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fected under the serinon on Sunday, asked him before some of the workmen, whether he had been striving to enter in at the strait gate ? He says, “ I thought, if I tell him that I have, the men will call me a Methodist. I was strongly tempted, and almost felt inclined, like Peter, to swear that I was not one of them. But, thanks be to God, for his restraining grace! I was immediately filled with anguish that I should feel so prone to deny God, and the workings of his Spirit. I felt, however, some consolation in recollecting that suffering temptation is not being guilty of the sin. For nine weeks I endured the severe pangs of a guilty conscience. Sometimes, indeed, a gleam of hope would visit my mind; and I felt a little encouragement to believe that God would pardon even me; but my hope was transient. I erred about believing; like many others, I wished God to save me before I believed his word; though I frequently sought instructive conversation, and regularly went five miles to St. Austle, to attend my class-meeting.
“ The change which had been wrought in my heart produced too great a change in my life to escape notice; and I had therefore to endure much secret and open persecution. But the Lord preserved me from falling back. I commenced reading Mr. Wesley's Hymn-book, and when I came to hymn 140, entitled, “Wrestling Jacob,' I thought, • Did Jacob wrestle with God and prevail ? Why may not I ? Is not God the same unchangeable Being? And did not Christ Jesus give himself a ransom for all ? I will, like Jacob, wrestle with the Lord. I knelt down, and poured out my soul in prayer. Awhile the heavens seemed as brass, and I found no access to the throne of grace. I threw myself proztrate on the floor, and
Groan'd the sinner's only plea,
God be merciful to me.' Thus I continued for about half an hour wrestling with God, and endeavouring to exercise faith in my Redeemer. This was the hour of deliverance : faith expelled my doubts and fears ;
"I plunged into the purple flood,
I rose into the life of God.' O the joy unspeakable which I then felt! For a considerable time I could do nothing but praise. My heart fervently said, Glory be to God in the highest, for pardoning a hell-deserving sinner! And the words of the poet described my own experience; for I could sing to the Lord,
Long my imprison'd spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light :
I rose, went forth, and follow'd thee.' On the following Sabbath morning I went to my class-meeting at St. Austle, and there, with a full heart, and streaming eyes, I declared what God had done for my soul. O what a season of gracious influence was that hour! All present wept aloud ; and several who, previously, had been very lukewarm, became zealous for the Lord from that time.
“ Severe trials soon put my faith and patience to the test. Satan had lost a subject, and exerted himself to recal me to his service. He insinuated that all my joy was delusion, and tempted me to cast away my confidence; to blaspheme the Lord; to destroy myself ; and sometimes to wish for my old companions, and to return to my former sins. So severe and lasting were these temptations, that I have had to wrestle hard with God, to spend whole nights in prayer, and days in fasting. But God preserved me, and caused even my temptations and trials to work together for my good; for by these he was preparing me for a great work."
Temptations within and trials without not only put his principles to the test, but they made him also deeply sensible of the necessity of divine assistance and protection, and taught him to compassionate and succour others in similar sufferings.
Soon after his obtaining a consciousness of pardoning mercy, he began to feel an earnest desire for the salvation of others, which prompted him to earnest prayers, and increasing efforts. The first attempts at public service are not unfrequently such as claim the sympathy and tax the patience of associates. “ The first time,” he says, “ I prayed in public I was urged to make the attempt, and spoke perhaps twenty words, hardly knowing what I said, being so timid and confused.” But the day of small things, and of feeble beginnings, is not to be despised in the kingdom of God; for from perseverance great results generally follow.
