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FOR DECEMBER, 1835.
MEMOIR OF THE REV. THOMAS LAYCOCK:
BY HIS SON, THE REV. JAMES LAYCOCK. As my late beloved father did not leave any journal of his religious experience, this memoir is compiled from the recollections of friends, and is consequently brief and imperfect.
He was born at Keighley, in Yorkshire, December, 1769. Although not favoured with a directly religious education, he was, in early life, a subject of serious impressions. One of his companions, who had been his instructer in vice, having obtained mercy of the Lord, frequently and very earnestly exhorted him to repent, and turn to God. The solitariness of a long and severe afliction afforded opportunity for prayerful reflection upon the exhortations addressed to him, and he became deeply convinced of his sinfulness and danger. He renounced all known sin ; fasted and prayed; and with strong cries and tears sought for pardoning mercy. Supposing that self-inflicted austerities might propitiate an offended God, he has, (although enfeebled by long affliction,) in the depth of winter, retired from his habitation, and, kneeling with uncovered knees upon the frozen snow, supplicated the divine compassion. Having united himself to the Methodist society, he was taught the way of God more perfectly. He learned that salvation is of grace, through faith; that his fasting, and weeping, and loud and long praying, and mortifications of the flesh, could never atone for his guilt; that the blood of Jesus is the only and sufficient propitiation for sin. . For his sins, he was assured that blood was shed; and, could he believe with his heart unto righteousness, that blood would be so applied as to purge bis conscience from dead works. He had been seeking a knowledge of salvation for about two years, when, while attending the meeting of his class, it pleased the Holy Spirit to take of the things of Jesus and show them unto him. He saw and felt, as he had never seen or felt before, that it is indeed a faithful saying, that “ Christ Jesus had come into the world to save sinners ;” and that, as a penitent sinner, he was authorized to claim a personal interest in the redemption by Christ Jesus. He believed, and according to his faith it was done unto him. He had peace with God, and joy in the Holy Ghost ; because the Spirit itself bore witness with his spirit that he was a child of God.
He now felt a strong desire that others should partake with him in the rich provisions of the glorious Gospel. He had also a deep and constant impression that, at some future period, he would be called to l'ol. XIV. Third Series. DECEMBER, 1835.
preach the Gospel ; although, circumstanced as he was, such a result seemed very improbable. In consequence of a severe injury which he had sustained in one of his feet, and improper treatment of the injured part, his foot had become diseased; and his whole frame was also so extremely debilitated, that amputation of the foot was recommended as the only means of preserving life. To this my father would never consent. He thought that if God intended that he should be serviceable to his church, He would restore him to health without the prescribed means; “ and, if not,” he used to say, “here I am ; let Him do with me as seemeth him good.” As he was aware that such motives for his conduct would be ridiculed by his friends, as the merest enthusiasm, he did not make them known. By means in which he ever acknowledged the interposition of a kind Providence, he was, contrary to all expectation, restored to health and soundness, after having suffered a painful affliction of seven years' continuance. Having, in the time of affliction, vowed unto God that, if he should be restored to health, he would devote him. self to bim, and serve him in any way that might be pointed out to him, my father now felt constrained to fulfil what he had vowed; and, in com. pliance with the request of a friend, he attempted to preach. The presence of God was with him, and two persons were convinced of sin. He was encouraged by judicious friends to persevere. His labours as a Class-Leader and Local Preacher were owned of God. He was happy in his work, and rendered a blessing to many. Upon the recommendation of Mr. Hopkins, he was, at the Conference of 1796, received on trial as a candidate for the itinerant work, and shortly afterwards directed to assist Mr. Edmondson in the Coloe Circuit.
