in CiDo J3art0.



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For many years, a wish had been frequently expressed, that the Rise and Progress of the New Connection of General Bap- •tists should be committed to the press. The facts are instruct- ive and interesting ; and the worthy men, who had been the principal instruments in carrying forwards the good work, were daily resting from their labours. Their successors, therefore, were anxious that the particulars should be collected and se- cured, before the removal of all those who could best furnish information. Various attempts were made to accomplish this purpose J which failed of success. At length, the annual Asso- ciation at Wisbeach, in 1812, requested the writer of the follow- ing sheets to undertake the work. This request being repeated at the next meeting of that assembly, and promises of information and support being made, he ventured to yield to their solici- tations,- and, through the goodness of divine Providence, and the patronage of his kind friends, has been enabled to bring the design to a conc'.asion.

The author has been considerably assisted, in tracing the early transactions of the General Baptists of the midland counties, by the accounts which appeared in the General Baptist Magazine, from the pen of Mr. J. Deacon ; as well as by some valuable ma- terials collected by that gentleman, and kindly handed to the writer. But his chief dependance has been on the information transmitted from the various churches. This information has been more full and particular in some cases than others : several churches sent their communications after a great part of the work was published ; and a few neglected to furnish any docu- ments. Hence, the reader will account for the more enlarged detail respecting certain societies, and the scantiness of the information respecting others. This too will, it is hoped, apo- logize for the want of a strict attention to method in certain instances, and for those mistakes, which a dependance on the general accounts in the Minutes of the Associations may have occasioned. These inaccuracies, as far as they have been dis- covered, are corrected, at the close of the volume : and the author will esteem^ it a favour to be informed of any which re- main unnoticed ; that a second edition, should it ever be called for, may be less imperfect.




The materials for this volume having been drawn from the sources already mentioned, it was not necessary to crowd the page with references to authorities. The Minute? of the Annual . Associations, the General Baptist Magazine and Repository, and a few Ordination services, which must have been incessantly quoted, are publications with which, it is presumed, the readers of this history are familiar.

Great difficulty was experienced in forming a plan which would exhibit, at once, a history of the Churches individually, and of the Connection as a body. The division of the narrative into periods of fifteen years appeared the most eligible. But the Index is so constructed, that the entire history of any society may be easily traced, as well as a connected account of the public transactions of eminent ministers.

The author has too frequently found his duty painfully deli- cate. To record the failings of his associates and friends has cost him many a struggle. On these disagreeable occasions, he has laboured to preserve the fidelity of the narrative, and at the same time to do as little violence as possible to personal feeling. One great advantage of the work would have been entirelv lost, had these unhappy circumstances been consigned to oblivion. It is hoped, that the perusal of the deplorable apostacy of some who made high professions, and the contentions and imperfec- tions of other sincere but weak christians, together with the awful mischief which the cause of the blessed Rtdeemer has sus- tained by these means, will cause him that thinketh he standeth to take heed lest he fall : and excite every reader, but especially every minister, to be more earnest and constant in praying for grace to preserve him from giving any occasion to the enemies of the truth to blaspheme, and doubly vigilant in shunning every appearance of evil.

The work is now sent abroad with a cheerful hope, that it may, through the blessing of Him, in whose hands are the hearts of the children of men, give the religious world more just ideas of the design, doctrines and character of the New Con- nection of General Baptists than have hitherto been entertained, and thus procure for it, that esteem and countenance among other denominations, which it may appear to deserve ; and that it may call the attention of those who compose that Connection to the true nature and principles of their union, and animate them to pursue, with greater zeal, affection and ability, its important objects. Should these hopes be realized, the labour of the writer and the support of his friends will be abundantly rewarded, in the increasing prosperity, respectability and purity of that cause, to which they, have, from principle, devoted all their energies.



^ <




The Historyj previous to the Formation of thb New Connection, of those Churches which originally



The Rise of the General Baptist Interest in the Midland Counties : and its progress to the Formation of the New Connection.

Sect. 1 — David Taylor preaches in Leicestershire — Joseph Donisthorpe at Normanton— they unite — gain Pioi^elytes— are persecuted — and triumph over their enemies. . . . pages 2 — 15

Sect. 2 — The proceedings of the Barton Preachers, from the Kailstone persecution, to the time when they adopted the practice of BeUevers' Baptism: or, from ad. 1743 to ad. 1/ 55. . .. .. .. .. . . . . . . 15 — •*£»

Sect. 3 — The proceedings of the Barton Preachers and their associates, from their commencing Baptists, to the Division into distinct Churches : or, from a,d. 1755 to 1760. . . . 28 — 44

Sect. 4 — The Division of the Society into Five Churches j and their progress from the period of that Division, to the com- mencement of the New Connection : or, from a.d, 1760 to AD. 1770 44—55

Sect. 5 — Observations on the character — mode of Preaching — ^Discipline — and Doctrines of the General Baptists in the Midland Countfes, previous to the Formation of the New Connection. . . . , . . . . . . . . . 56 — 69



The Rise of the General Baptists in the Northern District, and their Progress to the Commencement of the New Connection.

Sect. 1 — Mr. Dan Taylor begins to preach — forsakes the Methodists — settles at Wadsworth — turns Baptist — travels in quest of General Baptists — and is baptized. ... . . 69 — 74

Sect. 2 — The Wadsworth Friends join the Lincolnshire Association — unite as a church — build a Meeting-house- prosper — institute Experience Meetings — their state at the commencement of the New Connection. . . . . . 74 — 79

CHAP. iir.

The History, from the close of the Seventeenth Century to the Commencement of the New Connection, of those Churches which, though previously united to the General Assembly, were included in the New Conneciioti at its formation.

Sect. 1 — The proceedings of the General Baptist Church now assembling in Church Lane, Whitechapel, from the beginning of the Eighteenth Century, to the settlement of Mr, Randall over it 80 — 85

Sect. 2 — The proceedings of the church now assembling in Church-Lane, from the settlement of Mr. Randall, to the for- mation of the New Connection. .. . ». .. ..85 — 91

Sect. 3 — Notices of the Church now assembling in Great Suffolk Street, from the commencement of the Eighteenth Century, to the Formation of the New Connection : with a brief account of the Churches in Kent and Essex which united in forming that Connection. . , . . . . . . . 92 — 98

Sect, 4 — A concise View of the affairs of the Lincolnshire General Baptists, from the close of the Seventeenth Century, to the Formation of the New Connection. . . . . . 98 — 114

Sect. 5 — The History of the Churches at Spalding, Fleet, and Boston, from the close of the Seventeenth Century to the com- mencement of the New Connection. ... . . . . 1 14 — 132



The History of the New Connection of English General Baptists, from its Origin to the present time.


The Formation of the New Connection, and its History during ihe period of the First Fifteen Yeais,

Sect, 1 — The Formation of the New Connection.. . 133 — 146

Sect. 2 — The History of the General Baptist Churches in the Midland Counties, during the First Fifteen Years after the com- mencement of the New Connection . . . . . . 146 — 177

Sect. 3 — The Progress of the General Baptist cause in the Northern Districts during the First Fifteen Years after the com- mencement of the New Connection . . . . . . 177 — 194

Sect. 4 — The History of the General Baptist churches in Lincolnshire, during the First Fifteen Years after the com- mencement of the New Connection . , . . . . 194 — 201

Sect. 5 — The History of the General Baptist Societies in the Southern District, during the First Fifteen Years after the Formation of the New Connection . . . . . . 201 — ^210

Sect. 6 — A brief survey of the Proceedings of the New Con- nection, as a body, during the First Fifteen Years after its Formation.. 211 — 218


The History of the New Connection during the Second Period of Fifteen Years: or, from a.d. 1785 to a.d. 1800.

Sect. 1— The History of the Churches in the Midland Counties, during the Second Fifteen Years after the Formation of the New Connection 219—270

Sect. 2— The Transactions of the General Baptist Churches in the Northern District, during the Second Fifteen Years after the Formation of the New Connection. . . . 270—281

Sect. 3 — The History of the General Baptist Churches in Lincolnshire, during the Second Fifteen Years after the For-



matjon of the New Connection : or, from a.d, 1785 to ad. 1800. .'.. .. ■ 281—318

Sect. 4 — The History of the General Baptist Churches in London, which were united with the New Connection : from A.D. 1785 to AD. 1800 318—324

Sect. 5 — The Transactions of the New Connection, as a body, ^ring the Second Fifteen Years of its existence : or, from A.D. 1785 to A.D. 1800 324—333


A Sketch of the History of the New Connection, from the Commencement of [the Nineteenth Century i ijiith a View of its present State, and some account of its Doctrine and Discip/ine.

Sect. 1 — A Sketch of the Proceedings of the Churches in the Midland Counties, since a.d. 1800. ... . . . . 334 — 385

Sect. 2 — A Sketch of the History of the Churches in the Northern District, from a d. 1800 to a.d. 1817- . . . 385 — 397

Sect. 3 — A Sketch of the History of the Churcnes in Lin- colnshire, and the adjacent Counties, from a.d. 1800 to ad.

1817 397—430

Sect. 4 — A Sketch of the History of the Churches of the New Connection in the London District, from a.d. 1800 to a.d 1817 430—435

Sect. 5 — A List of the Churches which composed the New Connection of General Baptists, a.d. 1817, with a Scheme of their Origin. ... . . . . . . . . . . 450 — 455

Sect. 6 — The Transactions of the New Connection, as a body,

from A.D. 1800 to a.d. 1S17 455 — 460

Sect. 7 — Miscellaneous Notices — Conferences — Aged Ministers' Fund — Derby Religious Tract Society — Sunday Schools— Relio-ious Benefit Societies— General Baptist Missionary So- ciety 460—468

Sect. 8 — A brief sketch of the Discipline and Faith of the New Connection of General Baptists. . . . . . 463— 47T











rpHE New Connection of General Baptists was formed in 1770: and, at its commence- ment, consisted of several churches in the Mid- land and Northern counties, which, durino^ the preceding thirty years, had risen from small beginnings to respectability; and a few of the societies ot which we have treated, in the former part of this work. It will be necessary, there- fore, before we proceed to the History of the New Connection, to layjiefore our readers the most interesting particulars of the rise of the former congregations, and their progress, previous to the formation of that union ; and to continue our account of the latter churches, from the close of the seventeenth century to the same period,




The Rise of the General Baptist Interest IN the Midland Counties ; and its Progress to the Formation of the New Connection.

Sect, 1. — David Tat/lor preaches in Leicester^ shire — Joseph Donisthorpe at Normanton — thei^ unite — gain Proselytes— ^are persecuted^-and tri" umph over their enemies.

About the middle of the last century, the doctrines of the gospel appear to have been al- most banished from the pulpits of the establish- ment. The late Mr. John Newtoi), though a clergyman of the church of England, says, *' I am not sure, that, in the year 1740, there was a single parochial minister, who was publicly known as a gospel preacher, in the whole kingdom."* In most places, the clergymen were persons of a dis- solute life, who freely engaged in all the sports and vices of the age. This appears to have been peculiarly the case in the country parishes of the midland counties : and, as there were but few dissenters, and those chieflj'^ in the large towns, the form of religion, as well as the power, was, in many of the villages, almost unknown. The inhabitants were involved in the most deplorable ignorance ; — " darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people.**

In this gloomy state, it pleased God to send forth his zealous servants, Messrs. Wesley and

* Letters and Conversational Remarks^ pp. 75. 76,


Whitfield, to rouse our countrymen to an atten- tion to the most important of all concerns, the salvation of their immortal souls. These useful men encountered violent opposition ; but were blest with astonishing success : and were soon joined by many respectable characters. Amongst others, the pious Lady Huntingdon «ntered warmly into their views ; and exerted all the influence which her rank and fortune gave her, to promote their success. David Taylor, one of her servants, residing with her at Donington Park, in Leicestershire, having himself tasted that the Lord was gracious, was occasionally employed, under the sanction of her ladyship^ in preaching in the neighbourhood. In these benevolent excursions, he visited, in 1741, Glen- field and Ratby, two villages near Leicester. Curiosity led many to hear the strange preacher, and his new doctrines: and, among the rest, Mr. Samuel Deacon of Ratby, afterwards for many years pastor of the general baptist church at Bar- ton. Being informed, when at work in the field, that a person had been preaching in the street, at Glenfield, and was going to preach again at Rat- by, he immediately laid down his scythe, and went to hear him. The sermon made a lasting im- pression on his mind, and induced him to search the scriptures. The dissoluteness and ignorance of the clergyman now struck him in a new light : and he began to reflect on his own danger, as part of the flock of so careless a shepherd. Af- ter much reading, reasoning, and perplexity, he was enabled to rely on Christ alone for sal- vation: and immediately found peace and joy in believing.* -■— . I ■ 111

* Gen, Bap. Repository, Vol. VII. pp. 50—62.


About this lime, the Countess of Huntingdon, judging that David Taylor would be more useful as a preacher, if set at liberty from other engage- ments, dismissed him from her service. JtJis visits to Ratby and Glen field then became more frequent : and several were awakened to a sense of divine things. In the following year, he was accompanied by Stephen Dixon, a fellow-la- bourer ; and their united exertions were blest with increasing success. Several of their follow- ers soon attempted to teach, as well as they were able, the way of salvation to others. Two schoolmasters from Markfield, John I'aylor and C. Clapham, were frequently employed in this good work at Ratby : to which village one of them removed, and formed a society on the plan of the Methodists.*

At the same time that these transactions took place at Ratby, Joseph Donisthorpe,a respectable blacksmith at Normanton,a place some miles dis- tant, was brought to feel a concern for the salva- tion of his soul. He had read the scriptures, and saw that the law of God required perfect and con- tinued obedience; which, he was conscious, he had not rendered to it. His mind was, therefore, tilled with most gloomy apprehensions respecting the account which he knew he must give. Anxious to escape from the wrath to come, he applied to a neighbouring clergyman, for advice: but that poor man, totally unacquainted with the gospel plan of salvation, could only encourage Mr. Donisthorpe to depend on the honesty of his dealings in his transaclions with men, and the goodness of his moral character ; adding, " Take Kiy advice ; make yourselt easy ; i (mi( iiiue to at-

* Gen. Bap. Magazine, Vol. I. pp. ISl, 182.

A. D. 1741 AWAKENED. 5

tend your church : and, if all be not right at last, I will bear the blame." This assurance did not satisfy the enquirer : his uneasiness continued to increase, and he was driven to the brink of despair. At length, as he was returning, one evening, from a neighbouring town, liis mind deeply ailecled with his lost condition, and won- dering how Providence could suti'er such a wretch to live, he suddenly recollected the assertion of the apostle, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" His astonished mind was at once tilled with the j>randeur and importance of the truths which then first presented themselves to his con- templation. Redemption for a lost world, thro* the blood of Christ, tilled his whole soul with the highest admiration, and the warmest gratitude ; and changed his fears into joy. Supposing that he was the only person on earth to whom this grand scheme was known, he instantly deter- mined, from motives of the purest benevolence, to communicate the good news to his fellow- sin- ners. He assured himself, that the intelligence would be received with rapture, by all mankind ; but especially by the clergymen ; who, though it was their business to teach men the way to heaven, were, he was persuaded, totally ignorant of it themselves. He went home, and immediately began to execute his philanthropic design, by imparting to his wife the grand discovery which lie had made : when, to his great disappoint- ment, instead of hearing it with grateful joy, she burst into tears, fearing that his intellects were deranged. The regularity of his general con- duct, however, soon undeceived her : she listened



with more attention ; and appears to have been his first convert.

Full of the heart-felt subject, he discoursed on ''justification by faith" to all who visited his house, to the customers w horn business brought to his shop, and almost to every one whom he met in the street. Some heard with attention ; others reviled and persecuted hi in : yet the Nor- manton blacksmith, and his new doctrine, soon became the chief subject of conversation in the neighbourhood. Numbers flocked to his house, in the evening, after the toils of the day were finished, to examine these strange tliscoveries. Not a few disputed, rather than embraced the doctrine: and this obliged Mr. Donistlinrpe to study the subject, and to furnish himself with arguments in its defence, both from reason and scripture. One evening, sitting on his own kitchen-table, which raised him above his neigh- bours, whoiii he had accommodated with all his chairs, he began to describe the lost state of man by nature — his utter inability to deliver himself from this dreadful situation — and the certainty and sufficiency of salvation by Christ. Full of his subject, and animated with a strong desire to make others as happy as himself, he undesignedly engrossed the whole conversation ; and held on, with a fluency and earnestness that prevented interruption, for nearly two hours. At the close of this harangue, he was startled at the idea that he had been preaching. This thought had never before occurred to him : for, though he was de- sirous to teach his fellow-creatures the love of God to sinners ; yet he designed to do it only by occasional conversation ; and never entertained the most distant wish to become a public minis> ter. His benevolence produced his first sermon :


and, from the attention with which it was heard, he was encouracjed to proceed.*

Normanton and Ratbv being only a few miles distant, David Taylor and Joseph Donisthorp© were soon informed of each other's proceedings : and mutually sought an acquaintance. This was readily obtained: and, uniting their efforts, they carried on the good work with greater activity. In 1743, a poor man of Osbaston, near Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, invited these preachers to his house, where many attended their labours. Attracted by the novelty, John U hyatt, a carpenter, of Barton Fabis, in the same county, went to Osbaston ; and was much affected under the first discourse. At the next opportunity, he persuaded his neighbour, Mr. John Aldridge, a respectable farmer, to accompany him. He also was convinced of the importance of religion ; and joined with his friend, in soliciting the ministers to visit Barton. As they were zealous to spread the glad tidings of the gospel, they cheerfully accepted the invitation — John Taylor went, and preached the first sermon in Mr. Whyatt's house.

For a few weeks, Mr. Taylor repeated his visits without interruption ; and one evening took an opportunity of reading to his auditors an account of the persecutions endured by the eminent John Cennick. His object, doubtless, was to give them exalted ideas of the power of di^vine grace, which inspired that minister with such zeal for the glory of God, and such love to immortal souls, as enabled him to support his sufferings : but it had a very different effect. The feelings of his hearers were unhappily more in unison with the persecuting rabble, than the persecuted saint :

— ^ — — — ^ '■■■ — . - I ■■ ■. — ■■■■-- ■ . .- ■ -. — ■ — - — ■-■•■■■■-■

* Gen. Bap. Repository, Vol. I. pp. 341 — 245.

8 PEllSECUTION. A.D. 17'4S

and the}' determined not to be outdone in wicked-' ness.

The next time, therefore, that John Taylor visited Barton, a number of persons from Nail- stone, a village a mile distant, assembled ; and endeavoured so disturb the worship. Some tied bells round their bodies, and danced about the place : others sung and swore : and all united in the most violent threats against the preacher and his abettors. Mr. Taylor, after repeated at- tempts, in which he received gross insult and abuse, finding it impossible to proceed with the service, was obliged to consult his own safety, and secretly withdrew. Having thus prevented the preaching, the mob retired. But a farmer, not pleased with the escape of the minister, caused it to be proclaimed, with sound of horn, through the neighbouring villages, that whoever would attend, and assist in taking the methodist parson, the next time he came, wheresoever he should be found, should be rewarded with a barrel of ale ; and indemnified, should the house be pulled down where he was.

Finding things assume so threatening an aspect, Mr. J. A Id ridge applied to Sir Wolston Dixie, a magistrate of Bosworth, for advice and protec- tion; who informed him, that it would be lawful to resist such a mob; and even to fire upon them, if they proceeded to attack their dwelling-houses; but recommended more lenient measures, and promised to discountenance all future disturbers of their worship. Thus encouraged, Mr. Al- dridge resolved to take the preacher under his own protection ; as his rank and property gave him more infiuence than Mr. Whyatt possessed : and, w hen Mr. Taylor arrived, on the following Saturday, he conducted them to his own house.

A. D. 1743 AND VIOLENCE. 9

Towards night, a numerous mob assembled, headed by the constable of IVailstone, and some of the principal farmers. They marched to Mr. Whyatt's house to seize the preacher; but not finding him, they proceeded to search every house in the village, till they arrived at Mr. Al- dridge's. Here a few people had assembled to meet the minister ; and were preparing to com- mence social worship ; when the}' observed several hundreds of people rush tumultuously into the yard. The outward door was instantly locked, and almost as soon broken open. Mr. Aldridge's brother, seizing his gun, hastened to the passage, and threatened to shoot those who advanced : but, while he hesitated, the mob rushed violently upon him : and, wrenching the gun out of his hand, discharged it into the air. The inner door being fastened, they attempted to force it open, by thrusting their fingers be- tween the door and door- posts. One of Mr. Al- dridge's sisters, in order to induce the rabble to desist, thoughtlessly took a cleaver ; and, draw- ing it down the side of the door, wounded the fingers that were endeavouring to force it open. This imprudent action roused the fury of the assailants to the utmost pitch. They burst the door in an instant : and, seizing Mr. Aldridge's father, an infirm old man, they dragged him into the yard, and insulted and bruised him in a cruel manner. His wife, though she had shut herself in a parlour, was treated with the same barbarity. The preacher, the chief object of their rage, had secured himself in a separate apartment: but his retreat was quickly dis- covered by his enraged pursuers. They haled him out, amidst shouts of triumph, and the most horrid oaths and imprecations. Having secured

VOL. II. c



several of the people, they conducted them and the minister, first to Nailstone, where they ex- hibited them, as trophies of victory, from house to house.* From thence they returned to Os- baston, in hopes of receiving some reward for their exploits from a gentleman of that place ; but he properly refused to countenance such dis- graceful conduct.

The evening being now far advanced, they returned to Nailstone, treating their prisoners, on the way, in the most savage manner. They threw Mr. Aldridge into a fish-pond : and two of the mob, being accidentally pushed in with him, they endeavoured to force him beyond his depth : threatening to drown him if he would not recant. He bore their insults with christian meekness, till he perceived his life to be really in danger: when, being a strong young man, he easily plunged his persecutors in the water, and made his escape. Joseph Donisthorpe, of Normanton, who was one of the prisoners, was seized by the hair, dragged to a gate, his neck violently bent across it, and threatened with immediate death. Others had their clothes torn to pieces, were pelted with mud, and led through the most miry places that could be found. They arrived, late, at Nailstone : when they set at liberty all the prisoners, except J. Taylor, the minister, and J. Whj'^att. The former, they confined in a cham- ber, at an inn ; and permitted the latter to sit by

* During this wanton exhibition, from house to house, Mr. Taylor frequently repeated the following lines :

*' For me my Saviour thus was led, ** For me a gazing-stock was made : *' All praise be to his holy name, 'I Who counts me worthy of his shame.".


the kitchen fire. After a time, they would have dismissed Mr. Whyatt ; but he refused to leave his minister ; and, through the night, experi- enced every indignity which the malice of his enraged persecutors could devise : all which he supported like a disciple of the lowly Jesus. In the morning, he visited his family : but, regard- less of the fatigues of the night, returned to Nail- stone church, in time for the forenoon service. Here he met Mr. Taylor: who, though a pri- soner, would not omit what he thought his duty; but attended public worship, at the same place, under a guard. For these good men had not yet formed any system of their own, or entertained any design of deserting the established church.

The next morning, the constable, accompanied by the most active rioters, carried Mr. Taylor before Sir Wolston Hixie; and laid heavy charges against him and his followers, exhibiting the wounded ringers as proofs of their accusations. Sir William naturally inquired into the cause of these wounds; and the explanation afforded him great amusement. Yet he treated the preacher and his IViends with contempt and harshness : and, notwithstanding his former promises, he shewed a disposition to excuse every measure that tended to suppress the methodists, as he tauntingly styled them. But, not choosing to commit himself by any decision, he bound the parties over to the next quarter sessions. On leaving the magistrate's, the mob, encouraged by the countenance which they had received, pursued the objects of their hatred for several miles, across the fields ; and, overtaking J. Why- att, plunged him into a ditch, and otherwise abused him. At Osbaston, a large bonfire was made, as a token of rejoicing for the defeat of the


12 OPPRESSION A. D. 1743

methodisls, whom they threatened with utter destruction.*

It now became unsafe for these persecuted people to meet publicly ; but they continued to assemble more privately, and to encourage each other in their attachment to the truth. They continued to attend public worship at the esta- blished church : tlioui;h, as their views of the gospel became more extended and clear, they felt increasing dissatisfaction with thedoctrines main- tained by its ministers. Some of them ventured to remonstrate with two neighbouring clergy- men, whom they thought moht friend I v to their tenets ; but met with no redress. This increased their discontent ; and prepared their mincts to become regular dissenters. Meantime the malice of their enemies invented daily new metliods of harassing them. Many of these poor people, who had large families, and depended solely on the labour of their hands for support, being dis- missed by their employers, on account of attend- ing the preaching, were reduced to great distress. Yet they bore all with christian fortitude; and even rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer in so good a cause.-j*

* Some ideas of the ignorance and impiety of these wretched men, may be formed from the fact, that, many of them, while dancing round the bonfire, exclaimed, with the most horrid im- precations, " We will burn the Holy Ghost with the metho- dists."— Gen Bap Mat? Vol. I. p 187.

f Of this, Mr. Joseph Donisthorpe was a signal instance. The farmers and tradesmen, on whom he depended for emplojment, took great offence at his frequent religions conver-ations. They were sorry that he should make such a fool of himself, as they chose to term it; and were determined to oblige him to desist. They went, therefore, in a body, to his house ; and, in a friendly manner, advised him to leave off exposing himself, and disturbing the village. Finding this mode of attack not likely to succeed, they threatened him, that, if he did not comply with their


In the beginning of 1744, the quarter sessions were held at Leicester: when, the cause of the Barton methodists being heard, they were cast. A decision, so evidently partial and contrary to the laws of the country, induced their attorney', Mr. Feck of Leicester, to advise them to carry their cause to a higher tribunal. A statement of their case being drawn up, was laid before an eminent counsellor, who gave an opinion de- cidedly opposed to the verdict of the jury, at the sessions. iVlr Peck was, therefore, directed to

wishes, they would take all their work from his shop; and hinted, that they had procured another workman to serve them. Having now seven buiall children, and expecting the eighth, this was a trying occasion ; yet he behaved with tirmness and pro- priety. " Gentlemen," baid he, " are you pleased with my work ?" ' Yes,' they replied, ' we find no fault with that.' " And," resumed he, " are my wages reasonable ?" * Yes,' they replied, ' we are satisfied in these respects : our complaints are of a diflfer- ent nature.' "These, Gentlemen," continued Mr. Donisthorpe, " are the duties which I owe to you. What concerns God and my own conscience, you have no concern with : God forbid that I should obey you rather than him. The cause is his : and if, for the sake of his cause, you deprive me of the means of obtain- ing a livelihood, I have no doubt but he will support both me and it." Seeing him thus determined, his employers called for his books ; discharged their bills,- took away their work unfi- nished as it was ; and left him without any visible resource.

Mr. D.'s confidence in the care of Providence was not disap- pointed. At first, he thought of travelling the country to do jobs. This scheme strongly recommended itself to him, by the opportunities which it would furnish him of making known the gospel. But, before he could put this design into execution, an unexpected order, from a London gentleman, a perfect stranger, prevented it. He executed the order, received payment for it ; and a further order. But other work had then come in : and, before he could set about the goods for London, he accidentally observed the name of his employer in a list of bankrupts. This appeared to him another instance of the care of his heavenly Father ; who had supplied his wants in the time of need, and prevented him from suffering bv this unforeseen failure.

G. "B. Rep, Vol. I. pp. 247, 248.


14 JUSTICE A. D. 1744

indict several of the principal offenders at the Crown office. But, though notices of this were sent to the parties, the persecution did not abate. They treated the letters with contempt: and, os- tentatiously tearing them in pieces, trampled them under-foot in the streets. The people at Barton continued to be treated in the most out- rageous manner : their persecutors, elated with the victory they had obtained, gave a loose to their passions, and deemed it a virtue to harass them by every means they could employ.

At length the Assizes approached, and regular citations were sent to the persons indicted. This roused them to reflection : and, perceiving the dangerous situation in which their excesses had placed them, they sunk into abject despon- dency.* The most submissive applications were made, and the most moving intreaties used, to induce tiiose, whom they had so cruelly abused, to stop the proceedings, and not suffer the cause to come to a trial. The Barton friends, wishing only to enjoy their native rights without in- terruption, consented, at last, to drop the prosecution, on condition that their persecutors would pay all the expences which had, from the

* When the attorney's clerk went to Nailstone to present the citations, most of the persons to whom they were addressed were gone to a fair at Bosworth, The clerk followed j and found them in the midst of their diversions. One young man, of whom he was in quest, was preparing to entertain the mob, with a burlesque imitation of a methodist sermon: and, having mounted a stool, was composing his countenance to the requisite gravity j when the clerk stept up to him, and, presenting the citation, said, " Here, my lad, I'll furnish you with a text." But, alas ! the mock parson could not read. He was, however, soon in- formed of the contents of the paper. This closed his frolic ; he instantly descended, and sneaked away in silence : thus becoming himself an object of derision to the laughing spectators.

Gen. Bap. Mag, Vol. I. p. 283.

A.D. 1744 TRIUMPHS. 15

first, been occasioned by their violence. As many witnesses had been examined, and several enoiinent counsel retained, the costs amouiittd to a considerable sum ; and fell heavy on seven or eight of the farmers. Yet the terms were con- sidered as generous; and received by the par- ties concerned with gratitude : and all further violence was as eflfectually checked, as it could have been, had the cause proceeded, and large damages been awarded against the offenders.*

Sect. 2. — Proceedings of the Barton Preachers,

from the Nailstone Persecution to the time when

they adopted the practice of Believers* Baptism: or,

from A.D, 1743 to a.d, 1755.

Not long after this accommodation, John Taylor, the minister who had shared so largely in this persecution, left Barton, and removed to London : when David Taylor became agrain the regular preacher. Stephen Dixon, for some time, assisted him in the sacred work; but, forming an acquaintance with the Moravians at Pudsey in Yorkshire, he joined their society ; and made some fruitless attempts to form the people at Barton into a Moravian church. In about a year, however, Dixon was excluded, for some cause never fully explained, from the fellowship of the Moravians: and one William Kendrick, his intimate friend, being dissatistied with the proceedings against Dixon, withdrew from the society at Pudsey. They returned to the Barton

* Gen. Bap. Mag. Vol. I. pp. 183—190.



people: and, uniting their efforts to serve them, were received with exultation.

Though these professors had very imperfect ideas of the nature and importance of church-fel- lowship : yet a few of them were persuaded, by their ministers, to form themselves into a so- ciety, which they styled a church, 'ilus union was no sooner effected, than Messrs. Kendrick and Dixon were chosen elders ; and Mrs. Dixon eldress. This first church was formed in 1745, and consisted, at its formation, of only seven mem- bers. But many waited to see the result of the attempt; and crowds attended their public la- bours: so that their numbers increased rapidly, and the cause flourished.

Thus far they had preached in the dwelling- houses of their friends ; but the increasing num- ber of hearers now induced them to wish for a meeting-house. With their usual zeal, they soon determined to build one at Barton, the centre of their exertions : which was as quickly executed. The dimensions of this edifice were thirty-six feet by twenty-two. It had a convenient vestry ; and a spacious pulpit; in which eight or ten of their preachers sat, on public occasions. Over the whole building, chambers were constructed, designed as apartments for the single brethren and sisters, on the plan of the Moravians. This addition was probably made by Messrs. Dixon and Kendrick, in anticipation of introducing this practice among their new converts: but, if so, they were disappointed ; as we find no traces of any such orders in their churches. Though the members of this congregation were, in general, in poor circumstances ; yet they cheerfully exerted themselves, and defrayed all the expencesof this erection. Mr. William Collins, a minister whom


Mr. Kendrick invited from London, opened this new meeiin^-house in 1745.

Mr Collins continuing in the neighbourhood for several weeks, took considerable pains to in- struct these inexperienced professors in the na- ture and de>iign of churcli-fellowship and dis- cipline : and his efforts produced considerable effect I hey appointed weekly conferences of the ministers and members, for mutual edifica- tion, and to conduct the affairs of the church. These conferences uere held on the Friday even- ing: and, though many of the ministers resided at a great distance, yet they were regular and punctual in their attendance Their zeal ani- mated them to exertions, which, in many in- stances, almost surpass credibility : and their success was proportioned to their zeal.

They were so intent on the great object of winning souls to Christ, that they overlooked minor arrangements. Though they had now existed for several years, they had adopted no name to distinguish them from other professors. Their enemies, indeed, called them Methodists: but they had never been properly connected with that party, and disapproved of several things in their doctrine and discipline.* But, having now a regular church, and a meeting-house, it b»came necessary, for the protection of the public pro- perty, to assume some specific appellation. I hey

* Some of these preachers, as we have seen, had been con- nected with the Moravians; and thence their followers were sometimes called Moravians. This outlandish tTm, however, puzzled their illiterate neighbours, who appear to have had no great relish f(jr hard words They therefore, anglified it into the more intelligible appellation, Ravens: and Ravens and Methodists were commonly united as terms of reproach by the persecuting rabble. G. B. Rep. Vol. IL />.3. VOL. II, D

18 MR, AULT. A.D. 1745

felt no inclination to rank with any of their neighbours : and, therefore, adopted a denomi- nation, which, though it had long been appro- priated to a party of professors, from whom they greatly differed, yet expressed, as they thought, their determination to think and act for them- selves, uninfluenced by foreign controul; they called themselves Independents, Mr. Dixon and Mr. Kendrick assumed the principal direction of this infant society ; but were assisted, in spread- ing the gospel, by several others : especially by Messrs. J. Aldridge and J. Whyatt ; who had been, for some time, occasionally employed; and were now considered as regular preachers.

In the same year, Mr. Dixon took a journey to London : where he formed an acquaintance with Mr. Ault, a preacher and a school-master: whom he engaged to visit Barton ; and undertook the charge of his school during his absence. At his return, Mr. Ault found his school so much de- clined, that he relinquished it ; and returned to settle in Leicestershire. Soon afterwards, Mr. Dixon embraced the doctrine of universal sal- vation ; and introduced it into his sermons. This created dissatisfaction in the church ; and issued in his expulsion. He removed to Annesley Woodhouse: where his conduct soon appeared as unseriptural as his sentiments. This defection made Mr. AuU*s assistance the more necessary and acceptable.

Mr. Kendrick continued to labour with in- creasing approbation. Being a person of more learning and address than the majority of his associates, he acquired considerable influence over them : and, in effect, managed the affairs of the society as he pleased. He opened a boarding bchool at Barton with considerable success. This

A.D. 1746 JOHN GRIMLEY. 1^

required him to be more stationary ; and called forth the ether preachers to labour more fre- quently at distant places. Thej'^ were zealous and active, and pushed forwards their excursions on every side: preaching frequently at Huojgles- cote, Swannington, Hinkley, and other places in Leicestershire ; and even visiting distant villages in the neighbouring counties of Derby, Notting- ham and Stafford.

Their hands vi^ere also, this year, strengthened by the acquisition of several fellow-labourers. Among the rest, Mr. John Grimley and tMr, Francis Smith, became eminently useful, and deserve notice.

Mr. John Grimley was born at Donington on the Heath, near Huggiescote, in 1724. This young man was struck with the grandeur and simplicity of the plan of salvation, as exhihited bv ihese preachers: and, after carefullv search- ing the scriptures, and Hnding it sanctioned by those divine oracles, he determined to take his lot among ihe despised people who maintained it. Deeply affected with a sense of the importance of divine things, and possessing good natural abilities, he soon became an useful and active preacher of the gospel*

Mr. Francis Smith, an inhabitantof Melbourne, Derbyshire, was born in 1719; and had enjoyed the great advantage of a regular and pious edu- cation. He lost both his parents when only sixteen years of age : and thus was left, at that dangerous period of life, without restraint. — Having given the reins to his lusts, for seven years, he was induced, through motives of curi- osity, to hear the Methodists: by which means

f Gen. Bap. Rep. Vol. I. p. 57.

20 FRANCIS SMITH, A. D. 1746

his former impressions were revived ; and he was roused to a sense oi' his danger. He attempted to reform his conduct ; and thus qualify himself to receive the divine mercy : but all his efforts were unsuccessful. He saw so much of the vile- iiess of his nature, that he condemned even the means of necessary support He almost scrupled to eat or sleep, because he thought he was nourish- ing a body of sin, to make it strong to rebel against God: and he was tempted to relinquish all attention to religion, since, instead ot'growing more holy, he was convinced, that he uas only •dding sin to sin. In this state ot" mind, he went to hear preaching of every denomination, in hopes of obtaining relief; and was especially entangled with the quakers and mystics. At length, he was persuaded to attend the ministers from liar- ton : and, after carefully comparing their <loc- trines with the scripture, for more than a year, he was enabled, without any respect to previous qualifications, as a poor perishing sinner, to re- pose all his hopes for salvation on the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he found to be Jehovah his liighte- ousness. He then heartily joined these professors: and, being possessed of a sound understanding, and a good utterance, he was soon called to assist in their great work; in which his former exercises and inquiries prepared him for great usetuiness. He preached his first sermon, in 1746, at Kirby- Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire, from Luke ii 10.*' In 1747, Mr, F. Smith invited his friends to preach at Melbourne : and they cheerfulh com- plied. Their labours in tliis town were crou ned with the usual success: a number of persons were brought to hear tlie gospel ; and, in two (»r ihree

^^^^— — ■ I ■■..■■■ - - ■■ > .1 — ■ — ■ ^ »m^— t ^ ■ ' ...11 .■-.-■ M m^^m^K^"^^—'

* Gen. Bap. Mag. Vol. L pp. 263—267, and 354.


years, a meeting-house was erected. About the same time, Mr. Smith was chosen joint elder with Mr. Kendrick; and was ordained to that office by Mr. William Cudworth, who was then occasionally at Barton. These elders presided over the wliole body of the people, who, though dispersed in distant places, formed but one so- ciety.

At this time, some jealousy arose between Messrs. Kendrick and Ault ; who had thus far united their labours, and were looked up to as leaders. A wish to have the pre-eminence ap- pears to have actuated both parties. Mr Ault, who had prohably been a principal instrument of raisinsi^ an interest in Hinkle^ , wished to be the elder of that branch, without any dependance on the society at Barton. This was opposed by Mr. Kendrick; who, probably, feared a dimi- nution of his own influence. The contest grew warm, and a separation ensued. Mr. Ault tixed his residence at Hinkley ; and, for some time, preached and endeavoured to gather a church, unconnected with his former associates ; with whom he was never afterwards re-united. But, after persevering for several years, his congre- gation dwindled away, and he gave up the attempt.

In the meantime, the preachers from Barton continued their labours at Hinkley, and were blest with encouraging success. Leaving their leaders to dispute for- power, these zealous men diligently pursued their great object : and em- ployed ail their attention and all their energy in propagating the gospel of the grace of God among their ignorant and perishing neighbours. Nor did they confine their labours to the towns and villages ; but often preached in the open air, in

^ MALICE A.D. 1750

Charnwood-Forest. Sometimes a hollow tree, and sometimes a broken rock, furnished them with pulpits: uhile the stones or hillocks sup- plied the hearers with seats iVIany heard with attention : but others insulted the preachers; pelting them with slones and tilth. Yet these good men were not in the least intimidated, or induced to relax in their exertions : for they had learnt to bear hardships as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

The malice of the enemies of religion did not long contine itself to occasional insults: it soon commenced a more regular attack The Barton independents availed themselves of the privilege, enjoyed, at that time, by all dissenters, of solt^m- nizing their marriages amongst themselves : and Mr. John Aldridge was thus married to iVliss Elizabeth Cooper A gentleman in the neigh- bourhood, who had long distinguished himself by his enmity against the methodists, employed the church-warden, as his agent, to indict iMr Al- dridge, in the Spiritual court, for living in adul- tery with Miss Cooper. Such a cruel and base attempt to destroy the peace, and blast the reputation of a worthy family, excited the in- dignation of all good men. Dr. Turville, of Thurlaston, assisted Mr. Aldridge, on this trj'ing occasion, with his advice and countenance: and, after a full investigation, the court declared, that the marriage was legal. The church-warden, f€aring a prosecution for defamation, made am- ple satisfaction to the injured persons: and it was thought that the affair was concluded.

But this defeat only inflamed the rage of the principal instigator: who continued to take every opportunity of insulting Mr. Al- dridge and his friends, by hooting at them

A. D. 1751 DEFEATED. 23

when they passed him in the streets, and inciting others to abuse them. One evening;, as Mr. Al- dridge, his wife, and several of their companions, were returning home from a social visit, thej were met by a tumultuous rabble, headed by their implacable enemy. The unotfending Me- thodists were driven off the path, thrown down on the ground, and inhumanly kicked about by the infamous leader and his savage followers: and, at last, were compelled to shelter themselves from the fury of the assailants, in the house of a relative. This violent outrage obliged Mr. Al- dridge to seek protection from the laws of his country, by commencing a prosecution against the principal offender : and the cause was l»rought to trial at the Leicester Assizes, Aug. 1751. All the influence that could be procured was em- ployed on the side of the defendant : and the jury were overheard, during the trial, agreeing to return a verdict in his favour, whatever evi- dence might be brought a^i^ainst him. The prose- cutor, on the contrary, rested his cause on noto- rious facts, proved by witnesses of unimpeachable characters ; whose testimony was given ui a manner so simple and yet so clear, as to uain immediate credit * The judge observed, tliat it was impossible to weaken the proof, by any opposite evidence ; and advised the offender to come to terms of accommodation with the prose- cutor ; naming a sum which he thouiilit ougiit

^ The manner in which Joseph Donisthorpe who was one of the witne-jses on this trial, introduced his testimony, made a solemn impression on ihe whole court. "1 am sensible, my Lord," said he, " that I now stand before not only an earthly judge, but that 1 am also in the presence of the Judge of heaven j and being accountable hereafter for all I say> shall speak the truth.". G. B. Mag. Vol. I. p. 325.


to be paid as a penalty. The defendant refused to comply with this proposal: but, after some consideration, agreed to pay a smaller sum ; which was accepted, and the case dismissed. Thus the equity of the judge defeated the wicked- ness of the jury ; of whose partiality, it is pro- bable, he entertained some suspicion : and these harassed people were secured in the quiet ♦enjoy- ment of their civil and reliji^ious rights. So im- portant did they esteem this victory, and so gratefully did they acknowledge the signal inter- position of Providence in the result, that the eighth day of August was annually observed by them as a day of thanksgiving, as long as (he society continued united. It was spent in sing- ing, preaching, and prayer, and closed with a feast of charity.

It is probable, that, when these honest men began to publish the glad tidings of salvation, the}^ were not aware that it was necessary to have any other licence than the command of their great Master, "Go 3'e into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.'* Their ex- perience, however, had now taught them, that this would not secure them from the rage of wicked men. 1 hey, therefore, determined to claim the protection of the Act of Toleration : and Joseph Donisthorpe, John Whyatt, John Aldridge, Samuel Deacon, Francis Smith, and John Grimley, registered themselves, as dissent- ing ministers, at the quarter sessions at Leicester. _ Protected thus by the laws of their country, and animated by an ardent love for immortal souls, they prosecuted their great design with increasing vigour and success. Mr. Samuel Follows, of Castle Donington, introduced them into that town; where they verv soon collected


numerous and attentive congrejijatlotis. Curiosity brought several persons, from the adjacent village of Diseworth : who, being convinced of the im- portance of the great truths which they heard, were anxious to have them proclaimed to theit neighbours. The ministers, willing to enter at cverv door which Providence opened for them, instantly complied with their wishes. They went to Diseworth : and commenced their labours in a weaver's shop. 3ut this humble beginning soon led to important consequences. In a short time, a numerous society was formed : andj in 1752, a commodious meeting-house erected.

Among those who attended at Diseworth, were Mr. J Bradley of Whatton, and Mr. William Holmes of KegAorth. The former returned home from the sermon so much impressed, that, on entering his apartment, he exclaimed to his wife, " Mary, it is not of works, at last !" — XI plain indication, at once, of the state of his own jnind, and of the doctrine which he had heard. Mr. Bradley afterwards removed to Kegworth ; ^nd was very instrumental in promoting the cause of religion in that town. Mr. Holmes had lately commenced business,and was a respectable young man. <^)ne Lord's-day morning, in the sumnier of 1753, he attended at the parish church of Kegworth, and heard a sermon, from Micah vi. 6 — 8. In the evening of the same dav, he walked to Diseworth, and heard Mr. Grimley preach from the same text. The sermon, how- ever, was entirely new ; and both surprized and affected him. From that period, he attended regularly at Diseworth : and, after suffering con- siderable distress of mind, before the close of the year, found comfort in his Saviour.

A few other inhabitants of Kegworth attended

VOL. II. s


at Diseworth : and, feeling the value of the truths of the gospel, were desirous to bring them into their own neighbourhood. They even ven- tured to form a wish to build a house for God at Kegworth, Seven or eight of these zealous young converts met together, one evening, to consult on the subject. Though generally poor men, twenty guineas were soon cheerfully subscribed : and Mr. Bradley, who had purchased some land in the town, offered to accommodate them with a part of it. Thus encouraged, they ventured to proceed : and, to prevent expence, gave their personal labour, as well as their money, to the good design. The building being soon com- pleted, was opened, June 15th, 1755, by Mr. Do- nistkorpe. The cause prospered ; their numbers increased : and, in a short time, the whole debt was discharged.*

Mr. Dixon, as we have seen, when he left Barton, settled at Annesley Woodhouse, Not- tinghamshire, where he raised a small congre- gation. But his conduct proving immoral, the people excluded him: and applied for ministerial aid to the Barton preachers. These indefatigable men readily engaged to supply them: and their labours were blest to the conversion of sinners. In 1755, a meeting-house was built at a neigh- bouring village, named Kirby- Woodhouse. Mr. Abraham Booth, and his parents, appear to have been among the first fruits of their ministry, in this place. Though then only twenty-two years of age, he joined these despised people, and soon became eminently useful.-j*

About the year 1753, preaching was introduced

• G. B. R. Vol. III. pp. 51, 52. G. B. Mag. Vol. I. p. 407.' ". t G. B. Mag. Vol. I. p. 407. G. B. Rep. Vol. II. p. 131.


into the populous town of Loughborough, by Mr. Thomas Hutchinson. Mr. Whjatt delivered the first discourse in that place, from Isai. liii. 6, in the dwelling-house of Mr. William Cheatle; who kindly opened his doors for the purpose. So few of the inhabitants were friendly to the cause, that it was with difficulty five signatures could be ob- tained, to a request for a licence for the place of worship. Yet a considerable number of the inha- bitants attended ; and many heard with serious- ness ; though the greatest number went with an avowed intent to ridicule and persecute. The mob collected round the house, in the time of service ; and endeavoured, by clamour and sometimes by the beating of drums, to interrupt the attention of the hearers. Often they pro- ceeded further: and threw stones and dirt through the windows. Once they seized a woman, as she came out of the meeting ; and dragged her along a deep kennel, full of mire and filth, by th*' hair of her head : reviling her continually with the epithets of raven and methodist. The ministers endeavoured to check these violent proceedings, by an appeal to the magistrates : but a witness accidentally mistaking the date of one of these atrocities, this slip of memory was made the pre- tence of rejecting their appeal : and their enemies renewed their assaults with increased fury. The rabble collected round the door of the court, and followed the friends of religion, with triumphant insult, through the town : so that they escaped with difficulty to their own houses. Foiled in this attempt, they employed an attorney, to seek redress in the higher courts; who sent a letter to the most active of the persecutors, stating the pro- bable consequences of their violent conduct. An intimation of this nature, from a person of cha-



racter, put a stop to personal insults ; and the enemies of religion contined themselves to hoot- ing, shouting, and similar expressions of ill wilL These harmless effusions of restrained malice were despised and neglected : — the ministers con- tinued their labours, and the cause daily gained ground,*

Sect. 3. The Proceedings of the Barton

Preachers^ and their Associates^ from their com-* mencing Baptists to the Division into distinct Churches: or ^ from a. d, 1765 to a.d, 1760.

