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FOR JANUARY, 1824. ,
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. JOHN KING :
BY HIS NEPHEW, THE REV. WILLIAM TOASE. MR. Joux King was born at Guisborough, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, June 11th, 1752. His early life was distinguished by the strictest integrity, and the most ardent love of truth. He regularly attended divine service in the Church of England, to whose forms of worship he was always very partial. When about eighteen years of age, under the ministry of Mr. JAMES BrowXFIELD and Mr. Jacob Rowell, he was awakened to a sense of his lost condition as a sinner; and was constrained to cry to God in fervent prayer for salvation. After being in deep distress of soul for six weeks, he was brought, through faith in the sacrificial atonement of our Lord Jesus Curist, into the liberty of the Gospel, and received the testimony of his adoption in the gift of the Holy SPIRIT.
Being now sincerely concerned for the salvation of his neighbours, and believing it to be his duty to do all the good he could, Mr. King began, almost immediately, to exhort sinners to flee from the wrath to come; and was soon called to exercise his gifts as a Methodist Local Preacher. In this capacity he continued to labour with acceptance to the people in general, and with profit to many who were brought to God by his instrumentality, for about twelve years. During this period he introduced preaching into many new places in the neighbourhood; and though exposed to much persecution, steadily went on his way without fear, trusting in Him who hath said, “Who is he that shall harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good."
In the year 1783, being called forth by the voice of Divine Providence, and the desire of that portion of the Church of God to which he belonged, Mr. King entered upon the work of an Itinerant Minister, in connexion with the Rev. Jonn Wesley; and was stationed in what was then termed “The Dales Circuit."-In a letter, dated Barnard-Castle, Sept. 3d, 1783, MR. KING says to his Parents :-VOL. III. Third Series. JANUARY, 1824.
“I arrived safely here, after a very pleasant journey. The Society is composed of a plain and loving people, who have provided a convenient house for the Preachers. The number in Society is about one hundred. I attended the five o'clock meeting this morning, which was the most comfortable season I have known for some time. I was enabled to pray with much assurance. I never should have entered on the important work of an Itinerant Preacher, if I had not believed it to be the call of God. I do hope this will be proved to be the case, by God's blessing on my labours."
In another letter, dated April 2d, 1784, Mr. King writes as follows:
“ Yesterday I finished my second round in the Circuit. Do not, my dear Parents, be uneasy about me; but freely give me up to God, in whose hand I am safe. When I think of you, I go on my way weeping and praying, and am led to believe that we shall all meet in heaven. Indeed there is no doubt of it, if we pray much, and look to Jesus.”
These brief extracts show with what views Mr. King entered on the work of the Ministry. Though he left his home and parents with regret, when he had given himself up to God and his work, he was resolved to be faithful ; and he kept his vow.
In August, 1784, Mr. King was stationed at Scarborough. Under the date of January 14th, 1785, he writes ::
" I am well in my station, and want nothing that is necessary for my comfort. We have many sincere friends in this Circuit, and I trust we have the hearts of the people in general. In the larger places we have an increase of hearers, and good is done. I long for the salvation of the inhabitants of my native country. I have often prayed for them all, and I trust God is raising up the seed that has been sown."
From Scarborough Mr. King was removed to Plymouth-Dock, where he was appointed to labour, in conjunction with the late Mr. JOHN Mason and Dr. Adam CLARKE. The thought of so long a journey, on horseback, appears to have given him some uneasiness; but he cheerfully submitted. This was a year of great prosperity ; and Mr. King always looked back to it with a grateful remembrance of his colleagues, and of the people. Soon after his arrival at Plymouth-Dock, he wrote a letter to Mr. Wesley, of which the following is an extract. It appears to have been written under some severe trial :
....... I believe God will do one of these two things; either he will remove the affliction, or he will give me grace to bear it, so that I shall be unhurt by it; yea, that it shall work for my good, and I shall,
• Like Moses' bush, mount up the higher,
And flourish unconsum'd in fire.' I had often doubted my call to the Ministry, which caused me to preach with heaviness. I sincerely prayed to the LORD, that if I had done wrong in coming out to travel, he would forgive me, and send me home again. With much anxiety of mind I went to York, to speak with Mr. Matuer on the subject of my appointment to Plymouth-Dock; and he was so kind as to say that he would go to the extent of his authority, if I could not go freely. I determined, however, to take up my cross and go; and now, dear Sir, I rejoice that I came, for I am fully satisfied that my call is of God. I never had the liberty, since I began to preach, that I have had since I came bere ; and, blessed be God, I find my heart more engaged in the work of God than ever it was.. I hope it will continue so to my life's end."
