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ples of our ecclesiastical constitution. His regard for Wesleyan Ministers was very marked. He always appeared to study how he could show his respect to them for their work's sake.”
One of the most obvious and estimable peculiarities of Mr. Wood's character was, indeed, his respectful love for Ministers of the Gospel, which was founded upon scriptural views of the necessity and importance of their office. He regarded the existence of a body of men "separated unto the Gospel of God” as God's great standing ordinance for the maintenance and spread of religion, upon which all other ordinances must ultimately depend; and he acted consistently with such a belief. The energy with which he maintained his convictions, and his sensitiveness to any departure from propriety on this point, will be long remembered ; and these were often productive of a salutary effect, while they appeared more than usually graceful in one who had many inducements to take different views. A gifted, honoured, and (while he had health) laborious Local Preacher, he was ever mindful of the old distinction between two things that differ widely,—the work of preaching, and the work and office of the ministry. His bequest to the Methodist Preachers' Annuitant Society set his dying seal to many a former testimony of affection borne to the Lord's servants for their Master's sake.
To another Divine institution he also paid an exemplary respect. “ The Lord's day” was to him truly a delight,” “holy and honourable." Every well-considered attempt to promote a better observance of it had his hearty support. Its Divine authority and obligation he conscientiously believed ; and this was publicly and most nobly testified when he resigned the office of Chairman of the Directors of the Manchester and Leeds Railway, and, in company with some other friends, retired from the Direction, rather than be a party to the employment of the line on Sundays : and, when he could do no more, he did not cease to “sigh and cry for the abominations that are done” among us in the manifold profanations of the day of rest.
The value of Mr. Wood's public services it would be hard to estimate. Methodism in Manchester owes much to his judicious counsels, his well-directed influence, and his seasonable liberality. In more than one great emergency, all these were put into requisition, and they were never found wanting. In ordinary seasons, also, he was still at his post to strengthen the hands of his ministers and brethren. In the erection of Grosvenor-street, and subsequently of Oxford-Road, Ancoats, and Radnor-Street Chapels, and of the new Day-schools in Rusholme-Road, he bore an important part; and thus, with his brother-trustees, he was instrumental of good which will endure through many generations.
The cause of Missions lay very near his heart. He was accustomed, when a youth, to accompany Dr. Coke to solicit contributions in Manchester; and in subsequent years he contributed constantly, and upon an increasing scale, to that noble undertaking—the Wesleyan Missionary Society. His contribution was repeatedly sent to meetings and services which he could not attend; and one of the last acts of his life was to pay his annual subscription of £100 before it was usually considered due.*
None more warmly advocated or more actively promoted the establishment of the Theological Institution, than our departed friend; and he gave practical proof of his approbation of the Centenary movement by a large contribution, and still more by accepting the very responsible office of General Treasurer. Many similar services on a smaller scale he rejoiced to render, as occasion required; but in the midst of all, and after all, he was ever ready to say, “I am an unprofitable servant."
He was visited with a severe illness in 1843, about the time that he was bereaved of his admirable and tenderly beloved wife ; † and, though he recovered to some extent, it was evident that he had been considerably shaken and enfeebled. The inner man, however, did not decay with the outward, but waxed stronger continually. There was a marked and steady development of his milder and more attractive features: the spectacle of his kindness, gentleness, and patience, was truly edifying; and many were led to glorify God in him.
When the days drew near that he must die, he exhibited, in a very encouraging degree, the sustaining power of Divine grace. For some months he hoped for recovery, and seemed reluctant to consider his illness as fatal ; not from any dread of death, but from an unwillingness to distress his family. On the same ground, he endured much suffering without a groan, or even a word. But it became too evident that no hope of his recovery remained. He received this announcement with entire composure. “ The Lord,” said he,“ is gently laying me down. Do not fret, and vex God. All will be right in the end. Submission is the great lesson we have to learn now." Referring to a conversation which he had just had with a friend, he said, “ I told him there was no salvation but in Christ, a whole Christ; and asked him, What could I do if I had religion to scek now ?”
