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MEMOIR OF MRS. SPENCER,
OF SLAIDBURN, YORKSHIRE : BY HER SON-IN-LAW, THE REV. ADAM FLETCHER. MRS. SPENCER, whose maiden name was Jackman, was born at Langcliffe, near Settle, in 1760. Her parents were persons of respectable character; and, according to the light they had, they endeavoured to serve God, and to instruct their children. When about twenty years of age, this daughter became the willing subject of the Spirit's teaching, and yielded her heart unto God. She sought salvation through Christ, using the means of fasting and prayer; searching the Scriptures, and the “Companion to the Altar;" attending on public worship, and partaking of the Lord's Supper. The precise time when she obtained pardon of all past sin, and peace with God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, we are not able to state; but a course of uniform piety, and of more than ordinary devotedness to the cause of Christ, extending over sixty-five years, proved the genuineness of the change wrought in her heart by the agency of the Holy Ghost -a change of which she herself was fully satisfied, the Spirit bearing witness that she was a child of God, and of heaven a co-heir with Christ her Lord.
A few years later the Wesleyan Ministers visited the village of Slaidburn, Yorkshire, in which she then resided ; and, by the blessing of God on their labours, many persons were led to seek the salvation of their souls. About thirty were formed into a class, and thus united to the Methodist Society. The ministry of the Rev. William Bramwell, and the exhortations and prayers of a few devout persons from the neighbourhood of Blackburn and Burnley, were crowned with considerable success. But untoward circumstances arose, and the fair prospect was blighted. The enemy came, and sowed tares ; the good seed was choked ; and for some years the ministry of the Methodists was interrupted. During those days, in which the word of God was scarce, Mrs. Spencer held on her way, instructing the ignorant, reproving sinners, blessing her household, and attending the services of the Established Church.
When the Ministers of the Wesleyan Connexion again visited Slaidburn, (between forty and fifty years ago,) she prevailed upon her husband to receive these servants of Christ, and to allow Divine service to be conducted in the house. The first who came preached in the street, and obtained accommodation at an inn. The next morning she waited upon him, offered the hospitalities of her home on all future visits, and took care to pay the expenses which had been incurred by the messenger of peace and grace.
A few persons felt the power of the word preached. These were induced to avail themselves of the communion of saints, and formed a little Society. But for many years the number continued very small; and much persecution was the lot of those who adhered to the truth, and persevered in the ways of the Lord. It was indeed an oasis in
16 Methodist iations and in and Bar
the midst of a moral desert,—a bright spot, surrounded by the most dense darkness,—the testimony of a few holy lives against the irreligion and ungodliness of the village and country around. The writer remembers that, when young, he was often afraid of meeting in the street the faithful monitress whose deeds, evidencing her devotedness to God, it is now his duty to record.
Mr. Spencer was anxiously concerned for the morals of his family; but on his wife devolved the important task of teaching her children the truth of God, and directing them in the way to heaven. She was careful to exhibit a good example; “not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” She solemnly inculcated on her household non-conformity to the world, reverent attention to the means of grace, and uncompromising submission to parental authority.
