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     Editor's Note: Most documents spell Joseph Redding's name with "two Rs." John Taylor's spelling was inconsistent, but he generally spelled the name with "one R." -- The following are some items pulled from the essay. -- Jim Duvall

      "[John] Gano himself was not his equal. . . . He seldom ever read any book but his Bible. Perhaps his library would never have sold for more than ten dollars, and yet as a preacher he was well skilled in the mysteries of the kingdom. . . . The truth was, he knew how to preach and what to preach.
      "In his stature, [Redding] was about five feet eight or nine inches high, very heavy built. So far from being stoop shouldered, he rather leaned back, and had a majestic front; his hair was black, lying close and turned back from his forehead; his skin rather swarthy than fair; his mouth wide, and when in a pleasant humor, showed all its size; his teeth stood wide apart; his eyes rather dark, but blue; his look generally bore this aspect -- if you approach me as an enemy, it is at your peril. His constitutional make was faithful and benevolent to a friend, but take care, enemies."

Joseph Redding
By John Taylor,
From The Christian Repository, 1859

      Lest the name and character of the deceased should be forgotten, (gratitude forbids,) a long and intimate acquaintance with the late Elder Joseph Reding, for the space of half a century, leads to the following statement:

     Mr. Reding was born in the lower end of Faquier county, Virginia, at a place called Germantown, in what date is uncertain, but most probably in 1750. His mother was from Germany; his father of Welsh extraction; so that he was a mixture of Welsh and Dutch. The parents of Mr. Reding both died when he was young, and left an orphan family of seven or eight children, who were raised by an uncle of theirs, William Reding, in low circumstances, so that the Elders opportunity was remarkable slender as to education. When grown, he could barely read above spelling as he went. He could write some. His views were the common sport of that day. In religion, he was a fire hot churchman, the established order of the day. He married at the age of eighteen years to Anna Weakly, a prudent, sensible and very industrious woman. Though Reding married so young, he was fully grown, strong built, approaching to two hundred in weight, of a touch-me-not stamp. The weapon of his warfare, to defend even his religion, was his fist. About this time the Baptists, then called New Lights, began to preach with great success in the region where he lived; but Mr. Reding kept close, and disdained to be deceived by the false prophets, as he called them. As he lived on a public road, on a stormy evening a waggoner desired shelter in his house through the night from the weather, which was granted. This waggoner, Joseph Baker by name, was young in religious profession, and being heard to groan or sigh as he went out to attend to his horse, Isaac Reding, an older brother than Joseph, and a better scholar, remarked to his brother when he heard the waggoner's groan as he went out -- that man is a Baptist, and I'll confute him when he comes in and all things get settled. The agreement was, that Joseph Reding was to be silent and Isaac do the converting work with the waggoner. If any fist work was needful, that was to be done by Joseph, as his brother was a small man, and Baker the waggoner, pretty lusty. Early in the night Isaac began his operations; but to Joseph's great astonishment, in the debate, his brother was worsted by the waggoner, who could not read a word in any book. Joseph got very angry at Baker's success, and to prevent using him ill in his own house, went to bed and left them disputing, though he did not sleep till Isaac was brought to complete silence; for which Joseph determined to whip

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his brother when the waggoner was gone. But Baker so seasonably applied his victory that poor Isaac slept none that night, nor Joseph himself through chagrin and resentment. Baker drove off in the morning before Joseph was up. When he had risen to do with his brother as he had designed, poor Isaac trembled as if Belshazzar's fit was on him, and with floods of tears could have fallen under his insulting brother's feet, like dear Able, for his desire was to Cain, when that wicked monster murdered him; but in the case of the Redings nothing more was inflicted than harsh words. The next day at a log rolling in the neighborhood, Joseph, to make himself a little merry at his brother's new religion, informed his comrades, (when they saw Isaac look solemn as death) that a waggoner had converted him last night; the soundness of which they were determined to try, partly by sport and partly by ridicule. Several laid hold of him, and led him to a black log, where some held, while one of the most hardy rubbed his hands on the log, and then on Isaac's face, all of which he bore without resistance, while tears streamed from his eyes, and he trembling prayed to God to have mercy on his opposers, while the one that did the blacking, in a tremor cried out, good God, Isaac, what ails you? The whole company was alarmed, and Joseph himself did not escape a blow that never left him. How marvelous are God's works of grace, and from what small beginnings does he effect his great designs. A sigh or groan of a poor illiterate waggoner produces this dispute with the Redings, which terminates in their speedy conversion, and within six month's time, under these men's ministry, the neighborhood was alive with lively saints.

