The Spring Lectures this year were focused on two lesser known worthies of Church History, that is Gideon Ouseley and Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon. Two fascinating and inspirational lectures were given; the first by Stephen Ford of Snailbeach, Shropshire, and the second by Maurice McCaughey of Bristol.
Gideon Ouseley was born in Dunmore, County Galway in 1762. He first came under conviction of sin in a meeting arranged by some Methodist soldiers of the Fourth Royal Irish Dragoon Guards who were stationed at Dunmore at that time. Not long after this in the quietness of his own room, one evening in May 1791, he found peace with God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
He became a fearless evangelist, challenging in a most winsome way many of the teachings of the Roman Church. He won many hearts by his powerful preaching and his genuine warm-hearted affection for those who listened. He was called in Gaelic (the language he most often used when speaking to the countryfolk) Sheed-n-var, the silk of men, meaning a man of strong affection.
Selina the Countess of Huntingdon was Mr. McCaughey’s subject. She too spend some formative years in Ireland, and Mr. McCaughey, himself a native of Northern Ireland, was prompted to comment that the afternoon had something of an Irish flavour running through it; even one of the hymns sung was to the tune ‘Roscommon’. We were reminded that the Countess of Huntingdon was looked down upon by her peers for the support she gave to the Evangelical Revival. In a remarkable way she was raised up by God, to use her considerable wealth in support of the work. To reach the upper classes she funded the opening of chapels in Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Bath and London. She also financed the opening of Trevecka College in South Wales for the training of ministers. She supported Whitefield’s orphanages in America; she also corresponded with George Washington, one of her distant relatives, on the plight of the North American Indians, and gave funds towards the beginning of Dartford College and Princeton University in that country.
A woman of deep piety who literally gave all that she had for the furtherance of the Gospel.
It is important that these great worthies of the past are not forgotten as they powerfully demonstrate what is required of us in our day, and illustrate what God can do with a fully committed heart.