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TIME, which, amidst the various projects and occupations of man, pursues its course without interruption or delay, has at length brought the labours of the Editor to the conclusion of another year. When he reviews the materials with which, by the aid of his respected correspondents, he has been enabled to furnish his readers during the last twelve months, he cannot suppress a feeling of humble but grateful satisfaction. For discourses concerning experimental and practical piety,for occasional illustrations of holy Scripture, for instructive memorials of Christian godliness exemplified in its consistent exercise and its beneficial results, for authentic records of the spread and prevalency of God's work both at home and abroad,-and for other communications of a more miscellaneous character, he is persuaded that this volume will not be thought to sink beneath the rank and standard which its predecessors have attained. Parents may peruse its pages with increasing profit, and may safely recommend them to their children, as repositories of truths and facts which will repay the most frequent and careful examination.
If the Editor had consulted his own inclinations only, he might perhaps have abstained, had it been possible, from every thing which carries the appearance of controversy and debate. But he is convinced that in the present state of things, such a line of conduct, impracticable in itself, would also be utterly inconsistent with the office which he sustains, and with the responsibility which he owes to God and to man. When the Periodical which is now entrusted to his direction was first commenced by the venerable Wesley, it certainly was for the especial purpose of providing such facilities as might call forth and supply a regular exposition and defence of those doctrines which our Body holds to be in strict accordance with the word of God. This object was often prosecuted, by unavoidable necessity, in a style of keen
but not unchristian controversy. It is now become imperatively needful to explain and defend the several parts of that wholesome discipline which we have received from our Fathers, and which, by the help of God, we are determined to transmit uninjured and unimpaired to posterity. In the discharge of such a duty, controversy is sometimes inevitable. The Editor trusts, however, that when he has introduced papers relating to this subject, he has not been inattentive to the fair and equitable claims of Christian courtesy; and he resolves to employ a sedulous vigilance that, whenever it may be deemed requisite to insert articles of a similar description in the future columns of this Miscellany, they may at once be supported by truth, and guarded by charity.
With respect to the portraits which are prefixed to the several numbers of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine, the Editor and Publisher felt that they sustained a great loss, some years ago, in the lamented death of John Jackson, Esq., R.A.,-a man who occupied a place in the foremost rank of his profession, and who cheerfully contributed his eminent services to the ornamental department of this Work. They are happy, however, to find that their loss is, in a considerable degree, repaired by the talents and assistance of two young Artists of distinguished promise, Messrs. Gush and Claxton, who bid fair to rival the first proficients in that pleasing art to which their skill and diligence are devoted. An inspection of the portraits to which their names are affixed, contained in the present volume, will sufficiently confirm this testimony.
Once more the Editor tenders his sincere and affectionate acknowledgments to the friends who have encouraged this Magazine by their contributions, countenance, and subscriptions. He respectfully solicits the continuance of their co-operation and support; and indulges a cheerful hope that, with the blessing of God, on which he relies for all success, he shall still be able to enrich the successive numbers of this Publication with such papers as shall directly tend to the Christian improvement of the minds, the hearts, and the lives of his readers.
London, November 24th, 1835.
FOR JANUARY, 1835.
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. THOMAS COOPER :
I was born at Staincross, near Wakefield, in the year 1760. My parents were professed members of the established Church, but entire strangers to the power of godliness, living according to the course of this world, and supported by a groundless hope of being hereafter happy, without that necessary preparatory work of holiness. About this period, my father, learning that the Methodists were in Wakefield, and being informed of many remarkable things concerning them, went thither to hear them for himself. Little did he imagine what God had prepared for him under the first sermon, till the well-directed arrow pierced his heart. He immediately returned home, and sounded the alarm among his ungodly companions. He told them what was preached, and what he felt under the word; declared that he was resolved to go again; and he entreated them to accompany him on the following Lord's day. They accordingly went with him, but never after-needed his invitation. Having tasted the good word, they became deeply affected with a compassionate concern for their perishing relations and neighbours. The husband began to plead with his wife, in the affectionate and inviting language of Moses, "Come thou with us, and we will do thee good; for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel." Being athirst for their own salvation, and longing that their acquaintance might be made partakers of the grace of God, they unanimously agreed to invite the Preachers to come and teach them the way of life. These indefatigable men of God gladly availed themselves of the opportunity; and their ministry was attended by a great awakening. Hell soon appeared in arms. Large mobs, consisting mostly of the basest sort that could be selected from among the heirs of perdition, went to every house where meetings were held, to prevent the people from assembling together. Persecution became so general, that it appeared dangerous for a Methodist to be publicly seen attending to his business. Yet all this time the work of God prospered. A society was soon formed at Staincross, which has continued to this day. The work was far from terminating here. It spread to many of the surrounding villages, and soon became established.
Among many others who were at this time brought to the adorable Jesus, was my mother; the memorable event of whose conversion took place only a few weeks before I was born. Upon this circumstance I have often reflected with thankfulness, and have cherished the thought that many prayers have been answered in my behalf, which were offered VOL. XIV. Third Series. JANUARY, 1835.
up, and enrolled in the book of eternal mercy, before I could distinguish between good and evil. Great are the advantages of those children who, in mature age, are able to improve themselves, and instruct others, from the precepts and example of their upright parents. I remember, with gratitude, that at the age of five years I had the fear of God before my eyes. I felt an inward satisfaction in the approbation of conscience, in studying to do what I believed was pleasing to God; but not being properly acquainted with the depravity of my own heart, I flattered myself with the hope of being able of myself to ensure the favour of God, and to make a kind of purchase of those blessings which I expected at his hand. In a little time I found myself degenerating from this supposed rectitude, and perceived that my heart was far from being so good as I had fondly dreamed it was.
When I was about nine years of age, my soul was filled with unutterable distress, under a sermon preached by that faithful servant of God, Mr. John Scott. I was alarmed and nearly distracted, with a conviction of my dreadful state, being deeply convinced that if my heart were not renewed, I could never enter into rest, or be a partaker of the kingdom of heaven. I thought that less than a miracle of grace would not save me from the damnation of hell. I saw there was only one step between me and the miseries of eternal fire. It was only for God to cut the brittle thread of life, and I should sink in a moment into inevitable woe. I then felt, in a manner not to be described, the import of these solemn words,
"Infinite joy, or endless woe,
"A point of time, a moment's space,
Removes me to that heavenly place,
Or shuts me up in hell."
Young as I was, crimes met my eyes with envenomed sting; so that,
"Anguish, and sin, and dread, and pain,
On every side I found."
A few days after this Mr. William Shent came to preach at Staincross. I shall never forget the effect his discourse had upon my mind. From that day I resolved to seek God with my whole heart, and never to rest till I had found the pearl of great price. At first I felt it a great cross to meet in class; but finding a great blessing therein, I continued from the first, and I know not that I ever willingly omitted that duty. I believe that ordinance has been one of the most effectual means of promoting vital godliness, and of establishing Christian fellowship and peace. I entered upon a pilgrimage, and continued some time before any one of my age would consent to accompany me. At last one of my young acquaintance was awakened; and I found him a comfortable and useful associate all the time that I remained in Yorkshire. Satan now discovered that it was in vain to attempt to draw me back from seeking God by the former ex