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Literally his daily walk was with God; and he lived “ as seeing Him who is invisible." The divine presence with him, was frequently manifester! in his public ministrations, and in his private conduct. His ardent soul was seldom satisfied, unless he was exerting himself in some way or other in rendering kind offices of friendship, both in spiritual an:/ temporal things to his fellow-men. Take him in his whole demeanour and conduct, there are few of whom it might more emphatically be said, that he lived the life, and died the death of the righteous.
THE LATE MR. JOHN RANCE,
Mr. John RANCE was born at Greenwich, in Kent, May 25th, 1748. It appears from some papers which he has left, that he enjoyed the benefit of early instruction in the leading truths of the gospel. His mother being a pious woman, he frequently accompanied her to hear Mr. Olding, ef Deptford; and he mentions, ihat when he was about nine or ten years of age, he had strong convictions of sin, both under the word and at other times; yet he endeavoured to stifle the voice of Conscience, and to deter repentance to a future day, though he found he could not sin with that satisfaction and pleasure which appeared in the conduct of others. At about sixteen, he had a very severe illness, which brought him to reflect on his past follies, and to form resolutions of amendiug his future life : but these resolutions were made in his own strength, and under the fear of death. Before he was entirely recovered, he fell again into vice, and even went to greater excesses in it than before. Sometimes his conscience accused him; and he would then fear that he was given up to a reprobate mind ; that he had sinned away the day of grace, and therefore he might as well take his fill of pleasure in this world. By the removal of his father and mother to Purfleet, he was left the sole guide of his own conduct. He continued in the ways of sin for three or four years longer, frequented taverns, and became a companion of lewd and profane persons. Being once in company with some young men and women, he
66 In the midst of our sport something offended me; and I began to curse and swear in a dreadful manner.
A young woman seemed shocked at the horrid imprecations I uttered, and said, “How shockingly that young man swears !. “ This was like a darger tù my heart ; for 1 immediately thought what a wretch must I be, who have known and heard so much of divine truth, that a person who perhaps never had any religious instruction, cannot help looking upon me as a monster of iniquity!"
Soon after he had attained the age of 21, he came to London on a Sunday evening, with three or four of his ungodly companions ; they went to the theatre, and afterwards to a different scene of iniquity. While there, bis conscience was greatly alarmed, his past and present wickedness filled his soul with terror, and he expected nothing but immediate destruction. The next day he strove as well as he could to be cheerful among his companions ; but he felt the sting remained within, and could not get rid of his wounded conscience. Ile returned home pensive and sad, being now afraid there could be no mercy for him. He would have prayed, but durst not, as he thought it would be altogether in vain.
From this time he began to reform his outward conduct; but still found himself miserable. He knew that religion consisted in something more than he had yet experienced; he therefore began to read the scriptures, and attend where the gospel was preached. It does not appear clearly whether this was at Deptford (where he had formerly attended with his mother) or at the Tabernacle at Greenwich. The word was greatly blessed to his soul; his terrors went off by degrees; and he began, at times, to entertain many hopes of mercy, but mingled with fears.
Having a personal knowledge of some real Christians, he opened his mind to them, and found great relief from their conversation. He opened a meeting for prayer at his own lodgings; and spake of the great pleasure wbich he received in such social meetings.
Satan was now very active in suggesting to his mind that all religion was a farce ; that he was a hypocrite; that the scriptures were not true, &c. He also felt the workings of inward corruption; and was in great distress of soul for some time. One day, while he was in this situation, it came into his mind, “ Well! I will go to the Lord just as I am, and tell him all my fears.” He. then knceled down, and cried out in great, anxiety of soul, “ Lord have mercy upon me!-if I have deceived myself, Lord undeceive me! it I never knew thy saving grace, make it known to me now: - I cast my roul on thee.”
This was the time of mercy to his soul; his doubts and fears were removed, and light and joy sprung up in his heart.
From this time, it appears that he experienced alternate hopes and tears, une found his comforts and enjoyments rise and fall; ard it was noi iill several years afterwards that he fully learnt thit his salvation did not depend upon his frames and feelings, but upon the finished work of bis glorious Redeemer, and the promises of a faithful God. .
The preaching of that eminent servant of Christ, the Rev. William Romaine, was very useful in leading him from every other dependence, to trust in Jesus alone, and in establishing his soul on him as the sure foundation. One time he heard the Rev. Mr. Venn preach from Job. xlii. 5, 6. This was a very humbling season : he saw and felt the depravity of his nature, but the precious remedy which was then set forth, so refreshed and cheered his soul, that he would often say, he could never forget it.
Mr. Rance first associated with the Lord's people at his table at Greenwich Tabernacle, July 29th, 1770. He mentions in his Diary many discourses which he heard from a number of respectable ministers, and the benefit which (under God) he derived from their labours. His business seems to have engaged much of his attention ; and he frequently complains of it as a great hin. drance to his enjoyment of communion with his God.
After some time, he removed to London ; and, after several changes, was at length settled in an extensive concern till his removal to Hackney in 1798.
After the Death of Mr. Romaine, he joined the Baptist Church in London, of which Mr. Upton is the pastor. It appears from his Diary, that for about twelve years before this, he had spoken the word of the Lord occasionally to different societies. The continued to do so afterwards, particularly to a society in Fleet-strect, and at a little meeting in Hunt-court, Spitalfields. He mentions the pleasure he felt in his own soul in these exercises, and his hopes that they were made useful to others.
His first discourse at Hackney was delivered in a small meeting in Shore-place, August 2]st, 1797; and he continued (for the most part) to preach there till May 14, 1798, when the church was formed, consisting of only eight members. Mr. R. was invited to preach to them for three months, which he accordingly did; after which, he received a second invitation for a simi. lar period ; and in October following he was ordained their pastor, and continued to labour ainong them till his death. During this period, the church was increased to more than 100 members ; the place was twice enlarged ; and there is no doubt but much good was done.
