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to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” “This was the last text ever selected by our deeply lamented and highly venerated friend Dr. Bunting. The sermon was delivered in Brixton Hill chapel, while he, with Mrs. Bunting, and Dr. and Mrs. Jobson were on a visit to us. How many hearts and eyes overflowed that morning! It was & season befitting the closing days of one of God's most laborious and highly honoured servants." Many of Mrs. Kirsop's letters to Mrs. Palmer disclose intense longings for complete consecration to the Saviour, ardent desires for usefulness, and for the honour of the Holy Name.
In the year 1859, Mr. Kirsop removed from London, and went to reside on his own estate at Redgate Hall, Wolsingham, in the county of Durham. There are many points of strong contrast between city and country life. But God's people are sure to find everywhere the all-surrounding Presence, and a sphere in which their Master may be glorified. In this new place of residence, the many interests of the Church required help, and beyond the pale of all the churches, the condition of those s without God in the world” made its appeal to all who would be wise to win souls. Mrs. Kirsop began at once to labour for the spiritual good of the people, by the employment of a female visiting agent, by a weekly meeting for women, and by efforts to increase the number, and to promote the spiritual growth, of the members of the church.
About the year 1860, one of the most valued and profitable friendships of her life was begun with Miss Gibson, of Ramsay, Isle of Man, whose efforts on behalf of the school for ministers' daughters, and also that for destitute children, enlisted Mrs. Kirsop's sympathy. In their tastes, desires, and work, they were heartily one. The twelve years spent at Redgate Hall, after their removal from London, were not unprofitable. Of this, her private journal contains ample proof.
Shortly after the removal from London, Dr. and Mrs. Palmer, of New York, visited England, and found a hearty welcome at Redgate Hall. At the meetings held in Darlington, Sunderland, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Grimsby, and elsewhere, Mrs. Kirsop was actively engaged, and afterwards often spoke of those seasons as among the happiest of her life.
During the year 1871, the home at Wolsingham was cast beneath the shadow which bereavement brings. In the month of July, Mr. Kirsop died; and Mrs. Kirsop was left to the loneliness of widowhood for the brief remaining space of her life. Only & widow can estimate the loss sustained when a loved and tender husband is hidden in the grave. John Kirsop was, in some respects, an admirable man. Gifted with great self-control, gentle
in his manners, amiable in spirit, and hospitable in his own home, he drew towards himself all who came within the circle of his in. fluence. He was naturally reserved in disposition, and seemed disinclined to speak of himself, either in relation to his Christian experience or the affairs of ordinary life. In Methodist work he took a quiet interest, as will be seen from his efforts to promote the erection of Jewin Street chapel ; his contributions to such objects as the Missionary Jubilee Fund; his joining his brother-inlaw to pay half the amount of cost when the new chapel was built at Wolsingham, and when the whole of the debts were removed from the chapels in that Circuit. As the end drew near, he had a clear consciousness of its approach, and sank peacefully into his final slumber. The friends who knew him best felt as they retired from his closing grave that “the memory of the just is blessed.”
In the early part of 1872, Mrs. Kirsop spent some time at Brighton. Her state of mind there may be gathered from the following extracts :
February 27th, 1872.—"Last Sabbath I greatly enjoyed conversation and prayer with the Rev. William Edwards. His sermon from Hebrews i. 1-3 was glorious, because so full of Christ. As I sat alone at supper afterwards, tears of joy streamed down my face, while I praised my God and Saviour with joyful lips.” Thus the lone condition of the widow was not unblessed. He who hath said, “I will come to you,” filled the solitude of life with precious manifestations of His own presence, and prepared the mind for seasons like those to which the following extracts refer :-" soul is often sorrowful,—the sense of desolation indescribable; I feel as if I must tread softly all my remaining days. And yet I feel I have been brought nearer to Jesus. O my Saviour, let my remnant of days be spent to Thy praise !
“ March 10th, 1872.-To-morrow is the anniversary of my wedding day. Last night I wet my pillow with my tears, shed over the remembrance of joys departed never to return. Were it not for the blessed hope I feel that my precious husband is for ever with the Lord, my grief would be greater than I could bear. As it is, it is indeed a bitter cup, and yet I know infinite wisdom and love have done it all. I have had deep sorrow because of my unfaithfulness. But I have confessed my sin to Him who is . faithful and just '—wondrous words ! 'to forgive us our sins.' I trust I am through the precious blood cleansed from all unrighteousness.'"
During her stay at Brighton Mrs. Kirsop made grateful record in her journal of the comfort derived from the tender sympathy of Dr. and Mrs. Jobson, and the sermons of the Rev. John M.Kenny.
After spending the early summer months at Redgate Hall she went to North Wales. On September 29th, 1872, she wrote :“I have just returned with Mrs. and Miss Gibson from North Wales. All our journeyings seemed sweetly ordered by the Lord. We had much enjoyment in beholding His wonderful works in nature, and in converse and prayer together. I find I must have more of Christ within, or I shall not honour my Saviour. I spoke one word too strong to one who had not acted right, and have had to grieve much in secret before God. O to be perfect, lacking nothing!"
As the year 1872 drew towards its close, there was seen in Mrs. Kirsop an evident ripening of the Christian graces, and a growing activity.
On October 9th, she wrote :“ Was greatly refreshed yesterday. God drew near as my Father, accepting me through Jesus. Yes, God the Father and God the Son drew divinely near, and I did feed on Jesus as the living bread,' and the hope of my soul. I have felt the yearnings of my Heavenly Father for His poor unworthy, O would that I had not to add, unfaithful child!" One of her relatives wrote after the decease of Mrs. Kirsop :
- The last year of her life was commenced in pointing sinners to Christ.” This sentence describes an occupation that an angel might covet. She herself referred to this in the following terms: “I closed the year at Cuthbert Bainbridge's, Newcastle. Was sent for to the kitchen after the watch-night service, and saw the nurse and parlour maid made happy in their Saviour's love."
