comwhom he ever regarded with filial reve- mencement till nearly the close of his
public life. It was his happiness to | made frequent visits. And never had live to see a great improvement in the children a more tender and affectionate moral and spiritual aspect of the town parent. They encouraged the hope and county in which his lot was cast. that he would yet “ see many days," and He lived not in vain. Seldom did he live to bless them and theirs by his preach from home, but he heard, after- holy example and fervent intercessions wards, of good having been accom with God. But it was the will of our plished by his labours.* His spirit was heavenly Father to permit them to eminently catholic. He was a lover of " rejoice in his light,” and to be indulged good men, wherever he met them, and with his society, only for a few months. some of his most ardently attached His fine constitution gave way—“the friends were found in other sections of keepers of the house trembled; and the the Christian Church. Those who strong man bowed himself.” It was knew him best were ready to confess only, however, within six weeks of his that“ he was a good man, and full of decease, that fears were entertained by the Holy Ghost.” He was mighty" his family that the precious treasure, in the Scriptures, and in prayer. which they had fondly called
But "man goeth forth unto his work own," was about to be recalled. After and to his labour until the evening." the first attack, hopes were en
encouraged It was thus with our beloved father. that he would be restored; but his own He had toiled through a long day, and impressions were, that he was soon to now the shadows of the evening set in leave us, and go to his “ Father's upon him. As he was never an idler, house." He himself heard the voice, so he was resolved, when his work was “Arise and depart, this is not your done, (to be no hinderer in the field. rest.” Nor did he murmur at the His infirmities increasing upon him, heavenly calling. The dear old man he resigned his charge at Buckingham "embraced the promises,", and girded early in the year 1850, having faithfully his loins for the journey. The constant performed its duties for the lengthened uneasiness and difficulty of breathing, period of forty-seven years. He could which his malady created, deprived him say to those for whom he had so long of sleep, and thus imposed on those who watched and prayed, and wept and la. loved him, the enviable task of watchboured, “I take you to record this | ing him night and day. And truly day, that I am pure from the blood of blessed were the hours which they spent all men, for I have not shunned to with him in his chamber. It was, indeliver unto you all the counsel of deed, a "privileged" place; it was God."
good to be there; it was felt to be It was Mr. Aston's earnest desire to
quite on the verge of heaven." The spend the remaining days of his pil-death-scene was patriarchal. Never grimage among his children, residing will it be forgotten by his children in the town of Hull, where he had and grandchildren, who were suddenly
* He was seldom in bed after five o'clock, called together, when he thus addressed till his infirmities prevented, and for more them : “I charge you all to meet me than forty years he read a chapter in his at the right hand of Christ.” On anHebrew Bible every morning before breakfast, other occasion, he said: “I have never thus presenting an example of diligence bowed my knees before the God of heaworthy of imitation. His punctuality was remarkable. He waited not for the arrival ven, but I have remembered every one of the careless worshipper. He was never of you.” “I know who is the widow's known to be one minute behind the appointed God, and the Father of the fatherless, time in the pulpit, except from illness, and was never too late in any engagement, if it and I commit you to his hands." " The depended on himself.
peace and love of God be with you all.”
When his weeping family stood round
“ He will come and meet me on the his bed, expecting every moment would other side Jordan; and then we will prove his last, he kindly said: “Don't sing together more sweet, more loud. distress yourselves, my dears; you know How small a portion of the mysteries into whose hands you commit your of Godliness can we set forth in adefriend and your father.” Then raising | quate terms? And how do we sink in his eyes toward heaven, he prayed audi- the sublimity of the theme? How does bly: "O, Thou who hast been their the most grasping mind sink beneath father's God, be their God, and help the wondrous theme? Sing unto the them to say, Thou shalt be our God, Lord a new song! Make his praise even as Thou hast been our father's glorious! Till we shall praise thee as God! They can say it with satisfac- we would, accept our heart's desire. tion.” To three of his grandsons he This should be our daily work, – to turned and said : “My dear boys, will learn to praise God, and to be sowing you not say, 'O God, Thou art the God the seeds of it. Make his praise glorious ! of my youth?'” During the greater I am waiting to put off this garment of portion of the last four days of his ill- mortality, and to praise him as I would. ness, the mind of our venerable parent I know whom I have believed, and that seemed entirely abstracted from the he is able to save me. He is all my scenes around him. He appeared, ovi- salvation, and all my desire; and I dently, as if engaged in bis much-loved want no more, no more! I rejoice in exercise of preaching, and in administer
Christ Jesus. I rejoice in hope of the ing the ordinance of the Holy Supper. glory of God." In this rapturous strain He would dwell for an hour, and some
he would continue for many hours totimes longer, on one topic, with an in- gether, till he was completely exhausted, tensity of feeling and manner which and nature seemed ready to expire. surprised all who witnessed him. The Amidst all his afflictions, he did not following were some of the themes :- forget his late charge at Buckingham “Rejoicing in hope of the glory of Their spiritual welfare lay near his God.”—“Just and true are thy ways," heart. He was heard to say, in the &c.-" The mercy of God.”—“They language of the beloved disciple, have washed their robes,” &c.— The Having loved his own, which were love of Christ.” From the difficulty
in the world, he loved them to the end ;' which he experienced in breathing, we then, why should not I? I do love could only catch a few distinct sen
them to the end. Give my dying love tences, and these were sometimes ex- to my poor people, and tell them, I love ceedingly beautiful and appropriate.