The next day he desired one of his daughters to copy for him the beautiful lines believed to be the last ever written by Mr. Charles Wesley :
“ In age and feebleness extreme,
And drop into eternity!” For several days these words were much on his lips. Just after a fit of severe pain he said, “I look back on a life of great unfaithfulness.
* The subject here permits a suggestion to the friends of Missions :—Would it be impossible to have a year's subscriptions generally paid in advance, (say in February, 1850, instead of December of the same year,) so as to keep the Treasurers in funds, and obviate the necessity for borrowing largely ?
+ See Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine, January, 1847, for a Memoir of Mrs. Wood.
It is a black catalogue ; but there is a Merit which exceeds them all, and that is mine."
On another day, when one of his daughters heard bim groan, and asked if he were worse, he said, “I was groaning for gratitude.” The next Sunday he was asked if he would not like to be specifically remembered in the prayers of the congregation; when he answered, “Yes !” but added that, if it were done as he would wish, there would be as much praise and thanksgiving offered for him as supplication.
My dear friend and colleague, Mr. Kirk, gives the following account of two interviews wbich he had with him :
“I found him generally rather reserved in reference to matters immediately connected with his experience of the things of God; yet there were times when he freely conversed with me on his most sacred enjoyments. This was the case especially once, about twelve months ago. I had remarked that it must be a source of great comfort to him, in his declining years, to look back upon his past life, which had been so long and so freely devoted to the service of God. He replied in substance, 'It is a source of great comfort that I have been kept so long. But I cannot rely upon this. It is by the grace of God that I am what I am. I have found that I am much indebted to a regular and conscientious attention to the means of grace for my preservation. He then spoke largely of the advantages which he had derived from the ministry of the word, the Lord's Supper, his weekly class-meeting, and his private devotions. On the last subject he remarked, “I am accustomed to awake rather early; and for the last five years my mornings' meditations and prayers have been unusually precious. While I have thought of heaven and departed friends, of my own prospects in reference to a future world, and of God's goodness to me during my unworthy life, my heart has often been filled with gratitude and my eyes with tears. No one can tell what I enjoy in these morning exercises ; and there I find the best preparation for the business and trials of the day.””
During his last severe and protracted illness, there appeared but little variation in the state of his mind. He was always happy. In one of his conversations he observed, with more than usual feeling and emphasis, “ I do feel the abundant consolations of the Holy Spirit. I have felt them long; and what should I do without them now? I have more need of them now than ever. I trust in the merits of my Saviour: there is nothing like trusting there."
On Thursday, April 19th, I saw him for the last time. I said, "Your flesh and your heart are failing ; but God is the strength of your heart, and your portion for ever.” “ Yes! ( yes !” said he : “without that I should now be poor indeed.” It was added, “You feel Christ precious to yon now, and are satisfied of the reality of that religion which you have so long professed yourself, and endeavoured to teach others.” His eyes glistened as he replied, “Ah! I think I could preach now, if I might."
His friend, Mr. Westhead, saw him the next day, and has favoured me with the following account of the interview :
“I called at Grove
House on the Friday preceding Mr. Wood's death. I was informed that his disease had so much affected him, that he was scarcely conscious. I had almost given up the hope of again seeing him, when I learned that he had just fallen into a sleep, and that, if I wished, I might step up and take a last look. Having entered the apartment, I took a seat at a short distance from the bed where the dear sufferer Jay in a partially recumbent position. I sat in silence, and gazed, with deep emotion, upon the face longer familiar to my eye than that of any other friend. Whilst thus intently looking upon those features, the slumber ceased; he opened his eyes; they rested on me for an instant, and then closed. I stepped aside, lest I should disturb him ; but he had become conscious of my presence, and inquired if I were not there.
“I went to the bedside, and took his hand. I said, 'I am sorry to find you so very ill;' and, after a brief pause, added, “Well, my dear Sir, the old ship is nearly stranded; but you are about to land on a peaceful shore. He replied feelingly, () yes! I am going home? I then proceeded, “You can now prefer the petition contained in the last verse of that beautiful hymn,
In suffering, be thy love my peace;
In weakness, be thy love my power ;
JEsus, in that important hour,
And save me, who for me hast died.' I repeated this verse slowly, and as distinctly and expressively as I could : he evidently followed the sense and spirit of it; and, when I had done, gently shaking his head, he exclaimed, 'Ah! what should I do without my Saviour? His eyes were suffused with tears. In a moment he added, 'I wish I could talk to you, but I cannot.'
