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in believing," while his brother William was praying by the bedside of a sick friend.
Not many months after the convivial meeting to which allusion has been made, one of the party who had been loudest in the laugh raised at Mr. Candler's expense, was taken ill. Conceiving death to be near, he was filled with alarm, and sent to his once despised but now valued friend, entreating that he would visit him without delay. On entering his chamber, Mr. Candler found him forward to confess that his life had been a scene of sin and folly; and that the evil day, which he had put far off, had overtaken him in an utterly unprepared state. His relations, he said, had been labouring to quiet his fears, and divert his mind from serious reflection. But, aware that death would be the issue, he had sent for him to know what he must do to be saved. Mr. Candler entered into his case with compassionate fidelity; and by daily instructions and fervent prayers, strove to assist him in securing salvation at the eleventh hour. Though there was hope in his death, yet he was saved as by fire; and our friend often referred to his case as illustrative of the verse,
"Men may live fools, but fools they cannot die."
Another gracious result of Mr. Candler's consistency and decision which occurred about this time, was the conversion of his brother Edward, to whose musical powers we have already alluded. This young man lost his eye-sight through the small-pox, when he was only twelve years of age. This calamity was followed by great depression of spirits, which affected his health, and would probably have shortened his life, but for the religious direction which his mind received from the exhortations of his brother, whom he also followed from Woodbridge to Colchester. Under the Methodist ministry he was drawn by "the cords of a man, with bands of love;" the eyes of his understanding were opened; and, in union with the Saviour, he found a cure for the sorrow of his spirit, and power to submit to the privation of sight, without a murmur. He joined the Methodist society in the twentieth year of his age, and continued a consistent member to the time of his death, which took place in 1823. During his last illness his sufferings were very severe; but he frequently said, "My prospects are so glorious, that I would not exchange situations with the richest and healthiest man in the kingdom." His blindness also served to heighten his views of heaven. He saw a world of meaning in these few simple words: "There shall be no night there." In the early part of the night on which he died, he requested his wife, who had watched around his bed for several nights previously, to retire to rest. About twelve she inquired if he felt worse. He answered, No; I only feel that my heart and flesh are failing;" and again he urged her to lie down. About two in the morning she went softly to his bedside again; but he had quietly ceased to breathe.
In 1792 Mr. Candler married Miss Shorey, whose mother was one of the first Methodists in Colchester, and who was admitted into the society by Mr. Wesley himself. This union formed a new era in the religious experience of both parties; and it secured a larger share of connubial happiness than falls to the lot of most, even of those who marry in the Lord. For forty-seven years they were spared to promote each other's well-being; and during the whole of that period the altar of God stood in their family; they walked under the smile of his providence, and enjoyed the friendship of his people. Four of their children died in infancy, and the rest chose the Lord for their portion betimes. Of these, one is not, for God took her; but not before she had this testimony, that she pleased God.
In 1794 the Rev. John Reynolds, sen., was stationed in the Colchester Circuit; and though he and his colleague, the Rev. G. Deverell, were in labours more abundant, they felt themselves unable to combat the profligacy, or relieve the spiritual destitution, which reigned in the villages and hamlets around. Mr. Reynolds strove to convince Mr. Candler and others, that it was their duty to go forth and warn their ungodly neighbours to flee from the wrath to come; and when our friend pleaded his ignorance and general unfitness, Mr. Reynolds said, "You know salvation, and how it is to be obtained; do you not? Then go, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and tell them that." "This," said Mr. Candler, on his death-bed, "was my only qualification for preaching then; and my endeavour ever since has been nothing else but to teach men salvation, and the way in which it may be obtained." In perfect consistency with the mean opinion he entertained of his abilities for teaching others, he was at great pains to prepare himself for his occasional exercises; that "at least," as he used to say, "religion might not be disgraced by his ignorance." He seldom sat down to his meals without a book in his hand. When he first went out to hold prayer-meetings, he chose his hymns at home, and read them carefully over, that he might avoid errors in pronunciation; and he did the same with the lessons for the day, when he began to preach. His efforts to supply the lack of early education, and qualify himself for usefulness, were steady, persevering, well-directed, and successful. From the first he resolved that his reading should be select; and, to secure this, he asked the Preachers to point out such books as were best calculated to bring up the lost time of youth. Having a strong relish for what was beautiful in language, and elevated in sentiment, he stored his mind with the best thoughts of the best authors; and whether preaching or conversing, he was seldom at a loss for suitable quotations to elucidate and confirm the topic in hand. He loved to contemplate the works of God; and, surveying them with the eye of a Christian, he received impressions from them, which none but a child of God could experience. One of the last works he read was Sharon Turner's "Sacred
History of the World," with which he expressed himself as highly delighted. On laying down the last volume, he said, the writer was evidently a happy man, and he had succeeded in showing that God intended happiness to have been the portion of all his creatures. “But,” he added, "this is the last large work I shall read. Henceforth I shall be more than ever a man of one book, like the venerable Wesley."
His love of the holy Scriptures was supreme; and to the close of life he returned to the Bible from the perusal of human writings not only with undiminished, but with increased, zest. At one of the last love-feasts he attended, after exhorting those present to acquire religious knowledge, as essential to their being established and useful Christians, he said, "With me, my friends, these opportunities are nearly over. I have more than passed the meridian. I sometimes look at my books, which in years past afforded me so much pleasure; and as I look, I think, 'I should like to read you all again; but I cannot. The time is past. With me the clock of life is about to stand still. The hand points to twelve. I must, therefore, leave you all, and keep to my Bible.'"
