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as to visit in the course of the year three hundred and sixty-five families.
“The benefit of such visits is incalculable, if performed in a serious, spiritual, and affectionate manner. You will find it conduce to your own spiritual prosperity; in your intercourse with the people, you will often be furnished with subjects for your public ministry; you will find greater access to the minds of your hearers while addressing them. Besides, such visits will conciliate the affections of the people, increase your congregations, and prepare the minds of your hearers for a profitable attendance on public ordinances.
your visits to families, do not overlook the children. • Feed my lambs,' saith our Lord. A word spoken to children and young persons often makes a deep and lasting impression. In every possible way, labour to save souls, by your private as well as public labours.
“O brethren,' says Mr. Wesley, “if we could but set this work on foot in all our societies, and prosecute it zealously, what glory would redound to God !'-Large Minutes, p. 9.
“6. That you may obtain grace for the discharge of every duty imposed upon you, and to the performance of which you are solemnly pledged before this assembly, imitate the holy company mentioned Acts vi. 4, who said, “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.' The most holy, zealous, and useful ministers of Christ in all ages have been much with God in secret. See the Lives of Fletcher, Walsh, and others. Wrestle with God in prayer for yourselves, for daily growth in grace, for an increasing knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, for subjects for the pulpit, for life, power, unction, and success. Very many considerations combine to shew the necessity, utility, and advantage of prayer.
“III. Is it necessary, my brethren, to present to you motives to the performance of the various duties of your station ? If not absolutely necessary, it may be useful. Let me then suggest a few.
“1. Your vows and solemn engagements this day. They are real engagements. We, your brethren in the ministry, are witnesses. This large congregation presents to you a cloud of witnesses.
An innumerable company
of angels and the spirits of just men made perfect are witnesses, and your great Lord and Master is witness. • The vows of God are upon you.' Never forget the solemnities of this day. Often recur to this hour, as a means to prevent indolence, to animate your zeal, and to keep up unceasing activity in your arduous and important work.
“ 2. Your responsibility—to the Conference, to the whole connexion, to the world, to conscience, and to God, the Judge of all. You have engaged in the presence of your brethren to act in conformity to rule. You have subscribed to the Twelve Rules of a Helper, a practical attention to which will promote your personal religion and your usefulness. And you are to undergo annual examinations. The whole connexion look for the performance of your solemn engagements. •England expects every man to do his duty. And let me observe to you, my brethren, that such is the religious character of our people, that that man is always most esteemed, who is most zealous and faithful in his Master's work.
“You are responsible to God. Never forget this. The words of the Apostle, 1 Cor. iv. 2–4, 'It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful,' &c. are appropriate in your case. It is well often to realize death, our entrance upon an eternal state, and our appearance before God. So did St. Paul. • We labour,' &c. 2 Cor. v. 9-11,
"3. You are warranted to expect divine aid. My beloved brethren, I doubt not you are sensible of your incompetency for the work in which you are engaged, if left to yourselves. Sometimes, perhaps, you are much discouraged. The work appears to be so great, such an awful responsibility is connected with it, and the consequences of faithfulness or unfaithfulness appear to your minds so momentous, that you say with much feeling, • Who is sufficient for these things ?' 2 Cor. iii. 5. Remember, you are the servants of Christ, and preach his truth. He is your employer and your helper.Lo! I am with you always.' Believe that Christ will assist
you in your work, and make
useful. * The certainty of success in a greater or less degree. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Faith comes by hearing the Gospel.
Preaching the Gospel is an ordinance of God, and he honours his own ordinance. Your success does not depend on yourselves, but on the divine blessing, which you are warranted to expect, while in simplicity and godly sincerity you preach the truth as it is in Jesus. Recollect what has been done amongst us as a people. Our forefathers did not labour in vain. Their fruit remains. Witness our chapels, large societies and congregations, the thousands who are gone to glory, and the multitudes who still remain, who are brought into a state of salvation, adorn the Gospel, and are on their way to heaven. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Pray and preach in faith,—not only under a firm persuasion of the truth of what you preach, but also that good will be done. You cannot labour in vain. Expect that good will be done by every sermon, every exhortation, every pastoral visit. Such an expectation will excite your feelings and increase your zeal, and will be accompanied by that influence and power of the Holy Ghost, which will ensure success.