On the 27th of October, 1755, Mr. King writes thus :
“ A painful circumstance occurred here last year. One of the Preachers became the Pastor of an Independent Congregation; and some, whose minds were unsettled, have gone with him But even this is working for good. Many persons now come to bear us who never came before, so that our room is full on Sunday evenings ; many are obliged to stand without, and others go away. This inconvenience will soon be remedied, as we are building a large Chapel in another part of the town. We have already admitted about twenty new members into the Society. On Sunday night, after the service, four persons followed me to my lodgings. One of these, especially, was deeply convinced of sin, and determined to flee from the wrath to come. I have no doubt but it is the will of God that I should be here. I have as much honour as does me any good. I regard very little the praise or dispraise of men. I wish to be more ambitions of that honour which cometh from God.”
The good work which began at the commencement of the year continued to spread. Under the date of March 9th, 1786, Mr. King writes again :
" We still have a prospect of great success in our ministry here. The new Chapel is now open for public worship, and we have let above four hundred sittings. It is a remarkable thing, that, in a place where no sittings were ever let before, we should have let so many in so short a time. Our congregations are continually increasing, both at Plymouth and at Dock, and also in every other place where we preach. Blessed be God; the people in town and country appear to be alarmed on account of their sins. We have added above a hundred members since the Conference. I am thankful for my colleagues. We love as brethren."
It was during this year that Mr. King was made the honoured instrument of the conversion of the Rev. C. KIRKPATRICK. At the Conference in 1786, Mr. King was appointed to the Bradford (Wilts) Circuit ; from whence he wrote to Mr. Wesley on some important points of christian experience, and received answers, a few paragraphs of which may not be unacceptable in this place.
“Near London, February 1611, 1787.' “ [ generally write to all that desire it, though not often in many words. What I have to say may be confined in a narrow compass. It requires a great degree of watchfulness to retain the perfect love of God. And one great means of retaining it is, frankly to declare what God has given you, and earnestly to exhort all the believers you meet with to follow after full salvation.”
" Near Bristol, April 21st, 1787. ...... If you have a desire to go and labour with Brother Clarke in the Islands of Guernsey and Jersey, you may; after the Conference. By that time I expect they will have both work and food for another Labourer.
“With what is past, or what is to come, we have little to do. Now is the day of salvation. The Great Salvation is at hand, if you will receive it as the free gift of God. What you have already attained, hold fast, Whatever you want, it is ready to be given. Reason not about it, but believe. His word is, 'Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. There is a wonderful work of God in several parts of this kingdom ; and it increases more and more.”
From Bradford Mr. King was removed to the Thirsk Circuit, where he found some things that were painful, and needed to be remedied. Having written to Mr. Wesley on the subject, he received the following answer :"MY DEAR BROTHER,
“ Near London, October 31st, 1787. “ Both in Jersey, Alderney, and Guernsey, the fields are white to the barvest. Hitherto there is an open door into many places, without any considerable opposition. And I am not sorry we were detained there, by contra ry winds, longer than we intended.
