Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

THE

METHODIST MAGAZINE,

FOR MAY, 1819.

BIOGRAPHY.

MEMOIR OF MR. GEORGE SYKES.

By his Brother, Thomas Sykes. I feel it a tribute I owe to my departed brother, to give a short sketch of his life to the world, that those who have known him may be edified by being reminded of his pious and virtuous deportment. I do not expect, however, to be able to give a just and full view of his character and conduct, because he has left little or no account of his Christian experience in writing, or any other materials, from which a narrative of his life could be taken. The following particulars have been gathered from some of his friends, from his letters to me, and my intimate acquaintance with him.

George Sykes was born at Shafton, near Barnsley, a small village in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in the year 1783. Nothing very remarkable occurred in the early part of his life. My father and mother were not in the habit of attending the ministry of the Methodists; consequently, their children were not instructed to go thither. The parish church was the place to which we resorted when we went to any place.

My father, I believe, thought it his duty to attend the Established Church, and take his children thither : but, my brother going from the family, to serve an apprenticeship, at the age of thirteen, and my father dying soon after, he was left to attend Divine service at what place he judged would be most agreeable and useful to him. It pleased God to take away, in a consumption, my brother John, in the year 1798, in his nineteenth year. His affliction brought the preachers to our house. Messrs. Entwisle and Lomas, being then in the Wakefield circuit, visited my brother, spoke to him freely of the things of God: and their conversation and prayers had a good effect upon the family.

Early in the year 1799, my eldest brother and the writer of this Memoir were awakened, and brought to God. April, the same year, my father was taken from works to rewards: he died VOL. XLII. May, 1819.

in the 54th year of his age, of a consumption. These striking and awful events taking place in the family, made a considerable impression on the mind of the subject of this narrative. He did not, however, for some time, see himself to be a sinful and guilty creature, that needed salvation; and, as his master laid no particular restraint upon him with respect to religion, he sometimes attended at one place of worship, and sometimes at another. Providentially, his wandering steps were led to the Methodist chapel, in Wakefield, where he was an apprentice; and, under the ministry of Mr. Gaulter and Mr. Nelson, he received much good. I do not recollect to have heard him say that any particular sermon, or man of God, was made a more especial blessing to him than any other. No: he was deeply convinced by the Spirit of God, of his lost estate, and excited to seek salvation in a constant attendance on all the means of grace. And, of all these, he used to speak of the class-meetings as most beneficial to him; and, it was probably in one of these means, that God assured him of his acceptance with him. He met in class with that venerable man of God, Mr. J. Lindley; and the advice and prayers of this pious class-leader were made to him a peculiar blessing. He was taken out of this class by Mr. G--r, and placed under the care of Mr. Walton; and it was about this time that his unassuming piety, prudent walk, and conversation, together with his burning zeal for the glory of God, brought him into notice. He was soon thought a proper person to take an active part in the prayer meetings, and also to lead a class, although but an apprentice, and unknown to many pious friends, who might have duly appreciated his worth. Yet his piety commanded the love and esteem of those who knew bim best. His master, a joiner and cabinet-maker, (the business of my brother's choice), spake to me of him in terms of the greatest approbation. He more than once told me that he was as dutiful an apprentice as a master need to have. Indeed it is religion that teaches us to fill up every relative situation in life properly, and to the glory of God.

Those servants, who, on becoming religious, think themselves equal, if not, in some cases, superior to their masters and mistresses, and, thus thinking, disobey their lawful commands, have not rightly learned Christ. The religion my brother imbibed taught him a different lesson.

In the latter end of the year 1802, or the beginning of 1803, he mentioned to me the impression he had upon his mind that he was called to preach. But several things, at that time, appeared to me to make against his preaching; I reasoned with him thus: “ You want education, you want books, you want experience; in short, you want almost every thing that is necessary to make a man a preacher." Notwithstanding all that I

gave to

could say on the subject, he went into a neighbouring village, and preached, from Rom. v. 10. The people were pleased with him, and gave him an invitation to come to them again. And, in consequence of his preaching in this place, he had invitations to go to other places. Now it was that he felt himself involved in a work of the greatest importance. The grand adversary of the church buffeted him; and he felt bis mind ready to sink under the weight of the undertaking. On the one hand, he believed God had called him to the work, but on the other he feared that he had thrust himself into it. He cried unto the Lord for Divine direction; and bis mind became more and more impressed with a belief he was called to the work of the ministry; so that, when tempted to give it up, he did not dare to do so. On being examined by the travelling preachers, he was judged a proper person to have a place in the local preachers' plan. In 1804, his apprenticeship expired; in consequence of which he thought it best to leave Wakefield, in order to make improvements in his business. And such was the satisfaction he bis master during his servitude, that when they came to part, the scene was truly affecting. The master and mistress wished him to stay longer with them; but, seeing he was resolved on going, they pressed him at last to make their house his home whenever he should visit Wakefield; and that, wherever he should go, to write, and let them know how he was going on.

