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MEMOIR OF MR. FRANCIS TESSEYMAN,
OF MANCHESTER :
BY HIS SON, THE REV. JOHN TESSEYMAN.
“Ir matters little at what hour o' the day
The true development of man consists in the knowledge of God, and in an increase of holiness and goodness, of virtue and truth. Mere intellectual culture and mental refinement are of themselves one-sided in their effects, only laying hold of a portion of the human being, while the moral and spiritual part of humanity remains undeveloped and uneducated. The Gospel alone can regenerate the soul. By it alone is a new nature implanted, and a new life inbreathed. And this new creation must maintain itself in constant growth. All life implies progress : to stand still is death. There is a law of development in nature; and by the light of revelation we discover that it extends to the realm of grace. The regenerate man goes on “unto perfection." This is what the subject of this memoir steadily strove to do; he was an ardent believer in, and had a personal experience of, the truth of the Methodist doctrine of entire sanctification. For many years he accounted it his greatest honour to bear witness to its reality, and to preach it to others.
FRANCIS TESSEYMAN was born at Kirkby-Malzeard, a small town seven miles distant from Ripon, on January 11th, 1816. His parents, who were strict adherents of the Establishment, regularly took part in its services, and taught their children to do the same. When their son Francis was about eighteen years of age, not finding at the church the peace be eagerly sought, he began to attend upon the Wesleyan-Methodist ministry. He now heard the truth as it is in Jesus," laid hold upon Christ by a personal faith, and realized the salvation of his soul: "being justified by faith," he had peace VOL. XIX. - FIFTE SERIES.
with God," and, freed from the spirit of bondage, could gratefully cry to his Deliverer :
* My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.” Concerning his consciousness of acceptance with God, I have heard him speak in the most positive manner. His religious experience was after the Apostolic description : "We know that We have passed from death unto life." of the direct witness of the Spirit to his spirit he was as 'sure as that the natural sun shone in the visible heavens; and I know not that he ever lost his hold of this great privilege of the children of God.
Not long after my father received the blessing of pardon, he began earnestly to seek that of Christian purity. He looked upon entire sanctification as an instantaneous work of the Holy Spirit, to be realized through faith in the same way as justification. He sought long ere he found ; and even after he had obtained what his sonl desired, it was lost again for a time. Yet he sought once more, and having realized the richer heavenly baptism, constantly urged upon the attention of others that which he himself enjoyed. To be * sanctified wholly" was not with him a bare theoretical speculation, but a personal experience; and often was he heard to declare his holy confidence of the possession of the blessing. It was his favourite topic in conversation, and was more agreeable to him than any other.
The works of John Wesley and Jolin Fletcher were his favourite books, especially those parts of them which bear on the doctrine of Christian perfection. The Antinomian errors against which these divines levelled their strong arguments he hated with a "perfect hatred ;” and on all controverted points he appealed at once " to the lawand to the testimony." His general book-knowledge was respectable; but, like Wesley, he became, comparatively speaking, “& man of one book," and that one the Bible. It was for him, in a great measure, and especially toward the close of his life, the substitute of all other literatures, and all other lores; in short, his whole course and demeanour declared, " Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."
His first Society-ticket bears date 1833 ; his first plan, for the Bedale Circuit, 1846. As a local preacher lie apparently performed a large amount of work ; for the Circuit was large, the preaching-places wide apart, and the services numerous. But he was conscientious in the discharge of his duties. It seems much to assert that lie nerer neglected an appointment; but I never heard of an instance of the kind. Often he has been known to say that, on a Sabbath-day, he had preached thrice, and walked twenty miles. Frequently also would he tell of sinners having been conrerted to God, and believers brought to a liigher state of spiritual enjoyment, through his instrumentality. Rarely, it would seem, did he preach without some visible good being done. He was the means of saying scores, if not hundreds, of souls, by leading them to the Lamb of God; and some of the spiritual offspring thus given him have already recognized and greeted him on the eternal shore."
About 1858 my father removed from Kirkby-Malzeard to Hud. dersfield, where he laboured as class-leader, local preacher, and in other ways, in the Buxton-Road Circuit. After a two years' residence at Huddersfield, he was induced to repair to Manchester, to undertake an agency; and here he remained up to the time of his death. While in Manchester he identified himself with the Society and congregation associated with the New Islington chapel, in the Grosvenor-Street Circuit. The years he spent in connection with this Circuit, and in the surrounding district, were amongst the most important of his life. Many and various were the objects he sought constantly to promote; such as the preaching of the Gospel, prayer, class and cottage-meetings, Bible-classes, and Sunday-schools; and these occupied all the time he could spare from his daily duties. He was especially active on the Sabbath, which often was with him the busiest day of the week. He was “ diligent in business," yet "fervent in spirit, serving the Lord," — a fine example of Christian activity and earnestness.
