The venerable Reverend James A. Bastow.
(Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1894/864)
This much esteemed and highly known servant of God was called to the higher life and service on Saturday evening April 7th 1894.
Mr Bastow was born in Hunslet near Leeds in the year 1810. When a youth he attended our church in Leeds, where he was converted and soon began to exercise his gifts as a lay preacher. In the year 1832 he was called to the work of ministry by the Preston circuit, and subsequently travelled in Bolton, Ireland, Darleyton (twice), North Sheilds, Edinburgh, Bradford, Grimsby, Dewsbury, Newcastle on Tyne, Westgate, Hexham, Durham, Alston, Carlisle, Gateshead, Heston, Middleborough and Motherwell. He is gratefully remembered in all the stations on which he ministered, and his name is a household word in the North of England, where he spent the best years of his ministry.
The Reverend H Pool, writing to Mrs Bastow on behalf of the Sunderland and Newcastle district committee, says, "Your late husband held for many years a leading position in the ministry of our connexion, and was deservedly esteemed in this District and in the North, where he spent the flower of his dys. His rare gifts of intellect and heart were fully devoted during a long and arduous ministry to the Church of his choice and many, doubtless, will be in his joy and crown of reckoning, in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at His coming."
His pulpit and platform gifts were of no near order. Many still remember his striking personality, his gift of racy and fervent speech, his versatile knowledge, his joyous faith, and his remarkable grasp of the Divine truth. His genial, cheerful, and gentlemanly bearing made him ever welcome in the homes of the people. Mr Bastow excelled as an expository preacher: sermons he preached forty years ago are remembered by some today with pleasure and profit. He was a man of strong individuality. He never would consent to be the mere echo of another; he thought his own thoughts and pursued his own way. As a Biblical scholar, when opportunities for culture were so limited in the ranks of our ministry, he held a conspicuous and honoured place. He was amost diligent student and laboured hard to become rich in standard Biblical literature and to acquaint himself with the latest discoveries in Science aand the most recent exploration in Palestine. His literary attainments and work gained for him the esteem of other Churches than our own, and won for the body to which he belonged recognition and credit. His Biblical Dictionary, which was published at the first in three handsome volumes, has passed through five editions. The Right Hon. W.E.Gladstone, on receiving a copy, wrote Mr Bastow a cordial message of recognition of the manner in which he had dealt with subjects of deep historical interest to Bible students.
After 48 years of active service in the ministry, he was superannuated by the conference of 1879, and came to reside at Southport, and joined the High Park Society in the Southport First Circuit. His loving counsels, his wise and reverent speech, and his deepening in the Connexion's wealthfare made him a model supernumery, a true father in Israel. Up to 2 years ago he continued as class leader in our High Park Society and preached occasionally. From that time he felt the increasing infirmities of age. A little more than 12 months ago he had a fall, and from its effects he never fully recovered. But he was confined to his bed only 2 days, and he passed quietly away while his son ( the Reverend S.J.Bastow MA LLD ) was kneeling by his bedside praying.
His remains were interred in the circuit minister's grave at St.Cuthbert's, Churchtown. A short service was conducted at his residence by the Rev.J.Whittle, after which a service was held in High Park Chapel. The Revs. T.Bennett,M. Dickenson, J.Dickinson and J.Whittle took part in the same. A very impressive address was delivered with much pathos by the Rev. T.Guttery, an old esteemed ministerial friend of Mr. Bastow.
Of this venerable servant of Christ we may truly say, " He served his own generation by the will of God and fell on sleep ". A memorial service was conducted by the writer in our Marshside Road Chapel on Sunday evening, April 14th, when a very large congregation assembled.