Note to MR. Tiptaft's Sayings
THE late excellent Mr. Tiptaft had such humbling views of himself, that though he feared God above many, living a most godly, self-denying life, yet he was so constantly pressed by fear lest he might not end well his course, that he left scarcely anything behind him wherein to speak when dead; giving as a reason to his friends why he did not write, that should he do so and not finish well his race, what he had written would stand as a lasting condemnation of him. But he has a place in the hearts of thousands in. this land, who were favoured to hear and profit by his ministry. And many now in the presence of God, as well as many still among us, date their effectual calling to the time they first heard him so earnestly appeal to their consciences as to how matters stood between God and their never-dying souls.
Mr. T. frequently preached in market-places, lecture-halls, and barns; and from the fact of having been a clergyman, many flocked to hear him, and not a few who only went from idle curiosity, and even to mock, were savingly convinced a their sin before God. His ministry was signally owned and blessed of God, though empty notional professors of various shades hated it, as well they might, for it was deep, searching, and appealing; condemning all mere notional religion, contending for a heartfelt acquaintance with the truth of God, and insisting on a godly life as the fruit of grace in the soul.
The best proof that a man's ministry is of God, is found in its effect on the souls of his hearers. If it send the hearers home mourning on account of sin, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, searching and examining themselves as to their real state before God, and sincerely longing for communion with the Lord, it evidences that it is from heaven, and that the power of God has accompanied it to the heart. Measured thus, the preaching of Mr. T. gave abundant proof that it was of the Lord.
There was great gravity in Mr. T.'s manner. No one ever heard a light expression escape his lips. He was too deeply impressed with the solemn nature of the work in which he was employed, - ' standing,' as he used to say, between the ever-living God and never-dying souls,' - to set people laughing while speaking to them about their eternal state. He knew that sin, death, and the judgment were solemn realities, not to be trifled with; he felt that they were not subjects for laughing or joking about, and therefore he was earnest, serious, and solemn in addressing his fellow-sinners; he spoke to them as men and women on the brink of eternity, and he himself among them. In truth, he preached and lived as for eternity.
Moreover, so searching were his questions, and so pointed and telling his short, striking sentences, - delivered as they were with intense earnestness and extreme gravity of manner, followed by frequent pauses, in which he appeared wrapt in thought, - that it is scarcely possible to believe that persons not spiritually dead could listen to them without being moved to self-examination. He would often repeat the words of Mr. Hart:
Let us ask the important question,
And in this strain he would proceed, telling some great doctrinal truth, mentioning some sweet gospel promise, coupled with a description of the character to whom it belonged, or insisting on believers being known by their fruits, and then interrogating his hearers as if addressing them individually as to their personal knowledge of and acquaintance with the solemn realities of true religion. The ungodly were warned of their fearful state, living and dying as they were; mere professors were shewn the hollowness of their religion; and the living children of God were faithfully told of their short-comings, and cautioned against worldliness and lukewarmness in profession, in such plain words and such simple but forcible sentences that they were carried home and remembered, when a laboured argument would be forgotten.
It has been well said of the subject of our memoir that he preached with his feet; ' and indeed he did. No man might more justly have used the words of the apostle: Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample ' (Phil. iii. 17). This gave great weight to his ministry and silenced his adversaries, for every one knew that he preached as in the sight of God what he felt the power of in his own soul; and every one knew that he practised what he preached. Though brought up a gentleman, he lived in an humble dwelling and on humble fare. He preached gratuitously, and gave of his substance to the poor; and one of the last acts of his life was characteristic of the man: - A friend hearing that he had got through all his property in doing good to others, sent him a cheque for . Mr. T. refused to accept it, save on the condition that he be allowed to give away one half immediately to the poor; this being conceded, he went to work at once, and quickly disposed of the half; nor was he long in getting rid of the other in the same way; so that when he died he had not a penny to leave behind him. He would often say that he feared to have his portion in this life. Yet though his whole life was spent in doing good to others, though he so denied himself, and though he walked so circumspectly, never was a man more free from boasting, or from casting stones at others. There was not the least tinge of Pharisaic pride about him. A feeling that when he had done all he was an unprofitable servant, evidently pervaded his mind. He used to say that it was better to wear out than to rust out;' and he did wear out in his Lord's service. He used to pray that his last days might be his best days; ' and they were, for his end was perfect peace. He realized that he had that which he had often prayed for: A religion that would do to die by.' He frequently said, It will be a mercy to be well laid in the grave;' and he was well laid in his grave, for neither in the church nor in the world could any be found who could point to one stain on his character as a Christian or a minister.
Though our beloved friend left so little behind him, yet there are treasured up in the memories of those who frequently heard him, numerous sayings that he often used, which, as they now recur to the mind, seem to bring them again into the company of their friend and minister, so that he being dead yet speaketh' to them. It occurred to the writer of this article and to others shortly after the decease of Mr. T., that if these sayings were collected and printed, they would not only be valued by those who knew him as pleasing and profitable reminiscences, but would convey to the minds of others a correct idea of the good man and his ministry, and might, with God's blessing, be made useful to men's souls now their author is dead, as they were while he was living. Originality is not claimed for all these sayings; and among them will be found many portions of Scripture and verses of hymns, which he would frequently quote.