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vocation with which she was called. Possessing sterling excellencies, there was nothing in her character bordering on ostentation or display : she was clothed with humility. Years of steady, practical godliness evinced that hers was the true religion of the heart, scripturally obtained, and scripturally preserved. During months of severe affliction, she was patient with the enlightened patience of faith and hope. By one principle she was governed throughout : she yielded herself to God, as alive from the dead through our Lord Jesus Christ. In those years of health which she was permitted to enjoy, this principle was developed in active obedience to the divine will; and where the same will called her to pass through severe affliction, the principle remained, and only its development was changed. When active obedience was no longer practicable, it was succeeded by devout, unmurmuring resignation. And though, in reference to her physical condition, disease in some measure clouded her mental faculties, so that she could not utter those verbal testimonies by which so many of the saints glorify God in their dying moments, it was no ordinary consolation to those who watched by her bed, that behind the cloud all was light, and that occasionally the “radiancy divine” was permitted to break through the obscurity, and show undeniably that she was dying, as she had lived, in the Lord.
BRIEF BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 19. DIED, February 5th, 1845, at Chisledon, in the Swindon Circuit, Mr. Thomas Wheeler, late of Marlborough, in his sixty-ninth year. He was born at Hodson, in Wiltshire. In early life, very serious impressions were awakened in his mind, and he was made sensible of his guilt and sinfulness; so that at the age of eighteen he was a sincere seeker of “the way of peace.” But he had no spiritual adviser, nor did he sit under an evangelical ministry: he therefore did not understand the doctrine of salvation by faith, and walked in a state of uncomfortable darkness. His conduct was strictly moral : he searched the Scriptures, and prayed earnestly to God. It was in the year 1797 that he first attended the Wesleyan ministry, at a neighbouring village, where there was occasional preaching in a room. The sermon was a word in season to him. He was surprised to hear his own state so accurately described ; and, though for a time the way of faith appeared but with shadowy indistinctness, he felt satisfied that this was a ministry likely, by the divine blessing, to bring sinners to God, and therefore invited the Minister, the Rev. J. Furnace, to Hodson, received him into his house, and procured a room in the village for the religious services of Methodism. It was not long before he was enabled to believe to the saving of his soul. He received the Holy Spirit as the witness of his adoption, and realized the peace which passeth all understanding. His nature was renewed, and love to God who had first loved him became now the powerful and happy principle of his obedience. He was from the first a decided Christian, and from conviction a firmly
attached Wesleyan. Chiefly by his instrumentality, a chapel was soon erected. A class, also, was formed, of those who were desirous of fleeing from the wrath to come, and he was appointed its Leader. This was an office the duties of which he faithfully discharged for a period of forty-eight years.
In 1812, he removed to Marlborough. At first, his connexion with Methodism occasioned him much reproach. But his mind was made up. His chief concern was the low state of Methodism in the town at that time. He gave himself to prayer, embraced every opportunity of doing good, and in two years he had to rejoice in seeing the chapel well filled, and knowing that there were many seals to the ministry of the word. His own religious experience was very uniform throughout life. His religion was founded on conviction, and he maintained an unshaken confidence in God his Saviour to the end. It may truly be said that his piety reached no ordinary standard. A vital union with Christ was the ground of all the spiritual operation of his mind, and was productive of a bright and happy experience, rich in the fruits of justifying faith. He was a man of prayer. He highly esteemed, and sedulously improved, the ordinances of the sanctuary. His delight was in the law of the Lord, and he constantly meditated on it. He was a man of great simplicity of character. His eye was single ; his regard to divine things supreme. He was thus preserved from many temptations to which others less firm in their purposes are exposed. He never thought of compromising his religion for secular advantages. His heart was fixed, trusting in the Lord. As the most scrupulous integrity marked all his dealings with his fellow-men, so he may be said to have been similarly upright and honest with his God. It was as a matter of course with him, that God was to be honoured and obeyed in all things, and above all things that might oppose. His religion was modest and unobtrusive, and yet steady and undisguised. In the various offices in connexion with the Wesleyan branch of Christ's church which he filled, he exhibited the same unostentatious behaviour, and the same steadiness. He was a man of great equanimity of temper. Naturally amiable, the sweetness of his disposition was sanctified by the grace which gave him a perfect selfmastery. He was unmoved under provocation. He had the wisdom from above, which being first pure, is then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits. During the latter part of his life, he suffered much from affliction, and sometimes appeared to be drawing near to death ; but at these seasons, his mind was calm and undisturbed, death had no sting, and his hope in Christ was bright and strong. His latter days were marked by the serenity and sacred joy which had so long characterized his experience in health and more active life. He knew that the time of his departure was drawing nigh, and he waited for it with his lamp trimmed and burning. His final sickness was comparatively short. On the 29th of January he was seized with paralysis, which took away the use of his right side, and the power of speech, except the indistinct articulation of a few words. His trust in God remained firm as ever. Though
cut off from personal converse with those around him, yet, being quite sensible to the last, he expressed by signs his unshaken reliance on the glorious atonement, and the perfect peace which filled and kept his heart. After a week's illness, he slept in Jesus.
