Cornelius Cowley

The Life And Ministry Of Cornelius Cowley

Gospel Standard 1879:

Memoir Of Mr. C. Cowley, Late Minister Of Gee Street Chapel, London

Mr. Cowley was born of godly parents, in the small town of Fairford, Gloucestershire, on April 20th, 1809.

He grew up strong in mind and body, until about ten years of age, when he had a very severe attack of rheumatic gout in his feet, which very much reduced him, and from which he suffered more or less throughout his life. After this, he had a very narrow escape from the bursting of a gun, which he let off loaded with gravel stones, when sent by a farmer to drive the birds from a field newly-sown with corn.

When between the age of thirteen and fourteen he was apprenticed to the boot and shoe business for seven years. He was very quick in learning his trade; but at the age of seventeen, feeling himself grown up quite a man, he did not like the idea of having so long to serve; so he ran away, and obtained employment in Oxford. But he was not allowed to remain there long, for his master advertised him, and he was obliged to leave. He had, it seems, some misgivings of conscience, and felt compelled to return to his father. He reached home in the night; and next day his father took him back to his place, and pleaded with his master to forgive him, who willingly did so, and gladly received him back, both weeping together.

He remained peacefully at his work for some time; but again grew restless, and was not satisfied with the pocket-money which his father allowed him, so that he took to the wicked practIce of poaching. This, perhaps, he would have continued doing; but one day selling a nice hare for two shillings to a man, for whIch he did not get paid, he was discouraged as to this work. Soon after, he had words with his master, and resolved to stay longer. He went home to his father, and told him that if he did not buy him off he would enlist for a soldier. His father, therefore, did what he wished, and had to pay £5 for his discharge.

On one occasion he told his father a deliberate lie; upon which conviction of conscience seized him, and he was made to tremble before God. Still, at times, he tried to stifle his convictions; but they only deepened; until at length he was obliged to open his mind to his father, and told him the whole matter relative to the untruth he had uttered. For a short time he had work at home; and remained with his father until he found employment at Rendcomb.

His mind at this time was in a great state of bondage. His sins pressed upon him as a heavy burden, and he was assailed with many and various kinds of temptation, but was mercifully preserved from falling. While here he used to go into the woods, and there read a book which treated of the torments of lost souls. This, instead of relieving his mind, only increased his terrors. The condemnation he felt within, and the snares and temptations to which he was exposed, so wrought upon his mind that again he was determined to leave and return home; and he then obtained work at Fairford, where he remained for many years.

In alluding in after years to the days of his unregeneracy, and of his great desire to be made useful to sinners in the place where he lived in sin, he thus writes:

“Arlington is about five miles from Fairford. It is the place where I was put an apprentice; where I suffered much, and lived as ungodly as time, strength, opportunity, and means would permit me to live, and where the Lord stopped me in a sudden and marvellous manner.

“For eighteen or twenty years I felt a desire to be favoured by God to go there to preach, where I was so well known to have been a great sinner, that I might tell the people there what Almighty power, sovereign and invincible grace can do; that if there were any who should believe on Jesus Christ they might hope that they should be saved, even as I; seeing that free grace had been more than a match for my heart and life. Well, last spring the time arrived for me to go there for the first time. I thought it a favour, and felt it to be good to speak to sinners who are already made alive from the dead, and to others who are yet dead in their sins, who came to hear me. I feel a confidence in God, that so long as he hath any delight in me as a preacher he will hold me up, and supply my needs, both temporally and spiritually, some way or another, as to himself shall seem best; and give me spiritual strength as the labour in his vineyard shall require. This causeth me to look unto him for all I need, as one who hath to depend on his care.”

He had not been at home long before his dear father, a good. and gracious man, discovered that he was deeply concerned about the state of his soul; and as a consequence, he prayed with and for him; and. at last got him to engage in family prayer. Some time afterwards he joined the Independents in this place; and his prayers in public were much valued by the minister, who no doubt was a good man, though not clear in his preaching.

