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MR. FRENCH was born in the year 1797. During his childhood he was not favoured, as many are, with parental religious instruction. In 1804, some pious individuals belonging to the Wesleyan Sunday-school, held in connexion with the Octagon chapel, Taunton, commenced a systematic visitation of the town. While discharging this duty, they met with young French, and invited him to attend the school. This invitation he immediately accepted, provided it should meet with the concurrence of his parents; and this being given, he, in company with his two brothers, cheerfully went both to the school and chapel. This was an event in his life for which he ever afterwards expressed his devout and ardent gratitude to Almighty God. The religious instruction he there received was accompanied by a divine influence on his heart. The spiritual seed took root and sprang up, and ultimately produced abundant fruit. A deep consciousness of the great benefit he had derived from attending the Sabbath-school, laid the foundation of that firm attachment he ever manifested, in subsequent years, to everything connected with this most important and useful institution.

When the Rev. Messrs. Horner, Keeling, and Appleyard were stationed in the Taunton Circuit, a gracious revival of religion took place. Many young persons were made the happy partakers of its saving power; and among the number of those who gave themselves to the Lord, and to the church by the will of God, was William French.

Soon after he had covenanted that "this people shall be my people, and their God shall be my God," he was enabled to rest his soul by faith on the atonement of our Lord Jesus, and received an assurance of his acceptance with God; and thenceforward "the peace which passeth understanding" kept his heart and mind through Christ Jesus.


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In the course of September, 1815, he heard a sermon on, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature;" after which he retired to his chamber for prayer and meditation. On this occasion he wrote in

his diary, "I felt such a ray of heavenly light, as I had never before experienced, which made me weep for joy, and say, 'Now, now, I believe that God has pardoned my sins for Jesu's sake, who was nailed to the cross for me.' Words cannot express what I felt. The love of Christ was indeed shed abroad in my heart, and He has given me a love to all mankind.

'O Love Divine, how sweet thou art!'"

After walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, for about six years, the class in which he was a member became destitute of its Leader. Mr. French's humility and habitual devotion, as well as his ardent zeal for the glory of God, pointed him out as the most suitable person for that important office in the Wesleyan Connexion. He entered upon its duties with fear and trembling, under a deep conviction of the solemn responsibility connected with them. In this department he was made singularly useful; "a vessel of honour, fitted for the Master's use." God greatly owned his labours, in "winning souls;" and he had the honour and happiness of seeing not a few of those who formed a part of his charge, raised to fill important and useful stations in the church of Christ.

For many years he sustained offices of trust and responsibility among the Methodists. He was a Trustee of several chapels, Treasurer of various funds, and Society and Circuit Steward. He took a deep interest in every department of the work of God, at home and abroad, cheerfully devoting a good portion of his time, and giving liberally of his substance, to extend the kingdom of the Redeemer throughout the world. For twenty-four years he was only once absent from a Quarterly-Meeting.

His strong attachment to the Sabbath-school has already been noticed. For forty years he was identified with it; and, with others, he was instrumental in establishing schools in several villages in the neighbourhood of his native town. From being a scholar, he became a Teacher, and then a Conductor. In this department he excelled. He was the life and soul of the school. He had a happy talent for addressing the children, and conversing with them; while the placid smile of his countenance always diffused contentment and cheerfulness among all around.

He highly prized the preaching of the Gospel, and all the ordinances of religion. He "loved the gates of Zion," the habitation of God's house, and the place where His honour dwelleth: he was therefore regular and punctual in his attendance, together with his family, on all the means of grace. He had the inexpressible happiness of seeing his children, as they grew up, choosing the Lord for their God, and becoming the professing and sincere followers of the Redeemer; so that, now he himself is removed, "instead of the" father, have

come up "the children," who occupy posts of honour and usefulness in connexion with the church.*

Mr. French was actively and usefully employed, in the possession of health and vigour; and his friends were cherishing the hope of being favoured with his valuable services for years to come, to assist them in carrying into effect various plans which had been devised for the intellectual, moral, and religious training of youth, and the extension of the work of God. But his heavenly Master had determined otherwise. It pleased God to call His servant home, as, by divine grace, he had answered life's great end in walking with God and serving his generation. He had made his calling and election sure. The decree, therefore, went forth, that he should sicken, suffer, and die. His last illness came upon him suddenly, and was at first very severe; but, through the divine blessing upon the means employed, the severity of the pain was greatly mitigated. Nevertheless, some symptoms remained, which excited the fears and apprehensions of his family and friends as to the probable result. All was done for him that Christian sympathy and kindness, filial affection, and the best professional skill, could devise; but all the means that were employed proved ineffectual.

To his Ministers and Christian friends who visited him in his affliction, he often related his religious experience, freely and delightfully. To one who had been conversing with him upon the blessedness of "rest in Jesus," he said with deep feeling, "Yes, I know it from heart-felt experience. For many years I have felt the efficacy of the blood of Christ, as an atoning sacrifice for my sins, in delivering me from all guilt; and I now bless God that I find that blood is sufficient for everything. I want nothing else: my peace, my comfort, and my joy flow from that precious sacrifice." To another friend he said, "O the boundlessness of the love of God to me! I cannot express it."

The writer had the privilege of repeated interviews with him during his illness; and always found it profitable to listen to his observations on personal religion. On one occasion he found him exceedingly happy in God. With deep emotion, he said, "I bless God I feel that all is right within. I am as happy almost as I can be." To converse and pray with him was truly to enjoy "the communion of saints," and to be, as it were, close "on the verge of heaven."

On the morning of the day on which he died, he appeared somewhat better; and was assisted to rise from his bed. He said that a few days before he could not have anticipated this. He then addressed "A sick bed is the young man who waited upon him, and observed,

* The eldest daughter is married to the Rev. A. Puddicombe. The second is in the Mission-field, the wife of the Rev. T. Adams of the Friendly Islands. The eldest son is Circuit-Steward; and the third son, a pious youth, belonging to the Collegiate Institution, Taunton, has recently carried off the mathematical prize in the London University. "Them that honour me, I will honour," saith the Lord.

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