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hearing, harassed by sore temptations, yet it was at length made to him the instrument of comfort. I will copy his own account :-"One Saturday evening, while Mr. Highfield was speaking from Isaiah Ixvi. 2, • To this man will I look,' &c., the Lord suddenly broke into my soul in a wonderful manner; instantaneously banishing all my complaints, and filling me with all peace and joy in believing.”
My father next removed to Lenton, near Nottingham, where he wrought as a journeyman with a Dissenter, called Lacy. At this time he had deep impressions concerning the great work of the ministry; and what he believed to be a call to that important undertaking. His attempts in the way of exhortation were very useful to many. At Kneesal, a small society of serious friends was formed by his instrumentality; and his old master and mistress were joined with them. “ About this time,” says he, “the person with whom I wrought at my business, and who showed me great kindness, began to speak to me about my public ministrations ; judging, no doubt, that, as I was illiterate, and could not express my thoughts with propriety, I ought to use the means for acquiring more learning, or otherwise desist from appearing in public. He made the generous offer of procuring me admission into an academy, where I might have the benefit of a liberal education. As that would have led me into another line, and as my heart was strongly attached to the people with whom I was connected, and as it would also have interrupted my ardent desire to do good in the narrow sphere in wbich Providence had placed me, I refused his proposal ; but not without many inward reasonings. Indeed it had so great an effect upon me as to stop me in a good measure in my career; but I had no sooner left off to exhort, than the hour and power of darkness came upon me in an extraordinary manner.”
My father was thus again brought into a state of indescribable suffering My distress," he says, “increased continually, till my life became an insupportable burden, and sore temptations followed me wherever I went. It is impossible to describe them in all their infernal gloom. They were suggested by the wicked one, in order to drive me to despair of the divine mercy, and to put a speedy end to my wretched life: but those which pressed me most were horrid blasphemies ; insomuch that I was frequently obliged to stop my mouth with my hand, to prevent myself from uttering them aloud.”
He continued in this condition full two months ; at the end of which some of his friends at Newark, hearing of his distress, sent for him to come to them. He went, and was partly employed by one of them in his business. Soon after, Mr. Joseph Taylor came to Newark. He took my father back with him into his Circuit; and so employed bim as to make him feel a little reviving in his bondage. On his return from bis visit to Mr. Taylor, he was again employed by the same person.
“ This also," writes my father, was of use to my mind as well as to my body; and having been called to attend a young woman in dying circumstances, I was enabled to pray with her several times in the course of the night; and providentially taking up a book which proved to be the Pilgrim's Progress, I was led to that part where Apollyon is described as assaulting Christian with blasphemous thoughts. This was the peculiar temptation that had harassed me most, and which had led me to conclude that as such thoughts arose in my mind, I had committed the unpardonable sin. I then clearly perceived that all those thoughts had been only the suggestions of Satan; and on admitting that conviction I was instantaneously delivered from all my anguish and distress. Divine light again beamed upon my soul with meridian brightness ; and the peace and joy with which I was filled were in proportion to my former sorrows. This was not a transient visit; but an abiding consolation, such as the Lord Jesus promised to his disciples, when he said, 'I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.''
My father being thus set right through the instrumentality of that excellent guide for pilgrims, whilst imperfectly acquainted with the devices of Satan, began to apply himself with renewed diligence to the work of preaching. The following is his own statement :-“My first sermon was delivered at Lenton, where I quickly repaired to see my friends, both to tell them what God had done for my soul, and also to publish in the name of Jesus the Gospel of peace. The hymn I chose for the occasion was taken from the Olney Collection, entitled, · The Storm hushed." It begins,
( 'Tis past; the dreadful stormy night
Ls gone, with all its fears !
The Lord, my Sun, appears.'
Lord, since thou thus hast broke my bands,
And set the captive free,
My heart, my all to thee.' I then prayed with great fervour, and took for my text, being the first I ever ventured to take, - For peace I had great bitterness ; but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption ; for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.” (Isaiah xxxviii. 17.)