     Something uncommon attended Isaac Reding's conversion. One peculiarity was profuse weeping, and while his vast sorrows trickled from his eye-lids, his whole body trembled with such violence as if his joints would dislocate. He was truly a Shaker. If from the height of God's sanctuary he looks to them that tremble at his word, he soon looked to Isaac Reding. About one month from his first awakening he obtained a happy deliverance, and soon joined the people so much then despised, the Baptists. I have said something of this man's ministry. He immediately after being baptized began to preach, and with some success; but though his understanding in the scripture was very good, his usefulness in council and his character every way reccommended him. His lack of talent to communicate was such, the church at length thought it most prudent for him to desist from public speaking, which he bore with all the patience of a lamb. His help in the church was sensibly felt. Myself lived long a member with him. He came nearest a spirit of prophecy, or foretelling things to come, of any man I was ever acquainted with; to cite instances here I esteem not seasonable. He died about fifteen years past in Woodford county, a member of Clear Creek Church.

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      I have already hinted at the frolic Joseph Reding had at blacking his brother's face. He took much alarm, and invited William Marshall to preach at his house, at which time, in the presence of all his old comrades, he trembled like Felix, the Roman governor, while Paul reasoned, &c.; but not like him in putting the thing off for a convenient season; but received the words with all readiness of mind, like the noble Bereans, and with an overwhelming consciousness of guilt, soon obtained relief in the blessed Saviour, and was baptized about September, 1771, when he was about twenty- one years old, then I suppose the father of two children. He was baptized in Shenandoah river, then Frederick county. He immediately lifted up his voice like a trumpet, and sounded out hell and damnation at a most fearful rate. Nor was his preaching free from the sweet charms of invitation. The truth was, the Lord soon blest his labors to many of his neighbors, of which my own soul is a witness; for I then lived in the neighborhood, not yet grown. His gifts at that time, to be sure, as a preacher were small; but his soul was in the work. He had the spirit of preaching, and would be warning or persuading sinners in his sleep. He considered an appointment too [sic] preach too sacred a thing to be neglected. I will give an instance or two. With myself he had a meeting appointed, about fifteen miles from his house. I went to his house the over night for an early start. He lived in the woods, had neither stable nor pasture; of course we belled and turned our horses in the woods. The night proved rainy, and next morning very wet. We searched for our horses till about eight or nine o'clock, and failed to find them. We did not hesitate a moment to take it on foot, a rough, mountainous road, it then raining; and a most heavy day of rain it proved. We had to travel in a half run to get to the place, and met not more than twenty people. At another time we had appointments for a week or ten days. I got to his house the over night; the first meeting was twenty miles distant. Perhaps the only beast he owned was a mare with a young colt; my horse was young; the weather hot; we did not hesitate to go on foot; set off at sunrise, got to the twenty mile meeting in time, and a blessed meeting we had; for the Lord seemed to much bless the people. The next day we traveled on foot over mountainous ground thirty-eight miles before and after meeting, and both of us preached to the people; after which our stages were shorter. The whole tour was about one hundred and fifty miles, about the head waters of the Potomac river. I give the instances of zeal as a sample of Mr. Reding's whole life in the ministry, which from beginning to end was upwards of forty years.

      In 1772, about nine months after he began to preach, he moved with all his family to South Carolina, a distance of five cr six hundred miles. While in that country he became intimate with a

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David Martin, a Tunker minister, a man of great influence, and much of a preacher. Through the art of Martin, our friend Joseph's mind got warped off very much in Arminianism. However, he not being satisfied in the religious society in Carolina, in the spring of 1775, he moved back to Virginia, and became a member of Shenandoah Church, South river, now called Happy Creek Church, where he was baptized, and where William Marshall then had the pastoral care. He was soon ordained to the office of Ruling Elder, which in those days was often conferred on men who did not preach. There soon arose a difficulty between the Pastor and Elder; for Marshall was more than a warm predestinarian, though himself before had been much stained with Arminianism. This dispute arose so high that Reding left the church, though legally dismissed, and much beloved by far the greater part of the church; for but few of them accorded with the measures of the Pastor. Mr. Reding now moved into Hampshire county, the then back settlements of Virginia, where he had a vast range of preaching, no other preacher living at that time in the county. He was free from legal persecution; for no established priest was there. And though the raging flames of the revolutionary war blew up many churches in the lower part of the State, our Joseph, as an instrument, was building up a number of flourishing churches in its back settlements. He labored incessantly night and day for five or six years.