In the year 1820 Mr. Spencer, whose health had been in a delicate state for some years, (during which he had paid increasing attention to the concerns of his soul,) departed this life, surrounded by his numerous family, and in hope of a blissful immortality. Some time after her husband's removal, Mrs. Spencer was one day engaged in her pasture-land, when, her foot sliding, she fell from an eminence, and for a short time was deprived of all recollection. As soon as consciousness was restored, the words of the wise man were applied to her mind,-“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” (Eccles. ix. 10.) Taking the admonition to refer to the erection of a chapel, which she had long desired, she expressed her wisk and conviction to her son, who cordially received the communication, and at once promised to promote the object on which his mother had set her heart. In fulfilling his engagement, he introduced the subject of a new chapel to an aged man, who, retiring from business on a limited income, had taken up his abode with a married daughter in the village. This individual had become a hearer of the Gospel in Mrs. Spencer's house, and a member of the small Society, which was composed of three or four persons. The good old man, hearing that Mrs. Spencer offered £80 towards the erection, promptly answered, “If your mother will give £80, I will give the rest.” Steps were immediately taken to procure a site on which to build. A piece of waste land, opposite a gentleman's house, was deemed eligible ; and an application was made to the Steward of the Lady of the Manor, the Duchess of Buccleuch, and favourably received. On the day of holding the Duchess's Court, and on their way to the Court-House to obtain a conveyance of the land, Mr. Bleazard and Mr. G. Spencer met the gentleman in front of whose house they were purposing to build. The subject being introduced by him, the facts of the case were elicited ; and, on his part, an offer was made of as much land as might be required, in another part of the village. Mr. - did not wish to have the Wesleyan chapel so near to his residence. He was wont to say in company, “ I don't like the Methodists ; but, after all, John is the best servant I have.” John was a truly devoted man and a Class-Leader, whose race was triumphantly finished a few years ago. Such was the opposition of John's master to Methodism, that on one occasion he dismissed him from his service. But the loss of so confidential a servant was soon anxiously felt : John was restored to his former situation, and faithfully discharged its duties for many years.
The old man above-mentioned became the architect of the new chapel. The entire cost of the erection was £182. 58. 3d.; and it was presented, free from debt, to the Wesleyan Connexion. The services became well attended. The Holy Spirit accompanied the truth preached : a revival of God's work soon commenced; and amongst the number of the saved were several of the children of the two persons at whose expense the chapel was built.
When the writer was induced to give his heart to God, and (with six other individuals) to make application for the privilege of membership in the Wesleyan Society in Slaidburn, the small church was composed of seven persons ; but three years afterwards, (at the time of his leaving his father's house, to discharge the duties of a Wesleyan Minister,) there existed, in connexion with that chapel, a united, loving, and lovely Society of one hundred and twenty members. “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” A third part of the adult population of the village had become members, and most of them truly converted to God.
Before the erection of the chapel at Slaidburn, it was proposed to Mrs. Spencer that the preaching in her house should be discontinued ; the reason assigned being, the little fruit that had been reaped for many years. Her reply to the Minister who made the proposal was, “ Have patience with us, Sir; the Lord has borne with us : try us a little longer.” The entreaty could not be resisted. The Preacher took his stand in the street, and proclaimed the Gospel to a large, attentive, and deeply-affected congregation. At the conclusion of the service he invited all that were seriously disposed, and anxious to “ flee from the wrath to come,” to retire into Mrs. Spencer's house, promising to give them additional instruction respecting the way of salvation. Several persons accepted the invitation, and were greatly blessed during the service which followed. Some of those who that evening heard the Gospel in the open air, and listened to the advices and exhortations affectionately given in the dwelling-house, became the writer's first and much-loved companions in the path to the heavenly paradise ; and often has he heard them refer to that occasion with expressions of devout thanksgiving, and make mention of Mr. Tranter as their spiritual father.
The open-air service was occasionally repeated with blessed effect. On one hot summer's day, during the dinner-hour, the Rev. Benjamin Hiley preached at the cross in the market-place. His awful subject was the judgment of the great day; and a deep seriousness was awakened in the minds of his hearers. The God of providence made the application of His own truth ; and by means of a terrific storm of thunder, lightning, and rain, which commenced as the service was concluding, deepened the general impression. Not a few stouthearted sinners trembled at the prospect of the end of all things.
These days of prosperity gladdened the heart of Mrs. Spencer. While she experienced a constant growth in grace, she had the pleasure of seeing her house filled with members of the church ; and she was permitted to rejoice over the conversion of her neighbours, her children, and her children's children. The men of God who came to preach were received as angels of the Lord, and their labours continued to be crowned with a heavenly blessing. When Mrs. Spencer resigned her affairs into the hands of her son, and thus had more time at her disposal, she became still more devoted to the interests of Sion. It was delightfully apparent that she now realised a growing preparation for the kingdom of heaven, and lived only for the glory of God.
