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VEMOR OP THE REV. JOHN RA.
ET THE REV. R. STAINTOX XI. LE ELE 3. Dazs died at Watford on the
siden ble in en ze t je ministry in that Circuit. One of Romans V tenter is toeral said to the present writers and biss knieti mic siis town: all denominations made
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criary lamentations in a rowa wana wa sese two years! What are mere intelun
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pious. I looked upon Ministers and religious people with awe; and I am persuaded if more effort had been made to bring about my conversion, I should have experienced that change long before I did.'
What a gentle yet serious reproach is this simple record! Is it not an admonition which all Christians, especially parents and Pastors, ought well to consider? The pious aspirations of this young boy were not peculiar to him: multitudes of children around us, no doubt, are feeling after God, and praying privately, and sighing for conversion, as he did. At what a very early age children are capable of religious impressions and personal salvation ! Their acute sensibilities, unblunted by evil habits; their tender consciences, unhardened by resisting good; their loving hearts, instinctively responding to kindly influences—all point them out as good ground'; and here, more than anywhere else, we should look for a hundredfold increase. No father or mother or Minister can delegate to a school teacher the solemn duty which the Lord expressly enjoins on them. And young
children co be converted. 'Child-piety' is no delusion. Many Christians in ancient and modern times were, when very young, brought to a saving knowledge of God. Polycarp, martyred in his ninety-fifth year, declared he had served the Lord eighty-six years; so he was converted at the age of nine. Justin Martyr records that many of both sexes had been disciples of Christ from infancy, and that they continued uncorrupted all their lives. Richard Baxter relates that he did not recollect the time when he did not love God and all that was good. Matthew Henry, President Edwards, Dr. Watts, Bishop Bull and Robert Hall were converted when under twelve years of age. And is it not easy to recall within the circle of our own acquaintance similar examples of early piety? Nevertheless, many, from the first disciples downwards, have discouraged attempts to bring young children to Christ. McCheyne remarks : "Jesus has reason to complain of us that He can do no mighty works in our Sunday-schools because of our unbelief.' While sowing the seed in the best soil, they have imagined that they must wait through many long years before there could be any real germination or positive fruit.
The subject of this Memoir held very different views. He regarded infants as Christ's ' lambs,' and he records : 'I love Methodism, and I know nothing to surpass it. I have brought up my children to be Methodists. God's blessing has rested on them, and in early life they have been truly converted. I plead on their behalf the covenant faithfulness of God and the sanctifying blood of Christ.' If of such Christ says, 'Feed My lambs,' ought they not to be nurtured in the blessed conviction that, as He laid down His life for them, they are His ? Let them be brought up in this knowledge, and it will endear the Redeemer to their hearts; it will encourage their trust in His atoning death ; and it will train them to hear His voice and follow Him.
John Randerson continued as a youth in the Sunday-school. Intent on mental improvement, he promoted a Young Men's Literary Association, Favoured with the ministry of such Preachers as Jabez Bunting, Theophilus
Lessey, John Hannah and Peter M'Owan, he was often anxiously concerned for the assurance of salvation, struggling against seductive temptations and groaning under the sense of guilt. At length the blessed deliverance came. While listening to a discourse by Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Hannah, from the words, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,' he believed with the heart unto righteousness, and with the mouth made confession unto salvation. Let us hear his own account of this glorious transformation :
How clearly did I see that God had blessed me, and that the way of faith was simple ! On Monday I felt revived, especially at night whilst I was praying in a meeting of young men.
On Tuesday afternoon I retired to my closet, and no sooner was I on my knees than my heart was filled with a doubt-excluding evidence that I was an adopted child of God. Every faculty of my soul was assured of His love to me. I was as conscious of my acceptance in the Beloved as I was of my existence. I told nearly everybody I met what the Lord had done for me, and especially in my Class. For some time after, my soul was so full of God that I thought I was entirely sanctified.'
