« PreviousContinue »
Octavo Volumes on the subject, which will preserve his name from oblivion in that part of the country. An inhabitant of this respectable town will be amused by the account drawn up forty years ago and since that period I should hope that there has been considerable improvement.
Mr. Richards' own account also of his first Settlement at Lynn is interesting, and shall be given just as I found it. It indicates his serious and judicious turn of mind. I shall only remark, that it was penned in 1816, when he had been at Lynn forty years; he connected it with an appropriate passage of Scripture, and he meant it should have been drawn out at length for publication. He delivered it to a few friends at his own house. However for some reason or other he never finished it; the following is only a fragment-a kind of introduction to the rest. The writer details the formation of the church with his accustomed modesty and simplicity. Some may pronounce it a novelty. It may indeed prove of too rare occurrence-but certain it is, that however sin. gular it may appear in the eyes of some modern professors, it is formed on the original plan of the New Testament. Indeed a deviation from the inspired records, both as to faith and practice, is never more consonant to reason nor conducive to the ends of true piety. This I know to have been the deliberate conviction of my deceased friend. And though the remark may be somewhat premature, yet I cannot withhold it--that the same consistency attached to the character of this good man throughout every stage of his subsequent ministry, What
saith the Scripture! was his uniform exclamation, regardless of the popular systems of the day. How dearly he loved PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY his theological writings proclaim boldly and unreservedly to the world. . .
The Expiration of Forty Years: , . A RETROSPECTIVE DISCOURSE, delivered at Lynn on the Lord's day, July 7, 1816; being exactly FORTY years from the commencement of the author's public ministry in that town; containing a recital of circumstances' which occurred during the author's long residence at Lynn, both while he stood connected with the Baptist congregation there, as its minister, and since he had' withdrawn from that connexion, or ceased to sustain that character : interspersed with occasional observations and reflections.
ACTS VII. 30, 1st part, « AND WIEN FORTY YEARS
A man who has lived in the world forty years, after he had arrived at the age of manhood, may be pretty safely reckoned to have passed through almost, if not quite, the whole of the pleasurable part of his life. The remainder of his days may be expected to prove what Solomon calls, evil days; or should they be lengthened or extended into years, they will probably be years of which he will have too much reason to say, that he hath no pleasure in them.
Be that as it may, if he happened to have resided during those forty years at one place, he would be likely to know a good deal of what had passed there in the mean time, especially within that circle where it was his lot to be more particularly stationed. And should he at any time afterwards undertake to relate or record such parts of the occurrences and transactions of those years as he may deem worthy of preservation, or likely to prove useful to his contemporaries and survivors, though he might not be allowed to deserve thanks or commendation for so doing, he would at least be entitled to a candid and attentive hearing. This is all that the present narrator presumes to claim; and whether he obtains it or not, he will pursue his purpose, without any serious concern on that score.
In 1775 and 1776 he was employed as an assistant to a very respectable minister in Worcestershire (Dr. Ash), whose congregation assembled at two different places, some miles asunder, and therefore could not be well supplied by one minister. It was a desirable connexion, which procured him many valuable friends; and of the kindness he there experienced, both from the excellent minister and people, as well as from the ministers and members of neighbouring congregations, he will ever retain the most affectionate and grateful remembrance.
While he was there agreeably employed, with the unanimous approbation of the people with whom he was connected, he received an invitation, in the early part of the summer of 1776, from a people in this
TOWN, who had been for some years accustomed to meet together for religious exercises, three times on the Lord's day, and twice in the week, without being in social union as A CHRISTIAN CHURCH, though many of them had often expressed a desire to form such a connexion : and that desire was understood to be generally entertained among them at the time here alluded to.
They had had a succession of preachers, more or less acceptable; but all somewhat backward, or diffident, in promoting the said union. That however did not discourage them. They continued still in the same mind, resolved to enter into a church state as soon as they could succeed in obtaining a MINISTER who would promote that object; being fully persuaded that it must needs prove far more desirable than that unorganized and disorderly situation to which they had then been so long habituated.
Those who appeared most forward and anxious to promote this work of reformation were generally inclined to the principles of THE BAPTISTS; and some few of them had been previously baptized at WISBEACH and elsewhere; which made them the more desirous to have a minister of the same way of thinking, as more likely to conduce to their edification and social as well as individual prosperity, which they had found but little promoted by those former ministers of theirs who were of opposite sentiments*. lo short, the whole congregation had now concurred
* Eltringham, Tuffs, and Catmore, were Pædobaptists.
in the wish to have, for the future, a Minister of that denomination. Such was the state of things among them, when they solicited the service and assistance of the present Narrator.
Their invitation he would probably at once have declined, had it not been backed by his friends the Bristol Tutors, who wished him to go, if he could, were it only for a few months, that by his report they might be better able to judge how to act, in case they should afterwards be applied to by the same people. When he made the case known to the Pastor, and his other principal friends in that congregation, they strongly objected at first; but upon his suggesting that his stay at LYNN was not likely to be long, and giving his reasons for that opinion, they at last consented, as they could get his place supplied at that time of the year, without much difficulty.
The chief obstacles being now removed, he wrote to the people of LYNN, signifying his acceptance of their invitation ; and having made the necessary preparation for the journey, he set out in the last week of June. His road being through London, where he had several friends, he staid among them about a week. He then resumed his journey in the evening of Thursday the 4th of July, and arrived at LYNN in the afternoon of the following day. On the following Lord's day, the 7th of that same month, exactly forty years from this very day, he entered upon his public ministry in this town!
Before he had been here one whole week, he found that the people were far from being so united