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I felt any thing contrary to the love of God, the temptation was directed to make me angry. My soul was exceedingly cast down because of this; but I sought the Lord by earnest prayer, and he delivered me, and I was again filled with joy and peace. Yet, not properly understanding the devices of Satan, I was always cast down in my spirit under temptation. I feared that all was not right with me, and thought that other Christians were not tempted in a similar manner."
He soon learned that temptation, when the mind at once repels it, and continues steadily to resist it, is not sin. He thus learned, too, not only to resist temptation,-knowing the promise, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,”—but, at the same time, to maintain his confidence in the pardoning mercy of God. He observes, in his diary, that by faith he saw, not only his adversary, the devil, seeking to devour him; but also, at the right hand of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, a Priest and Advocate, making intercession for him.
From this time he went on his way (to use his own language) “rejoicing and praising." "I have had,” he writes in his diary, “ many trials and powerful temptations from the world, the flesh, and the devil; so that I was sometimes ready to say, with the Psalmist, that 'my feet were almost gone, my steps had well-nigh slipped ;' but God graciously supported me, and has hitherto given me the victory.”
His life afterwards passed along very evenly, furnishing no particular incidents which require to be recorded. He was “ diligent in business;” but it was his careful endeavour, likewise, to be “ fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” The diary which I have mentioned presents little variation in his religious experience. He was enabled to “keep the end in view ;” and thus, in the midst of the cares and occupations of his temporal business, he held fast his profession, maintaining both the form and the power of godliness.
One or two extracts may serve to illustrate the general frame and habit of his mind. Writing on December 25th, 1818, after praising God that he was continually able to cry, “ Abba, Father,” by the Spirit of adoption, he adds, “I acknowledge, with shame, that I have not been so faithful as I ought to have been. I might have been more holy in my own soul, and more useful in the church, had I been more faithful to the grace given unto me. May the Lord pardon my omissions, my misdoings, my unwatchfulness, and stir me up afresh, that I may give all diligence to make my calling and election sure! I praise God that I have been repeatedly stirred up to amend my pace in the way to the kingdom of heaven. Once, in particular, he very graciously visited me, clearly convincing me that I was falling into a spirit of trifling, and beginning to lose ground. I saw I was in danger of mixing too much with worldly company, who are in the habit of indulging too freely in the use of strong drink, which exposes them to other temptations, and which in the Christian is very censurable. If
ever I cried earnestly to God for mercy and help, it was then. The Lord heard and answered my prayer, and blessed my soul in a wonderful manner; reviving his work in my soul, and animating me with fresh courage to fight the good fight of faith,' and to urge on my way; so that thenceforth I was enabled to be more diligent in duty, watchfulness, and prayer."
“ December 25th, 1825.—During the last three years I have had various exercises of mind from the world, from the flesh, from Satan, and from afflictions, which occasionally bore down my mind so much, that for a moment I have thought I should scarcely hold out to the end. Yet, when I looked at the merits of Christ's atoning blood, and called to mind that I knew, by heart-felt experience, that God is reconciled to me by that atonement, I felt I could rise, with strength renewed, above all opposition, by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ ; for it is he who hath loved me, and washed me from my sins in his own blood; and to him be glory and dominion. May the Lord help me to be more watchful, in future, unto prayer, that I may go on my way rejoicing in a sin-pardoning God! It is twenty-five years, this day, since the Lord spoke peace to my soul; and I thank and praise his name that he has kept me so long without losing the witness of his lloly Spirit. And I thank God that I feel, at this time, his grace enables me to surrender unto him afresh my devoted life. May I live and die with this determination! This is my sincere desire, through Jesus Christ assisting me.”
