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FOR JANUARY, 1818.
MEMOIR OF MR. WILLIAM WILLIAMS.
To the Editor of the Methodist Magazine. Rev. AND DEAR SIR,
AMONGST the great variety of useful articles that enrich the valuable pages of your widely circulated Magazine, there is none, in the opinion of many of your readers, better calculated to answer the end you have in view, than that in which you record the holy and useful lives, and the peaceful and triumphant deaths, of eminent Christians and ministers.
The following brief memoir of my highly valued friend, and beloved brother, William Williams, should in justice have been written and sent you long ago. This, however, is of little consequence, as any authentic document concerning such a man can never fail to be interesting. But now you have it, I regret that want of materials, of time, and ability, have prevented it from being what it ought to have been. I have done, not what I wished, but what I could. I am, Rev. and dear Sir,
Your's, very respectfully, Edinburgh, June 21, 1817.
V. WARD. It is much to be regretted that our dear brother kept neither diary nor journal; nor have I any record of his conversion, piety, and labours, but in a few invaluable letters to his muchbeloved sister; some remarks, by a few of his friends; and what a few years intimate acquaintance with him, has impressed upon my own heart.
He was born in Newport, in South Wales, July 17, 1770, where his father kept an inn, and the post-office. How long he continued in that town, after the death of his parents, or how he spent the first 17 years of his youth, we have no information. In 1788 we find him commencing his apprenticeship, to a respectable haberdasher, in Bristol. Soon after his arrival in that city, God, who is rich in mercy, truly converted his soul. He went to church one Sabbath with his mind painfully exercised by some trial, which rendered the world disgusting to him rather than desirable. The text was, “Sing, Oye Heavens; for the Lord hath done it : Shout, ye lower parts of the earth : break forth into singing, ye mountains, and forests, and every trce therein, for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.” The Lord opened his heart, and poured in the enlightening and quickening beams of Divine truth. He saw, he felt himself a ruined, helpless sinner. Towards the close of the sermon the preacher, (the Rev. Mr. Tandy,) powerfully exhorted the people to instant faith and prayer. Our young disciple hung upon the lips of the man of God, yielded immediate obedience to his persuasive counsel, went through the streets praying, retired with all possible haste to his chamber, and, in the true spirit of prayer, for the first time in his life, kneeled before the Lord his Maker. In this posture he continued about twenty minutes, besieging the throne of God, with all the power of importunate prayer; nor did he cry in vain.
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God answered like himself, and "turned his darkness into light, his midnight into day.” This was not an imaginary, but a real change. He felt “ the overwhelming power of saving grace.” He was
“ filled with all peace and joy through believing, and abounded in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.” How different was the conduct of William Williams on this occasion, from that of many hearers of the gospel, who are frequently much impressed while hearing the word of God faithfully preached; but, instead of retiring to pray to God, return to their former habits, and remain strangers to justification and its blessed fruits. Reader, is this thy case? If so, I beseech thee before God, read no further, but retire and wrestle with God, till he bring thee into the liberty of his adopted children! And how different was this conversion from those spurious and counterfeit conversions which are sometimes met with in the visible church. As widely different from the state of those who suppose themselves to be saved, because they have dreamed a remarkable dream, or imagine they have seen a vision, or have been powerfully affected under some singular circumstances, as from those who speak to themselves a false peace, because they say they trust in Christ for salvation, though their confidence has not been preceded by any painful sense of sin and danger; neither is it accompanied with peace, and joy, and love.
What great encouragement does this instance of Divine mercy afford to poor broken-hearted sinners, whose souls are overwhelmed with distress, and with whom it is an awiully serious question, Will the Lord be intreated, and is there such a thing as pardon for me? () yes ! . He is rich in mercy to all that call upon him ; none ever sought him with all the beart vain, How necessary and important for the ministers of the gospel, in every sermon, to preach repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ !
This new created youth soon joined the Methodist Society, and shortly after, in a love-feast, joyfully declared to a company of them that “ feared the Lord, what He had done for his soul." The correctness of his mind, the Auency and energy of his language, and also the smallness of his person, attracted grueral attention; while the soundness of his religious experience excited gratitude to God in the hearts of his faithful worshippers. Continuing to hold fast his confidence, and to walk in the light of his heavenly Father's countenance, he felt an intense desire that others also should “ Taste and see that the Lord is gracious." The following letters will shew how highly he valued the pearl which he had found, and how much he was concerned for the salvation of his relatives :
“Dear Sister, “I am just favoured with your letter by Mrs. T. and being at present not so encumbered with business as we in general are, I have embraced the opportunity to reply to it; and I hope it wiil be consolatory to you in your present fiction, which, if it comes in the course of God's providence, you must consider as having a tendency to wean your affections from earth and the creature, to heaven and the Creator. As coming from a God ever gracious to mortals, to convince you that there is nothing here worthy your love or pursuit; and that, while you continue at a distance from him, the source of all substantial and permanent happiness, you will find nothing but disappointment; for that and vanity are written on all sublunary enjoyments, and man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards. And what is the cause? Why, sister, it is sin, which has brought death into the world with all our woe. It was sin which made the sinner's Friend cry out in an agony, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.' Misery has ever been and ever will be the object of his mercy; it was in my case, and (if the gospel be true) this afflictive Providence is a knock at the door of your heart, to let your Saviour in. Oh then, be attentive to his call, bow your stubborn heart; labour (for the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force,) to bring down its pride to your Redeemer's feet, and you will be convinced, to your everlasting comfort, that he that seeketh findeth. Consider, that your all depends on your success; for to be children of God without regeneration, is as impossible as to be the children of men without generation. Except you be born again you can never enter the kingdom of heaven.—1 am, dear sister, your affectionate brother,
W. W." " My dear Sister, “ If I mistake not the workings of my own heart, a tender concern for your present and future happiness lies very near it, and points me to the necessity of calling your attention again to the sacred truths of the everlasting gospel; by an experimental knowledge of which alone the blessedness of the former can be ascertained and realized, and the certainty of the latter insured; for Godliness, with the contentment it produces, is great gain, as it hath the promise of this life and that which is to come. By serving God you will most effectually serve yourself; and when you do it in a becoming manner, as a sinner born to die, humbly looking unto Him who bore our sins in his own body on the tree, you will find sweet access unto the throne of grace, and prove his service to be perfect freedom. The Father of your spirit will communicate consolation to your heart, refresh you with those streams of joy that gladden heaven, and illumine your mind with the light of his blessed countenance, which shall lead you into the bright path of the just, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The religion of Jesus Christ, my dear sister, is a religion of happiness. It is exactly suited to the state of man in his present fallen condition; as it raises its happy possessor above the frowns and smiles of this bewitching world, above the temptations of satan, and above the corrupt workings of his own unsanctified nature. It refines the affections, and writes upon them all,
Holiness unto the Lord.' It stills the loud clamours of a guilty conscience, and pronounces the mourner blessed. It removes all those restless inquietudes which are so common to us here, and instead of murmuring at the dispensations of Providence, however afflictive, it inflames our hearts with grateful love, and fills our mouths with the language of resignation and contentment: • Not my will, O Lord, but thine be done.' It makes the fretful, ill-natured man, composed and kind; the furious, indignant man, mild and peaceable; the sour morose man, affectionate and affable; the vindictive revengeful person, easy to be intreated; the hard unfeeling person, merciful and gracious; the proud man, easy of access; the haughty man, humble and condescending; the profane man, holy; and the unjust man, honest. In a word, it transforms the sinner into a saint, renovates the whole soul, and raises beyond the height of the stars, desires that lay grovelling beneath the mire of swine. O then, who would not be possessed of this religion, so good to man; so beneficial in its effects, and so happy in its end. I hope, Molly, that you are determined not to rest without it. Come then to the Lord Jesus Christ, in faith and prayer, while you are reading these lines, and you shall taste and see that he is gracious. Hark! he speaks from his sacred word; it is the voice of love, that same amazing mysterious love that induced him to hang upon the tree. Come and take my yoke upon thee, learn of me, io be meek and lowly in heart, and thou shalt find rest unto thy soul. Consider that he is always where you are, and takes a precise account of all you do. You are surrounded with his immensity, and live, and
move, and have your being in the hollow of his almighty hand. He is your sun and shield, your protection and defence; the God of your life, and the guide of your youth. While you hung a helpless infant on your mother's breast, his hand was stretched out to save you from innumerable unseen dangers to which you were then exposed, and he is still watching over you for good; otherwise you would long ago have fallen in the evil day a prey to Satan and your own heart's lust; and even in temporals it is he that provides for your wants, and gives you every necessary enjoyment.-Suppose for a moment that Betsy had been removed from you by sudden death, had gone into eternity with our mother, and left you in this wicked world destitute of a friend, to guard and protect both you and P-y from danger, provide food for your sustenance, necessary raiment to clothe you, and a bed to rest upon at night! Suppose if, added to this, you had been visited with some heavy affliction, the ague, or the fever, or by some accident had your arm or your leg broken, in a place where fou could have expected no pity, nor experienced any relief; how changed would have been your situation, and consequently how different your present feelings! And even this is more than the very best of us deserves at the hand of God. For we have all sinned, and lost our title to every blessing, and any thing above the torments of hell, is what we have no right unto. O then praise him with your whole heart, and with a life devoted to his glory; a life of humble love and patient faith. Be resigned to his will, leave him to manage and conduct all your affairs; and under the consideration that you are a sinner, dependant upon God every moment for your being and blessedness, suffer not the foot of pride, obstinacy, revenge, envy, hatred, malice, or ill nature, to gain the ascendant over you; but learn to be meek and lowly in heart, submissive to those who are put in authority over you, doing every thing with a cheerful mind; kind and affectionate to all around you, not rendering to any evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but contrarywise, blessing; and doing all possible good to those by whom you suffer, remembering, that your Saviour has said it is more blessed to give than to receive.
“ Thus you will gain his approbation, and the respect of man, while you continue upon earth; and when this short life is ended, be admitted among the society of angels and just men made perfect, where your happy soul shall be engaged in endless hallelujahs and ceaseless praises to him who bore the shame, and endured the excruciating tortures of a racking cross, to avert the wrath of God, and reconcile man to his Maker. There, Molly, we shall spend an everlasting Sabbath together, in the presence of God; for ever blessed in the uninterrupted enjoyment of our own felicity, and for ever blessing the supreme object of our love, the bountiful donor of all we enjoy. But should you die with