Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

William Grimshaw.

13

preached. A Methodist society was already formed, as appears from the following item in the Haworth society book :-" 1748, Jan. 10: A pair of boots for William Darney, 14s. od." Grimshaw was now as much a Methodist as Wesley was, with this difference, the former had a church, the latter not.

1

1748

Age 45

For six years, Grimshaw had been incumbent of Haworth. His church was crowded, and no wonder. In the surrounding hamlets, he was accustomed to preach from twelve to thirty sermons weekly. His congregations were rude and rough; but they caught the fervour of his spirit, and hundreds of his hearers were converted. He loved labour, and, for his Master's sake, cheerfully encountered hard living. One day he would be the guest of Lady Huntingdon; at another time, he would be found sleeping in his own hayloft, simply to find room for strangers in his parsonage. In all sorts of weather, upon the bleak mountains, often drenched by rain, or benumbed by frost, with no regular meals, and frequently nothing better than a crust, he never wearied in his evangelistic wanderings, but pursued his onward course with a blithesome spirit, singing praises to his Divine Redeemer. His dress was plain, and sometimes shabby. Often he had literally only one coat and one pair of shoes, not from affectation, or eccentricity, but from a benevolent desire to benefit the poor. Possessed of strong mental power, and with a Cambridge education, he was capable of rising above the rank of ordinary preachers; but, to accommodate himself to his rustic hearers, there was a homeliness in his forms of speech, which was sometimes scarcely dignified. He preached in the same style as that in which Albert Dürer painted. His power in prayer was marvellous. "He was like a man with his feet on earth and his soul in heaven." As one of Wesley's "assistants," he visited classes, gave tickets, held lovefeasts, attended quarterly meetings, entertained the "itinerants," and let them preach in the kitchen of his parsonage. He was oft eccentric, but always honest, earnest, and devout. Strong of frame, and robust in health, his study was under the wide canopy of heaven, among hills and dales ;

1 "Methodism in Manchester," p. 116.

?

1748 and the weariness of his wanderings was relieved by Divinely Age 45 imparted thoughts, and communings with his God. He died April 7, 1763; some of his last words being, "I am as happy as I can be on earth, and as sure of heaven as if I was in it." He was a rare man; and in him was fully exemplified his favourite motto, which was inscribed upon his coffin, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

In the same neighbourhood was another man, who, though not so eminent, deserves honourable mention, Thomas Colbeck, of Keighley, now twenty-five years of age, long a faithful and laborious local preacher, and whose memory is still precious among the west Yorkshire mountains. He was one of Grimshaw's faithful travelling companions; and, by his instrumentality, Methodism was introduced into not a few of the villages in the neighbourhood where he lived. His house was Wesley's home, and the resting place of Wesley's itinerants. While praying with a person afflicted with a fever he caught the infection, and died on November 5, 1779.1

On leaving Haworth, Wesley proceeded to Roughlee, a village in the vicinity of Colne, Grimshaw and Colbeck going with him. While Wesley was preaching, a drunken rabble came, with clubs and staves, led on by a deputy constable, who said he was come for the purpose of taking Wesley to a justice of the peace at Barrowford. Wesley went with him. On the way a miscreant struck him in the face; another threw a stick at his head; and a third cursed and swore, and flourished his club about Wesley's person as if he meant to murder him. On reaching the public house, where his worship was waiting, he was required to promise not to come to Roughlee again. He answered, he would sooner cut off his head than make such a promise. For above two hours, he was detained in the magisterial presence; but, at length, he was allowed to leave. The deputy constable went with him. The mob followed with oaths, curses, and stones. Wesley was beaten to the ground, and was forced back into the house. Grimshaw and Colbeck were used with the utmost violence, and covered with all kinds of sludge. Mr. Mackford, who had come with Wesley from Newcastle, was dragged by

1 Manuscript.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

A Popish Renegado.

15

the hair of his head, and sustained injuries from which he never fully recovered. Some of the Methodists, who were present, were beaten with clubs; others were trampled in the mire; one was forced to leap from a rock ten or twelve feet high, into the river; and others had to run for their lives, amidst all sorts of missiles thrown after them. The magistrate saw all this; and, so far from attempting to hinder it, seemed well pleased with the murderous proceedings. Next day Wesley wrote him as follows:-" All this time you were talking of justice and law! Alas, sir, suppose we were Dissenters (which I deny), suppose we were Jews or Turks, are we not to have the benefit of the laws of our country! Proceed against us by the law, if you can or dare; but not by lawless violence; not by making a drunken, cursing, swearing, riotous mob, both judge, jury, and executioner. This is flat rebellion against God and the king, as you may possibly find to your cost."