For some time before his death, he had been afllicted with a bilious complaint, and also had, at several times, violent spasmodic affections on his lungs; which almost deprived him of breath. His last sermons to his dear people were on Lord's Day, 8th February, 1807, from Rom. viii. 33, 34; and Prov. xxii. 3, concerning which he says, “ This was not a lost say. O Lord,
, grant that some benefit may be given to thy people! and may sinners be converted and saints edificd, though by such weak means, and the glory shall be thine!" On the morning of Thursday, February 12th, he was scized with a fit which contie nued near two hours; but he afterwards recovered so far as to come down stairs, and purposed to preach twice on the next Lord's Day. In the afiernoon he sent for one of his Deacons ; to whom he said, “ I think I shall die suddenly; but there is nothing alarming in this; it is rather desirable. Ile requested that he might be buried in the middle of the vestry, and a stone pat up with the inscription of his name, &c.; and added, with a peculiar emphasis, “ Don't call me Reverend.”+
* In compliance with this request, we have omitted that title at she head of this Memoir,
On being asked how he found his mind during his illness, he replied, “I find my mind calm and easy, and quite recons ciled to the will of God, whether for life or death. I have a good hope through grace, that, die when I may, all will be weil." * Next morning, about seven o'clock, he was found dead in his bed ; and, to all appearance, he had expired in his sleep.
On Friday, February 20th, his remains were deposited in the vestry, agreeably to his request. Mr. Upton spoke over the grave; and Dr. Rippon preached his funeral sermon the next Lord's Day, to a crowded and sorrowful audience. He died in the 59th
age. Mr. Ranee had been twice married. - By his first wife he had three daughters; all of whom survive him. In September 1798, he married Miss Anne Cole, of Blackfriars Road. In little more than two years afterwards, he was a second time a wilower ; and continued so till his death. He had several severe trials in his family, which he bore with Christian patience and resignation, By his death, his children are deprived of a tender parent, - and his church of an affectionate and faithful pastor.
As a preacher, he chiefly dweit on experimental and practical truths: his aim was to direct his discourses to the hearts of his hearers, to humble sinners, and to exalt his Divine Master. While he held fast the important doctrines of the gospel, he manifested liberality and candour toward such as differed from him in matters of inferior moment. Humility was a prominent feature in his character. Speaking of his preaching in his Diary, he says, “ I acknowledge, it is wonderful that any body comes to
O Lord, make me more humble and thankful, for I am the weakest of all thy servants! but still I know God can do great works by feeble instruments.” At another tine he said,
-- was so excellent in the afternoon, that I appeared to myself very mean and contemptible.” On another occasion, a few months before his death, he observes, "I think, on the whole, this was the best day I ever had in my
soul was humbled before the Lord under a sense of his kindness to so poor and unworthy a sinner.- what a mercy it is that, in the latter part of my days, I should be thus honoured of God as an instru- . ment of any good; and I desire from my soul to ascribe to him all the glory. The sudden manner in which he was removel, affords an additional motive to those who survive to attend to the admonition of our Lord: "Be ye also ready; for in such an bour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh."
* In this Diary of February 1st, he says, “ I was very poorly this morn ing with my breath ; and believe the disorder I now have, will be the cause of
; yet, throngh rich mercy, I can look forward to that 'tiine without dismay, “ for I know whom I have believed.” Lord make and keep me more alive to thee !
PERSEVERING PRAYER HONOURED;
OR, GREAT EVENTS FROM SMALL BEGINNINGS.
ILLUSTRATED IN THE CASE OF ELIJAR.
After the contest with Baal's priests, in which Truth prevailed over Error, and the honour of Jehovah was vindicated by a sign from Heaven, Idolatry was overturned, and its advocates were either silenced or slain ; but, to shew that God delighteth in mercy, and that when judgment is inflicted, it is from necessity, not from pleasure; no sooner does Israel renounce idolatry, than a pardoning God promises to withdraw that famine, under which they have long been suffering, through the want of rain. No sooner had God promised to shower salvation upon suffering Israel, than we are told that “ Alab went up to eat and to drink; and Elijah went up to the top of Carmel : and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knecs; and said to his servant, Go up now and look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. - And he said, Go again seven times : --and it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand.” i Kings xviii. 42–44. While the conduct of this prophet holds out an example worthy of our imitation, his success is calculated to encourage us to persevere in the same duty.
Let us notice his conduct. Abab and Elijah had separated; but Ahab went, not to humble himself before that God whom he had insulted ; - not to reproach Jezebel for her bad counsel ; not to devise means whereby he might honour God, and bless
but he went to eat and to drink; to console his beloved Jezebel on the loss of her priests and her God; and to regale himself in the prospect of approaching plenty: On the contrary, Elijah seeks retirement. After the painful, but honourable, service of the day, he climbs the mount of Carmel; there to obtain, not food for himself, but God's favour to Israel. There his faith feeds on the promise, while his prayer is filled with ardent supplications to obtain the blessings it held out. the evening, his God hnd answered him by fire from Ileaven ; but now he pleads, that He would bloss Israel with abundance of rain. What deep humiiity appeared in his address!
6. He cast himself down upon the earth.” Behold the man who, on the preceding evening, stood before Israel, honoured and obeyed as the prophet of Jehovah, now prostrating himself on the ground,'-rising gradually on his knees! but, still to shew how greatly God was to be feared, even by a prophet, when he approached him, he bows down his head to the earth. Prayer is indeed the proper exercise of the heart. In it the soul wrestles