“ The Lord gave me wonderful light and liberty; and the Divine Spirit made it a most softening, melting season to all present. The next morning I called on a family at Coverton, who had been witnesses of my trouble, and were now also partakers of my joy: many persons both there and in the neighbouring villages, who were informed of the preaching, attended in the evening. I also proclaimed to them, in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, the word of life. That, too, was a remarkable season; and so were the following, both in the morning and evening, there and in the adjacent places ; so that in the course of a single week, wherein I preached twelve times, many sinners were deeply awakened, and many mourners in Zion comforted.”
On the Lord's day, and frequently on the weck nights, he visited the neighbouring places in order to bear testimony to the Gospel of Christ, as the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. On the Christmas-day following, 1790, he was invited to preach in the large chapel at Newark. “It was with fear and trembling," he writes, “I undertook it, knowing my own weakness and incapacity ; but the Lord stood with me, and great was the Holy One of Israel in the midst of us. My text was Isaiah ix. 6,7; and as the Scriptures were surprisingly opened to my mind, both in the season of preaching and also in private retirement, I was enabled to illustrate the sacred characters of Immanuel by many other apposite passages, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, and by manifestation of the truth recommending myself to every man's conscience in the sight of God."
At this period Mr. Joseph Taylor was requested by my father to ask Mr. Wesley's permission for him to study at Kingswood School for one year; hoping thereby not only to improve his mind, but that an opportunity would also be afforded him of preaching to the colliers. He was, however, disappointed; for that venerable man had gone to his reward ere Mr. Taylor was able to apply to him.
“ In the month of May, 1791,” writes my father, a new scene was presented in the openings of divine Providence. A pious Clergyman, whom I had visited, spoke of me in favourable terms to Mr. Brackenbury, of Raithby, who was desirous of having a young man with him in his journeys, who might be a helper in the work. That gentleman immediately wrote to me, at Mr. Eggleston's, at Newark; and I presently walked to Raithby-Hall, in Lincolnshire, where I was kindly received."
In the month of November, Mr. Brackenbury and my father began their united labours in the Isle of Portland. They found its inhabitants sunk in ignorance and wickedness; but they did not leave the island until the power of the Gospel had been wonderfully manifested. For the first eight or nine months they saw but little fruit of their labours, though at this period they were held in high estimation by the generality of the people. Mr. Brackenbury's kindness to the poor contributed doubtless in no small degree to effect this. At first they preached in Mr. Brackenbury's own house; and when it became incapable of holding half their hearers, another was hired at a small distance; and on the Lord'sday evenings they were well filled, though my father and Mr. Brackenbury preached at the same hour. As their hearers continued to increase, my father suggested the propriety of building a chapel. Several difficulties stood in the way: however, it was at length erected. They then went forward with increasing success; but were at the same time called to endure grievous and long-continued persecution. Indeed the riotous proceedings of the mob were carried to such a pitch, that they were at length compelled to seek protection from the law. Two of the ring-leaders were convicted of the charges brought against them at the Sherborne Quarter Sessions, and fined £10 each. Hereby the persecution was restrained ; and it was afterwards confined to railing and bitter words.
The welfare of the children was not overlooked by these men of God. They at first instructed them every Saturday afternoon; and when any were perceived to be under good impressions, they were put into a separate class, that more particular directions might be given them. “We had cause of thankfulness to God," writes my father, " that our labour in that respect was not in vain.”
