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MEMOIR OF MRS. ELIZABETH MANWARING :
WITH A BRIEF NOTICE OF METHODISM IN SOUTHWARK :
BY THE REV. BENJAMIN BROWNE.
ELIZABETH LEE, afterwards Mrs. MANWARING, was born at Baston, in Bedfordshire. She received a very fair education. Her power of mental concentration, her ability to converse freely and intelligently on a variety of subjects, her facility in adapting her conversation and deportment to the society in which she mingled, her gentleness and propriety of manners, gave evidenceof early discipline. Her natural sprightliness and, at times, exuberance of spirit accompanied her, with all but undiminished force, to the end." Erect in figure, of easy carriage and slender form, her eyes of sparkling brightness, her footstep light and quick, and her voice penetrating, in old age she seemed ever young. Through life, the charm of sanctified intelligence won for her, and retained, many valuable friendships. Her presence at the meetings of the Dorcas Society, and like social gatherings of Christian workers, threw a gladsome sunshine over the entire company.
Miss Lee's parents were religiously disposed, and frequented the parish church. The ministrations there tended to instruct her mind in the thingsof God and lead her soul to aspirations after the Divine life. By her removal to Brighton, to reside with a relative, she was brought into intercourse with the Ministers and ordinances of Methodism. In days when George Osborn was in the full vigour of youth, when the gentle John Geden poured forth from the abundance of a loving heart a flow of godly wisdom and fervent piety, when Brighton was favoured with the scholarly, but eminently simple, discourses of Joseph Sutcliffe, and the hopeful sermons of John C. Pengelly, it was Miss Lee's happy lot to hear words whereby she was saved. Those days of hallowed experience and sweet delight in the means of grace
threw their refreshing radiance over her entire career.
Miss Lee was married to a good Methodist, Mr. James Manwaring. She proved
help meet for him.' Soon after her removal to London she was appointed to the office of a Class Leader in the Wesleyan-Methodist Society at the Southwark Chapel. She records her convictions thus : 'I felt overwhelmed with a sense of my inability to engage in such an important
office. I was led to see I could do all things by the help of the Lord, and with fear and trembling undertook the work, trusting in the Lord. For some time I felt utterly unequal to such a responsible charge, and was led to cry mightily to the God of all comfort, to strengthen me in my inner man and deepen the work of grace in my soul. Glory be to God! He did lift upon me the light of His countenance, and said unto me: " Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God." For a time I felt happy, but soon found I wanted more grace, much more piety, and mach more hungering and thirsting after righteousness.
July 12th, 1854.—Heard one of my beloved sisters' experience with much profit. She almost felt she had a “clean heart." I felt determined not to rest till I obtained the like precious blessing. How much I saw of my unworthiness and nothingness and din fitness to guide precious souls to heaven. I wrestled before the Lord in prayer.
* July 17th.—Called on one of my dear Class-mates. Had some profitable conversation, she spoke closely to me on full salvation. We prayed to the Lord together that He would cleanse my heart from all sin and make me clear in this important point, in order to my own comfort and my usefulness to those precious souls committed to my care. Returned home determined not to rest until I had obtained a clean heart.
July 20th.-Last evening at the Prayer-meeting after the preaching, I could realize that “perfect love casteth out fear.” Glory be to God for ever! Lord, keep me watchfal and prayerful, that I may ever hold fast my blessed hope, through the precious blood sf Jesus.'
The origin of the Southwark Methodist Society is contemporaneous with some of the early evangelistic labours of the Rev. John Wesley. In August, 1743, he took possession of a convenient chapel in Snowsfields, built óby 2 poor Arian misbeliever, for the defence and propagation of her bad faith. But the wisdom of God brought that device to nought; and ordered, by His overruling Providence, that it should be employed, not for "crucifying the Son of God afresh,” but for calling all to believe on His name.'
Notwithstanding being overturned in a coach, and falling on the ice on London Bridge to the injury of his ankle, Mr. Wesley continued his visits to Southwark, holding Watchnight and other services.
• February 12th, 1763.—I visited the Classes at Snowsfields, where I was 3old many would
go away; but the time was not come. As yet we have lost vone, though some are held as by a single hair.' The foresight of our Founder was akin to prophecy. Since that how often has the “single hair' snapped asunder!
On August 18th, 1764, Mr. Wesley says : 'I preached, for the first time, in our new chapel at Snowsfields.' Was this the octagonal chapel in Crosby Row, which was long used as a Sunday-school after the erection of Southwark chapel in Long Lane (now in the occupation of a Welsh congregation) ? Mr. Wesley had a preference for this shape of chapel, as therein the congregation is brought closer together, and the sound of the Preacher's voice is more equably distributed ; and thereby the sociableness of worship is conserved, and a cosy compactness given to the building.
Mr. Wesley writes again : Thursday, December 27th, 1764.- I preached and administered the Sacrament at the new chapel in Snowsfields. How well does God order all things! By losing the former chapel we have
gained both a better house and a larger congregation.' Let those who condemn the Methodism of modern times, which has matured into a distinct ecclesiastical community, ponder these doings of our Founder. Since the above date Methodism has often gained by the loss of a former chapel '-in improved situation, architecture, and commodiousness.
On February 23rd, 1771, Mr. Wesley writes: 'We had the greatest number of communicants at Snowsfields that we have had since the chapel was built.' Since that day the Southwark Society has retained its attachment to, and attendance on, this hallowed rite.
In the evening of Saturday, December 20th, 1760, Mr. Wesley 'hastened back from Snowsfields to meet the penitents,......and walked thither again at five in the morning.' He adds : ‘Blessed be God, I have no reason or pretence to spare myself yet.'
On Saturday, November 1st, 1788 (being All Saints' Day), Mr. Wesley preached at Snowsfields, on Revelation xiv. 1 : 'A comfortable subject; and I always find this a comfortable day.'
Dr. W. Rendle, of Forest Hill, who was connected with Methodism in Southwark from 1816 to 1851, has favoured me with some interesting notices respecting its early history.
Wesley's interest in Southwark appeared from his frequent visitation of the prisons there—the Magdalen, and other abodes of the wretched. The rude and demoralizing plays enacted in the new theatre in the Bowling Green, and the coarse jeets and open licentiousness of the public booths and yards of the fair, furnished Hogarth with one of his effective scenes for satirizing vice and evoking contempt for unbridled sensuality.
In 1753, Mr. Wesley writes : Saturday, February 8rd.-I visited one in the Marshalsea Prison ; a nursery of all manner of wickedness. O! shame to man, that there should be such a place, such a picture of hell upon earth! And shame to those who bear the name of Christ, that there should need any prison at all in Christendom.' This hell in epitome' has long since disappeared.
*The first chapel used by Mr. Wesley in Snowsfields,' says Dr. Rendle, 'was built by Mrs. Ginn, of Newington-Butts, for a Mr. Radd, who had been a member of the Baptist Society at Maze Pond, and but for his Unitarian views would have become the Pastor of the Maze Pond Chapel. After the death of his patroness, Mr. Rudd conformed to the Established Church, and, the meeting dwindling away, the chapel became Mr. Wesley's. This chapel was lost to Mr. Wesley in consequence of divisions in the Society arising out of the prevalence of extravagant views on Christian Perfection. Thomas Maxfield and George Bell were among the first Preachers in the Snowsfields Chapel. George Bell had a “screeching way of preaching." The excitable temperament of Thomas Maxfield was wrought upon by the extravagant ideas of George Bell. Through the ingratitude of the latter, and the enthusiasm of the former, serious loss was inflicted on the Societies.'
The first Wesleyan Chapel in Southwark fell into the hands of Mr. Max