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MEMOIR OF MRS. HOLMES,
BY THE REV. THOMAS BAKER.
MRS. HOLMES, whose maiden name was Barnes, was born at Rye, January 29th, 1762. Her parents were highly respectable and wealthy. Her father died before she was born: on her mother, therefore, devolved the unshared responsibility of training up her now fatherless child; and to the best of her judgment, and with great fidelity, she devoted herself to the performance of this important task. A Mrs. Holman, a member of the Methodist society at Rye, and who entertained at her house the venerable Wesley, in his regular visits to the town, invited Mrs. Barnes to accompany her to the Methodist chapel. The Minister on this occasion was the Rev. John Pritchard. His sermon deeply impressed the mind of Mrs. Barnes. She had listened to it with attention, and was convinced that what he had spoken was the truth. She went again and again, and the convictions she felt became increasingly personal and distressing. She not only perceived that what she heard was the truth, but that this truth related to herself. Her spirit became contrite, and she sought for the forgiveness of sin through the redemption of the Lord Jesus. Whilst earnestly engaged in prayer one morning, she found peace with God, and was enabled to rejoice in him as her Saviour. And the joy of the Lord was her strength. At first, fearing the ridicule and reproach of her friends, she had gone secretly to the place in which the Methodists then worshipped, endeavouring to conceal from them her attendance there. They discovered it, however; but she was no longer ashamed and afraid. Her mind was established in the experience, as well as knowledge, of the truth; and she both went to the "meeting-house" openly, and joined the poor and despised society, and abandoned all her worldly associations at once and for ever. Her relations were much displeased at this. Her brother expostulated with her; and when he found that he could not succeed, he requested, at least, that she would adopt measures to preserve her daughter from such "low society," and that she might be sent from home to some suitable school, where she would meet with nothing of the kind. But Mrs. Barnes was as decided as before. "Wherever I go myself," she replied, "there my child shall go." Mrs. Barnes "endured to the end," and died in great peace.
VOL. III.-FOURTH SERIES.
The mind of Miss Barnes was impressed very early with the truth and importance of spiritual subjects. Her mother's instructions were imparted with faithfulness and affection, and were readily received. Nor was the instruction given as a mere matter of form. Mrs. Barnes taught her child tenderly, as well as assiduously, and with much prayer. And God blessed this his own ordinance of domestic instruction.
Miss Barnes, at ten years of age, was sent to such a school as her mother judged to be proper. She at that time sincerely desired to be enabled to live a life of true piety; indeed, she was under serious convictions of sin, and, in prayer, earnestly sought for a sense of God's forgiving love these desires were cherished, and her convictions strengthened, as well as her prayers encouraged, by a regular attendance on the Wesleyan ministry. Some time afterwards, while on a visit, with her mother, to a Wesleyan friend at Ewhurst, (a village in the neighbourhood,) she had been fervently praying at night, before she retired to rest, that she might find the blessing which she sought; and when she awoke in the morning and began to think, she felt that she could rely on Christ, and that she was happy in his love. Her friends rejoiced with her, and at night she again, in great simplicity, commended herself to God, beseeching him that she might not deceive herself, but that in the morning the continuance of her peace might remove all doubt of its reality. She lay down as overshadowed by the protecting wing of Divine Providence, saying in her heart,—
"In me, Lord, thyself reveal;
Fill me with a sweet surprise;
And God graciously condescended to bless her childlike spirit: for she was, as yet, only a child. She had heard of some who, on receiving the "witness of mercy divine," had had some passage of Scripture powerfully applied to the mind, and she had not yet learned to distinguish between what was only circumstantial, and what was essential. We ought never to seem to dictate to our heavenly Father, as to the manner in which his gifts should be bestowed. Let him give as he pleases, so that he does give; and let us receive what he gives with thankfulness, in whatever way it is given. But what might have been presumption in those of riper years, was in her, as we have said, childlike simplicity, marking both her earnestness, and her desire not to be allowed to deceive herself. And, we repeat it, God condescended to bless her in her own way; for it was His blessing that she really sought, and not her own will. When she awoke in the morning, her first feelings, as it were, unconsciously expressed themselves in the language of the Prophet Isaiah," Behold, God is my salvation: I will trust, and not be afraid for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation."
From this period she proceeded in a truly Christian course. She joined the Wesleyan society; and as she grew in years, advanced in grace, and increased in stability. She had the pleasure and benefit of more than one interview with Mr. Wesley, who blessed her in the name of the Lord. The last sermon she heard him preach was under a tree, where he had stood for the same purpose several times before, at
Winchelsea, a very short distance from Rye. Sometimes her mind was somewhat harassed, in consequence of an affection of the nerves, from which she had suffered from her earliest infancy; but she was careful to live a life of faith in the Son of God, and to cultivate a calm, but firm and steady, decision of character, and was enabled to go on her way rejoicing.
