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FOR APRIL, 1822.
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. JOHN DREDGE:
BY THE REV. JOHN HOBSON.
MR. DREDGE was born at Hornesom, near Fromc, March 26, 1792. Of his juvenile years, his conversion to God, and his entrance into the christian ministry, he has left the following account.
“My father died when I was eleven months old ; and I was left to the care of an affectionate mother, who in some measure feared the LORD. By her instructions, and the strivings of the Holy Spirit, I was kept from running to those lengths of wickedness, to which many have gone. Yet, I did not feel the salvation of my soul to be worthy of that attention which it unquestionably deserves, until I was more than seventeen years of age. I then lived at Leeds, with Mr. and Mrs. Labron, who were members of the Methodist Society; and by them was brought under the Wesleyan ministry, by which I was truly awakened to a concern for my eternal welfare. I clearly saw that I was not prepared for death and judgment. the remembrance of my sins was grievous : they appeared before me as “a great multitude which no man can number ;” and were charged home with such energy upon my conscience, that they became a burden too heavy for me to bear. My whole life seemed to have been one uninterrupted scene of rebellion against God. I went to the throne of grace, and, in the name of Jesus Christ, prayed earnestly for mercy; but the more I prayed, the more awful views I had of my state, and nothing but destruction appeared before me. In this state I remained for some time ; and was frequently tempted to think that my day of grace was past, and that God had sworn in his wrath that I should not enter into his rest. At length, encouraged by reading the word of God, and hearing the religious experience of others, I began to view Jesus Christ as the Saviour,—the only Saviour, and the all-sufficient Saviour. One morning, my mind being deeply impressed with spiritual and eternal things, I approached the Gop of mercy; and prayed, that Vol. I. Third Series: April, 1822.
if it were possible for a sinner to know on earth that his sins were forgiven, I might feel it for myself: and while groaning under my load of guilt, and wrestling in spirit with the Lord, He manifested himself as a pardoning God, and granted me a knowledge of salvation by the remission of my sins. As soon as I believed on the Son of God, and appropriated the merits of his death to my soul, the Holy Spirit bore witness with my spirit that I was a child of God. I then cordially united myself with the Methodists, in the bonds of social and christian love ; and have ever considered it a great privilege to have my name enrolled amongst them.
“Some time after this, experiencing the happiness of true religion, and knowing, in some measure, the value of my own soul, I began to feel a regard for those who sat in darkness ana in the shadow of death ;' and was convinced that it was my duty to attempt something for the benefit of my fellow-creatures, and the glory of my God. Accordingly, I began to visit the sick, to reprove the wicked, and to assist in conducting prayer-meetings; and, by tłe request of my christian friends, occasionally gave an exhortation. Diring these exercises, my views of the lost state of sinners became so affecting, and were accompanied with such powerful convictions of my call to preach the Gospel, that I was constrained to surmount my natural timidity, and enter upon that important work. The thought now frequently occurred to my mind, that I ought to offer myselı for Missionary service. This induced me to pray earnestly to God, to guide my steps, and make my way plain ; and on these occasiozis, I have often been relieved by that passage, “Acknowledge him ii? all thy ways, and he shall direct thy paths.' MR. JAMES Wood was at that time the Superintendent of the Leeds circuit. I opened my mind to him ; and was much encouraged by what he said. Divine Providence appeared gradually to open the way for my being wholly devoted to the work of the Ministry; and, on the 12th of June, 1813, I was sent to Nottingham, on trial, as a Travelling-Preacher. My views of the awful responsibility attached to that character, during the fifteen months in which I laboured in that circuit, made me frequently sink under my work. But Mr. TAYLOR and MR. Walmsley, my worthy colleagues, greatly encouraged me; and their kindness I shall never forget, while memory holds her seat.
“ Since that time, I have often found preaching the Gospel to be a pleasing and delightful employment; and often, too often, it has been felt to be a cross.
But the Lord has been better to me than all my fears. I have generally enjoyed a sense of the divine favour ;, and, I trust, I have been living in the spirit of my work. I now feel happy in God: the Spirit still bears witness with my spirit that I am a child of God: I love him supremely, and feel determined, by his grace, to spend and be spent in his glorious cause."
From Nottingham he was removed, in 1814, to Mansfield, in which circuit his labours were crowned with more than ordinary success. His friend, MR. T. Worthington, of Mansfield, observes :
" MR. DREDGE's special attention to the Poor much endeared him to their hearts; and his manly and intrepid conduct, in his sacred employment, was greatly admired.” While in this circuit, he laboured to excel, not only as a Minister of the Gospel, but, particularly, as a Disciple of the Saviour. In a letter to his friend Mr. T. INGLE, he writes : “My natural levity does me much harm ; but I hope I shall one day gain the victory through him that hath loved me, I trust you do not forget me at the throne of grace. The more I see of myself, and of the great work in which I am engaged, the more I am persuaded of the need I have of the grace of God, that, his strength being made perfect in my weakness, I may glorify him in my day and generation."
In 1816 he was stationed at Bedford. Mr. John Howard, of that circuit, writes of him as follows: "MR. DREDGE was universally esteemed by us. He felt the importance of his work, and laboured to bring sinners to a knowledge of the truth. And, that his ministry might prove acceptable to all, he studied to introduce a constant variety of matter, which was judiciously arranged, and impressively delivered. His constant aim was to be a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.' His ministry attracted attention ; and our congregations inereased. His name here will long be remembered with sentiments of the highest respect." While in this circuit, an afflictive visitation reminded him not to trust in youth, or strength. His illness, though short, was dangerous. In a letter to Mr. WORTHington, of Mansfield, he observes, “By the kind attention of Mrs. Smitu and the Doctor, and the blessing of God, I was restored. During my affliction, I was very happy ; my prospect into another world was bright and exhilarating. I felt quite resigned to the will of God; and had I departed, I believe death would have been my everlasting gain. O what a blessing it is to have true religion in the hour of affliction! Let us seek an increase of it, that we may be prepared for every change. The calm and settled peace which I enjoy is not disturbed by any outward circumstances. I feel renewed desires to give myself afresh to God; and ardent longings after an entire devotedness to Jesus Christ. I know that it is my privilege to have the image of God fully stamped on my heart, and the mind of Christ brought into my soul; and that when I enjoy this, it will be evidenced by entire trust and confidence in God, holy fear of offending him, fervent love to him, ardent zeal for his glory, constant submission to his will, and earnest longings for his eternal felicity. O may I fully enjoy this great salvation! God has called me to fill an important and awful station in his church: O may I be faithful! Pray for me that I may be made abundantly useful to others."