« PreviousContinue »
age. These Christian teachings, however, were not lost on the daughter: they led to unaffected piety; and this, in connexion with plain, good common sense, led her to become a valued wife to Mr. Pearse : she made his house truly his home, “and the heart of her husband did safely trust in her.”
Some further references to the means that led to Mr. Pearse's conversion, and the formation of that Christian character which speedily became distinctly, though unobtrusively, manifest, may here be made. From a fragment written with a pencil, when apparently he was confined at home by affliction, some Lord's day, on which he appears to have been devotionally and gratefully remembering “all the way in which he had been led in the wilderness,” the following statement is copied :—“ Being prevented from going to chapel, I have been led to reflect on the goodness of God: how he has been with me, and guided me, all my life long. In my youthful days I was led to think on heaven and hell; and, from reading and hearing God's holy word, enabled to 'flee youthful lusts.' When about eighteen years of age, I joined myself to the Methodist society in Camelford; when, if I rightly recollect, Dr. Adam Clarke was in the Circuit. I soon found peace to my soul. On becoming settled in business, and the head of a family, I began to acknowledge God before my house, by reading the Scriptures, and by family prayer,—duties which, by divine help, I have continued to this day. When my family began to increase, I frequently thought that I should not live to see them mature, nor have the means of making decent provision for them. But I relied on the promise of my God; and he, in great mercy, has opened my way, spared me to see my family growing up, and, I trust, under the influence of divine grace. Above all, I feel a blessed hope of a better life; and to God be all the glory. Amen."
To persons surrounded by young children, that measure of success in business, which, time and eternity taken together, will be best for men, is of great importance. In mercy to man, prone to distressing care and anxiety, our Lord has graciously said, “ Take no thought for your life ;” that is, no such thought as the Gentiles took, to whom there was no good Providence nor “heavenly Father," who “knoweth what things men need.” To Gentiles,
“ Chaos umpire sits,
Fate is high arbiter, Chance governs all." Not so is it with men regarded as Christian believers. Their duty is to be careful for nothing ;" that is, not anxiously careful; but rather to cast their care on God, who careth for them; and who will not withhold any good thing from “ them that walk uprightly." Yet man is ever addressed as the child of intelligence and prudence; who is to expect “the probable, not the possible :" not to be thoughtless, careless, and inert, but in diligence, and the continued use of the bestdevised means, to seek the desired end. This is man's duty. The end is the gift of God; the fruit of his mercy, his bounty, his blessing. “ Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth.” Them that honour God, and take proper means for necessary good, God will honour. In our highly-favoured country, at least in ordinary times, is it not correctly said, “ Diligence itself is capital; and diligence, when unaided by capital, creates it ?” Nor are foresight, frugality, and the Christian use of money, when gained, of less importance to abiding prosperity. “In the work of every bee that passes from flower to flower, a voice addresses us, and distinctly says, * There must be diligence!' In the toil and prudence of every ant, which, though not under the control of either mild teacher, or severe task-master, yet providently, and with unwearied industry, seizes the favourable time-the summer to secure its meat, the same voice as distinctly says, 'There must be foresight; there must be frugality!'" By the blessing of God on such methods, the efforts of Mr. Pearse were attended with a good degree of success.
Mr. Pearse may now be contemplated as a Christian parent, an honourable tradesman, a truly benevolent and useful man. Next to his personal salvation, his care was to give right teachings to his family, and to set a good example to its members. He sought to walk before his house with a perfect heart. In addition to instruction at home, his family was early, and with regularity, led to the house of God. Or, as his son states the facts :—“My father was desirous to train up his children in the way they should go; and as he thought that habits early formed were generally the most lasting, we were accustomed to be taken to the morning prayer-meeting on the Lord's day, and as regularly to the more public ineans of grace, to honour the worship of God. Whenever a collection was to be made, each child was furnished with money to put on the plate, that from infancy we might be trained to babits of benevolence.” As these children grew up, the best and most suitable education that could be obtained in the neighbourhood was sought for them; and their father never failed to command them “ to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." And his labours were not without success. On this matter of incalculable importance to the young, God only knows with what emotions Christian parents labour, and feel, and pray. The good Patriarch, of whom the divine Being is pleased to speak so honourably, in the words quoted above, in one of his prayers, is but the type of many a smitten and sorrowful one, whose heaving breast has often sought relief in words like these : “O that Ishmael might live before thee !"
