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PART THE FOURTH.
Her marriage and removal to Madely.
The seventh of June, 1781, as I before observed, was the day that began my fourteenth year in Yorkshire. On that day I took a particular view of my whole situation, and saw difficulties as mountains rise all around me. Faith was hard put to it. The promise seemed to stand sure, and I thought the season was come, yet the waters were deeper than ever. I thought also, how shall I now hold fast that word so powerfully given to me, "The Almighty shall be thj^^ence, and thou shalthave plenty of silver?" ^Jp
At length " the cloud arose as a man's hand." The very next day, June the eighth, I received a letter from Mr. Fletcher, in which he told me,—That he had for twenty-five years found a regard for me, which was still as sincere as ever; and though it might appear odd he should write on such a subject, when but just returned from abroad, and more so without seeing me first, he could only say, that his mind was so strongly drawn to do it, he believed it to be the order of Providence.
In reading this letter I was much struck.—So many circumstances all uniting,—1. The season it came in. 2. His writing on the subject before we had met, after an absence of fifteen years; and without his having the most distant suspicion of my mind being inclined towards it. 3. His mentioning,—That for twenty-five years he had had the thought. All these particulars answered to the marks which I had laid down. His unexpected recovery also, and safe return, so plainly pointed out the hand of Providence, that all ground of reasoning against it seemed removed. Yet, on the other hand, a strange fear possessed my mind lest I should take any 9tep out of the order of God ;—nor was Satan wanting to represent great trials before me, which he told me I should not have strength to stand in.
We corresponded with openness and freedom, till August the first, when he came to Cross-hall, and abode there a month; preaching in different places with much power:—and having opened our whole hearts to each other, both on temporals and spirituals, we believed it to be the order of God we should become one, when He should make our way plain.
He then returned to his parish, an hundred and twelve miles from the place where t lived ;—for we could not think of taking the step, till my affairs were more clearly settled.—So we took oj^^eave of each other, committing all into His han^Jpio 44 does what he will with His own."
In about five weeks he returned; but still all seemed shut up, no way opened either for disposing of the farm, or of the family. Conversing one day with Mrs. Clapham, of Leeds, she said, "What do you stick at? The Lord has done so much to convince you that this is to be your deliverance, how is it that you do not believe, and obey his order? I verily believe if you would take the step in faith, your way would be made plain directly ; and I will now tell you what has passed my mind concerning it. When I was some months since at Scarborough, as I was one day in private, praying for you, and much drawn out in laying your trials before the Lord, I was a*s if taken out of myself, and saw by the eye of faith both Mr. Fletcher and you, and that you were designed for each other, and that much glory to God would arise from your union. But at the same time I saw there were various obstacles in the way ;—but the chief was the want of money. It seemed to me, however, if you would believe, and obey the order of God, all would be made clear before you. Then I saw a tall young man, (it seemed to me it was your youngest brother,) who poured down bags of gold, not once only, or twice, but* several times. Some were small, others seemed large sums; one was very large; and it was impressed on my mind, that all your trials of that kind were over, and that you would never experience those difficulties any more."* She then asked, " Have you more brothers than one," I replied, Yes, I have two; and the youngest is tall; but I never received any thing in particular from him, nor have I the least reason to expect it. Her discourse, however, with several concurring circumstances, made an • impression on our minds; and after asking direction from the Lord, we agreed to take the step in a fortnight.
For the first week all remained as usual; but in the beginning of the second, a gentleman came quite unexpectedly, and bought the place, for one thousand six hundred and twenty pounds. Three days after, another took the stock, &c. A way seemed also to open for each member of the family, so that with a little assistance, every one had a comfortable prospect before them* The case of one, a poor cripple, who had lived with me sixteen years, seemed difficult.—Though she feared and loved God, she had such infirmities, no one was willing to take her; and we had some reasons against taking her
* This whole account is certainly very extraordinary. No pious person, however, will say, that the Lord has not helped, or woulcj not thus direct or comfort his servants, in peculiar difficulties; and no person who was acquainted with Mrs. Clapham, will doubt either the truth of her declare-tion, or the sobriety of her raind. Ed.
with us to Madely. But this difficulty also was removed. On Sunday night, November the 11th, I received a letter from a pious lady, who had first recommended her to mej stating, that she would take her back and maintain her.
All was now so far settled, that I did not need to sell Layton-stone estate.—My income would afford to allow the pious souls of my dispersed family, fifty-five pounds ,per year,—pay the interest of the money still owing; and yet leave me such an annual sum, as was about equal to my dear Mr. Fletcher's income; and in case of my death, there was in Layton-stone more than would pay all.
So on Monday, the 12th of November, 1781, in Batley Church, we covenanted in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, " to bear each other's burdens," and to become one for ever.
We agreed, it would be best to leave all our furniture, except a few trifles, to be sold with the house. Pine would do for us as well as mahogany. I felt some attachment to my neat furniture; but love to the order of God, made me take the spoiling of them very cheerfully. The money was not to be paid in immediately for the estate; we were therefore rather at a loss to settle all our accounts before we left the place, and^to give that assistance to our friends we wished to do. On an exact calculation, we found an hundred pounds were wanting. We laid it before the Lord; and the next post I received a letter from my youngest brother, with a bank note of one hundred pounds inclosed, as a present;—though he knew nothing of our.particular want, nor had I the least reason to expect his assistance, except the extraordinary communication by Mrs. Clapham which I have related.
On January 2, 1782, we set out for Madely. But Oh! where shall I begin my song of praise ?—What a turn is there in alt my affairs ?—What a depth of sorrow, distress, and perplexity, am I delivered from! How shall 1 find language to express the goodness of the Lord? Not one of the good things hath failed me of all the Lord my God hath spoken. Now I know no want, but that of more grace. I have such a husband as is in every thing suited to me. He bears with all my faults and failings in a manner that continually reminds me of that word, "Love your wives as Christ loved the church." His constant endeavour is to make me happy; his strongest desire my spiritual growth. He is, in every sense of the word,—The man my highest reason chooses to obey. I am also happy in a servant, whom I took from the side of her mother's coffin, when she was four years old. She loves us as if we were her parents, and is also truly devoted to God.
Madely, Shropshire, May 30, 1782. Where shall I begin, or how recount thy faithfulness, O my God! Oh I "What is man that-thou art mindful of him?" Above all, what am I, most sinful dust and ashes, that Thou hast made my cup to run over above all I could think or wish for! O for holiness! Lord, let me be thine, and doubly thine for ever!
O the fears which filled my soul before and after our marriage! but how causeless have they all proved! I have the kindest and tenderest of husbands; so spiritual a man, and so spiritual a union, 1 never had any adequate conception of. He is every way suited to me,—all I could wish.* The work among souls increases.—I feel it is the Lord who hath cast my lot here. For some monthsT suffered much through fears of various kinds, all my situation being changed, I feared I should not be equal to the task allotted me, and that I should not be able to please the people "for their good." But Oh!
* Mr. Wesley observes in a letter to the late Mrs. Rogers, at that time, (December 9, 1781,) Miss Roe, " I should not have been willing that Miss Bosanquet should have been joined to any other person than Mr. Fletcher, but I trust she may be as useful with him as sjie was before." See his works, vol. rvi.