Neal, John (1805-1835)


(Class Leader and Local Preacher, Lynn circuit.)

John Neal, son of George and Martha Neal, was born at Docking in the county of Norfolk, November 15, 1805; was converted at Flitcham in 1830, and died at West Newton, May 3, 1835, in the thirtieth year of his age.

He was, as he often said, the subject of conviction from a child.  But as-he grew up he gave proof of having been conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity; and during the greater part of his life he continued a stranger to God and to real happiness.  But happily he was blessed with a praying father, who ceased not to cry and wrestle for the conversion of John, in connexion with the rest of his family, until an answer was sent from heaven.

It pleased God to make the conversion of a younger brother, a means of awakening John to a sense of his danger.  He was deeply convinced of his being a sinner; and, out of the depth of his misery and distress, he besought the Lord to have mercy upon him; and his cry was not in vain.  He attended a preaching at Flitcham, a village about two miles from West Newton; and in the prayer meeting after, while calling upon God, the Lord set his soul at glorious liberty; and from that time to his death he kept the promised land in view; and prosecuted his journey to the skies with unwearied diligence.

After some time he was called to fill the important offices of class leader and local preacher; in which offices he laboured affectionately, acceptably, diligently, and successfully.

In November, 1834, his mother having been dead about twelve days, he was visited with an inflammation; and intimated an opinion of not recovering, it having been impressed on his mind as he stood by his mother’s grave, that he would be carried out next.

The inflammation was followed by a consumption; a disorder to which the family was liable, and by which it had been greatly desolated.  He was the seventh who fell a victim to the consumption; but they all died happy in the Lord.

During his affliction he was resigned to the Lord.  At times he was buffeted by satan; but in every conflict he was more than conqueror through him that loved us.  In the conflict he would say, “My trust is in the Lord. – My hope is sure and steadfast, and my anchor is cast in that which is within the veil.”  On one occasion he was much cast down; but soon the cloud burst; hell was driven back, and he rejoiced in God his Saviour; and exclaimed, “O bless the Lord, I knew he would not leave me;” and added, “Take me home, Lord – take me home. Bless the Lord, I know he has provided a place for me.” – He then sung,

“When on my dying bed I lie,
Lord, give me strength to shout and cry,
And praise thee with my latest breath,
Until my voice is lost in death.”

His wife weeping much, he exhorted her to trust in the Lord, saying he knew the Lord would provide for her, for all her kindness to him.  And then with great composure he chose three hymns to be sung at his funeral; and also selected his bearers.

Hymn 485, large book, he wished to be sung at his grave.  And when his wife read, “Sweet truth to me, I shall arise, And with these eyes nay Saviour see,” he joyfully anticipated the time when he should be freed from the body and behold his Saviour without a veil between.

In the welfare of his class he was particularly interested; and the last time he led it he said, with tears in his eves, “I must give it up, for I feel I get weaker every day.”

His children lay near his heart.  For them he entertained the warmest affection and Christian solicitude.  He called them to him, shook hands with them, and blessed them in the name of the Lord.  He told them to be good, and mind what their mother should say; and added, “If your father die you will have God for your Father.”

To his wife he said, “I should like to live with you and the children; but the Judge of all the earth will do right.”

Though frequently delirious, his mind seemed always taken up with the work of God.  He would often talk of his claess, and say, “I hope the Lord will raise up some one to take my place.”

About a week before his death he was visited by Bro. Steele, and two other travelling preachers.  He was so low in body that he fainted twice; but his soul was rising on strong eagle pinions of faith.  When he revived he said:-

“ I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by thy word.”

When Bro. Steele asked if he had any thing to say to any of his friends, he said, “Tell them I am going home.”

On Saturday, May 2, his wife said, “I hope you are happy in God.”  He said, “O yes, I am happy in God.”  He continued till May 3, about four o’clock in the afternoon.  His wife then took a long farewell of her affectionate husband, telling him she should meet him again.  He gave her a farewell look, but could not speak.  The silver cord loosened, the golden bowl was broken, and the spirit returned to God who gave it.  Thus died John Neal, leaving a wife and three children to lament their loss. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.”

James Langham

(Approved by the Quarter-day board, Sept 18, 1837.)


Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838.  Pages 91-92.



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