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MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. ABEL DERNALEY:
WITH NOTICES OF MRS. DERNALEY.
It is right and becoming that the memory of eminent servants of Christ and His Church should be preserved: that those who have laboured in the high places of the field, who have filled a large space in the the public eye, should have the place of honour in the roll of the departed. But brief notices of less prominent workers are often read with equal pleasure and profit. To this latter class belonged Mr. and Mes. DEFNALEY. Unobtrusive almost to a fault, they yet exercised a most blessed influence in the circle in which they moved. Christian people ever felt their society to be refreshing; and even those who were not themselves religious acknowledged the power and loveliness of their consistent lives. Like Zacharias and Elisabeth of old, “they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."
MR. DERNALEY was the youngest but one of a large family, ten of whom lived until past middle age. He was born at Tintwistle Derbyshire, March 25th, 1797. His parents were members of the Church of England, but the church being at some distance from their residence, they frequently attended service at an Independent chapel. Heavy losses which his father sustained in business appear to have flung a sadness over his early years. Of an affectionate and deeply sensitive spirit, he felt intensely the trials through which his parents were called to pass. But as the earth is made sost with showers, and prepared for the seed of the husbandman, so sorrow seems, in his case, to have contributed to dispose his heart for the reception of the "truth as it is in Jesus.” The good seed fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit abundantly. He rarely spoke of his youth. Some scanty references, extending over many years, found in his note-book, may be given in his own words. He thus describes his first leaving home, when in his fifteenth year :
"I felt sad as I walked along, thinking much of my aged parents and their circumstances--they having just left the house where they had lived nearly thirty years. Never shall I forget my emotions. I felt that I needed more than human aid, but knew little about look, ing aright for help. God, however, saw me, and helped me. When VOL. XIY.-FIFTH SERIES.
I looked forward to the future, all appeared dark; yet I knew that the time had now come when it was proper that I should go to business, as my brothers had done. No suitable situation offered itself, and I did not much like the business before me; but I was ready to go to any trade rather than spend my time in idleness at home. I have long seen how all has been overruled for good.” Thus early was he characterized by that delicate sense of honour which marked his whole life, and which made it painful to him to be dependent on another for even the smallest office which he could perform for himself. Few things annoyed him more than to see an unwillingness to stoop, if stooping were necessary. He saw no disgrace in honest work, however lowly.
His introduction to the Wesleyan Methodists and his conversion are thus recorded in his note-book. “Through a kind Providence I began to sit under the Wesleyan ininistry, and attend their Sabbathsehol. This was all new to me, and it produced a good effect upon uy southful mind. In the course of a few months I was awakened, under the ministry of the Rev. William Midgley, then travelling his scond year in the New-Mills Circuit. On the following evening I went to class, where I received, along with some other young persons, suitable advice. On the 6th of April, 1812, the Lord pardoned all my sins." In another place he says," I spent about five years in the Sabbath-school, with profit to myself, and I trust with some little adrantage to others. Indeed I did not leave the school until I was cbliged to do so, through increasing engagements as a Local preacher.” About this period, a malignant ferer broke out in the district in which he resided. The terrified people thronged the various houses of prayer: bundreds were crying for mercy. Young as Mr. Demnaley was, he was known far and wide as a sincere, earnest Ciristian ; and, fearless of infection, he was found at the bedside of scores of ferer stricken penitents, preaching " Christ and Him crucified." He had a special gift in prayer, and in times of sorrow tras sent for, by rich and poor alike.
Mr. Dernaley's note-book contains the following entry :-"In the cise of 1sis, I removed to the Holmfirta Circuit, and resided at Wetter Thong about two years, when I returned to Hayfield, in Derbyshire. I was soon appointed leader of a class, having accepted the use for six months on the condition of giving it up if there were ia that time no inerease of members. I left an excellent class when I care out to travel in the year 1824. I received my first Plan from the Rev. J. Hanwel, and though my labours bare indeed been ferie, I trast ther bare been owned of God, both in the conviction and the courersion of sinners. During the seven years I was a Local preaches, I travelled some thousands of miles, in the New-Mills, Houth, ani Bradwell Circuits. I do not know that I ever neglected an appointment in my life, or was ever, through carelessness, too late. Since I came into the regular ministry, I have been bighly favoured with bodily vigour, and in many, very many, other respects. I have had what are generally called “hard Circuits ;' but the Lord has given me favour in the sight of the people, and strength according to my day. I thank God for all His mercies towards me! What is most important of all, I have witnessed the conversion of hundreds since I knew the Lord myself, and to Him I give all the praise."
Mr. Dernaley's Circuits were undoubtedly “hard ones," and they severely tested even his fine physical frame. Happily, the division of Circuits, the increase in the staff of ministers, the better postal arrangements, and the facilities afforded for reaching country appointments by railways, have done much to make Circuits less arduous than they were only a few years ago.
Of his qualifications as a preacher Mr. Dernaley ever spoke with humility. He often expressed regret that he had been made a Superintendent so soon, since the office brought with it so many cares, and such a pressure of business, as to greatly interfere with the reading and study which he felt needful. Nevertheless, he was most conscientious in availing himself of every opportunity for improvement. He constantly acted from a high sense of duty, and in every Circuit in which he laboured won for himself the reputation of a preacher who "wore well.” That he had great depth of thought, wealth of illustration, or brilliancy of style, those who love his memory most will be the last to affirm. But he preached like a man who knew, and felt, that he had something to say which it was of the utmost importance that people should hear, for their eternal good; and he set about saying it to the best of bis ability—in a simple, earnest, and affectionate way. To enlighten the conscience, and convince the judgment of his hearers, was his aim. He strove to show them what he exemplified in bis own life, the reasonableness of devotion to God's service. His ministry was in consequence greatly blessed, both in the conversion of sinners and the editication of believers. One, who is now a highly respected minister of another denomination, remarked to one of Mr. Dernaley's daughters after his death, “ I had the greatest reverence and affection for your father. He examined me, and gave me my first Plan. His three
in Circuit was a glorious success. The services he rendered to Methodism, as a wise and careful Superintendent, will be acknowledged by every Circuit in which he travelled.” Another thus writes of him :-"When in this Circuit the first time, his Superintendent's health broke down during the first year; so that nearly all the work devolved upon Mr. Dernaley. So zealous and efficient were his labours, under God, that the stewards presented him with a testimonial in acknowledgment of his services, and he left the Circuit beloved of all. His second