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MEMOIR OF THE REV. EDMUND GRINDROD:
BY THE REV. JOHN HANNAH, D.D. From private papers, and other sources of information, the writer of these pages has endeavoured to draw up such a memorial of the late Mr. Grindrod as might supply a faithful, though imperfect, representation of that exemplary man, both in his Christian and his ministerial character. The documents placed at his disposal were not so numerous as he could have desired; but he trusts that, with his personal recollections, they will suffice to show forth, in some degree, "the grace of God which was with” his departed friend, and which is the only origin of all that is good in man.
Edmund Grindrod was born at a small farm-house in Clay-Lane, near Rochdale, February 28th, 1786. His parents, John and Mary Grindrod, were members of the Church of England, and persons of irreproachable moral conduct. Edmund was their youngest child. He received a plain English education, chiefly under the tuition of the Rev. Mr. Sutcliffe, Curate of Ashworth chapel, and Master of the Grammar-School at Bamford, an institution endowed by the liberality of Madam Ann Bamford, of Bamford-Hall. From the exact habits and mental discipline of his more mature years, it is not unreasonable to conclude that, whatever he was taught in that seminary, he was taught carefully and well.
When he was about eight years of age, his mother died. Blameless as her outward deportment had been, she felt the necessity, when life declined, of a greater change than any that she had ever yet experienced; nor did she seek that change in vain.
She gratefully testified in her last sickness that she enjoyed the knowledge of salvation by the remission of her sins," and departed hence in peace. Not long after her death, his father began to be a hearer of the Wesleyan-Methodist Ministers; and, under a sermon preached by the late Rev. John Gaulter, who was at that time stationed in the Rochdale Circuit, he was powerfully awakened, notwithstanding the previous correctness of his walk in life, to a sense of his personal guilt and danger as a sinner both by nature and by practice. Some weeks afterwards, he obtained the gift of peace with God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; and, when he had thus found the truth himself, he became zealous for the conversion of his family and neighbours. He immediately introduced the daily worship of God into his house. Public meetings for prayer were also often held, and ser
VOL. II.--FOURTH SERIES.
mons preached, under its now hallowed roof. Effects produced on the susceptible heart of childhood are generally strong and lasting. “ I shall never forget the first time," writes Mr. Grindrod, in a short record which he penned of his earlier years,
father called his family for prayer. I was then about nine years of age; and I still have a lively recollection of the fear and trembling with which he held the book whence he read a form of devotion. The impressions of divine truth made at that time upon my mind have never been effaced.”
These tokens of good were encouraging, and discovered a favourable pre-disposition to things divine. But, in the fourteenth year of his age, he began to “search for the Lord with all his heart.” He himself, in his private papers, dates the commencement of this happier course on the evening of Christmas-Day, in the year 1799. From that period, he continued diligently to use the means of grace,
in retirement and in public, anxiously inquiring, “What must I do to be saved ?" and, in the space of four weeks, he gained a clear manifestation of God's pardoning mercy. It was at midnight, when he had been wrestling in prayer for several hours, that he was enabled to close with Christ on His own terms, relying on His atoning sacrifice as the only way of sinful man's acceptance with God; and, in that moment, he “received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” He "prevailed” in the spiritual conflict of supplication ; and the next day's “sun rose upon him” with joyous light, for the Lord" had blessed him.” The reality of the change which was then wrought, appeared in all his subsequent conduct; and the outward fruits of the Spirit followed the inward testimony of His adopting grace. He “set his love" upon God with ardent determination, and delighted in communion with Him, as well as in the regular use of all His ordinances. The thoughts and affections of his heart were continually towards the Lord ; and he became, in his life, strictly and studiously observant of His commandments. He abandoned all trifling company, and gave himself to reading and prayer. To his latest days, he retained a grateful remembrance of the visitation which was vouchsafed to him from on high, when the “ Day-star” first “ arose in his heart;" and, as these brief memorials will declare, exhibited a meek and unassuming pattern of Christian goodness through all the succeeding stages of his earthly sojourn.
Prospects of great temporal advantage soon opened before him, and afforded him an opportunity of proving whether he did or did not “ esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures” of this world. Towards the close of the year 1800, it pleased God, in · the order of His providence, to remove the family to Liverpool. The occasion of this removal was as follows:--Edmund's eldest brother, Jonathan, who had some time previously become the foreman to two considerable master-stonemasons, in partnership with each other, near Rochdale and Bury, was taken by one of the partners to Liverpool, to examine the plans and specifications of a large piece of mason-work, then about to be executed by contract in one of the docks of that town, and to give in an estimate for it. The late John Foster, Esq., Architect, by whom the undertaking was to be let, paid kind attention to Mr. Jonathan Grindrod, and, after several interviews with him, addressed him to this effect : 66 Grindrod, I am not satisfied either with the con
duct or the talents of your master, and am determined, at all events, not to give him the work. But if you will return to Rochdale, and, without any loss of time, bring back with you testimonials of your good character, signed by two Clergymen, and of your competency for such an undertaking, signed by two Architects, I will forthwith give the work to you." Hearing this, Mr. Jonathan Grindrod hastened to Rochdale, and, in conjunction with his father and brother Timothy, very soon obtained such testimonials as, on being presented to Mr. Foster, were highly satisfactory to that gentleman. He therefore gave them the contract for the work in question; in consequence of which, the father, three other sons, a daughter, and Edmund, removed, a few weeks afterwards, to Liverpool, where his nearer relations, and their descendants, have generally dwelt ever since. This occurrence marked a new era in the history of the family, and was followed by a tide of great worldly prosperity, in which Edmund, who was trained to the same business with his brothers, and whose orderly habits were eminently fitted to win and secure confidence, had every fair prospect of partaking. The course which lay before him was inviting, especially to a youthful mind: but the claims of what he could not but regard as a paramount duty which he owed to his heavenly Master, were more powerful ; and they prevailed.