These good men, when thej first began to preach salvation by faith, appear to have enter* tained no design of forming a party. Their great object evidently was, to incite their careless neighbours, whom they saw perishing on every hand, to flee from the wrath to come. An unioot of object and similarity of spirit produced co- operation: and societies arose from their mutual zeal to promote each other*s spiritual welfare. They continued to consider themselves members of the established church : and, from a principle of conscience, regularly attended her worship. But their application to religion naturally led them to acquire a more accurate acquaintance with divine subjects: and this knowledge pro- duced and nourished dissatisfaction with the ■ doctrine, the worship and the discipline of the eburch of England. Unmerited persecution heightened their disapprobation; and, at length, compelled them to declare themselves disseniers.

. . _ _i I I " - r^ -

— 1 " — ' — -

* G. B. Mag. Vol. I. p. 407. G. B. Rep. Vol. II. pp. 2. 3.


Yet, even then, they had their system to form. Unacquainted with the volumes of theolojfy, un- concerned in the controversies among professors, and unknown, almost totally, to the more ancient dissenters, they had no guide but the Bible. That sacred book they carefully and impartially studied : and determined to make it the standard of their faith and the rule of their practice. From this volume, under the teachings of the Holy Spirit, they gradually corrected the errors which they had imbibed ; and formed themselves into regular churches of Christ.

Their preachers had early conceived some doubts on the subject of baptism, which led them to appeal to their infallible directory. But their prejudices were not easily removed. They Quickly discovered that the scripture mode of baptism was immersion; and resolved to practise it» For this purpose, a large tub was placed in their meeting-house; in which the ministers dipped their infants. This custom they seem to liave maintained for several years.* At length, they were compelled to acknowledge, that the New Testament no more authorized the baptism of infants than it did sprinkling. They ha^ flattered themselves, that the example of the blessed Saviour,-]* gave some countenance to their practice: but a more impartial examination con- Tinced them, that there was not the least allusion to baptism in the whole transaction. They dis- covered that, "Jesui himself baptized not:" but ''took children in his arms, put his hands on

■ IW I I I fi I I — ■ II'

* G.B. Mag. Vol.1. p.353.— Ml-. Josiah Thompson, who wrote au account of the»e people, in 1774, which he had collected from the parties themselves, tays, *' For about twelve years they practibed iAfant baptism by immersion." /. T. MSS.

i Mack X. 16.


them, and blessed them." Determined to "follow the Lamb whithersoever he went," they removed their vessels for immersion ; and broii{<ht their infants, in the time of public service, to the minister: who, taking them in his arms, pro- nounced an affectionate benediction on them ; iisin«^, on this occasion, the words in which Aaroa and his sons were instructed to bless the children of Israel. *'The Lord bless thee, and keep thee. The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up his coun- tenance upon thee, and give thee peace."* Suit- able admonitions to the parents, and earnest and affectionate prayer for them and their offspring, concluded thesolemnand interesting- transaction. We have no account how long this practice con- tinued : but, as it was noways inconsistent with the principles of believers* baptism, it was, pro- bably retained for some time after they adopted that practiee.-f

In proportion as the grounds of infant sprink- ling vanished, the arguments for believers* liaptism appeared the more conclusive. They found, that the New Testament not only re- quired repentance and faith, as indispensible prerequisites to baptism ; but also made it the duty of every one, who professed to repent and believe, to be baptized. Yielding, therefore, to the authority of scripture, and the dictates of conscience, they determined, after serious exami- nation for several years, to obey the command of their Saviour ; and personally to devote them- selves to his service, in this sacred ordinance. — ^ They were led to this conclusion, neither by reading the writings of the advocates of believers*

* Numb. vi. ^2—37.. f G. B. Mag. Vol. I. pp. 358^360.


baptism, nor by conversation with baptists: but simply bj reading and studying the word of God.*

They were now baptists in sentiment : but, in reducing their creed to practice, a considerable difficulty occurred. None of their ministers iiad been baptized by immersion, on a profession of faith : and, therefore, according to their new Tiews, they were all in an unbaptized state ; and unquali6ed to administer the ordinance to others. If they had any acquaintance, at that time, with other baptists, either general or particular, it was very slight : and they felt no inclination to so- licit 1 heir assistance. Indeed, had they applied to any of the regular ministers of that day, when discipline was more rigorously exercised than at present, it is probable, that, considering their obscure state and imperfect organization, they would have been refused. After much consider- ation, they had recourse to the expedient usual in such cases. It was agreed, that Mr. Donisthorpe should first baptize Mr. Kendrick, and then Mr. Kendrick should baptize him : after which, they should unite in administering the ordinance ta the rest of their associates. This was accordingly performed, about the middle of November, 1755 ; when, between sixty and seventy of these pro- fessors thus solemnly devoted themselves to the service of their Saviour, f

* The writer, mentioned in the last note, observes, " In 1755, they adopted the sentiments of the baptists, both with respect to the subject and the mode of baptism. This change of sentiment arose, neither from reading any books on the subject, nor ft-om conversation with any persons of that persuasion : but merely from searching the scriptures, and from Ihence being persuaded, that so had the Lord commanded." J. T. MSS.

t G. p. Mag. Vol. I. pp. 359, 360. G. B. Rep. Vol. I. pp. S%,


The adaption of believers* baptism involved these young professors in perplexities of a differ- ent nature. As they were all independents, and claimed the privilege of thinking apd acting for themselves, it was not to be expected, that all would, at one time, arrive at the same conclusion. Several, in fact, who were members of their so- ciety, and sat down with them at the Lord's table^ disapproved the opinion of the majority, and continued unbaptized. This did not, however, exclude them from communion ; but they were permitted still to enjoy all their former privi<- leges. It does not indeed appear, that, for some time, baptism was made a term of communion, or considered as giving a title lo the fellowship of the church. Attention to it was urged on their bearers, as a duty required of them by the com- mand of Christ; and Jhey were earnestly pressed to prompt obedience. In some cases, it is pro-

249. Vol. II, p. 120. Vol, III. p. 53.— It has been seen, in thfe former part of this work, that Mr. Smyth and his friends expe- rienced tlie same difficulty, as to obtaining ft proper administrator,- and adopted the same method. Thus, also, Mr. Roger Williams, and a few olheru, who, in the middle of the seventeenth century, founded the first baptist church in America, -in a similar per- plexity, appointed Mr. Holliman to baptize Mr. Williams; after which, Mr. Williams baptized Mr. Holliman and ten others. And, when a few pious Germans, residing in Pcnsylvaniaj at the beginning of the last century, had, by reading the scriptures and mutual conversation, been convinced of the divine appoiDtmcnt of believers' baptism, and were unable to procure assistance from a regular baptist, they chose one of their number, by lot, to ad- minister the ordinance to the rest : and thus laid the foundation of the party afterwards called Tankers or Dippers, it is remaik- able, that, in all these cases, so entirely distinct, and, probably, unknown to each other, the same means should have been used to restore the ordinance r and that the Barton people, who, it is •ahnost certain, had never heard of any of these transactions, should adopt the same expedient Supra, Vol. I. pp. 7l» 82 — 85. Ivirney'i ETi^Iuh Sbp^ Kal. I. p. 56iJ. Bap. Mag. Vol. /". p. 353.

i.b. 1760 CLASSES. S3

bable, that their zeal misled them ; and they were not sufficiently cautious in examining the cha- racters of those whom they baptized : but being baptized j^ave the party no right to the other privileges of commimion. Thus, after they be- came baptists, their society consisted of four distinct classes of members. The lowest were such as professed a concern for eternal things, who enjoyed a degree of fellowship, though they were neither admitted to baptism, nor the Lord's supper : the second comprized those who had been baptized, but were not communicants : un^ baptized communicants composed the third : and the fourth, or highest class, consisted of baptized communicants. These classes, which appear to have partly arisen from their peculiar circumstances, and partly to have been borrowed from the Methodists, were maintained as long as these professors continued to act as one body; but were soon laid aside when they divided into distinct churches.*

This important change in the sentiments and practice of these people did not relax their exertions for the spread of the gospel, and the conversion of sinners; nor diminish their success. Preaching had not continued more than three years, in the dwelling-house at Loughborough, before the increaseof regular hearersobliged them to look out for more spacious accommodations. Mr. Oldershaw, who was friendly to the cause, having a barn at liberty, offered to tit it up as a meeting-house, and let it to the congregation. The proposal being readily accepted, the proper alterations were made ; and the preachers from Barton and Melbourn attended regularly everjr

* Gen. Bap. Mag. Vol. I. p. 360. VOL. II. F



LordVday ; besides conducting a week-day- evening meeting for prayer and exhortation. — The hearers still increased, and religion appeared to be daily extending its inBuence, when this rising interest received a check from the dreams of enthusiasm. A collar maker, from the Vale of Belvoir, who has since been known by the appel- lation of the Little Prophet, pretended to have received a commission from heaven, to lead the army of the saints to the valley of Jehoshaphat, to destroy Gog and Magog, and the whole host of the ungodly ; and thus to introduce the Mille- nium. To uphold his claims, he began to make preparations for his proposed march, and actually nominated some of the principal officers w ho were to serve under his standard. When we consider the success which pretensions still more absurd have recently obtained, among persons who have enjoyed means of instruction far superior to those possessed by the friends of Loughborough, at thi» time, we shall not wonder that the Little Prophet deluded a few of the weaker members of the congregation. And it reflects no small honour on the memory of the preachers, whose spirits must have been warmed by persecution, and ele- vated by success, and who had borrowed little assistance from human learning, that they uni- formly opposed this fanatic, and adhered steadily to the words of truth and soberness. Their tirni- ness preserved many from being led away by this delusion : and the failure of one of the most remarkable predictions of the prophet completed his confusion, and sunk him into deserved con- tempt.* The cause at Loughborough received a valuable

* G. B. Rep. Vol. II. pp. 9i 4.


addition, during this period, in Mr. William Parkinson, a respectable farmer of Quorndon. He had been awakened to a concern for the sal- vation of his soul, by conversing with a young man who had joined the new preachers. Mr. Parkinson long refused to attend these despised ministers, through fear of losing the countenance of his family, who were violently prejudiced against them. But, having settled at Quorndon, at a distance from his friends at Savvley in Derby- shire, he frequently went to spend the sabbath with them. One morning, passing through Keg- worth for that purpose, he heard singing in the general baptist meeting-house ; and, being par- tial to that exercise, was induced to enter. Curi- osity prompted him to hear the discourse, which was delivered by Mr. F. Smith, from that awful text, Prov. i. 24 — 28. This roused his fears, and caused him to attend occasionally on the labours of these zealous men ; though, for two years, under the iiiBuence of carnal pride, he went with great secrecy. The powerful application of our Saviour's declaration, ** Whosoever is ashamed of me and my words before men, of him will 1 be ashamed, before my Father and his holy angels," constrained him, at last, to make an open and manly profession of his attachment to those whom he was compelled to esteem as the friends of the truth. His views of the scripture way of salva- tion growing more correct, and his soul obtaining peace in believing, he proposed himself to the society ; and was baptized May 8th, 1759. He continued long a valuable member, and a great support of the cause of Christ. Three of his brothers, and several branches of the family, fol- lowing his example, successively joined genera


haptist churches ; and were eminently useful and honourable.*

The cause of religion prospered, for a short space, at Kegvvorth : and the prospects were highly encouraging. Frequently upwards of five hundred persons attended their public wor- ship ; and opposition vanished before them. But the scene soon changed, in their eagerness to spread the gospel, they were sometimes inat- tentive to the instruments they employed. A person was encouraged to preach, whose abilities were unequal to the sacred work, and whose conduct was irregular. This excited disgust in sensible observers, and prepared their minds for taking offence. Soon afterwards, consider- able dissension arose on subjects of doctrine. Many openly espoused the tenets of Antinomian- ism : and the disputes were conducted with so much heat and animosity, that the society at Kegworth was dissolved. And, though the friends of truth and peace soon elfected a re- union of many of the members ; yet not a few forsook the preachers, and adhered to the system which they had recently adopted.-j*

But while the cause was thus distracted at Kegworth, the seed which had been sown there was, in other places, bringing forth abundant fruit. Curiosity had led many persons from Xeake, in Nottinghamshire, to hear the new preachers at Kegworth: divers of whom became deeply affected ; and, in a short time, heartily joined their society. These young converts fre- quently conversed with their neighbours on eternal subjects, and opened a meeting for prayer

* G. B. Rep. Vol. III. pp. 1—6. t Gen. Bap. Mag. Vol. I. p. 408.

A.Di 1764 MR, N. BENNETT. ^

and exhortation at Leake. The clergy took the alarm at these strange proceedings; and a violent persecution commenced. But the dissenters applied to a magistrate; who honourably inter- fered, and obliged their enemies to make them compensation. Yet, though public outrage was suppressed, private malice continue^ to harass them: and often reduced them to circumstances that tried the sincerity of their attachment to the cause of their Redeemer.

Among these sufferers for the sake of a good conscience, the zealous and pious Mr. Nathaniel Bennett was justly distinguished. He had a large family, and depended for support chiefly on a farm which he rented. When he commenced baptist, some of the neighbouring clergy incensed his landlord against him: and the alternative was proposed to his choice, either to renounce his religious connections, or to quit all visible means of subsistence. Great as the sacrifice was, this good man did not hesitate ; but cheerfully cast himself and his dependents on the care of Provi- dence, rather than deny his Saviour or desert his friends. He was, accordingly, driven from his habitation, and compelled to seek a shelter whiere he could. For some time, his efforts appeared ineffectual. The little property which he had previously acquired, rapidly declined ; and po- verty seemed to approach with hasty steps : yet he still retained his dependence on God, and steadily adhered to the path of duty. Nor had he occasion to be ashamed of his confidence. He -i^ceived, even in this life, an abundant compen- sation for all that he had forsaken for Christ; and iiivi^hed his course with joy, in the happy antici- pation of enjoying an inheritance that fadeth not awaj^ The Lord has also been very gracious to


38 LEASE CHURCff. A. D. 1756

his offsprings : many of whom are now walking honourably in the steps of their pious and worthy ancestor.

In the midst of this public and private oppo- sition, the cause of vital religion continued to prosper at Leake; and the number of hearers daily increased. It was soon found necessary to provide a larger place of worship. A suitable piece of ground for a meeting-house was obtained of iVJr. Thomas Clark, who also generously ac- commodated the friends with a loan of one hundred pounds, to assist in the erection. All the influence that could be obtained by the enemies of religion, was vigorously exerted, to prevent the completion of this design ; but the zeal and perseverance of the baptists, under the blessing of heaven, surmounted all obstacles; and a neat and commodious chapel was opened, in 1756 ; which added new vigour to their pro- ceedings. Many attended the worship, from adjacent villages, and even from distant places. This naturally induced the preachers to visit them at their own homes; and thus, in a short time, the gospel was introduced into many of the neighbouring districts.*

1 he labours of these ministers continued to be abundantly blest at Hinkley, and its environs. Among the first converts, in that town, were Mr. Thomas Perkins, afterwards an useful preacher, and Mr. John Shipman, who, for a long period, sustained the office of ruling elder in that church. They soon pushed their exertions into Warwick- shire, and founded an interest in the vicinity of Longford, near Coventry. Robert Sheffield, n young member of the society at Diseworth, going

■ ■ ■ ~ ' ■■ ■ HI

* G. B. Mag. Vol. 1. pp. 405, 406, and P. J,


towork atExhall,in that neighbourhood, boarded with a dissenting family of the independent per- suasion. Being zealous to propagate his peculiar sentiments, he introduced them frequently ia conversation ; and with such success, that a daughterof his host was persuaded to attend the preaching at Hinkley, though at the distance of eight or nine miles. After due examination, she renounced the doctrine of personal election, and cordially embraced the important truth, that "Jesus tasted death for every man." Her family were much grieved at this change; and, after private expostulation had failed, proposed, for the purpose of fully discussing the points in de- bate, a meeting of the independent minister and his friends, with some of the leading men among the new preachers. These zealous men accepted the challenge with alacrity ; and the conference took place in the vestry of the independent meet- ing-house at Bedviorth, near Exhall. But, oa this occasion, these champions ventured out of their sphere. However able to propose the plain truths of the gospel to perishing sinners, they certainly were wholly unacquainted with the arts of controversy. They were, therefore, easily disconcerted, and driven to substitute clamour for argument. This imprudent rencounter afforded, not only triumph to their enemies, but also a pretence to the rabble, to insult and per- necute them. And the young woman, persisting in her adherence to her new principles, was dis- carded by her parents, and obliged to seek refuge among the friends at Hinkley and Barton. After some months, she returned on a visit to Exhall ; and succeeded in persuading her brother, with Mr. William Smith and his wife, and a few other neighbours, to attend at Hinkley.


40 MU. WILLIAM SMITH. A, D. 1760

I Mr. W. Smith was soon convinced of the truth of these new doctrines: and, being a zealous man, and desirous to promote the eternal welfare of his neighbours, conversed freely on these impor- tant topics with any who would hear him. An uproar vvas quickly raised in the parish, and the Vicar became alarmed. He sent for Mr. Smith, and held a long debate with him on the subject of salvation by faith. They parted, as disputants usually do, each coniirmed in his own opinion. The next morning, the clergyman sent to inquire of Mr. Smith what he called himself, and with which class of dissenters he chose to rank. This, probably, was a point which the new convert himself had hardly settled : and, therefore, feel- ing no inclination to satisfy thfe curiosity of the inquirer, he abruptly replied to the servant wha brought the message, " 'I'ell your master, that I am a christian.*' The vicar, irritated by this laconic answer, sent back the servant to inform Mr. Smith, that, unless he refrained from con- versing with the parishioners on the subject of religion, he might expect to sufter for his inter- ference. But this village pope entirely mistook the character of his opponent. Mr. Smith was not to be deterred by threats from what he felt to be his duty; and indignantly returned, "Tell your master, that 1 regard neither him nor his persecution : for I mean to go to heaven myself, and to take all I can with me." This spirited message so increased the clergyman's wrath, that he took every opportunity of railing against these innovators. He carried his hostility into the pulpit, and made them and their heresies the constant themesof his public discourses. All this, however, had an effect directly contrary to the old vicar's wishes. The cariosity of his neigh-


bours was excited: and many went to hear what these babblers would spy. Proselytes were daily made; and, in 1760, a house at Longford was licensed for preaching. /This increased the rage of the enemies of the gospel, and the mob was encouraged to interrupt their worship.-— Gross outrages were committed ; but an appeal being made to ihe magistrate for protection, the furj of their persecutors was checked, and the cause was carried forwards with vigour and success,*

The interest at Melbourn had prospered in •uch a degree, that it was now considered as the second station of the society : Barton still holding' the tirsr place. Once a month, the Lord's su|)per was administered among these people; and, tor the accommodation of the communicants, it was celebrated alternately at Barton and Melbourn. |On these occasions, frpf]uehtly more than one hundred members attended, from distant parts. It was impossible to accommodate such numbers with necessary refreshment, during their stay, at the expence of individuals; and it would have been disagreeable to have resorted to public- houses on so solemn a day : they, therefore, adopted a plan, which, as they thought, united economy and conveniency. A plain dinner was provided at a friend's house ; and each person paid voluntarily, to the deacons, what he thought proper, towards the expence. The liberality of some supplied the penury of others ; and the poor were usually entertained either gratuitously or on very easy terms. Sometimes the contri- butions exceeded the expence ; and the surplus went to the common stock : at other times, they

* G. B.M»S. Vol. IL pp. 20-»2&, an4 P. I. TOL. II. 6


^42, ▲ TRAITOR. A.D. 1759

fell short ; and the deficiency was supplied from the same fund. They had no suspicion of any illegality in their proceedings; and, therefore, took no care to conceal them. Indeed, many intelligent persons have thought, that, as no demand was made, nor profit sought, there was no breach of any statute ; though an artful villain made this hospitable custom the means of involving them in very heavy expences.

A stranger settled at Melbourn, as a barber; and, by degrees, formed an acquaintance with the baptists. He regularly attended their meet- ings, appeared much aflfected under their ser- mons, and, at length, professed his desire to join their society. The overture was received with joy by these unsuspecting and sanguine people: and he was admitted to all their privileges. He attended these social dinners, and observed the manner of conducting them. Having obtained his purpose, he abruptly forsook the society, and lodged information against them for a breach of the excise laws. Several of the principal persons concerned, both at Barton and Melbourn, were, in consequence, summoned before the magi- strates ; and, on the oath of this barber only, condemned to pay a fine of fifty pounds for each place. Considering the poverty of tlie majority of their friends, and the exertions they were con- stantly making in building meeting-houses, and maintaining the cause, this heavy penalty was severely felt. But, though every means were used to procure a mitigation of the sentence, and several respectable characters kindly stepped forwards as their advocates, they were obliged to pay the uttermost farthing.*

' >

* G. B. Mag. Vol. I. pp. 503-<— 505.— Among others, tli$


This, certainly, was a heavy loss to the infant cause ; but a circumstance succeeded still more afflictive. Mr. Kendrick had, from the first rise of this people, been looked up to as a leader ; though, on several occasions, he had manifested too g:reat a desire of power. But, about this time, several reports to the disadvantage of his moral character were circulated. These, at first, were neglected ; till they became so numerous, and assumed so serious an aspect, that the credit of the society required their investigation. — Several meetings of the preachers and principal members were held : and, though that unhappy man vehemently denied the truth of the accu- sations, yet the evidence against him was so clear, that the society was obliged to exclude him from their fellowship, and to dissolve all communion with him. What rendered the business still more unpleasant, was a circumstance which, till then,

Mayor of Derby wrote a letter on their behalf, signed by himself and four respectable gentlemen ; which we insert below, as it beai's unsusipected evidence to the moral charater of the parties. " We, whose naaies are hereunto subscribed, are informed of an indictment against Mr. Thos. Robinson and \lr. Geo Turner, both of Melbourn, in this county of Derby, for doing something contrary to the customs of the excise ; which we have reason to believe is more the effect of an oppressive spirit in those into whose hands they are fallen, than any fraud or design in the persons thus indicted.

*' The two above persons transact a good deal of business in this town, and are well esteemed by all with whom they trade, as men of veracity and integrity J and have always approved them- selves good and loyal subjects to his majesty king George : — men whom we can heartily recommend to deserve the liberty the Act of TolemtioQ latitled them to.

«' We are. Gentlemen,

Your most humble servants, Samuel Cromfton, Mayor of Derly, '■■ ■ Derly, Joseph Smith, Johk Biwghau,

Jug. 27th. 1759. RossAT £ak.kwxli.> Thomas Milnsi."


4i DIVISION A. D. 1760

had not been noticed. He had artfully got possession of the deeds of several meeting-houses: and the people were obliged to pay him a sum of money, to induce him to surrender those impor- tant documents. At last, after much trouble and disgrace, a total separation was effected. — The furv of wicked men mav harass the church of God, and the power of tyrants may persecute his saints even unto death ; but it is in the house of its friends, by the apostacy of its ministers, that the gospel receives its most deadly wounds, and its enemies obtain the most complete triumph.^

Sect. 4. — The Division of the Society into Five

Churches : and their Progress from the Period of

that Division to the Commencement of the New

Connection : or, from a.d. 1760 to a.d. 1770.

The unhappy and deplorable fall of iMr. Ken- drick, not only exposed this rising interest to much ridicule and reproach, but left it without a head. The preachers, in general, eager on their great work of spreading the gospel, had left the management of their internal affairs, and the government of the society, in a great measure, to Mr. Kendrick : and he, possessing some literary advantages and considerable address, had ruled among them with almost dictatorial authority. Wh^n they lost him, they were, therefore, re- duced to great perplexity. The cause had spread over a large tract of country, to places far distant from each other ; and the number of members had greatly increased. No fewer than one hun-


« Cen. £ap. Mag. Vol. 1. p. 408.


dred and sixty were in full communion ; and vast crowds who attended their meetings were, in a greater or less degree, connected with them. To superintend the concerns of so extended and complicated a society, required persons of more experience and greater leisure than their preach- ers ; who had enjoyed few opportunities of gain- ing general knowledge, and were closely engaged in labouring with their hands, for the support of their families.

Two of their preachers, however, possessed some advantages over their associates. Messrs, J. Griinley and A. Booth, though no less zealous in proclaiming the good news of salvation to perishing sinners, had applied themselves, in an especial manner, to the investigation of the na- ture ot a church of Christ, and of the proper mods of discipline required in it: and had read some valuable works on that important subject. They, therefore, availed themselves of the confusion caused by Mr. Kend rick's exclusion, to propose the formation of distinct churches : which, being less extended, and under the eye of resident pastors, would, as they pleaded, more effectually promote the edification of every part, and the extension of the cause. After frequent discus- sion, it was agreed, thatthe whole body which had hitherto been united as one society, should be divided into five distinct and independent so- cieties ; which, from the principal place of meeting, were denominated, the Barton, Mel- bourn, Kegworth, Loughborough, and Kirby- Woodhouse churches. Among these congree^a- tions, the ministers were distributed, with as ten- der a regard as possible to the feelings of indivi- duals, and the good of the whole. But, though thus divided and independent of each other, tbejr

46 BARTON CBtTRCir. A.D. 1765

still maintained the most friendly intercourse. IVlonthly meetinjjfs of the ministers were held, for mutual advice and assistance: and quarterly conferences met, at each place in rotation ; when one or two sermons were preached by the minis- ters of other churches. On these occasions, many of the members from a distance attended ; and expressed much satisfaction and edification.

Let us now take a brief survey of these several churches, from the time of the division to the commencement of the JSew Connection.

Barton church included, at the period of the division. Barton, Hugglescote, Stanton, Mark- field, Hinkley, and Longford. The ministers assigned to this society were, John Whyatt, of Barton, Samuel Deacon, of Ratby, and John Al- dridge, of Hugglescote. For some time, the cause flourished, and the members increased. — The ordinance of the Lord's supper was adminis- tered monthly, at Barton and Hugglescote alter- nately ; and though the distance at which many of the communicants lived was upwards of twenty miles, yet these solemnities were well attended. But this distance, and the increase of the mem- bers, rendered it necessary, in 1766, to divide the society into two churches: Hinkley and Longford forming one; and Barton, Hugglescote, and Ratby the other, over which Messrs. Whyatt, Deacon and Aldridge still remained pastors.

But differences on points of doctrine soon began to arise among the Barton friends, which caused considerable uneasiness. Mr. Aldridge's mind being much affected with the debates, and having previously entertained some doubts re- specting his call to the ministry, he now totally declined the sacred work : though he continued an honourable private member of the church to


his death. This augmented the burden of the other two pastors, who were both labouring men ; and depended on their own industry for their support. Though they had not only lost much time, but incurred considerable expence, by iheir ministerial enfi:agementsi : yet they had hitherto received no remuneration from the society by ivhich they were employed. It now occurrt'd to some of the more considerate members, that their pastors ought to have some assistance. 1 his reasonable sup:gestion was unanimously approved by the church ; and immediate arrHntjements were made to carry it into etfect. Bui some un- pleasant circumstances in the conduct of Mr. W hyatt made it necessary, in 1770, alter much external reproach and internal altercation, to exclude him from the society: when Mr, Deacon was left alone to serve this extended church Vet, under all these discourajj^ements, the cause gained ground: for, at the commencement of the New Connection, in 1770, this society consisted of one hundred and twenty mt^mbers.

The members, who, in 1766, separated from Barton, and formed the church at Htnkiet/ and Longford, amounted to fifty. Four years previous to this separation, Mr. W. Smith, of Lonjijford, whom we have already mentioned, had begun to preach ; and, soon after, Mr. George iJickling, who had removed from Costock in Nottingham- shire, engaged in the same sacred work. The labours of these two ministers, especially of the latter, were well approved by their friends ; and, at the division, they were ordained joint pastors over the new church. The cause of Christ pros- pered in their hands ; and, at the first baptism, twenty-five persons were added to the church. In, 1763, a new meeting-house was built at Lon^^-

4S MR. Gi TOONEi 460. 170B

ford ; and, in 1678, another was opened at Hink- ley. Mr. G. Toone,* a valuable member of this church, who resided at Wolvey, had long been desirous of introducing the gospel to liis neigh- bours. He was the first dissenter in the village, and encountered much opposition and reproach ; but unintiraidated by ditiiculty, he opened his house for religious worship, in 1768 : which was generally conducted by Messrs. John and Kichard Shipman, occasional preachers at Hinkley.— In 1770, the Hinkley, or, as it is termed in the Mi- nutes of the Association, the Longford church, consisted of two pastors, one ruling elder, four deacons, and one hundred and seventy members: religion flourished and the hearers were nu- merous. ; d')notq'iT (ftni^txa Melhourn was the second of the churches formed at the division, in 1760; and included Packington, Measham, Swannington and 'J'ick-

* The attention of Mr. Toone to religious subjects was first excited by a serious remark, at the close of a letter on business, which he received from Mr. Bradley of Kegworth. This ap- parently trifling circumstancfe led to very important conse- quences. Under the divine blessing, it awakened this carelesi youth to earnest inquiry after the way of salvation, which issued in a surrender of himself to the Lord. He opened his house for preaching, and numbers attended who had never heard the gospel. In a short time, a commoditms meeting- house was erected, in this daik village, which has since been en- larged : and, for many years, a numerous congregation have worshipped in it. A distinct church has, for some time, been formed at Wolvey, which now consists of upwards of eighty members. Many happy souls, there is good reason to believe, have all eady arrived in glory from this hill of Zion ; and many others are now travelling in the straight road that leads to eternal life. — What an encouragement to seize every proper occasion, either in conversation or Corresptindence, to drop a serious hint or introduce a religious Observation 1 G. B.R. VoL JlLp.m'd. Min.Am.As$o.lBlb,


nail. About forty persons were, at first, united in this societj : and Francis Smith and Thomas Perkins were ordained joint pastors over them. The ministers em|)loyed,on this occasion, were. Air A. Booth, who gave the charge;* Mr. J. Grimlej, who addressed the people ;•!• Messrs. Tarratt and Donisthorpe, who engaged in prayer; and Mr. J. Aldridge, who gave out the hymns^ This event afforded great satisfaction to the people ; as they highly esteemed the abilities and characters of their pastors. These ministers, indeed, were well qualified to labour in concert r Mr, Perkins* discourses being peculiarly adapted to rouse the careless sinner to a sense of his dan- ger, and to alarm his fears ; while Mr. Smith's disposition led him to draw the wounded soul, by the cords of love ; and, with the tenderest sym- pathy, to encourage him to seek peace, through faith in a crucitied Saviour, whose affection and sufferings were the favourite theines of his public ministrations. With such overseers, the church spread itself on every side : and many were fre- quently added to its number. Some of these converts resided at Packington, where preaching had, for several years, been maintained, in the dwelling house of Richard Tompson. But, the hearers increasing, a large barn was engaged, in 1762, on a long lease ; and fitted up for public worship : which was soon well filled ; and many attended from distant places. — At Melbourn, also, the congregation augmented so much, that, in 1768, they were obliged to enlarge their meet- ing-house, at an expence of one hundred and twenty pounds: which they cheerfully raised by a subscription among themselves. About the

* From Act^ u, 18, f Fro«a L Thew. v. 12, IS.




same time, they introduced preaching at Wor- thington and Ticknall. At the former place, their success was small ; and they soon relinquished the attempt : but, at the latter, several were added to the church ; and preaching has con- tinued there to the present time. In 1770, the church at Melbourn consisted of two pastors, two ruling elders, five deacons, and one hundred and sixty members : religion appeared flourish* ing, and many were waiting for admission.

Kegworth church included Castle-Donington, Diseworth, and numerous adjacent villages.— Over this church, Mr. N. Pickering, of Castle- Donington, and Mr. John Tarratt, of Kegworth, were ordained joint pastors. These ministers exerted themselves, with great diligence and signal success, in spreading the gospel among their benighted neighbours. Among other places at which they regularly preached, was Sawley, in Derbyshire. On May 8th, 1766, Mr. N. Picker- ing was preaching, in a dwelling house, in that village, when the curate of the parish, much in- toxicated, came, at the head of a numerous mob, many of whom were in the same state as their leader ; and, entering the room, ordered the preacher to cease, or they would put him in the stocks. Mr. Pickering, hoping to stop their violence, read his licence ; but this had no effect. The curate seized him : and he, without resist- ance, suffered himself to be led out of the house to the stocks. But here the clergyman and his associates were too much overpowered by liquor to be able to complete their design ; and Mr, Pickering quietly went home. The congregation had dispersed, amidst the insults of the drunken rabble : and the whole village was in an uproar. The bells of the church were rung, a drum was

A.D. 1766 rERSECUTED. 51

beat about the streets, hand-bells were jingled Iq the ears of the baptists, dirt was thrown in their faces, and a bucket of blood was brought from a butcher's shop, to throw over them. Mr. Picker- ing, however, took an opportunity of acquainting the bishop of the diocese with the disgraceful conduct of the curate : and was assured, that ho should receive a severe reprimand.*

Driven thus from Sawley, they turned their attention to Dale-Moor, where they introduced preaching with such success, that it soon became necessary to build a meeting-house. They, accord- ingly, erected one, at Little Hallam, in that neighbourhood ; and, about the same time,opened several dwelling-houses, in different neighbour- ing villages, for public worship. This alarmed their enemies, who were persons of rank and influence: and when the baptists made appli- cation, at the quarter sessions, to register the places of worship, and for a preacher to take the oaths according to the Act of Toleration, the magistrates positively refused their request.-— They then applied to the bishop, who instantly gave them an order under bis own hand, to the registrarius of Litchfield, to make the entries, and grant them proper certificates : but that officer, probably influenced by the magistrates, refused to obey his lordship's injunctions.

The baptists were thus left, unprotected by the law, to the rage of the rabble ; the insolence of which was heightened by the encouragement of their superiors. In this perplexity, they wrote

• One of the rabble, who rung the hand-bell and used every means to provoke some of the baptists to fight him, having continued in a slate of drunken rage for several days, on crossing the feiry, while he was abusing his fellow passengers, fell out •f tbe ferry boat and was drowaed. G> B. Mag. fol. I J. p. 56.


for advice to Mr. Gilbert Boyce, a messenger of the baptized churches in Lincolnshire. He in- formed them of the existence of a society, in London, for the protection of the civil rights of dissenters ; and advised them to lay their cause before it. They, accordingly, applied to the se- cretary of that society ; but he seemed to dis- courage their application. But, having obtained the address of the chairman, Jasper Mauditt, esq. they ventured to direct a letter to him ; to which an answer was quickly received, through the secretary ; directing them to acquaint some respectable country attorney with the circum* stances of the case, and to correspond with the committee of the London societ}^, and act accord- ing to their instructions. They selected Mr* Foxcraft, of Nottingham, as their agent : and he received directions from the committee to make a regular application, at the next quarter sessions^ in behalf of four meeting-houses and one minister. This he did : but his application was rejected with contempt. He sent an account of his ill success to London ; and the committee imme* diately moved the court of KingVBench, for a mandamus: which they readily obtained, and forwarded to Nottingham. At the next quarter sessions for the county of Derby, Mr. Foxcraft produced this mandamus, from the Lord Chief Justice, requiring, in the most authoritative lan- guage, the Derbyshire justices to register the four places, and the preacher; and to give the parties legal certificates of the fact. The reading of this order struck the whole bench of magistrates with astonishment : as the chairman had publicly declared, that he would sooner resign his office than consent to the wishes of the baptists ; and his colleagues bad boldly expressed their appro-


bation of his resolution. The hour of trial had now arrived : but, though mortification, disap- pointment and rage were visible in everj^ coun- tenance, neither the chairman nor his associates were willing to sacrifice their honours to their consistency. They submissively complied with the commands of their superiors ; and the bap- tists, at length, were placed under the protection of the laws of their country. This struggle cost the churches fifty pounds: but they gladly raised it ; and rejoiced at the happy termination of a contest with men formidable by their office and power.

We have no farther account of Kegworth church till the formation of the New Connection, in 1770 ; when it consisted of two pastors, three ruling elders, six deacons, and one hundred and eighty members. Religion was then very pros- perous, and more than twenty candidates were waiting for baptism.

^ The church at Loughborough consisted, at the time of separation, of only fifteen members, who were scattered over Quorndon, Leake, Wymes- would, and many other adjacent villages. Messrs. J. Grimley and Joseph Donisthorpe were or- dained joint pastors over this society ; and served it with zeal and diligence. Though they resided at the distance of nine miles from Loughborough, and fourteen from Leake, yet no obstacle could stop them in the pursuit of their great object, or prevent them from attending, at the appointed time and place, on every season of public worship. Their efforts were owned, by the great Head of the church: and produced the desired effects. In 1764, the building, fitted up by Mr. Oidershaw, became too small for the increasing congregation ; and it was enlarged to nearly twice its former


dimensions. The expence was one hundred and sixty pounds ; and was cheerfully defrayed by the free-will oiFerings of the hearers. About this period, Mr. Grunley removed to Loughborough, and devoted himself entirely' to the work of the ministry : and, in two years afterwards, Mr. Do- nisthorpe also settled at the same place ; but con- tinued his business, and was thus enabled to preach the gospel without pecuniary recompence. In 1766, preaching was introduced into Quorn- don, a village three miles south of Loughborough: Mr. Robert Parkinson, who resided there, licen- sing his house for the purpose. Success crowned the attempt: and, in 1770, a neat, plain meeting- house was erected at Quorndon, which cost two hundred and seventy pounds.

Such, indeed, was the astonishing progress of the gospel, that this church, which, in 1760, con- sisted of only fifteen members, had, in 1770, in- creased to upwards of two hundred and forty ; besides upwards of thirty candidates, who were waiting for admission into their fellowship. It had then two pastors, one ruling elder, and five deacons : and the hearers were numerous. Well might they state to the Association, that religion was prosperous ! — Perhaps this prosperity arose, in some degree, from the peculiar fitness of the joint pastors to co-operate in their sacred work. Mr. Donisthorpe arrested the attention of the careless sinner, and laid a solid foundation; on which Mr. Grimley, by regulating the affairs of the church, and the practice and principles of its members, raised an useful superstructure. The one planted, and the other watered; and the great Head of the church crowned their united labours with abundant success.

The small interest, at Kirbj/'lFoodhouse, Not-


tinghamshire, formed the fifth part of the orisjinal division. Mr. Abraham Booth, who had for several years laboured at that place, took the oversight of this society, in 1760, though he was never ordained over it. His character was [nt;hly respected, and the people were much attached to him. But, in a few years, a chanj^e took place in his sentiments ; which, after niucii deliberation, caused him to leave the general baptists; pro- bably about the year 1765. He carried with him a warm esteem for the friends from wfioin he had separated, which he retained through the whole of his life ; and which they as cordially' returned. He was afterwards, for thirtv-seven vears, the highly respected and useful pastor of the par- ticular baptist church in Little Prescott-street, London; and died in 1806. We have no further account of the society at Kirby- Woodhouse till 1774; when it consisted of only twenty-four members.

Thus we have seen the small society formed at Barton, in 1745, which, at its commencement, consisted of only seven members, gradually ex- tending its limits and increasing its numbers, till, in 1770, it had become six respectable churches, which contained more than nine hundred and fifty members; and were served by ten ordained pastors, seven ruling elders, and twenty-four deacons ; and spread over a considerable part of the counties of Leicester, Warwick, Derby and Nottingham.* — Let us pause here; and examine, as concisely as possible, the character, opinions, and discipline of these successful dissenters.

* G. B. Mag. Vol. I. p. 355. Vol. 11. pp. 54—58 150—152. — G.B. R. Vol. I. p. 52, Vol. pp. 3, 4. 120— 125— J. T. MSS — Minutes of Annual Association of New Connection, 1770, and Private Information.


Sect. 5. — Observations on the Character— ^Mode of Preaching — Discipline — and Doctrines of the General Baptists in the Midland Counties, jnevious to the Formation of the New Connection.

When we reflect, that these zealous men were, generally, very illiterate — that they had no ac- quaintance with any other dissenters — and that, when they became seriously concerned to do the will of the Lord, they had every thing to learn, we cannot expect much systematic regularity, either in their principles or practices. Their early notions would, necessarily, be undigested and often incorrect : and it would not be till a lapse of years had enabled them to examine and mature their first ideas, that thev could form a consistent scheme of doctrine and discipline.

Their progress in knowledge was also retarded, by a prejudice which too many of them enter- tained against the use of human compositions in the search of divine truth. So great was this pre- judice, at one time, that when their more studious ministers had recourse to the works of some learned men, they thought it prudent to conceal their acquaintance with those authors from their hearers.* This unhappy dislike might arise, in part, from the ignorance and wickedness of the neighbouring clergy ; who, it is probable, were the only learned men with whom they had much acquaintance : but it doubtless sprung from a more laudable source — their high opinion of the Bible, and their full persuasion that it contained all that was necessary for ihem to know in re-

* Mr. Grimley had studied Watt's Logic seven years, before his friendss knew that he possessed such a book. G, B. Rep. Vol. I. p. 60.


ligious concerns. Yet, as they had every thing to discover and investigate, by their own study of the sacred oracles, their progress would be slow and irregular ; though the final results might be less tinctured with human alloy, than if they had availed themselves of the assistance of commen- tators or divines. It would not, therefore, per- haps, be useful, had we the means, to describe the various tenets or practices which they succes- sively adopted and relinquished : it may suffice, to make a few general remarks on their character and sentiments.

The most striking feature in the character of these professors, both private members and minis- ters, was an earnestness in their religious pursuits, of which there are, at present, too few instances. They evidently esteemed religion as the most important object of their attention; and, there- fore, engaged in it with all their might. Deeply sensible of the unspeakable value of immortal souls, and strongly affected with the wonderful plan for the recovery of a lost world, as exhibited in the gospel, they suffered no considerations of prudence, ease or interest to relax their exertions or abate their ardour, in working out their own salvation, and promoting the salvation of their neighbours.

The private members evinced the truth of this observation, by the eagerness with which they seized every opportunity of attending the means of grace themselves, and of inducing others to accompany them. They regularly walked ten, fifteen, and sometimes twenty miles, to hear a sermon, or enjoy the ordinances of the gospel. Often, after a day of labour in their secular business, they would go eight miles to an evening meeting, and return after midnig^ht to their habi-

voL. n. I



tations ; even when they have been obliged to rise early the next morning to resume their daily toil. And this was not submitted to as a burden, or performed merely as a duty; it was undertaken with alacrity, and enjoyed as a privilege. — Nor were they less anxious to promote the eternal interests of others. Nothing afforded them more pleasure, than to be made an instrument of awakening a sinner to flee from the wrath to come. They would spare neither pains nor time to instruct, encourage and assist one who was turning his face towards Zion.

The noble exertions which they made, in building places of worship, afforded the strongest proof of their zeal to spread the gospel. We have seen, in the foregoing pages, meeting-houses rise, one after another, in quick succession : and have observed tliat, wherever there was a prospect of the conversion of sinners being promoted by the building one, means were found to efTect it. — Wiien we consider, that almost all these professors were labouring men — that they had to encoun- ter the opposition, not to expect the aid, of their wealthy neighbours — and that they had no Connection to assist their exertions, and had not yet discovered the method of laying the nation under contribution, by sending travelling mendicants from one extremity of the kingdom to the other — we are ready to wonder how they were able to accomplish these expensive objects. But, when we contemplate the spirit by which they were actuated, our astonishment changes into admiration. When we see the poor labourer devoting a part of his weekly earnings towards erecting a house for God ; and employing many hours, which ought to have been spent in repose, in labouring at the good work — when we learn,


that, on some occasions, these poor people have sold part of their little household furniture, and even the women have disposed of their wedding rings, rather than suffer the building to be inter- rupted — when we are told, that Mr. F. Smith, who then worked at his trade as a journeyman, contributed regularly eight-pence per week, towards the erection of the meeting-house at Melbourn ; and that receiving, at that juncture, a legacy of five pounds left him by his father, he joyfully devoted this his whole fortune towards completing the good work ; and are assured that his associates acted on the same principles — we cease to wonder : every thing is possible to men like these.*

But the most exemplary instances of disin- terested zeal appeared, in the almost incredible exertions of the preachers. They were all la- bouring men, and had families dependant on their industry for daily support: yet they were instant in season and out of season ; ready, at all times, to sacrifice their time, their repose, and even their propert}'^, to promote the cause in which they were engaged. They were, likewise, subject to heavy expences from the visits of their friends, on religious concerns, which were fre-

* This trait in their character is thus handsomely noticed by Mr. Thompson. " It ought to be mentioned, to the honour of this people, though generally poor and in Jow circumstances, (there being but few persons of property among them) that, in- stead of putting their neighbours under annual contributions, they have, with a zeal proportionable Lo their own sense of the importance of the gospel, at their own expence, erected several commodious buildings, for the comfortable carrying on of the Worship of God, without being burdensome to any one. To their power, yea, some would think beyond their power, they were willing of themselves to do the most generous things for the eak* •f the gospel." J. T. MSS. 1774.




quent, and not seldom of long continuance. The cause, also, had become so extended, that the travelling from place to place made an addition to their toil, of which few can form any adequate idea. But an instance or two will convey more information on this interesting subject, than a long description. Of Mr. F. Smith, of Mel- bourn, his biographer writes thus : " For twenty years successively, he preached the gospel, with- out any recompence of a worldly nature, except a few small presents, in some of the latter of them, from a very small number of individuals. He frequently worked hard through the day ; then walked three, six, and sometimes ten miles, to preach in the evening ; and returned home afterwards, in order to pursue his daily labour next morning. This he sometimes did, two, three, or four times in the week. On the Lord's- days, he had two or three times to preach, and generally to walk from ten to thirty miles or more. Every other Friday night, he, for years, met the ministers in conference: and, as they could not afford to lose their time in the day, to transact their business, six o'clock in the evening was the appointed hour of meeting. It was my father's regular method to work hard till three o'clock in the afternoon ; and then walk to Bar- ton, the place of meeting, which is not less than fourteen miles from Melbourn. Seldom had they finished their business till midnight ; when he returned home: sometimes so fatigued with his journey and the want of sleep, that, as I have heard him declare, it required the exercise of considerable resolution to prevent him from lying down to rest on the cold earth. This he did, without the most distant expectation of any pecuniary recompence; and, indeed, without


desiring any."* Respecting another of these mi- nisters, Mr. S. Deacon, the pastor of the church at Barton, we are informed, that, " During the early part of his ministry, his labour was almost incredi))le. On the Lord's-day, he frequently travelled from twenty to forty miles on foot, and preached twice, and often three times. He has repeatedly walked from Ratby to Melbourn, a distance of twentj^ miles, on the Lord's-day morn- ing, and returned after evening service ; not reaching his humble habitation till two or three o'clock the next morning : and this he has done, when he was obliged to go early to work the same morning as a labourer. In the week-days, also, he frequently walked, after a hard day*s-vvork, to Barton, Hugglescote, or Hinkley, to give an ex- hortation, or to attend the affairs of the society. The nearest of these is eight miles from Ratby ; and Hinkley eleven : and he seldom tarried all night. This has been done, too, in winter, amidst rain, snow, and dangerous floods, through which he has often waded deeper than his knees, in the


The other ministers being actuated by cor- responding views, and placed in churches equally large, were called to similar labours : — the par- ticularsjust detailed may, therefore, be consider- ed as a fair specimen of the toils to which these zealous and disinterested friends of mankind

* G. B. Mag. Vol. I, p. 356.

t G. B. Rep. Vol, VII. p. 52. — ^This active man frequently sup- plied Kirby-Woodhouse, in Nottinghamshire, thirty-nine miles from his dwelling ; and had four shillings allowed for his com- pensation. On the same terms, he visited Ashford; in Derby- shire, upwards of fifty miles from Ratby : once he walked to Lon- don and back, and travelled with equal economy. Ibid.



subjected themselves, without either the expec- tation or desire of reward from men. Surelj infidelity itself must admit, that they were not influenced by worldly motives; but really be- lieved that the truths which they made such efforts to recommend, were essentially important to the welfare of their fellow men.

