Chapter 33: Starting a Family
Feeling my Means growing , I felt in my Heart to pray to the Lord for A Wife. I was now Thirty Years old and Married Martha Briggs, Daughter of Mr James Briggs and Ann Briggs his Wife, a North Country Family having seven Daughters and four Sons. We Married on Jan 1 1845.
When we were married three Months I had a Knocking on my Door when a man Tho. Monro shouted to me at Midnight. "George! Your Place is on Fire!" You may be sure that gave me a great shock: so I huddled on my Clothes and my Wife following (She would not be persuaded to stop in the House). When we got to the Place, sure enough, things looked dismal with the Fire Engine and crowd of People about. But, my Place being but small, the Fire had soon finished its work, so we returned home, reflecting that no one would suffer but myself. Everything was paid for. Nevertheless, solemn thought possessed my Mind, and when we got home we went down on our Knees, thanking God for present Mercies. I thought of Job when he said: "Naked came I forth of my Mother's Womb and naked shall I return thither again."
And so went to Bed, sleeping soundly and sweet. The next Morning, of course, I was early at the Place. I found that the bottom Place where all our Work was carried on was not affected by the Fire, so that we need not lose a Day in our Work. It was only the upper Room, which I had taken on at 3/6 per week for the drying of Bags that had suffered by the Fire damaging about £30.0.0 of Bags. So we went on with our Work as usual.
After a Time, say about fifteen Months, I got notice to Quit the premises, for Mr Stockdale had bought the premises. He intended to pull down my Place and Build a Warehouse for making Stearin Candles. So I had to look out for another Place. I found this in Nash Grove. A Gentleman's House was to let there, with a large Garden running down to Nash Grove at twenty five Pounds a Year. This I took: but I would have to build a Place for my Pans. So I agreed with Mr Stockdale's Agent to buy the Roof where my present Pan was fixed for three Pounds, intending to build a Place at the bottom of the Garden, in Nash Grove, to fit the Roof. So, when that was fitted, I removed my things to Nash Grove, and moved myself into the House. This was my third remove since being Married. Our first House was Juvenal Court, Juvenal Street at the side of the Haymarket at four shilling a week. After Staying there for perhaps three months we moved into Juvenal Terrace, at five and sixpence a week, where I got the rousing to attend the Fire, and now, for the third time to go to Nash Grove.
We got to Nash Grove; but the Expense of removing brought me considerably into Debt. But now, being much better fixed up for Tools, I soon got over that, and made a little more Money than cleared my Expenses. It was perhaps as easy a Business Time as ever I had.
And now a Son was born to me, of course a Lovely Child, on whom, I fear, my heart was too much fixed, and by whom I was to be tried. He was about Six months Old, well favoured and in good condition; but he got his Teeth very Hard. There he was, lying in his Cradle in strong convulsions, and I, sitting in my Chair, looking at him, expecting every Moment to be his last. I was Praying, saying: "O Lord, O Lord, what shall Spare my Child?" Then a Fearful Thought would come into my Mind: "If God should spare him on Account of my Praying, and he prove a Curse and a Plague, as so many have proved that have been prayed for too vehemently!" Then I would return to the Lord and say; "O, thou Knowest all things. I don't know how I should Pray - for or against - But one thing I know: if thou wilt spare him I shall never forget it! Thy will be done!" After this, I expected him to recover; and, sure enough, he did and soon was all right, and has proved the best gift of an Earthly Kind that I have had from God.
About this time, or a little before, when the Corporation bought Lime St Chapel and we had to remove to Myrtle St, where the present Chapel stands, one of the congregation a Mr Johnson, who was of a Musical turn, proposed to make a Present of a New Organ for the Place that was going to be built after leaving Lime St. The Proposition was not at all accepted by the great part of the Church. One Minister, who had been lecturing on Revelation, showed us how the ancient Church was Corrupted, first by one Innovation and then another. He compared these errors coming in with the coming in of Waters first by little and then enlarging Inundated the whole Place. This, according to his shewing was conclusive to me, that it was right to oppose the threatening Innovation. So I was on the side of those who refused to go to the New Place when it was opened.
