Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

it was usual with him to seek grace to “prepare him for the next providence.”

It was well that he stood thus habitually prepared to sustain the cross; for afflictions awaited him more severe than he had yet been called to endure.

About three weeks after his removal to Wakefield, his family received an accession by the birth of a daughterthe only daughter he ever had. About nine days after her birth, my mother was taken very ill and brought very low. At the same time John and Marmaduke fell sick of the measles; and my mother's sister, who had kindly come over to wait upon her, herself became very unwell; so that my father was under the necessity of returning home night after night from the country parts of the circuit, to wait upon his afflicted family, until he was himself almost worn out with fatigue and loss of sleep. He meekly submitted to the will of God, and still " in his patience possessed his soul.” On the 6th of October he gratefully observes :

“The Lord has supported me. Now the trying season is nearly over. My dear wife is down stairs again, and can attend to the concerns of her family: the children are recovering their strength, and we hope again to be free from affliction for a season. May God prepare us for the next providence. Oh! how comfortable it is to reflect 'there is a God—there is a Providence!' Hitherto the Lord hath helped us.

We have frequently experienced his supporting hand in our trials, and deliverance from them. Surely our gracious God intended our good in our late painful exercises. O may they yield, in our hearts and lives, the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Amen.”

· Mon. Oct. 10.—This day our daughter was baptised by Mr. Robert Lomas, my worthy colleague. We call her Mary. Our hearts' desire and prayer to God for her is, that she may be a sincere follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. O God, accept her as thy own. grace at a very early period reign in her heart. May she be an honour and ornament to religion, a blessing to mankind, and a comfort to us her parents, for ever. Amen."

“Sat. Dec. 24.- This week it has pleased our Heavenly Father to lay his afflicting hand upon our family.

[ocr errors]

Let thy

“ How justly is the present world called a vale of tears. Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. In the world we must have tribulation : such is the state of the world, that it is unavoidable. Well, good is the will of the Lord. Our afflictions may very properly be called • light afflictions'-light, in comparison with what we deserve-light, when compared with the afflictions of many who are more holy than we. We are favoured with every thing we could desire in our circumstances, to alleviate our sorrows. Glory be to God for all his mercies. Under the shadow of his wings will we trust till every calamity be overpast.

“ March 27, 1797.–For some time my Heavenly Father has been using the chastening rod. My dear wife has been afflicted with a nervous fever, which has confined her eleven weeks; during this time, I have frequently been ill myself, so that I have experienced more adversity since Conference than in all my life besides put together. In this season of adversity I have been led to consider.' Hereby I have become better acquainted with myself. The Lord has humbled me, and proved me, and shown me what is in my heart, and has done me good. Blessed be the name of the Lord. 0 may the residue of my days be wholly dedicated to his service. My dearest partner is now nearly well again, and the candle of the Lord shines upon our tabernacle. O may we improve this season of rest.

“ This place, (Barnsley,) is now in a ferment. Mr. M.Pherson, who left our Connexion last year, and made a division in the Huddersfield Circuit, is to preach at the Independent Chapel at one o'clock, and Mr. Kilhare. on Wednesday evening. Nearly one half of the Barnsley society espouse their cause, are much prejudiced against the preachers in general, and seem disposed to receive and propagate any thing to their disadvantage. In many places, the people are like minded; the spirit of suspicion and jealousy seems to gain ground; and many appear as if nothing would satisfy them, but an entire overturning of our system of government. What the end of these things will be it is impossible to say ; however, there is danger of religion suffering. I am at a loss what judgment to form of the aspect of the present commotions in our Connexion. God has permitted these

evils to come upon us either to purify or scourge us. A sense of my own unprofitableness as a member of the community would induce me to view them in the light of judgments and scourges; but a view of God's mercy and of the great revivals of religion in many places, leads me to hope better things. O Lord, correct us, but not in anger,

lest we be consumed. “ As an individual, I see my calling. Amidst all these disputes, which occasion so much animosity, it is my duty :-1. To be very watchful and prayerful, lest my heart should be drawn from a close attention to God's presence. 2. To beware of any unchristian disposition of mind towards those whom I think to be wrong in their views and conduct. 3. To endeavour to lay myself out, in my public capacity, to do all the good possible. Thanks be to God, my soul centres in him. I feel an indescribable union with him. O may nothing interfere between my soul and my God.”