them still. Not in the same sense that “The love of God,” he exclaimed, “O
Christ called them his own, can I call the love of God in Crist Jesus! The them my own, but they are mine from exhibition of that love! The embodi.
choice. The same disinterested love ment of that love---CARIST! ( the which led me to take charge of them, weight of the love of Christ! Tell me, leads me to love them still : my conmy dear children, how I can support science bears me witness, that I am the weight of the love of Christ which clear of their blood, and that disinI now feel? It overwhelms me. How terested motives actuated me throughcan I sustain it?” Then he repeated out, and the same love lasts to the end. the lines of Wesley,
There are many things for wbich to be
humbled; many things to reject; many “ Happy, if with my latest breath, I may but gasp his name;
things to be thankful for; but as Christ Preach him to all, and cry in death,
loved his own to the end, so do I." Behold, behold the Lamb!”
He was asked, on one occasion, " Are
you in pain?" “Oh no!" he quickly replied, in the memorable words of replied, “I am in perfect peace. Thou Baxter, when dying : " Almost well : wilt keep him in peace, peace,' (for so it almost at home.” The last words which is in the original Hebrew)‘whose mind he was heard to utter distinctly were : is stayed on thee. I am waiting to “Come, Lord Jesus; come quickly: see the full manifestation of the full why are thy chariot wheels so long in glory of God. No clouds—no doubts. coming ?" This event occurred JanuHow delightful the change! He will ary 9th. He was in his seventy-ninth change this vile body,” &c. One of his year. Thus another shock of corn, fully children said to him: “The upper ripe, has been carried to the barn-floor; world is opening before you? Heaven another jewel from earth set in the is before you ?” His answer was: “It mediatorial crown; another Elijah asis, it is; I have trusted all in his in- cended to heaven. “My father! my flexible hand. He is all my salvation, father! The chariots of Israel, and the and all my desire. “Lord, now lettest horsemen thereof!” Let a double porthou thy servant depart in peace.' tion of thy Spirit rest on us, who yet &c. During one night, between the toil below! His remains were interred hours of one and two, he requested us in the beautiful grounds of the Hull to unite with him in singing. He General Cemetery Company. Many chose the 17th Psalm, and the two last devout men carried him to his grave. verses:
Six of his ministerial brethren, who "O glorious hour! O blest abode!
knew him and loved him, held the pall. I shall be near, and like my God,” &c. The Rev. T. Stratten, in an impressive We made the attempt as well as our
and affectionate discourse, improved feelings and tears would allow. His the event before a large and deeplylips trembled at first, but in the last affected audience in Salem Chapel, line,—"The sacred pleasures of my where, for several months, he had atsoul,”—his fine deep voice swelled out tended on the ministry of his son-inthe bass notes of the tune so strongly law. The passage was one chosen by that we were completely overpowered, himself; expressing his own simple and could not proceed to the remaining reliance, and the grand theme of his verse. It may be truly said, our be ministry during an unusually lengthened loved parent did “not see death." His period,—"I know whom I have beend was a "departure," and he longed lieved,” &c. Honoured is the denomito be gone.
He asked his children nation in having such a faithful minisonce or twice: “ Can this be dying ?” ter; and happy are the children to We inquired if he were not uncom- have such a father; and whom, in all fortable? He replied: “Oh no! how the essential features of his character, can it be uncomfortable when Jesus is it shall be our humble ambition to folhere? He makes my bed, and gives low, though conscious it must ever be me sleep." “ His presence, then, makes with unequal steps. your head easy?” “It does; it does. O
JAMES SIBREE. the love of Jesus!" When one of his sons-in-law asked him how he was, he Lister-street, Huli.