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First Employment-Abstinence-Hard Work-The First Rungs of
the Ladder-An Ingenious Master-Apprenticeship-Punctu-
Conscience versus Sin-Great Temptations-The Prominent Pro-
fessor and a Jolly" Christmas-His Employer's Worldly
The Battle of Life-A Test of Skill-Finding a Wife and Making
Furniture-His First Business-Ginger Beer and Oranges-A
Opens an Evening Drawing School-A Godly Work-mate-Longing
for Light and Truth-James Wells and the Wheelbarrow-
Spiritual Profit-Liberty and Zeal-A Difficult Scripture Re-
Seeking First the Kingdom of God-Loss and Gain thereby-Provi-
dential Leadings-A Thirty-six Mile Walk-Architectural
Drawing-God Moves in a Mysterious Way-Messrs. White &
Son-Managing their Works-Rapidly Rising, yet still Seeking
Church Formed at Gravesend-Commences to Preach-The Pillar
of Cloud-Portland Cement-Commencing Business as a
Manufacturer-A Snuff-box, but no Snuff-Business Trials-
Bereavement A Loving Tribute-Frayer Graciously Answered—
Second Marriage-Mayor of Gateshead-A Daughter and a
Kept by the Power of God-The Mayor Preaches-Building a
House-"Arise, and go towards the South "-Greenhithe Works
Started-Opposed by Parson, Squire & Lawyer-Godly Sub-
Removal to Gravesend-Nine down with Scarlet Fever-Hope
through Patience and Comfort of the Scriptures-Testimony to
the Lord's Lovingkindness-Borough and County Honours--
Salver presented to Mr. Johnson, while Mayor of Gates-
facing page 64
Mr. Johnson on his bicycle at the age of 89.
Mr. Johnson admiring the presentation made to him on
his 100th birthday
Diagrams drawn by Mr. Johnson at about the age of 96
,, 112, 117
AT the request of Mrs. Johnson, this short preface to the autobiography of Mr. I. C. Johnson has been written. The writer's qualifications for the task consist in a personal acquaintance with Mr. Johnson extending over a period of about thirty-eight years, during which he has many times enjoyed somewhat lengthy interviews with him, and been instructed from his accumulated stores of knowledge and wisdom; and in a sincere admiration for his character and achievements. Anything beyond these he cannot claim.
Believing that good biographies are among the most instructive books, he is thankful that Mr. Johnson was led himself to write an account of the leading events of his own remarkable life. He thinks that few discerning minds will rise from a perusal of his words without having received some benefit; and especially young people will find his career, as unfolded by himself, a powerful stimulant to press on in the sphere in which the providence of God has placed them. And, beyond the natural benefits thus derived, it is hoped that the narrative, by the blessing of God, may be the means of leading some out of darkness into God's marvellous light, and also of strengthening the faith and encouraging the hope of tried believers.
Mr. Johnson's life was remarkable for its length, as he was within a few weeks of being one hundred and one years old when the home-call reached him. Mere length of days in itself, however, is but a small distinction-a man may live long, achieve nothing, and die unhonoured and unregretted. But his life was not merely long, but both honourable and useful. If the man who makes two ears of wheat grow where only one grew before is a benefactor to mankind, surely the man who develops an industry, whereby hundreds of men are enabled to obtain a good livelihood for themselves and families, must also be a benefactor to his race. And more than this is
found in his life-for between seventy and eighty years he was a consistent follower of the Lord Jesus Christ; through his instrumentality a church of God was formed, and a chapel built, where many precious souls have been brought to the knowledge of the Lord. He himself also preached the gospel of Christ for many years with ability and success, and tracts written by him, of no mean order, are now being circulated by the "Strict and Particular Baptist Society," whereby "he being dead, yet speaketh."
He began life with few advantages and many disadvantages. An education of the most meagre description, a weak physical frame, and no earthly friends or wealth behind him, might have seemed to have decided that he must remain in a lowly position. The temptations also by which he was surrounded among his fellow-workmen might easily have sent him to an early and dishonoured grave. But God had determined otherwise, and to God the praise was always rendered by our departed friend. God had endowed him with a quick and powerful intellect, and indomitable perseverance. These, with God's blessing and directing providence, enabled him to surmount all the difficulties that stood in his path. An instance of his perseverance and tact may be given in relation to his public speaking. His chest capacity was small, and as a consequence his voice not powerful, but he acquired by constant practice so clear an enunciation that he could be easily and distinctly heard in large buildings, even where others with far stronger voices often failed.
The Strict and Particular Baptists among whom, under the ministry of Mr. James Wells, he was brought to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, are neither a fashionable nor a popular body, rather, perhaps, best described as "the sect everywhere spoken against," but he remained faithful to his convictions to the end. No advance in worldly position or circumstances wrought any change in him. The preaching Mayor of Gateshead proclaimed the same truths that had reached his heart, and wrought deliverance in his soul, when he was the journeyman carpenter. The large employer of labour preached the same gospel that he had received when he was earning his bread in the sweat of his face. He was no Galatian, easily removed to another gospel, but the truth was