Upon the principles laid down in the preceding quotation my father endeavoured to act himself; and he recommended them to others who wrote to ask his opinion on the matters in dispute, and his advice as to the course they should pursue. From some of these communications now lying before me, a few extracts will be given, as they serve to illustrate his spirit and conduct under the fiery trials through which our fathers were called to pass, during that critical period in the history of Methodism.

To one friend he writes in March, 1797:—"The more I consider the subject and view it on all sides, the more difficulties arise.—Many things appear well in theory which turn out differently in practice. Mr. K.'s New Constitution' has a beautiful appearance in the eyes of some persons, as it promises uninterrupted peace and prosperity, with perfect unanimity and concord. But they must have little knowledge of human nature that expect so much from it. My opinion is, that if it could be adopted, in toto, it would be the occasion of our dissolution as a body. Nevertheless, I think some amendmeuts might be made, and hope every thing will be done next Conference to convince the people that we are honest

Some years ago, I read many large accounts of the Nonconformists of the last century. Excellent men

men.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

indeed. Yet how much of their time (especially in Oliver's reign) was taken up in disputing about churchgovernment. Every man's plan was according to the pattern given in the mount. And too many were as zealous for their particular modes, as if God's glory and the eternal salvation of all men were connected with them. Alas! it is too much the case with us. May the Lord send us peace.”

To another he writes about the same time :-" That evils have existed and do exist among us, nobody can deny. It is one of the easiest things in the world to point out defects in any community, yea, even in a private family; much more in so large a community as the Methodist Connexion. But it is not so easy to lay down rules which shall infallibly remove those `existing evils, and prevent all others equally pernicious. My fixed opinion is, that some further improvements might be made in our economy; but that the · New Constitution' proposed, would ruin us.

Next Conference, I do think, will be the most important we have ever known. I very much fear, a division will take place about the ‘Plan of Pacification. I think it necessary for us to think about these things, as times are.”

To Mr. Robert Oastler, of Leeds, he writes :: would exceed the compass of a letter to enter fully into an investigation of the different forms of government, which different persons wish to establish. Charity hopes they all mean well. But this I am sure of, we may expect too much from theories. Too much is expected. A change in government cannot produce a change in human nature. Surely no man who has studied from the life, and in the original perused mankind,' will upon cool reflection affirm, if a certain form of government be adopted and established, 'contention will cease, and all will be peace, and harmony, and prosperity.' Words to this effect are found in several late publications. Such assertions

appear to me to suppose these three things : 1. That men will be all of one judgment: or 2. That they will be so wise and candid as to differ in judgment without any undue heat or emotion. 3. That all the people everywhere, will implicitly submit to the decisions of the new legislative body. Happy indeed would it be for the church and for the world, if such a revolu

:-“It

tion should take place as would make men think alike, and think jnstly too, or blend their souls into one by divine love. May God hasten it !

“I profess to you, my dear friend, I expect little from any form of church government. The peace

and

prosperity of a religious community depend principally upon the piety of its members. Discord and contention are the effects of a decay of that piety; and happen alike in all communities from the same cause. I have been led to these views by reflecting upon what I have observed in my intercourse with the religious world, and what I have read in histories of ancient as well as modern churches. The Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Independents in the two last centuries, were as zealous for their respective forms of government, as if each had the broad seal of heaven. While they were exerting all their power and displaying their learning on these subjects, the vitals of religion,-love to God and man,received a dreadful stab. Matters of fact convince me that nothing but piety can preserve peace. Episcopalians, I find, have quarrelled. But some may suppose, the hierarchy of an episcopal church is contrary to primitive Christianity. Perhaps it is. But the Church of Scotland is upon a different plan: they have their KirkSessions, Presbyteries, Provincial Synods, and General Assemblies; in all of which there are Lay Elders and Delegates. Surely every thing must be done by mutual consent; all must be peace, and love, and harmony. Read the history of that church, and the account of all the opposition chapels commonly called Kirks of Relief; —the high disputes in their presbyteries and synods, and the clamours of the Assembly; and then judge what you may expect from a similar constitution. Human nature is human nature in England as well as in Scotland. The Independent mode of government may be thought by some the most simple and easy; being confined to one society or congregation, they can do every thing by mutual counsel and consent. And yet when religion is low among them, they have disputes, warm contentions, and divisions.

“I do not mean to insinuate by these observations, that rules are indifferent or unnecessary; or that every mode of government is equally exceptionable: but that

« EdellinenJatka »