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MEMOIR OF MRS. TUCKER, OF BRISTOL.
BY HER HUSBAND, THE REV. CHARLES TUCKER.
On the evening of October 22nd, 1875, the Rev. John Rattenbury preached a funeral sermon in Ebenezer Chapel, Bristol, on the occasion of the death of my late beloved wife. At the close of the sermon, pointing to the lower end of the chapel, he said, “When I was in this Circuit fortysix or forty-seven years ago, yonder part was fitted up with forms for the poor. At the Saturday-evening prayer-meeting they used to be filled with worshippers. There was one young lady, little in stature, fair-haired, , beautifully simple in her attire, who was always present, and whose powerful pleadings at the throne of grace were attended by a rich influence from above. From the Sunday-morning band-meeting, held in the upper vestry, she was seldom absent; and by the outpourings of a heart filled with heavenly love she encouraged others to press forward in the Divinė life. This young lady was our late lamented friend, Mrs. Tucker, then Miss Jane Hall.” A sketch of her useful life is here presented to the readers of this Magazine.
JANE Hall was born in Bristol, January 1st, 1806. She was favoured with a godly ancestry. Her parents and grandparents, on both sides, were among the first members of the Methodist Society, and worshipped in what used to be called “The Old Room," situated in the Horse Fair. This
, as is well known, was the first Methodist chapel ever built. Mr. Wesley records in his Journal that the foundation-stone was laid with the voice of praise and thanksgiving” on May 12th, 1739.
My late wife's parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Hall, were intimately acquainted with both John and Charles Wesley. Mrs. Hall received her first ticket from Mr. Wesley when she was only thirteen years of age-a circumstance which he noted in his annual transcript of the members' names in a Society-book preserved, with loving care, by one of her descendants.
Highly favoured from her birth, Miss Hall's earliest associations were with those honoured ministers who found a hearty welcome at the hospitable home of her parents. Coke, Benson, Bradburn, Clarke, Watson, etc., were frequent guests. Dr. Clarke facetiously remarked, “If I cany not find a house to take me in, I am sure to find a Hall.” Being of an
extremely delicate constitution, it was feared that Jane would never live to womanhood; but a school was selected for her in the country, where the bracing air produced the desired effect. At the age of sixteen she left school with improved health and a vigorous mind, which she continued to cultivate ; but her heart was not yet fully aroused to a sense of the importance of the things which are eternal. Bristol, at that time, was the port from which many of our missionaries embarked by sailing vessels for their fields of labour. It frequently happened that the ships were detained in port for a considerable time by contrary winds, and many of the missionaries were entertained, during such periods, at the house of Mr. Hall, or of some elder members of his family. In December, 1822, the Rev. John Stephenson (father of the Principal of the Children's Home) being thus detained on his way to the West Indies, was made the instrument of blessing to Miss Hall. She was accompanying him to a service at Portland Chapel, and he used well his opportunity by urging her to give her heart to God. The many prayers offered on her behalf were then answered, as the Holy Spirit wrought effectually in her heart, producing conviction of sin. She readily promised to join the Society, and at once began to seek the Lord. She soon found Him, and was able to testify, at the first Class-meeting she attended, that her sins were forgiven.
In February, 1823, she received her “note upon trial” from the Rev. W. Aver. This, with her first ticket of membership, and many subsequent ones bearing honoured names, were found after her removal carefully preserved. From the commencement of her heavenward pilgrimage to its end—a period of fifty-two years—she continued in close fellowship with the people of her choice, and was distinguished amongst them for ardent piety. The counsel and friendship of Miss Mary Brown (afterwards Mrs. Riggall), a lady of eminent sanctity, exerted a blessed influence on the formation of Miss Hall's religious character. Under her guidance many other young members also drank into her spirit, consecrated themselves fully to the Lord, became dead to the follies of the world, and attired themselves with a simplicity and neatness which characterised the Bristol Methodists of that day. They met in select bands, and devoted their spare time to works of charity and usefulness. The sick and dying, the sinful and wretched, in St. Peter's Hospital, were special objects of their care. These they visited and relieved, reading and praying with them, till many a sinner, weary and heavy laden, found rest in Jesus.
A few extracts from my wife's diary will show the general tenour of her experience. Three and a half years after her conversion she wrote:
"Sept. 5th, 1826.—God has, through the Son of His love, manifested Himself as the Sanctifier of my soul. May He enable me to retain this blessing.