From the time of his conversion, as above narrated, he had an inward persuasion, which gathered strength with years and experience, that he was called of God to devote himself to the office of the Christian ministry; and to this persuasion he was resolved to yield, at the sacrifice of any temporal emolument whatever. He therefore industriously employed his leisure hours in such reading and studies as he deemed best adapted to facilitate his acquisition of sound theological knowledge. But, as he frankly confesses, having none to guide him in the course which he thus attempted to pursue, his time was not always bestowed on a class of books the most suitable and advantageous to a person in his situation. By the unsought advice of many of his Christian friends, he began to preach in the nineteenth year and was shortly afterwards admitted upon the Local Preachers' Plan, without passing through the usual term of probation; a circumstance which shows the favourable estimate formed, even then, of his character and ability, but which ought by no means to be viewed in the light of an ordinary precedent. He was thus admitted as a Local Preacher by the late Rev. John Barber, who at that time superintended the Liverpool Circuit, and who, from the first date of Mr. Grindrod's acquaintance with him to the latest period of his own life, conducted himself towards him as a father. When he became a Local Preacher, he was also introduced to the friendship of the Rev. Richard Reece, who treated him with great kindness, taught him a better method of improving his mind than any that he had heretofore known, and recommended the perusal of such books as proved of signal service to him.
At the age of about twenty years, and while he was contemplating the work of the ministry, his life was preserved, when in the most imminent jeopardy, by a deliverance which is worthy of particular recital. He and others were engaged at the time in the erection of the New Exchange Buildings in Liverpool. One day, while they were setting the pilasters in the corner of the west wing of that
of his age,
noble edifice, he was on the top of the structure, superintending the workmen who were fixing one of the pilasters in its place. Suddenly, the main rope, which held what builders call the shears in their proper balance, broke asunder; and the shears, with the other pilaster which was suspended in them, came down upon the wall, where he and two workmen were standing. The workmen escaped ; but he, in attempting to do the same, was projected from the wall, by the loose pilaster, into the interior of the building, and precipitated, with this huge stone, to the next floor below. It is surprising that the stone did not fall upon him, and crush him to death in a moment, and yet more surprising that it should have remained on the first floor beneath, thus saving him from being hurled to a further depth of fifteen yards. The stone was about a ton and a half in weight. Its fall shattered the timbers of the next floor; and yet it was so nicely balanced on a slender slab of wood, which took hold of the unbroken joists at each end, that it rested in its precarious position until the men had time to repair the shears and raise it again, by their means, to its former place. For some seconds, Mr. Grindrod was entirely unconscious of what had happened, and lay, covered with broken pieces of boards, on the fallen stone. But he was soon made sensible, by the cries of the workmen in the area below, of his perilous liability to a greater descent of fifteen yards. The workmen saw his critical situation, but could render him no assistance. He was perfectly composed. In the extremity of his danger, the words of the Psalmist passed through his mind, inspiring him with unshaken confidence and holy delight : " He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone;" and, while these singularly appropriate words were dwelling on his tongue, he was snatched from the jaws of a sudden and violent death. He raised himself from the stone, sprang into a window-place at a little distance; and, when he turned and looked on the awful hazard from which he had been so marvellously rescued, was nearly overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude to his Almighty Preserver. Most of the spectators of this scene were irreligious men, whom he had often privately exhorted to turn from the error of their ways; and they were now compelled, as with one voice, to acknowledge that the hand of God was visible in his preservation. One of them said, “ If any of us had been in your situation, he would have been killed. But you are the only righteous man among us; and God has saved your life.” Young indeed as he was, he had a great moral influence over some of the most profane of the workmen. When they saw him approaching, they would say, "We must not swear,—Edmund is coming.”
Shortly after the event above related, he paid a visit to his native place, and preached, on the morning of a Lord's day, in the Wesleyan chapel at Rochdale. An uncle of his, Mr. Robert Ashworth, of Castleton, was present, and invited Mr. Grindrod to his house. Mr. Ashworth was a strict Churchman, and a man of property. As they walked together, he expressed his approbation of the sermon which he had heard, and proposed to send Edmund to one of the Universities, that he might, in due process of time, obtain Episcopal ordination, and become a Clergyman of the established Church; assuring him, too, that he had influence with several Clergymen of note and consideration; and that, if Edmund would accede to his proposal, he should not lack