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OF THE LATE REV. HENRY MEAD, FORMERLY JOINT LECTURER OF ST. JOHN'S, WAPPING, &c
[Though we have already inserted in our Obituary a short account of Mr. Mead, we trust that this Memoir, which records more fully the circumstances of his conversion, and his entrance into the ministry, will be acceptable to our readers.]
MR. Mead was born in the year 1745, in or near the city of Bath. His parents were obscure persons, possessing small property ; and to these circumstances may be ascribed the defects of his early education. We cannot ascertain what religious instruction was afforded him ; but when only five years of age, he had some knowledge of his having offended, God, and that he was liable to punishment; on the nature of that punishment, " he thought as a child,” supposing that he might be ordered to some place where he should be treated with neglect. This apprehension arose from the manner in which his mother corrected him for offences, by ordering him to a corner of the room, and not permitting any one to regard him.
His father dying hen Henry was young, and his mother marrying the second time, he was put out apprentice to a low mechanic, but did not reinain till the legal expiration of the term ; for, upon the death of his mother, his father-in-law made away with the little property which Henry had expected. This 80 wounded his feelings, and left him so destitute, that he abandoned his master, and went off to London. - Here we interrupt the narrative to state, what was at once both the genuine effect of that religion le'afierwards possessed, and much to the credit of the procession be made, that he returned, and filled up that which liud been lacking in the service due to his master.
lil the meanitime, instead of seeking to recover the loss he had sustained, or to improve the disappointment which vexed lı.m, by inoreisud diligence and sobriety, we find him in the midst of the dissipations of the metropolis, seeking to divert his mind from reflection by the vain and criminal pleasures of this world. He chose persons of corrupt manners for his companions; and by telling merry tales and singing vain songs, he often raised their boisterous mirth. The Sabbath was to him a busy day in promoting the reign of Sin ; so greatly was his mind darkened, that he thought God did not desire the labouring poor to go to church ; and he pitied the clergy who were obliged to attend on the duties of religion, while he was at liberty to take a pleasant walk, or to visit a public tea-garden, &c. On one of those days, which should have been sacred, but, alas ! so frequently profaned, he could not meet with any of his associates ; therefore, to get through the long and tedi. ous hours of that day, he purposed in his mind to go to Long Acre chapel; but on his way thither, he recollected to have heard of a Dr. Whitfield ; and from the reports which had reached him, he expected to find in his preaching what would gratify his curiosity, and furnish him with matter for humorous remarks : he therefore directed his course for Tottenham Court Chapel. The preacher was the Rev. Howell Davis. While this faithful minister pointed out the different practices of the impious, Mr. Mead found his own life described; but he remained unmoved, till the energetic penetrating close of the sermon, when the condemnation of such characters was set forth in a striking light. He felt distressed, went home, and, in retirement, began again to read his greatly-neglected Bible; and resolved to love God. Sull he remained ignorant of the nature of faith in Him who is the only Saviour. The work was an outward reformation, not the communication of an inward vital principle; his visible reform was observed by his acquaintance, who were surprized at its being so sudden. The Religion (if it may be called by that name) which he knew at this time, was of a pharisaic cast : he said his prayers morning and evening, - he hought a book of prayers for every day in the week ; and in this way he proceeled for some weeks, still attending at the chapel : but the Lord, who had determined to take possession of his heart, opened to his view the evils of his nature, and both the seat and deinerit of inward depravity Spiritual convictions, those arrows of the Lord, took deep hold of him, and he groaned through disquietude. Now he found his book of prayers was of no service: it was laid aside ; and from his deep-felt misery, he cried to Heaven, “ Lord, undertake for me, for I am oppressed !" He had for a time to wait as well as pray: his burilen appeared to increase, so that in the day he could not find rest, and hy night he bathed his pillow with tears. Indeed, some nights he was afraid to lic down, lest le should awake in Hell. With a inind so uneasy, and his rest so broken, it was no wonder that lris body was brought near to the chambers of Death. When he heard some scoff, and say that Hell is nothing but a man's conscience,” he felt a wounded con. science to be such a Hell as no one can bear. llis worklly companions blamed him for going among the Methodists; and the Formalist in religion spoke of him as going mad ; while he lim+ self knew what he felt came through hearing them, but knew not yet how to obtain effectual relief. At one time he thought of going no more to the chapel; at another, was drawn to try the pleasure