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John's Gospel, and showed them the necessity of being born again ; also, that the blessing was to be obtained by believing. Never did I attend such preaching before : the elements preaching upon deck, the lamentations and cries of sinners below, caused such a feeling in my breast, as, I think, will never, never, be erased. I had liberty in prayer, though my past unfaithfulness stared me in the face.
William, my brother, prayed in such a manner as did my heart good; and I think all prayed but two or three,—and they would not pray aloud. One poor old sinner said he had no memory, but hoped our prayers would be answered for him. We never expected the ship to hold off till daylight; but the Lord was better to us than all our fears, and at daylight we saw the land.”
In another letter, written to his wife some days later, he says: "I trust it will be the best day that I have ever known : for, you well know, I was following the Lord at too great a distance; and, had all things gone well, I don't know where I should have been...... But, bless the Lord, He has used the rod in mercy; and I trust I shall never forget the chastisement. I do feel my soul more alive to God; and I do feel I love Him, but I want to love Him more. I believe my brother William has set out in good earnest, and has determined, by God's grace, not to rest satisfied without a sense of pardoning mercy. Fred prass earnestly every night for his soul's salvation, and also for his parents; and I hope the remainder of the ship's company have such an impression on their minds as will never be erased. Last Sunday we had service twice. I showed them the awful possibility of putting off from time to time, till they are at length hurried into the immediate presence of God.”
It was no small bardship for a young man of twenty-seven to suffer shipwreck, just as he had commenced life. These letters show, however, where his trust was placed, and how cheerfully he comported himself under a most trying affliction. Nor was he unrewarded. A man of his sterling character was not long wanting a command. He obtained one in the early spring of the following year. But in the autumn bis religious principle was put to a severe test. The season was very far advanced, and not a moment was to be lost in prosecuting the voyage. The ship had been made ready for sea late on a Saturday evening, and the owner came down on the Sunday morning to see her off. He was much disappointed and displeased when he saw no captain on board, and no preparations made for sailing on that day; and the more so, as several ships went out of dock, bound for the same destination. He endeavoured to persuade Mr. Lidgett to alter his resolution, and to proceed; but it was to no effect. That was a day of painful trial. He could not afford to lose his friends ; but, from the day when he gave his heart to God, his course of conduct had been decided. He had taken a right resolution, and was determined to abide the consequences. The principle involved was too important for bim to give up, even though bis maintenance of it might becloud his earthly prospects. While, however, he thus rendered to God the things that were God's, he was not slow to comply with the other portion of the same injunction. A
bold professor of religion all his life, he nevertheless manifested, from time to time, a laudable ambition to succeed in his earthly calling. Whether as a navigator at sea, or as a merchant ashore, he was “ diligent in business, as well as "fervent in spirit.” Very early on that Monday
" . morning he was on the alert; and his ship then commenced a voyage, in which, by the favour of Providence, he was remarkably successful. He reached Cronstadt a day or two before any of those ships which had sailed on Sunday ; obtained, in consequence, a much more remunerative freight; and reached London again a whole fortnight before the first of them.' Thus was his Christian firmness attended by the blessing of God. When the owner saw the result, he could say nothing against it; and he promised never to interfere with him again, in that respect. The whole led to a life-long intimacy; and in later years both the friends were walking in the way to the kingdom.
In 1832 the cholera, which was epidemic in most of the countries of Europe, raged with fearful virulence in Russia, and committed sad ravages among ships' crews visiting its ports. It broke out on board my father's ship a day or two after her departure from Cronstadt for London. During several nights in succession he was summoned to attend upon one or more who had been suddenly seized. He put forth bis best exertions for their benefit in body and soul, taking them into his cabin, and personally ministering to their wants. For some days death seemed to threaten the whole ship's company ; but, by God's blessing, only two of the number were taken.
From the year 1835 may be dated the close of his seafaring life. Establishing himself on shore, he at once connected himself with the Society at St. George's in the East, London ; taking part in the good work of visiting the sick, and promoting religion among the more degraded and profligate of the population. This was before City Missionaries were known, and wben there was much more indifference, than at present, in regard to the social and physical sufferings of the poor.
