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stirring addresses delivered had excited a deep feeling, to which no parallel could be found in the previous history of the church; and that of all the methods adopted with a view to obtain pecuniary supplies, this was the most effective yet devised. But he was aware that every advantage had its connected disadvantages; and he was not sure which preponderated. He thought there was a danger, lest too much of the time of the preachers should be occupied by these meetings, to the neglect of their closets, their studies, and their circuits; that there might be a serious interference with their pastoral duties ; that the danger arising from the desire of applause would be greatly increased; and some might fall into the snare of cultivating what was showy, rather than the solid and useful. He feared too, lest a false taste should be induced among the people, and such a fondness for mere intellectual gratification and oratorical figures, that the simple preaching of Christ crucified might be less palatable ;-lest their time and attention should be so occupied with what was public, as to be withdrawn from the spiritual exercises of the closet; that external pomp
and parade might, little by little, banish the Christian simplicity by which Methodism had been hitherto characterized —and that while there was “much show and parade about the Bible, Missionaries, &c." spirituality and unaffected piety might retire into a corner. The clapping and stamping, which in some of the earlier meetings were carried to an extreme, together with the levity which occasionally prevailed, did not tend to relieve these fears.
But he suspended his judgment, prayed for divine direction; co-operated as far as he could with those 'esteemed brethren who promoted these meetings; and watched their progress, not with a censorious spirit, but with an intense desire that the purity of Methodism might be maintained, its efficiency increased, and the glory of God more abundantly promoted. One or two extracts from his journal will exhibit his views and feelings on this subject :
Wed. April 19, 1815.-I attended the Missionary Meeting at Rochester. It was conducted on the new plan: there was a stage erected. After singing and prayer, a number of Resolutions were moved and seconded, and many speeches delivered. The meeting
broke up at a quarter past ten o'clock. Many people were present, and attention was kept up to the last. There was no lightness, no clapping; yet, I cannot enter into the plan.
I am afraid that it will operate in a way that will endanger that simplicity which characterizes Methodism. O Lord, preserve us in purity. My soul is increasingly anxious to live in the closest communion with my God. Nothing is worth a thought in comparison with this; and nothing can countervail the damage to me, if I suffer any thing to come between me and
my Lord. “Sat. May 13.—This has been a bustling week in London. Many thousands of religious people have been in town from the country, attending Anniversaries of Missionary Societies, &c. Much good is going forward ; but there is too much parade and ostentation. I fear the simplicity of the Gospel is in danger. Well, I must endeavour to maintain a life of faith in the Son of God, and be diligent and faithful in my Master's work.
*June 8. — Attended a Bible Society Meeting at Knightsbridge. In this extraordinary age, amidst the din of war, and the convulsions of nations, there are great things going on in the world. The Bible Society is a grand engine for promoting the present and eternal good of mankind. Yet I see a great mixture of evil with the good in these public meetings, which are held somewhere almost every day. Several to-day spoke like men of sense, learning, and piety; but others were vain, empty, and pedantic. Some improperly blended politics with religion, and took the opportunity of addressing the people in such a way as tends to make these meetings in the end political meetings. I am afraid the frequency of these meetings will induce a false taste, and produce such a fondness in many for figures and tropes, that the simple preaching of Christ crucified will become unpalatable; and while there is much show and parade about Bibles and Missionaries, spirituality and unaffected piety must retire to a corner. O may I retire with it. Through grace,
I will make these things occasions of prayer and increasing watchfulness and spirituality. I regret that so much of human weakness should mix with what is so good. Many who appear to have no religion, will vociferate at a Bible Society Meeting, because it is popular.
Well, perhaps in this way, the earth will help the woman.
“ June 21.—I think I see great danger of Methodism losing its simple character. So many meetings, and so much publicity and outward show draw away the attention of some from spiritual exercises in retirement. And I fear, so much of man is in these things that the Holy Spirit will be grieved. O Lord, do not let me err in judgment. May I not be permitted to throw cold water upon any measures which may promote thy glory; nor may I enter upon those plans, if they endanger primitive Methodist simplicity. May my soul be alive to thee. In all I do, may I seek thy honour and glory; for all I want may I depend on thy grace and providence."
Thus cautiously and prayerfully did he proceed in reference to this new feature in the operations of Methodism; apprehensive of every thing which might impair its purity and spirituality; and yet fearful of checking any thing really good, on account of any apparent evil which might be only accidentally connected with it.