“ March 26th, 1833.—This day I have completed my sixty-fourth year; and, through the mercy of my God, have been kept, by his preserving grace through Christ, upwards of thirty-two
thirty-two years in the way of salvation; yet I have to lament my omissions of duty, and that I have lived at too great a distance from such a bountiful Saviour, who has kept me in the midst of ten thousand dangers, seen and unseen. A few days ago he preserved me from sudden death; and this I consider to be a loud call from the Lord, for me to live nearer to Him who gave himself for me, and made me, who was before a child of wrath, a vessel of mercy. May I more than ever devote my time and talents to his glory, that I may finish my pilgrimage with joy, and be at last received to eternal glory!"
This last extract is the closing passage in my father's diary. Before I come to the latter part of his life, however, I will advert to some circumstances which occurred in the earlier years of his religious profession. Immediately after his own conversion, he was earnestly desirous that those religious services which had been so profitable to himself should be established in Gunhouse. He applied, for that purpose, to the Ministers of the Epworth Circuit, who acceded to his request. At present there is a comfortable chapel there, with a good congregation. To the cost of this building he largely contributed. He was likewise a principal instrument in the erection of the Wesleyan cha
pels at Burringham and East-Butterwick, villages not far from Gunhouse. Indeed, he was so anxious for the introduction of Methodism into the surrounding district, that he went, for that purpose, to many places, with those who were disposed to accompany him, and had the satisfaction of seeing that his endeavours were not in vain. He was thus“ zealously affected in a good cause,” from a conviction of duty, as he was naturally of a diffident and retiring temper. It was not without reluctance that he allowed his name to be inserted on the Preachers' Plan as an Exhorter ; but, when it was there, he endeavoured conscientiously to discharge the duties which devolved on him. His addresses were frequently attended with such a divine unction, that both himself and the congregation were in tears: he has been, on some occasions, even unable, for a while, to proceed. It pleased God to bless his labours to the spiritual profit of many.
Of the class which met at his own house he was appointed the Leader; and, for upwards of thirty years, he filled this important office usefully and acceptably. In various other offices, also, he was called to serve the church with which he was connected. He was an approved Circuit-Steward, and likewise a Trustee of several chapels.
Towards the close of life he laboured under a complication of disorders, the principal being rheumatic gout. From this he was seldom free for several of the last years of his life; and at length he was so enfeebled by it, that his constitution gave way, and he was obliged to keep his room. During the five weeks that this was the case his sufferings were very acute; and as he was scarcely able to take any solid food whatever, he became weaker and weaker. But he was kept in perfect peace. Resigned to the will of God, not a murmuring word escaped his lips. For several years previously he had given up much of his temporal business ; so that now he had nothing to do but to die. As his body became more feeble, his mind was evidently blessed with increasing strength. He saw that he was rapidly approaching the end of his course; but this occasioned no alarm. His soul was happy in God, and his time was occupied in spiritual exercises ; sometimes in prayer, sometimes in praise ; frequently repeating appropriate passages of Scripture, or quoting some of his favourite verses from the HymnBook. He testified of the great value of religion, and of his own experience of its comfort and support, to all who visited him; and exhorted them earnestly to make their own calling and election sure. To his afflicted wife and son he used the most consoling expressions. He welcomed the approach of death, “ that he might be with Jesus.” The day before he died, he said, “ This is the happiest day of my life : it is heaven begun below.” To the last he retained his mental faculties, and to the last he was preserved in the peace and joy of faith. At length, just after requesting to be turned in bed, without a struggle or groan, he quietly resigned his soul into the hands of his Maker and Redeemer, October 27th, 1836, aged sixty-seven years.
As to my father's character, I can truly say that, in his religious profession, he was sincere and consistent; and that, as a man of business, he was active, prudent, and upright. He was an affectionate husband and father; kind to his servants, and attentive to their spiritual interests. He was much beloved as a friend ; and, when in company, his conversation was profitable even upon temporal subjects ; but he was always most disposed to converse upon religion. Like other men, he had his failings; but he strove, by the grace of God, to guard against them. His temper was sometimes hasty ; but as he knew that in the world he had to transact business with
of all kinds of dispositions, he was careful to watch over his own. time, however unintentionally, he had incurred the displeasure of some other person, he was never easy till the feeling had subsided,
and reconciliation had been effected. His desire was to retire to rest each night at peace with God, with his own conscience, and all his fellow
He endeavoured, from the day of his conversion, humbly to walk with God; and at length he was not, for God took him.
