« AnteriorContinuar »
example will especially be considered as valuable, when it is remembered, on the one hand, that religious example is attractive in proportion to its completeness; and, on the other, that to this proportion and completeness there are too many persons who do not pay sufficient attention. Some one Christian virtue may be cultivated, while another may, at least comparatively, be neglected. Such persons are not impressed with the forcible terms of the prayer of Epaphras for the Colossians: “Labouring fervently for them in prayer, that they might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
Mrs. Thorley was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Dale, of Ollerton, near Knutsford, in Cheshire. They kept a respectable boardingschool there; and, fearing God themselves, they endeavoured to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. By domestic discipline, by daily prayer in the family, connected with the regular reading of the Scriptures, and by a wise system of instruction, the youthful minds of their charge were impressed, from the first dawn of thought, with a reverential sense of the being and perfections of God, and of their own obligations to him. The earlier years of Mrs. Thorley's life were spent in the acquirement of the various branches of knowledge to which her education was directed, and she was assisted in the cultivation of those principles and habits which contributed so much to the consistency and respectability of her future life. In her sixteenth
year, her spiritual interests, of which hitherto great care had been taken, were placed in considerable jeopardy by the mistaken kindness of some relations who lived in a large town some distance from her home, and to whom she was on a visit. Wishing to promote her amusement during her stay with them, they took her one evening to the theatre. With what she witnessed, however, she was disgusted rather than pleased, and returned from the place filled with shame and compunction. Although she had reason to anticipate much worldly advantage from continued intimacy with these friends, yet she saw the price at which it must be purehased, and the danger to which she would be exposed : she therefore hastened back to her father's, and from that time dissolved the connexion.
In the year 1807, coming to reside in Macclesfield, she placed herself permanently under the ministry of the Wesleyan Methodists. Being a sincere inquirer after truth, she soon made herself acquainted with the doctrine and discipline of the community with whom she was thus associated. The Gospel, also, came to her not in word only, but in power, and produced a deep and painful conviction of her guilt and sinfulness before God. But her heart was likewise opened to receive the truth, which is the power of God unto salvation unto all that believe. She saw the necessity of embracing, and she was enabled to embrace, the promise of pardon through the blood of Christ, and experienced that, being justified by faith, the love of God was shed abroad in her heart by the Holy Ghost which was given unto her. She had not long before joined in closer fellowship with what she believed to be a true branch of the church of the living God. And thus commenced a union which the progress of time continually strengthened, and the beneficial influence of which she always thankfully acknowledged. Her strict sense of propriety, her modest and even retiring disposition, combined with the rectitude and consistency of her conduct, and the sincerity and warmth of her friendship, made her connexion with them as pleasing as it was valuable to the entire circle of her acquaintance.
She was married to Mr. Thorley in 1810; and few unions have yielded a larger amount of happiness than did theirs. She discharged the duties of the wife, and subsequently those of the mother, with exemplary fidelity and affection. For several years before her marriage, a portion of her time had been devoted to the religious instruction of a class of young females belonging to the Sunday-school, and she thankfully rejoiced in being permitted to witness the success of her labours. By a considerable proportion of them, a true conversion was experienced; and not a few, being called to an early grave, witnessed to the last a good confession, and left an encouraging testimony to the value of the instructions they had received, and which, by leading them to Christ their Saviour, had, through the blessing of God, enabled them to rejoice in hope of his glory, and to depart from this mortal life in the triumphant anticipation of a glorious immortality.
While she carefully attended to the duties arising from the new relations which she had formed, she not only held fast her profession without wavering, but continued to give all diligence to make her calling and election sure. Seeking to grow in grace, the means of grace were observed by her as heretofore ; and as, through the ministry of the word, and the regular perusal of holy Scripture, her views of the nature, objects, and sufficiency of the atonement were rendered clearer and more comprehensive, her religious principles acquired increased stability and strength, and her experience of the blessings of the covenant of promise became more enlightened and rich.
