« EdellinenJatka »
In this state of mind, he felt the value of his father's counsels, began to correspond with him with greater freedom and frequency, and sought his advice at every step. The following answer was written to one of his letters of nquiry.-
“New Chapel, March 31, 1818. “MY DEAR WILLIAM, “ This morning I received yours by E. V. and hasten to comply with your request. I am glad to see you maintaining the Christian warfare with advantage. I perceive you are gaining ground upon your enemies. It is of great consequence that you keep the ground you have gained. I have often observed that after victories gained over our spiritual enemies, they have soon returned, exasperated by their defeats, with large re-inforcements, to the contest, and not unfrequently have made their attack in some new and unexpected way. If professors will content themselves with an attendance upon public ordinances, committees, &c. with a decent exterior, and occasional good religious feelings, Satan will not disturb their repose by distressing temptations; but where he sees any resolved to be zealously affected in the cause of piety, and determined to get much religion, he will bestir himself, and harass and perplex the soul as much as possible. Put on and keep on the whole armour of God, Eph. 6; and never forget that the Christian soldier fights best upon his knees. Let me urge you to keep up private duties,reading, meditation, self-examination, and prayer; and keep good accounts, correct accounts,-between God and your
soul. I understand it is the practice of our great banking houses to balance their accounts every day; and if there be the slightest error, no one leaves his post, till all is rectified. So a Christian should always see to it, that all is clear before he sleeps.
“The resolution you have entered into must be pleasing to God, for He calls us to do all the good we can. The great question is, how to do most good? Your queries are very important: I will answer them as well as I can. Perhaps I may be in some degree qualified to do this, because in early life I had to do with many persons of various characters. At the age of nineteen, I had the superintendence of a great concern,
and had great
numbers to deal with, though not exactly in circumstances like yours. But general rules will apply to many lifferent cases.
“1. Never lose sight of your object, the present and eternal good of those with whom you are connected. 2. Watch for opportunities of usefulness to them. 3. Do not speak too often to them; but remember, 'A word spoken in due season, how good is it.' I do not think it well to speak very frequently to your pupils on religious subjects, in a direct and personal way, unless you perceive it is agreeable to them. But let your own general spirit and behaviour demonstrate the reality and excellency of religion; and embrace opportunities, as they - offer, of giving advice and reproof. There are seasons
when most minds are disposed to attend to advice, &c. and at other times, just the contrary. It requires recollection of mind, discretion, and heavenly wisdom to know when and what to say.
“ Reproof, in general, is best administered in private ; for few will bear to be told of what they know to be faults before other persons. General advice may be given with propriety before all; but advice to an individual should be given in private. If you act prudently, there will be little danger of your driving the young gentlemen from the school; yet an injudicious and unseasonable attempt even to do good might prove every way injurious.
Sin is the moral disease of man; and even convalescents have need of medicine. The great art of healing seems to me to consist chiefly in watching and ascertaining precisely the state and stage of a complaint, and in knowing when to apply the proper remedy. So it is in morals. Keep your eye upon them, and
will see how and when to attempt their cure,—especially if you advert to what has occurred in your own case, and daily apply to Him who giveth wisdom liberally. Get wisdom, get understanding; yet at the same time, beware of losing your zeal. Zeal without knowledge and discretion is like haste in the dark; a man is in danger of running against or falling over something to his hurt; while knowledge without zeal is useless.
• The impression on your mind respecting preaching at some future time, may be of God; and I am sure nothing would gratify me more than to have a son to preach
the unsearchable riches of Christ. If the Lord intend you for that glorious work, he will fit you for it, and make your way plain before you. At the same time, it is a great and solemn work, on which no man should dare to enter without a clear call from God. The advice I would give you with respect to that subject is,—to give yourself to the Lord without reserve; to pray and wrestle for repeated baptisms of the Holy Spirit; to read, meditate, and pray, begging of the Lord to direct you in all your ways; and as you have Mr. Hulett at hand, make him your friend and counsellor. This will not hinder your duties in the school and family—no: I will venture to say, you will be more punctual, correct, and cheerful in every relative duty, in proportion as you enter into the spirit of piety, and attend to those duties which tend to qualify you for future usefulness in the church.
