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FOR SEPTEMBER, 1844.
MEMOIR OF MR. THOMAS S. SWALE,
OF HALIFAX :
BY THE REV. FRANCIS A. WEST.
(BEING THE ACCOUNT or HIM WHICH WAS READ ON THE OCCASION
OF HIS FUNERAL SERMON.) The duty of furnishing some memorial of Mr. Swal is rendered peculiarly difficult by several circumstances. IIis writings of a private character are exceedingly voluminous; but the task of selection is in the same degree rendered less easy. Nor can the writer of the present account forget the well-known aversion of the deceased to all eulogy of departed persons on these solemn occasions, when hqpe of profit to the living can alone justify such public notice of the dead; and reverence for his memory seems therefore to require that we should rather state the leading incidents of his life, than seek to furnish any laboured encomium upon his character, especially as that character has been for so many years before the world and the church, in the place of his residence, to be universally appreciated.
Mr. Thomas S. Swale was born at Bradford, Yorkshire, July 31st, 1780. His mother died when he was between two and three years age; and he was then placed under the care of an aunt, who bestowed every attention upon his infant education ; and, indeed, entertained the hope that he might be called to the ministry among the Baptists ; but his own convictions of duty, and other circumstances, disappointed her hopes. In a letter published in the Memoir of that distinguished Minister, the late Rev. John Crosse, of Bradford, Mr. Swale has drawn a vivid picture of Mr. Crosse's catechetical instructions to various classes of young persons, and states his own obligations to that eminent servant of God. This was in the year 1788.
In 1793 Mr. Swale removed to Halifax. At this time a remarkable outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which first occurred in Greetland Wesleyan chapel, led to a most extensive and extraordinary revival of the work of God throughout the Halifax Circuit, and seven hundred persons were added to the Wesleyan society. During this revival Mr. Swale was brought under a deep conviction, that, notwithstanding his previous morality, his attainments in religious knowledge, and his
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attention to the means of grace, he yet needed the forgiving love of God, and a change of heart. This salvation from the guilt and power of sin he sought in earnest prayer, and obtained through a humble trust in the alone merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This was the turning-point of his whole life. It gave vitality to his religious knowledge, principle to his whole conduct, a powerful motive to exertion, and charity to his benevolence. He at once joined the Methodist society,-his “note on trial” bearing date, “ December, 1793."
In 1799 he returned to Bradford, and again enjoyed the benefit of Mr. Crosse's pastoral care and instruction. Ile was at this time assistant in an academy in Bradford ; and he so far gained the respect and esteem of the pupils and their parents, that when the principal left the town, he was persuaded to become his successor.
In 1801 Mr. Swale entered into the marriage-state ; and although the affairs of private life may not be considered, generally, subjects suitable for public notice, yet it is but right and just to remark, that his conduct as a husband reflected a lustre upon his personal character and religious principles. He was exemplary in his affectionate solicitude and devoted attachment to his dearest earthly friend, in whose society, and interests, and happiness, he merged all other temporal considerations and enjoyments. It may be proper here to notice his regularity in attending to family worship, and his care to instruct his servants in the things pertaining to their peace; and his efforts were not without success. His love and reverence for the word of God led him not only to read and explain it in his family, but he never left his room in the morning until he had read some portion for his guidance and comfort in preparing him for the duties and trials of the day.
In 1804 Mr. Swale returned to Halifax, which became the place of his residence during the remainder of his life. He now joined the late Mr. Richard Emmett's class; but in 1807 was induced, partly under the influence of temptation, to leave the society to which he had been so strongly attached. However, soon after the appointment of Dr. Bunting to Halifax, in 1811, a sermon preached by him, on “Submit yourselves unto God,” was made a great blessing to Mr. Swale, and convinced him of the duty of returning to those among whom he had obtained his religion ; and with whom, from this period, he continued to be joined in church fellowship, to the end of his life.
In 1812 great commotions existed in this neighbourhood, both of a political and religious character. Strong prejudices against the Government of the country were excited in the minds of a large portion of the community, and the spirit of insubordination and riot extensively prevailed, and often of determined and malicious hostility against individuals. As usual at such times, the same spirit of restless dissatisfaction and opposition soon infected the church of Christ; and occasion
was taken to perplex and thwart the efforts of the Preachers and friends in the management of several important measures connected with the welfare of Methodism. It was found expedient to divide the Circuit, making Sowerby-Bridge a separate station, and to enlarge the present chapel ; both these efforts-and especially the introduction of some pecuniary arrangements relating to the society-occasioned so much disturbance and opposition, that it is believed the efforts of the talented and respected Superintendent would have failed of success, had he not been well supported by the lay friends of Methodism. In this juncture of opposing passions and interests, and severe trials of faith and constancy, the services of Messrs. Ashworth, Emmett, and Swale, were peculiarly valuable.
In 1815 Mr. Swale was appointed to the office of Class-Leader, which important trust he held until his lamented decease. In the discharge of its duties he was distinguished by great fidelity, earnestness, and affection; and his religious and general information made his addresses both interesting and instructive. His prayers were generally fervent and appropriate; and the meetings of the class are affectionately remembered by the members as being "times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.”
The late Rev. Gideon Ouseley paid a visit to Halifax and its neighbourhood, in 1817, when a considerable revival of religion took place, during which Mr. Swale exerted himself with great zeal and success. He felt so deep a sympathy in the case of many penitent inquirers after salvation, especially among the young, that he volunteered to meet once a week any who desired to be taught “the way of God more perfectly ;” and was successful in forming a new class, one member of which afterwards became an Itinerant Preacher.
In October, 1813, the first Wesleyan Missionary Society was formed in Leeds; and Mr. Swale eagerly embraced the opportunity of attending the first public Meeting. In the month following, a similar Auxiliary Society was formed in Halifax, the second in the kingdom, when Mr. Swale was made District-Secretary, which office he held about twenty years; and, on the death of Mr. Ashworth, he succeeded him as Treasurer for the District. He continued to fulfil these duties with fidelity until his death.
A great gloom was spread over the whole Connexion, and especially over the society in Halifax, in July, 1823, by a most painful event, which terminated the lives of two of our most valued Ministers. Several Preachers were proceeding to Sheffield, to attend the Conference, when the coach was overturned, and the passengers generally were seriously hurt. Mr. Sargent and Mr. Lloyd died of the injuries they received. Mr. Lloyd, who had been labouring for two years in the Halifax Circuit, was the justly-esteemed and highly-valued friend of Mr. Swale, who, immediately on hearing of the accident, hastened, with Mrs. Swale and Mrs. Lloyd, to Shelley, the village near which