« AnteriorContinuar »
delusion." He returned home grievously disappointed, and dejected. But not long after this, Mr. John Wesley visited Alnwick, when William and his wife both heard him, were convinced of sin, and became Members of Society. He died in the Lord after a few years, and left a young widow with her daughter Margaret.
His marriage was eminently a happy one. The fruit of that marriage was twelve children. In his papers, he says, "I was happily directed to one whom I dearly loved, and who feared the Lord. I cannot speak too much in her praise. We lived together in great felicity for fifty years during which time, our love never abated, but increased." She was pious, of an excellent understanding, a pattern of prudence, economy, and of every conjugal and domestic virtue ; ever looking well to the ways of her household, and studious to promote the comfort of her husband, and the improvement and happiness of her children, whose eternal interests lay near her heart. When one of her sons left home to reside in London, though he bad for some years feared the Lord, her distress was indescribable ; not so much on account of their separation, but principally from an apprehension that the temptations of the metropolis might prore fatal to his piety. This,' with a countenance beaming with joy and gratitude, she declared to her son some years after; when, instead of being ruined by the vices of that abode of temptation and crime, he had in that very place entered upon the Christian ministry; in which, by the mercy of God, he continues to this day. She died April 3d, 1814, aged sixty-eight years. She suffered much pain in her last affliction ; but the Lord was with her. Some of her last words were, “ All is well." ... . iyun
Her mother, Mrs. Bowmaker, after being a widow a second time, (having married a pious young man, John Stanley, a Local Preacher, by whom she had a son named after him,) came to reside with her. She was a truly pious woman, one who for many years enjoyed communion with God, and died in peace in the year 1785. The year after, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley were called to witness a more severe trial, in the death of her only brother, John Stanley, at the age of twenty-eight. From his youth up, his morals had been inblemished, his tempen sweet, and his manners agreeable. He had been a 'constant attendant on the ministry of the word ainong the Methodists, from his childhood; and having an excellent voice, and being a master both of vocal and instrumental music, he superintended the singing in the Chapel. But with all his excellences, “one thing he lacked.". The kingdom of God was not set up within him: »His brother often feared that, after teaching many to sing the songs of Zion on earth, he would never sing the song of Moses and the Lamb in heaven. In the latter part of the uyear 1785, she caught a cold which terminated in a pulmonary consumption. After trying in vain the medical aid which Alnwick supplied, and which was highly respectable, he was recommended to visit : Dr. Hamilton, who then resided at Dunbar, to whom he was well known. He went, and for a few days no serious fears were entertained of the issue of the disease. One evening, however, the Doctor perceived some symptom which in his judgment was decisive of its mgrtal termination. With great tenderness and solemnity he told him that his case was a hopeless one ; and earnestly exhorted him to seek the salvation of his soul. It was his death warraut, and he received it as such. He immediately wrote a most affecting letter to his brother, giving him a full and para ticular account of the deep anguish of his soul. He soon returned to his brother's house, where the “ hand that had pressed him sore," was removed, and the “arrows that stuck fast in him," were taken away, His joy was then unspeakable, and full of glory. The writer of this, though then but a boy, has to this day a distinct remembrance of it. His acquaintances were numerous; and being much beloved, he was visited by many of them ; to all of whom he preached Christ. His word was attended with extraordinary unction. An amiable young man, his very intimate friend and companion, Mr. Charles Mattison, whose moral character, like his own, had been exemplary, said to him,“ Would you advise me to join the Methodist Society ?” “ yes," was his reply, “I would have you join it immediately.” He did so, and after a few years died rejoicing in the Lord. The sabbath previous to the death of John Stanley was a day never to be forgotten. His religious friends, from the country societies, came to visit him; and though extremely feeble, he could not keep silent, but proclaimed the love of Christ in words which burned. The family and friends were bathed in tears; but they were tears savouring more of joy than.grief. Many, on that day, had their faith greatly strengthened ; and several, it is believed, resolved to be the Lord's.
