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MEMOIR OF THE REV. JOHN OSBORN,
OF BISLEY, GLOUCESTERSHIRE. The records of the lives of faithful Christians are invaluable to the church, and not seldom prove a channel of grace to yet unawakened souls. There is an influence accompanying consistent piety, which, by God's blessing, will often prevail, where all other influences are feeble. A truly Christian life,-an example of earnest benevolence and selfsacrifice, --will often clothe godly warning and counsel with a power which nothing else could give them. But such lives are, alas ! too rare; so that when they are found, it becomes the church to endeavour, as far as possible, to perpetuate their usefulness. It is with this object that the following record of a devoted Christian and faithful minister has been prepared.
JOHN OSBORN was born at Sleechcoombe, in Cornwall, May 30th, 1811, and was the youngest of a family of five children.' Very little is known of his early history ; but, as his father lost his life through an accident in a mine, when John was yet a babe, and the family was thus thrown upon the world, it is probable that his course, for some years at least, was one of considerable hardship. But, if destitute of many earthly comforts, he enjoyed an inestimable advantage in the habitual attendance of the family upon the services of God's house. The importance of this can scarcely be over-estimated ; and, certainly, those parents have no right to expect their children to become an honour to the Church, or a comfort to themselves, who are indifferent to their regular attendance upon the services of the sanctuary. In the case of John Osborn, this observance of public worship was fol. lowed by the happiest result. His mind and heart were early impressed with the importance of God's truth, and with the realities of eternity; and it was now, doubtless, that the seed was sown, which afterwards, in a holy life, produced such abundant fruit.
We have the clearest evidence of his conversion to God. In a record which has been found among his papers, he states that at a very early period he was a subject of Divine impressions, and especially when about eight years old ; "but it was not," he writes, "until I had passed the twelfth year of my age, that I became decided
VOL. XIV.-FIFTH SERIES.
for God. In the year 1824, when the Holy Spirit was graciously poured out upon a great number of the inhabitants of Cornwall, I felt deeply convinced of my state and danger as a sinner. I sought pardon through Christ, with strong crying and tears, and could not be comforted until God spoke peace to my soul. This comfort I found the last Sabbath in February of the same year, after diligently seeking it five weeks, in the use of all the means to wbich I had access. The moment in which I felt my sins forgiven, my heart was filled with love to God and man. I then rejoiced in God my Saviour, and for some time afterwards I could say,
“Walking in all His ways, I find
My heaven on earth begun.””
Having thus given himself to the Lord, John Osborn at once joined the Church by uniting himself with the Wesleyan-Methodist Society at Three Burrows, near his own residence. The godly steadfastness which marked his subsequent career, began to be shown at this early period. It was at this time no trifling matter to be a Methodist. But although he knew what it would cost him to profess Christ, be did not hesitate ; and he never afterwards wavered, but thenceforward resolutely avoided everything which might, in his opinion, tend to shake his Christian principles. He often walked several miles in order to avoid passing the fields in which his old companions were playing, lest he might so far yield to temptation as to bring darkness upon his mind, or a reproach upon God's cause.
The firmness of Mr. Osborn's character may be illustrated by an incident of his early history. During an agitation which, about this period, disturbed the Methodist body where he resided, his classleader joined the agitators, and, with his class, left the Connexion. The subject of our memoir, who was the youngest member of the class, was the only one who remained steadfast. He loved his leader very much, and looked up to him as a father ; but although the latter said to him with tears, that he thought that “he would have been the last to forsake him," Mr. Osborn persevered in his attachment to Methodism. Now, also, he had to walk some miles to attend the services of the Old Connexion, the seceders having retained possession of the chapel in the village. It is only right to add, that he lived to see his class-leader come back to that branch of the Church which he had rashly forsaken.
For some years after bis conversion, Mr. Osborn was the only member of the family who was pious. But his uniformly consistent conduct did not fail to make a good impression upon those around him, and he lived to see all his brothers and sisters brought to God.
