1. Three Poor Men
As I study the early history of Methodism, and see the work of God, there are things which cause me to comment. For example, the account of Methodist origins in Gratton says, - " In 1811, three poor men from Harriseahead in the Tunstall Circuit, constrained by the love of Christ, came into the lanes about Gratton, and exhorted sinners to 'flee from the wrath to come.' They endured much persecution, but percevered, until an aged Church-woman became uneasy respecting them, and was at length constrained to open her house for preaching. "
Who were these "three poor men ... constrained by the love of Christ " ? The fruit of their labour is seen in the salvation of many, and the building of the Methodist chapels in Gratton and Endon. Gratton would probably be the limit of a day's walk, starting at dawn, preaching, and getting home by midnight. They would not be able to afford any other transport. They would not be able to afford lodgings. But they did what they could, and God blessed their sacrificial labour.
I suspect that they may have been amongst the early Primitive Methodist preachers, caught up in the fire of that movement's birth in the Tunstall Circuit. Samuel Heath, one of those converted through their witness, became a noted Primitive Methodist Preacher, of whom we have records of his visits to villages by the River Dove in February 1823.
These un-named men will be praised in Heaven.
2. Conditions in the Eighteenth Century
If anyone doubts the need for Methodism, the spiritual conditions of the Eighteenth Century give an answer. After all that happened in the Reformation, the spiritual state of the nation was dire.
Examples may be found on our Longnor page, and in the accounts of The Countess of Huntingdon, Lady Selina Shirley .
There is a message for our own time, as Britain at the start of the Twenty-First Century drifts towards a similar spiritual decline. Indeed, the pace of that decline is increasing, and only God's intervention can save us from the consequences. The story of Methodist origins has a message for us today. We need to recover something of that fire which drove the early Methodists to change a nation for good.
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RJH September 2000