20. Died, March 12th, at Presall, in the Garstang Circuit, Mrs. Alice Roanson, aged sixty-two years. Having herself obtained the “ pearl of great price," she became anxious to lead her husband and children to participate in the same heavenly gift. She wrestled with God in prayer, and employed scriptural means to accomplish her object ; nor were her efforts altogether without success. One of her children was prepared, and taken to her heavenly rest before her mother. The family removed to Fleetwood-on-the-Wyre, when there were only few inhabitants in that place. For some time there was, besides herself, only another member of the Methodist society. This person, having heard of Mrs. Roanson, though not by name, took some tracts in her hand, and went from house to house, till she found her. Though only two, they regularly met for Christian communion, praying and taking “sweet counsel together.” Mr. and Mrs. Roanson opened their house to receive the Wesleyan Ministers; and under their roof, the first Methodist sermon was preached in Fleetwood. After they returned to Presall, Mrs. Roanson was much deprived of the public means of grace, owing, not only to the distance of the Wesleyan chapel from their residence, but also to her increasing infirmities. This privation greatly tried her; but she has declared, that by this afflictive dispensation of his Providence, God weaned her from every earthly comfort, in order to draw her into closer communion with himself. Her Fleetwood Class-Leader calling to see her, she acquainted him with the fears which had assailed her, relative to her conflict with the last enemy, death. He remarked, “The Lord does not give us dying grace to live with ; but when we come to die, he will give us grace to die with.” This observation was very useful to her. She had to pass through tribulation; but her conduct was consistent with the Gospel of Christ. The enemy of souls took advantage of her nervous debility to harass her mind ; but towards the close of life, she frequently remarked, that in every conflict she gained fresh strength, and a firmer reliance on the love and faithfulness of God. Some weeks before her removal, she said, “I seem to hold myself in constant readiness for sickness and death.” At another time she observed, “How has the Lord humbled my proud heart! He gives me grace to bear things that used to grieve and hurry me into peevishness and repining; but now I can submit. I know it is all of grace.”
On Tuesday, March 4th, her Pastor, little knowing that it would be the last time, called to see her in his usual course of duty. She said to him that we should often look into the grave to make death familiar to our minds. He replied, “ Yes; but we must look beyond the grave.” She remarked afterwards to a friend, “I have never once looked into the grave since : I can look beyond it.” In the course of the same night, she awoke in great pain, and suffered much for several days. During her illness she observed, “I have no wish to live. I feel weaned from all below. My treasure is already in heaven.” At another time she said to her son-in-law, “ The Lord hath said to me, 'Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live."" On the Monday, while conversing on the happiness of heaven, and the way God had led her, her countenance beamed with joy, and she exclaimed, “How good the Lord has been to me, that I who have had so many fears and doubts, should now be so happy, so composed and comfortable!” While her friend prayed, she shouted aloud the praises of God. The following morning she was in the same happy state of mind. The enemy was not permitted to assault her. She had no fear, no doubt ; and her countenance expressed the happiness of her soul. It was remarked to her, that she might probably recover : serenely smiling, she replied, “O, but it would be so sweet to be with Jesus.” She also earnestly thanked God for every affliction. The next day she was able to dress herself, and walk down stairs. In the evening the nurse, perceiving that a great change had taken place, hastened to call her husband and children ; but before they entered the room, her happy spirit had taken its flight.
