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First, I never was in any situation in which I had so much opportunity of doing good, (according to my small abilities) as in this place, and that in various ways, public and private; and to many who live at a distance also. These are providentially thrown in my way, and I find such clear leadings of the Spirit in conversing with them, that, (painful as many circumstances are,) I am constrained to say, If I choose for the work of God, here I must abide and fix my home.*
Secondly. Here I have a great many sweet lively souls to converse with. My meetings are more satisfactory to myself than in any place I ever yet was H; and I still feel it suited to me, as a soil in which my soul grows in.
Thirdly. It suits my temporal affairs, this house .being cheap; and several other circumstances also are advantageous.
Fourthly. I never found any other part agree as well with my health as this has done. From a child I could never live in London, nor in any close place; and here I have had better health than ever before :—Only at this
* At the last Conference which Mr. Fletcher attended, viz. at Leeds, August, 1784, (about a year before his death,) I had the privilege of sittingvery near him. About the middle of the Conference he rose, and addresged Mr. Wesley respecting his Parish. He said, I fear my successor will not be interested in the work of God, and my flock may suffer. I have done what I could. I have built a Chapel in Madely Wood, and I hope, Sir, you will continue to supply it, and that Madely may still be part of the Circuit. If you please, I should be glad to be put down m the Minutes as a Supernumerary! Mr. Wesley could hardly bear this, and the Preachers were melted into tears. Turning to them, Mr. Fletcher expressed his hope that they would feed his sheep, and nourish them with the same truths which they had been used to hear. How wonderfully did the Lord provide for them when he was pleased to remove their angelic Pastor!" My dear," said he to Mrs. Fletcher, "When you marry me, you mast marry my Parish." She did so; and as the new Vicar did not reside, and as he had a great respect for Mrs. Fletcher, she was allowed to recommend the Curate, whom the Vicar invariably appointed, according to that recommendation. The work of God has thus continued, and proceeded, for thirty yeara in peace. May it never be interrupted! Ed.
season, I find the waves of sorrow have thrown me some paces nearer my eternal home. Truly also, that part of my dream, (the sound of death,) hath been accomplished in all its pomp 1
Would any know the king of terrors? Let them look on the corpse of a beloved husband, or tender friend, and there discern the consequences of sin !—For a be^ liever to look at death, as seizing on himself, has comparatively no terror! In the midst of the most pleasant scene my life had ever exhibited, I sometimes said, " I think, my love, I am selfish: it seems as if I should not fear to die and leave thee! I am deeply sensible, however, of all the pain thou wouldst feel.—Yet it seems as if we should not be divided even by death." But now the scene is turned! It is my eyes which must for ever have before them that tremendous night. Oh I what do I feel! Thy will, 0 Lord! be done!
From this time I have been more and more convinced, my inheritance is appointed of the Lord, and that this is the spot I am to fix on, at least for the present; and I rather believe I shall change no more,—but that where he died, I shall die also. During this heavy night of sorrow, (attended with such aggravating circumstances as it is not needful to explain,) I have also seen an amazing mixture of the tender care and fatherly protection of my God. He withholds his rough zvind in the day of his east wind; and will lay no more on his poor creatures than his power and goodness will enable them to bear. 1 know assuredly, that my bereavement has wrought for the good of my soul. I am, notwithstanding my inward trials, and deep sensibility of my loss, truly enabled to praise God even for the severity of the stroke. Yes, I love His will! I love His cross! I am, I will be devoted to His glory! And if that can be promoted by my keen anguish, I will delight in suffering all His wisdom shall appoint!
