Vredenbergh, John Schureman

Vredenbergh, John Schureman a clergyman of the Reformed (Dutch) Church, was born in New Brunswick, N. J., March 20, 1776, the son of a respectable merchant. He graduated at Queen's College in 1794, studied theology with Dr. John H. Livingston, was licensed to preach in 1798 or 1800 (?), and became pastor of his only charge, the Reformed (Dutch) Church of Raritan or Somerville, N.J., June, 1800. Here he ministered until Oct. 4, 1821, when he was suddenly called to his reward in heaven. The Church had been divided before his settlement, but under his ministry it was united, and grew with steady increase in strength and numbers until his death. Then came the great harvest. He had been engaged for three successive days in pastoral visitation with an elder, and was so cheered by its results that, despite fatigue, he insisted on finishing his round on the third day. He bade farewell to a lady of his congregation and her husband who were just about going on a mission to the heathen. They sang together the hymn "Blest be the tie that binds," and then he offered a prayer so sweet and melting that it seemed to carry them up to the gate of heaven. That midnight the bridegroom's cry was heard, and he went out to meet him. He died of epilepsy, leaving his widow with her eleven children, Her greatest anxiety was "How shall I train them for heaven?" Mrs. Vredenbergh was a daughter of the celebrated Rev. James Caldwell, D.D., of Elizabeth, N.J., the heroic martyr of thee Revolution, "and was a babe in her mother's arms when Tory hands took that mother's life." Nobly did this rare woman fulfill her trust as a minister's wife, and as the mother of her fatherless children. Her husband's funeral drew crowds of weeping friends to the impressive scene. Immediately a wonderful revival of religion began, which lasted two years, and added to the Church fellowship three hundred and sixty-eight souls. It reached all classes of the community, and its subjects, as a body, with very few exceptions, led consistent Christian lives.

Mr. Vredenbergh was an impressive, earnest, instructive preacher, a faithful, skilful, successful, and beloved pastor. His amiable qualities endeared him to all that knew him. His attainments were respectable. He was a great friend of the young people, a judicious counselor, and attracted a confidence, which he always justified. He knew men and he knew God and the Bible as few men do. His spirituality was his crowning excellence and the secret of his success. See Sprague, Annals of the Amer. Pulpit, vol. 9; Corwin, Manual of the Ref. Church, s.v.; Walsh, The Martyred Missionaries, 9, 167, 201. (W. J. R. T.)

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