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ON THE SUCCESS OF THE ASSOCIATION.
To The Editob,—Dear Sib.
The writer of the annexed was an early associate and a highly esteemed friend of the incomparable Dr. Adam Clarke. The sentiments it contains are too valuable, for posterity, to be lost; and, especially as coming from one of the oldest members of the olden-body. I trust the opinions given and the counsel afforded, will not be altogether lost sight of by the present, nor by future members of the Wesleyan Association family. May none grow weary or faint in their minds,—knowing that in due time we shall reap if we follow on in the glorious work of the Lord—that of seeking to save souls from death, in avoiding Priestism, and by working together for the advancement of His kingdom, whose throne and reign is to be everlasting.
I am delighted in bearing testimony to the increasing satisfaction afforded to the readers of the Association Magazine, by your personal exertions in raising it to such an acceptable standard.
March 17, 1842. T. P. R.
My Dear Sin,
I am perfectly satisfied in my own mind, that the cause of Wesleyan Reform will go on and prosper,—because it has truth and righteousness on its side. If this thing be of God—it will, it must prosper, and no weapon formed against it shall overthrow it. The means to be used for the accomplishment of this great object according to my view of the subject must be, First,—The diffusion of Light. As long as the people are in darkness, they will follow their leaders. But let their eyes be once opened—(and, though ft be only like that of the man in the Gospel, who began to see men as trees walking, they will begin to suspect that all is not right. Secondly,—It will be necessary for those who See—to unite firmly together, and conduct their operations on New Testament principles,—having a single eye to the glory of God and the salvation of immortal souls; and to lose sight of party spirit and party feelings; and this will not be easily done, because it is in the very teeth of corrupt nature. Satan is at work, and I should not wonder if he transforms himself into an angel of light, and deceive unwary souls. Hence the necessity of much prayer and watchfulness, with a constant looking up to God for an increase of faith and love. Thirdly,— We should most carefully guard against prejudice towards our opponents. They will eat like a canker worm, and drive the life and power of God out of our souls. And also against all expressions that will not bear the test of Scripture. Strong language generally fails in producing its intended effect. Kindness and affection will do wonders. It is said of Mr. Baxter, that he used to say "that we should sacrifice every thing for peace, except a good conscience." May God Almighty help us to keep this in view, and then success will crown our efforts.
The Association will rise, in my opinion, above all opposition, and spread its influence far and wide. May the God of Jacob make it successful. I shall use my utmost efforts to promote the interest thereof.
I was a party to the compact or covenant of 1797 entered into by the Methodist Conference with the people, and saw with pleasure and delight the working of the system for upwards of thirty years ; and hoped it would continue to prosper to the end of time. But alas! my hopes are blasted and my expectations cut off. The breach of compact—and assumption of irresponsible power by the Preachers, in connexion with the expulsion of many members who were some of its brightest ornaments, and firmest supporters, is to me,—a sure token that the glory is departing from our Israel; I have laboured in season and out of season, as long as my physical strength continued, in attention to my duties, and to walk as becometh the gospel of Christ, for the space of between fifty and sixty years ;—and I feel thankful that during the entire period no charge of immorality was ever brought against me, either at a leaders', or at a local preachers' meeting. W. M.
THE WAY TO HELP OUR MISSION FUND.
While perusing the more recent numbers of your Magazine, I have been pleased to observe expressions of anxiety respecting the present state of the moral world, and allusions to the present state of our Association Mission Funds, with some valuable suggestions as to the duty of the church in relation to those matters. It is certainly very proper to write about those things, to hold meetings, deliver lectures, employ collectors and Missionary Boxes, for the purpose of obtaining money in the usual systematic way, but after all, there is one plan which I fear is too generally neglected, by members of the church,—that of giving according to their ability; and thus letting their light shine before men, that others seeing their good works may also glorify God. I hear about a missionary debt of £600. It is the opinion of the writer that if the respective members of the Association would properly look into the present lamentable state of the heathen world, and also consider their individual and corporate accountability to God, there would be immediately forth-coming, not only £600, but a further supply of money sufficient to send several other missionaries to proclaim the glad tidings of salvation, where doors are opening; feeling a great desire that something should be done in this great and glorious work: I beg to present the sum of £20.
ACCOUNT OF TWO EARTHQUAKES IN LONDON.
The fears of silly people having now passed away, relative to the much talked of earthquake, that was, according to the testimony of some false prophets, to have taken place this month; I beg leave to enclose you an extract from the journal of Mr. Wesley, giving a brief account of two 'earthquakes that occurred in London in 1750.
