Stevens 1884-12-30

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Visited William Brown, Baker, who is very ill and appears unlikely to recover. I do not think I have seen him at Church once, except at a funeral, since I have been at Sibford, though he is said to consider himself a member of the Church of England, and though I have spoken to him about his duty. He has been a great drunkard for many years and given rise to much scandal by his frequent visits to Widow Tennant when she lived at the farm at The Crop and at Burdrop and by his having her as his “housekeeper” for the past two or three years. I had a long conversation with his sister who appears to be attending to the business. She was servant or housekeeper to a Mr Eden, for many years, in Cheltenham and elsewhere. He lost nearly all his property by unfortunate speculation, and so she came to live in a cottage near her brother on her savings and any needlework she could get to do. Soon, her old master came to lodge with her, several years ago now. I have never seen either him or her at church, and on enquiry of her today she tells me that he is a “Particular Baptist” and that she, though baptized and confirmed in the Church of England, always goes to the Quakers’ meeting. I expressed my surprise as well as sorrow that she had left her own church in that manner. Though her assigned reason was chiefly that she had lived for the most part among Dissenters, she was evidently so ignorant and yet so conceited that I could not make any head way with her. She told me that a Sacrament and a Sacrifice were the same thing and that as Our Lord was The One Great Sacrifice of which others were merely types there was no need of any other Sacrament or Sacrifice. A wonderful instance of confusion as it seemed to me of the Memorial Sacrifice in the Holy Communion with the Sacrament. When I spoke about being baptized with water and the Holy Ghost she said water did not mean water “O surely not,” but she could not say what it did mean. Poor Brown himself was conscious perhaps for a few moments out of the 10 minutes I was reading to and praying for him, but he did not join in the Lord’s Prayer, and I think was in a dozing unconscious state except when roused.

Visited Miss Dix who said that everyone spoke well of Brown. I replied that I was sorry to hear it, for that Christian Charity did not require us to speak well of a man who was living in sin – we might be silent about him, but it was not right to speak well of him.

The “Invitation Dance” took place in the Schoolroom this evening under the management of Mr Mann and Mr Woolgrove, the Churchwardens. There were about 60 guests and all passed off very well. I was told as an instance of great “innocence” that Mr Simmonds the Excise Officer of Tadmarton went to Mr Oddie at the Friends’ School and wanted to purchase two tickets for the dance. I am not sure that it was ignorance on his part, but rather think he wanted to ascertain whether we were having a public place for music and dancing without a license, and that if the tickets had been sold to him, weh should have been summoned before the magistrates.