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added to the Lord. But the doctrines preached were highly Calvinistic, and well-nigh drove Mrs. Shrewsbury to despair. Under deep conviction of guilt, she concluded that her case was utterly hopeless. She pronounced herself most certainly a reprobate, for whom no provision of mercy was found in the Gospel. Her husband was not much disturbed by such doctrines; for, though he knew nothing about religious controversy, his mind revolted from the tenets of unconditional election and reprobation.
At length their serious deportment, and regularity in the means of grace, induced some one of the members to name them as fit candidates for admission to the church. Two of the Deacons were appointed to visit and examine them touching their belief and experience, and to make a report to a subsequent meeting of the whole church for its decision. It was on a winter evening they came, and the writer, sitting near his mother by the fireside, was permitted to remain during the long interview : probably it was thought that one so young would pay little
little attention to what was going on. When the examination as to their views of election began, Mrs. Shrewsbury, who felt as the publican did in the temple, could say nothing, and was only able bitterly to bewail her lost state, as a most miserable and undone sioner. But her husband, vigorously employing his plain common-sense, and what knowledge he had of the Scriptures, controverted the opinions of the good Deacons, (for they were indeed “nen of God,”) till one of them with some warmth exclaimed, “Why, Mr. Shrewsbury, you are an Arminian!” “Arminian,” said he, “what is that ?”—for he had never heard the name before. When they had enlightened him a little on Arminianism, he undertook to vindicate it, at least so far as the willingness of God to save all mankind is concerned. “And now,” said he, “I will prove this to you ; for I have in the house an excellent Commentary on the Bible :” and so he brought forth, with all imaginable simplicity, one of Matthew Henry's ponderous folios, and, turning to Ezekiel xxxiii. 11, bade them read that expositor's notes on the passage. When the result of the interview was reported to the church, Mr. Shrewsbury at least was considered unsound in the faith, and both parties were refused admission to that communion ;-a decision which in no wise lessened her anguish who was already drinking deeply of “the wormwood and the gall.”
About that time a small Methodist chapel was erected in Deal. It was opened in 1806, by the Rev. William Vipond and Robert Pilter, then stationed in the Canterbury Circuit. Mr. Pilter preached in the afternoon on Psalm cxviii. 25; Mr. Vipond, morning and evening, on one text, 1 Thess. v. 21 : “ Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” His object was to state and defend the doctrines and discipline of Methodism; and his sermons were afterwards published at the Book-Room. The event aroused in our Independent brethren a more ardent zeal for Calvinism, which they conceived to be the truth. Their Pastor was courteously invited to dine with the Methodist Preachers, but refused ; and he took occasion to denounce Wesleyan
errors in a discourse based on Isaiah viï. 19, publicly declaring that “one might as well seek the living among the dead' as seek for Christ among the Arminians." But in that good man's soul there was too great a depth of solid religion for such prejudices to remain in perpetuity. As he advanced in years, and in grace and knowledge, they first declined, and then wholly disappeared ; so that in his old age he joyfully preached in the pulpit Messrs. Vipond and Pilter had occupied, and often worshipped as a hearer with the Methodist congregation. It is with no unkindly or ungenerous feeling that these facts are recorded : they are stated because they are interwoven with the personal experience of the subjects of this memoir ; and because, ecclesiastically considered, they throw some light on the mistaken views which were entertained half a century ago, by not a few Christian Pastors, in regard to the doctrines which Wesleyan Ministers proclaimed.
