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me a degree of satisfaction. But I formed some musical connexions at that time, which tended to dissipate these solemn thoughts, and to retard religious decision. It was not until a year afterwards that I became an earnest seeker of salvation, and the greater part of another elapsed before I obtained a satisfactory assurance of my acceptance with God.”
The circumstances leading to his entrance into the Methodist Society are thus narrated by himself :-“I was led to a connexion with the Methodists from a change in my religious belief. Brought up amongst the Dissenters, I had become a firm believer in the doctrines of Calvinism. After spending a few months in Bradford, I cast my eyes upon a controversial pamphlet by the Rev. Thomas Jackson, then of Wakefield. The perusal of that pamphlet, and of some others that followed, having very much unsettled me, I was anxious to become better acquainted with the points at issue ; and, for that purpose, I read in succession the authors who had written on the subject-Sellon, Fletcher, John Goodwin, Taylor, &c. The consequence was, a full conviction of the truth of Arminianism.” The Rev. Dr. Steadman could not but observe, with some concern, the gradual alienation of his interesting hearer ; and he sought frequent opportunities of personal intercourse with him. But neither the Doctor's theological arguments, nor his warm friendship, nor the books he recommended and lent, could overcome the convictions which then settled in Mr. Rhodes's mind. Calvin's « Institutes” were placed in his hands by an intimate friend, who lamented his tendency to Arminianism ; and, no doubt, in the fullest hope and belief that the weight of those tomes would crush the incipient heresy. They were perused with every care, but altogether without the anticipated effect. The doctrinal transition in Mr. Rhodes's views had not taken place without a very painful and protracted struggle ; for all his former prejudices of mind, and all his personal feelings, were deeply in favour of his original creed.
Whilst this struggle was passing in his mind, he was also labouring under a deep sense of guilt, and earnestly inquiring, "What must I do to be saved ?” An excellent cousin, residing in Keighley, manifested much solicitude for his spiritual welfare. By her advice and entreaty, he was prevailed upon to go to class,—which he did frequently, before he determined to join the Society. At one of the Leeds Conferences, he heard a sermon on the words of Moses,
.“ Come thou with us, and we will do thee good,”—and he then decided to be a Methodist. He entered the Society forthwith, becoming a member of the class led by that excellent saint and servant of God, Richard Midgeley, long known and loved in Bradford. On this eventful occasion he says, “What a waste of life! Twenty-eight years of my earthly pilgrimage spent out of the family and service of God! Thus did my natural disposition, in this most important of all concerns, lead me to reason, demur, and procrastinate, for months and years. And, had I not been earnestly and importunately urged by an excellent and deeply pious female relative-who still survives, a bright example of consistent piety, I might have remained apart from the people of God longer than I did."
It was very soon remarked by many, that Mr. Rhodes was no ordinary man; that he possessed not only grace, but gifts, also, and these of no common order. His Christian experience attained clearness and depth ; and, as he was also assiduous in the cultivation of his mind, the Ministers and members of the Society looked upon him with high interest, and thought it their duty to encourage bim to exercise his talents in preaching the Gospel. About the end of 1819, an arrangement was made for him to deliver a sermon in a cottage near Woodhall-Hills; and, although it was without his previous consent, yet it harmonised with his convictions of duty. “ Such,” says he, were the circumstances of the arrangement, that I felt compelled, though with much reluctance, to make the attempt. He soon afterwards preached a sermon at Wibsey, before the late Rev. David Stoner ; and another in the vestry of Kirkgate chapel, before the Rev. Isaac Turton and the Local Preachers of the town ; after which he passed the usual examination in Christian theology, and was cordially admitted upon the Local Preachers' Plan. He continued an honoured and respected member of that estimable body for more than a quarter of a century. As a Preacher he was distinguished by correctness of thought and expression ; his discourses were replete with sound doctrine, and with exposition of Divine truth. The order of his mind restrained him from venturing upon an unpremeditated or ill-digested discourse. He felt that he owed it to himself, and still more to his audience, to make all necessary preparation ; and hence his public