Nor was her religion confined to herself. It was active and social. She loved to entertain at her own house the Ministers of Christ, to contribute to the support of institutions established for promoting the glory of God and the benefit of man, to mitigate the sufferings of the afflicted, to relieve the destitute, and to befriend, and assist in providing for, the widow and the orphan. After her father's death, her mother came to reside with her; and for the last five years of the life of her bereaved parent, it was her delight to minister to the comfort of her declining years. Her mother-in-law also dwelt under her roof; and experienced, during nine years of feebleness and suffering, her tender and watchful solicitude. Perhaps above all she loved to relieve those who, in the midst of affliction and indigence, manifested, as far as they were able, a truly liberal disposition. Observing the cheerfulness with which an aged female, at a public collection, put a single penny into the box, Mrs. Thorley, at the close of the service, requested that she might see her the next day; and, after some conversation, learned the method by which this poor, but generous, servant of Christ contrived to cast in her mite to the treasury. Mrs. Thorley gladly contributed to the supply of her wants during the remainder of her life. At another time, at her class-meeting, she overheard this dialogue between two of the members :-"I have often been surprised, Mary,” said one, “at the regularity with which you pay your penny a week. I am sure you can ill afford it, as you are so afflicted yourself, and have your blind old father to keep. You must
it for you in future.” “ You are very kind,” was the reply; 6 but I shall take care that no one shall
for I am at all able to pay it myself. When sickness hinders me from
let me pay
coming to the meeting, I always put my penny in a little cup on the Monday morning; and, by God's blessing, I mean to continue the practice as long as I possibly can.” Mrs. Thorley was much affected, and from that time took care that Mary and her father never wanted the necessaries of life.
The manner in which these acts of kindness were performed, was always such as to enhance their value, while yet it seemed to lessen the obligation of the recipient. In the management of her affairs, her judicious, though amiable, firmness secured order, bound the whole family together in peace, and attached all its members to herself in sincere and respectful affection. “I have never had, during thirtythree years,” she observed, in her last illness, “an unpleasant word with any of the numerous young men who have lived with us.” Her own conduct contributed much to this result; but the reason assigned by herself was, “Our house has always been open to the Ministers of the Gospel ; and as they have been our frequent visiters, their conversation and prayers have been very beneficial to us.”
Mrs. Thorley possessed a good constitution. Apparently there was no tendency to hereditary disease; but in 1832, finding a considerable enlargement in her left breast, medical aid was procured, and it was ascertained that there existed a cancerous tumour, which was making rapid and dangerous progress. Every effort to reduce it failed; and its removal, by a surgical operation, seemed to afford the only hope of saving the patient's life. So quickly did the morbid formation increase, that, by the time the system could be properly prepared, it was found necessary that the entire breast must be removed. While undergoing this severely painful trial, not a murmur escaped her lips. Her strength was as her day. It was the will of God, and this was enough for her. Her confidence in his wisdom and goodness was unmoved by the mysterious dispensation ; and she sustained all her sufferings with unflinching fortitude, because she acknowledged the divine appointment, and submitted to it as one who would not choose between doing and bearing, but referred the whole to the decision of a merciful, unerring, and almighty Providence.
No sooner was she able to resume her domestic duties, than she was called to Birmingham to see her sister, who had recently experienced a violent apoplectic seizure. She found her in a state of utter helplessness; and after assiduously attending to her upwards of five months, she brought her to Macclesfield, where, with sisterly affection and ceaseless care, for five years she watched over her, till death set the prisoner free.
While passing through these painful exercises, she maintained her faith in full activity, both in reference to her own personal salvation, and to the trials by which its reality and strength were tested. She was careful to nourish it, if so I may speak, by much secret prayer, and by a careful perusal of the word of God. On this she meditated day and night, assisting her own reflections by religious retirement, and the reading of devotional works, calculated at once to instruct and excite her own piety. Among these may be specified the writings of Mr. Wesley, of Mr. Watson, Mr. Benson's excellent Commentary, and the monthly Numbers of the Wesleyan Magazine.
In 1838, her only son, whose health had from infancy been delicate, was recommended to visit a friend in Yorkshire, in the hope that
change of air might be serviceable. But the weather proved unfavourable : he was seized at Searborough with rheumatic fever, and died in less than a month, in the twenty-second year of his age. In his illness, he sought the Lord with a penitent heart, and there was hope in his death. When she received the letter from Mr. Thorley, (who was with him at the last,) and read the distressing intelligence, she said, with deep emotion, but with the calmness of holy selfcontrol, “ This is the Lord's doing. It is all right;" adding, after a brief
pause, gave, and he taketh away ; blessed be his name !" On the morning of the first anniversary of his funeral, when memory had awakened such strong feelings that she could not refrain from weeping, she turned towards the Bible, which was close at hand, and opening it casually, by a singular coincidence, her eye rested on the remarkably appropriate words,“ Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him." (Jer. xxii. 10.) She said, “Surely this is enough. The will of the Lord be done !” She wiped away the tears, arose from her seat, and went at once to engage in her accustomed domestic duties.
