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A month after, he records the death of the Rev. David Stoner-a sudden and unexpected stroke, keenly felt by the whole Connexion, and by no one more than by himself—and remarks :
" How mysterious the ways of God! A young man, about thirty-two years of age, deeply pious, full of zeal for God and the salvation of souls; of uncommon abilities for the work of the ministry; one of the most successful preachers I ever knew. Hundreds of souls will bless God to all eternity for his labours. He was habitually diligent in getting and doing good. “Never unemployed ---never triflingly employed.' He 'never whiled away time.' He had a single eye. In all my intercourse with him for two years, I never heard him say a word, nor did I ever observe a look or attitude, or any other circumstance which indicated self-seeking, or the desire of human applause. Though he was the most popular in his regular ministry of any man I ever knew, I never could perceive that it afforded him any gratification. His whole soul appeared to be swallowed up in one thing to glorify God, save souls, and maintain in himself the power and life of religion.”
This mournful event solemnly affected Mr. E.'s mind, and led him to preach and labour with eternity more constantly in view. In this he was encouraged by the manifest tokens for good with which he was favoured. “I find in meeting the classes,” he says, “and in my private intercourse with the people, a great number of established Christians, persons deeply pious. We have, too, some coming in amongst us at the right door: others have lately found peace with God; and others give evidence that the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed them from all sin. I do hope we shall see good done. The Bristol people are remarkably steady, this encourages me.”
He found the circuit, however, almost unmanageable by one superintendent and four preachers; but the way was not yet open for its division—a measure much desired by many of the friends, who proposed to make the river Avon the line of separation. But there were at this time insuperable difficulties in the way, the Somersetshire side of the river being too weak to support two preachers. With a view to remove these difficulties, it
was proposed to build a larger chapel in lieu of that in Guinea Street, and a committee was appointed to look out for a suitable site: this was some time after obtained in Langton street, where a good substantial chapel was built, and opened in the course of his second year.
Mr. E. having been appointed one of the Missionary deputation to Cornwall, he took coach on Mon. Feb. 5, 1827, to Exeter; where he was joined by the Rev. J. Lomas, with whom he proceeded the next day to Truro.
“ After dinner on Wednesday,” he writes to Mrs. E. “I travelled through a mining country, which has an unsightly appearance, to Gwennap, a distance of seven miles, and at half-past six preached to an immense crowd -I will not pretend to say how many. There is no village where the chapel stands, yet it is very large—about four yards longer than Ebenezer Chapel. It is pleasing to see such a number of miners flock to hear the word of God on a working day. I had a comfortable bed in the neighbourhood at Captain Joe Mitchell's. They call those who have command of the mines Captains. Captain Joe has about 2000 persons under his command. He is a pious man, and has been a class-leader thirty years.
“I walked a mile to see the celebrated pit at Gwennap, where Mr. Wesley preached, and where they have a Missionary Meeting on his birth-day. It is circular, enclosed by a high wall, and has two entrances by gates, which are kept locked. The miners have made it most complete. There are rows upon rows of seats in a circular form from top to bottom. These seats are fronted with stones to keep them in form, and are covered with a green carpet; for now the grass is quite green, and the surface as level and regular as possible. On one side, a few yards below the top of the pit, is a pulpit; that is, two large stones standing upright, with one across, to lay the books on. This amphitheatre is regarded hy the lord of the manor, as in the possession of the Methodists, and for their exclusive use.
“ Thurs. 8th.—After dinner I went to Ponsanooth, about four miles, where there is a large chapel, the only place of worship in the village. Here there are no mines, but manufactures of serges, blankets, paper, and gun
powder. The Rev. T. Roberts, A.M. came from this neighbourhood. Preached at Ponsanooth on Psalm vii. 4.
“ Frid, 9.-I set off for Falmouth, five miles from Ponsanooth, where I arrived before dinner. The country is very romantic, and the scenery bold and interesting. Preached at Falmouth on Phil. iii. 8.
“ Sat. 10.—I left Mr. Rymell's, of Falmouth, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Hayman, in a chaise; and passing through Penryn and Redruth, arrived at Camborne in about two hours, and was kindly received by. Mr. and Mrs. Budge, (late Miss Reynolds.) Camborne is a small market town, containing about 1500 inhabitants. Though the chapel is large, it is too small, and they are about to build a larger. There is not a house in the town in which a member of our Society is not to be found. At Tucking Mill, not a mile distant, is a still larger chapel; and within four miles of that place are twenty-four chapels, to which are attached many large societies. Almost the entire population are hearers of the Methodists.