On the day following, be took a ride on horseback, accompanied by a friend who guided the horse, and assisted in supporting him; for he was extremely feeble. He knew it was his last ride, and he bade a formal and final adieu to the beauties of nature and art, which adorn that part of the vicinity of Alowick where he usually rode. On his return, he did not seem so much exhausted as might have been expected. He conversed with his brother and sister on Christ and heaven. Suddenly he was silent. He seemed to be fainting. He was immediately carried to his bed, and his coat and shoes were taken off. He could bear no more. “Tell me," said he as they laid him upon the bed, tell me, my soul, can this be death?"...". Yes,” he replied, “it is death; and from this bed I shall never rise more.” He was suddenly seized with spasms, and a difficulty of respiration. His brother and sister, some
members of the family, the Doctor, and a few friends, were all in the chamber. At length he touched his lips with his tongue; the Doctor ordered them to be moistened with a little wine, when, for the first time, for about two or three hours, in which he had been panting for breath, he spoke, and said, “I am not thirsty," His brother, delighted to hear his voice once more, said, “My dear brother, have you found the presence of God with you during your severe agony?” “O yes," he softly answered,“ Christ is precious. My heart is at rest. I am going,--to be with Christ for ever;" and instantly expired. The scene was inexpressibly solemn and glorious.
His death was made a principal means of reviving the work of God in that place, especially among young people ; some of whom, after a time, fell away ; others of them died in the Lord ; and some remain to this day, members, and others Ministers, in his Church. The consequence of this revival was, such an increase in the congregations as induced the friends to build a large and (had the galleries been a little more elevated) a beautiful chapel. Mr. Wesley has, indeed, given a very different description of it. His words are," Saturday, May 24th, 1788. About one we reached Alnwick. I was a little surprised at the new preaching-house, (in which I preached in the evening, exactly resembling the meeting-house we hire in Brentford. Had they no eyes? or had they never seen any English house ? But the scarecrow must now stånd without remedy." A description for which I know not how to account, on any other supposition, than that he had been very much exhausted with his ride from Berwick, and that the organs of vision were then greatly impaired. The only resemblance between it and the chapel formerly hired in Brentford, consisted in each having two very long windows, between which the pulpit was situated.
This chapel, being so much larger than its predecessor, was not ordinarily filled till the year 1791, when Mr. Atmore was appointed to labour in that Circuit. He was very popular, and highly esteemed and useful. Under his ministry, on the Sunday evenings, it was often filled, and sometimes crowded. In this prosperous state, things continued during the ministry of Messrs. Atmore and Gaulter, and their colleagues, till the year 1795, when Mr. Kilham was appointed' to Alnwick; an appointment which proved fatal to the glory, and almost to the existence, of Methodism in that place, by destroying the harmony of one of the most united Societies in the kingdom. The last time the writer of this Memoir visited Alnwick, he felt what he cannot describe, when, instead of seeing that large chapel filled, he found the lower part of it scaled off; and the chapel, consisting now of only what was the gallery before, not more than half filled on a Sunday evening. ' liela l bd rul!" ;
No person felt more painfully the mischievous efforts of Mr. Kilham
d at your conductort, by saying " Mr. K something farther, anders
than the subject of this Memoir. One day when he called to see that unhappy man, after shaking hands in a friendly manner, Mr. Kilham said, “I am glad to see you. I will read you some letters, which will convince you that'we are right, and will bring you over to the same way of thinking with us. You are the only one among the Class-Leaders who stands out.” He was proceeding to say something farther, when Mr. Stanley cut him short, by saying, " Mr. Kilham, I am greatly distressed at your conduct; and whenever I think of you, by night or by day, a particular passage of Scripture always presents itself to my mind, as strikingly applicable to you.” “ Well, let me know what it is," was the reply. Mr. Stanley repeated Acts xiii. 10; on hearing which, Mr. Kilham was confused, and from that hour never again troubled him on the subject. Perhaps the application was too severe ; but as an apology for its severity, if an apology be necessary, let it be remembered, that Mr. Stanley saw the Society torn to pieces before him ; a Society of which he was one of the oldest Members and Leaders, and whose joys and sorrows had long been identified with his own. All who knew Mr. Stanley, knew that severity was no trait in his character; but the case was a strong one, and therefore he uttered strong words. och
In 1803, he was called to experience a painful trial in the death of his daughter Ann, within a few days of having completed her twentyfifth year. She had been a daughter of great affliction for twenty-one years; but the Lord, sanctified it. She was deeply pious, and “ in all her sufferings,” he says, “ I never heard her murmur." Her end was glorious: she shouted, “ Victory through the blood of the Lamb." When unable to speak, her mother said, “ If you are happy, my dear, hold up your hand;" which she did three times. She is now safely landed where sufferings are no more. The rest of his children, who had been taken from him, died in childhood ; and therefore, says he, “I believe they are all in glory.”