      Perhaps he might never have called in question his mixed plan of preaching, only for the Methodists, swarming thick in the county where he ranged. According to their mythology, they strain hard to make their fables hang together; and there may be at least apparent consistency in error. This led Mr. Reding to think of consistency. He being naturally strong minded, and Sovereign Grace having converted his soul, attention only to his Bible (almost the only book he read) could set him right in a little time without human aid, (except the Methodists.) He came out one of the most clear headed Predestinarians the Baptists could boast of, with a new and expanded idea of many scriptures, locked up to him before, which greatly augmented his usefulness in the ministry. His circumstances in life being low, and having a growing family, he, with a number of his church, in fall of 1779 set off to move to Kentucky, to take water at Red Stone. After embarking in their boat, they met with a shipwreck. While in their strait, one of the crew cried out to Mr. Reding - what shall we do? His reply was, throw me overboard; from which it seemed he thought he had erred in the enterprise. They had to stop all winter. His friends prevailed on him to go on with them the next spring, and a most gloomy time it was for Indian warfare. They landed at the falls of Ohio in March or April, 1780, where all were shut up in forts.

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      There was no opening for preaching, from the great distress the people were in. One of his children died soon after he landed. He determined to return from whence he went, and though the wilderness itself was two hundred miles, and the greatest haunt of savage rage, he passed his family through; and the whole journey was six hundred miles, and chiefly a wilderness. In June, the same year, he re-entered the same house he left the fall before, in Hampshire county, Virginia. It is probable the county was a hundred miles square, and no Baptist preacher living in it but himself, though there were plenty of Methodists, against whose doctrines he was now a great warrior. He traveled without intermission, and I supposed preached more times than there were days in each year. There were four or five churches in his range (mainly planted by himself.) He had the care of them all. Thus he continued till the spring of 1784, when with a number of his members he moved again, high up in the state of South Carolina. There he was popular and his range great. He was now in the prime of life, and a thunderbolt against Arminianism in all its shapes wherever he found it, for he never treated what he esteemed error with a sparing hand. He was one of several other ministers who alternately supplied the church in Charleston, before Mr. Furman took the pastoral care of the same. Mr. Reding continued between four and five years in Carolina; for in October, 1779, he arrived in Kentucky just at the time of the sitting of Elkhorn Association. On Sunday, he was with others appointed to preach; and as a new broom sweeps clean, Reding swept all before him. Gano himself was not his equal. By the imprudent tougues of some of the Baptists, whether the preachers of Kentucky did not become a little envious, and the new comer a little lifted, is yet to explain; but certain it is, but little harmony subsisted between him and other preachers in the country for a considerable time. In 1790 he moved to the Great Crossing, where Elijah Craig had the pastoral care; but being much engaged in speculations preached but little. But as Reding was a daily laborer in the Lord's harvest, a majority of the church soon turned their attention to him as their pastor. This stirred up great difficulties between the preachers. Craig was excluded, and that affair, as they were both men of talent, went near dividing the whole Elkhorn Association. The Crossing's Church they did divide, from which the church at M'Connel's Run was brought into existence, where Craig took his membership. In about 1785 Reding peaceably took the pastoral care of the Crossings Church, which care he continued about sixteen years; through which term the church was much enlarged; hundreds were added by baptism, till she was so overgrown, that several were constituted from her, and she still continues one of the largest and most respectable in
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Elkhorn Association; and for a pastor, is under the care of James Suggett, son-in-law to Mr. Reding, and was baptized by him. In 1809 our Joseph took a letter of dismission, and joined a large and respectable church, planted by his own instrumentality, called Dry Run, it being more convenient where he then lived; but it is thought this convenience was not all his object in leaving the Crossing's Church. The great difficulties in society about [Jacob] Creath were now in their highest rage. The forming Licking Association was in agitation, and the church at Dry Run was more favorable to that subject than the church he left; and he was a great zealot for the new association, as well as the movements against Creath. In the new establishment (Licking Association) he was fervent, for his make was not to do things by halves. With him was connected chief of the effective part of Elkhorn Association. This explosion in Baptist society was dreadful indeed; for its effects were felt afar off. Perhaps this age will not finally remove the odium. Though our hero was now advanced in life, perhaps sixty years old, his strength both of body and mind for ministerial labor, his will also leaning that way, he bore up like an ox to the yoke, itinerating among the churches of his new establishment, till on a tour of preaching in Woodford county, he was smitten with a paralytic stroke from his hip downwards, which in a manner took way the use and feeling of that part of his frame. He still traveled and preached, when from his own aocount, he could scarcely feel the stirrups, or the saddle he sat on. A second stroke of the same kind followed not long after, and a third about a year before his death, that considerably affected his speech and his reasoning; under all of which there was a great patience and resignation to God.