of a day's recreation ; but, like the unsatisfying short: lived pleasures of sin, the day passed without his tasting one drop of real joy, - it was succeeded by the real anguish attend ing increased remorse. Thus exposed to " cruel mockings,” to persecution, to present sorrows, and the forebodings of fear, he thought himself hated by man, and even by God: he was also assailed by this temptation, that as the ways of religion are pleasant, and he had sorrow instead of peace, he must be therefore a stranger to those ways. This wrought him up to temporary desperation ; his inexpressible grief poured itself forth in groans : “O that I had never sinned against God! I have a Hell here upon Earth, and there is a Hell for me in eternity!" One Loril's Diy, very early, in the morning, he was awoke by a tempest of thunder and lightning ; and imagining it to be the end of the world), his agony was great, supposing the great day of divine wrath was come, and he unprepared ; but happy to find it not so. Rising early that morning, and having heard that Mr. Whitfield was to preach, he went and heard him, from Ilosed x. 12,“ Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy," &c. Under this discourse he had a reviving gleam of hope; but this was transient. A
young man lent him Baxter's Work on the New Birth; in reading which he felt the importance of the subject, and examined himself by the evidences of regeneration it contains. In this exercise he felt much of the power of unbelief'; he saw all necessary for salvation to be in Christ, and that a sinner is justified by believing on him only ; but he felt it beyond his own power to believe : his prayers became more ardent, he spread his guilt, his wants, and his misery before the throne of God; he sought for saving mercy as one perishing; and when“ he had nothing to pay,” he freely received the forgiveness of his sins, and the enjoyment of heavenly peace. Thus was he brought, and even constrained to acknowledge, “ I am saved by grace, thru' faith; and that not of myself, but Jesus gave it me!
“ O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm consirain'd to be !" The consolations he now enjoyed were connected with a holy deportment and a circumspect walk. This was the natural effect of the divine gratitude he felt, and the desire “ to maintain good works,” that the cause of religion miglit not be slandered, nor the enemies of God have occasion to blaspheme. Having frequenily reviewed the Lord's dealings with him, and the obligations he was under to recovering grace (this
appears to have been about two years from his first religious concern) he thought himself called upon to proclaim the glad tidlings of the gospel to others: he considered that the Lord had shewn him such great mercy, to the end that he might call others to come to Jesus Christ for life and salvation. Many things aroe to check these sentiments: now he feared they originated in pride; then he thought of the advantage he might obtain in following his secular calling ; and also the increased persecution the ministry would expose him to in the world, and greater opposition from Satan. On the other hand, he saw himself engaged in a sinful conference with flesh and blood, saw himself set forth and condemned in the parable, where the unprofitable servant concealed his talent, - saw himself as wanting in that benevolent concern for his fellow-creatures which seeks their salvation, and the promotion of their best and eternal interests. At length he opened ihe state of his mind to a Christian frien'; who, very wisely and faithfully represented the necessity mt' his obtaining some literary qualification ; and informed him of the college at Trevecca, belonging to the late Countess of Huntingdon. This information, doubtless, contributed to form luis determination to apply to the Rev. G. Whitfield; which he did loy a long letter, giving an account of himself, his conversion, and his motives in offering himself a candidate for acimission to the college. Mr. Whitfield answered this letter; and soon after, Mr. Mead went to Trevecca. This was about the year 1767. He is thought to have been one in the second set of students after the establishment of that religious seminary. Mr. Mrad did not preich long in that connexion, for he had taken orders in the Church of England some time prior to his marriage, which was in the beginning of May, 1776. The object of bis choice was a Miss Cooper, of the neighbourhood of Henley, Oxon. ; to whom he was introduced at the Ilot Wells. This lady brought him good property; and lic enjoyed much happiness in his connubial relation with lier till Death separated them, about ten years ago. Upon his going to reside in London, Mr. Mead frequently preached in behalf of charitable institutions. On one of those occasions, his sermon being in a strain different from what, and longer than the Rector of the church expected, he treateci Mr. Mead very uncourteously on his return to the vestry. However, a few months after, coing to dine with a fiiend, he was warmly embraced by one of the party, who owed his conversion to hearing that sermon ; when Mr. Mcad observed, he was now at no loss to account for the lion's roaring so roughly at the time.
[The remuining part of this Memoir, coinciding in general kith ihe account alreudy given in our Magazine for February, me forbeur to insert it.]