He was married about the year 1830, in the month of April, and still continued his employment. His cousin speaking of this time says:

“It was my lot to work with him in the same shop; and, though knowing but little of real religion myself, I could see that he was truly convinced of his state as a sinner. I thought to myself, Could I let him to go with me to hear Mr. Shorter, all would be well; poor blind mortal as I was. Well; an opportunity offered; and we went together. On returning home, I wanted to.know how he got on. ‘O!’ he said ‘there was nothing very particular.’ But there was something said about the covenant which seemed to fasten upon his mind, and lead him to search more diligently into God’s Word.

“Soon after this, a few of us went to Filkins to hear Mr. Tiptaft. We invited him to come to Fairford, which he was willing to do, if we could get a place for him to preach in. Accordingly, the Independent minister kindly offered the use of his chapel for this purpose; and he came. Now was the time the dear Lord blessed the word to many, and among them Mr. Cowley, so that he could no longer be content to hear such preaching as he had been accustomed to, but frequently walked miles to hear Mr. Shorter, and at length joined his church at Blunsdon.

“After the death of the old minister at the Independent chapel, the truth was more fully and clearly preached there, for which we were glad. He also preached, as did his predecessor, in a village near, and a Sunday school was opened there. On one occasion there was no one to go; and the minister asked if I would go. I said, ‘I would if Cornelius (the subject of this memoir) would go with me. We could have a prayer-meeting, and read a sermon.’ We accordingly went; and there was a house full of people waiting. After we had sung a hymn, my cousin Cornelius took the Bible, and began reading. While doing so, his spirit was so stirred within him, and the words, ‘Better speak to the people’ kept so working in his mind, that he was obliged to open his mouth; and in a very solemn manner he addressed us for about an hour. He was so well heard that the people wished him to come again; but he felt determined not to speak when he did come. However, the fact of his having done so got noised abroad, so that the next time many of those who had been in the habit of hearing Mr. Shorter came, and bade him ‘God speed.'”

From that time, many were the invitations he had to preach in various places; with what success is known only to Him who hath all hearts and events at his disposal. Cricklade, a small market and borough town in Wiltshire, was one of the places of his early and constant ministrations. There was a church formed of only a few members at first, but at length many were added to it; and a new chapel was built, and Mr. Cowley helped to collect the money for it. Mr. Cowley was looked upon as pastor, to preach fortnightly in the morning and afternoon: walking a distance of about seven miles from Fairford, and back to preach for the friends at home. This he continued for some years, until his numerous calls to preach elsewhere induced him to confine his engagements at Crioklade to once a month. His temporal trials were very great, and many times he and his wife and young family, which was increasing round him, have wanted bread. His son thus writes:

“One day we had nothing to eat. We sat up until half-past nine at night, when a friend came with five shillings. I was a little boy, and father was carrying me about the house at the time the money came. I had nearly cried myself to sleep for the want of food. At another time, mother arose at her usual time In the morning, lit the fire, and put the kettle on; but there was neither money nor food in the house. As she was sweeping the house, she opened the front door, and, to her astonishment, in rolled a sixpence.”

This son’s wife also adds:

“One time, when Mr. Cowley was ill with fever, and was nearly or quite blind, and in very bad circumstances, the friends at Stratton collected some money for him privately. I think it amounted to £112s. Father took it over to Fairford, very early in the morning. When he reached the house, he saw Mr. Cowley, and told him his errand; which so overcame him he could scarcely speak. When his wife came in, he said to her, ‘Get Mr. F. something to eat; he has come all this way to see me before breakfast.’ She in an undertone replied, ‘I can’t; I haven’t got anything.’ He said, ‘Get something, then;’ but she said, ‘I’ve got no money.’ Then he replied, ‘Mr. F. has brought some;’ and with that he laid the money on the table. They were both overcome with the goodness of God, and wept together, and my father with them They soon got him some refreshment, and though Mr. C. had been confined to the house for some time, he would venture out to go a little way on the road with father.