But a greater trial awaited him in the year 1814. Then, April 3d, the Lord took away the wife of his youth, who had been his companion in all the joys and sorrows of life for a period of fifty years; a help meet for him; who always received him with affection, and made home to him the happiest place in the world. Her death greatly affected him; yet he bore it with much Christian submission. After recording it he says, “ I am still left behind. 'I am waiting till my change come: I hope it will not be long. In all my trials I have been enabled to submit to the will of God. I know my God cannot do any thing that is wrong."
After this, and indeed for several years before, having retired from business, which he was enabled to do, partly through the little property he possessed, and partly through the filial piety of his children, who felt it to be one of their highest enjoyments to "render the evening of life
comfortable to their beloved and venerable parents, he devoted his time to visiting the Society, to watching over the members of his own Class, to superintending the Prayer-meetings, and to preaching the word of life. For many of the last years of his life, be preached generally every alternate Sunday morning in Alnwick Chapel; and in case of the illness or absence of the Travelling Preacher, he also supplied his place. He also occasionally visited his daughters, Mrs. Burrell and Mrs. Hall, of Sunderland, and his sons, Thomas and Jacob. With the former he spent some time at Woodhouse-Grove and Sheffield, and with the latter at Liverpool and Leeds. But for some of the last years of his life, it was difficult to prevail upon him to leave home, from a persuasion that the time of his departure was at hand, and an earnest desire which he invariably felt, to be buried beside his beloved wife, for whose memory he continually cherished the tenderest affection. . In the beginning of the year 1825, he had a paralytic stroke, which for a season deprived him of the use of one side, and also greatly affected his speech. From both of these he was, after a few weeks, partially restored; but on Sunday, October 16th, of the same year, whilst engaged in worshipping God in His house, which he loved, and in which he had often beheld His glory, he had a second seizure, which at once deprived him of speech and motion. He was carried home, where he lingered in a state of comparative insensibility till Monday the 24th, when " the weary wheels of life stood still,” and his happy spirit returned to God who gave it. ;
I subjoin the following extract of a letter from Mr. Womersley, the Superintendent of the Alnwick Circuit at the time :
“ The close of your worthy Father's life was such as might have been expected. He had loved the house of God; and there on Sunday, October 16th, he presented himself at the sacramental table. He also opened and conducted the Love-feast in the afternoon, in consequence of my indisposition ; giving out, and singing with his trumpet-like voice, our old Love-feast tune, to the hymn beginning, “ Come, and let us sweetly join," &c. He prayed with great enlargement, concluding his prayer with the text it had long been known he had chosen for his funeral sermon: ‘Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.' This was particularly noticed and felt, and has become a subject of conversation through the Circuit; as he received his death-summons in the evening, whilst listening to those doctrines of God his Saviour which for seventy-three years he had adorned, and for sixty-five years had both faithfully and usefully preached. In the afternoon he took tea at my house, with my wife and me. This was his last earthly meal. He looked well in health, and was very cheerful. The persons whom he should meet in heaven, and the kind of Love-feast which his next was likely to