“It was in Dublin that, as a layman, he first became acquainted with John Nelson Darby, then a minister in the established Church of Ireland, and in 1829 the pair began meeting with others such as Edward Cronin and Francis Hutchinson for communion and prayer.”
“(To Mr. Cavenagh). Oh, Francis, tell sinners, tell them boldly while
you convict them deeply, of the folly of not believing Him.”
My friend, Edwin Malcome Corbin, desends fro Francis Cavenagh.
John Gifford Bellett was an Irish Christian writer and theologian, and was influential in the beginning of the Plymouth Brethren movement. Bellett was born in Dublin, Ireland. He was educated first at the Grammar School in Exeter, England, then at Trinity College Dublin, where he excelled in Classics, and It was in Dublin that, as a layman, he first became acquainted with John Nelson Darby, then a minister in the established Church of Ireland, and in 1829 the pair began meeting with others such as Edward Cronin and Francis Hutchinson for communion and prayer.afterwards in London.
Bellett had become a Christian as a student and by 1827 was a layman serving the Church. In a letter to James McAllister, written in 1858, he describes the episcopal charge of William Magee, Archbishop of Dublin, that sought for greater state protection for the Church. The Erastian nature of the charge offended Darby particularly, but also many others including Bellett.
The pair bonded particularly over prophetic issues, and attended meetings and discussions together at the home of Lady Powerscourt, and Bellett and Darby (along with the Brethren movement in particular) were particularly associated with dispensationalism and premillenialism.
Bellett wrote many articles and books on scriptural subjects, his most famous works being The Patriarchs, The Evangelists and The Minor Prophets.
(To Mr. Cavenagh). Oh, Francis, tell sinners, tell them boldly while
you convict them deeply, of the folly of not believing Him.
“Oct. 7. When I went into his room this morning, after he had held me
in his arms for a few moments, he said, ‘Wondrous has been the thrust
of Satan at me this night, and blessed the victory given, but it is
as sure as you are my Letty.’ I asked what he referred to; but he
said he could not tell me then.
“Soon after breakfast he called us to read; and he spoke a little
about the verses 19 to 23 of St. Luke 7. He said that ‘John was weak
in one point;’ he expected his prison doors to be opened as the eyes
and ears of others were opened. He failed, as ‘every other steward
has done, except the One in whom every promise is yea and amen.’ He
then offered a short prayer, in which he mentioned the reality of the
enemy’s fiery darts, and deliverance from them. Immediately after, he
called my uncle and me to either side of the sofa-bed, and gave us
the following account of what he had experienced: –
“‘Soon after Francis Cavenagh and I were left alone for the night, a
mist seemed to come round me like the mist of hell, and one was sent
to me. I thought I had known him before, he was clothed in white. He
denied the truth of Scripture. I took the Word in my hand, and bolted
one passage after another at him, but still he held his ground. “The
moral glories of Scripture a lie!” I said; “they are as true as
heaven and earth.” The temptation still continued; and I felt weak.
But I cried to the Lord for help; and gradually I rose out of the
mist into a calm atmosphere; and I was with my Evangelists again. But
it was dreadful while it lasted, That is a plain, unvarnished tale.’
“My dear father told us afterwards that he would not but have gone
through this exercise. No shadow seemed to remain upon his heart, and
he said it had been a fresh link between his Lord and him.
“We asked Mr. Cavenagh if he perceived anything of it while he
watched through the night; and he told us he had been conscious that
my father was passing through some new exercise of heart, for he
heard him repeating to himself, ‘What time I am afraid, I will trust
in Thee,’ and other verses of the same character. He heard him also
say, ‘The unassailable Scripture, a tower of beauty and strength.’ He
thought it continued for some time; but my father did not seem to him
much agitated, and lay quietly for some time after it had passed
before he went to sleep.
