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another period he had engaged to accompany one of his friends in a country walk one Sunday afternoon. He was ready before his friend called, and began to read a chapter in the Bible. While doing this his convictions returned with greater power than before ; so that he felt that he dared not occupy the hours of the Sabbath as he had proposed, and no entreaty could persuade him to leave the house. He continued to mingle with his usual associates ; but his conscience would not allow him to indulge in his besetting amusements. Card-playing was then customary in almost all companies; and once, after his resolution to discontinue the practice, he was induced to resume it. One of the party left the room, and requested him to take the seat thus left vacant, it was said, only for a short time. Not perceiving the snare, he fell into it. When he had taken up the cards, they seemed to have gained their wonted influence, and he continued eagerly playing till two or three hours after midnight. But he suffered so much afterwards, that he was never again entangled.
But though he experienced these inward struggles, they were comparatively ineffectual through the absence of that evangelical instruction whose place, humanly speaking, nothing can supply. He heard the Scriptures read at the cathedral, and the prayers which constituted the service. But he understood them not, and still remained unacquainted with the true method in which personal salvation was to be sought. The sermons which he heard were mostly brief dissertations on some topic connected with morality of conduct, or with religion in that vague and general sense in which it was then too commonly understood. They neither impressed his conscience, nor enlightened his mind, and afforded no correct answer to the question, " What must I do to be saved ?” The fine gold bad become dim, and the wine was mixed with water. He wished to be right; but as the good and right way was not pointed out to him, his efforts, greatly to his own surprise and regret, appeared all to be ineffectual.
At this period, Mr. Poulsom had in his employ a young man of the name of Neale, who was a member of the Wesleyan society. devoted and zealous. All the time he could spare from his occupation during the week, as well as a portion of the Sabbath-day, he spent in visiting the sick and dying. In
instances his visits were very useful. Occasionally he was accompanied by Mr. Poulsom, whose state of mind he soon discovered ; and, after some conversation, induced him to hear the Methodist Preachers, as men who would afford him the instruction he sought, and which he so much needed. What he heard not only agreed with what he had long felt, but more fully explained it; so that he now began truly to know himself, and also to understand the way
in wbich were to be found the deliverance and peace which he so anxiously desired. This was in the summer of 1787. His attendance soon became regular and constant, and before long he became a member of the Wesleyan society; thus commencing a union which continued for more than fifty-five years, and was only terminated by his death. By taking this step he exposed himself to much reproach. The Methodists, a " sect everywhere spoken against," experienced, in a cathedral city like Winchester, no exemption from their ordinary lot; and, for a person moving in a respectable station to become connected with them, was considered by his friends as a degradation. But he had counted the cost. He had long felt that he wanted “rest to his
soul;" and for the attainment of this he was willing to make any
sacrifice, submit to any obloquy. He saw that it was his duty to endure the cross and despise the shame; and he was willing to do so, if he might but be taught to run successfully and with patience the race that was set before him.
How long he sought for deliverance and peace has not been ascertained ; neither are the precise circumstances known under which he obtained what was so long his consolation in life, and his support in the prospect, and at the hour, of death. At first, his mental distress was rather aggravated than relieved. He heard the law faithfully preached, and thus was his state as a guilty sinner before God fully disclosed to his view. His self-righteous confidence utterly failed him, grounded as it had been upon “ the form without the power." He saw that “the commandment was exceeding broad," and that sin existed where he had not before even suspected it. So great was the alteration in his views respecting himself, that he began almost to despair of salvation ; and on more than one occasion, the enemy of his soul, from whose chains he was struggling to get free, suggested selfdestruction to him. But he had been taught the value of fervent prayer, and he cried mightily to God for strength to resist the devil. Though the Lord did not immediately speak peace to his soul, yet “the bruised reed was not broken, nor the smoking flax quenched.” In after-life he often spoke of the foretastes of the divine love which he experienced while earnestly seeking a sense of pardon, and would point out the danger of resting in them, as they are only given to encourage the penitent to “follow on to know the Lord,” and not to produce satisfaction. He sometimes feared to fall asleep, lest he should die unforgiven. One morning he awoke suddenly, fancying that some one had called him by his name. Rising quickly from his bed, he found, upon reflection, that he could rejoice in God his Saviour; and, dressing himself, he walked out, blessing God for the possession of the peace which passeth all understanding. Referring to this period, he once said, “ All nature appeared to rejoice with me. I cannot describe the delightful feelings which I had whilst walking in the fields, or shady avenues, and meditating on the goodness of God. The rustling of the leaves, and the singing of the birds, seemed to assist me in praising my great Redeemer. Indeed, for many days I could think of nothing
This excess of joy, of course, did not long continue, but the
* The God “that pardoneth iniquity, because he delighteth in mercy,” has, according to the good pleasure of his goodness," various ways of manifesting to the sincere penitent “his sweet forgiving love ; ” nor is it for us to ask him, Wherefore doest thou this ? even if the manner shonld appear somewhat strange to us. Prayer, and “looking unto Jesus,” must always be exercised; but he does not confine himself to any particular method of answering prayer, and of “inspiring the living faith,” that we may trust in pone, but acknowledge that it is He himself that doeth it. Many years ago we were much impressed by hearing a plain rustic, altogether uneducated, and who lived in a village far distant from the residence of Mr. Poulsom, relate the manner in which he first found peace with God. He, too, had fallen asleep full of fear, and he awoke early, full of joy. “ I got up,” he said, " and walked out. I thought the sun never shone so bright before. As I went through the yard, the ducks began to cackle, and I thought they were praising God, and I praised him too.” The simplicity of the reference may at first excite a smile; but it was natural, and even poetic, and evinced the truthfulness of the speaker. The circumstance directly arose in our recollection, when we read in manuscript the similar statement respecting the educated citizen given above. Edit.
