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Past and Present
My Fellow Candidates

Twenty-eight years ago, in the then metropolis of Upper Canada, sat the Methodist Conference. It had been opened on the appointed day in due form, by the appointment of Rev. William Case, President, and Rev. James Richardson, Secretary. The third question asked was, “ Who are admitted into full connexion ?” In answer to this, the names of five candidates, who had labored during the probationary term, were read, and a committee struck to examine them. That was the way they did it in those days, when the “ Annual Conference” did not much transcend our present District Meeting. The committee also consisted of five. Three out of the five are in their graves—they died well, and in the work: these were Prindel, Poole, and Smith. One is in the ministry of another church. One only remains with us, a supernumerary—the Rev. Daniel McMullen, a Nova Scotian, whose early piety and very successful labours ought not to be forgotten.

Nearly as great changes have taken place with the candidates, who of course were younger men, as with the ministers of the committee. One of them is no more. One “ located,” and after sundry vicissitudes moved to the Western States, where, we are happy to learn, he is useful among his neighbors, a Methodist colony from Canada. One, and he the most respectably connected, the youngest, the best educated, and the most promising of us all, after laboring most successfully seven years in the ministry, went into secular life, made property, and now fills an honorable and useful position in the Legislature of his country. One is “ superannuated”—and only one is left on the walls of Zion-—the unworthy writer of this article.

Of those who departed from the work we may not further speak. But of my deceased and my retired friends I would fain preserve some memorial. They were both natives of the United States, nearly of an age, great personal friends, and nine or ten years our seniors. The brother gone to his reward was the Rev. Simon Huntington. As we were the party who drew up his obituary notice for the “ Minutes,” and as that account of him received the imprimatur of the Conference, we re-produce it. It is as follows:—“ Simon Huntington was born about the year 1801 in Norwich, Connecticut, where he was converted at the age of nineteen. His excellent moral habits before conversion, joined to deep and fervent piety after he was brought savingly to God, continued to make him a most consistent and exemplary character throughout. At an early period after his conversion he felt a strong desire to be useful, and “pressed in spirit’* to warn his fellowmen. This led him to seek the advantages of two years’ academic training in the Wilbraham Academy, (thtm under the principal-ship of the lamented Wilbur Fisk,) in addition to the benefits of an excellent New-England common-school-education, which he had received in boyhood. He began to preach while at the Academy. In 1829 he came to this province, and was received into the Canada Conference on trial, a close relation to which he sustained till the day of his death. He died August 25,1856, after a few days illness, iri. the village of St. Williams. His several fields of labor were, to mention them in the order to which he was appointed to them severally, Yonge Street, one year; Westminster, one; Mississippi, one", Bonchere Mission, one; Augusta, (where he married) two years; Murray, two; Newmarket, one; Toronto (township) two; Whitby, two; Kemptville, two; Prescott and Augusta, two; Grimsby, two; and Wilsingham, where he ceased to “work and live,” before the first year had half expired.

Brother Huntington was a plain, sensible, and truly practicable and excellent preacher; The good he accomplished—-and he was very useful—was more the result of a combination of faithful and untiring endeavors in every department of a Wesleyan minister’s duty, than of any one excellence or kind of effort in undue proportion. He was an example to all who may come after him in our ministry, of cheerful submission to his appointments, patience and self-denial, peaceableness, pastoral fidelity, and punctuality in attending all his appointments; He Vas not favored with any very particular premonition of his approaching end, or any very rapturous visions of the future, in his last illness; yet death did not find him unprepared, hut calm and peaceful. Our much loved brother “rests from his labors, and his works do follow him. ”

To the above we may append a few recollections. He came to us in company with the Rev. William Case, who had been on a visit to New England. He arrived at a time the Connexion was greatly in want of preachers to follow up the openings which presented themselves on every side; and although he came more as a visitor than otherwise, he was eagerly seized on by the Presiding Elder and appointed to a circuit. His appearance was then very prepossessing. Neat and tasteful in his dress, round-faced and healthy-looking, but slight and small of stature.

We can well remember the start he gave us at our first sight of him. We had been scarcely a year in the work of preaching—we were very young and nervously sensible of our incompetency—and especially timid of preaching before ministers, unless we knew them to be indulgent friends,—when one Sunday morning we were officiating in the “ old chapel” in the then village of Belleville, just as we had taken our text a stranger entered the house in the garb of a preacher and much sleeker looking than those of indigenous growth, and took his seat in front of us. He was so bright and observant looking, we could have wished him far enough away. We however stammered through; when on remarking according to the custom of the times, that “ if there was a preacher in the congregation we would be glad to have him come into the pulpit and close the service”—giving him an inquiring look the while. To this invitation he responded and concluded the meeting with one of the most richly scriptural and appropriate prayers we thought we had ever heard. This was the beginning of a most (to me) profitable acquaintance and an endeared friendship between us. We met a few days after this interview at one of the glorious camp-meetings of those days, near Cummer’s Mills.

He spent the balance of the year on the Yonge Street Circuit. The next year in the West on the great rambling, but non-paying Westminster circuit. The next he was whirled away far to the East and stationed on the Mississippi, which covered the ground now included in the Lanark, Carleton-Place, and Packenham circuits. The writer was that year on the Perth circuit, which then extended to the Mississippi river; Our fields of labor, therefore, lay side by side. This brought us acquainted again. And we chose to be as much in each other’s company as our duties would allow. What a solace to me in my lonely position in those then rugged wilds was the occasional companionship of that pure-minded, agreeable, and well-informed young minister. He possessed books, and had had educational advantages that I had not. And he freely imparted both of one and the other. We had a rendezvous at the house of a pious Irish brother on the banks of the Mississippi, just where one of the only two rustic bridges that then spaned its rapid waters was, there we used to hear each other preach in turn, and spend a rapturous evening; in comparing notes and forming plans of usefulness for the future.

We often met, and sometimes stood officially related to each other in after years; and every successive interview only strengthened our mutual attachment. We shall not now travel the ground passed over in his obituary, only to say, that his worth was not appreciated. Oh, what a shock was the news of his death to me ! He had always been remarkably, healthy and I expected him to out-live me ; but he was taken first. Pear, precious Simon ! meeting thee again constitutes one of the anticipated delights of that heavenly world “ where saints and angels join.” '

As we intimated in another article he married the sister of the lovely William Smith, an estimable Christian lady, who still lives to mourn the loss of him. Blessings on the memory of my friend!

The Rev. Henry Shaler was one of the five who were (one by one) examined that 31st of August, 1831, in the upper room in the house of Mr. Perry, in the town of York. He, like Huntington, was a native of the United States—the former of Connecticut, the latter, I think, of York State: if we mistake not, from among the Dutch of Scoharie County—himself also of the Teutonic race. He had come into the country some years before he entered the ministry in the capacity of a school teacher, in which profession he was very efficient and popular. He held the relation of an exhorter in the church, and made his first appearance inf public at the field meeting in 1825, in the township of Sidney on the Belleville circuit, referred to in our sketch of the Rev. James Wilson, at which that gentleman set himself right with the Baptists and Quakers, and exhorted after Wilson had concluded. His exhortation produced a wonderful commotion among the people. Father Wilson spoke of it afterwards among his friends with surprise. He said ((that little squeaking Yankee” had moved the people more with his short exhortation, than he had done with his elaborate sermon.

Three years afterwards, when Shaler went into the work, he Was so fortunate as to be appointed with Wilson, who performed a father’s part towards his youthful helper, and we have reason to know (i bragged him up” among the people. It was when on his way to the old Toronto circuit that the writer first saw Shaler. I had spent four months on that circuit, and was going to Belleville, where he had resided. We met in what was just then “ Muddy Little York” truly, at the house of the Rev. William Ryerson, who, thenceforth, was to be our Presiding Elder, where I heard him pray—and it seemed to me with much fluency and power. Surely there is a freshness about the ministrations of young preachers, which is a fair equivalent for the absence of the greater weight and depth of matter which are expected to characterize men of greater maturity. No wonder they are generally so popular. Shaler made a good debut, and had he chosen to aim at it, he might have taken a higher position than he ever did. The following summer we heard him at one of the far-famed Cummer’s Mills camp-meetings. He preached with energy and power, and his old superintendent, Wilson, prayed for him, and wept all the time he was preaching—the effect on the congregation was great; when the sendee was ended the old gentleman meeting the writer he said with a look of triumph, “Didn’t my little fellow do well?”

We hinted that our friend might have become a greater man than he did, had he labored for it harder—and the same might be said of most—but, in justice to him we must say, he was great in the art of awakening sinners. His was a very searching, arousing ministry. He was, however, more for gathering in, than building up; and it is well for him who can do either.

We shall not stop to describe his “wanderings to and fro,” from Trafalgar on the West, to Bell-River on the East; or from the St. Lawrence on the South to Pembroke in the North. If the reader wishes to see where his fields of labor have been, let him consult that invaluable book of reference, Douse’s “Register,” and he will learn.

Our friend might have been in the active work at the present time, but for a blow received from a horse five years ago, by which he was obliged to forego the pleasure of prosecuting at large his beloved itinerant work. But God has given him a comfortable residence in the midst of kind and appreciating friends, with still a measure of strength to aid his ministerial brethren in their special services in all the region around. We have shared his labors in our own station ; and I know not that I ever enjoyed his preaching more than within a few months past. We trust he is ripening for heaven. Yet, may the Lord spare him to the church below for many years to come ! God be gracious to that one of my “fellow candidates,” who still remains with the writer in the Wesleyan ministry!

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