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FOR AUGUST, 1819.
MEMOIR OF MR. ALEXANDER MENHINNICK.
To the Editor of the Methodist Magazine. DEAR SIR,
In compliance with the request of several respectable friends, the following Memoir has been arranged, and is now transmitted for your insertion. Of the amiable character thus exposed to the publick eye, only a short sketch has hitherto appeared, in a funeral sermon for the deceased, by Mr. Fowler. But the circulation of this discourse, being, from local circumstances, confined to very contracted limits; and it being thought that something might be added, calculated at the same time to express respect for the dead, and convey benefit to the living; these considerations induced my friends to urge their request, and constrain me to fulfil it. With best wishes for the long continuance, and abundant success of your valuable labours, I remain,
FRANCIS TRUSCOTT. Mr. Alexander MENHINNICK, the subject of the following memoir, “ Was born in the year 1775, in the parish of St. Mabyn, about six miles from Camelford, in the county of Cornwall. His parents gave him a decent commercial education, and from an early period his conduct was evidently influenced by the fear of God. When about 16 years of age, having a cousin who was master of a merchant vessel, he expressed a desire to sail with him; and having learned the rudiments of navigation, he made a voyage to the North of Ireland, and on his return, was in the most imminent danger of a watery grave. Out of several vessels which left the bay of Sligo on the same morning, that in which he sailed was the only one which survived the violence of the storm. Here he saw the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. This gracious interposition of heaven made a serious impression on his mind; and the general wickedness of seamen led him to resolve, that if spared to return, he would Vol. XLII. AUGUST, 1819.
frequent the seas no more. On his return to his parents, he gave himself to reading and study, until the following spring, when he entered into partnership with his brother-in-law,” in an adjoining parish, where he afterwards settled for life.
In thus fixing the bounds of his habitation, Divine Providence appeared to consult the best interests of our friend, by placing him in circumstances highly favourable to piety. At that time, the minister of Egloshayle, where Mr. M. resided, was Sir Harry Trelawney; a gentleman, whose urbanity of manners, sympathy with the afflicted, munificence, Christian candour, and pious zeal, rendered him a general blessing to his flock; and a fair example to all, who either fill sacred offices, or are entrusted with distinguished talents. Hence, as might be expected, “Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway;" several, through his instrumentality, were brought to feel a serious concern for salvation; led by repentance and faith to secure an interest in the Friend of sinners, and taught to manifest the truth of their piety, by their godly, righteous, and sober lives. Instructed by the word and Spirit of God, these subjects of gospel grace became desirous of strengthening each others hands in God, by means of Christian fellowship; and for this purpose, with the approbation of their pastor, they met together twice a week, in a convenient dwelling-house. These meetings usually lasted about an hour and a half, and were conducted in the following manner. They began with singing one of Mr. Wesley's hymns; then, till they were enabled to pray extempore, a form of prayer was used. After this, some portion of scripture was read, or a sermon: Mr. Wesley's first four volumes of sermons, Mr. Hervey's, Bishop Wilson's, and some others, having been procured to be read on those occasions. Then each meeting concluded with singing and prayer. Thus all who were able to read conducted those meetings in their turns, and hereby they comforted and edified one another. For their further improvement in spiritual things, Sir Harry also used to supply them with suitable books, either by giving them as presents, or lending them to be read and returned, encourage them to apply to him for advice in their religious concerns, and furnish them with rules for conducting their meetings.
