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attempted to cross a mountain torrent when the waters were high, in order to reach a village, where a rich planter was about to breathe his last, and who failed in the attempt and was drowned. Here is another, who fasted all through Lent, and then died of lock-jaw; and one merits particular attention, from having covered the satanic brain of a wealthy planter, who turned a deaf ear to religion all his life; and having no friends to whom to bequeath his wealth, gave the whole to the convent an hour before death, and, so they would have us believe, saved himself from perdition. If you listen to the showman, you may hear hundreds of such histories; “sermons on skulls" being in this case as plentiful as the skulls themselves.
A convent of this kind, which educates a vast number of youth of both sexes, deserves perhaps to be treated with some degree of respect; but in this case we can hardly be so serious as we could wish: for it is pretty well known that this chamber of skulls has been got up as a show; and that instead of depending on the life contingencies of holy fathers, they have obtained the skulls of heretics and strangers, without any regard to the claims of persous to such distinguishment after death. As a collection of relics, therefore, this chamber has but few merits, the skulls being esssentially a collection made at random; but as a wonderful assemblage of such strange objects, and a most wonderful spectacle to the uninitiated, it certainly merits the attention we have bestowed on it.
SKETCH OF A DEVOTED SUNDAY
No. I. Nothing pleases Sunday-school conductors more than to read in our own magazine, of the holy lives and happy deaths of the children committed to their care, those lambs of Christ's flock, whu have been taken away early from the evil to come. Lovely flowers are these, blooming in the garden of our humanity, but
Nipt by the winds unkindly blast,
The momentary glories waste,
The short lived beauties die away. Die, did we say, rather are they transplanted to unfold their beauties and shed their fragrance more fully in the paradise of God.
Whilst these records of "early piety" | are pleasant to the conductor, it must be equally pleasing to the scholar to read some account of the life and death of a conductor, a man whose happiest place on earth was the Sunday-school, and whose chief object of interest there, was the Sunday-school scholar. Such a man, we believe, was James Ashton, conductor of Grosvenor Street Tabernacle Sunday-school, Manchester.
Mr. Ashton's parents were of the Church of England, and his early religious training, was in connection with the same church.
The influence then operating upon his mind does not appear to have been of a very pious nature ; as we find him at the age of eighteen years, joining others of his age in “having some fun,” at the expense of the Methodists, who were preaching in the village. They went one evening for the purpose of changing the hats, or otherwise causing confusion amongst those present, but the word of truth came home to his heart, and the spirit of fun was superseded by the spirit of conviction ; this distress of mind continued for
1 about three months, when he was enabled to rejoice in the possession of pardoning love, whilst publicly wrestling with God, in a prayer meeting held at a neighbour's house.
From what we learn of his early life, previous to con- ! version, he was more thoughtless than vicious—he was fond of practical jokes, and would join any enterprize that promised to yield a fair amount of jocular excitement. He was not left however to the natural frivolity of his own mind. He has been heard to say that he was very early subject to the strivings of God's Holy Spirit. An instance of God's preserving grace towards him, when about twelve years age, no doubt, made a lasting and salutary impression on his mind. With several boys he was playing on the ice of a pond, on Christmas day.
The ice gave way, and six of the boys were drowned, including two of his eldest brothers and a cousin, and he narrowly escaped the same fate.
His attachment to those amongst whom he had received the blessing of pardon, led him to leave the Church of England, and join the Methodists; and he became a member of a class meeting, and also a teacher in the Sabbath-school.
As usual on these occasions of change, he was assailed by all kinds of unpleasant remarks from his former companions, and suffered various modes of persecution from some of his relatives; but strong in religious principle, he stood unshaken by either entreaty or intimidation. His employer threatened to dismiss him, and his nearest relatives joined with his master in endeavouring to loosen his attachment to his new religious principles and associates—but without avail, and finding him firm,
their persecutions were discontinued. He continued to adorn his religious profession by a holy life and conversation ; and in a few years was found worthy to become class leader.
