Wednesbury - Alexander Mather (1760)


In 1759 I (Alexander Mather) was stationed in York Circuit, which then included Yarm, Scarborough, and Hull Circuits. In this year the work at Whitby began, and we had a great outpouring of the Spirit in many places. The next year I was in Staffordshire, where it pleased God to work in a very eminent manner; at Darlaston in particular, where there was a small but steady society of long standing. Several of these had borne much persecution and took joyfully the spoiling of their goods. Ever since, their behaviour has been unblamable: and yet none of them could say, "I know that my Redeemer liveth!" Some of these coming over to the prayer-meetings at Wednesbury, and hearing (what they thought they had never heard before) that they were to believe now; that they might come to Christ now, without any other qualification than a sense of their own sinfulness and helplessness; they were utterly astonished, and began to be amazed at their slowness of heart. Presently a prayer-meeting was set up at Darlaston. And in a little time many souls were set at liberty. The oldest stood out longest. After all they had done and suffered, they found it hard to come, as having done nothing. And when they were urged to it in a class or prayer meeting, they were ready to gnash with their teeth. But whether they would hear or forbear, God continued to add more and more souls to His genuine Gospel. Nothing stood before it. Many of the servants and children of these old professors cried out, "What must I do to be saved?" Being pointed to the Lamb of God, they believed, and rejoiced in God their Saviour, to the utter astonishment of their unbelieving masters and parents. In one night it was common to see five or six (and sometimes more) praising God for His pardoning mercy. And not a few in Birmingham, Dudley, and Wolverhampton, as well as in "Wednesbury and Darlaston, clearly testified, that the blood of Jesus Christ had cleansed them from all sin.

Thomas Jackson, ‘The Early Methodist Preachers’, Volume 2, p178-9.

LETTER FROM ME. ALEXANDER MATHER TO THE REV JOHN WESLEY. EVESHAM, December 17th, 1760. HONOURED SIR, GRACE, mercy, and peace be with you and yours! Glory to be God, His work prospers in many parts of this Round! Particularly in Staffordshire, where our congregations are so large, that we can scarce contain them. And God, who brings them together, does work among them: and not among the outward hearers only, but also among our old members; so that above forty have found the Lord this last quarter. Most of these have been long seeking; some five, some seven, some ten years; yea, some from the first of your going to Wednesbury. Nor do I perceive that the reason of their not finding sooner has been, as it sometimes is, their negligence or disorderly walking: no; for the most part, they have been diligent in all the means, and blameless in their lives. Although at Wednesbury several have been added, and many converted this last quarter, yet the most remarkable part of the work of God has been in that old, persecuted, steadfast society, Darlaston: who, in the midst of all the parties that have been in Staffordshire, have stood unmoved to their first principles; never encouraging any other party, no, nor suffering any of a different judgment so much as to sing a hymn amongst them. And this their steadfastness was the more surprising, as there were but about seven in the whole society (which consisted of forty-eight members) who professed saving faith at Michaelmas last. But, glory be to God! their number and their grace are greatly increased. Now there are above thirty out of the forty-eight who have saving faith, and have received it within these last six weeks; yea, many in a fortnight. And as their grace, so their number has increased thirty-three this quarter. Twenty-seven of them I joined last Thursday and Friday; many of whom had scarce ever heard till that week. Is anything too hard for the Almighty? Thou workest, and who can stay Thy hand? The remarkable work amongst the outward people was occasioned by an apprentice of Mr Thomas Day, whose heart the Lord touched in such a manner on Sunday night, December 7th, that he could not rest, but roared the whole night, to the great alarm of the whole family and the neighbourhood. They prayed with him; but he still remained miserable till Monday morning, when his distress was such, that his crying brought many together, insomuch that the house was filled and surrounded with people: before whom it pleased God to deliver him, and so to inflame his heart with love, and fill his mouth with, praise, that the beholders were astonished. It pleased God also to open his mouth to speak to those who were present, so that none (no, not the most stout-hearted and greatest enemies to godliness) were able to resist the spirit and power wherewith he spake. They fell before his word, cried for mercy, and above twelve were delivered that day. So the whole exercise of that day was prayer and praise, as also of the two days following. When the boy went from, house to house, even the wicked, who could not withstand his word, being cut to their hearts, cried for mercy; to whom he pointed out Christ, and His willingness to receive them, and praying with them, many were delivered who had scarce heard a sermon. So visible is the change, that they abandon all their former ways and company, and are full of love. It would rejoice your heart to see them under the word; particularly two children, about nine years of age, who talk so feelingly of the love of God, that they would amaze you. Nor was the flame quenched last Friday, the boy being still employed as before. This whole town, young and old, seems alarmed, and come in troops to the preaching at Wednesbury. O Lord! maintain Thy glorious cause, and ride prosperously in the Gospel chariot, till the nations bow before Thee; and take Thou all the glory, for Thou art worthy! O, pray for me, that I may have wisdom in all things! I am, dear Sir, Your affectionate son and servant in the Gospel, A. MATHER.

Thomas Jackson, ‘The Early Methodist Preachers’, Volume 2, p234-6.

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