- There is no need at all that Tbirsk Circuit should ever be in debt. You have several persons there that are of considerable ability, and that love the cause of God. Represent things to them in a proper manner, and nothing will be wanting
“ If any of the Class- Leaders teaches strange doctrine, he can have no more place among us. Only lovingly admonish him first. I am, yours affectionately,
“ John WESLEY." After leaving Thirsk, Mr. King was successively stationed in the Yarm, Horncastle, Grimsby, and Gainsborough Circuits. While in the Gainsborough Circuit, he had the misfortune to fall from his horse, and to break his arm. Among his papers is found a letter from the late Rev. George Sargent, addressed to him on the subject. The recent melancholy circumstance of Mr. Sargent's sudden removal to his reward, by the overturning of a coach, will sufficiently apologize for the introduction of an extract from his letter, on the painful dispensations of Divine Providence.
“ Bishop-Norton, March 3d, 1794. “I am very sorry to hear of your misfortune. Mysterious are the dispensations of Divine Providence. Yet the promise stands more firm than the pillars of heaven and earth : 'All things work together for good to them that love God.' No doubt you can, amidst all your sufferings, look back with gratitude to God, who only touched one of your members, and yet spared your life. Even amidst trying dispensations, there is a great deal of lenity mixed with that which is seemingly severe. How well it is, when we can say with Job, 'Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.'”
In 1796, MR. KING was stationed at Barrow, in Lincolnshire. He writes as follows, under the date of March 3d of that year:
“Our labour increases among the people, as the work of the LORD prospers in our hands. We have such an increase of hearers in many places, that our chapels will not hold them. They stand without, at the doors and windows. The Societies are increasing. I admitted twenty new members at one place a short time ago."
Mr. King's next appointments were to the Epworth, Sunderland, and Scarborough Circuits, where his labours were owned of God in the conviction and conversion of many of his hearers. From his Papers, written during this period of his ministry, it is obvious that he was a man of one business. His heart was in his duty, and he was happy in proportion as the work of God prospered in his hands.
In 1802 Mr. King was stationed at Dewsbury. In the course of that year he addressed a letter to a young man, who had begun to act as a Local Preacher, a copy of which it may not be deemed improper to insert in this place, as it shows the views he entertained on the importance of the work of a Christian Preacher, and on the spirit in which it should be performed.
“ Dewsbury, April 15th, 1803. " It affords me great pleasure to find that you are exerting yourself for God. This, doubtless, is your duty. Get all the good you can ; and do all the good you can. What you have already received, you are to exercise. He that does this is in the way of getting more. Stir up the gift of God that is in you. Do not despise or neglect it, because you may think it is small. The greatest things have but small beginnings. Bless God for the smallest spark of grace, and the least hope of heaven ; and for any gift of the Spirit, how little soever it may be. Yet remember, that you are Dever to see any thing great in yourself, let your attainments be what they may. Never lean to your own understanding ; nor trust to your own heart, or to the stock of grace already in hand. Depend entirely on the LORD ; it is he that gives wisdom to speak, and power to act. Trust in him with all your heart, and verily you shall not want any good thing. Use all the means in your power for the attainment of whatever gifts or grace you want, in order to render you happy in yourself, and useful to others. Give attendance to reading and prayer in private ; and especially to the Sacred Scriptures. Let these be your rule; and the Spirit of God will supply strength, to enable you to walk by it. If your eye be single in your public labours, the blessing of the Lord will attend you, and them that hear you. Be sure never to aim at any thing less than the salvation of your hearers. They are base indeed, who have any low or selfish end in view on entering into such a service. Be careful lest evil should mix with your good, and so the good that is in you should be evil spoken of. Watch against pride, that snare of the Devil, which is so commonly laid for young converts, and young Preachers in particular. Neither let difficulties, nor temptations, nor oppositions, intimidate you; as they are common to all the servants of God. All trying things shall work together for good to them that love God. All things are 'yours,' that is, for your advantage, if you are Christ's. Fear none of the things you suffer ; for he hath said, I will never leave thee, Dor forsake thee.""
Mr. King's next appointments were to the Grantham, Diss, Yarmouth, Walsingham, and Sevenoaks Circuits. After labouring