« EdellinenJatka »
all human establishments are imperfect, and liable to abuse ;—that love alone is the perfect bond of union; and that there is danger of our being more zealous about certain outward things than about Faith and LOVE.
“Whatever may happen, every Christian should endeavour to keep his own heart in a pious frame. Men's hearts were never more in danger than now. Such is human nature, that it is difficult for us to differ in our opinions, and love as brethren. Most likely a division of our Body will take place ere long. Then will follow, very probably, inflammatory publications, mutual animosities, and rancour. If we cannot agree upon the same outward rules, 0 that we might agree to love each other, and to let contentions cease. The Canaanite is in the land. Deists laugh at us and at Christianity, and the cause of infidelity is strengthened by our contentions. I do not mean to reflect on either party. My heart bleeds for the suffering cause of religion. I lament the excessive zeal of some on both sides. And now my chief care shall be to keep my own heart free from the impure influence of party spirit; and O may God make me a lover of peace, and a lover of good men. In another letter he
says: _“ What Mr. Wesley said of the Seceders in Scotland applies with too much truth to K. and Co. “They began with condemning others, we with condemning ourselves.' I wish from my heart that none among us may render railing for railing. We had better refrain from these men. We shall soon see whether the Ark of the Lord go with them; whether they enjoy more peace, love, and prosperity than we. If the Lord be the glory in the midst of us, he will certainly be as a wall of fire around us. And if God be for us, who can be against us?”
Such were the catholic and pacific principles by which Mr. Entwisle was governed at this critical period, and such the spirit which he cultivated. Stirring times like those referred to in the preceding extracts, bring out to view men's real characters. The ordeal, though severe, did not exhibit the subject of this Memoir to any dis
While his mind was thus exercised about the disputes which threatened the peace and prosperity of the Connexion at large, and by which some of the societies in
his own circuit were so endangered as to require his utmost vigilance and attention, his domestic afflictions continued and increased. The nervous fever had left my mother in a state of great debility, which compelled her to visit her native place in quest of health. Thence she was speedily and unexpectedly called home by the illness of her son Marmaduke, who had so severe an attack of the small-pox, that he lost the sight of both his eyes. After suffering beyond what one could expect such a child could endure, he died, aged a little more than two years and a half; and was interred on the 22nd of April, in the Vicar's burying ground at Wakefield. It was a day of sorrow: it was the first death which had occurred in the family; and it took place, we have seen, at a time when the care of the churches pressed heavily upon my father, and at an age when the dear child was becoming exceedingly engaging. The stroke was felt keenly; but it was received, as from the hand of a tender parent, in the spirit of sweet submission. His language was:" Thy will be done! Help us to improve this stroke; and, O God, if it please thee, favour us with a respite from adversity. But above all, let thy gracious presence be with us, and may we enjoy rest in thee !"
During this time of connexional agitation and domestic affliction, my
father laboured with “ a calmly fervent zeal,” to bring sinners to God, to maintain the peace of the societies under his care, and to call off their attention from matters of “doubtful disputation,” to what he regarded as the very essence of religion—"faith working by love.
He had entered upon the new field of usefulness opened to him by the providence of God in the Wakefield Circuit, with a determination to “put forth all his strength in the blessed work to which he was called." This determination he was enabled to carry fully into effect. His intercourse with his beloved friend and colleague, Mr. Lomas, a man of a kindred spirit, was a source of mutual pleasure and advantage. Their hearts were knit together. They regularly met in band once a week, and spent an hour in taking sweet counsel together, how to make their calling and election sure. These were gracious and profitable seasons, of which he retained à grateful recollection to his latest hour. They laboured
together in delightful harmony, and were favoured with an encouraging measure of success. Mr. Entwisle attended the Conference this
which was held in Leeds. Dr. Coke, who had just returned from America, was elected President, and Mr. Bradburn, Secretary. The Form of Discipline, commonly called “ The Large Minutes,” having been transcribed and methodised by Mr. Pawson, was revised, and a Declaration of approval of this code of Laws, with an engagement to comply with it, was signed by all the preachers present, except one. Four other preachers afterwards withdrew with him, and united with Mr. Kilham and his party, and formed themselves into a New Connexion. It was a matter of deep regret to Mr. E. that one of these was Mr. W. Thom, in company with whom he had rode to the London Conference a year before, and whose conversation he then found so edifying. Of his piety and good sense he entertained a high opinion. Mr. Thom was elected President, and Mr. Kilham Secretary, of the New Connexion. Two of the five preachers who withdrew, saw it their duty before the close of the Conference, to return to the Old Connexion, and again received appointments to circuits. Considerable concessions were made by this Conference to the party who advocated extensive changes; notwithstanding which, about five thousand members in various places united themselves with the New Connexion, and it was some time before the agitation subsided. Mr. Entwisle and Mr. Lomas were reappointed to the Wakefield Circuit, some parts of which were disturbed by the division. Occasionally party spitit ran so high in some of the places that their fears for the work of God were painfully excited; but by the blessing of God, general peace was maintained, few comparatively left the Connexion, and many were added to the Lord.
