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FOR MAY, 1822.
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. JOHN DREDGE:
(Concluded from page 212.)
WHILE stationed at Edinburgh, MR. DREDGE was called to suffer, as well as to do, the will of his LORD; and thus had an additional opportunity of proving the genuineness of his religion. Hypocrites are generally discovered in their true character in the furnace of affliction; as the shattered state of the wall is best seen, when the green ivy is torn away. But the "trial of his faith" proved "more precious than of gold that perisheth," being found "approved unto GOD."-In a letter to his Brother-in-Law, MR. T. INGLE, dated Edinburgh, Dec. 3, 1818, he writes thus: "Thank God, I am gaining strength every day; and I trust that the affliction through which I have passed has been sanctified to me, and that I shall have to praise God for it through all eternity. While in the furnace, I was favoured with abundance of consolation. The SAVIOUR was precious to my soul; and my prospect beyond this life was most glorious and animating."-As soon as he became convalescent, he renewed his labours but his severe affliction had so sapped the foundation of his strength, that his medical friends strongly recommended a removal to the south of Britain; and, in the year 1819, he was appointed to labour on the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Circuit. This appointment was received with great and pleasing expectations; and with confidence I assert, that they were much exceeded, in every respect, by the truly judicious and devoted manner in which he discharged all his ministerial functions. Whenever he ascended the pulpit, he evidently felt and spoke as if on the margin of the eternal world; the glories and terrors of which excited in his mind most solemn and affecting emotions, which he conveyed to others in a truly impressive and successful manner. This, in conjunction with the purity of his style, his pleasing voice, and his energetic delivery, usually obtained for him the fixed attention of his congregation.
"With eloquence innate, his soul was arm'd?
Though harsh the precept, yet the Preacher charm❜d.
But sweetly temper'd awe, and soften'd all he spoke."
VOL I. Third Series. MAY, 1822.
That he might not dishonour his high office, he conscientiously "redeemed the time," knowing that he could not retard its flight, nor recall it when passed, and that "the blood of the soul runs out in wasted time." He, therefore, was "instant in season, and out of season;" so that the solemn saying of our LORD seemed to be constantly vibrating in his ears :-"I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work."-His natural temper being amiable, and duly regulated by the grace of God, his soul was the constant temple of peace. the relations of life, he greatly excelled;-as a Husband, Father, Minister, and Friend. He was humble, without servility; cheerful, without levity; patient, without apathy; and pious, without parade. His judgment was sound, and enlightened; his memory was strongly retentive, and well stored with scriptural knowledge. As a Messenger of CHRIST, he made JESUS,-his sufferings, example, and promises, the great and constant theme of his ministry. Fervent love to the souls of men, originating in ardent love to God, was his master-principle; and this burning zeal was associated with that indifference to himself, which led him to say, "I count not my life dear so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the LORD JESUS."
The LORD, who "counted him faithful, putting him into the ministry," suffered him not to spend his strength for nought; but succeeded his faithful exertions to "turn many to righteousness." His labours were continued, without much interruption, until Friday, Nov. 19, 1819. On that night he preached his last sermon, from Isa. xliii. 10. His disorder now compelled him to desist from public service, and confined him to his room, until the end of December; at which time he seemed to be in a convalescent state, and hopes of his complete recovery were indulged. In January, 1820, he was well enough to go to Leeds, to see his mother. There he continued until Thursday, January 27, when, having to ride a mile on horseback from his mother's house to the coach-office, in a very heavy shower of rain, he was very wet; and, on his arrival at Ashby the next day, his chest and lungs were in a state of high inflammation, which terminated his valuable life.-On Saturday, January 29th, his medical attendant considered his case to be hopeless: but he did not think himself in danger until the Monday night following, when he concluded that the time of his departure was at hand. The thoughts of leaving the wife of his youth, and his dear child, made him for a short time start back, and cling to life; but by earnest prayer, he was enabled to make the sacrifice, and gain the victory.-On Tuesday morning, about five o'clock, he sent for me, that he might communicate to me the views and feelings of his dying moments. On my entrance into the room, I saw that the shades of mortality were gathering around him; but found his mind serene and undisturbed, and his
soul irradiated by the dawn of celestial day. He spoke as follows : "I had not thought that my departure was so near; but I am going, and I wanted you to see the last of me, and to tell you what the LORD has done, and is still doing, for me. I find dying work to be hard work, important work, solemn work: but all is well! I feel solid peace; and I know that I am a sinner saved by grace. I have been thinking of that passage, 'I am the Resurrection and the Life : he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.' No!" (said he, with peculiar emphasis,) SHALL NEVER DIE.' This is not worthy the name of death. God has said, 'I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O Death! I will be thy plagues; O Grave, I will be thy destruction.' I want to be filled with joy,-to have a larger measure of glory, and of God. I have prayed for this; and God, who has excited this desire, will satisfy it."We then united in prayer. The power of GOD was of a truth present to save; and we felt something of that which Jacob experienced, when he said, "Surely the LORD is in this place." MR. DREDGE then said, "This is worth living for: yea, this is worth dying for!" During the whole of this day, he wished all that came to see him to be introduced into his room, that he