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MEMOIR OF MRS. HOLMES,
BY THE REV. THOMAS BAKER.
Mrs. HOLMES, whose maiden name was Barnes, was born at Rye, January 29th, 1762. Her parents were highly respectable and wealthy. Her father died before she was born : on her mother, therefore, devolved the unshared responsibility of training up her now fatherless child; and to the best of her judgment, and with great fidelity, she devoted herself to the performance of this important task. A Mrs. Holman, a member of the Methodist society at Rye, and who entertained at her house the venerable Wesley, in his regular visits to the town, invited Mrs. Barnes to accompany her to the Methodist chapel. The Minister on this occasion was the Rev. John Pritchard. His sermon deeply impressed the mind of Mrs. Barnes. She had listened to it with attention, and was convinced that what he had spoken was the truth. She went again and again, and the convictions she felt became increasingly personal and distressing. She not only perceived that what she heard was the truth, but that this truth related to herself. Her spirit became contrite, and she sought for the forgiveness of sin through the redemption of the Lord Jesus. Whilst earnestly engaged in prayer one morning, she found peace with God, and was enabled to rejoice in him as her Saviour. And the joy of the Lord was her strength. At first, fearing the ridicule and reproach of her friends, she had gone secretly to the place in which the Methodists then worshipped, endeavouring to conceal from them her attendance there. They discovered it, however ; but she was no longer ashamed and afraid. Her mind was established in the experience, as well as knowledge, of the truth ; and she both went to the “ meeting-house” openly, and joined the poor and despised society, and abandoned all her worldly associations at once and for ever. Her relations were much displeased at this. Her brother expostulated with her; and when he found that he could not succeed, he requested, at least, that she would adopt measures to preserve her daughter from such “ low society," and that she might be sent from home to some suitable school, where she would meet with nothing of the kind. But Mrs. Barnes was as decided as before.“ Wherever I go myself,” she replied, " there my child shall go.” Mrs. Barnes “ endured to the end," and died in great peace.
VOL. III.- FOURTH SERIES.
The mind of Miss Barnes was impressed very early with the truth and importance of spiritual subjects. Her mother's instructions were imparted with faithfulness and affection, and were readily received. Nor was the instruction given as a mere matter of form. Mrs. Barnes taught her child tenderly, as well as assiduously, and with much prayer. And God blessed this his own ordinance of domestic instruction.
Miss Barnes, at ten years of age, was sent to such a school as her mother judged to be proper. She at that time sincerely desired to be enabled to live a life of true piety; indeed, she was under serious convictions of sin, and, in prayer, earnestly sought for a sense of God's forgiving love : these desires were cherished, and her convictions strengthened, as well as her prayers encouraged, by a regular attendance on the Wesleyan ministry. Some time afterwards, while on a visit, with her mother, to a Wesleyan friend at Ewhurst, (a village in the neighbourhood, she had been fervently praying at night, before she retired to rest, that she might find the blessing which she sought ; and when she awoke in the morning and began to think, she felt that she could rely on Christ, and that she was happy in his love. Her friends rejoiced with her, and at night she again, in great simplicity, commended herself to God, beseeching him that she might not deceive herself, but that in the morning the continuance of her peace might remove all doubt of its reality. She lay down as overshadowed by the protecting wing of Divine Providence, saying in her heart,
“ In me, Lord, thyself reveal ;
Fill me with a sweet surprise ;
Let me in thy image rise."
And God graciously condescended to bless her childlike spirit : for she was, as yet, only a child. She had heard of some who, on receiving the witness of mercy divine,” had had some passage of Scripture powerfully applied to the mind, and she had not yet learned to distinguish between what was only circumstantial, and what was essential. We ought never to seem to dictate to our heavenly Father, as to the manner in which his gifts should be bestowed. Let him give as he pleases, so that he does give; and let us receive what he gives with thankfulness, in whatever way it is given. But what might have been presumption in those of riper years, was in her, as we have said, childlike simplicity, marking both her earnestness, and her desire not to be allowed to deceive herself. And, we repeat it, God condescended to bless her in her own way; for it was His blessing that she really sought, and not her own will. When she awoke in the morning, her first feelings, as it were, unconsciously expressed themselves in the language of the Prophet Isaiah, “ Behold, God is my salvation: I will trust, and not be afraid : for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song ; he also is become my salvation.”
From this period she proceeded in a truly Christian course. She joined the Wesleyan society; and as she grew in years, advanced in grace, and increased in stability. She had the pleasure and benefit of more than one interview with Mr. Wesley, who blessed her in the name of the Lord. The last sermon she heard him preach was under a tree, where he had stood for the same purpose several times before, at