We went and took Pleasant St. Chapel; and so the Church that Worshipped in Lime St. became two congregations. I was happy with the people in Pleasant St, but yet I was Labouring under a Legal Spirit. I could not make it out how it was that, being once forgiven all my Sins by the Grace of Christ, and freely accepted of God (this through the Atonement he had made for all my Sins and Shortcomings), I was plagued every day! This notwithstanding all my endeavours to keep 'a Conscience void of Offence toward God and Man', as the Apostle hath it. Yet I could not look, speak, or think without my Conscience Upbraiding me for one thing or another. How often have I said; "If I am a Child of God, why am I thus?" and was made to say: "O wretched Man that I am, who shall Deliver me from this Body of Death?" I was thus exercised for years. Then that sentence from the Psalms dropped into my heart; "Why should I fear in the Days of Evil, when the Iniquity of my Deeds doth compass me about?" He said it was a Dark Saying which he sang upon the Harp; but it was full of Wisdom which none but the redeemed of the Lord know. A Vein of thought was opened up to me which I had not perceived before. When my Eyes were opened to this Truth, I saw the Scriptures full of this truth, even from the beginning. When the Lord brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt he said that he would not destroy all the Wild Beasts out of the Land, neither would he destroy all their Enemies. They were left to be as spines and thorns to prove them. And, from the Apostles teaching, Sins in Believers would still remain to Prove them.
Also I found, by reading the Experiences of God's People, that they were all plagued as I was. Moreover I perceived that if God should take away from Believers all inclination to Sin, we should be cut off from all communion of God in this Life. For it is our Sins that compel us to go to God every day, and to thank God for his Presence. We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. Being now better instructed in the things of God I had more Peace of Mind. I saw that our condition in this World was a Fighting and a wrestling State, and that there could be no discharge from this War but by Death. Then a Glorious Immortality and Eternal Life. When I was first called to the Knowledge of God's dear Son, and forgiveness of Sins through that great Salvation Work which the Lord Accomplished on Mount Calvary, my thoughts were fixed on the Glory that should be revealed hereafter. The Glory of that State swallowed up everything else, so that my Surroundings were altogether insipid things, and I sighed to be dissolved and be with Christ and Eternal Realities. But I soon found that this state of mind could not consist long with a Body of Sin and Death which I carried about with me and fitted me as close as the skin to the body. I could not shake it off. I must have a Saviour as mighty to keep me in my Glory as to save me in the first instance from the Wrath of God in laying down his Life as a Ransom for my Sins.
I had a notable instance of this in my Experience which I will now relate. You have heard me relate how foreign this was to me at one time - how I had doubts and Fears, but was only anticipating Glory when the Lord departed from me and withdrew his Presence, and was left to go about Moping and Moaning, receiving neither Comfort from Reading or Sermons. One Monday Evening I turned in to the Prayer Meeting, which was my usual practice. Mr Lister was reading revelation and commenting there.
In the 2nd of Revelation Christ was referred to as Prying and going about the Church seeing and Knowing what was going on there. He comes to one where he observes where Satan's seat is among them. "Ah", he says, "I know all about it!". I had been trembling and fearing that Satan would be too much for me at last, then that word of Christ saying "I know" spoke directly to me. His Presence was with me all the time I was in Chapel. He went home with me and talked with me as a dear Friend and Brother, saying "Fear not, I will keep thee to the very End." I said: "Dear Lord, if that is so I think that whatever State of Mind I may be in, if I can call to Mind this thy Gracious Presence and Assurance of thy Love, it shall be well with me!"
Thus much must suffice for this time, and I must go on with my Story. In 1847 a Daughter was born to me, and things in general were Prosperous.