might in death, as in life, "preach CHRIST," and cry "Behold the LAMB!" His soul was now triumphantly happy in GoD; and, with but little intermission, he "talked of the glory of his kingdom, and spoke of his power;" testifying that he was fully saved from all fear of death. At night, he wished to have the LORD's Supper administered to him. In this blessed ordinance his worthy Father-in-Law, MRS. DREDGE, two of her sisters, and a few other friends, united with him; and the LORD was again" made known unto us, in the breaking of bread." His soul seemed to feel "the overwhelming power of saving grace; and he cried out, "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation ; '—yea, I have felt thy salvation." During the night his bodily sufferings were very acute; but in his patience he possessed his soul: and, indeed, during his severest affliction, he never betrayed the slightest impatience. Frequently he observed, "I know whom I have believed; and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.' I feel I am a child of God; and, as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth me, more upon me than he will enable me to bear. yet will I trust in him."-To his wife he said, union: our eye was single in this business; and the LORD has sanctified it. And now, I leave you in the hands of God; he will be with you, and keep you: he will be a Father unto my son, and a Husband to you. Do not grieve, and so make the closing scene distressing. I am happy let me finish my course with joy! I hope the LORD
and will not lay any Though he slay me, "I bless God for our
will enable you to give me up."-After this, he wished to see his son. He affectionately embraced the dear child, (who was looking on his dying father with innocent and affecting curiosity,) and, with a full heart, and weeping eyes, pronounced his last blessing upon him, saying, "The LORD be with thee, my dear boy. I leave thee in the hands of GOD; and if it should please Him to make thee a Missionary, as good DR. B―, of Edinburgh, once observed respecting thee, thy dying father desires no greater honour." He now thought his work was finished, and with the venerable patriarch said, "I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD!" and again, with SIMEON, added, LORD, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." He appeared to be dying, and said, "All is well! All is well! Victory! Victory! Glory Glory! Happy! Happy!" But after this, he revived again, and said with peculiar sweetness, “I thought I should have gone then; the LORD spares me to you a little longer; but I shall shortly put off this tabernacle; "-again quoting his favourite text, "He that liveth, and believeth on me, shall NEVER DIE."-He often asked us to sing; and, in general, as well as our feelings and abilities would admit, we endeavoured to gratify him. While we were singing the 213th hymn in our Hymn-Book, he felt the last verse blessedly realized in his own experience, and assisted us in singing it: At the close of that verse, he observed, "The wings of love, and arms of faith,”—do "bear me conqueror through," Once he said, "I have wished and prayed much for a bright and unclouded setting sun; and, glory be to God, my sun does not set in the cloud; all is light and joy! Thou art my soul's bright morning-star, and thou my rising sun!' would not exchange conditions with any of you. desire to depart and be with CHRIST; and I pray the LORD to cut short his work in righteousness, and receive my spirit."-At another time, he wished us to sing part of the 537th hymn, and joined us in the eleventh verse,
"Him eye to eye we there shall see;
Our face like his shall shine:
O what a glorious company
When saints and angels join!"
He added, "I
At the close of this verse he said, "That glorious company! fiery chariot that was descending to carry him triumphantly to his celestial home, now appeared, as it were, in view; and he said, “I want to be with them!" Before this, he had requested us not to leave the room; "for," said he, "we shall have a larger measure of grace given us; and if you are then out of the way, you will lose a blessing." Now he said, "It is come! it is come! I feel it! I feel it ! Several friends engaged in prayer; and when we had done, he began to pray earnestly for MRS. DREDGE, for his son, for his
mother, and then for all in the room. By this exercise he seemed quite exhausted. The "silver cord" now appeared to be "loosening," the "golden bowl breaking," and the "spirit returning to God that gave it." He lay down, and whispered, "I am going; I am going. Happy! Happy! Victory, Victory!" We all thought at this time, he would have been
....... call'd from exile home,
And led to nature's great metropolis!
And re-admitted, through the guardian hand
Of Elder Brother, to his FATHER'S throne;
but he again revived a little, and said, "Nature is sinking, but grace triumphing!
، Cease, fond nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life.""
Near one o'clock on Thursday morning, he wished us to sing "The Dying Christian;" after this he said, "Now,-now let me languish into life," but subjoined, "Our conflicts here shall soon be past; and said,
"We soon shall reach the heavenly shore;
We then shall meet, to part no more."
"Yes! I shall meet you there, "where all the ship's company, meet! He thanked us all repeatedly for our feeble services, and his medical attendants for their attention, and said, "The LORD reward you; I hope to meet you in heaven." When asked, if he died in the steadfast belief of the doctrines he had preached, he answered with peculiar emphasis, "Most unquestionably I do." At another time, he was asked if he felt any fear he replied, "No, I am saved from all fear! Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." On Friday afternoon, hist speech nearly failed him; but he whispered, "Glory! Glory! Happy! Ha-y! Ha―y; and when asked if he meant "Happy;" he said, "Yes!" He was not heard to articulate another word. On Friday night, February 4, 1820, his spirit dropped its mortal load, in the twenty-eighth year of his age, the eleventh of his spiritual life, and the seventh of his ministry.
"Mark with what triumph holy men expire,
And catch the rapture of their parting breath!"
MR. DREDGE was eminently an example to believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. Let us "Observe his awful portrait, and admire :
Nor stop at wonder; imitate and live."
Ashby-de-la-Zouch, July 1, 1821.