niedziela, 18 listopada 2018

Charles Tolkien (1789–1833):
a Methodist missionary in Canada

Recently I have written about James Tolkien, a very interesting member of the Tolkien family, family which in 1770 emigrated from Danzig (Gdańsk), Poland via Amsterdam to London. Today something substantial about his older brother Charles who was one of the first Methodists in Canada. Charles Tolkien, son of a London furrier Daniel [Gottlieb] Tolkien was born on 11 September 1789 and was baptized at Saint Paul Anglican Church, Covent Garden,Westminster. His parents lived in 1780s at 27 New Street, Covent Garden. Charles's confirmation was in 1804 at Wesley Chapel in London and in 1812 Charles was sent for the Methodist mission to Canada. Let us see his obituary from The Methodist Magazine for the year 1833, p. 591 (see here; about Daniel Gottlieb Tolkien's obituary from 1813 read here):
Died November 19th, Mr Charles Tolkien of Kingston in Upper Canada. He was born in London, September 11th 1789; and it was his unspeakable advantage to descend from parents who feared the Lord and took the most tender interest in the spiritual as well as temporal prosperity of their family. His father, who was for many years a respectable and consistent member of the Wesleyan society in London, and of whom some account was inserted in this Magazine for 1813, p. 919, was especially assiduous in watching over the morals of his uhildren, instructing them in the principles of religious truth, and recommending and enforcing his exhortations by the influence of his own cheerful and pious example. Fully convinced, however, that the use of all the means suggested by piety, joined to parental affection, cannot change the human heart, he was regular and fervent in his addresses to the throne of grace for the promised aid of the Holy Spirit to give efficiency and success to his impressive counsels aud instructions. Charles was betimes habituated to attend the public worship of God in the City-Road chapel; and while a mere youth gave some indications of that deep and uniform seriousness which so eminently marked his character during his riper years. His conduct at this early period was truly correct and his disposition eminently amiable. He was mild, gentle and affectionate, and though from natural reserve the warmth of his feelings seldom appeared, his heart was alive to the happiness of others and anxious to alleviate distress wherever it met his eye. In the year 1804, under the ministry of the late Rev. Joseph Benson, his mind was solemnly impressed with the importance and necessity of giving his heart to God, yet some years passed away before he presented unto the Lord his reasonable and acceptable offering, although these impressions were never wholly effaced from his mind. As he grew up to manhood he endeavoured to stifle those early convictions of the Spirit of God and about his twentieth year manifested strong and unequivocal symptoms of an unregenerate heart. He now began to turn away his ear from reproof to slight instruction and became impatient of restraint. He sought enjoyment in the sinful amusements of the world and in opposition to the remonstrance of conscience and the entreaties of relatives he associated with those who knew not God, and followed their impious example. At no period of his life, however, was his character stained by flagrant acts of vice and immorality, yet his soul was alienated from God and his heart was the seat of unsubdued and unpardoned sin. After his conversion, Sir Tolkien was accustomed to advert to the irregularities and sins of his youth with feelings of deep regret, and frequently has he been heard to repeat with great emotion the words of St Paul: "What fruit had you in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death." In the beginning of the year 1812 Mr Tolkien first visited America and made a tour through various parts of the United States, but returned to his native city in the latter end of the same year. The following year he embarked again at London for this continent with the intention of settling at Halifax in Nova Scotia. Having remained in Halifax for some time he removed from thence to Kingston in Upper Canada, in the year 1816 and from that time adopted it as his future home. At the time Mr Tolkien settled in Kingston Wesleyan Methodism was but imperfectly known, and excited little attention or interest amongst the inhabitants of this town. Its introduction was of recent date; its progress was not rapid and its influence was neither extensive nor commanding. During the previous year a small society had been formed through the exertions of a few pious emigrants from the United Kingdom, and prayer and class meetings were regularly kept up by these zealous men. The Lord crowned the labours of his servants with his blessing their numbers gradually increased and their prospects soon became so encouraging as to justify an earnest application to the Wcsleyan Missionary Committee for a Preacher to take charge of the little fiock and to dispense to them and others the word of life. A kiud and prompt attention was paid by the Committee to the request of the infant society; and the Rev. Thomas Catterick was appointed to this station, who arrived here in the month of October 1816. Our deceased friend was among the first of Mr Catterick's regular hearers, and joined the society about the end of the year. He now became truly earnest in seeking the forgiveness of his sins, though he did not obtain a clear and abiding sense of his acceptance with God, for a considerable period after he bad begun to meet in class. But his soul was on many occasions sweetly drawn out after God, and at times he enjoyed a measure of peace and comfort, especially in the ordinances of the Lord's house. The following account of his conversion has been transcribed from his own papers: "On Wednesday, February 3d, 1819, the Lord gently opened my heart at the class meeting, and instantly rilled my soul with love to him, and gave me a resolution from that hour to forsake all sin. My soul was lilted up to him in prayer, the remaining