Past and Present
My Spiritual Father


To whom should we apply such an appellation as the one above? To the instrument of our awakening or conversion, or early establishment in the ways of piety? or all these together? Doubtless, he who stands in all the above relations best deserves such a designation. He who has been the instrument of both conviction and conversion, deserves next; while he who only cherished us after our spiritual birth, may be the least entitled to the name; But of the three separately, he who was the one that effectually pointed us to the Lamb of God, in the hour of uncertainty and distress, best deserves the title. Such was the relation to me of the one of whom I am about to write: a person for whom I have always felt a peculiar sort of attachment, which I never felt for another.

The writer had been awakened by reading a religious tract —had resolved On securing salvation—had left off outward sin and forsaken evil company—had commenced using all the means of grace—had joined the church on probation—and had been seeking God with all his heart, “ with strong cries and tears,” but amid many discouragements, doubts and perplexities, for about two months—but, up to the time we are about to mention, had sought in vain. Such was his state of mind, when, on one lovely Sabbath morning, he started for the “ Old Framed Meeting-house,” and took his accustomed seat on one of the forms, pew,s there were none, which ran sideways of the pulpit, on which “ the members of Society ” usually sat—the men on the right hand, the women on the left. By the way, if a member began to sit off those seats, and further down towards the door, he was immediately suspected of a tendency to backslide. He had not long occupied his seat, when, instead of the usual circuit Preacher for the day, Mr. Slater, a stranger entered the house, and went up into the pulpit. He was very peculiar in his appearance. It is true, lie wore the usual summer garb of a Methodist Preacher of that day—a black worsted frock coat, and a broad-leafed grey hat—well worn. He was medium sized, rather stout, but stooped, with a sort of groping manner of walking, occasioned by shortness of sight. His appearance gave him an air of meekness, not without some seeming awkwardness. He was not handsome, haying coarse, lightish hair, not very delicate features, and much freckled withal.

He conducted the service modestly, and with great propriety. He read his hymns with emphasis and solemnity—prayed With feeling and power—and preached a sermon which (all glory to God!) led me to Christ! It was founded on Gal. iii. 13 :— “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us.” It was well arranged, expressed in excellent language, and presented the plan of salvation with a clearness and power such as the writer had never seen or felt before. The whole scheme was- unfolded to his vision ; and he thought if he had had a thousand sinf&l souls, he oould have cast them all on Jesus. He drank in the balmy sound of mercy, and ere he was aware of it, faith had sprung up in his poor, anxious heart, and he “ rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Oh, how happy was that hour! In the evening, the stranger preached from the well-known passage, “ Except ye be converted, and become as little children, &e: :’y in expounding which he described A converted person. The description so exactly tallied with his feelings, that he said, with indescribable satisfaction to himself, “ Now I know I am convertedJ1 He had often sorrowfully sung before that happy moment,

“’Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought,
Do I love the Lord or no,
Am I His, or am I not?’’

But now he knew he was His; and from that glad hour, “went on his way rejoicing.”

The Preacher to whom we have referred was the Rev. Rowley Heyland, still alive, but laid by from the active work by age and infirmity. He was then about twenty-eight years of age. Aside from our affection, for him, because of the gooci he was the means of doing us, we ever had a high opinion of his abilities and excellencies. Nor do we now think it was any higher than his merits deserved. In the palmy days of his earlier ministry, there were few if any, more effective preachers in the Province than he was. Blessed with a clear, strong, musical voice, a sympathetic spirit and fervent piety—with a ready command of good language—and clear views, with a cogent manner of presenting them, he was, if “ eloquence is the power of persuasion,” truly eloquent. This he was, at times especially, when he seemed to possess the divine afflatus, and spake with an unction and power truly remarkable. On some of those occasions, there were bursts of fiery eloquence, attended with “ shocks of power,” as they used to be called, that created marked sensation.

We have often been astonished that he did not occupy more prominent places : and could only account for it on the principle of his modesty and diffidence ; his short-sightedness from the first, and the total loss of one eye, after some years—and his unfortunate committal, at an early period, to some alleged secular entanglements, joined to a little carelessness of his personal appearance—all of which conspired to hold him back from positions, which otherwise he would have occupied with distinction. Hey land never became the man he might have been, in view of his vigorous mind, fair education, and mighty powers of influencing public assemblies. Had he possessed a little more of what is usually called ambition—desire to excel—it would have been better for him and the Church. It would have led him to aspire after higher excellence. As it was, however, that old, farmer-looking man, who now sits in some out-of-the-way place when he conies to Conference, was a host in his day. We remember some of his mighty camp-meeting sermons and exhortations of years long past; and we have in our recollection some later efforts, at missionary meetings, which we could pronounce no other than masterly, in which he “ took the shine” off younger and more aspiring men with the utmost ease.

Retired now from public gaze, we pray that he may be an object of special favour from God, and that the divine u consolations ” may be neither few nor small. We hope he may finally win the well-fought day, and that he may have occasion to rejoice over our unworthy self, among many others, as a “ star in his crown of rejoicing, in the day of the Lord Jesus.”


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