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MEMOIR OF MR. THOMAS BREARE,
OF BURLEY, NEAR ADDINGHAM :
BY THE REV. ROBERT TOTHERICK. MR. BREARE was born at Cross-Bank, near Addingham, September 1st, 1784. Of his earlier years nothing particular is known, except that he lived as “the many," who live forgetting God.
years of age, a sermon preached by the late Rev. Joshua Fearnside awoke him from his sleep, to a discovery of his danger as a sinner. Wishing to remove the impressions of alarm thus occasioned, he went to Skipton fair, that, to use his own expressions," he might drown thought in the society of jovial companions." Happily, this attempt was unavailing The words that he had heard followed him into company, and completely “damped his earthly joys.” So deep were his convictions of guilt and sin, that one night he was unable to sleep, and rose from his bed resolved to pray. He knelt on the bare floor, feeling himself to be so wicked a sinner as to be unworthy to kneel on anything which might be more comfortable. He did not then obtain the rest which he sought; but he saw more clearly than ever both his danger and helplessness, and was thus brought to seek for the free mercy of God through the merit and intercession of Christ alone. In about a month he obtained a sense of forgiveness and of his adop tion into the divine family; a blessing which he was enabled to retain to the end of his life. Believing it now to be his duty to come out of the world, and by union with the visible church openly to confess Christ his Saviour, his choice was naturally governed by the fact that the Wesleyan ministry had been made instrumental in both his conviction and conversion. He therefore joined the Wesleyan society, and received his first ticket of membership in December, 1808.
At the end of six years, during which his behaviour had been consistent with his profession, he removed to Burley, and was taken into the employment of Messrs. Greenwood and Whitaker. He often expressed his thankfulness for the providential guidance which he believed had thus been vouchsafed to him, as he was placed in a situation in which he always had “full work and wages." He was a valuable and trustworthy' servant, and his integrity and prudence induced his employers to repose great confidence in him. They placed him in
VOL. III.--FOURTH SERIES.
a situation of considerable responsibility, in which many of the other workmen were under his care. His affection for his masters was such that he often said, that his prayer was, that, if it were the divine will, he might live and die in their service. Of their interest he never lost sight; and if he saw that any of his fellow-labourers were performing their work carelessly, he never failed, though kindly, to remind them of their duty.
In the year 1825, Mr. John Whitaker died. On his death-bed, he requested that the class, of which he had been the Leader, might be taken in charge by Mr. Breare. For this office he was well qualified. His naturally strong mind was improved by much and thoughtful reading; and as he had a retentive memory, his addresses to the members, though brief, were all to the point, and full of important counsel. In manner, he always manifested strong and affectionate feeling ; and on no subject was he more earnest, than on the necessity of a decided and persevering search after that inward holiness, by the fruits of which the Gospel might in all things be adorned.
He was by no means free, however, from internal contests; and these sometimes were very harassing. Thus, he writes in a diary which he occasionally kept,—" I was this day much tempted to think that I am not fit to be the Leader of a class. I seem as if I could never give suitable advice, as if I wandered from the subject on which I ought to speak. At length I answered in my own mind, 'If I cannot give them instruction in words, I will endeavour to do so by a good example. I will strive for a closer walk with God.'” At another timne, in reference to the same subject, he writes : “ I almost tremble at the very name of class. It is a serious matter to have the charge of immortal souls. O, how much depends on the nature of the advice which I give! How soon might I injure them, instead of doing them good! May God lead me, that I may lead them in the good and right way! I had been thinking that, lately, I had been of very little service; but I was much encouraged when the class met. One after another spoke of the benefit they had received from what I said to them; and I believe, that, through the divine blessing, I have been the means of preventing some from wandering from God and his church, and of stimulating others to live nearer to God. Blessed be his name! To him be all the glory!”
Although he had to labour hard to maintain himself and family, a wife and eventually ten children, and occasionally suffered much from a constitution naturally delicate, as well as contended with other difficulties, yet he was so contented with his lot, regarding it as providentially assigned to him, and enjoyed so much of the blessedness of religion, that he frequently declared that he would not change his condition with that of any one, and that he was one of the happiest men on the earth. His very countenance exhibited the peace that reigned in his heart. His sincere language was,
“ Worldly good I do not want,
Be that to others given;
My all in earth and heaven.”
much for him: I trust not in vain.” He adds, “If there be not a penny
me, I will still rejoice in the God of my salvation, who has promised that my bread shall be given, and my water shall be sure. I believe it will be so." Trials he endeavoured to bear, and temptations to resist. Speaking of some of these, he says, “But I move onward, and trust soon to be at home, delivered from them all. Satan, indeed, labours hard to trouble me in my journey. But the Lord is my shield and my support; therefore I will not fear. I take courage, and steadily march on.
