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prayer was answered. And the writer has often heard him
express his gratitude that from that hour his comfort had never been at the mercy of circumstances; but that he had been enabled to regard such little disagreeables, as providential calls to the exercise of self-denial and submission to the will of God. The advantage derived from the circumstance just related led him to give his son the following advice in a letter dated Aug. 1835, “I would advise you to act on your father's principle, viz. • Make as few things as possible necessary to your comfort.' For forty-six years, since I became a pilgrim, I have been governed by this maxim, and it has been better to me than £10,000 per annum.”
In those days the preachers' salaries were extremely low; in most cases barely sufficient, and in some, not sufficient, to meet their actual necessities, to say nothing of comforts and conveniences. In one circuit in which Mr. E. travelled, the board allowance was so much per meal, the calculation being made upon principles of the most rigid economy; and if invited to take a friendly meal from home, the allowance for that meal was carefully deducted, when the next reckoning day arrived.
O tempora ! O mores !” Mr. E. often referred in after life to the altered state of things in these respects, as one evidence among many others that Methodism had not of late deteriorated in its spirit and character, but decidedly improved; and that they do not speak wisely who say, “the former days were better than these.”
It is perhaps impossible to say, how much this country is indebted to Methodism for the improved habits of the population at large both in the agricultural and manufacturing districts. Certain it is, that the early Methodist Preachers found many of the people in a semibarbarous state,-deeply sunk in ignorance and vice, and almost lost in dirt and wretchedness. And it is no less certain, that wherever religion took deep root, cleanliness and order, with personal and domestic comfort, followed in the train of vital godliness.
But to return from this digression. Soon after his engagement in the itinerant work, Mr Entwisle's health was perfectly re-established; and he determined to consecrate every moment of his life, and
and faculty of his mind to the service of God and his church.
He entered upon the work of his extensive and laborious circuit in the true spirit of a primitive Methodist Preacher, and employed all his time in travelling, preaching, visiting the people from house to house, the devotional exercises of the closet, and such studies as tended to promote increasing piety and usefulness, and bore directly upon the work of the ministry. As there were but about six hundred members in the whole cir. cuit, and the societies were all small, with three preachers, (besides Mr. Murlin,) each of whom had his own horse, it was an easy thing in those days to visit all the members at their own houses. There was, however, so much travelling and preaching, and there were so many changes of lodgings, (for the preachers were six weeks in going round the circuit, the greater part of which time the single men were usually from home,) that it required great resolution and self-denial to redeem time for reading and study. In these exercises he greatly delighted, and he felt his need of them ; but he never allowed his thirst after knowledge to interfere with either his public labours or his private pastoral duties.
Just after he went to the circuit, Thame was given up, so that he had a leisure day, which might have been advantageously devoted to private study; but in the true spirit of his office he rode over to Bierton, then a dark and neglected village, near Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire, where there was no Methodist preaching. One of the inhabitants, Mr. James Durley, had recently joined the society at Aylesbury. Mr. E. proposed preaching in his house that evening. The offer was thankfully accepted; and from that time to the present, Methodist preaching has been continued in the village. Much good was done: a lovely society was formed; and the fruits remain to this day.
On the 15th of October, 1787, and the four following days, Mr. Wesley took a tour through the Oxfordshire Circuit, visiting and preaching at Wallingford, Witney, Oxford, and High Wycomb. Mr. Entwisle felt it an honour and privilege to accompany the venerable father of the connexion on horseback in several of these journies. He found him exceedingly cheerful, without levity; and his conversation highly interesting and edifying. His vivacity was remarkable for his advanced years.
As Mr. E. was riding with him on one of these days at a pretty smart pace, his horse suddenly fell, when he went right over his head, and alighted on his feet unhurt. Mr. Wesley delighted with his agility exclaimed, “ Well done, Joseph, I could not have done better than that myself.” Mr. Wesley was much pleased with the prosperous state of the society at High Wycomb, and thus recorded it in his journal:—“The work of God is so considerably increased here, that although three galleries are added to the preaching-house, it would scarce contain the people. Even at five in the morning, Friday 19th, it was thoroughly filled. Never before was there so fair a prospect of doing good in this place.”
A few extracts from Mr. Entwisle's diary, in which he faithfully records the variations in his religious experirience, often exercising, when sitting in judgment upon him a degree of severity in striking contrast with the charitable construction he put upon the motives and actions of others,—will best put the reader in possession of his religious history at this period; for to this chiefly his diary has respect.
