Oliver, John

Oliver, John a noted Wesleyan preacher, generally spoken of as one of Wesley's "helpers," was born and bred at Stockport, Cheshire, England. His father, who was a mechanic, seriously objected to John's association with the Methodists, but the boy was drawn towards them, liking their simplicity and fervor of Christian devotion, and finally became one of their converts (about 1750). The severity of the parental strictures upon his newly avowed faith deprived the young man of his reason, and for months his recovery to sanity was regarded as doubtful. His mother, a sensible and prudent woman, thought it best for John to attend the worship of the Wesleyans, and with them he soon found the medicine which his disturbed mind craved, "My strength," he says, "came again — my light, my life, my God; I was filled with all joy and peace in believing." He was made a class- leader as soon as his restoration was demonstrated and in due time Mr. Wesley called him into the itinerant ranks, where he met with "fiery trials," but bore them bravely. After many years of indefatigable labor we hear him say, "I bless God that I never was in any circuit where I had not some seals of my mission." In the year 1783 he was discontinued as a preacher, and we hear nothing of him after that. He died in 1789. The fields in which Oliver's labors were most eminently successful were Bristol, Chester, Sheffield, Manchester, and Liverpool. In all of these his converts were counted by hundreds, and his name is revered to this day as of blessed memory. One of the severest trials he encountered while preaching was in 1774, when he was arrested in the midst of his sermon for vagrancy, notwithstanding his license to preach, and for some time suffered imprisonment. It was on Chester Circuit, and the excitement for a time ran high among those who believed in Oliver's labors; By his wise counsels riot and bloodshed were prevented. See Stevens, Hist. of Methodism, 2:139- 142; Southey, Life of Wesley, ch. 17; Arminian Magazine, 1779.

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