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“ Sat. 10.—We proceeded to Birmingham, where we were kindly received by brother and sister Moore.
On Sunday I preached two sermons for the benefit of the Foreign Missions; in the morning at Belmont Row, and in the afternoon at Deritend.
“ Mon. May 12.–At ten o'clock, Mr. John Stephens preached an excellent sermon on Phil iii. 8. At five the public Missionary Meeting commenced. Mr. Moore openod it with singing and prayer. I was then desired to take the chair. Messrs. Moore, Marsden, Bunting, and others spoke well. A divine influence rested upon the people, and we had a pleasant and profitable time.
- Sun. 18. — Preached at Belmont Row in the morning, and after dinner set off, accompanied by my dear partner and sister Moore for Dudley, where I preached à Missionary sermon in the evening. Though the rain poured down, yet the chapel was exceedingly crowded with attentive hearers. On Monday afternoon we went on to Madeley, the parish of the venerable Fletcher.
“At seven I preached in the Tythe Barn, adjoining to the vicarage, which was furnished with benches and a desk, with a gallery at one end, by Mr. and Mrs. Fletch
Hundreds of people were stowed together, insomuch that I could scarcely squeeze through them to the desk. The barn seems to have been built two hundred years ; it is open to the roof, thatched with straw; and all the windows except one are made of oiled paper. My soul was filled with a pleasingly awful sense of the divine presence; and the recollection of the blessed couple (though I never saw their faces) helped me while I spoke. It is easy to preach here: I could have continued at it all night. The apparent seriousness, earnestness, and zeal of the people were delightful.
“ Tues. 20.–At two o'clock I preached at the chapel at Colebrook Dale: some hundreds were assembled. Mr. Fletcher provided this chapel for his parishioners. I was informed that with his own hands he hewed out of the solid rock the first stone.
“The views in Colebrook Dale are quite romantic: the steep hills, tremendous precipices, hanging woods, serpentine walks in those woods, (constructed and formed by R. Reynolds, Esq. during his residence here) the appearance of the iron-works, &c. quite charmed me. And
when I thought, here Fletcher lived and laboured, I breathed after his spirit. O may I follow him, as he followed Christ.
“In the evening I preached in the chapel at Madeley Wood, to an immense crowd of deeply attentive hearers. This chapel also was erected by Mr. Fletcher, as also another by Mrs. Fletcher in another part of the parish; so that three Methodist chapels are provided in Madeley parish by that blessed couple, in which it is hoped the Gospel will be preached for centuries; and if the vicarage barn be not used, another chapel will be built in its stead. Mr. Mortimer, the present Curate, shewed me the vicarage, the church, Mr. Fletcher's entries of baptisms, burials, &c. and his tomb. Every thing about Mr. Fletcher is interesting to me. Mr. Mortimer is a pious man, and labours hard. He informed me, that when he was a boy, twenty-one years ago, I was at the London Conference. I had been at his father's house, and he was sent to shew me the way to City Road. I talked to him about his soul, and what I said was attended with the divine blessing; he went home weeping and praying. To God be the glory! May I learn from hence to improve every interview with young people.
“ Frid, 23.- To all eternity I hope to praise God for my
visit to the parish where Fletcher laboured and died. O may I partake of his spirit more and more. His parishioners seem to have a good degree of it. Perhaps to the end of time the fruit of his labours will remain, and his memory be precious.
“May 27.— I preached occasional sermons at Penn, in the High Wycomb Circuit. The chapel was crowded in the afternoon and evening. From High Wycomb and other places came a number of persons who knew me nearly thirty years ago : but oh! how changed in their appearance. Some who were then thirty or thirty-five years old, of course now upwards of sixty, came to see me; also some children and even grand-children of old friends, who are grown up men and women, and are truly pious. One man came and said, “You do’nt know me, I dare say: but I lived servant with Mr. Batten, when you were in the Oxford Circuit. Sometimes I was sent to light you home with a lantern, and you talked to me about my soul; and that was the means of bringing me to the Lord.'"
From the commencement of his itinerancy, it was Mr. Entwisle's constant practice kindly to notice the children and servants in the families by whom he was entertained, and to aim at their spiritual profit. It was highly encouraging to him after the lapse of so many years, to meet with this and other instances of the happy results which, through the blessing of God, followed these endeavours.