It was, therefore, a source of inexpressible satisfaction to his pious and benevolent mind, that these meetings continued from year to year to improve in their character; that what was questionable in them was gradually laid aside; that they became more sober, more spiritual; that there was more of God in them and less of man; and it was manifest, that upon the whole, they did not by any means lower the tone of piety in the Connexion, but greatly elevate its character, add to its intensity, and accelerate its progress.
The Conference this year was held in Mr. E.'s native town. Several “knotty questions” likely to excite much feeling having to be decided during its sittings, he proposed
to himself the observance of the following rules.“1. I will endeavour by watching unto prayer, to preserve constant recollection of mind and self-possession. 2. I will enter into no party matters, but act in simplicity for the glory of God and the general good. 3. I will say as little as appears consistent with my duty. 4. I will not be forward to shew my opinion, but will wait to hear others, and weigh what they say.”
On Sunday, August 15th, Mr. Entwisle opened a new chapel, at Little Lever, near Bolton. “Here,” he re
marks on the occasion, “a Sunday School was kept some years before Mr. Raikes, of Gloucester, began his Sunday School.”
On Friday, August 18, the Conference, which was longer than usual, closed. My father and Mr. Edmondson were re-appointed to the London West Circuit, and Messrs. Bunting and Needham took the places of Messrs. Sutcliffe and Bramwell. It was as usual an agreeable relief to Mr. E.'s mind, to exchange the business and excitement of Conference for the regular work of his circuit, & work in which he felt constantly increasing delight. “Once more,” he says, “I am regularly employed in my work. I feel it a privilege. For the last month nearly all my time has been occupied either in Conference business or travelling. This is a necessary part of our system which is more and more irksome to me. How much more agreeable it is to read, pray, and preach. Well, I am now entering, in all probability, on my last year
in my present circuit. O may I be more spiritual, more diligent in study, more active and zealous; more ready to every good work : may I labour with success; and if it please thee, O Lord, see fruit of my labour.”
The old chapel in Great Queen street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, having become much too small for the accommodation of the increasing congregation, the erection of a large new chapel upon the same site was projected. The secular business unavoidably connected with such an undertaking was by no means congenial to his mind, neither was the weight of care and responsibility it entailed upon him, at all inviting; but with him inclination had long been renounced as the guide of his conduct ; and when, in any case, the path of duty became manifest, no personal considerations were allowed to interfere with its prosecution. The self-denying cheerfulness with which he entered upon this uncongenial part of his work, will appear from the following extracts from his journal :“ A. considerable portion of my time has been occupied
attending meetings and consultations about a new chapel at Queen street. It is a great undertaking; yet the necessity of it is evident to almost every one concerned, and the willingness of the Trustees to move in the business gives general satisfaction. I trust it is of the Lord, and that he will make our way plain before us.
“ This business will necessarily take up much of my time and attention, and I had rather be employed in reading, writing, meditation, and prayer; however, as I appear to be called providentially to this, I will, in the fear of God, do all I can to promote the good work. Probably the chapel will be a blessing to generations unborn. Whatever may occupy my time, O may I do all with a simple intention to please my God.
"I find the principal care will devolve on me, and before the business is finished, I shall have many an anxious hour. This seems, however, to be a burden laid on me by divine providence, and I may rationally expect divine aid and comfort. But I must endeavour to act agreeably to Phil. iv. 6, 7. Surely it is possible, though difficult."
In ad lition to the weight of business and care arising from this source, much of his time, (in common with the other preachers stationed in London) was occupied by Missionary affairs. An executive committee had been appointed at the last Conference for the management of our rapidly extending Foreign Missions; of which all the London preachers were members. And as an addition of at least sixteen to the former number of Missionaries had been agreed upon, much time was occupied in the necessary preparations. In all these matters Mr. E. felt a lively interest, and took an active part.
Five of these Missionaries, the Rev. Messrs. Barnabas Shaw, Carver, Callaway, Broadbent, and Elijah Jackson, were publicly and solemnly set apart by ordination in Spitalfields Chapel, for their important work, on Monday, Nov. 13, on which occasion Mr. Benson delivered a short, but appropriate and impressive address. The Committee, however, anxious to do all in their power to further their piety and usefulness, agreed to hold a second public service in Great Queen street Chapel, for which occasion Mr. E. was requested to prepare an address. This he drew up on Monday, Dec. Uth, the manuscript of which is still preserved among his papers. A numerously attended meeting was held on the following Monday. Mr. Buckley opened the service with prayer, and stated the object of the meeting; Mr. Entwisle then read the address, and Messrs. Edmondson and Bunting concluded with