Page images
PDF
EPUB

that time I attended the chapel regularly, and began to pray night and morning. I left off the habit of swearing, to which I had become addicted, and began to read the Bible and religious books. In this way I went on for eighteen months. Twice during that time I gave way to violent passion, and swore; but, after praying, I supposed all was right again, and that I was a true Christian.” From this state of ignorance he was mercifully delivered, through the instrumentality of a sermon preached by one of the ministers of the Circuit. “One Monday night my case was represented so clearly, that I thonght the preacher must have known all about me. I found I was building on my present duties and morality; and I began from that hour to pray fervently that the Lord would forgive my past sins. I felt convinced that unless I obtained forgiveness, through faith in Christ, I must, after all, be lost for ever." He now, at the invitation of several friends, began to meet in class. Light from heaven shone into his mind, and he obtained the blessing which he so earnestly sought. His account of bis conversion is so simple that we give it in his own words.

“When returning home from the class-meeting, in company with the members, we began to sing hymns. While thus engaged, I had such a view of Christ as my Saviour, that my soul was filled with rapture. In a moment all grief and fear fled away. I was filled with love, and was completely delivered from the fear of death. On the following Sunday the leader of the class said, 'Do you know your sins to be pardoned ?' I replied, 'I hope they are;' for I durst not speak confidently. I expected pardon was more than I felt. This state of uncertainty was shortly afterwards removed. I attended a lovefeast, when a Local preacher related his experience, which was so similar to mine that I was abundantly encouraged. I received my first ticket, June, 1801. Soon after this I was called to speak in public. This I did in the first instance by reading a chapter, and commenting upon it."

His mind appears to have been much perplexed as to the propriety of his attempting to preach, though frequently pressed by the people to occupy the pulpit. Having promised to preach at Thwing, now in the Bridlington Circuit, he was greatly tempted not to fulfil his engagement. “At the appointed time," he writes, “I went, accom. panied by a number of my class-mates. When we came near the place, I lifted up my heart to God in simplicity and fervency, and said, 'O Lord, if Thou hast called me to preach, give me confidence and liberty, and let me win one soul. But if Thou hast not called me, confound me before the people.' These words passed through my mind, ' According to thy faith be it unto thee.' I had liberty in prayer and preaching, and at the class-meeting one young man, who had been remarkably wicked, remained. I addressed him, and found, to my astonishment, that the word had found its way to his heart. In a short time he obtained forgiveness of his sins.” In the month of December, 1803, he removed to the York Circuit, of which the Rev. Joseph Sutcliffe was the Superintendent. “After I arrived in York,” he remarks, "Mr. Sutcliffe brought me a Plan to fill up till the quarter-day. I durst not refuse it: and when the regular Plan came out, my name appeared on it as one of the Local preachers."

Mr. Coultas appears to have been frequently exercised on the question of his being fully devoted to the work of the ministry; but he felt afraid of speaking to Mr. Sutcliffe on the subject, lest he should be thought to thrust himself out before God had called him. With these feelings, he allowed the Conference to pass over; and, having received from Mr. Sutcliffe no communication with respect to his entering the ministry, he endeavoured to banish the thought from his mind, and entered into the marriage state with Miss Taylor, of York. “During four years,” we learn from his diary,“ God blessed me with three sons, one of whom was taken to a better land at the age of nine months. This was a painful bereavement, but we were supported by the pleasing reflection, 'He is not dead, but sleepeth.'” Throughout the whole of this time his mind appears to have been harassed with the thought that he had disobeyed the call of Divine Providence, in not offering himself as a Missionary to the West Indies. He says, “In 1809 I had a very severe fever; and, one day, as I lay in bed, I said, 'What is the cause of this affliction ? Ought I to have offered myself for the West Indies ? If so, and the Lord will raise me up, by His grace assisting me, I will be disobedient no longer.' I began to recover from that moment.” On his convalescence he opened his mind fully to the Rev. J. M‘Donald and the Rev. W. E. Miller, then travelling in the York Circuit. “Mr. M‘Donald asked me many questions, and advised me to leave the case with God and himself. “You pray,' said he,' and I will write to the Conference and to Dr. Coke, and will lay the case before them.'” At the following Conference, the name of William Coultas appeared in the “ Minutes” for the island of Nevis.

All difficulties about winding up his business affairs were speedily removed ; and, to quote from his diary, “On Tuesday morning, October 30th, 1810, at six o'clock, my dear wife, two boys, and myself left York for London. After being very sick and much fatigued, we arrived safely on Wednesday morning, at City-road, and were very kindly welcomed at the house of the Rev. John Barber.”

He remained in London a week, during which he preached several times, and then set sail for the West Indies. After a very stormy voyage, he and his family arrived safely at Nevis, the scene of their future labours. “My first text in Nevis was Rom. xv. 30-32. The sight of the people, chiefly black and coloured, their amazing atten.

ovutes" for thhout winding his diary

tion, with all sickness, God for grant.co

tion, with their groans and tears, almost unmanned me. I seemed to forget all sickness, dangers, and the suffering through which I had passed ; and I praised God for granting me an opportunity of preaching the Gospel to people of another colour and country.”

During six years Mr. Coultas laboured zealously in several of the West-India islands, amid much persecution from the planters, by whom, in general, all religious instruction of the slaves was violently opposed. Frequently was he exposed to imminent danger, whilst passing in open boats or canoes from one island to another; and on several occasions he was brought near to the grave by fever. Three times was his case declared to be hopeless by the medical men who attended him. Yet, through these toils and dangers, the God in whom he trusted brought him back to his native country, permitting him there for many years to preach the Gospel among his own people. It is impossible in a brief sketch like this to follow him through all his labours and trials while abroad. A few extracts from his journal will suffice to show the spirit in wbich he prosecuted his holy duties.

