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satisfaction of closing the eyes of a much-loved parent; yet he rejoiced for his father's acceptance with God, and the triumph with which he was able to raise his hands and eyes in the midst of great pain, and to witness that, by the glorious power of the Gospel, the sting of death had been taken away, and the victory had been given him.
“I wonder,” he says, “what the feelings of an infidel are, when he has parted with a friend to whom he is attached, without the prospect of ever seeing him more. O how pleasing to think that the soul is immortal, and may be happy for ever! Who would not fear and glorify Thee, O Lord ? I know that my Redeemer liveth : and though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.'” That he did not come without due self-examination to this animating conclusion, will appear by another extract :-“Mr. Valentine Ward came to Dunfermline, and preached a most impressive sermon on, Our Gospel came not in word only, but in power. O,
soul was affected! I asked, Did the Gospel ever come with power to me, or but in word only? Lord, 'I would be Thine ; Thou knowest I would. O make me one with Thee, as Thou art one with the Father!”
The pleasures of his work increased as he had more experience of it. “I have not been a stranger to Divine consolations," he says. “Religion is ALL:
Here is firm footing, here is solid rock :
This can support us ; all is sea beside.'” So passed the earlier years of a life similar, in many respects, to the lives of hundreds of Christ's Ministers. Love, joy, peace,—diffidence, despondency, trial, —comfort, deliverance, support,-chequer the story. But, in this good man's progress, the path becomes to his apprehension more firm beneath him. He is more and more convinced that it is "the good old way,” and is determined to persevere ; well knowing that through light or shadow, sunshine or storm, it leads to the celestial city. The two years spent at Greenock he reviewed as among the happiest of his life.
On the 6th of August, 1816, he entered into the holy estate of matrimony. After relating the reasons which influenced his choice, he says, “My dear Mary and I both began to serve God when young. We joined the Society on the same day—in the same place -in the same class. She was eleven ; I, thirteen. We met together for seven years. We were united in the name of the Lord.” The union was crowned with abundant blessings.
Mr. Smetham now laboured successively in Aberdeen, Whitehaven, Morpeth, and Pateley-Bridge. In reference to the last of these places, there is a note of great practical value :—"I seem to have got among a people of primitive simplicity. They do not hear their Preachers as critics, but with a desire to get good to their souls. They do not watch their Preachers as spies, but pray for God to prosper them.” His tender and affectionate spirit was awake to any. thing like opposition and ill-will; and was proportionately comforted when, as in this happy instance, he found himself in the midst of those who were disposed to hear the simple truth of the Gospel with gladness.
From Pateley-Bridge he went to Addingham ; thence to Nantwich, where he rejoined his brother; subsequently, to Congleton, Leek, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, St. Helen's, Workington, and Madeley. In the place which must ever recall the name and the saintly excellence of Mr. Fletcher, he felt an almost enthusiastic interest. Here, too, he enjoyed many of his happiest hours with his family, then growing up, and with friends to whom he was greatly attached.