The last sixteen years of her earthly sojourn she spent with her daughter, Mrs. Fletcher. Always thankful for her religious privileges, diligent and devout in the means of grace, and animated by a truly Christian spirit, she was most exemplary to her entire circle. Her prayers and intercessions ascended to God continually. Her mind was more and more solemnly affected with the worth of the soul, and the awful realities of the eternal world. To the last she cherished a lively interest in the cause of Christ, and loved its Ministers for their Master's sake; often inquiring as to the success of their labours, and always heartily responding to the Monday morning's prayers, offered at the family-altar, that God would make effectual the Sabbath-means that had been employed for the promotion of His glory and the salvation of men.
As the infirmities of age increased, again and again was the wish expressed, that her “ Father" would “call her home.” Yet was she perfectly resigned to the Lord's will, and determined patiently to wait until her change came. Her sententious remarks, her devout aspirations, her expressions of gratitude, and the encouraging recital of her religious experience, will be long and gratefully remembered by those who were privileged to join her in the communion of saints. She was truly happy in her old age,-enjoying religion herself, and recommending it to others.
When the time of ber departure drew nigh, she appeared like an inhabitant of two worlds,-of this and a brighter. She was confined to her bed for the space of ten days ; during which she experienced a settled peace of mind, and abounded in thankfulness. At her own urgent request, she received the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper ; and the banquet was crowned with His presence. In prayer and praise, in repeating portions of Scripture and verses of sacred song, she employed her wakeful hours. Shortly before death she sang a part of the hymn,
“Come, let us anew Our journey pursue,” &c.
Nature fairly worn out, she peacefully and almost imperceptibly passed to her “ Father's house above,” February 6th, 1847, aged eighty-six years and a balf.
“ We watch'd her pure spirit from earth take its Alight,
To mingle our songs in one rapturous breath." May we be found as well prepared, when our end shall come, as was she whose exit we now record !
The most prominent and exemplary features of Mrs. Spencer's character were,-strong faith, deep humility, Christian independence, unswerving obedience to the Divine precepts, child-like simplicity, supreme love to the Saviour of men, deadness to self and to the world, and Christian liberality. Freely, but unostentatiously, she relieved the wants of others; especially caring for the poor of Christ's flock. A “liberal soul” prompted her to execute the “liberal things” it had “ devised.” Hers was the religion of principle, judgment, affection ; of the heart, and of the life ;-a religion long and variously tested; but nourished by the Divine Spirit, and “found unto praise and honour and glory.” Its blessedness she proved in the present world; and its promised fruits she now reaps, in undying joy, before the throne. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.”
The which will thenon of all the med as a change.
(FROM A DISCOURSE PREACHED AT PITT-STREET CHAPEL,
LIVERPOOL, APRIL 20, 1832, BY THE LATE REV. DAVID
MÔNICOLL.*) The judgment can hardly be considered as a change. It is rather the judicial recognition of all the mighty revolutions, past and future, which will then be so deeply interesting to the righteous.
The final state of things is, from its characters of extreme perfection and of eternity, by far the most important of all. But, because of those very characters, it admits of the fewest observations concerning it,-being placed inconceivably beyond the reach of our conceptions. Many considerations, however, bear directly upon it, as showing the preparations of body, soul, and local state, requisite to form this last and best economy,—the government and plans of God in their maturity and consummation.
The order of proceedings in that eternal state appears to be the following:—Death,—a state of rest in paradise,—the last trumpet, —the resurrection of the faithful,-a change on those who remain of the living,—the rising of the wicked,—the judgment,—the righteous
* We are glad to recal attention to the admirable Sermon from which this Extract is made, and to other pieces from the pen of its gifted Author.-EDITS.