If at any
MEMOIR OF MISS COWLING,
OF RICHMOND, YORKSHIRE. Miss Martha COWLING was born at Richmond, Yorkshire. Her parents, originally belonging to the Church of England, joined the Wesleyan society a few years before their death. Miss Cowling became a member of the same society early in the year 1821. The circumstances by which she was led to think more seriously of religion, and to seek the personal enjoyment of it, were these : Not long before, she had lost a younger sister, to whom she was strongly attached, and who, in the course of her illness, often talked to Martha, and affectionately urged her not to live neglecting “the one thing needful.” These exhortations, together with her sister's death, produced a very happy effect on her mind. The loss she had sustained disposed her to seriousness; and she resolved thenceforth to seek all her happiness in God. Examining herself, and meditating on her state, she saw and felt that she was guilty before God; and that she could only be happy in him by obtaining the forgiveness of sin, through faith in Christ. Her convictions of the need of this were strong and painful, and she sought it with all her heart. She was much encouraged in seeking, by the declaration of Christ,“ Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." On April 1st, not long after she had joined the Wesleyan society, retiring to her room, she resolved that she would endeavour to come unto Christ, and to believe in his name. She earnestly sought for spiritual power ; and her prayers were not in vain. She was enabled to rest her soul on the great Atonement, and was filled with joy and peace in believing. “I
felt,” she afterwards said, referring to this event, "that my God was reconciled, and my soul was made triumphantly happy in his forgiving love."
Miss Cowling had now experienced a great and glorious change. She was saved from wrath, and adopted into the divine family. She was also renewed in the spirit of her mind. Old things were passed away; all things became new. But though the great work of inward sanctification was begun, she felt that it was not completed. She was delivered from the power and bondage, but not from the remains, of inbred sin. The love of God was shed abroad in her heart, and she loved God, because be had first loved her; but her love was not made perfect. She saw and felt that yet richer blessings were in store for her, and that it was alike her privilege and her duty to seek to possess them. She looked at the promise, “From all your filthiness, and from all your idols, I will cleanse you ;" and she believed that what God had said, he would also do. For this more advanced state she prayed earnestly; and, in the course of the month of August, 1822, she was brought into this full spiritual liberty of the children of God. By the rich baptism of the Holy Spirit, the God of peace sanctified her wholly.
Having herself experienced the blessedness of true religion, she felt deeply concerned that others might be brought into the same happy condition. She prayed much for the advancement of Christ's kingdom, and sought to promote it by all the means in her power. For more than fourteen years, and until prevented by her last affliction, she was a diligent and successful Sabbath-school Teacher. She longed, likewise, for the salvation of the perishing Heathen ; and was, as long as she was able, a zealous and active Collector for the Wesleyan Missions. She also took great pleasure in visiting the sick. She was particularly fitted for this work of faith, and labour of love; and in thus seeking to do her suffering fellow-creatures good she was indefatigable.
Whilst endeavouring to benefit others, Miss Cowling was not negligent as to herself. She knew, indeed, that religion included doing good; but she likewise knew that the maintenance of personal piety was necessary; and she, therefore, diligently used all the means calculated to promote the growth of grace in her own soul. She greatly delighted in the public services of the sanctuary; and her punctual, regular, devout attendance on all the appointed means grace,
made it evident that the language of her heart was, “Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth." And thus going up to the worship of God with a heart panting after spiritual communion, she found the ordinances of the house of prayer to be as “green pastures” and “still waters,” by which the heavenly Shepherd led her, and imparted strength and gladness to her soul. She particularly valued the sacrament of the Lord's supper, and in health was a conscientiously-regular communicant. When prevented,