From Madeley he went to Ilkestone, and from Ilkestone to Redditch. Here he was called to suffer one of the greatest trials of his life, in the loss of his eldest son, who died at the age of twenty-five. -John Smetham was educated at Woodhouse-Grove ; and, with the exception of a short time, spent his life in that academic seclusion, first as a scholar and then as a master, till he was admitted on trial into the Wesleyan ministry. None but those who knew him intimately could be aware of the loveliness and excellence of his mind and character. There was none of the “sound and fury" by which many attract notice. But his deep and fine affection greatly endeared him to the circle that he adorned. As his probation in the ministry was short,-scarcely comprising two years,-he was little known. His most intimate companion, the Rev. Benjamin Gregory, thus expresses his admiration of virtues that so soon faded from the view of mortals :—"No one had a more intense perception of spiritual beauty ; no one a deeper sympathy with the infinite and the unseen. With his mind he served the law of God. Even while he was still a stranger to the life of God, theology had seemed to be his chief study and delight; and often have I been touched with the vigour and beauty of his conceptions, and the clearness and extensiveness of his views. In the autumn of the year 1838 our religious conversations became more frequent and definite ; and a deeper seriousness seemed to rest upon his mind. On the 5th of November, I was walking up and down the play-ground at Woodhouse-Grove, when he joined me, and commenced the conversation by saying, 'What a beautiful hymn this is,
“Saviour, cast a pitying eye,
Bid my sins and sorrows end ;'&c. There was a tone of feeling and earnestness, as he repeated the lines, which encouraged me to inquire more particularly as to his religious state. We walked for some hours, till tea-time. Afterwards he returned, and told me that he had resolved from that moment to seek the salvation of his soul, and to devote himself fully to God. At his desire, I explained the way of faith. He left me, and in three hours returned justified.-Of his later experience and Christian character, suffice it to state, that his piety was deep and consistent. If he is an Israelite indecd, in whom there is no guile, then was John
Smetham of the true circumcision. If religion consists in 'whatsoever things are pure,' ' lovely,' and 'of good report,' then was his piety of the highest order. I never saw any one whose entire spirit and deportment so much reminded me of that beautiful portrait of true religion drawn by St. Paul in 1 Cor. xiii. lle suffered long, and was kind; envied not; vaunted not himself, was not puffed up, did not behave himself unseemly, sought not his own, was not easily provoked, thought no evil; rejoiced not in iniquity, but rejoiced in the truth ; bore all things, believed all things, hoped all things, endured all things. He had one of the best-balanced minds I ever met with; and (what implies the proof of a strictly logical capacity) I never reasoned with any man who had so clear and rapid a perception of difficulties. He never persuaded himself that he understood what he did not understand; never mistook probability for evidence, or opinion for truth..........I take up the lamentation of David over his beloved Jonathan : 'I am distressed for thee: very pleasant hast thou been to me: thy love to me was wonderful.' O how delightful is the unchecked communion of soul with soul! It was sweet, after the exhaustion of study, to sit or walk together, no stranger intermeddling; to compare each other's sentiments, and clear up each other's difficulties, and read each other's compositions. There was no subject on which we more frequently conversed, than upon the probable feelings and employments of the future world. Which of us, we asked, would first experience this mysterious change? It was his opinion, as well as mine, that I should first be called away. But he is gone ; and a saying of Lord Bacon may be applied to him : 'It is God's sovereignty perfectly to prepare and polish an instrument for His service, and then lay it aside.'”—Mr. John Smetham travelled one year in St. Peter's Circuit, Leeds; then in Lambeth, London ; and died after the close of the Methodistic year, in August, 1842. Having spent the greater portion of his life in retirement,-knowing little of the world's ways, -guileless and unsuspecting,—delighting in books, and country walks, and contemplation, with a bosom friend, of kindred pursuits and warm affection,—he was less prepared than many for the bustle and excitement of the clashing world without the gates of the quiet
“Grove.” He expressed a wish to be sent to a small country Circuit; which would, most probably, have been better for him. When, early in his ministry, he had to appear Sunday after Sunday before large congregations, and in the week to study, and visit, and transact business to which he had been quite unaccustomed,—though he rapidly gained those qualities which in a few years would have made all this easy to him,—the excitement, mental and moral, was more than his fine-nerved brain could bear. An inflammation was the consequence; which, after months of exquisite suffering, was the main occasion of his death. He died soon after drinking of the sacramental cup, received from the hands of his father; and saying, “Let me drink the blood of my Redeemer !”
