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The Rev. John Wynne was born August 15, 1805, at the beautiful village of Aldford, near Chester. The village is situated close to the noble seat of the Duke of Westminster, and forms, a part of most picturesque' scenery. His father was the village schoolmaster. To his duties as schoolmaster he added those of clerk and leader of the choir at the village church. He was
strict Churchman, and both he and his wife regularly attended the services of the Established Church. They both seem to have lived an exemplary, moral life, and took John regularly to church, and gave him a good moral education. At a very early period of his life his grandfather and grandmother, who also were Church' people, took him under their care, and they also endeavoured' to instil into his mind the principles of religion as taught by the Thirty-nine Articles and the Catechism.
During his youth our brother was the subject of deep religious impressions. He meditated much upon eternal things; he often retired into secret places for prayer; and eagerly sought counsel from all pious persons in the neighbourhood. It was not, however, till he was eighteen years of age that he was truly convinced of sin. It occurred at an open-air service conducted by a Mr. J. Vaughan, a local preacher. After the service he retired for prayer, and then visited a professor of religion, who unwisely told him there was no necessity for grief on account of sin, and that it was impossible for us to know our sins were forgiven before the hour of death. As the result of this foolish counsel he lingered in doubt for two years. About this time, after attending public worship one Sabbath afternoon, he retired to his bedroom, as was his wont, to read and pray. Opening the Testament at the passage January, 1883.
“ Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin because he is born of God” (1 John iii. 9), he was at once thrown into great agony of spirit, in which he cried unto the Lord. He remained in doubt till the following Tuesday, when, as he walked along the road, he was suddenly impressed with a sense of God's power to save. He at once knelt down in the road, and seemed to hear a voice saying, “ Thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven thee.” Several other young men were converted about the same time in Aldford and in the Chester Circuit. They were all full of faith and of the Holy Ghost—all earnest, zealous, and laborious in Christian work. These were years of revival, of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, when Christ's power to save was oftentimes seen and widely felt.
Three years after his conversion, in the year 1828, Mr. Wynne was urgently solicited by the Rev. Dr. Cooke, then a probationary minister, to come on the plan as a local preacher. On one occasion Mr. Wynne and another young man accompanied Dr. Cooke to his appointment. On the way, the Doctor invited one or both of them to speak a few words that afternoon ; but they objected, But during the service they were surprised to hear the Doctor pray, “Lord, here are two young men whom Thou hast blessed with health and strength and ability to work in Thy vineyard, and they will not do it.” Mr. Wynne pleaded that he was not competent for the work required of him ; but the reply was, in effect, “ Then you are not satisfied with the talent the Lord has given you, and by not using it, you may so offend Him as to cause Him to take the talent from you.” These expostulations prevailed, and Dr. Cooke had the pleasure (the superintendent, Mr. Dunkerley, having died) of placing Mr. Wynne's name on the plan as a local preacher, in which capacity he served the Connexion faithfully and laboriously for several years. .
He loved our denomination, because in it he found the salvation of his soul. Under our ministers and local preachers, and in the means of grace in connection with our churches, his mind was enlightened, and his Christian life developed. In later life he learned to love our denomination from an intelligent appreciation and approval of the ecclesiastical principles which distinguish it from all other denominations-principles which he deemed to be perfectly Scriptural and reasonable.
A few years later, in 1833, when twenty-eight years of age, he received a call to the regular ministry—a call which he accepted in fear and trembling, and with a deep sense of his own unworthiness ; but still with a firm conviction that God Himself had commissioned him to preach the Gospel. At the Conference of 1833, held at
Nottingham, he was accepted as a minister, on probation, and sent to Alnwick. The simple entry in his diary is, “ Left home, July 26, 1833 ; arrived safely in Alnwick on the 27th, and entered upon my ministry on the 28th ; " a ministry that, saving one short year, extended over half a century, and that was throughout a ministry characterised by faithful and fearless discharge of duty. The four years of probation were spent in the North—at Alnwick, Newcastle, North Shields, and Sunderland, and loving memories of Northcountry friendships lighted all the after years of his life. Of Alnwick he writes, “ Alnwick and the friends there will always have a place in my remembrance ;” and of Blyth, and the friends of the North generally, “They are a dear people.”
On the 18th of May, 1837, Mr. Wynne was received into full connexion, together with the Revs. L. Stoney, J. Hudston, and J. Addyman, who still survive. In the following year he was married, having found a lady who subsequently proved a helpmeet to him, and who brought up her children in the love and fear of the Lord. She was a good wife and a good mother. The afternoon of the wedding-day was spent by the newly-wedded couple, and by the members of each family, in singing and prayer; an old-fashioned custom which is worthy of speedy revival.
From this point onward, he laboured as a faithful minister without interruption from sickness (except once when ill with smallpox), without missing a single appointment for the space of thirtytwo years, in Derby, Huddersfield, Nottingham, Barnsley, Bradford, Dewsbury, Stourbridge, Nottingham (a second time), Boston, Wolverhampton, Leeds, Oldbury and Tipton, Mossley, and Bilston; and during his supernumerary life he supplied for a time in the Liverpool Circuit. During this period his labours were most abundant. He preached, as a rule, three times on the Sabbath, and three or four evenings in each week. The journeys in those days were long and tedious. Class-meetings and prayer-meetings, of course, had to be conducted, and pastoral visitation attended to; not to speak of the work indoors, in the study, in the education of the mind, and the preparation of sermons. A few extracts from his diary will show the crowding labours he performed :
Sunday, April 2: Preached three times to-day. Monday: Very stormy morning; walked ten miles and preached at Sunderland. Tuesday: Came to Houghton-le-Spring, and preached at night. Thursday: Went out with magazines, afterwards met two classes for renewal of tickets ; spent some time in prayer with — and — who both seem desirous of serving the Lord. Friday: Prepared sermons for Sunday, in the afternoon visited the sick, read the Scriptures, and prayed with them, attended the prayer meeting at eight o'clock, afterwards went to pray with — and — Retired to rest about twelve o'clock.