From Jasper Robinson in the Epworth circuit to John King at the Preaching House in Leeds addressed to ‘Dear Brethren’. Robinson is troubled at having to complain concerning a fellow preacher but ‘Brother [James] Hall has been very neglecting of his places insomuch that many cry out very much against him, and are very much against his coming back again. I am afraid his indulgent way will be his ruin’. Robinson has spoken freely to him and Hall has promised to correct his ways.
‘For some things he [Hall] is much esteemed by me. But my judgement is that negligent, indulgent preachers (without they mend) should not be among us. It is a very great stumble with societies with whom we have to do, to have places missed. Neither such who have fortunes should have any allowance for wife or children. We should not make a property of preaching the gospel; it is honour enough and reward enough in having the satisfaction of serving the Lord. If we have food and raiment it is sufficient…If it please God a preacher is called home to his eternal reward and he leave a poor widow and children, they should be provided for as long as they need and no longer. If they have a sufficience and need not, they should have nothing from the Fund (for friends give to support the needy) for to such what we call a just demand is making a property or gain of the gospel. I think it is filthy lucre. Seven or eight years ago it was judged too busy to enquire into another’s circumstances, but that it should be left to every man’s conscience to say what he needed. Since then, or by degrees, I have been inclined to think that some have no conscience at all.
As I have not the ability to speak in conference permit me brethren to write my own mind viz: that neglecting places, indulgence, lodging at home when we ought not, aspiring to be gentlemen etc etc Not content with plain food and raiment, the covetousness of some with too great an appearance of lordliness on others, has brought upon us the present uneasiness. May God in mercy humble all our souls and bring good out of the present evil.’
In a postscript Robinson observes ‘some of our most gracious wisest men (in my esteem) have met with great reproaches as a reward for their much pains and trouble. They are much to blame who have done it. Pray let me be no more a superintendent. I am not fit But let me be under some diligent preacher, not too far from Leeds. But in a walking circuit for I have not breath.’
- John King (d.1822) was probably born in Yorkshire. He was converted in early life and joined the Methodist society in 1770. He became a local preacher and was instrumental in opening the work in several new places in Yorkshire. King joined the itinerancy in 1783 and exercised his circuit ministry in England until superannuation in 1811. He settled in Seven Oaks in Kent but remained active until poor health late in life forced him into a more sedentary existence. Source: Kenneth Garlick, An Alphabetical Arrangement of Wesleyan Methodist Preachers and Missionaries, and the stations to which they were appointed 1739-1818 and Minutes of Conference 1823