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age; and late in life records rejoicingly, that the Lord blessed him in soul and body, in basket and in store,' and had indeed led him into green pastures, and beside still waters, and had given him all he required.'”—P. 25.
In 1818 he was made a class-leader, and it was in that service that his capacity for usefulness was specially developed. One of his first manifestations of zeal and faith took the form of self-denial:
“ A few years after the appointment of Mr. Reeves as a leader, his classes were largely increased: then came a time of trial.
“ He found that working from six o'clock in the morning to eight at night,' left his . time to visit the sick and the absent members too short.' He felt called upon to make sacrifices: his faith in God's promises was put to the test, for to secure the time he required he must give up six to seven shillings per week. But by faith in God and from love to souls he did it: here is his own account of the conflict and the triumph :
"I felt it my duty to sacrifice much more of my time for the Lord, to look after the little flock, so that they be not lost or wander back; and now the enemy and carnal reason (who ever stand united to prevent if possible any
of God's dear children, however mean, from doing the will of their heavenly Father) began to set me a reasoning thus: “Why, you will soon begin to grow old; you are now much afflicted in body, your club is broken up, and it is sinful not to provide for your own household before sickness and old age; and you know it would be a grief to your mind as long as you live to be a burden to the Church of Christ; and besides, six or seven shillings is a large sum to sacrifice; and your Christian friends will think you have been a very lazy man." These, and a great number of such like vain thoughts flowed into my mind for several days; but I took them all into my closet, and, like Hezekiah, I spread them before my heavenly Father, and prayed him to make his blessed will known to me, and by the strength of divine grace enable me to do it.
“ • And, glory be to God, who is ever standing ready to hear a poor sinner's prayer, he soon made his will known to me by the power of his Holy Spirit convincing poor sinners of sin, and manifesting to them his pardoning love when I went to visit the sick; and so he increased the number of our classes. Thus I went on trusting in the mercy of the Lord Jesus for about twenty years.'
“ A poor mechanic sacrificing six to seven shillings per week that he might give the time to the Lord, is an act of faith and devotion rarely performed, and is worthy the consideration of men of superior social position, who will willingly give a subscription to a benevolent object, in order to do good by proxy, but who shun personal service. Obedience is better than sacrifice;' a subscription costs a rich man little, and it is not clear from Scripture that anything short of personal devotion to the cause of God will be accepted by Him who has said, Occupy till I come.'”—Pp. 27-29.
Father Reeves was a model class-leader. At the church he would watch for penitents and invite them to attend class; indeed, he felt it to be his duty to seek members, not to wait till they sought him. He“ deemed it almost essential to the life and spiritual health of a class that penitents should be constantly brought in.” A friend writes :
“ I think it must have been about the year 1834 that my acquaintance with the deceased grew to an intimacy. Mỹ presence at week-night preaching, and the Saturday-evening prayer
meeting, attracted his attention. He would intercept my departure from the chapel, or vestry; the aisle, pew, form, or doorway were the points of contact. The expediency of meeting in class had not presented itself forcibly to my mind, and a repugnance to such a step was for a period decisive. His grand object, my personal salvation, appeared to him more certain if external communion were secured. With patient love, unwearied diligence, and great forbearance, in season and (I often then thought) out of season, did he invite, reason with, and exhort me to that decisive point.
" It was in his mind a demonstrated fact, that the turning point of moral and religious history would be found just at that juncture where resolve was taken for visible Church union or the converse. It was this that caused him to esteem the class-meeting of the highest value; here, he would observe, “an individual draws the line of demarcation between the world and his adopted choice. He makes a new election of friends, pursuits, and interests.' "--Pp. 59-61.
This is the true Methodist and Christian doctrine-far different from the new-fangled notion prevalent in some quarters, that none but persons professing conversion should be admitted to class-membership. As a class-leader, Mr. Reeves excelled not only in the minor virtues of punctuality and readiness, but also in the fundamental one of having a just conception of the responsibilities and duties of his office as a subordinate pastor in the Church of Christ. When a new member came into the class, the good leader at once sought his confidence and affection, and never rested until the evidences of conversion and growth in grace were manifest. And, as many of his members were gathered from the world, and were almost entirely ignorant of the doctrines of the gospel, he became to them an earnest and diligent catechist, teaching them continually, out of the Holy Scriptures, the way of salvation.