“ Sun. Feb. 11.-I had a good time in preaching at Camborne in the morning, from 2 Cor. vi. 2. The chapel was excessively crowded. Mr. Came sent a car to convey me to Penzance, a distance of fifteen miles. I dined at Mr. Budge's, and only arrived at Penzance in time to get a cup of tea, wash myself, and go into the pulpit. There is at Penzance a fine, large, elegant chapel, with an organ. The crowd was great.
Below one could only see heads; and the front gallery presented to the eye twelve rows of persons seated closely together:
an awful sight. I was entertained at Mr. Carne's, where I was quite at home. He is a blessed old man; and though we had never met before, we were like two old friends, having known each other by character for many years.
“Mon. 12.–At six in the evening, we had the public meeting at Penzance. The crowd was immense. The excessive press spoiled the meeting in part, though it was an interesting time “ Tues. 13. Helstone.—A small town,
,-a large good chapel. Mr. Lomas preached at three, and the public meeting began at six. A most gracious season. I believe much good would be done to the souls of the people.
“ Wed. 14.—At ten o'clock we set off for Hayle. Here there is scarcely a house in the neighbourhood without a Methodist; and almost every body attends preaching. The chapel will hold as many as King street, Bristol, and was crowded. We had one of the best meetings I have known.
66 Thurs. 15.—Redruth. An immense crowd at the public meeting: lively and spiritual. Frid. 16. Falmouth. Mr. Lomas preached at three: public meeting at six. The large chapel was crowded: the Lord was evidently present. Sat. 17.—I have had a busy week, and but little time for retirement. The cold has been severe. I could not get fire or candle early in the morning, and had no opportunity of retirement in the day. Seldom in bed till twelve at night. Yet my soul has been kept alive to God. I trust too, that I have been of some use in Cornwall. The levity occasioned by ludicrous speeches in former years made the people afraid of Missionary Meetings. Thank God, we have had solemn meetings, and much of God in them.”
Mr. E. preached on Sun. 18, at Redruth in the morning, and at Truro in the evening; spent the Monday at Truro; on Tuesday, preached at St. Austell, and on Wednesday attended the meeting at Bodmin.
He was much amused to learn that at Redruth, when the miners saw him, some of them said, it was not old Mr. Entwisle, but his son. “Miners there begin to look old at forty, and few survive fifty years.” They therefore very naturally expected, as they knew my father to have travelled forty years, to see a very wrinkled, decrepid, infirm old man; and when tbey saw one so fresh, blooming, and vigorous, they concluded it must be, J. E., jun.
This excursion to Cornwall seems to have been singularly useful. Before he went, broken nights and anxiety occasioned by the critical state of Mrs. E.'s health, and various things in the circuit, with constant labour, had greatly enervated him. The journey, exercise, change of air, and the sacred delight he experienced in his Master's work, all combined to brace and invigorate both body and mind; and he returned to his beloved home and to his work "with increased desire to spend and be spent for God and the souls of men.”
Mr. Wesley's birth-day, June 28, had for many years
been gratefully observed at Kingswood: religious services were held on that day, which were numerously attended by persons from the surrounding neighbourhood, the greater part of whom owed their all under God, to that great revival of primitive, apostolical Christianity, in effecting which Mr. Wesley was the chief instrument in the hands of God. Mr. Entwisle was one of the few surviving ministers who had been called into the work by Mr. Wesley himself; he regarded him as one of the greatest and best men that ever lived, and one whose influence
this country and the world at large was more beneficial than that of any man who had lived since the age of the Apostles themselves: the return of the day which gave him birth always called forth warm expressions of gratitude for so signal a manifestation of the goodness of God; and he felt more than ordinary interest on this occasion in its celebration amidst the scenes of Mr. Wesley's earliest labours and most.triumphant successes, a spot dear to that eminent man himself, and which will ever be regarded as classic and sacred ground by those who are the fruits of his labours in the Lord. My father thus notices the day in his journal :
· June 28, Mr. Wesley's birth-day, Kingswood.—The rain prevented my preaching, according to custom, under the sycamore-tree; however, a large congregation assembled in the chapel. I preached on Heb. xiii. 7, 8. There was a good feeling in the congregation, especially while I gave extracts from Mr. Wesley's Journal, which detailed his first labours and successes at Bristol, Kingswood, &c.; and while I gave an account of the number of preachers and members at his death in 1791, and at the last Conference. •What hath God wrought!'
“It was a good day. Messrs. Wood, Brettell, Bicknell, Cubitt, Rogers, Lomas, and Batty, and a great number of friends were present. While pacing the terrace, my soul was drawn out in earnest prayer to God; and I did again, what I have often done before in the sacred bower, -engage myself unto the Lord. • Thy vows are upon me, O Lord ;' may I be faithful to my engagements."
On Tuesday, July 17th, he arrived in Manchester, and on the following day took his place in the Stationing Committee. The Conference commenced on the 25th.