A few extracts from Mr. Entwisle's diary and correspondence will supply the history of the ensuing year.
“Sat. evening, Aug. 19, 1797.-I am once more settled in my work, and feel an ardent desire to begin anew a life of piety and entire devotion to God. O may I obtain mercy of the Lord to be found faithful.
“Fri. 25.–For several days my mind has been greatly oppressed on account of the dividing spirit which prevails
so much among the professors of Christianity. I understand much pains has been taken to make a rent in the Wakefield society, and I have had many fears that they will succeed. However, this morning my mind is calmly stayed on God, and I have found great comfort in this reflection : 'I am in the way of Providence, and will endeavour to give my whole heart to God, and exert myself in labouring in the vineyard of the Lord, and so leave all in his hands.' O Lord, be thou my strong helper.
“ Tues. 29.—My gracious Lord is still carrying on his blessed work in my heart. Oh! what union with my God have I experienced this day! I feel myself detached from outward things, and my soul lost in God. Thanks be to his holy name. Remarkably assisted and blessed in preaching at Cudworth this evening from Ps. cxlv. 19.
-- Mon. Oct. 30.—My mind has been oppressed on account of the injury done to the cause of religion in this place, (Barnsley,) by contentions about church-government. I perceive these disputes naturally destroy LOVE, which is the life of religion. I thank God for delivering me from the spirit of party. O may all my life be love!
“ Roystone, Nov. 20.-Reflecting last night on the agitated state of the Methodist Connexion, I was led into a chain of thought on the subject which greatly affected my mind, and induced me to mourn over existing differences. My thoughts fixed chiefly on two things, the state and circumstances of the Methodists, and their opportunities of getting and doing good, fifty years ago, —and at the present time.
“In the infancy of Methodism, its professors were few in number; but they were, in general, deeply pious, and were as 'the salt of the earth.' The members were scattered abroad, and the preachers few, so that they could seldom visit the country societies. Hence, of necessity, the people enjoyed few opportunities of hearing the preaching of the word, and not unfrequently had to travel several miles to hear a Gospel sermon. Public opinion was against them. They were generally accounted weak-headed enthusiasts and fanatics; they were represented as enemies to the state, and were even scandalized with the charge of obscenity and lewdness, which their enemies affirmed they practised in their private nocturnal meetings. In short, they were accounted, and
by many treated as the refuse and offscouring of the people. Many were exceedingly mad against them, and breathed out threatenings and slaughter. Yea, many of the clergy, and a few magistrates, hurried on by the spirit of persecution, stirred up, (as violent storms agitate the sea,) fellows of the baser sort, to disturb them in their worship, and by various methods of persecution, to prevent their iufluence and usefulness.
“Under all these disadvantages, we, with heartfelt pleasure, mark their progress. It was the work of God, and therefore could not be overthrown, could not be hindered by men or devils. Most who bore the name of Methodist were persons who had experienced a thorough change of heart, and breathed the pure spirit of Christianity. The line between them and the world was drawn on the one hand by themselves; for they were not conformed to the world, but were transformed by the renewing of their minds; and, on the other, by the violent opposition of their enemies. They appeared, therefore, as the true successors of the primitive followers of Jesus. They were united to God by one spirit, and to each other by the bonds of Christian charity. And, thongh there were among them partial contentions, (which are perhaps unavoidable in the present state of human nature,) yet, in the general, the members of the respective societies were blended into one by divine love, and the whole Body was animated by one soul. The preachers had a burning zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls ; nor did they count their lives dear unto themselves, so they might finish their course with joy, and the ministry they had received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
“ Living in this spirit, though pressed sometimes beyond measure, they fourished like the palm-tree. Those who had been planted in the courts of the Lord grew in grace, and their good fruit abounded to the glory of God. The preachers, aided by the prayers of the people, rushed into every open door; the hand of the Lord was with them; and many believed and turned unto God almost daily. Thus, in opposition to the wisdom of the wise, the understandings of the prudent, the threatenings of the great, and the fury of outrageous mobs, Methodism extended its influence more and more. The foundation