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task. She had always felt the responsibility of membership in the Church of Christ, and now that she was called to take a more leading part therein she became specially concerned on her own account as well as on behalf of those committed to her care. And her labour was rewarded; for her success was For twenty-four years she rendered diligent and
great and long continued.
faithful service in this department of the work of God.
At length, however, failing health rendered it necessary for her to seek retirement from the more active duties of life. The effort cost her many a pang of deep regret. Yet it was made in calm submission to what was clearly the will of her Heavenly Father. She derived much comfort from the remembrance of having been made a blessing to the members of her Class, especially in seasons of trial. She was a faithful Leader, looking after her members with scrupulous care, embracing every opportunity of doing them good both in body and in soul.
But she rejoiced still in the privileges of membership in the Church. Not the least of these was that of supporting the cause she so dearly loved, and which had been of such service to her. Her contributions were given with no sparing hand, and it was often difficult to confine the outflow of her generous heart within proper limits. Besides the larger amounts of her liberal devisings, of which the Connexion bears testimony in its numerous 'Reports,' her private giving was of such a character as to surprise some of her most intimate friends. Indeed, it became a matter of concern with them as to whether she was not depriving herself of necessaries by giving so much to others. One eminent Minister, who had intimate and confidential knowledge of her givings to the cause of God, and who, but for serious illness disabling him from doing so, would have given written and extended testimony on this part of her character, has affirmed that of the many generous supporters of the work of the Lord in its several departments he had known, Mrs. Perkins, for her position and means, surpassed them all.
But the time drew near that she must die. She was not alarmed. A life of such unceasing devotedness to Christ and His cause was one whose close would not be anticipated with dread, but with joy. She had 'endured a great fight of afflictions,' and had withstood fierce and numerous foes in the battlefield of life. She had long 'borne the burden and heat of the day,' had 'laboured' and 'not fainted,' and had patiently endured for His name's sake, Whom she so greatly loved. And now that she was brought to the quiet eventide, the shadows deepening at every advancing step, she found, nevertheless, that it was 'light.' It was most delightful to witness the sweet serenity in which she was habitually found; she seemed to be quite in the verge of heaven.' The Word of God, which had been her constant companion all through her pilgrimage, was more precious than ever now that she had nearly reached its close. A little before her departure, while one of her friends was praying with her, the passage was quoted: 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee'; she eagerly caught the words, and responded to them most heartily. Another text, which was hung up on the wall of her bedroom, she
repeated as she lay on her dying couch: 'The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.'
Soon after this, the end came.
She exclaimed: 'The Lord is my life, my
light, my hope, my joy, my trust for ever and ever'; and, having said this, she fell asleep, October 7th, 1878, aged eighty years.
A METHODIST PIONEER:
THE LIFE AND LABOURS OF JOHN SMITH.
INCLUDING BRIEF NOTICES OF THE ORIGIN AND EARLY HISTORY OF METHODISM IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE NORTH OF IRELAND:
THE subject of this narrative was one of a noble band of brave and faithful Evangelists who, during the third quarter of the last century, travelled up and down, through the length and breadth of Ireland, calling sinners to repentance, and proclaiming the glad tidings of salvation. In cities, towns and villages, in private houses and barns, in streets and market-places, wherever they could find any willing to hear, there they were ready 'to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.' Dependent for support on the kindness of those whose spiritual welfare they sought, they had to
H. CROOKSHANK, M.A.
Ye braved the ruffian blow, the infuriate clan,
And all for love to God, and love to man! O with what triumph hailed in realms on high,
When angels bore you to your kindred sky!
Fruits of His purchase, to the Saviour
And owned the servants of the Lord of heaven.
On all your sons may your bless'd mantle fall!
The zeal that fired, the love that reached to all!
Your scorn of earthly honours, earthly gain,
Of toil, of malice, ignominy, pain! Where'er they sojourn, or where'er they stray,
May Heaven's own light direct them on their way;
Till late translated to the choir above,
endure numerous privations; often having no home to call their own, the poorest cabins were their restingplaces, and their food the humblest fare.
Cruel was the treatment which they frequently received from those for whose good they laboured; they were misrepresented and reproached, hissed and hooted, stoned and beaten, and many of them were hurried into premature graves.