“One great trial to Mr. C. was the death of my father, about eight years previous to his own. Both were suddenly called to their eternal rest. They had both been closely united together in brotherly love. He was always pleased when he came into the country to come to our house; and we were equally glad to see him, and always looked forward to his visits. The last time before my father’s death he had been preaching at Stratton on the Thursday evening, and was going to Swindon on Friday. Father walked on the road with him in the afternoon, when suddenly my father exclaimed, ‘O! my head!’ and fell to the ground a corpse. Mr. Cowley felt the blow very much, and scarcely knew how to get through the service, and was obliged to tell the people what had occurred. He had to go from thence to Bath. He then returned to Stratton to see us before leaving for London. He felt quite ill in body, through sorrow of heart, yet consoled at the thought that his dear friend was for ever free from all sorrow and pain.”

As before stated, after his walk to and from Cricklade, preaching there twice on a Lord’s day, he then preached to the friends at Fairford in the evening, for there were a few who loved the truth, and met together for reading and prayer, desiring Mr. Cowley to preach for them as often as he could. He was quite willing to help them, and many were the blessings enjoyed there. His cousin, one of the number, writes:

“We had taken a cottage, but we were poor; and the rent, with fitting up the place, &c., was as much as we could well manage. We used to have a box, and each put in as his ability allowed. What was over was for the minister, which was very little. Knowing how very poor our dear minister was, how hard he laboured, and how he was tried with an increasing family, so that at times they had hardly bread enough to eat, we thought we ought to have a collection for him at the door every quarter. Nothing was said to him about it; but on the first Lord’s day that it was decided upon, Mr. Cowley especially dwelt upon the duty of Christians in showing kindness and liberality to their ministers; little thinking of what was about to follow. When the service was over, his cousin said, ‘There will be a collection today.’ ‘O Robert,’ said Mr. Cowley, ‘you ought to have told me.'”

Though a quarterly collection was decided upon for his benefit, it seems the amount did not much exceed what he received before; for many came to hear now and then who were not with us. “Ivdare not,” says, his cousin, “enter into the many privations he was the subject of, and which came under my notice.” Some of them may be gathered from his letters. We extract the following:

“Your kind letter and timely help came unexpectedly to hand this morning. I do indeed feel thankfully astonished at the kindness of yourself and your friends towards me in time of need. I have truly felt to plead with the Lord to help me in some difficulties which I have had on my mind; and when dressed this morning, I sat down on my bed, as one helpless from desponding feelings about money matters not knowing that help was so near at hand. It would seem that the great enemy of souls knew; for unbelief was so stirred up in my mind as to make me think it was useless to try and live honestly any longer. Then a fit of self-pity took hold of me, so that when I had opened your letter I could not think for the moment that it was for me, until I read it so plainly as to forbid any mistake. Then were my eyes and voice affected. I soon made it known unto my dear wife, who has been with me in most of my trials; also to my children, who are able to think of the God of heaven as doing all his pleasure. I did so, that they might see that God is good to their poor unworthy father, that they might thereby learn to choose the God of their father as their God; that is, provided he gives them grace so to do.”

Again, to other friends he says:

“Dear Friends,—As it respects your great kindness in lending me the sum you did, I believe it was right after all, as some of my friends to whom l owed money were in great need of it. When they received what l owed them, they looked with astonishment, and said, ‘O! What good it will do us, as much as though it was given to us!’ This gave me pleasure; and now I am happy to say I can go out of doors without my old companion; that is, tormenting fear of seeing my fellow man. O what relief this is to my mind!

“I arrived home on Feb. 8th. I and my wife sat up until midnight, talking about the path in which we had been caused to walk, now and then bursting into tears; they were mingled with thanksgiving. May the Lord abundantly bless your souls, and strengthen you to do his will in all things.”

