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For DECEMBER, 1798.
· MEMOIRS OF THE REV. JOHN SAVAGE LATE PASTOR OF THE INDEPENDENT CHURCH AT
FARNHAM, SURRY. THE Reader must not expect an enumeration of many
important events in the thort life of so young a minilter, as the subject of this article. Mr. John Savage was born at Ipswich, in Suffolk, March 21, 1775,; and brought up under the eye of his parents. In April, 1786, his father died, and in January 1789, he came to London, to be emploved in the counting-house of a near relative, who studied his interest with the folicitude of a parent. With him, and his family he regularly attended the preaching of the Gospel. They took frequent opportunities of conversing with him on serious subjects; and, the Lord inclining his heart to attend to those kind instructions, his soul was foon drawn to love the ways of God. Through what various frames of alternate hopes and fears our young convert passed, may be learned from his own language : “ I was very gradually Jed into a discovery of the evil of my heart, and to a feeling score of my absolute need of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the only Saviour. After a variety of exercises, hope and fear as to my state alternately prevailed; and having for some time sustained the character of the labouring and heavy laden, I was enabled by faith to come to Christ, and in him found rest and peace for my soul.”
Mr. Savage was intended by his friends for secular business; but the Lord evidently designed him for another cmployment. His mind having been enlightened by divine grace, now began to be imprest with a strong defire to enVol. VI. 3 X
ter into the ministry. It bejag nearly two years before he communicated his thoughts on this subject to any one, he suffered greatly in his mind, and prayed much, before he cane to a determination to dedicate himself to that important oface. His own words are these : “ After having for a while known the goodness of the Lord, and finding Christ increasingly precious to my soul, I felt a desire to be useful in proclaiming the riches of his mercy to others. But, though I believed it was the will of God I should be employed in his service, a sense of my unfitness for the work kept me back. I had much to struggle with, but be. ing cncouraged by ministers and other Christian friends, I was at length, after much prayer and deliberation, enabled to go forward.”
Until this period Mr. S. enjoyed remarkable health ; but, in consequence of the extreme solicitude of inind occafioned by his new prospects, he became subject to a most distressing aMiction in his head, which frequently unfitted him for study, and afterwards interrupted his pulpit labours. His conftitution was hereby'undermined, and it is conjectured, that his fatal discafc (subordinate to the plea-. fure of an all-wise God) was laid in his great anxiety to promote the honour of Christ, and the salvation of fouls.
In O&tober, 1793, he began his academical studies, under the direction of the reverend W. Bull, at Newport Pagnell, Bucks : but he quitted these pursuits sooner than he wished to have done, from a conviction, after much and frequent prayer, that it was the Lord's will, and an evident call of Providence, that he should settle at Farnham, over a small congregation there. While at Newport Pagnell, Mr. S. was occasionally called upon to exercise his talents, in supplying neighbouring villages and churches, in conjunction with his fellow students. It was, however, with peculiar anxiety of mind that he made these primary eifays in preaching; and it is most probable that the subject and text of the first sermon' which he delivered in public, at Newport Pagnell, Nov. 17, 1793, from Plalm xlii. 5, were dictated to him from the sensations of his own mind in the prospect of his work.
He spent an occasional Sabbath (Aug. 2, 1795,) at Farn. ham, and was requested to visit them again in January, 1796, which he did ; and having preached with acceptance, was invited for six months, at the expiration of which time, he received an unanimous call to the pastoral office. This he sauv it to be his duty to accept; and on April 7, 1797, he
was publicly ordained ; having, a short time previous to this event, met with an amiable and pious partner in domestic life, in the person of Miss Eliz. Chandler.
Having entered on his public work, Mr. S. preached with acceptance to his flock in general, and with peculiar usefulness to several individuals. If many were not added to their number as a congregation (which was sometimes a cause of grief to him) there were some, at least, who attribate their conversion to his ministry, subordinately to the grace of God. Others have been united together in love, and established in the truth and experience of divine things.
That he was very earneft in his desires to promote the glory of God and the salvation of fouls, was evident in all his public ministrations. The devotional exercises and ser, mons of this “messenger of grace,” were peculiarly folemn, fervent, and affectionate, the genuine effects of a divine unction upon his heart. But this sacred fire did not burn only on the public altar of the fanctuary, it was the same in his family and in his closet. He studied the word of God with meditation and with prayer. This, however, did not always furnish him with a fermon, nor even with a text; for, fometimes, after having used the necessary application, he was obliged to go into the pulpit, trusting simply on Hini, who is “a very present help in time of need." He was generally resigned on these occasions, and confidered them as means the Lord was pleased to use to teach him more experimentally his own insufficiency without divine affiftance. Many know the heart of a minister at such seasons as these, from their own painful experience. Let them do as this young brother did. He went from the throne of grace in his closet to the pulpit; and from the pulpit to his closet again, to pour out his heart in prayer and praise. Not only, did Mr. S. preach publicly, but also from house to house; for he used to set apart one day in the weck for visiting such of his flock as he could at their own houses; having previously implored a blessing on this practice. Another day in the week was appropriated to see those at his own house, whom he could not conveniently visit. He had a memorandum paper to record some circumstances of those occafions, infcribed with these words : “ Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks.” (Prov. xxvii. 23.) He was also solicitous to promote the knowledge of Christ in village preaching, by his occasional labours, so far as his
healih and opportunities permitted. The following testi· mony, from the pen of his venerable tutor, is fo pleasing and