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The moment we make little Abe's acquaintance we are irresistibly reminded of Billy Bray. Below the average height and of slender build, yet a tough little man and capable of any amount of work. He quaintly referred to his stature: I'm no' but a little 'un, but bless God, I'm big enough for the Holy Ghost to dwell in. I doan't tak' up much room in the world, but I'm as happy as if I were as big as Berry Braa church." His face was lit up with a perpetual gladness-a smooth, round, comfortable face, with a mouth that always wore a smile. His hair was regarded with strict Methodist jealousy, and his wife's shears were frequently required to trim it into orthodoxy. 'We must shun the appearance of evil, thaa knows; cut a bit more, lass.' The suit of black and many folds of white neckcloth completed a figure peculiarly resembling the well-known Cornish Local Preacher. The likeness runs all through the story of the life. 'Little Abe,' as he was called, lived away in the hill country beyond Huddersfield. ABRAHAM LOCKWOOD, of Lockwood, was his full name and address; cloth-dresser and occasionally collier. Here he was born, in November, 1792. His parents were poor people, who had to send the little fellow to pick up a living early. Reading and writing were luxuries not to be thought of by such as he was, and when only six years of age he goes to toil in the dreary dungeon of a coal-mine. 'He went out early in the morning and came home late at night, with the men who wrought in the same pit, his little hands and feet often benumbed with cold and wet, and he so tired with his toil that many a time his mother had to lift him out of bed in the morning, and put his little grimy suit of clothes on him, and send him off almost before the child was awake. And many a time he was so weary on coming out of the pit that he could not drag himself home, and some kind collier seeing his tears has lifted him on his shoulder, and carried him, while the little fellow slept.' Three times the youthful Abe was sent to learn a trade, but three times he declared himself his own master by running away and suddenly startling the old folks by appearing at their door; so henceforth he stays at home to share his mother's love and his father's work as a cloth-finisher. He was yet a lad when his father moved further up the hill-side and settled in the village of Berry Brow. Here the father's conversion had an influence for good upon Abe. He attended the Sunday-school, had his first and only lessons in reading, and was often seriously impressed by the words he heard. In spite of evil ways and evil company, his heart was troubled, and he longed for a better way of life. He went to hear David Stoner preach at Almondbury, but left the service only more burdened and miserable. Companions rallied him on his dulness, and he tried to laugh with them as of old, but failed wretchedly. His
father noticed the change that had come over his sprightly son; every evening he sat by the fire, hour after hour, without a word. At last the old man turned round upon him anxiously:
'What's matter with thee, lal-thaa's not like theeself, nor hasn't been for mony a week?'
Abe could make no answer.
'Thaa's poorly, my lad,' said the father tenderly; thaa mun go to th' doctor, and see if he canna gie thee some'at.'
Abe shook his head sadly: Nay, it's Physician of souls that I want. I don't know what will become of me; I feel like lost.'
Then Abe rose up and left the house. He hastened out of the village and walked hurriedly away toward a common. In that quiet evening hour he crossed the lonely place, until he came to a spot where the common sloped down to a little brook, and there, under a large tree, he cast himself down and groaned the penitent's prayer, 'God be merciful to me a sinner!' His soul went out in earnest pleading for salvation. There by the brook, in the lonely darkness, he wrestled with God as the hours went by. At last the light dawned upon him. The words seemed to be spoken to his heart, thrilling him with a rapturous deliverance: Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.' filled with joy. He leapt and laughed and wept, and came along his way, 'Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! a bron new man o' me.'
He sprang up, shouted as he He has made
The tidings soon spread over the place and were doubtfully received. Religious people shook their heads gloomily, in that very encouraging way in which some people welcome new-born souls: Nay, but he'll be as wild as ever by the week-end.' Certainly these gloomy souls could take no surer way of fulfilling their own predictions. But Abe kept on praising the Lord. Weant I stand?' he shouted; 'then I'll fall, but it shall be at the feet of Jesus.'
Henceforth that tree on Almondbury Common was his Bethel; night after night he turned aside to seek the Lord there, and for years it was his favourite place of resort; and, during his whole afterlife, he never passed that spot without turning aside to pray.
