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back, but was so absorbed in his reading that he altogether forgot the purpose for which he had been sent. It was ultimately decided to train him to the legal profession; and, at the age of sixteen, he was articled to Mr. Fisher, a solicitor at St. Ives, it being expressly stipulated that his services should never be required on the Lord's day. When his indentures expired, Mr. Fisher proposed to take him into partnership in his profession; and an arrangement to that effect was almost concluded, when it was suddenly broken off through Mr. Barton's conscientious adherence to what he considered to be religious duty. Although he had never been required to engage in any professional service on the Sabbath, yet, in very urgent cases, his principal had allowed business to be transacted on that day; and Mr. Barton wished, if he became a partner, that this should be wholly discontinued. On this point the negotiation came to an end; and, doubtless, Mr. Barton often reflected, with gratitude to God, on the firmness which, at this critical juncture, he had been enabled to manifest. Had he done violence to his religious convictions, for the sake of securing the worldly advantages which invited his acceptance, he would, in all probability, never have entered the holy ministry, and never have reaped its blessed reward.
This proposal having failed, Mr. Barton accepted a situation as clerk in the office of Samuel Veasey, Esq., solicitor, of Baldock, Herts. The testimonial which he received from Mr. Fisher reflects the highest credit on his character and conduct during the years which he had spent with that gentleman. That testimonial is now before me: it affirms his character to be “ most unexceptionable,” while it speaks of his “attention " and "industry” in his profession, and recognises his abilities as "much superior to those of clerks in general.” His removal to the neat little town of Baldock appears to have been in April, 1824; and he at once united himself to the Wesleyan Society there, and engaged in active service in the Sunday-school, of which he was almost immediately appointed Secretary.
It was not long before Mr. Barton was requested to visit some of the neighbouring villages as an exhorter ; and these efforts being very acceptable and useful, his name was placed upon “ the Plan" as a Local preacher. They who knew him in after-life can easily imagine that even his earliest pulpit-exercises were both instructive and impressive ; nor can it be wondered at that many who listened to him in Baldock and elsewhere urged him to devote himself to the work of the Christian ministry. This subject soon engaged his own serious and anxious thought. There was a manifest drawing of heart towards this great work, which the unsolicited testimonies again and again borne to the usefulness of his preaching tended to confirm; but he felt the importance and responsibility of the ministerial office, and with unaffected humility acknowledged his own insufficiency. The first intimation which he gave to his parents of the conflict which was
passing in his mind, was in a letter dated August 25th, 1825. After mentioning the remarkable manner in which several persons of piety and experience had brought the subject before him, he thus describes his own sentiments and feelings :—“At present, I do not feel clearly, and perhaps I should say even strongly, that I am called to this great work. I want knowledge, and, above all, I want a very great deal more of the life of God in the soul. I feel no desire to go into the Methodist Conference, if God would not have me there; and yet, I hope I may say,
I feel desire to go, if He would. I do not think the Itinerancy at all favourable to earthly comfort: I am sure I should have to make a sacrifice. But that, I feel, is not the point: the question is, What is my duty ? At present, my dear father and mother, I only entreat your prayers. Pray that I may grow in grace and in knowledge; pray that I may be directed by Providence, and that the direction may be clear as the sun; and pray that no unholy, no unworthy, motives may ever influence me in any thing I may do, and especially in any thing connected with the cause of Christ, but that my eye may ever be single to the glory of God.”
The first feeling of Mr. Barton, sen., on receiving this communication, appears to have been one of disappointment: for he had spared no expense to qualify his son for the legal profession, and he saw that his prospects in that profession were bright and inviting. But he threw no obstacle in his son's path; and the important question was referred to, in their subsequent correspondence, in a manner which shows how fully the youthful preacher could confide in his father's affection and high Christian principle. For several months that conflict of feeling to which reference has been made continued. In a letter dated February 11th, 1826, Mr. Barton writes to his father :"I know you will feel anxious for me to say something about myself. I wish I could come to a decision; but I fear to do so, lest I should miss my way in the most important step I ever took. I had, at the close of the last week, nearly made up my mind to decline travelling, at least for another year. But I have, during the present week, been unable to come to any such decision. My class-meeting on Monday evening was one of the most profitable I have attended for some time, and the week has been one in which I have spent more time in prayer than usual; and I cannot now come to the determination of giving up the idea. I have prayed to God every day, and often in the day, for His guidance; and I feel a confidence He will not suffer me to go astray, but still I feel unable to say I will go...... The Rev. J. Baker and I conversed about it on Wednesday afternoon; and he thinks it a duty incumbent upon me.
