« AnteriorContinuar »
he heard, searched the Scriptures with prayer for direction, and became convinced that he needed the same grace. He, too, obtained “redemption in the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of sins.” The brothers were soon numbered among the most respectable and efficient Local Preachers in the east of Cornwall; and in that vicinity, including some parts of Devon, they for many years proclaimed the glad tidings of the Gospel amid much opposition from rude mobs, and even from persons of higher rank.
Thus, at the distance of twenty miles, God, who setteth the solitary in families, was raising up partners for each other of one heart and way. Thus he opened new doors for his word, and prepared new labourers in his vineyard, and new homes for his Ministers. Mr. Richard Geake met widow Sargent unexpectedly at Milbrook, and recognised her as a distant relative. Her agreeable person, neat dress, and unaffected piety, won his affection, and a union followed, which was productive of mutual happiness for more than half a century. Mrs. Geake's sisters, Peggy and Catharine, were Methodists; and, through this new relationship, entered into the matrimonial state,—the former becoming the wife of Mr. Thomas Geake; the latter, of Mr. Edmund Webb, a respectable farmer and Local Preacher. These auspicious unions were regarded as special answers to prayer: certainly they have produced much domestic comfort, and been the channel for conveying religious advantages to many in their respective localities.
Mr. Richard Geake and his excellent wife opened their house to the Wesleyan Ministers and other friends, first at Polperro, and subsequently, for many years, at St. Germain's. At the latter place, as a tanner and farmer, Mr. Geake had much business, with a large family; but for fifteen years the Gospel was preached, and religious meetings were held, in his house. At times the kitchen, parlour, and office, were thronged; but though it must have been very inconvenient to prepare the family meals, and attend to other domestic affairs, in the brief intervals between morning, afternoon, and evening meetings, Mrs. Geake never complained; but, on the contrary, rejoiced in opportunities thus afforded for getting and doing good. That kitchen has been the spiritual birth-place of many, some of whom have risen to honourable stations in the church, and cherished feelings of reverence for the sacred room, as having been to them “the house of God, and the gate of heaven.” The writer well remembers the powerful impression he received in that kitchen under the first sermon preached there by the late Rev. William Martin, in September, 1805. The text was taken from Acts xvii. 30; intense was the general feeling of the congregation, and numerous were the tears of many on that memorable occasion.
At this period of Methodism, Local Preachers in the neighbourhood were but few. Mr. Geake was almost every Sunday engaged to preach, and frequently at a considerable distance from his home. Being of a cheerful, lively disposition, and warmly devoted to religion, he was often selected to hold lovefeasts after evening preaching. Hence, his return to his family was unavoidably late ; for, however fatigued, he made it a point to return home the same night, that he might be ready for business in the morning. Mrs. Geake, far from wishing to hinder him, was ever desirous that he should fulfil his appointments, remarking, “ The people will expect you." But she would not retire to rest until his return, nor blame him for being late. Having in early life
acquired a taste for useful reading, her waiting hours glided on pleasantly; and her husband, on his return, found her wakeful, with cheerful looks ready to give him a cordial welcome. She took no prominent part in the church, and said but little respecting herself; yet, as a private Christian she excelled, and by her example and counsels she edified many. Delighting in the company of the Wesleyan Ministers, she profited by their instructions, and was ever ready to entertain them with Christian hospitality. By her family and the poor she was greatly beloved ; some of whom, through her influence, became disciples of Christ. She was eminently “a keeper at home,” ever anticipating the wants, and promoting the happiness, of the domestic circle. Her affection for her husband and children was very strong; and being both firm and kind as a mistress, her servants feared and loved her. Several of her domestics, though ungodly when they came to the house, were so benefited by what they saw and heard there, as to "become new creatures in Christ ;” and some of them have since died in the Lord. As the house of Obed-edom was blessed on account of the ark of God, so has this family been enriched with treasures far more valuable than silver or gold. The daughters became the subjects of early piety, and have continued faithful; while, it is hoped, the entire family have received the seed of divine truth, which under due culture may yield the fruits of righteousness.
Mrs. Geake at different periods of life was visited with severe affliction, but felt resigned and happy under the chastening rod. She was bereaved of four children when they were very young. One daughter made a happy end, after having been for some years a consistent member of the Methodist society. By severe attacks of typhus fever, her husband, Mr. Thomas Geake, Mr. Webb, and several members of their families, were brought very low; but she was mercifully spared, and enabled to minister to their necessities. On that painfully memorable occasion the fathers were restored to health, whilst some child or children in each family fell victims to the disease. After losing two sons through the fever, Mrs. Geake was called to give up Mr. Comer, an intended son-in-law. He had served an apprenticesbip in the house as a tanner, and begun business for himself at Milbrook. But his prospects in life were blighted by a rapid pulmonary consumption. Being disabled for business, he turned towards his former happy residence at St. Germain's, observing, “ I am going home to die.” After lingering a short time, with a blooming hope of immortality, he died amidst his esteemed and beloved friends, rejoicing in God his Saviour.
