Strangford (1776)

The Rev. Wm. Bristow, the vicar-general, a clergyman of liberal Christian principles, who had been appointed vicar of Belfast in 1772, was summoned to appear for the prosecution ; and when called on said he had heard Mr Smyth conduct public worship, and pray and preach extempore, and that his prayers and sermons were highly instructive and scriptural, in accord­ance with the Articles, Homilies and Liturgies of the Church of England, and well fitted to promote the spiritual improve­ment of the people.* Mr Smyth also had an opportunity, which he improved, of giving a public testimony to the truth, proving that the doctrines he preached were in harmony with the Word of God, as well as the teaching of the Church. Although he completely refuted every accusation, he was deprived of his cure, through an illegal stretch of power. This circumstance, though most trying, was over-ruled for good, as Mr Smyth resolved to accept no preferment in the Church, and give himself wholly to the work of God in connection with Methodism. Although living on a very small annuity, he never lacked either food or raiment; his sphere of usefulness was greatly enlarged, and many souls were con­verted through his instrumentality.

Meanwhile, the good work prospered in Dunsfort and Ballyculter. Mrs Smyth writes: " I can give you but a small notion how the Word of the Lord runs and is glorified. All around, young and old, flock to the standard of Jesus, as the doves to their windows. I think the class in this town (Strangford) consists of thirty-six, almost all alive to God; and particularly some girls, who seem resolved to take the kingdom of heaven by violence." 'History of Methodism in Ireland' by Crookshank p307.

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