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MEMOIR OF MRS. MARGARET MANLY:
BY HER HUSBAND, THE REV. JOHN G. MANLY.
MRS. MANLY was born in the city of Montreal, Canada, November Ilth, 1796. From childhood she evinced a marked seriousness of disposition, and maintained an unblamable deportment. Her parents were attached to the Church of England, on the religious services of which she regularly attended. For a time she was strongly opposed to the form of Christianity denominated Wesleyan Methodism : by some providential circumstances, however, she was led to attend its ministrations. She heard for herself, in the spirit of candour, and with a sincere desire to know the truth. She discovered that her former opinions concerning the system were destitute of foundation, and became convinced that unless she received remission of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Christ, the great blessings of the Gospel, holiness and happiness, were utterly unattainable. She saw and felt herself to be a sinner before a righteous and holy God. She discerned the insufficiency of merely external rites, and the righteousness which is of the law, to procure her acceptance with God. Directed both as to the object of search and the true way of seeking, in deep humility and sincere repentance, she sought for the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. She was enabled to behold, by faith, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, and the kingdom of God, righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, was set up in her heart. Under the ministry of the Rev. Robert Lusher, she was led to join the Wesleyan section of the Christian church in Montreal; and thenceforward, instructed and animated by the Gospel, whose truths she had received in love, she made it her aim and business to serve and please God; and though some of her friends earnestly opposed her in this new, and, as she believed, better, way of life, and for a time exhibited coldness, and eren aversion, yet none of these things moved her. For several years she was a Teacher in the Sabbath-school, diligently striving to promote the spiritual welfare of the young. In June, 1824, she was VOL. IV.-FOURTH SERIES.
married to Charles Tolkien, Esq., merchant, a member of the Wesleyan society at Kingston, Canada West, and removed to that place, where she resided for several years. But no novelty of situation, no pressure of domestic cares, no amount of earthly comfort, could divert her from the cross of Christ, and the steady pursuit of eternal life. Her house became the home of the Christian Minister, whom she always greeted with kindness, and entertained with hospitality and pleasure. During her residence at Kingston, she had the charge of a female class, and watched over its members with affection and fidelity. Her attendance, likewise, on the services of the sanctuary, was uniform and exemplary. When she became a mother, she received her child as a trust committed to her by God, and endeavoured to train up her son in the way in which he should go, with the carefulness and love of a Christian parent. She spared no pains in imparting to him a useful and liberal education. This important task, indeed, devolved chiefly on herself, as in November, 1831, it pleased Almighty God to deprive her of her husband. She deeply felt this bereavement; but she bowed with resignation to the divine will, and sought the alleviation of her sorrow at the throne of grace. Afflicted by this painful loss, encumbered with the responsibilities of business, she yet maintained her piety in all its power, and, by the consistency of her demeanour, won the respect and esteem of all who knew her.
On the 25th of June, 1838, she was married to Mr. Manly; and in his various ministerial labours, as well as by her attention to the arrangements of domestic life, she was truly an “help meet for him ;" so that they walked together with comfort in the ways of the Lord, till it pleased God by death to separate them. The towns of Picton, St. John, Toronto, and Hamilton, in Canada, were successively their places of abode. In this last-mentioned town, she was called to drink of the cup of affliction with new and peculiar bitterness. Her only and much-beloved son, Charles Tolkien, in the year 1843, was removed from her by death, just as he had finished his collegiate course, and gave bright promise of an honourable and useful life, by his decided piety, his excellent natural abilities, his amiable disposition, his love of study, and his extensive literary and scientific attainments. The stroke fell upon her with almost overwhelming pressure. Her heart was torn with anguish, and she sometimes feared that the intensity of her distress would offend her heavenly Father. But she felt that she dared not charge God foolishly. She desired to acknowledge his wisdom and love, even in this severe trial ; and earnestly prayed that she might be supported, that in patience she might possess her soul. And her prayers were graciously heard. Deep and strong as were her feelings of sorrow, her heart remained fixed in its confidence in God. She had often read the words of Job, when such heavy calamities were allowed to befall him ; but now she was enabled to enter into their spirit, and to make them her own. Not from a cold insensibility, but from a conviction that all that God does with his children is right, while mourning for her first-born, her only child, the language of her inmost soul was, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord !”
