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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHURCH AT BIRCHCLIFFE.
In times of spiritual degeneracy the order and discipline of the God has often raised up men from Wesleyans, he broke off all con. humble life to carry on His work. nexion with them in the summer of Such was the case in reference to 1762. About the same time four the founder of the church at Bircb. persons in the neighbourhood of cliffe. One hundred years ago the Heptonstall Slack had left the rural districts of this country, and Methodists for the same reasons as even the towns, were in a state not induced Mr. Taylor to forsake only of religious apathy, but them, and being invited by them, of fearful corruption. Ignorance, he came and preached in the open profanity, and vice were banded in air, under a tree, at a place called fierce confederacy against the Lord 'the Nook,' about a mile from Birchand His Anointed. It was during cliffe. The neighbourhood is spoken this period that Whitefield, Wesley, of as being then 'excessively wild, and Grimshaw were devoting them and the inhabitants very rough and selves to the great work of preaching unpolished.' Yet Dan Taylor the gospel to their countrymen; determined to make the attemp and about the same time Dan to introduce the gospel. At Taylor first became known. His Michaelmas a house was taken in mother being a devout woman, Wadsworth Lanes, and fitted up for Dan early, became the subject of preaching. It was registered under religious influences. He and his the Act of Toleration, and opened brother would often walk miles to for Divine worship in the autumn hear the glad tidings of heavenly of 1762. love, and they were early made the Some form of church order and eubjects of the new life and rejoiced government was
now felt to be in the pardon of their sins. Dan necessary, and the Word of God Taylor joined the Methodist society in September, 1761. He first exer
The substance of this history was given cised
his gifts in preaching at a place by the Rev. C. Springthorpe at the called Hipperholme, near to Halifax. ditions have, however, been made in order Not approving of some things in to make the account more complete.
VOL. IV.-NEW SERIES, No. 9.
was carefully studied in order to church in Yorkshire. Mr. Taylor ascertain the Divine will. The was called to the pastoral office, and subject of baptism engaged Mr. on the 30th of July, 1763, was Taylor's attention, and at length he ordained. Mr. Boyce, of Coningsby, was led to the conviction that be- and Mr. Dossey, of Gamston, taking lievers' beptism by immersion was part in the sevice. the appointment of Christ and the They now thought of building a practice of His apostles. He con- house for God, and the place chosen ferred not with flesh and blood, but was a cliffe, once covered with sought to obey his Lord's command. birch trees, hence the present name,
After seeking in vain to be bap- Birchcliffe. The first chapel was tized by the Particular Baptist thirteen yards by ten; and was ministers in the district around, opened for Divine service, December he heard that at Boston, in Lincoln. 7th, 1764, Mr. Taylor himself preachshire, there were Baptists holding ing on the occasion. sentiments similar to his own, and Under Mr. Taylor's labours the on the morning of the 11th of cause prospered, and in the year February, 1763, D. Taylor and his 1770, when the New Connexion was friend, John Slater, set out on foot formed, the Birchcliffe church in search of them. At night they consisted of sixty-nine members. found themselves in a field sur. The public services were well atrounded with water. They slept tended, and religion seemed to be under a hay-rick, and the next flourishing. morning resumed their journey. But times of gladness are often They heard from some one toward succeeded by seasons of sorrow. Dan the close of the day that there were | Taylor and John Slater loved each Baptists at Gamston of their other: they walked, communed, persuasion. They went and intro- and prayed together, and a trial duced themselves, and the issue which affected one affected the other. was that in a few days Dan Taylor John Slater was called to his reward. was baptized. He and his friend On his death-bed, when feeling his now returned to Wadsworth, when end approaching, he said, 'I am Mr. Taylor baptized John Salter now at liberty and ready to die, and several others, and much at- having seen what I wished in this tention was thereby excited. world, a house for the worship of
Dan Taylor, like all good God at Birchcliffe.' The death of men, sighed for society ; his heart this useful servant of God was a went out towards all who loved the severe blow to his surviving friend. Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and The church at Birchcliffe, anxious truth, and especially towards those to spread the gospel far and wide, who were one with him in the faith, used all proper means to this end. and hope, and baptism of the gospel. Several young men were called to He heard there was to be an associ- exercise their gifts in preaching ation of ministers and churches of and in other useful ways. Richard the same 'faith at Lincoln in the Folds, John Taylor, and Jeremy month of May. He went, and was Ingham were raised up about this kindly received as a member of it; time, and began to preach the and on that occasion he formed an gospel in connexion with the Birchintimacy with Mr. W. Thompson, cliffe church. These friends afterof Boston, which continued till Mr. | wards became regular pastors : T. was called to his reward. Mr. Folds, of the church at Burnley, Thompson returned with Mr. Taylor Taylor, at Queenshead, and Ingbam, to Wadsworth, where he baptized at Maltby. The help rendered by several persons and administered such devoted men led to an extension the Lord's supper, and a church of labour. They not only exercised was then formed of fourteen their gifts at Birchcliffe, but went members, the first General Baptist I over the hills to Shore, a distance
of six or seven miles. In 1777 a continued to increase, additional meeting-house was erected there, accommodation was felt to be necesand was opened by Messrs. D. and sary. Some wished to remove to a J. Taylor. At Queenshead also, more populous locality, and build a preaching was commenced in 1772, new chapel; others were anxious to and a church was formed of seven- remain on the cliffe. Not being teen members from Birchcliffe. A able to agree, the building project chapel was built, and opened in 1773; was laid aside, and they made more and on the following day Mr. J. room for their hearers by erecting Taylor was ordained to the pastoral galleries on three sides of the office, Mr. D. Taylor delivering the meeting-house, at an expense of charge to his brother containing £100. This work was completed in six hundred particulars !