During all the prime of life, he was untiring in his attention to the various departments of Christian labour which were assigned to bim. As the leader of a class, as a visiter of the sick, as trustee of chapels and schools, or as a distributer of tracts, he spared no effort which it was in his power to make. Before nine o'clock on the Sabbath morning, he was on his way to those dark courts and lanes which abound in the east end of London, to carry the message of salvation, or offer the helping hand of practical charity, to the people who stood much in need of sympathy and comfort. In demeanour and carriage toward those less prosperously circumstanced than himself, he was always kind and conciliating. In truth, the humility and generosity of his spirit gave to his intercourse with the poor a charm which no mere professions of interest in their welfare, no condescending affability, could possibly supply. He did not shrink, however, from the more arduous duties of a tract-distributer ; but entered the public house, and fearlessly reproved those who bought and sold intoxicating drinks on the Lord's day. Nor were these efforts without reward.
oftentimes the instrument of inducing the Sabbath-breaker and the profane to enter the courts of the Lord's house ; and not a few of these are now, doubtless, bis “ crown of rejoicing.”
The special services of the year 1839, on occasion of the Centenary of Methodism, proved to him a source of great spiritual good. At this period he cordially co-operated with other friends in the erection of the present chapel in St. George's, of which he became one of the trustees. In visiting the poor and the sick, and particularly in reproving the intemperate, he found his efforts of usefulness restrained by the plea that he was not himself a total abstainer. He no sooner perceived this, than he took a practical course, and for the time to come effectually precluded the objection. This course of abstinence he followed many years; and he departed from it at length, only in consequence of authoritative medical advice.
While he thus took an active and efficient part in promoting the welfare of mankind around him, it was in his own family circle that his goodness was more particularly manifest. Religion in his case was a power which ruled and governed bim, affecting the whole character and conduct. While he was careful to give “line upon line,” and “ precept upon precept,” these lessons were rendered thrice valuable by the illustration they received from his own attractive example. While he exercised the paternal authority, religion was felt rather as a koral than as a magisterial influence. The Sunday afternoons were uniformly happy, when he would gather bis family around him, open the sacred Book, and draw from that treasury lessons of incalculable worth.
In the year 1849, the Methodism to which he was warmly attached, and wbich he had found, by long experience, to be admirably adapted, as a Christian organization, to the wants of the world, was violently assailed, and in a spirit deeply to be deplored. He then united with its defenders, and spared no trouble to sustain its various interests. Rightly judging the tendency and sure effect of the opposition so ruthlessly raised against it, he never for a moment hesitated as to the course he was to take. In the two Circuits with which he was connected, (in one, as trustee of a chapel, and in the other as Circuitsteward,) he had to stand against some of the most notorious opponents of the constitution. With several of these be had been many years associated in church-membership; and the duty of opposing such was peculiarly trying. Painful as was the task, he unswervingly main
. tained his position ; and, in conjunction with other faithful Methodists, became the means of preserving valuable Connexional institutions, which, owing to the force of faction, were brought into serious peril. These clouds have now happily passed away ; but the remembrance of the dark day may awaken feelings of thankfulness on account of one who took a firm and honest stand in defence of the right.
In the early part of 1855 my father was called to sustain a heavy domestic sorrow. The death of his youngest son, Joseph, in the month of February, greatly affected him, and elicited a striking proof of the warmth and depth of his paternal love. After this, his own health slowly but manifestly declined, and he had to avail himself of change of air and scene. Temporary expedients of this class did not, however, produce the desired result ; and in 1856 he went to reside at TunbridgeWells. It was hoped that this step would be the means of restoring him ; and, during some time, there appeared good ground for the anticipation. It pleased the Almighty, in the year 1857, to send another affliction, equally severe with the one just noted. Mr. Lidgett's third son Samuel, who had a few months before honourably graduated as a Wrangler at Cambridge, met his death suddenly in the month of July, while playing at cricket. This shock, coming so soon after
, the former, was felt in all its suddenness and severity. It seemed as if a life, which, on the whole, had been one of almost uninterrupted happiness, and marked by many mercies, were now about to be overcast with shade. These events contributed in no small degree to the gradual decline of the bereaved father's health. It was not, indeed, until the latter end of 1860, that serious apprehensious were felt as to his approaching end. From December of that year, however, until the June following, (with the exception of a short interval,) he was descending by a gradual process to the tomb.