Some of his first impressions about preaching the Gospel were made upon his mind while at rest. In ancient times it was said, “God speaketh-in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed, then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction. These things worketh God osttimes with man.” Good thoughts, useful instruction, or solemn warnings, may be justly acknowledged to come from God, whether we obtain them by easy dreaming or laborious thinking, or in any other way. He whose heart is fully with God when awake may obtain good ideas from the source of wisdom even when asleep. But on this subject Mr. Close had better speak for himself:
“ On a Wednesday night in about a month after my obtaining the blessing of salvation, while in bed, but whether awake or asleep I know not, it was pungently impressed on my mind, that I soon should be preaching from those solemn words, · Prepare to meet thy God.' (Amos iv. 12.) The subject seemed all delivered to me ; the matter of the discourse arranged in order; the introduction, the general division, and the subdivisions; and the whole was so impressed upon my mind, that I wrote it down next morning, and showed it to several Local Preachers. They thought it was an intimation that I ought to preach the Gospel, and encouraged me to attempt it, and beseech lost sinners to be reconciled to God. I scarcely knew how to determine, and was afraid to venture on a work so important, or even to attempt it only for once. I thought, if the Lord designed me to preach the Gospel, he would open my way and make it plain. And I resolved that if he did so, I would for once attempt the work in his name. what a time of trial was this! Satan seemed more enraged than ever that I should not only forsake his service, but also seek to recover some whom he had taken captive.
“I had engaged several Local Preachers to preach on Saturday evenings in a large place near my brother's works. One evening the congregation was assembled, and after anxiously waiting beyond the appointed time, the people requested that I would read a chapter and pray with them; for many of them had come from far, and were unwilling to depart without some religious service. Now is the way opened, it was suggested to my mind; and my heart said, “Now, Lord, help me, if thou hast called me to preach thy word.' I ascended the temporary desk, gave out a hymn, and prayed with great liberty. After giving out another hymn, I tremblingly took my text, • Prepare to meet thy God.' To the surprise of the congregation, of about two hundred people, some of whom I believe trembled for me, I preached with great liberty, as if I had been long accustomed to the ministry; and God owned the word by opening the eyes of three persons who heard me. This gracious fruit of my first effort I considered as some evidence that God had called me to preach his word.
"The Preacher appointed for that evening came in when I was near concluding my discourse, and was not a little surprised to find me thus supplying his place. With this one sermon I would willingly have closed my preaching ; but this brother persuaded me to accompany him the next morning, and preach from the same text in another place. At the next Quarterly Meeting the brethren thought proper to take me on trial as a Local Preacher. Amidst great weakness and many temptations, God preserved me in his service, and made the preaching of his Gospel my chief delight.”
For about a year he continued at St. Stephen's, suffering from the disapprobation of his relations, yet steadily pursuing his life of piety as a Christian, and his Sabbath labours of Gospel charity, when at length the zeal of one brother became too great for the patience of the other, and occasioned their separation. This he also considered as a favourable providence, graciously ordered to increase his usefulness. He says, –
“On Whitsunday, June 2d, 1816, being appointed to preach at Fowey, owing to the distance from home, I obtained my brother's permission to stay there on Monday. We had a remarkable outpouring of the Spirit. Five persons, I believe, were brought to God under the ser. mon. The friends were importunate for my staying a day longer among them; and as it was Whitsuntide, and therefore holiday-time, I consented, and preached three times on the Monday, and again early on Tuesday morning. This day, June 4th, I became twenty-one years of age, and therefore presumed I might keep it as my holiday, while the men at home were keeping theirs. However, when I arrived at home, I was refused admittance. By this my way was opened for more extensive usefulness.”
He went to visit his friend the Rev. Walter Lawry, then labouring in the Liskeard Circuit, with the Rev. B. Carvosso, and at the request of the friends, continued among them about three months, assisting those brethren in the work of the Lord, promoting and conducting a revival of religion, in which many were converted to God and added to the society. These were young men of a Missionary spirit, and Mr. Close was united with them in design, labours, and affection. They burned with zeal for the salvation of souls, and God honoured their efforts with success. They felt alike for the salvation of the heathen world, and have all borne an honourable share in Missionary enterprise ; but he that started last has finished his work and arrived in heaven first. The companions of youth have great influence on each other's views, and feelings, and lives. These two companions of his soul went abroad to bring the distant Heathen nigh unto God, and Mr. Close could not be satisfied long to stay at home.
