« EdellinenJatka »
awoke this morning: and though the enemy attempted to confuse my mind, yet I was graciously preserved in the same devout state through the whole day. I preached at Blackmires at noon, and at Shelf at night with uncommon liberty and warmth. After preaching at night, a man of a good natural understanding, and apparently much improved by reading, desired to have some conversation with me. We retired into a private room, when he told me, that on the 20th of last March, he was, under my preaching from 1 John i. 9, convinced that he was a lost and ruined sinner. He seems as clearly convinced of sin as any person I ever conversed with. How unsearchable are thy judgments, O Lord, and thy ways past finding out. I had, with much hard study, prepared a discourse nearly a week before, for the evening on which he was awakened. But though I had digested it well, yet all the day when I thought of my text, it appeared dark, and no other offering itself, I thought I must go into the pulpit, and in an humble dependence upon God, speak from it as well as I could. Being in much anxiety of mind, a few minutes before I went into the pulpit, I opened a book, and providentially met with these words, 1 John i. 9, which were immediately opened to my mind. I spoke from them with much freedom and feeling, and the Lord made that sermon the happy means of his conviction. I hope I shall never reject and neglect to improve for the future that sudden light which the Lord may be pleased to diffuse through my mind.” The person here referred to was Joshua Dickinson.
“Fr. May 13.—Throughout the day my heart flamed with love to God; but when preaching-time drew near, I seemed left to myself. When I stood up, I did not see how I could go through the important work. However, the Lord was pleased to assist me. I have been thus exercised for near a fortnight. I have seldom had liberty in preaching, and have often been quite dark and confused in my own mind; and have thought my preaching the very image of my mind. Why is this the case ? Is there not a cause? It seems to me that my mind is so contracted that I am incapable of any further improvement in useful knowledge; and that my usefulness as a preacher is over. I often fear, I shall be a burden to the people I am connected with. God forbid ! I would fill
up my station aright. I long to live constantly in the spirit of my work, and to make full proof of my ministry. Lord, help me!
“Sun. May 15.—Through every part of my duty this day, I felt the aid of the Holy Spirit: my mind is enlarged, and my ideas expanded; while my heart is filled with a humbling sense of my own ignorance and unworthiness, and the love of God. I can now account for my late painful exercises. The Lord has been stripping me of all self-dependence. He has been hiding pride from
* For all I bless thee: most for the severe.' · May 21.—Yesterday I visited Mr. Reece, at Wakefield. Among other instances of his friendship, he pointed out one of my defects. I felt the truth of his observation; and
heart glowed with love to my faithful friend, and with gratitude to God who has given me such a friend. I hope to improve by it.
“Wed. June 1.–After having spent two hours in reading my Greek Testament this morning, I rambled into a solitary walk, and read some of Dr. Watts's Poems on Retirement, the Vanity of Popular Applause, &c. and was enabled to enter into the spirit of them. O what beauty did I see in being weaned from every thing without, only so far as the creatures a scale to heaven may be.
“ Tues. June 21.-Composed and spiritual, peaceful and serene: I have enjoyed a paradise within, exceeding all earthly joys. I was enabled this morning to read the third chapter of the Gospel of St. John in Greek without difficulty. I bless God for it. This time last year I was a stranger to the language: now I can translate any part of the Greek Testament. O may it be the means of obtaining much divine knowledge, not to puff me up, but to humble me and make me useful.”
Mr. Entwisle having now passed through his four years' probation, repaired to his native town, where the Conference was to be held this year, to be received into full Connexion. This being the first Conference after Mr. Wesley's death, was more numerously attended than any
former one: above two hundred preachers were present; and all seemed deeply affected with the great loss they had sustained. Many eyes were upon them. Not a few expected that they would “fall out by the way,” split into parties, and cease to exist as a Connexion.
Their enemies were full of hope: the hearts of many of their friends trembled with fear. But the cause was God's; and He disappointed the hopes of their enemies, and was better to his servants than all their fears.