This horrible outrage was chiefly fomented by a popish renegado, who was now the curate of Colne. The following proclamation for raising mobs against the Methodists was issued:

"NOTICE is hereby given, that if any men be mindful to enlist into his majesty's service, under the command of the Rev. George White, commander-in-chief, and John Bannister, lieutenant-general of his majesty's forces, for the defence of the Church of England, and the support of the manufactory in and about Colne, both of which are now in danger, etc., etc., let them now repair to the drumhead at the cross, where each man shall have a pint of ale for advance, and other proper encouragements."

[ocr errors]

Besides this, White, within the last month, had preached an inflammatory sermon which, at the end of the year, was published, with a dedicatory epistle to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The title is, "A Sermon against the Methodists, preached at Colne and Marsden, to a very numerous audience; by George White, M.A., minister of Colne and Marsden; and author of 'Mercurius Latinus.' Published at the request of the audience." Octavo, 24 pages.

This clerical railer tells the archbishop that, by means of Methodism, there was, in this remote part of the country,

1
1 Myles's Life of Grimshaw, p. 114.

1748

Age 45

1748 Age 45

"a schismatical rebellion against the best of churches; a defiance of all laws, civil and ecclesiastical; a professed disrespect to learning and education; a visible ruin of trade and manufacture; a shameful progress of enthusiasm; and a confusion not to be paralleled in any other Christian dominion." He adds, that he has taken pains to "inquire into the characters of these new sectaries, and has found their teachers shamefully ignorant, and criminally arrogant, while many of them have been prevented arriving at the order of priesthood by early immoralities."

The text he professes to expound is 1 Corinthians xiv. 33, and the following are a specimen of his spicy sentences concerning the Methodists and their system :-"A weak illiterate crowd,"—" a labyrinth of wild enthusiasm,”—preachers are "bold, visionary rustics, setting up to be guides in matters of the highest importance, without any other plea but uncontrollable ignorance,"-these officious haranguers cozen a handsome subsistence out of their irregular expeditions. Mr. Wesley has in reality a better income than most of our bishops. The under lay praters, by means of a certain allowance from their schismatic general, a contribution from their very wise hearers, and the constant maintenance of themselves and horses, are in a better way of living than the generality of our vicars and curates; and doubtless find it much more agreeable to their constitution, to travel abroad at the expense of a sanctified face and a good assurance, than to sweat ignominiously at the loom, anvil, and various other mechanic employments, which nature had so manifestly designed them for."

But enough of the oracular utterances of Mr. White. Who was he? First of all, he was educated at Douay, for orders in the Church of Rome. Renouncing popery, he was noticed by Archbishop Potter, and made a priest of the Church of England. An itch for scribbling made him the author of about half-a-dozen worthless ungrammatical publications, including "a burlesque poem on a miraculous sheep's eye at Paris." A devoted son of "the best of churches," he frequently abandoned his church for weeks together; and, on one occasion, read the funeral service more than twenty times in a single night over the dead bodies which had been interred, without ceremony, during his absence from home. He married an Italian

3

Grimshaw belabours White.

governess in 1745; was imprisoned for debt in Chester castle; 1748 and there died on April 29, 1751.1

Age 45

If White's sermon had not given birth to the murderous
outrage at Roughlee and Barrowford, it would have been
too worthless to be noticed. As it was, a brainless and un-
grammatical production became of such importance, that
Grimshaw thought it his duty, in 1749, to publish an answer
to it.
Grimshaw was not the man to be mealy mouthed.
On his title page he put the following: "Why boastest thou
thyself in mischief, O mighty man? The goodness of God
endureth continually. Thy tongue deviseth mischief; like a
sharp razor, working deceitfully. Thou lovest evil more than
good; and lying words rather than to speak righteousness.
Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue;
God shall likewise destroy thee for ever. He shall take thee
away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee
out of the land of the living. The righteous also shall see and
fear, and laugh at him." (Psalm lii. 1-6.) This was strong
language for the incumbent of Haworth to use respecting the
perpetual curate of Colne. Grimshaw tells him, that his sermon
is "full of palpable contradictions, absurdities, falsities, ground-
less suggestions, and malicious surmises, and, in some sort,
vindicates the people it was intended to asperse." Grimshaw's
"Answer" extends to eighty-six pages, 12mo, closely printed,
and is an able and well written defence of the poor, persecuted
Methodists. White was no match for Grimshaw, at least, in
literary conflict. The one was a braggadocio, the other was
a giant; and, with a giant's knotted club, he belabours the
pompous priest with anything but the gentleness of a carpet
knight. White, however, deserved all he got. The man was
a popish cheat. Besides his disgraceful imprisonment in
Chester castle, he had, as Grimshaw reminds him, been acting
the rake, in London and elsewhere, for the last three years;
and now forsooth! all at once, the cheat and rake becomes
the virtuous and indignant champion of mother church.
No wonder that Grimshaw wrote: "Bombalio! Clangor!
Stridor! Taratantara! Murmur!" The terrible text on
Grimshaw's title page was a graphic description of the

1 Myles's Life of Grimshaw, p. 73.

VOL. II.

17

с

« ZurückWeiter »