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FOR OCTOBER, 1844.
MEMOIR OF MR. WILLIAM PEARSE,
LATE OF LAUNCESTON:
BY THE REV. WILLIAM BEAL.
THERE is a class of God's good servants, to whom the contemplation of posthumous notice gives more of regret than of pleasure. Their estimate of themselves may be found in the words of the Psalmist : “I am a worm, and no man." John Albert Bengel, whom Mr. Wesley designates "the great Bengelius," was of this order. "I commit myself," said this good man, "to my faithful Creator, my intimate Redeemer, my tried and approved Comforter. I know not where to find anything comparable to my Saviour. Let me be made no account of when I am gone. I wish my spiritual experience to be no more obtruded on the world after my death, than it has been during my life. Man's judgment can neither benefit nor hurt me, and many things will appear in quite a different light at the great day. Is it not better that it should be said to me in that great day, 'Art thou also here?' than that it should be said, 'Where is such and such a renowned saint?'" And if the reported act of burning his papers, when near death, may be taken as evidence, the subject of this memoir was influenced by similar considerations.
Yet the very state of mind which, on right principles, leads men thus to look and to aim at the things which are not seen, especially when this is connected with the discharge of those duties by which the doctrine of God our Saviour is adorned, makes them, likewise, the most valuable subjects for biographical notice. These are eminently the men to whom God has "respect," with them he "dwells," and in them he "delights." If the blessed Redeemer can be correctly said to have any representatives on earth, are they not found in those who, saved by grace, abide in him, and walk as he walked? And is it not made an important part of our duty, to "remember" those by whom we have been taught, whose precepts and example have greatly contributed to the Christian character we bear, that their faith may be followed, and their conversation considered?
When Mr. Thomas Pearse, of Camelford, who was an elder brother VOL. XXIII. Third Series. OCTOBER, 1844.
to Mr. William Pearse, died, the venerable Mr. Truscott, who was then living, thus wrote:
"It seems profane to quench a glory lighted at the skies !”
The reader, it is hoped, will be able to turn to the WesleyanMethodist Magazine for May, 1816, where will be found some report of Mr. Pearse's parents, their religious character, the manner in which they educated their children, and the happy results to which this led. One incident only shall here be added to that notice, and which was related to one of the family by the late Dr. Adam Clarke, in the words which follow:-"I remember many circumstances with pleasure, which occurred in Cornwall in 1785, when I was a junior Preacher. Among others, that your grandfather, who was a member of the Presbyterian church in Launceston, when he saw how much our pulpit Bible and Hymn-Book were worn, sent me the next morning a handsome Bible and Hymn-Book for the use of our congregation. You are descended from a good stock. Robert Pearse was apparently of the true catholic
William Pearse was born at Launceston, October 6th, 1766. From his childhood he feared God, became early a subject of self-restraint, and grew up under the influence of sobriety of mind. For this early good-which, wherever found, is of inestimable value-he acknowledged himself indebted to divine grace, through the teaching and example of his parents. At the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to Mr. Thomas Pope, of Camelford; and in that town, under the ministry of Dr. Clarke, became a member of the Methodist society. In this section of the church Mr. Pearse was, with new vigour and new principles, led to the study of the sacred Scriptures, taught that they contain all things necessary to salvation, and that with meekness he must receive the engrafted word, which is able to save the soul. By the ministry with which he was favoured, he was led to the knowledge of" the only true God, and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent:" and, by the gracious will of God, through this word of truth, he was delivered from "the corruption that is in the world through lust," and so "born again" as to partake of the divine nature. To the people among whom it pleased God Mr. Pearse should thus receive such great blessings, his attachment was decided and abiding. But this was neither sectarian nor superstitious. It was not to Methodism as a mere name, in which men should rest and glory; not as an end, but as a means leading to it,-and that, not that he might say to others, "Stand by, I am more holy than thou!" nor to magnify man, but God; in one sentence, as a high and holy agency, designed to be helpful to the life, vigour, and extension of Christ's catholic church in the world. How that form of Christianity which, in derision, was termed "Methodism," wrought in the mind, heart, and life of the subject of this memoir, the writer purposes now to record, chiefly either
in the words of Mr. Pearse himself, as they are found in the few fragments that have escaped the flames, or in those which his sons have employed in the communication of (to them well-known) facts. To curtail and arrange these, that the leading thoughts and acts of this good man may yet live and speak, is the duty the writer proposes to himself, in the fulfilment of the not unpleasing task that is pressed on him.
When the apprenticeship of Mr. Pearse expired, as an avowed member of the Methodist society he returned to Launceston. The few in this town who were then known by the same designation, were mostly among the poor: some were in other-and, as the world phrases it, better-circumstances. As early and well-tried members of the society, Messrs. Palmer and Paul deserve to be recorded: as friends, though not members, Messrs. Frost and Dymond need not be forgotten. To Mr. Frost the Methodists were greatly indebted for their chapel; and the daughter of Mr. Dymond became the wife of Mr. Pearse. At the house of either Mr. Palmer or Mr. Dymond, Mr. Wesley was accustomed to find his home, in his visits to Launceston. Mr. Pearse entered on business in this town; and having done so, one of the earliest purposes of his heart was to provide a home for the Wesleyan Ministers, whom, generally, he delighted to honour. This was in the year 1787, when the Plymouth Circuit included the whole east, south, and north-east of Cornwall, and the west of Devon. The Preachers then stationed in this Circuit were Messrs. Kane, Bardsley, and Cole. Mr. Pearse states, in reference to this period, "By the kind providence of God, I was permitted to settle in business. The first Preacher that came to my house was Mr. Joseph Cole. He gave me suitable advice, and wrote on my New Testament the following lines:
With patient mind thy path of duty run :
God nothing does, nor suffers to be done,
But thou would'st do thyself, could'st thou but see
The end of all events as well as He.'