His aged and widowed mother, who derived from his affectionate attention much consolation in the domestic trials to which she was subjected, was very unwilling that he should leave her; and, considering himself insufficient for the work of the ministry, and inadequate to en. dure the toils and dangers which, in that day more especially, were connected with the itinerant work, his mind was distressed with conflicting emotions. In his distress he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord heard him. The words, “ My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest,” were powerfully applied to his mind; he was encouraged and strengthened ; and his heart replied, “ If thy presence go not with me, carry me not up hence.” In after-days of conflict and trial the same “ precious promise ” was often a source of consolation and support. He entered fully and heartily into the labours of the itinerancy, and shared with his brethren in that obloquy and persecution which in many places were then the common lot. But, if he shared in their difficulties, he partook also of their joys. The presence of his Lord and Master was with him, and strength was imparted to him according to his day. The ardour of his zeal, the kindness of his heart, and his entire devotedness to his work, rendered him always acceptable to the people ; and his believing reliance upon the promise of God obtained that accompanying
divine influence which renders the word preached effectual to the salvation of souls.
It is not necessary, nor would it be edifying, to enumerate in detail the various Circuits in which he travelled. In several he was rendered extensively useful; and in all he had the confidence and affection of the pious people, and was made instrumental in the edification of the church. The scantiness of information precludes the relation of incidents, which, had they been correctly recorded, would have proved both interesting and useful. One circumstance connected with his personal history, to which he used sometimes to reser, as an instance of that goodness and mercy which had followed him all the days of his life, is worthy of record, as an illustration of the truth, that the Lord heareth prayer. When travelling in what was then the Wetherby Circuit, his beloved and excellent wife was, by severe and protracted affliction, brought to the verge of the grave. Her friends and medical attendants despaired of her recovery; and she, with calm resignation, was waiting the hour of dissolution. My father, in an agony of grief, retired to his closet, and poured out bis soul before Him who has said, “ Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will hear thee.” After a severe struggle, he was enabled to say, “ Father, not my will, but thine be done.” Instantly there was given to him an undefinable assurance, that the desires of his heart would be granted. He returned to the sick chamber, ana acquainted his apparently dying wife with his confident belief that she would be restored to him. She received his communication rather as the language of ardent desire, than of reasonable hope. From that hour she rapidly recovered, and has lived to follow him to the tomb. The Brigg Circuit was the last in which he travelled. While in this Circuit he was called to endure a severe domestic trial in the death of his youngest daughter. While he submitted as a Christian to the dispensation of a wise and gracious Providence, his affectionate heart was deeply wounded by the stroke. He had been for some few years subject to occasional, and sometimes violent, attacks of indisposition ; but this dis. pensation, having much increased his general weakness, rendered him subject to more frequent and obstinate attacks of a disorder to which he was liable.
In consequence of increasing infirmities, at the Conference of 1832 he closed bis itinerant career, and took a residence at Doncaster. He had travelled thirty-six years; and, had his health permitted, he would gladly have continued in a work which he loved ; but, believing it to be the will of his Master that he should retire from the more active and public duties of his office he submitted ; still resolving, as he had opportunity, to do good unto all men, especially unto the househuld of faith. He took the charge of a class; and, as far as he was able, assisted the Preachers in the pulpit, and in their pastoral visitations of the people. In the years 1809-10 he had travelled in the Doncaster Circuit. His ministry was abundantly owned of God; and it was in consequence of the solicitations of some friends who had received spiritual benefit through his instrumentality, and who from this period had manifested affectionate regard towards him, that he was induced to select Doncaster as the place of his residence. Pleasing anticipations were indulged, that for some years he would be spared to his friends and to the church. But “ God's thoughts are not as our thoughts." On Sunday morning, February 20, 1833, while engaged in family devotion, he had a paralytic seizure, which deprived him of speech, and of the use of his right side. His strength was entirely prostrated; his mental faculties were much impaired ; and for some weeks his death was daily expected. He, however, gradually improved ; and his friends almost ventured to hope for his ultimate recovery. But on the 21st of May he suffered another attack; and from that time he gradually declined in health, until Saturday, June 81h, when he calmly, and without a groan, breathed his last.
