Weymouth: Work of God in Weymouth Mission, &c., 1837-8
From the Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838
Manchester circuit. – Journal of T. Russell.
Sunday, June 18. — Preached a farewell sermon at Stafford in the morning, and another at Levidale in the afternoon. I felt keenly to see the friends weep at parting: and more especially so,
“While I ask in amaze, Who hath begotten me these?
And enquire from what quarter they came?
My full heart replies, They are born from the skies,
And gives glory to God and the Lamb.”
It is now sixteen months since I was first employed to open the Stafford mission; and I have had powerful times on it, and so have my colleagues, Brothers Brown and Goodwin, and Sister Woodhouse; all of whom have seals to their ministry in this part. And here is a prospect of much good.
“O Jesus, ride on, till all are subdued,
And the universe fill’d with the glory of God.” *
Monday, June 19,1837. — I came to Birmingham, and found several standing firm in the truth, who were brought to the Lord in meetings we held here more than two years ago. A number of friends accompanied me out of the town; and, after singing a hymn, we kneeled down on the road side; and, while I prayed, the gushing tears rolled down the cheeks of these affectionate friends. I again found it hard work to bid them farewell. Two years before this, me and my wife (accompanied by our child), bade them adieu. But now I am sorrowfully alone, travelling to a strange part. Lord, help me. Amen.
Partly by coach, and partly by walking, I arrived at Poole, by Friday, June 23, 1837, and saw Brother Langford. He first joined us in Hampshire, when she who was afterwards my wife, missioned Mitcheldever, in 1832. I was glad indeed to see him. About seven in the evening, we walked on the Quay ; and having a desire to preach to the Sailors, he said he often preached on the Quay to hundreds, in the open air. We sung a hymn and prayed. I then preached, and soon saw the tears steal down the weather-beaten cheeks of the sailors. I spoke freely; and had also a blessed time in speaking to the children. Before we concluded we had about three hundred of a congregation, and good was done.
Saturday, June 24,1837. — Walked to Weymouth, my station for the coming year.
Sunday 25. — Preached three times. My God, lay to thy helping hand.
During the following week I visited Portisham and Sutton, and saw Bro. King, (his colleague had gone away before I arrived.) Bro. King gave me every direction for the mission; informing me that the regular places of preaching were, Weymouth, Bridport, and Portisham, in each of which places there was a class; and that the members in these classes, amounted in all to fifty-nine. Five of these members had said that when the preachers left, they would leave also. And this they did, notwithstanding all I could say or do. So the number was reduced to fifty-four. And some of these had not met for months, and have since left altogether. Lord, save them. Amen. Also Sutton had been visited mostly every week, but no class was formed.
When we consider the conduct of J. Nelson, and G. Cussons, who first opened the mission, it is no wonder that it should be in such a state. And though Bro. King and his colleague had been here the last twelve months, yet when Bro. King’s health is taken into consideration, all is as well as could be expected.
Being alone on the ground where previously two preachers had been stationed, and formerly three, I felt the keenness of my situation: Sutton being 4 miles north-east, Portisham 8 miles, and Brid port 20 westwardly from Weymouth. I saw I had plenty to do. I was advised to give up Bridport, and was told Sutton would be no good; and by giving it up also, I should only have two places. But this advice I could not follow. So I arranged my plan for Weymouth, Sunday; Bridport, Tuesday; Portisham, Wednesday; Weymouth, Thursday; Sutton, Friday; and visit at Weymouth on Saturdays.
Having Monday at liberty, I sought out another place; and I opened Loder. This place our preachers had formerly visited once a fortnight, but it had been given up. I visited it from door to door, and not in vain; for one young man who was ill got brought to the Lord, while I was visiting him; he found peace, and soon after died happy.
But this new method (namely, the ministerial family visiting), caused many things to be said. One woman, in coming from market, said, “The gentleman is either a god or a devil, for he came into our house, and talked about the Lord, and then kneeled down among all the dirt, &c., and prayed with me.”
This method excited the attention of some people at Nettlecomb, and induced them to come over to Loder to hear me preach. They received good, and I made an appointment to go and preach there.
I opened Nettiecomb at nine o’clock in the morning of a working day; and nearly all in the house wept. I formed a class, and appointed for Fridays at Nettlecomb.
