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FOR DECEMBER, 1826.
MEMOIR OF MR. EDWARD STANLEY,
Of Alnwick, in Northumberland: BY HIS SON, THE REV. JACOB STANLEY, · The late Mr. Stanley was born September 10th, 1737. His parents were members of the Church of England, strictly moral in their lives, punctual in their attendance on the public worship of God, and zealous in enforcing the same attendance on their children. It does not; how. ever, appear, that they possessed more than the form of godliness : indeed, to its power, as will be seen in a subsequent part of this Memoir, they were not only strangers, but also enemies. But his grandfather, a member of the Church of Scotland, was a truly exemplary. Christian, the fervour of whose private devotions was often witnessed by his grandson when yet a child ; and these, made an impression upon his youthful mind which was never obliterated. This was especially the case in the year 1745, when the Pretender, with his rebel army, was expected to lay, siege to Alnwick. Then, with peculiar earnestness, he used to commend his family to the divine protection : and no evil befel them; for, contrary to all expectation, the army took the western road, and did not venture to approach the ancient castle of Northumberland, once the residence of the valiant and heroic Hotspur. i At this time, the state of religion in most parts of the kingdom was awfully low. The glory had long departed from almost all the pulpits in the land ; and instead of an enlightened, faithful, and zealous ministry,-a ministry of reconciliation, exhibiting the riches of divine grace to a perishing world, there were substituted dry metaphysical subtleties, or a bald and heathenish morality. Such a ministry spread a spiritual death through the country. The Liturgy of the Church of England was indeed read in every parish in the land ; but the reading of a Liturgy, however excellent, and in other respects useful, is not the means which God usually honours in the conversion of sinners. In proof of this, let those parishes be explored which have not been favoured with an evangelical ministry; and in them ignorance and vice will be generally found to hold their unmolested reigo... ... . Such was the state of the nation in general, when the Wesleys and
Vol. V. Third Series. DECEMBER, 1826. 3L
a Lituro. was indeed 30 the court
Whitefield went forth prophesying in “ the valley of dry bones.” Of these the Lord soon raised up sons, to labour in the word and doctrine, who in their turn were instrumental in raising up many others to spiritual life and activity. The first Methodist Preacher that visited Alnwick, was Mr. John Trembath, a man of great eloquence and zeal, and wbose word made a powerful impression on the minds of many. It was under his ministry in the open air, that the subject of this Memoir, though but a child, was powerfully excited to seek the Lord. He heard Mr, Trembath whenever he preached; and so attached was he to him, that he thought he could follow him wherever he went, and cheerfully share in all his trials. These impressions were not lasting ; youthful temptations presented themselves, and he yielded to their influence. He did not, indeed, for some time entirely forsake the ministry of the word; but neither did he forsake his sins. His fondness for cards proved a great snare to him i and the more so, as he was such an adept in them as generally to be the winner. Such was his love for them that he often regretted, there was any Sabbath to interrupt his pleasure; for though he was not pious, he would have been shocked at the thought of such a profanation of the Sabbath, as that of playing a game at cards during its sacred hours.
Yet he was not happy, but often found “ a pained mind.” He felt that there was something wanting, and something wrong. Happiness he had not; and the question, “ What will the end be?" not upfrequently made him miserable. His mental anguish, however, he generally suc. ceeded in alleviating, in some degree, by comparing himself with others; who, in his opinion, were worse than himself. He was not, indeed, so good as he ought to be ; but then there were many who were much worse. He could not say with the Pharisee, “ I fast twice in the week;" but with him he could say, “ I am not as other men are, extortioners, . unjust, adulterers, or even as this Publican.” And he thought that if he did not get to heaven, what would become of the great majority of mankind ? Thus he moderated, but could never annihilate, his fears.
In the sixteenth year of his age, after a long absence from the place where the Methodists worshipped, he was attracted thither by the ex. cellence of their singing ; a department of religious worship in which that Society, within the memory of the writer of this Memoir, greatly excelled. At first the word produced no effect; but before he had attended many times, it came with power to his conscience. His good opinion of himself was slain, and he became “ poor and vile in his own eyes;" and the Publican's prayer was his. But now he was exercised with various and distressing temptations. One was,- that the day of grace was past. “I thought,” he says, in a short-account of the Lord's dealings with him, now before me, “ I thought that had I begun to seek the Lord at an earlier period I might have found mercy; but that
now it was too late.” A temptation this, which is perhaps not more
and good works, to render himself acceptable to God. But at length,
finding that all his efforts to save himself were vain, he fled to Jesus for refuge. He had, as he supposed, been “rich, and increased in goods;” but now, being “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked,” having nothing wherein to trust, he “trusted in Christ;" who
gave himself for him, even for him, and he was then “sealed with the
Spirit of promise.”
Had he availed himself of the benefit of religious society immediately
upon his beginning to seek the Lord, two years before, the probability is,
that he would not have walked in darkness so long. The reason why
he did not, was, a deep consciousness of his own ignorance. He says, “I