Mr. Shrewsbury heard Mr. Vipond's sermon in the morning, and his wife that in the evening; and both felt a general satisfaction with what they heard. Their son listened to all the three discourses. But they still attended Mr. Vincent's ministry; the son soon after gradually withdrew, and became a member of the Methodist communion. The parents did not positively prohibit this step; but Mrs. Shrewsbury, whose only concern was for the salvation of herself and her household, wept over him, and expressed her motherly fears that he would be "going wrong," for she had been assured that the Methodists were “workmongers," and she was confident that “ on the ground of our own righteousness no one could be saved.” When the Rev. James Mole was appointed to the Dover Circuit in 1809, she went with her husband to hear him, for the express purpose of detecting the unsoundness of doctrine against which their religious friends had warned them ; but, instead of discovering error, they were amazed at the clearness and force with which Divine truth was presented to their understanding. That was to them a memorable Sabbath evening. The Preacher's theme was the guilt of neglecting to establish familyworship. The text itself was alarming : “Pour out Thy fury upon the heathen that know Thee not, and upon the families that call not on Thy name.” (Jer. x. 25.) Much as they admired the Preacher, they thought still more of the truth, and on returning home confessed to each other that the word fairly involved them in condemnation. Something must be done ; yet Mr. Shrewsbury could not see how to maintain family-worship in their circumstances, except on Sundays, on account of the shop and business. His wife, however, with her deep religious anxieties, could not be satisfied with that or any other excuse. The words of the Prophet were in her just estimation plain and positive, leaving no room for anything but obedience. So the next morning she called all her children up to her room, and said to them, “Your father can attend to the business below but I dare not live without family-prayer any longer. William, you are the oldest, and must read the Scriptures; and I will pray with you all.” O, what a Bochim was that chamber, while we were on our knees !
She prayed most fervently with us; but it was with "a broken and contrite heart," and in such language as naturally fell from the lips of a poor distressed penitent. Mother and children were all weeping together at the footstool of Divine mercy. From that day familyworship was never once omitted in their habitation ; and when the children married, it was set up in their families ; and it is now perpetuated in the families of their grandchildren : all of which may be regarded, in a great measure, as the result of that one sermon preached nearly fifty years ago.
What Minister of Christ knows the extent of his usefulness, or where the benefits of his consecrated service will end ? Enough to know, and always to believe, that his “ labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
The day of liberty drew near. Shortly after these things Mrs. Shrewsbury joined the Methodists. In about a fortnight more, while some unknown Minister was preaching on the re-animating words, “ Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out,” the tears fell fast, not now of sorrow, but of joy; for the poor distressed “ reprobate" found that she was not “cast out,” but received graciously and loved freely. Now “the joy of the Lord” was her “strength.” And being a woman of mind, and possessing a remarkably rich gift in prayer, she was soon called occasionally to meet a class, and to help in various other departments of the work of God. Her husband was for several years a hearer only among the Methodists ; but afterwards he also became a member of the Society. For the remaining part of his life he was a very timid, retiring man, rather " fearing God and working righteousness,” than “walking in the light of His countenance.” He had seasons of holy confidence, and even rejoicing; but these were of short duration. In the closet he could pray with beautiful simplicity and propriety, as a few phrases once or twice incidentally overheard abundantly proved ; but in the family he never could be induced to offer more than a form of prayer from a Collection which he had obtained for that purpose.
He had a valuable spiritual helper in his wife, who often talked to him about Christ and His fulness, and was amazed at his fearfulness of spirit, when she found it so easy to be "strong in faith, giving glory to God.” Thus they journeyed on through the residue of their long married life of fifty
;-a period of union which few who pledge their troth to each other at the hymeneal altar, “till death us do part,” are permitted to see. Some of their children died in infancy; others, in early womanhood, but happy in their Saviour : most of the remaining children became godly, and the mercy of the Lord hath been showed unto the third generation,
,-a pledge of the fulfilment of His most gracious promise. (Deut. vii. 9.)
