« EdellinenJatka »
of the church, that went out of curiosity to hear the lad from Manchester, and were converted. Now, many out of curiosity come to hear me as Mr. Wesley's friend. O may the Lord grant it may be promotive of their salvation. O Lord, thou knowest I feel that I am 'less than nothing in thy sight,' and thou art all in all.' A consciousness of my own weakness, physical, moral, and spiritual, keeps me down; and a persuasion of my interest in thy favour, preserves me from discouragement. Lo! I come to do thy will, O
God.'" He returned home to Tadcaster towards the end of August; and that his renewed strength of body and mind might be turned to the best account, he drew up a plan of study, pastoral visiting, &c. for his guidance during the ensuing year, should he be spared. In furtherance of this design he began to meet as many of the junior local preachers as could make it convenient regularly to attend, for the direction of their theological studies, with a view to their increased qualifications for public usefulHe also began to select and arrange his
papers, with the intention of preparing for the press, if spared, something like a History of his own Life and Times, with such “records of various occurrences of former days in Methodism,” as his intimacy and correspondence with many of the fathers of the Connexion, and his personal observations might enable him to supply :--a design which, it is to be regretted, was interrupted soon after its commencement.
Ever since Mr. E.’s removal from the Theological Institution to Tadcaster, he had resided in a pleasant situation on the banks of the river Wharfe; at first in a large and commodious house near the bridge, which, however, he was soon obliged to leave in consequence of its being so subject to inundation from the river. He then removed to a smaller house a little higher up the river side. This was much less subject to the same inconvenience; but its proximity to the river rendered the situation exceedingly damp, and appeared unfavourable to health. He frequently complained, even when the weather was moderately warm, of coldness of the legs and feet, and was often troubled with a cough. His family, therefore, persuaded him to remove once more, and to take up
his residence with his daughter, in whose house there we
ample room, and who esteemed it a high privilege and honour to have so venerable and beloved a parent under her roof, and to be permitted hourly to minister to his comfort. He had become much attached to the house in which he had resided; it was a lovely situation; he had spent many happy days there in “ blest retirement," and in sweet communion with God; and he could not leave it without regret. The probability, too, that it would be his last removal on earth, solemnized his mind. In the prospect of this change of residence, he says:"I am sorry to leave this retired spot, but it seems necessary to my health that I should be removed from the river's bank. The Lord, however, has provided for me in the house of my only daughter. O may I be more fully prepared for my house above. How wonderful that such a poor unworthy worm should be warranted to expect such an elevation. My last remove cannot be far distant. May I be ready.”
In December, he carried his purpose into effect. He remarks on the occasion :—"I am now settled in my new apartments, with my dear daughter Dalby and family. My soul is drawn out in prayer that I may be favoured with the presence of my Lord here. And,
• O may my spirit daily rise,
A few days before his removal, Mr. E. had taken cold, which induced a severe and troublesome cough. For several weeks he was chiefly confined to the house, the weather being so intensely cold that he could scarcely bear it; he suffered also from an epidemic influenza, which carried off many of the aged and infirm; but he cheerfully submitted to the will of God. “I am good for little now to my family, the church, or the world;" he says in a letter to Mrs. Taylor, “my present calling is to lie as clay in the hands of the potter. This I aim at, and through grace I feel power. My mind is not low or depressed. I rest in the divine will. The Lord does all things well. My times are in his hands. He will
perform all things for me.' indivifter two “silent sabbaths," he felt so much better at
the end of January, as to be able to preach once on the Lord's day, with great liberty and enlargement, from Psalm xxxiv. 8. From the fulness of a heart glowing with love to God and man, he could say, “O taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” His own experience qualified him to expatiate with much pathos and power on so congenial a topic.
Nothing remarkable occurred from this date to diversify the calm and even course of usefulness and spiritual joy he was wont to pursue, until about the middle of March, when on his return from the public prayer meeting at Tadcaster which he always attended, when able, he was seized with an unusual dizziness, and nearly fell several times. He mentions it in his journal, and characteristically adds, “My mind was calmly-stayed on God.”
Two days later, he writes:—“The dizziness continues. I cannot account for it. Perhaps it is an accompaniment of old age. I am within a few weeks of seventy-four, four years beyond the age of man. It behoves me to live for eternity. I am certainly on its verge. O Lord, • leave me not in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.' Should death be sudden, I trust it would be a sudden transition from the church militant to the church triumphant."