When he was twenty-seven years of age, he came to Manchester, and joined the Methodist Society, in Grosvenor Street Circuit, and connected himself with the Old school in London Road. Mr. John Greenhalgh was the first in Manchester to invite him to a class meeting ; but the one he joined was met by Mr. George Taylor, our late Chapel keeper, and he continued with him in the old body for about eight years. When first he presented himself to Mr. Taylor's class, he was a big strapping young man, and dressed in a great white top coat; and Mr. Taylor wondered what God had sent him ; but when he narrated his experience, they were enabled to rejoice together; and it proved to be one of their happiest meetings. His Leader always found him regular in his attendance; and during a season of severe trial and difficulty, he was as punctual and regular as when in more prosperous circumstances,
In connection with the Old school, at London Road, he sometimes referred to his success in inducing a rough, wicked lad of that neighbourhood to come to school, and who soon became a converted character ; and, stratge to say, was almost immediately cut off. His success with this rough siuner, so immediately previous to his death, he considered a special providence.
He continued with the old connection till the year 1835, when his liberal views of Church Polity led him to join in the agitation which preceded the founding of our Churchthe Wesleyan Methodist Association. It is stated that he was one of a few who engaged the room at the old mill in Zara Street, for the purpose of religious worship in connection with the New body ; which place was afterwards superseded by the present commodious Chapel, in Grosvenor Street. It was in Zara Street that our school found temporary accommodation, after leaving David Street, fron whence they came to the present room.
When London Road district school was built in 1836, be became one of their conductors, and remained with them till the March of 1841, when he joined ours. In connection with his duties as conductor, he also became a class leader, which offices he continued till ill health obliged him to give up.
His illuess commenced about the Whitsuntide of 1850, and, his friends think, wis occasioned by a severe cold which he got whilst with the school at Tintwistle. Whilst the children were in the field a storm came on, and there being no place of shelter, the children were exposed to all its fury. Mr. Ashton having a large waterproof cape or cloak, he spread it out and formed a kind of small tent, and collected as many scholars as possible under it. He soon found, with the breath and steam from the throng of children around him, and under his cloak, that he became as thoroughly saturated with wet as though he had been exposed to the continued rain. The next day, whilst with the scholars at Adlington he was taken so ill as to be obliged to go home. His chest was affected from that time.
His disease was chiefly of the chest, and affected his
breathing and specch, obliging him to relinquish lis class meeting and other night duties; and also his pulpit labours in the school. This was a severe trial, but, he constantly struggled on in hope of soon being able to resume this work, in which he took so much delight.
His illness fluctuated very much ; now and then he was able to attend to business, and his mind would be elated with the hope of speedy recovery, but the next day be would be unable to leave his room. This state of health continued till a few months before his death, when his friends became seriously alarmed; he was, however, full of hope himself, approaching certainty, that he would re.over. Upon this point he was exceedingly anxious; and repeateilly referred to prayers of the Church and school frieuds, in which he had strong unwavering faith. It became almost a passion of the soul that he might be restoreil to his wonted health and strength, not for worldly gain, but to become increasingly useful in the Church and school. On oue occasion, a short time before his death, he exclaimed to the writer, “O low useful I could be te school, if I was only ainongst them again ; aud' I believe I shall be.” This expectation was not an unreasonable one ; for he was only fifty-two years of age, and of a hopeful dispositiou, willing to submit to any treatment so as to recover health. But God in the mysterious arrangements of his providence had ordered it otherwise.
About two mouths before his death, he took a notion, that Southport woull be beneficial; and this journey he took against the advice of his medical adviser. The arst day he reached ibat place, he ventured to the sea-side in a carriace, but the air was ioo strong for him.
He toob fresh cold, and became so ill as to be unable to liave Ais Whilst thus confined his legs began to swell
, giving his friends another indication of his approxching end. In a short time sypipoms of dropsy appeared, and le gradually grew worse.
During the last few days of his stay in Sor,thport, the writer saw him almost daily, being on a visit to the place. His chief conversation on these occasions was