In illness, at one time, when distant from bis wife, Mr. Pearse wrote to her, to state both the happiness of his own mind, and his wishes in reference to his family. In this carefully-preserved document it is said, “I have sometimes thought that I should not live to
see you again ; but, unwilling to give you unnecessary alarm, I have kept my thoughts to myself. Yet I have the happiness to inform you, that divine comfort has been given to me; and I have felt no concern (except on account of my family) whether I depart this life in the night alone, or when surrounded by my friends. I esteem it a great mercy from Almighty God, that he has begun a good work in the hearts of several of our children; and the thought of meeting you and them all in a better world, gives me great pleasure.......I particularly desire that the children may be brought up in a plain, frugal way; that they may continue to be taught, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ;' and that the way of sin is the way to present misery and eternal death. I also wish that they may be taught to be compassionate and benevolent to the poor and the distressed. If they all grow up in the fear of the Lord, it will be no great concern whether they be rich or poor: an interest in Christ is better than all the honours of the world."
Mr. Pearse was restored; and with his days, his usefulness expanded. Personal piety was his first concern ; the salvation of his house the next; and thence his benevolence spread, and sought the good of his neighbours. By the increase of the congregation, the decent, but comparatively humble, chapel in Back-lane was not sufficiently large. In connexion with George Pearse, Henry Nicholls, and others, the heart of Mr. Pearse was set on a more suitable house for the worship of his God, and the highest advantage of those around him. A suitable place was soon found; and to the erection of a new chapel Jr. Pearse bent his best energies. He began by a liberal contribution; and, having set the example, he inquired of all within his reac!, from whom there was any probability of obtaining assistance, in what degree they were willing to consecrate their gifts unto the Lord. That the chapel might be without a large debt, he applied to all, far and near, with whom he possessed any influence; and took several journeys for the purpose. In this disinterested work by many he was cheered and aided; so that his labour was by no means unsuccessful. At length Mr. Pearse beheld with delight the completion of this house for God's worship and honour. In the summer of 1810 it was opened for divine service by the late Rev. John Walmsley, and the junior Minister then stationed with bim in the Launceston Circuit. By this last-mentioned Preacher, on the previous Thursday evening, were concluded the accustomed public services in the Back-lane chapel, from Exod. xxxiii. 13, 14.
The old chapel was not sold, but retained. And from that day, to the old age of Mr. Pearse, and chiefly under his direction, it has been devoted to the highly-important duty of Christian education. Auspicious will be that day, when every place of worship will have a school connected with it, where the young, the rising, mind, the hope of the church,--they who will soon move the world, --shall be taught the
principles of the doctrine of Christ; and, in the best time and way, be prepared to go on to perfection! The times require that this should be speedily done. Not only advantages to be obtained, but also dangers to be avoided, call on the wise and the good promptly, in this respect, to attend to duty. Those Christian communities, as well as men personally, who are not prepared to take their place in what is truly (not in appearance merely) the onward course of things, will soon find that they must have the pain and mortification of being forced to fall back in what assuredly will be their place; namely, on one of less usefulness, and therefore of less honour, than they might have filled, if they had not been thus criminally negligent. In the prosperity and success of Sunday and other schools, Mr. Pearse felt a lively interest, and gave to them his countenance and support; and when education had created the mental, and, by God's grace, the spiritual, appetite, he was next careful to supply to this “the sincere milk of the word,” suitable books, and especially religious tracts, as the proper food. His son writes, “ Mr. Pearse spent no small sums of money in the purchase of books and tracts. These were not only largely given at home, but also in the neighbourhood. Whenever about to take a journey, he was accustomed to carry a selection of tracts with him, which he tendered at the door of the poor man's cottage, and distributed as he entered the village or town. This he did very largely."
