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DEATH OF THE REV. BENJAMIN FRANKLAND, B.A.
A MYSTERIOUS visitation of Providence has laid upon us a mournful and unlooked-for duty. We have to record the departure, after a few weeks' illness, of the Rev. BENJAMIN FRANKLAND, for nearly eleven years the Editor of this Magazine. On the last Saturday in November, in going down to Biggleswade to preach the Annual Missionary Sermons and attend the Public Meeting, he took a severe chill, which suddenly developed an unsuspected organic disease, which terminated fatally on the morning of January the 17th. He was seized in the pulpit on the Sunday morning with alarming symptoms. He, however, bravely struggled through the evening service, and spoke for a short time at the Meeting on the next day. This was his last appearance in public.
Mr. Frankland was the eldest son of the late Rev. Benjamin Frankland, for upwards of sixty-one years a very estimable and useful Methodist Minister. He descended from a stout old Puritan stock, substantial farmers in the romantic district of Craven, in the West Riding of Yorkshire ; one of whom, Dr. Benjamin Frankland, rose to eminence as the great Puritan schoolmaster of his time.* Benjamin Frankland, the future Editor, was born in St. Ives, Cornwall, in May, 1819. He was brought up “ in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” At the age of ten he was sent to Woodhouse Grove School, where he continued for four years. Few boys, if any, ever passed through school life more blamelessly than Benjamin Frankland. He was remarkable at once for his timid and retiring habits, and his surprising agility and swift-footedness—a combination of qualities which his schoolfellows expressed in the sobriquet of “the stag." The estimate formed of his character and acquirements may be judged from the fact, that two years after he left school he returned as a tutor. Thenceforth he devoted himself with resolute assiduity to the building up of a broad and solid scholarship. For a time the intellectual interest seemed to completely absorb him; but at the age of eighteen he became deeply convinced of sin, and intensely earnest in the search for salvation. After a brief agony of penitence he received the Atonement, and set himself, “with calmly reverential joy." to the cultivation of personal godliness. He brought into his religious life the regularity and steadiness which ensured success in his intellectual pursuits. He was conscientious in attendance at the Class-meeting, where his experience was marked by the self-diffidence and cautiousness which characterised him throughout life. His tutorship at Woodhouse Grove extended over nearly two generations of ministers' sons, lasting ten years, broken by six months of mastership at Wesley College, Sheffield. In 1837, he matriculated in the University of Dublin, where, in due course, he won his degree of B.A.
In 1845, he offered himself as a candidate for the Methodist Ministry. His trial sermon in London, preached at Hinde-Street Chapel, was very warmly praised by Dr. Dixon, who was appointed to hear it, and his examinations proved his superiority not more as to mental culture than as to mental power. Throughout his various Circuits, from Diss, in 1845, to London, Islington, in 1863, his ministry was greatly prized, especially by the more thoughtful and cultivated, that is, by minds of his own class, whilst his personal character and habits won profound and affectionate esteem. From year to year he grew in preaching power : nowhere, perhaps, was it more appreciated than in his last Circuit-Islington. His accomplished predecessor, Mr. Thornton, became cognizant of his powers and attainments through several articles in the Magazines, and, on the resignation of the late J. Gilchrist Wilson, secured his assistance, the efficiency of which marked him out as the most eligible man for the post of Assistant Editor. To this he was appointed by the Conference of 1864. On the lamented death of Mr. Thornton, the entire duties of the Editorship
* See Dr. Halley's “Puritanism in Lancashire, etc.”
devolved on Mr. Frankland. These he so efficiently discharged, that, in 1865, he was appointed sole Editor of Wesleyan literature, periodical, standard, and incidental. After three years of solitary Editorship, it was found necessary to appoint a colleague.
Mr. Frankland, before his designation to the Editorship, had given proof of his literary capabilities by three publications : first, “Outlines of Literary Culture from the Christian Standpoint," a book which evinced much thoughtful and systematized reading; then, a large pamphlet bearing the title, “Intuitionalism," a trenchant attack on the specious philosophy of Morell; and lastly, a powerful tract entitled, “Of Israel, but not Israel.” This last was, in our judgment, by far his ablest and happiest production. It was written in a manly and masterly style, was“full of power by the Spirit of the Lord.” Mr. Arthur at once recognised its value, and called public attention to it; and the late devoted Mr. Brock, of Exeter, held it in such estimation that he gratuitously distributed some thousands of copies. We are bound to record our own opinion that the appreciation of these most competent judges was not in the least exaggerated.