He was divinely supported during the whole of his very trying afiliclion. The God whom he had served did not forsake him when his strength failed. Although his physical and mental powers for some time seemed a mere wreck, yet his inward man was renewed day by day. His soul rose superior to the ruins of its tabernacle, and abounded in faith, and hope, and love. He could give but imperfect utterance to bis feelings; but when he did speak, his was the language of praise and joyful hope. Of him it might be truly said, that the strength of Christ was made perfect in his weakness. Wbile he lived, he lived to the Lord; and when he died, he died in the Lord. Them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him; and his friends who are left behind comfort one another with these words.
His piety was not a mere official rectitude of character; but that religion whose cssence is love'; and which pervades, and animates, and directs the most private actions of life. What he taught in public, he practised at home. “He commanded his household after him;" but he ruled with so gentle a sway that his family found it their delight to meet his wishes. The cheerfulness of his piety, and the kindness of his heart, practically taught his children that the “ways of wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” As a husband, a father, a friend, he was kind and tender-hearted, wise and faithful. He taught the people not only publicly, but from house to house; and his intercourse never failed to win their affection, and engage their esteem. It was remarked by one, " Mr. Laycock is always preaching ;” for he always endeavoured that “his conversation might be good to the use of edilying, that it might minister grace unto the hearers." He was found at the couch of the afflicted, and in the cottage of the poor. His kindness was not confined to an expression of sympathy, but according to his ability he was ready to give to the necessitous. Aster the example of the great Apostle, he endeavoured to become all things to all men, if by any means he might save some. His memory is affectionately cherished by
many, who, I trust, will be his joy and crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus.
The Rev. Jonathan Edmondson, who for many years honoured my father with his friendship, has kindly permitted the publication of the following letter, addressed to the writer :-" Your honoured father was my friend many years. I knew him long before he was a Methodist ; but our friendship commenced after he became a decided character in religion. The only class in which I met, before I came out to travel, was that of Mr. John Laycock, a respectable tradesman, and a pious man; but not related to your family, though of the same name. After his death, which happened several years after I left home, your father was appointed to meet his class; and it flourished under his diligent care. He then began to preach, and was both useful and acceptable as a Local Preacher. On my visits to Keighley, he spent as much time with me as he could spare, and his conversation was always agreeable; and I endeavoured to render him all the help I could, especially in those things which appeared necessary for him as a candidate for the Christian ministry.
“In the year 1796 he was sent, by my particular desire, to assist me in the Colne Circuit. He arrived on our first Quarterly Meeting, and preached in the evening from Galatians v. 6. To the end of the year he laboured with diligence, conducted himself with great propriety, and was both useful and acceptable. The following year, 1797, he accompanied me to Leicester. There he met with difficulties ; but the Lord stood by him, and he was encouraged. Many in our country places were blessed under his ministry; and Mr. Robert Carr, now one of our most respectable members, was brought to God by his instrumentality. In the year 1804 he travelled with me in the Stourport Circuit, and was greatly beloved by our pious people. There I used every means in my power to improve his mind; formed a plan of study, which I thought would suit him ; and recommended to him a course of useful reading. But his education having been neglected in his youth, he never acquired a relish for literary pursuits. He made some efforts, but soon gave himself up to what appeared to him the most important; namely, preaching in a plain way, praying with a holy ardour, and visiting the people from house to house; and in this course he continued, I believe, to the end of his life. We corresponded occasionally many years; and a letter from my friend was always welcome to me. He was a man of genuine piety; exact and punctual in the discharge of his duty; a man of peace; a faithful and affectionate friend; warmly attached to the Methodist doctrine and discipline; a sincere lover of the Preachers; a man of prudence; contented with any kind of fare, or any kind of lodging, in his itinerant course; and, on the whole, useful and acceptable in his ministerial work.
“My family esteemed him much; and his memory will be dear to us as long as memory holds its seat. I was painfully affected by the intel. ligence of his death; but happy to hear that he died in the Lord."