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Wesley summoned him to London, that he might preach to the neglected Irish of that city in their native tongue, for he was yet the only Methodist itinerant who could use it in public. He did so with great effect, not only in the Methodist chapels, but in Moorfields, Short's Gardens, etc. Fourteen sermons a week (two a day) were his constant task, and such was their “demonstration and power” that his biographer says it is scarcely possible to enable a stranger to conceive of the glow of his soul and the energy of his spirit on these occasions; "such a sluice of divine oratory ran through the whole of his language as is rarely to be met with.” Wesley says that "wherever he preached, the word, whether in English or Irish, was sharper than a two-edged sword.” Wesley ascribes to his labors in London and elsewhere a great revival, of which, five years after Walsh's death, he says: "Here I stood and looked back on the late occurrences. Before Mr. Walsh left England God began that great work which has continued ever since without any considerable intermission. During the whole time many have been convinced of sin, many justified, and many backsliders healed.” Nine years did he continue this triumphant ministerial career, and death only could close it.
A posthumous volume of his sermons was published; of course they can give us no adequate idea of the preacher; but they teem with fervid thoughts; they show a thorough knowledge of both the bad and good workings of the conscience; their admonitions are startling, and their consolatary passages might thrill the most despondent heart. Sententious, rapid, and fragrant with a gracious unction, they allow not the reader to pause to criticise their literary execution.
II. Natural talents and extraordinary piety doubtless conduced much to his great success as a preacher, but with these were combined the most laborious habits of study-study in reference to his great work of preaching. Believing Methodism to be a reproduction of true Biblical religion, he considered the critical knowledge of holy Scripture one of the highest qualifications for his work. He consecrated himself, therefore, to this department of ministerial preparation, and persevered in it to the end with an ardor which no mere love of knowledge could have inspired. Besides the Irish, English, and Latin tongues, he became more familiar, perhaps, with Greek and Hebrew than any man of his day, especially with their Scriptural use. We have already given Wesley's assertion that he could tell how often, where, and with what significance any Greek or Hebrew term occurred in the sacred volume, and that such a master of Biblical knowledge “he never saw before and never expected to meet again.” While in London he used to meet with the Jews at their synagogues, and his familiarity with their original language enabled him to confound them by their own Scriptures. Wesley inserts in his Journal (January, 1756) a Biblical argument from Walsh on the deity of Christ; it is not a page long, but it is "mighty in the Scriptures." In a letter to a clergyman of the Establishment, he mentions, as a guarantee for a criticism on a certain Socinian work, that he had read the book over with “ Thomas Walsh, the best Hebrean I ever knew; I never asked him the meaning of a Hebrew word but he would immediately tell me how often it occurred in the Bible, and what it meant in each place.”
Study was a religious devotion with Walsh. The Hebrew was his delight. “O truly laudable and worthy study!” he exclaims; “O industry beyond all praise! whereby a man is enabled in the same language knowingly to converse with God, with holy angels, with patriarchs, and with prophets, and clearly to unfold to men the mind of God from the language of God.” His biographer says: “His application was indeed prodigious. I have known him spend fourteen hours of the four and twenty in this study, excepting only the intervals of prayer. He often intermixed a verse of praise or petition; and then, turning his face to the wall, and lifting up his heart and countenance to heaven, with his arms clasped about his breast, he would stand for some time before the Lord in solemn recollection, and then return to his work.” “It was a rare thing ever to see him but with a book in his hand, or speaking of the things of God. When in traveling he at any time stopped at an inn, as soon as he was shown to his chamber, to stay, whether for an hour or a night, he would take out his little Hebrew Psalter, or some other spiritual book, and fall immediately to his usual work, unless the time was otherwise taken up in exhorting the landlord, or servants, or, in short, any he met with. Accommodations for his body were his smallest care; and his attention to these was always, as it were, by the by. He seemed everywhere, and yet nowhere, at home in this world. He pursued his work well nigh equally at all times and in all places, unless when sickness prevented, and seemed spontaneously to tend to God. Even after preaching sometimes near an hour and a half together, he has immediately resumed his studies, (having books always with him,) and this often where seyeral persons have been talking, or otherwise employed, as their occasions required, round about him; he still pursuing his work, as though he were retired in a closet; proceeding on the sentiment that he had no other business in this world than to pray, and preach, and study, and live in every place, and in everything, for God!"
A living concordance of the Bible, he exclaims with rapture, “Thy word, O Lord, I have for my inheritance forever! It is the joy of my heart, and of more value to me than millions of worlds,” and, with such a love and knowledge of divine truth, we may well credit his biographer when he says: “The Spirit of wisdom so rested upon him, that there was nothing of a divine nature which occurred to his own mind, or was proposed to him by others, respecting doctrines, experience, or practice, of which he could not speak with convincing clearness. He had a singular faculty for throwing light upon doubtful cases : and it was not unusual with him, by speaking two or three words, to set right, and entirely quiet the minds of persons perplexed before about points of doctrine or experience.”
