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"For we being many are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of one bread and of one cup."
JACKSON AND WALFORD,
18, ST. PAUL'S CHURCH YARD.
THE CONGREGATIONAL MAGAZINE.
THE REV. JOHN HUMPHRYS, LL.D.
COMPILED FROM HIS PRIVATE PAPERS.
THE REV. JOHN HUMPHRYS, LL.D. was born at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, on the 20th of November, 1758. His family was one of considerable respectability, and many of its members had been distinguished by their zealous adherence to the cause of evangelical nonconformity. His grandfather, Mr. John Humphrys, of Birmingham, having, with several friends, seceded from the Old Meeting in that town, on account of the prevalence of Arian sentiments, was one of the founders of the Independent interest now flourishing in Carr's Lane.
This gentleman's youngest son, Mr. Benjamin Humphrys, settled at Bromsgrove, and was, for many years, the principal supporter of the dissenting cause in that town. To the memory of this eminently pious and devoted servant of Christ, an affectionate tribute of filial respect was paid in a funeral discourse, entitled, "The present Character and future Happiness of the real Christian, a Sermon occasioned by the much lamented Death of Mr. Benjamin Humphrys, who departed this life April 10, 1789, in the 60th year of his age, in which a particular account is given of his exemplary life and triumphant death. Preached at Bromsgrove by John Humphrys."
Of Mr. Benjamin Humphrys' children, four survived the period of infancy; Rebecca, afterwards Mrs. Hanbury, "a most amiable woman, of uniform and extraordinary piety;" Henry Dowler, who "died in the faith and hope of the gospel, in the year 1806;" John, the subject of this Memoir; and Ann, who died in the 23d year of her age. Although these children sustained, at a tender age, the loss of their mother, her place was well supplied by the second wife of Mr. Humphrys. Of her piety and assiduous attention to the
N.S. VOL. III.-VOL. XXII.
spiritual interests of her youthful charge, her son-in-law was accustomed to speak in terms of grateful veneration. Her character and religious experience are delineated in a very interesting manner in Dr. Jerment's additional volume of "Memoirs of eminently pious. Women."
John, as it may be supposed from the character of his parents, was the subject of very early religious impressions. Before his twelfth year he was deeply affected by the death of a pious lady, in whose family he had been placed for instruction. These impressions were confirmed by the care and admonition of his parents; and to this event he was accustomed to refer as the commencement of that christian character, which he was enabled to maintain, unblemished, for nearly seventy years.
His parents observing his early piety, and acting under the advice of the Rev. B. Fawcett, of Kidderminster, proposed to educate him with a view to the ministry, and for this purpose placed him, in his thirteenth year, under the tuition of the Rev. Stephen Addington, at that time of Market Harborough. Such a decision may seem premature, but it was justified by the result. At that time it was not unusual, in respectable dissenting families, to devote their promising youth to the ministry, and the expense of early appropriate education was cheerfully borne. It is to be regretted that, at present, so few candidates for the ministry are furnished by our more wealthy families. Is our ministry less esteemed? or has a more secular and calculating spirit become prevalent among our laity? Among a large proportion of our theological students, the loss of early education is a disadvantage, which no collegiate course, commenced at twenty or twenty-five years of age, can ever compensate. Mental discipline is scarcely ever complete, unless commenced in childhood. Our forefathers, it is acknowledged, unintentionally introduced some unsuitable persons into the ministry, but in avoiding their error, we seem to have reached the opposite extreme. Accuracy, both of scholarship and of expression, is to be attained not so much by prolonged, as by carly training.
While at Harborough, John Humphrys commenced a diary which, with very few interruptions, he carefully continued until his last illness. From these voluminous records, referring to almost all the events which, during the last sixty-five years, have affected the dissenting interest, the materials of this Memoir have been collected.
The following extracts exhibit pleasing illustrations of early piety. They are interesting as the private records of a youth of fourteen, in which nothing can be expected beyond the simple expression of religious feeling:
1773, August 5th.-I have been for some time in great distress concerning my spiritual state, not finding in myself the evidences of a Christian mentioned in the Life of the Rev. J. Janeway. I have
* The diary fills many volumes, closely written in short hand, much of which is difficult to be decyphered. Some interesting accounts may be hereafter inserted in this Magazine.