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He would speak of many of his fellow-labourers who had been called to their rest before him, and tell how they had been accustomed to assemble at Quarterly-Meetings, lovefeasts, &c., where they were sure to have their souls blessed, and their joys increased; and then, when temporal business came before them, they were enabled to attend to it in a proper spirit; and as their hearts were enlarged, so their hands were opened, and all were free contribute as might be necessary.
His confidence in God, being founded on the divine promises, and on those views of the divine character which the Scriptures furnish, was enlightened, calm, and abiding. It was the same under all circumstances. In the dark and cloudy day, he committed himself to God; for in his own experience he had proved that “at eventide it shall be light.” In cases of much perplexity, when he could see no way of
escape, deliverance had been wrought out for him ; so that he “rested in the Lord, and waited patiently for him." During a period in which trade was greatly depressed, and failures on the part of others threatened him with serious if not total loss, he exclaimed, “My bread shall be given me, and my water shall be sure. Thank God for that promise.” His serene countenance bespoke the peace that reigned within, even when surrounded with outward cares; and towards the conclusion of life, he could say, “ I have often prayed earnestly that, whatever happened, I might bring no reproach on the cause of religion. My prayers have been heard, and now I have all things richly to enjoy. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
As a Class-Leader, those over whom he was thus called to watch bear a decided testimony that he was judicious, faithful, and affectionate. He especially rejoiced when he saw young persons coming forward, and choosing the good part, the one thing needful. He would seek to encourage them, by telling them that he had himself found the great advantages of religion, even in relation to this present life; and that he could, from his own experience, set his seal to the declaration of Scripture, that “all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to them that keep his covenant and his testimonies." He was an example of the piety which he endeavoured to inculcate : he “rejoiced evermore, prayed without ceasing, and in everything gave thanks.” No stranger to the assaults of inward temptation, yet he held fast his confidence in a sin-pardoning God, and lived by the faith of the Son of God as having loved him, and given himself for him; so that the evidence of his acceptance which he at first received, he retained to the end.
Though his care for the church of Christ never lessened, yet, during the last ten years of his life his strength gradually failed, and he was no longer able to render the active services in which he had formerly delighted to engage. But there was no repining at this : he knew that the days of man on earth were limited, and that this failure of strength was the harbinger of approaching death. This, however, occasioned no alarm. He would acknowledge that in one sense death was the common enemy, having entered the world by sin ; but that in the case of believers in Christ, his character was changed, and that he was the messenger sent to summon them to their heavenly Father's house. As life declined, therefore, his prospects of future blessedness brightened ; and while the pleasures of active service passed away, joy in hope of the glory of God remained and increased.
About five years before he died, finding that the few remaining cares of business had become burdensome to him, arrangements were made by which he was entirely freed from them. In this he rejoiced, considering it as another proof of providential goodness, that now he had nothing to do, but to think of eternity, and prepare more seriously than ever to appear before God. Sometimes, in consequence of weakness, he could not attend the public means of grace; but on such occasions he always sought to realize the divine presence in his own habitation. Worship with him was not only duty, but delight also. Indeed, throughout the whole of his religious course, he experienced the pleasure and advantage of thoughtful meditation; and this pleasure increased with his years. In his latter days, it was usual for him to say in the morning, “ I have slept very little; still, I have had a blessed night.” Sometimes, if religion appeared not to be so prosperous around him as he could wish, he would say, “I have slept little, and wept much; but my
blessed Saviour has been with me. In the year 1814, the late Captain Drake came to reside near Winchester, and between him and Mr. Poulsom a Christian friendship commenced which lasted for many years. Mr. Drake, at the expiration of his apprenticeship in the merchant service, had been impressed, and taken on board a man-of-war. He had witnessed several engagements; and while in the hospital at Madras, he was convinced of sin, and his need of a Saviour, whose mercy he sought and found. Obtaining his discharge, he fixed his residence at Newport, in the Isle of Wight, where he joined the Wesleyan society, and for some time traded to the neighbouring ports. Subsequently he removed to St. Cross, near Winchester, spending the remainder of his life in “ doing or receiving good.” The friendship between him and Mr. Poulsom grew stronger as years passed onward ; and at length seldom a day occurred in which they did not meet, and prove mutually helpers of each other's joy. Mr. Drake died somewhat suddenly, and Mr. Poulsom was much affected by the bereavement: he rejoiced, however, in anticipating the period when they should again meet, and then to part
He followed the remains of his friend to the grave; and when the body was about to be lowered into its last earthly restingplace, he placed his hand on the coffin, and, looking upwards, said, while the tears ran down his face, “My old friend, farewell! I shall meet thee again in heaven."