21. Died, March 16th, at Tattershall, in the Coningsby Circuit, Mr. William Marshall, aged sixty-seven. It was not his lot to enjoy the advantages of an early religious training. His parents lived “without God in the world,” and for more than twenty years he was a stranger to the plan of salvation by faith. He was awakened to a sense of his guilt, misery, and danger, while listening to a conversation which a pious aunt held with a poor penitent who applied to her for advice. In the evening, he accompanied his aunt to the Wesleyan chapel, and heard a sermon from the Rev. B. Gregory, which just met his case ; but he always considered Mr. Taft as the principal instrument under God in bringing him to a saving acquaintance with the truth. At a prayer-meeting at Coningsby, he obtained the assurance that his sins were forgiven, which he retained all his days. In the year 1801 he joined the Wesleyan society. He met with some opposition from his old companions ; but this did not intimidate him. He feared God, and was not afraid of man. His consistent conduct and holy zeal were the means of the conversion of his mother, two sisters, and a brother who survives him. He succeeded in introducing Methodism into Tattershall. In 1804 he was made a ClassLeader, and filled that responsible office, with credit to himself and advantage to many persons, for more than forty years ; during which period he was absent only twice from his class. In him his members found a father and a friend. If they were absent, they were sure to have a visit from him. In reproof, he was plain, powerful, and pointed; in directing the penitent to Christ, he showed the gentleness of a father. About this period he was made a Prayer-Leader; and, enjoying a good state of health, neither distance nor bad weather prevented him fulfilling his appointments : he went where he was wanted, and where he was wanted most, and, in connexion with two or three who survive him, succeeded in introducing Methodism where we have now good chapels and prosperous societies.
He was a liberal-minded man, and he devised liberal things. At the commencement of his Christian career, he found but few to second him in his benevolent designs; but he was anxious to see the work of God prosper in Tattershall; and though but a journeyman shoemaker, with five small children, a sickly wife, and a scanty income, he contributed largely towards the rent of a room hired to preach in. He was frequently in great straits ; but he had proved the blessedness of giving, and was never known to withhold from the cause of God. He has sometimes given his last penny; and then proved the truth of Flavel's maxim, “ The man who marks a providence will never want a providence to mark.” He knew nothing of that selfishness which hoards, while the cause of God is starving, and the souls of men are perishing.
He was a man of prayer; and being an early riser, his first hours were devoted to God. He prayed because he loved to pray. His private devotions were not confined to the morning and evening : many times during the day he was accustomed to retire to plead with God for his family, the church, and the world. The ungodliness of some of his children grieved him much ; but his prayers on their behalf are before the throne. He loved prayer-meetings; and on Sunday morning he frequently went round the town to invite persons to accompany him to the house of prayer ; but not unfrequently he has been there alone, a witness against those who preferred slumber to prayer.
He was a constant visiter of the sick, especially the aged and infirm. He never sacrificed religious duties at the shrine of the world. He had a tender affection for the young, especially the Sunday-school children, who looked upon him as a fatber. He was the first instigator of the Wesleyan day-school at Coningsby.
During the last nine years of his life, he was a great sufferer ; but with sweet submission he could say, “Thy will be done.” During his last illness, which continued for several weeks, his sufferings were dreadful ; but “patience had its perfect work.” Many friends called to see him : he advised all to make sure work for heaven. To one who was unsaved, he said, “When you are hearing my funeral sermon, you may be quite sure that I am in heaven.” To another, who reminded him of his good works, he rejected the idea of finding mercy through them, stating that he rested solely on the atonement of Jesus for salvation. The night before he died, perceiving his wife to be greatly exhausted, he said that family prayer must not be neglected; but that he would try to conduct it; which he did for the last time. The next day was the Sabbath. At intervals his faculties