Hallowed by the indwelling Deity, the fervent spirit of this young man imbibed more and more the mind of his Saviour, and he enthusiastically engaged in His service. Yearning over perishing souls, their rescue appeared to him the most benevolent and momentous object of life, and there grew up in his mind and heart a conviction that he ought to devote himself entirely to this great work. Still, he was held back by a sense of his own insufficiency for the ministerial vocation. He writes : Occasionally I was confident that to preach the everlasting Gospel would be my destiny. But when I saw my defects, and considered the qualifications necessary for so great a work, I shuddered and started back.' This subject occasioned extreme perplexity and agitation. When urged to take the pulpit in a certain place, he replied that he dared not undertake so sacred a responsibility without the clearest evidence of a Divine call. He gave himself, therefore, to earnest and constant prayer, till, conscious of close communion with God, he was lifted above all timid apprehensions, personal ease and worldly considerations. His native land, his kindred, his health, his life—all were trifles compared with glorifying his Redeemer and saving souls from eternal death. This one thought engrossed and inspired him. Texts of Scripture were opened to his understanding, and he longed to preach upon them. At last he entered on the work with a fixed conviction of duty, and with an ardour of zeal which led him to preach in the open air as well as within walls. His name soon appeared on the Circuit Plan; and in 1832 the Rev. Theophilus Lessey nominated him as a candidate for the Ministry, and the Quarterly Meeting unanimously recommended him to the Conference.
In October of that year Mr. Randerson was sent to Merthyr-Tydvil as a supply for the Superintendent, who had suddenly died of cholera. There his ministry was attended with such power that many were added to the Lord. At the following Conference he was removed to the Pembroke Circuit, where he also witnessed very encouraging results. But the spirit of a Missionary burned within him, and at the next Conference he was appointed to Kingston, Jamaica, and arrangements were then made for his ordination and embarkation without delay. The solemn ceremony was held in Grosvenor Street Chapel, Manchester, which was crowded, partly owing to the universal respect for the young citizen, who was thus to be set apart for the work of the Ministry. Special grace was vouchsafed to him from on high, and he made a good confession before many witnesses. The opening sentence of his address was a significant indication of his conscious integrity and purity of motive in presenting himself for consecration to this holy office. “My manner of life from my youth,' said he, 'know all that are here present, and he proceeded to narrate his conversion to God and call to the Ministry. The event was commemorated by a singular parchment Deed, signed and sealed by the Rev. Edmund Grindrod, and four other Ministers who took part in the ceremony of laying on of hands.' A copy of it will be interesting to our readers :
• To all to whom these Presents shall come: We, Edmund Grindrod, Joseph Holling. worth, William Lord, John Anderson and Robert Langham Lasher, being Ministers of the Gospel in connection with the Conference and Societies of the people called Methodists, established by the late Reverend John Wesley, M.A., have this day set apart for the work of the Ministry, by the imposition of our hands and by prayers, John Randerson, whom we judge to be well qualified for that great work. And we do hereby recommend him to all whom it may concern as a fit person to preach the Word of God and to administer the Holy Sacraments. In testimony whereanto we have hereunto subscribed our names and affixed our seals this fifteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four.
• Signed and sealed (by the above Ministers) the presence of T. Percival Banting, solicitor, Manchester ; and Rev. John Bedford, Wesleyan Minister.'
All the distinguished men who conducted this ordination, like the subject of it, have passed away to their reward. The two witnesses' alone remain.
In the present generation, the above instrument, legally certifying the ordination of a Wesleyan Minister, will appear novel and useless; but at that period, when all Nonconformist Missionaries were distrusted and persecuted by British administrators in the West India Colonies, such a document was necessary to protect the servants of God against the persecuting fury of bigoted clergy and misguided magistrates. "Among the promoters of the Methodist Missions in the West Indies, none had rendered them more effectual service,' says Dr. Etheridge, than those Neros in miniature who had imprisoned good Matthew Lumb.' Henceforth they were under the shield of the British Government, and they, with their Churches, obtained a legal status. In conformity with regulations then wisely established, every ordained Missionary in the West Indies who produced authentic
testimony of his appointment by the Wesleyan Conference, like the abore document, was recognized and honoured as an authorized minister of Jesus Christ.
* Etheridge's Life of the Rev. Thomas Coke, D.C.L., p. 263.