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“N.B.—I have an eye to our improvement in those branches of knowledge only, which will render us capable of greater usefulness as Methodist Preachers.”
June 11, Mr. E. writes :—“The following means I see to be absolutely necessary to my prosperity in the divine life, and my improvement in every useful gift. Therefore I will note them down, and endeavour to act agreeably to them. 1. Rise early, and take much pains to get my heart into a good frame. 2. Spend the morning hours till breakfast, in reading the holy Scriptures, meditation, and prayer. 3. Retire for secret prayer, if possible, at ten, three, and six o'clock every day, and engage in that important duty at other opportunities as they occur. 4. Spend all the forenoon, (when travelling and other unavoidable circumstances hinder not) in reading, study, &c. 5. In the afternoon, spend some time every day in visiting the people, sick or well. 6. When I am in company, be sparing of my words, and always endeavour to converse profitably, judging the time lost, if I do not either teach or learn something good. Never speak to the disadvantage of any one, unless in cases of necessity, where duty and the public good require it. 7. When I am riding, walking, or siting alone, endeavour to employ my thoughts profitably. 8. Never be unemployed — triflingly employed-or while away time.
“O my God, who searchest the heart, thou knowest that I fully purpose to regulate my future conduct by these and other rules consistent with thy word. O do thou help me. I have had sufficient proof, thou knowest, of my own weakness and instability. O 'stablish, strengthen, settle me. My time is wasting; my life is short and uncertain. O help me to redeem the time; to live for eternity; to get and do much good. And may I hear thee at last say, “Well done.' Amen and Amen.
“Wed. 15.—This forenoon, I was in an agony of distress, arising from a view of my unprofitableness. I fell prostrate on the floor, and earnestly begged of God to shew me the very worst of myself. I saw so much of myself as almost overwhelmed me; yet had no fear of punishment, no apprehension of the divine displeasure.
My own unprofitableness is my burden. O God, deliver me from
my sinful self. After I arose from my knees, my mind was calmly staid upon God. I felt a good degree of encouragement. My desire and prayer, in my distress, was not for comfort, but for power to love and serve him with all my heart. I thought I could be perfectly content to be dark and uncomfortable, if I might only feel the constant power to do his will on earth as angels do it in heaven. Lord, help me."
The present chapter will be concluded with two extracts from letters to the writer of this Memoir, relating to this period. The first is from the late Rev. C. Gloyne,
my father's colleagues, and an inmate in his house during the year we have just been reviewing. It will shew the estimation in which his character and ministry were held by one who had the best opportunity of judging of both, at the time when he expressed so much dissatisfaction with himself, and was occasionally subject to great discouragement on account of his unprofitableness.
“ It was my privilege to be an inmate with
dear father: a happier year I never enjoyed. He did every thing he could for my improvement in piety and the work of the ministry. The house we lived in, joined the chapel : there we met for reading the Scriptures and mutual prayer at five o'clock in the morning, whenever we happened to be at home together. Those precious seasons of spiritual exercise I never can forget. I frequently think of them with delight, and gratitude to Almighty God for placing me under the superintendency of your father. He was always sociable and kind; as
dear mother. I consider that year as one of the happiest of my itinerant ministry. The example he set of humility, meekness, gentleness, and charity, I never knew any one to excel; his public ministry was 'the savour of life unto life’ to those that had the pleasure of hearing him. His management of the circuit was admirable. He was strict in enforcing discipline, and governed with ministerial authority, yet did not seem to govern. I do not remember having a single jar in the circuit during the year; we had peace and prosperity in almost every society. We preached three times every Sunday, and every night in the week, except when in Colne; we also met the societies on the week-day evenings after preaching. Although your father was of delicate health, he was always very particular in attending his appointments: I never travelled with a preacher that was more so. I do not recollect his ever missing one of his places.”
The other extract is from the late Rev. Wm. Leach, who laboured in the Todmorden Circuit, the second year after it was separated from Colne. He
“He was highly esteemed in that part of the country. I think the labours of your father with those of Mr. Edmondson, tended to raise Methodism in the esteem of the respectable part of the inhabitants very much ; and Mr. Lomas and I witnessed, that they had not laboured in vain. It was a lovely state of things which we then had, in that part of what had been the Colne Circuit."
FROM THE LONDON CONFERENCE, 1796, TO THE TIME
OF HIS REMOVAL TO YORK IN 1798.
On Wednesday, July 13th, my father set out for London to attend the Conference. He had paid a short visit to Thorner, with my mother, who was to remain there with my brothers until his return.
The general state of the circuit finances in those days obliged the preachers to adopt the most economical modes of travelling. It was usual for them to ride their own horses, and to preach, and be entertained by the friends, in the several towns through which they passed. Frequently several preachers would thus travel in company, the number increasing by new accessions as they approached the Conference town.
In the present altered state of the country with respect to travelling, a particular account of the old method of proceeding may not be uninteresting. Two journal-like letters to my mother preserved among my father's papers, contain a circumstantial account of this journey: from these copious extracts will be given. On Wednesday morning, he set out on horseback, in company with Mr. Thom, who was then travelling in the Leeds Circuit, and reached Sheffield in the afternoon : there he began his first letter.
"Sheffield, July 13, 1796. “ MY DEAREST LOVE, “ About half an hour ago, we arrived at this place. We have been favoured with a very pleasant journey. Mr. Thom is an agreeable fellow-traveller : his conversation is instructive and profitable ; so that I could not travel more agreeably, unless my face were turned homeward.
“ Evening.–Mr. Thom preached from “This day is salvation come to this house.' He said many instructive things. The congregation here on working days is, I think, more than double that of Leeds. The people are very lively, and the best singers I ever heard. They exceed all description.
“ Thursday 14.-I preached this morning at five o'clock to a large congregation, and was favoured with considerable enlargement. We had a pleasant ride through Chesterfield and Mansfield to Nottingham. It is a most delightful country. We were received with great affection by our Nottingham friends. Here are two of the completest preachers' houses in the whole connexion. The congregation was very large and attentive; and though fatigued with riding about eighty miles in two days, God favoured me with a clear head and a warm heart. I lodge at Mr. Tatham's. We met with several preachers here. I had for hearers Messrs. Dixon, Holder, Vasey, and Thom.
“Friday evening, 15th.–We arrived at Leicester about nine o'clock. Mr. Thom, Mr. Stevens and I, lodged in the same house. Hitherto hath God helped us. Glory be to his holy name. My dearest love, I pray
you incessantly. Oh! what a comfort that we can meet at the throne of grace. Let us often be there. I am very well, blessed be God; and Jenny performs the journey like herself.
“ Sat. evening, 16th, Northampton.—About an hour ago, Messrs. Dixon, Holder, Stevens, and myself reached this town. Here we rest to-night. It is now about five o'clock. I purpose taking this epistle to the post-office, walking to Dr. Doddridge's chapel and some other places, and then to retire and spend the evening in preparing my heart for the approaching Sabbath. This scrawl you must excuse, for it has been written in great haste, sometimes at inns, without table, while our horses have been eating their corn. You will be pleased and thankful to hear that I have been preserved in good health, and
my mind has been kept in a watchful and devout frame. Glory be to God.
Be not anxious on my account.
The Lord will take care of me, and I shall return in due time. Live in the will of God. Adieu. God Almighty bless thee. I am thy own
The second letter was commenced on the same day, and despatched on Wed. the 20th.