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OUR late brother was the son of Abel and Mary Ann Rudge, and was born at Sedgley, Staffordshire, on the 18th of February, 1821. The greater part of his time, up to twelve years of age, was spent at Bilston with his grandparents. Returning home at that age he became a scholar in the Wesleyan Sunday-school, where he gained many marks of respect from the teachers and members. His first prize was given for reciting the 119th Psalm before the congregation! Very early in life he became a teacher, and in his sixteenth year was converted and received as a member in the church. Our brother and five other youths were at this time favoured with the oversight, help, and stimulus of an earnest and pious classleader, who often had them at his own house, and there directed and assisted them to improve their minds, and to develop and strengthen their religious life. And as a proof of the success of his and their endeavours, it may be added that they all in due course became local preachers. Our late brother was then in his nineteenth or twentieth year. About this time he was led, for reasons which we cannot state, to separate himself from the Wesleyan body and join the Methodist New Connexion at Tiptor, then a part of the Dudley Circuit. He was cordially received as a member by the friends at Tipton, and as a local preacher by the Quarterly Meeting of the circuit. Here, for several years he continued to exercise and improve his gifts as a preacher; and so commended himself to the approval of the circuit that when between the Conferences of 1846 and 1847 supplies were wanted, he was recommended to the Annual Committee, and sent by it to Halifax; where he so won the confidence and esteem of the people that the circuit cordially recommended him to the Conference of 1847 as a suitable person for the work of the ministry. He was December, 1883.
duly accepted, and appointed to labour in the Thorne Circuit. Here he found abundant opportunity for physical, mental, and spiritual development. The record of his labours shows that he preached 268 sermons and walked nearly 2,000 miles in the course of the year.
His subsequent appointments as a single preacher were at Ashtonunder-Lyne, Derby, Sunderland, Sheffield North, and Macclesfield. At the Conference of 1853 he married, and was appointed superintendent of the Dawley and Madeley Circuit, thence at the end of two years to Blyth, thence in 1857 to Boston.
At the Conference of 1859 he was stationed at Rochdale, where he remained for three years. While there his health became so much impaired that he was compelled to ask for the position of a supernumerary for one year. This was granted, and with recovered health he resumed his labours at the Conference of 1863 as superintendent of the Stockport Circuit; thence, after a residence of two years, he removed to Burslem, where he remained for a like period.
In 1867 he was sent to Shields as second preacher, having as his superintendent his intimate friend the Rev. J. Graham. From here he removed to St. Ives, then to Newark, Lynn, and Yarmouth. At the close of his third year at the latter place his health again failed, and he obtained from the Conference a year's rest. When moderately well, labour was rest to Mr. Rudge; and as his health improved during the year he resumed work at the Conference of 1878, and was then appointed to the Clay Cross Circuit.
About two months after his settlement, he had occasion to go to Chesterfield on business, and while there, as he was walking along one of the streets, he was seized with a slight stroke of paralysis, which some of his friends at the time supposed to be a sunstroke. He fell on the pavement, and received a severe cut on the head, from which he bled profusely. He was taken to the hospital, where he remained two days. On his return home he was able to resume work, but with less vigour of mind and body than formerly. To keep up his many preaching engagements he had to avail himself of a conveyance; riding either to or from most of his appointments.
On the 21st of July, 1881, as he was preparing to go to Sheffield to attend a meeting on behalf of our Aid and Extension Fund, he had a second paralytic seizure. This one was much more severe than the first, and so utterly prostrated him as to bring to a sudden and final close his ministerial labours. Though reluctant to retire from the work he so much loved, he had no alternative but to ask
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the forthcoming Conference to place him on the list of permanent supernumeraries. This was done, and the following resolution was passed by Conference on his case : “ That the Conference having received from the Rev. Thomas Rudge a request on the ground of impaired health for superannuation, would express its deep regret that our brother is compelled to retire from active labour. In complying with his request, it would further gratefully recognise the goodness of God in having permitted him, for & period of thirty-four years, to render vigorous and effective ministerial service to the Connexion, and devoutly prays that his life may be spared, and his health sufficiently restored to enable him still to serve the cause of Christ, and that the evening of his life may be enriched with many precious manifestations of the Divine presence."
