Read, James (1812-1837)
MEMOIR OF JAMES READ, LOCAL PREACHER.
James Read was born March 10, 1812, in the parish of Hinton, Somersetshire; grew up in the service of sin, and did not learn to read.
In the summer of 1831, he was induced to hear the P. Methodists; and under their ministry was awakened to a sense of his sin and danger. But it was a long time before he received the comfort of the Holy Ghost. In November, 1831, he joined our society at Pipehouse.
About this time he went with me to an appointment; and by the way we talked of religion. And I shall never forget his look, and the interest he displayed, while I spoke of the fall and its consequences — of the Atonement by Jesus Christ, and of the blessings flowing there from into the hearts of them that believe.
After this, by persecution and temptation, he was nearly drawn back into the ways of sin. But timely advice was made a blessing to him. He began to seek more earnestly, and soon found redemption in the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins; and rose into life and into zeal for the salvation of souls. He set himself to learn to read, which in time he accomplished; and wished to be more fully acquainted with the doctrine of the atonement, and of a free, full, and present salvation. He loved solitude, and frequently, during the summer of 1832, he asked me to accompany him to the wood near his house, to converse and pray about spiritual and everlasting things.
In the spring of 1833, I had a call to go out to travel; and he said, “I must make the best use of my time till you go.” And truly he did, giving me no rest, (blessed labour, I wish I had many more such inquirers), but he was continually inquiring after such things as were likely to be of service to him. He was then in a blessed state of grace. Jesus Christ was his all in all; and what did not tend to his glory he was not anxious to hear.
After I left home he grew in grace and zeal for Zion’s prosperity, and took an active part in looking after the society. In its prosperity he rejoiced; in its trials he bore the cross, and struggled hard for better days. He was a dull scholar at first, but at length attained a good Christian experience.
In April, 1834, he wrote to me as follows:- “I see the Lord has not sent us here to be idle, but to work in his vineyard. These words deeply impress my mind, — ‘If the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned ; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.’ I am apt to look more at the cross than at the crown for which it ought to be borne. Oh! that the Lord may shew me his way, and help me to walk therein. I often think of the important work in which you are engaged. I doubt not but you sow in tears, and I hope you will reap in joy.”
After this he began to give exhortations, which were generally received.
In November, 1834, he was married to her who is now left to travel the wilderness alone; and who, I hope, will meet him in heaven.
At the December quarter day, 1835, he was put on the plan; and as a local preacher, he was diligent, acceptable, and useful. Also in visiting the sick the Lord made him an especial blessing.
For about twelve months previous to his death, on account of a change in his employment, he was exposed to much temptation and trial; which, together with being in low circumstances, occasioned a sinking in his mind; and not being able to attend the public means as formerly, it was with difficulty he held on in the right way.
May 24, 1837, while returning from the coalpit, he was crushed between his cart wheel and a bank, which accident eventually occasioned his death. Brother Teagle calling on him the next day, found his mind clouded; but after prayer he again rejoiced in the Lord; and said he believed the Lord permitted the accident to keep him from falling back into the world. On another occasion, he said, “I am young; but I have passed through a deal of trouble, and now am going to be delivered.”
Those who visited him in his illness derived much spiritual profit from his conversation. And he enjoyed much of the glory of God, and in much patience possessed his soul. And, June 6, 1837, he died in the Lord, aged twenty-five years.
On Sunday, June 11, being at home on a visit to my parents, I accompanied his remains to the grave. It was a solemn time. And on the Tuesday following I preached his funeral sermon at Pipehouse. Many could not get in; and it was a time not soon to be forgotten. May I meet him in glory everlasting.
(Approved by the Frome circuit quarter day.)
Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838. Pages 384-386.