“After a time,” says his cousin, “the place we met together in was wanted for a dwelling-house; but, through mercy, we were enabled to take a room which had formerly been used as a malt-house. Here the presence of the Lord was with us, giving testimony to the word of his grace. Our souls were refreshed, and many added to our number, so that we were obliged to make another move, the place being both inconvenient and offensive. It was felt desirable to build a chapel; the ground was bought, and a neat convenient chapel was soon erected. The friends all did what they could, and our dear minister’s influence among his friends who knew his worth was great; so that many came forward with a ready hand to help. When the chapel was opened we were £100 in debt; but in about a week after, a dear friend, Mr. W. called on me, and said he should like to see Mr. Cowley; as ‘A friend’ had called upon him, and told him that he had been thinking of those poor people at Fairford, who, although they have a nice chapel, yet having a £100 debt, will never be able to give their poor minister anything. You must go and ask Mr. Cowley if he will get by the next year £50; and we will give £50 more, so as to clear them.’ Through mercy, by our friends’ exertion at home, and Mr. Cowley’s influence amongst his numerous friends helping him, we were enabled to raise the £50; an so with the £50 so kindly promised by our dear friend, we were at our anniversary quite free; and felt thankful to all the kind friends for their ready assistance, and praise to Almighty God for all his mercies to us as a church.”

Respecting the new chapel in Fairford, in a letter to Mr. Tiptaft, Mr. Cowley thus writes:

“I wonder there should be a chapel built in this town for the truth in my day. The providence of God appears to have wrought wonderfully in bringing it about. I do hope that he has purposes of grace towards many here. O that God would be pleased to bless my children with his saving grace; that when I am no more, they might live to praise him! When we took the old room in the market-place, these words had much to do with my mind: ‘A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation; I the Lord will hasten it in his time.'”

The following month the chapel was opened. Mr. Pocock, sen., preached on the occasion; and in the year following, at the anniversary, the chapel was quite free from debt. Our dear pastor continued to preach for us on the Lord’s day evenings and on the Wednesday evenings; and many were the seasons of true spiritual refreshing under the ministry of the word. Our regret was that we could not secure more constantly and frequently the services of Mr. Cowley, whose calls to supply other churches became still more numerous, as will be seen from his letters. And at length many were the invitations he had to supply in London, both at Zoar Chapel, Great Alie Street, and at Wilderness Row, to which latter place he was at length invited to settle as pastor. After much exercise of mind, he finally acceded to their call, and left Fairford, much to the grief of his hearers and friends here.

In accepting this invitation from the church meeting at Wilderness Hall, London, he writes:

“I received your invitation to become your pastor, and last Lord’s day week read it to the church at Fairford. At the close of my reading, there was profound silence until I spoke as follows: ‘You know, dear friends, I am a man not hasty in my movements in religious matters. Whether I am right or wrong in the end, I look at a step, and consider much before I take it. This matter now in hand has cost me much exercise of soul before God, both by day and night, for I think nearly two years. Now, I feel unable to say Nay to the invitation I have read to you. I hope the Lord will do all himself which is required to be done. I would not be suffered to commit any error whatever in this thing.’ The meeting broke up with manifest affection towards me for the sake of that truth which I have so long preached amongst them.

“My dear friends and brethren in the Lord, I do venture to say that I now agree to accept your invitation to become your pastor, and servant for Christ’s sake. For this office I feel both unfit and unworthy; but if God account me worthy, and will stand by me, that will suffice for my complying with your request. I do not feel any opposition within me, as far as I know my own heart; neither have I any in my house. My dear wife thinks that the hand of God is in it; also many of my friends think so; and some say, ‘You should not go if we could keep you, and were able to support you.’

“Now, my dear brethren, I have nothing more to say than that I feel a confidence in you, that you will strive together to make me comfortable in temporal things; and as the Holy Spirit is pleased to keep your souls needy, so will you also strive to uphold me in the ministry by your constant and fervent prayers to God for me, both in public and in private; but especially in the closet, as an open reward is promised to attend such prayers. I think the providence of God has been as a wheel going round for some time to prepare me for a removal. Shall I say, ‘What hath God wrought!’ in hearing your cries, and in thus inclining my mind towards you as brethren with a peculiar affection and willingness to live and die with you, if the will of God be so?