Some of this goodly company of apostles were men of few talents and humble attainments, others were remarkable for ability and culture; as a class, they were mighty in the
Scriptures,' powerful in prayer, and irresistible in appeal to the consciences of their hearers. Among them were included such well-known worthies as Robert Swindells, Thomas Walsh, Joseph Cownley, Thomas Olivers and Christopher Hopper, fearless and faithful as the Tishbite.
Of the personal history of few of those devoted men has so little been published as that of John Smith, and yet there is not one of them to whose instrumentality so many conversions to God may be traced. Togive a detailed and consecutive account of his life and successes, is now, it is to be feared, impossible, as the records available are scanty and scattered, and such a length of time has elapsed since his death. Yet it is due to his memory, to Irish Methodism and to the Church of God, to collect, arrange and publish even such scraps of information as can be culled, and thus rescue his name, and, as far as possible, his work, from oblivion.
Mr. Wesley required from his Preachers a written account of their conversion to God and their Christian work. This, for reasons which will appear in the sequel, he did not request from John Smith himself, but from his son. In 1771, at Derryanvil, Mr. Wesley asked David Smith to take down in writing from his father the circumstances of his conversion and history. This, he says, he halfpromised to do; but, having entered the Army soon after, he failed to comply with the request. Mr. Wesley wrote, reminding him of his promise, urging him to fulfil it, and adding that God would make it a means of blessing to his own soul. But owing to lack of sympathy at the time with work of such a sacred character, it was still neglected. After his conversion, and when his father had been twenty-six years dead, David recollected the request and the promise, and wrote out from memory a very brief and imperfect account
of his father's life; yet narrating its most remarkable incidents. With this narrative have been incorporated in the following pages references to John Smith and the results of his work gleaned from the journals of those with whom he was associated, and the obituaries of some of the many who received good from his labours; the whole being viewed in the light given by the history of Methodism in the places and at the period in which he lived. Incidents are here recorded which may be regarded by some as incredible; but it should be remembered that not only were these very circumstances firmly believed by John Smith himself, who narrated them to his son, but they were also well known and received as authentic at the time of their occurrence. Whatever difference of opinion, however, there may be about these, there can be none as to the deep piety, fervid zeal and great success of this Preacher of the Gospel. He was a follower of Christ of a rare type. May the Head of the Church multiply Evangelists of this stamp ! If they abound we shall not despair of seeing a converted world. May some who read, catch the spirit of John Smith, and go forth to work for Christ,
'Strong in the strength which God supplies Through His eternal Son'!
JOHN SMITH was born at Clare, near Tanderagee, in the county of Armagh, about the year 1713. His father, a native of Scotland, had settled in Ireland about twenty years previously, had taken a small farm, and engaged in the linen business,' most likely as a weaver the practice of cultivating a piece of land and working at a trade at the same time, being usual in the North of Ireland. His children were brought up in the doctrinal teaching of the Presbyterian Church, of which he and his wife were members.
John appears to have been a brave, ardent and generous lad, passionately fond of youthful diversions, and the leader of every bold and perilous enterprise. He cannot be said to
have received even an elementary education, as he cnly learned to read the New Testament and the Psalms, and never mastered the art of writing. The family being large and their means small, he was sent to learn a trade when only eleven years old; and consequently had but little opportunity of attending school-a circumstance which he rejoiced in at the time, but subsequently deeply deplored. Having completed the term of his apprenticeship, influenced by a love of adventure and desire for a more wild and daring career, he enlisted in the Army, and joined his regiment, which was quartered in England; but the strict discipline of military service was ill-suited to a spirit impatient of control. So, at the end of about twelve months, he obtained his discharge, and began to roam through the country, supporting himself by working at his trade. His associates encouraged him in a course of folly and sin. Yet in all these wicked wanderings the Spirit of God strove with him, bringing to mind the religious truths learned in youth; and so sharp were the stings of conscience, that more than once he was or the verge of putting an end to his life.
