« PreviousContinue »
THE METHODIST NEW CONNEXION MAGAZINE.
MEMOIR OF MR. MICHAEL WING,
(SHEFFIELD NORTH CIRCUIT.) The records of our community furnish us with some blessed examples of eminently pious men, whose devoted lives show the practicability of high religious attainments, and whose happy deaths are so many attestations of the immutability of that foundation on which millions of sanctified spirits have rested sure, amid the trials of life and the agonies of death.
A good man having fallen in our Israel, we seek a place for his name among those who are kept in remembrance, as a sincere tribute of affection to his memory; and in the hope that others may emulate his holy example. Mr. Michael Wing was the son of Thomas and Sarah Wing, of Thorpe, near Wentworth, in Yorkshire. He was born on the 10th of October, 1788. It was his privilege to have pious parents, who from a child consecrated him to God, and set religion before him both by precept and example; but he soon had to experience the loss of his father, who died when he was only five years of age; and his mother, being left in humble circumstances, had not the means of giving him any educa. tion beyond what he acquired in the Sunday school. She was necessitated to seek employment for him at the early age of seven years.
While young he was the subject of religious impressions, but they were only transient. Like the fair bloom of spring, they soon withered, drooped, and died; and it was not until he attained his twentieth year that he resolved to give his heart to God. When he was awakened to a sense of his guilt and danger, he felt an anxious desire for salvation, which was indicated by deep and poignant penitence, and issued in the conversion of his soul. He immediately commenced meeting in class, and became a member of the Wesleyans; and for twelve months his conduct was consistent and his mind was happy.
It is, however, our duty to state, that when he attained his majority, which terminated his apprenticeship, he became more exposed to temptation, to which he yielded; he gave up his seat in the sanctuary for one among the ungodly. He abandoned the friends of the Saviour for the companionship of sinners, and bartered the pleasures of piety for those carnal pursuits which leave an aching void in the immortal spirit. He formed an acquaintance with one young man whose disposition and habits were congenial with his own, and who still survives to tell how they used to indulge in sin together. This person is now a classleader in the Wesleyan society, and he says, “ We used to spend our evenings at the public house, and our Sabbaths in visiting country places and village feasts.” How the fine gold had been dimmed! For two years our brother wandered about in the ways of sin, yet still he often felt the upbraidings of conscience, and the strivings of the Holy Spirit; and although he had given up his seat in his former place of worship, he could not banish from his mind the strong sense he had of the value and obligations of religion; and under the influence of these better feelings, he took a seat in our Scotland street chapel, where he occasionally attended during the sad interval of his estrangement from God. Referring to this period, Mr. Wing has often been heard to say, “I many a time used to disappoint my companions, by turning into Scotland street chapel to hear the word of God, instead of going with them to do evil.” And it was by his attending this place of worship that he was restored from his fallen state. The account which is given of the occasion of his recovery, shows the omnipotence of God's word, when preached with fidelity; and is another example of the fact that some who go to hear the Gospel from trifling motives receive the word and are thereby converted. It was one very hot Sabbath day, when he and his companion were on their way to à village feast, Mr. Wing proposed that, until it became a little cooler, they should turn into our chapel and worship. There surely was some good thing in him, even then, towards the Lord God of Israel. They entered the sanctuary, and found the Rev. Abraham Jackson conducting the service-a minister who never handled the word of the Lord deceitfully. The text was read out in the preacher's fine manly tone, “ Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" The text was a nail in a sure place. The sermon proved a seasonable warning. The two thoughtless young men were deeply affected and agitated; they trembled and wept. When the service was over, Mr, Wing told his companion that he knew what it was that troubled him, and advised him to give up Sabbath breaking and attending the public house. Yet, notwithstanding this excellent advice, on the following night, when his friend went to the chapel, he himself went to the public house. He had not, however, been there long, before his companion sought him, and induced him to return with him to the house of God, where the good influences of the Holy Spirit were again shed down upon his mind, and produced very powerful convictions. Although he did not at once yield to Divine grace, it was not long before he renounced his sinful practices, and began with great earnestness to seek forgive. ness. He now attended the preaching, and the prayer and class meetings diligently; and was again emancipated from the slavery of sin, and entered into the blessed liberty of God's children; and obtaining help of God, he remained stedfast until death.
About this time, Mr. Wing entered into the marriage state, with Sarah, the daughter of Mr. Joseph Broadhead : and after living happily together for eight years, she died in the Lord.
When Mr. Wing had been a member of our society five years, and had evinced a sound conversion, purity of life, clear evangelical views, sympathy for souls, and attachment to our Church discipline, he was in the year 1816 appointed to the office of class leader ; the duties of which he fulfilled with efficiency to the end of his life-a period of thirtythree years. Subsequently he was requested to become a local preacher, but declined the office, by saying, “ I will engage nothing of that kind, except I am fully persuaded that God calls me to the work."
In the year 1823, after being a widower for nearly two years, he again married. His second wife was Sarah, the daughter of the late Mr. George Addy, who for many years was a leader in connection with Scotland street society. Mr. Wing was careful to marry in the Lord ; and he found to his great comfort “ a helpmeet for him." Like Zecharias and Elizabeth, they walked in the commandments of the Lord together. They were both members of the same society, both class leaders, and both took an equal share of duty at the domestic altar ; and surely they will both live in heaven together. After spending twenty-six happy years in each other's society, the union has been dissolved for a transient season by the stroke of death. He is gone, his mate is left behind. By this marriage there are two children, a son and daughter, for whom many parental prayers have been offered. O may those prayers be fully answered !
We now come to the closing scene of Mr. Wing's useful and happy life. On Tuesday, August 28th, in good health he left home for Leeds, on business ; and after staying in that town two days, he returned home about eleven o'clock on Thursday night, apparently in perfect health. After making inquiries about his children, he spoke of the awful ravages of the cholera in Leeds and its neighbourhood; and said he had found it difficult to get home that night, but he felt very anxious to do so, and had made a great effort. How little did he think he had returned home to die! After reading God's holy word, the family knelt down around the family altar, and he prayed; and specially indulged in expressions of thankfulness to God for bringing them together in peace and safety. But, alas! it was only for a few hours' association ; it was a farewell meeting, to part for ever in this world. The sad event, however, would have been more painful still, had he not returned, had he died in a strange place, and had he been deprived of those soothing comforts administered to him by a loving wife and sympathizing friends.
About two hours after retiring to rest, an attack of diarrhoea came on, but this in his case produced no alarm, as he had been subject to an affliction of that nature for years. About six o'clock on Friday morning, severe sickness, accompanied with cramp and cold sweatings, gave to the other symptoms an alarming aspect, and medical aid was sent for. From this time the fell disease made rapid progress, and he sank under its baneful influence. At one o'clock at noon I visited him, but the moment I saw him I could not suppress the exclamation, “Alas, my brother!"
He knew that he was dying, and to his distressed wife he several times said, “ Pray; pray, love, pray;" and at other times he evidently desired to say something, but he had not the power to articulate. Happily, he retained his intellectual powers to the last, and after I had prayed with him and commended his sanctified spirit to the blessed Redeemer, the instant I rose from my knees, he stretched out his pale dying hand to shake hands with me. I never shall forget it; he then made an effort to raise his head, he kissed his wife, and bid her an affecting farewell; and about two o'clock he breathed his last, and