"Thursday, February 8th,—It was about a quarter after twelve, that the earthquake began at the skirts of the town. It began in the south-east, went through Southwark, under the river, and then from one end of London to the other. It was observed at Westminster and Grosvenor-square a quarter before one, (perhaps, if we allow for the difference of the clocks, about a quarter of an hour after it began in Southwark). There were three distinct shakes, or wavings to and fro, attended with a hoarse, rumbling noise like thunder. How gently does God deal with this nation! O that our repentance may prevent heavier marks of his displeasure.
"March 8th,—To-day God gave the people of London a second warning, of which my brother wrote as follows :—' This morning a quarter after five, we had another shock of an earthquake, far more violent than that of Feb. 8th. I was just repealing my text, when it shook the Foundry so violently, that we all expected to fall upon our heads; a great cry followed from the women and children. I immediately cried out, Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be moved, and the hills be carried into the sea: for the Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. He filled my heart with faith, and my mouth with words, shaking their souls as well as their bodies.'
"The earth moved westward, then east, then westward again, through all London and Westminster. It was a strong and jarring motion, attended with a rumbling noise like that of distant thunder. Many houses were much shaken, and some chimneys thrown down, but without any farther hurt."
J. Chop p.
Northfield is a village in the county of Worcester, five miles from Birmingham. The people of this village in by-gone days were most wretchedly debased, intellectually and morally. They were wholly given up to the most cruel sports, and were noted as racers and boxers. Whenever those who cared for their souls offered them life by the preaching of the gospel, they almost unanimously refused to hear. Forty years ego, the Methodists of Birmingham tried by preaching and other usual means to convince them of their dangerous state, and many times met with the most afflictive repulses. Upon one occasion two of the Birmingham Methodist Preachers —one of whom was Mr. Peter Haslam—were so much persecuted, that had it not been for the kindness of the gentleman of whom the land was taken, upon which the Association Chapel now stands, it is believed that their lives would have been sacrificed. The mobs in Northfield have at times, gone so far as to ransack the slaughterhouse of a butcher for the purpose of obtaining filth to throw upon the Methodists. With all this it may easily be imagined, that there must have been a great number of ignorant suspicions and prejudices in the minds of the people. But the times when these 'feelings were publicly manifested are gone, and the character of the people has assumed a different aspect; for
now, instead of driving the preachers of the gospel from them, many seem anxious to hear for themselves. May this anxiety to hear the gospel increase in intensity, and be more generally diffused among them.
The Conference Methodists attempted, for many years, to plant themselves in Northfield; but they never succeeded to any great extent. Although no very great good appeared as the result of their labours, there can be no doubt but that some good was done. The honour of building a dissenting place of worship in this village was reserved for the Wesleyan Association ; and the members of that Association confidently expect that in the chapel which they have there built, much spiritual good will be done. When it became known to the clergyman of the parish, that the 'Sc/iismaticks!' intended to build a chapel within the boundary of his * cure,' he offered all the opposition in his power. When he discovered that it would be impossible for him to prevent our friends from having land, he waited upon the then secretary of the trust, for the purpose of endeavouring to persuade the trustees to give up their project. He said, "The Methodist preachers are unlearned men, and incapable of teaching properly the way of life. Whereas those of the establishment have been educated in the Universities—the Methodist preachers are not properly ordained, and are not successors of the Apostles, but the ministers of the Church of England are!" In addition to all this, a cry has been heard in and out of the ' Steeple House,' of ' the Church is in danger," and a Tract on, what are termed, high Church Principles, has been widely circulated in the village.
Notwithstanding all the opposition, open and secret, a chapel has been raised, and it was opened on Sunday the 20th of February last. The services were conducted by the Revs. H.Tarrant, T. Swan, Baptist minister of Cannon-street, Birmingham, and W. Mackenny of Redditch. The discourse preached in the morning by Mr. Tarrant, considering the events that had transpired in the village, was very appropriate; and it affords me considerable pleasure to add, that it obtained the attentive consideration of a crowded and delighted congregation. Remarks were made calculated to expose the policy of the State Church, and to direct the minds of the people to the consideration of the principles of the New Testament Church. The chapel was well filled at each of the services, and the collections, considering the depression of the times, were liheral. A school which promises well, is held in the chapel. From this and the present spirit of the people, and the eagerness of the congregation to hear words whereby they may be saved, the friends in Birmingham hope for still better things—a more glorious work. May God bless all their efforts for his glory in the salvation of souls with great success.
REVIVAL OF RELIGION AT FXCLESHILL, IN THE BRADFORD CIRCUIT.
To The Editor—Dear Sir,
The populous, manufacturing village of Eccleshill, has been favoured with a Methodist ministry for near seventy years.
In your valuable Miscellany for November 1838, an account was inserted of the opening of a Wesleyan Association Chapel, and the formation of a small Society in that place, under circumstances of great encouragement; »nd 1 have now the pleasure of com
municating some particulars of a gracious revival with which that Church has lately been favoured.