“ Sept. 7th.-I feel completely happy. It is delightful to me to contemplate the attributes of God. Even that Justice which I once so dreaded I now feel thankful for. I have to-day felt my mind continually stayed upon the Saviour. May my life
be so thoroughly a life of prayer and love that my conversation may be influenced thereby. O may my soul daily take one step higher !
It was in this year that Miss Hall was made a Class-leader, being then about twenty-one years of age. On her nomination to the office, she was required, according to the usage in the Bristol Society at that time, to relate her experience in the Leaders'-meeting. As there were not fewer than sixty present-ministers, leaders, and stewards—it was no easy task, but the Lord was · her Helper. In after years she strongly advocated the appointment of suitable young persons as Class-leaders, and wrote on this subject to the late Rev. L. H. Wiseman, who cordially endorsed her judgment, and embodied it in one or two articles in the “Recorder,” recommending the plan suggested to the consideration of his brethren.*
For the purpose of acquiring a more thorough knowledge of God's Word, she read through the Scriptures upon her knees, with Benson's Commentary, and became a diligent student of the writings of Wesley and Fletcher. Hence her views of Christian doctrine were clear and definite, whereby she was enabled to lead her Classes (she soon had a second) with great efficiency, and was unconsciously preparing for eminent service to the Church, when, in later years, she had to instruct the converted natives of the Friendly Islands in Christian truth and living.
" Instant in season, out of season” she urged others to seek salvation. On her way to visit her sister, Mrs. Pearse, at Guernsey, she was detained by a contrary wind at Weymouth. There she met with a young lady who two years before knew and loved God supremely, but was now seeking pleasure in this world. She spoke to her, out of the fulness of a loving heart, of Christ, as the Source of all true happiness, and she had the unspeakable joy of knowing soon after that God had made her the instrument of arousing and leading her again to “the blood of sprinkling."
Again we extract from her diary :
“Nov. 9th, 1826.-Hearing of a young lady, only seventeen years of age, who leads three Classes, and under whose prayers many found pardon, I have felt more resolved than ever to live nearer to God, to confess Him everywhere, reading, hearing, working,-eyes, ears, hands, all to be used for His glory.
Nov. 10th.-Have been proposed and accepted in the Select Bands. This is the height of my ambition in the means of grace. What an infinite mercy! Me, the most unworthy of God's children, to be honoured to meet with those who live so near to Him, already to be admitted to close fellowship with those with whom I hope to spend eternity.
* In his Memoir of Mrs. B. Agar, of York, Mr. Wiseman says :—"Before she had reached the age of twenty, she was appointed Leader of a Class—an excellent arrangement, which might with advantage be copied more frequently than at the present time it is. The objection to young Class-leaders, so far as it is founded merely upon their youth, has proved a mischievous hindrance to the work of God. When are the Lord's people more fit to learn the duties of such an office? When can they gain more valuable experience to qualify them for life-long usefulness than in the glow and fervour of youthful devoti For many years she was greatly blessed and eminently successful as a Class-leader. “How much of this would have been sacrificed if mistaken prudence had delayed her appointment till she was twice twenty years of age !"
These remarks forcibly apply to the case of Miss Hall.
“Nov. 11th, 1827.—What a fulness there is in Jesus ! I see and love; I ask-yes, and receive too; but how very little, when I come to infinite fulness! O Lord, teach me to ask largely !
“Nov. 14th.—I do enjoy communion with my God. It is my happiness, my heaven. My mind is all peace, but I cannot rest in feelings. I long to glorify God in my life. I do see that every moment I depend on Him for a continuance of light and life and peace. I see no bounds to His fulness.
“Oct. 22nd, 1828.—Through unwatchfulness I have lost much sweet communion this morning, and therefore much enjoyment; but, having been with the poor, I trust I have learned some lesson, so that my time is not all lost. O for the spirit of prayer ! I do see now the value of my hour in private, before dinner. O Lord, speak to my soul an inward peace, moment by moment !
“ Oct. 24th.—My aim is holiness. I am truly happy.
“ Dec. 7th.— I can truly say, I feel nothing to be a cross, though living in the way of the cross ;-I mean speaking or praying ; it seems all delight. My witness of sanctification is clear. Surely it is my meat and drink to do the will of my Heavenly Father!
