Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed]

lingering about two months, he died. The first time I visited in during his affliction, I asked him if he still felt religion to be his un port, and whether it afforded him solace under his suffering; during the last few days they were severe. He took me by the si and seemed much affected. Recovering himself a little, be en “All is peace within ;" and said, “I pity that man who, on bis 22bed, has not the Lord on his side.”

My sister was constantly with him during his illness; al in a letter to me, she thus describes his last days: “On accors: 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 bis health. His answer generally was, “Not any better. I am patiently waiting until my great change cornes.' 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 tin 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. De mud neglect to read that precious book, the Bible. Here his strengtis failed; but, after slumbering a short time, he began singing, mata unexpected strength,

"There is a land of pure delight,

Where saints immortal reign;
Infinite day excludes the night,

to And pleasures banish pain.'


usly Towards the evening he appeared much better; frequently engaged 'the prayer, and repeated, several times, one of his favourite hymus barat I'll praise my Maker while I 've breatie;

Ind And when my voice is lost in death, batan Praise shall employ my nobler powers?

maste On the following day his disor Enok an unfavourah affected his speech so much

this time he dds, “I could A few hours befr

the thou spoken to he

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

eful man; being, Chester Circ

years oli

the cro

to edification. He took great delight in reading the word of God: the Bible was his companion. The words of the Psalmist are strikingly descriptive both of his character and of the happy close of his life : “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is




My late excellent mother, whose maiden-name was Wharton, was born at Stapleford, in the vicinity of Chester, February 24th, 1762. According to a memorandum, dated May 9th, 1802, giving an account of her own early experience, it appears that she was, when very young, often under the influence of divine impressions, and the gentle drawings of the Holy Spirit. When going to school, at nine or ten years of age, her thoughts would frequently dwell on the solemn subjects of death and judgment, heaven and hell; but the fears excited at such times preponderated above her hopes.

In the month of August, 1783, there was a night of most awful thunder and lightning ; so that many persons, being greatly alarmed, rose up from their beds, and began to cry earnestly to the Lord for mercy: among this number was Miss Wharton. She says, in the close of her account of that memorable event, “I never was more thankful in all my life for any mercy, than to see the light of the returning morning, and to know that my soul was out of hell.” She thus reasoned on her past conduct : “O what an ungrateful being I have been! Favoured with a religious education; my parents instructing me, especially my dear mother, and restraining me from numberless evils which otherwise I might have fallen into. O what a sight and sense I had then of my lost and fallen condition by nature and practice! I did feelingly cry out, Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me!"" Another circumstance, which she mentions as occurring about this time, had a strong tendency to keep her mind fully awake to eternal realities. In company with some others, she was returning, one dark night, from a religious service, in which Mr. Salmon, of Nantwich, had preached from the text, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit," &c. When they were about half way home, they were suddenly surrounded by a great light, which, on looking up, they found proceeded from a large ball of fire, moving slowly and majestically through the air. She was so impressed by what she saw, that she cried aloud, “ Lord, save me; or I perish! O save me, or I drop into hell !"

It was about this time of her life that she heard the Rev. John Wesley preach in the Octagon at Chester. His subject was, Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones. Under this sermon she saw herself, more clearly than ever, to be destitute of all spiritual life and power; and, as the venerable Preacher strikingly unfolded and applied the latter part of his text,—“lo, they were very dry," she was deeply affected by her consciousness of guilt and danger. This was but a short time previous to the death of her mother, who had been for many years a worthy and consistent member of the Methodist society. This painful event was preceded by the dangerous illness of her youngest sister, (Mrs. Denton, of Leicester,) to whom, however, the affliction was, by the divine blessing, greatly sanctified. Scarcely had her sister recovered, when their beloved mother was taken ill; and, after suffering much pain, with exemplary patience, for about a month, she was removed to a brighter world. A little before her death she said to her daughter, “The Lord will soon bless thee, my Mary : thou art not far from the kingdom of heaven.” The loss of their mother was a heavy stroke to the two sisters, as their brothers * and sisters were then married, and thus settled away from home; but it was overruled for their good. From this period they became more decided, and delayed no longer to unite themselves to the people of God.