One night as I was preaching at this place, several got powerfully awakened; one of whom stood outside the door during sermon. She was cut to the heart, and went home weeping, —sore distrest. But early one morning she found peace. She states that she saw a beam of light, then a body of light, then like clouds revolving before her eyes; and she received the assurance that her sins were forgiven; and she praised God aloud. Some time after, as some of our members were conversing in the house, her husband found pardon also. Others were awakened, and some found salvation, and are holding on their way.
From this place the way opened to Hook, and there I began a class meeting.
At Bridport I have preached several times to hundreds in the street, and have seen a little good. Here we have had to contend with difficulties, but several have joined.
At Portisham, I visited about twenty families each week. In one house was Elias Godding lying ill; and being invited I went to see him. And I read out of the early Notices of the life of Brother Hugh Bourne. I continued reading until the glory rested. And being fully sensible of this, I kneeled down; and, while praying, Elias said he saw light as a shadow on me, and then it came to him, and all at once he felt (as he said), a great change; his soul seemed overjoyed, and he wished he could see his former companion to warn him from going to public houses. His last words were, “Happy! happy !” He died in peace about fifteen days after his conversion.
The two last times of my being here, we had cries for mercy, and several have found peace; and we have had an addition to the society.
Weymouth has partaken of the blessing in part. Here a young woman (Lucy Ann Thresher), was in a decline; and one day, when I went in from my appointments, Mrs. Thresher said, “Mr. Russell, there is no time to be lost. Lucy Ann is falling off from her food, and she is not saved; and she will not live long.” I went into the drawing room, and talked freely, and prayed with her several times. She began to weep, and ever after sought the Lord until she found pardon. She said, “The Lord appeared to me and said. ‘Thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven thee; and I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.’” Her last words were, “Happy, — happy. Glory, glory, glo— gl—” the word failing on her lips.
I buried her, and had a solemn time in speaking over the grave. And, according to her request, I preached her funeral sermon, to a great congregation. Many wept, and one started for heaven. And Brother Thresher said, “I have proved the saying of the Lord true, ‘A cup of cold water shall not be forgotten, and shall in no wise lose its reward.’”
At Weymouth, during the summer months, I, on a Sabbath, generally preached once in the open air, besides three times in the room; and besides attending the Sunday school, leading class, holding prayer meetings, &c.
The last time I preached here in the street, it was by candlelight one week-day evening, from, “Remember Lot’s wife.” It was a solemn time.
The congregation and society are increased. I have held several lovefeasts; at every one of which, souls have been converted. And every time I have administered the sacrament, good has been done.
Saturday, January 6. — Preached at Sutton, and commenced a class meeting.
This week I have walked eighty four miles, preached to ten congregations, visited near one hundred families, and met about sixty people in class meetings.
Today I received a letter from Mr. Hussey of Swanage, pressing me to go there and open a mission.
Sunday, Jan. 7. — At Weymouth. Formed a Sunday night’s class. Three joined.
Monday 8. — Visited at Weymouth, and preached. Led class, and three more joined.
The last fortnight I have joined eighteen members. We now stand more than ninety in society, in this mission, making about forty increase since I came to it.
Tuesday 9. — Set offfor the Isle of Purbeck, and preached at Swanage. The next day I came back, twenty-seven miles. A bad road, and I was ill of a violent cold.
Friday, Jan. 12. — At Weymouth missionary meeting. Bro. Best, from Poole circuit, came here to assist me on the mission. I was also under the necessity of hiring a local preacher.
Sunday, Jan 21. — I preached in a village near Swanage in the morning; and at Swanage in the afternoon and at night. I formed a society of seven members at Swanage, and we had a good time*
Monday 22. — Visited Corfe Castle and Worth, and preached at night at Langton. So here is now one preacher’s work at Pur beck. But, sleeping in a bed that had not been lain in for near two years, though I took the precaution of sleeping in my clothes, yet I was very ill the next day; and it was with hard work I walked twenty-one miles, and prayed with a few families.
Wednesday, Jan. 24. — Much better in health. And to-morrow, God willing, I purpose to comply with repeated invitations, to open a mission in the Isle of Portland.
Jesus save — Yours in the Lord,
* Stafford mission was opened by Longton circuit, and in December, 1837, Stafford was made into a separate circuit.
Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838. Pages 152-155.