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Painful as was the decrease of numbers which gave rise to them, in its results the evil has been over-ruled for incalculable good.
After the preceding memorandum had been written by my father, it was discovered that there had been an error in the accounts of 700, making the real decrease in Great Britain, 4,688, instead of 5,388. While at the same time, it was a relieving consideration that in Ireland, there was an increase of 1,220, in the Foreign Stations, of 2,292, and in the United States, in ten out of twelve Conferences, of 16,000; so that upon the whole, notwithstanding the decrease in Great Britain, there had been a most delightful advance of the work of God. CHAPTER XV.
HIS LABOURS IN THE BRADFORD CIRCUIT. 1820-1823.
At this Conference Mr. Entwisle was appointed to the Bradford Circuit, with the eminently pious and useful David Stoner for his colleague. A considerable accession of secular business arose out of his appointment to the office of General Treasurer for the Kingswood and Woodhouse Grove Schools.-It was necessary that some one should do the work; and though it was by no means congenial to his taste, he cheerfully bore it as his cross.
He was also appointed with the Rev. Robert Newton, to accompany the President to the next Irish Conference. and requested to visit some of the principal societies in Ireland for three weeks previously to its annual meeting.
Upon his entrance into the Bradford Circuit, he was much encouraged, and confirmed in his purpose of renewed vigour in the prosecution of his work, by meeting with many persons to whom his ministry had been made useful thirty years before, but of which he had received no intimation until this time. He refers to this subject in a letter to his son William.
“I have now visited every place in my circuit; and in every place have met with one or more who had been in the habit of hearing me thirty years ago, and some of them the fruits of my labours. This is very encouraging to my mind. It teaches me this lesson,—to go on cheerfully and zealously in my work, believing I shall not labour in vain, whether I see it now or not. Often have I been hindered in my work through discouragement, and & fear that I was of no use. But after so many years, (during which time I had been ignorant of it) I see the seed sown producing abundant fruit. This brings to my mind the saying of our Lord respecting the man who sowed seed in his field, and it grew up, he knew not how, first the blade, then the ear,' &c.”
This letter was addressed to William at Kingswood School, where he was now associated with the Rev. John Lomas, as a teacher. In allusion to certain plans, which they had adopted with a view to mutual improvement, he writes :
“I am much pleased with the plan you and your friend have adopted. If you keep to it, and enter into the spirit of it, you will not only derive present comfort from your
mutual prayers, &c. but they will be of use to you as long as you live. I speak from experience. When Mr. Lomas and I were fellow-labourers in Wakefield for two years, we met in band once a week. We opened our whole hearts to each other; we prayed together; we bore each other's burdens; we sympathized with each other in family afflictions; and in all respects endeavoured to help each other. A recollection of the gracious seasons we enjoyed is still refreshing to my mind. When we were separated, we kept up a constant correspondence, which was mutually agreeable and profitable. In London we were together again ; and though a multiplicity of concerns would not admit of our spending so much time together as in Wakefield, yet our intercourse was still profitable, and our friendship steady and uniform to the last. It is peculiarly gratifying to my feelings, that instead of the fathers are the children;' and it is my prayer that you may both be spared, be kept alive to God, walk humbly with him, and be useful in his church, when I shall be gathered to my fathers. Now endeavour to drink deep into the spirit of piety. Lay a good foundation, and on that foundation, a superstructure will be raised to the praise of the glory of divine grace.
Having mentioned a severe attack of rheumatism, which rendered it extremely difficult to walk to and from his appointment, he remarks :- “My own feelings often put me in mind, that I am growing old. Sometimes nature would say, 'Retire; live quietly in some humble cot, and preach gratis, as thou canst bear.' My heart says,
Let me labour on earth, and rest in heaven.' Omy God, let me only have thy approbation, and then let me do and suffer whatever thou pleasest to appoint."
A few days after he writes: My study.—Here I sit, all alone ; only God is with me; and I can say to him with humble confidence, O God, thou art my God.' At
the same time, I am deeply conscious of many defects, and much unworthiness; but not discouraged. I see myself unworthy to be a hewer of wood or drawer of water in the house of the Lord. Yet he has condescended to set me among the princes of his people. I perceive more and more the difficulty and yet the necessity of preserving purity of motive. It is easy to speak of ourselves in degrading terms, and in common-place language to talk of one's unworthiness; but to be willing for others to think so, and to shew by their conduct that they have no very exalted ideas of our piety, gifts, or usefulness; this requires genuine humility. This, however, is what
. I must and will aim at. I will, through grace, from man,' and make God my all. He has been pleased to make me his child. I can say, 'Abba, Father.' 0 may filial fear, love, and confidence fill my heart; and filial obedience appear in my life.
“ Dec. 30.-A letter to-day informs me that Mr. Benson breaks fast, and seems ripening for glory. Soon will all the elders that outlived Joshua be gone. Often do I call to my remembrance former days, when our Conference table was graced by a circle of those venerable men, who bore the burden and heat of the day, in the infancy of the work, with Mr. Wesley. They rest from their labours. Few are now left of their immediate successors. It seems but the other day since I was a very young preacher, looking up to those blessed men with the utmost respect and reverence. Now many address me as an elder, and some style themselves my sons in the gospel. Blessed be the Lord, who has bitherto preserved and employed me. I am conscious of many defects and much unworthiness; and yet the Lord is pleased to bless me with his presence and favour. Glory be to him.
Having heard from his son Samuel, that there was a gracious revival of religion at Barnsley, he sent him the following seasonable advices:
• Jan. 19, 1821.-I trust your own soul prospers; and that while the work of God is reviving in the society, you find a revival in your own soul. When there is an uncommon divine influence in the ordinances, it is a time to get much good to our own souls; and much depends upon our improving it. Give yourself much to prayer. When you are in the shop, endeavour to keep your mind
stayed upon the Lord.
Set him always before you. Do every thing heartily as unto him. If you get into such a habit, every thing will go on well. You will adorn the Gospel in common life; the holy fire of divine love will be kept up in the soul; and then when you go to sacrifice unto the Lord in the evening, in your class or elsewhere, you will not have to spend time in making the fire (that is, getting your heart into a proper frame,) but will have all ready for your offering."
In the same letter he gratefully refers to the religious prosperity of his own circuit:-“We have reason to thank God for his kindness to us here. He is with us in our assemblies. Our congregations are large and attentive. Many souls are given to us. Above one hundred have been added to the society the last quarter, about fifty of whom have found peace with God. They are chiefly married people; and in every instance that has come under my observation, every married man amongst the new converts has set up family worship in his house. These things furnish matter for joy and gratitude.”
In another letter to his son William written a few days after, he says,—“The work of God still goes on in this circuit. More and more are heard to inquire · What must I do to be saved ?' More and more are enabled to rejoice in God our Saviour. The dry bones are moving through the whole circuit; and in every place the savour of the knowledge of Christ is spread abroad. To Him be glory.
“We have lately held short watch-nights in almost every place in the circuit, from seven till nine o'clock. After a short sermon, the time has been employed chiefly in singing and prayer; and a dozen prayers, with verses of hymns, have been offered up in an hour. Our prayers, of course, have been short, and for present blessings; and while yet we have been speaking, God has answered us."
In the course of the next month, and within the space of a few days, Mr. E. received the mournful intelligence of the death of three preachers, all of them his personal friends, and two of them formerly colleagues. The tidings of the Rev. Joseph Benson's death reached him first. He entered rest on Feb. 16th—a day which was always observed by my father with peculiar solemnity—the day on which he first preached the glorious gospel of the Re