About six months after this, one Sabbath afternoon, when the pub-. lic religious service was concluded, several of those who were seeking the Lord retired into a house by themselves, to unite in prayer for each other; when it pleased the Lord to bless Miss Wharton with a clear and joyful sense of his pardoning love. This was on Sunday, February 28th, 1784. She observes in her diary, respecting what to her was so important an event, “ It was truly a day of sweet peace and rest to my longing, weary, sin-sick soul. The Lord was graciously pleased to shed abroad his love in my heart, and to appear to me the fairest among ten thousand,' the 'altogether lovely. He

Assured my conscience of her part

In the Redeemer's blood,
And bore his witness with my heart,

That I was born of God.'

When returning home from the above meeting,” she adds, “ I could now repeat those words of the poet with rapturous joy :

"Where shall my wondering soul begin ?

How shall I all to heaven aspire ?
A slave redeem'd from death and sing-

A brand pluck'd from eternal fire,-
How shall I equal triumphs raise,
Or sing my great Deliverer's praise ?'”

• One of her brothers, Mr. C. Wharton, was a truly pious and useful man ; being, for upwards of fifty years, a Leader and Local Preacher in the Chester Circuit ; dying in great peace (ten or twelve years ago) when about eighty years old. This is the only earthly record of his life or death ; but many will be the crown of his rejoicing in the day when God "makes up his jewels.”

This was the commencement of that life of God in her soul which, for so many years, was maintained by a lively and vigorous faith in the precious promises of the Gospel : the light she then received never waxed dim ; nor was her confidence in the mercy and grace of her divine Saviour ever shaken in the subsequent periods of her lengthened pilgrimage, chequered as it was with crosses and trials like that of other travellers to Zion. She proved the truth of those words : “In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in me ye shall have peace.”

Respecting the early days of her Christian career, the now venerable and Rev. Richard Reece says, in a recent communication, “ Your dear mother and your aunt Denton were among my earliest praying companions, and were awakened and converted nearly at the same time. Simplicity and earnestness, by the grace of God, enabled them to support a consistency of character not often met with in young people. They were zealous in the cause of Christ, and very useful in those times, between which and the present nearly sixty years have interposed. They were women of superior understanding; and a distinguishing feature in their character was, a hunger and thirst after purity of heart, which they both obtained and enjoyed before I left” that neighbourhood, “and, I believe, for years afterwards," as a correspondence kept up

many years by letters testifies.

"If there be any one now living who knew your mother in those days, they will think you can scarcely say too much of her excellence.”

For upwards of six years after their conversion, the two sisters, whose history at this period is naturally blended together, were, by their piety and zeal, burning and shining lights to all around them. They were diligent in all the means of grace, and “ready to every good word and work;" and, in consequence of their serious, yet cheerful, demeanour, their spirituality and heavenly-mindedness, were not only a pattern to all who knew them, but were admired and beloved by all their Christian friends, far and near. The fame of their piety reached to Bradley-Orchard, then a nursery for Methodism in those parts; where my father then resided, a widower, with four little daughters, to whom Miss Wharton became an affectionate and faithful step-mother, in May, 1790; her sister residing with them for a short time, till she became Mrs. Denton.

Here, and at Mouldsworth, for thirty years, she had many cares, and many trials to exercise her faith and patience; while, at the same time, she had many comforts and many privileges, which she neither undervalued, nor was forgetful gratefully to acknowledge. The fortnightly visits and ministrations of the Itinerant Ministers, as also of the Local Preachers, on the Sabbath-day, were highly prized, and carefully noted and improved by her. She generally penned down the text, with other remarks descriptive of her religious feelings under and after the word preached ;” and this she continued to do for about fifty years ; so that her diary at length amounted to several

« PreviousContinue »