I have the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit; and, above all, there is prayer, which brings down help. I go on my way, rejoicing in hope of the period when I shall lay by the sword, and take up the palm, and my warfare be crowned with everlasting triumph. Blessed be God!" On another occasion he again mentions the subject of inward temptation : “How is it, then, I am so much tempted ? Sometimes a strange and horrid thought shoots through my mind, and this will continue day after day. Then I think, Does this proceed from my own heart? Am I so unsanctified? But I flee to my Saviour, and find in him a hiding-place from the windy storm and tempest. I weigh myself in the balance of the sanctuary. The word of God is the sure and safe test. I do trust that I have all, or at least almost all, the Bible-marks of perfect love. To be established in this, is what I wish. I find that I love the adorable Trinity with all my heart. I delight myself in the Lord, and he will give me the desire of my heart.” Writing in July, 1830, he says, “On Saturday I went to Leeds. Sunday morning, at the Old chapel, I heard the Rev. Richard Waddy, from, So run, that ye may obtain. My mind was sweetly filled with heavenly peace. I went to Wesley chapel at half-past nine, and got a comfortable seat in sight of the pulpit, and so near, that I knew I should hear well. Just before ten, Dr. Clarke entered the pulpit. The very sight of his silvery locks and heavenly countenance did me good, and made me praise God that I was again permitted to see and hear this venerable man. He gave out the beautiful hymn,• Father of all, whose powerful voice, &c. The congregation sung with energy. After prayer, he read the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles ; and then preached from the forty-second verse. sermon I scarcely ever heard before. How did I rejoice to find that my own experience corresponded with the marks he laid down! I feel no evil heart of unbelief, but continually an intense desire to be fully devoted to God. May my heart be His constant home!” He says, August 19th, “ I have been much blessed in private prayer. The Lord indeed pours down on me heavenly blessings, and fills my soul with sweetness. My trials and temptations are to me as the winds to a vessel at sea. They drive me onward towards my port; and I seem to get so near sometimes as to hear those who have arrived safely, singing, “Unto Him that loved us, be glory and dominion for ever! But I am still in the battle-field, and I must fight with earth and hell while I am in this vale of tears. It is hard work when men and devils join. But 0, what a mercy! My enemies are all without. Christ reigns within, and keeps possession of my whole heart. I shall soon reach
my home; and then farewell temptation for ever.” 5th. I was much blessed this morning at the prayer-meeting. My soul was raised to things above. If a drop be so cheering, what will the
full ocean be? If a glance of love be so overpowering, what will be the full glories of heaven? I shall have to my harp a string more than the highest angel, even of praise to Christ my Lord, who was slain, and has redeemed me by his blood. O ever-blessed and glorious Trinity, help me to believe, love, and adore! Still let "my faith and love abound.'” In May, 1831, he writes: “The sun shines day and night. Blessed be God, it is well with me. My soul is filled with peace. I many times weep for joy. I would not part with my hope for a thousand worlds. Christ is all and in all !” And in June: “I am still on hostile ground, fighting against the powers of darkness. At such times, were I to judge of myself merely by my feelings, I should judge that I was almost losing ground. I seem to walk as with bleeding feet, and a groaning heart. But none of these things shake my confidence. I hold on my way. By and by, the storm will pass over, the clouds will break, and I shall find myself nearer heaven. Often have I experienced a sweet calm after a storm. The moment I enter heaven, all these exercises will for ever cease. O happy, happy place! and happy, happy souls, who have outrode the storms of life, and
passed through death triumphant home!' O God, help thou me, and thither bring my willing feet!'” “Nov. I have lately been examining myself by the word of God. I find that I possess the direct witness of the Holy Spirit, that I am a child of God. I have likewise the testimony of my own spirit, that the blessed Spirit has wrought within me such a change as the Scriptures describe. Old things are passed away; all things are become new. I am not only freely justified by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, but sanctified by the eternal Spirit. The blood of Christ cleanses me from all sin; and thus I am dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Blessed be God for the Scriptures as our rule! In this glass we may see every feature of the Christian character as it really should be. And blessed be God for the word of promise, too! These are all mine in Christ, and I can claim them through him.” He thus alludes in his diary to one of his trials : “ Satan says, “ Look, what avail thy prayers for thy family?' I know that in one sense this is true. But what then ? Shall I cease praying ? No; while I can bow my knees, or lift my eyes and thoughts to God, I will continue to intercede for them at the throne of grace, and will endeavour to teach and move them by a good example. Perhaps, when I am laid in the grave, they will remember what I have said to them, and be disposed to turn to God. And am I faithful with all the members of my class ? Do I clearly show them the good and right way? Do I urge them to seek the full renewal of their souls in righteousness and holiness, and to live every moment in readiness for death and heaven? Do I see them all steadfastly moving onwards in this happy way? Alas! no. Some of them severely pain my mind. They can absent themselves without just cause, six or seven weeks together, from their class.