Mr. Poulsom continued his habits of early rising, &c., till his seventy-fifth year. He then lost his wife. He had watched over her with anxious solicitude during a long and painful affliction; and when the scene closed, it was found that nature had received a shock so severe, that for some time it was doubtful whether he would not soon follow her. The thought of rejoining her was consoling to him ; but he resigned himself to the divine will. His language was, “I am willing to live, and ready to die, just as the Lord appoints." His health was in a measure restored; but he could no more engage in active duties as he had formerly done. He lived in the constant expectation of his final change, and was evidently ripening for a better world.
In the early part of February, 1843, he was so unwell, that medical help was called in ; and for the next fortnight he suffered much from inflammation of the chest, and a severe cough : his mind, however, was kept in perfect peace, with occasional bursts of rapturous joy. For
a day or two he was slightly delirious; but though his language was incoherent, it was always innocent, and sometimes instructive. When recollection was fully restored, he was told of this, and very devoutly did he praise God who had permitted nothing improper to fall from his lips. He observed, “ I am in the hand of One who is able to keep me, and none shall pluck me thence. No, no ; I shall not be left now that I am old and feeble. My blessed Saviour does all things well.”
The more unfavourable symptoms having been removed, his friends hoped that perhaps he might be continued to them a little longer. This was mentioned to him. His reply was very expressive. heavenly Father knows best. If he has anything more for me to do, I desire to be restored. If not, he will take me to himself in his own good time. I praise my God for his great goodness to me. From the time
my mind first became enlightened, I have taken the Bible for my guide, and, under that, the teaching of Mr. Wesley and Methodism. I trust I can say it with all humility, but with much thankfulness to God, that no man can bring a reproach against me, as it regards any outward violation of the holy law. But all my hope is in Christ.” His sleep, during the night, though refreshing, was short; but he was accustomed to meditation, and his many waking hours were thus not at all irksome. Once being asked whether he could not sleep, he answered, “I am so engaged with the sacrifice of the death of Christ, that I seem not even to want to sleep.” On another similar occasion, he said, “I have been thinking of our Lord's conversation with Simon, and with the woman who had been a sinner. But her faith bad saved her. She had found mercy, and was bid to go in peace. That is just my case.
I love much, because I have much forgiven.” One morning, on one of the domestics entering the room, he exclaimed, “ 0, I have had a blessed night! Heavenly company! I have no impatience. I wait the Lord's time; but I can say, "O that I had wings like a dove; then would I fly away, and be at rest !” He often repeated Bishop Ken's impressive doxology,–
“ Praise God, from whom all blessings flow," &c. When he appeared to be likely to recover, he said, “ I was just thinking how beautiful it would have been to have slipped away from you last week, and to have stepped into heaven. But I am not anxious on the subject. Just as my heavenly Father sees best, will be best for me.” At another time he said, “I have been examining myself; and after all that I have been enabled to do, I might have done more, and done it better. It is only for my blessed Saviour's sake that I am accepted.” A “ funeral sermon was mentioned in his presence : he remarked, “Say nothing of me. But if speaking of God's mercitul dealings with me will encourage others to resolve with all their hearts to serve the Lord, so that glory may be given to his holy name, let so much be done. It comes just to this, that salvation is all of Christ.”
On the 19th of March, he seemed to be so much better, that he said he thought in a day or two he should be able to go down stairs again. During the night he was as usual ; but soon after eight in the morning a change became perceptible. He himself noted the difference in his own feelings, and said calmly, “If this be death, I shall soon be in glory." To a friend who approached his bed, he said, “Never mind. God is love. Though I walk through the valley and shadow
of death, I fear no evil, -no evil,-none; for God is with me.” So quietly did he sink to his last sleep, that two or three times he said, “If this is death, I have to thank God for an easy passage.
He responded very earnestly to the prayers that were offered on his behalf. The words, “The sting of death is sin,” being quoted, he almost shouted, with all his remaining strength, “Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.” After this, with the exception of a brief reply to his medical attendant, which proved that he was sensible to the last, he spoke no more; but almost imperceptibly fell asleep in Christ. He died, March 20th, 1843, in his eighty-second year.