“Oct. 7. Evening. He asked for the servants to come up, as he wanted
to pay what would shortly be due to them himself. As he gave each
little parcel of money, he said that they had been ‘faithful,’ and
asked if he had been ‘kind.’ While Uncle G. sat beside him, he spoke
of a fall he once had from a pony in early days, and reminded him of
a battle he had once fought for him at school, saying that ‘he was a
“My uncle was obliged to leave us again for two days. On Oct. 8th Mr.
Cavenagh watched him through the night with tender care, and my dear
father warmly expressed his affection for him.”
Sept. 11th. I brought Jane Dixon up to see him. He spoke to her of
his joy in the thought of being with the Lord. Mr. Cavenagh came in
the evening, and sat silently beside him for some time, while he now
and then expressed his joy in the thought of going to the Lord. At
length Mr. G. said, ‘We don’t like to give you up.’ He fervently
replied, ‘I am sure of it.’ Mr. C. then said something about ‘the
glory and brightness’ that were before him, and referring to this, he
said, ‘It’s Himself that’s before me, Francis. He fills the whole
vision of my soul.’ He clasped his hands together, and said, with
tears, ‘I embrace Thee, Lord Jesus,’ and after a pause, ‘Were I to
live, it would be still my joy and my business to be in the midst of
you with the Word of God in my hand.’ He then named two or three whom
he wished to see.”
Every evening, Mr. Cavenagh came, with unfailing kindness, and
remained to sit up for the night if my uncle were away or needed
rest, and one morning my dear father said, “Francis talks of the
possibility of my returning to the Brethren. How can he talk so? So
to have looked at my Lord, and then to be withdrawn from seeing Him!”
At another time, “I don’t know how it is, but the scene seems
shifting.” Feeling a little better, he was much affected at the
thought of being brought back to life, and said that he so shrank
from suffering, and clung to the thought of gently and
painlessly “slipping away.”
p137 My dear F Cavenagh, – I have not much to say in replying to your
letter, not from want of interest in your course, but that if you are
clear as to going, it is but one thing, to have Christ always before
you to work for Him and from Him. It is all important for us to get
to the end of ourselves, not that we do not learn more daily; but
there is a knowledge of self which makes us distrust self, and it is
a detected and distrusted enemy, so that there is lowliness in our
walk and it deepens its character a great deal. All our work feels
the effect of our state, and a heart full of Christ and the
seriousness of dealing with souls for eternity, which we feel when
full of Him and speaking from Him, gives weight and unction to it. It
is being emptied of self which enables us through grace, with
watching and praying, to do this. But carrying about the dying of the
Lord Jesus is the condition of this. The energy of Moses which killed
the Egyptian did not stand before Pharaoh, though it shewed the
energy which God would use when He had broken the will in connection
with it. The energy is just the suited vessel, but we have to learn
in the breaking of it, that the excellency of the power is of God.
That is, no doubt, gradually learned, but there is a breaking down of
self which lays the basis of it. Christ all, is the great secret of
power, but when received comes the death of self which leaves the
soul free to serve more individually.
A colony tends to let loose, but Christ is sufficient for every place
and every circumstance. I do not doubt there is a field out there,
and a growing one, but it requires keeping close to Him not to be led
off into the self-will that characterises the colonies in general,
Australia, I believe, in particular. We shall follow you with our
prayers, and be glad to hear of you and those among whom you labour.
There is, I believe, plenty of work to do. The Lord be with you and
keep you and guard you on your voyage too. I trust that God will give
you to be large of heart, but firm in the narrow path in which it
behoves the saints to walk in these last days.
Yours affectionately in the Lord.
Vevey, September 19th, 1871.
This “taking care” was the beginning of that service of love rendered
by Mr. Cavenagh during the months that followed, especially during
the time of greatest weakness, which called forth my own deep
gratitude, and can never be forgotten. He had known my father for
many years, and had been, amongst others, early united with him in
the meetings of the Brethren. Through all the questions and
discussions at the time of the “Division,” and afterwards, he and my
father were almost entirely of one mind; and this friendship remained