Page images




[ocr errors]

THRICE blest is he, that owns

Love's gift,the “ goodly pearl ”
Of priceless worth! who hath his eyes
Ope to the truth, and eager hies

Its record to unfurl,-

Of Him who trod

Our lowly sod-
Jesus! of Heaven and earth the true and only God!

'Tis Thine rest to impart,

The spectre grim to chase
Dark, fell despair, down to the shades
Of gloomy night, where death pervades,

And wailing fills the place ;

To give to those

Who seek repose
The heaven-born peace, which he alone who feels it knows.

What is the world to me,

With all its fading toys ?
A bitter-sweet at best it is,
And momentary is its bliss ;-

My soul, to nobler joys

On wings of fire

Do thou aspire,
And leave this passing-scene to those who it desire.

Thy roses, earth, tempt not

Who see the prickly thorn ;
The lily, in this vale of tears
Soon bows it head and disappears,

It withers ere it's morn;

In vain the dew

Falls where it grew,
The genial sunbeams fair—its beauty to renew.

Not such is “ Sharon's Rose,”–

(In Palestine of yore)
It lives, undying,-in its bloom
Diffusing still a soft perfume,

*Delighting more and more ;

Delicious, sweet,

The scent to greet
Of each regenerate soul,—ineffable, replete.

Let care or trouble come,

With sorrow in its train,
Thy olive-wand of peace can save
From fretfulness, each ruffled wave
Lull into rest again ;

Till the mind be

Calm as the sea,
When cradled, it is hushed, to still serenity.

Yes, 'mid the thousand ills

That wring the heart while here,
Thou canst with fortitude inspire
To bear it all, the martyr-pyre-

Hail, ay, with holy cheer;

And still increase

The soul with peace,
Till, from this mortal strife, she gain her longed release.

And in the hour of death,

Though timid nature shrink
To cross the flood, so chill and high,
Why should I fear? the Pilot nigh,

My frail bark could not sink;

I'd still confide

Out-brave the tide,
And to my native shores o'er its dark bosom ride.




It is generally admitted that a history is more life-like in proportion as the historian supplies incidents illustrative of the social and inner aspects of society. This is, doubtless, proportionably true of a body such as the New Church. Not the least interesting portion of Mr. Hindmarsh's "History of the Rise and Progress of the New Church" is that which refers to the personal experiences of its early members with whom he was associated. Such descriptions and details bring the matter more vividly before the mental eye, and lead one almost to realize the scenes as a spectator of what was passing. The details of this kind recorded in Mr. Hindmarsh's work are more immediately connected with the New Church in the metropolis; there are, however,

, incidents connected with the provinces, especially Lancashire, which, in my opinion, are of sufficient interest to be recorded, and may, perhaps, furnish some materials for the use of the future historian of our body. This consideration has induced me to forward to the Repository a few well-authenticated facts, which I have had the good fortune to glean. Some of them may possibly be considered somewhat unimportant; I have, nevertheless, recorded them when it has appeared

Ι to me that they were calculated to throw any light on the general social condition of the Church of that period, and the simple character of its members.

The description of the apostle relating to the early converts of Christianity, “how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, were called,” was equally true of the first recipients of the doctrines. Except in Manchester, and the other large towns, they consisted mainly of the operative classes, many of them with little education, but possessing, nevertheless, a deep insight into, and love for, the doctrines of the Church. For this reason I have, in some instances, preserved their vernacular in the remarks I have recorded, as appearing to me more expressive.