Neither personal nor domestic affliction could disturb his tranquillity of mind; but when any thing occurred which threatened injury to the cause of God, he felt exquisitely. His fears for the ark were excited about this time by reports which reached him in his peaceful seclusion, from societies which were somewhat agitated about the use of the gown and cassock. The wearing of a distinctive costume by the ministers of the gospel, he thought to be a matter of little moment in itself; but Methodism had hitherto worked well without any such appendages; he did not think it the time to attach additional importance to mere externals, when many were on system attempting to substitute externalism for inward godliness; and he feared the peace of our societies, which were strongly and justly attached to the primitive simplicity of their forefathers, would be disturbed by the innovation. He was of opinion that the state of the
Connexion and of the religious world was such, that we could not afford to hazard peace for such a matter; and that the proper influence of the pastorate would be far more effectually secured by superior learning, piety, zeal, and activity, than by any external distinction whatever. The latter, he thought, could never compensate for the absence of the former; while on the other hand, the possession of the former superseded the necessity of the latter. “My mind,” he says, referring to the disputes on this subject, “is considerably troubled. While infidelity in its worst forms increases; while Popery is making such advances on Protestantism, and Puseyism is leavening the Established Church, a new bone of contention is thrown down. Disunion in our body will be ruinous: it will dry up our pecuniary resources for the support of the work at home and abroad; and, which is a greater evil, it will operate against religion. Lord, save us from such baubles. Preserve unity, peace, and concord. Let not the glory depart from us.”
In the beginning of April, Mr. E. accompanied by Mrs. Dalby, paid a visit to the Rev. Joseph and Mrs. Taylor, at Manchester, with whom he spent above a fortnight, much to his satisfaction. His mind was solemnly affected as he passed through various places where he preached in early days, particularly Delph, Oldham, and Failsworth. “Since then,” he remarks, “fifty-eight years ago, generations have passed away.” On the 10th of April, he writes :
“I have now spent nine days in my native town, during which associations have been formed in my mind of a highly interesting character. I have met with only two persons,—females eighty years of age, that knew me before I began to travel. The fields, &c. which were the scenes of my boyish recreations, are now covered with streets, squares, churches, chapels, and other public buildings. These circumstances admonish me of the near approach to eternity."
It was a little remarkable that the last anniversary of his birth-day was held in his native town: it occurred during this visit, and is thus recorded in his “Birth-day
Manchester, April 15, 1841.–At three o'clock in the morning, A. D. 1767, I drew my first breath in this
town. I bless the day that I was born, and still more the day when I was • born again. I have now entered on my seventy-fifth year. I have mixed feelings, gratitude and humiliation. I have met with some fruits of my poor labours when in this circuit thirty years ago. My visit to this town has been profitable. God is mine, and I am his, I trust, for ever. During the few remaining days of my life, I desire to walk with God,' as Enoch did, till the Lord shall take me.
O may I be faithful unto death.” In the evening of this day he preached with great liberty and power, at Oxford Road Chapel, on Enoch's walk with God,—one of his favourite subjects,-one which his own happy experience rendered familiar and easy to him.
On the last day of this month, he was accompanied by his grand-daughter, Miss Dalby, to Grimsby, where he had engaged to preach the Annual Sermon for the Sunday School. He greatly enjoyed this visit, having never before been in that part of Lincolnshire. He was kindly entertained at the house of Mr. Bingham Tomlinson, who, eighteen years before, had been one of his son's pupils, and who now received his preceptor's father almost as an angel of light.
He was absent from home seven days, during which time he preached at Grimsby, Thoresby, Humberstone, and Hull, and attended two Missionary Meetings. Notwithstanding these continuous exertions, his health appeared sensibly benefited by this excursion; and his renewed strength was employed in preaching, assisting at Missionary Meetings, and pastoral visitation. Occasionally he complained of dizziness, and towards the end of May, he mentions again 'a strange sensation in his chest.'
The following day he adds, “Serious thoughts of death and eternity occupy my mind constantly. I trust the Lord will never leave me. I am not worthy of his gracious regard. Ah! how little have I glorified God. How little have I done for the benefit of man! Yet I can say, • The Lord is my portion; in him will I hope.””
The abasing views of himself expressed in the preceding quotation, were not associated with any thing like gloom or depression; they were connected with exalted views of the Redeemer, and an habitual and exclusive