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LIFE AND MINISTRY
MR. WILLIAM BRAMWELL,
ITINERANT METHODIST PREACHER:
WITH EXTRACTS FROM HIS INTERESTING AND
BY JAMES SIGSTON,
QUEEN-SQUARE ACADEMY, LEEDS.
Third American Edition.
PUBLISHED BY J. EMORY AND B. WAUGH, FOR THE METHODIST
J. Collord, Printer.
I WAS intimately acquainted with the late holy and highly respected WILLIAM BRAMWELL. In the course of the following narrative, it will appear that I had long been honoured with his friendship and correspondence, and that his death occurred only a few minutes after he had left my house. From these and other circumstances, I was induced, at the earnest solicitations of his friends, to undertake the preparation of this Memoir of his Life and Ministry. It is a source of lamentation to me, that I have not been able to present an account of my much esteemed friend, more worthy of his excellences and of the notice of the religious public.
Many causes have conspired to hinder the completion of a good memoir.-When Mr. Bramwell was in the Hull circuit, he destroyed his valuable diary, the contents of which would unquestionably have furnished a rich entertainment to every Christian. With the motives which induced him to commit those excellent manuscripts to the flames, I am not perfectly acquainted. I have been informed by a friend, who conversed with him on the subject, that he said many of the particulars were of so extraordinary a nature, that he thought that they would almost be considered as enthusiastic and visionary; but I have reason to believe, that he saw the impropriety of this act, several years before his death. Some of Mr. Bramwell's friends had promised to contribute a few papers in illustration of this Account of his Life; but in several instances these promises have been unfulfilled, either through forgetfulness, negligence, or the paramount demands
of other engagements. A great disparity of style will be perceptible in different parts of the memoir; as it will be seen that the same excellences are treated by different writers, chiefly in their own words. But by candid readers this diversity will not be regarded as any disparagement to the work; they will rather be pleased to find, in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word established respecting the virtues of Mr. Bramwell. All the accounts, however varied in style, unite in correctly representing his love to God, "his yearning pity for mankind," and his intense desire for their salvation. These powerful motives were in constant exercise on his mind, and incited him to the performance of labours innumerable. It is probable that there have been but few Christian ministers since the days of the apostles, who have made greater exertions to bring to the fold of Christ the fallen sons of men, and whose labours have been more signally owned by the great Head of the Church.
But though the destruction of his journal, the unfulfilled promises of several friends, and the difference of style, have rendered this Memoir an irregular kind of composition; yet I trust that every humble follower of our Lord Jesus Christ will be edified and instructed by the living traits of holiness which it exhibits. Some of the anecdotes may, in the view of cool and calculating characters, seem to savour too much of enthusiasm. But this cannot be charged on Mr. Bramwell as a fault; for he has left behind him no written account of any of these transactions, and was seldom known to speak of them, even in the presence of those who had the happiness of enjoying his most intimate friendship. Yet it is not attempted to be denied, that his was the noble enthusiasm of exerting all his powers to give effect to the gracious purposes of God among the perishing sons of Adam.
Without a goodly portion of this noble feeling, no man ever yet excelled in any profession: Why then should it be the subject of blame, only in the profession of religion? Can any man be too zealous in the promotion of the vital interests of godliness? This is impossible.
On such a theme 'tis impious to be calm:
The publication of this work has been retarded on various accounts, and the Christian world have consequently felt greatly disappointed. My own avocations are so numerous that I could not have undertaken to prepare this Memoir for the press, without availing myself of the assistance of some literary friend; and I here return my sincere thanks to Mr. Nichols, (whose talents are well known to the world,) for his kind assistance and advice in various parts of the work. It was a subject of regret to me, that when I contemplated the early completion of the Memoir by the continuance of his aid, I was suddenly deprived of it, at the close of last December, by his removal to London.
And now, if this humble attempt to do justice to the character and labours of this eminently faithful minister of the Gospel, shall excite an earnest wish in his junior brethren to imitate his conduct, or an increased desire in the people for the attainment of that holiness of heart and life which he inculcated and exemplified;-in short, if this volume be made a blessing to any who peruse it, my object in the publication will be gained, and to God alone shall all the glory be ascribed.
Queen-Square Academy, Leeds,