None but those who knew the father and the son can appreciate the depth of Mr. Smetham's trial in the loss of his firstborn,—his
pride and hope. It was the triumph of religion that he was able to endure that agony, and to say with resignation, “ It is the Lord.” From that time the world lost much of its glory in his eyes, Heaven became more attractive, and more near to his vision. But, till his own death, he could never bear to speak of the bereavement ; and, if his
fell the portrait of the departed one, there was a struggle of the soul visible in his face. Still he preached and laboured on, anticipating the time when all mystery should be finally dispelled, and the wisdom and love of God made manifest.— From Redditch he went to Addingham, one of his old Circuits. Here he suffered much from personal affliction and outward trial; but he possessed his soul in patience, nor charged God foolishly. A line or two from one of his letters may illustrate the state of his mind, and his conduct in circumstances of difficulty. Speaking of one of his perplexities, he says,—“The shock was great ; and, had I brooded over my misfortunes, it would have been too much for my reason. But I went to my Bible and my books, and fell on my knees.
I am spared. Thank God for good books, and a heart to read them. Thank God for a throne of grace, and a willingness in Him to listen to the cries, and sustain the souls, of such as are in trouble. Thank God for the prospect of an eternal home, in which sorrow and sighing will be unknown, and all will be quietness and assurance for
The grace of God was sufficient; and a few bright days were in
At Selby Mr. Smetham spent two of the happiest years of his ministerial life, and, perhaps, two of the most useful. Here, in the pulpit, he had two favourite themes, to which his own experience prompted him to address himself ;—the rescue and comfort of believers in danger, difficulty, and temptation ; and the “rest” which “ remaineth to the people of God.” On the latter he made it a rule to preach once in three months, on the Sabbath morning. He delighted to speak of heaven as a region of pure intellect, where truth will be unveiled, and always increasing in power and lustre ; of pure affection, where God will be served without defect; of perfect rest, where neither calamity nor temptation can separate from the presence and enjoyment of God for ever. Frequently, at the close of these addresses, Bunyan's immortal “similitudes” supplied him with apt illustrations. His face lighted up, as if he saw Christian and Hopeful on the brink of the river of death, and hailed the shining ones on the other side.
He was permitted to labour in Selby, nearly to the end of the second year ; when it pleased Almighty God to arrest him with aggravated symptoms of a disorder which had lingered about him for some time. He wished to live a little longer, for his duties in the church, and for his family's sake: but, during the whole of his illness, he was submissive to the decisions of his great Master. He possessed his soul in patience, and felt an inward peace, which, in feebleness, anxiety, and distressing sensitiveness, kept him from despondency.
A few weeks before he left Selby he had a sharp conflict, which he
I have peace
related to one of his sons. “If I should die while you are away,"
"JESUS, Thy blood and righteousness
With joy shall I lift up my head.' I begged that the Hymn-book might be given me. I opened it; and the first lines on which my eyes fell
My beauty are, my glorious dress.'
He was removed from Selby to Warrington ; and for a while some faint hope was entertained of his recovery. This was destroyed by the bursting of a vessel in the lungs. That hour was to him as the highest swelling of Jordan : but, in the midst of hurry and agony, he found that, though the flood well-nigh rolled over him, he could yet walk safely. He cried out, “ I am on the Rock! I am on the Rock! All is well! All is well !” “My suffering is great,” he continued : “ but it is meet that the servant should be as his Lord.” When his strength permitted, he prayed for his wife and children, separately, and by name; for the church and the world. Then, calling Mrs. Smetham to him, he said, “God is love : a Father of the fatherless, and a Husband of the widow.”
For some days he was too weak to say much. Many of his friends came to see him; all of whom he knew, and received with affectionate joy,-expressing, either by a sign or by a faint whisper, his confidence in the sacrifice of Christ, and his hope of heaven.
It is the opinion of many who have witnessed the last hours of the saints of God, that sweet and mysterious manifestations of the heavenly world are given to them, much resembling bodily vision. This seemed to be the case with Mr. Smetham. His inexpressible smiles were accompanied by rapt looks, and by the upward pointing of the finger, as if a glorious vision were actually before his eyes; as also by the utterance of such expressions as, “ I'm coming!" "I'm coming!” Stoop down to me!”-But, apart from evidence of this nature, he said enough to assure bis friends that he was fitted and waiting for the inheritance in light. At four o'clock on the morning of the Sabbath, October 30, 1847, he entered into rest ;