From persons in the circumstances in which these good men were placed, and destitute, as they generally were, of literary advantages, with neither disposition nor opportunity to acquire them, no finished harangues or display of oratory could be expected. They had one great object, which thej'^ constantly kept in view :• — this was, to instruct ignorant sinners in the great plan of salvation, and to persuade them to embrace it. To this they directed all their efforts. Their hearers were chiefly persons unacquainted with divine things ; and, therefore, it was necessary frequently to repeat and enforce the same great truths. Whatever text they read, their discourses generally turned on two grand topics : — the wretched and ruined state of man by nature, and the method of salvation by faith in Christ. This they called preaching the law and the gospel: and would have thought themselves culpable, had they delivered one sermon which did not explain these subjects. When a preacher, who was very popular and successful among them, was advised, by some of his friends, to vary the subjects of his discourse, he replied, with earnest- ness, " Perhaps there may be a soul present, who has never till to-day heard the law and the gospel preached: and should 1 waste the precious season in things comparatively of small importance, and neglect to acquaint him with his danger, and thft


means of escape, the consequence njay be dread- ful."*

Yet we are not to conclude, because these were the principal subjects of every discourse, that the discourses were always the same. These grand and interesting truths were the constant and favourite subjects of their meditation : they studied the scriptures incessantly, with a view to understand and defend them ; and their minds were thus stored with a great variety of texts, confirming and illustrating them. They had con- sidered them in all their bearings, and were fur- nished with many apt comparisons, to assist in their explanation. Possibly some of their simi- lies would be thought, by modern divines, below the dignity of the pulpit : but these honest men never troubled themselves with cautions of that nature. Their o\s n souls were deeply affected with the truths which they recommended to others : they spake out of the abundance of the heart ; and were ardently desirous that the hearts of their hearers should be affected like their own. This imparted an earnestness to their delivery, and an animation to their addresses, that reached the heart, and fixed the attention. And, though their harangues frequently lasted nearly two hours, yet the audience shewed no symptoms of weariness; but cheerfully walked miles to attend their labours. In short, they have been well described by those who knew them, as " most immethodical, but most spirited, popular, and successful preachers."

The individual character of these ministers certainly differed considerably. Some had stronger minds, and clearer conceptions than

* G.B.Rep.Vol.I.p.SSI.


others: some were studious, and qualified to form plans ; others active, and ready to execute them. Some were, by haliit and disposition, sons of thunder; and others, sons of consolation. Some appeared to have been designed to break up the fallow ground, and sow the seed: while others were peculiarly fitted to shield the growing plant from injury, guard it against noxious weeds, and conduct it to maturity. Indeed their various tempers and qualifications seem to have been well suited, by the great Head of the church ; from whom flow " diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit," successfully to co-operate in the great work to which they were called.

As private characters, they were diligent in business, honourable in their transactions with men, and conscientious in the discharge of their relative duties. It might be supposed, that their engagements as ministers, and earnestness in the concerns of religion, would have tempted them to have paid less attention to their families. But the circumstances and characters of many of their descendants are a sufficient reply to this insinu- ation ; and afford satisfactory evidence, that neither their present nor future interests were neglected by their parents. And if, in any un- hajjpy instance, the ofl'spring of these ministers have degenerated from the piety of their ances- tors, and sunk into less respectable circumstances; it may, we presume, be generally traced to want of energy in their fathers, who, like good old Eli, had not visjour sufficient to restrain their sons from making themselves vile.*

* The following testimony to the characters of these men, by a judiciou-5 writer, not connected with them, ought to he re- corded. — " From tl^e couversation I have had with some of their


It may be expected, that we describe the dis- cipline of these people, uhen they formed but one body : but as that was only a preparatory state, it will not be necessary to enlarge.*

In the constitution of their societies, they imi- tated, in a great measure, the methodists. When a few persons were awakened to a concern for salvation, in any place, they were formed into a society. To this society candidates were admitted, on probation, for six months, before they were

ministers, they appear to be persons of a very serious spirit, and a good understanding: and, sensible of the disadvantages which they lie under for want of a learned education, they are the more unwearied in searching the scriptures, and zealous in pur-uing the gieat end of the christian ministry — the winning of souls to Christ, and to the love of truth and goodness. They are tho- roughly acquainted with the principles of religious liberty, and established in them : and have all heartily concurred in the late application to parliament for relief, in the affair of subscription to the thirty nine articles of the Church of England. Some of their letters, which I have received on that subject, do honour to the goodness of their hearts, and the soundness of their under- standings." Thompsons MSS 1774.

* We have seen already, that the Leicestershire general baptists availed themselves of the right, then enjoyed by all dissenters, of solemnizing marriages among themselves. (Supra,p 'ilj The Marriage Covenant, used by them, differing considerably from the one used, on the same occasion, by the general baptist? of the seventeenth century ; CSee Vol I p. 450J and conveying a dis- tinct idea of their mode of proceeding; we insert the instrument signed at the marriage of Mr. Francis Smith, of Melbourn.

" It having been publicly declared, in three several meetings of a congregation of Protestant Dissenters, called Independents, in their licensed meeting-house at Melbourn, in the county of Derby ; that there is a marnage intended between Francis Smith, of the parish of Melbourn, and in the county of Derby, bachelor, and Elizabeth Toone, of the parish and county aforesaid, spinster : which publication being agreeable (not only to the just and holy law of God, but also) to the good and whole- some laws of the land; in order that every one concerned may have the opportunity of making all suitable enquiry for his satis- faction, and that nothing may be done clandestinely. And upon due enquiry and deliberate consideration thereof, by the said coa- VOL. II. K


considered as complete members of the union. Thecertificateof fellowship was a ticket, given to each candidate, which was changed every six months. If any thing transpired to the disad- vantage of a member which could not be satis-

gregation, it is by them allowed, there appearing no reason for objection, they both appearing clear of all others, and having also free consent of all persons, whether relations or others.

Now these are to certify all whom it may concern, that for the accomplishing of their said marriage, they, the said Francis Smith and Elizabeth Toone, did, this twentieth day of August, one thousand seven hundred and fifty-three, appear in a public assem- bly of the aforesaid congregation and others, met together for that purpose, in their meeting-house aforesaid; and in a solemn manner, he, the said Francis Smith, standing up and taking the said Elizabeth Toone by the hand (she also standing up) did pub- licly declare as foUoweth.viz." Brethren and sisters in the fear of the Lord, and in the presence of this assembly, whom I de- sire to be my witnesses, that I, Francis Smith, take this our dear sister Elizabeth Toone, to be my lawful wife; promising, through divine assistance, to be unto her a faithful and loving husband, till it shall please the Lord by death to separate us."

And then and there in the said assembly, she, the said Eliza- beth Toone, in like manner taking him the said Francis Smith by the hand, did likewise publicly declare as followeth, viz. " Brethren and sisters, in the fear of the Lord, and in the pre- sence of this assembly, whom I desire to be my witnesses, that I, Elizabeth Toone, take this our dear brother Francis Smith to be my lawful husband, promising, through divine assistance, to be unlo him a faithful and loving wife, till it shall please the Lord by death to separate us."

And the said Francis Smith and Elizabeth Toone, as a further confirmation thereof, and in testimony thereunto, did then and- there set their hands and seals.

Francis Smith Elizabeth Smith.

We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, (being present amongst others) at the solemnization of the above mai riage and subscription, in the manner aforesaid, as witnesses thereunto, have also to these presents subscribed our names, the day and year jabove written.

Abraham Booth, Nathaniel Pickering,

William Kkndrick, Joseph Donisthorpe, &e.

G. B. Ma^. VoL I. p. 453.


factorily explained, he was excluded from their communion, by refusing him a ticket. — In order to defray the necessary expences, each member was required to make a monthly subscription, according to his ability : and two stewards were appointed to receive and apply these contri- butions. But, in order to preserve the peace of families, it was directed, that no wife, or husband, or child, whose partner or parent did not belong to the society, should give it any pecuniary sup- port, without the consent of their connections. To carry these regulations into effect, a weekly meeting was held for prayer and exhortation ; and a monthly one, for transacting the pecuniary and temporal concerns of the society.

The supreme controul over all these societies, as long as they continued to act as one body, was placed in the weekly conference of the ministers; which, for some time, assembled always at Bar- ton ; and afterwards alternately at Barton and Hugglescote. At this meeting, the places at which the preachers were to labour on the en- suing Lord's-day were appointed — persons were invited to assist in the work of the ministry — rules were made for the people, and laws enacted for the societies — and the general operations of the whole machine were directed. As long as Mr. Kendrick maintained his character with the people, he influenced these conferences at his will : the other ministers were little more than the executors of his arrangements, and the people had scarcely any share in the government.* —

* As a specimen of the lofty tor^e assumed by this synod, we insert the followmg extract from the preamble to a code of laws, which they enacted for regulating the society at Melbourn.— Having stated the advantages resulting fi'om uniting together in aocieties, they proceed — " Therefore having met together at our


When he was excluded, a division of this bodv ensued ; and the private members obtained that ascendancy in the conduct of the concerns of the church, to which they are certainly entitled by the principles of the New Testament.

The doctrinal tenets of these professors were long in a state of regular improvement. When they were first awakened to attention to religious subjects, they were almost totally unacquainted with the truths of Christianity : and it was only by a constant and diligent perusal of the scrip- tures, that they gradually formed a system of faith. Yet there were some important doctrines, which they early embraced and steadily main- tained: which formed, as it were, the foundation of their subsequent opinions. Such were, the ruined state of man by nature; and full and free justification by grace through faith. This, as we have seen, was the favourite and the constant subject of all their discourses. The universality of the redemption purchased by the death of Christ, appears also to have been early and zealously asserted. But it is needless to enlarge here, as their sentiments, on the most important

church at Barton, and having the societies in our care, we there came to this resolution, to establish such rules among them with whom we are concerned, as appear to be to the glory of God and the good of souls. And we have proved, even to a demonstration, that if there be not very strict econouiy in such matters, our labours will be rendered useless and unprofitable. — Knowing these things, we expect that all who join themselves to us, or are al- ready joined in our society, do consent to the following articles." G. B. Mag Vol. I. p. 364. — It is most probable, that Mr. Ken- drick's wish to lord it over his brethren caused this pontifical language to be adopted j and that the rest acquiesced, in defer- ence to him. All the conduct of the other preachers demonstrates, that neither interest nor ambition influenced them j but a sin- cere wi&h to promote the salvation of immortal souls.


points of doctrine, which had then attained a degree of maturity, will be fully explained when we come to state the principles on which the New Connection was formed. It will be sufficient, at present, to hint, that they then affirmed — the fall of man — the depravity of human nature — the perpetual obligation of the moral law — the di- vinity and humanity of Christ — the fulness, free- ness and universality of the atonement made by his death — sanctification by the Holy Spirit— the necessity of regeneration and holiness— and believers' baptism,*


The Rise of the General Baptists in the Northern District, and their ProgresSj to the Commencement of the New Con- nection.

Sect. 1. — Mr, Dan Taylor begins to preach — forsakes the Methodists — settles at Wadsworth — turns Baptist — travels in quest of General Bap- tists, and is baptized.

The General Baptist' cause, in the northern district of the kingdom, commenced, in the year 1762, in the neighbourhood of Halifax, in the

* G.B.Mag. Vol. I. pp. 326,356, 361, 362, 401— Vol. II. p. 20.— G. B. Rep. vol. I. pp. 53, 249— 251.— J. T. MSS.— P. I, —Minutes of Ann. Asa. 1770.


70 MR. DAN TAYL0R*9 A.D. 1762

West Riding of Yorkshire. There were then but few professors in that town : a church of the old presbjterians, and a small independent interest, being the only dissenting societies that existed. The particular baptists were, indeed, attempting to gather a congregation ; but, it was not till long after this period, that they succeeded in establish- ing a church. I'he methodists, also, had, for several years, maintained a small society in the town ; and were actively employed, in its vici- nity. With these, Mr. Dan Taylor, who was afterwards the instrument of founding the general baptist cause in those parts, had been, for some time, connected. He was then a young man, being born in 1738 : but possessing good natural abilities and an intrepid temper, and being zealous in the cause of religion, he had, for more than a year, engaged in visiting the sick, and in leading prayer-meetings. In these exercises he was so acceptable, that he was urged to attempt to preach. He yielded to the wishes of his friends; and delivered his first sermon in a dwelling-house at Hipperholme, not far from Halifax, in Sept,

1761. His occasional labours were highly en- couraged, by the leading men among the York- shire methodists ; and they were very anxious that he should visit Mr. Wesley, and enter regu- larly into the ministry, as a travelling preacher. But he did not approve of many things in their order and discipline ; and was not satisfied with their manner of explaining some points of doc- trine which he thouglit of essential importance. He, therefore, declined forming any closer en- gagements: and, towards the Midsummer of

1762, entirely broke all connection with them. About the same time, four persons in the

neighbourhood of Ileptonstall, a village nine


miles west of Halifax, left the methodists, for nearly the same reasons which had induced Mr. Taylor to forsake them. Their names were, John Slater, John Parker, William Crossley, and a fe- male whose sirname cannot be recovered. These seceders, knowing Mr. Taylor's state of mind, invited him to preach for them ; with which he readily complied He commenced his public labours, in connection with them, durinaj the summer ; and preached, for some months, in the open air, under a tree, at a place called i lie Nook, in the township of Wadsworth, about a mile from Heptonstall. Fhough the prospect was very discouraging, the country excessively wild, and the inhabitants very rough and unpolished, he determined, after a short trial, to make an at- tempt to introduce the gospel among them ; and accordingly, at Michaelmas, 1762, settled at Wadsworth.

But winter approaching, it became neceessarj to provide some more commodious place of wor- ship: and they took a house, in W adsworth-lanes, which they fitted up for preaching, by taking lip part of the chamber floor, and erecting a pul- pit; so that the remaining part served as a gallery. The)' .registered this house, under the Act of Toleration, and opened it, in the autumn of the same year, Mr. Taylor occupied it as a school during the week ; and, meeting with encourage- ment as a tutor, was greatly assisted in carrying forwards the cause of religion: his friends, though zealous and aifectionate, not being in circum- stances to contribute much to his support.

Though these young professors had left the methodists through dissatisfaction with their discipline and doctrine, yet they had not formed any system for themselves. They now found it



necessary to determine upon some plan of church order, and some principles of doctrine, on which they could unite to support the cause of their Redeemer. Among other things that became the subject of enquiry, on this occasion, was baptism, Mr. Taylor had occasionally paid some attention to this important branch of christian duty, in the previous years of his religious course ; but he now seriously endeavoured to learn the will of his divine Master respecting it. With this view, he read the scriptures carefully, and consulted the best authors on both sides of the controversy. The result was, a complete conviction, that be- lievers* baptism by immersion was the appoint- ment of Christ, and the practice of his apostles. John Slater, also, became decidedly of this opinion: and several other of the friends inclined to adopt it.

Mr. Taylor immediately resolved, without con- sulting with flesh and blood, to obey what he believed to be the command of his Saviour. He applied to several particular baptist ministers for baptism : but, though they expressed their firm persuasion of his real Christianity, and even were well satisfied of his call to the ministry, yet they all declined to baptize him. They knew that he openly maintained, that the Lord Jesus tasted death for every man, and made a propitiation for the sins of the whole world : and this circum- stance, in their judgment, rendered it improper for them to comply with his request. One of these ministers, however, kindly informed him of some baptists, at Boston, in Lincolnshire, under the pastoral care of a Mr. Thompson, who, as he believed, were nearly of Mr. Taylor's sentiments. — This appears to have been the first intimation that he received of the existence of any other


general baptists besides himself and his few friends.

Thouo^h the distance was great, not less than one hundred and twenty miles, and many seri- i>us obstacles presented themselves, this ardent searcher after truth, who was not easily fright- ened, determined to visit Mr. Thompson: and his friend, J, Slater, with equal affection and zeal, resolved to accompany him They accord- ingly set out, on foot, on the morning of Friday, February 11th, 1763; and travelled on till night overtook them; when they found themselves in a field surrounded with water, and unable to dis- cover their way. Perceiving a hay-rick near, they took shelter under it: and having commended themselves to the divine protection, in solemn prayer, they laid down and slept securely till the morning. They arose refreshed; and going for- wards arrived, towards nii^ht, at a place about eight miles beyond Gamston in Nottingham- shire; where they stopt for some refreshment. Making inquiries here on the subject of their journey, they were agreeably surprized to learn, that there was a society of general baptists at Gamston, and that a deacon of that church dwelt in the village where they then were. To him they immediately went; and, informing him of the object of their journey, requested some infor- mation respecting the church at Gamston: but he received them very coolly, gave short answers to their questions, and directed them to a neigh-» bouring public-house.

The next morning, being the Lord's day, they returned to Gamston ; and arrived at the meeting- house,just asthe morning service was concluding. In the afternoon, Mr. Dossey preached; and, when he came down from the pulpit, the travel-



lers introduced themselves to his notice. He en- tered into friendly conversation with them and invited them to his house. Here they spent the three following days; and had much discourse with Mr. Jeffries the pastor, and other principal members of the church. This gave them an op- portunity of giving that minister full satisfaction respecting their character and views: and on the Wednesday, he baptized Mr. Taylor in the river, near Gamston. Mr. Slater declined being bap- tized, at the same time, out of affection for his fellow traveller; choosing to receive the ordi- nance from him, rather than from any other minister.

After their return to Wadsworth, Mr. Taylor resumed his great work of preaching the gospel, with increased zeal and success. He delivered several public discourses to explain and enforce believers' baptism; and stood ready to defend his principles against all opposers. In a short time, he baptized his friend Slater with several others: and a great degree of attention to the subject was excited throughout the country.

Sect. 2. — The Wadsworth Friends join the Lin^ colnshire Association — unite as a Church — build a Meeting-house — prosper — institute Experience meet' ings. — Their State at the Commencement of the New Connection.

During his late excursion, Mr. D. Taylor had learnt many particulars respecting the Lincoln- shire general baptists, with whom the church at Gamston was connected. He was informed, that an unijon subsisted among the various societies of


the same faith ; that the representatives of these churches held annually an association to consult on the concerns of the cause at large; and, that, this meeting would be held at Lincoln, in May, 1763. As he stood alone in Yorkshire, he was anx- ious to form a connection with other ministers whose sentiments agreed with his own, and deter- mined to attend this meeting. He accordingly went, and Mas kindly received. From this time, he was considered as a member of that association; and was employed by them on various public occasions. Here too he formed an intimacy with Mr. W. Thompson of Boston, which continued till that worthy christian was called to his reward. — His new friend invited him to make a short tour with him, in which he introduced him to Boston and various other churches in Lincolnshire.

Mr. Thompson accompanied Mr. Taylor to Wadsworth; where he baptized several persons and administered the Lord's supper: and fourteen of these professors united as a regular church. Mr. Taylor was soon after called to the pastoral office over this small society ; but was not ordain- ed till the autumn of 1763. On that occasion, Mr. Gilbert Boyce, a messenger of the baptized churches in Lincolnshire, and pastor of the gene- ral baptist church at Coningsby, and Mr. Dossey, assistant preacher at Gamston, were invited; when Mr. Boyce addressed the minister, from 1 Tim. iii. 1.

Thus the first general baptist church in York- shire was formed and organized. The pastor and his friends exerted themselves to the utmost, both to promote the interest in their own society, and to carry the gospel into the dark villages around themi. The blessing of God attended their la- bours ; the hearers increased, and members werft



regularly added to the church. The house which they occupied as a place of worship, soon became too small to accomujodate the congrejijation* and, in the following year, 1764, they were encou- raged to build a meeting-house. This was erected on the side of a steep rocky declivity, fitly deno- minated a cliff, that formerly had been cover- ed with the birch tree, and thence obtained the name of Birchcliff^ which it afterwards gave to the church. Thus accommodated, the cause con- tinued to prosper. Meetings for prayer and religious conversation were established, in vari- ous places of the neighbourhood : and several of the members began to be very useful in conduct- ing them. This year, also, Mr. Taylor attended the Lincolnshire association; and, after his return, took a journey in the midland counties, to collect for the meeting-house, just erected at Birchcliff.

During this excursion, he gained the first in- telligence of the Leicestershire general baptists: and had a short interview with Mr. Hutchinson of Loughborough. Though this interview lasted scarcely half an hour, it afforded him great plea- sure, and gave him a good opinion of those christians. He took every opportunity during the remainder of that journey, of enquiring res- pecting their principles and character : and the result was, a persuasion that they were friends to the fundamental truths of the gospel ; and, as a body, respectable in their conduct. He was thus induced to cultivate an acquaintance with their ministers, and to introduce them to X\\% notice of the Lincolnshire association. This he had an opportunity of doing at Midsummer, 1765, when he attended that association ; and Tvas deputed, as its represeotative, to the gene-


ral assembly in London. He again went to the general assembly, in 1767, in the room of Mr. W, Thompson ; who was appointed as the repre- sentative of the Lincolnsljire association, but could not undertake the journey.

JVir. Taylor continued to labour diligently in ^his sacred work, and enjoyed an encouraging degree of success. Under the blessing of heaven on his exertions, an attention to religion was ex- cited, which afterwards produced the happiest effects. His friends heartily seconded the en- deavours of their pastor, by seizing every oppor- tunity of inducing their neighbours to attend the preaching of the word, as well as by encouraging and directing such as appeared to be the subjects of serious impressions. With this view, each member of the church made it a point of duty to endeavour to bring one careless sinner under the sound of the gospel, and to use every scriptural method to engage him to embrace it. And when this happy end had, in one instance, been at- tained, and the object of his cares had enrolled himself among the followers of Christ ; he looked about again for another wandering sheep, that he might endeavour to bring him also into the fold of the church.

It was during the period of which we are treating, that the Birchcliff church adopted a practice, in which they have been imitated by most of the general baptist societies that have since been formed in Yorkshire : — the holding of Experience Meetings, as they are usually' styled. The members of this church, previous to the formation of the IN ew Connection, were divided into live parts, according to the proximity of their habitations ; and to each of these divisions, a person, who was judged qualified by his piety


and experience, was appointed, as a leader. The members included in each part met weekly, at one of their houses ; and any of their neighbours, who desired to engage in the cause of Christ, and wished to obtain religious knowledge, was also encouraged to attend. 7"he meetings generally commenced with singing and prayer. \\ hen this exercise was concluded, the company all sat down ; and the leader declared, in a i'ew words, the state of his own mind, as to the concerns of religion, since the last opportunity ; his trials and supports, his hopes and his fears, his struggles against inward and outward enemies, and his advancement or decline in the christian course. •When he had said what he esteemed proper and necessary respecting himself, he requested each of the fiiends present, in rotation as they were seated, to give a similar statement of his expe- rience; and made such observations, and offered such advice and cautions, as the circumstances of each might seem to require. After he had gone round, themeeting closed with prayer and thanks- giving, suitable to the particulars which had transpired. — Tiie leaders of these divisions met together every six weeks, for mutual communi- cation and assistance. At this leaders' meeting, as it was called, the minister always was requested to be present : even when he was not a leader.*

* The Yorkshire churches do not pretend, that experience meetings are expressly commanded in the New Testament; but suppose that they may be included in the general canon, " Let all things be done unto edifying." They wi?h not, therefore, to censure those who disapprove of them. " I am sure," says one of their aged ministers, "that these meetings are right j but I am equally sure that I have no right to command my fellow- christians to attend such meetings. I am extremely certain, that such meetings, if properly conducted, are very useful j but I am as perfectly persuaded, that there aie many valuable chriiitians«


The Birchcliff church, likewise, at this time, held meetings for discipline every six weeks; " at which they made it a rule for all the members to attend:" and, once a quarter, a sermon was preach- ed to the members only, on some peculiar points of discipline.

The pastor and his people thus striving- together, the cause prospered in their hands : and additions to their society were frequent. At the commence- ment of the New Connection, in 1770, this church consisted of sixty-nine members, their public services were well attended, many appeared to b« awakened, and religion seemed to flourish,*

The discipline exercised in this church, during the interval which has just passed under our re- view, was on the principles of independency. But it may be easily supposed, that, though they were in a state of progressive improvement, they could not, in the short space of seven years, have matured a very perfect system. As far as they understood the will of the great Head of the church, they endeavoured to regulate the con- cerns of their society, according to his precepts ; and to call no man master on earth. The same remark applies to their doctrinal sentiments.— But it is unnecessary to pursue the subject at present, as we shall have a more proper occasion to enlarge on these topics, when we come to state the principles on which the New Connection was formed.

both ministers and others, who may not approve of them, and who never attend them. I wish to be among the first in shewing perfect friendship to those who think and act differently from me."—/. T.'s Memoirs of his own Life.

* G. B. Rep. Vol. II. p. 1^76. Min. of Lincolnshire Association, 1764, 1765, 1767. Min. of ^m, Asso. 1770, «nd Private Infgr- mation.



The History, from the Close op the Seventeenth Century, to the Commence'


Churches which, though previously united TO THE General Assembly, jvere included IN THE New Connection, at its Forma-


Sect. 1. — The Proceedings of the Geneial Bap- tist Church, now assembling in Church-lane, White- chapel, from the Beginning of the Eighteenth Cen- turi/, to the Settlement of Mr. Randall over it.

Besides these churches in the niidland and northern counties, of the rise of which we have given some account in the preceding pages, several ancient congregations of general baptists united in forming the New Connection. These were, the societies which asseml)Ied — in Church- lane, Whitechapel — in the Park, Southwark — at Boston, and at Fleet, in Lincolnshire — and a few small churches in Kent and Essex. It will be proper to continue, from the close of the first volume, as distinctly as we can, the account of the congregations in London and Lincolnshire: but of the societies in Essex and Kent, which soon fell off from the union, a brief notice may be sufficient.

We have already seen that the society which now meets in Church-lane, Whitechapel, ori- ginally assembled on Tower-hill, under the care of Mr. S. Loveday ; and that his successor, in

A. D. 1710 MR. J. MAULDE1!C. 81

the pastoral office, was Mr. J. Maulden ; under whose ministry the church removed to Rupert- street, Goodman's- fields, where we left it, at the close of our former volume, in a peaceful state.*

The venerable John Maulden continued to preside over this society, with diligence and suc- cess, till about 1710, when he embraced the prin- ciples of the Sabbatarians. In consequence of this change in his sentiments, he left his former connection, and united with the church of Sab- batarian general baptists, which has now for more than a century assembled in Mill Yard. His character and abilities procured him a wel- come reception among his new friends, by whom he was soon chosen to the office of joint pastor with Mr. Savage. He did not long retain that situation, as he was called away by death in February, 1714 ; at the advanced age of seventy years. j*

Mr. Maulden, during the twenty-six years of his connection with this church, appears to have been an honourable christian, and a respectable and useful minister. He published three pieces : 1. " The Pious Young Man's Guide :" a com- pendious and useful catechism, in the form of a conversation between a father and his son. 2. "A Threefold Dialogue :' on free grace, baptism, and the sabbath. 3. *' Imperfections discovered :" in which he laments the little concern which pro- fessors display for real vital religion, and their

* See Vol I. pp. 168, 251, and 335.

t We have not seen any record of the exact date of Mr. Maul- den's leaving the church in Goodman's- fields. He was pastor of it in December 1709 ; though it appears that he had embraced the Sabbatarian principles before 1708. In 1712, the church was under the pastoral care of Lewis Douglas. W. A. C, B. 1709 md\7\'i.—MauldeTis Threefold Dialogue, 1708. VOL. II. M



heats ami divisions concerning points of less im- portance.*

Mr. John Maulden, probably a son of this minister, was for many years a worthy and active member of this church. Though he was never called to the pastoral office, yet he frequently preached for that society : and as they solicited his service on various public occasions, it is pro- bable that his labours were well approved, both by his friends and the public.f

After iMr. Maulden had left the church in Goodman's-fields, Mr. Lewis Douglas was called to the pastoral office over it. We have not the exact date of his ordination, but it was previous to 1712. In that year, this church removed to a meeting-house in Virginia-street, RatclifF-high- way, which had become vacant by the dissolution of the church that had long occupied it, under the care of Mr. Isaac Lamb. J What induced Mr. Douglas and his friends to leave a place of worship which they had so recently built, cannot

* Crosby, Vol. IH. p. 132.

t Church Lane Records, from 1720 to 1744.— Though Mr. D'Assigny calls the father " a Shoe-maker j" yet the son appears to have been a man of property.

X The church under Mr. Isaac Lamb has generally been classed with the jmrticular baptists j but the following facts render the case doubtful. — Mr. Isaac Lamb was the son of Mr. Thomas Lamb, of Bell-alley, a zealous general baptist.— -The society of which Mr, I.Lamb was pastor was reckoned as a sister- church by the general baptist churches in London ; and mem- bers were recommended from it to them, and from them to it, as was usual among churches of the same faith — VVhen Mr. I. Lamb's church dissolved, most of the members went in a body^ and joined the general baptist church in Paul's-alley : and Mr. H. Burroughs, who had been a deacon in the former society, wa« admitted to the same office in the latter. His son, Joseph Bur- roughs, was, for forty-four year", the pastor of the church ia Paul's-alley. jr. A. C. B. 1688, 169^.— Crosby, Vol. Hip. 101. -^Wilson, Vol. Ill pp. 231, 249.


now be ascertained ; as the records of that so- ciety which remain, are in a very mutilated state, and commence only in 1720.

There appears to have been, about this time, another church of general baptists, inGoodman's- fields ; which was successively under the care of Mr. Jemmett and Mr. Beacham ; but no other particulars are known of this society. It is pro- bable, that it joined the church of which we are treating ; as members of the names of Jemmett and Beacham are frequently mentioned in its records.*

In the year 1717, this church united with several other baptist churches, both particular and general, in rebuilding and enlarging the baptistery at Horslydown, for the general accom- modation of their respective societies. The place was registered under the Act of Toleration, and vested in the hands of trustees chosen from the several congregations. This church subscribed its proportion, and elected one trustee.-j*

Lewis Douglas continued pastor of this church only a {ew years after its removal into Virginia- street. His conduct soon became awfully incon- sistent with his profession : and, after much trouble and disgrace, he was excluded from the communion of the church, Aug. 7, 1720. It ap- pears that, for some time previous to that event, he had forsaken his station, and wandered about the country. After this separation, we have no farther particulars of this unhappy man.t

The church, being thus left destitute of a pas- tor, was much indebted to the zeal qnd discretion of a few leading members, who cheerfully stepped

* W. A.C. B. 1696 and 1702. f Crosby, Vol. IV. p. 189. X Ch. Lane Records, 1730.



forwards to assist their brethren : especially of Mr. jVJaulden, the son of their former pastor, who was very active and useful. Their tirst care was, to procure suitable supplies for carryin": on the public worship of the coiif^regation. They applied, for assistance, to the general baptist ministers in London ; and, among others, en- gaged the services of the celebrated Dr. Gale, for one Lord's-day in every month They also paid a laudable attention to the discipline of the society, during the vacancy in the pastoral office^ The members, who appear at this time to have been numerous, were distributed, according to their places of abode, into the various districts of London and Southwark — Wappingr— Whitechar pel — and East Smith tield. Persons were fre- quently appointed to visit all the members in each of these districts, and to make a report to the church of their conduct, character, and cir- cumstances.

Yet they still felt their need of a settled pas- tor, and kept that important object constantly in view. As a necessary preparation, they sought wisdom and direction from the Father of lights ; and united in keeping June 1st. 1720, as a day of solemn fasting and prayer, "to implore the Divine assistance," and intreat God " to appear for them" in their destitute circumstances: and invited several neighbouring ministers to assist them in the services of the day. They next began to enquire for a proper person to till the impor- tant station : and appear first to have corres- ponded with aminister of the nanie of John How; but as he did not agree with them in the main- taining the laying on of hands, as a foundation principle, this negociation was soon closed. — Their attention was also directed to Mr. JosepU

A. D. 1722 A PASTOR. 85

Morris, of Wei ton, in Northamptonshire; but he declined their overtures. At length, they applied to Mr. Matthew Randall, who was then joint elder with Mr. R. Drinkwater, over the general baptist church at Chichester. This minister's business calling him frequently to London, he had opportunities of occasionally supplying the congregation in Virginia-street : and his labours were so acceptable, that they wrote to the church at Chichester to permit him to settle with them. That society, considering that it would promote the cause of the Redeemer, and probably render Mr. Randall both more useful and more com- fortable, yielded to their request. But his con- nections in business prevented his immediate removal : and, for more than a year, he supplied them once a month, and administered the Lord's- supper. In the beginning of 1722, he removed to London, and assumed the regular oversight of this church,^

Sect. 2. — -The Transactions of the Church now assemblings in Church Lane^from the Settlement of Mr. Randall to the Formation of the New Connec- tion,

In a few months after Mr, Randall had settled with the church in Virginia-street, the practice of singing, in public worship, was introduced. This was thought too great an innovation, to be made by the sanction of a common church-meet- ing : but a general visit to all the members being appointed, the messengers were directed to in-

* Ch. Lane Records, 1720—1723.




quire the opinion of each individual on the sub- ject. There appearing- a considerable majority in favour of the proposition, and none who di- rectly opposed it, the church agreed, Mar. 1722, to introduce it, as soon as convenient. Yet they only ventured, at this time, to sing once in each service: it was not till 1729, that they began to sing after sermon.

Towards the close of the year 1722, this society elected four deacons ; Soloiii;>o Ware, John Par- sons, Samuel Cave, and Isaac Jem met t: and they were ordained to that office, May 2lst. following. In the ensuing winter, a lecture was opened on the Lord's-day evening ; in order more elfectually to promote the prosperity of the cause.

In 1726, this church co-operated very essen- tially in the establishment of an institution, the beneficial eifects of which are felt by the general baptists of the present dny. This was the raising of a Fund, for the support of the baptist cause, by assisting in the maintenance of poor ministers, and in the education of young preachers, l^he particular baptists had recently formed a similar plan, the benefits of which were confined to their own party. The general baptists, finding them- selves thus excluded, determined to attempt to raise a Fund for the same purposes, on more liberal principles. They declared the object of their plan was to relieve all ministers " without distinction, as their exigencies require, who agree in the practice of baptizing by immersion, upon a protession of faith, and appear to be sol3er, pious, and faithful in the discharge of their work." This fund was proposed to be raised by voluntar^^ contributions, collections, and annual subscriptions ; and to be placed at the disposal of a board of managers chosen annually by the


churches whose yearly collections amounted to five pounds, together with all private annual subscribers of the same sum. ISo distribution was to take place tiil the capital amounted lo five hundred pounds ; and all adflitions that should afterwards be made to the stock were de- clared to be inviolable ; — no diminution of the capital whatever being permitted.-

This excellent institution was warmly patron- ized by the churches, and a considerable sum was soon raised ; to which the church in Virginia- street contributed liberally: and Mr. Thomas Shering, a respectable member of that society, was chosen the first treasurer. This Fund still exists; and distributes annually the sum of two hundred pounds, to the great relief of many poor and young ministers. During the iirst years of its operation, several particular baptists shared its favours: but, U is believed, that both its maintenance and support have been long con- fined to the general baptists of the Old and New Connections.*

Though religion was prosperous in this society, yet the members of it observed, with deep con- cern, the rapid decline of the general baptist cause throughout the kingdom, which was too

* The first proposition for the establishing of this Fund was made to the Paul's-alley church, July 25th. by Messrs. Joseph Burroughs and James Foster, afterwards the celebrated Dr. Fos- ter, who were then joint- pastors of that congregation, and had drawn up the plan, in concert with sevei-al ministers and private gentlemen of other churches. — At its formation, it was proposed to educate young men for the ministry ; and we transcribe the regulations respecting their admission, as a specimen of the good sense of the projectors. " When any persons shall be recom- mended to the society, in order to be encouraged as students j— before their admission, inquiry shall be made, by a committee of the managers, with respect to their morals and piety, and as te



visible in the former part of the last century. In 17^}3, therefore, thej proposed " to keep a day of fasting; and prayer, in conjunction with the other congregations of the general faith, to bewail the declining state of religion, piety, zeal, and love among them." On this occasion, a collection was made, towards building a country meeting- house ; and a plan was produced for building a meeting-house, every year, in some part of the nation, for the use of the general baptists. So anxious were they for the extension of what they esteemed the cause of truth.

The lease of the meeting-house in Virginia- street expiring, at Lady-day 1741, this church, after several unsuccessful attempts to renew it, were compelled to lookout for another situation. They agreed with the Sabbatarian society in Mill Yard, for the use of their meeting-house, on the Lord's-day, at a yearly rent of ten pounds; and assembled, in that place, for the first time, on the last Lord's-day in May, 1741.

For several succeeding years, this society ap- pears to have been tranquil and united, and the cause of religion prospered. Many respectable persons were members of it, who very generously

their abilities and proficiency in learning : and such only shall be received, as have been baptized by immersion, upon profession of faith, and are members of some baptized church ; and in whom it may be reasonably hopt d that there is a real Jove to religion, as well as a good disposiiion fur literature." — Happy would it be for tlie christian world, if these rational principles were acted upon by all who superintend the education of ministers.

in 1792, the original mode of appointing managers, through the chamre of circumstances, becoming inefficient, a meeting of the delegates from the congregations concerned in this insti- tution was held : and it was agreed to place the concerns of the Fund in the hands of fifteen Managers, who should be chosen by the churches, and hold their situations for life. — Croshy, Fol, IV, p. 9.01. —JFiUon, Ful, III. p. 2r,l.—lKA.C.B. 17'26, and PJ.

A. D. 1756 MR. Randall's CHARACTER. 89

assisted the church, by frequent donations to the poor, as well as gifts and legacies to the church. Two worthy benefactors deserve notice. Mrs. Berry, a benevolent lady, to whom, during her life, the poor were much indebted, at her death bequeathed to the church the lease of a house in Pennington-strt't t : — and Mr. Thomas Shering, an opulent and worthy gentleman, who was long actively employed in prosecuting schemes of use- fulness, and in serving the congregation and the public, towards the close of his life, endowed the church with an estate in Spitalrields. Both these endowments have long since ceased, in consequence of the expiration of the leases by which I hey were held.

Mr. Randall continued to labour diligently and acceptably among this people till Aug. 5th. 1756, when death removed him from his station. He was a man of good abilities, and a cultivated mind. During his long labours in the ministry, in which he was employed nearly fifty years, he experienced considerable trials. He appears to have been unhappy in his domestic connections ; and suffered much, during: the first \ears of his residence in London, from the tongue ot calumny. But his steady and honourable conduct stopped the mouth of gainsayers ; and procured him, as he advanced in life, increasing respect and friend- ship.

The church at Chichester, by which he was first called to the ministry, and the excellent Mr. Drinkwater, with whom he was co-pastor for several years, retained the greatest esteem and affection for him : and, on the death of his former colleague, in 1743, invited him from London to preach his funeral sermon. The estimation in which he was held by the elders and churches of




his own denomination, was evinced by the general assembly, which, in 1747, invited him to accept the office of messenger. Mr. Randall published his sermon on the death of Mr. Drinkwater, under the title of " The exalted Hopes of the Righteous, at, and after death, considered:" from Prov. xiv. 32. He was, also, the author of " Re- flections on the Duty of Masters, Mistresses, and Servants : in which several Irregularities are re- proved, and certain plain and useful Rules pro- posed, for promoting the Peace and Tranquility of Families." This piece appears to have been well received, and soon came to a second edition.

After the death of Mr. Randall, the church was occasionally'^ supplied by Mr. John Brittain, a member of the general baptist church, under Mr. S. Fry, in Horslydown ; who had, for a few years, been employed, under the sanction of that society, as an itinerant preacher about JNine Elms and Battersea. His temper being fearless, and his manner animated, he acquired a considerable degree of popularity ; though his mind had re- ceived little improvement from literature. His occasional labours were so well approved by the congregation in Mill Yard, that they gave him an invitation to take the oversight of them : to which he consented. He was ordained to the pastoral office, Dec, 16th. 1756, by Messrs. Ro- bert Pyall, Thomas Harrison, Samuel Fry, and Jonathan Brown. At the same time, William Hill was ordained deacon.

The congregation, feeling the inconvenier^ce of assembling in a place which belonged to another church, grew desirous of possessing a meeting- house of their own. In the beginning of 1760, they opened a subscription towards a fund for that purpose. They soon found a commodious


situation, in Church-lane, Whitechapel, which thev secured ; and, March 26th. 1761, a com- mittee was appointed, to oversee the building of a new meeting-house. It was not finished, how- ever, till two jears afterwards : and the first church-meeting was held in it, Mar, 23rd. 1763.

In 1769, Messrs. Williams, Brown, Willmott, and Preston were chosen deacons ; and ordained, June 17th. by Messrs. Sexton, Brittain, Brown and Hitchman. Two years afterwards, Mr. Brit- tain was seriously indisposed ; which gave his people an opportunity of shewing their respect and affection for their pastor, by holding a prayer meeting, to implore the Almighty " to spare him for his glory, and the further benefit of his church.**

This society appears, at this time, to have been zealously engaged in promoting the cause of their Saviour ; especially in discovering and cul- tivating ministerial gifts. For this purpose, two young men were appointed as readers ; whose office it was, to read a portion of the scriptures at the commencement of public worship. A meet- ing was held every Lord*s-day morning, and one in the evening each week, for the improvement of gifts: and a lecture was maintained on the Lord's- day evenings, by Mr. Brittain, and several young preachers. These efforts were blessed by the great Head of the church. Several young minis- ters were raised up, and numbers were added to their fellowship. In June 1770, when the New Connection was formed, this society consisted of about three hundred members, one pastor, seven deacons, and one young minister.*

* Ch. Lane Records. Min. of Ass. N. C. W. A. C.B. Kan- dall's Sermon, p. 9.

92 ACCOUNT OF THE A. D. 1714

Sect. 3. — Notices of the Church now assemhlhig in Great Suffolk-street^ from the Commencement of the Eighteenth Century to the Formation of the Neia Connection : with a brief Account of the Churches in Kent and Essex which united in forming that Connection,

The other church in London, which united in forming the New Connection, was the society in the Park, Southwark, that now assembles in Great Suffolk-street. It was, as we have already seen, a branch of the general baptist church at Dockhead ; and formed a separate interest in 1764. Its first pastor, William Marnor, was suc- ceeded by Mr. VVilliam Brown, who was the elder at the close of the seventeenth century,*

Mr. Broivn attended the general Assembly, as the elder of this church, in 1704 ; and, probably, died soon after (hat date : as we find his successor, Mr. John Tayler, settled with this people in the commencement of 1707. No particulars remain of Mr. Tayler, except that he attended the ge- neral Assembly regularly, as the pastor of this congregation, from 1710 to 1715 ; and was, pro- bably, the author of a piece, entitled, " An Ex- amination of Stokes' Argument in Favour of Sprinkling." We are equally unacquainted with the affairs of the church during his ministry. — ^ Feb. loth. 1714, three neighbouring general bap- tist societies joined with this church in keeping a day of fasting and prayer at the Park meeting- house.

Mr. Joseph Jenkins, a minister then of some note among the general baptists, succeeded Mr.

* See Vol. I. pp. 2€4, 265, 335, 336.

A. D. 1731 PARK CHURCH. 93

Tayler. He was called out as a preacher, in 1693, by the church in WhiteValley, of which he was an esteemed member; and laboured among" them till 1702, when he settled with the congre- gation in Hart-street, Covent Garden. In 1709, he removed to the general baptist church at High Hall, which had been under the care of Doctor William Russell, of controversial memory. After labouring in this station for seven years, he ac- cepted an invitation, in 1716, to become the pastor of the society in the Park ; and was fol- lowed thither by many of his hearers from High Hall. The infirmities of age obliged him to re- sign the pastoral office, about the year 1731 ; but he continued a member of this society till his death ; the precise period of which is not known. He was living, in 1736, in low outward circum- stances. Mr. Jenkins was much esteemed among' the churches as a preacher, and frequently em ployed on public occasions. He published several *' Funeral Sermons" — " a Discourse on Brotherly Love" — *' The Riches of Divine Grace in the accepting of great Sinners on their return to him ;*' and revised and re-published Doctor Griffith's " God's Oracles and Christ's Doctrine." During the eldership of Mr. Jenkins, there were two occasional preachers in the Park church, Mr^ William Grove and Mr. William Sturch ; but no particulars respecting them have come under our notice, except that the latter died in 1728.

In 1731, Mr. George Coventry took the over- sight of this church ; but was removed before the close of that j^ear. Though this minister appears to have been in narrow circumstances, yet the family was respectable ; as they had a large tomb in the burying-ground belonging to the Park meeting-house. Mr. George MuUiner, the




94 MR. JOHN Treacher's a. d. 1745

son of Mr, Abraham Mulliner, the worthy pastor of the general baptist church in White's-alley, succeeded Mr, Coventry ; and presided over this society till 1740. He was succeeded by a Mr. S. Hands, who had been a minister at -Coventry. His stay was short ; and was terminated in 1744; but whether by death or removal, is, with respect to him, as well as his two predecessors, uncer- tain.

