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THE REVEREND THOMAS RABAN.
[CONCLUDED FROM OUR LAST.]
DURING his life, Mr. Raban had several providential and surprizing escapes from broken bones or sudden death; some of which are too remarkable to be omitted. Being in an unfinished building, two stories high, his foot slipped, and he fell to the ground, and pitched upon an axe, the edge of which stood upright: it cut his hat, but missed his head; and he sustained little or no injury! At another time, a large piece of timber, on which he had set his foot, heaved up, and fell with him into a saw-pit, and an anvil (connected with the wood) of a hundred pounds weight fell upon him; but it only bruised his leg! which was soon healed. Another still more remarkable preservation was this: As he was assisting in raising a beam in a mill, the rope slipped, when the beam, under which he stood, fell with him from the height of four stories! but, though much injured by the fall, his life was wonderfully preserved. At another time, he was driving a team with a load of hay down a narrow lane, when, by attempting to get on the other side of the waggon, he was thrown under the wheel; but he had the presence of mind to call to the horses to stop, which they did in a moment; and thus he was once more saved from instantaneous death.
But it was wisely reserved for the last month of his existence to prove the truth of Mr. Cowper's beautiful lines, as the sequel will shew:
"Safety consists not in escape
On Lord's Day, May the 9th, he was engaged in preaching at Woburn. His morning's discourse was founded on Psal.
Ixii. 8. "Trust in him at all times," &c.; and, in the afternoon, he preached on Heb. iv. 9. " There remaineth, therefore, a rest," &c. He was much impressed with his subjects; and the texts are remarkable, if considered in reference to his affliction and death. After service, when leaving a friend's house, his foot slipped over a pebble: he fell, and found his right leg was broken! Friendly and surgical assistance being at hand, his bone was immediately set. No alarming symptoms appeared, nor even the least tension on the part; and, during three weeks confinement, his leg was healing as favourably as could be expected; and there was a pleasing prospect of his returning shortly to his anxious family: but that was not permitted, till the hearse conveyed his corpse to them. When first carried to his chamber, he repeatedly said the affliction would be unto death, and expressed a desire to be resigned. Indeed, throughout his confinement, he manifested great resignation of spirit to the will of God. He could leave his partner and children in the hands of Him who is "the Father of the fatherless, and Judge of the widows." He particularly rejoiced in the thought that, though the Lord might close his labours, the gospel would still be preached by one of his sons, for whom he poured out many prayers. Tenderly impressed with a view of divine goodness, he often exclaimed, "Why mé! why me! I am less than the least of all thy mercies." He expressed great affection and gratitude to his friends with whom he abode; and his affectionate and impressive benedictions will not be soon forgotten. A young friend who, having derived much spiritual comfort from Mr. Raban's ministry, very kindly attended him through his confinement, had the pleasure of witnessing the spirituality of his mind, and of supporting him in his last moments. Feeling his health occasionally interrupted, Mr. Raban often discoursed to his attendant on divine and heavenly topics; and what he said evinced the humble, the affectionate, the thankful, the resigned Christian. A few days before he died, after his position had been altered, a friend congratulated him on it, when he, surveying himself, said, "I lie in state;" and then, with a kind of prophetic energy, added, " I shall lie in state shortly." To his family, his friends, and brethren in the ministry, he spoke in the most encouraging manner. About two hours before his death, after having heard a minister speak of the success which attended the preaching of the gospel in neighbouring places, he replied, with strong emphasis, "Go on! and may your preaching be attended with power, and with the Holy Ghost sent down from above.”
In the evening of May the 31st, Mr. Raban was discoursing. with his young friend, on the employments and happiness of Heaven; and on the inconfecivably happy change a believing soul would experience when dismissed from the body; when lo! in a few minutes, the glorious mystery he had been contemplat
ing was to be developed for, soon after this, he wished his head to be raised; which being done, he suddenly turned pale, became speechless, gasped, gently breathed for a short time, and then, without the least emotion, expired; and the smile left upon his countenance most emphatically expressed what Dr. Watts describes,
"A mortal paleness on the cheek, but glory in the soul."
