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MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. JOHN FAWCETT, D.D.

MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL AT HEBDENBRIDGE, YORKSHIRE. To those who are interested in tury, is to be criminated for having watching the progress of the hu- admitted uneducated men into their man intellect, and who are espe- pulpits, their apology may be made cially gratified in witnessing the by replying, that they have been development of its faculties, under taught to do so by churchmen formidable difficulties and discou, themselves; for it was not till ragements, the history of the Eng« Messrs. Whitefield and Wesley lish Dissenting ministry, since the had sanctioned the practice, that Act of Uniformity, must afford an Dissenters ever adopted it. Till unrivalled gratification. We hazard that time, the Independents and little in affirming, that among this Presbyterians had been scrupuclass of men, there have been more lously attached to a well-educated instances of that native and irre- and learned ministry; and the pressible genius, which neither ob- former, who have been the princi, scurity of birth, nor limited edu- pal deviators from the wise exam, cation, nor ecclesiastical bigotry, ple of their ancestors, we are happy could depress, or prevent from to perceive, are again gradually competing for the honours of litera- returning to their ancient and more ture, than among any other equal correct taste. number of our countrymen, how. The truth of the foregoing reever favoured by popular opinion, mark, is amply elucidated in the or assisted by superior immunities. lives of those ministers, whose Wethink it is an unequalled feature views were first directed towards in ecclesiastical history, that a body the sacred office at the period of of men, separated from the mass of the revival of religion, about the the population by conscientious middle of the last century. There differences in religious opinions, was a great portion of originality, and debarred by unjust and unna- and native talent, in the contemtural impositions from enjoying poraries of the excellent men to the advantages of refined educa- whom we have now referred ; and tion, at the accredited schools of though there were glaring eccenliterature, should yet have been tricities in their characters, they able to produce such scholars, as were the eccentricities of genius, Watts, Doddridge, Lardner, Le- and qualities which rendered them land, Henry, Calamy, Lowman, more decisive, and more prominent Foster, Gill, Jones, Chandler, and in that age of inactivity, and, pera host of others. These were men, haps, more extensively useful than considering them merely as scho- most of their successors, lars, whom

any denomination might The subject of this memoir is have been glad to enroll among its entitled to a distinguished place members. And, indeed, if the body among that numerous addition to of Dissenters, during the last cen- the ranks of nonconformity made Cong. Mag. No. 49.

B

by the preaching of the early Me. With this gentleman, and with thodists. He was a contemporary Mr. David Pratt, another member of Venn, and Grimshaw, and Roc' of the Presbyterian body, Mr. F. maine, and in habits of intimacy became very intimate, and was with many of the leading men assisted by the latter in the acof the evangelical party of those quirement of the Latin language, days.

and with the loan of some valuable Mr. Fawcett was born near Brad- books in divinity. From him also, ford, in Yorkshire, in the year Mr. F. derived that affection for 1740. His early life was chiefly the writings of Flavel, which he remarkable for an intense love of ever after cherished. Mr. Pratt reading, a passion, which has been appears to have inherited the piety the invariable characteristic of those of the ancient Presbyterians, and who have, in more mature life, to have followed them in that exarisen to respectable acquirements cellent practice of catechising the in literature. And though his fa- young, which was so peculiarly ther's limited number of books their characteristic. seem to have afforded but little However Mr. Fawcett's litescope to his literary taste, yet those rary attainments

may

have into which, through other channels, creased by his acquaintance with he could gain access, were dili- these respectable men, or however gently and constantly perused. moral or

or correct' he may have The works of Bunyan, Allein's been in his conduct, it does not apAlarm, and Baxter's Call, appear pear that he received the blessings to have been the favourite objects of vital religion, till that man of of his youthful reading. About God, Mr. Whitefield, visited the the age of thirteen, he was appren- part of the country where he reticed to a tradesman in Bradford, sided, and revived the almost exwhere his regularity and attention piring flame of Christianity, which to the public services of the church had shone so brilliantly in that gained him the friendship of the neighbourhood in the days of lecturer, Mr. Butler.-From this the first nonconformists. To Mr. gentleman he received the loan of Whitefield's faithful and energetic such books as he could not other- preaching, he always attributed wise

