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Glory be to his name for ever, for that work of grace which he has wrought upon my heart ! Once I delighted in sin and iniquity: now I feel my delight is to be with the saints of the earth.” “May 27th, 1824. I pray that what I now feel may not be a momentary sensation; that I may never rest satisfied with anything short of full salvation."
Edwin was now diligent in the means of grace; and although closely engaged in the duties of business during the week, so far was he from accounting it a weariness to occupy the Sabbath with sacred exercises, that what with private reading and prayer, and what with public worship and teaching in a Sabbath-school, he entirely appropriated its swiftly-passing hours. His peace was not at this time uninterrupted: sometimes he was disturbed with keen temptation ; sometimes unwatchfulness might lead him to the borders of levity, or abate his diligence in prayer; and then guilt and darkness would follow. But whenever this was the case, he never rested without penitently applying again to the atoning blood; nor was satisfied until the Lord had again lifted up the light of his countenance upon
him. In the beginning of the year 1825 he commenced a record of his religious experience, which he continued to keep so long as he was in Manchester. This journal contains the usual confessions and aspirations of a soul which, although regenerated, nevertheless struggles against its remaining corruptions, and longs for the entire image of Christ. The entry with which it commences will enable any one to judge of the spirit of the whole :
“Dec. 28th, 1824.---After having for some time considered the benefit of writing thus what I feel of the operations of the Spirit of God upon my mind, I have come to the determination so to do; that, by reading the dealings of God with my soul, I may be enabled, in times of trial, to put my confidence more fully in him. All this time I feel drawn out after God, that he would give me a nearer union with himself, that he may reign in my heart the Lord of every motion. There has indeed been a gracious outpouring of his Spirit this Christmas, and I hope it is but the beginning of good things : Lord, grant that it may; and that I and all thy people may be altogether given up to thee! I ask all in the name of thy dear Son."
In the progress of his youthful career, Edwin, like many other pious young people who are left to their own guidance, did not wholly avoid falling into indiscretions; and one instance, in particular, gave him considerable pain. Yet they were simply indiscretions,—errors which did not arise from his having forgotten the practical holiness required by the Gospel, or from having departed from God; but rather from youthful feeling blended with inexperience. No one felt more acutely at the idea of dishonouring the Christian profession than he; and this spiritual sensibility, under the blessing of God, greatly contributed to
produce that beautiful and uniform consistency of character which so distinguished his after-life.
It was about the middle of 1825, while he was growing in grace, and his spiritual consolations were increasing, that he began to be much exercised on the subject of preaching to the unconverted of his fellow-men. After having revolved the subject in his own mind for some time, he disclosed his views and feelings to his friends; and they, in their turn, commended him to the fatherly notice of the Rev. George Marsden, then stationed in Manchester. Mr. Marsden encouraged and counselled our friend, and gave him permission to speak to the people, under the guidance of senior Local Preachers, in the manner prescribed for probationers. It was not in a light, irreverent, or self-confident spirit that he entered upon this department of Christian labour. From the notes inserted in his journal, relative to the exercises of his mind at this period, it is evident that he regarded this work with seriousness and awe, and that he earnestly sought the direction and aid of the Spirit of God. Whole pages are filled with expressions of self-abasement, and with earnest petitions that the Lord would keep him humble, and vouchsafe to him all that salvation which he endeavoured to offer to others. These youthful labours, prosecuted in this spirit, tended to his own spiritual advancement; and were very useful and acceptable to those congregations in which they were exercised. At the appointed time he was fully admitted into the office of Local Preacher,--an office which he most judiciously, diligently, and faithfully filled, unto the day of his death.
