« PreviousContinue »
fountain for a fresh supply of grace and strength, whereby I may be enabled to overcome the world with its allurements, the flesh with its cravings, and the devil with his temptations and reasonings. At present I feel I love God with my whole heart. As I have received the Lord my Saviour, may I so walk in him that others may take knowledge of me, by my life and conversation, that I have been with Jesus!"
He thus records his feelings on the death of his father :
“Dec. 8th.—This day the Lord has been pleased to take my dear father to himself, after a long and severe affliction, which he endured with lamb-like patience, and deep resignation to the divine will. His confidence was strong in the Lord, and his evidence bright. I believe I am not fully sensible of the loss I have sustained. I shall now have a greater degree of care and anxiety; but He who has been the guide of my youth will be my support even until death. Blessed be the name of the Lord, I am still travelling towards Zion, with my face thitherwards ! But, when I look back on my past life, I am ashamed, and almost confounded ; viewing my mercies and privileges on the one hand, and the poor proficiency I have made on the other. I am astonished at the goodness of God.
"Why, my cold heart, art thou not lost
In wonder, love, and praise ?'” In January, 1805, he entered into the marriage-state with Rhoda Barker, daughter of John and Mary Barker, of Nafferton, who now survive him. In reference to this event he writes: “O Lord, thou knowest that I have frequently made it a matter of prayer before thee, that thou wouldest direct me in this important affair ; and now I desire to praise thee, that thou hast heard me. I earnestly crave thy peculiar blessing upon me, and the partner thou hast given me." In this year he removed from Kingsfield to North Burton. He was there appointed to be a Class-Leader : the important duties of his office he discharged with great fidelity and usefulness, as long as he was able to walk (and towards the last he required assistance for this) to the chapel where he met his class.
The following extracts from his journal will tend to show the state of his religious feelings on various occasions :
* April 14th, 1806.--I still have great cause for thankfulness. The Lord supports me in trying circumstances : he keeps my head above the waters, when the floods lift up their heads, and the wicked rise on every side.
Glory be to his holy name for ever!" “January, 1807.-Blessed be the name of the Lord, I am still in the land of the living, a monument of his mercy, and on my way to heaven! But, alas ! I may take shame to myself that I am not further advanced in my Christian course. Upon examination, I find three causes ; namely, the cares of the world, the love of the creature, and slackness in prayer. Lord, help me to guard against those evils, lest I backslide in heart from thee, and thus awfully measure my steps back to earth again! I have had a few little trials this year,—the early part with wicked and unreasonable servants, the latter concerning our little chapel which we have built : Satan was ill pleased with it. But the God of Jacob stood by me, and helped me. All glory be ascribed to his name for ever! Amen."
“ January, 1809.-I am spared to see the beginning of another year. Indulgent God, how shall I praise thee for the many blessings thou hast bestowed upon me! O may I be kept more than ever humble at the footstool of divine mercy !
When I look back on the past year, I see I have not brought forth fruit as I ought to have done. Help me, O Lord, I pray thee, to increase my diligence, that when I am weighed in the balance, I may not be found wanting !"
“ May 29th, 1816.-I have this day attained the forty-second year of my age.
Three of my younger brothers have gone some years before me.
Ah! my God, what am I, that thou hast preserved me? I am nothing; I have nothing ; I can do nothing but crawl in the dust. O quicken thou me, according to thy word! How often have I seen thy salvation ! and I think I have more need of it than ever. I want the faith of Abraham, the meekness of Moses, the courage of Joshua, the zeal of David, and the wisdom of Solomon, O Lord, if thou art pleased to spare me a little longer, may it be seen, by my whole deportment, that I belong to thee !"
“ June 28th.— I have this day been at our annual Missionary Meeting. The speeches delivered were very animated, and much to the point. The venerable Captain Robinson took the chair : it was delightful to see him. A general blessing seemed to rest upon the people. I feel much for my fellow-creatures, especially those in the dark places of the earth ; and am thankful that I am able to give a mite towards helping to send the Gospel to them. What eventful days are those in which we live! The Lord is making bare his arm in the sight of the nations, and Ethiopia is stretching out her hands unto God. The servants of Christ are carrying the glad tidings of pardon and peace to the benighted sons and daughters of Adam.
'O Jesus, ride on, till all are subdued !”” “May 29th, 1817.—Unnumbered are the mercies and blessings which the Lord has bestowed upon me in the year that is past. He has spared my dear partner and children ; and has given us food to eat, and raiment to put on, in the time of scarcity and trouble, while numbers of our fellow-creatures are in a state of want and distress. The one desire of my soul is, that I may live only to praise and glorify him with all I have and all I am.”
“ May 29th, 1818.—I am still in the land of the living. At present I am afflicted in body; but I believe the Lord designs it for my good.
The Lord grant that his gracious intentions respecting me may be accomplished! Amen."
“ July 19th. I have this day been to Hull, to see my dear mother. O how good is the Lord in sparing her a little longer, for the comfort of her family and the good of the church! It was truly a profitable day to my soul. I heard Mr. James preach, and my spiritual strength was abundantly renewed.”
“May 29th, 1819.--I have now entered upon my forty sixth year. Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him ?' I seem to have done just nothing in the world. How little have I thought, and spoken, and acted for thee! Upon close examination of myself, I find myself scarcely more dead to the world than I was seven years ago; and it may be that this is the last year of my life. I often feel much weakness of body, and sometimes low in my spirits. To depart and be with Christ would be better ; but if it please the Lord to spare me a little longer, for the sake of a large family, and his church in this place, then I desire to be as clay in his hands,
"And sweetly lose my will in his.' So be it. Amen, and amen."