By nature his constitution was robust and vigorous, particularly in the earlier years of his life ; but for some time prior to his death he was not strong. This was owing chiefly to an accident which befell him whilst residing at Kirkby. Malzeard, and to the circumstance that Manchester never suited his health. For eighteen months he was almost wholly laid aside from active engagements; various causes operating to bring about that fatal issue, carrying sorrow to many hearts, which took place on Monday morning, April 5th, 1869, when he exchanged mortality for life, aged fifty-three years.
In the prospect of death my father was calm. He did not in his last hours converse much on his religious state, in consequence of severe pain; but there was no need that he should : his life had declared the power of the “Gospel of the grace of God," and he had been a faithful witness for Christ, a "living epistle, known and read of all men." A short time before his departure he said to his wife, "I am going." "Yes," she replied, "going to heaven;" to which he rejoined, “Praise the Lord, I am !” At times, when the pain which he suffered was extreme, the ejaculation, " Lord, help me!” escaped his lips. He often asked his wife to aid him in keeping his mind “stayed on God,” and in "perfect peace :” “Yes,” said he," that is it; perfect peace.” The words, " Come,
Lord Jesus, come quickly!" concluded his utterances of prayer and hope, and brought his earthly pleadings to a close. His death took place sooner than was expected. He was not worse in health than he had been for some time, until twelve o'clock on Sunday night, when he began rapidly to decline. At half-past two the “weary wheels of life stood still," and his emancipated spirit, freed from the encumbrances of the flesh, rose to the everlasting mansions of the redeemed.
Having given a brief sketch of his life, we may now mention a few of those traits of my father's character for which he was remarkable. 1. He was a man of much prayer.
“ Thrice blest, whose lives are faithful prayers,
Whose loves in higher love endure ;
Or is there blessedness like theirs ?" To come to the throne of grace was his delight: he could not breathe freely and fully anywhere else. Here was his life's spring, his life's happiness. Often did he wield the power of prayer with strange and wondrous effect. From the date of his conversion to God, it was his wont to rise at midnight, in order to hold intercourse with his Heavenly Father. Three times a day did he bow the knee at the family-altar, offering up thanksgivings and intercessions for himself, his household, and "all men." His "effectual fervent" petitions have often been answered : it is confidently believed, by the members of his family, that one of the children was raised up from the very brink of death as the effect of his earnest supplications.
2. He was scrupulously conscientious. It was his constant aim to have “a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men." In him the “moral sense” was very susceptible, and would not allow him to tread on doubtful ground. His endeavour was, not to calculate how far he might go without doing wrong, but to keep as much out of danger as possible by invariably doing what was right. He was just, straightforward, honest,—& specimen of what Christian business-men ought to be, especially in these days of loose commercial morality, worldly speculation, and craving for wealth. He would rather wrong himself than others; and he no doubt at times suffered, in a pecuniary point of view, through his strict adherence to honesty and truth. But in so doing he had a rich reward in himself; and his own peace of mind was more precious than “thousands of gold and silver." The eulogy of a popular writer, pronounced upon one who was dear to him, may be quoted as appropriate in relation to my father : “ IIe was a man into the four corners of whose house
" He was
there had shined, through his pilgrimage by day and by night, the light of the glory of God. Like Enoch of old, he had walked with God,' and at the last he was not; for God took him," If I could only see such men now,-men of fearless truth and simple faith,with such firmness in holding on to the things which they believe ; in saying and doing only what they thought was right; in seeing and bating the thing they felt was wrong, I should have far more hope for this British nation, and, indeed, for the world at large.” Here may be inserted also a characteristic letter from Mr. Edward Brooke, of Huddersfield, not long since passed away, whose friend he was for many years. Mr. Brooke says, one of the best of men, kind, honest, just, sincere, and upright in all his dealings. As a Christian, he was one of the best men I ever knew ; I know of no man like him at the present day,-a great deal to say ; but I repeat it, I don't. I was particularly attached to him, and he to me, to the last.”
3. But the foundation of all his other excellencies was, his deep, uniform piety. Goodness and usefulness, rather than greatness, were his constant aim and his deliberate choice. And truly he chose the better part." No one who conversed with him could fail to see that he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost.” The path in which he moved was " as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." He loved to get near to God, and Christ, and heaven-to walk on the threshold of paradise and breathe the atmosphere of heaven. Christian light, love, and power, were the elements which went to make up a character symmetrical and beautiful. Temptation seemed to have little or no power over him : the world appeared dead to him, and he to it; and his faith was strong-"strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."
It may not be inappropriate here to insert a few passages from a diary that he occasionally kept, which will serve to illustrate many of the foregoing statements. These extracts refer chiefly to the later years of his life. Much more than has been preserved was written in earlier years; but it has been misplaced or lost.
“ January 15th, 1868.-I herewith express my gratitude to Almighty God for His preserving and watchful care over me through another year of my mortal life. It has been a year of great trial, personal affliction, and family bereavement-of a beloved son. Yet in my greatest distress proportionate grace has been bestowed, and I raise my Ebenezer' and say, Hitherto hath the Lord helped me. In the strength of grace I do dedicate myself afresh to God, and will live henceforth to His glory, seeking for yet higher attainments in holiness, that I may be filled with all the fulness of