“5. The glorious reward—the joy set before you, the prospect, as instruments, of bringing many sons to glory.' These shall be the crown of your rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus. How great the glory which shall be revealed when all meet in heaven !– Wesley, Whitfield, Mather, Pawson, Thompson, Hanby, &c. &c.”
Although the above manuscript was left unfinished, and never received that revision and polish which my father designed it should undergo, and without which he would not have committed it to the press, the reader will perhaps be of opinion, that the topics it embraces are so important, and the mode of treating them so much in keeping with his usual simplicity, gravity, and sweetness, that it ought not to be withheld.
FROM THE CONFERENCE OF 1826 TO THAT OF 1829.
My father's term of labour in the Birmingham Circuit had now expired. He reviewed the three years he had spent there with feelings of lively gratitude to God. It had been a time of great personal spiritual prosperity. He had by the grace of God succeeded in composing differences which seriously hindered the work of God; almost uninterrupted peace had subsequently prevailed; he had gained in no ordinary degree the confidence, respect, and affections of the people; by the enlargement and erection of chapels, the number of hearers had been increased at least one-half; the finances had improved; the number of members in society had been raised from 1550 to 1785; many conversions had taken place, and there had been a general deepening of the work of God in the hearts of the people. The salubrity of the air also, together with the exemption afforded by that compact circuit from long fatiguing rides and exhausting walks, had, by the blessing of God, so improved his health, that he often remarked that he felt ten years younger in constitution when he left Birmingham than when he entered upon its labours. In the last week of August, he left this affectionate people with feelings of deep regret; feelings which were most cordially reciprocated by multitudes to whom he had been instrumental of unmingled good.
His next appointment was to Bristol; the Rev. Messrs. Thomas Rogers, W. M. Harvard, J. Bicknell, and Geo. Cubitt were his colleagues. In addition to these, no less than six Supernumerary Ministers had fixed their residence in Bristol. Of these the truly venerable and Rev. James Wood, and the Revds. Jeremiah Brettell, and T. Roberts, M.A. had been among the number of his personal and intimate friends. It is not often that a
Superintendent is supported by so efficient a band of fellow-labourers. Both the circuit and his colleagues were highly acceptable to him.
On Sunday morning, Sept. 3, he opened his commission at King street Chapel : his text was Psalm cix. 4. “But I give myself unto prayer:"-language descriptive of the spirit in which he entered upon his work, and proposed to prosecute it; as also of that in which he desired the people to co-operate with him, in order to
The Bristol Circuit had not yet been divided, and was much more laborious than Birmingham. Twelve years had rolled round since he had laboured there before, and he soon found that though much improved in health during the last three years, he was not so well able to bear the long rides and walks as when he travelled there before. In a letter to his son Samuel, dated Sept. 28, he writes:“You
• Unless I have formed a mistaken estimate of the labours of the Bristol Circuit, you will enjoy comparative repose.' Ah, my dear Samuel, I must say, as Mr. Wesley used to say, 'We must labour on earth, and rest in heaven.' I have not now the care of all the churches as I had last year; but, in some respects, my toils are greater. Besides the business which falls upon me as Chairman of the District, and of the School Committee, the regular work and care of this circuit are greater than at Birmingham. We have 2500 members. We have to preach on week-nights at least twice as often as at Birmingham: we have long rides into the country: we have Committee meetings almost without end; and the calls and interruptions to my regular studies are almost incessant. Don't misunderstand me. I am not complaining, but I mention these particulars to shew you that your
father does not, and if he do his duty, cannot, eat the bread of idleness.
“There is a grand defect in our system. The oldest man has most work; for besides all that lies
upon Superintendent, he has the same quantum of preaching with the youngest man in the circuit; that is, almost every night, Saturday excepted. Labour, however, is sweet to me. I like to be employed; and wherever I may be stationed, I shall find or make work enough."