« EdellinenJatka »
“Sat. July 25. Leeds.—Last night I arrived here safely, to attend the Conference. Much refreshed by the sight of many of the brethren. O may this not be a losing, but a gaining time for my soul. I wish to give myself continually unto prayer and the ministry of the word. I am very comfortably situated within a few yards of the chapel. The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places, I have a goodly heritage. Blessed be the Lord for all his mercies. I had a most refreshing season this morning in secret prayer. Glory be to God for a good beginning.
“ July 27.—Uncle wished not to be chosen President, and used means to get the preachers to choose another person. However, he was chosen by a great majority. He desired that Joseph Taylor, who had twelve votes only, (a greater number than any other person, uncle excepted,) might fill the chair ; but the cry was no.
· Aug. 3.—Some regulations have been made this forenoon which give me great satisfaction, as I believe they will have a blessed tendency. Our money matters, I hope, will be settled in the District Meetings, and our time at the Conference employed to greater spiritual advantage than ever. With a view to the improvement of the Magazine, a Committee has been appointed, composed of twenty-one brethren, whose names are to be printed on the cover of the Magazine. These are to interest themselves in providing profitable matter, and any thing approved and signed by any three of the committee, the Editor must insert. The following are the Committee:-Dr. Coke, Messrs. Pawson, Benson, Bradburn, Moore, Thos. Taylor, Jas. Wood, Rodda, Rutherford, Adam Clarke, Brettell, Jas. Rogers, Rhodes, Myles, Roberts, Atmore, T. Wood, Gaulter, Entwisle, Bartholomew, and Sutcliffe.
" Aug. 7.—Our Conference ended in great peace. We had a solemn conclusion. Messrs. T. Taylor and Benson, Dr. Coke, and uncle prayed.
· Aug. '9.-I bless God, though my time has been fully taken up with Conference business, yet my mind has been kept in peace, and stayed upon the Lord. I am not worse, but enjoy more religion, I trust, than when I came, and am more fully resolved to give myself to God and his people. Peace and brotherly love have
prevailed this Conference; and some regulations have been made in our temporal concerns that will be useful. I hope, in a few years, we shall have little to do with temporal matters at our Conferences, and have more time for spiritual conversation.
“ My honoured uucle has received many marks of respect from the brethren, besides their choosing him President the second time; this has afforded me much pleasure, for he is worthy of double honour.
I am re-appointed for Hull with Mr. Blagborne. O may I labour with greater zeal and faithfulness, and with greater success than the last year.
“ Frid. Sept. 4. Holderness. I have been led out in prayer to-day for the prosperity of religion in this dark
Professors seem more indifferent than usual, offences and scandal have happened in some places, and the harvest makes the congregation very small indeed. O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years.
Oct. 17.—I often reflect on the rapid motion of time, and while I am making the reflection, it is passing away. Oh! could I catch and improve the golden moments as they fly! I have read to-day part of the Memoirs of Dr. Döddridge. How astonishing his labours! How well did he husband his precious time! Reading, writing, preaching, instructing his pupils, and acts of solemn devotion filled up his precious hours. I wish to imitate him.
" April 15, 1802.-This morning, at three o'clock, I entered upon my thirty-sixth year. So one half of seventy years
prepare me for future life or death. “May 23.–Our Conference draws nigh.
Our leading friends here wish me to stay a third year, and other circuits express a wish that I may labour with them. Lord, thy will be done. Where thou wilt.' My mind is unanxious and indifferent respecting the particular place where I may labour. The following things swallow up every other concern. 1. I feel such a sense of my unworthiness and unprofitableness, that any place seems better than I deserve. 2. My soul is awfully impressed with a sense of the necessity of diligence and faithfulness, that I may, through Christ, be accepted of God. O that I may obtain mercy to be found faithful. 3. Eter
nity seems here. I seem to myself just entering into another world. O my God, here I am at thy feet. Do with me, and in me, and by me, as seemeth good in thy sight. May I live to thee alone.
Mon. May 24.—'Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.'
Once more he has appeared for our help and comfort. This afternoon, my dear wife was delivered of her seventh child. I am deeply impressed with a sense of the goodness of God in affording seasonable and sufficient aid in the time of trouble. O may our souls be filled with unfeigned gratitude, and our lives be entirely devoted to God."