Am I to preach smooth things to them, as if I had only to keep them quiet and comfortable, telling them distinctly that they may give the one-half of their heart to God, the other half to the world? Were I to say this, what would they think of me? And yet, this is what they seem to be trying to do. Nay, when I cease to enforce holiness of heart and life, may God seal up my lips, and take me to heaven, out of the way!
While on earth, even though I offend, may I be faithful. It is impossible that I can be truly useful without it.”
One mark of the Christian character Mr. Breare very plainly manifested. The Sabbath of the Lord was always welcomed by him. He greatly valued the house of God, his Ministers, and his word, and diligently sought for grace in the appointed means of grace. In intercession for others he was very fervent; and for many years, his visits to the sick and the afflicted were rendered abundantly useful. He had, however, to dwell in the house of mourning himself
, and to seek to realize for himself the consolation he had suggested to others when in similar circumstances. In April, 1832, his youngest son, Samuel, died. He felt the stroke keenly; but he suffered as a Christian. Nor were the clouds removed. He soon afterwards wrote: “My son Jabez is very unwell, and I fear he is getting worse. Perhaps my heavenly Father is about to try me by making another breach in my family, But shall I therefore complain ? No, my blessed Saviour. I trust I
my heart, ‘Not my will, but thine, be done!' If thoi callest away my dear children in the morning of their life, and leavest me old and alone, all is right!” His fears were soon verified. Jabez died in the following August, in his eighteenth year. He was a pious youth, and died with a cheering hope of heaven. In 1836, on the 1st of February, his path once more led through deep waters. His wife, whom he tenderly loved, after protracted indisposition, died in peace, leaving him a widower with eight children. The event overwhelmed him with sorrow; and for a time he appeared in danger of yielding too much to grief. But be speedily recovered himself. It was God's doing; and to the will of God he bowed. In June, 1839, his daughter Mary, an interesting young woman, died after a short illness. These afflictions he felt acutely; but his confidence in God remained unshaken. The last few years of his life were more free from these darkening clouds; and often did he express his thankfulness for the comforts which were vouchsafed to him. And as, when God afflicted him, he acquiesced in suffering because it came from above, so when God gave him, comparatively, rest from adversity, he gratefully enjoyed what he acknowledged to be mercies likewise from above. He frequently spoke of his happiness in God, and of his earnest wish that all around him should be partakers of the same good. And that he might win them to live for eternity, or confirm them in doing so, he took heed to all his ways, and walked before his family, the church, and the world, blameless.
In the beginning of the year 1844, his friends observed, with apprehension, signs of declining health, but hoped they would pass away. He continued in his customary employment till disease had made such progress that he was compelled to desist. It pleased God to try him with protracted illness, and much suffering ; but he was enabled to bear all “ with lamb-like patience.” In the early part of the affliction, he rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory. He testified to his friends, to the glory of divine grace, that his sky was without a cloud,—that he had no fears, no doubts. Nor did he only rejoice in the salvation of God. He overlooked none of his temporal comforts ; and gratitude for these heightened his spiritual joys. Every little act of attention and kindness called into exercise the thankfulness of his spirit. He said, that before his illness commenced, he did not know