It is, I presume, generally familiar to the readers of the Repository that a large proportion of the early societies of the Church in Lancashire owed their origin to the labours of Mr. Clowes, and his visitations. These took place twice in the quarter; and, as an illustration of the obscurity in which the early proceedings connected with the propagation of the doctrines were shrouded, when these meetings were first

66 And

noticed by the public, at a loss to find an appropriate name for those who attended them, they at length gave them, from the periods of their assembling, the designation of “the Six-week Folk.” This was the title by wbich the members of the old Ringley Society, the nucleus of the present Kersley Society, were known.1 They met in a locality known as “Top of th' Brow," and occupied a room which had been licensed for the Presbyterians in the reign of Charles II., whose signmanual and seal were upon the license. It was in this, and similar rooms in other localities in the neighbourhood of Manchester, that Mr. Clowes expounded subjects, both doctrinal and practical, connected with New Church teaching. The mode adopted by him was less formal than preaching, and consisted mainly of conversation, he replying to questions, and explaining and removing difficulties. I am not aware of any of the “Six-week Folk” being now alive; but I have heard them describe these meetings as having been most delightful. Mr. Clowes combined, with great accessibility, great dignity, as will appear from the following circumstance, narrated to me by one of the old veterans, whose reception of the doctrines dated nearly ninety years back. At one of the meetings where he was present, a somewhat uncouth and rough character broke in upon the conversation, by abruptly asking, there's the communion saints; what do you make of that?" This sudden interruption produced as sudden a pause, when, after a brief interval of silence, Mr. Clowes remarked, "It is a great point of wisdom for a person to know when to speak, and when to be silent,” and resumed his remarks is if no such interruption had occurred, and the flow of conversation became equally free as before.

I believe that the first society formed in this country, and consequently in the world, was at Whitefield, a few miles out of Manchester, from which the present Standlane Society originated. The early experience of this little band was similar to that of most pioneers of progress who deviate from the common beaten tract. In the first instance they attended the ministry of Mr. Clowes; and when, on their journey to Manchester, they were waylaid and pelted with stones by a number of colliers, and other rough characters of the neighbourhood,

* I have heard of another instance, but not having been able to ascertain where it occurred, cannot vouch for its accuracy, where as few humble members of the Church met in a room, access to which was by a ladder, a circumstance which obtained for their cause the cognomen of “Th' Up-Ladder Religion.” It is also said that a preacher in a neighbouring chapel, when praying for the various denominations, made an especial exception in the case of “Th’ Up-Ladder Religion.


[ocr errors]

to avoid this annoyance, they went through bypaths; but their persecutors at length waylaying and meeting them there, our friends took courage and determined to go through the “city”—a term still used in some parts of the North for the direct road through a place. Among this small knot was John Bradshaw, quite a character in his way. He was naturally possessed of strong passions, very open and communicative, particularly as related to the strong temptations he had to contend with, to indulge in animal gratifications. With these John battled manfully, and made no secret of his conflicts and trials. On one occasion speaking on this subject, as he often did, a Wesleyan who was present observed that “he must be a grand bad ’un to be tempted and tried in such a way.” John retorted by the question, “ And hast thou never had such temptations ?” 'No, never !” was the reply. “Well, then," continued John, “ thou’rt nother fit for angel nor devil.”

John of course was one of those who travelled to hear Mr. Clowes ; and a story is current of him, which although I have not been able to ascertain its truth, I give, as it is very like the course he might be expected to take. On approaching those who as usual were waiting for them, John advanced to the front, and, addressing them, asked,

Now, an ye anny as con argy? because if ye an, we'll argy th' paignt.” Receiving no answer, John continued, “An ye anny as con feight! because if ye an we'll feight it out.” Dreading however John's muscular Christianity as much as they did his logic, they quietly allowed him and his companions to pass.

The circumstance which, however, put a complete stop to these molestations was a very interesting one, illustrating that charity is a more potent force than either argument or the physical ultima ratio said to have been proposed by John Bradshaw. A poor man in the village having, through various misfortunes, gone behind in his rent, and being threatened by his landlord with distraint for it, our friends, commiserating his case, induced the owner of the house to postpone the execution of his threat for a fortnight, to allow them to endeavour to raise the amount. They accordingly waited on Mr. Clowes, who promised to interest himself in the matter among his friends, and let them know the result if they would call on him a few days before the expiration of the term. They waited on him, and received an amount sufficient not only to liberate the poor man from his difficulties, but a surplus, which they laid out in calico sufficient, to use the words of my informant, to furnish every man, woman, and child in the village with a piece of it. The effect of this act of Christian kindness laid the

« PreviousContinue »