Mr. Raban used to speak of death as an object of dread; not as to its future consequences, for he knew in whom he had believed; but on account of the pangs he should feel in bidding adieu to his connexions in life; and expressed a wish that his departure might be sudden. The Lord gave him the end he desired; a happy end to all his mortal sorrows, and an abundant. entrance into his kingdom!"
In his person, Mr. Raban was tall, being full six feet high; of an athletic habit and of regular features. Excepting the last two years of life, he enjoyed good health; and, though corpulent, was capable of great activity and wearisome employments. His perceptions were quick; his memory strong; his spirit ardent and undaunted, mingled with a good degree of patience and perseverance. In fine, he enjoyed a union of those good qualities which rendered his life highly serviceable and honourable in the situation where Infinite Wisdom had placed him.
As concurring testimonies of the esteen in which he was held, the following particulars are subjoined: On the evening of his interment, Mr. Stephenson, vicar of Olney, preached. on Rev. vii. 14. "These are they which came out of great tribulation," &c. His cordial friend Mr. Hillyard (the independent minister of that place) paid a tribute to his memory on Lord's Day, June 6th, from John xi. 26. "Whosoever liveth and believeth," &c.: and in the evening of that day, his funeral-discourse was preached at Olney, by Mr. Bull, senior, from Heb. iv. 9. "There remaineth," &c. The concourse being too great for the meeting-house, the service was performed near a friend's house in the market-place. The mournful event, and the very serious improvement of it, made the scene as solemn as any place of worship could be. Mr. Bull also addressed the congregation at Yardley, on the following Thursday, in a very impressive manner, from 2 Chron. xxxii. 33. "And all Judah and Jerusalem did him honour at his death."-An extract from this excellent discourse shall conclude this Memoir : —
"It may appear needless for me to dwell upon the character of your deceased Pastor, in speaking to persons who have known him so many years; but, I believe, very few, except his own family, were so intimately acquainted with him, either as a man, a Christian, or a minister. He had long been accustomed to open his mind freely to me; and I have remarked,
that those who best knew him, esteemed him most: so I am conscious, the more I saw of his heart, the stronger affection I felt for him. Few persons have filled up a greater variety of relations in life than our departed friend. Early habituated to business, his increasing family and peculiar circumstances led him into complicated scenes of worldly engagements; all of which, to the best of my knowledge, he discharged with unblemished integrity and uncominon disinterestedness. In such a situation, I believe no man ever lived wholly without censure, much less a real Christian; and, least of all, a minister of the gospel. Envy is sure to attack such a character, on one side or the other. Failings, from which the best of men are never exempt, are often in such cases dwelt upon with pleasure, if not magnified with diligence. However, I can truly say, that scarcely any man I knew had fewer or smaller faults than my late dear friend. Whatever they were, they may now properly be buried with him; while his good works, in which he abounded to the glory of God and good of men, have followed him to another world. His disposition as a man, was peaceable, loving, and friendly. His weeping family bear testimony to his peculiar tenderness and love, both as a husband and parent. It is my duty to unite with his friends, in speaking of that kindness and disinterestedness' with which he administered every service in his power to all who enjoyed his familiar friendship. I do not doubt but the town of Olney will miss and lament him; and so will this church and congregation; and I am sure, several ministers of the gospel will feel the wound deeply.
"His hope of salvation was firmly grounded on the Lord Jesus Christ; his views of the gospel were evangelical and clear; his experience deep and lively; and his desires after real holiness of heart and life, were stedfast and influential. While, from the first of his separation from the established church, he was conscientious and firm in his dissent, no person was ever more removed from bigotry towards any party. He was friendly and affectionate to pious people; and useful to the encouragement of ministers whose judgment, in trivial matters, differed from his own. Seldom has the loss of one individual been so deeply and affectionately felt as his will be, on this account. An earnest desire to be useful to those about him, strongly marked all his actions, whether it respected their temporal or spiritual concerns. It is no wonder, therefore, that he took particular delight in preaching that free grace which he himself had tasted and enjoyed. To this, his congregation can bear a decided testimony; and, I hope, my dear friends, you will prove your love to the gospel, which so long has been freely preached to you, by your exertions for its continuance, now your worthy Pastor is no more. "Remember him who has had the rule over you, whose faith follow, considering the end of his conversation." He is gone to give an account of