III. The personal character of Walsh as a Christian man was the basis of all his other excellence. He never would have preached, traveled, and suffered as he did in his ministry, were it not for the sanctity, the flaming piety of his great soul. Southey's cold criticism on Methodist zeal warms into a glow of admiration as he writes of Walsh. “The life of Thomas Walsh,” he says, "might indeed almost convince a Catholic that saints are to be found in other communions as well as in the Church of Rome.” “In reading the brief record of his life," says the “History of Methodism," "we seem to have before us a combination and impersonation of the Hebraic grandeur of the old prophets, the mystic piety of the papal saints, and the Scriptural intelligence and purity of Protestantism.” He read upon his knees the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures; in great cities he walked the streets as if his thoughts were in heaven, and as unobservant of surrounding objects as if he were in the solitude of great forests. A moral sublimity seemed to envelop him, and he is described as appearing like a "man from the invisible world,” as one of the holy and happy dead, who had returned to converse with devout men.
"Thou knowest my desire,” he wrote; “ thou knowest there has never been a saint upon earth whom I do not desire to resemble, in doing and suffering thy whole will. I would walk with thee, my God, as Enoch did. I would follow thee to a land unknown, as Abraham did. I would renounce all for thee, as did Moses and Paul. I would, as did Stephen, seal thy truth with my blood !” Prostrate upon his face, kneeling, standing, walking, eating - in every posture, and in every place and condition, he was a man mighty in prayer. “In sleep itself, to my certain knowledge,” says one of his associates, “his soul went out (Cant. v, 2) in groans, and sighs, and tears to God. His heart having attained such a habit of tendency to its Lord, could only give over when it ceased to beat.” He is represented as sometimes lost in mental absence on his knees, with his face heavenward, and arms clasped upon his breast, in such composure that scarcely could one hear him so much as breathe; as absorbed in God, and enjoying a calmness and transport which could not be expressed; while from the serenity, and something resembling splendor which appeared on his countenance, and in all his gestures afterward, one might easily discover that he had been on the Mount of Communion, and had descended, like Moses, with the divine glory on his brow. His public prayers were attended with such ardor, pertinence, and faith, that it appeared, says his biographer, "as though the heavens were burst open, and God himself appeared in the congregation.”
He was sometimes rapt away, as from earth, in his devotions, being quite lost to himself, and insensible of everything around him, absorbed in the visions of God; and in these profound and solemn frames of mind he has remained for hours, still and motionless as & statue.
Such was Thomas Walsh. He died in 1758, in Ireland, whither he had gone for the improvement of his health. Wesley met him in Limerick, “just alive!” “O what a man,” he writes, “to be snatched away in the strength of his years ! Surely Thy judgments are a great deep!” His death presented an extraordinary and an instructive lesson. For weeks his soul was obscured with darkness; he desponded even of his salvation. The painful mystery spread a sensation of interest and awe throughout the Methodist communities of not only Ireland, but England, and public prayers were offered for him in the chapels of Dublin and London. He was doubtless suffering under the effects of disease on the nervous system; but good men did not then understand such phenomena as we do, with our more advanced science. “His great soul,” says his biographer, "lay thus, as it were, in ruins. for some considerable time, and poured out many a heavy groan and speechless tear from an oppressed heart and dying body. He sadly bewailed the absence of Him whose wonted presence had so often given him the victory over the manifold contradictions and troubles which he endured for his name's sake.”
But God takes care of his own "dear children,” and this his beloved and faithful servant was crowned with final and everlasting deliverance. Some Christian friends were praying about his dying bed. He requested them to retire and leave him alone, for a season of selfrecollection and prayer. When they returned he exclaimed: "He is come! he is come! my beloved is mine, and I am his !” and died.
FOURTH SERIES, VOL. XI.- 8
ART. VIII.—EXPOSITION OF THE SECOND PSALM.
§ 1. General Remarks—Contents. "ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God," said the Apostle Paul to Timothy; and this declaration had respect to the Old Testament, inasmuch as the New Testament Scriptures were not yet published. The second psalm, therefore, as a part of this Scripture, we take to be inspired of God; we take it as inspired in its thoughts, and inspired in its words, and that David is simply the intelligent amanuensis.
Aside from this fact, this psalm has an additional interest, from its being a prophetic song, and being in fact a compend of the Gospel history from its commencement in the world down to the judgmentday. By a few strokes of the Divine pencil the whole Gospel picture, in its great outlines, is here portrayed. The opposition of heathenism and its princes; the raging of the wicked like the foaming sea ; Jehovah sitting in the heavens and holding them in derision, and rebuking them in his wrath; the Gospel established; the Son having the heathen for his inheritance; the sudden destruction of his enemies, and the blessedness of his people.
Such is the substance of this psalm, being full of the fatness and marrow of the Gospel, though first sung under the twilight of the Law, a thousand years before the Saviour's advent.
§ 2. Who was its Author ? That David, under Divine inspiration, was its author, there can be no doubt, though there is no superscription, as is usually the case in the other psalms. The testimony of the apostles is explicit as to this point, as recorded in Acts iv, 25: “And when they (the apostles] heard that, the testimony of Peter and John in regard to the healing of the lame man,] they lifted up their voice with one accord and said: Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; who, by the mouth of thy servant David, hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things ?” God, then, uttered this psalm by the mouth of his servant David.