Mr. Frankland's qualities as an Editor are too well known by the readers of this Magazine to require either indication or applause. But his sensitive, scrupulous, solicitous accuracy, his self-consuming sense of responsibility, and his unresting exertions to discharge faithfully and efficiently the arduous and anxious duties of his high office, can only be estimated by those who have been in a position to observe them. We will, however, venture to say that for solidity and intrinsic excellence of matter, for minute correctness of scholarship, for instinctive prudence and moderation, for stanch fidelity to the theology, the discipline, and the traditions of Methodism, Mr. Frankland "" was not a whit behind the very chiefest” of all his distinguished predecessors. If we must concede a defect, it was the excess of two great excellences, namely, a conservative caution, and a humble self-distrust.
The real worth, nobleness, and winningness of Benjamin Frankland's character can only be estimated by those who, like ourselves, have known him well from boyhood ; and have marked his bearing in circumstances the most testing to the inner nature. We sre in a position to testify to a warmth and lovingness of nature, to a genial ) umour, to a modesty and self-depreciation, to a self-sacrificing devotion to the good of others, as well as to a prudence and charitable reticence, which we wou'l devontly emulate. He had true musical taste and considerable musical talent, both of which he kept under conscientious control. He passed through a series of most searching trials, known only to his most intimate friends, which ruder or lighter natures would have thrown off or thrust aside ; but which, while they brought out the finer features of his character, permanently depressed his animal spirits, and cast a sombre shade over his features and his views of life, and, we doubt not, planted in his naturally strong constitution the seeds of the disease which cut him down in the fulness of his strength and the midst of his years.
In 1867, his brethren showed their estimate of his services and virtues by electing him as a member of the Legal Conference, on the nomination of the venerable Thomas Jackson, who entertained very deep respect for his character, acquirements, and qualifications for his office, and his faithfulness and efficiency in discharging its duties.
During his illness his sufferings were extreme; but his faith and patience were equal to the trial. It is characteristic of him that his last note to his brother, the Rev. W. Joseph Frankland, written after he had received the Sacrament for the last time, wus in pure strong Latin. His state of mind was indicated by his dying directions to his wife, —“ Say nothing of me, but
• I the chief of sinners am,
But Jesus died for me;' and · Absent from the body, present with the Lord.'”. He died, January 17th, 1876, in the fifty-seventh year of his age, and the thirty-first of his ministry; the duration of the latter being just half that of his venerable father.
LONDON : PRINTED BY WILLIAU NICHOLS, 46, HOXTOX SQUARE.
MEMOIR OF THE REV. JOHN P. SUMNER AND
MRS. SUMNER. The late MR. SUMNER was born at Cowick, in Yorkshire, on February 7th, 1810. His father, who held a respectable position in general society, was a devoted and consistent member of the Wesleyan-Methodist branch of the Church of God, in which he sustained, for many years, the responsible offices of class-leader and superintendent of a Sunday-school. He was a man of upright and blameless character, respected and beloved by a large circle of friends. He delighted to bring up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” He stood as a pillar in the Church, and his memory is still cherished by many who witnessed his godly example, and profited by his wise counsels.
John Plant Sumner, as a boy, was remarkably vivacious and active. His brothers, who survive him, have still very lively recollections of his determined will and combative propensities. His temper was quick and irritable, and that to such a degree that his eldest brother cannot, at this distance of time, forget the somewhat fierce struggles that were frequent between them through the endeavour on the part of John to assert his mastership. But he left home at the early age of fourteen by his own desire, electing to enter upon the active business of life as a stranger in a large city, rather than prolong the comparative monotony of school duties. At this critical juncture, however, he was under the influence of his father's Christian counsels; and, acting upon his advice, immediately on his arrival in Manchester he connected himself with the Lever Street Sunday-school, in which he soon became a teacher. It was the custom in that school for the teachers, at a given signal, to assemble their scholars around them for religious conversation for a quarter of an hour. This was an exercise for which the young teacher was quite unprepared; and, deeply humbled and distressed by the anomalous position in which he found himself, he happily resolved forthwith to seek that salvation which it was incumbent upon him to recommend to
YOL. XXII. — FIFTH SERIES.