William Grimshaw of Haworth in Yorkshire, born 14 September 1708, was regarded by J. C. Ryle as one of the three greatest men of the eighteenth-century Evangelical Revival; the other two being John Wesley and George Whitefield. And yet he is little known today.
One reason for this is that he left behind no printed sermons — nothing that posterity could read and profit from after his death — or so it was thought, until the Methodist historian Frank Baker unearthed four manuscripts which Grimshaw had prepared for publication. Baker used these for his doctoral thesis on Grimshaw, published in 1963, two hundred years after the preacher’s death.
Sometimes preaching up to thirty times a week in towns and villages throughout Yorkshire and beyond, William Grimshaw had little time and perhaps available finance to see his work through the press. On his death at the age of fifty-four, his manuscripts were retained in the family and eventually sold to an earlier Methodist historian, Luke Tyerman. Tyerman arranged for them to be stored in the Methodist archives and a full century would pass before these pithy and wise comments would be rediscovered. en, surprisingly, they appeared to be lost once more. Anxious to obtain them for my forthcoming biography on William Grimshaw in 1996, I made urgent enquiries regarding their whereabouts. Eventually they were discovered among unclassified material at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, passed there from the Hartley Victoria College.
With full photocopies of all these manuscripts in our possession, each neatly written in Grimshaw’s immaculate hand, my husband Paul and I have realized that we have a duty to share some of these treasures of wisdom and pastoral insight with the wider Christian public.As this year is the three-hundredth anniversary of William Grimshaw’s birth, it seemed appropriate to mark the occasion in this way.
ree out of the four manuscripts have been used, and the quotations classified in accordance with the various subjects with which Grimshaw was dealing. ey remain today as evocative and challenging as when they were first written. A few minor alterations have been made to clarify the text and to remove some obsolete words, but otherwise the wording, apart from the headings, is William Grimshaw’s original work.
Perhaps Grimshaw himself should have the last word:-
‘O Christians, give all your glory to him who gave his all for you! All you have received is from God, let all you have be returned to God. e more God’s hand is enlarged in blessing you, the more should your hearts be enlarged in blessing God.’
Faith Cook October 2008
Faith Cook, the daughter of OMF missionaries, was born in China and now lives in Derbyshire, England. She is the author of a number of books, including Fearless Pilgrim — the life and times of John Bunyan; Lady Jane Grey, the Nine-day Queen of England; Our Hymn-Writers and their Hymns; Seeing the Invisible; Lives Turned Upside Down; Anne Bradstreet and two historical novels, Under the Scaffold and Caught in the Web, all published by EP.