A brief summary of his character may be given as a conclusion to this memorial. From what has been said, it will be seen that it was formed by the development of those Christian principles which he received early in life. The great mischievousness of that kind of teaching under which he was at first placed, is in his case instructively apparent. The religious feelings and impressions which he experienced in youth, under this direction, were fast issuing into worldliness and self-righteous formality. But it gave him not the peace which he wanted, and he had not become satisfied with himself when he was providentially led to a ministry more in accordance with the church of the Reformation; and which, while its great appeal was to the Scriptures of truth, as the only fixed and sacred standard, appealed, likewise, with a force which was often irresistible to the consciences of those who called themselves Churchmen, to the authorized documents of the Church, to its Liturgy, as explained by its Articles and Homilies. Mr. Poulsom soon perceived that what he heard the Wesleyan Ministers preach, ought to have been preached by the Clergymen whom he had been accustomed to hear. He left the building, which was of comparatively little consequence, to follow the doctrine which was essential, as being that revelation of the righteousness of God, from faith to faith, which is the power of God unto salvation. He was led to seek and find that which alone " availeth anything in Christ Jesus,” even “faith which worketh by love," and thus became “
a new creature.” Not less attentive than previously (but far more) to the outward observances of religion, and to the duties of morality, he was, likewise, spiritually-minded and devout; and the excellencies of his subsequent life were those “fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God."
As a husband he was affectionate and kind; as a friend, sincere and constant; and as a tradesman, courteous, strictly upright, and doing unto others as he desired that men should do unto himself. He never took advantage of ignorance or necessity; and even sometimes gave more for an article than had been asked for it, if he thought its value had really been underrated. If a price exceeding what he believed to be the true value was demanded, he would merely say, “ It is not worth so much to me," and pass on. He was a considerate and kind master, and, when trade was bad, would sometimes make purchases from which he could anticipate no profit, rather than discharge the workmen. In cases of sickness, those who were in his employ found him always ready to minister to their assistance and comfort. His very appearance was a restraint on the ungodly. One of his servants once heard a man say, who too frequently interlarded his speech with oaths, and who had occasion to be in his presence, “I longed to get away; for I could not swear before him.” The pious loved, and the world respected, him.
His liberality, though principally exerted in behalf of the institutions of Methodism, was not confined to them. He loved all who sought to extend the Redeemer's kingdom, and aided them according to his ability. In the proceedings of the Centenary year he greatly rejoiced. Every Report was fully read to him; and with flowing tears he frequently said, “The Lord is with us still, and is putting it into the hearts of his people to act thus nobly.”
That it may not be supposed that a portrait too highly coloured, and more flattering than correct, has been drawn by the hand of affection, a few extracts from the statements of several Ministers, who knew him well, are subjoined.
The Rev. Joseph Brookhouse says: “In 1795, I was stationed in the Portsmouth Circuit, which, at that time, included Winchester. There I became acquainted with good Mr. Poulsom. I say so; for, like Barnabas, he was indeed a good man. His conduct declared that he loved God and his neighbour. There was in him a holy consistency of character. His uprightness was undeniable. He appeared to breathe the desire of the poet :
"I want the witness, Lord,
That all I do is right;
Well-pleasing in thy sight.' He was remarkable for the mildness and sweetness of his spirit,--a steady, lively, devoted Christian, showing forth the praises of Him who had called him out of darkness into his marvellous light.”
The Rev. W. Edwards has written thus : “ The accounts which he gave of the divine goodness to him were clear and scriptural. He was truly humble, and of a child-like spirit. I was his Pastor for three years, and I never knew anything in his conduct that did not adorn the Christian character. His liberality was great, and its extent will never be known in this world. I derived much profit from his acquaintance. He strengthened my hands, and greatly encouraged me in the work of the Lord. He was on principle, as well as from his mildness of temper, a peace-maker. When some laboured to cause disturbance, he strove to preserve harmony, and to promote love and union in the fold of Christ.”
Thirty years ago, the late Rev. Joseph Taylor was stationed at Southampton. Not long before his own lamented death, he thus expressed his recollections of Mr. Poulsom: “During the two years in which I had regularly to visit Winchester, I was intimate with Mr. Poulsom. He had then, for a considerable time, enjoyed the religion which brings peace with God, and power over sin, to the beart. His Christian deportment exemplified the doctrine of the Gospel wherever he came. In the church, in the world, and in his family, his religious consistency was evident. To every duty he was attentive, literally walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. Constitutionally timid and unobtrusive, he did not deliver his testimony as frequently as was desired; but though his courage had this defect, he dared to be singularly good in every other respect. If he did not, in the degree to be wished, add to his faith