At the District Meeting held at York in the month of June this year, Mr. Entwisle proposed some additional guards upon the entrance into the Methodist ministry. At this early period, the practice of the Connexion was by no means uniform ; and had unsuitable persons wished to enter upon the itinerancy, it would have been much easier to effect their purpose than in the present day. He justly regarded the purity of the ministry as essential to the well-being of the Connexion; he considered additional guards necessary; there being induce. ments now to engage in the work of a Methodist preacher, which had no existence, when poverty, privation, and wasting toils were his ordinary lot.
A few weeks before the District Meeting he drew up an Address, stating his plan and the grounds upon which he recommended it; this he read to the meeting. A copy of this Address is preserved among his papers: it is too long for insertion as a whole; but some extracts may not be unacceptable.
After briefly sketching the origin and progress of Methodism, contrasting the privations and hardships of the early Methodist preachers with the respectability and comfort of those of more modern times, and urging the importance of maintaining the purity and efficiency of the ministry in order to the prosperity of the Christian church, he remarks:—“Hence great caution is necessary, not only that improper persons may be prevented from creeping in among us; but likewise, that out of the abundance of candidates, such may be chosen from time to time, as are most pious and sensible, well-qualified as preachers, and most Methodistical both in doctrine and
discipline. This is the more necessary, as men are seldom laid aside after they are admitted on trial, unless something extraordinary happen in their conduct.”
He next proceeds to propose his plan in the following terms:
“At present, the candidate is supposed to have passed the Quarterly Meeting, from which he is recommended to the District Meeting. In addition to this, let him attend, if possible, the District Meeting, and be examined, before all the brethren, respecting his experience, his knowledge of divine things, his reading, his views of the doctrines of the Gospel, and his regard for the Methodist economy in general. (The person who examines to be chosen by ballot.) After the examination, let the candidate withdraw, and the brethren deliberate on the propriety or impropriety of his admission, and determine whether he be recommended to the ensuing Conference or not. If it be not convenient for the candidate to attend the District Meeting, let three brethren, chosen by ballot, be appointed to act for the District.”
After urging as reasons for this public examination the probability of an occasional want of sufficient firmness on the part of some superintendents, should improper persons be put forward as candidates by men of influence,—the doubtfulness of other cases, in which “the reasons for and against may be nearly equal,”—the superior guarantee furnished by the collective wisdom of a whole district for the exercise of a sound and discriminating judgment,—and the greater probability of impartiality, he concludes with the following remarks :—The prospect of such an examination “would be a constant stimulus to prayer, study, and other methods of improvement in piety and ministerial qualifications. It is unnecessary to remind my brethren how needful this is in the present state of our Connexion, and its relative state to other communities of Christians with which we are surrounded. It is indeed as necessary as ever it was to preach what we have heard from the beginning; and yet, considering the growing state of our congregations in point of religious knowledge, how much oftener we preach to the same people than our brethren forty years ago, and the increasing number of Gospel ministers in the Established Church and amongst the Dissenters; we must study to shew ourselves approved as workmen that need not be ashamed; or we shall sink in the public opinion, and decline in real usefulness. God forbid we should ever quit our first ground. The Head of the Church has put great honour upon a few leading truths by which Methodist sermons are characterized, and a man need never lose sight of them for the sake of variety. But much prayer, reading, and meditation will be found requisite, that we may at once strike the old Methodist string, and like well-instructed scribes, bring forth things new and old out of our treasury.
“ The plan in question would afford the brethren an opportunity of recommending suitable books to young preachers. They might also be directed to a regular method of improving time; and the brethren would be capable of judging what situations would be most suitable for them the first year.
Should such a plan be duly executed, it might, under the divine blessing, be a means of grounding the rising generation of preachers in those doctrines and rules of discipline which have been so greatly owned of God. And should the preachers, by any means, be preserved simple, holy, and zealous; in a word, consistent characters, as Methodist preachers, generations yet unborn will bless God for it to all eternity.
“My brethren, I have set down these thoughts in the simplicity of my heart, though not without consulting several respectable brethren. A conviction of the need of something of the kind, has induced me to lay the plan before
I bless God that I ever knew the Connexion. I deem it an honour and happiness to be a member of it. I hope to live and die a Methodist; and to live for ever with millions of Methodists, who shall be found in that great multitude which no man can number. I pray for the peace and prosperity of our Zion, and rejoice to see it. May it increase more and
I leave these things to your consideration, and most devoutly pray that the Lord would direct
in this and all other important deliberations.
“I am, Dear Brethren,
“J. E. “Hull, June 25, 1802."