1793. For several years after this Another church was formed in the cause did not make much proHalifax, the ministers from Birch gress. Though well attended with cliffe and Queenshead preaching in hearers, the members decreased. rotation. In 1777 a neat chapel was About this time too, the minister's erected on Holey Hill, and opened bealth failed. He was for sometime by D. and J. Taylor.
subject to fits, which would often Preaching had been commenced seize him in the pulpit, although in . near Burnley in the summer of a few minutes he would so far re1776, in the open air. Some good cover as to resume his work. He was done, and some few persons died in the year 1799. joined the church at Birchcliffe. The pulpit was for a season supMr. R. Folds now removed thither, plied by different persons; among and became their constant minister. others, by a Mr. A. Barker, who In 1780 a house was hired in the attracted considerable attention. He town of Burnley, and Mr. Folds was somewhat hastily invited to occupied it, and it served as a assume the pastoral office, but his preaching place for several years. true character becoming known, he This year they were formed into as hastily removed. Again
separate society, twenty-two left destitute, they had 'supplies members from Birchcliffe uniting for a time, when an unsuccessful to form it, with four baptized by attempt was made to obtain the Mr. D. Taylor on the previous day. services of Mr. James Taylor, of In 1787 a meeting-house was erected Derby. Failing in this, the church in Burnley-lane, where now stands a requested Mr. H. Hollinrake, a renoble chapel, and in which there is spectable member of their body, to a flourishing cause, as well as exercise his talents in preaching, another in the same town, which and he was subsequently called to has sprung from Burnley-lane, and the work of the ministry among which is very prosperous.
them, and united with others in supA cloud came over the Birchcliffe plying their own and other pulpits. church in 1782-3. Mr. D. Taylor It was now thought by many that was induced to remove to Halifax, he was a suitable man to become it being thought to be more for the their pastor, and in order the better glory of God and the good of souls. to fit him for the office, he was sent This was a source of much grief, to London for one year, to avail and of some dissatisfaction; but himself of the advantages of the the church was kept together, and Academy then under the care of the cause prospered under Mr. John Dan Taylor. While there he was Sutcliffe, who was called to be their invited by his brethren to the pastorminister. A few persons withdrew ate of the Birchcliffe church. He in consequence of this change, but complied with their request, and harmony was soon restored, and entered on his stated labours-acsome valuable additions were made cording to his own account in his to the church. As the congregation text book-on the 30th June, 1805.
He was ordained to the pastorate 1852, he had preached more than July 1st, 1806. Mr. Dan Taylor 7,000 sermons.' gave the charge, and Mr. E. Failing health and increasing inWhitaker, of Melbourne, addressed firmity required that additional the people. But symptoms of dis. ministerial aid should be obtained. content had been visible for some. Consequently, early in 1853, Mr. J. time. A respectable minority did B. Lockwood accepted an invitation not approve of these proceedings. to assist our aged brother in the Accordingly a separation took place. work. In January, 1855, the good Early in the year 1807 forty-two Henry Hollinrake went to rest. members withdrew, after taking an He expired with the words 'None affectionate farewell, and formed the but Christ,' on his lips. He had been church at Heptonstall Slack, about pastor of the church nearly fifty years. two miles distant from Birchcliffe. Soon after, Mr. Lockwood was After this division about eighty ordained to the pastoral office. The members remained, but the cause old house adjoining the chapel, went on to prosper; and in the occupied by the minister, was taken course of twelve years, more than down, and a new and commodious two hundred had been baptized. one erected, as well as new vestries
In 1808, the burying ground was and other improvements, at a cost of enlarged at an expense of £40, the £400. ground being kindly given by a In 1860, Mr. Lockwood, through neighbouring gentleman. Other ill health, resigned, and left Birch. improvements and alterations were cliffe ; and to the Association for subsequently made. In 1825, the that year the church for the first old chapel having become too small time for fifty-four years had to ree to accommodate the numbers who port that they were without a pastor. wished to hear the word, it was The attention of the friends was agreed to pull it down and rebuild. now directed to our brother Gray, The present large and commodious then of Ashby. H
unanichapel was then built at a cost of mously invited to become the pastor some £800; the gallery alone, which of this people, and after mature goes back on the solid rock, being deliberation, he acceded to the capable of seating five hundred request, and entered on his labours persons.
