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the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
He at length found peace where only it can be obtained ; and to the same source, during nearly half a century, he unweariedly directed others, that they might be "partakers of the benefit," through a believing reception of the salvation purchased by Christ. This change of heart was evidenced by the increased circumspection of his conduct, and the new character which his ministrations assumed. He continued, indeed, to hold the same doctrines to which he had already subscribed his belief, but they were more distinctly understood and cordially embraced: he continued to preach them, but it was in another manner; giving diligent heed to himself and to the doctrine, that he might both save himself and them that heard him. The virtues he had hitherto exercised grew into christian graces, by the influence of higher motives. Ardently desirous to glorify God, and to fulfil his work, his subsequent lengthened career was a living exemplification of the words of the apostle: "I count not my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."
Some of my father's friends, who had pressed his entering the church merely as a profession; and many to whom his society had been particularly acceptable, and by whom he was much caressed, were surprised and offended at the alteration in his sentiments and conduct. He now removed to Imber for the sake of greater retirement; and he declined any longer to share in amusements, which he had hitherto looked upon as unobjectionable. His urgent and faithful appeals to the consciences of his hearers, excited also the hatred of those who continued at enmitv with God. With reference to the character and effects of his preaching at this period, his youngest, and only surviving sister, writes :—" It was attended with much energy and unction; and no one could hear him without feeling religion to be a reality. Many became deeply impressed with the importance of spiritual and eternal things; while some, who before would, as the apostle says, have 'plucked out their own eyes and given them to him,' now became his bitter persecutors. It was the same gospel, and not the same, that he had hitherto preached. It had been in 'the letter,' now it was in 'demonstration of the Spirit and power;' and it produced its appropriate effects ;—it became 'the savour of life unto life, and of death unto death.''
Some remarks of the late Rev. Rowland Hill, relative to the connexion between a heartfelt conviction of divine truth in the minister, and its reception by his people, are so much in harmony with the foregoing detail, that I do not scruple to introduce them here :—" In the church of Christ, life begets life all the world over, and death generates death. O that I was more cautious respecting myself as a minister! as so much depends on us, how it is with the people also. We work badly upon the hearts of others; but as God in infinite mercy works well in us: we preach best when we feel best; and the nearer we live to God, the better we feel. A religion without feeling, is no religion. How can we have repentance, without feeling holy sorrow for sin, and indignation against it? How can we have faith in the Lord Jesus, and behold that infinite fulness of grace treasured up in him for us, without rejoicing in him, while we believe with joy unspeakable, and full of glory? Converts made by mere human persuasion, only corrupt the church, having nothing but a name to live while they are dead. Death must be the result of any connexion with them; while nothing revives the church so delightfully, as when it is frequently the birth-place of new-born souls. Such are the only evidences and seals to the ministers themselves, that they are sent of God.'*
With this eccentric, but useful clergyman, my father early formed an acquaintance. In one of Mr. Hill's letters, without a date, but which was written prior to the year 1793, this excellent man expresses similar sentiments. The communication, (which is subjoined,) appears to have been written in answer to an invitation to preach in my father's churches.
"Rev. And Dear Sir,
"I should have been happy if I could have spared you a Sabbath for your churches; but I am prevented not only by the multiplicity of my engagements in these parts, but also by the great inconvenience
• Sidney's life of the Rev. Rowland Hill.
of going so much out of my way on so long a journey, when I have nothing but the same pair of horses to accomplish it.
"I wish you, dear Sir, much of your Master's presence in the glorious work. May your heart be well filled with simplicity and godly sincerity, and your whole body shall be full of light. This will make your ministry pleasant to your own mind and profitable to your hearers. As ministers, much depends upon the frame of our own minds. If we are not ourselves indulged with much of the unction of the Holy One, it is in vain to expect there will be much unction upon the word we preach. Nothing can effectively be done without the immediate agency of God the Holy Spirit; and it is well when our minds are directed with holy expectation to wait for the times of refreshment from the presence of the Lord. That you, dear Sir, may be indulged with such blessed seasons, is the sincere prayer of
"Your ever affectionate brother,
To The Rev. H. Gauntlett.
Sir James Storehouse continued one of my father's most valued friends during the early years of his ministry. When, on account of his health, he resided almost entirely at the Wells, an affectionate correspondence was maintained by letter. He likewise afforded him occasional assistance, by sending to him his useful publications to distribute among his parishioners. Sir James's letters to Mr. Stedman, published by that clergyman, after the death of the baronet, are well known, and have long been admired. Those which follow were addressed to my father, shortly before the death of his revered friend.
"I should have been very glad to have seen you when at Bristol; and it was very unfortunate that I should have been so ill, as to have been incapable of speaking to you. My cough was violent, my breath very short, a degree of fever on me, and legs greatly swelled, by which I was confined to my chamber three weeks and three days. I am now got down stairs once more; but feeble, and my infirmities increasing with my age. I am now in my eightieth year; but while I live, I wish to be doing some good to my fellow creatures, bodily and spiritually.
"I am very glad to hear you are in a sphere of usefulness, and hope it will please God to bless your ministry at a time when the clergy in general are so very deficient in it. 'When men have heard the sermons of their ministers for many years,' says Dr. Watts, 'and find little of Christ in them, they have taken it into their heads that they may go safe to heaven without christianity.' 'This I apprehend,' says Dr. Doddridge, 'will ever be the consequence, if we so lay the whole stress of our moral obligations on the reason and fitness of things, as to neglect that Saviour, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.' When christian ministers seldom mention redemption and salvation by the Son of God, they cannot expect their hearers should have any great regard for them; and they will imagine that they have little concern with anything in the New Testament, but the morality of it; and that the other parts of the gospel may be neglected without the least hazard to their souls.' —So far Dr. Doddridge.
"The truth of this is too evident and too deplorable in most of the congregations through the whole kingdom. I am sure christianity is the religion of God, because all the preaching and dissipated conduct of the clergy has not entirely destroyed it; though greatly obstructed its progress.
"My * Considerations on Particular Sins,' have been so well received by serious Christians, and by some worldly people too, that the sixth edition will be published on Thursday next the 13th. And I believe the third edition of my 'Materials for Children,' will go to the press next week. This plan has now been confirmed, on