« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
one of the Travelling Preachers, delivered an exhortation for the last time at James Bond's house, in Chain-street ; and gave notice that they could no longer attempt to preach the Gospel at Warminster.
The action which was commenced against the persecutors was decided at the Salisbury summer assizes, 1774; and the following advertisement appeared in the Salisbury and Winchester Journal :
" Whereas, we whose names are underwritten have frequently assembled, with others, in a riotous manner, particularly on the 19th March, 1773, to disturb the people called Methodists in their worship of Almighty God, at Warminster, in the county of Wilts; for which we were justly prosecuted: but at the last assizes, held in Salisbury, on our submission in Court, and being bound by recognisance in the sum of one hundred pounds each for our good behaviour for the term of three years, the prosecution was withdrawn. We do hereby ask pardon for the said offence, acknowledge their lepity towards us, and do promise never to offend in the like manner; and wish it may be a warning to all who may be disposed to act so unchristian and unlawful a part."
During the interval in which the preaching was discontinued, many of the persecutors were dispersed or died. The names of the chief of them are still on record ; and not a few of them came to an untimely and wretched end. Two of them committed suicide ; one of them was drowned; several went to sea, and were never again heard of; and two or three of them died in a most deplorable state of misery and destitution.
Among other Travelling Preachers who visited the town at and before the persecution, were Messrs. Rodda, Benson, Pritchard, Moon, Shadford, Wolf, Mason, Cotty, Furze, Snowden, and Wells; all men of God, who have long since rested from their labours.
In the year 1780 Mr. Bond revived the preaching in Warminster, and continued it himself alone for about six years. In 1787 the Travelling Preachers again visited the town, and no violent opposition was from that time encountered. From this period Mr. Bond continued to adorn the Gospel, and to preach it with fidelity and diligence. He preached in the whole about four thousand sermons; travelled on foot for that purpose upwards of twenty thousand miles ; and persevered in his labours, with little intermission, for fifty years. He was a man of the utmost simplicity in his conversation, habits, and preaching; and sincerely loved the Methodist doctrine, discipline, and order. His life was irreproachable. On the most minute inquiry among the oldest inhabitants in the town, some of whom have known him for sixty years, we find but one answer, “ He was a good man. We never knew the least evil of him. We can distinctly recollect the persecutions he endured for conscience'sake. We always respected him. He was a credit to religion,”
He possessed a vigorous constitution, and good health, till about three years before his death, when a paralytic affection of one side confined him to his bed, from which he never after arose. He retained, however, his mental vigour, till within a few weeks of his decease.
During his long affliction he was constantly visited by religious friends, who ministered cheerfully to his necessities; and in return received, with thankfulness, his spiritual counsel, and his blessing. To bear bim relate the adventures of his interesting life, which he so often did; the toils and persecutions of the old Preachers, with whom he took sweet counsel; and his thanksgivings to God for the glorious victory obtained by his cause in this day of light and liberty; were indeed an ample compensation for any time or expense bestowed on the necessities of this holy and afflicted man.
Some of his latest expressions, which the Christian friends who visited him noticed, were to the following effect :-“ Blessed be God, I have a lot among the blessed. I have no desire to live, but to see the cause of God prosper.” Raising himself up in his bed, he said, “ Sing my favourite hymn,
O Jesus, at thy feet we wait,
Till thou shalt bid us rise.' ” “ Father Bond,” said a Christian friend, “ you are now hastening to your eternal reward.” He replied, “Yes, yes; all the conflicts are over. I am persuaded that I shall soon be with my Saviour, to behold his glory. There I shall see Mr. Wesley and the old Preachers, and all my other friends, who have departed this life in the faith and fear of God. God bless you: give my love to all the society; and say, my prayer for them is, that they may “fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life.' Then my joy will be full.” He added, with a heavenly smile on his countenance, “A full reward; but all through grace."
Thus ended his long and useful life; a monument of divine grace, even to the last. Although poor, in regard to this world, yet he wanted nothing. Kind and sympathizing friends, of different denominations, contributed to his necessities; and the patient attention paid to him by the family with whom he long resided, cannot be too highly commended. He was also honoured in the last token of respect that could be paid him on earth. Christians of all denominations cheerfully united in following his remains to their resting place; and it is impossible to describe the solemn delight felt, while they were singing that appropriate hymn at his grave :
" What are these array'd in white,
Brighter than the noon-day sun ?
Nearest the eternal throne ?
Nobly for their Master stood;
Followers of the dying God.
Wash'd their robes by faith below,
Blood that washes white as snow.”
MEMOIR OF MRS. MARY MILLER,
BY ONE OF HER DAUGHTERS. The subject of the following brief and imperfect memoir would have wished to “steal from the world,” without leaving any record of her excellencies, save that which is inscribed on the hearts of those who loved her ; for the light of purity and holiness, which made her character so lovely in the eyes of others, was invisible to herself; as Moses, when he descended from the mount, “wist not that his face shone as the face of an angel.”
My mother was the youngest daughter of the late John Dunhill, Esq., of Doncaster, and was born about the year 1770. From her very infancy she was characterized by a sweetness of disposition, a grace and gentleness of manner, a kindliness and refinement of feeling, which commanded general respect and affection. At a very early period of her life she was also sensible of the influence of the Spirit of God; and she sought, by a rigid and scrupulous observance of some religious duties, and by making “long prayers,” to render herself acceptable to the Almighty. At this time she not only felt an utter abhorrence of all that she knew or thought to be evil, but she was often favoured with much divine consolation, and doubtless, had she then been blessed with Christian counsel and encouragement, she would sooner have experienced the "peace and joy of faith.” But she was surrounded by the gay and thoughtless only; and under the influence of such association, her religious impressions became fainter, and the fascinations of the world proportionably stronger. Yet even her choice of the vanities and follies of life indicated the capabilities of her mind. She preferred those amusements which appeared to possess the most of an intellectual character. Cards and dancing were to her worse than indifferent, and she greatly preferred theatrical representations; and to the highest order of them she was strongly attached. She was herself an inimitable reader of Milton, and other poets of the first class; and in after-years she used to delight her children with recitations from their compositions.