“Feb. 15, 1788.-This morning I was much profited in considering 1 Peter v. 5, · Be clothed with humility.' This is what I want, to make me holy, happy, useful. O may I ever be little in my own eyes.
• This afternoon the Scriptures were sweeter to me than honey or the honey-comb. From this time I resolve to make them my delight and my counsellors. In the evening I had a profitable time while preaching, and afterwards conversing with the society at Great Bedwin. Notwithstanding the great opposition there has been, God has already done great things for this people. O Jesus, ride on, till all are subdued !
· Feb. 27.—When I arose this morning, I begged of God to make me a man of one business. Most of the day I spent in private. Yet not alone, for God has been with me indeed. Lord, make me holy.
“Feb. 28.-Happy all last night. Awoke in peace. By reading a letter in the Arminian Magazine, I was much stirred up to seek perfect conformity to the divine will; and had a joyful hope that God would soon work this change in me. O my God, thou knowest that I desire nothing in comparison with thee. Send me to
any part of the world; call me to suffer never so much; only give me thyself, and reign in my heart continually, and I ask no more. O my God, why not now? Let this be the accepted time; let this be the day of salvation. Lord, thou dost warm my heart: I feel thee near. Thou art mine; I am thine. I now resign myself, my understanding, will, memory, time, and talents, yea, all I have and am, to be thine. Accept the free-will offering. Take me, O my Father, as I am, and make me as thou wouldst have me to be.
“My soul was filled with the love of God this evening, while exhorting believers to lay hold on the promises now. This is the way to be useful.
March 1.-Going from Waddesden to Oxon to-day, I found God remarkably near to me.
I seemed to converse with him as a man with his friend.
Mon. 3.—Riding from Oxon to Chibnies, my mind was much harassed with temptation to impatience with the bad road. I cried to God, and he delivered me. I believe I shall soon enter into perfect rest.”
Having received a letter from his beloved mother, in which she expressed an earnest desire to see him, and great solicitude respecting his next appointment,--for it was not often that single men remained more than one year in a circuit then, he wrote the following reply :
· Oxford, April 15, 1788. - MY DEAR MOTHER, * No doubt you are often impatient for the approach of Conference. You long to see me; yet great as that desire is, I rejoice that you do not wish me to neglect my important work to visit you. The Lord has given you power to resign me up to his will; and I doubt not you have often been abundantly repaid in your own bosom. O my dear mother, consider with me, that • They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.' One soul is worth a thousand worlds. How great a thing is it then to be instrumental in saving one soul! This fires my heart with a strong desire to pluck sinners as brands out of the fire ; and I am often constrained to cry out,—0) may my
head, and tongue, and heart and all, spend and be spent in service so divine !'
“ You are anxious about my next circuit. make it the subject of prayer, that God may take the matter into his own hands. He cannot err. fectly well in body, and happy in my soul. The Lord feeds me with honey out of Christ Jesus, the Rock of ages.
“ Your affectionate Son,
* JOSEPH ENTWISLE.”
I am per
Although he was thus devoted to his work, and generally happy in God, there were seasons when his mind was painfully exercised about his office as a Christian minister; he had an affecting sense of its importance, and humbling views of his own unfitness. Sometimes, indeed, he was ready to sink under discouragement, which was greatly aggravated by the low state of religion in some parts of the circuit, and by occasional physical inability to pursue close study, induced by exhausting labour, poor lodgings, and hard fare. All these things, however, worked together for good, and had their influence in the formation of that high ministerial character which was afterwards uniformly sustained for so many years. His diary proceeds :
Oxford, May 15.—This morning when I awoke, I found a strong desire to devote myself more than ever to God. I never had such a sense of my unworthiness as of late. I often think I engaged in the ministry too
I am amazed that the people will come to hear
I want to be truly humble. Though I thought my inward enemies were destroyed, yet I frequently find pride. Lord, make me holy. May I love to be unknown, and of no account.
“ May 16.—Spent most of this day in meditation and prayer. Read the Journal of D. Brainerd. 0 for that zealous concern for the good of souls which he had !
May 19, Wallingford.—There is much talk about religion here, but very little enjoyed. I never was in a place where backbiting and evil-speaking abounded so much as here. Instead of lambs they are like lions. This forenoon I had a sweet season in private. I could only say, “Lord, here I am, mould as thou wilt thy