About the middle of the following year, Mr. Jackson began to feel earnest desires to be given up and separated to the work of the ministry; and separated especially in the character of a Missionary to the Heathen. He was himself happy in the enjoyment of salvation from sin, and longed to become a more efficient instrument, in the hands of God, of extending it to others; and often at the Missionary Meetings of the Society, and at the general means of grace, his heart would dilate with the hope that this his desire would be granted. But his constitution was delicate, and his general health by no means indicative of future strength or of long life. Often, in the limited manner in which he then preached, he felt great weakness, and had frequent attacks of illness; from one of which, in particular, he was with great difficulty raised up again. Such being the circumstances in which he was placed, for three or four subsequent years, he felt the utmost perplexity as to what his future course should be ; and it required the utmost efforts of faith and prayer to prevent his anxiety on this subject from being the cause of spiritual loss.
In the month of October, 1827, Mr. Jackson, induced by what he deemed a favourable opening, entered into business in a partnership concern, and committed himself to the anxieties and cares of a commercial trade. Here new trials awaited him ; and they were trials of
no common order. The project did not answer; and the disappointment, occurring at a period when life seemed to be just expanding into bright day before him, occasioned him the deepest dejection.
Under the conflicts and darkness of this period, his faith for a while seemed almost to fail: he was “ well-nigh gone;" his feet "had almost slipped.” He feared that he had missed his providential way. Yet out of these very depths he cried unto the Lord; nor did he cry in vain. The Lord bad mercy on him; his light and peace returned; but his bodily health yet remained unsettled and feeble; so much so, indeed, that, early in 1829, he abandoned all hope of entering the ministry, and now sought to glorify God in that sphere of life in which he believed his lot henceforward was to be cast. His spirit became tranquil, and brighter prospects appeared.
In the summer of 1828 he had previously engaged himself as assistant to Mr. Dyson, of Iluddersfield; with whom he continued on terms of mutual respect and confidence for two years, and then commenced business in the same town upon his own account. Here divine Providence smiled upon him, and rewarded his industry and integrity with success.
On April 7th, 1831, he was married to Miss Jane Webb, of Huddersfield; and found in her one who was every way qualified to minister to his domestic felicity. The union was followed by as large a share of the happiness yielded by the conjugal relationship, as usually in this changing world can be realized. It was a union which, while it brought them continually nearer to each other, brought them also nearer to God.
And now Mr. Jackson, being fully settled in life, and delivered from painful uncertainty as to his providential sphere, gave himself to the duties of his new station ; and also for his love of the work of God had suffered no diminution-to the onerous but delightful labours of preaching in the villages round Huddersfield, and watching over the spiritual welfare of a class committed to his charge. His labours were greatly blessed to many; and to show the solicitude with which le regarded young persons under the influence of religious impressions, an extract is here adduced from a note which he addressed to a young lady who was especially indebted to him as the instrument, in the hand of God, of her awakening and conversion :
“ Your note of last evening gave me unfeigned pleasure ; for there is nothing in the world which affords me such sincere and unalloyed gratification, next to my own salvation, as to hear that the Almighty is working upon the minds of others, and still more especially upon those of the young, who may live to be an ornament to the Christian profession, and bring much glory to God. It then becomes a very natural inquiry, How are these gracious impressions to be fostered, and conducted to their desired end; namely, the salvation of the soul? The first step to be taken is, to offer much prayer to God. It was
aid of Saul of Tarsus,—when, having been met by his Lord on his way to Damascus, he was convicted in his conscience, and Ananias had been directed to go to him,—Behold, he prayeth. It is, in short, a natural result, that one who is convinced of sin and guilt should seek for pardoning mercy. The next thing is to read the Scriptures carefully, attentively, and with a sincere desire to know the will of God, in order that we may do it; and here again we are to pray that God, by his Spirit, would enlighten our minds, and apply the word to our hearts. The third step is to seek for Christian advice and counsel, that we may be assisted in our progress. Now, so far as this, I think and hope, you have got: and the next thing to be done is, to join yourself to a Christian society, that you may have the prayers of the church in your behalf, and may hear how others have been brought to God; and how, when they were in your situation, they obtained deliverance. I most cordially, therefore, give you the invitation; saying, in the language of Scripture, ‘Come thou with us, and we will do thee good ;' and as I have been appointed the Leader to a small class, which meets at Mr. Webb's, on the Thursday evenings, at eight o'clock, I am quite sure that the other members, with myself, will be very glad to see you next Thursday; and we will endeavour to direct you in your Christian course.”