When she reached the age of twenty-one, she was called to pass through an exceedingly severe trial. At that time a union had been agreed upon between herself and Mr. Henry Haddick, the Captain of the Customhouse sloop at Rye. Mr. Haddick was a young man of great promise in the society, and the Wesleyans cherished many hopes of spiritual advantage from his connexion with it. His piety was decided and openly avowed, and his position in society highly respectable. Miss Barnes naturally looked forward to a life of happiness with one who was like-minded with herself, and a member of the same religious community. But all these expectations were suddenly and finally cut off. Mr. Haddick was sailing outside Rye harbour, August 19th, 1783. He was himself reading the Scriptures in his cabin, when notice was given him that there was, at some distance from them, a small vessel of suspicious appearance. He gave orders that his sloop should be directed towards her, and the men made ready their small arms. The vessel was a smuggler, which fired on Captain Haddick's sloop as soon as it was sufficiently near. He ordered his own men not to fire, intending to board the vessel; but they, being probably exasperated by this first attack, neglected his injunctions, and fired their small arms. smugglers then brought some larger guns to bear on their opponents. Captain Haddick saw what was coming, and directed his men instantly to stoop down to avoid the balls. While in this position a second round was fired; and whether the smugglers had lowered their pieces, or whatever might be the cause, a shot passed through Mr. Haddick's left thigh and body, and passed out from his right arm, so as at once to deprive him of life.*
Captain Haddick had a younger brother, John, on whom the intelligence of his brother's death produced a salutary effect. He saw and felt the uncertainty of life, and began at once to seek the salvation of his soul; and, on the evening of the day of interment, he found peace with God, and continued faithful to the end of his course.
In the course of a few years Miss Barnes was married to Mr. John Haddick. This person had engaged in a large mercantile concern, principally that his means of doing good might be enlarged. He sought to be useful to the bodies and souls of others. He was eminently charitable to the poor, increasing his liberality as his substance increased. His zeal for the cause of religion was evinced by the erection, at his own expense, of a chapel at Rye, with a house adjoining it for the resident Minister. And in all this he found in his partner a sympathizing helper. For some years her life passed on smoothly and happily; but, at length, she was called to sustain a trial yet more painful than the former. In 1798, an East Indiaman had been driven on shore near Rye, and Mr. Haddick, knowing
* A brief account of Mr. Haddick, and of this melancholy event, was inserted in the "Arminian Magazine" for 1786. See vol. ix., p. 162 and 219 —Edit.
how often on such occasions heartless plunderers take the opportunity of increasing the already heavy losses of the shipwrecked sufferers, hastened to the coast to render what assistance he might be able. He exerted himself to the utmost, waded several times into the sea, and, before returning home, changed his wet clothes on the open beach. He became ill soon after he had reached his own house, and, though all that medical skill could suggest was promptly employed, nothing availed to check the progress of the disease. In about three weeks he died, happy in his Saviour, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.*
In 1801 Mrs. Haddick was united to Mr. Holmes, who died in October, 1816. (An account of Mr. Holmes will be found in the "Methodist Magazine," for 1820, p. 597.) Mrs. Holmes remained a "widow indeed" to the end of her life. No events of any particular interest occurred in her history for many years. She maintained her Christian profession with great consistency; and this was the result of the care and diligence with which she sought to maintain her fellowship with God. Her habits were somewhat retiring; but there was nothing cold or formal in her character. It may be truly said of her, that she lived "fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." Her conscience was remarkably tender, and especially as to her words. It was her established custom, when she returned from any company, to retire to her room, and carefully to review her own part in the conversation; and if she saw reason to believe that anything she had said was incorrect or mistaken, she would take the earliest opportunity either of explaining her meaning more fully, or of pointing out the error into which she had fallen.
The providence of God permitted her to enjoy "length of days" on the earth; but the longest life has its close, and the time drew near when it was plain that she who had so long, and in so many respects, been a mother in Israel, was about to be removed from the church of which she had so long been a member, a pillar, and an ornament. Her friends could not but observe in her an increasing meetness for the heavenly world. Though very weak, she was able to attend the means of grace till about a fortnight before she died. The last time she was at her class she was exceedingly happy, and broke out in rapturous expressions of praise to God for the bright prospects that opened before her. At the same meeting she told her friends that she thought she should not be with them much longer.
When confined to her room, she said that it was what she had long expected, and that, considering her age and infirmities, it was even desirable now that she should go home. But she resigned herself into the hands of God, only praying that his grace might support her, and that his will might be done. One of her friends called to see her a few days before she died, and had a very pleasing conversation with her. It was remarked that she was "in good hands" as to medical attendance, but in far higher and better as to all her spiritual necessities. She replied, with much emphasis, "Ah, Sir, that is it: Christ, none but Christ,
* An account of Mr. John Haddick will be found in vol. xxii., of the "Arminian Magazine" (1799). Some of the dates in it appear to have been inaccurately given, being inconsistent with the account of his brother, in a former volume.-EDIT.