      He departed this life in December, 1815, aged about sixty-five years. If we are to judge from actions, which is the only rule by which finite creatures can safely judge, in that case Joseph Reding was among the most zealous and laborious ministers of which we ever had any knowledge. There never appeared any hesitation when it came his lot to preach. His lungs (in his prime days at least,) never seemed to fail. After preaching day and night for months together, he could sing clear as if all was sound, and while preaching he never seemed to spare his lungs. Considering his talents when he began to preach, or his opportunity of improvement through life, he was a prodigy among men. He seldom ever read any book but his Bible. Perhaps his library would never have sold for more than ten dollars, and yet as a preacher he was well skilled in the msyteries of the kingdom. The means by which he most improved, was being in company with improved men, for his mind took in with ease what he heard from others. He generally seemed when preaching to well understand

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the subject he had in hand. The truth was, he knew how to preach and what to preach. He knew how to preach; for he only dwelt long enough on each point in his subject to explain it, nor dragged in a redundance of evidence to substantiate a point already proven. His sermons therefore were generally short, seldom overgoing an hour, and generally closed with great pathos. He knew what to preach; for his doctrines well agreed with the analogy of faith. With human testimony, or I say, only had its own little weight. He only chose to bring forward authority from heaven; he was therefore very confident in what he preached; he taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes; and yet I have seen him so much embarrassed as to desist from preaching, after making some advances on his subject.

      In his stature, he was about five feet eight or nine inches high, very heavy built. So far from being stoop shouldered, he rather leaned back, and had a majestic front; his hair was black, lying close and turned back from his forehead; his skin rather swarthy than fair; his mouth wide, and when in a pleasant humor, showed all its size; his teeth stood wide apart; his eyes rather dark, but blue; his look generally bore this aspect -- if you approach me at an enemy, it is at your peril. His constitutional make was faithful and benevolent to a friend, but take care, enemies. Whether it grew from the nature of that severe mixture of Welsh and Dutch blood, or from uncommon zeal and faithfulness to do God service, is hard to say. But surely his severity at times overleaped the bounds of Christian charity, and hard censure came first, when candor would have plead an apology. He was so remarkably afraid of flattery, that he was seldom ever known to praise any man, or highly applaud anything he had done. By this rule men may look for rewards only in the world to come. If censure or finding fault would do a man any good, he might get amply supplied from his magazine. It can therefore be accounted for, why but few young preachers were ever raised where he had the care.

      We see by the foregoing biographical remarks, Mr. Reding, an orphan child, directed by providence before he had grace; in his marriage better suited, all things considered, than any other man; we see him traveling in long journeys with his family 4000 miles before be settled in Kentucky, preaching with success wherever he went. He had many children; a number of them died before him. His family was left in easy, though not affluent circumstances. His living children are all married. Though Joseph is gone I have no doubt he is yet alive with his Saviour.

Note. -- This sketch was written by old John Taylor, whose biography appeared in our last issue. It appeared appended to his tract on missions in 1816. We have thought that the quaint style of the old pioneer would give more interest than to re-write it. -- Samuel H. Ford.

[From Samuel H. Ford, editor, The Christian Repository, July, 1859, No. LXLI, pp. 494-500. Via Google Books.]

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