In the year 1792 she was married to Mr. Miller; and they took up their residence in Sheffield. Within a year or two after their marriage they became silently, gradually, and simultaneously the subjects of divine influence. The gracious change which they experienced was the immediate work of the Spirit of God, independently of external agency. “ The wind bloweth where it listeth; and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth.” So the working of the blessed Spirit was discernible in its results, rather than its operations; as the dew which falls unheard and unseen, visible only in the beauty and verdure which it produces. At this time they knew not the nature of the change which was wrought in them; neither did they know to what it tended. They were like children seeking after their
heavenly Father, if haply they might find him; and already their feet were in the pathways of Zion; and step by step, through a way which they knew not, he led them to himself.
In the experience of many Christians, more especially of those who have had the advantages of religious education and instruction, their renunciation of the world, and of its vanities, is often the result of powerful conviction, rather than of a transformation of feelings and affection. The “sword of the Spirit” is directed first to the judgment, and then to the heart. With Mr. and Mrs. Miller the reverse was the case. They had, in heart and affection, virtually renounced the world, its follies and observances, before they knew it to be their duty to renounce them in deed, and to “ come out and be separate.” This produced a discrepancy between their feelings and actions. They have been known to leave the whist-table, and to spend some time in prayer, and then return to resume their cards. But their heavenly Father soon gave them in charge to those who were qualified to lead them from one degree of grace to another, and to instruct them more perfectly in the things of God.
They had begun to attend the week-day prayers, at the old church, in Sheffield, where, frequently, they were the only auditors. One evening, on returning, they were attracted, by the singing, to the door of the Methodist chapel. They entered; they listened; and they heard “ sweeter sounds than music knows." They heard words which could make them “ wise unto salvation.” Hitherto they had experienced the spirit of fear and bondage, and had brought forth fruit meet for repentance. Now they were taught to expect the Spirit of adoption, and to bring forth fruit to perfection. They began regularly to attend the shapel ; and, having received much Christian instruction and encouragement from many friends, more especially from the late T. Holy, Esq., they were induced to join the society; and, in so doing, incurred the ridicule and reproach of their dearest relations. At this time commenced an intimacy with their friends Mr. and Mrs. Harwood, who, with the sisters of Mrs. Harwood, were also, through much persecution and opposition, seeking the kingdom of God; and thus was formed a friendship which continued through nearly forty years, to brighten the course of their earthly pilgrimage; and which, as it was based on what was immortal in their natures, and cemented by all that was sacred in religion, the touch of death cannot dissolve. They had one beart, one faith, one hope on earth; and they will join in one song of rejoicing around the throne of God through eternity.
When my mother was taught to expect salvation by faith, she soon entered into the liberty of the children of God. I will here transcribe a part of her diary, dated June 8th, 1795 :
"I bless the Lord for all his mercies; but particularly I desire to be grateful that, through divine grace, I have this morning been enabled to believe in Jesus, I have been enabled to receive as my Saviour the
great Saviour of sinners. O may the Lord for ever seal me his! 0 may I never doubt his power or willingness to save! May He that came in mercy to seek and save that which is lost, seal me, and all I hold most dear, to the great day of redemption.” in another place she says, “I desire to be truly thankful, that the Lord is still so gracious to the unworthiest of his followers. He does indeed hear every petition of my soul. Not a day passes without bringing some kind answer to my prayers; not a moment, but it bears some blessing from my God. I wait in hope that he will perfect his work in my soul. I want a full deliverance from sin. I know this is my privilege; and He that has promised is faithful.” Many extracts might be given from subsequent parts of her diary, to prove how exalted was her standard of religious excellence, and how high her attainments in Christian experience.
When my father was called to the work of the ministry, she passed through a severe ordeal. She felt acutely the entering upon an untried way of life; the heavy responsibilities attached to it; the displeasure of her relatives ; and the separation from her beloved friends in Sheffield : but the Almighty, by a mercifully severe bereavement, subdued her mind to perfect acquiescence. Her only son, an infant to whom she was passionately attached, sickened and died. When he lay in his little coffin before her, she felt that to her all the world was alike ; and she gave up, not only her child, but herself, to the will of God. She had also the honour of proving the sincerity of her love to the Gospel of Christ, by the cheerfulness with which she sacrificed her temporal interests at the foot of the cross. · When her father was informed that Mr. Miller had indeed become a Methodist Preacher, he remarked that “they had chosen their way of life, and would require less to support it;" and in the subsequent distribution of his property he made a painful distinction between herself and her only sister ; a distinction which my mother felt less as a real deprivation, than as being the act of one whom she dearly loved. And though her heavenly Father, in his inscrutable wisdom, did not see good to restore what she lost, in kind, she always declared that, in her own experience, she had abundantly verified the promise which declares, “ that no man shall lose houses, or lands, &c., for the kingdom of God's sake, without receiving a hundredfold even in this world.” In her own heart, and in the treasures and consolations of religion, she received in this world a thousandfold.
For a period of nearly thirty-eight years did she exhibit all the graces of the Christian character; and by patience, meekness, forbearance, purity, resignation, by the blamelessness of her life, and the activity of her benevolence, powerfully adorn and recommend the doctrine of God her Saviour. She possessed a purity, a transparency of soul which I never saw equalled. “She walked in the light;" and appeared not only free from evil, but even the knowledge of evil : and though, in her long Christian career, and collision with various characters, she had