On the first Saturday in the new year (1873), Mrs. Kirsop went to Morecambe. A friend who accompanied her states that they knelt down together in the railway carriage on the way, to implore God's blessing on their visit, and on the exertions they might make there for His honour. On the Sabbath following she spoke to a few people of her own sex, and arranged to meet them for prayer at three o'clock on the afternoon of the following day. Of that first meeting she wrote :-" The presence of Jesus was in our midst almost like a cloud. One found peace, and I believe all present received more grace.” Believing that God had brought her to Morecambe to be useful, her first efforts were at the throne of grace. It is known that she spent large portions of several nights in prayer for guidance and aid. The good work was steadily prosecuted on a fixed plan. Each morning was employed in visiting the people in their own homes, such visits being devoted to conversation and prayer. A public prayer-meeting was held at noon from twelve to one o'clock, and at seven in the evening a regular service. Her friend Mr. Joshua Dawson was the most frequent
preacher, but several others were also active in the work. In the Sunday-school there were about three hundred scholars. Sabbath afternoon, during these services, a special influence seemed to visit the whole school. Scores of the young people remained on their knees in silent prayer, while in many cases their falling tears attested the depth and reality of their interest. The quickening grace was felt by the members and officers of the church, and by many who until that time had lived without God. Mrs. Kirsop wrote as follows :-“ Upwards of sixty spoke in the fellowshipmeeting this evening. Thirty-seven new converts spoke. I wish the fishermen's experience could be heard in every chapel in Methodism. It was glorious to hear them sing: a little heaven below. I have had a sad struggle about leaving for Italy. Had I not overworked myself I had felt afraid to go. On this matter my desire is to know and do the will of my Saviour.”
On Monday, the 17th of March, Mrs. Kirsop started from London for the continent with five other friends. While in Paris she wrote: “Saw enough of the devastations war has left on the noble buildings to sink our hearts in sorrow, while we wondered how the wrath of man should praise Him who is the Ruler of princes.” In the gay French capital her heart was intent on searching out those who were witnessing and working for the Master. Hence the following :-“We called on the Rev. James Nicholson, and were pleased to find that the English aristocracy in Paris are eagerly seeking our Wesleyan literature, and many find their way to the Wesleyan chapel."
After a short sojourn in Paris the party started for Marseilles. At the Macon railway station Mrs. Kirsop unexpectedly met her brother and sister, Mr. and Mrs. E. Bainbridge, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, who were hastening home to the death-bed of their son Cuthbert. He was a young man of rare Christian excellence, and a great favourite with Mrs. Kirsop. In her note-book occur the following entries on the occasion :-“I was dumb with grief at first, and only found relief in pouring out my soul to God in my closet. My prayers and tears were offered to my pitiful Saviour on his behalf. On Saturday (at Cannes) I obtained a full deliverance on my knees, respecting dear C. I knew he offered to Jesus his life. I feel the offering was accepted, and the design of my precious Saviour shall be accomplished.”
While at Genoa tidings of the death of her nephew reached her. After referring to her engagements during the same day she wrote: “I felt as if the day spent alone with Jesus in tearful praise and adoring gratitude had been infinitely more in unison with my feelings. My precious, incomparable nephew! I trust I may come to you; you can never return to us. I feel as if the last link to earth were severed; but heaven, and God, and my Saviour, and even dear C-, seem nearer to me. At first I was mute in depths of grief; but when I got to my room and on my knees I did praise my Saviour for taking my dearest earthly one. My Jesus hath done all things well. Prayer seems now to be more realising than it ever has been before, as though I were left to take the place of our precious one at the mercy seat."
After a short stay at Turin the party proceeded to Milan. Here Mrs. Kirsop wrote on the Lord's day: “We went to the English church. I felt inclined to remain at home to spend the morning alone in special prayer for my precious sorrowing brother and his dear family. But remembering that the Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob,' I took my troubled heart to pour out my petitions before the Lord in His own house. While I was doing so, one female voice, accompanied by an instrument, in subdued to nes, seemed to give a vocal reply to my petitions: • Trust in the Lord,... wait patiently for Him,... and He shall give thee thy heart's desire.' These words were solemnly and sweetly repeated with power to my heart. The sermon, on our blessed Redeemer's temptation, was truly spiritual.”
From Milan the tourists went to the Italian lakes, and thence to Venice.
Of all the objects of interest in Venice one in particular seems to have excited in Mrs. Kirsop a lingering and peculiar regard. “Titian's paintings," she remarks in her note-book, “I admired exceedingly, especially one of them : Behold the Man' seems ever since stamped upon my brain. That sacred Head, crowned with thorns. That Face, and the expression must be seen,—the unearthly expression,--to be understood. The pallor of death, the spear mark in the side, the prints of the nails, the bleeding wounds!" Her notice of the visit to Venice concludes thus : “ The pictures, statuary, and buildings in Venice are very fine, but the Cathedral at Milan pleased me more than any one object in Venice." And in the sentence following we find a practical proof that the declaration in the ancient Creed, “ I believe in... the communion of saints," was to her a real and a precious thing : “I had a blessed season while hearing the Rev. Mr. Wallace, Scotch Presbyterian."
After leaving Venice the following places were visited :-Pisa, Florence, Leghorn, Rome, and Naples. It gave Mrs. Kirsop more than common joy to find that the old Gospel preached by Paul, but long excluded by Papal tyranny, had re-entered the eternal city. She was greatly delighted and comforted while joining in the worship of the different Churches, Waldensian, Episcopal, Presby