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he had thoughts of laboring abroad, he had become a medical missionary at home. In the year when Burslem was visited by cholera, the success of his treatment entailed on him an enormous pressure of employment; but, even amidst all the toil and hurry of that anxious season, he found time to pray with the sick, and to point them to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world. In his manner there was something very softening and assuring, as well as very impressive; and in repeated instances he had reason to hope that his “ labor was not in vain in the Lord.” Several departed declaring that their only confidence was in the merits and mediation of that Saviour to whom he had directed their dying eye; and in the memory of many of his patients he still lives as the good physician who strove so earnestly for the cure of “ all their diseases."
One field of his usefulness must not be forgotten. He was in the habit of visiting the barracks at Burslem, and distributing tracts to the soldiers. In two instances, at least, he succeeded in reawakening religious impressions; and the men whom he then induced to join the Wesleyan Society still maintain their steadfastness. With one of them, after he left Burslem, Mr Williams kept up an affectionate correspondence; and we
transcribe a few sentences from the first of his letters :
“BURSLEM, April 26, 1850. “ Remember, my brother, that it is a matter of very little consequence what form our trials take. To the ungodly, afflictions are indeed vexations; but although to the Christian they are grievous, yet they are cheerfully to be submitted to, rejoicing that we are counted worthy to suffer as sons, and that our heavenly Father chasteneth us for our profit. The Lord give us more faith and love! Seek, my dear brother, ever to have fellowship with God the Father and God the Son in the Spirit, and let the thought of such amazing privilege raise and ennoble your affections, whilst you grow indifferent more and more to worldly hopes and worldly fears. Set all your affections on things above, and declare in the face of all men that here you are but a pilgrim and sojourner, as were all your fathers in the faith before you. When
your heart oppressed, bethink you of the glorious reward Christ will give to all his tempted but faithful followers, who shall all come to the place of their rest through much tribulation.
“ The Lord bless you, my dear brother. You must endeavour to beat up recruits and enlist them into the service of the great and glorious King of kings, the blessed and only Potentate. Shew every man who doubts your being appointed on such service the sign-manual of your Captain himself,— The Spirit and the Bride say, Come; and
let him that heareth say, Come. You have heard and received the words of eternal life: therefore take up your cross, follow your crucified Master, and share his reproach and sufferings.
“ From your sincerely affectionate brother in the Lord,
“ R. WILLIAMS."
On the principle indicated in the close of this letter, Mr Williams was already acting. He opened rooms in several neglected districts of the town, and as many as could be induced to attend he exhorted with much power and tenderness to flee from the wrath to come. A marked impression was often produced; and an eye-witness informs us that from these labors “ a few of the most useful men have been raised up, and are following his way of kindness to the souls and bodies of their neighbours.”
Mr Williams was thus gradually drawn into the work of a home missionary. He enjoyed it exceedingly. It was an outlet for all the energies of his eager and benevolent nature, and the impression frequently produced was a delightful recompence, and cheered him to proceed. He began to feel that in such labors he would fain “spend and be spent;” and belonging to a community in which evangelistic effort has been an almost invariable result from personal piety, it is not wonderful that his thoughts began to be directed towards the missionary enterprise. Just as his thorough-going
enthusiasm at a former period had forced its way from the workshop to the college, so now the same fervor, intensified and consecrated, was urging him out into the field of the world; and, although in a quarter little expected, a door was about to open.