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The above proposal was carefully considered at the York District Meeting, and also at Manchester, to which place a copy of the Address had been sent by Mr. Entwisle, and by both meetings the proposal was approved and recommended to the Conference. A reference to the Minutes for that year, will shew that the plan was adopted by the Conference, and with but a slight alteration became the law of the Connexion.*
See the Minutes of Conference, 8vo. Vol. II. p. 142.
FROM THE CONFERENCE OF 1802 TO THAT OF 1804.
The Hull people were desirous that my
father should remain among them a third year, and Mr. Benson at the Conference urged him to give his consent. But at that time, and indeed for years after, he objected to a third year's appointment, unless there were some special reasons for it. He could not satisfy himself that these existed in this instance; while the declining state of my mother's health, to which the air of Hull appeared unfavourable, he regarded as a sufficient reason for persisting in his determination to remove.
There were earnest solicitations also for his labours from the Bath, Oldham, Todmorden, Macclesfield, and Bristol Circuits. Todmorden had been the scene of his early labours when at Colne, and was now the head of a comfortable and prosperous circuit: his intimate friend, Mr. Lomas, used his influence in its favour. My father would have enjoyed an extensive field of usefulness in any one of these circuits, but was unwilling to choose his own lot, and therefore left the matter entirely to the Conference, who appointed him to the superintendency of the Macclesfield Circuit, with the Rev. Messrs. G. Morley and Jabez (now Dr.) Bunting for his colleagues.
On his way from Hull to Macclesfield, he called at Thorner, where Mr. Pawson, who was on a visit at the same time, baptized his seventh child : his name was James. My mother was in a low, relaxed state when they left Hull, and on the journey, a distance of 130 miles, added cold to cold, until nature seemed almost exhausted. For some weeks, my father had at times but little hope of her recovery, and the gloomy idea of widowhood, with five children, often filled his mind: he sometimes had a hard struggle for resignation. But he made
the Lord his refuge. He heard prayer and raised her up: through His blessing, the salubrious air of Macclesfield was the means of restoring her to a better state of health than she had enjoyed for some years. Of his new circuit and his colleagues, my father
says, in a letter to his friend Edmondson, then stationed at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, with whom he regularly corresponded,
_“I am very happy in my colleagues. Mr. Morley is a sensible, well-informed, pious man, and a very good preacher. Mr. Bunting is quite out of the common way; —sensible, pious, and one of the best preachers in our Connexion, though not twenty-four years old. Am not I well off? I don't care who carries the bell, if good be done. The good work prospers
and I were in it; only it is more extensive, and thinner of inhabitants. But I believe I am in the order of God, and am content and happy.”
In the same letter, he thus expresses himself on a subject on which some difference of opinion and practice has existed in our body, in reply to a former communication from Mr. Edmondson.
"We have no female preachers in this part of the country. I think women might with propriety exercise their gifts in a private way, or amongst their own sex; but I never could see the propriety of their being public teachers. Under the Patriarchal dispensation, the oldest male was the priest of the family. Under the Law, all the priests were men. The seventy preachers sent out by our Lord were all men. So were the twelve Apostles. Nor do we ever read of a woman preaching, in the Acts of the Apostles. Hence I conclude, women are not designed for public teachers.”
The following extracts from my father's diary and correspondence will supply his history during the period under review.
“Mon. Sept. 6.–Visited the Woodlands. Here, in a deep valley surrounded by high mountains, I rambled into a wood to meditate and pray. The retirement of the place, the sight of the ponderous mountain opposite, and the dashing of the water of a natural cascade, combined to inspire that agreeable solemnity so favourable to meditation and devotion. I lamented my unprofitable
ness, and renewed my engagements to love and serve my God and his church. Preached with great enlargement from Phil. ii. 12. In this wilderness, dwell some of the excellent of the earth,—primitive Christians.
“My soul enters more deeply into the spirit of religion. Oh! how I long to know and to make known the heights and depths of love divine. Rode into Edale, praying in the Holy Ghost. After dinner, took a walk to the top of Mam-Tor. One side of it is called the 'Shivering Mountain,' from its mouldering and falling down at times, particularly in windy weather and after a frost, the upper strata crumbling from the top and falling down the dreadful steep to the bottom. On the summit of this hill is a good pasture for cattle. Tradition says, an army once encamped on the top of Mam-Tor; and there still appears a double entrenchment cast up on three sides; the dreadful precipice on the other, forming a sufficient barrier against an enemy. The summit of the hill commands a most delightful prospect of Hopedale, the villages of Castletown, Hope, &c. Hundreds of enclosed fields present themselves to the eye, —all either white for the harvest, or adorned with beautiful green, with cattle grazing, and a rapid rivulet gliding along for six or seven miles. My soul felt what is expressed by Milton:
These are thy glorious works, Parent of good!
Thus wond'rous fair. Thyself how wond'rous then!' How passing wonder that I should be his child. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God. O
I be a loving, grateful, obedient child. Amen.
“Wed. 7.—A most delightful morning. My mind calmly stayed upon God. After breakfast I set off for Chapel-in-le-Frith. This ride was a treat indeed to me. In ascending the high hill from Edale, I had an extensive prospect of the Dale, the Woodlands, and a number of huge, black mountains, which exhibited a sublime
Descending on the other side, I was entertained with a prospect of Chinley, Chapel-in-le-Frith, the neighbourhood of Buxton, and a vast extent of country in several directions. How manifold are thy works, O
Lord, in wisdom hast thou made them all. My soul was happy in the persuasion that this God is my God for ever and ever, and shall be my guide unto death. Oh! how my heart panted after an entire conformity to God, and for the prosperity of his cause.
“Wed. 22.—Since I wrote last, my dear wife has been very ill. I have had serious apprehensions that her weak frame would sink under affliction. I have found it difficult to avoid anxiety, and cast all my care upon the Lord; though I believe “He cares for me.' 0 that this affliction may be sanctified.
Tues. 28.—Much cast down on account of my dear wife's illness. Riding over the hills, near Chapel-in-leFrith, I was relieved by a flood of tears. Through the day, my mind was engaged in prayer. O that the Lord would hear my cry, and send help from his holy hill. I am resolved, however, to give myself entirely to God and his people, and leave all my affairs in his hands. Surely his providence ruleth over all. A sparrow does not fall to the ground without our Heavenly Father, and the hairs of head are numbered.
“ Mon. Nov. 8.—A day of much prayer. Greatly refreshed in conversation with Ann Lomas, aged eightyseven or eighty-eight. She was awakened under David Taylor above sixty years ago, and is one of the first Methodists in Derbyshire. She is loaded with fruit in
In a letter to Mrs. Pawson, dated Feb. 15th, 1803, after dissuading her from publishing in the Magazine an article she had submitted to his inspection, he writes :
“I see more and more the absolute necessity of strict discipline in our societies, and am endeavouring, according to the grace given me, to exercise it. But I find upon a close examination of our people, more suffer from the omission of duties than the commission of sin. The Scriptures are not sufficiently read ; family prayer is too .nuch neglected ; many seem to have no regularity, no method in their families; the duties of the closet are not attended to as they ought to be, such as meditation, self-examination, and agonizing prayer. Religious conversation, I mean conversation about spiritual and divine things,--too often degenerates into chit-chat, and so far from being good to the use of edifying, it leaves