Mr. Hands' successor was Mr. John Treacher, from Berkhampstead. This venerable minister was baptized, when only twenty years of age, by Mr. John tiussell, pastor of tlje church at Ches- ham ; and, in less than two years, was called to the ministry. His labours were made very use- ful, and he was highly esteemed by his friends, whom he continued to serve as preacher till 1745; when he accepted a call to the pastoral otfice from the church in the Park. Over this society he pref^ided, with great diligence and approbation, till his death, April 12th. 1756, in the seventy- fifth year of his age. His neighbour, Mr. S. Fry, of Fair-street, Horslydown, preached his funeral sermon, from 2 Thes. ii. 16, which he afterwards published. He gives this pleasing account of the character of Mr. J. Treacher. " It was always his care to be an ornament to the religion he pro- fessed ; and to inculcate it by an inoffensive and exemplary conduct. The more conspicuous virtues of his life, were, his unaffected humility and patience under the difficulties and aiilictions of life, demeaning himself with cheerfulness and resignation. His quiet, peaceable, forbearing disposition shone in a most resplendent light, througljout {jis whole conduct: which, as it in some meaf-ure qualified him for it, so it occasion- ed his being called to the good office of arbi-

A.D. 1766 CHARACTER, 95

tration, both in the church and amongst his other friends and acquaintances: in which difficult task he was generally successful. And as he was of a meek and quiet spirit, so he enjoy^'d quiet- ness, composure, and serenity of mind, evc^n to his last moments. As a minister of the gospel, he flourished therein : bringing forth acceptable fruit to a good old age. And when confined to his bed nearly four months, and oftentimes at- tended with acute pain, his discourse of liis sup- ports and comforts was very entertaining to those about him. He was blessed with an liuinbie,but firm and unshaken persuasion of the divine appro- bation, through the mercy of God, and the medi- ation of Jesus Christ ; often using the words of the text, * a good hope through grace' His affec- tionate regard for his children, and their off- spring, led him frequently to put up ejaculatory petitions for them, particularly that they might highly prize the means of grace, and suitably im- prove them."

Mr. B^. Treacher supplied, for a few months, the place of his worthy father, whose character we have just transcribed ; but soon left this society, to take the oversight of the church in Glasshouse- yard. On his departure, Mr. Alexander Dobson was called to the pastoral office over the Park church ; and continued his connection with it till his death, in 1767. It is probable, that the cause prospered in his hands, as the meeting-house in Duke-street was, during his ministry, rebuilt.

After the death of Mr. Dobson, this congre- gation was occasionally supplied by Mr. W. Sum- mers, a member and deacon of the society in Church-lane, Whitechapel. He had been called to the ministry in 1760 : and his labours were so approved by the friends at the Park, that they



invited him to be their pastor. With this invi- tation he complied, and settled amongst them in 1768.

These are all the notices which we have been able to collect, respecting this society, during the period now under review. At the commence- ment of the New Connection, in 1770, it consisted of one pastor, two deacons, and fifty-three mem- bers: and religion appeared to be reviving.*

Though most of the general baptists in Kent ad- hered to the ancient Assembly, yet the churches at Eythorn, Deal and Bessell's Green united in the formation of the New Connection. The earl v history of these societies, as far as we have been able to trace it, has been detailed in the former volume : and, as their union with their new friends was only temporary, it would not be ne- cessary, had we the requisite documents, to con- tinue a regular account of their transactions through the succeeding years : we shall, there- fore, only glance at the state of each in 1770.

The church at Eythorn, venerable for its an- tiquity, had been for nearly two centuries under the care of pastors of one family, and all of the name of John Knott. I In 1770, John Knott, who had then the oversiglit of it, assisted at the forma- tion of the New Connection : and his church, at that period, was composed of one pastor, two deacons, and thirtj-three members. There was an appearance of increasing zeal amongst them, and a growing taste for experimental religion; and they were peaceable and afi'ectionate.

* W. A. C. B. Wilson. Vol. IV. pp. 180-184. Min. of Gen. Ass. Min. of Ass. N. C. and Church Lane Records, t Vol. 1. pp 281, Z-6'Z.

I A.». 1700 ESSEX CHURCHES. 97

The church at Deal was a branch of the church at Dover.* It had sunk low ; but appeared to be reviving. At the commencement of the New Connection, it was supplied by Mr. James Fenn, and consisted of only twenty-one members, al- though there was a great number of hearers.

Mr. John Stanger, the pastor of the ancient general baphst church at Bessell's Green, as- sisted also at the formation of the New Connec- tion. This church had been founded, during the civil wars, by the apostolic William Jeffery ; and had been a numerous and flourishing society, from which many other respectable congregations had derived their origin.-j* It had, however, shared in the general decline, and was now re- duced to forty-five members.

These Kentish congregations were joined, on the same occasion, by several small churches in Essex ; probably the remains of more flourishing societies which had formerly existed in that county. We have seen that, in 1646, Mr. S. Oates itinerated in these parts ; and baptized numbers on a profession of faith ;{: This, pro- bably, laid the foundation of the general baptist cause in Essex, where we meet with several regu- lar churches of that denomination, during the Protectorate. At the close of the seventeenth century, also, we have traces of respectable and zealous societies of the " general faith,*' in the same parts § It is highly probable that they par- took of the declension which, towards the middle of the last century, depressed the whole denomi- nation : but. as we have not been able to obtain any regular account of their proceedings, we can ■ — ■ ' «- II — — ■

* Vol. I. p. 278. t Vol. I. pp. 108, 280, 361.

X Vol. I. pp. 116, 117. § Ibid p. 356, Note.




only record their own report of their state, in 1770.

The church at Halsted, under the pastorJll care of Mr. David Wilkin, consisted, at that time, of forty-three members. Their public worship was well attended, and religion appeared to be re- viving. Mr. Charles Parman laboured amongst a small society atCastle-Headingham, which then comprised only twenty members ; and at Cogges- hall, Mr. Robert French served a church of no more than eighteen members. It is almost need- less to add that, in both these places, they com- plain of religion being in a low state. The societies at Braintree and Sudbury also united with the former on this occasion ; though they did not send any representatives to the first association : the first consisted of twenty five members, under a minister whose name is not recorded ; and the latter was composed of only twelve members, and had neither minister nor deacon.*

Sect. 4. — A concise View of the Affairs of the

Lincolnshire General Baptists^ from the Close of the

Seventeenth Century to the Formation of the New


Before we attempt to trace the history of those churches in Lincolnshire which united in forming the New Connection, it may be both useful and interesting to take a rapid glance at the pro- ceedings of the whole body of general baptists, in that part of the kingdom, from the close of our former volume to the commencement of that union.

* Min. of Aas. of New Con. 1770.


When Mr. Hooke returned from the general assembly, in 1704, with the " Unity of the Church- es,"* he was very desirous that the congregations under his superintendance should agree to the principles and regulations which it contained. Having been a party in negociating and con- cluding that treaty of peace, he availed himself of the authority which his office gave him, to urge its adoption with so much vigour as to disgust many of his brethren. The church at Boston" preferred a formal charge against him, at the association, for "maintaining an arbitrary power in the ministry, distinct from the church " and many others blamed him for making articles of faith, drawn up by fallible men, of equal conse- quence with the oracles of truth. The dissatis- faction against him was much increased, in the following year, when he assisted in composing the strange "-Expedient,'* which forbad persons signing " the Unity of the Churches" to ask any questions respecting its meaning.*]* The discon- tent then arose to such a height, in Spalding church, as to cause a division.

Mr. Hooke, finding that the majority of his brethren disapproved of his conduct, declined attending at the Lincoln association. When that assembly met. Mar. 27th. 1707, it resolved *' that the paper called ' the Unity of the Churches,* and the Expedient thereunto affixed, ought not to be received by any member of their churches :** and being informed that several brethren had rejected their elders for opposing that paper, the associ- ation decreed " that such conduct was highly to blame, and a great breach of gospel order." The next year, Messrs. Benjamin Grantham, J.

* Vol. 1. p. 4 6. t Vol. I, p. 477.


100 CONTENTION. A. D. 1707'

Marham, and J. Pollard, who seem to have been the leaders of the opposition, were required to l)ring forward their charges against Mr. Kooke and his friends, that they might be tried at the next association. But, as the persons accused re- fused to attend at that meetinu, these matters were probably never brought to a hearing.

The association, apprehending that their oppo- sition to the domineering spirit ot Mr. Hooke, as they esteemed it, might be misrepresented as a a disapprobation of his doctrinal sentiments, thought it prudent to declare, at the same meet- ing, " that they remained upon their ancient gospel faith and principles; owned by their an- cient brethren, and professed by themselves for many years past." But this declaration not having the desired effect, they found it necessary, two years afterwards, to publish a more explicit avowal of their sentiments, on those important points which then convulsed the whole body.*

The congregations who adliered to the associ- ation, having no one in the messenger^s othce amongst them, considered their organisation as incomplete. In March, 1707, they chose Mr. T, Ullyott, elder of the church at Elsham, to that dignity; and directed that his ordination should

* The following was circulated on this occasion. — " We, the Elders and Brethren associated at Lincoln, May 9th, 1709—- being informed, by several worthy brethren, that many, die- senting from our Association, have and do, with great industry, spread abroad, that we deny the Divinity of oui" Lord Jesus Christ, &c.

" Tills, therefore, is to satisfy all our christian brethren, that we do now, as we ever did, believe in the Lord Je-^us Christ, in both his natures — Solemnly declaring that we believe him to be truly God, of the same nature or substance as the Father } and that he is as truly man, of the same nature or substance ai his mother : and so he is God-man>- manifested in the flesh ;

A.D. 1712 A TRUCE. lOl

take place in the next month. Tins being pre- vented by the dissentions which then distracted the churches, they renewed their election, in 1708 ; umi he uas ordained August 8th. As they could procure no messenger to assist at this so- lemnity, liie association authorized six elders to undertake it.

For stn eral succeeding years, the disputes be- tween iVir. Hooke's friends and the association ragt d with increasing bitterness ; and the latter appears to have connected itself more closely with the general assembly. The friends of peace, drea<iing the mischievous effects of these unhappy contests, made several ineitectual efforts to pro- cure a reconciliation. At length, on March 4th. 1712, a meeting was effected, and mutual expla- nations were made. Mr. Hooke disclaimed all opinions contrary to the independency of the churches; acknowledged the authority of the scriptures, in opposition to articles of human composition; and expressed his sorrow for having been concerned in supporting the " Expedient" affixed to the Unity of the Churches; which he formally abjured, and promised to use his influ- ence to procure its revocation from the general assembly. But, in the midst of these concessions,

and as such we own him, in the union of both his natures, to be our blessed Saviour and Redeemer.

" Furthermore, it being reported, that there are some of our community that suppose that the Almighty God is in the shape or form of a man — this may satisfy all such, and other persons whatever, that we know of none such persons amongst us, and that we absolutely abhor such an opinion ; firmly believing that God ii a spirit, infinite and incomprehensible."

Signed, by Thomas Uthjott and twenty two others. — As several alterations were made before the publication, we have corrected the printed copy by the minutes of the association, in which the original document is preserved.


102 NEW RUPTURES, A. D. 1712

he could not refrain from making some severe re- flections on the conduct of his opponents ; and, especially, of the church at Boston. Yet, as his accusers had neglected to attend this conference, though regularly summoned, Mr. Hooke was de- clared " to stand clear in the messenger's office, as formerly." Mr. Ulljott also, having cleared himself from suspicion of heresy, by assenting to the Confession of Faith, was coniirmed in the same rank. This treaty of peace was signed by thirtj-two ministers and brethren ; and sanguine hopes of a lasting union and tranquility were en- tertained. But all these hopes quickly vanished. At the next association, August 5th. of the same year, the friends at Boston appealed against some assertions of Mr. Hooke, in the preceding meet- ing ; and the association shewing a disposition to adu^it their appeal, Mr. Hooke and his party left the assembly abruptly, and protested against its proceedings. Those that remained, being dis- couraged and perplexed by this defection, and seeing no prospect of advantage from future meet- ings, as long as the minds of all parties continued in such a state of irritation, suspended the associ- ation till the churches should see occasion to re- sume it.

The animosity of both parties, being thus in- creased, continued, for several years, to distract the churclies, and obstruct the progress of the gospel ; and no associations were held. The natural elfects followed, in the decline of the prosperity and numbers of the various societies, and t!ie decav of vital oodliness in individuals. All real christians became sensible of the neces- sity of laying aside controversy, and uniting in the support of tlie common cause ; and a meeting of the leaders of both parties was held, July 20th.

A.D. 1718 PACIFICATION. | l03

1718, at which such mutual apologies and con- cessions were made, as laid the foundation for future union and co-operation. Thev iigreed — *' that thev were of one faith, as it is contained in the scriptures — that this faith ought to be main- tained and defended — that thej could not suffer this faith to be opposed or contradicted — and that the scriptures are the only foundations of a true faith ; but that such Confessions of Faith as are agreeable to them ought not to be contradicted, iior yet imposed as terms of communion." Con- sidering also the misunderstandings that had been occasioned during these controversies, they *' besought all the brethren to take satisfaction in their cordial and christian agreement ; and to labour to repair the reputations of those who had, in any way, suffered in their characters." This meeting, likewise, agreed to resume their former associations; and appointed the first to be held at Lincoln, October 14th, following, *' for the further establishment of the churches in truth and peace." This association accordingly met ; and it appears to have been a season of unanimity and love. Among other important agreements, we find this pleasing article. " We agree to keep a day of fasting and prayer, in all our churches, to humble ourselves before almighty God, for the great offences that have been committed, in the time of the unhappy divisions that have been among us ; and to give thanks to him that an end hath been put to these divisions : and also to pray that God would bless the peace that is gained in these our churches, and raise up a succession of faithful ministers, that vacant places may be supplied ; and that he would bless our nation,'* This day was fixed for



104 ENDEAVOURS TO A. D. 1720

November 19lh. 1718 ; which was observed in all the congregations with great solemnity.*

These contentions had produced the most de- plorable effects ; and the first care of the Lincoln- shire association was to endeavour to repair the injury which the cause had received. It was earnestly recommended that Mr. Hooke should devote himself more unreservedly to the visiting of the churches, and the other parts of the mes- senger's office : and the church at Bourn, of which he was pastor, was importuned to set him more at liberty to travel. It is likely, that he was then the only messenger in those parts ; as we hear nothing of Mr. Ullyott, after the year 1721. A considerable degree of laxity in dis- cipline, and conformity to the manners of the world, had, during these times of confusion, crept into the difierent societies. The association, therefore, found it necessary, for many succeed- ing years, to bear a decided testimony against vain a|)parel, mixed marriages, games of chance, and other practices which they deemed incon- sistent with the simplicity and gravity of the christian character.

The jealousy with which they had watched

* The persons included in this pacification, as the represen- tatives of their respective societies, were Joseph Hooke, of Bourn, Benjamin Sharp, John Hill, and Samuel Ellis, of Lincoln j Joseph Anderton, of VVitherton^ J.Grant, J. Woodward, J. Anderson, and T. Gilliott, of the Isle of Axholme ; T. Ullyott, of Elsham ; J. Crawstone, of the North Marsh ; Edward Wood, Edward Makins, Joseph Dent, and J. Hursthouse, of the South Marsh ; William Roberts, of Gosberton ; N. Locking, R. Barker, R. Lewis, and R. Anderson, of Asterbyj Humphry Fletcher, of Sleaford ; Thomas Ellis, J. Booth, and J. Hardy, of Broughton j and Edward Hardy of Spalding. To these must be added, Leonard Isaac, of Tattershall, William Veall. William Wray, aud Josej)h Brickton who, though not at the absoeiatioft* attended at the previous meetings.


each other, while at variance, had induced several ministers, under pretence of greater accuracy, to read their sermons. 1 his was so directly opposed to the practice of (heir most eminent preachers, in the most flourishing times of the general bap- tist cause, that the association hastened to pre- vent the evils with which they thought it traught; and, in 1722, adopted the following strong reso- lution. " Taking into consideration the corrup- tion that is like to ensue in the church, by the liberty that some take in reading sermons, under the notion of having them more correct; and falsely call it preaching ; we bear our public tes- timony against, and utterly disallow it: as it tends to the destruction of spiritual gifts, and is like to introduce a mere formality in religion ; hinders the edification of souls, and greatly dis- couraafes honest and faithful men in the exercise and improvement of their gifts ; and wounds the consciences of many sincere persons. We desire, therefore, that such a dangerous practice may be discountenanced in all our churches.*

Nor did the members of this association con- tent themselves with mere negative admonitions, but earnestly urged the adoption of every measure that was judged likely to revive the sinking interest. With this view, they exliirted all the churches to encourage meetings for prayer and religious conversation : and strongly insisted on the duty and advantage of a regular system of catechizing children and servants, and of a con- stant attention to their instruction in the great truths of Christianity. To aid in this necessary work, several catechisms were, about this time, published by some of their leading ministers.

- iii j .i. I

* C. A. B. 1722. VOL. II, p



But the object which appeared to them the most important, and which they recommended with the greatest importunity, was the discovery and cultivation of ministerial gifts and graces. To accomplish this great end, they not only used every prudent and scriptural method ; but, for a long series of years, observed annually a day of fasting and prayer, to intreat the great Lord of the harvest to send more labourers into his vine- yard.

These zealous endeavours of the ministers appear to have been but feebly seconded by the body at large, and, therefore, to have produced very little effect. Among the worthy christians, who mourned over the decline of the cause of trutli, was Mr. John Hursthouse, the pastor of the society at Monksthorpe and Burgh, He had been repeatedly chosen to the messenger's office ; but was prevented from accepting it, by the refusal of his church to give him up. in 1729, he printed *' An Epistle to the baptized Churches in Lin- colnshire," in which he draws an aifecting paral- lel between their former state of prosperity and the low circumstances into which they had then sunk. "When I consider," he says, "your former unity, and the sweet harmony which was then among you, how constantly and zealously you associatfci, in those times, in great numbers, to promote the cause and interest of Jesus Christ, the thoughts do sometimes rejoice my soul : but now, alas ! 1 am as much grieved to behold the reverse !*' *' It is Satan's old maxim, ' Divide and destroy :* and, in our late contentions, we have lost many of our best men ; had little but party interest carried on ; our unity quite broken ; and anarchy and disorder let in like a tlood. We offended our good God, grieved one another's


hearts, stumbled inquiring souls, have hindered Christ's cause, and procured to ourselves a dear and deep repentance." " God has shewn his dis- pleasure against our sinful.quarrels, in the many awful strokesof his providence, by which he has removed from us, in so few years, so many of our best and ablest ministers ; and by raising up so few to supply their places." " Besides how little we enjoy now of the presence of God, compared with what we have experienced in times past ! — What sweet fellowship had we together before our divisions ! Our fellowship was then with the Father, and Jesus Christ our Lord. How amiable has his tabernacle been, how delightful our christian i>ocicty, because the Lord was with us. But, brethren, when did you feel and perceive his presence ? Surely not as in times past. How glad were you, in those times, to assemble to- gether ! How much rejoiced in the enjoyment ! and how unwilling to part 1 But now, alas ! no thronging, no desire, no pains taken. Surely the Lord is not with us as formerly !**^ — " Again. The sad decay and the declining state of the baptized churches in Lincolnshire is another proof of the divine displeasure. How many once flourishing congregations are become thin ; and some have scarce any monument of a church left behind ! I know but of very few out of many, that remain in their ancient flourishing state. How many of our lights are extinguished, and the candlesticks removed out of their places ! And that which is yet worse, how unconcerned do we appear to be ! What little notice do we take of it ! How insen- sible of the danger and ruin which threaten us ! Does it not look as though the Lord had left us to chuseour own delusions, and to reap the fruits of our own devices ?"


108 Mil. hooke's death. a.d. 1730

The accuracy of this discouraging account of the low state of the general baptist cause in Lin- colnshire, at this time, is fully confirmed by the minutes of their associations : and, what is more to be lamented, this decline continued till long after the conclusion of this period. Their sub- sequent history, indeed, consists chiefly of a se- ries of well-meant, but unsuccessful etVorts, made by a few friends of the souls of men, to rouse the attention of their cotemporaries to a sense of their danger, and to arrest the total decay of their con- gregations.

At the time when the pamphlet from which we have made the above extracts was published, Mr. Hooke was advanced in years, and oppressed with infirmities; yet he still continued his la- bours to promote the prosperity of the churches. He added a Postscript to Mr. Hursthouse's Epis- tle, pressing the brethren to activity, union, and order : and, notwithstanding his age, persevered in visiting the various parts of his diocese. Oc- tober 5th. 1736, he presided at an association at Lincoln : and, it is probable, that he was unable to return to his friends ; as he died, in that city, on the 23rd of the following month. He had been, for sixty years, an honourable member of the baptized churches ; forty-nine of which he had been the pastor of the general baptist church at Bourn and Ilackenby ; and, during forty years, had sustained the office of messenger. AVe have no account of his birth ; but he could not, at the time of his decease, have been much less than eiohiv years of a^e. Throuoh the lono' course of his service in the church, Mr. Hooke appears to have been actuated by a sincere desire to promote the honour of his Saviour, and the salvation of sinners. His labours were abundant : and, con-


sidering the advantages \ihicli he had enjoyed, his abilities and acquirements were very respect- able. The unhappy times in which he was called to act, discovered, indeed, on several occasions, that he was a man of like passions with his bre- thren : yet he evidently was, on the whole, a worthy man, a pious christian, and a faithful and successful minister: — one of the principal orna- ments and supports of the general baptist cause in Lincolnshire.

The association had, for some time before Mr. Hooke's death, been looking out for a proper per- son to assist him in his arduous duties; and, having been disappointed of obtainingMr. Hurst- house, they applied to Mr. William Johnson, who was, probably, pastor of a church in the Isle of Ely. October 30th, 1731, he was solemnly or- dained, by Mr. Hooke, "to serve the churches in Lincolnshire, in conjunction with those in the Isle of Ely, in the office of messenger." After the decease of his venerable colleague, the whole care of the churches devolved on Mr. Johnson, who was laudably diligent in the oversight of them. He was punctual in attending meetings, and an- nually visited most of the societies under his su- perintendence. But his vigilant attention to the concerns of religion injured his temporal circum- stances, which, in 1744, became deeply embar- rassed. The churches contributed towards ex- tricating him from his difficulties; but he found it necessary, in 1745, to remove to Coventry. He visited Lincolnshire occasionally after this re- moval, and presided, as senior messenger, at the association in 1749. He appears to have pre- served the esteem of his friends, notwithstanding his misfortunes ; as he was employed, in 1743, in the ordination of Mr. G, Boyce, and styled "our



llO MR. JOHN GOODE. A. D. 1744

beloved brother Jolinson." He died at Coventry, in the eighty-eighth year of his age.

When Mr. Johnson removed to Coventry, it was judged proper to provide another to fill his place. A committee vi'as, therefore, appointed by the association, to fix on proper persons : and Messrs. W. Penney, of Lincoln, James Grant, of Asterby, and John Goode, of Boston, were nomi- nated as candidates. Mr. Penne}' declined the honour; and Mr. Grant, probably, died soon after, as we hear no more of him : Mr. J. Goode, therefore, was ordained messenger. May 9, 1744, by Mr. Johnson. It was also proposed that Mr. Halford, pastor of the churches at Bourn and Coningsby, should be raised to the same rank ; but, for some reason unassigned, this design did not take effect.

Mr. Goode appears to have attended to the duties of his station with assiduity and zeal ; but few of the ministers were inspired with the same spirit. The associations were very thinly attend- ed : and it was in vain that those who did attend sent letters and expostulations to the ministers and churches that absented themselves. The union of heart and interest which had so firmly cemented them in former times, was, alas ! no more : each looked on his own things. The me- thodists, too, who now began to be active and zealous, drew away many of their members: and, though the association, in 1745, declared " their faith and practice to be contrary to the holy scriptures, and to the peace and welfare of their societies," and denounced the discipline of the church against such as attended their meetings ; yet the warmth and affection which animated the new professors triumphed, in many instances, over the decrees and threatenings of this feeble


synod. To strengthen their hands, they renewed their ancient connection with the general assem- bly in London, which had been iaterrupted for nearly forty years ; and, in 1750, sent Mr, Goode to that meeting, as the representative of the bap- tized churches in Lincolnshire. This re-union was, probably, hastened by a friendly epistle the assembly had previously addressed to these churches; inviting them to aco-operation, and ex- horting them to be careful in encouraging and cul- tivating the gifts of young men who promised to be useful in the ministry : informing them, at the same time, of the general baptist fund for the edu- cation and support of ministers. This letter was dated December 7th, 1748, and signed Joseph Morris and J. Neele.

But the general baptist interest, in these parts, sustained a great loss, soon afterwards, by the un- expected removal of Mr. Goode. On Lord's-day, December 1st. 1751, he preached twice, with his usual animation, and administered the Lord*s- supper. At ten in the evening, he retired to rest, apparently in good health : and at eight, the next morning, was found lying on the floor of his apartment, speechless, senseless, and incapable of moving. In this state, he lingered till midnight, when he gasped and expired. '* He was,** says a cotemporary writer, *' an active, shining man, and zealous to promote his master's cause." — Being thus deprived of their worthy messenger, the association elected Gilbert Boyce, pastor of the churches at Coningsby and Asterby, to that office : and he was ordained, Sept, 3rd. 1753, by Mr. W. Johnson.

Though Mr. Boyce was active and earnest in his exertions to revive the declining state of the congregations under his superintendence, the




success was, by no means, proportioned to his efforts. 'I'he accession of Messrs. W. Thompson and D. Taylor, gave a transient impulse to the zeal of these professors ; but it soon subsided. One minister after another dropped into the grave ; and few were raised up to supply the vacant places. The congregations, of course, dwindled away; and, in many instances, the churches became extinct. In 1766, the meeting- house in Lincoln, which, for more than seventy years, had been a kindof metropolitan for the bap- tized churches of the general faith, in Lincoln- shire, where they held their associations, was lent to the particular baptists ; on condition of keeping it in repair, and permitting the general baptists to preach in it when they could find op- portunity.

The doctrinal opinions of these churches, du- ring this period, appear to have been very un- settled. The philosophising spirit which had unhappily seized this denomination of christians, at the commencement of the century, continued to operate, and produced a laxity of principle and depression of sentiment, that had a very baneful effect. A little before llie formation of the New Connection, two unsuccessful attempts were made to fix on some standard of faith : one, by pro- posing the adoption of a Confession, published in 1724, which agrees with the Confession of 1660 : and the other, hy appointing Mr. Boyce " to draw up a number of articles of the christian faith, as near as he could to tlie judgment of these churches." The good man complied, and submitted his creed to the association; but it was rejected, " because it was mostly expressed in scriptural terms."

I'hese ministers were much more united and

A.I). 1770 DISCIPLINE. 113

eoiisistent in their views of the imporiance of a conversation becominpf the gospel, in those who professed to be the followers of Christ : though it must be confessed that their frequent "testi- monies" in favour of it, may raise a suspicion that it was not so ^enernlly maintained ;as it ought to have been. Tlirou^liout nearly the whole of this period, they inserted in the minutes of each asso- ciation a number of resolutions, adapted to dis- coura^j^e vain amusements and sinful compliances with the customs and fashions of the world, and to encourage propriety of character and conduct: and eacli minister was enjoined " to make it his business lo explain and reason upon each article to his people for their further use and protit." — They retained, also, in a good degree, the strict^- ness of I heir ancient discipline respecting the calling: out of ministers. They " allowed no per- son to preach in any of their congregations, who was not well known or recommended: and no young preacher was permitted to preach in another congregation, before he was apjjroved by the elder and church to which he belonged." And il was made a condition of the loan of the Lincoln meetinghouse, "that none should be allowed to preach therein, but such as were bap- tized believers, and had been regularly called to the work of the ministry."

Such appears to have been the progress of the general baptist interest in Lincolnshire, previous to the formation of the Ne^y Connection. That event caused a considerable sensation in these churches, especially at the association in 1770, when those members who afterwards united in forming the New Connection, announced their intention of w ithdrawing. In the following year, the churches that adhered to the Lincolnshire




association were only seven : the church at Con- ingsby, consisting of eighty or ninety members ; at Fleet, of forty or fifty ;* at Gosberton, of twenty-six ; at Knipton, of eighteen ; at Monks- thorp, of one hundred ; and at Tetney, of twenty- six: and that association was attended by only four eiders, and three unordained ministers.-j*

Sect. 5. — The History of the Churches at Spald- ingy Fleet, and Boston, front the Close of the Seven- teenth Century to the Commencement of the New Connection,

Having thus given a concise account of the proceedings of the whole body of general bap- tists in Lincolnshire, it will be proper to look back and trace, as distinctly as we are able, the transactions of the churches at Fleet and Boston, which assisted, by their representatives, at the formation of the New Connection. But, as the congregation at Fleet was, for a long time, only a branch of the church at Spalding, it will be ne- cessary to introduce the history of that society, during this period: and, as Spalding ultimately joined the New Connection, this digression will not be foreign to our design.

The rise of the general baptist cause at Spald- ing, and its introduction to the vicinity of Fleet, have been already recorded.:}: That interest, at

* Fleet church joined the New Connection in 1770 ; but the following year re-united itself to the Lincolnshire Association: and it was not till several years afterwards that it finally left that assembly.

t Hurathouse's Epistle, passim. Minutes of the Lincolnshire Association from 1700 to 1770— B. M. S. S,

X Vol. L pp. 106, 214—218. 317, 318.

A.D. 1702 FLOURISHES. 115

the commencement of the eighteenth century, comprized the congregations at Spalding, Gos- berton, and Fleet. This large society was then under the pastoral care of Mr. William Roberts, who was ordained in 1699. His usual residence was at Gosberton ; and, therefore, when several elders were chosen to assist him at the other places, he was styled, in the Minutes of the asso- ciation, " the elder of Gosberton." At that period, Mr. liobert Vellem, an assistant preacher, laboured at Fleet, with so much regularity, as to be styled their minister: and several other " bre- thren confirmed in the ministry" were equally active in their respective stations.

But Mr. Roberts did not continue long the sole elder. In 1703, Mr. Joseph Pickerton, and, in 1708, Mr. John Hursthouse, both of Spalding, were raised to the same dignity. Soon after- wards, Mr. Edward Hardy, who had been for some time an approved preacher, was also ad- vanced to the pastoral office. Thus it appears, that, in 1710, there were four elders in this church, besides a number of acceptable ministers: — a strong evidence of the flourishing state of re- ligion.

This encouraging prospect, however, soon be- gan to be clouded. In February, 1715, Mr. John Hursthouse, one of their highly valuable elders, died. His funeral sermon was preached, by his colleague, Mr. W. Roberts, from Isa. lvii.2: and his death was a severe loss to the cause. His family was honourable. He and his wife were baptized together, Aug. 11th. 1687, when they had two sons and two daughters. They entered into the spirit of the gospel; and trained up their children in the way in which they ought to walk, and had the satisfaction to find, that, when



they were old, they did not depart from it. In 1690, their two daughters devoted themselves, at the same time, to the Lord by baptism ; the one being eighteen years of age, and the other four- teen ; and, in 1697, their two sons united to fol- low their example: the one in the twenty-second and the other in the hfleenth year of liis age. Nor did these young professors decline from their course, but persevered to the close of their lives : the daughters becoming mothers in Israel; and the sons eminent ministers of the gospel and worthy pastors of churches. — Their father, being in affluent circumstances and zealous in the cause of his Redeemer, was very helpful in the pecu- niary concern of the church. Towards the erec- tion of the first meeting-house at Spalding, which cost only eighty-three pounds, he generously sub- scribed twenty pounds: and, at his decease, he bequeathed the like sum as a legacy to the congregation. Little did the good man suppose, that it would soon be required for the same object as his former donation.

In a few months after his death, Apvil 1st. 1715, a destructive fire broke out in Spalding, and consumed the meeting house and almost all the other buildings in that part of the town in which it stood. A new one was immediately built, at an expence of one hundred and forty pounds; which was raised in about two years, by the exertions of their own friends, and the aid of sister churches. But, it seems, the projectors paid more attention to accommodation than to ele- gance. The interior had an unfinished appear- ance: the pulpit was clumsy; the pews, few ; and the floor, brick. It continue^d, however, unal- tered for seventy years.

About this period, there were several approved

A. D. 1722 HEflETlCS EXCLUDED. 117

ministers labouring for this society, of whom it may be proper to take some notice. — W. Baron ■was, it may be concluded, possessed of popular talents, as he was appointed by the church, in 1716, to preach a sermon on Discipline. Nothing further respecting- him has been preserved ; ex- cept that his widow died in 1750. — I^aac Hin- man was both a preacher and deacon ; and, for some years, iiis labours were frequent and accept- able. But his doctrinal vieus, on some impor- tant points, were different from thofte of his friends; and caused considerable altercation. In 1708, reports being spread, that Mr. J. Hurst- house and he entertained heretical opinions, they wrote letters to the association, justifying them- selves from the charges : and that assembly, *' having considered their letters, believed then* to be sound in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, both with respect to his divinity and humanity ;" and ordered copies of their letters to be sent to all the congregations. Ten years after this, the same charges were revived against iMr. Hinman ; and a general meeting of the three branches of the church was convened, when he was excluded from their communion.* In 1722 in consequence

* The minutes of these meetings, being decisive as to the tenets of these professors, at this time, deserve to be recorded,

"Spa/ding, June 10th. I719.

" At a solemn meeting of all the congregations, viz Spalding, Gosberton, and Fleet, brother Isaac Hinman appeared amongst us ; and upon a full and fair hearing, we find him to deny the equality of the Son of God to the Father, as to his divine nature; and, that he had no being, but in purpose and promise, till his incarnation : and in his highest capacity is inferior to the Father, or words to the same purpose ,• which he refused to re-

tract as error : So we, the Brethren whose names are under

written, agreed, that he is not of our faith, which has been the faith of our churches, before our time j and, whilst he remains jn his present mind, we cannot allow him to be a preacher




of some alteration in his sentiments, and to pre- serve the peace of the society in which he had some partizans, he was restored to fellowship ; but there is no evidence of his being afterwards per- mitted to preach. He died in 1734. — Goss Tor- rington and John BuUiiner began to preach, at Fleet, in 1716; but were soon called from their labours : the latter djing in 1720, and the former surviving him only three years, — VV. Blades, a poor but worthy christian, was also acceptably engaged in the sacred work. He was baptized in

amongst us, nor admit him to communion with us : but pity and

pray for him, and leave him to his own thoughts and the mercy

cf God."


WiLiiAM Roberts, ") » . .,,»<.

John Pickerton, T And twenty- two more, in behalf

Edward Hakdy. f of the rest.

Matthew Hursthouse, 3

" Spalding, May ISth 1722. "At a meeting, held to revise brother Hinman's case which was heard in this place, June lOth. 1719 :— We find he retracts that saying, that Christ had no being but in purpose and promise, before his incarnation. This he disallows now, and condemns as error. And withal mvns the equality of the Son with the Father in certain essential properties ; as far, he says, as the holy scriptures speak of it.— excepting only self-existence and prime casuality, of which he apprehends the scriptures not to speak : which seem to divers of us cloudy expressions, and to interfere with the sound faith of the Trinity, which has been the faith of this church, and of our churches generally. — Never- theless, in order that peace and unity may be kept and observed, our beloved brother Hinman doth promise not to oppose to the disturbance of the peace of the church, that faith we have con- stantly maintained; but to walk in love Avith his brethren and we desire that all old things should be buried that have been matter of contention as though they had not been." S?-g«ec^ "Joseph HooKBj for Edward Hardt,

peace sake, though a para- John Pickerton,

graph is omitted which 1 William Roberts.

supposed to be in." John Hursthouse,

And thirty-one more, in behalf of the rest.


1624 ; and we find him, in 1702, employed in the humble situation of sexton to the congregation. After losing sight of him for several years, we meet him again, in 1716, acting in the office of deacon, though still in narrow circumstances. In less than two years, he was classed among " the brethren confirmed in the ministry :*' and, from the frequency of his engagements, it is probable that his labours were acceptable. He died in 1722.

Mr. Matthew Hursthouse the eldest son of their deceased pastor, Mr. John Hursthouse, was called to the eldership, in 1718 : his labours how- ever were terminated by death, in 1720. And in 1724, this society was deprived of two other of its elders. John Pickerton died towards the close of the year, at an advanced age; and of Mr. William Roberts we have no later information than May 25th, when he attended the Lincoln- shire Association. His abilities as a preacher must have stood high in the estimation of his brethren ; as he was selected to officiate on several public occasions: particularly, in 1708, when Mr. Ullyott being called to the office of messenger, he was appointed, by the Association, to preach the sermon at the ordination.

Mr. Edward Hardy was for several years the •only elder over this extended society ; when most of the brethren who occasionally assisted in the work of the ministry had been removed by death. Mr. Hardy survived till 1731, as he had been a member of the church thirty-seven years, and had a family of three children, when he joined it, he must then have attained a good old age. There is reason to believe that his out- ward circumstances were low ; but he main- tained his reputation among his brethren in the

120 DECLINE. A. D. 1770

ministry to the last ; and, in the minutes of the Association in 1730, his name is subscribed next to the messenger's.

During the latter years of his life, Mr. Hardy had been assisted in the ministr}^ by Mr. Tho- mas Blades, probably a kinsman of William Blades already mentioned. Mr. T. Blades was styled " a brother confirmed in the ministry," in 1721 ; and frequently supplied the congregation at Fleet. In 1734, he was elected to the pastoral otiice ; and for sixteen years seems to have had the whole oversight of the church till his death.*

His son William Blades who had begun to preach long before the death of his father, was on that event, nominated to the eldership, though it does not appear that he ever attained to it. He was however regularly employed as a preacher, and appears to have been well approved.

The congregation at Spalding, which had been considered as the principal seat of this in- terest, had now considerably declined : and, from the death of Mr. I'liomas Blades, was destitute of a pastor, till long after the close of the period now under review. The few members that re- mained were supplied by the occasional labours of neighbouring ministers. For some time, Mr. J. Halford,")* of Bourn, visited them at intervals, and administered the ordinances; and, after hi& decease, Mr. Joseph Anderson,;]; pastor of the

* In 1750, he was appointed to preach at the next Asso- ciation ; but, on signing his name to the minutes, excepted against the appointment. Death preserved him from this service, by removing him to liis reward, Oct. 26th. 1750.

t This good man, altt^r labouring upwards of forty years in the ministiy, lost his life, about 1759, by the mistake of his apothecary, who administered too large a quantity of opium, during a fit of the gout.

X Mr. Joseph Anderson was a very respectable minister j who

A. D. 1730 FLEET CHURCH. 121

church at Gosberton, took this declining cause under his temporary inspection. Mr. G. Boyce, also, in the discharge of the messenger's offifie, sometimes travelled to Spalding, and favoured them with his advice and assistance. But such interrupted labours could not be expected to re- vive a drooping interest : and, at the time of the formation of ihe New Connection, this church seems to have been almost extinct. We, there- fore, now turn our attention to that branch of this ancient society which assembled at Fleet.

After Mr. Vellem's decease, in 1711, it does not appear that any of the numerous preachers, with which the church at Spalding then abounded, took the interest at Fleet so much under his care, as to be esteemed its minister. Many of them laboured occasionally there ; but Mr. Roberts, of Gosberton, was the most frequent visitor. The cause was thus supported and extended. In 1723, so many had joined from them at Lutton, a neighbouring village, that the public worship was held, and the Lord's supper administered, alternately at that place and Fleet ; till 1729, when the meetings at Lutton were discontinued.

In 1740, Mr. T. Blades, the elder at Spalding, held a church-meeting at Fleet ; when a list was made of the members there, which contained thirty-six names : and, in the following year, five more were added; raising the nuruber to forty-one. Of these, seven dwelt at Fleet, twen- ty-one at Gedney, eight at Holbeach, and three

was ordained to the pastoral office over the church at Gosberton, in 1763. It was remarkable, that this minister who was ap- pointed to preach the Association sermon in 1781, and Mr. B. Thornally who was nominated for the same service, in case of his failure, both died before that meeting; the forjner, August 1th. 1781, and the latter, November 13th. 1780. VOL. 11. K


122 Mil. WILLIAM KIDD. A. I). 1762

at Lutton. The majority of the members livinp; thus at Gedney, public worship was removed *(> that place, in the middle ofthe same voiw. 'i hey met in a large room, belonginiij to a li ouse occu- pied by Mr. John Bullimer, one of their deacons.

During the remainder of tiie life of Mr. T. Blades, he visited Fleet monthlv, to preach and administer the ordinances- iiis son, William Blades, peached for them every fortni<;ht ; and continued to su{)[)ly them, m this manner, for several years after the death of his worthy father. But this de»)eudence on the visits of strangers being precarious, and disappointments from va- rious causes frequently occurring, the church was led to seek for more regular assistance.

Mr. W iJliam Kidd, in 1744, removing his habi- tation from the neighbourhood of Coningsby to Fleet, was honourably dismissed from the church at the former place to the iaUer. Sucii was his regular conduct, that, in 1751, he was advanced to the deacon's oifice ; and, induced by the ne- cessities of the congregation, attempted to lead public worshi}?, and expound the scriptures. These attempts being well received, he was en- couraged to proceed ; and his gifts gradually improving-, he grew daily more acceptable. In 1762, the charch unanimously invited him to accept the oversight of that branch of the in- terest ; and he became the Hrst pastor that was ordained over the church at Fleet, as a distinct society. When he ber';an to preach, the society consisted of thirty-one members ; but before he assumed the eldership, seventeen had been added to their number; thougl), by reason of deaths and removals, tiie whole society then amounted to thirty-six only. During the course of his mi-

^. I). 1764 NEW MEETlNe-HOUSB. 123

uistrj, the increase was proportionable : and, at his decease, he icft titty persons in communion.

Soon after lie assumed the pastoral office, the increase of hearers,^ joined to some other circum- stances, rendered it inconvenient to conduct public worship in the room at Gednej ; and the society delei mined to build a meeting-house, at Fleet. Having procured a suitable piece of ground, tliey exerted themselves, and erected a plain editice ; which was opened for public wor- ship, Sejii 2 i 1764. Though the general bap- tists had miJiitaijjed their cause in this neigh- bouriiood tor eighty- two years, this was the first meeting-house vHuch they had enjoyed. Mr. Kidd continued his pastoral and ministerial duties with increasing usefulness ; and was made the happy instrument of much good to the cause of religion. But his race v* as quickly run : — he was called to his reward, in Oct. 1768. His character was truly amiable ; and his memory is still cherished, with tender veneration, by those few of his friends whom death has yet spared.

Some time before Mr, Kidd's lamented decease, Mr. Henry Poole, who had been a preacher among the methodists, joined the church at Fleet. After Mr. Kidd's death, he laboured amongst them for about three years ; and, in 1770, at- tended the meeting when the New Connection was formed. At that time, Fleet church consisted of an unordained minister, two deacons, and fifty members : their public opportunities were well attended ; and religion appeared reviving.^

It only remains, that we close this chapter with

* Lincolnshire Asso. Min. B. M. S. S. from Spalding and Fleet church Books. Jlin. of Asso. of N. C. &c.

124 BOSTON CHURCH. A. D. 1715

a succinct account of the proceedings of the general baptist church at Boston, Lincolnshire, from the conclusion of the former volume to the formation of the New Connection.

We have already seen, that a society of profes- sors of this denomination existed, in this town, so early as 1653 ; to which the celebrated Thomas Grantliam united himself, when he commenced his religious course : and that, at the close of the seventeenth century, it was destitute of a pastor, and in a low state.* For some time afterwards, Mr. Roberts, of Gosberton supplied it frequent- ly ; and, to a certain extent, exercised the pastoral office in it ; so as to be styled, by the members of this church, "our elder." But, as he continued his connection with the church at Gosberton, his superintendance was irregular, and his labours interrupted ; and the cause of the Redeemer con- tinued to droop. He, therefore, joined with Mr. T. Lllyott, the messenger, in advising the friends at Boston to call Mr. Ebenezer Hall to preside over them. With this advice, the church com- plied ; and, May 22d. 1715, twenty-nine mem- bers signed the minutes of the church-meeting, by which he was called to the pastoral office. Twenty-seven others expressed their concurrence by letter : so that the society then consisted of fifty-six members. Mr. Hall appears to have been a respectable practitioner in physic, and a doctor of Medicine. He published several pieces on religious subjects. His eldership was ter- minated by death, Oct. 14th. 1722 ; when he had presided over this church no more than seven years. During this short period, thirty-one per- sons had been added to their number by baptism :

Voll pp. 129and319.

A.O. 1722 MR. JOHN WILLEY. 125

among whoni were several who afterwards be- came ornaiiients to their profession, and great supports to the cause of their Saviour.

This society being thus Jeft destitute, invited several neighbouring ministers to meet and con- sult on the proper measures to be adopted : who unanimously advised the calling of Mr. John Willey to preside over it. Mr. Willey, who for- merly resided in the neighbourhood of Bourn, had been a member of the church at Spalding; and, in 1688, was reckoned among " the gifted brethren" in that congregation. But, having removed his dwelling to Boston, he became a member of the church in that town; and, pro- bably, had occasionally preached amongst them during the whoje of Mr. Hall's eldership. He was, therefore, unanimously invited to accept the pastoral office ; and ordained by Mr. J. Hooke, Nov. 29lh. 1722. The invitation given him was signed by fifty-five members. He did not con- tinue long in this office: for, in May, 1729, he *' voluntarily absented himself from the congre- gation." What induced him to withdraw from the sacred work does not appear: but it is evi- dent, from the subsequent proceedings, that there was no imputation either on his moral or religious character.* Yet his services do not appear to have been either regular or satisfactory ; as the church a|)plied frequently, during his eldership, to the Lincolnshire association, for ministerial assistance. This was especially the case in 1724, when Messrs. J, Hooke, N. Locking, and J,

* This may fairly be inferred from his signing the agreement with Mr. Huisthousej his successor; and from provision being made in that agreement for his resuming the pastoral office, " if he pleased to assist as formerly and they pleased to have it so.",

Boston Church Book.



Hiirsthouse undertook to preach at Boston once a fortnight, " till they should be othervvise sup- plied :" and, in 1725, wlien INlr. L. Lsa.ic was re- quested to visit them as otten as he could, tor the purpose " of keeping up order, and adniiuislering the ordinances to them." In this uncertain and disorderly state of things, it is not surprizing ihat the cause of Christ shoidd decline ; and that, in 1729, the number of etiective members was re- duced to little more than thirty.

On Mr. Willey*s final secession, the church resolved to request [Mr. John HursiSmuse to take them under his care. This respectable and pious minister was the younger son of Mr. Matthew Hursthouse, of Spalding', already mentioned.* He was then the elder of a flourishing general bap- tist church at Burgh and Monksthorpe ; but had removed his residence to Boston. As he appears to have had an acceptable assistant, who fre- quently suppli'^d liis place at Monksthorpe, he had opportunities of preaching for this church ; and his services vvere so well approved, that they solicited him to become their elder. V\ ith this request he complied, in June following; after having obtained tlie consent of his own church. The church at Boston enjoyed his labours and vigilance for seven or eight years, and the work of the Lord prospered in his hands : as, when he resigned his cliarge, the members were more than eighty.