I see also the goodness of the Lord in our bringing Sally Lawrence with us here. The day we were married, as soon as we returned from the church, and went up stairs to ask a blessing on our union, she came into the room, and falling on her knees before my dear husband, she entreated him not to part her from her dear mistress, who had brought her up. He told her he never would: and now she is made to me a great comfort, having all the usefulness of a housekeeper, added to the affection of the tenderest child. •
The Lord has also answered my dear husband^ prayers with regard to the work of the Lord, beyond all expectation. When he repeatedly expressed his desire that I should stay here, I replied, O how can I bear the place without thee? How can I bear to stay and see perhaps a carnal ministry? He answered, "Thou dost not know what God may do.—Perhaps there may never be a carnal ministry here." And so it proved. The Rev. Mr. Gilpin and his wife, being on the spot, were at that season kind and tender friends to me, and Mr. Kenerson desired him to supply the church, till he should return to his own living,—which was not for some months. The Lord then provided for us a precious young man, Mr. Melville Home, who had travelled some time in connexion with Mr. Wesley ; and concerning whom my dear Mr. Fletcher had (before his illness) expressed a desire that he might be his successor. We have also the Methodist Preachers, and their labours are blessed. Brotherly love takes root and flourishes among us. The work goes on well; fresh converts are continually brought in, and several have with flowing eyes declared, that the words they once slighted, now "seem to rise in judgment against them. They bow to the truth, and are constrained to acknowledge, concerning their deceased Pastor, He being dead, yet speaketh.
The Lord hath also looked on my temporal affairs, beyond what I could have expected. I observed, soon after my marriage, that all was now made quite easy. I looked on the promise as already fulfilled, halving in Layton a good deal more than would pay all. Some hundreds were however still on interest, though we had lessened the sum, while my dear and I were together. But soon after he was taken from me, I received a letter from a person of whom I had borrowed some years before a hundred and fifty pounds, that he wanted it directly ;— and I had at this season a good deal to pay on other accounts. As I wished to be free, for the remainder of my short days, from unnecessary care, I had a desire that the estate at Layton-stone should be sold, and the demands all settled at once. 1 found however that could not be done without loss,—and therefore proposed to pay yearly all I could out of my income, which was now increased by the tender care of my dear husband. But my youngest brother, William Bosanquet, whom I had not seen for some years, came down on a visit to me. He expressed the greatest sympathy and tenderness towards me in this time of trial; and after staying with me some days, generously supplied me with all the cash I then needed. Some months after, an uncle dying without leaving me any thing, (and indeed I did not think I had any right to expect it,) my brothers wrote me word, that they were sorry I was not remembered in the will;—And my youngest brother desired me to accept of five hundred pounds, (or more if I wanted it) to settle all my affairs. Here was the exact fulfilment of Mrs. Clapham's impression concerning us! [see Page, 161.] This very brother whom she then saw, (though at that time there was not the least reason to think of any such thing,) did afterward, as it was represented to her, bring me many smaller sums, and at last one so large as to remove all burdens at once from my shoulders! And on January, 1787, I wrote in my diary, 1 now owe no man any thing but love: my income is quite clear, and J have, according to the promise, Great plenty of silver!
PART THE FIFTH.
Her settlement at Madely,—and thoughts on communion ■with happy spirits.
December 15, 1785.
My soul is exceeding sorrowful. I feel the loss of my dearest husband in a manner I cannot express. Four months are now elapsed since I sustained that dreadful scene, yet it seems as if it was but yesterday. Nothing can comfort me but the blessing promised in those words, "I and my Father will come and make our abode with you." Nothing short of that baptism of the Holy Ghost can heal and satisfy my wounded soul. But I will endeavour to recollect the blessings which attend even my melancholy situation, and strive by steps of thankfulness to raise my heart from gratitude to exulting praise.
First, I have the comfort of knowing my dear love is in glory. He hath proved the victory,—his "last enemy is destroyed!" Death shall no more threaten him with the cold grave ;—It is conquered for ever, and shall be " swallowed up in victory."
Secondly, I had the consolation of being with him to the last moment, and hearing him so long as he could speak, express how comfortable he was both inward and outward; praising God often for the comfortable attendance he had in the needful hour, and many times saying to me, "I am most sweetly filled, but I do not seem for much speaking; I am drawn inward."
Thirdly, I rejoice that he told me, " God would open all my way before me ;"—and with his last blessing gave me to the Lord, saying, " Hqad of the, church, be hea<3 to my wife!"