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From the time of her conversion Miss Gunson never wholly lost her confidence in God as her reconciled Father; she had indeed often to lament the want of greater conformity to the Divine image, and imperfections in the performance of duty, but still—
"Retained her sense of sin forgiven,
An invariable effect of conversion to God is a desire to be useful to others. The subject of this memoir having found redemption in Christ, felt anxious that others should flee to the refuge of security and repose. Having herself sat down to the Gospel feast, she longed that all might partake the rich repast. During her residence at Neasham, where she had from thirty to forty children entirely under her own care, her labours as a teacher in the Sabbath school, were constant and untiring; nor was this labour of love in vain in the Lord. Her zeal in the cause of Missions, and of the Bible Society, is also worthy of notice; it was the fruit of that love which never fails to expand the heart with generous emotions, and with earnest desires to do good.
Miss Gunson had but delicate health, and was subject to frequent and heavy afflictions; those painful dispensations were received by her with calm submission, and the most patient resignation; she knew that "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." * Often,' says her brother, * I have sat by her for days and nights together when she was confined to her bed of languishing, but I do not remember to have ever heard a murmuring expression escape her lips.' Upon her recovery of health, she came forth from the furnace of affliction as purified gold, and shone with more brilliance; she had a sweeter relish for the means of grace, and became more devoted to the duties of her closet. In the school of affliction she thus acquired better acquaintance with her own heart, closer communion with God, greater familiarity with death, and growing meetness for " that city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
In the twenty-fifth year of her age Miss G. was deprived of a pious mother, by death, in consequence of which the care of the family, in a great measure, devolved upon her. The diligence and prudence with which she discharged the duties she now had to perform greatly endeared her to her sorrowing father and the other branches of the family, who, under her judicious management, enjoyed all the sweets of domestic harmony.
Soon after the secession from the Wesleyan body occurred in the Darlington circuit, Miss G. became a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Association: the circumstances which led to this I need not here repeat; suffice it to say, that in this important step she acted under the influence of pure and upright motives, and during her subsequent life she continued to take a lively interest in all that concerned the Wesleyan Methodist Association. But ah! little did I think when with joy and gratitude we went together to listen to the eloquent and powerful sermons which were delivered at the opening of our new and elegant chapel in Darlington, that long before the anniversary of that bright day, she who had so largely ministered to my earthly happiness would be numbered with the silent dead.
Miss Gunson entered the married state with a strong feeling of the responsibility it involves, and she faithfully discharged its duties. I found in her a help-meet indeed: and to her, as an agent in the hand of God, I owe much of what I have experienced of His grace. Few and transient were the years of our union, but the impressions they have left behind will be lasting as eternity.
On the 27th of August, 1841, my dear wife was confined to her bed of that illness, by which, on the 31st of the same month, her earthly tabernacle was dissolved, and her spirit released from its clay tenement. Fearful and rapid was the progress of disease; vain was the attention and skill of the physician; fruitless were the tears of attendant relations and friends; death, relentless death, had made sure of his victim, and she speedily sunk into his cold embrace. Her sufferings during this last illness were extreme, but the grace of God was sufficient for her. She was not able to talk much; her pain was too great and her affliction too overwhelming to admit of ecstatic raptures; enough, however, she did say to afford satisfaction to her friends that death had lost its sting. To the inquiry, by our dear minister, Mr. Townend, ' Is Christ precious?' her answer was,'Yes.' On Sunday afternoon, two days before her death, her sister put the question, 'Can you rejoice in the love of God?' Her reply was, ' I have peace, solid peace.' A short time after she commenced repeating—
"Jesus, lover of my soul,"
But she was unable to proceed; her sister added the words—
"Till the storm of life is past,"
When she looked up, and with great earnestness said, ' It will soon be past now Betsy.' In the evening, when she appeared to be in great agony, her sister said, 'I am afraid, my dear, you are much worse :' she replied, ' I am in great pain;' and after another pause repeated the lines commencing—
"O what are all our sufferings here,"
And again, after another pause, she said—
"The fiercer the blast, the sooner 'tis past."
On the following day she testified that Christ was precious, and although devotedly attached to me and to her children, she expressed her perfect acquiescence in that Providence which was about to remove her from all the scenes of earth. About five o'clock on Tuesday morning, after a severe struggle, her happy spirit took its flight to that world where "there is no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, and where the former things are passed away." May I, through grace divine, be enabled to follow her as she followed Christ. Amen.
The following sketch has been furnished by the Rev. W. Reed, who laboured two years in this circuit, during eighteen months of which he was a resident in my house. "Having been for a considerable time a resident in the family of Mr. Dent, I had ample opportunity of forming a correct estimate of the character of his late wife, and it affords me pleasure to furnish my humble testimony to her great and many virtues. Her character, to be known and appreciated, required intimate acquaintance, and close observation. Delighting not in ostentatious display, but in that unobtrusive excellence which throws a charm around the humble Christian, she pursued " the noiseless tenor of her way," manifesting the depth of her piety by the uniform consistency of her deportment. With respect to intellect, she was no ordinary person. Her mind, naturally vigorous, had been carefully improved by reading and discipline. Her taste was refined, her powers of discrimination accurate, and her understanding powerful. Often have I admired these qualities of her mind, which, while to the world they ' blushed unseen,' diffused through the domestic circle in which she moved, a grateful and reviving fragrance. Nor were her moral qualities less worthy of admiration. In her the grace of God was the ruling principle. Having "cast off the works of darkness," she had '* put on the armour of light." "Her love abounded in knowledge and all judgment, bringing forth the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." From among these I may mention :—
"1. Humility. This grace like a garment protected and adorned her other virtues. Her humility was not spurious: it did not consist in extreme singularity of dress, affected looks, or mere professions cf unworthiness, but it was the genuine offspring of that charity which "vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up." She sincerely deplored her deficiency in spiritual attainments, and in her own estimation was " less than the least of all saints."