Mr. Candler was an early riser; and he thus secured time for the acquisition of useful knowledge, which as a man of business he could not otherwise have commanded. The great spiritual refreshment which he often received while worshipping God at the "hour of prime," was gratefully remembered in his declining years. The discontinuance of the morning preaching and early prayer-meetings made no alteration in his habits. He frequently rose with the sun, in summer; and even in winter, it was not till he had passed his seventieth birth-day, that he relaxed in this invigorating habit. From what we have stated, it will excite no surprise, that Mr. Candler was both acceptable and useful as a Local Preacher. Many careless ones were awakened under his stirring appeals; the weary found rest to their souls, while, in his own benignant manner, he magnified the mercy of God in Christ Jesus; and afflicted believers often forgot their griefs and fears while he expatiated on the glory to be revealed. I have heard it remarked, that, whatever might be the topic he started with, he was sure always to land in heaven. His cheerful turn of mind, and his expansive views of the divine benevolence, eminently qualified him for being a comforter of God's people.
In Mr. Candler's early days, the friends of Methodism in these parts were few, and those few were esteemed as "the offscouring of all things." The most unfounded reports were circulated to blacken their characters; their worship was often interrupted, their persons were assaulted, and even their lives were sometimes endangered. When Mr. Jenkins was preaching on Aberton-green, one Sunday morning, two young men, who were in the habit of spending their Sundays in cock-fighting, and such-like exercises,
undertook, for a small wager, to bring him over to the inn in a sack. Mr. Jenkins saw them approach; and, suspecting that their errand was to disturb, he fixed his eye upon them, and thundered out some appropriate scriptures with such energy, that their courage failed them; and, after listening for some time to the sermon, and looking alternately at the sack and the Preacher, one of them said, "He is a fine fellow. He knows his Bible well: don't he? My opinion is, we had better let him alone: what say ye?" To this the other assented; and after the sermon they parted, never to meet again for the purpose of desecrating the Sabbath. Both of them were convinced of sin; and, having joined the society and found mercy, they were chief instruments in erecting the chapel which now stands in the village. After leading exemplary and useful lives, they both died triumphing in God, and leaving a seed to serve him.
The following circumstance, connected with the erection of the Aberton chapel, deserves to be put on record. The most eligible, if not the only, site which could be obtained for the chapel lay close to the garden of a determined opposer of Methodism; and a large branch of one of his fruit-trees extended about fifteen feet over the spot. This branch, it was foreseen, must be cut down, or the chapel could not be built, and the litigious proprietor threatened a rigorous prosecution of the man who should dare to touch it. The cause of our friends was righteous, and the law would no doubt have protected them, had they cleared away the nuisance; but in their deep poverty they chose to commend their case to God in prayer. The season for building was fast passing away, and no cottage in the village could accommodate the crowds which came to hear; when, one Sunday morning while the society were engaged in prayer, the branch broke down with its own weight, splitting the parent trunk nearly to the root.
At Ardleigh, a village now included in the Manningtree Circuit, persecution ran very high. Often has Mr. Candler returned from this place besmeared from head to foot with the filthy missiles of the mob. On one occasion, they procured an old horse-collar, which they endeavoured to place on the necks of the females who had attended the preaching. Mr. Candler vigorously interfered, and had their fury turned upon himself. After submitting to be pelted with the collar till he came opposite a high wall, he seized the tool of their wickedness, and threw it over. Enraged at their loss, they closed upon him, threw him down, and would no doubt have maimed him, had not their ringleader interposed, and with his bludgeon guarded him and his friends, till they were fairly out of the village. In this place, also, truth triumphed: some of the persecutors were converted; a chapel was subsequently erected; and a goodly proportion of the inhabitants are now as remarkable for good manners
and the fear of God, as their fathers were for vulgarity and contempt of his truth.
At Brightlingsea, too, Methodism was introduced in the midst of great opposition; and the individual who first opened her house to the Preachers may be said to have done so at the expense of her life. Her name was Cook: she was a widow, and well reported of for good works. Having found salvation herself, through the preaching of the Methodists, and there being no place of worship in the village, which was then proverbially wicked, she, like another Lydia, said to the messengers of the Gospel, "If ye have judged me faithful to the Lord, come into my house." To invite, and especially to permit, the men who were turning the world upside down, to preach in her house, were crimes which her general good character could not even excuse. One Sabbath-day the mob mustered in great force, and were so uproarious as completely to interrupt the worship. Young Cook, the son of the widow, went out to reason with them; when they hemmed him in, threw him down, and maltreated him to such a degree, that his mother, who witnessed their brutality, dropped down and expired in a few hours. Thus, as Mr. Candler said, at the first Missionary Meeting held in the village, "the work of God in Brightlingsea commenced in death!" But, notwithstanding the tragical end of the widow, her son courageously kept the house open for preaching. God blessed the word to many: a chapel was built, a Sunday-school established; and the zeal of others being provoked, the village, which was spiritually a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing, is now blessed with the means of grace, and with a godly seed. Mr. Cook, after steadfastly maintaining his Christian profession through life, died in Southwark a few years ago, rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.
Elmstead did not become a Wesleyan station till the year 1815, when the Rev. James Anderson opened his commission on the villagegreen. The common people would have heard him gladly; but some of their betters prevented. Mr. K, a farmer in the neighbourhood, having obtained a trumpet and a pair of cymbals from the military band at Weeley, and having furnished his labourers with old pans, &c., did his best to amuse the people and annoy the Preacher. Mr. Anderson was strengthened for the occasion. He avowed himself an ambassador for God, and a promoter of peace between man and man. He said he was not at all discouraged because the enemy raged; but, on the contrary, he regarded it as a token for good. He assured the people, that if they only stood still and listened, neither the loud-sounding cymbals, nor the shouts of the ungodly, would prevent him from delivering his message, or them from obtaining a blessing. As the season advanced, the green was exchanged for a small cottage on the common. Mr. K—, aware that the title to the ground on which the cottage stood was questionable,