On his removal from Liskeard, he laboured awhile on what was then called the Stratton Mission. Here he became acquainted with Miss Ann Adams, of Morewinstow, who afterwards became the beloved compa. nion of his life. He afterwards laboured some time on the Barnstaple Circuit, and from the Plymouth-Dock District was recommended as a proper person for the Itinerant ministry, or a foreign Mission. His experience of the grace of God, delight in his service, and his ardent desire for Missionary enterprise may be seen in a few extracts from his letters. In one, written from Barnstaple, September 21st, 1818, he says, “I have enjoyed divine assistance in studying the example of Christ, and I feel a glowing eagerness to be like him. The world is where it ought to be, under my feet; and Jesus now reigns in my heart without a rival.” In another letter from the same Circuit, he says, “ A glorious Sabbath has just concluded; such a one I never spent before ; perhaps my next may be in heaven. Glory be to God, 'perfect love casteth out fear. I know it: I feel it: the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth me from all sin.'
"Not a cloud doth arise, to darken the skies,
Or hide for a moment my Lord from my eyes.'” In another, dated London, September, 1819, he says, “ The past has been a good week to my soul, and I look at it with pleasure. Jesus is mine, and I am his. All is well within, and the very thought of soon getting into my Missionary work cheers my heart, and makes it pant and swell to be gone. I would not avoid going to India for the world. · And were it left to my choice, to go to glory to-night, or first to travel the plains of Hindostan for ten years, I think I should wish to brighten my crown by choosing the latter. O that I could but see the sable faces of a Hindoo congregation! I often anticipate this with rapturous delight. Glory be to God for calling me to the work of a Missionary, a name more exalted than that of a King. A large volume, closely written, could hardly describe my feelings on this subject. The voyage appears to be as the passing of a pleasant river. Danger disappears, difficulties vanish, and my soul is already in India, on whose shores, if it please God, my bones may bleach. These are not the feelings of a moment; but what I have possessed in a greater or less degree for some weeks. May it please God to hasten the time of my departure; for my heart is all on fire to be gone!”
These extracts will sufficiently show how the holy Aame of Missionary zeal burned in his soul, and this was the “pure flame of love.” The practice can rise no higher than the principle which maintains it; and the yearnings of spiritual compassion brooding over the millions of perishing mankind, longing and striving to raise degraded spirits of men from vice and superstition, ignorance and misery, to holiness and wisdom, God and glory, shows the sacred source from which they are derived. The Missionary spirit is not a mere system of exalted notions, and kind intentions; it is rather the vital influence of the truth of Christ, and has power greater than our apprehension. Christian Missionaries learn from their own labours more and more of the omnipotent energies with which they are entrusted for the salvation of the world. For the Gospel of Christ, which they preach, is the “power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” No wonder, then, that the youthful Missionary, whom the love of Christ constrains to weep over a perishing world, should glow with ardour to carry the mighty saving truth, and proclaim its Author, among the millions who are destroyed for lack of knowledge, and are crying out for help. The soul of Mr. Close was eager to be gone, regretting the delay which kept him back from anticipated toils. While he was in London he was, however, pursuing preparatory studies, that he might be better qualified for more efficient and extensive labours when he reached his destination, among the teeming millions of Asia. The kind and indefatigable attention and important instruction he then received from the late Rev. Richard Watson, who generally had him under his tuition in his own study by five o'clock in a morning, he has often mentioned with gratitude, affection, and respect.
On the 29th of November, 1819, he, with Mrs. Close, left London, accompanied by the Rev. Joseph Taylor as far as Gravesend, and on the 2d of December embarked for Asia, on board the Bulmer, Captain Barclay, and at twelve o'clock weighed anchor, and went down to the Nore. By contrary winds they were obliged to put into Portsmouth, and going on shore were kindly entertained by Josiah Webb, Esq., an old friend of Missions.
A few extracts from a portion of his journal will best give some brief account of his voyage, and of his labours in India.
“ Dec. 25th,— To-day I went on board, expecting to sail; but we were