addresses exhibited, at all times, the labour of a vigorous and well-cultivated mind, and were highly appreciated by his hearers, especially by the more intelligent and pious among them. It is true, he did not possess that ardour of spirit which seems at once to kindle public feeling : yet, by a more calm and passionless method, he never failed to interest his congregations in a high degree; nor was it possible, except where moral obtuseness or intellectual dulness was extreme, to listen to him without deriving pleasure and profit. Such was the general esteem in which he was held, that at one time bis name stood upon the Plans of several Circuits surrounding Bradford ; and to the last, by special arrangement, he was considered as belonging to both the Bradford Circuits. During the last ten years of his life he preached no fewer than five hundred and ninety-six sermons ; and he finished this department of his work at Heaton, on Sunday, May 2d, 1847, by preaching on the parable of the great supper. (Luke xiv. 16—24.) His associations with his brethren, the Local Preachers, were among the happiest of his life ; and some of these were amongst his most dear and intimate friends. An incident, which occurred shortly before his death, will not soon be forgotten by them :-Recollecting the time when the brethren assembled at the June Quarterly-Meeting, he could not resist the desire to meet them
more in the flesh. Rising earlier than usual that day, he secured a conveyance, and was driven to the vestry,—where, on his
entering with faltering step, his pale and emaciated form, with his benign and heavenly countenance, moved and affected all hearts. After receiving most earnest expressions of general affection and sympathy, he sat in silence to the close of the Meeting. Then, on our rising from prayer, he looked around on his brethren, and said, with tremulous voice and deep emotion, "I greatly admire your zeal : I almost envy your power to preach the Gospel. I cannot do it now; but my heart is with you."
For many years Mr. Rhodes sustained the office of Class-Leader, to which he had been appointed by the late Rev. Joseph Entwisle. Alluding to this engagement, he says,—“My services to the people committed to my care, though very imperfect and inefficient, have always been coupled with sincere and anxious wishes and prayers that I might be enabled to do them good.” The estimation in which he was held may be gathered from the following testimony, borne by one who bad been for many years a member of his class :—"As a Leader, he possessed a combination of qualifications but rarely found in the same individual ; so that, excellent as were his endowments as a Preacher, they were even greater as a Leader. mind was so deeply imbued with evangelical truth, and his feelings were so completely under the control of Christian principle, that he appeared to have no difficulty in bringing from his treasury “things new and old ;' and, whether precept was to be enforced, doctrine to be explained, or privilege to be unfolded, all was propounded most clearly and pointedly, in a manner altogether free from effort or constraint, and yet most affectionately applied. Whilst his addresses were marked by great fidelity, they were equally distinguished by their tenderness ; so that the most diffident could not be depressed, nor the most sensitive discouraged. In conducting the devotions of his class he was pre-eminent; and, usually, at the opening prayer he seemed to reach at once the most holy place. This was particularly the case in the later months of his life, when he appeared, even to superficial observers, to be dwelling in a high and holier region."
Mr. Rhodes was one of the sweet singers in our Israel ; and, when not employed in his duties as a Local Preacher, generally took his place in the choir of Eastbrook chapel. His taste and talent for music were early developed. When a mere boy, he was invested with the choral dignity at his father's chapel. He was enthusiastic in this study; and from the majestic compositions of Handel, Boyce, Croft, Purcell, &c., he often derived the highest gratification. Having also a good voice and a fine ear, he excelled in the practical department. He was not a little esteemed as a composer ; some of his tunes being sung at this day in our congregations, and many more having been left in ms., which are deemed by competent judges worthy of being handed down to posterity. * His attention was limited to sacred music; and, as even this had been found in his
* A volume of tunes and chants, composed by Mr. Rhodes, has been just published. April, 1848. C. H.
earlier years to intrench upon the time required for mental improvement and religious duties, it was subsequently controlled and regulated by a regard to the higher claims of knowledge and piety, of which it thus became the helper, and not (as is too frequently the case) the hinderance.