joy itself did not pass away; and it became evident, by a holy and consistent life, that he had experienced a true change of heart. The painful sense of condemnation was removed, and he was a new creature in Christ Jesus.
At this period, though his constitution was not strong, yet, as his general health was tolerably good, he always rose at four in the morning in summer, and at five in the winter, and never allowed the state of the weather to prevent his attendance at the early morning services. These to himself were such refreshing seasons, that he sought to induce all whom he could influence to be present at them; and in the depth of winter, and when the snow lay deep on the ground, he would set out some time before the appointed hour, and go from street to street to call those who were willing on that condition to attend. He always, likewise, so arranged his business as to secure opportunities for being present at the evening services.
Wishing to be thoroughly satisfied in his judgment of the correctness of the religious system to which he had become attached, he read, and carefully examined, the writings of Mr. Wesley and Mr. Fletcher; and finding them to be, as he believed, in strict accordance with the holy Scriptures, he used them as helps to strengthen his faith, and direct him in the attainment of spiritual profit.
He was not only careful in relation to his outward conduct, but also in cherishing a right temper and disposition. He once observed, “ I am aware that I was considered as naturally amiable; but I was less so than many supposed. I was proud and unforgiving” But the grace of God taught and enabled him to deny himself, and to subdue the wrong principles that might have led to wrong actions. His character was remarkable for humility, kindness, and forbearance. So far from being unforgiving, he would seek out those by whom the offence had been given, and take the first steps toward reconciliation. In his own behaviour he was extremely careful, and never willingly gave offence to any one.
In contributing to the support of the cause of religion, and to the relief of the poor, he was conscientiously liberal, to the full extent of his ability, but not at all ostentatious. Except where example required that it should be otherwise, his rule was, “Let not thy right hand know what thy left hand doeth.” He acted as in the sight of God, and from a sense of duty. Amidst the various changes of commercial life, and the occasional occurrence of serious losses, he maintained, as far as possible, the same liberality, often at the expense of much personal sacrifice. He never allowed himself to sit in judgment on others; but whenever he had reason to apprehend that a different disposition was indulged, he was deeply grieved. When at any time there appeared to be more difficulty than usual in meeting the various expenses of the Circuit, he would earnestly pray that all might be convinced of the importance of assisting to support what he believed to be the work of the Lord, and feel it to be their privilege and pleasure to do so. For more than forty years he sustained office in that portion of Christ's church with which he was more immediately connected, as Class-Leader, Circuit and Society Steward, &c. He was the active as well as the humble Christian ; and when, through increasing infirmities, he was obliged to desist from these more public duties, he would still refer with great pleasure to such by-gone days.
He would speak of many of his fellow-labourers who had been called to their rest before him, and tell how they had been accustomed to assemble at Quarterly-Meetings, lovefeasts, &c., where they were sure to have their souls blessed, and their joys increased ; and then, when temporal business came before them, they were enabled to attend to it in a proper spirit; and as their hearts were enlarged, so their hands were opened, and all were free to contribute as might be necessary.
