Unwin, John (1779-1837)

John Unwin was born at Hayfield in Derbyshire, in 1779.  At an early period he obtained salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.  He himself said, “When I was about fourteen years of age, I attended a prayer meeting, on a Sunday evening, in the Wesleyan chapel at Hayfield.  The people were praying mightily to God that the power of his love and grace might flow, and the fire of heaven come down, and burn up the chaff of sin. I cried mightily to God for him to have mercy upon me. And so it was; the Lord pardoned my sins, and I went home in peace, praising God.”

But his parents being unconverted, and having none to take him by the hand, he, in about twelve months, fell from grace, and continued in the world, until Feb. 4, 1807, when God, in much mercy, restored to him the joys of his salvation.  He again joined the Methodists, and continued with them about twenty years.

Being extremely poor, he was, on some occasions, without either money or meat.  In his distress he entered into his closet, and laid his case before God. His prayer was answered; for, going up Hill Gate, in Stockport, a man put in his hand a small parcel.  “Who has sent this?” asked John.  “The Lord,” was the answer.  On opening it, he found it to contain half-a-guinea.  But to the day of his death John never knew who it was that sent it.

In the year 1827, he united with the P. Methodists, and continued a pious, useful, zealous member, until he finished his mortal career.

His sister-in-law says, “I lived with him fourteen years; and found him a man of family and private prayer, and a constant reader of God’s word; for he would have the bible read through in the family once a year.”  And she adds, “That all the day long he would be saying something about his Lord and Master, either to her, or to those who came into the shop.”

Another friend says, “He was constantly preaching behind the counter.”

Brother Unwin was diligent in business, and fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; and took great delight in the means of grace; and when, through affliction, he was unable to attend, it made him shed tears.  His strict attention to family and private devotion, his love for the public means of grace, his zeal in embracing every opportunity to sow the seed of life, and his strong affection for, and kindness towards, the ambassadors of Christ, gave proof that the love of God was shed abroad in his heart.

About the year 1833, he and Bro. W. Lea, went to the Isle of Man, to assist in holding missionary meetings; on which occasion Bro. Unwin was visited with an attack of the cholera; and the friends there thought he would die.  But the Lord so far restored him, as to enable him to return to England; but he never recovered his health.  His sister-in-law says, “The four years prior to his death, he was constantly afflicted.  But his mind was always stayed on the Lord, and resigned to the will of God.  His faith was so strong that he had heaven and glory before his eyes continually.  On one occasion he said, ‘I shall soon be with my friends who are gone before.’  And as he thus contemplated the joyful meeting, he lifted up his hands, and repeated some precious promises.”

To these notices received from his friends, I may add, that I visited him several times since I came into Stockport circuit, and always found him enjoying peace with God, and a good hope of a glorious immortality.

The last time but one I saw him, he spoke of the first Camp meeting.*  He observed he was there, and slept that night on Mow Hill.  The thought of that great day caused him to exclaim, in holy rapture, “O joyful day! Glorious day!”  Such was the language of, ‘This pilgrim on his dying bed.’

A few minutes after he said, “O, the wonderful, sanctifying love of God! I have now sweet peace with God, settled peace.  I believe if I were to die this moment, God would receive me, for he knows that I love him.  I feel a great deal of pain, but I always look to God, and I feel resigned to stop and suffer all his will.”

After this he continued a few days under heavy affliction.  His last words were, “Come, Lord Jesus, and come quickly.”  And Sep. 14, 1837, about two in the afternoon,

“He meekly gathered up his feet,
And died his fathers’ God to meet.”

Agreeably to his request, I preached his funeral sermon from Rev. xiv. 13, to a crowded and attentive congregation.

James Garner

(Approved by the Circuit Committee.)

* Brother Unwin was at the second Camp meeting held on Mow; which commenced on Saturday, July 18, 1807, and closed on the Tuesday following.


Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838.  Pages 184-186.



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