It is interesting to know that his last musical composition was written only three weeks before his decease. On hailing the bright orb of day, shining through his window early on the Sabbath morning, he composed a beautiful tune (which he called “Early Dawn") to those exquisite lines of our 156th hymn,
“O disclose thy lovely face,” &c. Mr. Rhodes was a self-taught man, having had in his youth few advantages for mental training and improvement. But his thirst for knowledge was ardent; and his efforts for its attainment, notwithstanding many disadvantages, were to a considerable extent successful. His habits of reading were remarkable during his boyhood; and, although the resources of his father's shelves were not extensive, yet, in one way or another, he devoured a very considerable amount of literature, principally in the departments of General and Natural History, Travels, and Poetry. His favourite subjects also included treatises on Language, Music, Metaphysics, Theology, and various branches of Natural Philosophy. Novels he strongly disapproved ; and he has written some strong opinions on their pernicious tendency. The following letter, addressed to a friend in the year 1847, will indicate the character of his mind :—“I am reminded of the rapid flight of time; for, though in prospect a wished-for event seems long in coming, yet, when it is past, the intervening period does not appear the same.
• Time in advance behind him hides his wings,
But his broad pinions stretching to the wind ?' So says our illustrious Young. The great lesson to be learned is, to make such use of our time as will yield us at the last the grateful consciousness that we have not lived in vain, to be followed by the higher satisfaction of meeting in heaven some who shall be the crown of our rejoicing, on account of the benefit derived, under God, from our instrumentality. But, alas, in regard to myself, how much in the past rises up to humble me! With you the tide of life is in its flood; with me it is fast ebbing away : what need for mercy and grace to help in time of need!”
Few ever possessed more truly catholic and liberal views than the late James Rhodes. But, while sympathising with the objects of every institution which aimed at the happiness of the human race, yet, having once entered the Wesleyan fold, he felt himself eminently happy and at home in all its associations and interests. At a period of peculiar trial some years ago, when efforts were made by certain parties to weaken confidence and alienate affection, he was found strong in bis Methodist integrity, and glad to maintain the character and efticiency of the entire system against all attempts to destroy its harmony or impair its usefulness. Nor is this circumstance otherwise than in keeping with an essential feature of his character, -that of careful and even tardy deliberation in bringing his mind to a certain point; followed, however, by decision and firmness equally conspicuous.
Whilst Mr. Rhodes, under the influence of truly Christian principle, felt it his duty primarily to devote his utmost energy to the cause of Christ, and the interests of His church, as a philanthropist he was not insensible to auxiliary means and institutions by which the moral and social condition of mankind may be improved. Of these none appeared to him to possess stronger claims than the cause of temperance, in which he took a deep and active interest when its friends were few. Having carefully investigated what are called “temperance principles,” and satisfied himself that they were equally favourable to his physical and moral well-being, he publicly avowed his convictions, and became one of their most consistent and useful advocates. But, though decided in the approval of his own views, he avoided all expressions of a censorious or uncharitable kind, never uttering a single sentence which could justly offend the most sensitive mind. In his own case, it was well that he became a total abstainer ; for, from an examination of the nature and extent of the disease which caused his death, it was evident that its worst symptoms had been greatly mitigated, and a valuable life prolonged, by the strictest course of abstinence.
In the various departments to which his time and talents were applied, he failed not to give entire satisfaction. He was for many years employed in a responsible and important situation in the manufactory of the Messrs. Addison, of Bradford; and, occupying an intermediate position between the principals and the operatives, he enjoyed the confidence of both. He was held in the highest estimation by his employers, who ever found in him a servant whose talent, industry, and integrity were unimpeachable; and he had the still rarer good fortune to live in the esteem of the workmen, who generally submitted to his decisions, even when adverse to themselves, from their knowledge of his moral worth and disinterested integrity. The beneficial influence of Christian men, like James Rhodes, among the masses in our manufacturing districts, is great indeed. It is to be traced, not only in the skill by which the English artisan is honourably distinguished, but still more in the moral power which promotes kindly feelings between the employers and the employed, and mainly contributes to the tranquillity, safety, and well-being of the entire community.
In the spring of 1847 Mr. Rhodes's health began to decline; and, although he continued for some time to attend to his business, and to his loved engagements in the church of Christ, he gradually sank, till he became completely reduced in strength. Yet, in this state of increasing debility, it was remarkable how largely his moral energy