“I assure you that, if I did not possess such feelings towards you, and believe that you as a people feel the same towards me, I could not hearken to your request, even could you or would you give me thousands of gold and silver. What is all that compared to God’s love and smiles, and those seasons of hallowed and blessed feelings which are in accordance with the spirit of the glorious gospel of Christ? I do not expect to be without my troubles, and I expect to stand alone as a minister. I have no private opinions of my own to give expression to. As opportunity occurs, I have ever been simple and honest, as in the fear of God, and hope ever to be kept so, knowing that one day I must die, and appear before God. I have not a flighty imagination, therefore shall not be able to please anyone by faulty perversions or fanciful interpretations of the Scriptures. Neither have I been suffered to make use of the holy Word of God so freely as I fear many do, merely as an accommodation to their subject. I cannot think that if the saints were stuffed up with such a ministry, they could be building themselves up on their most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, as Jude speaks of. My dear friends, lacking, as I do, novelty, which some possess, and which is so congenial to the human mind, and having to speak as the Lord shall give ability of ancient things, which are ‘hid from the wise and prudent,’ and which a natural man cannot know, we must not expect a great assembly of individuals to hear me, unless there are a great number of broken-down sinners round about Wilderness Hall, or of God’s elect now dead, whom he will call to feel their need of Christ and his salvation. I hope and pray that a good measure of life and light may attend our path, although we may have to go a thousand times over the old beaten path of tribulations, of helps, and promises. If JEHOVAH smile, and help us on our way, and bless us with a comfortable hope of ending our journey in peace and safety, all will be well. ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.’ Amen.

“I remain, your willing servant, for Christ’s sake, 

“Cornelius Cowley”

In closing this Memoir, we give a few particulars of his life and trials in London, where he arrived safely, with his wife and family, Dec. 20th, 1865, to commence his labours.

In the year 1867, his family were visited with small pox. He was himself laid aside from preaching through an attack. In this affliction, he proved the goodness and faithfulness of God, and the kindness of friends, both far and near; thus verifying the words he had in coming to London, and which so truly prepared his mind to expect afflictions and trials, viz., “God is faithful.” In the following letter he mentions his own illness, and the death of his dear daughter Hannah, and her husband, who had been married only six months:

“My dear Brother,—I received your kind letter safely, and have obtained the £5 at the Post Office. I am truly thankful for it, and have felt prayer with thanksgiving in my heart to God for putting it into the hearts of my Sussex friends to sympathize with me in my deep afflictions. I felt liberty in prayer to ask of God spiritual blessings for you all. I loved you, and had a good feeling towards you as a people before, and longed after your spiritual prosperity. How can I do otherwise, now you have refreshed my spirit with your liberality?

“I have received much help and sympathy from my friends, both in town and country; but my afflictions and the expenses connected with them have been like a great gulf swallowing up everything. I was not before at rest respecting temporal matters. London is such a place for expenses.

“I could not but think of you the last fortnight, and sometimes desired that you might be directed of God towards me, if it was pleasing in his sight, and if not, that he would give me patience and strength to wait his time. So that, when I received your letter yesterday morning, I felt broken down, and wept for joy, in that the Lord was mindful of me and mine; and that his truth and power should have brought me into the affections of so many of his dear people, particularly the most favoured part of his children. As some are more humble, sensible, meek, affectionate, self-denying, self-abased, and spiritual than others, therefore they walk in the truth, and show that they are of the truth, and that the truth hath made them free. Such live on earth for God, and not for themselves. They are of heavenly origin, being born from above; and having their treasure in heaven, they are ‘looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.’

“I have stood up to preach before my friends one Lord’s day evening and three whole days since my recovery from small pox. I was glad to see them once more, and believe they were glad to see and hear me again. The Lord’s presence, I believe, was with us. My first text was: ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.’ I truly felt the words to be my own. I spoke more than was expected, considering my weak state of body. I gather strength, through mercy, to the astonishment of my friends, knowing as they did how low I had been reduced. I have not been out of town to preach as yet. I hope to go to Deptford on the 27th of this month.