As to my oirn feelings, I cannot deny that I have frequently had an impression on my mind that it is my duty; bụt I want an assurance that it is so. And on the other hand, I feel a need of so much more piety than I possess, as the groundwork and foundation of all other qualifications, that I hardly dare say I will go
Pray for me; and may He who has been my Friend and Guide so often be so now, and direct by His unerring Providence."
It is interesting and affecting, now that Mr. Barton's career has closed, to look back to this period of his history, and to mark the simplicity and earnestness of his religious feelings, the devotional habits which he maintained, and his solicitude to be guided aright in reference to the momentous question which was occupying his attention. It is not often that we are able to trace the inward struggles that have preceded the entrance of ministers upon their holy vocation. Here we can do so; and it is an instructive sight to behold a young man, evidently formed for public service, thoughtfully inquiring into the path of duty,—praying repeatedly and fervently for Divine direction,-and reminding himself, again and again, of the necessity of deeper piety and enlarged knowledge, in order to an efficient and successful exercise of the Christian ministry.
As the result of these deliberations, Mr. Barton was proposed as a candidate for the ministry, at the Quarterly Meeting of the Biggleswade Circuit, in March, 1826, and was cordially approved. He passed with credit through the usual examination, at the meeting of the Second London District, in which the Biggleswade Circuit was then comprehended; and was received by the Conference, and placed on the President's list of reserve. In the course of the year he was sent to Lynn, in Norfolk; and was subsequently appointed to that Circuit by the Conferences of 1827 and 1828. His Superintendent during these last two years was the Rev. John Shipman, for whom he ever cherished a high esteem; and with whom, until his death, he maintained an affectionate correspondence. His labours in the Lynn Circuit were highly appreciated; but the climate proved unsuitable to him. The land, in many parts of the Circuit, was marshy, and was not, at that time, so well drained as it now is; and Mr. Barton was seized with ague, a complaint to which he was more or less subject during the remainder of his life. In 1829 he was appointed to Hammersmith, where he spent two years in happy and successful labour. The Hammersmith Circuit was then
very wide ;
and Mr. Barton had often to walk more than seventy miles during the week to attend to his appointments. But he was faithful and assiduous; and the recollestions of his ministry in that Circuit, cherished by some who still survive, are of the most pleasing character. It was during his appointment to Hammersmith that he was married to her who for so many years shared his joys and sorrows, and now mourns his loss. They resided at Isleworth; and an aged friend in that village, writing to Mrs. Barton, on the occasion of his decease, recalls the characteristics of his early ministry. He speaks of " the vigour of soul and intelleet evinced in his public ministrations,” and adds, “While his sermons were occasionally awfully impressive, the more strikingly distinctive phase of his preaching was its touchingly tender and consoling
character. But whether alarming or invitingly persuasive, the delivery was in godly seriousness of manner, and decided faithfulness of application to the reason and conscience of his auditory." The same friend adverts also to Mr. Barton's conversational powers, and marks with special commendation the manner in which he shrunk back from evil-speaking. It is evident that his whole bearing and deportment conciliated the regard and esteem of his people; while his public teaching instructed and impressed them.