At the time of the last Annual Assembly and for some time previously, the members of the Church felt an anxious desire, and offered up many sincere and fervent prayers, that the Lord would pour out His Spirit, and water his inheritance. This state of things continued about two months longer without any particular visible effects; they however, were not cast down, but continued steadfast in prayer, and in the use of other means. At length, two or three individuals were awakened, and soundly converted to God; and this was received as the earnest of what might be expected to follow, and as an encouragement to persevering, believing, prayer. Among other means adopted, meetings for prayer were held in private houses, in nearly every part of the village; but especially if practicable, at the residences of those persons, who were observed at the preaching or other means of grace, to be under serious impressions; this consequently, gave a wider scope to the work, and was the means of reaching a number of individuals who never attended a place of worship, and who, humanly speaking, but for such a plan, must have remained unaffected, and unblessed.
There was one circumstance of a very remarkable nature that occurred as the work progressed, which claims our especial notice: members of Society, private as well as official, had, in a number of instances, the cases of particuliar individuals, residing in the village, who were living without the fear of God, and in some instances most abandoned persons, strongly impressed upon their minds, whilst engaged in private prayer, and at their usual employment; and they could not rest until they bad called upon them and invited them to the chapel. This in almostevery instance, resulted in their conversion to God. In this way, by the use both of ordinary and extraordinary means, the Lord has been blessing his people, and adding to their numbers; so that up to the present time there has been an increase of more than one hundred persons to the society, all of whom, except probably five or six, have professed to receive the blessing of pardon. To God be all the praise.
In addition to what has already been said, it may be observed that this revival has been characterised by several particulars, which ought not to be passed over without notice. In the first place, some of the conversions have been as remarkable as any ever witnessed since the day of Pentecost; leaving not the shadow of a doubt upon the mind of the most sceptical of the reality of the change. It is remarkable too, that nearly all the new converts are adults; and several considerably advanced in years, who had lived all their lives "without God and without hope in the world." In probably not less than a dozen instances, husbands and wives have been made "partakers of the same grace," and rejoiced over each other on finding " peace through believing."
It has been mentioned that ungodly individuals were called upon by members of society, and invited to attend the Chapel, one successful and extraordinary instance of which I will give. There was a man in the village who by his drunken habits, and profligate conduct, had become so reduced as to be under the necessity of breaking stones on the highway for the means of subsistence; and was to the inhabitants a proverb and a by-word for his wickedness. The case of this man was powerfully impressed upon the mind of one of the friends, who invited him to the Chapel, and proposed waiting upon him on the following Sabbath morning for that purpose. The poor, wretched individual, smiled at the idea of anybody evincing concern for one who was almost out of the pale of civilized society, and instead of objecting to the invitation, merely said, the visitor would forget his proposal by the Sabbath day. That however was not the case; the kind friend at the time visited the miserable outcast, whose strongest objection to accompanying him to the house of God was a want of suitable clothes; not having a coat to put on his back. This objection was however overruled, and he was persuaded to accompany the visitor in
a clean smock frock, being assured that the people would be glad to see him at the chapel even in that dress. The word came home to his conscience; and he was so much impressed with the truths he heard, that in the evening he was again found in the house of prayer. It was then he became thoroughly awakened to a sense of his danger, sincerely repented of his past transgressions before God, and earnestly besought the Divine mercy. At the
£rayer meeting after the sermon, the rord was graciously pleased to speak peace to his soul, and enable him to rejoice in sins forgiven.
The conversion of so notorious a sinner as the person now before us, as might be expected, made "no small stir" in the village; and it was not unusual afterwards in the prayer meetings, when encouraging penitents to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for pardon, to instance in proof of his willingness to save all who would come to him, the fact of such an one, mentioning the name of this person, having been saved. Oh, the pofter of Divine grace! A Manasseh, a Saul, or even a Peter, is not too vile to be, by the grace of God, made a new creature!
It is not the least interesting part of the narrative, that this poor prodigal, the child of many prayers, was the son of an aged local preacher in the Conference Connexion, residing a short distance from Eccleshill, to whom the son repaired next morning, to communicate the delightful news; and who, with his wife, afterwards attended our Chapel to return thanks for the great mercy the Lord had shown to their son. Nor would it be just to the friends who so kindly interested themselves in his behalf to omit the pleasing fact, that a subscription was entered into to provide suitable apparel to enable him decently to attend the worship of God; and that those friends had the gratification of seeing him respectably "clothed," as well as being restored to "his right mind."
The work is still progressing, and although not so rapidly as to the number of conversions, yet God is deepening his work in the hearts of