Young Abe Lockwood met his companions much like Billy Bray met his, without fear or faltering, urging upon them the blessings of salvation. He had come out on the Lord's side, and henceforth he never once wavered or looked back. He followed the Lord wholly.
Abe soon joined himself to the people of God, and became a member of the Methodist New Connexion at Berry Brow, and brought with him a life and earnestness that went far to quicken the whole Society, and that laid the foundation of a great and flourishing Church. On
Sundays he worshipped in Huddersfield, taking his place as a singer amongst the fiddles and bass viols and trombones that filled the orchestra in those days. But music was not the only charm that led Abe into the singing-seat. Sarah Bradley lived at Berry Brow and met in Class with little Abe; and for her the walk on Sundays was a long and lonely one, for she, too, was in the choir. And so they came and went together, until the neighbours whispered suspiciously, and at last the secret was an open one,-Abraham loved Sarah; and 'he followed the example set by one of old, and took Sarah to be his wife.'
On the day of the wedding a little party gathered at the house of the bride, or bridegroom, to celebrate the event. As the clock neared the hour of seven little Abe got up and put on his hat.
'Where's ta goin'?' asked the guests, while Sally looked and wondered.
'Why, it's my Class-night,' said Abe.
'Well, but they'll never expect thee t'noight,' urged the friends.
Eh, but I mon goa,' Abe replied, moving toward the door. 'Nay, lad,' they pleaded; thaa mun't goa t'noight and leave th' wife and all th' friends-folk'll laugh at thee.'
'Let them laugh,' said the brave little bridegroom, unmoved; 'th' devil will laugh if I don't goa, and folk'll laugh if I do. I'm sure to be laughed at any way; I'll goa. I shall na be long, lass.' And, with a kindly look at his wife, Abe hurried away. And as he began, so he continued to the last.
In the life of the quaint, happy little man, nothing is more pleasant than the references henceforth to Aar Sally.' She was an authority of great weight on many points in Abe's sermons; and up to the last, when they were an old couple, feeble and stricken in years, he used to boast still: Aar Sally is th' handsomest woman in th' world!'
Abraham and Sarah lived faithfully together. And none the less faithfully because that love became a needful solace and refuge in the rough and stormy days with which their wedded life began. The cloth-trade was depressed, and Abe, with many others, was thrown out of work. After a sore time, pinched and threatening at home, in which husband and wife knelt together at the Throne of Grace, Abe proposed to turn to his old work as a collier. And so for a while he came and went to the coal-pit, carrying a glad heart though smutty face, and making the way ring with his music. Here, too, men came to know him as a man of God, and respected him for his consistent life.
It so turned out that one day the foreman ordered all the men to stay and work overtime at night, in order to complete some important matter that they had in hand. This was a terrible blow to Abe, for it was his Class-night, and he had never yet missed that means of grace; but now what was he to do? He felt it
was his duty to obey his master, and take his share of the extra work; on the other hand, his heart yearned for the fellowship of saints. All the day his mind dwelt upon the subject; he fancied his own accustomed seat empty, and his Leader and Class-mates wondering why he was not there. He prayed earnestly for deliverance from this snare, and yet saw no way of escape. Evening came and the usual hour for leaving work, but no bell rang the men out. Half-anhour passed away, when the foreman came in,—a hard, resolute man, that seemed to have no fear of God or devil before his eyes.
"Abe Lockwood," said he, "isn't this thy Class-night ?"
'Abe looked up in an instant, and said, “It is.”
"Drop thee work this minute and go, then. If I'm goin' to hell, I won't hinder another man from trying to get to a better place."
'In a twinkling Abe was out of the place, and away over Almondbury Common, like a fleet hound just slipt from the leash.'
Though Abe and Sally were thankful for the employment by which they kept the wolf from the door, yet neither of them took kindly to it, and their prayers were often offered that if it were the Lord's will Abe might get back to his old work. One day a gentleman came to the pit and asked for Lockwood. Soon he came up, covered with coal-dust. 'I'm sorry to see thee like this, Abe. I have been troubled about thee for some time past,' said the gentleman.