When their oldest son returned home from Missionary service in 1835, it was soon arranged that they should leave their lowly dwelling, and abide with him the remainder of their days. Family-worship was conducted by each in turn; and on those occasions Mrs. Shrewsbury often prayed with extraordinary freedom, and fulness, and unction, and power. It was no small privilege to have an interest in
her mighty intercessions. Strangers delighted to hear her for the sake of edification. Indeed prayer was her forte. In every Circuit where we travelled she was much honoured by the pious; and both parents were generally respected and esteemed. At length afliction came upon Mr. Shrewsbury, who for several years suffered, at different times, the extreme of bodily pain. At all hours of the night his son had frequently to rise and call in medical aid. But so much patience and submission to the Divine will as he manifested has been rarely seen. Never was there the least sign of an unresigned spirit, nor was one murmuring word expressed. He groaned, he prayed, he gave thanks, he alternately feared and trusted, but never complained. It was generally thought that, in some violent attack, the agony would at once prove mortal. Bat He who “knoweth our frame," and “remembereth that we are dust,” was gracious, according to His wonted mercy, as the end drew near, and for the last eight months exempted His servant altogether from suffering. He who had once been strong gradually sunk into a state of complete feebleness, and was helpless as a child. Prayer was offered up by his bedside daily, and much did he enjoy these sacred opportunities. Once he told us that the earliest religious impressions he could remember were occasioned by hearing, when he was quite a little child, some verses repeated to him from Dr. Watts’s Hymns for Children. Of Watts's poetry he was very fond from the commencement of his religious life, and at one time could repeat from memory a great part of his " Psalms and Hymns.” And it is worthy of remark, that in his last hours be was sustained by the words of the same “sweet singer of Israel.” The night before his death, when speech was all but gone, he quoted with great effort, and at intervals, in broken syllables, the following verse from the “Songs for Children,” above mentioned :
“My heart resolves, my tongue obeys,
And angels shall rejoice
Sound from a feeble voice." That verse he repeated, at least, a dozen times. We retired to rest. He spoke for the last time about three in the morning, saying, as he looked at his nurse, “ The Lord is very near to me.” At dawn of day we were called to see him die : his spirit was once more commended to the Redeemer; and, while we calmly looked on, about eight o'clock he peacefully expired; and the hand that now writes closed his eyes in death. This occurred in Birstal, on Sunday morning, May 1st, 1853. He was in the eighty-third year of his age ; and was interred in the burial-ground connected with the Methodist chapel of that famous town in Yorkshire.
Severed from her husband after so long a union, Mrs. Shrewsbury was now “a widow indeed, ......... trusting in God, and continuing in supplications and prayers night and day.” For the last seven years of life she was afflicted with blindness, so that she could neither minister to her husband, nor look upon him in his dying moments.
She survived him nearly four years and a half. As she had always been an active woman, and was fond of books, blindness was felt to be a great calamity. Her children and grandchildren frequently read to her, especially her youngest grandchild, who was designated “ grandma's chaplain," as he was daily employed in reading the Scriptures to her, while she in return would explain to him the meaning of much that was read. Thus profit in some way or other comes oat of every affliction, and tribulation furnishes its own special opportunity of doing good. Notwithstanding blindness and feebleness, as long as she was able to be led down stairs, she would still occasionally pour out her soul to God at the time of the evening family-devotion. On the 7th of February, 1857, she was suddenly seized with paralysis, from which she never recovered, though speech was partially restored. For seven months she was confined to her bed. But her mental powers were vigorous to the last, and her time was much employed in intercession. Three weeks only before ber death she was very anxious for information about the laying down of the electric telegraph between England and America, and then about the war in China and the East. When her son said, “ Mother, would it not be better for you to think chiefly of heavenly things ?” she replied, " How can I pray for the world, unless I know what is going on in it?” In truth, this was her babitual practice, to pray in her solitude abont every event of importance of which she heard, whether relating to our own country, or to any other nation; the purport of her every request being, “ Thy kingdom come.”
On Sunday evening, September 20th, while the writer was in his study preparing for the pulpit, he heard her once-tuneful voice tremulously singing on her bed the praises of the Lord. That was her last song on this side heaven. Night by night it was usual for her to give her son and daughter-in-law her benediction, saying, “God bless you !” or “God bless you both!” But this night the articulation was both difficult and imperfect. On Monday she had a second stroke ; and it was evident her end was near. The next day at noon we prayed with her; and as we rose she uttered, “ Amen,”her last word, and an appropriate dying word for one so long mighty in faith and prayer. She then evidently wished to be undisturbed, for which reason we spake no more, either in the way of inquiry or of consolation, but stood silently looking on. At length she drew a gentle gasp, and we said, “ She is gone!” One faint sigh, a little later, showed that we had mistaken the precise moment of the bappy spirit's departure : but soon the hand which had closed the eyes of a father had the privilege of gently pressing down the lids over the poor blind eyeballs of the departed mother; and nothing more of filial duty remained, but to follow her also to the grave, and present some memorial of those Christian worthies in the archives of our righteous dead.---She died, Tuesday, September 220, 1857, at Stourport, in the eighty-fifth year of her age ; and she lies in the burial-ground of the parish-church.
Each parent often quoted a verse from Dr. Watts; and, as it is