« PreviousContinue »
MEMOIR OF MRS. MARY THORNELOE,
WIFE OF THE LATE REV. W. B. THORNELOE :
BY HER COUSIN, MRS. J. MOULTON. How real human life looks at its close, whether its years have been cut short, or protracted beyond the term allotted to the children of men! The mind of the surviver speeds along the history of the departed,—the day of childhood, youth, and age, now lost in the evening shadows. The traveller's journey is ended, and all things earthly are over. Another state has commenced—an unchanging one. Who that bas gazed on such a scene was not powerfully drawn, for the time, to take the right account of earthly and of heavenly
Mary HARRISON CARTLEDGE, the subject of this brief memoir, had her birth in the city of Lincoln, on the 2d of February, 1815. Good influences were brought to bear on her childhood. With her mother she attended the Wesleyan ministry, and she met in a children's class held by Mrs. Robinson. Precious seed, to spring up afterwards in less advantageous circumstances, was, doubtless, now sown in her youthful heart. Her maternal ancestry belonged to the Baptist communion; and family record is kept of one aged pilgrim whose time of rising was told by the voice of prayer and praise which ascended during her dressing-hour. May not her earnest cries to heaven have brought down blessings on after generations ?
The education of Mary was finished under Mrs. Gardiner, of AshbyHouse ; for wbose memory she always felt great respect. She returned home, (her sisters being still at school,) soon to take her place as head of the family. Motherless, surrounded by worldly influences, left to follow her own will, with the world of gaiety open to her, she entered the giddy maze, listened to the siren song, and became so skilled in dancing, especially, that she was considered the best waltzer in the ball-room. But there, and in the theatre, the sad thought would arise, “Shall I die here?”—and terror would oftentimes banish all enjoyment. Does not this confession lift the veil from a thousand human hearts ? Amidst dress, jewels, lights, music, all merriment and outward show, many a spirit, like this young girl's, may be still lonely and afraid.
Lincolo was favoured with the ministry of the Rev. John Smith ; and some of her relatives, her cousins, became decided to follow Christ. Their altered manners told upon her mind, ill-satisfied, as it was, with VOL. IX.-FIFTH SERIES,
in the pew.
what many would have deemed a large portion of worldly pleasure. Several deliverances from death she at this time experienced; one, from a watery grave at Skegness; another, from burning; a third, from a serious affection of the throat, which, she believed, was removed in answer to prayer. She was induced by her relatives to attend the Wesleyan chapel; and under a sermon preached by the Rev. John Moulton, on the text, “ Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,” she was led to see her state as a sinner, and wept aloud
“The Spirit of God," she writes, “powerfully wrought upon my heart, showing me the sacrifices I must make for Christ's sake; first, an attachment I had formed, and then my love of dress. In the prayer meeting after service, I was enabled, by the grace of God, to make a surrender of my whole heart to Christ. I had a vier of Christ not only as crucified, but as risen again, for me. It seemed as though the Saviour stood before me; I claimed my interest in His death, and felt that He lived and died for me. I knew that God did, for Christ's sake, pardon my sins.” This happy experience continued for a few weeks ; but, on occasion of a visit at some distance from home, the old love of the world revived, and dear Mary returned shorn of her new strength. She could not, however, long rest in 8 state which she felt to be a fallen one. In a quiet chamber, with one who loved her, kneeling where she often afterwards knelt, she pleaded for mercy through the merits of her dying Saviour, and again obtained a clear assurance of Divine forgiveness.
The change in one so youthful, and one who had so lately mingled with the giddy multitude, but was now seen taking up the cross and following Jesus, attracted no little observation. The extreme plainness of her apparel, and the marked transformation of her spirit and manners, brought upon her, accordingly, much reproach. This she bad expected, and was prepared in her Lord's strength to meet. Satan raised up several undisguised persecutors. Her father was informed, by one of these, of his daughter's babit of praying in the meetings, and mingling with the poor of the flock. A short time later, when this meddling accuser was laid on a bed of affliction, he sent for ber, and expressed his contrition for having caused her so much suffering. She repeatedly visited him, and there is reason to hope he found merey at the eleventh hour. Her own later testimony, often repeated, was, “Before I left the city, I saw all my enemies at peace with me.”
Every Sabbath afternoon she met in private band with two aged women, Mrs. Raven and Mary Proudlove, -names embalmed in mans hearts, and recorded on high. At three o'clock Mrs. Raven left to meet two large classes ; and Mary Proudlove, leaning on the arm of this young disciple, made her way to the most desolate and destitute alleys of the city. Sometimes passing her home, on these messages of mercy, she would think, “What will my father and sisters say
of me ?” But this thought she would check by asking, "With whom should I desire to be found walking, if Christ were to call me ?- with this aged Christian, or with my late trifling companions ?” These visits of mercy may have no memorial on earth : but they are not forgotten of Him who rewardeth a cup of cold water given in His name. To visit the afflicted is to follow the highest example. How much of our Lord's time, during the all-important years of His public ministry, was spent thus! Truly Christian, then,-yea, and womanly,—is this employment. Some other occupations of religious ladies may be called in question ; this, never.