“Being anxious not to prolong the interview, I again took his hand, and said, Well, in all probability we shall meet no more in this world ; but I trust we shall meet in another and a better. He intimated his concurrence in the aspiration. As I withdrew, still directing my gaze towards him, he gave me a last look of intelligent and kindly recognition. I waved my hand, and breathed a long farewell. He bowed his head responsively; and I departed, cheered and consoled, and full of gratitude to God that I had been privileged to behold, as it were, the soul of the departing saint, undismayed by the dissolution of the earthly tabernacle ; to stand, though but for a moment, 'quite on the verge of heaven.'”
The last days of his life, he lay apparently unconscious of all around him ; but once,
, -as he was heard to say, with much energy, “ Glory! glory! glory!”-one of his daughters could not forbear to exclaim, “O may I triumph so !" He caught up the thought immediately, and cried, “I shall! I shall !” It is believed the last words that he was heard to speak were, “HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH !” and thus he exchanged a state of great suffering and infirmity for the rest of the saints in paradise.
REVIVAL OF RELIGION IN THE PENZANCE CIRCUIT. Many of your readers are aware that, during the present year, this Circuit has been favoured with a gracious revival of religion. Believing that some record of it will be both interesting and profitable, we beg to forward the following account.
The West of Cornwall was visited, at an early period, by the Wesleys and their coadjutors. The remarkable scenes we have witnessed, as well as the present influence and extent of Methodism in this neighbourhood, have often led us to think of “the day of small things,” and to exclaim with wonder and gratitude, “ What hath God wrought !”
The first Wesleyan Society on the western shores of Mount's Bay was formed at Newlyn. It appears that a woman, whose husband, a sailor, had been taken ill in London, went to the metropolis to attend upon him; and, while there, heard Mr. Wesley preach in Moorfields. She was awakened, and converted to God; and no sooner had she tasted of the Divine goodness, than she began to feel much concern for her dark and unconverted friends and neighbours at home. In compliance with her earnest request, Mr. Wesley desired Thomas Maxfield to visit Newlyn. He opened his commission in a private house still in existence; and a small class was established under the care of an intelligent and pious youth, named Joseph Downing. This appears to have been some time in 1745; and it is remarkable that this class has been kept up, by regular succession, until now, and has had but three Leaders,—the present excellent Leader, Nicholas Berriman, having had charge of it for more than forty years. Mr. Wesley visited Newlyn in 1746. The work extended to Sancreed ; and, soon afterwards, Methodism was introduced into Mousehole, and established in that ancient and most interesting fishing-town.
It was many years before Mr. Wesley was allowed to preach in Penzance. The spirit of persecution raged violently in this town. But our venerable Founder, like a skilful general, laid siege to the place, drew his lines of circumvallation round it, and planted his spiritual batteries at various points on the east, north, and west. We find him preaching in the open air at Chyandour and Gulval-Cross on the east, at Hea-Moor and Madron on the north, and at Tregavera and Newlyn on the west.
Το these places the inhabitants of the town and adjacent villages flocked, to hear him; and sometimes he was ill-used. He records his rescue from an attack the first time he preached on the green between Newlyn and Penzance. The sea now flows over the spot where the man of God stood, and his persecutors have passed into an oblivion as complete as the scene of their iniquities.
At Hea-Moor there was a large rock, on which, for a long time, Mr. Wesley and his coadjutors used to preach the word of life. The plot of ground containing it passed into the hands of a Wesleyan friend some time since ; and at his death it was left for the purpose of erecting a chapel. This object was accomplished a few years ago : a small neat edifice was built, and called Wesley-Rock Chapel. The pulpit is erected upon the rock.
Newlyn was the birth-place of Peter Jaco, who was converted to God VOL. VI.-FOURTH SERIES.