The charity that dwelt in Mr. Pearse's heart was not to be restricted by country or nation. On man in destitution or in distress, however nationally known, it poured its blessings. The miseries of horrid war had sent many officers, &c., as prisoners on their parole, to Launceston. The more aged of these were of the Church of Rome; the younger part were, generally, the disciples of Voltaire. Mr. Pearse deeply sympathized with those unhappy captives, and sought their highest good. Whether they were men of western or central Europe, he procured tracts in their different languages, and gave them for their religious instruction: he also relieved the necessities of those who were in distress. Many of these gentlemen professed to be very thankful for these attentions, and some attended regularly the public worship of Almighty God. It deserves notice, that one of these prisoners (who, at the general peace, returned to his home) at length came back to Launceston, lived in the service of the Trustees of the Wesleyan chapel, and has found a grave among their dead.
Nor were the miseries and the claims of men whose home is in regions beyond Europe forgotten or neglected. In the days when the toil of Dr. Coke supplied, in a great degree, the means for Missionary enterprise, he usually found a home, in his visits to Launceston, with the family of Mr. Pearse, and a helper in its head. They went together, from house to house, in pursuit of contributions. When, on one occasion, they waited on the Rev. Dr.
the Vicar, and a Magistrate, he not only met them coldly, but with some degree of hauteur also, and refused to give them any countenance or support whatever. Dr. Coke bade this gentleman “good morning," and was in the act of leaving ; but the door was so hurriedly and violently shut, as to retain a portion of the Doctor's gown. When, at length, liberated, he said, “ Brother Pearse, I would not have that man's soul in my body for all the world.”
The Christianity of Mr. Pearse was founded on intelligence and principle : whether at home or abroad, it was the same. It was manifested in simplicity and godly sincerity; not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God; and it led to an exemplary conversation in the world. By divine mercy, the heart and life of Mr. Pearse were so governed and directed, that he was apprehensive of nothing that would lead to fear and amazement. On one occasion, when he had transacted business and dined with a merchant in London, the latter requested Mr. Pearse to accompany him to one of the theatres in the evening. This offer was declined; and, being pressed for the reason of his refusal, Mr. Pearse plainly stated his decided objection to such places; that, on religious principles, he could not sanction scenes and exhibitions so dangerous to religion and morality. He added, “I cannot go to places, of my visits to which I should be ashamed to hear in the presence of my family, my religious friends, or the world." Mr. Pearse truly laboured, wherever he was, to be accepted of God.
Mr. Pearse was truly a liberal man. In relieving the distressed, as well as in supporting what he confidently regarded as the cause of God, he honoured the Lord with his substance. This is well known in the immediate circle in which he moved. The benevolent and religious institutions of his neighbourhood, the church of Christ, and that section thereof especially with which he was connected, had not merely his good wishes, but also his more effectual aid. And this was afforded, on some occasions, in the spirit of self-denial and sacrifice. “In the course of Mr. Pearse's pilgrimage, he experienced some few of the vicissitudes to which all persons in business are subject; and, at one period, a very great depression in trade so contracted his incone, as to make it difficult for him to provide for his young and increasing family,—and, at the same time, to do good as he had been accustomed to do. But the case was speedily met in another way: breakfast was taken without sugar, dinner without cider, &c.; and the money so saved enabled him to continue his accustomed contributions to certain funds, without doing any injustice to the claims of his family."
By nothing was Mr. Pearse more distinguished, than by decision of character. The great principles of Christianity he held with a firm and a steady grasp. He had found them, on evidence that satisfied him, as facts, in God's holy word. On these his mind and heart relied. Mr. Pearse was not an unthoughtful man: proofs of this could be furnished, if necessary. Yet he no more made explanation as