From her conversion, Mary became a diligent student of God's holy word; and a retentive memory enabled her to quote the sacred text correctly. This knowledge was soon tested : for, unhappily, Socinian views bad been imbibed by a member of her family, and the aid of the Socinian minister was called in to shake her confidence in the Divinity and atonement of Christ. She was astonished to find how seasonably the most apposite scriptures were brought to her remembrance, and how easy it was to meet the sophistry of man's reasonings with “ Thus saith the Lord.” Nor was this the only special way in which she was called to manifest her fidelity. Her father was appointed for the second time, in the days of the old Corporation, to be chief magistrate of Lincoln ; and she had, at stated times, to take her seat at the civic table. In circles called polite, profane swearing was once considered an accomplishment. When this occurred in her hearing, she always administered reproof, but in a manner so gentle, yet so decided, that the offence was seldom repeated. During the time of the Assizes, it was customary for the mayor of the city to give a dinner to the barristers. “I remember,” she once remarked, on one of these occa. sions having to sit at the end of the table. While passing through the ante-room, I lifted up my heart to God for His gracious help; and these words were applied to my mind with great power :— The way of the just is uprightness : Thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just. I had need of this encouragement; for, after dinner, cards were introduced. To show my disapprobation of the practice, I immediately arose to retire from the room. One of the barristers took me by the hand, and said, 'I see you do not like it : neither do I.' I immediately replied, so as to be heard, “No, Sir. I think it wrong to play at cards; and doubly so for our Vicar to take his seat at the card-table. This incident afforded me an opportunity of speaking freely to the barrister on religious subjects : I found him to be a man of piety, and I trust we were mutually benefited.”
About this time she sought for the experience of perfect love. She longed for power to fulfil the great commandment given to Israel of old, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and mind, and soul, and strength.” It may be believed, without euthusiasm, that still, as in days that are past, the Lord occasionally guides His people by dreams and visions of the night. Two such monitions appear to have been given at this time. Of one of these we will bear her own relation :-"Being at Bridlington with my aunt and cousin, I suffered much in my health, and was fearful of being taken away without having obtained the blessing of holiness. I dreamed that I was standing in a corn-field, in which sheaves were to be gathered and bound for the leading. In the centre I saw One, whom I knew to be
the Son of God, with a sickle in His hand. A number of persons whom I recognised looked up to Him. He appeared to touch one and miss another; and it is remarkable, that every one that sickle touched has since died, and in the very same order. In the morning I opened upon Job v. 26, 27 : Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full
like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season. Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good. I was encouraged to think the Lord would not take me away until I was ripe for heaven.*...... Yet, though encouraged, I could not be satisfied that my spirit was cleansed from sin. One night, while pleading with God in secret, I had very near access; yet the powers of darkness overshadowed me. The more I wrestled, the more Satan opposed. I had been on my knees until all my strength was gone. I said, “Will not the Lord bless His child ? will He send me empty away?' I bad [as I reasoned] done all I could; I had given up all for Christ; I bad taken up every cross as it presented itself; I had practised the strictest relf-denial ;—and still the blessing did not come. I was just leaving my room, discouraged; when the Holy Spirit led me again to ‘kneel before the Lord my Maker.' I returned to the place at which I had been kneeling, and in a moment the Lord revealed Himself to me as an uttermost Saviour. I found I had been seeking the blessing by works : I now knew that it was 'not by works of righteousness which I had done, but according to His mercy He saved me, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.' After this, I had greater power to exercise simple faith ; more courage in speaking for God.”
The intense anxiety she felt for the salvation of her father, and the different members of her family, tended but too probably to weaken her delicate frame. One day, when seated at the dinner-table, she burst into tears, and said, “O father! O sisters and brother! it is the welfare of your souls that so deeply affects me.
I may not live long; and the idea of dying, and leaving you in your sins, is more than 1 can bear.”
All were melted into tears by this appeal; and, there is little doubt, the effect was salutary and abiding.
On the 7th of August, 1838, she was united in marriage to the Rev. W. B. Thorneloe, who lived to lament her loss, after a happy union of twenty-two years. Their first Circuit was Lynn. And here she approved herself a true follower of the Lamb, exerting her strength to the utmost, in season and out of season ; speaking to those she met, with regard to the salvation of their souls; while everything in her appearance and manners added to the force of words fitly spoken. In Lynn, as in other places, Mrs. Thorneloe raised an interesting class of
* The imagery of this dream is quite natural; and much of it was, probably, a reflection of thoughts which had occupied the mind in waking hours. But let the lesson be solemnly weighed. Many Christians mourn at the last, with bitter tears, that they have not sooner pressed into the kingdom of perfect love. For this cause Christ has had less glory; the church, less service; and the crown of life will be less bright and starry.--EDITORS.