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The Rev. John Stephens was elected President, and the Rev. Jabez Bunting, Secretary. The attendance was more than usually large.
The Preachers' Fund was placed on a more satisfactory footing. A plan was also agreed upon for the more effectual relief of the distressed chapels—a plan which in the actual working has more than realized all the anticipations indulged at the time.
A few weeks after my father's return from Conference, he began to suffer considerable inconvenience from a disease which for some time he was unable to understand, the symptoms being perfectly new to him. He remarks, “ Perhaps this is a hint to me that I am going down the hill, and that the old man will soon come upon me. Well, I am in the hands of my God. Let him do as seemeth him good. I feel perfect resignation. I am the clay, O Lord, thou art the potter. I must endeavour to walk with God, and to exert myself in his blessed work. My heart is in it: long as I live beneath, I will endeavour to live to Him.”
At this time religion appears to have been but at a low ebb in the Bristol Circuit, and Mr. E's mind was sometimes distressed on this account. “ Alas !” he writes, Oct. 6,“ I see little good done! Why is it that we do not see sinners converted? Who or what is the hinderance ? Lord, is it I ?" Again, he writes, Oct. 13, “I am sometimes much discouraged about the state of religion in this circuit. I fear our society retrogrades. We have no active leaders that can be prevailed on to attend our prayer-meetings. We hear of very few conversions. O Lord, revive thy work, in the midst of the years !”
The low state of the society above referred to, together with the state of his health, the new symptoms he had lately felt, rendering the long rides extremely inconvenient and painful to him,-led him to entertain serious thoughts of removing to some smaller and easier circuit at the Conference. But
upon mentioning his purpose at the Christmas Quarterly Meeting, so great was the excitement, so much was said both by preachers and the stewards on the importance of his remaining on account of the new chapel building at Langton street, and the contemplated division of the circuit, and so unanimous and earnest was their request that he would remain a
gave his consent. His colleagues with great kindness made arrangements to relieve him of the long rides which were most inconvenient to him. Soon after, the prospects of the circuit began to brighten. A plan was devised and put into operation for paying off the circuit debt, which had accumulated to about £200, and for preventing the recurrence of this evil. The Leaders' Meeting which was large and unwieldly was divided without one dissenting voice, Mr. E. having succeeded in convincing every body concerned, that the proper business of a Leaders' Meeting,—the examination of the class-papers, &c.cannot be properly done where there are eighty, ninety, or more in number. My father thus records the division in his journal.
“Jan. 15, 1828.-With a view to the improvement of godly discipline, and ultimately to the division of the circuit, it was unanimously agreed to divide the Leaders' Meeting, thirty-six leaders residing on the Somerset side of the river to meet at Guinea street, and the remainder, fifty-eight, to meet as usual at King street. Brotherly love continues amongst us: when that is the case, any thing that is proper can be done for the public good. This arrangement promises extensive usefulness.”
On the 15th of Feb. he remarks on the same subject in a letter to his son,—“We have had four meetings at Guinea street, full of love. This has given a new impulse to our cause at the west-end of the town, and the brethren are indeed ‘striving together with one mind for the faith of the Gospel.' Perhaps if there had been a Leaders' Meeting at every principal chapel in Leeds four years ago, what has lately occurred would have been prevented. We have had a gracious revival of religion, and from present appearances we expect great things, though without noise. He adds,–
“ This circuit has been made easy to me this winter by the kindness of my brethren. It seems to me the sacred cloud stands still at Bristol, which is a direct order to me to pitch my tent here—not build a house: when the cloud moves, then I am to move also.”
On the 18th of June, Mr. E. preached the last sermon in Guinea street Chapel, on Psalm cxviii 25. The congregation was large, and it was a solemn season. This
place of worship had been in use about 50 years, but was now to be superseded by Langton street Chapel, which was opened the following day, June 19, by the Rev. Messrs. Watson and Robert Wood. On Sunday 22, the Rev. Messrs. Watson, and R. Wood, with Mr. William Dawson, preached. The collections were near £400, although about £3000 had been previously subscribed. Nearly all the sittings were almost immediately let. A new impulse was given to the zeal and activity of the members, the leaders appeared united as the heart of one man in their efforts for good, and the prospects of the society assumed a most encouraging aspect.
On Wednesday, July 30th, the Conference assembled in London. Much time was occupied in a careful and impartial consideration of all the circumstances connected with the unhappy division at Leeds. In these discussions Mr. E. took a prominent part: on some minor points he differed from some of his esteemed Brethren ; but mutual explanations removed from their minds every thing unpleasant; and he most cordially concurred in the decision to which the Conference came on that melancholy occasion, and which was placed on record in the printed Minutes for the year.—Vol. VI. pp. 397—401.
On the 22nd. of August, he entered upon his third year, and resumed his labours in the Bristol Circuit, his colleagues being the Rev. Messrs. W. Leach, W. Beal, W. M. Harvard, and J. Morris.
In the beginning of October, at the particular request of the President, Mr. Entwisle undertook a journey to Exeter, with a view to the relief of the Trustees of the Mint Chapel in that city, who were in circumstances of great difficulty and distress. His visit was attended with the happiest results. A plan was devised, and immediately put into operation, by which the calamity which threatened the Trustees with great personal distress, and the Connexion with serious and lasting discredit, was averted; and the Trust concern was ultimately placed in easy circumstances. On Wednesday the 16th, he returned home, rejoicing in the success which had been mercifully vouchsafed to his mission.
On the 24th of December, my father was favoured with a glorious manifestation of God's love to his soul, of which he gives the following account:—"About eleven
o'clock in the forenoon I read in my study some letters written by Mr.Whitfield, Mr. Cennick, and others, which give details of God's work in Bristol, Wales, and elsewhere, in 1743, 1741, &c, My soul was much blessed. I then kneeled down to pray; and glory, glory, glory be to God, he manifested himself to me in a degree that astonished and overwhelmed me.
O the awful sense of his holiness and justice, which humbled me! O the manifestations of his love, which lifted me up! Such was the power of God resting upon me, that I could only sink dissolved in love before him, and make a surrender of my all to him. O the glorious liberty I feel! I am nothing. God in Christ is all in all. The Lord has set me in a large place. Is he preparing me for labour or suffering in some extraordinary way? He knows; that is enough for me. I feel willing to do,-I feel willing to suffer any thing. I am weakness itself. But most gladly will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Hold Thou me up,
Lord, and I shall be safe, I am in thy hands—thy clay. Do with me and by me what seemeth good in thy sight.
I am thine—thine alone. May I see in thy light, act in thy power, and dwell in love. Amen."
The agitated state of some parts of the Connexion, occasioned by the Leeds dissentients, gave him great pain; and the more, because some of the localities in which they were most industriously sowing the seeds of dissension, had been the scenes of his former labours ; the fruits of which he feared would be blighted by the unhallowed spirit of contention. Among these were Leeds, Southwark, Barnsley, and Sheffield. The general failure, however, of these attempts, called forth lively feelings of gratitude to God, and confirmed his judgment of the propriety of the course adopted by the late Confer
A few extracts from his journal and correspondence will shew his views on these subjects, and will serve to illustrate his character.
To his son, the Rev. W. Entwisle, he writes : “I think there is general peace in the Connexion ; though I hear there is a division at Barnsley, some of our people having invited the · Protestants ' from Leeds. It is poor work, dividing Christian Societies. Should there be any thing of the kind with you, Don't dispute; have as little
cisz to do with them as possible. Preach Christ-save souls. and God will then be with you."
In his Journal, he observes : -“Jan. 10, 1829. The sont dispute at Leeds seems to have a pernicious influence in various parts of our Connexion. The grand device of
the enemy seems to be, to set the Local Preachers against it the Travelling Preachers. In proportion as he succeeds zit in this, he will do injury to the good cause. Our brethren
the Dissenters are piously exerting themselves to produ mote a revival of religion among their congregations is through the land, while many amongst us are disputing ' is about church-government, the power of Conference,-of 1 Leaders and Quarterly Meetings, &c. O Lord, send frs peace!”
Many things at present seem to combine to disturb e the quiet of our Connexion, to disunite the brethren, and
therefore to render us as a body less useful than we might ett be. May the opposition and calumnies of enemies be Les overruled for our good. Through grace I will give myih self anew to God. The Non-cons. have crossed the Ru
bicon. They will make little out for themselves, but may do much harm.
To an esteemed minister and former colleague, the Rev. John Hanwell, then labouring at Barnsley, where a division had taken place, he writes :
“You must have had painful feelings; but you have the satisfaction of knowing that you have not contributed bine to the present agitated state of the Barnsley Society. You
may say with the Apostle, 2 Cor. i. 12, “This is our rejoicing,' &c. Amidst all this contention about power and government, there is great danger of religion essentially suffering. Whatever operates against love strikes at the heart and soul of religion. And I fear Satan is succeeding to a great extent to set brother against brother. I trust that the Lord will overrule all for good eventually; and that, while ‘watched by a malignant eye,' we, as a body of ministers, shall become more holy, spiritual, lively, active, and useful.
“I am confident that our Connexion could not long exist, if lay-delegates were admitted in our Conferences ; and that the power exercised by the Conference is absolutely necessary to the perpetuation of itinerancy. This,