“Dec. 10th.-I have sweet access to the throne of love. Surely the savour will affect the whole of my future life, causing me to know and love God more for ever! How transforming are such views ! even while I ask it is given, while I seek I find. And the influences of His Spirit descend as dew. I feel Jesus is precious, and to me the "altogether lovely ;' but I want to love Him more.
“Dec. 15th.—God is love ;' and I long by gazing upon this perfection continually to be changed, until I bear deeply the stamp divine. If only a believing view be so transforming, what must it be when the veil of mortality is cast aside !
“June 9th, 1829.—Yesterday, in private prayer, God graciously manifested Himself so that I enjoyed a foretaste of heaven. These times of refreshing' from the presence of God cannot be described, but, glory be to God I they have a transforming influence,
“July 1st.-Had a delightful ride last evening with Mr. Entwisle to Shirehampton; his conversation was profitable, and his happy spirit influential. O, how many are the joys of the Christian! My mind is kept in perfect peace. Nothing but a close walk with God can satisfy my soul. Thoughts of heaven cheer and animate me. Gladly will I labour on to do the will of Him my soul loves. Prepare me for a full heaven.
“July 3rd.—I love God; I delight in Him, and yet I glorify Him so little, I feel quite ashamed. I would come into my closet and blush ; my soul pants for a momently life of devotedness. It appears as if I do nothing to any purpose. But I will thank thee, O Lord, and take courage! Thou art mine, and I am Thine; nothing separates us. O, then, Thou God of love, teach me wisdom secretly !
“July 17th.—Began a female prayer-meeting this morning at six o'clock. I had been fearing that I had fixed on a wrong time, but how rejoiced was I to find it quite right."
Returning from a visit she remarks :
“I read most of the way, and thus redeemed the time ; for I see the importance of improving every period of life. Youth and opportunity are at present mine; how invaluable ! May I be diligent to use them for the glory of God, storing my mind with truth, that, if permitted to live, I may be found wanting in nothing.
"Once I thought that in order to be very devoted to God, I must have little or nothing to do with the family or the world. Now my views are altered, and I see that it is in them that my graces are to be tried and increased."
These extracts show that the Lord was training her for the important work in which she was afterwards to engage. Having laboured energetically and successfully as a Missionary collector, Tract-distributer, Sundayschool teacher and Class-leader, a wider sphere was opened before her, in the year 1832. Believing the matter to be of the Lord, she consented to share with me the perils and joys of a missionary's life. With characteristic energy and judgment she at once began to prepare herself for the work that lay before her, by acquiring the knowledge of various useful arts, and by the study of medicine, which afterwards proved of great value.
On September 12th, 1832, we were united in holy matrimony, and on the same day, she bade farewell to parents, home and a large circle of friends. Her honoured father wept bitterly, as in consequence of his state of health, he did not expect to see her again; nor did he, for about three years afterwards he suddenly joined the glorious company above.
By the previous Conference Mr. Cargill and myself had been appointed to commence a mission in Fiji. We had a long and trying voyage to Sydney, where, for some time, our companions were detained, while we went on by the way of New Zealand to the Friendly Islands. When we arrived there, God had opened such a great and effectual door for the Gospel, that the missionaries were unanimous in their opinion that I ought to remain and labour in that group, rather than in Fiji. The fields around us were white unto the harvest. On many islands, outward heathenism had been abolished, the people were waiting for God's law, and saying, "What have we to do any more with idols ? Come over and help us.” The path of duty appeared so clear, and the call for more labourers so urgent, that I acquiesced in the views of the brethren, and resolved, as soon as means of conveyance could be obtained, to join Mr. Watkin who was alone on the Haabai station, where all the inhabitants had recently embraced Christianity. Two canoes were brought to take us and our stores, books and furniture to Lifuka, distant a hundred miles. They were heavily laden; but by the kind Providence of God, we accomplished our voyage in safety, and at once braced on the armour for service in the Master's vineyard. We continued daily to apply ourselves to the study of the Tongan language. The natives were intensely desirous to add to their small store of knowledge and to be taught “the way of God more perfectly.” My dear wife and I were often in difficulties arising from our ignorance of the names of things or the meaning of words ; but these were ultimately overcome. In the attainment of this object we were at first greatly indebted to my colleague, to whom the language had become quite familiar.
Mrs. Tucker's pleasure in instructing the natives increased as she was