procure, and was favoured by his conversion to God, and ever some occasional instruction in lite- retained for his character a prorature. His sabbath evenings were 'found reverence and affection. sometimes occupied in attending at Shortly after Mr. Fawcett's theold Presbyterian meeting-house, mind was awakened to the imwhere the remembrance of the piety portance of personal religion, he of their puritan ancestors had not became acquainted with the nonentirely forsaken the worshippers. conformist controversy, and graAs there was no regular minister dually lost his predilection for settled over the congregation at the establishment. In conjunction this time, the service was generally with some others, who had been conducted by an ancient member, converted by Mr. Whitefield's a Mr. Swain, who read to the as- preaching, he endeavoured to orsembly those sermons of the old ganize a church on congregational nonconformists, which he had heard principles; but this design was, at in his early days, and which, ac- length, relinquished. The Anticording to the custom of the primi- pædobaptists of Bradford, howtive. Dissenters, he had taken ever, succeeded in a similar atdown. To these sermons he occa- tempt, and engaged, for their first sionally added remarks of his own. pastor, Mr. Crabtree, of Wains. gate, on whose ministry Mr. F. many serious desires to undertake occasionally attended. Under this the ministry of the Gospel, and gentleman's preaching, his views that, in consequence, the church of on baptism experienced a change; which he was a member desired he was accordingly immersed, and him to exercise his talents at one became a member of that body. of their private meetings, that they

Mr. Fawcett continued to in- might be enabled to judge of his dulge, with unabated ardour, his abilities for that important office: strong attachment to learning. So he received their approbation, and insatiable was his thirst for infor- shortly after, occasionally, spoke at mation, that the purchase of books a small meeting held at Little Horled him occasionally into pecuniary ton. He engaged in these services embarrassments. Tong's life of with considerable trepidation; and Matthew Henry appears, about contemplated the responsibility of this time,

to have become one the character he had assumed with among his favourite works; nor, those feelings of awe, which will indeed, do we wonder at such a always accompany the man who selection, as we scarcely know is sensible of the importance, and any book of human composition, alive to the claims, of so great a that has so many charms for a stu- work. He endeavoured to acquire dent of evangelical principles, or the self-possession necessary to a which so abounds in varied and public speaker, by reading, in small useful instruction to those who companies of friends, some of those are devoted to the Christian mini- outlines of sermons, which he had stry. It may be called a summary sketched, as they were delivered of the pastor's duties, and is one by the various ministers he had of the best incentives to a careful heard, and thus gradually overand conscientious discharge of mi- came that diffidence and timidity nisterial functions, that perhaps which are no less unpleasant to has ever appeared. It was Mr. the auditory, than embarrassing F.'s regular practice, in this period to the speaker; and which, while of his life, and before the 'urgent they are the almost invariable atduties of constant preaching ren- tendants of the first efforts of real dered it impracticable, to keep a excellence, and even of superior diary, a custom which has had too vigour of mind, are nevertheless many advocates to require our their greatest impediments and sanction, and which, under

proper

obstructions. discipline, we have no doubt, In 1764, Mr. Fawcett accepted would greatly conduce to that the pastoral charge of a small conconstant watchfulness over the gregation at Wainsgate. This heart and conduct, which it is the church had arisen from the labours duty of every Christian to exer- of Mr. Richard Smith, and was

Immersed in a constant first constituted according to the attention to the concerns of his order of the Gospel, in the year trade, it cannot be expected that 1750. The meeting-house, which much time could be employed in was built upon the most simple literary pursuits ; in the little, and primitive plan, and situated however, that could be rescued, in a barren and inhospitable tract, and that little increased by early was erected by the poor

labourers rising, Mr. F. found leisure to who attended Mr. Smith's minisstore his mind with information, try. If this humble structure afand particularly on subjects im- forded no proof of the elegance of mediately connected with divinity. their taste, it was, at least, a deIt appears from his diary, that cided testimony of their sincere about this time (1760,) he had love to religion, and of their ear

cise.

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nest desire to enjoy the continual of most of the popular divines of ministration of its ordinances. Its the day; and was exceedingly grainternal economy was altogether tified by a personal interview with singular. Having inadvertently many of those excellent men he constructed the walls too low, both had known before only by their for the convenience and the sym- writings, or their general characmetry of the building, and not ter. On his return to Yorkshire, willing to go to the expense of he received an invitation to beraising them, they lowered the come the stated pastor of one of ground within, about half a yard those churches he had supplied under the surface, to remedy their when in London; and though the oversight. A stone arch support- increase of his family, and the ed the roof, and rendered the build- very narrow income raised for his ing truly remarkable. Over the subsistence, by his present flock, humble but pious individuals ga- were strong arguments to induce thered in this place, Mr. F. was his departure, and, indeed, ope-ordained in 1765.