"2. Kindness was also a prominent trait in her character. Naturally her disposition was kind, but when brought under the influence of religion, it took a still softer mould. In her the beautiful description of Solomon was verified: the law of kindness was on her lips. To her husband she was most affectionate, to her children not less so; accounting no effort or sacrifice for their happiness too great. The spiritual and temporal destitution of others excited her deepest pity; and never shall I forget the kindness received from her during my eighteen months sojourn under her roof. Her sympathy and attention contributed much to relieve the burden of mental depression and bodily ailment which occasionally fell to my lot.
"3. Love to the means of grace was an habitual feeling cf her neart. This, when in the enjoyment of health, she manifested by the regularity of her attendance, and when, in consequence of affliction, she was compelled to absent herself (which was frequently the case during the latter part of her life), she felt like the Psalmist when he said, "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts.' My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God." To her the communion of saints waB precious, and if her seat in God's house was frequently vacant, it was owing entirely to the weakness of the flesh, and not at all to the unwillingness of the spirit.
"4. Decision of character, especially religious decision, was another obvious feature in Mrs. Dent's mind. Having embraced the Gospel from a firm conviction of its divine origin and complete adaptation to her spiritual condition, she held fast the profession of her faith without wavering; cleaving to the Lord with purpose of heart, she remained stedfast amid heavy personal afflictions and complicated trials, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, and continuing instant in prayer." Thus she proved the truth of the apostolic declaration, " it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace," and as the final result she is now enjoying '' the rest which remaineth for the people of God."
Much more might be said, but I shall conclude by one additional remark, she had failings (who has not ?), but these were more painfully felt by herself than seen by others. Upon a review of the whole of her character, my prayer is, May I be a follower of her, even as she was also of Christ.
An appropriate and affecting discourse, to improve her death, was delivered in Paradise Chapel, a few weeks after her death, by Mr. Townend, to a crowded and attentive aildience, from 1 Cor. xv. 51—57.
MEMOIR OF THE LATE MR. T. MIDDLEBROOK.
Thomas Middlebrook was born on the 30th of January, 1810, at Gargrane, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, of pious parents, who were members of the Wesleyan Society. Enjoying personal religion themselves, they endeavoured to inculcate it in the minds of their offspring, by training them up in the habit of attending the Sunday school, and the public worship of God, and also by attention to family devotion.
Thomas, the subject of this memoir, gave early indications by his attendance at and delight in the means of grace that the labours of his pious parents were not in vain. He often gave utterance to his feelings in the language of Dr. Watts—
"I have been there, and still would go;
But the time came when he had to leave his father's house, and become exposed to a vain and delusive world, where every thing was unfriendly to those feelings imbibed under the paternal roof. It became a source of grief to his parents, that pious feelings and impressions had not taken sufficient root to endure the blighting and withering influence by which he was surrounded; the consequence of which was, the house of God was neglected; the Sabbath spent either in the company of those who laughed and sneered at every thing serious, or in agricultural pursuits. His goodness, therefore, was as the morning cloud, or early dew which passeth away.
In this way he spent his time, experiencing, as he often expressed, "that the way of transgressors is hard," until he entered into the marriage state, with her who now laments his loss. About the time of his marriage, the Holy Spirit began again to strive with him, and early impressions were revived. He again began to attend the house of God, the word took hold of his conscience, and convinced him of the vanity and insufficiency of the pleasures of this world to satisfy the desires of his immortal spirit; he retired into secret places, "seeking rest, but finding none." "Like a crane or a swallow did he chatter: he mourned sore like a dove; and his eyes failed with looking upward." Often when returning from his labour in the evening, through a lonely wood which he had to traverse, when no eye saw him but God, he poured out his complaint unto Him, praying that he would have mercy upon him. At this time, having very little work, he was directed by the good providence of God to Liverpool, in search of employment: he was taken to Leeds Street chapel, and under the ministry of Messrs. Newton and Rowland, he was more fully awakened to a sense of his danger: "the arrows of conviction stuck fast in his soul, and the poison thereof drank up his spirits." He saw himself a guilty, helpless, and hell-deserving sinner, standing upon the brink of eternity; not only his open, but also his secret and forgotten sins were brought before the eye of his mind; and the wound was deepened by the consideration that they were committed against God, who so loved him as to give his Son to die for him; against Christ, who had shed his blood for him; and against the Holy Spirit, who had striven with him. He was also convinced, that he must not only be pardoned, but purified also—be saved from the disease, as well as from the guilt, of sin—before he could enter heaven. "If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, and behold all things are become new." In this way he continued for some time; but his sorrow continued only for a night— joy came in the morning. On the 29th day of December, 1830, God set his soul at liberty—
"Fear gave place to filial love,
He was enabled by faith to rely on the blood of Christ, as his atoning sacrifice. He had no doubt in his mind as to his acceptance with God —the Spirit itself bore witness to the fact of his adoption.
To this evidence, in a good degree, may be attributed his stability in the cause of God in after life; unlike many, over whom the Church has to mourn, who profess to receive pardon to-day, and fall into sin to-morrow, his path was that " of the just, which is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." God having shed his love abroad in his heart, caused him to love both God and man. This he manifested by his readiness to engage in every good work having for its object the glory of God and the salvation of souls, such as meetings for exhortation and prayer, and the distribution of tracts. The writer remembers with what zeal, patience, and fortitude