Guided by Providence, Mr. and Mrs. Geake, in the decline of life, removed from St. Germain's to Frogwell, a hamlet in the parish of Callington. Here they found a suitable retreat from the cares of business in a small tenement, consisting of houses, garden, orchard, and five small fields. This property was left in trust by the late Mr. Denner, chiefly for the support of the Methodist ministry in Frogwell. A brief memoir of Mr. Denner is given in the Wesleyan Magazine for February, 1806. For sixty years he had lived without God in the world, when he heard a Methodist Preacher in the corn-market at Callington, and was awakened to an earnest concern for salvation. This circumstance led to the introduction of Methodism into Frogwell and other places. Mr. Denner fitted up an “upper room” on his own premises, where the writer, in early youth, has heard Messrs. Geake, Webb, the venerable James Truscott, of Tavistock, Local Preachers from Dock, (now Devonport,) and elsewhere. Dear to him and to many others is the “upper room” in the hamlet, where he received his natural and spiritual birth, where his honoured mother had been brought to the knowledge of the truth, and where other relatives and friends, including the Rev. James Messenger, a Clergyman, have received considerable religious benefit. From this mother-church Methodism has spread and prospered, especially at Callington, where, a first and second chapel having become too small, a third, of larger dimensions, has lately been erected.
Mr. Denner died in 1802; and the tenement he bequeathed to Methodism has ever since been occupied by persons either Local Preachers, or individuals able to conduct the prayer and class meetings. It forms a desirable retreat for a Supernumerary labourer, who may be so far efficient as occasionally to conduct the religious services, receive " the brethren” at the expense of the trust, and extend his ministrations as strength may permit. Here Mr. Geake, now a widower, and one of the original Trustees, has resided for the last few years, continuing strong, and ever ready to labour for God and souls, extending his ministry throughout the Circuit, and occasionally beyond it; and here in imagination the writer delights to linger. The hamlet (consisting of this tenement and two farm-houses) reposes on the sunniest side of a gently-reclining vale. The “ upper room” is in the outer cottage, bequeathed by Mr. Denner : passing by a garden-hedge of well trimmed box, we reach the humble dwelling, embosomed in fruitful orchards. By a path, overshadowed with apple-trees, we ascend to the upland fields, from whence the eye surveys a pleasing variety of hill and dale, wood and water. Rich meadows slope down to the river Lyner; whilst, in the distance, cultivated lands, with Cornish moors and tors, stretch away in the direction of Camelford.
Here Mrs. Geake spent her latter days, attending to domestic duties, and enjoying the means of grace, admired and beloved by all who knew her. For many years she had found much satisfaction in reading the Methodist Magazine, especially the biographical portions. Having read the memoir of the devoted David Stoner, she remarked, with tears and deep feeling, “O, what this dear young man did in his short day! I am fourscore, and have done nothing for God in all my life!” Her husband replied, “ My dear, you have done something. If not a Preacher, you have readily waited on Preachers for many years, and would have washed their feet had it been necessary.” “ Yes," she replied, “but that is nothing : see what souls this blessed young man has been the means of converting!” Thus humble was her mind, at all times free from an inclination to find fault or criticise, and ever ready to glorify God in the gifts and graces of his Ministers. She kept no diary, and rarely wrote a letter ; but in domestic life she ranked among virtuous women, whose price is above rubies. The heart of her husband did safely trust in her; for she did him good and not evil all the days of her life. A lady, in a letter of condolence to the bereaved husband, remarked, “I do not think I can forget the morning when I saw Mrs. Geake at Frogwell. When she understood who I was, she warmly welcomed me, and instantly began to mention the loving-kindness of the Lord. “I wish,' said she, my every breath were praise. From the rising to the setting sun I would praise the
Lord. I am nearly home, but not quite ready yet, or my Lord would take me; but he will make me ready :
My voice is weak, and the sound is poor ; but I can still sing. I sing here,' (putting her hand upon her heart,) often in the evening I sing.' I asked, “ Cannot you give me a morning song?' She replied, I think I can. After cleansing her throat, she chanted with a thin tremulous voice some sweet lines, which, she said, Dr. Adam Clarke taught her when a girl, and he used to preach in her father's parlour.” The lines referred to were probably the Rev. Thomas Oliver's beautiful hymn on Gen. xv. 1, which is found on page 609 of the Wesleyan Hymn-Book, “ The God of Abraham praise,” &c. The writer has occasionally joined with her in singing her favourite hymn, which, though long, she could repeat nearly verbatim. She sung the old and simple tune which she learned from the second race of Preachers in her youth. Whilst thus engaged, he has looked on her with admiration, as on one who would soon be with the saints in light to praise her God and Saviour “ in nobler strains" on high.
