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CITY-ROAD MAGAZINE.

OCTOBER, 1876.

MEMORIAL SKETCH OF SERGEANT ISAAC PYKE, OF

CATCOTT, BRIDGEWATER.

BY THE REV. JOHN WALTER.

the young

6 Miss

(Concluded from page 390.) The great work of Sergeant Pyke at Catcott was his spiritual attention to

He writes : “When I came to this village there was neither Day nor Sunday School in it. I published for a Sunday-school, and on the second Sunday that I spent in the place we opened the school with one hundred and five scholars and eleven teachers, whose names I enrolled.” For twenty-nine years he pursued this work with unwearied activity. A whole generation of villagers was brought under the influence of Methodism through him. When his strength was failing, he had to meet with great opposition from the High Church party. In August, 1865, he writes :

said if she did not build a church and school at Burtle, Pyke would make all Burtle Methodists. She built a school there, and one at Catcott, which was placed under a Committee of High Church clergymen. The Rev. Dr. Blackwood and his curate were not allowed to enter the school, being Evangelicals. This led them to build another school, and the two together took away my children.” He asks those who censured him for giving up his Day-school, “Could I stand against this ? Could I keep on a school without children?”

To the honour of the Rev. Dr. Blackwood and his curate it should be stated that when they knew they had taken away his children they procured him £10 a year from the Schoolmasters' Association.

The children who had been under his care he kept his eye on throughout life. Daily were they the subjects of his prayers. A few extracts from letters will show in what esteem he was held :

Melbourne, October, 1858.—Dear Sir, I again thank you for the good instruction which you gave me. I often look back to see the many happy days which I spent in your school. I shall never see you again in this world. May we meet in heaven! Your race is nearly ended. When you are gone there will be many raised up in Catcott and elsewhere as living monuments to the memory of one who did his best to lead wanderers in the right path. I trust that I am one.-Yours truly, H. DURSTON.”

Mrs. Durston writes : “New Orphan House, Ashley Downs, October 10th, 1868.-My dear Mrs. Pyke, VOL. VI. FIRST SERIES.

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CITY-ROAD MAGAZINE.

OCTOBER, 1876.

MEMORIAL SKETCH OF SERGEANT ISAAC PYKE, OF

CATCOTT, BRIDGEWATER.

BY THE REV. JOHN WALTER,

the young

“ Miss

(Concluded from page 390.) The great work of Sergeant Pyke at Catcott was his spiritual attention to

He writes : “When I came to this village there was neither Day nor Sunday School in it. I published for a Sunday-school, and on the second Sunday that I spent in the place we opened the school with one hundred and five scholars and eleven teachers, whose names I enrolled.” For twenty-nine years he pursued this work with unwearied activity. A whole generation of villagers was brought under the influence of Methodism through him. When his strength was failing, he had to meet with great opposition from the High Church party. In August, 1865, he writes :

said if she did not build a church and school at Burtle, Pyke would make all Burtle Methodists. She built a school there, and one at Catcott, which was placed under a Committee of High Church clergymen. The Rev. Dr. Blackwood and his curate were not allowed to enter the school, being Evangelicals. This led them to build another school, and the two together took away my children.” He asks those who censured him for giving up his Day-school, “ Could I stand against this ? Could I keep on a school without children ?” To the honour of the Rev. Dr. Blackwood and his curate it should be stated that when they knew they had taken away his children they procured him £10 a year from the Schoolmasters' Association.

The children who had been under his care he kept his eye on throughout life. Daily were they the subjects of his prayers. A few extracts from letters will show in what esteem he was held :

“Melbourne, October, 1858.—Dear Sir, I again thank you for the good instruction which you gave me. I often look back to see the many happy days which I spent in your school. I shall never see you again in this world. May we meet in heaven! Your race is nearly ended. When you are gone there will be many raised up in Catcott and elsewhere as living monuments to the memory of one who did his best to lead wanderers in the right path. I trust that I am one.-Yours truly, H. DURSTON."

Mrs. Durston writes : “New Orphan House, Ashley Downs, October 10th, 1868.--My dear Mrs. Pyke, VOL. VI. FIRST SERIES,

2 F

Among my earliest and most pleasant recollections is the Sabbath-school at Catcott which Mr. Pyke originated and superintended with unflagging energy and untiring devotion for so many years, ever making the salvation of the children the primary object of his labours. How many have been born of God through his instrumentality the day will declare. It was there I received my first religious impressions." A great many like testimonials might be added.