And on the sentiments contained in these lines I have been accustomed, with great satisfaction, to think in times of difficulty."
On the 2d of July, 1788, Mr. Pearse married Elizabeth Dymond, in whom he found a Christian, prudent, exemplary help-meet and wife. Mrs. Pearse's mother was a pious woman, and a member of the Methodist society in Launceston. She frequently conversed with her daughter Elizabeth on religious subjects, and particularly in her last illness. These instructions, and the delight the mother felt in hearing her daughter repeat her favourite hymn,
"Thou Shepherd of Israel, and mine," &c.,
made a deep impression on the mind of Elizabeth, from whom death removed the mother when the beloved child was but fourteen years of
age. These Christian teachings, however, were not lost on the daughter: they led to unaffected piety; and this, in connexion with plain, good common sense, led her to become a valued wife to Mr. Pearse: she made his house truly his home," and the heart of her husband did safely trust in her."
Some further references to the means that led to Mr. Pearse's conversion, and the formation of that Christian character which speedily became distinctly, though unobtrusively, manifest, may here be made. From a fragment written with a pencil, when apparently he was confined at home by affliction, some Lord's day, on which he appears to have been devotionally and gratefully remembering "all the way in which he had been led in the wilderness,” the following statement is copied "Being prevented from going to chapel, I have been led to reflect on the goodness of God: how he has been with me, and guided me, all my life long. In my youthful days I was led to think on heaven and hell; and, from reading and hearing God's holy word, enabled to 'flee youthful lusts.' When about eighteen years of age, I joined myself to the Methodist society in Camelford; when, if I rightly recollect, Dr. Adam Clarke was in the Circuit. I soon found peace to my soul. On becoming settled in business, and the head of a family, I began to acknowledge God before my house, by reading the Scriptures, and by family prayer,-duties which, by divine help, I have continued to this day. When my family began to increase, I frequently thought that I should not live to see them mature, nor have the means of making decent provision for them. But I relied on the promise of my God; and he, in great mercy, has opened my way, spared me to see my family growing up, and, I trust, under the influence of divine grace. Above all, I feel a blessed hope of a better life; and to God be all the glory. Amen."
To persons surrounded by young children, that measure of success in business, which, time and eternity taken together, will be best for men, is of great importance. In mercy to man, prone to distressing care and anxiety, our Lord has graciously said, "Take no thought for your life;" that is, no such thought as the Gentiles took, to whom there was no good Providence nor "heavenly Father," who "knoweth what things men need." To Gentiles,
"Chaos umpire sits,
Fate is high arbiter, Chance governs all."
Not so is it with men regarded as Christian believers. Their duty is to be "careful for nothing;" that is, not anxiously careful; but rather to cast their care on God, who careth for them; and who will not withhold any good thing from "them that walk uprightly." Yet man is ever addressed as the child of intelligence and prudence; who is to expect "the probable, not the possible:" not to be thoughtless, careless, and inert, but in diligence, and the continued use of the best
devised means, to seek the desired end. This is man's duty. The end is the gift of God; the fruit of his mercy, his bounty, his blessing. "Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth." Them that honour God, and take proper means for necessary good, God will honour. In our highly-favoured country, at least in ordinary times, is it not correctly said, "Diligence itself is capital; and diligence, when unaided by capital, creates it?" Nor are foresight, frugality, and the Christian use of money, when gained, of less importance to abiding prosperity. "In the work of every bee that passes from flower to flower, a voice addresses us, and distinctly says, There must be diligence!' In the toil and prudence of every ant, which, though not under the control of either mild teacher, or severe task-master, yet providently, and with unwearied industry, seizes the favourable time-the summer-to secure its meat, the same voice as distinctly says, 'There must be foresight; there must be frugality!'" By the blessing of God on such methods, the efforts of Mr. Pearse were attended with a good degree of success.
Mr. Pearse may now be contemplated as a Christian parent, an honourable tradesman, a truly benevolent and useful man. Next to his personal salvation, his care was to give right teachings to his family, and to set a good example to its members. He sought to walk before his house with a perfect heart. In addition to instruction at home, his family was early, and with regularity, led to the house of God. Or, as his son states the facts:-" My father was desirous to train up his children in the way they should go; and as he thought that habits early formed were generally the most lasting, we were accustomed to be taken to the morning prayer-meeting on the Lord's day, and as regularly to the more public means of grace, to honour the worship of God. Whenever a collection was to be made, each child was furnished with money to put on the plate, that from infancy we might be trained to habits of benevolence." As these children grew up, the best and most suitable education that could be obtained in the neighbourhood was sought for them; and their father never failed to command them "to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." And his labours were not without success. On this matter of incalculable importance to the young, God only knows with what emotions Christian parents labour, and feel, and pray. The good Patriarch, of whom the divine Being is pleased to speak so honourably, in the words quoted above, in one of his prayers, is but the type of many a smitten and sorrowful one, whose heaving breast has often sought relief in words like these: "O that Ishmael might live before thee!"
In illness, at one time, when distant from his wife, Mr. Pearse wrote to her, to state both the happiness of his own mind, and his wishes in reference to his family. In this carefully-preserved document it is said, "I have sometimes thought that I should not live to