The note concludes with a fervent and scriptural exhortation, that his correspondent would not delay to make a believing application to “the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world."
Mr. Jackson loved his home. In the bosom of his family, his affections found at once their exercise and repose, and rested with as much intensity as is consistent with that supreme love to God which is always due from redeemed creatures. He had not, like many, to seek happiness in transient and external excitements, and a constant round of change ; and hence he did not quit his Christian duties and his wife and children, except to attend to the lawful calls of business, and occasionally to recreate, by a visit to a watering-place, a tender and delicate constitution. His habitual infirm health made him serious : and although he did not frown upon those innocent and playful exercises of the mind with which the social circle is frequently revived, nor refuse to join in them; yet, whether at home or abroad, he felt that his great concern was to walk with God. During a period of somewhat threatening debility, he writes thus from Blackpool, in July, 1836 :—“This prolonged affliction is intended, I believe, my dear Jane, to draw us both nearer to Himself. I have enjoyed much sweet communion with God since I got here, although it has sometimes been damped by fits of nervous depression. I pray God I may be delivered from this; for it is exceedingly painful to me, and to those about me.” From London, some time after, thus :-“I have felt, in my closetduties, more comfort and more power than I ever before experienced in this distracting place; and I do ardently sing,
*Closer and closer may we cleave
To his beloved embrace.'” The extract concludes with fervent aspirations for the future welfare of his children, who were seldom forgotten in his epistolary communications with Mrs. Jackson.
About the commencement of 1837, Mr. Jackson began to be convinced that the close and incessant confinement which his business required was seriously detrimental to him, and threatened to overwhelm his remaining strength and vigour. In order to avoid this danger, he believed it to be his duty to close bis retail house at Huddersfield, and avail himself of an opening which appeared in another direction. Seeking the guidance of the same divine hand which had led him all his life long, and simply wishing to promote his health, and consequently prolong his life, for the sake of his family and the church of God, he removed his abode to Leeds, and became a partner in the wholesale house of Messrs. Swain and Webbs. He connected himself, at the same time, with Oxford-place chapel, and became a most efficient Leader and Local Preacher in the Second Leeds Circuit. In the midst of a circle of Christians so long known in the annals of Methodism for their simplicity, piety, and zeal, our friend soon felt himself at home, and was happy. He entered heartily into every design of spiritual usefulness, and lent to it his aid, even while he was “not slothful in business ;” thus remembering both departments of Christian duty.
It was here, in the year 1840, that the writer of these lines first became acquainted with him. His person was slender, but graceful; his demeanour, mild and courteous; the expression of his countenance, thoughtful, but benignant. He had now acquired respectable stores of general information. Considering that he was a diligent man of business all his life, the extent to which he had read was somewhat remarkable, and his judgment had acquired a soundness which was almost beyond his years. At meetings of business he never spoke from the mere love of declamation; and did not make a demand upon the time and attention of his brethren, until he had a well-digested opinion to give, and was prepared to support it with appropriate reasons. In all churchmatters he was a man of principle : not that he was a stranger to feeling as a life and power ; but he did not acknowledge it as a law. His love to Methodism was intense: he loved its Pastors, its ordinances, its sacred deposit of evangelical doctrine; and was laudably jealous of everything that might tend, in any department, to impair its spiritual efficiency. Yet his love to Methodism did not weaken his catholicity; for often, on visiting London, he took the opportunity of attending the ministrations of the Rev. Thomas Binney, and of other eminent men, both Dissenters and Clergymen; and rejoiced in the spiritual gifts which God had given to these, as well as unto those under whose guidance his own lot had been cast.