"He was not satisfied until each member could for himself prove from Scrip ture every doctrine he professed, and quote from Scripture the warrant for each promise on the fulfilment of which he relied.
“ The brother who has had charge of this class since Father Reeves's decease, fully bears out the statement, that the members generally are wellgrounded in Scriptural proof of all onr doctrines, and can give, in the terms of Scripture, a reason for the hope that is in them. No wonder: for their leader, fearful of conventional phrases, — fearful of the commonplaces of Methodism being put instead of heartfelt experience,--adopted, some years ago, the plan-several times renewed--of setting apart a Sunday, on which every member should search for and read a text descriptive of his or her own state or present experience.' "-Pp. 66, 67.
In furtherance of the same object he would often convert the ordinary class-meeting into a Bible-class, giving his members a month to prepare for the subject. Nor was this all. It often happened, as Father Reeves was ever at work among the poor, that he brought into his classes men of middle-age, and even old persons, who knew not how to read. What was to be done with such? Might they not be left to hear the word of God from others, instead of enduring the toil of learning to read it for themselves ?”
• By no means. We teach them,' says this admirable leader, Åby their children that were taught in the Sunday school
, and we set apart a Sunday for them to read a portion of Holy Scripture to us, to hear how they improve, and to stimulate others to learn.'
" And thus many a new convert, but an old man, has evidenced the genuineness of the religious change wrought in him, by toiling through verse after verse, chapter after chapter, till he has been able to read before his class. mates the story of the cross.
" The subjoined, rather lengthened but important extract, will show how he managed to turn such an occasion into a means of instruction:
· Hymn 87, page 88, to commence the meeting. "We set apart this day (instead of meeting the class in the ordinary manner) to read the sacred Scriptures; and especially that those may read who did not know a letter when they began to meet in class; but now, glory be to God, they can read any chapter in the New Testament well. We do this especially for the encouragement of those who are now meeting with us who cannot read, that they may see the benefit and joy there is in reading the word of God for ourselves, and may be provoked to learn.
"'I, William Reeves, am the oldest member of the class, and I could not read a chapter in the word of God when I was converted; but now, blessed forever be the Lord, I can say, “ Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
“. I shall begin by reminding myself and you, for our unspeakable comfort here and happiness hereafter, of the authenticity of the word of the ever blessed God, and the love of Jesus, and this from its own truth.'
" Here brother Reeves refers extensively to the fulfilment of the prophecies of Scripture relating to our Saviour--prophecies delivered several hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Then he adds:
" I shall now read the 53d chapter of Isaiah.' 6 Then this verse was sung:
"See, from His head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Or thorns compose so rich a crown ?' " Then brother P-was directed to read the 3d chapter of the Second Epistle of St. Peter, after which the class sang this verse,
« • Should all the forms that men devise,
Assault my faith with treacherous art,
And bind the gospel to my heart.' "• Now,' says our friend, 'as God, in so much love to us, has given us his dear and well-beloved Son, that we may be saved, our duty is to repent and believe the gospel. This is needful for all. So we find it in the word of God; what is necessary for one is necessary for the whole world. Daniel ix; Jonah ii ; Psalm li; Acts ii, 37, 38; xvi, 30, 31.'
" Then sister K- was appointed to read the 51st Psalm, but first this verse was sung :
"When quiet in my house I sit,
Thy book be my companion still;
V, 23, 24.
My joy Thy sayings to repeat,
Talk o'er the records of Thy will,
Till every heartfelt word be mine.' “ The 103d Psalm was then read.
“ • And now,' continues the leader, we will remind ourselves again, that it is by faith alone in the precious blood of atonement that the poor, brokenhearted, repentant, sorrowing sinner can be justified. Romans v, 1; Romans iii, 21 to the end; Galatians iii ; Titus iïi, 5, 6; Matthew ix, 20-22; Mark v, 28–36. Let these suffice.' 6. Then a verse was sung:
" . The thing surpasses all my thought,
But faithful is my Lord;
For God hath spoke the word ;' and brother H- was called upon to read the second chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians.
