Gadsby W

William Gadsby was born into poverty in Attleborough, Warwickshire in 1773. He became apprenticed to a ribbon weaver at 13 years of age. He was converted when he was 17 years old, and began to preach some eight years later, even though he could still scarcely read. He became a pastor, first at Hinckley and then later in Manchester, steadfastly preaching the doctrines of free and sovereign grace for 46 years. Despite his lack of education, he was so clearly led into the truth as it is in Jesus, and had such gifts of communication, that his preaching was with peculiar power and savour. During his 38 years pastorate at what is now Rochdale Road Particular Baptist Chapel, Manchester, he had a congregation of some 900 people. He was of the working class, and retained a heart for them, and spoke up for them in public affairs in the rapidly industrialising city of Manchester. Together with his son, John, he began the Gospel Standard magazine in 1835, or 'the feeble Christian's support'. This has continued until now, becoming the oldest religious monthly magazine still in existence, and around which an entire denomination of Strict and Particular Baptists has formed. He stood out against the downgrade doctrine of Andrew Fuller, of duty faith teaching and the free offer. He also ably asserted that the rule of life for a Christian is not the moral law, but the fuller revelation of duty and privilege found in the teachings of Jesus Christ and his apostles. He was a gifted hymnwriter, most notably of the hymn 'Immortal Honours', and compiled his own hymnbook in 1814. This contained some of his own, but also many other well known hymns of a decidedly free grace character. He died in 1844, having travelled extensively over Lancashire and Yorkshire preaching and forming churches, thus leaving a continuing legacy.

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