December 7, 2009

From Those Who Have Come Before Us

Recently I have been really encouraged by reading the stories and prayers of the earliest women in the Methodist movement. I thought I might share some of it. The following is from the diary of one of the first Methodist pastors' wives in England. Her name was Mary Entwisle:

"July 26, 1795 - Since I wrote last we have removed from Leeds to Colne, from Goshen to the wilderness. Yet I have proved God is here. I met with a very severe trial here. Mr. Harrison's had left a child in the house sick of the small pox. My dear John [her baby] had not had the small pox and was obliged to be prepared and inoculated immediately. He was severely handled, his life endangered. I, in a strange place, my dear husband, true partner of my weal or woe, at a great distance when the child was at the worst My trials were great, yet praised be the Lord, strength was proportioned to my day. I believed the Lord would spare my child. He did and raised him up again in a few weeks after I was delivered of another fine boy [Marmaduke, born Sept 1774]. And the Lord was with me in the trying hour. He brought e safely through after hard lingering labor. I was enabled in patience to possess my soul. I felt much of the divine presence during my confinement and resolved if the Lord raised me up again to lead a new life, but alas! I have broken my resolutions and I do not yet feel my heart established with grace. I feel my soul humbled before the Lord. I have now spent a year at Colne and I think I have neither been doing nor getting good. My dear partner is now gone to conference. I felt concerned on account of the disputes which agitate our Connection. The Lord pour upon your ministers teh spirit of wisdom to know what steps to take, and love to submit one to another. O Lord if it be your blessed will grant that liberty of conscience may be granted us with respect to our commemorating your dying love, and that all strife for power or superiority may be done away, and give peace and prosperity to your church. [John Wesley had died not too long before this was written, and the connection was figuring out how to move forward].

July 1796 - The Lord has in the course of his providence brought us to this place where we are comfortably situated among a kind and affectionate people, some of them, I think, deeply pious, and where we have every outward comfort which we can desire. I trust I feel a thankful heart and a determination to give myself afresh to God in my new situation. I have ben favored with some refreshing seasons both in public and private since I came and, in general, have felt earnest desires to be more deeply devoted to God."

From: Paul W. Chilcote, Early Methodist Spirituality: Selected Women's Writings, Abingdon Press, 2007, pp. 128-129.

Kristin is a doctoral candidate in Old Testament at Princeton Seminary and a pastor's wife in New Jersey.

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