“My dear William, if grace reign in your heart; if you are saved from yourself, (which I hope will be the case ;) if you are blessed with power from on high to walk with God day by day; I am not without hope, that at some future time, he may employ you in this work. I am greatly comforted by the account you give me of the work of God in your soul. O hold fast whereunto you have attained. The comfort of my future life will be greatly increased by your steady, vigorous, growing, diffusive piety. Fulfil my joy.
affectionate Father, •JOSEPH ENTWISLE."
The painful and long-continued exercises of my father's mind had seriously affected his health, which now began perceptibly to decline, so that though under engagements to the Sheffield Circuit for the next year, he sometimes thought he should be compelled to retire from the itinerant work at Conference. His former cheerfulness had given place to habitual depression; the rosy hue for which his fine, open, benevolent countenance had been remarkable was gone; and he had begun to look pale, dejected, and shrunk. It was probably this marked change in his appearance that called forth from some kind-hearted unknown friend the only anonymous letter which my father preserved and mentioned to his family
and friends. His general practice was, after reading them, silently to commit them to the flames, not allowing even his most intimate friends to know that any such letters had been received. Many such productions are intended, like the assassin's knife, to wound in the dark; he never allowed the perpetrators of such deeds to enjoy the wretched satisfaction of knowing that their missiles had reached their destination. The letter now referred to was evidently dictated by the opposite spirit. It was dated on the outside, “ April 7th,” and contained a Bank of England One Pound Note, and these words :
“1 Tim. v. 23.
ANONYMOUS.” Under which my father wrote:“ This letter enclosed a pound note. I do not need much wine. However, it was kindly intended: the Lord reward the anonymous donor.”—To which the writer of this Memoir adds his hearty Amen. Had all the writers of anonymous letters been actuated by the same spirit, which dictated this, many of them would have much less to fear from the disclosures of that great day when the Lord “ both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts." How few of them “ then shall have praise of God.”
On his birth-day, April 15, he as usual awoke early, and entered upon his fifty-second year with feelings of peculiar solemnity, and renewed acts of self-consecration to the divine service. Referring to his late painful trials, he says:—“My soul rises a little above its sorrows. O may I cast
the Lord, and he will sustain me.”
It was in much mercy that he was enabled for a season to rise above his sorrows, for yet heavier trials awaited him. The brief respite, however, was continued until the business of the District Meeting was over, and until he had fulfilled his engagements to attend the annual Missionary Meeting at Birmingham, held on Monday, May the 18th. On the following day, Tuesday 19th, he received intelligence of so afflictive a character as to cast into the shade all that had gone before. The melancholy tidings overwhelmed him. His distress was aggravated by the circumstance that he was from home at the time,
and necessarily much in company. To weep and pray in solitude might have afforded some relief. On the fol. lowing day he makes this brief and affecting entry in his pocket book :—“Last night restless; this day overwhelmed. Oh! my poor heart is almost broken; yet I am obliged to be in a large company to tea, and to preach."
Sunday, May 24th, was a silent and sorrowful sabbath to my dear father.
He could not get up his spirits to appear in public. His place at City Road Chapel was kindly supplied by one of his colleagues; and he spent the day in solitude and prayer. The following touching record of his feelings on this mournful sabbath is found in his diary: "Sunday morning, eleven o'clock, my study, New Chapel, London.—Here I sit in silent, soli. tary sorrow. My dear wife, Mary, and Joseph are in the chapel : my poor John
It is like a frightful dream. I can hardly believe it real. I will not say, “All these things are against me.' No: I will trust in the Lord, though he slay me. O Lord, hold thou me up, and I shall be safe. Amen."
After four weeks of deep distress and torturing suspense, we were all struck with the altered appearance of my dear father, when he came down to breakfast on the 19th of June. His countenance,—the faithful index to his mind, which had long borne the impress of sorrow and deep depression, had strangely recovered its former expression, and once more beamed with peace and joy. He had been pleading with God; and had received such an answer of peace, that his fears which had long alternated with his hopes, were all silenced; and he expressed a full persuasion that the Lord would appear in our behalf. The event justified his confidence. That very day the house of mourning once more became the house of praise and thanksgiving to God. The following evening, my father writes with a heart overflowing with gratitude:
Glory be to God! My habitation is in peace. Four of my children are about me. John, I hope, is resolved to live to God. My dear wife and I, though enfeebled and enervated by late exercises, are pretty well. Now, I will endeavour to pay my vows unto the Lord. He is my help and my shield. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee."