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FROM HIS APPOINTMENT TO TADCASTER AS SUPERNUME
RARY, IN 1838, TO THE TIME OF HIS DEATH, IN 1841.
We now come to the last stage of my dear father's earthly pilgrimage,—the last instructive scene of a long, consistent, and exemplary life. We have seen the deep solemnity of spirit and the cheerful submission to the will of God with which he contemplated, while yet in prospect, retirement from the work in which he had so long been engaged: the sequel will shew that when actually placed in these new circumstances, he found the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ sufficient for him; and that he had in an eminent degree learned that difficult but important lesson upon which he had often expatiated with great delight and effect in his public ministrations ;
-“I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” &c. He was still the same spirituallyminded, serious, contented, cheerful, happy man as ever, and still the same active, diligent, self-denying minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. The grace which had enabled him efficiently to fill up the honourable stations assigned to him in public life, now sustained him in comparative retirement; and the same “calmly-fervent zeal” which had led him steadily onward in an undeviating course of holy activity during the fifty-one years in which he had moved in a more extensive sphere of usefulness, still constrained him to employ all his remaining energies in the service of God and man in the more limited sphere of action to which his growing infirmities now restricted him;—while the retirement and leisure for which he had often sighed, and which he now enjoyed, were diligently improved in the pursuit of a growing meetness for that heavenly inheritance, the prospect of which became daily brighter and more joyous.
His journal, from this period until within a few days
of his death, being more copious than for many previous years, supplies, with but few interruptions, an autobiographical sketch of the history of his remaining days, and will enable his numerous friends to receive as from his own lips the edifying recital how God continued to “guide him with his counsel,” until he “received him to glory.” The extracts must necessarily be brief, and many particulars deeply interesting to his family, and perhaps not less so to an extensive circle of friends, who regarded his visits almost as those of an inhabitant of the celestial world, must be passed over, or the limits within which this Memoir must be included, would be greatly exceeded.
“Sun. Sept. 2, 1838.—My last Sunday at Hoxton. Ah! how rapid the motion of time. It is four years since I undertook the government of the Institution family. I have endeavoured conscientiously to discharge the duties of my office; my eye has been single; but I have failed very much in doing it in the degree which I desired. I retire, however, with “a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man;' in peace with every member of the family; and with the esteem of my brethren in the ministry. “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.' To him be glory. Amen. I look forward to a plan of usefulness in my retirement, on a small scale, with pleasure. My general health is good. I may live a few years. If so, I trust it may be to good purpose. And if it should please God to call me soon and suddenly to appear before him, O may I be found quite ready for my final change. Jesus, in death remember me.'
In death as life, be thou my guide,
And save me, who for me hast died."" “Wed. 5.—Took leave of Mr. Moore. Perhaps we shall not meet again in this world. May we meet in glory. Much excited in my feelings on this last day at Hoxton.”
The following day, Sept. 6, Mr. E. took leave of the Institution and its inmates, and having spent a few days at Birmingham and Manchester on his way, arrived at Tadcaster, on Tuesday, Sept. 18. A few days after, he writes :—"Now I am settled. O how I enjoy this re
tirement. May I improve it.” The following Saturday, he adds :
“Sept. 29. My study, Tadcaster.—Here I am, retired from the world. After wandering about fifty-one years, my tent is pitched here. I am persuaded it is in the divine order. Here I can enjoy retirement and company -company of the best kind,—the company of the excellent of the earth, and of my children and grandchildren, I have also an opportunity of preaching as often as I please; and I trust the Lord will enable me to labour successfully."
At this time, my father occupied a good house, pleasantly situated on the western bank of the river Wharfe; his family consisted of the two Misses Dalby, his granddaughters, and the servant-maid. His son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Dalby, lived within two minutes' walk. Their eldest daughter was his housekeeper.
Having mentioned in his journal the agreeable situation of his house, and the pleasantness of his compact little family, he adds ;
“I feel grateful to God for these comforts in the land of my pilgrimage: and am so satisfied with my lot, that I have a jealousy over myself, lest I should build a tabernacle and say, 'It is good to be here.' So far as I kuow my own heart, I am enabled to keep these things in their proper place in my esteem and affections.”
In compliance with the urgent invitation of his friends at Manchester, he paid them a visit about the middle of October, and spent a little more than three weeks in his native town and the neighbourhood. It was during this visit that the Centenary Meeting was held there. His soul was filled to overflowing with holy joy and gratitude to God on this occasion. In a letter to his son, in which he gives an account of the proceedings, and of the extraordinary liberality displayed, he says: "About two hundred friends from all the adjacent circuits, Leeds, York, Hull, Halifax, Birmingham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Sunderland, &c. &c. and about seventy preachers, assembled. Unanimity, harmony, and brotherly love, abounded beyond any thing I ever witnessed, or EXPECTED EVER TO SEE. O Joseph, I wish you had been present; it was a Pentecostal season. The best of all is, God is with us.'”
Almost immediately after his return from Manchester, he received a Circular from the Centenary Committee, requesting his attendance, if possible, ať meetings to be held in Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, and other considerable towns; to which he sent the following reply, addressed to James Wood, Esq. Manchester. A copy of the reply was found among his MSS.
· Tadcaster, Nov. 20, 1838. “ MY DEAR SIR, “I have received the circular in which notice is given of the meetings of the Centenary Committee at Liverpool, &c. &c. In looking over the list, I perceive that the meeting at Leeds is fixed for Monday, Dec. 17th. I purpose, if God will, to be there. Unless
friend Reece be there, no preacher but myself will be present who travelled in Mr. Wesley's life-time! Soon all • the elders that outlived Joshua' will be gone to their reward. Still, it may be said, • The best of all is, God is with us.'
“I can recollect many of Mr. Wesley's sayings on his visits to Manchester. On one occasion, on his return from Ireland, after a dangerous illness, he met the society, and spoke of his feelings when he conceived that he was about to depart this life. His words, and looks, and evident emotions, made such an impression on my mind, that while memory is retained, I cannot forget them.—“I looked around me and said, What have I been doing these fourscore years? Which way soever I looked, I found nothing to rest upon, but ' I the chief of sinners am, but Jesus died for me.” While speaking thus, the tears ran down his venerable cheeks. « On another occasion he said :
—Some people say, when
my head is laid, all this work will come to nothing. So it might, if it were the work of mun. But IT IS NOT THE WORK OF MAN: IT IS THE WORK OF GOD; and it will spread more and more, till the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea.'
“ The Centenary brings these things to my recollection in a vivid and delightful manner. And I regard the last saying of that venerable man as prophetical. And I may add,—the succession of faithful men among the preachers, and the constant accession of sound converts, confirm in my mind that persuasion. And the
unanimity, brotherly love, and liberality, witnessed by me at our late meetings in Manchester, give additional firmness to my confidence that 'the Lord will be the glory in the midst of us, and a wall of fire around us.'
“ An excellent spirit prevails among our people here. I beg my respects to the excellent persons who form your Sub-Committee, and their families, not forgetting Mrs. W. and your excellent daughters. I am, dear Sir,
“ Yours affectionately,
Mr. E. had taken a severe cold while in Manchester, which had been so much increased by several excursions to Wetherby, Selby, Bradford, and other places, in the months of November and December, that he found himself too unwell to attend the Centenary Meetings at Leeds, Hull, and some other places where he was expected. He remarks on the occasion :—“ I have found it a cross to be absent from the late Centenary Meetings; but from a persuasion that it is the Lord's doing, I am content. I find, day by day, additional proofs that the
outward man decays.' I cannot bear cold weather as formerly: my hands and feet are seldom warm: my head is strangely affected, so that I cannot read and study as formerly: my memory fails more than ever. These and other symptoms put me in mind that I am in the last stage of life. If spared a few years, it is probable I shall be laid by in the winter. I resolve in the strength of grace to consecrate the residue of my days to him. I regret, in looking backward, that my bodily and mental vigour were not more strenuously exerted for the glory of God and the good of man in former years. O Lord, pardon my omissions !"
Sat. evening, April 6.-My study, Tadcaster. In this retired place I sit all alone: only God is here. He searches my heart, and tries my reins. I am transparent before him. The thought is solemn! awful! yet not terrific. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty! While I contemplate thee as glorious in holiness, I revere thee. I lie in the dust at thy feet. I am vile. Yet I have confidence in thee, as my God in Christ,—my Father. Wonderful grace! that has pardoned and adopted a poor sinner! 0, to grace how great a debtor.' May my spirit