part of the week; and I can truly write I had that peace of mind which I never experienced before or thought it possible to enjoy. On returning home, I retired to my room, and in deep humility and holy fear I prostrated myself before the Lord, and entreated him to give me a clear evidence of my adoption into his family, that I might satisfactorily know him to be my Father in Christ Jesus; and glory be to his name, he heard and answered my prayer by filling my soul with unspeakable love and joy. May I praise him, love him, serve him, and rejoice in him to the latent hour of my life." Having thus received the Spirit of adoption, his subsequent conduct evinced the reality of the change that had been effected in his heart. From the time of his conversion to God to the close of his life he was an example of meekness humility and heavenly mindedness nor was he less distinguished for his love to God zeal for his glory and devotedness to bis service. His piety was ardent, elevated and consistent. His soul seemed to enter into the spirit of every duty in which he engaged, and he lived in the constant recollection of the presence of God and the notice of his eye. He was a man of fervent and persevering prayer, and cultivated a deep and extensive knowledge of his own heart, and of the exalted privileges and enjoyments of the people of God. His religion was of the active kind. He studied to he useful, and from an early period of his Christian course took a prominent part in all the social means of grace which are so numerous among us and which are so admirably adapted to preserve and increase the life of godliness in the soul. About two years after his conversion Mr Tolkien was appointed the Leader of a class and continued to discharge the duties of this responsible office with great faithfulness and acceptance till within a few days of his death. His close and pointed addresses, the faithfulness of his reproofs, the wisdom and kindness of his advice, and the diligence with which he sought any wanderer from his fold greatly endeared him to all the members of his class, while his influence and example were made a blessing to the whole society. He was warmly attached to the body of Christians to whom he had united himself. He loved their doctrines especially universal redemption, the direct witness of the Spirit, and entire holiness. He loved these truths because they had entered into his heart and quickened its deaduess slain its enmity and purified his nature and made him habitually happy. He delighted in the ordinances of God's house, highly esteemed his Ministers and rejoiced in the extension aud prosperity of the Redeemer's kingdom in the world. The religion which he professed he carried with him through all the relations and circumstances of life and the church the world and his own family beheld in him an epistle of Christ wtitten by the Spirit of the living God. Mr. Tolkien's earnest eare to profit by the public ministry of the Gospel is sufficiently proved by his having for several years kept a register of the sermons he heard with abstracts of their substance and observations on them for his own benefit. About ten years ago Mr Tolkien was appointed the Superintendent of the Sunday school on this station, and continued to perform the duties of that situation with great diligence and fidelity every Sabbath to the period of his removal to a better world. He assiduously laboured to instruct and benefit the children affectionately endeavoured to awaken in their minds a serious concern for their souls, and uniformly directed all his exertions to the attainment of this important object. He regularly met the Teachers and children alternately every Monday evening and spent an hour with them in reading exhortation and prayer. Heloved both Teachers and children, and manifested an earnest desire for their spiritual iniprotemcnt. His death was rather sudden and unexpected. On the Tuesday before his decease he attended the Leaders Meeting, appeared deeply interested in the affairs of the society, and expressed his desires that the work of God might be revived and extended amongst us. Early the following morning he was seized with the disease which terminated his earthly existence. During his illness he was unable to converse much, but what he said was highly satisfactory to his sorrowing friends. To one who visited him on Thursday he said "I have no fear. I am in the hand of God. Whether I live or die, I am the Lord's." In this calm and happy state he continued suffering the will of his heavenly Father till the following Saturday, when he quietly fell asleep in Jesus, leaving a pious widow and one child to lament their loss. The following announcement was made unsolicited by the editor of the Kingston Chronicle; a gentleman who is a member of another church and in no way connected with our congregation or society: "In our obituary of to-day will be found recorded the decease of an individual of this place eminently distinguished for his Christian honesty, godly simplicity, and pure and unostentatious piety; the uncompromising advocate of Christianity, the practical and consistent professor of religion and the steady and unalterable friend of all that is virtuous and valuable in the human character. In him were most happily and harmoniously united all the amiable and dignified qualities of the retired and unassuming Christian, with the most gentle and benevolent zeal to excite in the minds of others that holy principle hy which his own was unceasingly guided. Living in the habitual exercise of those graces by which he was peculiarly gifted he ran the race that was set before him looking forward by faith to that future and eternal rest that remaineth to the people of God. Such was the object of the short but useful life of Mr. Tolkien, who it will be seen in the forty second year of his age was removed from this scene of sorrow and suffering to the society of the just made perfect. Mark the perfect man and behold the upright for the end of that man is peace."
J.P. Hetherington

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