A friend who statedly attended those meetings, having observed that Mr. Menhinnick very diligently and seriously attended all the publick services at church, sought, and soon obtained an opportunity of speaking to him on the subject of experimental religion. From ibis conversation it appeared, that though his character stood so fair, he still, like Nicodemus, remained very ignorant respecting the nature of regeneration. But on his friend's urging the necessity of it, he candidly exclaimed, " Must it be so; then I will consider the subject." "By the next week,
he was so far convinced of his deficiency in religious attainments, that he earnestly sought another opportunity of learning from the same friend, what he must do to be saved. From the time of this interview, it might be said of him with truth, “Behold he prayeth ;” and he found, that in following on to know the Lord, his going forth was prepared as the morning. When God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shined into his mind, he saw and felt himself a guilty sinner; but was convinced that his state, however deplorable, was not desperate. He read the gracious invitations of Jesus Christ to the weary sinner, and pleaded his precious promises to the returning prodigal. “In the exercise of faith he obtained the witness of the Spirit, and could say, O Lord, I will praise thee; for though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me. Thus he realized the greatest treasure, in the possession of the kingdom of God, which is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."
Having formed the resolution that God should be bis God, the people of God became of course his chosen companions. At those meetings of which mention has been made, he became a constant attendant; and hereby he was both blessed in his own soul, and made a blessing to others.
About this time these meetings were also occasionally visited by one of our local preachers belonging to the society at Wadebridge, in the same parish, who invited his pious neighbours in return to hear our preachers, and attend our meetings. This they occasionally did, and a friendly intercourse between the two societies, being hereby formed; on Sir Harry's removal from the parish a few years after, Mr. M. and several others with whom he had been associated, became members of the Methodist society. It was in the year 1805, that his union with us began, and from the commencement to the close of it, he adorned the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
He was indeed a burning and a shining light; and for a season, many enjoyed the privilege of rejoicing in this light; for though he was by no means ostentatious, he could not be hid. What God had done for him, was apparent to all his connexions; and by his Christian friends, high expectations were entertained of what God probably designed to render him the instrument of doing. To thrust himself uncalled into publick offices, was no part of his character; at the same time, when circumstances arose which required the employment of his talents, he had too much piety to omit doing good, by unnecessary delays, and too much genuine humility to extort applause by affected backwardness.
Among the people with whom he was now in Christian fellowship, and especially in the various meetings for Divine worship, established in his neighbourhood, numerous claims on his aid could not fail to present themselves; and that, in discharging the duties which thus devolved on him, his services were acceptable to God, and approved of men, must appear from the following testimonies, to which many more, if necessary, might be added.
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A very high respected member of his class writes thus concerning him; “ After much has been said about the excellencies of our pious friend, those whose happiness it was to be acquainted with him, will be ready to say, the half is not told us. Our kind leader was always wont to sympathize with his suffering brethren. Many instances I might relate, but shall confine myself to the observations made by one of our friends, who at the time when Mr. M. went in and out among us, was often brought into straitened circumstances, through family afflictions, and losses in trade: and in consequence of those adverse providences, frequently felt his mind much dejected. At those seasons, when Mr. M. met with him, he would with his heavenly smile accost him thus, My friend, how are you getting on? you look dejected. Ah! my dear brother, what can I do for you, will a few pounds be of any service ?' And often he would lend him sums to this amount, generally leaving it with him to repay them, when and as he could. But he was no less solicitous for the spiritual, than for the temporal comfort of his friends. You know he had the most happy method of pouring the cordials prepared by Divine love into the sorrowful mind. This to him was an easy task, for being always full, he was ever ready to communicate to others; it was almost impossible that any one could be in his company, without catching the heavenly flame. Methinks I feel a little of it while I write."
Of his concern for the salvation of immortal souls, and his endeavours to promote their spiritual weifare, the following letter, addressed to a relative, may serve as a specimen. 66 Dear NIECE
“The earnest desire you have of late manifested for the salvation of your soul, is matter of rejoicing to every friend of virtue and religion ; and on your advancing in the Divine life, their pleasure will still increase. You will, I hope, receive the following exbortations, and lay them to heart. In the first place, I must lay before you this truth, that through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God; and this is almost always experienced in our first setting out in our way to heaven. The frowns of our nearest friends, the contempt of those who esteem themselves wise, and the ridicule of late gay companions, are the trials which the newly awakend soul has to encounter. If this is your case, do not therefore think it strange, but rather expect it, and you may hope that God will overrule it for good. That it may promote your welfare, let it drive you often to your closet,