Soon after his retirement he selected Ashover as a place of residence. Its situation is exceedingly pleasant, and its atmosphere most salubrious; being also near to a well-managed hydropathic institution, from the baths and appliances of which he hoped to derive much benefit, improve his health, and prolong his life. Alas! these expectations were not realised. His constitution had received a shock, the effects of which were not to pass away. His feebleness increased, and his health declined. After a while he began to feel as if cut off from the society of his Connexional friends, and longed to be located near some of them. This feeling led him, after a residence extending over a year and a half, to remove from Ashover to Clay Cross. He came hoping to be able to attend the services of the sanctuary; but this was not to be. Still he found great comfort and satisfaction in the frequent visits of his friends and the members of the church. On several occasions a little company of our members met at his house, and united with him in partaking of the Lord's Supper. These Sacramental services were a means of great comfort and encouragement to him, and helped to meeten him for the rest and blessedness which were then near.
Various medical men were called in to see our brother, and various prescriptions were tried ; but were all unavailing. His strength continued to decline, and it became evident to all who saw him that his end was drawing near. He was conscious of this himself, but was quite resigned and calmly waited for the call of his Lord. His faith was steadfast, his hope assured, and he rested peacefully upon Christ, and the precious promises of the Divine word. As the hour of departure drew near, there was increasing evidence of his preparedness. His affliction was very painful, and his sufferings at times were severe ; body and mind were com. pletely prostrated by them. But as the end of his course came yet nearer, his state became more tranquil, and his mind more clear than it had been for some time previously, and in his experience the old promise was verified, “ At eventime it shall be light.” In the still and early hours of Friday, August 3, 1883, he passed peacefully away from this scene of toil and suffering, to the rest which remains for all the faithful servants of the Lord. “Absent from the body,” he is " present with the Lord.”
The following testimonies from old and intimate friends of our late brother have come to hand. The Rev. A. McCurdy says: “ He was one of my earliest ministerial friends. My acquaintance with him began in 1849, and continued onward until the close of his life. I regarded him as a man gifted with strong common sense; a solid rather than a brilliant man. He was an earnest and practical preacher, and served many of our circuits very acceptably. He was a man with considerable talent for business, and managed his circuits very well. Being in a position to stimulate the liberality of others by the power of his own example, he often did so in a most generous manner, and contributed largely in this way toward the relief of chapels, and the extinction of society and circuit debts. He will be long and gratefully remembered by a large circle of friends, who were benefited by his ministry and aided by his generosity. The memory of the just is blessed.”
Rev. J. Graham says: “He was my colleague for three years, in the Shields circuit, and very agreeable he was, always attentive to his duties, and pleasant to have intercourse with. He worked with me with the utmost cordiality, and the intercou rse I had with him during that time strengthened the friendship which had previously been formed. He was kind-hearted, strongly attached to his relatives and friends ; always ready to help them. He was amiable and generous in disposition, fond of the society of his brethren in the ministry, and very generously estimated their abilities and work. He passed respectably through the circuits ; having business tact and ability, worked them so as to leave them financially and spiritually better than he found them.”
The LUTHER CELEBRATION. The Protestant Reformation was the grand fact of the fifteenth century, giving life, colour, and direction to a thousand other events, and opening a new era of intellectual and religious life. It was spring after winter ; day bursting on the world after a long dark night. There had, however, been heralds of the dawn, harbingers of a better time. There were the Waldenses, or Vandois, who, among the Alpine fastnesses of Piedmont, kept the light of Scriptural Christianity burning in the darkest times. The belief of their own historians is, that from the times of the Apostles, though a poor and exiled people, they have retained the doctrines, as well as the transcripts of the living oracles of God.
Milton in his noble sonnet bears witness both to their faithfulness to the truth and to their sufferings from the fury of their Papal persecutors :
“ Avenge, O Lord, Thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains, cold;
Early may fly the Babylonian woe." There were the Lollards, a name derived from the fact that they lolled, or sung sacred hymns while visiting the sick and dying of the plague, whom the priests had neglected. Their devotional piety and fervent prayers gave them the characteristic name of Beghards. They, too, rejected the Papal superstitions, and were subjected, in consequence, to grievous persecutions. Theirs was a movement which told of a spiritual life which could not be utterly extinguished.
Dr. Stoughton speaks of it in glowing language. “It was the premonitory rumbling of an earthquake, that was to throw down half Babylon. It was a cloud charged with abundance of water, sending down a drenching shower; then drifted back by storms of wind, only to rise again to cover the land with soft, fructifying rain. It was an early spring day opening the buds, beckoning on the birds, filling the woods with melody, followed by wintry changes, to find itself repeated and heightened in a late but glowing spring—a deferred but glorious summer. The Lollard revival prepared for the Protestant Reformation.”
In England Wycliffe held up the light of Evangelical truth a hundred and fifty years before Luther's voice was heard. He translated the Scriptures—or a large part of them-into the good, broad, intelligible language of the people. He wrote tracts on sub