In the year 1830, being then nineteen years of age, Mr. Osborn became a Local preacher; and, after faithfully discharging for five years the duties of this responsible position, he was accepted as a probationer for the higher office of the ministry, and stationed at Bridport, Dorsetsbire. Among other Circuits, he afterwards laboured at Teignmouth, Okehampton, Cardiff, Liskeard, St. Austell, Wednesbury, Carnarvon, Abergavenny, Stroud, and Pembroke. His ministrations of the word were not unfrequently owred of God, his labours being blessed to the good of many who will be bis “crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
In August, 1840, Mr. Osborn was united in marriage to Miss Barrett, of Polperro, in Cornwall, a pious and devoted lady, who proved herself to be a true help for him whose life of Christian useful. ness she had now undertaken to share. Like her husband, she had stood alone in her family in the profession of religion, and for a time had suffered persecution on this account; but her holy example was eventually blessed to the lasting benefit of both her parents. The union into which Mr. Osborn had now entered, and which seemed to promise so much happiness, was but of short duration. Mrs. Osborn's health soon gave way, and in less than three years she was called to her beavenly home. Trusting in Christ alone, she died in peace and joyful hope, leaving an infant son. This unexpected bereavement was a painful trial, but Mr. Osborn bore it with Christian resignation, and found consolation in the diligent discharge of his ministerial duties. In the afflictive circumstances by which he was now surrounded, his piety was brought out into ampler development, and shone more brightly. A paper which he has left behind him expresses the state of his mind at this time. “It is now many years since I gave my heart to God. He has preserved me to the present moment, and I still find His service to be my chief delight. My desire is now more fully than ever to live to Him.”
Mr. Osborn was subsequently united to Miss Penrose, of Truro. This estimable lady had joined the Methodist Society when quite young, and shortly afterwards gave proof of the depth of her piety by relinquishing a flattering prospect of worldly comfort, as soon as she found it could only be realized at the risk of losing her religion. Her marriage with Mr. Osborn was not allowed to interrupt her zealous efforts to do good; but, on the contrary, she continued to enter every open door of usefulness. She was soon, however, called to suffer, as well as to do, the will of God. For two years she was confined to her bed; during which time she often passed through severe bodily pain. The disease under wbich she laboured affected, in some degree, her mental powers, and sorely depressed her; so much so, that her former confidence and joy seemed to forsake her, and she was often the subject of gloomy and painful thoughts. For seven months, however, before her departure, this distressing effect of bodily disease was graciously
removed. Her joy abounded, and her release was marked by holy triumph. After enduring the fatigue, anxiety, and sorrow which were occasioned by this painful affliction, together with the loss of two beloved children, Mr. Osborn's own health gave way, and he was obliged to retire for four years from the regular work of the ministry, living for a time in Piymouth, and afterwards in the neighbourhood of Bristol. In 1854, he was so far restored as to be able to undertake again the work of a Circuit. Two years after this Mr. Osborn was united in marriage to one who now mourns his loss, the widow of the late Rev. Thomas Rogerson.
In 1862, while in the Pembroke Circuit, he was attacked with bronchitis, and compelled, under the advice of his physician, again to give up his beloved work, and retire for a year to Tenby. This step was not only painful to himself, but called forth the regret of the Society in Pembroke, whose office-bearers presented him, on this occasion, with an affecting assurance of their appreciation of his labours, as well as of their sympathy with him and Mrs. Osborn, under their affliction.
During Mr. Osborn's three years' residence in the Stroud Circuit from 1858 to 1861, there had sprung up between him and the Methodists at Bisley (a village near Stroud) a strong mutual attachment; and he now (1864) acceded to their invitation to reside amongst them, while unable to take the full work of a Circuit. Here, whenever the state of his health permitted, he engaged in the Lord's work, preaching occasionally, visiting the sick, and watching over the little Society. His labours were bigbly prized, and their continuance looked forward to with much satisfaction. But these expectatiors were soon to be cut off. Mr. Osborn's weakened constitution gave way still more before the rigours of the winter; and in the spring rollowing, the alarming symptoms of the disease under which he suffered, instead of being alleviated, were increased. As a last resort, he resolved, in accordance with medical advice, to try the effects of his native air. He was from home several weeks, but did not experience that improvement in his health which his friends, and especially his devoted wife, had hoped for. On the contrary, he gradually sank; and when he returned to Bisley, it was almost in a dying state. His sufferings were at times very great, but his faith remained unshaken. He osten said, “I would kiss the rod, and bow to the will of my heavenly Father.” He did not possess that ecstatic joy which is the Jot of some Christians, but he had “pace in believing." The night before his departure lie said, “ I cannot doubt: I have settled peace.” Ho was favoured, moreover, with enlarged and most comforting views of the love of Christ. It is somewhat singular that the last sermon which he composed was one on the heavenly state. This he had hoped shortly to be able to preach ; and little did he think that, instead of describing, le would realize the glories of the better world. But so