“My dear wife as yet continues pretty well, verifying the words that continually followed her through the illness; viz., ‘I only am escaped to tell thee.’ She is the only one out of eight that has escaped. We have in dear Hannah lost one of the best of daughters parents could have. She was of great use to us; but now she is for ever gone, and the place that knew her once shall know her no more for ever. Her husband is yet alive. He has been in Highgate Hospital eight weeks last Tuesday. I should not be surprised any day to hear of his death. He appeared to be fast sinking last Tuesday, from what our nurse told me.

“Although this affliction is common to man, yet the measure dealt out to us is uncommon; but it cannot be wrong, since God himself hath permitted it, and mixed much mercy with it.

“My kind love to your dear wife, sister, and the friends.

“Yours in the right path, though of trial,

Cornelius Cowley

London, June 20, 1867. 

“P. S.—My dear son-in-law died the day on which this letter was written. Both of them were in their graves just six months after their marriage. I trust they are now in glory, singing of redemption through the most precious blood of Jesus Christ.”

Many of Mr. Cowley’s letters about this time allude to his afflictions, and to the kindness of friends in ministering to his necessities. With a few more extracts, we pass over the remaining ten years of his sojourn here below, which were still marked with family cares and afflictions, occasionally paying a visit into the country to supply the churches where he had been so much accustomed to go, particularly Cheltenham and Bath.

In a long letter to Mr. Philpot, acknowledging the receipt of a sovereign from him, and a contribution from other friends, he says:

“Once, when I was in distress, suffering the want of temporal mercies, these words came to my mind: ‘For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’ I was reproved, strengthened, and comforted by the words; and God has been faithful to his word until now. And since I have been in London, I have proved his goodness and mercy in finding me temporal provisions for my family, and supplies for the pulpit. In my late heavy affliction I have had also the sympathies of my friends, both in town and in the country; besides the blessedness of having my mind so sweetly brought into subjection to the will of God in the most trying part of my afflictions, especially the loss of my dear affectionate daughter and her husband. Before her illness and death took place, when I was confined to my bed, I was made happy in my soul in God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I felt to be in good hands, as if laid upon a bed of gracious promises. I was sure God would not let me want any needed good. This to me seemed a preparation for the increasing affliction and bereavements which followed. God was good; a stronghold in my day of trouble; neither did he leave me nor forsake me.”

A letter from which the following extract is made appears to be written to one of his members, then out of town, dated July 6th, 1870:

“Our quarterly meeting is expected to take place on Monday next. I do not like being present on such occasions. You know that as a church we do not increase. If we have gained at one time, we have lost at another; yet I think the Lord is with us of a truth. I think at each removal from one place to another for worship (which some say is against me), I have lost a friend both to myself and the cause.”

It seems from the above that the church had to move first to one place, then to another.

Early in this year, Mr. Cowley had the pleasure of baptizing his own son Charles, who was about to join the church at Barking. His daughter Rebecca was married also about this time, which made the fifth marriage amongst his children; and yet on none of these occasions had he been present. It seems the marriage of his children did not lessen his family troubles.

The following letter, relative to the illness of Mrs. Cowley, was written a year or two later on:—

“Dear Charles,—I thank you for your letter, and your dear wife for hers. We were glad of both of them. I should have written before, but have been so put about with cares of different sorts. Your dear mother has been in bed ten days; but she is better, and able to sit up in her bedroom now. One week I really thought she must die, but her end was not come.

“33, Hanley Road West, Jan. 9th, 1875.”

It pleased the Lord to bless the means used to the partial restoration of Mrs. Cowley, as will be seen from the following letter, written to their son and his wife:

“Dear Charles and Wife,—Mercy says that I have not written to you, since her return from your house, to let you know that both arrived here in safety. We are much as usual. Mother has not been dressed yet, and I cannot say that she ever will be. I wish her mind was in as good a state as it appeared to be when at her worst. It is very trying for her and all of us for her to be such a prisoner, always in or on her bed.