Before the Conference, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Mather, Mr. Pawson, Mr. Hopper, Mr. Roberts, Mr. Rodda, Mr. Bradburn, and some others of the senior preachers met at Manchester, consulted together, and endeavoured to prepare matters for the Conference, which commenced on the 26th of July. Mr. Thompson was chosen President, and Dr. Coke Secretary. It was agreed unanimously, that all the preachers in Full Connexion should enjoy every privilege that the legal conference enjoys, agreeably to Mr. Wesley's request; and that as the most
substantial proof of their veneration for the memory of their most esteemed Father and Friend,” they would endeavour, “ with great humility and diffidence, to follow and imitate him in doctrine, discipline and life.” Some warm debates arose on various points, but the preachers generally came to a good understanding at last. To supply the lack of Mr. Wesley's general superintendence, the plan recommended by Mr. Thompson was adopted, to divide the kingdom into Districts, each comprehending a number of contiguous circuits; and to give to each Superintendent power to summon all the preachers of the District on any critical case which, according to the best of his judgment, required such an interference.*
The two following extracts from Mr. Entwisle's journal were written at Manchester during the sittings of the Conference, and refer to some of its proceedings.
“ Tues. Aug. 2, 1791.–Since I came here, I have been more than ever convinced that the Methodist Preachers are indeed a body of sensible and pious men. Some of our brethren in Ireland were expelled for bad conduct; and one in England, who had travelled many years. I felt great distress on account of the fall of these brethren, was thankful that God had preserved me, and yet felt a fear lest I should fall after the same example of unbelief.' •Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.'
“Wed. Aug. 3.—This day I was admitted into Full Connexion, with eleven of my brethren. We were ex
* See Minutes of Conference, 8vo. Vol. I. pp. 240, 241.
amined before the Conference by Mr. Thompson, the President, respecting our experience, &c. in the most solemn manner; after which he gave us some excellent advice. I was much affected to see some of the oldest preachers looking at us and weeping; and felt strong desires to devote myself more fully than ever to the service of God and his church. Our examination in private being over, we were admitted in the presence of the public congregation. It was a still more solemn occasion than the other. Mr. Hopper, whose former usefulness, age, wisdom, and experience render him truly venerable, opened the meeting by prayer: he prayed till be could pray no longer for weeping. Preachers and people seemed to have similar feelings; and the whole congregation, I doubt not, felt the divine power in a very remarkable manner. For my own part I felt what I never did before. I had a deep sense of the greatness and importance of the work of the ministry; saw my own ignorance and weakness in such a way as laid me in the dust; and had such views of the all-sufficiency of God as enabled me to say, 'Here am I, send me. I seemed to receive a new commission; and I do believe I experienced something of what Paul speaks of, 1 Tim. iv. 14, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.' May I stir up the gift of God that is in me; aud may I so 'take heed unto myself and to my doctrine, and continue therein, that I may both save myself and them that hear me.'
"Give me thy strength, O God of power,
FROM HIS ADMISSION INTO FULL CONNEXION TO HIS
Ar the Conference of 1791, Mr. Entwisle was re-appointed to the Halifax Circuit; and as Mr. Thompson was removed to Wakefield, it was a matter of joy and thankfulness that Mr. Pawson, for whom he entertained a high degree of respect and affection, was to be his superintendent. The appointment was indeed mutually acceptable. On his return to Halifax, he resumed his journal.
“ Sat. Aug. 13.—Since my return from Conference I have been much afflicted with a pain at my stomach, attended with lowness of spirits and violent temptation. Yesterday I read over a covenant with God which I entered into, signed, and sealed some months ago.
I renewed the same engagements by signing it afresh. Blessed be God, I know he is my covenant God, and I will be wholly his for ever. This has been a day of much composure
and communion with God. Much assisted in
studies. • Tues. Aug. 30.—Since I wrote last, my mind has, in general, been staid upon God. Since dear Mr. Pawson came to Halifax, especially, I have enjoyed much of God's presence. I esteem it a peculiar favour that my lot is once more cast with him. May I improve my great advantages.
“Sat. Sept. 3.-Riding to Luddesden this evening, I was led into a long chain of meditations, in which my mind was greatly expanded. I first had such discoveries of the holiness, justice, majesty, and goodness of God, as I cannot express. From hence I inferred, it could not be the will of such a holy Being, that sin should have any place in my heart. The language of my whole