The partial failure of Mr. Manly's health, in the spring of 1843, rendered it necessary for him to discontinue for a time his ministerial labours. In the month of September he visited England, accompanied by Mrs. Manly. Receiving an appointment to Jamaica, they proceeded there, and landed at Kingston (Jamaica) on the 20th of February, 1844, soon removing to their habitation, near Lime Savanna, Clarendon. Mrs. Manly at once felt a lively interest in the welfare of the church in the neighbourhood to which she now belonged, earnestly desired the prosperity of true religion, and with devout regularity attended the services of the sanctuary. Though far removed from her former friends and acquaintances, and called to dwell among strangers, she was satisfied with her lot, and diligently and cheerfully pursued the course of duty which opened before her. For some months her health continued as good as it had hitherto been ; but when the rainy and sickly season set in, she experienced a relapse, from which she never afterwards completely recovered. In September, 1844, she had an attack of bilious fever. Scarcely was this checked, when she had a second, and this was followed by others in quick succession, till her fine natural constitution gave way, she became wasted with disease, and no hope of final restoration could be indulged. Organic disease in the stomach, of a cancerous character, as her principal medical attendant believed, concurred with reiterated attacks of severe fever, in baffling the skill that was employed, and triumphing over all assiduity and care. Removal to the cooler and more salubrious parish of Manchester, and the advice and attention of another medical practitioner, were tried in vain. For nearly four months, with various changes, and occasional abatement of the more violent symptoms of disease, sickness and pain were almost continually “the portion of her cup;" but these were throughout associated with the powerful consolations of the Gospel. At times, her illness was exceedingly severe ; but she was always enabled to bear it with exemplary patience and resignation. Towards the close of life, there were periods when excruciating paroxysms of pain extorted strong cries of distress; but these were obviously natural and involuntary, the triumphs of suffering over a weakened and sinking frame ; but they were not only connected with no murmuring expressions, but with no murmuring feelings. There was nothing of the peevish fretfulness sometimes manifested in disease. Pain might, and did, prevail over her weak flesh; but her breast was armed with steadfast patience, and she rested in lowly meekness. There was a full submission to the will of God; the submission of a spiritually-enlightened judgment, and of a heart over whose affections the love of God reigned supremely. Her faith in Christ for present acceptance and final salvation was unwavering. She had settled peace, and a lively hope of heaven. In prayer and praise she joined with fervour, and always listened with pleasure and thankfulness to the reading of portions of Scripture. To her husband's esteemed colleague, the Rev. R. A. Johnson, (who kindly resided in the house for several weeks,) both by direct conversation, and by the spirit and temper she continually manifested, she gave the most satisfactory evidence of her devotedness to God, and preparation for the solemn change, the near approach of which could no longer be doubted. A similar impression was made on the minds of all by whom she was visited.
Towards the conclusion of the year some of the symptoms of her disorder became so far more favourable, that Mr. Manly, learning from her medical attendant that, in the state in which she appeared then to be, immediate danger was not to be apprehended, believed that he might venture to leave her for the purpose of attending the Annual DistrictMeeting. In January, 1845, he therefore went to Montego-Bay, the place of meeting, having arranged for receiving speedy information in case of any sudden change for the worse. Such a change took place, and, on the 26th, the messenger arrived at Montego-Bay with the distressing intelligence. He hastened home, fearing the worst, yet
against hope, and praying that at least a parting interview might be afforded him. He arrived on the 28th ; and though he found Mrs. Manly alive, language cannot express his feelings when he saw her. She had lost the power of speech, she uttered at intervals cries of excruciating pain, and was scarcely able to recognise him. For two days he had the melancholy satisfaction of watching by her bed-side, and ministering to her wants ; wetting her parched lips, wiping from her brow the cold and clammy perspiration. She continued from the time of his arrival gradually sinking; but for some little time before she expired, she was mercifully relieved from the extreme pain she had previously suffered. Occasionally, she had intervals of consciousness and recollection, in which he was able briefly to suggest those topics of consolation with which she had so long been familiar, and which did not fail her in the last and trying hour. Unable to speak, she could only look the affection which she felt, and the peace which she experienced. She was evidently aware of her condition ; and whenever restored to consciousness, faith, hope, and joy were manifestly present. When able to understand the brief phrases of direction and encouragement which were addressed to her, a solemn and yet heavenly smile spoke her cordial assent as forcibly as any words could have done, and indicated to her deeply-sorrowing husband, that to the closing moment of her life all was well; and that, though her flesh and heart were failing, she felt that God was the strength of her heart, and her portion for ever. About one o'clock on the 30th of January, 1845, her course was finished; and her redeemed and sanctified spirit, delivered from the burden of the flesh, was removed to be for ever with the Lord, in joy and felicity.
Mrs. Manly was distinguished and characterized by genuine and consistent piety, by pure, elevated, and unswerving principle, by soundness and strength of judgment, by unwavering attachment to those members of “the family of God” among whom her lot was cast, and by diligent and constant devotion to the various duties which devolved upon her.
In the different relations of life, she walked worthy of the