Silvester, John (1774-1869)
of Checkley, Cheshire
The subject of this brief memoir was born at Checkley, Cheshire, in the Newcastle-under-Lyme circuit, AD 1774.
His parents having a numerous family, and their circumstances being by no means affluent, our esteemed brother was necessitated to leave home and labour for his own maintenance when but a boy. His first situation was with a Mrs Kelsall, at the Hall Wood farm near to Betley, Staffordshire. Here he remained 21 years, proving himself a faithful servant. Ultimately he became acquainted with and married to Miss Mary Burgess.
Up to this time he was a stranger to pardoning mercy, nevertheless the subject of very powerful operations of the Holy Spirit. After his marriage he went to reside at Alsagers Bank, near to Audley, Staffs. Here he remained seven years. He then returned to the homestead of his parents at Checkley, and at their decease he became tenant of the same place, where he remained until death.
Some time about the year 1824 some of the fathers of our Connexion visited that locality, when our deceased brother through their labours was led to see and feel his spiritual destitution. While labouring under conviction he said to his wife on one occasion, ‘Mary, I am as bad as the devil can make me.’ Shortly after this he was led t venture with all his wretchedness upon the grand atonement, and was blest with the assurance of Divine forgiveness.
His house was now opened for the messengers of mercy, and it became both a sanctuary and a home. Here a Church was formed, and although the members thereof were neither highly educated nor wealthy, yet they became familiar with the working of the Spirit, and in consequence were very mighty with the Lord, and successful in leading sinners to Jesus; in fact they became proverbial for their power with heaven, and we are pleased to say that in the house which our deceased brother occupied scores of souls have been converted to God, very many of whom are now undoubtedly before the throne of God, standing as trophies of the Redeemer’s conquest.
That part of the life of our deceased brother, viz, from his conversion to his death, was characterised by steady Christian perseverance; giving unmistakeable proof of high spiritual life and close fellowship with God. Some twelve months prior to his death it was evident that the rider of the pale horse would soon undress his spirit of its fleshly robes. But this event he did not fear, knowing that his spirit was accepted by the Father through the bloodshedding of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As his end drew near his confidence in God strengthened, and he sweetly languished into life, and is now a worshipper in the upper temple, mingling his voice with those whose position is next the throne. In accordance with his own wish, also of his family, his remains were interred by the writer in that very neat and beautiful cemetery connected with our chapel at Englesea Brook in the Tunstall circuit.
No monumental marble with touching epitaph, nor massive masonry with stately column distinguishes the spot where he sleeps. Indifferent to the pomp and pageantry of time, he slumbers in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.