rated so far as to cause him to Here Mr. F. laboured with so make some preparations for his much success, that the neighbour removal; yet, when the parting ing population, whose character hour arrived, he could not leave had before but too much resem- his beloved church and friends. bled the barren and uncultivated The designed removal was relincountry in which they dwelt, un- quished, and the resolution taken derwent a pleasing and propitious to finish his ministerial course in change. The old meeting-house his native county. became too narrow to contain the In the year 1773, by the admultitudes that flocked to hear the vice of Messrs. Evans and Ryland, unwonted sound of divine mercy, and other gentlemen of the Antiand a gallery was added to the ori- pædobaptist body, Mr. Fawcett, ginal structure. Among the many in conjunction with Mr. John young persons to whom the la- Sandys, was induced to issue probours of Mr. F. were blessed dur- posals to undertake the tuition of ing his residence at Wainsgate, we young men for the ministry of the find the name of the late excellent Gospel. This plan met with conMr. Sutcliffe, of Olney.

siderable success,

and

many young Mr. Fawcett's attempts to im- men were sent out from under prove the habits, and effect the their instructions, who reflected moral renovation of his neighbours, great credit upon the talents and were not confined to his pulpit assiduity of their tutors. In addiexercises. He instituted various tion to this laborious engagement, plans, which were subsidiary to this he also undertook the tuition of great purpose. A constant system young men in the more general of public and private catechising range of literature, which he conof the younger part of his congre- tinued after his removal from gation, was not the least useful of Wainsgate. Among the young these plans, and the institution persons educated by Mr. F. in his of various book societies, chiefly new seminary, was Mr. Ward, through his instrumentality, con- now Missionary at Calcutta, who, tributed much to cultivate the un- at this early period of his life, derstandings, and polish the man- gave a pleasing earnest of what ners, of the inhabitants of this hi- his future course would be. His therto neglected spot.

time was then devoted to misIn the year 1772, Mr. F. paid sionary employments, and he seized his first visit to the metropolis, every opportunity that presented where he was invited to the pulpits itself to preach in the neighbour

ing villages to such congregations we take a view of his character as as could be collected,

an author. Mr. Fawcett's labours became In his new situation at Hebdenincreasingly useful, and his con- bridge, Mr. F's labours in the migregation more numerous. The nisterial office were not decreased. old meeting-house at Wainsgate The same zeal in his professional was found too small to accommo- duties, the same simplicity in his date the numbers that attended. private deportment, which characThe situation was, moreover, not terised his younger days, were still central enough to render it conveni- manifest. The winter of age, though ent to all. It was determined, there- it may have sobered his judgment fore, to build a new and more conve- upon some points, did not cool his nient meeting-house in the immé- ardour; and though the fruits of diate neighbourhood. The village of his imagination were mellowed, Hebdenbridge was chosen for this they did not perish in the autumn purpose, and a neat edifice, capa- of his years. Age produced no ble of holding six or seven hún- imbecility in his faculties, no abatedred attendants, was erected in ment of his zeal ; he inherited its the year 1777. Here Mr. F. con- honours, but not its weaknesses. tinued his labours to the day of In 1811, he was honoured with his dissolution. Some of the old the degree of Doctor in Divinity members of the church could not, by one of the American universihowever, be persuaded to leave ties. After this period, Dr. FawWainsgate, but continued to hover cett gradually declined in health, round its ruined walls, with a lin- and tended towards the close of his gering affection to the place of mortal existence. A paralytic their former enjoyments. Mr. F. stroke deprived him of the use of had, shortly before this event, one eye, which debarred him from found it convenient to remove from one of his principal sources of enhis old residence at Wainsgate, to joyment - reading. About the a house in the vicinity, where, in middle of the year 1817, he was addition to his other regular en- attacked by a succession of convulgagements, he commenced a Sab- sive fits, which, leaving him in a bath evening lecture.

state of perfect debility, he expired In the year 1794, Mr. Fawcett after a few days of languishing was fortunate enough to procure, pain, aged 77 years. To his last at a moderate rate, a printing press, hours, he joined in those prayers which he completed, with the ne- which his affectionate friends of cessary addition of types, &c. As fered at his bed-side, and exclaimed

had already often ventured be- shortly before his departure,"Come fore the public in the character of Lord Jesus, and come quickly.” One an author, this acquisition was of his friends having said, “There esteemed invaluable, it affording remaineth a rest for the people of him an easier way of multiplying God," he finished his testimony to his publications, together with those the truths he had believed and of other authors, which stood high preached, by exclaiming, “O rein his esteem. He undertook also, ceive me to thy children.” about this time, the management Dr. Fawcett married very early and printing of a periodical work, in life. He has left one son, who called " Miscellanea Sacra,” which has published a full and interestwas continued in monthly num- ing account of his father's life, bers, until the completion of two in an octavo volume, from which volumes. His writings now mul- the facts of the above nzemoir are tiplied rapidly, but we shall ab- derived, and which we take this stain from speaking of them, till opportnnity of earnestly recom

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