“I was helped and very comfortable in Sussex. I preached at the Dicker and at Ripe on Sept. 30th, and Oct. 3rd and 4th; but was very ill on Monday. I began to think whether I should not die. But through mercy, I got a little ease, and slept. I have been sensibly helped in my preaching the last few times, more so than usual; in so much that I have thought perhaps my end is drawing near.

“Another deacon at Gower Street is to be buried tomorrow, which makes two in a few weeks out of their five. A warning voice to others, we had five when I came here. Two have died; two have left; and only Mr. L. remains; so that the church have chosen two more to act with him. I think never had a poor minister three more faithful and affectionate deacons than I have as yet.

“You know I am published on the “Gospel Standard” wrapper for Blunsdon on the 30th, and Stratton on the 31st of this month. I hope to be able to fulfil the engagements. I suppose I must go to Oxford on Thursday, Nov. 1st; and home the day following. Our united love. May the Almighty bless you and yours.

“Your tried Father, 

“Cornelius Cowley

“33, Hanley Road, Oct. 16th, 1877.”

These engagements he did not live to fulfill. He was taken very unwell at Bath, and wrote to his son as follows:

“My Dear Son Charles,—I write a line to let you know that I am too unwell to come to Stratton and Blunsdon next week. The friends here will let me off on Sunday night, that I may go home on the Monday, where some think I ought to be, and under a doctor’s care; and I feel so too. You will let the friends know, and prevent my being published on Sunday for Wednesday. My breath is very short. I feel much weakness and great pain.

“Kind love to you and your dear wife. May the Lord be a Father to you when you have lost your earthly one.

“From your much tried and affectionate Father,

Cornelius Cowley

“Bath, Oct. 25th, 1877.”

On the Saturday, Mr. Prewett, one of the friends, wrote to Mr. Cowley’s son as follows:—

“Dear Friend,—Mrs. Prewett went to see Mr. Cowley. I am requested to inform you that he is very unwell, and feels fully persuaded that tomorrow, if able then, will end his preaching. He told her he longed to be at home.

“What a solemn matter this is! So many of the Lord’s servants dropping off. I should so much like to hear your father tomorrow; but cannot, as I am expected at Corsham.

“Mrs. P. stayed some time with him, and found that he was very low in his mind, feeling so dark. O that God would break in, and give him sweetly to feel that he has ‘not followed cunningly devised fables!’ He asked her to get me to write to you, and say how impossible it would be for him to come to Stratton.

“Yours faithfully, in much haste, 

“Henry Prewett”

Receiving this intelligence, his son left home for Bath the same day, but was too late to see his dear father alive. He says in a letter:

“I am glad that I went to Bath on the Sunday that he bade farewell to earthly cares. What a heavenly smile he had on his countenance!” 

Mr. Cowley had more than once expressed a wish that he might not be laid aside, but die in harness. His request was granted; for it pleased God to call him home to himself quite suddenly.

He had gone to Bath to supply for the friends there on Lord’s day, Oct. 28th. In the morning of that day, not making his appearance at the breakfast table, the person of the house where he lodged went to call him, and getting no answer after knocking at his door, went in. What was her astonishment as she entered to find him quite dead in his chair, in a sitting posture, and with his Bible open on a table before him. Thus suddenly, away from home, with no friend near him but the One true and unseen Friend, he passed away, to spend his Sabbath in eternity; set free for ever from all infirmities of the frail body, cares, and anxieties of the mind, and from all the changing scenes of time and sense. He has entered upon the everlasting test, peace, and joy he longed for.

“No rude alarms of raging foes;

No cares to break the long repose; 

No clouded sun, no midnight moon; 

But sacred, high, eternal noon.”

All was done for him that respect and kindness could do, both by the friends at Bath and those in London, who spared neither trouble nor expense. His remains were conveyed from Bath to London; and many friends met on the occasion of his funeral. Thus was he honourably interred, and much lamented; being much esteemed as a faithful experimental preacher, of the glorious gospel of the grace of God.

Cornelius Cowley (1809-1879) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He served as pastor for the church meeting at Fairford, and another meeting at Wilderness Hall, London.