The renewal of Mr. E.'s bodily and spiritual strength by the excursions just recorded, and the delightful religious exercises in which he engaged at Oxford, Birmingham, Madeley, and Penn, prepared him for further trials which awaited him, and which with brief intervals of comparative solace and repose, returned again and again, as the clouds after the rain. A few weeks after the last date, he writes :—“All things seem to make against me. I walk in darkness, and have no light. But I will trust in the Lord, and stay myself upon my God. Surely he will be with me in the fire and in the water. My soul has been bowed down greatly with these things for several days: my studies have been interrupted; and the vigour of my mind in my public work considerably impaired. I must endeavour to give it up. I see now, that though I cannot and ought not to divest myself of paternal feelings, yet, so far as is consistent with those feelings, I must endeavour to imitate holy angels, who do all they can to prevent evil, and promote good, still happy in themselves and in the Lord. O
I cast every care upon him that careth for me.”
Again, on July 17th, he writes: I seem like a mariner in a storm. I am at my wits' end : I will cry unto the Lord in my trouble, and surely he will deliver me out of my distresses, or support me under them. O that I may endure and improve temptation. Lord, help me! Surely I shall yet see thy hand stretched out in ту
favour, even in outward things. I will trust in thee, though thou slay me.”
It was with difficulty that he could get up his spirits to attend the Sheffield Conference this year; he was, however, prevailed upon to go by his family and friends, who hoped that its engagements would afford relief to his mind. He was affectionately and hospitably entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Holy. His former colleague
and friend, the Rev. John Gaulter, was elected President. The Conference was unusually short, and Mr. E. made but few memoranda of its proceedings.
On his return home, he called at Birmingham, where he obtained a situation for his son James, at Mr. Scot'ts, a respectable linen and woollen draper, and a member of the Methodist Society. His present circumstances gave increasing intensity to his concern for the spiritual wellbeing of his family: he felt especially on account of James, who was of an open, generous, and unsuspecting disposition, and now removed to a distance from parental observation and restraint, and surrounded by many temptations. His letters to him were frequent, affectionate, and replete with valuable counsels. The following er tract from one of them, dated Aug. 20th, 1817, may be useful to some of the juvenile readers of this volume :
“O my dear James, I know you love me and feel for me. Do endeavour, then, to gladden my heart. Let me never hear any thing concerning you but what will give me pleasure. Let me advise you, first of all, to pray much, and resolve to be a Christian. 2. Beware of evil company,-of trifling company,—and of young people's company. 3. Read your Bible, and other useful books, when you have a little time. 4. Improve your Sundays to spiritual purposes, by reading the Holy Scriptures, meditation, and prayer, as well as by the public worship of God. Oh! what pleasure you will find, if you enter into the spirit of religion.
“ In regard to business :-1. Always keep in view your master's interest. 2. Be diligent, both when he is present and absent. 3. Never take any thing,—no, not even half a sheet of paper, or the value of a pin, that is your master's, without his knowledge and consent. Keep in this respect a tender conscience. I assure you, James, if I am in a friend's house, and see a pin which I need in order to pin my cravat, I cannot in conscience take that pin without mentioning it; although I know I should be welcome to it, even if it were a gold pin. I have long been habituated, even from my youth, to these delicate feelings, and I wish you to be so. When I was nineteen years old, I had the superintendence of the most extensive concern at that time in Manchester: and though an apprentice, I had a genteel salary given to me volunta
rily. I do not mention this, my dear son, out of vain glory, but as a proof of the utility of the conduct I recommend to you.
Resolve to be and to do every thing that is right, and God will bless you. Let me hear well of you, and you shall have every thing which can contribute to your comfort, within the power
During the Sheffield Conference he met with what he regarded as a providential opening for Samuel, who had just completed his education at Kingswood School, at Mr. Cocker's, of Barnsley, a chemist and druggist, & clever man and master of his business. Early in September Samuel went to his situation. His father was much affected at parting with him. His mother, it will be remembered, had died when he was not quite four months old: the kind offices which his father was obliged to perform for him for several weeks, with the innocent and affectionate smiles with which he had returned this parental tenderness, had greatly endeared him. The disappointment of the hopes excited by the promising beginnings of his eldest son, heightened his feelings of parental solicitude, in sending out into a world so full of snares and dangers his youngest child; but he commended him to God, and was consoled by the remembrance of the dying words of his dear wife, “Samuel is under the special care of Divine Providence.” To the guidance and guardianship of that providence he was enabled confidently to trust him.
At the March Quarterly Meeting, 1818, many expressed a strong desire that Mr. Entwisle would remain a third year in the London East Circuit; he had, however, accepted an invitation to Sheffield: of this he informed the meeting ; and though repeatedly urged to the contrary, he positively declined to stay in London.
It was a great relief and solace to his mind, that the family trials referred to had a beneficial influence upon most of his children. William, especially, the youngest but two, who was a teacher in Mr. Hulett's school at Brompton, and who had long been under a gracious influence, about this time gave himself more fully to the Lord, entered more deeply
into the spirit of religion, and began to be much impressed with a conviction that he was called of God to the work of the Christian ministry.