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MEMOIR OF THE REV. HENRY ANDERSON :
BY HIS SON, THE REV. JOHN ANDERSON. CHRISTIAN biography is designed to be a valuable auxiliary in promoting the edification of the church of God. Teaching and admonishing by example, its efficiency is great. Knowledge is acquired of the most secret workings of the human mind, in all the varieties of situation, and upon subjects of transcendent importance. Springs of moral action are unveiled, motives of a hallowed nature described with sufficient minuteness, and the operation of principles of highest scriptural worth satisfactorily traced. Under its auspices, moreover, we are invited to become, during their probationary state, the bosom companions of those whom we now number with the sainted dead, to sympathize with them in their temptations, struggles, griefs, and tribulations; to witness their victorious encounters with the arch-enemy of all good; to participate in their resolves, comforts, hopes, and joys ; to note the gushings forth of their pure and fervid affections towards God; to contemplate their entire and unceasing trust upon the great atonement, their devout submission to the divine will, their patience and fortitude in the hour of suffering, and their final triumph in the throes of expiring nature. Thus a savour of life unto life is preserved in the recorded details of their piety; and, although on earth no more, by these they increase the glory of God, and are honoured in advancing his cause.
My father was born at East Sutton, in the East Riding of the county of York, in the year 1766. He was the third son in a large family. The general conduct of his parents was orderly, and secured the esteem of their neighbours; and they were accustomed to attend, with their children, the parish church once on the Lord's day. When the subject of this memoir was about six years old, his father took a farm at Kilham in the same Riding, whither he removed with his family. At that time this part of the country was covered with gross darkness. The Sabbath was held in little esteem. All the male population of bordering townships, who were capable, were accustomed on that day, after service at church, as most convenient, to enter upon and decide games of physical strife, foot-ball in particular, without interference from any of the surrounding Clergymen or magistracy. It is even affirmed that the object of contention was not unusually thrown up on consecrated ground, and that some in ecclesiastical offices, forgetting the sacred commands they had only a little before rehearsed in the hearing VOL. III.--FOURTH SERIES.
of responding worshippers, encouraged the reckless iniquity without disguise. In his youthful days, my father evinced much feeling when remarks of a solemn nature were addressed to him, and was especially affected, when any occurrences of an alarming kind transpired in the neighbourhood. As he advanced towards manhood, although repeatedly rebuked by his conscience, he complied with the jovial pastimes of his thoughtless companions. Soon he delighted in singing songs, playing at cards, hunting, shooting, and particularly in dancing. Being tall and well-proportioned, he was flattered on account of his figure, in the evolutions of that fascinating, but most dangerous, amusement. No doubt, for a time, this gratified vanity and prevented serious reflection.
The reign of folly was short. When nearly nineteen, he saw that a mode of spending life in which God was practically unrecognised was marked by extreme rashness, and was awfully criminal in His sight. Accordingly he determined upon reformation; and, in proof of his sincerity, he received, the following Easter, the sacramental elements at church. His praiseworthy resolutions, however, proved weak in the time of temptation : he had yet to learn that strength to fulfil them must be obtained from God alone. About this time, or a little before, the first sermon in the place, by a Methodist Minister, was delivered under circumstances trifling, but providential. The straying of his horse from the field in which it had been placed, in the vicinity of Bridlington Quay, the day before, to the township of Kilham, brought the late Rev. John Leach and his hospitable entertainer, Mr. W. Robinson, in search of it; and Mr. Leach that night published there the glad tidings of salvation. Froin that time Kilham was visited by him and his fellow-labourers in the Pocklington Circuit. Another incident connected with the introduction of Methodism in that village is worthy recital. An intelligent gentleman of a respectable profession, was expected to preach one Sunday afternoon, in summer, in the open air. From necessity or choice, this was the course commonly pursued in the infancy of the cause. The Vicar, hearing of it, informed his congregation at the morning service, and urged their attendance, declaring his intention to meet the Preacher and expose his erroneous views. A multitude assembled at the appointed hour. The high praises of God were singing, as the Vicar, aged and infirm, approached, leaning upon the arm of the Clerk. Almost immediately the threatened exposure began. The Vicar, being fatigued with standing, could not long continue the debate which ensued, but requested the gentleman to retire with him and a few friends into an innkeeper's room. He did so. Another person supplied the place of the absent Preacher, and announced for his text, “ Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” The Vicar found his antagonist a superior man, and was so well pleased with the issue of the circuinstances in which their acquaintance commenced, that he politely invited him to call at his house when he journeyed that way. Instead of being confuted, the impression upon his daughter's mind of the correctness of the sentiments advocated by her father's laical disputant is clear; for after the discussion she was overheard expressing her opinion, that he would be eligible to a pulpit in the Establishment, if disposed. It is very probable that my father was a spectator and listener, on this occasion; for he had already attended Methodist preaching. In his twentieth year he joined the society. He soon procured the Rules, and showed, by a scrupulous obedience, how much he valued them.
For months he had been convinced of his guilty state before God, and felt the burden of sin. A quarter of a year elapsed after he entered the society before he found the Lord. During this interval he had tasted the wormwood and the gall, but at the time of his spiritual deliverance, he was peculiarly under the kindly drawings of the Father. One evening in his chamber, as he was closing his supplications with the Lord's Prayer, a most comforting sense of the love of God filled his soul, and he was then enabled, through faith in the precious atonement, to call God, “ Abba, Father.” For the space of two years, he was happily permitted to experience almost uninterrupted communion with God, which had a salutary and confirming effect upon his piety, and prepared him for the conflicts and trials of future life. At the close of this period, he was again assailed by temptation ; but, knowing in whom his strength lay, he obtained the victory.
He now publicly prayed in meetings convened for that holy exercise on the evenings of the Sabbath. As he had been prominent in the profitless gaieties of the neighbourhood, his first attempt was no sooner known than curiosity prompted many acquainted with him to press into the cottage on the following Lord's day, in the hope of hearing him take a leading part in the worship. The room was full. My father, fearing that he should be called upon to pray, was in great distress lest he should be confounded before the people. When requested, he gave out a hymn; and, contrary to his fears, his heart was filled with deep concern for his own salvation and that of his neighbours around him. Being relieved by tears, he addressed them, on the impulse of the moment, upon the great subject of personal religion, and with such effect, that sighs and weeping were nearly general, and several from that hour turned to the Lord with full purpose of heart. Thus were indications given, in a manner unwonted, of his ultimate designation to that high office in the church of God, which he subsequently and for many years with a blameless reputation sustained. After publicly professing religion, he was anxious for family worship in his father's house. On his urgent solicitations, his parents consented; and he was frequently requested to assist his father, who could not pray without a form, in conducting it. Twice on the Sabbath, but only on the evenings of other days, were the family called to engage in this sacred duty. The subject of this memoir deeply regretted the absence of the morning sacrifice, not conceiving that ordinarily any business arrangements could be a sufficient apology for its neglect, but was thankful for any approach to a better state of things than was previously in existence. As he was not the natural guardian of the family, he did not consider himself responsible for the deficiency ; but was cheered by the hope, that as light and religious conviction increased in the minds of his parents, the morning would also not be overlooked as a proper season, invariably, for domestic worship. Almost immediately upon his conversion, he felt it to be his duty to go into the surrounding hamlets and villages on the Sabbath, to call sinners to repentance.
For more than three years he had been thus employed, when it was impressed upon his mind that he ought to give himself wholly to the ministry. He scarcely knew how to act, and his perturbation was great. Having communicated with the Preachers in the Circuit, he was advised to write to our venerated Founder. He did so, and was early favoured with the following reply. As one of the letters which Mr. Wesley wrote within less than two months of his death, it will be viewed with additional interest. It is marked by his characteristic conciseness of style, and as it now lies before me, evidences, that, on account of the advance of age, his right hand had nearly forgot “her cunning.” From its perusal, it may also be inferred, and not unjustly, that the letter my father sent, partook of hesitation, caution, and partial reserve, representing very definably the state of his agitated mind.
“ Near London, January 13th, 1791. “MY DEAR BROTHER,— The speaking to a congregation in Christ is a thing of no small importance. You are therefore in the right, before you undertake it, to consider the matter well. Indeed it may not be improper to speak a little now, when opportunity offers. But I do not advise you to give yourself up to the work till you are proposed and approved at the next Conference.
“Your friend and brother,
At the ensuing Conference he was accordingly proposed, and placed upon the President's List of Reserve. In December of the same year he was called to go to his first Circuit, Northampton, which then extended over country which five or more Circuits now occupy. His father gave him a horse, with all necessary appendages for itinerancy. Thus provided, having preached twice on his journey, on the fifth day after leaving home, he reached Northampton. From this time, for nearly forty-one years, he laboured with more or less success in various Circuits, until the Conference of 1832, when, through age and infirmity, he became a Supernumerary. He was not allowed, in the earlier years of his ministry, to discharge his duty, particularly when preaching out of doors, without interruption and disgraceful annoyance. On some of these occasions, he had the honour (for such he considered it) of being assailed with foul missiles, treatment which the early Preachers constantly experienced. An instance of similar opposition, later in life, and the manner in which it was met, as illustrative of his uniformly equable spirit, and of the gracious purposes the Almighty accomplishes by seemingly insignificant means, may be allowed an appropriate record here. Near his residence was a village, where, by a respectable householder, he was invited to preach. At first he did so without molestation. At length, one evening, when expected to take his stand in a convenient vacancy on the margin of the public thoroughfare, some reckless despisers of religion concerted together, and determined upon a scheme of effective disturbance. A band of musicians, at the appointed time, assembled near the place. As the Preacher commenced, drawing nearer, they were successful, by the noise of their instruments, in drowning his voice, and diverting the attention of the congregation. Under these circumstances, my father deemed it expedient to cease from a contest so unequal and fruitless, and contented himself with distributing a few suitable tracts, after having pronounced the benediction. Thus engaged, he turned his tranquil and benignant eye upon the elated disturbers, accompanying the action with an expressive smile. Two years had scarcely passed away, when a person arose in a lovefeast, held in the town where the subject of this memoir was stationed