In calm, but firm, decision, in total separation from the world, in her arrangements for the true sanctification of the Sabbath, and in her expansive benevolence, her character was indeed exemplary. She felt, and manifested, a lively interest in those local institutions by which the interests of true religion were sought to be promoted. This was especially observable when the extensive school-premises adjoining Brunswick chapel (in Macclesfield) were erected." She one day saw the persons who were soliciting subscriptions for the undertaking; and noticing that they were somewhat discouraged, she said, “I see you have been rather unsuccessful this forenoon. But, since you went out, I have seen a lady who has offered to give £50 instead of five guineas." She proceeded to encourage thera, referring particularly to the joy they would experience when, after all their difficulties and exertions, they had attained their object, and to the good that would continue to be done when all those who had been personally concerned in the erection were sleeping in their
graves. In the course of February, 1840, she began to feel uneasiness and pain in the same breast on which the operation, nine years before, had been performed. The pain continued to increase, till it became only too evident that cancerous disease was becoming rapidly developed. For two or three months, she concealed the circumstance from Mr. Thorley; for, as she had resolved not to undergo another operation, she now looked on the time of her departure as being at hand, and felt unwilling to distress him by an earlier disclosure. In speaking to him on the subject, she said that she had long wished, if such were the will of God, that she might die first; and that she thought it was becoming evident that, in the order of Providence, it would be as she had wished.
She now, resigning herself to what she believed to be inevitable, sought chiefly to set her house in order, and to prepare to meet her God. As long as her strength permitted, she attended as usual to religious and domestic duties; but the advancing disorder gradually so increased in violence, as completely to overcome her constitutional energy; and, at the close of 1842, she was no longer able, through the feebleness which the endurance of continual and wearing pain occasioned, to leave the house for the public worship of God. She had looked forward to such a period with deep solicitude ; but when it arrived, she said that the consolations of the Spirit were so abundant, that she scarcely felt the loss of those means of grace at which she could no longer be present.
From the commencement of 1843, her little remaining strength rapidly declined; but she humbly glorified God in acknowledging, that though the outward man was perishing, yet the inward man was renewed day by day.
On the 27th of June she thought that her end was near, and sent for Thomas Allen, Esq., who had long been one of her most esteemed Christian friends, and expressed her thankfulness for the kind interest he had always taken in the happiness of her family and herself, as well as the satisfaction which she felt in believing that sanctified earthly friendships would be eternally perpetuated in heaven. She told him, also, the cup of spiritual enjoyment was filled to overflowing ; so that, though her sufferings did indeed abound, yet her consolation likewise abounded by Christ. On the same day she sent for many other
persons, whom she addressed with much earnestness and fidelity, -urging upon them the supreme importance of true religion, and the necessity of securing its blessings in the season of opportunity and health. She desired that the young men belonging to their own establishment might be introduced singly; when she warned and admonished each according to her views of his character and state, endeavouring to make her advice as personally suitable as possible.
After these acts of friendship, and performances of duty, in which the domestic servants were by no means forgotten, in reference to others, as soon as she was left alone, she addressed herself, with solemn.earnestness, to a review of her own condition, as in the sight of Him before whom she knew that she must, before long, appear; and thought that it might be soon. She cast herself, in renewed exercises of penitent, self-renouncing faith, on the mercy of God in Jesus Christ; and then calınly sought to repose her weakened frame, not knowing but that she might from such repose never recover, but pass quietly into eternity. After a time, however, she revived ; and, though with no probability of restoration, lived several weeks longer.
Some of her friends, during this prolonged interval, expressed their surprise that she was able to bear so much pain without complaining.
Complaining !" she replied: “I know nothing that would justify complaint, but much that calls me to constant thankfulness. • The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it, and are safe.' A person in the room, seeing her lifting up her hands, observed, “ You are thinking of Him who loved you, and gave himself for you.” “I was thinking,” she said, “ of those beautiful words: We praise thee, O God ; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.””
On the morning of Sunday, July 21, awaking about four o'clock, she said, “ But for religion, these sufferings could not be endured. God lays upon me no more than he enables me to bear.” She sent messages, requesting that the congregations worshipping at the two Wesleyan chapels would pray for her ; remarking, at the same time, “I have always felt it to be a great privilege that I was connected with God's people. I sincerely pity those who are in the habit of