From Miss C. Rhodes in Sheffield to Mary Fletcher in Madeley. She should have answered Fletcher’s last letter immediately but she felt some hesitation. Rhodes felt a desire to visit Madeley once more, yet was not certain this was the right time. She has prayed about it but has felt no clear direction. Once she feels that providence has opened the way, she shall most gladly go to Madeley and be once more amongst ‘that happy people’. The summer is getting late and if she does come, it will be soon.
There is a young Sheffield lady who has recently converted and been rendered very useful in the work. ‘The Lord has given her a public call, her gifts for usefulness are remarkable. She loves God with all her heart and is a pattern to all that believe in Sheffield.’ If Rhodes comes to Madeley and if it were agreeable to Fletcher she thinks that it would be a good idea to be accompanied by this young lady. It would be a blessing to the girl and in turn she may be a blessing to the people. She is very young but Rhodes thinks that she has learned as much in three quarters of a year as Rhodes has in ten years.
The Lord is still carrying on his work in this place and Rhodes has never been among a people where there was more of God. ‘We have such public band meetings they are like pentecostal seasons. All seem full of love, my soul prospers frequently among them under the word and under prayer after. There seems a general move, the power of the Lord comes over all. One of the local preachers during the time of Conference333 was preaching out of doors one Sunday evening to a very large and mixed congregation, the power of the Lord came down in such a manner that the whole congregation fell upon their knees and they continued wrestling and pleading in the open air till several were set at liberty and some fine ladies were afterwards taken into a house. One found peace then, and three of the same company since are made to rejoice at their Saviour. The Lord is working amongst the rich as well as the poor…’
The more that Rhodes is engaged in the Lord’s work, the closer she feels to God. Spiritual matters are further discussed in detail.
They had a most blessed time last night while [William] Bramwell was preaching on the text Psalm 55 v22. Rhodes felt her soul glow with love for the Lord and love for man. ‘While that verse was given out “See ye sinners see the flame, rising from the slaughtered lamb,” I had such a view of Christ being the new and loving way, leading to eternal day as I cannot describe. My soul was drawn into God, I seemed to wish to look at nothing but Jesus. I felt an increasing union with him and my whole soul was on stretch after more…I want others to be saved also…I feel no scruple on my mind to urge souls to look for present pardon for present sanctification because I know this is a day of God’s power…’ Spiritual matters are further discussed in detail.
Fletcher’s account of the dying man was very powerful. ‘We are surrounded with a cloud of living and dying witnesses for Jesus.’
On the whole, the Conference was a ‘uniting time’ for the preachers. A small part of [Alexander] Kilham’s pamphlet has disturbed part of the Sheffield society, ‘but blessed be God, the flood has nearly run itself dry…’
Rhodes has not heard anything in a while from Miss [Elizabeth] Ritchie or from Leeds. It has been five months since Rhodes left home and it may be a while yet before she returns. She was pleased to read that Sally is ‘labouring in the vineyard.’
- Alexander Kilham (1762-98) was born in Epworth, Lincolnshire. He entered the Methodist itinerancy in 1785 and served circuits in England and Scotland. After Wesley's death, he wrote a series of pamphlets advocating that the laity should have a greater say in Methodist Church government. As a result, he was expelled by the Wesleyan Conference in 1796. With fellow preacher William Thom, he founded the Methodist New Connexion in 1797 the first major non-Wesleyan Methodist Church. Approximately five thousand left the Wesleyans for the new body. Kilham died at an early age in Nottingham. Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974) and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995)