From Newcastle to Mary Fletcher in Madeley. Ritchie would gladly have accompanied [John Wesley] on ‘your way into Yorkshire’ had not God seemed to indicate another way. Ritchie stayed in ‘town’[?] [London] until very near the time that Wesley was to visit Leeds and Otley etc [There is a gap in Wesley’s journal from 10 April to 24 May 1790 but other evidence indicates that he visited Yorkshire for part of that time.]. Ritchie was pleased that she remained for a few days ago she received a letter from a young gentleman she had known during her time in Hull. He had been seeking conversion at that time but had then fallen into bad company in London, lost his convictions etc and had avoided the Methodists throughout the winter. However two days before she left London he was prevailed upon (to oblige his mother) to call upon Ritchie. They had some close conversation and Ritchie was reminded of the talks that Fletcher had with her nephew on spiritual matters. Nothing seemed to affect him. Ritchie offered him a copy of Burnett’s Life of Rochester [The notorious libertine and brilliant poet John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647-1680)] on the condition that he promised to read it. It subsequently proved ‘the happy means in our Lord’s hands of opening his blind eyes’ and since hearing the preaching of [Henry]Venn, the young man ‘now seeks in hope.’ [See also MAM/FL/6/6/22]
Dear Mrs Jones [the former Miss Salmon] has written to say that her brother-in-law General Horne has died in the East Indies – poor man, he had almost achieved the great riches that he wanted to come back to England with, but God has his own plan. Mrs Horne intends coming back to England as soon as she can settle her affairs. Fletcher should join them in prayer that her afflictions should be ‘sanctified’ to her. Fletcher will probably recall the lady – she is as ‘amiable’ as one can be who does not enjoy ‘inward religion.’
Ritchie has been here in Newcastle for about three months staying with Miss Dale – a devoted Christian. ‘She is waiting for the promise of our Father and our Lord has often blessed us together. I love the souls that are all athirst for God…a few of this stamp are found here, though the work has been greatly hindered from deepening by the unscriptural mAnnr in which some who have professed to enjoy the love that casts out fear have expressed themselves. They are not now amongst us…On Monday night we had a blessed class meeting. One of our brothers openly declared our gracious Lord now shone on the work of the spirit in his soul and enable him to testify to the glory of his grace that the Lord has taken full possession. The holy fire spread and our meeting was like some [of] those favoured seasons we have had at Cross Hall. [The community near Leeds run for several years by Mary Bosanquet before her marriage to John Fletcher.] Several seemed brought to the very brink of Jordan…my own soul got a good lift towards heaven.’ Spiritual matters are discussed in detail.
Has Lady Mary [Fitzgerald] come to visit Fletcher yet? If she is in Madeley, Ritchie passes her regards. Ritchie wrote to her in London last week but perhaps she has not received it.
Has Fletcher heard anything of Mrs Gilbert [possibly one of the Gilbert family that were instrumental in the establishment of Methodism in the West Indies. Reverend Melville Horne, well-known to Fletcher, was a member of the same family. ] lately? She was in a very poor way, almost despair, when Ritchie left London. Ritchie thinks that the Lord was punishing her for want of spirituality.
- Henry Venn (1724-97) was born in Surrey, the son of the distinguished Anglican clergyman Richard Venn. He was educated privately and at Jesus College Cambridge. After graduation, Venn was ordained into the Church of England and in 1749, was elected a fellow of Queen's College, Cambridge. After serving a number of short curacies, he was appointed Curate of Clapham Parish Church near London in 1754. In the years that followed, Venn adopted evangelical opinions and became known to the leaders of the movement. In 1759 he became Vicar of Huddersfield and commenced a remarkably successful ministry. His powerful extempore preaching attracted large crowds and he estimated that in one three year period, there were nine hundred conversions in his parish. At about this time also, he abandoned his earlier Arminianism and adopted a mild form of Calvinism. This led to a distance between himself and John Wesley, which was exacerbated when Wesley insisted on allowing his itinerants to work in the area, despite the presence of an Anglican evangelical. In 1763 Venn published his highly influential The Complete Duty of Man. He also established a Yorkshire Clerical Club where like-minded clergymen could meet at regular intervals for study, prayer and mutual encouragement. In addition to his active parochial ministry, Venn travelled as an itinerant preacher for part of each year in support of the Countess of Huntingdon's movement, although he withdrew in 1780 when the Countess registered her chapels as dissenting. Venn left Huddersfield in 1771 due to a breakdown in health and was appointed to the rural parish of Yelling near Cambridge. He took under his wing a succession of students at the university, of whom Charles Simeon was the best known. Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974) and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography edited by Donald Lewis (1995)