Soon after this, both the man and his wife were taken out of time into eternity, and left several children behind them. My brother was much affected when he heard of the deaths of his old master and mistress, both of which took place within about a year of each other. He felt the force of these words, “ Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” At this time he was at home, and continued among his friends till towards the close of his 29d year, when he went to Manchester; and there, on being received into the local preachers' plan, he found men both of parts and piety. He spake highly of the preachers in Manchester, and he felt himself a brother among brethren; and, wherever he was appointed, the people gladly received him. Here he began to purchase books, and study more closely, for which he was amply rewarded. He also felt the local preachers' meetings exceedingly useful to him.

In the year 1805, he formed a connexion with Miss Sarah Bamford, a member of society in Manchester. He wrote to his mother and me on the subject, which affected us much, because we thought it a very improper step for him to take, as the time of his apprenticeship had but just expired, and he had little or no money, and the person he proposed marrying being in the same circumstances; so that be was likely to involve himself in great difficulties. The objection was against the time of his marriage, not his choice. In the beginning of the year 1806, however, he married; but the event proved serious, for a little before the close of the year his wife was torn from him, dying in child-bed; so that he was early bereaved of the desire of his eyes. In this marriage my brother appeared to be too precipitatc; but far be it from me to say, that God took her away in consequence. However, it appeared the Almighty had designed him for usefulness in his church. The late melancholy scene through which my brother had passed, taught him the instability of all human things; his accountableness to the Judge of all the earth, and his being continually liable to be suddenly called to stand before his bar. Frequently, in the loss of our nearest friends, we are taught the most important lessons. “ For us they sicken, and for us they die."

2 O 2 *

In the year 1806, 7, &c. the work of God was spreading in this kingdom to such a degree, that every young man was wanted, who appeared to have abilities, and to be called of God to preach the word of life. Frequently, when the Conference had done sitting, many stations were left unfilled up for want of men.

North Meo!s, in 1807, was left destitute of a preacher, in consequence of a young man of the name of Brown dying, who was appointed, by the President, to take that mission. Such was the want of preachers that the Meols people despaired of having one that year. Mr. Myles, who was then in the Liver, pool circuit, and had the care of this mission, was doing all in his power to get it supplied. He wrote to Mr. Grillith, at Manchester, for a preacher. Mr. G. spoke to my brother, who did not object, should the Quarterly Meeting, &c. think him a proper person to go. Accordingly Mr. Griffith proposed him at the said meeting; and the persons who composed it, together with the superintendants that examined him, sanctioned his going. Thus, in 1807, he was brought upon the itinerant list, with the unanimous approbation of the Manchester brethren; and in the month of October he went to his appointment, (the Meols of Lancashire), and found Mr. Myles preaching to the people, and the people praying that God would send them a preacher. When they saw my brother, and heard that he was come to be their preacher, they were almost overjoyed with gratitude; and welcomed him into their habitations, as sent in answer to their prayers. Among this people he laboured until the following Conference; and the Lord crowned his labours with success, and gave him favour in the sight of the people. He left in this place an increase of members, in 1808, when two missionaries were appointed, instead of one; and he was ļemoved from Meols to Cardiff, in South Wales, where he met with a very affectionate colleague and superintendant, Mr. W. Woodall. The people gladly received their preachers; and the plea

sure of the Lord prospered in their hands. Of this people my brother said great things. He loved them, and they loved him. Often in preaching to them, and meeting their classes, he was so happy, that he would say,

“ My happy soul would stay

In such a frame as this,
And sit and sing herself away

To everlasting bliss." In 1809, he was re-appointed for Cardiff, along with Mr. We and Mr. Marsh." The second year was not less pros. perous than the first. The Lord blessed the word to the people, and the churches were multiplied. Perhaps the reader will expect to see extracts from his letters respecting the state of his mind in this circuit. I wish I could indulge him; but I have none from which I can make extracts of any importance.

In 1810, he was appointed to the Pembroke circuit, along with Mr. James Gill. In this circuit also the Lord owned his labours with good success. Previously to his going into this circuit he bad formed a connexion with Miss Wilson, and thought it his daty again to enter into the marriage state; but, first, he prayed earnestly to God for direction, and asked the advice of his friends, for he considered that future happiness in life, and his usefulness in God's church, might greatly depend upon such a step.

Leaving Pembroke in 1811, and being appointed, with Mr. Milward, for Swansea, at Christmas, the same year, with the consent of his friends, he and Miss W. entered into the marriage state ; for which, ever after, he had reason to bless God. In this affair, I believe his steps were ordered by the Lord. In Swansea, he was highly esteemed by the people. His sermons, which were clear and faithful, made a strong, and, I trust, a lasting impression upon the minds of his hearers. In this circuit, the Lord deepened his work in his soul: he speaks of himself as growing in grace, and of the Lord as blessing him in the work of the ministry.

In 1812, he was re-appointed for Swansea, with Mr. M. Daniel. This was to him a pleasing year; he saw some fruit of his labour, and the circuit in general in a prosperous state. the end of the year, the people would have been glad for him to be continued with them a third year, and he would have been willing even to have spent his whole life with them; but the Conference appointing him elsewhere, he left them with those peculiar feelings which are known only to faithful pastors and affectionate hearers.

In 1813, he was removed from Swansea to Ludlow. Here, for the first time, he was made superintendant, and entered upon the work of the circuit with great care and prudence. He found

At

« НазадПродовжити »