Mr. Hursthouse's assistant at IMonksthorpe being removed by death, in 1738, he found it necessary to have Boston ; and, therefore, to dis- solve his connection with that church. All par- ties acquiesced in this measure w>th less reluct-

* Supra, pp. 115, 116.

A. D. 1738 Mil. JOHN GOODE. 127

ance, as divine Providence appeared to have raised up a suitable person to fill the vacant oifiee. Mr. John Goode had, for a considerable time, preached occasionally for them ; and, to use their own* words, they "had made full proof of his doctrine, and observation of his conver- sation ; and believed him to be every way qua- lified to take upon him the office of an elder and pastor over a people *' He was, therefore, una- nimously invited to assume the charge of this congregation ; and, Aug. 2d. 1738, was ordained by Mr. W.Johnson, messenger.

During the first years after Mr. Goode*s ordi- nation, his labours were abundantly blessed, and additions to the church were numerous. But, it is probable, that, when he undertook the over- sight of this society, discipline had been neg- lected : and when he endeavoured to revive it, he was but feebly supported by his friends. For, though meetings for this purpose were regularly held, during the whole time of his presiding over them, yet tew attended at them, and the pro- ceedings were often protracted to an injurious length. In 1744, Mr. Goode was chosen messeni- ger of the churches; and the duties of that station probably called him frequently from his owsi place. The cause, therefore, appears to have been less prosperous in the latter years of hia ministry, than in the former : the additions were few, and the zeal and circumspection of too many of the more ancient members decreased. Such was the state of the church, when it pleased God to call him to his rest, Dec. 2d. 1751 ; in the affecting manner which we have had occasion to record in a former section,*

* Supra, p, II],




For twelve years after Mr. Goode's decease, this church remained destitute of a pastor. It was supplied, for a great part of this interval, by Mr. Samuel Durance, who had removed from Leicester ; but he was never called to the office of elder. Through the want of proper officers, the disorder increased, and the decline of the cause became more rapid. Yet a few additions were, from time to time, made to their numbers ; and, from Mr. Goode*s death, to 1760, fourteen were received bj^ baptism, and thirteen by recommen- dation from sister churches.

Through these discouraging times, the interest at Boston owed much to the zeal and prudence of two valuable (netnhers, Messrs Thomas Saul and his son John. i ae former had been baptized under Mr. Hall, June 5th. 1720, and had con- tinued an userVii and steady friend to the cause through all th ciiaiiges which it had experienced. His son had joined the church, Sept. 4th. 1753, and entered warmly into all the views and wishes of his worthy father. They exerted themselves in procuring ministers, and keeping up the wor- sliipof God, when too many neglected it. In 1762, they both attended the Lincolnshire asso- ciation, where they heard Mr. W. Thompson preach, from Gal. vi. 15. The discourse gave them so much satisfaction, that they took an op- portunity of conversing with the preacher. — Finding that there existed some opposition against his principles at Hull, where he then was settled, they earnestly invited him to remove to Boston ; and gave him proper encouragement respecting his support. Mr. Thompson declined giving them a positive answer, at that time ; but the contentions increasing on his return to Hull, he determined to pay a visit to Boston. His la-

A, D. 1763 A REVITAL. 129

hours were highly acceptable ; and in July, the same year, twenty-seven of the members united in requestina: him to become their stated preach- er. He assented ; and removed, with his family, to Boston, in the followins^ September.

The cause of relis^ion was then very low in this society. There were scarcely forty nominal mem- bers ; and too many of these were irregular and inetfective. The place of worship was in a ruin- ous state ; and the hearers few, and composed chiefly of the lowest classes of society. Mr. Thompson, however, pursued his great work with zealous diliu^ence, and a humble dependance on the divine blessing for success, Norwere his hopes disappointed: a pleasinj? revival soon appeared ; and, on Sept. 18lh 1763, he baptized eight per- sons on a profession of faith. He was much encou- raged by the affectionate sympathy of his friend, Mr. Saul ; who manifested a truly parental soli- citude for him and his family, and heartily enter- ed into all his measures to promote the prosper- ity of the Redeemer's kingdom. But it pleased God, whose thoughts are not our thoughts, to deprive him, at the commencement of his labours, of this valuable friend : Mr. Thomas Saul died, June 13th. 1763, aged sixty-eight years. Mr. Thompson was deeply affected with this event, and preached a funeral sermon, at the request of the deceased, from 1 Cor. xv. 27 : a passage very expressive of his own happy experience.

Mr. Saul's liberality to the poor, especially to poor saints and the ministers of the gospel, will long be gratefully remembered. He had observed, with pain, the decay of the place of worship occupied by the general baptists ; and determined to provide more convenient accom- modations. Just before his death, he laid the

TOL. II. s


foundation of a new meetinsf-house, in Goat- street, Boston. His son generously fulfilled the liberal intention of his father ; and, having com- pleted the building, at an expence of five hun- dred pounds, transferred it, and ihe ground on which it stood, to trustees, for the use of the church. It was opened, June 24th. 1764, by Mr. Dan Taylor, of Yorkshire, who delivered three discourses, on the occasion, to crowded audi- tories.

Being thus accommodated witlt a convenient place of worship, the congregations increased, and the external prospect was encouraging. But the internal concerns of the church were still dis- organized: they had no officers, and proper disci- pline had long been neglected.* Messrs. Charles

* When this society resolved upon reviving discipline, ther entered some reflections, and regulations for the prosecution of their object, on their records j which, as they may be useful to other churches in similar circumstances, we venture to transcribe.

" At our first meeting for the exercise of discipline, Aug. 27th. 1765, we took into consideration the present state of the chu'i'ch; and, upon inspection, finding many things wanted rectifying, with respect to church discipline and good government, accord- ing to the word of God, our only rule of faith and practice; we determined to do all that in us lies to revive and restore good order amongst us as a church of Christ. We look upon it, that, for some time past, public offenders have not been dealt with according to the mind of Christ ; and that private oflences have not been managed as the word of God directs. Some have gone astray; but have not been sought after, or admonished to return. Some have been undtu' church censure for years; but have neither been admonished, in order to be reclaimed, nor ex- cluded from standing as members. And several other disorders require our serious attention, and ought to be amended.

" 1. We, therefore, whose names are under-written, do agree for the future, that any member who is guilty of adultery, forni- cation, theft, covetousness, extortion, or drunkenness, shall be informed of by the first member who beconies acquainted with such practices, who shall acquaint the church immediately, with-


Low and Stephen Small were, therefore, appoint- ed to act as deacons ; and, Sept. 24th. 1764, Mr. Thompson was ordained to the pastoral office by Mr. G. Boyce. They also endeavoured to pro- mote a conversation becoming the gospel, among the members, by holding meetings for discipline, and taking prudent steps to reclaim the wander- ins', or to withdraw from such as continued to walk disorderly. Private and family prayer, and the religious instruction of children and servants, were strongly recommended ; and a spirit of friendly vigilance over each other, encouraged. The great Head of the church was pleased to bless these exertions to the prosperity o£ his cause. The society increased in numbers and character ; and, at the commencement of the New Connection, in 1770, consisted of a pastor, two deacons, seventy-six members, and two young

out screening any person whatsoever : and that the person guilty of such atrocious crimes shall be dealt with by the church as the word of God directs, without partiality, according to the nature of the sin, and the circunistances attending it.

" 2 We further agree, that if any member of this church is guiltyof disorderly walking, viz. woiking not, being a busy-body, tale-bearer, tattler, division-maker, or companion, unnecessarily, of Carnal persons, oris proud and unfrientily, and of a conver- sation nut according to the gospel of Christ, and is observed by a fellow-member so acting, the member who observes this disor- derly conduct shall first admonish the offender in love, next take another or two with him, and repeat the admonition. If this fail, then the chuich must be made acquainted with it ; and, after they have admonished him, if he still persist in such prac- tices, we must wiihdi aw from every such person : that is, set him apart fro.u having communion with us. Thus we judge we ought to act towards all private offenders whatsoever.

" 3. We further agree to seek up those who have already gone astray J and to proceed as the scripture directs, in order to re- claim them, or otherwise to cut off all public offenders. We, therefore, appoint our brother Stephen Small, and our brother James Munk, to reprove and admonish," &c. &c,

V ^


preachers. Besides public service twice every Lord's-day, and iiequent preaching in the neigh- bouring villages. tl»ey had a meeting on the LordVday evenings, " for prayer and recollec- tion of the sermons ;" and another on Tuesday evenings, •"' for clirisiian conversation, prayer, singing, and communicating christian expe- rience."

This church appears to have proceeded very orderly in joining itself to the New Connection. After Mr. Thompson's return from the tirt^t asso- ciation, the Articles of Faith, agreed upon at that assembly were laid betore the members, at a dis- cipline meeting, tor their approbation. V\ hen thev had been three months under consideration, they were, by order of a subsequent meeting, copied into the church-book : and, at the close of them, this declaration affixed : — " We, whose names are hereunto annexed, do approve of the above articles ; judging them to be agree- able to the scriptures of truth." To this decla- ration, the names of forty-nine members are sub- scribed. A similar minute records their desire to stand connected with the new assembly formed in London; and is signed by fifty-one members.^

* Boston Church Book— Lincolnshire Ass. Min.— D. Taylor's Memoirs of W. Thompson. — Min. Ass. N, C.






The Formation of the New Connection,

AND its History during the Period of the

First Fifteen Years.

Sect. 1. — The Formation of the New Connection,

"^jLTE have distressing evidence, in the prece- ding Books, that a great diversity of opinion respecting some important parts ofchristian doc- trine, caused, for a long series of years, very un- pleasant altercations among the body of profes- sors, who are the subject of this history. This was especially the case, soon after the middle of the last century, with the churches and ministers which composed the Lincolnshire Association. Some of them adhered to the principles which had distinguished the English General Baptists, in their best days ; and asserted, the Divinity of the Saviour — the Atonement made for sin by his death — Justification by Faith alone — and Rege- neration by the Holy Spirit. Others either denied these doctrines entirely, or explained them in a manner which their friends thought detracted from their dignity, and opposed the oracles of truth. Too many of the old members of this as- sociation were of the latter description : and the principal supporters of the former were, Messrs. D. Taylor and William Thompson, who joined


134 DISSENSIONS. A.D. 1770

that connection in 1763. Such a difference in sentiment naturally produced discussions when the minister"^ as^iembled ; and the result was, too frequently, an unpleasant de«;ree ot altercation.

During these disagreeable contests. Air. I'aylor became acquainted with the societies in the midland counties, which, as we ha\e already seen,* were now respectable and nuuierous ; and he was much pleased to find that tliey esteemed the doctrines which were the subject of debate, as absolutely essential to Christianity. This union in opinion, and the general excellence of their character, made him and his iViends (iesirous of a closer connection with them Several at- tempts were made, to induce tlietn to join the Lincolnshire association: and IVJr. Ijoyce, the messenger, visited Lodghborough. to endeasour to accelerate this object. Rut the Leicestershire friends declined all these overtures; and steadily declared that they would never have any connec- tion with persons who maintained the opinions which, as they believed, uere held by many of the Lincolnshire general baptists. They went farther; and expressed their opinion very freely that all true friends of the genuine doctrines of Christianity ought to separate from all who op- posed them : at the same, stating- their readiness to unite with the ministers whose sentiments they approved.

In the year 1769, disputes ran so high, both at the Lincolnshire association and the general as- sembly, and some circumstancesof so disagreeable a nature took place, that many of the friends of the great truths already mentioned were led to conclude that a separation was necessary, for the

* Supra, Book I. Chap. I.


support of the cause of truth ; and, therefore, determined to withdraw themselves from their present associates. ^ hey made their intentions know!]! to the Leicestershire churches ; and re- quested an interview, that measures mi^^ht be prepvired for carrying their desi«;n into effect. A meetniij; was accordin<jjly held, at Lincoln, about Michael uias, 1769 ; which was attended by Messrs Tavlor and Ihonip^on, from the old con- nection, and Mr. F. Smith, of Melbourn, Mr. Grimlev, ot Loughborough, and several other of the Leicestershire ministers, it u as then resolved that a New Connection should be formed, of such as were assertors ot the doctrines which had been so warmly debated : and that the first association of this L\e.v Connection should be held in Lon- don, June 7th. 1770: at which the ministers from the midland countiespromised to be present, if their churches approved of the proposed union. It is probable, that the place of meeting was ap- pointed, to accommodate those general baptists in London and the adjacent counties, who, for similar reasons, were dissatisfied with the general assembly, and agreed in sentiments with the pro- jectors of the New Connection; with whom, there- fore, they were ready to co-operate.

This resolution of separating from their former friends, was not adopted by these good men with- out considerable reluctance. They considered the mischievous effects of all divisions, and hoped that, by patient endeavours, things might be brought into a better state : and, when they found that a separation was necessary for the peace and prosperity of the churches, they did not venture on that measure, before they had spent a considerable time in deliberation, cor- respondence, and prayer for divine direetion.




And several ministers and churches, who agreed in doctrinal points with the seceders, fearing* the consequences of dividing, continued, for many years, in the old connection. On the other hand, the most pious and worthy ministers, who favoured the opposite doctrines, were most earnest in opposing a measure, which, by divi- ding their strength, and distracting their efforts, would, they feared, prove very injurious to the general baptist cause. Mr. G. Boyce, tlie mes- senger of the baptized churches in Lincolnshire, appears to have laboured zealouslv to prevent the separation. For this purpose, he visited the congregationsin the midland counties;liad several interviews with Messrs. D. Taylor and Thomp- son, and freque!)tly corresponded with them, especially with the former. This good man seems to have been greatly aifected with the prospect of the division, and to have exerted all his elo- quence to persuade his correspondents to abandon their design. In a letter to Mr. Taylor, dated Feb. 10th. 1770, he observes, " We separate from others, for very just causes and reasons ; but for us to separate one from another, what will the world say ? What a reproach and scandal will it bring upon us all, and upon our holy profession, and the Author of it ! O! let it never be. My dear brother, let us take care what we do. Let us make use of every precaution, and take every necessary step that is possible to be taken, to pre- vent a separation. Let us carefully and con- stantly follow our meek and lowly Master, with the same temper, and imitate his most excellent example, and shew to all men that we are his disciples, by our love to one another.'* " Think, O think, and think again, what will be the con- sequence of a separation. Conclude nothing,


determine nothiji;^; and, therefore, pursue no measure destruchve of peace and unity. Con- sider how valuable these are, and of what great benetit and advantage to u> ail : how much good we may do for one anoiher by steadily and con- stantly maintaining the same among ourselves. O how ii(!ori and pleasant it is lor brethren to dwell togetiier in unity 1"*

but tlie breach was now too wide to be closed by per^uasion. To all this rhetoric the seceders calmly replied : " It is not to be doubted, if we regard the bible, that some of the \ilest errors are, in this a^e, mairtained by some of ihe general baptists, with as much w- rmth and zeal as they

* It may, perhaps, be acceptable to the reader, to see a statenjent of the difference in sentiment between the two parties, from the pen of this advocate for peace, who will not be sus- pected of a wish to exaggerate in his account of them.

In a letter, addressed to Mr D Taylor, dated May 16th. 1770, he says : " Let us now, theiefore, come close to the point; and see wh rein we agree, and wherein we differ. 1. You believe, according; to what yon have written to me, that pure Deity or Godhead is one, pure, simple, uncompounded, undivided Essence or Being, in which is contained all perfection. So do I. 2. I also undei stand you to believe, that thi^ one all perfect Being, Deity, or Godhead, is self-existent, independent and eternal j infinite, unchangeable, and incomprehensible. So do I. In these two most auijust and grand points, we are agreed. — In the next place, you believe, or at least I understand you to believe, there are i'hiee persons, distinct from each other, revealed to us under the titles or chaiacters of Father, Son, and Huly-Ghost ; and ttia 'h'se three Persons, do, inde[iendently of each other, equally p "-sess all perfection : or, in other words, that these three Persons make up that one pure, simple, uncompounded undivided Deity : or, that theie three persons, considered as above, are but one God In this we differ. — 2 You believe that Jesus Christ is the most high God. In this we differ. — 3. You do not seem to believe that the person who is called the Word, John i. 1, came down from heaven. Herein we are not agreed. — These are the things in which we do not agree, and which we are to talk of, in order that we may agree."



138 THE FrRST A. D, 1770

have ever been bj any party of men, in former ages. It behoves us, therefore, to take the alarm ; and, with all the little might we have, to militate against these ])ernicious tenets, which our fore- fathers so much abhorred, and the word of God so expressely condemns." W ith such sentiments as these, no reconciliation could be expected : and the discontented party adhered to their re- solution.

The proposed meetinc; was accordingly held, agreeably to the appointment, June 6th. 1770 ; at the meeting-house in Church Lane, White- chapel. This first Association was attended bv Samuel Deacon, of Boston ; John Tarratt and Nathaniel Pickering, of Kegworth ; John Grimley, of Loughborough ; William Smith and George Hickling, of Longford ; Francis Smith and Thomas Perkins, of Melbourn: the ministers of the churches in the midland counties whose friends had cordially acceded to the proposal for an union. They were met by Dan 1 ay lor, of Wadsworth,and V» illiam Thompson, of Boston, who had been connected with the Lincolnshire association ; John Brittain, of Church Lane, London ; William Summers, of the Park, South- wark ; John Knott, of E} thorn ; James Fenn, of Deal ; J. Stanger, of Besseil's Green ; David Wilkin, of Maibted ; Charles Parman, of Castle- Headingham ; and R. Frenclj, of Coggeshall.

Previous to any definitive measures, it was thought proper to take a resjiecttul leave of their former associates in the^general assembly, which was then sitting in London : and a deputation was sent, June 6th. to that meeting, — to acquaint them with their design of withdrawins^ from their connection — to assign the reason for the separation — and, in a friendly manner, to bid

A.D. 1770 ASSOCIATION. 139

them farewel. The following morning-, Mr. D. Tajlor preached from 2 Tim. i. 8: "Be not thou ashamed of the testimony of our Lord." In the afternoon, the ministers and representatives assembled to prosecute the purpose of their meet- ing; when Mr. D. Taylor, was called to the chair, and Messrs. J. Knott and W. Thompson were chosen moderators. After solemn prayer to the Father of lights, for his fiirection and blessing, an union was formed under the designation of " The New Connection of General Baptists,* formed in 1770; with a design to revive Experimental Religion or Primitive Christianity in Faith and Practice." And, in order that it might be known what they considered as the faith and practice of primitive Christianity, six " Articles of Religion were proposed, agreed upon, and signed :" not as a perfect creed of the new party ; but prin- cipally as a declaration of their views on those points which had been the chief subjects of de- bate, between them and their former associates. These articles are thus expressed, in the original record.

"AiiTicLE 1. On the Fall of Man. We believe, that man was made upright in the image of God, free from all disorder natural and moral ; capable ot obeying perfectly the will and com- mand of God his Maker ; yet capable also of

* At the head of the IMinates of the first Association, they were styled "an Assemblv of Free-Grace General Baptists." This appellation was, at their formation, frequently given them, especially in London, to distinguish them from the Old churches of General Baptists: and, from linding it in this situation, it would seem that, though it has been long disused, they formerly recognized it. It is highly desirable, that some convenient desig- nation could be adopted^ that would distinguish things that differ.


I'iO ARTICLES A. D. 1770

sinning: which he unliappily did, and thereby laid himself under the divine curse; which, we think, could include nothing less than the mor- talitj of the bodv and the eternal punishment of the soul. His nature also became depraved ; his mind was cleHled ; and the j)0wers of his soul weakened — -ihat both he was, and his posterity are,captives of Satan till set at liberty by Christ,"

"AiiTiCLE 2 On the Nature and perpetual Obli" gatioii of the Si oral Law. Me believe, that the moral law not onlv extends to the outward ac- tions of the life, but to all the powers and facul- ties of the mind, to every desire, temper and thought ; that it demands the entire devotion of all the powers and faculties of boih body and soul to God : or, tn our Lord's words, to love the Lord with all our lieart, mind, soul and strength : — that this law is of perpetual duration and obligation, to all men, at all times, and in all places or parts of the world. And, \ve suppose thai this law was obligatory to Adam in his perfect state — was more clearly reveaied in the ten commandments — and more fully explained in many other parts of the bible."

"All riCLE 3. On the Person and Work of Christ. We believe, that our Lord Jesus Christ is God and man, united in one person : or possessed of divine perfection united to human nature, in a way which we pretend not to explain, but think ourselves bound by the word of God tirmly to believe : — that he suffered to make a full atone- ment for all the sins of all men — an J that hereby he has wrought out for us a cempleat salvation ; which is received by, and an a free gift com- municated to, all that believe in him ; without the consideration of any works done by us, in grder to entitle us to this salvation. — Though we

A.D. 1770 OF RELIGION. 141

firmly believe, that no faith is the means of justi- fication, but that which produces good works/*

"Article 4. On Salvation by Faith. We be- lieve, that ais this salvation is held forth to all to whom the gospel revelation comes without ex- ception, we ou{i;ht in the course of our ministry, to propose or offer this salvation to all those who attend our ministry : and, having opened to them their ruined wretched state by nature and prac- tice, to invite all, without exception, to look to Christ by faith, without any regard to any thing in, or done bv, themselves ; that thev may, in this way alone, that is, by faith, be possessed of this salvation."

"Article 5. On RegeneratioJi by the Holy Spirit. We believe, that, as the scriptures as- sure us, we are justified, made the children of God, purified and sanctified by faith : — that when a person comes to believe in Jesus (and not before) he is regenerated or renewed in his soul, by the spirit of God, through the instrumentality of the word, now believed and embraced ; which renewal of his soul naturally produces holiness in heart and life : — that this holiness is th» means of preparing us for the enjoyments and employments of the heavenly world ,• and of preserving in our souls a comfortable sense of our interest in the Lord, and of our title to glory ; as well as to set a good example before men, and to recommend our blessed Redeemer's cause to the world."

" Article 6 On Baptism. We believe, that it is the indispensible duty of all w ho repent and believe the gospel, to be baptized, by immersion in water, in order to be initiated into a church state ; and that no person ought to be received


142 ZEAL FOR A.D. 1770

into the church without submission to that ordi- nance."

Signed, Dan Taylor Willium Smith Geo. Hickling

David Wilkin Samuel Deacon John Tar rati W. Thompson James Fetin Robert French

John Knott Francis Smith N. Fickering

John Stang;er Thomas Ferkins Charles Parnian John Brittain John Grimleij W. Summers Henry Poole.

The persons who composed this assembly had long seen, with lieart-teit regret, the mischiefs arising from a laxity of principle. I hey beheld the once flourishing interest of the general bap- tists languishing, and readj lo expire; and they were persuaded, that the fatal cause of this affect- ing decline had been the neglect of uhal they esteemed the distinguishing doctrines of Christi- anity, and the iittroduction of theories and specu- lations inconsistent with them. They, therefore, were anxious to guard the New Connection from those quicksands, winch had nearlv swallowed up their predecessors; and prefaced the above articles with this Resolution. " We agree, that no minister be permitted to- join this assembly, who does not subscribe the articles we have now agreed upon : and that those who do subscribe, ajid afterwards depart from them, shall be con- sidered as no longer belonging to this assemblj'." Under the same impressions, they wished to guard their churches, as well as the assembly, from the infection of false doctrine. They in- quired, at the first association, " Is it not abso- lutely unscriptural and irregular for any member of this assembly to admit any person, who is not a member of this assembly, to preach for him, under any circumstances whatever.^" But, zealous

A.D. 1771 UNIFORMITY. 143

as they were for uniformity, many of them were so intimately connected with ministers of the old connection, that they objected to this undistin- guishing exclusion ; and, after considerable dis- cussion, at this and the following association, it was at last left in these general terms: " We agree that we will all endeavour, by all means, to have, at all times, when we have need of help, such as are ag-reed with us in sentiment."

But these fathers ol' the INevv Connection thought it necessary, in order that their hearts miaht be still more closelv united, and their co- operation more cordial, that they should have full evidence, not only of the soundness of each other's faith, but o^ the genuineness of each other's piety. It was, therefore, agreed, at their first meeting, " that every minister do, at the next assembly, give an account of his religious experience, that they may be satisfied concerning the reality of each other's conversion."

The second association of the New Connection was held at London, May 22d. 23d. and 24th. 1771 ; and was attended by the same persons nearly as the former meeting. On the evening of the first day, Mr. W. Thompson preached, from Matt. ix. 36 — 38: and, on the following evening, Mr. Donisthorpe, from John iii. 36. A great part of the time, on this occasion, was oc- cupied by the ministers, in relating their reli- gious experience, according to the agreement of last year. If we may judge of the rest of these relations from the only one which has fallen under our notice, this must have been a very interesting and edifying opportunity.*

* The account which Mr. Francis Smith, of Melbourn, read to hi3 biiethren, on this occasion, is pi-eserved in the Gen. Bap. Mag. Yol. I. pp. 263— <;>67.


144 DIVISION. A.I). 1771

Tliouoli the separation from the old connec- tion had proceeded thus far, it appears, that the liope of a reunion was not entirely relinquished by either party. In November, 1770. iVlr. \V. Thompson liad taken the " Six Articles of Keli- gion," which had been suV;Scribed at the forma- tion of the JNew Connection, to a meeting' ot mi- nisters, belonging to the Lincolnshire association, held at Coningsby. 1 hose ministers, who con- tinued desirous of an accommodation, aureed to send a copy of the Articles to ench ot their churches, for their consideration. At the next Lincolnshire association, the answers were re- ceived : and every church objected to some r)art or other of the Articles, and therefore rt tused to sign them. I hat assembly, however, reqat sted Mr. Boyce to arrange and transcribe the various objections ; to communicate them to the ensuing association of the New Connection, and to desire their answer. I'he exceptions were, accordingly, presented to the second association at London : and Mr. D. Taylor was employed to draw up a short explanation of the Articles, by way of reply, and transmit it to Mr, Boyce. This he accordingly did ; which, for that time, closed the correspondence.

But the principal business of the second asso- ciation, was, the division of the New Connection into two associations. It was considered, that some of the churches lying at a considerable dis- tance from each other, the assemblinsf annually, in one body, would be attended wilh great ex- pence of money and time. They agreed, thei?«' fore, for mutual convenience, to establish two associations: one in the north, and the other in the south. The former included the midland churches, together with those in the counties af


York and Lincoln : and tlie latter, those in Lon- don, Kent, Essex and Surry ; and it was proposed to keep up the connection, by sending a repre- sentative from one association to the other. The first meeting of the northern association was ap- pointed to be held at Loughborough ; and ot the southern at Bessell's Green. Bui the southern societies soon laid aside their annual interviews: the cause decayed, and several ot the churches have long since disappeared.

The tirst northern association met, agreeably to the appointment, at Loughboiough, June 3rd and 4th 1772; and v\ as composed ot" he minis- ters and representatives of the churches at Lough- borough, Kegvvorth, Barton, Mel bourn, Long- ford, Boston, and V\ adsuorih. John Stanger and Samuel Benge were likewise present, as the representatives of the southern association.

The seven churches just mentioned must be considered as forming the basis of the New Con- neciion: Fleet church having withdrawn from the union in the preceding year, and rejoined the Lincolnshire association. The number of members in these seven churches amounted, in 1772, to one thousand, two hundred and twenty- one.*

The Connection, thus formed, has continued to increase in numbers and respectability. In order to place its history in a clear and connected view, we will endeavour to trace the proceedings of the diflferenl churches during the Hrst fifteen years after its formation : and then to take a survey of the more public transactions of the whole body through the same period. A similar plan will

* Min. Asso. of N. C. 1770— 1772.— Min. Line. Asso. 1771> tftd 1772— G. B. R. Vol. II. pp. 75—81. Boyce's M . S.— P. I. TOL. II. U


146 BARTON CHURCH. A. D. 1772

conduct us through the succeeding periods, down to the present time.

Sect. 2. — The History of the General BaptUt Churches in the Midland Counties^ durirt^ theJirU Fifteen Years after the Commencement of the New Connection,

Barton,* the original general baptist church in the midland counties, had, at the formation of the New Connection, suffered much from the unhappy fate of Mr. Whyatt. Occasion was given to the enemies of religion to blaspheme ; and the harmony of the society was interrupted. Mr. Deacon, the only remaining pastor, was unable to occupy all the usual places of meeting: and many of them were either relinquished, or supplied with persons very unfit for the work. The cause, therefore, began evidently to decline; but it pleased God to send them unexpected help. Mr. John Yates, of Hugglescote, who had formerly been one of their members, had, some time previous to this date, joined the particular baptist church at Sheepshead : and was called to preach, occasionally, by that society. Not being perfectly satisfied, however, with his new connection, he returned, in 1772, to his old friends at Barton. They received him gladly; and im- mediately employed him in the work of the mi- nistry. Jlis labours were acceptable and useful ; and he was ordained co-pastor with Mr. Deacon. The ministers cordially united in building up the walls of Zion ; and the drooping cause

* Supra p. 4f .


rapidly revived. But the hopes of the friends of the truth were painfully disappointed, and the bright prospect suddenly clouded. Mr. Yates, their beloved pastor, died, Dec 10th 1773, in the thirty-sixth year of his age ; leaving a pregnant widow, and five small children, to mourn his premature removal.

This affecting dispensation of divine Provi- dence plunged the church again into darkaess and difficulty. Though the neighbouring minis- ters kindly assisted Mr. Deacon, as often as cir- cumstances permitted, in supplyingthe numerous places at which public worship was established ; yet, distance of place, and numerous other causes, rendered their visits precarious, and gave rise to frequent disappointments. Anxious to obtain a more regular supply, they turned their attention to Mr. Benjamin VVootton, a promising young minister in Kegworth church. But, though they used every proper means to obtain him, and though the association, in 1777, recommended his removal to Barton ; yet the friends at Kegworth refused to part with him. This disappointment was more sensibly felt, as, at the same time, dif- ference in sentiment, and disorder in practice, troubled the peace of the church ; and prevented the prosperity of the cause of the Redeemer.

During these gloomy days, several of the more pious and thoughtful members endeavoured to supply those places for which preachers could not be obtained, by prayer meetings. These services were, in general, weW attended, and con- ducted with propriety. They not only supplied vacant opportunities, but had a happy tendency to discover and cultivate useful gifts. Several young men were thus brought into notice, who afterwards became acceptable ministersin various

148 MR. S. DEACON. A.D. 1785

parts of the connection. Among others, Mr. S. Deacon, jun., the eldest son of their pastor, was induced to assist in these meetiniis for prayer, and was favourably received. Mis friejjcis soon encouraged him to attempt to pr ach ; and so highly approved his labours, llial they unani- mously invited him to share ihe pastoral office with his respected father. He was onlained, in 1779. This event had a pleasing effect on the state of religion in the church. ! he divisions and jealousies, that had <lisiracied the society ever since Mr. VVhvatt*s exclusion, subsided; and the mentbers aiid pastors laboured together, with great harmony, in spreading the gospel of the glorious Redeemer among; perishing sinners. Towards the close of this period, Air. John Deacon, a younger son of their pastor, comnieticed preacher, and was frequently empio> ed till he settled at Leicester. Mr. Thomas Orton, now of Hugglescote, Mr. J. Brevvin, who long laboured for this church as an assistant minister, and several others, began also to exercise their gilts in preaching. Vet, with all these means, the cause remained almost stationary. Many ot their old and most respectable members died, and others did not arise in their places. In 1785, they complain that " the state of religion was low, especially in some, though they hoped that others were firm in the faith: — that they were much reduced in earthly things : havina: very few who had any thing more than necessaries." The number of members then amounted to one hundred and thirty-nine.

The church at MdhourtV^ continued, through

* Supra^ p. 59.


the whole of this period, to flourish, under the joint pastoral care of Messrs. Francis Smith and Thomas Perkins ; who generally laboured alter- nately at Melbourn and Packington, the two principal stations. But preaching was regularly maintained at a number of other places, which increased as the cause spread ; and required the assistance of other labourers. Several \ oung men, of respectable abilities, were raised up in their own church, whose services were both acceptable and useful. Among these were, I houias Mee, of Packington, vvho was called to the ministry in 1777, and was frequently employed among them for eighteen years ; John Smedley, who coni- menced preaching in 1782, and continued his labours, in various parts or the church, till he settled at Retford, in 1794; and Job Burditt, of whom we shall have to speak on another occa- sion.

Being thus plentifully supplied with ministers, the cause regularly extended itself. The congre- gation at Melbourn increased, till it was found convenient, in 1782, to raise the walls of the meeting-house, and erect galleries. This alter- ation cost ninety pounds, which they liberally raised b}' subscription among themselves. The number of members nearly doubled during this period ; amounting, in 1785, to three hundred and five. ^'^

Among other places, to which the friends at Melbourn carried the gospel, was Cauldwellj a pleasant, though small village, on the continesof Staffordshire, four miles from Burton upon Trent, and twelve from Litchfield. Joseph Norton, an inhabitant of this place, was induced to hear the general baptist ministers, at Packington. His



mind was affected with the great truths which he heard : and he was convinced of his lost stale bj nature. After some tune, he obtained peace in believing; was baptiz^^d, and joined the church at iMelbourn. It appears, that, ., hen he set out in the ways of religion, though he v^as a married man, and had several younjj; cliihiren. yet he dwelt with his father, who was a person of some property, and was in a great mensni*^ dependant on him. This gentleman had imbibed strong prejudices against the Melbourn preachers; and frequently called them "faUe prophets, and a paltry set of hirelings who ran betore they were sent." He, therefore, violently opposed his son's connection with persons wfiom he both despised and hated : and threatened, if he did not forsake them, to turn him and his infant family out of doors. But his threats made this sincere christian cleave to his Saviour, and pursue the one thing needful, with greater ardour He persevered in a constant attendance on the means of grace at Melbourn and Packington; though the iormer was twelve, aiui the latter nine miles trom the place of his residence.

As his knowledge of the gospel, and his enjoy- ment of its blessings increased, his desire that his neighbours, and especially his relatives, should partake of the same mercies, proportionably aug- mented. He laboured strenuously to engage his acquaintance to accompany him to Melbourn and Packington : and, sometimes, with such suc- cess, that he has taken twenty companions, at once, to hear the gospel; many of whom found it the power of God to the salvation of their souls. But, it required more address to remove the pre- judices of his father ; yet the filial piety of the son caused him to feel peculiarly anxious for the

A.B. 1776 AT CAULDWELL, 151

eternal happiness of his parent. He, therefore, determined, in dependanceon the divine blessing^, to make the attempt. Knowing the unhappy prepossessions of his father against the iVIelhourn preachers, he thought it more prudent to procure a stranger to commence the operations ; and en- gaged [Vir. Abraham Austin, of Sutton Coletield, to preach at Canldwell, when a door of entrance should be opened. Mr. ^orton, then, having concerted his plan with one of his friends, in- formed his father that Mr Ausiin proposed visit- ing him, on such a day, 'ind might perhaps be prevailed on to preach, if a proper place could be found ; — but that, fearing his father might not be prepared to receive him. or might be afraid of the reflections of hi- neighbours, he had applied to another person in the village, who was very willing thai the service should be held at his house. This address had the desired etf'ect. It roused the pride of the old man, who, as he occu- pied his own estate, atfected to act with great spirit, and was piqued that any of his neighbours should be thought more independent than him- self. He immediately replied, '* Mr. Austin shall not seek any other accommodations ; but shall preach in my house.*' ^otice was accord- ingly given : Mr. Austin came ; and preached to a numerous and attentive congregation. His host was well pleastd with the service; and fre- quently observed afterwards, that it was a good discourse.

Mr. Norton was encouraged by his father^ ap- probation of this sermon : and assured him that the ministers at Melbourn, of whom he enter- tained so bad an opinion, preached exactly tke same doctrines as Mr. Austin. At length, the old gentleman expressed a willingness to hear


152 SUCCESS. A,D. 1778

them ; and authorized his son to invite them to Cauldwell. Messrs. Smith and Perkins eagerly accepted the invitation: and, without waiting for much solicitation, repeated their visits. In a short time, Mr. Norton had the heaii-f'elt satis- faction of seeing his venerable parent lay aside his prejudices, and submit to the truth He was baptized, and joined the church at Melbourn. Several of his neighbours following his example, public worship was established in the village, and a room licensed for that purpose. Al HjsI, the service was onl}^ once a fortnight, on the 'I luirs- day evening ; but the prospect continuing to im- prove, preaching was commenced regularly every Lord*s-day. Notwithstanding considerable op- position, the cause gained ground, and the hear- ers increased ; tijl the room which they had hired became too small to accommodate them. A meeting-house, therefore, became necessary : and Mr. Norton, sen. who was now zealous to support the faith which he so lately wished to destroy, generously gave them a piece of land for a meet- ing-house and burying-ground. The friends exerted themselves liberally on the occasion ; and a commodious meeting-house was erected, at an expence of one hundred and eighty pounds, which was opened in 1778.

The success of the gospel at Cauldwell alarmed its enemies. A spirit of persecution arose against the baptists ; the chief weight of which fell on Mr. Joseph Norton, who was considered as the chief ringleader of the sect. He was stigmatized as *•'■ a pestilent fellow, a mover of sedition, and a disturber of the Iranquillity of a peaceful vil- lage." Not content with these harmless effusions of spite, which the good man would have smiled at and forgiven, they endeavoured to injure him

A. D. 1780 JOB BURDITT. 153

in his temporal concerns. He was a shoe-maker: and, in order vo deprive him of the means of procuring an honest subsistence, they encouraged another of the same trade to settle in the village. Mr. Norton, ho^vever, continued to pursue the great objects in which he had engaged with un- diminished ardor : but, while he was earnestly labouring to spread the knowledge of the gospel, he was peculiarly diligent, obliging, punctual and honest in his worldly business. The bless- ing of Him, in whose hands are the hearts of all men, succeeded his endeavours : and, in a short time, his opponent was obliged to retreat with loss and disgrace. Several of his christian friends endured similar persecution ; but all was over- ruled by a gracious Providence, even to their temporal advantage. They found, by blesssed experience, that " godliness is profitable for all things ; having the promise of this life, and of that which is to come."

About two years after the opening of the new meeting-house, Job Burditt, a native of Cauld- well, a young man of promising abilities, was called to the work of the ministry. His labours were so highly approved by his neighbours, that he became, in a great measure, the regular preach- er in that branch of the church. The cause increased under his ministrations : and, in 1785, forty of the inhabitants of Cauldweil and its neighbourhood stood as members of the society at Melbourn.

The church at Kegworth^ under Messrs. Natha- niel Pickering and John Tarratt, received con- siderable additions soon after the formation of the New Connection. The increase of the cause rendered more labourers necessary : and, in 1771,



Benjamin Wootton, one of their members, was called to the work of the ministry. He was a promisingyoung man ; sober-minded, thoughtful, and fond of reading. Ilis ministry was accept- ;ible, and the congregation was much attached to him. In 1775, another young member, Wil- liam Corah, was encouraged to preach. He was a person of very difierent character: his mind was uncultivated, and he had no taste for study, nor even for general reading. His discourses were remarkable for evangelical doctrine, sim- plicity of idea, and homeliness of expression ; but they often reached the hearts and consciences of the hearers with amazing power.* About the time that Mr. Corah commenced his labours, preaching was introduced into Belton, a place live miles north-west of Kegworth ; and, in the following year, a dwelling-house was licensed for the same purpose at Thurgaton, another neighbouring village.

For several succeeding years, the cause was carried on by the pastors, ministers, and people, with great energy and success. The public ser- vices were well attended; and many joined them- .«ielves to the church : so that, in 1781, the mem- bers amounted to two hundred and eighty-two,

* Of this^ a worthy minister, to whose friendship we are in- debted for many of the particulars in this account, gives the following instance.

" When about seventeen years of age, I was attentively hearing Mr Corah. In his sermon, he quoted John iii. 16, ' God so loved the world,' &c. * God so loved the world,' said he. How much ?— -This litt-le word SO — Ye canna fathom it.' I have heard many able preachers, many excellent sermons, and striking remarks ; but none was ever so blessed to me as this. It led to a train of meditations on tl-e greatness of the love of God, which, it is hoped, as a means, made it answer the end of its manifes- lation."

A. D. 1781 MR. B. WOOTTON. 155

and the church was harmonious. But, in the following jear, this harmony was interrupted, and the progress of the gospel received a deplo- rable check. Mr. Wootton, who was naturally disposed to speculate, had indulged this dispo- sition so far, as to embrace some tenets favouring the socinian system. This change of sentiment discovered itself in his public discourses, and caused no small uneasiness among his friends. A day was appointed for the investigation of the unpleasant business : — but, though four neigh- bouring ministers had been invited to assist the churci), on this occasion, nothing effectual was done. The alarm increased : the society was again assembled to deliberate on this subject ; and Mr. Dan Taylor was sent for to assist them. This discussion proved final. Mr. Wootton's views were fairlj'^ developed, and their pernicious tendency exposed : his arguments were refuted, and objections answered. The people were con- rinced that he ought not to be encouraged ; and withdrew their fellowship from him. Seventeen members adhered to him ; among whom were two ©r three officers and trustees of the meeting- house. This circumstance occasioned consider- able trouble for some years : but, by these pro- ceedings, the church was purged from such speculations ; and has never since been infested with them. Mr. Wootton, after the separation, attempted to preach, for a short time ; but his followers dwindled away : and, though he main- tained an excellent moral character, through a long life, yet he could not succeed in forming a party.

In this year, Mr. John Goddard, who resided at Little Hallam, was called, by his brethren, to the work of the ministry. He was a youth of good



156 DIVISION OF A.D. 1785

natural abilities: his preaching was very acept- able, and attended with considerable success. — The following year, a new meelinj^-house was opened at Sawiey ; chieily through the liljerality of two worthy individuals : Mr. Josepii Parkin- soHjOf that place, devoting a building of liis own to the purpose; and JMr. John Sienson, at his private ex])ence, furnishing it with seats. Mr. Tarratt preached the first sermon in it, in the autumn of 1783. About the same time, the mi- nisters of this church commenced preaching, once a fortnight, at Hathern : and, in a few months afterwards, established regularmeetings at Sutton Bonington, a village two miles east of Kegvvorth ; Avhere numbers attended, and heard with profit.

Jn 1784, the meeting-house at Little liallam was taken down, and a more substantial and commodious one erected, in its stead, at Ilkiston; a considerable town a mile northward of the former place. The ground on which the old building stood was not the property of the church, and the situation was ver)^ ineligible. The re- moval, therefore, was thought necessary ; and experience has shewn, that it has conduced much to the prosperity of religion in that neighbour- hood.

This society had now spread over many towns and villages : from Sawiey on the north, to Bel- Ion on the soutli, was a distance of twenty miles. Thougli the extent of the cause furnished ground for gratitude, yet it was productive of much in- convenience in transactino- the business of the society. Many of tiie members were obliged to travel twenty or thirty miles in the day, to enjoy the privileges of the sanctuary. And, though the Lord's supper was administered and church- meetings held, monthly, many of these zealous


christians cheerfully supported this fatigue ; and were punctual in their attendance. But Mr. Goddard residing in Derbyshire, and being well approved by the friends in that neighbourhood, suggested the propriety of dividing this large society into distinct and independent churches. This subject was taken seriously into consider- ation, early in 1785. The chief difficulty arose from the heavy debt which remained on the meet- ing-house at likiston. But, considering the weak- ness of the interest in that place, the other branches of the society generously took the greatest part of the burden on themselves. The business was, therefore, brought to a final ar- rangement : and, May 22nd. 1785, a friendly separation was completed. The societies which arose from this division, were, likiston church, including Smalley, which consisted of fifty mem- bers, under the care of Mr. Goddard ; Castle- Doiiington church, including Sawley, which con- sisted of seventy members, under the care of Mr. N. Pickering: and Kegworth^ which compre- hended Keguorth, Diseworth, Belton, Long Whatton, and Sutton Bonington ; and consisted of one hundred and nine members, with whom Mr. John Tarratt remained as pastor, and Mr. Corah as assistant minister.*

At Loiighhorough,-\ Messrs. Grimley and Do- nisthorpe continued to preach the gospel, and superintend the church with unabated zeal and success. riie cause prospered in their hands : —

* The number of members in these churches is copied from the Minutes of the succeeding Association, in 1786 : and, there- fore, may not, probably, exhibit the exact state of each at the period of separation.

t Supra, pp. 53 and 54.

158 MR. DONISTHORPe's DEATH. A. D. 1774

numbers joining the society in the places where regular preachiag was established ; and new doors for usefulness, from time to time, opening before them. But, in the midst of these flattering pros- pects, ihe cause sustained a heavy loss by the death of Mr. Donisthorpe. This active servant of Christ had often expressed, to his intimate friends, a wish that he might die preaching the gospel : and his request was, in a good degree, granted. On the last Tuesday in May, 1774, he went to deliver an evening lecture at the meet- ing-house in Loughborough : when, having pray- ed with his usual fervour, he proceeded to give out a hymn. While he read the two first lines, his voice faultered, and he sunk into the pulpit.* His friends instantlj^ went up to his assistance, and conveyed him to a neighbouring house. In- telligence was sent, without delay, to his family ; but before any of them arrived he was speechless. He was taken home in a chaise, and medical ad- vice procured : but all efforts were ineffectual. — After lying in a state of insensibility till the fol- lowing ^i'uesday evening, he expired, in the seventy-second year of his age.

This stroke was heavy, and the loss great : but it was, in some good measure, repaired by the labours of Richard Thurman, who, about this time, began to exercise in prayer and expounding the scriptures, at the private meetings ; and was, soon afterwards, encouraged by his brethren to preach in public. Thus they were enabled to continue regular services at the different places;

* The two lines, with which this minister closed his labour* in the church militant, were these :

" The land of triumph lies on high ;

" There are no fields of battle there i"

A.D. 1780 SUCCESS. 159

and Mr. Grimley was, by his age and experience, well qualified to discharge the duties of the pas- toral office, which now wholly devolved ou him. In a few years, the Lord of the harvest senl other labourers into this part of the vineyard. Mr. B. Pollard, of Swithland, was discovered to possess ministerial abilities ; and, in March, 1779, was, after satisfactory previous trial, requested to em- ploy them for the advantage of the church. With this request he complied ; and his labours were acceptable and useful.

