The eldest of twelve children, George Mockford was born in 1826 on December 27th in Southerham, near Lewes, Sussex, to a poor shepherd. Mockford narrates his account of his own spiritual journey throughout his life, focusing on the trails and temptations he faced during his childhood and youth, to his ultimate redemption when he broke from the Anglican Church to become a dissenter in his later life. Shortly after the extract ‘Wilderness Journeyings And Gracious Deliverances’ ends, Mockford began preaching and eventually was provided with a house and chapel at Broad Oak, Heathfield in Sussex, where he was a pastor for forty years.
Ebenezer Chapel, Broad Oak, (Heathfield)
From early on in this memoir, it is clear to see that from a young age, Mockford did not solely care for God or religion, but rather was raised to fear God by parents who he describes as “church people, who did not like dissenters”. Although determined that their children be brought up in a religious household, Mockford seems to portray his parents in a some what hypocritical way, with them only attending church to have their children christened or to attend a funeral. As Mockford grew in age, he began to grown in sin, committing petty crimes that were common to those around him. However, these sins only furthered his fear of God, as he continued to pray, not for forgiveness, but to in hopes to keep the devil away from him. It was only when a stranger handed him a religious book did Mockford realise the sins he had been committing. Unable to hide from God, he began guilt ridden, with those around him wondering what had caused the boy to have this apparent strange illness.
When learning more of George Mockford I was touched to learn that he did achieve his childhood dream and had his own chapel to preach in, a role which his childhood self showed much admiration and appreciation for, “I was soon noticed as one paying great attention to my instructors, who I remember excited my wonder as to how they knew so much, and I had a great wish to be as wise as they: therefore I drank in very eagerly all they told me”. With his young self having seen ministers and clergy men as somewhat heavenly beings, it is moving to note that Mockford himself may have had the same effect on the members of his own congregation, who were so dedicated to him that they helped build him his own house and chapel were he preached for the next forty years.
George Mockford, Baptist minister at Heathfield.
Mockford, G. (1901) Wilderness Journeyings and Gracious Deliverances: The Autobiography of George Mockford, : J.C. Pembrey.
Angus Library and Archive, n.d. George Mockford, Baptist minister at Heathfield. [image] Available at: <http://anguslibraryandarchive.blogspot.com> [Accessed 22 February 2021].
Sussex Online Parish Clerks, 2021. Ebenezer Chapel, Broad Oak, (Heathfield). [image] Available at: <http://www.sussex-opc.org/index.php?p=280&k=373&t=Church> [Accessed 21 February 2021].