“February, 1812.—I arrived safely at the island of Tortola, after a quick and pleasant passage of twenty hours. This island is composed of a ridge of mountains, surrounded by a number of small islands and rocks ; in visiting one of which I lately had a narrow escape from drowning. The people on shore saw our situation, and came off in a boat to our rescue. I borrowed some clothes, and preached to the people.” “During the six months I have been in this Circuit, hundreds have joined the Society; many of whom have proved the Gospel to be the power of God to their salvation.

"August 23d.-This morning we had the most severe earthquake I have known since I came to the West Indies. We had assembled for morning service at four o'clock, intending to close at daylight, so that the slaves might be in time for their work. I had taken the Hymn-Book to give out a verse, when I heard a rumbling like distant thunder. The chapel shook greatly, and the noise seemed to pass under us. The people fell on their knees; and, when the shock was over, we united in prayer and thanksgiving to God who had preserved us."

The following extract will give some idea of the amount of labour the Missionaries had at that time to perform: no wonder death and sickness were so common among them.

“ April 14th, 1816, Easter Sunday.-At four o'clock in the morning, I preached at Kingston to a large congregation. I was awake at three o'clock, and heard the people coming to chapel. At ten I read prayers and preached again. At half-past twelve I began to read and explain the Rules of the Society. This took me two hours. I then administered the sacrament to between two and three hundred

persons, and baptized a sick child. At seven I preached to another large congregation, and concluded the day's work fatigued enough, but felt very happy."

The sufferings of the slaves in consequence of attending the chapel are thus alluded to :

"May 31st.—Mr. C- has vented his rage on the poor slaves on his estate by pulling down their prayer-house, breaking the benches, and carrying away all the prayer-books and Bibles he could find. God will avenge their cause!

“19th.-Mr. C- being from home, some of his slaves ventured to come to chapel. Poor creatures, they were nearly broken-hearted, being threatened with a 'cartwhipping' if they came.

“June 18th.—I have been informed that Mr. C— has had three of our leaders, two men and one woman, cartwhipped,' for no other crime than going to chapel.

“ October 1st.—I heard of the death of Mr. C— , the cruel persecutor of the Missionaries. He went to the races at Antigua, where he took the fever, and died. Verily, there is a God who renders recompense to His enemies !”

In the month of April, 1817, he returned to England, after having spent between six and seven years in the West Indies. The following is his record on the subject. “We went out at the command of God, 'not knowing whither we went;' and, preserved by a kind Providence, have now been brought home to our families and friends. Before I went to the West Indies, I thought, if one soul were saved, I should be recompensed for all my toils. But, after allowing for deaths and other losses, I find one thousand five hundred and ninetyeight was the number brought into the Societies with which I was connected; so that the united labours of myself and my brethren were abundantly blessed. To God be all the praise !”

At the Conference of 1817, Mr. Coultas was appointed to the Brigg Circuit, along with the Rev. T. L. Hodgson, as his colleague. At the end of twelve months he was compelled to remove, in consequence of an affection of the lungs. He speaks, however, of the year as having been "a happy and successful one.” He afterwards laboured with great success in several Circuits, until, in 1844, he was stationed at Southport. Concerning this appointment he remarks, “ Three happy years to me, though I began to beg as soon as I went, to get off a debt. I gathered some hundreds of pounds for a new chapel, saw it erected, and assisted in the opening services...... It will seat eight hundred and fifty persons, and is considered a very neat one.” He lived to see the structure which he had so zealously assisted in rearing succeeded by two large chapels in Southport, which are among the most bandsome in the kingdom.

chapel, saw it'ebt. I gather though i beg

In 1850, Mr. Coultas felt unequal to taking another Circuit. He says, “Throughout forty years of labour, at home and abroad, the good hand of God has been with me.” He now came to reside as a Supernumerary at Southport; where for nearly sixteen years he was constant in his attendance at the prayer-meetings and public ser. vices, in which he greatly delighted. During the same period he was the leader of two classes. Much of his time was spent in visiting the sick, and in praying with the people from house to house, This was continued by him until within a short period of his death.

As the final hour approached, Mr. Coultas appeared to be kept in perfect peace. When confined to his bed, he was much engaged in prayer and praise, and he always appeared most happy when surrounded by his pious friends. The fear of death seemed to be entirely removed ; and on retiring to rest at night, he frequently expressed himself as "perfectly satisfied, should he wake no more in this world, all would be well.” A few hours before his departure, the powers of speech failed him, but even then his countenance expressed the happiness he felt. He peacefully passed away to that land of rest to which his soul had so long looked in hope, August 19th, 1866. His death was improved by the Rev. W. B. Pope, who preached from 2 Tim. iv. 6-8, in the chapel at Mornington-road, to a large congregation. Mr. Coultas was universally respected, and by many intimate friends sincerely beloved. His works of faith and labours of love will embalm his name in the memories of many in Southport. He was interred in the cemetery at York, where lie the remains of his wife and daughter.

THE LEAVEN. "Another parable spake He unto them ; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven,

which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” (Matt. xii. 33.)

The movement in the minds of the people which was produced by the ministry of Jesus was of deep significance. The novel character of His teaching, accompanied and sustained by His extraordinary miraculous power, wbich He exercised with so much benevolent freedom, elicited an amount of excitement which was in perfect contrast to the dull and lifeless monotony of their former condition. His friends and His foes were alike perplexed. The more graphic account of Mark (chap. iii.) brings the whole scene most vividly before us. His power over all the forms of evil filled the multitude with astonishment, and in vast crowds they gathered around Him; to the bitter mortification of the Pharisaic party, who now earnestly entered upon their course of opposition to Him; and to the apprehension of His

mpanied op signifpeople mbi

« PreviousContinue »