Several months elapsed from the period of their arrival, before those who, they hoped, had been profited by their ministry were collected into a separate society from the rest ; “ because we wished,” observes my father, “to have proof of their sincerity, and that they also should count the cost and weigh the consequences, before they entered into so solemn an engagement.” And when at length a religious society was formed, no persons were admitted into it, who did not promise to renounce all sinful practices, and especially that which on their arrival in the island very generally prevailed, the practice of smuggling. "Though the work was carried on in a gradual way," my father observes,
yet we noticed two particular seasons when the Lord was more eminently present, and gave witness to the word of his grace : and we had great cause of thankfulness that he wrought in a still and almost imperceptible manner, without noise or commotions, as it precluded the offence and prejudice which might otherwise bave been taken. The number of persons who deserted the enemy's camp and declared openly for the Lord was about one hundred and twenty. The means which the blessed God was pleased in his infinite wisdom to make use of for the deliverance of souls from the bondage of Satan, and their introduction into the glorious liberty of the children of God, was the plain preaching of the word ; including the fall and recovery of man, in the way and manner which the Methodist Preachers every where adopt." .
Other things are mentioned as contributing to the spiritual benefit of the society which they had been instrumental in raising up. Among these were class-meetings, and daily visiting from house to house, and especially the counsels and example of Mr. Brackenbury's housekeeper, Mrs. Pershard. “She was a woman,” says my father, “of deep humility, undissembled integrity, and extraordinary discernment in the things of God, though scarcely able to write or read."
The following remarks will suitably close the account of my father's labours in the Isle of Portland :
“A manifest reformation was wrought in the island. Before this period, vices of every kind reigned triumphant, and almost without control. A kind of carnival was kept at one place for a whole fortnight. Labour was suspended, and cockfighting, drunkenness, lewdness, and immorality of every species, with dreadful profaneness, were openly practised. But through the powerful influence of divine grace, numbers were rescued from the spare of the devil, and a manifest restraint was imposed on the rest, who are in a good measure civilized. And whereas strangers formerly could hardly pass on the road unmolested, now order and decorum are seen in all parts; and although smuggling is still carried on by some persons, it is greatly curtailed.”
Weymouth, Poole, and several villages in their vicinity, were also visited by my father and Mr. Brackenbury. In these places they did not labour in vain. At Poole they hired the theatre. Local circumstances, as well as the novelty of the transaction, served to fill their place of worship. Great numbers of children were instructed by them; and in a short time, two distinct classes of young men and young women were formed, as in Portland. A large and handsome chapel has since been erected, chiefly at Mr. Brackenbury's expense. At Poole and Weymouth these two soldiers of Christ seem not to have met with any extraordinary opposition; but at Ringwood and Wareham they were persecuted perhaps more virulently than in the Isle of Portland. My father on returning to his lodging, after preaching at the latter place, was completely covered with mud; but none of the stones which were aimed at him either there or at Ringwood injured his person, though one of them struck a young woman at his side, and another dashed the hymn-book out of his bands. The person who injured the young woman, and several of his companions, were afterwards brought before a bench of Justices, and my father appeared as one of the witnesses against them. Being called on to pay the dues of the Court, he threw down all the money he had with him ; but as that did not amount to the required sum, a general laugh was raised against him, and he was dismissed, with every mark of indignity. One gentleman of the quorum, however, pitied him; and said, in the face of the whole Court, that the Methodists had a right to protection in the exercise of their worship; and that if my father should have occasion to seek redress in future, he should be ready to grant it. This Magistrate was a Clergyman.
My father laboured in the Isle of Portland, and in various parts of Dorsetshire, for the space of two years and a half, viz., from November, 1791, until the latter end of April, 1794. He was then summoned to another part of the Lord's vineyard. I shall give the account in his own words:
“ Some of the men who had heard us preach in Poole, and afterwards sailed to Newfoundland, spoke of our proceedings with approbation to Mr. Stretton, a gentleman of Harbour-de-Grace, who wrote to Mr. Brackenbury a pressing letter, to come over, or send them a Preacher, as soon as possible. Mr. Brackenbury communicated the letter to me; and as I found a strong desire to go, which Dr. Coke, to whom Mr. Brackenbury also imparted the letter soon afterwards in London, powerfully enforced, I went out in one of the merchant ships which sailed from Poole in the spring; and Mr. Kemp, the owner, kindly gave me a passage. We sailed, with several others, on May 1st, 1794; and soon joined the great