The year following was distinguished by a revival in various parts of this extended church ; particularly at Quorndon, and the neighbouring villages. Upwards of one hundred at once pro- fessed their faitli in Christ, and obedience to him, by offering themselves as candidates for baptism and fellowship. A iew of these afterwards turned back to the world ; manj^ of ihem, there is good reason to believe, have joined the church above ; and several remain, to the present day, ornaments to the church below. Among these, we may reckon Mr. Robert Smith, now of Nottingham. About the same time, Mr. Joseph Freeston, a schoolmaster at Grimston, who had lost his situ- ation for refusing to teach the catechism of the church of England, was kindly patronized bv Mr. Hutchinson, of Loughborough. He took Mr. Freeston into his house, and furnished him with a convenient room for a school, which he conducted with great success. Messrs. Smith aud Freeston were called to the ministry in the year 1780 ; and their assistance strengthened the hands of their brethren, and promoted the success of the cause. The church at Loughborough, at this flourishing season, was not only liberally supplied with the means of grace itself; but oc-



casionally assisted Nottingham, Kirkby- Wood- house and Ashford ; as all these churches were, at that time, destitute of ministers.

About the same time, Mr. Thomas Simpson, a member of this society, who resided at Rothlev, began to attempt to preach to his neighbours. Though these attempts were not sanctioned by the chuich, they opened a door for the intro- duction of the gospel into that village, of which the zealous ministers at Louohborouiirh did not fail to avail themselves. They commenced their labours there in a decayed old barn ; and were often obliged to remove from place to place ; yet . their efforts were successful, and the cause took deep root in this neighbourhood.

Edward Johnson, a worthy general baptist, and a member of the same church, had been turned out of a profitable farm at Swithland, on account of his religion ; and had settled at V\ ood- house-Eaves, a village about three miles south of Loughborough. Not deterred by the persecution which he had already suffered, he cheerfully opened his house, in 1780, for the preaching of the gospel. Many attended ; and a foundation was laid, on which a separate interest has since been raised.

By the progressive spread of the cause, and the accession of members from various places, this church had now become inconveniently large. The distance of the members from each other, rendered it extremely difficult to meet together at the Lord's table, or for purposes of discipline: the ministers were subjected to great toil in taking such extensive circuits, to attend the I>ord*s-days* and evening services at places so far separated from each other : the expences incurred by these journeys were a heavy burden on the funds of the

A.D. 1785 DIVISION. 161

church : and it was found impossible for one pastor to exercise a proper vigilance over so nu- merous and scattered a people. All these con- siderations evinced the necessity of dividing this larjoe society ; which was carried into effect, in 1782. Two independent churches were then formed : the one including Loughborough and the neighbouring villages ; ihe other comprising Leake and Wimeswould, with the places in their vicinity. The former, at the time of the division, consisted of two hundred and ninety members ; and the latter, of one hundred and fifty-four.*— Mr. Grimley continued pastor over Loughbo- rough church ; and Mr. Richard Thurman was ordained to the same office over the church at Leake.

After this separation, the ministers at Lough- borough continued their labours, with increasing vigour. The old barns at Rothley soon became too small for the accommodation of the numbers who crowded to hear the words of life. A new built and capacious barn was, therefore, hired for twelve years ; fitted up in a comfortable manner ; and opened, Nov. 20th. 1785. At that time, this church consisted of two hundred and seventy-nine members ; maintained preaching regularly at four places ; were tolerably well at- tended with hearers; and a iew waiting for bap- tism. But they lament the fewness of those who gave evidence of real conversion, and the low de- gree of love and zeal which appeared in too many of the members.

* The numbers here differ a little from the statement in G. B. R. Vol. II. p. 8 ; but as this account is take* from the Minutes of the Association in 1783, which probably were not in the posses- sion of the writer in the G. B. R., it is presumed to be more ac- curate.




162 LEAKE CHURCH. A. D. 1785

The church at Leake^ when it divided from Loughborough, maintained regular preacliing at Leake, Wimeswould and Widmerpool : and soon afterwards carried the gospel into Broughton ; where, at the close of this period, they preached once a fortnight. The preachers had early pene- trated into these parts, as we have already seen ; and a meeting-house had been erected at Leake in 1756.* At Wimeswould, after preaching a considerable time in private houses, a meeting- house was opened, in 1781. The blessing of the great Head of the church succeeded the efforts of his servants. Several were added to the church by baptism, during the tirst years of its existence as a distinct church ; but, from various causes, nearly as many were lost from the society : so that, in 1785, the members amounted to one hundred and fifty-nine ; when they hoped that religion was on the advance.

> During this period, the attention of the minis- ters at Loughborough was drawn to Leicester, There had existed a general baptist church in that city, for more than a century previous to the formation of the New Connection.-]* It was then almost extinct. A iew scattered persons, indeed, remained, who professed themselves members of it: but, it is probable, the society would have been entirely dissolved, had not an endowment preserved the shadow of a church. An infirm old man, of the name of Green, who lived at Earl-Shilton, then enjoyed the property, as nominal eider : and preached five or six times a year to the {^w who chose to hear him.

Such had, for a long time, been the state of

* Supra, pp. 3C-— 38. f Vol. I. pp. 160, 237.


things, when, in 1781, a family of the name of Brothers, the heads of which were members of the church at Loughborough, went to reside at Leicester. Some months after their removal, one of their children died : and, as it was unbaptized, it could not be interred in the church-yard.— They sent, therefore, a request to their own mi- nisters to come over, and assist at the funeral, in the burying-ground belonging to the old general baptists. By the advice of Mr. Grimley, Mr. B. Pollard went ; and preached on the occasion to the friends of the deceased, and a few of the an- cient members, whom the relatives had invited to attend. After the funeral, they supped with the mourning family ; and some close conver- sation took place respecting the state of the church and of vital religion in their own hearts. In the course of the evening, one of the members of the original church addressed Mr. Pollard, with great earnestness, in these affecting terms : " Young man, we are six of us now with you ; and we are all apostates." Roused to a sense of the danger of their condition, they united in wishing for a revival, both in their own souls, and in the venerable society to which they belonged ; and, believing that such preaching as they had just heard would be the most likely means, under the blessing of God, to produce such a desirable change, they joined in requesting that the New Connection would supply them with preachers.

This request was laid before the ministers of the adjacent churches : and, though these zealous men had made an ineffectual attempt, a few years before, to introduce their interest into Leicester, yet they embraced with pleasure this unexpected opening. A regular supply was therefore ar- ranged ; which was furnished alternately by


164 REVIVAL. A.D. 1785

the churches at Barton and Loughborough. — Their labours were attended with encouraging success. A decent congregation was collected ; and several of the nominal members became earnest in attending to the things which made for their eternal happiness.

In a short time after regular preaching had been established at Leicester, Mr. J. Deacon, who had been some time preparing for the ministry, under Mr. D. Taylor, returned to his native county. As he was an acceptable preacher, and more at liberty than many of the other ministers, he frequently supplied Leicester. The people formed a strong attachment to him, and began to wish to enjoy his labours more constantly. In order to this, fourteen of the members who had formerly belonged to this society, re-established their church, Sept. 1782 ; and invited Mr. Deacon to preach for them. To this he consented : and a remarkable alteration soon appeared. In the course of the following year, twenty-four per- sons were added to the church by baptism, and ten were received from other churches. Their number, therefore, amounted to forty-eight, in June 1783 ; when they were admitted into the New Connection. At that time, nine persons were waiting for admission, the public services were well attended and frequently crowded, and good etfects appeared to have been produced by preaching in the country places around Lei- cester.

This revival of the cause rendered the old meeting-house too little to accommodate the increasing congregation ; and they exerted them- selves zealously in erecting a new and spacious building, which tliey completed in 1785 ; when their members had increased to seventy-live, and religion appeared on the advance;


We have very little information respecting the remaining branch of the original division : the small church at Kirkhy-Woodhouse.* It joined the New Connection in 1773, when Mr. John Alverj, who seems to have sustained the office of ruling elder, attended, as its representative,at the association. 1 he members then were thirty-one ; and they complain of " standing in need of a stated ministry." The reason for this complaint continued throughout the period under review : and they depended on the occasional assistance of the ministers of surrounding churches. Distance of situation rendered this mode of supply very uncertain, and inadequate to the prosperity of the cause. The church felt the effects of its destitute situation, and gradually declined. In 1783, they informed the association, — that there were only twenty-one members — that it was feared several of them were in a "very poor state" — and that they had reason to complain of for- mality, and of enjoying no prospect of addition to their number. This discouraging account concludes our notice of this society in the present section.

At the commencement of the ^ew Connection, the general baptists at Hinhley and Longford\ formed but one church. It was served by Messrs. W. Smith and George Hickling ; two acceptable and successful ministers : the latter especially acquired a considerable degree of popularity, both among his own friends, and in other branch- es of the connection. The cause had prospered so much under their care, that the members, which, in 1766, amounted only to fifty, had, in

* Supra, pp. 54, 55. f Supra, p. 47, 48.



1772, increased to one hundred and eighty-four. At that time, the propriety of a friendly division became a subject of serious deliberation. The principal difficulty arose from the partiality of both parties for Mr. Ilickling-. Uut, a« there were two or three judicious and pious members at Hinckley, who had bej>un to be useful in con- ducting meetings, it was at length settled, with mutual approbation, that Mr. Hickling sliould remain at Longford; and that Mr. Smith should remove to Hinckley, to take the oversight of the church in that neighbourhood. The separation was solemnly effected, Feb. 2d. 1773 ; when every member was left at liberty to join which party he pleased.

Seventy members remained, after this arrange- ment, to form the distinct clinrch at Hinckletj, which were scattered over a large tract of country; including Hinckley, Wolvey, Burbage, Burton, Brancote, Earl-Shilton, Righton, and Dunton. The cause continued to prosper ; and, in a few months after the separation, twelve were added to the church by baptism. In 1774, the ministers extended their labours to Witheybrook, a village two miles beyond W olvey ; where INlr. Robert Compton, a worthy member of this society, licensed his house to receive them. The success M as encouraging ; and the door then opened has never yet been closed.

In 1778, they were providentially enabled to introduce the gospel into Thurlaston, a village six miles east of Hinckley, Mr. Edward Par- kinson, having removed from Castle Donington, and settled at Thurlaston, became a member of the church at Hinckley. His brother, Thomas Parkinson, of Quorndon, was a deacon of Lough- borough church. Mr. B. Pollard, a young

A.D. 1785 EXTENDS ITSJiiLF. 167

preacher in the latter society, was engaged to preach, on the I.ord's-day, for the friends at Hinckley : and, being a stranger in those parts, Mr. T. Parkinson kindlj^ undertook to accom- pany him. They called, to spend the Saturday evening, at his brother's, at Thurlaston. In the course of conversation, it was remarked, that the gospel had never been preached in that village in the memory of the oldest inhabitant. Mr. Tho- mas Parkinson immediately proposed, that Mr. Pollard should preach that evening, in his bro- ther's house. The proposal was cheerfully ac- cepted ; and notice given to the neighbours. A number attended ; and heard with seriousness and approbation. A desire to hear again was evidently excited. Mr. E. Parkinson, therefore, licensed his house : and the ministers from Hinck- ley, and other adjacent churches, cheerfully en- gaged to suppl}^ it. The cause took deep root: and, in a short time, several of the inhabitants of this dark place were baptized, and added to the church.

Thus, under the divine blessing on the zealous exertions of his servants, the truth gradually spread. Their plain, faithful, and unadorned dis- courses were delivered with energy, and attended with success. The peculiar and important doc- trines of Christianity were clearly stated, and constantly insisted on : and Christ, and him crucified, became the wisdom of God, and the power of God, to the salvation of many precious souls in the villages round HinGkle3\ But, it is painful to add, that, in the town itself, the pros- pect was less encouraging ; and that, towards the close of this period, considerable trouble and dis- order, in the internal concerns of the church, dis- tressed the hearts of the friends of religion, and



prevented the progress of the truth. In 1785, the members amounted to ninety-one.

In the year 1770, ^here was an independent so- ciety at Sutton Cold/ield, a town in Warwickshire, about ten miles north-east of Birmingham. Mr. Abraham Austin was a promising young member of this small church, and was highly esteemed by his brethren. In June that year, the pastor being absent, and the pulpit unprovided for, his friends prevailed on him to fill up the vacancy, by at- tempting to preach. This attempt gave great satisfaction to his auditors ; and he was after- wards frequently emploj'ed. In a short time, a dispute arose in tlie church on some point of doc- trine, and a division ensued. Mr. Austin ap- proving the opinion of the seceders, they formed a separate interest. They licensed a room in the town, which they fitted up for public worship. Here Mr. Austin preached, and many of the con- gregation among which he had previously la- boured, followed him. The hearers increased rapidly, and the room soon became too small to accommodate them. This obliged them to look out for a more capacious place ; and they soon found a piece of ground, with an erection On it, that suited their purpose. This they purchased for eighty pounds ; and fitted up the building as a meeting-house. This, probably, took place about 1774.

Some time previous to this event, two of the members of the general baptist church at Long- ford, having occasion to pass through Sutton- Coldfield, enc|uired whether there were any dis- senters in the town. They were directed to Mr. Austin ; and obtained an interview with him. They were highly pleased to discover, from his


conversation, tJiat, on the most important doc- trines, his sentiiDents coincided with their own. But, when thfc! subject of" believers' baptism was introduced, he acknowledged that it had never engaged his thoughts. The travellers requested him to turn his attention to the subject; and proceeded on their journey. On their return to Longford, they communicated to their friends the pleasure which they had enjoyed in their in- terviiiw v\iih these professors ; and the good opinion which they entertained of their character and sentiments. This induced IMr. Hickling, their pastor, and several of his friends, to go over and spend a Lord's-day at Sutton. An increasing intimacy was thus cultivated ; and the result was, that these people were encouraged to examine the scripture for themselves, and form their own judgments on its contents. Mr. Austin paid several visits to the general baptist churche>, e^pe- cially to Melbourn : his mind soon became convinced of the divine appointment of believers* baptism, and he was baptized at iMelbourn. Many ofhis hearers having embraced the same sentiments, Mr. F. Smith, of Melbourn, went over to Sutton Cold field, baptized sixteen of them, and formed them into a regular general baptist church. They called Mr. Austin to mi- nister to them in holy things ; but he was never ordained to the pastoral office over that society. Others soon joined them ; so that, in 1776, their number amounted to forty-two. They then preached alternately at Sutton and Birmingham; and were, in general, lively and happy.

In June, 1775, Mr. Austin attended the asso- ciation at Hinckley, and applied for admission into the New Connection. After having declared their " faith and fundamental doctrines," the

VOL, II. z




matter was referred to the churches, and the de- cision postponed to the following year ; when they were unanimously received. Mr. Austin then laid the particulars of the purchase of the meet- ing-house before the association, and requested assistance in liquidating the debt.

For several years, the cause continued to flou- rish. The congregations were large, and addi- tions frequent ; and, to use their own language, repeated fbr three or four successive years, the church was " united, lively, and happy.*' In 1781, they opened a place, for public worship, at Bloxwich ; where they preached once a fortnight, and were well attended with hearers. At some following associations, they complain of cold- ness and indifference to the things of God in too many of their members; and, in 1784, they say, *' We have had some trouble, and expect more." Whether this trouble was connected with the fol- lowing events, we are not informed : but, in 1785, it appears, that, finding themselves unable to raise a sufficient supply for the temporal wants of their minister, they applied to the association for advice and assistance. That meeting recom- mended it to Mr. Austin " to turn his mind to some way of business ;" and a few of the churches expressed their willingness to lend assistance to the friends at Sutton. Things could not, how- ever, be satisfactorily arranged. Mr. Austin left them, and settled in London ; where, for more than thirty years, he honourably and usefully presided over the baptist church in Fetter-lane. At his departure, the church consisted of fifty- nine members, who were tolerably united.

Our information respecting the church at Long- ford, after its separation from Hinckley, is very


general. It consisted, in 1773, of one pastor, two deacons, and one hundred and twelve members* Soon afterwards, Mr. Samuel Catterns was chosen to the office of ruling elder ; and the number of deacons increased to four. For several years, the cause continued to prosper ; and Mr. Hick- ling's reputation to spread. In 1775, no fewer than thirty persons were added to the church by baptism. The number of hearers that crowded to their public services made a more commodious place of worship very desirable ; and means were adopted to obtain one. In 1777, they established preaching, every Lord's-day, at Coventry ; and, for a time, there appeared an encouraging pro- spect of success. But the removal of some per- sons who countenanced the attempt, and the sub- sequent confusion in the society at Longford, rendered this undertaking abortive. The fol- lowing year, the church experienced no little trouble, from several of their members embracing the tenets of the calvinists and methodists ; and thjrteen were excluded. A short interval of peace succeeded : but, in 1784, some irregularities in the conduct of Mr. Hickling led to a separation between him and the church. This unhappy event gave a check to the progress of the cause in that place ; from which it has never recovered. In 1785, the members amounted to one hundred and thirty-two, who say, " If we had a minister, there is great probability that good would be done ; but, if we have not one settled among us, we fear that the cause will dwindle away,"

Soon after the separation from Hinckley, the ministers at Longford were led to extend their labours to Harhury* a village in Warwickshire,

* The circumstances that led to the introduction of theae

V \

172 HARBURY CHURCH. A. D. 1780

distant about twenty miles southward. Here, several, embracinsf iLe truth, joined Longford church ; and a meeting;-house was erected. But the distance of situation rendering communion with the parentsocietyditiicult, the}' were formed, in 1775, into a distinct church, consistinj^ of eighteen members. lAir. John Hill, one of their number, " who sometimes expounded among them," was elected ruling elder ; and they were favoured with the labonrs of tlieir former pastor, Mr. Hickling ; who, for some time, visited them once a fortnight. But standing alone, and at a distance froui any of their sister churches, they could not receive adequate support ; and the cause declined. In J779, Mr. Hill attended the

ministers into Ilaibniy were rather singular. S. Ashby, the young woman whom we have already mentioned as the first gencial baptist in the neighbourhood of Longford, fsee page 39^ paid a visit to a relation at Ladbrook^ a village near Harbury, In the course of conversation, she brout^iit forward some serious topics ; and was pained to observe that fhey excited disgust in her relative. After some time, he returned the visit; but, un- willing to displease him, she avoided all allusion to religion. — Staying till the next day, he wixs awakened during the night, by the voice of his relative, who slept in an adjoining apartment, and seemed in earnest discourse. He soon disco\ ered that she was talking iu her sleep; and curiosity led him to listen. His surprize may be easily conceived, when he heard her discussing the same important subjects in her sleep which had engaged their waking attention, in her previous visit to Ladbrook. Though then disgusted, he was now so struck with the energy of her manner, the force of her arguments, and the pertinency of the texts of scripture which she brought to support her doctrines, that he resolved on a serious inquiry, and determined to hear the preacheis for himself. This he did : and his prejudices being removed, he emhiaced the truth, and became anxi<His that his neighbours also should hear the joyful sound. On his return to Ladbrook, he invited Mr. Hickli«g to come and preach in the neighbouihood. The invitation was accepted: Mr. Hickling repeated his visit; and the result was, the foi'mation of the tem- porary interest at Harbury. /. D. MSS.


association at Longford, us the representative of this church ; when he reported, that " religion was in a low state." The cause continued to droop ; till, before the year 1783, it became ex- tinct : and the meeting-house was sold to the Methodists.

During the period of which we are treating, the church at Nottingham joined the New Connec- tion. In the year 1773, William Fox, who had formerly been k member of Kirkby-Woodhouse church, sell led at Little Hallam, and removed his commuuion to Kegworth church. He had made some attempts at preaching, and was al- lowed to possess abilities for the sacred work : but he was unsteady in his disposition, and not sutficiently circumspect in his conduct. Being more under the inspection of the ministers at Hal htm, his character appeared to improve, and he was encouraged to preach: at first, only oc- casionally, but afterwards more regularly. After residing two j^ears at Hallam, he removed to Nottingham. Mere he licensed his dwelling- house ; in which he commenced public worship. In a short time, a few of his hearers were affected with the truths which he preached ; and, in May 1775, six persons were baptized, on a profession of faith in Christ.* Two others joining them from neighbouring churches, they were formed into a distinct society ; which, with W. Fox and his wife, consisted of ten members. The cause

* The names of these first converts, who may be considered as the founders of the general baptist interest at Nottingham, were, Nathan Hurst, Jonathan Oldham, Joseph Fowler, Mary Fowler, Mary Shelton and Catharine Atkinson ; and the two who joined them from other churches were William Taylor aud Ann Freeman. G. B. R. Vol. II. p. 50.



assumed an encouraging aspect ; anri, in the course of the next year, the members increased to thirty. William Fox was ordained pastor over this infant church, by Messrs. J. Grimley, F. Smith, and J. Tarratt. Mr. Fox was ordained in their usual place of worship — a garret in his own house. But, encouraged h\ ihe success of these weak attempts, they determined to build a more commodious meeting-house ; and actually purchased a piece of ground for that purpose.

But these bright prospects were soon overcast. The conduct of their minister became irregular and disgraceful. He was repeatedly seen in a state of intoxication : and, having been often admonished and reproved in vain, he was, at last, excluded from the church. The effects of this unhappy event were inexpressibly mischievous to the infant cause. Most of the hearers forsook their meetings: several of the members with- drew : the enemies of the truth took occasion to blaspheme: and the name^of this apostate became, for many years afterwards, a term of reproach in the mouths of the profane, which they applied, with impious exultation, to all the professors of religion. Did ministers of the gospel reflect on the dreadful effects which their sins, and even their imprudencies, produce, it would excite in their minds a holy jealousy over their conduct, and make them earnest in prayer for grace to resist the first appearance of evil.

For several years after this awful stroke, the few friends who adhered to the cause in Notting- ham, procured assistance from the neighbouring churches. The ministers from Melbourn, Don- ington, and Loughborough supplied alternately with John Hallam, one of their members, who appears to have preached with some degree of


acceptance for several years. But the interest had sunk so low, that the preachers often travelled twenty miles, and found scarcely twenty hearers. For a Ions: time, they continued their exertions with laudable perseverance ; but at lengl h, seeing no fruit of their labours, they began to deliberate on the propriety of declining any further endea- vours. On this occasion, Mr. rhurman encou- raged them to proceed. " We have cast," said he, " our bread on the waters ; we have sown the seed: who can tell but the harvest time is near, when we shall reap, if we faint not ?" Animated by this exhortation, the ministers continued their visits. They soon had the satisfaction of seeing the cause in some degree revive ; and several ad- ditions made to their number. The memory of Mr. Thurman is, to this day, dear to the friends at Nottingham, for this salutary advice ; which has always been esteemed a principal cause, under the divine blessing, of the present existence of their church.

In the year 1779, they hired a large room in Jack-Knutter*s-lane, for a place of worship. In this they preached to a few hearers, and were little known to their neighbours. But, about this time, a circumstance happened, by which they attracted the attention of the inhabitants of this populous town. A person was convicted, at the Nottingham assizes, of robbing the mail ; and received sentence of death. While he lay under condemnation, several general baptist friends and their ministers frequently visited him ; and their instructions and prayers appeared to be highly blest to his spiritual advantage. On the day of execution, great crowds collected from distant villages ; and Messrs. Tarratt and Pollard at- tended the unhappy culprit on the scaffold. His


176 A REVIVAL. A. D. 1784

behaviour, at the awful moment, was composed and resigned. Mr. Pollard, in a very ali'ecting manner, addressed the attentive multitude ; and the effect produced on many was strikingly visi- ble. After the solemn scene was closed, the body was placed on the head of a cask in the street; and Mr. Tarratt, standing on another, delivered an animated discourse, from Psal. Ixxxvi. 12, 13. From this time, the general baptist preachers, especially Messrs. Poliard and Tarratt, were at- tended bj^ numerous congregations; and many hearing, believed, and were baptized.

In 1783, assisted by the liberality of sister churches, they purchased the Methodist meeting- house, for two hundred and fifty pounds. This new accommodation had a good effect in increas- ing the number of hearers : and, as Mr. Hallam had removed his residence to Leake, tliey felt strongly the necessity of a more regular ministry. Among the preachers who had visited them, was Mr. Robert Smith, of Loughborough, the son of Mr. F. Smith, of Melbourn, a young man of pro- mising abilities. The friends at Nottingham higlily approved his labours, and were desirous of obtaining him for their pastor. After sur- mounting many obstacles, arising chiefly from the erroneous ideas which had been entertained of the real state of things in the town and the church, they applied to the association in 1784. That meeting advised Mr. Smith to go to Not- tingham, on probation, for one year. He, accord- ingly, removed in the following June. The af- fection which the people entertained for this young minister, made them earnest in prayer for the success of this experiment ; and the Lord was pleased to grant their requests. Before the close of the year, the congregation had considerably in-


creased ; nine were added to the cliurcli by bap- tism ; ihref received from other churches ; and two were restored : the whole number of mem- bers, in 1785. beiny seventy-three. The pleasing success, which had so. visibly crowned his endea- vours, deJermined vj r. Smith to take his lot with this affectionate people : and, Sept. 11th. 1785, he was adniiitted a member of their church.

In 1782. a small church of general baptists at Ashfotd on ihe Peak, joined the i\ew Connection. It Cfjnsisied, then, of only ten members ; but, in the foilowino year, had increased to fifteen.— They were supplied by ministers from the mid- land and northern districts. Though these supplies were njo«*e regular and frequent than, frotn a consideration of the distance and other circumstances, could have been expected, yet they were found insufficient for the prosperity of the cause. Hut, as we have not been able to pro- cure a detail of the particulars relating to this society, we refer to the next chapter: when we hope to be able to give a more satisfactory ac- count of its rise and progress.*


Sect. 3. — The Progress of the General Baptist

Cause in the Northern District^ during the first

Fifteen Years after the Commencement of the New


When the New Connection was formed, there was but one society of general baptists in the

* Mill. ofAss. of N.C. 1772— 1785. Min of Line. Ass. G. B. R. Vol. 1 p. 250. Vol. II. pp. 2—8, and 49—53. G. B. M. Vol. II. pp. 150—153 : and Information kindly communicated by the respective churches,

VOL. II. 2 A




northern district, the church at BirchclifF, under the care of Mr. Dan Tajlor.* But these zealous christians were anxious to carry the glorious light of the gospel into the places which, on every side of them, lay in spiritual darkness. The labours of their minister to accomplish this noble object were almost incredible. To this he devoted all the energies of a mind naturally vigorous and enterprizing ; and of a constitution remarkably hardy and capable of fatigue. His people, in general, seconded his elforts ; and heartily co- operated with him, as far as circumstances per- mitted. The happy result of their united endea- vours was, that, under the blessing of the great Head of the church, before the close of fifteen 3'ears, four regular general baptist churches were established, and several acceptable ministers called forth and usefully employed in the sacred work. Let us now take a brief survey of these societies, as they arose ; beginning with the pa- rent stock, *■

The church at BirchcUff^ sensible of the im- portance of more assistance in the great work of preaching the gospel, used all proper means to call forth more labourers into the tield. So early as 1772, four young men met weekly for the ex- ercise of their gifts : and, once a month, they had an interview with their pastor, for advice and instruction. Prayer meetings were opened, in various parts of the neighbourhood, and expe- rience meetings were regularly maintained in the diti'erent districts of the church. The good effects ot" these measures were soon visible. In the next year, Richard Folds, a young member who

* Supra, p. T9.


had thus exercised his abilities, was encouraged to preach. Soon afterwards, Mr. John Taylor, the brother of the pastor, who had joined the society in the beginning of that year, vyas called to exercise before the church : when his friends, being satistied with his fitness for the sacred em- ployment, gave him permission, Dec. 26th. 1771, to preach as opportunity should offer. Not long after this, Jereniy Ingham, another of the mem- bers, was approved as a minister; and, after preaching occasionally in this district for some time, was invited to serve <he church at Maltby in Lincolnshire: where he laboured till his death. The cause also prospered : the meetings were well attended ; the members lively ; and the prospect encouraging.

This increase of ministers led to more extended labours. Soon after !Vlr. Taylor's settlement at Wadsvvorth, he had, by some means, succ< eded in carrymtf the new** of salvation to Shore; a de>olate and uncultivated village, about fseven miles from BirchclitF. He had continued to tra- verse, with alacrity, the bogs and mountains, to preach occasioiiallv ii» this neglected spot. Nor was his labour wholly in vain. He had, even there, souje seals to his ministry. \^ hen other preachers were raided up to his assistance, they were enabled to visit it more regularly ; and the cause gained strength, In 1777, it was deter- mined to erect a small meeting-house at Shore, which was opened, in the autumn, by Messrs. D. and J. Taylor. The ministers of the neighbour- ing churches supplied it as regularly as circum- stances permitted : and the friends there con- tinued to be considered as members of BirchcIifF church, till after the close of the peried now under reyiew. Previous, also, to the erection of



180 MR. D. TAYLOR A.D. 1783

the meeting-house at Shore, preaching had been established at Qoeeiishead. In supporting the cause at that place, also, Mr. D. Taylor liad la- boured much: and, for some time, preached there one Lord's-day in the UiOnlh ; when his brx>ther supplied his place at Birchclitf. Tliese, and va- rious other engagements, connected with the pro- motion of the general baptist interest, called Mr. Taylor frequently from his own friends; and

* . -"11

obliged them to relinquish the jiroHt and plea- sure which they reaped from Uis minist-erial labours, to attend the crude attempts of \ oung preachers : but their wish for the prosperity of the cause in which their pastor was so much em- ployed, induced them, in gep.eral. to make these sacrifices, not only without regret, but with sin- cere pleasure.*

Thus this chuich continued to promote the interests of religion, both in its own neighbour- hood, and at distant places. Numbers were con- tinually added ; and harmony and love distin- guished all their proceedings. But, in 1783, an event took place, which, for a time, had consider- able effect on their peace. 1 he friends at Halifax had then become a distinct church ; and, being

* This was not universally the case. A few members of the church were dissatisfied. For several years, they contented them- selves with occasional grumblings 5 and hoped that Mr. Tavlor would, at length, grow weary and content himself at home. — When, how-ever, they observed that things grew every year worse } and that there was no pro-pect that he would ever de- sist ; but would, as long as he was able to travel, continue to carry the gospel and plant the general baptist interest in every place to which Providence ga\e him access, they broke out into open complaints. The peace of the church was, for a time, in- terrupted : but a few of the most discontented having withdrawn, harmony was restored : and this active man left at liberty to ex- ert his whole strength in the pursuit of his favourite object.


situated in a populous and genteel town and neighbourhood, where there were other dissenting interests respectably supported, it was desirable that the general baptist cause, in that place, should enjoy every possible advantage. As Mr. D. Taylor was the most able, and experienced minister, in these parts ; and best qualified to defend and explain the distinguishing principles of his denomination, it was thought, that, for the general good of the cause, he should leave Birch- clifF and settle at Halifax. This was, at first, warmly op]iosed by the friends at the former place : and much discussion and many meetings ensued. At last, it was agreed, that an experi- ment should be made and that the result should determine the dispute. The church at Birch- cliff had, at that time, a respectable young man, w ho had, for several years, preached occasionally, wiih much acceptance. His name wan John Sut- cliife. It was, therefore, settled, that Mr. D. Ta\ lor should labour for six months chiefly at Halifax : and that Mr. Sutcliffe should preach at Birchcliff : and if, at the expiration of this time, it should appear, that the cause at the latter place had not suffered any material injury ; and that, at the fortner, peculiar benetit had been received, then Mr. Taylor should settle at Hali- fax. This experiment commenced with the year 1783 ; and the result was laid before the asso- ciation at iNottingham, in June following. After a candid and serious investigation of all the cir- cumstances, that meeting ga\e It at* its opinion, " that It would be more for the advanlaue of the cause of Christ for Brother laylor to continue at Halifax." To this decision ail the parlies sub- mitted : and the church at Birchcliff lost their founder and pastor. " This," to use their own


simple but expressive language, " was one of the greatest troubles we ever experienced. We did all tliHi we could do, with a good conscience, to prevent it ; hut all iii vain."

Soon after Mr. Taylor's removal, the church called VI r. J. Sutclifte to the pastoral office: and, thouiih a few withdrew in consequence of tijese troubles, vet thirteen v^ere added bv baptism before the uext association. The cause of Christ, notw ith^tanding this check, continued to ad- vance; harmony was restored to their proceed- ings; and, in 1785, the number of members, after dismissing twentj-two to form a separate church at Burnle}, was ninety-three: ihry were v\ell attended with hearers ; and harmonious among themselves.

When the general baptists began to preach at Queenshcad, there existed only one public-house, from the sign of which the place took its name ; and a few scattered cottages: there being no vil- lage on any side within two miles. It is situated about three miles north of Halifax, and eleven east of Birchcliff. There was only one dissenting meeting-house in a circuit of several miles; which was two miles from Queenshead, and belonged to the independents. The few inhabitants were ig- norant and rude ; and, it is highly probable, the ordinance of believers* baptism had never been heard of by many of them.

Mr. D.Taylor had an acquaintance with a local preacher among the methodists,who dwelt within a mile of Queenshead. Being on a visit to this friend, he w as requested to preach. Among the hearers was John Bairstow, who resided in the neighbourhood. This plain man was very much pleased with the discourse, and felt a desire to

A.D. 1772 CHWRCfl. 183

hear again the same minister. He went to Birch- cliff for this purpose ; and was soon con\ i-jced of the truth of ihe doctrines iield Uy the bajitists. Early in 1772, he was baptized and received into fellows!ii[).

This youni>- convert, with the ardour usual in persons of that description, was frequently en- gaj^ed in defending his principles and practice aj^ainst his neighbours, especially the inde:;en- dents Anioiiijst others, he had tVequent co )\er- sation, on lluse subjects, with iVl i . Jonathan Scott, a respectable tradesman in the vicini^v of Queenshead, But. finding himself unequii to the contest with him, he procured an inl* ^^iew between Mr D. Taylor and Mr. Scott i his led to an inlimacv, which soon ripened i'lto friendship. Mr. Scott entered heartily into the religious views of his new acquaintance, and became desirous that the gospel might be regularly preached in his neighbourhood. Mr. J. Taylor, of Halifax, who had lately been called to the work of the ministry, and a few of his neighbours, who had also joined the Hirchcliff church, and were well acquainted with Queens- head, united in the same wish. It was therefore, agreed that an attempt should be made ; and J, Taylor preached the first discourse, in J. Hair- stow*s house, about half a mile from Queenshead, Nov. 28th 1772, from the compreliensive apho- rism of the apostle, *' Other foundation can no man lay, than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."* This first attempt was well attended: and, before the next Lord's-day, a more commo- dious place was hired, near the pubiic-house, and fitted up for a meeting-house. From this time,

* 1 Cor. Ui. H.



constant worship was maintained : J. Taylor preaching three Lord's-cfays in each month ; and D/Favlor the fourth: whei» his brother supplied his place at BircliclifF

Though manv circumstances had a very dis- couratjiiig ett'ect, yet these <>ood men persevered, and the Lord helped them. J hey struLi^gled through tlie winter with mau\ ditticulties : but the nseetings were well attended for the season; and the truths which were preached appeared to make an impression on several of the hearers. In the following February, J. Scott and another person were publicly baptized. iVJr. D. Taylor was the administrator : and delivered, on the oc- casion, a plain, faithful and atfectionate discourse on believers' baptism ; in which he exhorted his hearers, in very pressing terms, to search the scriptures and judge for themselves. Many of them determined to take his advice: and, for several weeks, a peculiar activity prevailed throu^'hout the neighbourhood. Those that had bibles, and could read, were busily employed in consulting them ; and those who had not these advantages, were eagerly listening to the re- searches of their more intelligent friends. This appeal to the scriptures had a h;ippy effect. — Many were thus convinced that believers* bap- tism was of scriptural authority ; and, when they afterwards turned from sin to God, they were prepared to attend, without hesitation, to that sacred ordinance.

As the spring advanced, the friends of the cause began to look out for a more convenient place of meeting; and purchased a piece of ground very near the house in which they th'en assembled. On Easter Monday, April 12th. 1773, a number of cheerful neighbours digged the ground, for the


foufidation of a new meeting-house ; and the workmen commenced the buiWing. A collection was made in the neighbourhood, and twenty pounds obtained : a great effort, when the fewness and poverty of the inhabitants are considered. Mr. D. Taylor also having occasion, in the spring, to visit some of the midland and Lincolnshire churches, obtained for them sixty pounds ; and the remainder of the money was borrowed. The whole expence was about one hundred and sixty pounds.

At the close of Aug. 1773, the number who had joined the general baptists at Halifax andQueens- head had increased lo seventeen ; who had all beett baptized by Mr. D. Taylor, and were mem- bers of the church at Birchcliff. Many obvious rea;<.ons, however, made it desirable for all parties, that thev >liould be formed into a distinct so- cietv. rhey v^ere accordingly dismissed from the mothet church ; and constituted the second general baptibi church in the northern district. iVJr. .i. Taylor was invited to be their pastor, and acceptec, the invHatio'i. Preparations were, there- fore, made for opening their new meeting-house, iJnd ordaining their minister. Messrs. William Thompson, of Boston, J. Tarralt, of Kegworth, and D. Taylnr, their spiritual father, were in- vited to assisi them in these important solem- nities. Sept. 29»h 1773, the meeting-house was opened: Air. 'Ian.«;i read suitable portions of scripture, and prayed: Mr. Thompson expounded and applied Psal. cxxxii. ; and Mr. D. Taylor preached, from 1 kings ix. 3. On the following dav. All. J. Taylor v\as solemnly ordained to the past Mill 'irtice: when Mr. D. I aylor delivered the introductory discourse, put the questions to the minister and people, offered the ordination

VOL. II. 2 B

186 SUCCESS A. D. 1778

prayer, and gave the charge* to his brother, from 2 Tim. ii. 15. In the afternoon, Mr. Tarratt addressed the church from 1 1 hess. v. 12, 13

Being thus organized, these feu people were left to their own exertions, for the support and extension of the blessed cause which tliey had undertaken*- The winter soon commencing, ren- dered their congregations thin, and checked their progress. But they still had some encourage- ment. Oct. 29th. three persons were baptized : and, Dec. 25th. seven others : so that, at the close of the first year, the church had increased to twenty-eight members. Some disadvantage was experienced, by their pastor's distance of abode, as he still resided at Halifax: but, Nov. 1774, he removed, with his family, to Queenishead He laboured hard for the advancement of the cause ; and his labours were crowned with success — Thirty were added to the cliurch in the course of this year ; and the preaching of the gospel had been extended to various places several miles dis- tant. They had, also, paid particular attention to Halifax: and had taken several steps to intro- duce the gospel into that town.

For several years, the cause appeared to flourish; and numbers were, from time to time, baptized : so that, before the close of 1776, upwards of one hundred had been received into fellowship. But it then became too apparent, that several of these were very improper characters. Ignorance and inexperience, joined to a great zeal to increase their numbers, had caused these young professors to be too ready in admitting candidates : and the

* This charge was remarkable for its alFecllon, solemnity and length : containing, as it was asserted by one who heard itj six hundred particulars.

A.D. 1785 AND DECLINE. 187

same causes probably urged them, when they perceived this error, to proceed with too much precipitation ill excluding offenders. For many succeeding years, exclusions were frequent, and additions few. This decline was much increased, by the disorderly conduct of one or two of their members ; who had been called to the work of the ministry, but whose future conversation proved too plainly that they were destitute of that faith which purities the heart During this time, how- ever, much was done by the ministers and people at Queenshead for the spread of the gospel. For several years, iheir pastor was nearly one half of the time employed, in helping other churches, and in preaching in places in which the cause had not been planted

Regular preaching had been maintained at Halifax, almost from the (irst formation of the Queenshead church ; and several had joinrd in fellowship from that neighbourhood, Thev con- tinued to form one ^ociety, till 1782, when an amicable separation took place: and about thirty members were dismissed, to form a distinct so- ciety; which has since been known by the appel- lation of Halifax church.

After this division, tifty members remained in the society at Queenshead : and, though the wounds that had been given to religion, by the dis<>rders of former years, were still bleeding, yet a few were successively added to their number: and, in 1785, the members amounted to tifty-two. They then describe the state of the church in these terms. "The congregation is full when the weather is moderate. Many of our friends are frequently confined at their homes by bodily afflictions and poverty : and many are too much taken up with the things of this world. Yet, glory



188 HALIFAX A.D. 1772

be to God, we hope that some are hearty in his cause and for his glory. We are saved by hope."

During this period, several ministers were raised up in this church ; who were afterwards useful in various parts of the connection. Among these, Jonathan Scott deserves particular notice; who was, from the commencement of the cause in this neighbourhood, usefully and acceptably em- ployed in labouring as an assistant preacher. In 1785, he removed to serve the church at Gamston and Retford. Mr. Joseph Ellis, also, now pastor at Halifax, was a member at Queenshead, and called to the ministry in 1784.

Mr. John Taylor was the first general baptist in Halifax ; but, soon after his uniting himself with that denomination, several of his neighbours and acquaintances followed his example. So early as 1772, Mr. D. Taylor had frequent oppor- tunities of preaching in private houses in that town. Though there appeared but little en- couragement, yet the services were occasionally continued ; and, in May 1775, it was resolved to make a more regular attempt to raise an interest. Overtures were made to the independents, who were then building a new meeting-house, to pur- chase their old one ; but they declined treating with people of such different sentiments. A chamber was, therefore, hired, at the bottom of Jail-lane, and regular preaching was commenced. The ministers from Birchclifi' and Queenshead attended in rotation, and considerable efforts were made : but the success was small. Few of the inhabitants of the town attended, except when Mr. D. Taylor preached : and the congre- gation, which was very small, was then com*

A.B. 1777 CHURCH. 189

posed of persons from the suburbs and adjacent villa«^es, with a few who usually attended from the vicmij\ ot Queenshead,

It was ih(>uj;lit, that jj^reater countenance nsight be obtained, if they had a more respectable place of meeting: and tVlessrs. D. I'aylor, Jonathan Scott, and the friends at Halifax, made a con- siderable effort to accomplish this desirable ob- ject. In the heiiinningot 1777, a piece ot" j:;round was purchased at Haley Hill, halt* a mile from the town, and a nent chapel was erected ; which was opened, Sept. 3d 1777, by Messrs. D. and J, Taylor The latter delivered a discourse from Zech. vi 12, 13 , and the former from Hag. ii. 9. The friends from Birchclili'and Queenshead at- tended on this occasion, and enjoyed much satis- faction : but even this interesting event did not induce many of 'the inhabitants of the town to witness the solemnity. The pro>pect of great success still continued very doubttul. fhe jiloom was increased by the spirit of partiality and pre- judice with respect to particular ministers, which manifested itself too plainly both ai Queenshead and Halifax ; and, for several 3 ears, grieved the hearts, and weakened the hands, of the sincere friends of the Redeemer. A few, however, were added, during this discouraging season, who have been ornaments to their profession.

In 1780, Mr. J. Bates, who had been for some time a member of the church at Queenshead, be- gan to preach : and his labours being well ap- proved by the friends at Halifax, he removed to Haley Hill, opened a school in the meeting-house, and became their regular minister. The piospect appeared to brighten, and sanguine hopes were entertained, that success might yet crown the attempt. But this gleam was transient. Mr.



Bates maintained certain views on some divine subjects, which were thought to be inconsistent with the principles of the general baptists. This produced a coolness between him and his hearers; which in less than a year after his first settlement, issued in a separation. After his secession, the pulpit was chieflj supplied by the preachers from Queenshead, with the occasional assistance of Mr. D. Taylor.

Hitherto, the friends at Halifax had continued members of the church at Queenshead : but, in 1782, it was thought advisable to separate. This was now effected by mutual consent ; and, every one being left at full liberty to join which society he pleased, about thirty united to form the church at Halifax.

In the following year, after much investigation and difficulty, as we have already seen,* it was resolved, that, for the greater advantage of the general baptist cause, Mr. D. Taylor should re- move from J'irchclifF to Halifax. This he did: and, Oct. 8ih. 1783, was solemnly set apart to the pastoral office over this society : when William Thompson addressed the minister and iVlr. Tar- ratt the people -j- This was a high day for this small church. Every heart felt satisfaction, and every countenance beamed with delight. Earnest and cordial thanks were offered by many, for the happv prospect of the future prosperity of this hitherto languishing interest.

For a short space, these hopes appeared likely to be realized. IVIr. Taylor's abilities and cha- racter were highly esteemed in the neighbour-

* Supra, pp. 180, 181.

f The former from Rev. ii. 10, last clause : and the latter from 1 Thess. V. 12—15.


Jiood — the congregation increased in number and respectability — peace and confidence were re- stored to the church — several were added to it — and many appeared to be ready to come forward and d<fclare tliemselves on the Lord's side. But an unexpected cloud soon overspread the horizon. The ancient society of general baptists, which assembled in Church-lane, VV hitechapel, wishing for an assistant to their aged paslor, Mr. John Brittain, turned tlieir eyes to Mr. D. Taylor, as a person qualttied to serve them. They applied, therefore, io the church at Halifax, and requested them 10 resign him. Most of the Yorkshire friends were thunderstruck at the proposal, and felt dis- posed to reject it without examination : and some of the principal members at Halifax were ^o dis- gusted at the attempt, that they refused to take any part in the subsequent discussicms. I he sub- ject was, however, largely and frequently dis- cussed : and I he advocates for Mr, laylor's con- tinuance at Haley-Hill had the tnorntication to find their own weapons turned against them- selves. Every argument drawn from the com- parative importance of the two places, the oppor- tunity for being useful, or the general advantage of the common cause, which had been advanced to prove the propriety of the removal of this mi- nister from Birchcliti' to Halifax, was now urged with increased etfect in favour of his leaving Haiitax for London Some of the Yorkshire friends perceived this; and, with a laudable con- sistency, seconded the claims of London : but many held out ; and the matter was referred to the Boston association, in 1785. I hat assembly, after a very laborious and serious investigation of the question, declared in favour of Mr. Taylor's removal to London. This decision was final. —



Mr. Taylor and his family set out for London, in the middle of July, 1785 : leaving the church at Halifax, which then consisted of rifty-six mem- bers, again destitute ot a pastor.* iVIr J. Scott and his family removed, at the same time, from the neighbourhood of Queenshead to Uetford in Nottinghamshire.

* The removals of Mr D Taylor, from Birchcliff to Halifax, and afterwurds to Loridon, were, we appifhend, the first in- stances of a minister leaving th church over uhich he had been ordained pastor, tltat occurred in the Xew Connection. Whether this practice, which has become not uncuinnion, be not preju- dicial to the interests of reliijjion, is a question which demands the conscientious attention of all parties concerntd. These first precedents, however, were fully investigated : and it may, per- haps, be useful to insert the record of the deliberations, at the Boston association, respecting the removal to London. This ■will not only shew the pains taken to arrive at a proper conclu- sion on that occasion ; but may also sugtjest some u.eful hints to those who may have to determine in similar cases.

