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Peter Mackenzie, his life and labours online

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increaseth ; there is that withholdeth more than is
meet, and it tendeth to poverty.'

Mackenzie's ministry in the Burnley circuit was
remarkably successful. The congregations were
immense, and the quarterly collections are said to have
gone up two hundred per cent. On one occasion at
Higham, he duplicated an experience of Wesley's at
Haworth the front window of the chapel was re-
moved, so that he could address the crowd without, and
yet be heard by the crowd within. A glance through
his register of sermons and services shows that he
hardly preached once during that year without having
to record results in the form of visible decisions for
Christ.

With all this success, it is difficult to understand
why he should have been taken away at the end of
the first year. That the extent to which people
crowded to his services in town and country would
deplete the ordinary congregations, and to some extent
interfere with the regular work of the circuit, is quite
conceivable, and that in this way there should have



134 LIFE OF PETER MACKENZIE

arisen rivalries and misunderstandings on the part of
some is hardly matter for surprise ; but one cannot
help regretting that some way of escaping the diffi-
culty was not devised that would have created no
sense of inequity in the mind of the worker, and not
appeared to cast reflections on the work.



CHAPTER XIV

MONMOUTH, ROSS, AND FOREST OF DEAN 1860-1862

The Itinerancy a Creator of Contrasts The Forest of Dean
Its Natural Features Methodism in Coleford House and
Pay at Coleford New Organ at Monmouth An Alarmed
Hearer " Cut it in Two, Brother "Teaching the People to
Sing A Blow in the Pulpit Dark Walks Illuminated.

THERE is hardly a better creator of contrasts than
the Methodist itinerancy. At the beck of Con-
ference a man is jerked from the soft breezes and
mellow landscapes of the Isle of Wight to the hard
hills of North Britain, or from the treeless wilds of
Shetland to the grateful umbrage of Warwickshire or
the wooded contours of Devon. Nor is the change
simply one of clime and country. The people vary as
greatly as the landscape, and the preacher finds him-
self as much in a new land of thought and habit and
usage, as of geographical site and conformation.

What a change for Mackenzie from the crowded
Lancashire town, with its smoky chimneys and
clattering mills, to the quiet folk, the sunny skies, the
rich, umbrageous hills and dales of Monmouthshire.
His new residence was at Coleford, in the Monmouth,
Ross, and Forest of Dean circuit, which then included
what are now the separate circuits of Ross and

136



136



LIFE OF PETER MACKENZIE



Cinderford. " The Forest of Dean is the property of
the Crown, and has been a royal domain as far back
as the time of Edward the Confessor. It formerly
covered all the triangular area between the Severn and
the Wye, from Gloucester to Chepstow on the south-
west, and from Gloucester along by the little river
Leadon to Newent, and thence to Eoss on the north-




LITTLE DEAN HILL CHAl'EL.



west, which seem to be its natural, as in the days
of Henry II. (A.D. 1200), they were its privileged
boundaries. The area of the Crown lands has
diminished considerably in the last six hundred and fifty
years, but the main features of the upland country
between the rivers remain substantially the same."
The scenery is charming, consisting of a succession of



AT COLEFOKD 137

steep wooded hills and dells, with grand views of the
Severn valley and the Cotswolds beyond, on the one
hand, and on the other the beautiful cliffs and gorges
of the Wye. This affluence of the picturesque is
matched by an equal wealth of coal and iron below
the surface, so that industries and natural beauty are
brought into close relation, often to the detriment of
the latter.

From an interesting article by the Eev. J. E. Harlow,
in the last Winter Number of the Methodist Recorder,
we learn that Coleford is in the heart of the Forest,
and has three thousand inhabitants. It was visited
by Wesley in 1756, and again in 1763. He rode
from Chepstow to Coleford, and writes : " The wind
being high, I consented to preach in their new room ;
but, large as it was, it would not contain the people,
who appeared to be not a little affected, of which they
gave a sufficient proof, by filling the room at five in
the morning."

" The next landmark of Methodism in Coleford,"
says Mr. Harlow, " may help to explain what had
become of the Society visited by Mr. Wesley. In the
year 1849, a Wesleyan chapel was opened by the Eev.
Thomas Jackson and the Eev. Eichard Eoberts. That
building superseded a Countess of Huntingdon church,
which did not survive the disastrous events of that
year."

In the house adjoining the chapel, Peter Mackenzie
took up his abode at the Conference of 1860. " It
was during the twilight of a day in the first week of
September that Mr. Mackenzie, his wife and two
daughters, and a lady friend, arrived at the quaint and
quiet town of Coleford. A house had been hastily



138



LIFE OF PETER MACKENZIE



obtained and furnished, and into this the little party
came. It was by no means a pretentious dwelling;
this Peter seemed not to notice, but, true to his




WESLEY CHAKEL, CINDERFOKD.

character, went straight upstairs with his family, and,
kneeling down, dedicated his humble abode to God and
the service of a Christian minister."



SECRET OF HAPPINESS 139

The change from Burnley must have been very
great. There were long distances to be covered on
roads lovely by day, but fearsome and uncanny by
night, and the places to be ministered at were com-
paratively small and poor, and there were not the
great masses of population to draw upon to which he
had been accustomed. But there was no abatement
of zeal, nor the faintest diminution of that cheery glow
and whole-heartedness which he infused into all his
labour. Mr. R Harrison of Whalley, then of Burnley,
remarks that Mackenzie wrote him soon after reach-
ing his new appointment, and said, " I have walked
fourteen miles. Two souls saved. Hallelujah ! I
shall never have gout ! " If the secret of happiness
consists in enjoying what we have, rather than in
lamenting what we cannot get, then certainly
Mackenzie had found it. Of him might be said, in
the words of Goldsmith

Cheerful at morn he wakes from short repose,
Breathes the keen air, and carols as he goes.

There is living still in Coleford a venerable local
preacher, Mr. John Adams, who was born in 1809.
This good brother paid a visit to London during the
Conference of 1860, partly because of his interest in
the circuit appointment. He had read the newspaper
accounts of Mackenzie's admission into the ministry,
and knew something of his work at Burnley, and,
seeing his name down in the first draft of stations for
the Monmouth circuit, felt anxious to secure him.
As he loitered in the chapel yard, four ministers
stood in a group: John Eattenbury, who had once
been chairman of the district, Richard Roberta, who



140 LTFE OF PETER MACKENZIE

had opened the Coleford Chapel, Luke Wiseman, and
the then superintendent of the Monmouth circuit.
Mr. Adams approached them, and promised that,
though no such provision existed then, it being a
junior minister's appointment, yet, if Mr. Mackenzie
were sent to reside at Coleford, a comfortable house
should be found for him. Soon afterwards Mackenzie
found himself the tenant of Mr. Adams in a furnished
house, for which, however, he insisted on paying
rent.

His residence at Coleford, and his work throughout
the circuit, are gratefully and vividly remembered ;
the only regret being that the claims of outside places
called him so frequently from home. Mrs. Mackenzie
was the means of resuscitating the Sunday school at
Coleford, which had been in a state of suspended
animation for some years, and which has continued
to flourish since. The appointment was such as
afforded Mackenzie an opportunity of emulating
Goldsmith's country parson, who was

Passing rich on forty pounds a year.

The allowance was very small, only about fifty-six
pounds per annum, but Mrs. Mackenzie bears most
grateful testimony to the exceeding kindness of the
people. Cream, eggs, potatoes, and all manner of
eatables were poured upon them in abundance, so that
they were enabled to say : " We have all, and abound,
and are full, having received the things which were
sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice
acceptable, well-pleasing to God."

I am indebted to Mr. Harlow for a rather interest-
ing extract from the circuit steward's account-book,



A NEW ORGAN 141

dated October 1, 1860. It is the first entry in
connection with Mackenzie's name.



Rev. Pe ler Macken,ie . 2100



Quarterage

Washing

Books

Travelling expenses

District

Carriage of boxes .



440
1 11 6
1 1
15
15
200

12 16 6



The places in the circuit being so widely scattered,
and the distances so great, some kind soul provided
Mackenzie with a pony ; and it is remembered that
much amusement was created when, occasionally, he
would ride along with his silk hat on his hand instead
of on his head, so that the rattle thus made might
urge the beast to a quicker pace.

His visits to Monmouth, the circuit town, were
always occasions of interest and excitement. Not
long previous to his arrival on the ground, an effort
had been made to supersede the string band by a
harmonium. A Mrs. Bullock, who lived at Hadnock
farm, and a few others had even dared to dream of an
organ. One Sunday Mrs. Bullock, in commenting on
the attractiveness of the chapel, observed how pleasing
it would be to see it crowded, and even went so far as
to promise that when that not very likely contingency
arose, she would be pleased to make a present of an
organ. Soon afterwards the eccentric preacher arrived,
and the chapel was crowded. Mrs. Bullock was at
once reminded of her promise, and very generously
fulfilled it.



142 LIFE OF PETER MACKENZIE

Once Mackenzie preached at Monmouth to a packed
congregation, on the Deluge. A retired army captain,
a member of the Established Church, could only find
a fragment of a seat at the end of a crowded pew.
In illustrating the struggles of the people to escape
the rising waters, some of the preacher's actions were
so graphic and sensational, and in the rather high
pulpit appeared so perilous, that the stranger, turning
to the steward who had shown him in, whispered that
he could not stand this. He was prevailed upon to
remain, however, and afterwards never missed a service
at which Mackenzie preached.

The prayer - meetings after service on Sunday
evenings were remarkable. Numbers of strangers often
remained in the galleries, and conversions were by no
means infrequent. On one occasion a local preacher
was too lengthy in his supplications. Mackenzie
endured it for a while, and then cried out, " Cut it in
two, brother, and begin again presently." Mr. John
Histance, now in his eighty- first year, to whose good
memory we are indebted for many of these reminiscences,
says that he was greatly impressed in those days by
the seriousness of Mackenzie's preaching. There was
abundance of humour, but what always affected him
and many others most, was the intense earnestness
and pathos.

Mr. Isaiah Gadd of Wokingham also supplies
recollections that throw a pleasant light on this
period :

" I well remember the coming of the Eev. Peter
Mackenzie to the Monmouth circuit some thirty-five
years ago. I was a lad in my teens, and my home
was one of the beautiful villages near Monmouth.



A WIDE CIRCUIT 143

This circuit of Methodism, as many a dear, good
minister and local preacher has found, at the cost of
shoe-leather and tired limbs, covered an immense area
of country, running far towards the mountains of
Wales on one side, and many miles right out to the
villages of Herefordshire in a reverse direction. It
spread up through the solemn woods and steep roads
under the shadow of the great Buckstone Eock, and on
into the Forest of Dean to Coleford, embracing nearly
the whole of the Forest on to Lydney, with its switch-
back roads, numerous quarries, disused pits and mines,
many of them unkept and unprotected. This was the
circuit to which Mr. Mackenzie came, and it was like
the coming of a comet, and, as with John the Baptist,
many people came out for to see, and we were soon
conscious of a great stir on all sides.

"The first time I saw and heard Mr. Mackenzie
was at our village chapel, five miles out from
Monmouth, and about ten miles from Coleford. At
the close of the morning service, coming down from
the pulpit to the communion table, he urged the
people that they should learn to sing well, so as to
attract others to God's house. Taking out of his
coat pocket a number of music leaflets, he said, ' Now
this is a nice one,' and, suiting the action to the word,
began to sing, ' I want to be an angel.' My elder
brother, who had helped to lead the singing at the
service with his concertina, and I, with my young,
shrill voice, closed round the new minister, and while
he poured forth a powerful lead, we each did our very
best at that pretty, simple, and then new bit of
music. By the time we had got through the verses
the good people behind us were catching on, so that



144 UFE OF PETER MACKENZIE

it ran ' like oil from vessel to vessel.' An unmis-
takable invitation to the afternoon service followed.
Everybody was to tell somebody, and all were to bring
their friends to help to make a good company. The
short interval was soon over, and there was indeed a
good company and a blessed service.

" When Mr. Mackenzie came out again to preach in
the same little chapel, his fame had gone abroad, and the
people crowded to the afternoon service so much that
the building was packed from end to end. My father,
in his desire to make room for others, had vacated his
seat time after time, and now only the pulpit stairs
remained unoccupied. These, one after the other, were
filled, until, as a last resource, and to make room for
just one more, my father took refuge in the pulpit,
little thinking of the penalty to be paid soon for such
an exaltation. Mr. Mackenzie got well into his
subject, and made his sermon glow with life and
interest as he described poor sick ones coming to an
earthly physician, surrounded with bottles of medicine
and ointments for all kinds of maladies. He had all
these various bottles in full array on the pulpit
around him. Suddenly he swept them away with
both hands right and left as he introduced the
Heavenly Healer, saying, 'Away with your quack
nostrums ! Away with them ! ' My father at his
elbow was forgotten, and he, poor dear man, was in
the third heaven of delight as he drank in the blessed
gospel of Jesus Christ, when all at once the preacher's
powerful hand in its backward swing swept like a
sledge-hammer into his face, utterly blinding him for
the moment, and making the sparks fly from his eyes
like fireworks, and leaving him with a never-to-be-



DARK JO URNE YS 145

forgotten remembrance of that immortal sermon. Mr.
Mackenzie, with his usual native tenderness, turned
quickly round, exclaiming sorrowfully, ' O my dear
brother, I hope I have not hurt you ! I am so sorry ! '
It was certainly most instructive to see my father's
attitude of distance and caution towards the preacher
for the rest of the evening.

" This is but a peep at the popularity and work of
Mr. Mackenzie in this out-of-the-way circuit; where
trains and circuit horses were entirely out of the
question ; where distances were appalling ; where
roads, for the greater part, were very trying; and
where the minister had of necessity to leave home for
days together, and work his way back gradually from
place to place. But none of these things moved our
friend. Toiling and labouring on, he was faithful in
little and in much ; and with great reward he was then
and is now crowned. It will be admitted that it is no
easy thing to fill the Monmouth chapel, to command
full and enthusiastic congregations. This honour was
granted to Mr. Mackenzie. And how the country
people all round the circuit delighted to hear him ;
and to-day, his name is with them as ' ointment
poured forth.'

" My brother, who at that time was in his appren-
ticeship at Coleford, often accompanied him from
Coleford to Monmouth and back for a week-evening
service. Those otherwise dark and tedious journeys
were illuminated and made special treats by rehearsals,
orations, recitations of poetry and other good things
from the lips and soul of him who did not hesitate
thus to unfold to the eyes and ears of an apprentice
lad what was to make him, as the future lecturer and

10



146 LIFE OF PETER MACKENZIE

preacher, the delight of people everywhere. Who
can tell how many dear souls out in those country
places were cheered and toned-up by the visits of this
man of God, with his simple, cheery manner and his
soul of music and praise. Many of them have gone
on before, and to others of us heaven is all the sweeter
for his presence there."



CHAPTEE XV

AMONG THE WILTSHIRE VILLAGES 1862-1865

The "Wiltshire Mission Eev. A. Barber's Testimony Two
Sermons at one Sitting Acting the Highwayman Letters
to Mr. Thomas Elliott " A Hard Cavil" First Lecture:
The Bible Admitted into full Connexion Examination
Incidents Visit to the Land's End Good Times at Bowden
Hill.

AFTER, labouring faithfully and with great accept-
ance for two years at Monmouth, Mackenzie,
at the Conference of 1862, was transferred to the
Melksham circuit, in Wiltshire. This circuit, like that
of the Forest of Dean, has undergone considerable
changes, and is now worked in three sections under
the general designation of the Wiltshire Mission.
This mission employs, at the present moment, seven
ministers and one lay evangelist. It directs and
sustains the work of Wesleyan Methodism, in other
words, Christianity in earnest, in forty-six towns and
villages of Wiltshire, including Melksham, Chippen-
ham, Calne, Devizes, Warminster, Westbury, Malmes-
bury and Tetbury. In all these places there are
chapels or mission-halls, forming accommodation for
a total of about seven thousand people. The area of
the mission is wider than that of the original Melk-

147



148 LIFE OF PETER MACKENZIE

sham circuit, though that was fairly extensive, includ-
ing no less than nineteen places. The conditions of
labour were here, as at Monmouth, hard and dis-
couraging ; long distances, small places, with a need
of constant effort to sustain the life of the struggling
churches.

The Eev. Alfred Barber says :

" In the year 1862, the President of the Conference,
the Kev. Charles Prest, directed me to leave the
Higham Ferrers circuit, to assist my father in the
Melksham circuit, who had broken down in his work.
This brought me again into contact with Mr. Mac-
kenzie, who resided as second minister at Chippenham.
For months I was his colleague, and was a witness
of his diligence and devotion. My father said it was
impossible to stir his bile. Though very much tried,
he never spoke an angry word. He was much from
home ; but in taking his country appointments he was
most diligent and conscientious. His custom was to visit
every house he could, and to pray with every family."

Of this conscientiousness in attending to the country
places a somewhat amusing instance is related of him
while in the Melksham circuit. One of the places at
which in turn he had to minister was Tinhead, a
romantic Wiltshire hamlet, not far removed, if tradition
is to be credited, from the spot where good King
Alfred burned the cakes ; and where the Methodist
chapel abuts on the far-famed Salisbury Plain, four
or five feet of the chalk down having been cut away
to make space for it. Owing to some other engage-
ment, Mackenzie was, on one occasion, unable to take
his appointment there. The matter was not forgotten,
however, and, regarding himself as in their debt, at



DOUBLE MEASURE H9

his next visit he had no sooner finished one service
than he announced another to pay off the old score.
And more marvellous still, and what probably could
only occur in the experience of a preacher as racy as
himself, it is stated that of those who had listened
to the first sermon, only one failed to hear the second,
and that because an engagement demanded her presence
elsewhere.

An incident similar to this transpired, it seems, in
the Gateshead circuit, during Mackenzie's period in it.
Mr. John Burdess of Jarrow says : " I once remarked
to a friend, in Mr. Mackenzie's presence, that the last
ticket of membership I received in the Gateshead
circuit was from the hand of Mr. Mackenzie himself,
after he had preached us two sermons at one sitting.
Mr. Mackenzie, in response to the remark, at once
said, ' Ay, that was at Wreckenton.' He had come
into the circuit in September, and previous to the
visitation for the December tickets, he had failed twice
to take his appointment at Wreckenton, on account
of missionary meetings and other special engagements,
and there were some complaints of neglect. So, on
the occasion referred to, when he had finished his
week-night sermon, he said, ' Now, friends, I have
rather neglected you lately, so we will sing a hymn,
and I will preach you another sermon.' He did so,
and when it was finished, he remarked, ' Now, I have
two classes to meet for tickets, and some of you may
have to get up by the first caller, or I would have
given you another.' He thus made himself straight
with us at once, in accordance with his avowed
principle of paying as he went on, and having no
back -reckonings."



i$o LIFE OF PETER MACKENZIE

A correspondent, Jesse Warfield of Chippenham,
says that Mackenzie's first service there was on a
Wednesday evening, when he missed his way to the
chapel, and arrived late. The first words in his
opening prayer so impressed one man who was present
that since then he has lived a Christian life, and
become a useful local preacher. This correspondent
adds that Mr. Mackenzie was always very kind to the
local preachers and to the poor ; and that the Chippen-
ham friends made him a present of a Bible when he left.

Devotion in Mackenzie always lived next door to
humour, and as neighbours the two were on such
intimate terms that they continuously exchanged
greetings. One night, in this circuit, he had to join
his colleagues on their way to a missionary meeting.
Instead of waiting for them exactly at the appointed
spot, he waylaid the phaeton, and, stopping the horse,
called out in stentorian tones, " Your money or your
life ! " This demand brought the full force of whip
and umbrella down upon his shoulders from those who
sat in front ; but the mistake was speedily discovered,
and the would - be highwayman welcomed into the
conveyance, and borne forward to expend the exuber-
ance of his spirits in graphic and racy descriptions of
missionary toil.

The following letters show the spirit in which
Mackenzie, at this time, entered into the toils of his
somewhat unpromising field of labour.

TO MR. THOMAS ELLIOTT.

CHIPPENHAM, WILTS, March 21, 1862.

MY VERT DEAR BROTHER, Many thanks for your kind letter.
I should be glad if the Lord would be pleased to appoint me



M UL TUM IN PAR VO 151

near you by and by. I shall not move this next year, as the good
work is going on. Another year will, with the blessing of God,
put the circuit into working order ; and I do think that it will
be better to stay. They only give 100, and I keep a pony and
trap out of that. I don't get anything for the children, and still
I have Plenty. My dear brother, it is worth a great deal to me
that I had a few years in the pit ; that I know how to stick to a
" hard cavil," how to drive through nipped coal. She has been
cracking here for some time, and you may send the Barrowman
in when I get more in my head and also in my heart.

A "cavil," as has been already explained, is the
location appointed by lot to each miner at the
beginning of the quarter. "Nipped coal" is coal
which has been compressed between the floor of the
seam and the roof, and which, through the constraint
thus put upon it, has gained a tough, wooden consist-
ence, hard to deal with. At times the pressure is
so great as to crush the coal and make it break off
from the face in lumps or slices, with loud cracking
reports. This makes the work of the hewer much
easier, and this is what Mackenzie refers to above,
when he says, " She has been cracking here for some
time." " Barrowman " was another term for " putter " ;


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