“ After this the leader again exhorted : We would not forget to remind ourselves of our unspeakable privilege; for it is the will of God, our heavenly Father, that we should be sanctified wholly, “spirit, soul, and body," and so be“ preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thess.
• But all the work of genuine religion, from first to last, is carried on in the soul by the Holy Spirit
; this, so to speak, is his department in the economy of our redemption. The Father is represented as originating the scheme, the Son executing it, and the Spirit as applying it. O then, my dear and beloved friends, you must see how very necessary it is, in all divine things, to have right knowledge of God's holy word. How can you get on in the way to heaven without studying the Bible? The reason why so many turn back, and others get on so slowly is, because they do not study to make themselves acquainted with divine truth. O hear the ever-blessed Saviour's own words: “ Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.” John xvii, 17; Ezek. xxxvi, 25–23; Eph. i, 13, 14; iii, 15 to the end; Eph. v, 26, 27; 1 John iv, 17, 18; 1 Peter i, 21-23. “ The members were then called upon to sing :
• Satan, with all his arts, no more
Me from the gospel hope shall move;
And find the pearl of perfect love.' “ One more exhortation did the leader give-- Not to forget our glorious rest with Jesus in his everlasting kingdom; and a number of references to the sacred volume are made, to excite the faith of his class. Finally, brother K
was called upon to read the 14th chapter of St. John, and brother W to read the 7th chapter of the Book of the Revelation. Another verse was sung :
"Out of great distress they came :
Wash'd their robes by faith below,
Blood that washes white as snow.' “ One more hymn, the 728th, page 656, was sung; the whole service was sanctified by the word of God and prayer, and this unique class-meeting separated."--Pp. 70-77.
No part of this long extract could be spared. It is a striking illustration of the excellence of the system of Methodism. Here is a man who could not read a chapter in the word of God when he was converted—whose daily life was that of a hard-working artisan—now instructing numbers of his fellows in the faith and doctrines of the gospel, and training them even to read the word of God, and to read it intelligently. Had Isaac Taylor attended Father Reeves's class for a twelve-month, he could have written a far more sensible and creditable chapter on “Methodist ClassMeetings."
One would think that with four classes and one hundred and sixty members good Father Reeves must have had work enough upon his hands, considering that his truly pastoral labours were superadded to his daily toil at the work-bench. But this was not his only field. The “ monthly prayer-meetings” were indebted to him for the same prompt and punctual attendance as the class-meetings for many years. It was his habit to make careful preparation for these meetings: he generally read, at each of them, a brief, pointed, and practical address of ten or fifteen minutes' length, full of Scriptural wisdom. Nor were the financial interests of the Church permitted to suffer in his hands :
"He was invariably present at the weekly meeting of the stewards and leaders; and as he always collected the money from his members weekly, he as regularly paid the amount to the stewards. "The writer cannot imagine the attraction which would have prevented our friend from the discharge of this duty; whoever else was absent, Father Reeves was in the Lambeth chapel vestry, on Thursday evening; there he sat, always on one spot, on the left of the minister, his class-books ready, the addition of the last column checked by some younger brother, and the money in the hand waiting for the steward to enter it.
“ And his books are models. No blanks, or extremely few, against the members' names, but either the money or a sufficient reason for absence.
" . He was very skilful,' says the female friend who has previously so well sketched his proceedings, in keeping the weekly payments straight. " Don't let Satan tempt you to remain away because you have got behind, and cannot pay up the score; come and begin afresh.” But lest this should leave room for laxity and indifference, in what he considered a very important duty, he would describe, in most glowing terms, the immense pleasure some of the dear people” felt in making sacrifice and using self-denial, as he would say, “ for the gospel;” illustrating his remarks by appropriate anecdotes, and always giving us credit for such excellences as he desired we should possess. He would never allow the false idea that religion was expensive.
á Let them compare the trifle given for the support of the gospel with those expenses into which sin had led them, and then judge.”
“ In one of the addresses referred to, Father Reeves, after enjoining obedience to the rules, that we may not bring any disgrace on the Church of Christ,' and urging punctuality in private devotion, adds: The Lord hath heard and answered our prayer, and hath sent, us faithful and able ministers to preach to us the blessed gospel, and they must be supported. Not by thou