His next sphere of labour was Cambridge, where he spent three happy and successful ycars, being appointed to it in 1831, and leaving it at the Conference of 1834. A larger chapel had been taken in the town just before he went, and this was soon crowded to excess. Nor were instances of conversion to God wanting. The Rev. M. C. Osborn, who himself spent the first years of his ministerial life in Cambridge, writes of this period of Mr. Barton's history :-"He was greatly owned of God in that Circuit: his preaching was very attractive, and continued to be so to the end; and his memory is still fragrant amongst his early friends in the town and neighbourhood.” Though married, he was stationed at Cambridge with the income of a single minister; and, at the close of his first year there, he was invited to other Circuits where he would have been provided for as a married minister. But God had so greatly blessed his labours, that he felt that he ought not to leave Cambridge ; and he cheerfully sacrificed the pecuniary advantages held out to him, rather than quit the post in which Divine Providence had placed him. In his third year he was made the Superintendent of the Circuit, and the Financial Secretary of the District,-an indication of the esteem in which he was held by the Conference. His colleague during this year was the Rev. W. J. Bullivant. They had scarcely entered upon the year's labours when a very gracious revival of religion took place. Mr. Barton, writing to his wife, who was on a visit to a friend, under the date of September 7th, 1833, says, “ The work here goes on gloriously. Mr. Bullivant, I think, will be the instrument of great good. He had another prayer-meeting on Monday evening, when there were several in distress, and some earnest pleading in prayer. After my preaching to a very large congregation on Tuesday evening, he held a prayer-meeting in the chapel till about nine o'clock, and then they went into the vestry to wrestle for the penitents: one obtained the blessing. On Thursday evening another prayer-meeting was held, when the agony of mind in those who were seeking pardon was most intense. Sonne continued till past ten o'clock; and the Lord was found of one then, and another the next morning. But last night was, at present, the most glorious meeting. Ten or twelve professed to be seeking for mercy; and the scene altogether was most touching and affecting. Several of the friends were mighty in prayer ; and four persons obtained mercy
of the Lord."
From Cambridge, Mr. Barton removed to the Leeds East Circuit, which coinprised what are now the Brunswick and St. Peter's Circuits. During his first year in Leeds, he was under the superintendence of the Rev. Joseph Fowler; and during the second and third, the Rev. William Vevers had the chief care of the Circuit, while the eloquent and noble-minded Robert Newton was one of his senior colleagues. Upon this important sphere of labour, Mr. Barton entered with a degree of trembling; and often, during the first two years, he was the subject of great depression, arising partly from those attacks of ague to which he was always liable. But he was held in high esteem by the people ; and his ministry was eminently consolatory and edifying, while it was calculated, also, to arouse and impress the careless. Mr. Fowler was very affectionate to him; and their intercourse in Leeds became the basis of a lasting friendship. When his term of service in the Eastern part of Leeds had expired, he was invited to the Oxford-place Circuit; but his health had become so impaired, that it was judged expedient, by the Conference, to appoint him to Birmingham East. During his three years' residence in this Circuit, he took an active part in raising the Walsall-Heath chapel. From Birmingham he went to London, where he remained from 1840 to 1846, spending three years in the City-road Circuit, and three in Great Queen-street. In the former, he was associated with the venerable Richard Reece; and in the latter with his valued friend, the Rev. Joseph Fowler. During these years, he was largely engaged in Connexional service. On his appointment to London, he was made one of the Secretaries of the Wesleyan Theological Institution ; and, when that Institution was divided into two branches, he was the Local Secretary of the Southern branch. He laboured most assiduously in connexion with the Committee appointed to watch over the building of the premises at Richmond; often sitting up until twelve o'clock at night, and rising at four, to attend to the necessary writing. In the year 1844 he was appointed one of the Assistant Secretaries of the Conference, his province being to keep the Journal in which all the acts of that assembly are recorded; and four years afterwards he was elected, by nomination, into the Legal Hundred. From this time, he was more and more engaged in public and official service; but he still devoted his chief energies to his Circuit-work, bestowing unremitting attention on his preparations for the pulpit, and engaging, to some extent, in pastoral visitation.
At the Conference of 1846, Mr. Barton was appointed to the Leeds Oxford-place Circuit. Here, as in other places, his ministry was acceptable and useful; and he rejoiced to witness the prosperity of Zion,--prosperity, alas! soon to be blighted by the agitation which, in 1849, began to rend asunder the Methodist Societies. His residence in Leeds, indeed, had terminated before the paralyzing influence of that agitation was felt; and he had not, like some of his