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(Mr. William Bourne). He trusted the Americans with all his substance, and they cheated him out of all; so he came home and died, leaving an amiable widow and six or seven children. I preached from the text, "Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." We have scarce had such a time since we came from London."
1786, April 28th.-At Lane End, I was constrained to preach abroad. It was past seven, and piercing cold, but God warmed our hearts."
1787, March 29th.-Preached at Lane End, and in the evening at Burslem. Preachers and people provoking one another to love and to good works, in such a manner as was never seen before."
"1788, March 31st.-Preached at Lane End at six in the evening; the chapel not being able to contain one third of the congregation."
April 1st.-Went on to Burslem, where the work of God still prospers exceedingly. The chapel would not contain one half of the people, so I ordered a table to be placed in the yard, and though the wind was very high and very cold, they stood very patiently. Afterwards I spent a comfortable hour with the society, who completely filled the house."
"1790, Sunday, March 28th.--I preached soon after one, in Mr. Myatt's yard, at Lane End; the house would not contain a quarter of the people. At Burslem, also, I was obliged to preach abroad; such were the multitudes of the people."
Monday, 29th.-At nine I preached in the new chapel at Tunstall, the most elegant I have seen since I left Bath. The people seemed to devour the word."
This is the last entry in reference to the labours of this venerable divine, in the Potteries. He was then in his 88th year, and died within a few months afterwards. Persons are still living, (1838), who describe this, his
SEPARATISTS FROM THE WESLEYANS.
farewell sermon, as the most powerful and pathetic that ever came from his lips.
We have made rather copious extracts from the journal of this good man, as conveying the most animated picture of the religious state of this district, and a just account of its altered appearance, during a period of thirty years. We have, however, curtailed the reverend gentleman's remarks in most instances, as well for brevity, as to avoid the imputation of an undue bias towards his system. Certainly, his descriptions are of a most glowing and cheering kind, and seem rather applicable to the state of a warm-hearted society, under the influence of new impressions, than to the cool sobriety into which his societies have since generally subsided. The inhabitants of the Potteries, as he describes them, might have been thought to be indissolubly wedded to their first love; yet, alas, for the fickleness and frailty of the human heart and affections! dissensions sprung up, ere long, among the flock which Wesley had gathered and cherished, as in his own bosom; and it would have vexed his righteous soul to have witnessed the schisms which have subsequently taken place among his professed followers.
An author, who wrote in or prior to the year 1795, said of the Pottery District, "There are a great variety of sects in the Pottery,-few places have so great a diversity of opinion on the score of religion as this ;"* and, since that period, there has been a very considerable extension of the dissenting bodies.
In or about the year 1797, a great secession took place from the Wesleyan connexion on the ground of church government, and the too stringent discipline which the hierarchy, or Conference, established by Mr. Wesley, exacted from the members of his societies, lay as well as clerical. Mr. Alexander Kilham, a preacher, took a very
* Aikin's Manchester, p. 519.
active part in producing that separation; and the seceding party are often designated, from him, "Kilhamites;" though the appellation they assume to themselves, is, "the Methodist New Connexion." They have one very large Chapel and some smaller ones and Schools, at Hanley and Shelton, the latter being their metropolitan station; and also a Chapel and School at each of the other Pottery
Another large secession from the Wesleyans, viz. that of the "Primitives," or " Ranters," took place in the year 1808, in the Burslem circuit, in consequence of the expulsion, for breach of duty or discipline, of some members, who immediately set up for themselves, and have laboured vigorously and successfully, among the more rude and uneducated portion of the surrounding neighbourhood; and very extensively spread themselves throughout England and Wales. Their metropolitan station is at Tunstall, where they have a large Chapel and Schools. They have bound themselves by the terms of a Conference Deed, enrolled upon a similar plan to that of Mr. Wesley. A very large swarm, also, left the parent hive at Burslem, in 1836, consisting of the Teachers and Scholars belonging to what was before called the Burslem Sunday School, par eminence. These separatists from the Wesleyans have not attached themselves, at present, to any particular leader.
Besides these sects, there are in all, or most of the Pottery towns, Chapels and Schools belonging to the Baptists, the Independents, or Congregationalists, and the Christian Society, (as the congregations under the care of the Rev. Robert Aitkens, a recent seceder from the Established Church, choose to designate themselves, with somewhat singular modesty); the Quakers have also a meeting-house at Stoke; and the Unitarians, a few years since, built one at Hanley, but in raising a congregation, they did not, we think, succeed. Add to these, two Roman Catholic chapels, one erected at Lane End, within the last twenty years, and one at
Cobridge, of ancient date; together with all the churches and chapels of the establishment, which have lately multiplied nearly three-fold, and are still increasing; and we count of the priests, ministers, and teachers, of all these religious institutions, a formidable phalanx of spiritual warriors, arrayed against the great adversary of mankind, and engaged in spreading religion. Nevertheless, we are bound to confess, that vice and crime are by no means subdued; and that, although sects have multiplied, many thousands of the population can scarcely be said to be enrolled in any of their ranks.
We will not hazard an opinion of the effect which a division of the protestant community into such numerous sections, is calculated to produce: we are told, however, on the highest authority, that a "house divided against itself cannot stand;" and the present age appears to be putting the truth of this axiom to the test. When the experiment shall have been fully made, we may either be brought back to the uniform standard of papal ascendancy, or otherwise fall victims amidst the wreck of the disjointed fabric we are so assiduously endeavouring to rear.
Of the preponderance of the non-conformist bodies in this district, the reason is obvious: they sprang up, spontaneously, to supply the dearth of Church accommodation, and the lack of zeal, or talent, among the ministry of the Establishment; which, until within a very recent period, were facts undeniable; and, they certainly give a favourable illustration of the elastic principle of the voluntary system.
Before we close the Chapter, we shall venture to make a few remarks on the subject of Education; which is, or according to our views, ought to be, intimately connected with Religion. The Education of the children of the Working Classes,-to which we confine our observations, -has been, for nearly half a century, assiduously cultivated in Sunday Schools, connected with the Church, and various Nonconformist Bodies; but more particularly the
latter; and for twenty years past, or thereabouts, has been also further promoted by National and British Schools, erected in the several towns within the Borough all of them having been carried on by means of local subscriptions, and charity sermons, adequate to the respective objects. The effects of the early and general application of the rudiments of learning to the youthful mind, are sufficiently evident in the improved intelligence of the great mass of the population. In numerous instances, a foundation has been laid, on which has been raised a sound and goodly superstructure of literary attainments; and men of humble parentage, who acquired their initiatory learning in these youthful seminaries, have reason to rejoice at the generous provision made for the diffusion of useful knowledge. We wish we could assure ourselves, however, that all, or even the principal portion of the knowledge there acquired, has been, or is really useful. The facility with which a little learning is attained, may render the acquisition baneful, unless it be accompanied by the infusion of pure religious and moral principles. The fear of God, we are told, is the beginning of wisdom; and another sage, inferior only to Solomon,* summed up the whole of his System of Ethicks, in these two words, "Know Thyself." This apothegm is said to have been inscribed, in golden letters, upon the Temple of the Delphian Apollo; and was believed to have issued from the mouth of the Deity. Socrates, the greatest of the Grecian Philosophers, in all his conferences and discourses, sought to lead his scholars to an acquaintance with themselves. We wish the managers of our Schools would, in this respect, imitate the example of a heathen teacher; for we infer, from the visible fruits of the instruction imparted, that it too frequently tends to make the learners, when out of their pupilage, forget themselves; and to regard their slender
* Thales, one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece.