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gation, all of whom were deeply affected, and many said, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like that of Ellen Wills.'
MEMOIR OF THE LATE MR. GEORGE BIDDLES.
By Mr. M. Beswick.
The difficulty in procuring proper materials to write the biography of those who have been eminent for piety and usefulness in the world, so as to be both pleasing and instructive; is sometimes very seriously and painfully felt by those to whom the task is committed. These remarks will apply in the present instance.
GEORGE BIDDLES was born at Sapcote, a small village of Leicestershire, March 20, 1778. His parents were regarded as being devout and pious, and were members of the Particular Baptist Church in that village. Their example and instructions had a salutary influence upon the mind of their son, producing convictions in him which were strengthened and renewed from time to time by the operations of the Holy Spirit, so that in the height of his folly he could never be said to be entirely destitute of those feelings of remorse which arise from a consciousness of guilt and misery. At eighteen years of age he was balloted into the militia, and was immediately sent to Ireland, during the rebellion in that unhappy country. While he was serving in the militia, his convictions were frequently very great, but they did not then result in reformation of life, and in an experimental acquaintance with the evangelical truths of the gospel. After five years' service, he came home with his heart at enmity to God, and opposed to true religion. After his return home, the Methodist Preachers visited Sapcote, and commenced preaching out of doors, but he, having an inveterate hatred to them, became a noted persecutor, and did all he could to mob them out of the village ; he procured a large drum, and while they were preaching he would go up to them beating his drum loudly, with an intent to drive them away ; but on one occasion the Lord suddenly impressed his mind with deep conviction, and the sensation he felt was so powerful, that he afterwards said, “I'll not drum any more, for I thought that my arms would drop from my body if I struck the drum again. When he had arrived at this conclusion he began to be afraid, that as he had ceased to molest them, his companions and others would call him a Methodist; but his fears were soon dispersed, and his determinations of future conduct were soon decided, for the next time of their preaching in the village he went to hear, and was so wrought upon as to seek for the mercy of God, and before he came away his language was, · Bless the Lord for what he has done for me, my darkness is indeed turned into day, and now I no longer feel in a
state of thraldom and misery, but have entered into the glorious liberty and enjoyment of the sons of God.” He went home, and without any further hesitation, he at once broke up his drum and cast it into the fire. He then became decidedly pious, united himself to the Society, and in a very short time being considered eligible to become a preacher, he was thrust out to labour in the vineyard of his Lord.
In those days the circuits were very arduous and extensive, and in many places the Methodists were lightly esteemed and persecuted ; therefore, in fulfilling his appointments he had to endure occasionally some very severe trials and persecutions, and had to travel for many miles, but he took up his cross and gloried in it, esteeming it as his highest pleasure to be engaged in the propagation of the principles of the Gospel, and in beseeching men in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. It was not long after his conversion before he was united in marriage to her whom he has now left a widow to bemoan his loss; and this union gave to him a most active and efficient helpmate, who in temporal matters proved to him a great support in his latter years. Through his intercourse and acquaintance with the Baptists in 1816, he began to entertain views in accordance with theirs on the subject of baptism ; to satisfy the scruples of his conscience he submitted to be publicly baptised in a river at Market Harbro', on Christmas day in that year. He then travelled for them, preaching in various places, and in one instance gave himself up to labour for them a short time as a settled Missionary, in the place were he had been publicly baptised. After this he came to reside in Leicester, and gradually sunk into a careless and dormant state, but not into any open and outward sin; and while he was in this state of spiritual declension and lukewarmness, he wandered from one place of worship to another, until he was led by bitter experience to assent to the truth of the proverb, “ A rolling stone gathers no moss.” In a conversation with his daughter respecting his spiritual condition, he said, apparently awaking from his lethargy: • The Lord knows my heart, and he has not even now utterly forsaken me.' Through the entreaties of his frends, he was at length prevailed upon to unite himself again to the Methodist body; and on recovering his zeal and activity he was engaged in visiting the adjacent villages on the week-day, as well as on the Sabbath, while he had health and opportunity, for the purpose of preaching to the people the unsearchable riches of Christ. He was greatly attached to the Association in Leicester in his latter days, but the peculiar character of his affliction incapacitated him for much bodily exertion; indeed, for the two last years of his life, it was evident to those who knew him, that he was gradually wasting away; he, however, often expressed it as his most anxious wish and prayer, that our Zion might be in great prosperity. For some time before his death, he seemed to entertain a presentiment of mind that his end would be sudden. On one occasion he said to his daughter, of whom he was particularly fond, · Betsey, I want to know what you think about me; I am liable to go any moment, but I do not know how you will take it; my desire is that you will not fret about me when I am gone, for it will be all right, to me sudden death will be sudden glory.' A friend, who had been convinced under his ministry, calling to see him two days before he died, said to him in a familiar way, little
expecting that his end was so near: Well, Mr. Biddles, how do matters stand ?' he replied, “ All is right, I am only waiting for the command, I shall soon have done here, and shall fly away to the blessings and to the bosom of God. In the afternoon of the same day he took a ride out on horseback, but feeling himself worse he hastily returned home, and in the evening he said to his wife, 'I shall not be with you many more nights, you do not know what the Lord has got to do with me, I cannot always be in this state, nor would it be prudent to desire that my life should be protracted with such heavy afflictions ;'-- he had reference to his weak state of body, his difficulty of breathing, and his fits of coughing, which were sometimes very painful and distressing. • Ah !' he said, "you must not fret when the time of my departure comes, your loss will be my infinite gain. On the following day after a fit of coughing, he said, Oh dear, how long will the Lord keep me so, it cannot be long, I shall soon have a happy deliverance. His patience and resignation under the severest suffering were truly exemplary, and throughout the whole course of a long and painful illness, in him the graces of meekness and love were strikingly pourtrayed. On Saturday morning, the day on which he died, he said to his wife when she had got up, `How full of mist the room is ;' she replied in the negative, and told him he was mistaken, nothing more was noticed at the time-she took him his breakfast to bed, came down stairs, and in a few minutes after she sent up his grandson to ask him some question of business, and when he had got into the room he found his grandfather partly reclining on a chair, and partly sunk on the floor, and altogether incapable either of speaking or of helping himself. He immediately called his grandmother, who on coming into the room, and seeing her husband in such a situation, said to him, My dear, you are dying! you are dying !' He turned his eyes and looked at her very wishfully, but he could not speak, she kissed him, and he died. His earthly tenement was left by his spirit with a pleasing smile on his countenance, indicative of heavenly serenity and of a triumphant exit. How many die as sudden, but not as safe. He died December 18th, 1841, aged 64 years. His remains were interred in a neat family vault, in our chapel burial ground at Leicester, and a tablet to his memory is intended shortly to be placed in the inside of our chapel. His death was improved by the writer of this memoir on Sunday evening, Jan. 23, 1842. “Lord, so teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
ON CHRIST'S HUMAN NATURE EXALTED.
“ For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Rom. xiv. 9.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are fundamental doctrines of Christian theology. They are so intimately and inseparably connected with the entire system of Christianity, from the beginning
to the end of divine revelation, that to promulgate erroneous opinions concerning these doctrines, would be alike destructive to the system, and to the hopes of our perishing race. The former-the death of Christ--constitutes that sacrificial offering to divine justice whereby God can be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus; the latter-bis resurrection from the dead-affixed the broad seal of truth to the Gospel system, with all its momentous and sublime doctrines, its pure precepts and its precious promises. These great events not only laid the foundation of the hopes of a fallen world, but they are also intimately connected with the whole mediatorial office of the Son of God. The necessity that he should die and rise from the dead was not at first discovered even by the disciples themselves. Hence they were led to view the death of their divine Master as the most calamitous event which could have befallen the infant church. It threw the deepest distress and gloom over their minds. Their hopes died when he expired upon the cross, and in his grave they buried all expectation of realizing in him the character and offices of the true Messiah promised to the world. This is the very sentiment expressed by the two disciples while on their way to Emmaus, " But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel." We trusted, and we thought that we had reason to trust. We had seen his holy life, we had heard his holy doctrines, and witnessed the number and variety of his powerful miraclcs; but when he suffered himself to be apprehended, tried, condemned, and crucified, we gave up all hope, and this is the cause of our sadness. And so important did St. Peter view the resurrection of Christ to the interests of the church of God, that, he uses the following strong language, when representing the powerful change effected by that glorious event: “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." This grand event gave birth and being to hope. It raised the church from her despondency, and threw over her weeping face the smiles of the brightest morning that ever dawned upon this lower world. Mary's heart danced for joy, while her voice broke the silence of grief with this cheering announcement, « The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon !” The two disciples exclaim, “ Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and opened to us the Scriptures?” The last cloud of doubt which hung lowering on the soul of poor Thomas passed away, and he was enabled most emphatically to exclaim, “ My Lord and my God.” Here hope revived, their eyes were opened, and they saw, that so far from his death being a disastrous event to the Christian cause, it was a vital part of that very system-a part without which the whole would be a mere shadow without the substance. They clearly saw that “Christ ought to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory,” in order to finish the work of the great atonement.
Our object is, to inquire more particularly who this wonderful person is who experienced such sudden and powerful transitions from life to death, and from death to life again; and what connexion his death and resurrection had with the administration of his meditorial
office, throughout his vast dominions ? That he was a man, possessing all the properties and sympathies of man's nature, all will admit; but how far he was exalted as a man is a question upon which there is some difference of opinion.
It must be admitted that correct sentiments, in relation to this point of Christian theology, are of great importance, to our having enlightened and definitive views both of the nature and extent of his moral government. From the text we learn that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were accomplished for the express purpose of extending his dominions over both worlds; and that by these solemn events he acquired rights and powers as our Mediator which he did not possess before. According to the language of the text, he could not have exercised the prerogatives of Lord of the dead and living, except in consideration of his death and resurrection from the dead.
This subject, therefore, resolves itself into one general question, namely,
WHAT DID CHRIST ACQUIRE BY HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION ?
Before we proceed directly to answer this important question, it is, perhaps, necessary to premise, that as Christ possessed in himself “ two whole and perfect patures, that is to say, the Godhead and manhood;" and as in consequence of this hypostatical union he is “ very God and very man,” it can only be affirmed of his human nature that he acquired any thing. As God, having been in the beginning with God, and being of “one substance with the Father ;' and all things having been created by him and for him, and upholding all things by the word of his power, it is evident that, as God, he could not acquire any thing. His dominion extends from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. The cattle upon a thousand hills are his, the world and the fulness thereof, and eternity is full of his pre. sence. All the attributes of the Father, the Son possesses in all their infinite perfection and glory. He therefore, as God, neither grows older by the revolutions of time, nor acquires aught of wisdom or goodness by the exercise of these attributes. He is, in his divine nature, " Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” And here permit me to affirm it as our most solemn belief, that it would be as easy for him to cease to exist as in his divine nature to suffer. For if God can suffer to some extent, he may to any extent, and therefore, he might, on that principle, die; than which no senti.. ment could be more shocking
Though as God he could acquire nothing which he did not possess before, yet as man he certainly could. As man he came into the world destitute of every thing but a perfect body and mind in an infant state. His body grew in stature, and his mind increased in wisdom, and in favour with God and man. His nature was holy, and that holiness he never lost, but by a life of sinless obedience to the precepts of the divine law, he merited the favor and approbation of God and man. This he did to absolute perfection, so that his enemies could “find no fault in him." His friends also pronounced him to be “ without sin," to be “ holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." He also