A few months before his death, while conversing with a friend, he showed very plainly that the prospect of dissolution was quite familiar to his mind. In true nautical phraseology, he expressed the hope that he might enter heaven in full sail. Toward the end of May he visited Blackheath, and took the opinion of two physicians on his case. They plainly stated their conviction that he could not live long ; tbat, in all probability, he would have to leave the world very soon. For several days after he received this intimation, he was unusually silent and thoughtful. He did not divulge what was passing in his mind. Into that sanctuary none was allowed to enter. A calm and serious review of his past life, and of the ground of his present acceptance with God, doubtless engaged his inmost soul. At length, some ten days before his decease, he emerged from this state of quiet reflection, calmly yet firmly exclaiming, "My way is with my God.” It seemed but natural that a life of such integrity of purpose, of such self-denying usefulness, and of such humble faith, should be followed by an assuring death. The sunset was to be glorious. He derived, however, all his comfort and assurance from the work of his faithful Redeemer ; and, while thankful for the part he had been enabled to take in the church, was ever ready to confess,
“ Excluded is my every boast.” He felt the necessity still of implicitly relying upon the Saviour, in whom he had long placed his trust, and through whom alone he had peace with God. One of his emphatic sayings was, " I shall not now throw away my
shield.” The lingering love of life had left bim ; and his earnest wish was to depart, and be with Christ. The closing scenes furnished abundant cause for gratitude, and additional reason for trust in Him who does not desert His faithful followers at their utmost need. Eight days before his death, as he appeared to be rapidly sinking, his family gathered round him, in expectation of his immediate departure. But days and nights of weariness and suffering still remained, during which lie maintained a constant communion with God. His bodily exhaustion was extreme; but spiritual joys, and a calm repose on his Redeemer, enabled him to sustain it. His great desire was, that he might be patient to the end. The poet's words, “O the pain, the bliss, of dying!” he employed more than once to express the feeling of bis soul. On Sunday, the 9th of June, when it was supposed he could not live until night, he wished his family to assemble, that he might partake with them of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The Rev. John Scott administered the sacred elements ; and the dying Christian joyously entered into the spirit of that last solemn service. To others, the pain of losing one so dear was mercifully attempered by the satisfying assurance that he, the object of their deepest solicitude, was soon to be with Christ. Yet, after this, he seemed to gather some strength. Henceforth he was wholly absorbed in spiritual things.
On one occasion, while suffering from extreme exhaustion, he was urged to cast all his care upon God: to which suggestion he promptly replied, “I will-1 do. I have cast all my care on Him." One of his children, having quoted the passage, “ Eye hath nor seen, nor ear beard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him," asked, "Do you believe that, father?" "Believe it! Of course, I do," he most emphatically auswered, as though surprised at the question.
The next day, he glanced round his bed, as if looking for some one, and was told that all were present. “ Yes," he said, " I know that : but there are some bere whom you do not see.” “ What sounds! how beautiful!” he exclaimed, on another occasion ; and, being asked to describe what he saw and heard, solemnly declared, “I cannot.” His spirit, almost freed from its fleshly tenement, was permitted (it would seem) to glance within the gates of heaven, and catch the echo of the song of the redeemed. His most frequently repeated expression concerning heaven was, “ I want to go home ;” and his constant prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus ; come quickly."
On the following Wednesday, as he seemed not to be fully conscious, some members of his family sang softly by his bed,
“ Jesu, Lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly ;" &c. They soon found, however, that he was following, line by line; and he at length joined in the strain, with a deep earnestness,
“ Thou art full of truth and grace." On his last Thursday evening, after sleeping for a short time, he awoke, and, with evident disappointment, said, “0, I thought I was in heaven.”
He complained that some one was praying him back ; and if petitions were offered for his recovery, he made no response. But, when prayer was made for a speedy and happy release, it was