'Have you; how's that, Master?'
'Why, I hardly know, but I have felt for many a day that I ought to come and offer thee work in my place, and now I've come, and if thou wants to leave here, Iwill find thee something to do in my mill.' Abe's grateful heart flowed over in tears. Hallelujah,' he shouted,
' when mun I come?'
'Come at once, if you can,' said the gentleman.
All right; I can leave here ony time. I'll come in the morning; bless the Lord! I knew my Father would find me a job somewhere.' That night Abe went home singing, with the usual lump of coal on his head which each workman was allowed to take with him. He threw it down with a crash that startled Sally. There,' he said, as if he were vexed, 'I'll fetch th' na maar coils on my head, so thaa needn't expect it.'
. What's matter with thee, naa?' she asked, looking astonished. 'I tell thee I'll fetch th' na maar coils,' he replied, half angrily, rubbing his head as if it were hurt.
Well, then, we may as well let fire go out first as last,' and the goodwife was a little bit ruffled.
Noa, thaa shall n't: I loike a good foire as weel as onybody; and if thaa grumbles ony maar, I weant go to th' pit again.'
Sally looked hard at him for a moment; then she saw the playfulness in his face, in spite of the coal-dust. What dost thaa mean?'
she said, more pleasantly.
'Mean!' cried little Abe, seizing hold of her hand, 'why I mean that I've done with coil-pit; the Lord has gotten me a job in Huddersfield at my own wark, and I'm goin' in the morning, bless the Lord!'
Sally smiled through her tears. Well, I niver; ay, but I am glad. Come and get thee taa, my old collier.' And that night there
was sunshine in Abe's cottage.
Whilst temporal matters brightened with the happy couple, the affairs of the Church at Berry Brow were by no means at a standstill. The Society grew until it was large enough to claim a chapel, and it perhaps is the finest monument to Abe's energy and prayer. Early and late he toiled at it with his own hands, and stimulated everybody by the force of his own example. His difficulties were taken away to his favourite place of prayer under the tree on Almondbury Common. Of this period an amusing story, told by Abe during a Love-feast long afterwards, shows us the secret of these better days. He was telling them how glad he was to see the place so full of carnest worshippers:
'You knaw it warn't always soa,' he went on, I can remember when we were jist a few, but we agreed to pray for a revival, and gie the Lord no rest until He should mak His arm bare amang us. We started a Prayer-meeting on Sunday mornings at five o'clock to the minute, and they that worn't there at time should be locked out. Well, you know, I wor baan to be at that meeting. So I telled aar Sally on Saturday noight, I mun be up i' th' morning at half-past fur. Well, wad you believe it, I waked abaat five minutes to five. I shoved on my things, scratted up my booits i' my hand, and off I ran, in my stockingfeet. When I got half way up the Braa the clock struck five, and I pushed one foot in my booit, and ran on again panting up the hill, and just as I came t' th' gate I saw the chapel-door shut in my face, so I wor locked aat. But I wor none baan to looise my meeting. While they inside were getting ready I finished dressing mysen. By and by I hears one o' them gie aat a hymn, and I clapped my ear to the key hoil and listened for the words, and then I put my mouth to th' hoil and sang with 'em, and so I kept on until they began to pray; then I listened and shouted Amen through the hoil, and kept on while they prayed. At last my old friend Bradley stopped in the middle of his prayer. "Open that dcor," he said, "I canna pray with that chap shouting in at the key-hoil." So they opened the door, and I went in and had my meeting after all-but you moind, I wor never late again.'
One result of that new chapel greatly surprised Abe, and led eventually to his title, The Bishop of Berry Brow. It happened that occasionally when a disappointment occurred, that he had to do his best as 'stop-gap.' His fervent goodness and quaint, pithy sayings, soon made him a favourite with the people, and such 'disappointments' were rather welcomed than otherwise. So the Superintendent proposed to put Abe on the Plan. But he steadily refused. 'Come on th' Plan !-Nay, not soa, unless you want to