The following passage in my father's journal records the death, and briefly sketches the character, of his mother, a woman of uncommon piety and great usefulness; many of whose friends have long regretted that no memorial of her has been preserved :
“ February 9th, 1822.-My dear and honoured mother departed this life, after a long affliction, which she endured with much resignation to the divine will. She has long stood in the church of God, 'as a city set on a hill, which cannot be hid,' shedding a divine lustre on all around by her holy walk and conversation. In imitation of her great Master, she went about seeking to do good, both to the bodies and souls of men, so long as her strength and health would permit. Indeed, she never appeared to be more in her element, than when she was seeking and visiting the poor and disconsolate children of affliction. How often has she been the happy instrument of causing the fatherless and widow to rejoice ; so that the abodes of sin, misery, and wretchedness have become habitations of prayer and praise ! Neither was she altogether unprofitable to those in higher circles of life. Being sound in the faith, and having a large stock of experience in the things of God, she always had a word in season for any that sought to her for advice and comfort. As the glory of God was the sole end she had in view, the Lord greatly blessed her, and made her a blessing to others. While her strength lasted, it might be truly said of her, that she was ‘in labours more abundant;' for beside the care of two large classes, containing, I think, nearly seventy members, there were other paths of duty and usefulness in which her ardent soul engaged with more than ordinary zeal. Her last illness was long and painful; but in patience
she possessed her soul, until the weary wheels of life stood still,' and she entered that 'rest that remaineth for the people of God! O may I follow her as she followed Christ, that at last we may meet in the world above, to praise God and the Lamb for ever and ever! Amen."
May 2d, 1831, he again writes :-“This day it hath pleased the Lord to make a breach in my family, by taking my son Samuel, a fine boy, twelve years old. I feel it hard work to part with him ; but do not wish to say to the Almighty, "What doest thou ?' I must go to him, but he will not return to me.' "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.' I have now nine left. The souls of my dear family lay near my heart. I daily bring them to a throne of grace in faith and prayer. They are busily engaged in the world; and I would humbly use on their behalf the prayer of our Lord for his disciples : 'I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. May they be a seed to serve thee when I am gone !"
May 29th, 1832.—I am still a monument of mercy, preserved from the arrow that fieth by day, and the pestilence that walketh by night.' I feel age and infirmities are fast coming upon me; and am sometimes cast down, and in heaviness, through manifold temptations. This year has been a year of trials and mercies: but my mercies have overbalanced my trials; and I bless God for all. I feel thankful for the privileges I enjoy. The Lord has not removed our candlestick. Christ is preached, and therein do I rejoice ; and I frequently get my spiritual strength renewed in our little class. O for more of the divine presence and power! Bless the Lord, I have, in some measure, the prize in view! May I run so as to obtain ! Amen, and amen.” The following is the last entry made in his journal :
May 29th, 1840.—And what ? am I still alive,-a poor cumberer of the ground ? I feel my bodily strength has very much declined this year; and I am so dull of hearing, that I can be of very little use in the church of God. However, my friends seem wishful to bear with
Ah! how much of my time, and thoughts, and care is taken up about the present world !
• Refining fire, go through my heart,
Illuminate my soul ;
And sanctify the whole."
From this period the decline of his health was quite apparent. In June, 1841, my youngest sister was taken ill: for two or three days little or no hope was entertained of her recovery. My father prayed earnestly that, if consistent with the divine will, her life might be spared, even though his own should be taken. In this his wishes seemed to be granted ; for, in a few days after her restoration to health, symptoms of the same disorder began to appear; and, after
lingering about two months, he died. The first time I visited him during his affliction, I asked him if he still felt religion to be his support, and whether it afforded him solace under his sufferings ; for during the last few days they were severe. He took me by the hand, and seemed much affected. Recovering himself a little, he replied, “ All is
peace within ;” and said, “ I pity that man who, on his deathbed, has not the Lord on his side."
My sister was constantly with him during his illness; and, in a letter to me, she thus describes his last days: “On account of the complaint in my father's throat, he could say but little. It was usual with me, as soon as I arose in the morning, to go into his room, to inquire after his health. His answer generally was,
better. I am patiently waiting until my great change comes. One morning, in answer to my usual question, he said, 'I have been struggling hard all the night with my complaint. I thought it would have conquered me;' and then, with a smiling countenance, added, 'I am willing to suffer or to die. A few days before his death he said, “I shall very soon have to leave you. You must all meet me in heaven. Do not neglect to read that precious book, the Bible.' Here his strength failed; but, after slumbering a short time, he began singing, with unexpected strength,
"There is a land of pure delight,
Where saints immortal reign ;
And pleasures banish pain.'
Towards the evening he appeared much better; frequently engaged in prayer, and repeated, several times, one of his favourite hymns
I'll praise my Maker while I 've breath ;
Praise shall employ my nobler powers.' On the following day his disorder took an unfavourable turn, and affected his speech so much, that from this time he said very little. A few hours before his death, a friend, who thought that he had spoken to her, inquired if he wanted anything. He answered, “No; I was praying.' These were the last words he uttered so as to be understood, and on Thursday, September 9th, 1841, he resigned his spirit into the hands of his Maker and Redeemer, sweetly falling asleep in Jesus.”
I may be allowed to say, that in him the neighbourhood has lost a “ burning and a shining light," and the church of God one of its ornaments. In all his affairs he conducted himself as an upright and consistent Christian. He governed his household in the fear of the Lord, and in all his ways sought to acknowledge God. He was a man of few words; but when he did speak, it was always with judgment, and