At length this way ward young man returned to Ireland, and settled for a number of years in Newry. About 1738 he married; but home influence had no restraint for him. He wandered further from God, and plunged more deeply into sin. His fearless and fiery spirit could do nothing by halves; he pressed forward in his wicked career with energy and zest, regardless of the laws of God or man. He became the ringleader of a gang of desperadoes, given to intemperance, gambling, blasphemy, boxing, cock
fighting and the like, the pests of the town and neighbourhood. Numerous warrants were issued for his apprehension; but such were his physical strength, the character for desperation which he bore, and the strong faction by whom he was surrounded, that the authorities failed to seize him. Yet even when thus sunk in the lowest depths of vice, he was not abandoned by the Holy Spirit. In his inmost soul there was the consciousness of the evil of his course, sometimes unfelt in the wild excitement of sinful sports, but at other times arousing his slumbering conscience and presenting appalling views of the terrible end to which he was hastening. He was unwilling, or unable, to remain long in one place, and for years was, with his family, in a most unsettled state. On two or three occasions, in his restless wandering after rest, he heard some of the early Methodist itinerants preach in the streets; but at the time little impression was made on his conscience. Some time afterwards, however, the remembrance of the solemn truths which they had proclaimed arose in his mind.
One morning, when returning home after a night spent in gambling, he came to the entrance of a bog, and looking beyond it saw his house, as he believed, on fire; the flames bursting through the roof and windows, and the smoke rising in one huge column to the heavens. Filled with horror and trepidation at the thought of his wife and children being burnt to death, he rushed straight forward, out of the proper path, and fell into the bog; attempting to rise, he fell again; and thus running and falling, leaping and plunging, with the terrific vision of the burning homestead before his eyes, the brave man, almost frantic, struggled to reach his destination. At length as he came to the house the fire suddenly disappeared, and on entering he found all safe and the children in bed asleep. He fell immediately on
bis knees, thanked God for His compassionate warning, and resolved never to play cards again a resolution strictly adhered to.
A few months afterwards he received another and still more impressive warning. On a Sunday morning early, as he lay in bed, he saw one of his companions in sin standing close to him, with eyes fixed on him earnestly. He heard him say, 'John Smith, John Smith, I am this moment called before God-a dreadful God. He has weighed me in the balances, and I am found wanting. Fly for your life, and escape the damnation of hell!' Mrs. Smith also recognized the man's person and voice, and called him by name; but he, without reply, vanished. John Smith immediately arose, saying, 'I must go to his house; he is dead.' He went, and on arriving was told that the man had died, as near as could be reckoned, at the hour at which Smith believed he saw and heard him at home. Whatever difference of opinion there may be with regard to this incident, there can be none in reference to its effects, which were most salutary on the mind and conduct of John Smith. He then entered on a new course of life, broke his connection with every dissolute companion, and began to read God's Word, often spending hours over its sacred pages, although it was to him a sealed book, and he knew of no one to open the seal. He also began to attend again the services of the Presbyterian Church, from which for years. he had absented himself; but all his efforts to overcome sin and quiet his conscience proved vain. The struggle was of unwonted intensity and very protracted.
One day, as he was walking in the field, groaning under the burden of sin, and seeing no means of deliverance, he thought, If I am to be lost I will perish on my knees'; so, kneeling down beside a hedge, he besought God to have mercy on him. As he prayed
he heard a voice, as if close behind him, crying out, John Smith, you are a vessel of destruction, and will be eternally damned.' But he the more vehemently besought God to save him; till he heard another voice saying, 'Go, proclaim My Name to all around thee, and fear not; for I will be with thee.' Greatly encouraged by this, yet retaining an awful sense of his guilt and danger, he still strove to overcome the numerous temptations by which he was surrounded. these conflicts, not having laid hold of Divine strength, he was often baffled. However, he struggled on; and, fearing the power of local associations, he in 1757 resolved to leave the town. He settled in Cootehill.
In his new abode he began to cɔnduct family worship each evening. On one occasion the chapter which he began to read was Romans viii.; but on reading the first and second verses he suddenly stopped, started, as if he had received an electric shock, and roared in an agony,' What shall I do? I am not in Christ Jesus, for I walk after the flesh, and not after the Spirit.' He then ran out, as if beside himself, to a fir grove near the house, and cried so vehemently for mercy that he was heard at a considerable distance. It seemed to him as if he were surrounded by evil spirits gloating over the terrible anguish of his soul. hausted both in body and mind, he grasped the trees for support, and strove to pray on, but could not; his mind was a blank. He continued in a most distressed state of mind for about three weeks, during which he scarcely ever slept, and took very little food. He went to every place that he could think of as being likely to afford relief to his distracted spirit-to the Presbyterian meeting, to the Episcopal church, to the Moravians, and to the Society of Friends, but all was of no avail; none understood his disease or could tell him of the cure. He needed a present, personal Re