Imágenes de páginas




John Fawcett was born January 6, 1740, at Lidget-green, near Bradford in Yorkshire. At the early age of twelve years, he lost his Father, Mr. Steven Fawcett, who died in his fiftieth year, leaving a widow and numerous family. It is prohable that a simple, but touching incident at this period was the occasion of impressing the youthful mind of our author, with a sense of the importance of eternal things, through a channel often selected by Divine Wisdom, and generally efficacious—the natural affections. It is thus narrated. His grandfather was still living and resided in the family, but being totally blind, was unable to take an active part in the management of it. On the day of the funeral, this venerable man was, by his own particular request, led to the coffin, that he might take his last farewell of his departed son, by weeping over what he could not see, and


placing his hands on his face. The scene was affecting, and made an indelible impression on the subject of this memoir. Deprived of his best earthly stay, and cut off from the visible source of supply, he was led' to seek the original and underived fountain of good. For some time he felt the most painful apprehensions respecting the eternal state of a parent whom he ardently loved. The melancholy subject absorbed his waking and sleeping thoughts, till a dream, by which he fancied some intimation was offered him that his fears were groundless, relieved his mind. This is mentioned not for the purpose of attaching importance to such impressions, but to shew that he had a sufficient portion of imagination and sensibility, which generally enter into the composition of men destined to popular and extensive usefulness. To his own mind the incident was exceedingly interesting, as his solicitude had prevailed to such a degree, that he thought he never could have recovered his serenity, if some relief had not been obtained.

He was early initiated in the common rudiments of learning, and soon exhibited a taste for books, reading with eagerness such as came in his way, particularly Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress; and like many others, smitten with the masterly touches of that inimitable allegory, he declared to his mother

that there was nothing he so much desired as to become a Pilgrim. Nor let such an idea provoke the smile of contempt. If relations of battles and victories have called forth an ardour for martial enterprise ; if pictures of rural happiness, and the peaceful occupations of swains and shepherds be, permitted without rebuke, to raise a sigh in the hearts of gentle and contemplative youth for the quiet occupations of rustic life, the wish is surely venial which aspires to a life free from the oppressive cares of this world, and directed to ends which are assimilated to the business of a better state. There is reason to think that at this time Mr. Fawcett understood something of the spiritual meaning of the allegory, and that the wish he expressed was the first motion towards a choice which he afterwards deliberately and rationally made, of a devotedness to a life of piety. Whatever was the fact of the case, we must be permitted to make an observation which this Memoir will confirm: that the true greatness of such men as Milton, Bunyan, De Foe, Young and Hervey, and the value of their works, consists in the empire which the sway over the imagination, and the influence they put forth in forming the minds of youths panting after knowledge, and whose senses unworn and tender” are open to the impressions of their mighty genius. Such authors as we have named are raised up by the Father of Lights only when

he intends good to a country. Their books, though silent companions, exert a plastic energy over the juvenile mind, and mightily conduce to the intellectual stature and cast of the future man. Hence the responsibility of parents and instructors, and all who contribute to form the character of any

age or nation.

The next books which he perused with advantage were Alleine's Alarm, and Baxter's Call to the Unconverted ; and the effect was, that he often retired, with his eldest brother, into a barn, to pray ; whither their pious mother, pleased with these early appearances of serious concern, sometimes secretly followed them, to listen to their artless and devout aspirations.

At the age of thirteen, John was apprenticed at Bradford, and regularly attended public worship at the Church. From the Rev. Mr. Butler, the Lecturer, and head master of the Grammar School, he received many marks of kindness. This zealous man was pleased to observe in him a spirit of inquiry on religious subjects, and encouraged him by the loan of books, and occasional instruction in classical learning.

During his apprenticeship he was occupied from six in the morning till eight at night, so that

« AnteriorContinuar »