Writing to a friend who has taken a life-interest in the spiritual welfare of the young, he states :

“Since I saw you I have read two articles in 'The Church of Dublin Magazine, on the happiness of heaven not being complete until the minister, the Sabbath-school teacher, and others shall meet all the fruits of their labours in heaven. And these will be the first to hail them on the eternal shore :

"Give joy or grief, give ease or pain,

Take life or friends away ;
I come to find them all again

In that eternal day.' I calculate on finding one hundred(who had been led to God through his instrumentality, in the school). “May you not on a thousand? Are we not the high-priests of our families ? Ought we not by faith through Christ's blood to take them into the holy of holiest? How is it that not more of the children of our people and our Sunday scholars are saved ? Is not the family altar neglected ? Are the parents anxious for their children's salvation? Do they earnestly seek it?”

In order to retain his influence over the young, he was in the habit of holding annual, biennial, or triennial gatherings of all who had been in the school. By this means he would revive old memories, strengthen good purposes, and reclaim many wanderers. On such occasions his face was radiant with delight as he walked about and blessed each man, woman and child. His addresses to his children, as he was wont to call them, were very powerful. In this good work he was always anxious to solicit the co-operation of his ministers, when their time and strength would permit. He would assemble the children of the village one hour before the service: walking through the village with the Crier's bell, inviting the children to meet the minister, and the adults also to come to the house of God. We have but few so whole-hearted as was this noble old soldier.

With regard to his characteristics as a Local-preacher, Mr. R. Slocombe writes : “ His zeal for the cause of God was unbounded. His preaching was characterised by great earnestness. His love to God and to Methodism was intense. He was wise to win souls; and the fruit of his labours remains." William Badman writes : “ I think I must have been lost but for his prayers. He wrestled long and earnestly with God for me, and his prayers were heard in the pardon of my sins."

He held extreme views on some points of doctrine. He believed that there are three classes who sin away the day of grace. In an old MS. he writes: "First, those who never attend a place of worship, Hosea iv. 17; second, those who sit under the word unmoved, Zechariah vii, 13, Proverbs i. 24–29, Jeremiah xi. 11, xiv. 12; and third, those who have apostatized from Christ, Hebrews vi. 4–6." His aim was the salvation of soul's; and this he saw accomplished. His fidelity was great to every man he came in contact with. When in company with a number of clergymen, he said to one of them, “I can give you a text from which you can't preach : "Be not conformed to this world.”” He was sometimes severe in his judgments. He writes to Mr. Dowty :

“We were disappointed on Sunday. Has this man lost the spirit of Methodism ? Has he lost the vitality of the Gospel ? If he has, let him hide himself under the pulpit among the dust of the house of God; and take his name off the Plan. Let not his name appear with the Lord's workmen.

The sympathies of Sergeant Pyke were not bounded by a narrow circle. The work of God in all its departments found in him a willing servant. The mission Cause enlisted all the enthusiasm of his nature. The Annual Missionary Meeting was the gala day of the year. He would beg from door to door to solicit funds to sustain and extend missionary operations. He would be especially earnest in pleading the wrongs of the negro race, as he had witnessed them in the West Indies; the spiritual wants of the British settlers, as he had seen them in North America ; and of the heathen millions of India, whom he had beheld grouping after God, but never realising Him. He had small charity for the traducers of the missionary and his labours. He would state that he had had better opportunities of judging of them than many had; but he never knew one who dishonoured the Society which sent him out. When in India he travelled a whole day to enjoy one hour with one of our missionaries. He said, “ I had not seen a Wesleyan minister for six years. The interview was like an oasis in the desert.”

Mr. Dowty writes:

“Bridgewater, October 30th, 1868.—I hasten to send you notes received from the grand old Methodist, Sergeant Pyke. I fear Methodism will not find another such as the departed. The missionary work lay, you know, very near his heart. Our meeting was held one Wednesday night, and although we had a fair congregation, the proceeds had fallen in two years from £10 to £4 10s. Then we saw what one whole-hearted individual can do. Is he not an army in himself ?"

We have had but few more heroic men in the army or in the Church than Sergeant Pyke. He was naturally brave and impulsive, and his courage and impetuosity were brought under heavenly influences, which did not wane. Religion with him was a realised fact, and a principle of perpetual development. It brought joy; but this was its fruit not its principle. For the last twenty years of his life he enjoyed the perfect love of God which casteth out all fear. This state of Christian grace he was intensely anxious that others should realise. He would often say,

66 Our fathers preached it and enjoyed it, and it was the great source of their strength;

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