*' It was then agr ed to discuss the subject of brother D. Tay- lor's removal to London, in the following manner 1 To throiv- the matter into a systematic form, by piojjosing certain queg- tions. 2, To read the papers from London and Halifax carefully over, before the discussion of these questions 3. To receive an account of what has been done, in the three branches ot the con- nection, respecting this removal. 4. To contrast London with Halifax ; and inquire which is of most importance. 5. To in- quire, in which place and round it, there are the most apparent opportunities of doing good. 6 To inquire, whether tlu re are better instruments to be had for HaHfax or London, as fit led for the place, 7. To inquire which place, London or Halifax, can more easily obtain a suitable minister. 8. To inquire, if both places be without a suitable minister, which ought to be sup- plied. 9. After the above questions had been discussed, in order that every thing might be done or said in favour of Halifax, the cases from Halifax church were deliberately read over, and some questions having been asked, and observaitions made, the final query was solemnly put : — Does it appear, on the whole, likely to be for the glory of God and the good of mankind, that brother D. Taylor remove to London ? — Answer, Yes, 17. Neuter, 8." Min. of Ass. 1785* TwO' occasional questions were introduced in the discussion, which, as not bearing on the precise subject, are omitted.

A.l). 1785 BURNLEY CHURCH. 193

The church at Burnley, which was formed into a distinct society at the close of the period now under review, demands a brief notice. The general baptists at Birchcliff, in their zeal to spread the gospel, had pushed their attempts seven miles beyond Shore, to Worsthorn, a village about two miles from Burnley, a small market town in Lancashire, twenty-one miles north west of Halifax. At Worsthorn they began to preach, in the open air, in the summer of 1776. There was, at first, a little confusion among the hearers : but it was rather jocular than spiteful ; and sub- sided, after they had preached a few times. An inhabitant of the place at length opened his ^oor to receive the ministers; and, for some time, they preached regularly in his house : but they after- wards removed to an apartment in a neighbour- ing village. The encouragement was never very flattering : for, though the hearers were as nu- merous as could reasonably be expected, yet not many came forwards to espouse the cause. — Several, however, appeared serious : and a few joined the church at Birchcliff. Mr. Richard Folds, who had preached occasionally under the sanction of that church, removed his residence to W orsthorn, and became the constant minister in that vicinity.

About 1780, it was determined to remove the place of worship from Worsthorn to Burnley. A house was accordingly hired in the town for the purpose: and Mr. Folds removed with his family to occupy it. Here the cause was supported for several years: and, though the increase was slow, it was regular. In the beginning of 1780, it was determined, that the friends at Burnley should form a separate society. Twenty-two of the members of Birchcliff, who lived in that neigb-

VOL. II. 2 c


194 BOSTON A.D. 1772

bourhood, were, therefore, regularly dismissed : and, uniting to support the interest of the Re- deemer, invited Mr Folds to take the oversight of them. This invitation he accepted : and was ordained, Mar. 29th, by Messrs. D. and J.Taylor, and J. SutcliflTe. Four candidates had been bap- tized, by Mr. D. Taylor,* on the day previous to the ordination : so that the number of members then amounted to twenty-six.

Sect. 4. — The History of the General Baptist Churches in Lincolnshire, during thejirst Fifteen Years after the Commencement of the New Con* neciion.

The only church in Lincolnshire, which per- manently united in forming the New Connection, was the society at Boston^ under the care of Mr. W. Thompson. We left it, in 1770, increasing in numbers and improving in order. "j^ The worthy pastor, and a few of the leading members, per- severed in their endeavours to promote the cause of the Redeemer : and their efforts were not without success. Additions were frequently made to the church ; and the hearers continued

* Among the candidates, was Mr. Edmund Whitaker, of whom we shall have occasion to speak in another place. Baptism, by immersion, was a new sight to the inhabitants of Burnley j and attracted numbers of disorderly spectators. It was adminis- tered near the bridge, in the rivulet, that runs through the town. When the minister and candidates were in the water, the mob pushed down a part of the battlements of the bridge into the stream, very near them. Happily, no mischief ensued. The youhg professors shewed some symptoms of fright ; but the ad- ministrator stood unmoved.

t Supra p, 132.

A.D. 1777 CHURCH. 195

to increase. The labours of Mr. William Veall, a promising young minister whom it had pleased God to raise up among them, contributed not a little to this success. Having devoted himself to the Lord by baptism, in the sixteenth year of his age, this pious youth walked steadily forwards in the ways of religion ; and, in his twentieth year, was called by the church to preach in public. Being a sincere lover of the Saviour, his delight was to proclaim a free and full salvation to perishing sinners. But his usefulness was short. He was called to the church above, Nov. 12th, 1771, before he had completed his twenty- first year.

Notwithstanding this affecting check, the cause regularly advanced. In 1777, the meeting-house was enlarged, at an expence of upwards of two hundred and seventy pounds. To raise this money, a subscription w as set on foot among the friends; which received great encouragement from Robert Barlow, esq. who, though only a hearer, generously contributed fifty pounds. By these means, nearly two hundred pounds were raised, and application was made to the Connec- tion for assistance. But, after several years* solicitation, a debt of upwards of fifty pounds remained ; which operated very unfavourably on the prosperity of the cause. To remove this im- pediment, their generous patron, Mr. Barlow, again stepped forwards; and, by discharging the whole sum, freed the church from incumbrance. For this act of munificence, the church. Sept. 27th, 1780, voted him a letter of thanks.

Thus set at liberty, the cause proceeded with more rapidity. Their enlarged place of worship was soon filled with attentive hearers : and, though they complained, from year to year, that


196 MALTBY A.D. 1773

those, who as they had reason to believe were really converted, delayed to join the church, yet, during the fifteen years now under review, eighty- five persons had been baptized on a profession of faith ; besides various other?, who had been re- ceived hy recommendation from sister churches. But such had been the ravages of death,* that, in 1785, the members amounted only to eijsrhty. At that time, they had nine candidates waiting for baptism ; were united and happy ; and well attended with hearers.

Mallhif is a village on the east of Lincolnshire, about twenty- five miles north of Boston. At this place, there existed an ancient general bap- tist society, which had probably been connected with the churches in the South Marsh ; and greatly reduced in the general decline of the cause. In 1773, fifteen of the members of this church, being dissatisfied with ihe old Connec- tion, withdrew from its communion, and esta- blished a separate interest. Agreeing in their views of the truths of Christianity with the New Connection, they were cordially admitted into that union, and promised ministerial assistance. They were visited occasionally by the preachers, and several converts soon joined their society. In 1775, Mr, Jeremiah Ingham, a young man who had been called to the ministry by the BirchclifF

* On the margin of the list of the names of the eighty-three members, who, Aug. 5th. 1738, subscribed the invitation of Mr. Goode to the pastoral office, which is preserved in the church book, Mr. Thompson has made this memorandum. "N.B. This 30th. of July 17S1, of the number of members above written, I find now only four or five living. In the space of forty-three years, most of them are dead Awful thought ! Le( me improve it.'*

A.D. 1785 CHURCH. 197

church, settled with them as a preacher ; and, after some time of probation, was ordained to the pastoral otiice over them.

Mr. Ingham's labours were blest with great success: and, in the following year, twentj-three were baptized. For a iew years, this prosperitj continued ; but, in 1782, we tind them complain- ing, that no additions were made to their num- bers — that their members were slack in attending public worship — and that religion was in a low state. A pleasing revival, however, took place in the succeeding year : as they had then com- menced preaching at Alsford, a market town about four miles to the south of Maltby ; and at Theddlethorpe, at nearly the same distance, to the north. The attendance at all the places was encouraging ; but especially so at Maltby. For some time, all these meetings were maintained with spirit and regularity ; and the cause visibly gained ground : but Mr. Ingham's declining health obliged him, in 1785, to relinquish the attempt at Theddlethorpe. At that time, this church consisted of seventy-five members ; their places of worship were well attended ; and the society peaceable.

Mr. Henry Poole, who attended at the forma- tion of the New Connection as the minister of Fleet church,* did not long continue to seme that congregation. His strain of preaching was considered as too methodistical, and a separation took place. But, as he had gained^some partizans at Sutton-Garnsgate, a place a few miles from Fleet, he removed thither, and founded a new in- terest ; which, from a village in its immediate

* Supra p. 133.



vicinity, was denominated Long-Sutton church. In 1773, this society was admitted into the New Connection. It then, and for several following years, consisted of only seventeen members. Yet Mr. Poole continued to preach with great fervour ; and at length saw some fruit of his labours. He was regularly called and ordained to the pastoral office, over this small church ; and a meeting- house was erected, at an expence of upwards of two hundred pounds: part of which was raised by subscription, and part col- lected amongthe churches of the NewConnection, This meeting-house was completed in 1776 ; and, for a time, was well filled. In 1778, the cause revived ; and sixteen were baptized; which raised the number of members to thirty-four. But it soon began to droop: and, in 1785, the number was reduced to twenty-nine ; and religion, it was feared, " was not on the advance.'*

It was also during this period, that the an- cient society of general baptists at KiUingliolm^ joined the New Connection. Killingholm is a village situated on the south side of the Humber, in the north east corner of Lincolnshire, about nine miles south east of Barton. In this neigh- bourhood, a general baptist church had existed for more than a century. But its records being very imperfect, only a general account of its transactions can now be obtained.

In 1686, it was in a flourishing state, under the pastoral care of Mr. Thomas Sergeant ; who ap- pears to have been a very respectable and useful minister, and a person of considerable influence among his brethren in those parts.* The church

* In 1702, Mr. Sergeant accompanied Mr. Hooke to the


then consisted of seventy' or eighty members, who were scattered in ten or twelve villages ; and maintained regular met^tings at Elshani, Melton Ross, Keelbv, KiiUngholm, and Winterlon. iVIr, Sergeant continued to preside over this pros- perous interest till the spring of 1705, when he was probably removed by death. He was suc- ceeded in the pastoral office by iMr. James Wood, who was ordained, by Mr. Joseph Hooke, Aug. 15th. 1705.

For several j^ears, Mr. Wood laboured success- fully among this people ; but the time of his de- cease is not known. The last time he attended the Lincolnshire Association was March, 1712. It is probable, that Mr. Thomas Ullyott, who, for some years, acted as the colleague of Mr. J. Hooke, in the messenger's office, was either co- pastor with Mr. J. Wood or his successor, or perhaps both. When Mr. Ullyott died is also uncertain ; but, in 1720, Mr. Thomas Wakeham appears to have been the pastor of this society. Under him the cause declined : for, to a meeting for discipline, in 1737, at which William John- son, the messenger, presided, there are only four signatures, beMdes the pastor's. The members, therefore, were probably few. Mr. Wakeham died Feb. 14th. 1747. He was a pious minister ; and evinced his attachment to the cause of his Redeemer, by making a donation of a piece of land for a meeting-house and burying-ground ; which the church still possesses. About the same time, Mr. Stapp, a member of this congregation,

General Association in London, as the representatives of the Lincohishire churches ; and, on various other occasions, he appears to have taken a leading part in the transactions of the Lincolnshire general baptists.


200 MR. JOHN HANNATir. A.D. 1776

bequeathed five acres of land to the church for the support of the minister.

Mr. William Soulden, probably, succeeded Mr. Wakeham as pastor, in 1748; when the number of members was about tifty. This was a time of deep declension; several persons were excluded for seeking to such as pretended to have familiar spirits, for drunkenness, and for other disorders : and the cause rapidly declined. Mr. Soulden lived till 1768. After his decease, Mr. John Hannath, a respectable member of this so- ciety, who had begun to preach, with considerable acceptance, probably so early as 1755, undertook the whole work of the ministry. But the cause had then sunk so low, tiiat, in 1771, there were only eighteen nominal members, vital religion was very low, and discipline much neglected. Such was the deplorable account which Mr. Hannath gave to the Lincolnshire Association.

But, from this time, there seems to have been a degree of improvement. Mr. Hannath was unanimously chosen to the pastoral office, Oct. 3d. 1773, and ordained by Messrs. D. Taylor and William Thompson. As he coincided in sen- timent with these ministers, he forsook the Lin- colnshire Association ; and, in 1775, attended the annual meeting of the NewConnection, which was held that year at Boston. Having given an account of his experience and opinions, wbich was unanimously approved, he was admitted a member of that association. His people also after making regular application, was, the following year, placed on their list of churches. The cause continued to advance, though very slowly : and, in 1785, the number of members was twenty- eight, who were unanimous and friendly.

In 1776, Killingholm fields were inclosed :


when the ground allotted to the church in lieu of the ri^ht of commonage was unjustly claimed by a neighbour, Mr. Hannalh recovered it by a process at law ; and liberally fenced it in, at his own expence.

During this period, there was a general baptist church at Yarmouth^ in Norfolk, over which Mr. Benjamin Worship was ordained pastor, Jan. 9th 1775, by Messrs. D. Taylor and Vv . Thompson. In the year following, it was received into the New Connection. It then consisted of nearly fifty members; and the prospect was encoura- ging. We hear no more of it till 1782, when the members were reduced to twenty, and religion was low. It seems to have languished for some years beyond the close of this period, and then to have expired.*

Sect. 5. — The History of the General Baptist

Societies in the Southern District, during the Jirst

Fifteen Years after the Formation of the Neiv Con-


The society which assembled in Church-lanCf JVhitechapel, was, as we have already seen,"]' a member of the New Connection, at its first for- mation. But, whether from the distance of the

* In 1780, the church at Kirton in Lindsay joined the Nev7 Connection. It is an ancient church j but as we have not been able to obtain any particulars of its previous history, we refer the account of it, as well as of the churches at Goslerton, and Wisleach, wliich, at the close of this period^ made overtiues for a similar union, to the next chapter.

t Supra p. 91. VOL. II. 2 i>


202 CHURCH LANE A.D. 1784

places at which the annual associations were held, or for some other unassigned cause, the re- presentatives of this church seldom appeared at those meetings. There is not, however, the slightest reason to suspect that want of zeal for the great doctrines which distinguished that con- nection induced their absence. Their zealous pastor gloried in the title of a free-grace general baptist ; and it is evident, from their subsequent conduct, that his people heartily coincided in his views of divine truth.

During the former part of this period, the cause in Church-lane continued to flourish. Mr. Brittain's labours were well attended and suc- cessful : additions were frequent ; and the zeal of many abounded. In 1775, Mr. RowclilF, who had been called to the ministry by this society, was dismissed to the Park church, and became its pastor: and some others were, about the same time, called to preach the gospel. Several checks, indeed, occurred, amidst these encouragements : and the conduct of some of the members gave occasion of trouble, and called for the exercise of discipline : yet, upon the whole, the interest of religion advanced. But, towards the close of this period, the scene changed. Mr. Brittain's vigour began to abate ; and the eiTects of advan- cing years rendered him less useful and accept- able as a preacher than he had formerly been. The congregations became thin; few came for- wards to join the church ; and the cause rapidly declined. In 1784, the number of members, which, at the commencement of the New Con- nection, were stated at three hundred, had de- creased to one hundred and tifty : and the indif- ference and irregularity of many of these gave

A.D. 1784 CHURCH. 203

too much cause for anxiety and alarm to those who really sought the prosperity of Zion.*

Among those who perceived and mourned over this declension, the venerable pastor, now in his seventy-fourth year, was peculiarly' affected. — With a disinterestedness and zeal for the cause that deserve to be recorded, Jan. 23d. 1784, he earnestly exiiorted the church to seek for a pro- per person who might, after due probation, be ensased to minister the word to them ; as an assistant to him, during his life, and to whom thev might, at his death, look forwards as his successor. At the same time, he urged them to exert themselves to provide a decent support for such an assistant ; and set them a laudable ex- ample, by offering to relinquish a considerable part of the emoluments, which he received from them as their elder, in favour of any minister whom they might choose. These recommen- dations were taken into consideration at a series

* Notwithstanding this decline in numbers, the members of this society continued to give evidence of their zeal for the pro- motion of the general baptist cause, by their liberal exertions, in cases of a pecuniary nature. For, though it does not appear, that many rich men were connected with them ; yet when ap- plication was made to them for assistance in building the meeting-house at Leicester, in the winter of 17S3, more thanone hundred and ten pounds were easily collected. And in the year following, twenty-three pourds, were soon raised by a private subsciipiion among themselves, for white-washing and painting, their own meeting-house. — At this time, the church was blessed with several valuable and active members : among whom were Mr. William Shenston, who, for more than twenty years, filled the office of deacon, with honour to himself and advantage to the society ; and Mr. W. Burgess^ whi<, soon after was called to the ministry. These two, together with Messrs. Burston, Smithers, andPaxton, were ordained to the deacon's office, Sept. 25th. 1785. Messrs. B. Lewis, J, Henry, J. Bradshaw, &c. were also very active and useful.



204 MR. BRITTAIN A. D. 1785,

of special church-meetings ; and, after some alterations and explanations, the propositions of their pastor were gratefully accepted by the church.*

The first step which this society took, in order to accomplish their object, was to ad<lress letters to three leading ministers in the new connection, Messrs. D. Taylor, W. Thompson, and G. Birley, to request their assistance in looking out for a minister. Then, sensible of the importance of

* In order that the deliberations on this subject might be more free and unrestrained, Mr. Brittain sent his propositions, in a letter, to the church-meeting ; declining to attend in person : and the church replied, in the same manner. The concluding sentiments of these communications breathe such a spirit of piety and christian affection, that we believe we shall n^ed no apology for recording them. After recommending to his people the necessity of looking out for an assistant, and stating his readiness to co-operate in the important work, the aged pastor thus concludes : " That God may direct you in your application —invitation — judgment — and determination — that your souls may be built up and edified — thousands converted — the Re- deemer exalted— t1\e Eternal Thrte glorified — my grey hairs brought to the grave in peace — and you, the church, com- fortable and affectionately united in love — is and shall be the hearty prayer of your loving brother, affectionate elder, and willing servant, in the cause of our common Lord and Saviour,

John Brittain."

In allusion to these-affectionate prayers, the church replied. " Be assured, dear Sir, that your good wishes for our prosperity, unity, and love, as a church, and our spiritual improvement, as individuals, are not without their influence on our minds. In return we embrace, with pleasure, this seasonable opportunity of testifying our sincere regard for your person; and wish you much of the divine presence and power wiih your soul; — and that you may be yet owned for usefulness in the church — enjoy a sweet serenity in your own soul — and, when your heavenly Master has no more woik for you in his vineyard below, be re- ceived into llie paradise of God, with a — 'Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord' — is the earnest, and constant prayer of the church under your pastoral tare."


the business in which they were engaging, they set apart the Lord's-day-evening weekly, for prayer to the Almighty for his direction and blessing; and observed April 5th as a day of solemn fasting and humiliation, for the decay of religion in the world, but particularly in their own church. They next applied to the annual association at Kirton in Lincolnshire ; and, lay- ing their state and wishes before that meeting, requested advice in procuring an assistant for their aged pastor. The answer they received was discouraging. *' It is thought,** said the Association, " to be a matter of great moment, that our friends in London have an assistant minister; but we cannot, at present, find a person that can be spared from among us, who seems to suit them.'*

'Cold as this reply was, the introduction of the business, on this occasion, had important con- sequences. The representatives were deeply convinced, that it was highly necessary for the advantage of the general baptist cause at large, that an able minister should be stationed at London : and though, as a body, they declined naming any person as suitable ; yet, as indi- viduals, they freely declared their persuasion, that Mr. Dan Taylor was the only minister in the connection qualified for the important post. Some ventured further, and asserted, that his late removal from Birchciiff to Halifax had opened the way for a second change from Halifax to London. These discourses reached the ears of Mr. Brittain; and he eagerly embraced the idea, July 4th, he informed the church, that Mr. Dan Taylor might, probably, for the general advan- tage,be permitted to come to London. It was immediately resolved, that proper methods should



208 MR. D. TAYLOR A.D. 17S5

be adopted to procure him. Letters were ad- dressed to the different conferences, and a very delicate and well-written epistle was sent to the church at Halifax. Mr. Taylor had occasion, after the association, to visit London ; and preached several times for this congregation. They were so well satisfied with his character and abilities, that they agreed that his disap- proving of the practice of imposition of hands after baptism, though tiie custom of their church, should be no obstacle to their reception of him ; as he had no objection to another person's per- forming .it.

Several circumstances occurring, which en- couraged their hopes of ultimate success, they proceeded zealously to open subscriptions, and make arrangements for the support of their wished-for minister. Their aged pastor, also, in order to facilitate the business, enlarged his proposals of accommodating the church in pecu- niary matters: and further suggested, that, con- sidering the station which Mr. Taylor had so long and so honourably filled in the church, it would be more respectful to drop the idea of an assistant preacher, and endeavour to obtain him as joint pastor with himself: an arrangement with which he expressed his hearty concurrence.

With these preparations, Messrs. Paxton and Bureess were sent to the annual Association at Boston, in June 1785 ; to represent the church, and urge their request. At that meeting, as we have already seen,* the decision was favourable to their wishes. Mr. Taylor arrived, with his family, in London, July 29th ; was admitted into the church Aug. 18 : and called to the pastoral

^..^i- ■ — ' ■ ■ ■ ■' ■ ■■ ■ - -- - ■■-■ — ■■ . ■ — ■ I , f , .. ■ ,. - —,■■ — .I. mmmt

* Supra p. 192.


office, Aug. 22. He was publicly set apart, as joint pastor with Mr. Brittain, Sept. 21 ; when his old friend, Mr. Thompson of Boston, de- livered the charge ; and Mr. Samuel Deacon, of Barton Fabis, addressed the church. , Thus was a business, which had for more than a year occupied the attention of the entire con- nection, brought to an honourable issue. The whole was conducted in a manner that does credit to all the parties concerned. This church acted throughout Avith candour, unanimity and zeal : and it must have yielded them both satis- faction and support to reflect, that all the steps which they took in this affair were accompanied by the full concurrence, the earnest wishes, and frequent and fervent prayers of (heir venerable and beloved pastor. The members of the church at Halifax, also evinced a truly christian spirit, in resigning, for tlie benefit of the connection at large, a minister, who was the object of their highest esteem and warmest affection.* While Mr. Taylor himself appears to have taken little part in the discussions which he occasioned; but resigned himself to be disposed of in any way which was thought most likely to promote the

* The letter of dismission which the church at Halifax gave to Mr. Taylor, addressed to the church in London, commences thus: — "Beloved Brethren, — As it is thought, by the Asso- ciation of ministerri and others, that it will be more for the glory of God and the good of men in general, that our pastor be settled with you in London, although to part with such a valuable and worthy minister, has, in all probability, been the greatest affliction we expect to meet with on this side of the grave ; j'et, as the great Governor of the universe has a just right to dispose of his servants as he sees best, we, in compliance there- with, humbly acquiesce with the divine providence^ and dismiss bim to you," &c.


good of the cause to which he had devoted himself and all his powers.

O^r information respecting the church which now assembles in Great Suffolk-street is, during the present period, very limited. In 1770, it was under the pastoral care of Mr. William Summers, and met in Duke-street. Its pastor assisted at the formation of the New Coiineclion ;* but no representatives from it attended any of the annual Associations previous to 1785.

When Mr. Summers undertook the oversight of this society, there was a debt of more than five hundred pounds on the meeting-house. Thecause reviving, in some degree, under him, the friends exerted themselves to remove this burthen ; and, in seven years, paid off more than three hundred pounds. Finding themselves incapable of liqui- dating the remainder, they sent forth Mr. Sum- mers, with a Case, and Confession of Faith, to go, as they express it, "wheresoever the Lord should be pleased to call him; in hopes that he would, through the divine goodness, be recom- mended, either in public or private, to such as should be able and willing to relieve their pre- sent distress." This attempt probably succeeded in obtaining the sum required: as we hear no more of any debt on the meeting-house.

For some time previous to this, Mr. Summers, had leaned too much to the system of the Cal- vinists : and many thought, that the creed which he drew up for the purpose of collecting, was hardly sountl in the principles of the general baptists. But afterwards he acted more openly. He afi'ected to associate with the particular bap-/


* Supra pp. 92—96.

A.D.1785 CHURCH. 20^

tists, and availed himself of their assistance in the ordination of deacons, without soliciting the presence of any of the ministers of his own per- suasion. His public labours were formed on the same principles ; and he seemed determined to change the faith of the church. His attempts were resisted; and a separation ensued. He hired a meeting-house in the neighbouriiood ; and was followed by many of the members, and the greater part of the hearers. Here he preached for three or four years ,• till hispartizans forsook him, and the oause expired.

The few members who remained at Duke-street took proper measures to preserve the cause — They applied to their old friends in Church-lane, and were kindly assisted. After having received occasional supplies for two years, Mr. Rowcliff was dismissed from that society, in 1775, and be- came their pastor. He presided over this church till long after the close of this period ; but the cause appears to have continued low, and the prospect discouraging.

We know very little respecting the other so- cieties in the southern district of the Connec- tion. It appears that, in 1772, that they held an Association at Bessell's-green ;* but we have no traces of any future meetings of this nature. In 3772, and the following year, Mr. Stanger, of BesselTs Green and a colleague, attended the northern Associations, as the representatives of the southern churches. It is probable that these

* The Circular Letter for 1772 is dated from " The Annual Meeting in two Parties or Divisions, viz. at Loughborough, oa the 3rd and 4th, and at Bessell's Green, on the lOth and lltb iays of June."

VOL. II. 2 £




societies soon began to waver in their attachment to the doctrines on which the New Connection was founded : for, among the Minutes of theAs- sociation, at Melbourn, in 1773, we find the fol- lowing. " The nature of the connection between the northern and southern churches was inquired into: and as there is not a full satisfaction among us concerning two of the ministers in the south, we appoint brother D. Taylor to write to them to know their present sentiments/* What the issue of this correspondence was, we are not in- formed : probably the suspected ministers de- clined to give any account of their sentiments.

In 1774, it was agreed, by the Association at Wadsworth, that there should be a general assem- bly of the northern and southern churches held at Hinckley, in 1775; but not one minister or representative from the southern branch attended that meeting. Yet the northern Association did not relinquish their attempt ; but, in 1778, directed Mr. Stanger, who was occasionally pre- sent at St. Ive*s, to inquire into the reasons why the southern churches neglected to associate annually, and to report to the next Association. Mr. Stanger made this report by letter ; and the result was very discouraging. As a last resource, Mr. D. Taylor was desired to write an exhorta- tory letter to Mr. Stanger, bis church, and the rest of the southern brethren. This, doubtless, was done; and, probably, without producing any good effect : as, from this time, all communi- cation between the two branches of the connec- tion appears to have ceased.


Sbct. 6. — A brief Survey of the Proceedings, of the New Connection, as a Body, during the First Fifteen Years after its Formation.

The first object that occupied the attention of the Connection, was the adoption of proper rules for conducting its annual meetings. AVith this view, the ministers of the midland churches, and Mr. D. Taylor held a Conference, at Hugglescote, July 20th. 1773 ; and drew up a set of regu- lations, which thej agreed to recommend to the pastors and churches. They were accordingly sent to each society, with a request that they would consider them ; and enlarge, correct, or alter them, as might appear necessary, previous to the next Association. These rules regarded — the questions to be considered — the mode of pre- senting them — the order and manner of discus- sion — the power of the oflicers — and the persons entitled to act as members of the Association.* They were laid before the Association, at Wads- worth, in 1774: when it was agreed that they should be inserted in the Minutes, and acted upon in future Associations.

The method of admitting persons into the Con- nection, naturally became an early subject of deliberation. At the commencement of this union, as we have already seen, it was required

* On the Hst subject, they recommended " that, as serious incouveniencies had arisen, from admitting persoi^s into the Association who were not ministers or eldeT-s, the churches should satisfy themselves with those, and only those, ha\'in^' a place : unless when a church had no such officers, and then they might choo?e two brethren, whom the Association would readily admit." It is evident, from this language, that, at this time, the Association was a synod of officers, not an assembly of re- presentatives.



that every one mHo was admitted should subscribe the six articles which were then adopted.* But, in the Association, at Hinckley, in 1775, it was the opinion of a decided majority, "that sub- scription to a creed was not needful ; but, that it was sufficient if a person who wished to join the Connection gave in his experience to the Asso- ciation, and then withdrew while it was debated whether lie should be admitted or not:" — and that, if this question was carried in the affirma- tive, the applicant should be called in, and a declaration of what the Connection believed respecting the most fundamental doctrines should be made to him ; " that,^* say they, " we may try if there be an agreement in religious sentiments." Thus individuals were admitted into the Asso- ciation : for it was not uncommon then for mi- nisters to be ranked as members of the Associ- ation, whose churches were not in the Connec- tion.

But, as the churches became more numerous, it was found necessary to establish some mode of admitting them into the Connection. At the Association at Castle-Donington, in 1777, it was agreed, that anychurch desiring admission should signify its request to the annual Association, which request should be inserted in the Minutes : 1— -that, during the succeeding year, such church should send to every society in the Connection a written statement of their religious sentiments, with their thoughts on the character of a true christian, and the proper subjects of baptism and church-fellowship; and that their minister should accompany this statement with an account of his experience — that each church should transmit to

- <i

* Supra, p. 143.


the ensuing Association its resolution, whether it could or could not hold communion with such a people as a church of Christ — and that, if the re- sult was then favourable, it should be considered as a branch of the Connection. This mode of admission continued, with a few occasional irre- gularities, for a number of years, to be the esta- blished practice of the Connection.

The increasing prosperity of the New Connec- tion, and the declining state of the few churches which adhered to the Lincolnshire Association, naturally induced the latter to desire a re-union with the former. This was especially the earnest wish of the venerable Gilbert Boyce : and, thro* the whole of this period, he continued anxiously to labour to prouiote it. He sent an Address to the annual Association, at Boston, in 1776, ex- pressing his strong desire for a re-union, and proposing certain " heads of agreement," on which he thought it might be effected. After mature deliberation, that meeting resolved, that the propositions of Mr. Boyce were insufficient for the purpose; but agreed that proposals should be made from the Association to Mr. Boyce and the Old Connection, as a basis for the desired reconciliation : and that a committee, consisting of Messrs. D. Taylor, W. Thompson, J, Grimley, A. Austin, and B. Worship, should be requested to prepare such proposals.

These proposals were accordingly drawn up, and presented to tlie Lincolnshire ministers, Jan, 1777, by Messrs. D. Taylor and W. Thompson. In May following, they were laid before the Old Association at Coningsby ; and were accepted by that meeting-, as ijrounds on which thev were ready cheerfully to unite. In order, however, to render the union " perfect, solid, comfortable,


214 ATTEMPTS A. D. 1777

and lasting," they sent certain queries to the New Connection. These queries respected the willingness of the latter to join the general As- sembly in London — their opinion as to the divine institution ottlie messenger's office and of impo- sition of hands on all baptized believers — and what those things were which they styled " in- ditFerent/* At the same time, Messrs. Boyce, Thornallj'^, Anderson and Proud, were appointed to meet a committee of the New Connection, at Gosberton, on May 27th. 1777.

The Annual Association of the New Connec- tion met, that year, at Castle-Donington ; and these queries v^ere laid before them. That meet- ing agreed, that the messenger's office and impo- sition of hands were not of divine institution: — - that singing of psalms and hymns — imposition of hands — the personality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit — the final perseverance of the saints ' — the imputation of Christ's active obedience to believers — occasional addresses to the Son and the Holy Spirit — the messenger's office — the p re- existence of Christ's human soul — and the eating of blood, might be esteemed less important mat- ters, in which they ought to allow each other the liberty of thinking and acting according to their own views. Mr, D. Faylor was appointed to draw up answers to the queries; and he, together with Messrs. J. Grimley, N. Pickering, and W. Thompson were nominated to meet the depu- tation from the Old Connection. The deputies accordingly met, at Gosberton, May 27th 1777: and were attended also by Mr, G. Birley, of St. he's, and Mr. Poole, of Long Sutton. At the opening of the conference, a difficulty arose: the Lincolnshire ministers declaring, that they could not yet break with the general Assembly, with

A.D. 1784 AT kEUMON. 215

which the other party refused to unite. The business, however, proceeded: and, after a dis- cussion of nearly two days, the attempt failed, as each party adhered tenaciously to its own views.*

In 1784, the subject was again revived. The Lincolufihire association, which then consisted of only fi^e representatives, sent Mr. Proud, jun. to attend the aotuial Association of the New Con- nection at kirton, May 1784; with this friendly message. " V* e are heartiiv willino- and desirous to re-unite with our brethren who have separated from us, and others connected with them : hoping that they will be equally willing to unite again with us, for the mutual advantage of the whole interest." The m^ 'nbers of tlie Kirton associa- tion gave these overtures a friendly reception : and it was mutually as^reed that every one should be allowed to follow the dictates of his own con- science respecting imposition of hauds, singing in public worship, the eating of blood, and the messenger's oiUce. l^hese preliiiiinary concessions

* The following ingenuous replies to two queries, proposed by the deputies of the New Connection to the Lincolnshire minis- ters who met them on this occasir>rij exhioit very clearly the views and wirhes of the latter. " Query. I. What are the prin- cipal motives that induce you to labour after a re-union? Answer. 1. Because wher. you were united with us, you were likely to be of general service to us, 2. Because, since your separation from us, we huve sustained material loss with respect to the state of religion among us. 3. Because we wish to enjoy your useful labours to strengthen and revive us. Quay. 2. What can be the moti'/es that induce yoa to adhere so closely to the old Assembly, the doctrines and practices of which have no ten- dency to promote vital religion? Ansiver. 1. Because we are not convinced that they mainidin such doctrines and practices. 2, Because they have eonsidt labie additions in several places; and appear to be hearty, faithful friends to real religion* 3. Because we esteem and love them." Mln. o/4iS9. N. C. 1777.


216 KINGSFORD*SPLA!r. A. D. 1784

were approvefl by the Lincolnshire association, held at Coningsbj, in 1785 : and the prospt^ct of ultimate success began to brighten. But it soon appeared, that however ardently the ministers of the Old Connection desired an union with the New, yet they were unable, even to accomplish this favourite purpose, to relinquish their ancient tenets and practices. At the Boston association, in 1785, Messrs. Boyce, Clark, and Proud at- tended, and stated, that they could not re-unite unless the New Connection j)ractised laying oq of hands on all persons received into church-fel- lowship, and abstained from the eating of blood. These conditions could not be accepted; and, for that time, the negociation closed.

Another circumstance occurred, at the close of this period, which gave the ministers of the New Connection an occasion of explaining more fully their views of the London General Assembly. In 1783, Mr. William Kingsford, a worthy and opu- lent gentleman near Canterbury, proposed a plan for incorporating the whole body of general baptists in the kingdom into a kind of trading union ; by which manufacturers and tradesmen, masters and servants or apprentices, landlords and tenants, persons wishing to retire from busi- ness and those desirous of enjja:jin2: in it, mi<;ht readily gain intelligence of each other, and easily open a communication. This plan was, in 1783, submitted to the general Assembly in London, and lo the annual Association of the New Con- nection ; and, being generally approved by both these meetings, was ordered to be laid before the churches. In 1784, the subject was discusssed at large in the Association at Kirton. The mem- bers of that meeting jealous lest, by endeavour- ing to act with the general Assembly io temporal


concerns, their religious sentiments should be injured, previous to the discussion of Mr. Kings- ford's plan, passed this resolution : " It is the unanimous voice of this Association, that we find ourselves obliged in conscience to except against what we call ' a close union* with all ministers and churches who assert the purity of the human nature, or deny the proper atonement of Christ for the sins of man, and justification before God and acceptance with him enjojed by faith in Jesus Christ and not by works : which we appre- hend to be very fundamental doctrines in the gospel system." They added, by way of expla- nation, that by excepting against a * close union,* they meant, that they could not exchange pulpits with such ministers, receive members from such churches, nor make collections for the erection of their meeting-houses. After this precautionary measure, the plan was taken into detailed con- sideration ; and was generally approved. But, as it has never been carried into execution to any extent, it is needless to enlarge on the parti- culars.

The method of addressing Circular Letters to the churches, and sending them with the Minutes of the annual Associations, was early adopted, and found useful. The first epistle of this kind, was sent from the Association at Loughborough, in 1772. It was drawn up, during the intervals of the meeting, by Mr. Dan Taylor, at the re- quest of his brethren: and contained exhortations to heavenly-mindedness — diligence — self-exami- nation — carefulness not to grieve the holy Spirit •—and regard to eternal concerns. Mr. Taylor read it likewise at the meeting of the southern branch of the Connection at Bessell's Green, June 11th 1772 ; and it was signed by all the ministers

VOL. II. 2f


218 HINTS. A.D. 17S5

of both the Associations. It seems, that no other circular letters were sent till 1777 ; when it was unanimously resolved, by the Association at Castle-Donington, " that an Association Letter should be every year drawn up; and that Mr. D. Taylor write one, this year, before the ministers separate, on the nature and obligation of church- fellowship." This was done; and similar ad- dresses seem to have been issued by several suc- ceeding Associations, mostly composed by the same hand. Only one of these has fallen under our notice : which was published in 1779 ; and explained the nature and utility of Associations. In 1778, the Association strongly advised the churches to encourage their ministers to preach, as often as they could, in the villages around their respective stations. At their next meeting, in consequence of a case from Kegworth, they requested Mr. D. Taylor to publish a Catechism for the religious instruction of children. He accordingly printed, soon afterwards, a Manual, which has been highly acceptable and useful in the Connection. — Attempts were also made, to- wards the close of this period, to establish a fund for the education of young men for the ministry: but, as the plan was not matured till some years afterwards, we shall notice it in the next chap- ter.*

* Minutes of Assoc, of New Con. 1772 — 1785.— Min. Line. Asso, 1772— 1785.— Boston, Killingholm and Church Lane Records — Kingsford's Plan— Circular Letters — and Informatioa from the respective Churches.



The History of the New Connection dU" RING THE Second Period of Fifteen Years: or, from a.d. 1785 to a.d. 1800.

Sect. 1. — The Hisio^'y of the Churches in the

Midland Counties daring the Second Fifteen Years

after the Formation of the New Connection,

In glancing over the midland societies, our first attention is naturally drawn to the mother church at Barton. We left it, in 1785,* in a drooping state, in which it continued for several years. Many of the members were in low cir- cumstances, and exposed to great hardships; and i%w persons of property or influence favoured the cause. Yet the church was blest with internal peace and union : and, in 1788, they boast, that *' for seven years thej'^ had not had one jarring church-meeting.'* In a few years, the cause be- gan to revive. Their meeting-houses were crouded with attentive hearers ; and many appeared to be inquiring the way to Zion. The hopes of the friends of religion were not disappointed : in 1794, no fewer than thirty-one were baptized and joined the church. This animated their ministers to increased exertions; and they pushed their labours, on every side, with great success. In 1798, the number of members amounted to two hundred and sixty ; which were scattered over thirty villages, many miles distant from each other. At this time, they maintained re-

■ , .,.. .

5 Supra p. 148.


gular preaching at Ilugglescote, Bosworth, Bar- lestone, Bagsworth, Od. tone and Katby : at all which places, except Ratby, they were well at- tended with hearers.

The success of the cause had rendered both the meeting-house and burjing-ground at Hug- glescote inadequate for the purpose designed. A friend offering them a piece of ground, the old meeting-house was pulled down, in 1797 ; and a more capacious and convenient one erected, and the burying-ground considerably enlarged.

In the following year, nearly one hundred of the members, who lived at Hugglescote and in its neighbourhood, separated from Barton and formed a distinct church. The remainder however continued their exertions, and soon after this division were encouraged, by an in- creasing number of hearers to build a small place of worship at Barlestone, to which the same agreeable cause induced them, in 1800, to add galleries. The expences of this building and alteration, together with the erection of Hug- glescote meeting-house, exceeded six hundred pounds: great part of which was soon raised by the zeal and liberality of their own friends. These efforts were crowned with the divine blessing. In 1800, twenty-one were baptized; which raised the number of members to one hundred and eighty one.

In 1792, Mrs. Aldridge of Hugglescote imposed five pounds annually on one of her estates, towards the support of the ministers at Barton and Hugglescote: and, in case of separation, directed that it should be equally divided be- tween the two churclies. At the same time, the church raised a sum of money to be put out to accumulate at interest, in order to create a per-


mament fund. This fund was afterwards in- creased and vested in land ; the rents of which, after the decease of the ministers then living, were devoted to the support of the General Bap- tist interest at Barton.

The society at Melbourn which, in 1785, ap- pears to have been in a flourishing state,* struggled for many years afterwards under con- siderable ditficulties. In 1785, forty-six of the members who dwelt about Cauldwell separated, by mutual consent, and formed a distinct church. The pastors at Melbourn were advancing in years, and declining in mental and corporeal vigour. Some circumstances transpired, which occasioned Mr. Perkins to retire from preaching, some years previous to his death, which happened in January, 1792. And notwithstanding the weaknesses of old age, there is abundant reason to believe, that he is now singing that grace which, for forty years, he very successfully preached to others. Francis Smith, his colleague, though an ornament to his profession and still zealous to promote the cause of his Redeemer, yet, at seventy years of age, felt himself unable to sup- port the exertions of his former days. The usual effects followed. For several years, they repeat their complaints of disorderly brethren and dis- agreeable circumstances : and the number of their members gradually decreased.

They had many places to supply with minis- ters and the only assistance which their aged pastor enjoyed was J. Smedley and Thomas Mee.f

* Supra p. 149.

f Thomas Mee, as a preacher, was never popular. During the last ten or twelve years of his life, he lost tije use of his limbs ;


222 AN INTRUDER, A.D. 1793

Their efforts to spread the gospel were thus checked ; and they felt the necessity of an in- crease of preachers. At this juncture, R. Harper, who had been in connection with the Methodists, professing a change of sentiments, introduced himself, in Jan 1793, to the friends at Melbourn. Sensible of their need of help, and captivated with the warmth of his manner, and the ex- pressions of piety and zeal which were constantly in his mouth, they incautiously invited him to labour amongst them. It was in vain, that their aged pastor and more experienced brethren ad- vised them to caution and warned them against precipitancy; the infatuated people ran in multi- tudes after their favourite; and, for a few months, their meeting-houses were crowded to excess. But the delusion soon ceased. The true charac- ter of this intruder discovered itself; and his admirers were compelled, very reluctantly indeed, to believe him lo be both weak and wicked He was unanimousiy forbidden to preach ; and in the ensuing November, clandestinely left the town in disgrace.

The peace of the church being thus restored, they had, in a short time, a pleasing addition to their numbers. But their want of help in the great work of preaching increased. After various fruitless endeavours to obtain a supply, they were directed to Mr. Edmund Whitaker, who was then the pastor of the church at Burnley. Their application to him succeeded : and, in Majs 1794, he removed with his family to Mel-

and was commonly drawn in a little waggon, by his fiiends, to the meeting-house at Packington, when he had to preach. Hia character as a christian was respectable. He began to preach, about 1779, and died about 1795.

A.D. 1796 MR. F. smith's DEATH. 223

bourn. His labours were very respectable and highly blest. The number of hearers increased ; many appeared to be seeking the way to Zion ; and, in the succeeding year, forty-five were added to the church by baptism. It was found necessary, in the summer of 1795, to build a new meeting-house at Ticknall, a large village two miles from Mel bourn, where their labours were crowned with encouraging success.

In the midst of these pleasing scenes, their venerable pastor, Francis Smith, w as suddenly- called to his reward. On the Lord's-day pre- ceding his death, he rode to Packington, where he preached twice, and administered the Lord's supper. In the evening he went round and preached at Ticknall ; and afterwards returned home : thus riding, during the day, nearlj^ eigh- teen miles besides his other labour. In the suc- ceeding week, on March 19th. 1796, he com- plained to his daughter of a pain in his breast; and, sitting down in his chair, expired in a few minutes, without a sigh or a groan. H« had been diligently, faithfully and very success- fully employed in the work of the ministry for nearly fifty years: and had uniformly main- tained a character, as a man and a christian which had adorned his profession. The church, which had grown up under his fostering care, and been the constant object of his most anxious so- licitude and earnest prayers, acknowledged his worth and deeply lamented their loss. Their grief was heightened by the death of Mr. Samuel Robinson, a worthy man, a sincere christian, and valuable deacon, who, about the same time, was torn from them in the midst of his activity and usefulness. In the same year also, Mr J. Smedley,



224 MR. E. WHITAKER. A. D. 1800

one of their elders and assistant preachers, was dismissed to serve the church at Retford.

The whole care of the church, now devolved on Mr. E. Whitaker, who was unanimously in- vited to the pastoral office, and ordained, July 3d. 1797. Soon after which, that branch of the church which assembled at Packington, having for some time suffered much inc(>nvenience from the irregularity and uncertainty of their supplies, invited Mr. Joseph Goadby, a young preacher from Barton, to settle amongst them. This he did ; and became their regular minister.

Mr. Whitaker's labours were blest to the build- ing up of the cause ; but his bodily strength soon began to fail ; so that he could not exert himself to the extent of his desire. The symp- toms of an asthma had long been growing upon him : and, in 1799, he was laid aside from preach- ing for fourteen weeks. His recovery was very doubtful ; but he was at length restored to his sacred work.

At the close of this period, the church main- tained regular preaching at six diflerent places, which were generally well attended with hearers. The number of members amounted to two hun- dred and eighty-four : " they had several waiting for baptism, and many appeared in earnest re- specting their eternal concerns."

The general baptists at Cauldwell^ were so well satisfied with the labours of Mr. Job Bur- ditt, that, withdrawing from Melbourn, they formed themselves into a separate church ; and called him to be their regular preacher. This took place, Dec, 25th. 1785. For a short time,

* Supra, p. 158.


the cause prospered : Mr. Burditt* was diligent, zealous, and successful. But, going to preach at a distant place, he contracted a severe cold which settled on his lungs. This brought on a rapid consumption, of which he died, April 27th. 1786. This mysterious providence deeply affected his surviving friends. They assembled in the house of God, but their instructor was absent. Every heart was too full of its own sorrow to be able to offer any consolation to others. At length, to their surprize and comfort, Charles Norton, the son of Mr. Joseph Norton, who had been instru- mental in introducing the gospel into Cauldwell, stood up, and read to his mourning brethren the encouraging words of our Saviour, John xiv. 1, " Let not your hearts be troubled," &c. On this text, he built some animating exhortations, which suited the circumstances of his hearers, and af- forded them great support. His address was so seasonable and so well approved, that they im- mediately turned their thoughts to him as the successor of their lamented minister. He had been made a partaker of divine grace in the seven- teenth year of his age, and was now about twenty- five. The church had encouraged him to exer- cise his gifts, in a private manner, before Mr. Burditt's decease ; and this unexpected instance of his aptness for the great work, induced them unanimously to call him to the work of the mi- nistry. He was sent, for a few months, to receive the necessary instructions from Mr. S. Deacon, of Barton ; and, after his return, resumed his labours. His services being acceptable to his brethren, and blest to the conversion of sinners,

♦ Supra, p. 158. VOL. II. 2 G


226 MR. C. NORTON DIES. A.D. 1800

he was invited to the pastoral office, and ordain- ed, Sept. 16th. 1788.

His constitution was not strong ; and he was frequently afflicted with violent pains in his head. The fatigues and travels, occasioned by his ministerial engagements, increased his com- plaints. Being obliged to take a journey, in a . deep snow, when he had scarcely recovered from a severe attack of his disorder, he lost his sight on the road. He could, at first, discern the light of a window ; but, in less than a year, he was in- volved in total darkness.