His confidence in God, being founded on the divine promises, and on those views of the divine character which the Scriptures furnish, was enlightened, calm, and abiding. It was the same under all circumstances. In the dark and cloudy day, he committed himself to God; for in his own experience he had proved that “at eventide it shall be light.” In cases of much perplexity, when he could see no way of escape, deliverance had been wrought out for him ; so that he
rested in the Lord, and waited patiently for him." During a period in which trade was greatly depressed, and failures on the part of others threatened him with serious if not total loss, he exclaimed, “My bread shall be given me, and my water shall be sure. Thank God for that promise." His serene countenance bespoke the peace that reigned within, even when surrounded with outward cares; and towards the conclusion of life, he could say, “I have often prayed earnestly that, whatever happened, I might bring no reproach on the cause of religion. My prayers have been heard, and now I have all things richly to enjoy. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
As a Class-Leader, those over whom he was thus called to watch bear a decided testimony that he was judicious, faithful, and affectionate. He especially rejoiced when he saw young persons coming forward, and choosing the good part, the one thing needful. He would seek to encourage them, by telling them that he had himself found the great advantages of religion, even in relation to this present life; and that he could, from his own experience, set his seal to the declaration of Scripture, that “all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to them that keep his covenant and his testimonies." He was an example of the piety which he endeavoured to inculcate : he “rejoiced evermore, prayed without ceasing, and in everything gave thanks.” No stranger to the assaults of inward temptation, yet he held fast his confidence in a sin-pardoning God, and lived by the faith of the Son of God as having loved him, and given himself for him; so that the evidence of his acceptance which he at first received, he retained to the end.
Though his care for the church of Christ never lessened, yet, during the last ten years of his life his strength gradually failed, and he was no longer able to render the active services in which he had formerly delighted to engage. But there was no repining at this: he knew that the days of man on earth were limited, and that this failure of strength was the harbinger of approaching death. This, however, occasioned no alarm. He would acknowledge that in one sense death was the common enemy, having entered the world by sin ; but that in the case of believers in Christ, his character was changed, and that he was the messenger sent to summon them to their heavenly Father's house. As life declined, therefore, his prospects of future blessedness brightened ; and while the pleasures of active service passed away, joy in hope of the glory of God remained and increased.
About five years before he died, finding that the few remaining cares of business had become burdensome to him, arrangements were made by which he was entirely freed from them. In this he rejoiced, considering it as another proof of providential goodness, that now he had nothing to do, but to think of eternity, and prepare more seriously than ever to appear before God. Sometimes, in consequence of weakness, he could not attend the public means of grace; but on such occasions he always sought to realize the divine presence
in his own habitation. Worship with him was not only duty, but delight also. Indeed, throughout the whole of his religious course, he experienced the pleasure and advantage of thoughtful meditation; and this pleasure increased with his years. In his latter days, it was usual for him to say in the morning, “I have slept very little; still, I have had a blessed night.” Sometimes, if religion appeared not to be so prosperous around him as he could wish, he would say, “ I have slept little, and wept much ; but my blessed Saviour has been with me.”
In the year 1814, the late Captain Drake came to reside near Winchester, and between him and Mr. Poulsom a Christian friendship commenced which lasted for many years. Mr. Drake, at the expiration of his apprenticeship in the merchant service, had been impressed, and taken on board a man-of-war. He had witnessed several engagements; and while in the hospital at Madras, he was convinced of sin, and his need of a Saviour, whose mercy he sought and found. Obtaining his discharge, he fixed his residence at Newport, in the Isle of Wight, where he joined the Wesleyan society, and for some time traded to the neighbouring ports. Subsequently he removed to St. Cross, near Winchester, spending the remainder of his life in “ doing or receiving good." The friendship between him and Mr. Poulsom grew stronger as years passed onward; and at length seldom a day occurred in which they did not meet, and prove mutually helpers of each other's joy. Mr. Drake died somewhat suddenly, and Mr. Poulsom was much affected by the bereavement: he rejoiced, however, in anticipating the period when they should again meet, and then to part
He followed the remains of his friend to the grave; and when the body was about to be lowered into its last earthly restingplace, he placed his hand on the coffin, and, looking upwards, said, while the tears ran down his face, “My old friend, farewell! I shall meet thee again in heaven.”
Mr. Poulsom continued his habits of early rising, &c., till his seventy-fifth year. He then lost his wife.
He then lost his wife. He had watched over her with anxious solicitude during a long and painful affliction ; and when the scene closed, it was found that nature had received a shock so severe, that for some time it was doubtful whether he would not soon follow her. The thought of rejoining her was consoling to him ; but he resigned himself to the divine will. His language was, “ I am willing to live, and ready to die, just as the Lord appoints." His health was in a measure restored; but he could no more engage in active duties as he had formerly done. He lived in the constant expectation of his final change, and was evidently ripening for a better world.
In the early part of February, 1843, he was so unwell, that medical help was called in ; and for the next fortnight he suffered much from inflammation of the chest, and a severe cough : his mind, however, was kept in perfect peace, with occasional bursts of rapturous joy. For