in September, 1860, with pleasing In the year 1827, new and com- prospects of usefulness. Since then modious school rooms were built; the church has been peaceful, the land having been given by R. barmonious, and prosperous; the Sutcliffe, Esq., of Great Burlees. congregations are large, and but for Subsequently, the grave yard was the pastor's present state of health, considerably enlarged. In this yard nothing seems in the way of conmore than 1800 have been interred. tinued prosperity.
Mr. Hollinrake continued to labour The present number of members with energy and zeal, beloved and is 302. About fifty have been esteemed by all, to a good old age. baptized since the beginning of 1861. From his text book we learn that God be merciful unto us, and bless from June 30th, 1805, to June 30th, | us, and cause his face to shine upon us.
The first Sabbath after the arrival / was a day of great spiritual enjoy.
Sabbath Rest and Weekday Labour.
at the first peep of dawn, and after every heart, and all felt more than secret prayer, family prayer followed. they choose to express. There was This ended, breakfast was set on communion with saints, and comthe table, consisting, as in it did then munion with God. What more was in all the rural parts of Scotland, needed ? of rich oatmeal brose, in which was * Noo, Gibby,' said Grizzy, with hidden a lump of fragrant butter. a heart full of heavenly exultation ; A good appetite converted this Ye thocht our little company wad simple meal into a feast.
be perfect, if we had only a minister Breakfast over, Gilbert said : amang us, and ye looked out of the 'I suppose you'll all be inclined to window as wistfully as if ye exkeep the Sabbath as it should be pected that auld Saunders would kept. I've been in the habit of come stottin' o'er the muirs as he collecting my little family around used to do in the fine days o' me, and of imitating as near as may simmer; but hae we not been as be the order of the services at the weel entertained, seeing the great Kirk. I don't preach ; but if I Master of assemblies has been wil had the gift, I don't see what should us Himsel'?' hinder me from speaking to my The storm raged on even wilder neighbours of a Saviour ; but I than before. The men after they read a sermon from a godly book had thrashed Gilbert's oats, and here on the shelf. Now I've been piled up a vast mountain of straw thinking as there are five men of us wherewith to thatch the house when here, one of us should begin with opportunity served, asked for other praise, the next read a chapter and employment within doors. pray, the third read the sermon, Grizzy assured the visitors that the fourth pray, and the last con- work could be found for them all. clude with a psalm. This, I think, There's plenty o'yarn hangin frae would be a profitable way of spend the baulks ; if ony o' ye can work ing the forenoon. We can either a stockin', ye may get that to do.' repeat the same in the afternoon, or Here was work at once for the two spend it in religious conversation, shepherds. The men from Cairsas may be found suitable.'
phairn were one a tailor and the Gilbert's proposal was cordially other a shoemaker. Now Gilbert agreed to, and the Sabbath was was a thrifty as well as a God-fearspent accordingly.
ing soul. He had two webs of The conversation in the evening home-made cloth ready for the fly. was the most lively and impressive ing tailor from the head of Douglas part of the day's exercise. Every Water, and plenty of leather and one appeared to be deeply affected other materials for making shoes with the various topics which came whenever the jaunting cobbler from incidentally before them. The tears Muirkirk should come on his rounds. were frequently seen to start into Here was work for the other men. the eyes of Sandy the herdboy. Many days were spent round the A new vision was opening to his pile of peats blazing on the hearth, youthful mind, and the great matters every one at his own proper ocof salvation assumed an importance cupation, the shepherds at their that he had never before. stockings, the tailor and the shoeThus, as the elders were exposed to maker plying the awl and the the fierce blasts of persecution which needle, the gude wife spinning in swept them off the earth, a young the corner, the boy teazing the wool, generation came up to fill the vacant and Gilbert stretching at his length ranks.
on the 'lang settle' behind the Not a few Sabbaths were spent in hallen, bearing his rheumatic pains Gilbert's house, but all felt after as best he could. ward that none were to be compared One cold and inclement day as with this. A spiritual joy pervaded they were all thus seated, the con.