Mrs. Hocking, her only surviving daughter, in an account drawn up by her for the “ funeral sermon,” after a brief notice of her honoured mother's early conversion, says, “ From that time until death she was a consistent member of the Methodist society; loving all who loved our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Many were her tears and prayers for the conversion of her family and neighbours. She faithfully warned them of the danger of delay, and testified from personal experience, the blessedness of true religion. As her bodily strength declined, her spiritual vigour increased. She would say, “I wish my every breath to be prayer and praise.' In a note to her daughter, she said, "My dear Mary, I suppose, is waiting to hear from me. Through mercy I am still able to creep about; but I cannot go out much, on account of the cold, nor can I walk far, as my knees are stiff, and my body trembles ; but through the goodness of God I have scarcely any pain ; a cough sometimes, and swimming in my head. I cannot write much, as my eyes fail. Thank God for the peace of mind I enjoy. I want to know nothing but Christ and him crucified; I would be more like God. A little longer, and the frail bark will get safe into the haven :
There all the ship's company meet,
'Tis heaven below, My Jesus to know.
I shall behold his face,
I shall his power adore,
For evermore !
Delightful thought !'—She had long enjoyed the company of Wesleyan Ministers, and entertained them and the Local brethren for more than fifty years. On the last Sabbath of her life, Mr. Pote, a Local Preacher, and another friend, took tea with her. She said to them, “You see I am very feeble, and not able to go to chapel : you must kneel down, and both of you pray with me.' They did so, and she was exceedingly happy in God. Frequently she remarked, “The worms will not find much to feed on, my body is so much reduced.' She lived in daily expectation of death, who was, as to her, disarmed of his sting. She said to me, “Ah, my dear, I can look at the mattock, the shovel, and the grave, without dread. I long to
Clap the glad wing, and soar away,
To mingle with the blaze of day.' She then feebly sang,
Glory, Hallelujah! I am on my journey home.' “ The Friday preceding her death was one of her happiest days. My father being absent on business, she said, on his return, “0, my dear, I am glad you are come! I believe, had you been here, I should have died yesterday; but I prayed, that, if consistent with the divine will, I might be spared to see you once more; and you see God hath answered my prayer.' On my father inquiring whether she felt happy, she replied, “Peaceful, very peaceful; but not much joy. Immediately she repeated, 'I shall behold his face,' &c. After this she said but little. Many times had she prayed for an easy passage from earth to heaven, and in this she was remarkably favoured. She entered into the joy of her Lord, without a struggle or sigh, about six o'clock on the morning of January 25th, 1844, aged eighty-two years.” *
BRIEF BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 14. DIED, January 29th, 1842, at Bedford, aged eighty-one, Mrs. Wilkinson, late of Sheepridge, near Huddersfield. When very young she lost her mother; but the absence of maternal care was supplied by her father's watchful attention to her morals and education. She was taught to respect the Sabbath, and regularly to attend the services of the established Church. From her childhood she was thoughtful and serious ; and as she grew up she felt and mani. fested a strong distaste for worldly amusements, though often invited to them by her friends. She never went to the theatre but once ; and then she was so uncomfortable that she resolved she would return there no more. At twenty-one she was married to Mr. Matthew Wilkinson. She then regularly attended the ministry of the late Mr. Venn, and derived from it great spiritual benefit : occasionally, also, she went to the Wesleyan chapel. She now began to seek earnestly the salvation of her soul; as she herself afterwards said, “I wanted to be a Bible Christian.” One evening, returning from worship, her mind was greatly distressed. “The remembrance of her sins,” she said, “ was grievous to her, and the burden of them was intolerable.” She prayed that God would have mercy on her, and
* The writer would avail himself of this opportunity to record the happy death of his beloved mother, Mrs. Sarah Henwood, who died in the same hamlet, Frogwell, January 25th, 1807. She was a Methodist for several years; and to her instrumentality the writer was indebted for his earliest religious impressions.