Though thus shut out from one great source of improvement, he continued his ministerial la- bours with credit to himself and profit to his hearers. He had studied his Bible diligently before his misfortune : and, possessing a good memory, and being personally acquainted with the sorrows and joys, the doubts and duties of vital Christianity, his discourses were experimen- tal and edifying. These repeated trials, how- ever, prevented the extension of this society : and, during tliis period, the number of members continued almost unaltered : being stated, in 1786, at forty-six ; and, in 1800, amounting only to forty-three. At the Association in that year, they complain that " religion was very low in some, and their minister indisposed." This in- disposition increased, till Aug. 6th 1800, when he emerged from darkness into everlasting day : leaving a widow and six small children to mourn his departure. His funeral sermon was preached by Mr. S. Deacon, from Heb. vi. 12.

At Kegworth* the cause of Christ continued,

* Supra, p. 157.


for many years, to extend its limits. Preaching was regularly supported at five places ; tmd, at most of them, the congregations were numerous and attentive. In 1793, a commodious place of worship was built at Long-Whatton : and, in the following year, another at Sutton-Bonington. Two young men were, in 1797, called to the mi- nistry : Joseph Jarrom, of Diseworth, and Wil- liam Smith, of Sutton-Bonington. The former went soon afterwards to the Academy, and sub- sequently settled at Wisbeach. Respecting Mr. Smith, there arose a considerable difference of opinion, which caused a degree of uneasiness in the society, and, in 1798, issued in the withdraw- ing of the friends at Sutton, with the exception of a few individuals, from the fellowship of the society at Kegworth. About the same time, a deplorable misunderstanding arose between two of the leading men in the church ; which affected the whole body, and, for many years, spread its baneful influence in every direction.

This was discouraging : but, to complete their embarrassments, Mr. Tarratt, their pastor, in 1799, laid aside his office. He was now about sixty-two years of age, and had been engaged in the sacred work nearly forty. His labours had been peculiarly acceptable ; and made eminently useful in turning sinners to God. Indefatigable in his great work, his exertions had extended to most parts of the connection. His pulpit talents were of a superior order : a fine voice, a strong memory, a feeling heart, and a mind that natu- rally formed bold, clear and simple ideas. But, as he had not enjoyed the means of cultivating these excellent natural faculties, or of enriching his understanding by reading and study, his men- tal powers began early to decay. His youthful


228 MR. TARUATT. A.I>. 1800

vivacity disappeared ; his intellectual furniture was already exhausted ; and his public exercises became only the shadow of what they formerly had been. Besides this, his zeal to spread the tidings of salvation had necessarily caused him, in some measure, to neglect his temporal con- cerns : and as, for many years, he received no remuneration for his ministerial services, and, even in the latter part of his course, but a very inadequate one, his circumstances at length were involved in embarrassments, from which the church supposed itself unable to extricate him. To complete his misfortune, he had, a few years previous, lost his wife, an excellent woman, who had been the chief support of his domestic cre- dit ; and now he hastily formed a second union witli a person whose years were thought unsuit- able to his own. All these circumstances combi- ned to create considerable dissatisfaction against iiim amongst the members of the church, and he retired from his station. He withdrew, indeed, under a cloud ; but those who knew him best were persuaded, that he would shine, in a better state, as the stars for ever. His secession did not restore harmony to this distracted society ; a painful degree of irritation continued ; and, the following Christmas, forty-five of the friends at Long-Whatton and Belton withdrew, and formed a distinct interest.

Nothing but the trunk now remained of this once flourishing church : about seventy-eight members residing at Kegworth and Diseworth : many of whom were old, and sinking into the grave. They, however, l^ore up under all these discouragements, and obtained what supplies they could from neighbouring ministers. In a

A. D. 1785 MR. GODDARD, 229

few months, they received intimation, that Mr. William Felkin, who then laboured at Ilkiston, was likely to remove ; and made application to him. He complied with tlieir unanimous call ; and, in April, 1800, settled at Kegworth.

The church at Ilkiston^^ which formerly had been united to Kegworth, became a distinct so- ciety. May 22d. 1785. It consisted of fifty mem- bers, who resided chiefly at Ilkiston and Smalley, and the places adjacent. Mr. Goddard was their regular preacher ; and his services were so well approved by his brethren, that he was, in a few years, unanimously called to the pastoral office over them ; to which he was ordained, on Whit- Monday, 1789, by Messrs. D. Taylor and B. Pol- lard. In the year following, a good meeting- house was erected at Smalley ; which was opened about Michaelmas, by Mr. Goddard.

Harmony was maintained in this society, till the beginning of 1795 ; though, for two or three years, the progress of the cause had been slow. But, in that year, a charge of a very extraordinary nature was brought, by a near relative, against the pastor. This, though unsupported by any direct evidence, made a great impression on the minds of manv. Mr. Goddard, thinking that some of the leading members lent too favourable an ear to this report, resigned his office, and withdrew from the church. He left things in a painful^nd dangerous state : the minds of the people being much agitated, and considerably dissatisfied with each other. A few supplies of ministers were obtained from the neighbouring congregations ; but the principal dependance

* Supra p. \b7.



was on Mr. Felkin, one of their own members, then in histvventj-thirdyear. Though he anxious- ly wished, that the former pastor should resume his office, and was deeply sensible of his own un- fitness for the sacied work; yet the importunity of his friends obliged him to attempt occasion- ally to speak in public. In Nov. 1795, he yielded, though very reluctantly, to the unanimous soli- citations of the church, and began to preach re- gularly. His labours were blest. The congre- gations increased, and it soon became necessary to erect a gallery in the meeting house at Ilkiston. Conversions were also frequent : twenty being baptized, on a profession of faith, in the course of twelve months. This success continued for several succeeding years, and the cause prospered. In 1798, Mr. Felkin spent a few months at the Academy: and his place was kindly supplied, during hisabsence, by the neighbouring ministers. On his return, he resumed his labours with in- creased diligence and zeal. It was, however, soon apparent, that close application to his secu- lar employment, regular preaching and long walks between the ditferent places of worship, had injured his health. He therefore found it necessary, in order that his fatigues might be lessened, to propose a new arrangement to the church. His' proposals were accepted with appa- rent cheerfulness: but, not long after, symptoms of dissatisfaction discovered themselves in a few individuals. These, Mr. Felkin observed ; and, therefore, in the spring of 1800, accepted a call to Kegworth.

Yet, with all these discouragements, the cause of religion had prospered at Ilkiston. During this period, the members had increased to nearly three times their original number: being, in


1800, one hundered and forty-nine. The seasons of worship were well attended ; and thej hoped, *' that the cause of Christ xyns gaining a little ground amongst them "

We have been able to collect only a few par- ticulars respecting the transactions of the church at Castle-Donington,* during the period under review. It separated from Kegworth, in 1785; and, for some time, enjoyed prosperity. The number of hearers was encouraging ; and many were added to the church : so that, in 1788, it consisted of upwards of one hundred members. The labours of Mr. N. Pickering, their pastor, were very acceptable and useful : and his two sons, Thomas and William, began, at the request of the church, to assist in the sacred work. At Sawley, indeed, the hearers at first were few, and the prospect discouraging; but, in a few years, it improved, and there was evidence of a blessing on that attempt. At this time, they supplied once a month at Derby,

But, in 1789, Mr. W. Pickering went to reside at Ashford on the Peak : and, in the following year, his father resigned the pastoral otfice, and laid aside preaching. Mr. fhomas Pickering was, therefore, their only preacher; but his character and abilities were highly esteemed by his friends. In 179 , he was ordained to the pastoral office over them ; when Mr. D. Taylor gave the charge to the minister.

Mr. T, Pickering fulfilled the various duties of his situation with diligence and wisdom ; in a manner highly to the satisfaction to the church. To use their own expression, " the gospel was

* Supra^ p. 157.



preached in purity, and witli energy and affec- tion." For some time, the effect was pleasing: no fewer than thirty being baptized, in 1792. Though the success did not continue equally great ; yet there was a gradual increase : and, in 1780 the number of members amounted to one hundred and thirty-seven.

We left the church at Lou^lihorous:h, in 1785,* m a flourishing state, under the care of the worthy John Grimley ; but this was soon inter- rupted by his sudden death. On Lord's-day, Aug. 5th. 1787, he preached, with unusual life and vigour, at Loughborough, Quorndon and Rothley : and the following Tuesday evening, he delivered an animated discourse at Lou^h- borough, from 2 I'lm. iv. 6 — 8. A day or two afterwards, he was seized with violent convul- sions ; and though prompt medical assistance was obtained, he continued speechless till the ensuing Lord's-day, when he expired. His re- mains were interred in the meeting-house at Loughborough ; attended by many of his brethren in the ministry, and a numerous concourse of neighbours. His funeral sermon was preached, Aug. 26th. by Mr. S. Deacon, from Heb. vi. 12. His removal was a heavy loss, not only to the church over which he presided., but also to the whole connection. He had been a principal in- strument in raising the general baptist interest in the midland counties: and, for upwards of forty years, had devoted his whole powers to its service. His piety, experience and prudence had enabled him to be highly useful in the general aifairs of the churches : and the prosperous state of the

* Supra, p. 261.

A. D. 1787 Mil. B. POLLARD OllDAINED. 233

cause at Loughborough, when he was called to his rest, sufficiently proves the success of his labours as a minister and pastor.

The death of Mr. Grimley involved the church in great difficulties. The management of so ex- tensive a society, and the supply of four or five regular places of worship, called for abilities and strength of which they felt theqaselves destitute. But they were assisted beyond their expectations. The activity and wisdom of the leading members, now called into exercise by necessity, supplied, in a great measure, the loss of a pastor, in matters of government and discipline : and two of their members, Mr. John Pollard and Mr. R. Bird were induced, by the pressure of circumstances, with the approbation of their brethren, to en- deavour occasionally to preach. Thus, under the divine blessing, the church was preserved from disunion and decline ; and few of the places, in which the gospel had been preached, were neg- lected.

It was, however, thought necessary, to obtain, as soon as possible, a successor to their deceased pastor ; and the eyes of the whole church were turned towards Mr. Benjamin Pollard, who had laboured amongst them, as an assistant preacher, for eight years; and was highly esteemed. He was accordingly called to the pastoral office ; and publicly ordained, at Quorndon, Nov. 27th. 1787 : when Mr. N. Pickering addressed the people ; and Mr. S. Deacon, the minister, from John xxi. 13, *' Feed my lambs.'*

In the following year, the old general baptist church at Mountsorrel, which had existed for upwards of a century, had so far declined, that the meeting-house was occupied as a hay-barn, and the burying-ground as a wood-yard ; and

VOL. II. 2 H



only two or three nominal members could be dis- covered in the neighbourhood. The trustees of the building, therefore, cheerfully accepted the proposal of the friends at Loughborough, to re- pair the meeting-house, and restore it to its ori- ginal use. Preaching was thus revived in this village, which is only one mile south of Quorn- don, and has been hitherto continued ; though the success has not been so great as in some other places. In a short time afterwards, they began to preach, in a licensed dwelling-house, at Swith- land, a village some distance west of Mount- sorrel.

This increase of stations made it necessary to obtain an increase of labourers: and Mr. Tho- mas Truman, an assistant minister of Kirkby- Woodhouse church, was invited to settle amongst this people. With this invitation he complied ; and removed to Quorndon, in Dec. 1790. In the following year, the church sold the lease of the old meeting-house at Loughborough ; and, having purchased a small freehold estate, erected a large new place of worship, with three galleries, a large vestry, and a commodious baptistery. The whole expence was nine hundred pounds ; and the building was opened, April 19th. 1792, by Messrs. D. Taylor and K. Smith.

The cause continued to extend itself. Preach- ing was introduced at various places, where, on account of the distance, it could not be con- tinued. Yet regular public worship was main- tained, at this time, at seven places ; and at most of them the hearers were numerous. At Wood- house-Eaves, their eil'orts were so successful, that the dwelling-house, in which they had hitherto preached, became too small to accommodate the increasing hearers. A new meeting-house was

A. D. 1797 MR. TRUMAN*S Dr\TH. 235

accordingly erected in that village, at an expence of three hundred pounds, which was opened, Jan. 22d. 1797.

But a very affecting providence soon cast a deep gloom over the affairs of this flourishing so- ciety. Oct. loth 1797, Mr. Truman, their assist-" ant minister, who had laboured amongst them with great approbation for more than six years, went to deliver an evening^ lecture at Lou^h- borough. Immediately after the conclusion of the service, he set out on his return to his residence at Quorndon ; and, though some of his friends offered to accompany him, on account of the darkness of the night, he declined the proposal. He had scarcely proceeded half a mile, when he met a cart ; and, at the same instant, a person, supposed to be intoxicated, rode past the car- riage. The darkness prevented Mr. Truman from seeing the approach of the horse ; and the noise of the cart from hearing it ; so that, the horse, running against him, threw him down, and severely bruised him. Some of Mr. Tru- man's friends immediately coming up, conveyed him back to Loughborough. Here he assisted in undressing himself, and was put to bed. He complained of a pain in his head, and a surgeon was sent for ; who, after examining his bruises, declared there was no danger. In a few minutes, however, he expired. His remains were interred at Quorndon ; when Mr. Smith, of Nottingham, addressed a numerous and deeply affected au- dience, from James iv. 15 : and Mr. S. Deacon preached a funeral sermon, on Lord's-day, Nov. 22d , from Jer. xi, 7*

* Mr. Truman was a native of Nottingham, and while young, became a member of the general baptist church in that


This awful stroke produced consequences of a very discouraging nature. Mr. J. Pollard had, some years previously, declined the work of the ministry; and there was now no regular preacher except Mr. B. Pollard, the pastor. The churches at Barton and Nottingham, indeed, exerted them- selves honourably to lend them assistance ; but the supplies thus kindly afforded were inadequate to the necessities of so large a church. They obtained the labours of Mr. Briggs, of Gosber- ton, who settled amongst them, in 1799: but this measure was not so satisfactory as might have been wished. After this, a Mr. Matthewson, a methodist preacher, professed to be convinced of the necessity of believers' baptism, and was re- ceived into this church, in i\ov. 1800. He was called to exercise amongst them as a preacher ; and, for some time, hopes were entertained that he would be made useful ; but, being unsettled in his sentiments, he left them in less than two years.

But, in the midst of these difficulties, they

town. Here he was first called to the ministry, and preached for some time with considerable acceptance. The society at Kirkby-Woodhouse being destitute of a preacher, he settled amongst them, and his labours there were much blessed. After his removal to jQuorndon, he taught a school, to which pro- fession he had been educated. He was kind, industrious and tiseful as a schoolmaster, and was esteemed one of the best penmen of his age. He is thus described, by one of his surviv- ing brethren. ''Brother Truman's character, as a christian, was unimpeachable. I knew not his equal. As a husband perhaps without an equa!. As a parent, most tender and affectionate. As a schoolmaster, exceedingly attentive and successful. As a member of society, universally approved. As a minister, very close in his exhortation : very firm in what he believed to be the truth : and very improving indeed. His real worth gained amazingly on the affections of the people."

G.B.Mag, Fol.l. pp. 14.

i.i>. 1794 LEAKE CHURCH. 237

continued their exertions for the good of their neighbours, as well as for their own improvement. They embraced a favourable opportunity of purchasing a piece of ground at Rothley : on which thej erected a new meeting-house, in 1800, at an expence of three hundred pounds. About the same time, they licensed a dwelling-house at Wanton, in the Wolds, and their meetings were well attended. They also formed two reading societies, for their improvement in knowledge : one at Loughborough, and the other at Quorn- don. At the latter place, too, a sunday-school was established ; which, in 1800, contained one hundred scholars. This society then extended over a large tract of country ; had increased to four hundred members, who dwelt in more than thirty villages ; had eight places of public wor- ship, all which were well attended with hearers ; and religion was thought to be on the advance amongst them.

The cause of religion made little progress at Leake* for several years after the commence- ment of this period : but, in 1794, the scene changed. The seed, which had been sown in hope, began to bring forth abundant fruit. In the course of two years, more than eighty persons were baptized, and added to the church ; and the various places of worship were crouded with attentive hearers. At Broughton, a village seven miles north-east of Wimeswold, where the gospel had been preached for several years, the prospect was so encouraging, that it was determined to erect a new meeting-house, for the accommoda- tion of the increased hearers. This was effected

* Supra p. IQI,


238 PERSECUTION". A. D. 1791

in 1795, at an expence of upwards of two hun- dred pounds.

An attempt was made, by the friends at Leake, in 1791, to introduce the gospel into Hose, a small village in the vale of Belvoir, about five miles north-east of Broughton. Appearances were, at first, very encouraffins: : the hearers were nu- merous, and several joined the church. This exasperated the enemies of religion ; and a bitter spirit of persecution soon manifested itself. — Bells, horns, and the most dreadful imprecations, were employed to annoy the intruders and their abettors. The meehngs were riotously broken up ; and the hearers assaulted witli the most op- probrious insults, as they peaceably walked the streets. Sometimes the rabble proceeded so far, as to follow them to their own houses, and break their windows. Mr. 1 hurman, the minister, was frequently exposed to great danger of bodily injury; but Providence preserved both him and his friends from harm. The enemies of the truth, however, gained, for the present, their object; and the attempt was suspended. This victory was celebrated by their persecutors with ringing of bells, and other demonstrations of triumph.

But the bread cast on the waters was found again after many days. In about seven years afterwards, Mr. Thomas Hoe, a native of this village, began to exercise his gifts amongst his neighbours in prayer and exhortation ; and se- veral seemed disposed to encourage his attempts. This revived the former opposition : and every species of artful cruelty and open violence was used, to crush the rising spirit. During the time of worship, the garments of the hearers were fre- quently cut in pieces with knives; and, in re- turning to their habitations, they were followed

A.D. 1800 MR. JOHN BISSILL. 239

with vollevs of stones, brickbats and dirt. Mr. Hoe, and his fellow-labourers, were repeatedly in considerable danger ; yet, in defiance of all opposition, they persevered, and finally suc- ceeded. The word preached by them was made the power of God to the conversion of several, in this den of bigotry ; and the gospel still continues to be declared at Hose.

The cause had now spread itself on every side; and there were four or five stations to supply with regular preaching. Mr. Thurman, though diligent and zealous, could not occupy them all. For several jears, assistance was obtained from the ministers at Nottingham ; but, in 1798, it was thought necessary to endeavour to procure a re- gular assistant preacher. After seriously deli- berating on the subject, it was resolved to invite Mr. John Bissill, of Little-Ponton, near Gran- tham. He was a member of the ancient general baptist society at Knipton; and had been called to the ministry by that church. In his excur- sions for spreading the gospel, he had penetrated as far as Hose, and shared in the labours and per- secutions which attended the introduction of the word into that village. This led to an acquaint- ance with the friends at Broughton and the church at Leake, which issued in their requesting him to settle amongst them. He complied with their request : and, after spending some time at the Academy, fixed his residence at Wimeswould, in the spring of 1800.

Thus reinforced, the cause flourished : and this animating report was made to the ensuing Association : " We have long prayed for a re- vival : and now, in some branches of the church, we behold it with joy. We have public worship in five villages. Hearers in most of our places



are numerous and attentive; many, we hope, feed on the bread of life. Not a few of our mem- bers are lively and active: and, upon the whole, vital religion appears to be on the advance. We hope yet to see better days than these.'* The number of members then was two hundred and fifty-seven.

As we have not been able to obtain any re- gular information respecting the church in Friar Lane, Leicester, our account of it must be very general. In 1785, a new meeting-house had been erected; and the cause of religion appeared to prosper.* April 26th. 1780, Mr. John Deacon, who had for some time laboured amongst them, was ordained to the pastoral office, by Messrs. D. Taylor and W. Thompson. For several years afterwards, their seasons of public worship were well attended : and though various circum- stances occurred to interrupt the harmony of the church, yet there was a constant improve- ment. Prayer meetings were established which produced beneficial effects ; and preaching was maintained with encouraging prospects, at three or four neighbouring villages. In 1793, twenty- three persons were baptized, on a profession of faith and added to the church, and the number of members then exceeded one hundred.

But, about that pesriod some very distressing reports were spread, which deeply affected the character of the pastor. This caused much un- happiness, and alteration in the society ; and their proceedings appear to have been marked with too much heat and precipitancy. Many of the disaffected members were hastily excluded :

* Supra p. 164.


and several others withdrew: so that, in 1796, the number had decreased to seventy-six. The business was broujj^ht before the Association, at Hinckley, in 1793 ; and, as it was a matter of considerable delicacy, it was referred to a secret committee,* The members of this committee censured the conduct of the majority, as unscrip- tural and disorderly : and advised them to make proper acknowledgments to the parties con- cerned ; and endeavour to heal the breach which their proceedings had caused. Similar advice was subsequently given by various conferences ; but it seems that little attention was paid to it. Complaints were, therefore, again sent to the succeeding Association; and the subject was then openly investigated. The conduct of the mi- nority was generally approved by this meeting, and a letter of reproof written to the majority. In this letter, they were admonished to follow the advice given by the former committee ; and re- quired to send delegates to the Leicestershire conference : " in order," they say, " to effect a proper understanding between us; as we cannot think of encouraging, with our approbation or connection, persons so extremely irregular in their discipline, and who do not think it neces- sary to satisfy their grieved brethren in a case of this nature." What effect this measure produced we are not informed : but, in 1795, Mr„ J. Dea- con attended the Association, as the represen- tative of this church ; when it was stated to be peaceable and tolerably happy.

* The appointing of secret Committees was highly disap- proved by some of the Yorkshire churches, who protested against this mode of proceeding, at the next Association : and, we believe, that secret committees have never been resorted to, except in this instance.

VOL. II. 2- 1



The cause of religion at Hinckley, in 1785, was flourishing at the outposts, but rather in a dis- tracted state at head-quarters. Harmony, how- ever, appears to have been soon established; and, for several years, they state themselves to be united and peaceable. In 1787, Mr. John Ship- man, their ruling elder, was so much indisposed, as to deprive them, tor some time, of his services. Yet they persevered in their endeavours to spread the tidings of salvation ; and, in 1791, had three commodious meeting-houses,in which they main- tained regular worship every Lord's-day ; besides three licensed dwelling-houses, where they fre- quently preached. But, with these multiplied labours, they complain, that iew were added to the church ; and evidently were in a low state.

Towards the middle of this period, Mr. Joseph Bentley, a highly esteemed member of this so- ciety, was called, by his brethren, to the work of the ministry ; and, at tirst, his labours were very acceptable. But unhappily meeting with some socinian writings, his mind became un- settled, and his usefulness was at once termi- nated. His friends felt deep regret in withdraw- ing from him : but the honour of the truth re- quired the measure. For some years, he wandered from one party to another; till he ceased, at length, from attending public worship in any form.

About 1794, symptoms of a revival began to appear, in several branches of this society, which, for a ie^w years, continued to increese. They had established six distinct stations, at which they supported regular preaching : their services were

Supra, p. 158.

A. D, 1798 MR. W. SMITH DIES. 243

well attended; and additions to the church were more frequent. But, towards the close of the century, appearances became less encou- raging, in 1798, they complain " of carnal mindedness in some, want of wisdom and charity in others, and the bad conduct of too many ;'* and observe that, "on the whole, their prospect was not very agreeable." Towards the close of this year, their diligent and worthy pastor, Mr. William Smith, was called to his reward. This good man, as we have formerly seen,* had been very instrumental in the introduction of the general baptist cause into Longford and Hinck- ley : and, on the division into two churches, had become the pastor of the society at Hinckley. In that station, he diligently exerted himself for the conversion of sinners and the edification of the saints, till his decease. Though destitute of the advantages of a liberal education, he possessed strong natural faculties. The Bible was the principal subject of his study, and he obtained a good acquaintance with the doctrines and duties of Christianity : being, like most of his fellow labourers, an excellent textuary. He was regu- lar in his attendance at Conferences and Asso- ciations ; and, even when the distance was great, travelled always on foot. His labours in the gospel were rendered very useful : and many, there is good reason for believing, will at last be found, on the right hand of the Judge, whom he brought into the path of life, and trained up for a blessed immortality. His death was occasioned by a mortification, which took place in his hand, and, spreading rapidly over the whole frame, in a few days terminated his life. His funeral ser- mon was preached, by Mr. J. Tarratt, of Keg-

■"* ■ ■■ ■ ■ - - ■ ■ _ , — — . - — .-■— - ■■' — *i ■■ II iiff I » - — -.^i

* Supra, pp. 40 and 166.



244 LONGFORD A.D. 1800

worth, to a verr cro'»vded auditory, from Acts xx. 25. He was si.\ty-"i"<i years of age ; more than forty of which had been laboriously employed in the christian ministry.

The church being now destitute of a pastor, and learning that Mr. Joseph Freeston, who was then labourino-at Wisbeach, had some intentions of removing, sent a messenger to him, to enquire into the true state of aii'airs; and, if there ap- peared an opening, to invite him to Hinckley. After mature deliberation, he consented to their unanimous request; and, removing in Julj^ 1799, took the oversight of this church. At that time, it consisted of one hundred and forty-four members : and regular preaching was main- tained at Hinckley, Thurlaston, Wolvey, and Witheybrook ; besides occasional services at Dunton, Ullesihorpe and a few other places.

At the close of the last period, the church at Longford was left without a pastor, but very desirous of obtaining one.* This desire con- tinued : and, in 1786, they applied to the Asso- ciation for advice, respecting the propriety of inviting Mr. Freeston to remove from Wisbeach and settle with them. That meeting, after de- bating on the subject, as seriously and impar- tially as possible, concluded, that " it would be most for the good of souls and the glory of God, for Mr. Freeston to remain at Wisbeach." Thus discouraged as to this object, they turned their ej^es towards Mr. Thomas Pickering, who had lately begun to preach at Castle-Donington; and, the year following, asked the advice of the Association on the subject; when a large majority

* Supra, p. 171.

A.D. 1790 CHURCH. 245

declared in favour of his removing to Longford. For some reason, however, with which we are un- acquainted, tlie negociation did not then succeed. And, in 1788, the Association repeated its recom- mendation of the same measure, with as little effect.

Not being able to obtain Mr. T. Pickering, the friends at Longford applied to Mr. R. Folds, the pastor of the church at Burnley, in Lanca- shire; who removed to them, in March, 1789. They now cherished sanguine hopes, that they should enjoy those privileges and benefits, of which they had been so long deprived, through the want of a pastor. This inspired them with renewed zeal ; and the cause appeared to revive: their hearers increased : and, in a few months, eighteen were added to their society. But all these pleasing scenes suddenly vanished. Mr. Fold's temper and conduct were inconstant and irregular ; and, in less than a year, he left them.

This plunged the church into new difliculties; and the natural effects ensued. Disunion and altercation among themselves, and want of proper ministerial supplies, checked the progress of the cause, and thinned their congregations : many even of their own members, seldom attending at their places of worship ; but seeking that edifi- cation among other denominations which they could not enjoy in their own. From this dis- couraging state, they were, in some degree, re- lieved, in 1791 ; when Mr. J. Cramp, a member of the church, was encouraged, by his brethren, to exercise his gifts as a preacher. This he did to their satisfaction, and continued to labour amohgst them with increasing acceptance. From this time, the prospect began to brighten, and the union and peace of the church were gradually


246 SUTTON-COLnriELD OR A. D. 1785

restored. Another of their friends was soon after called to the work of the ministry, and became acceptable as an occasional preacher: while INlr. Cramp's services grew every day more useful. In 1797, they say, " We are well attended with hearers ; have of late experienced a considerable revival ; and have a pleasing prospect before us.' Their hopes were not disappointed ; as, in the two succeeding years, nearly forty persons appear to have been added to their number. Their re- ports continued encouraging, till 1800 ; when the members amounted to one hundred and thirty; and they had a few candidates for baptism.

Throughout the whole of this period, this church maintained regular preaching at two places at some distance from Longford, and were well attended with hearers.

At the commencement of the period now under review, the society which had been formed at Sutton-Coldjield^ , assumed the title of the church at Birmingham^ from having established an in- terest in that populous town. There appears, indeed, to have been a few general baptists at Birmingham ever since the time of the Common- wealth ; but they had almost vanished, when Mr. Austin and his friends began to preach at Sutton- Coldfield. These zealous christians soon ex- tended their labours to Birmingham; and several of the inhabitants joined them. In 1772, they had increased to seventeen ; when, wishing more frequently to hear the gospel, they hired a room in Park-street ; but afterwards removed to a more commodious one in Needless-alley. Here Mr. Austin occasionally preached, and not with-

* Supra p. 170.


out some success, during the whole of his resi- dence at Sutton-Coldfield.

In 1784, Providence led Mr. Joseph Green, a worthy member and an occasional preacher in Mr. Austin's church, to settle at Birmingham. Soon after his removal, he was seized with a severe indisposition, and laid aside from his tem- poral engagements. During this affliction, he formed the design of endeavouring to erect a building, for the purpose of preaching the word of life to his careless neighbours. On his re- covery, he, in concert with Mr. Austin, began in good earnest to prosecute the design ; and a neat and commodious meeting-house was soon raised, in Lombard-street, Deritend ; which was opened, Sept. 1786

But soon after the completion of the building, they were deprived of their minister, by Mr. Aus- tin's removal to London. In this emergency, every eye was turned to Mr. Green, who had been their principal friend, and whose past services in the sacred work had been much blessed. They, therefore, earnestly requested him to become their regular minister ; and, thinking himself called upon by Providence, to attempt to sup- port the cause, he complied with their wishes. Through the whole of this period, he diligently laboured for this society, and carefully watched over its interests; though, probably owing to his extreme modesty, he was never ordained to the pastoral office.

Mr. Green received important assistance, in the ministry of the word, from Mr. W. Taylor, a member of Sutton-Coldfield church, who then resided at Wolverhampton, and had, for some time, been acceptably employed in the ministry. His labours were frequent and useful, both at


Sutton and Birmingham, till 1796; when he was dismissed, to take the charge of the church at Boston. In that year, also, the cause sustained a heavj loss, in the death of Mr. William Cot- terell. This pious young man had discovered great concern for the prosperity of Zion, and was highly esteemed for his activity, zeal and pru- dence in the affairs of religion. He had likewise begun to exercise his gifts as a preacher, to the great satisfaction of his friends ; who looked for- wards, with sanguine hopes, to his future emi- nence and usefulness. But all these expectations "were disappointed : he died, Nov. 7th 1796, in the twenty-sixth year of his age. To supply these breaches Mr. Yates soon after removed to Birmingham ; and it was hoped that it might contribute to fhe advancement of religion.

The cause of Christ had thus far been carried on in concert : but, towards the close of the present period, symptoms of discord began to ap- pear, which, in 1800, terminated in a separation into two distinct societies, known aftervvards as the Birmingham and Suttoti-Coldfield churches. The former, at the time of the division, consisted of fortv-one members ; and the latter, of thirty- three. At the ensuing Association, the friends at Birmingham blessed God that they were in a peaceable state ; and expressed their cheerful hopes, that their loss of members would be sup- plied by the accession of fresh converts, who would adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour,

The admission of Mr. Robert Smith into the fellowship of the church at Nottinghayn^* had a happy effect on the prosperity of the cause in

* Supra, p. 177.


that town. Minister and people became better known and more respected by tlieir observant neighbours: the churcli was more regularly or- ganized, proper otBcers being chosen and dis- cipline imj)roved. The natural etTfCt was an increase ot" hearers ; and additions to the society became more frequent. On July 30th. 1786, no fewer than thirty-two persons were baptized, on a profession of faith, before thousands of spec- tators, in the river Trent.

For uj)wards of two years after Mr. Smith's removal, the pastors of neighbouring churches were invited to administer the Lord's supper to this people. But their satisfaction with their minister strengthening, and the evidence of his usefulness daily increasing, they became anxious for a closer union, and pressed him to accept the pastoral office among them. This be at first de- clined, through a deep sense of the importance and difticulty of the sacred office ; but a sense of duty and a desire to promote the welfare of the church, at length induced him to yield a trem- bling assent. He was ordained, April 1st. 1788 : when iMr. W. Thompson, of Boston, gave the charge to the minister, from 1 Tim. iv. 6 ; and Mr. D. Taylor, of London, addressed the people, from Phil. iv. 3. This was a good day to the friends of the gospel : and the union then formed, has been eminently blest by the great Head of the church, — About this time, five or six meetings for religious conversation and experience were established in various parts of the town, and two leaders oppointed over each : a plan which greatly promoted the interest of vital religion.

Thus settled in gospel order, they extended the field of labour and maintained regular preaching at Cresswell, Aslocton and Thurgaton ; places

VOL. II. 2 K



at ten or twelve miles distance. But they still continued to complain of coldness and disorder; and, though many were frequently added to the church, yet, the number of exclusions and deaths being, for some time, nearly equal, the real in- crease was small. In 1792, however, the state of affairs began to improve; and they informed the Association, that, " notwithstanding some disaoreeable circumstances, the church was peaceable and happy ; and as well established as at any former period : their hearers were increasing, and they bad ten candidates for bap- tism." "1 hey commenced preaching, also, about this time, at Arnold and Basford. At most of their meetings in the neighbouring villages they were well attended with hearers; and at Thur- gaton and Basford, the word preached had con- siderable success.

The church and congregation continued to increase ; and, in a few years, the meeting-house became too small to accommodate them. It was also thought by many to be in a very ineligible situation ; and, by its obscurity and incom- raodiousness, materially to retard the progress of the cause. Towards the end of this period, therefore, a piece of ground was purchased, in a respectable part of the town : and a very con- venient and spacious meeting-house erected, at an expence of nearly two thousand pounds. This was opened, Nov. 9th. 1799, by Messrs. B. Pollard and W. Felkin : the former preached in the morning and afternoon, from 1 Kings ix. 3, and Haggai ii. 7 ; and the latter, in the evening, from Psalm Ixxxix. 15, 16. More than a thousand persons, it is supposed, assembled on each part of the day ; and a serious joy was depicted on every countenance. Nearly eighty pounds were


collected on the occasion. Several hundred pounds had been previously raised, by the zealous and liberal exertions of the members of this society and the friends of religion in the town, towards this great work ; and many in the sister churches generously lent their assistance.

The hopes of the friends were happily realized. The number of hearers increased, and the pro- spect of future success was very encouraging. In the succeeding year, eighteen were added by baptism, and the members of the church were two hundred and eighty-five.

During this period, several persons were called to the work of the ministry: most of whom we shall probably have occasion to notice in the next chapter.

In 1785, we left the church ?it Kir kht/ -Wood- house in a very low state.* It continued to de- cline till, in 1787, the members were reduced to

* Supra p. 165,

A few particulars respecting the introduction of the General Baptist cause into Kirkby-Woodhou e, having lately come to hand, we present our readers with the substance of them. — John Alvey, an inhabitant of this place, accidently heard Stephen Dixon preach on Selstone Green, and felt desirous of knowing more of his doctiine. When therefore the preacher came again into the neighbourhood, he determined to go and hear him j and, calling on G. Allen, his intimate acquaintance, informed him of his design. " What," exclaimed his friend, " art thou going to hear that fool ?" Mr. Alvey repeated his resolution ; and invited the other to accompany him. Prompted, most probably, by curiosity, Mr. Allen assented ; and, from that time, both the friends became firmly attached to the cause. They soon invited the ministers to Kirkby : and Mr. Allen opened his house for the preaching of the gospel. This led to the erection of the meeting-house, in 1755. (Supra p. 9.6. J

The friends of the cause here, experienced their share of the persecution to which its first advocates were exposed.^In 1749,


252 PERSECUTION. A. D. 1785

seventeen. Tn the spring of that year, Mr. Tru- man, whose affecting death we have already recorded,^ was dismissed from the church at Nottingham to serve this drooping interest. The labours ot this pious young man were re-

S. Dixon, while preaching at Moorgreen, a few miles from Kirkby, was seized by the mob^ dragged to a neighbouring pond, and put under the water. Several of his followers lield farms and houses under Lord Melbourn ; and through the ill-\\ill of a neighbour, who was under-steward to his I.ordohip, were driven from their possessions, on accoimt of their religion. The clergyman of the parish being a violent enemy to the baptists, took every op.portunity to harass them. He endeavoured to frighten or ptisuade the less informed to take their children to be sprinkled ; and would probably have succeeded in some in- stances, had not their more intelligent friends inteifered. This drew down his vengeance on them : and he threatened to pro- secute John Alvey, in the spiritual court, for tcachinir school without a licence ; but was deterred by an appeal, through Mr. Booth, to the Deputies appointed to protect the civil rights of Dissenters. He refused to sign necessary certificates in their favour, took measures to dispossess them of their tenures, and used every effort to pievent them from administering the or- dinance of baptism according to their own views. One summer, having a few candidates for baptism, and being shut out from the place to which they usually resorted on such occasions, they went several miles upon the forest to a fish pond. From this accommodation they were driven, after some debate, by the gamekeeper of the gentleman to whom it belonged. Undis- mayed by these repeated disappointments, they travelled five miles farther, till they found another pool of water, where they administered the sacred ordinance. But the most distressing persecution which these professors suffered from the persevering enmity of this man, was his constant endeavours to entice away their youth, by presents, feasts, and other allurements, by putting some of them to school, and using every art to prejudice them against the religion, and even the persons of their parents. By these means he succeeded, in some instances, in totally estranging the affections of the children from their disconsolate parents. Yet these chi istians bore all this opposition and affliction with patience and firmness, and many of them bore a dying testimony to the goodness and faithfulnes'? of God,

* Supra, p. 235,

A.I>.1790 MR. TRUMAN. 253

markably blest. Before the next Association, eighteen persons were added to the church by baptism ; their seasons of preachinoj were well attended, and the members united and happy. Several were waitintf for fellowship, and others were seriously inquiring the way to Zion. During this stuumer, Mr. George Hardstali', a member of t!iis society, cliietly through the encourage- ment and assistance of Mr. I'ruman, was called to the work of the ministry, and became very useful in preaching the gospel They now ex- tended their labours, and introduced them- selves into Sutton-in-Ashfield, a small place about three miles distance form Kirkby-Wood- house ; and, occasionally, visited Mansfield, a large and populous town, five miles to the east.

But the progress of the cause soon received a serious check, by the removal of Mr. Truman ; who, at Christmas, 1789, accepted an invitation from the flourishing society at Loughborough. The disorderly conduct of some of the members increased the effect ; and, for some years, the number decreased. Their congregation however continued to be considerable : Mr. Hardstaff's ministry became daily more acceptable, both to his own friends and to strangers. Towards the close of this period, the prospect brightened ; and, in 1799, besides Kirkby, they maintained regular preaching in four neighbouring places : Sutton-in-Ashfield, Hucknall, Tarkard and Brunsley. At all these places, they were well attended ; but, at the last two the appearance was peculiarly encouraging. The church was united and peaceable, and the interest of the Redeemer evidently on the advance.



Mr. HardstafF, being thus blest in his minis- terial labours, was cailed to the pastoral office ; to which he was ordained, Aug. 14lh. 1799. On this occasion, Mr. R. Smith delivered the in- troductory discourse ; Mr. JB. Pollard save the charge to the minister; and Mr. S. Deacon ad- dressed the church. — In June 1800, the number of members was sixty-three.

We conclude this section by noticing several churches in the midland counties, which, though not immediately derived from the original so- ciety, became, during this period, members of the New Connection. These were the churches at Gamston and Retford, at Derby and at Ashford on the Peak, Derbyshire.

The person who first introduced tlie general baptist cause into the neighbourhood oi' Gamston, was Aaron Jelfery. He appears to have been connected in early life with the ancient churches of that denomination at Collingham and Mister- ton ; which had probably been formed prior to theRestoration,and shared in all the persecutions which followed that event. In his neighbour- hood, was the seat of the earl of Clare, a noble- man of liberal sentiments; and Aaron, when yet a young man, determined to seek a situation in his familj^ He accordingly applied : and, being asked whether he had brought a character, an- swered, " No ; but I am a general baptist/* The earl, it seems, thought this a sufficient cer- tificate, and immediately engaged him as a foot- man. In this situation, he continued many years ; and his steadiness, integrity and civility gave great satisfaction to his employer, and procured himself great respect. One circumstance indeed, for a time, grieved the tender conscience of this

A. D. 1729 A GOOD SERVANT. 255

pious youth. He was frequently employed, by his master, in carrying messages to a distance, on a Lord's-day. This he felt was inconsistent with his duty to his heavenly Master ; and he re- solved, at all events, to decline it. When, there- fore he was again called into the parlour, on the Lord's-day morning, and ordered to go on business to a neighbouring town, he replied, in a manly, though respectful tone, " Aly Lord, I stand ready to obey your orders six days in the week; but this day I have a greater Master than you to serve." Instead of being irritated at the freedom ot" his servant, this nobleman mildly replied, "Have you? Why then go and serve him:'* and treated him afterwards with increased confidence.

Aaron being now at full liberty to follow the dictates of his own conscience, regularly walked, on the Lord's-day morning, from Houlton-hall to CoUingham, a distance of twelve miles, to join in the worship of God with his friends. He usually attended as a hearer; but, in cases of necessity, ascended the pulpit in his gold-lace livery, both at CoUingham and Misterton, and preached with considerable acceptance. One morning, as he was on the road to CoUingham, he met his master, who enquired whither he was going. On being informed of the object and length of his journey, the earl gently reproached him: " Aaron," said he, " why do you not take one of my horses ?" at the same time, desiring that in future he would ride whenever he thought proper.

After having lived as footman for several years, he married ; and his master, unwilling to part with a servant whom he so highly esteemed, ap- pointed him the keeper of his park, and placed



him at Houlton-lodge, about three miles from Gamslon. Here he continued to serve his patron with intej^ritj for man}' years ; till a change in his Lordship's circumstances rendered his service no lonijer necessary. On this event, he took a farm, which was then vacant at Gamston, and removed thither, with a wife and six children. No sooner was he established in his nt*vi situa- tion, than he began to hold meetings for praver and exhortation, in his own hous<* : and engaged zealously in conducting them. These oppor- tunities were well attended, and made very- useful ; and laid the foundation of the future church at Gamston. After having attained a good old age, Mr. JefFery, and his worthy consort were called to their reward, within a few hours of each other: he dying Nov. 23d. 1729; and she the following day. Their remains were in- terred together in Gamston church-yard.

His youngest son Joseph, then twenty-seven years of age, succeeded to his farm. This worthy and pious youth was baptized not long after the death of his venerable father, and joined the church at Collingham. He continued the meet- ings in his own house; and obtained a licence for it under the Toleration Act. Neighbouring ministers were invited to preach for them, and the number of hearers gradually increased ; so that, in less than eight years, the house became too small to accommodate them. He determined, therefore, to build a meeting-house on his own farm; and waited on his landlord, the duke of Newcastle, to solicit his permission. Having obtained this, he imparted his design to a few of his friends : who entered heartily into his views. By their joint exertions, a convenient place of worship \vas erected, and opened in 1741. Pre-

A.D. 1778 MR. WOSSEY. 257

vious to that time, Mr. Joseph Jeffery had begun to preach and baptize at Gamston ; and after- wards he appears to have acted as pastor to the society wliich he had collected. Till 1763, he laboured alone ; but in that year, Mr. John Dossey was chosen co-pastor with him.

This union strengthened their hands, and they extended their labours to several neighbouring places : especially to Ashford in Derbyshire, where their generous interference was made very useful. Thev likewise introduced the general baptist cause into Retford ; in which town a very respectable branch of their interest was soon raised. They pursued their sacred work with diligence, zeal and success: and, though all their exertions in the ministry were gratuitous, yet a good Providence blest even their temporal con- cerns. But, in 1778, Mr. Dossey ceased from his labours, in his sixty-third year. His remains were interred in the meeting-house; and Mr. D. Taylor was invited to preach his funeral sermon,

i'he work of the ministry and care of the church now devolved wholly on Mr. Jeffery, who was already stooping under the burden of age. In this time of trial, he found a very useful assistant in Mr. R. Bellamy, a worthy and pious member of this society ; who, though not pos- sessed of shining abilities, was well qualified to conduct the affairs of the church. Messrs. D. Taylor, W. Thompson, A. Booth, and G. Boyce, the old friends of Mr. Jeffery, used frequently, when on their journeys, to preach for him. Thus, for some time, the cause was, in a good degree, supported ; but, as Mr. Jeffery 's infirmities in- creased, it was found necessary to seek for more permanent supply. After due consideration, the church invited Mr. Jonathan Scott, an occasional

VOL. II. 2 L


258 MR. JONATHAN SCOTT. A. D. 1786

preacher at Queenshead, in Yorkshire, to be the colleacfue of their venerable minister. This in- vitation he accepted; and, removing toGamston, in 1785, he was ordained, May, 1786, to the office of joint-pastor with Mr. Jeffery.

When Mr. Scott settled at Gamston,the church consisted of only fifty-seven members, and the cause was in a declining state. But he was a man of a zealous and persevering spirit, of an affable and engaging conduct, and of a strong constitution. He laboured strenuously and af- fectionately : was earnest in his public minis- trations, and diligent in exhorting from house to house. He exerted himself to procure the repa- ration of the meeting-house, which had fallen considerably into decay ; and, by his example, inspired the friends of the Redeemer with new zeal and vigour. His efforts were crowned with considerable success, in reviving the interest in this neighbourhood ; and his frequent visits to the churches in Lincolnshire, especially Mister- ton and Kirton, were rendered highly useful. — Though differing considerably from his worthy colleague in his views of several important doc- trines, yet they cordially united in their endea- vours to promote the salvation of sinners and the glory of God. In 1786, this church applied for admission into the New Connection ; and the following year was unanimously received.

The cause continued to advance. In 1790, they informed the Association, that, " at no former period, had their church been so unani- mous, nor the cause of Christ so prosperous, as it then was." In the preceding year, twenty- one had been baptized ; and the members had in- creased to ninety-five. But, in a few years, a dark cloud overspread these bright prospects.

A. D. 1794 CASTING LOTS. 259

Mr. Jeffery, their senior pastor, sunk under the weight of years, March 14th. 1794, at the ad- vanced age of ninety : and Mr. Scott, though a much younger man, fell a victim to a disease which baffled the power of medicine, July 24th, following, in his fifty-fifth year. Thus bereaved, in the course of a few months, of both its pastors, the widowed society owed much to the pious and friendly care of Messrs. Bellamj^ and Shipston ; who were active in keeping open the meetings, and preserving the members from wandering. Supplies were invited from various neighbouring churches ; and Messrs. Rogers, Hardstaflf, Briggs, Ellis and John Smedley, in succession spent some time amongst them. The members, however, were desirous of obtaining a regular minister; and, being almost equally well satisfied with each of these five ministers, they resolved to refer the choice to the casting of lots. The lot fell on Mr. John Smedley, who had been previously recom- mended to them by the Association. They requested him to settle with them ; and he re- moved from Melbourn to Retford, Oct. 1795.

Soon afterwards, Mr. Shipston and Mr. Skid- more were called to assist in preaching the gospel, and the cause appeared to gain ground. I3ut, at the close of this period, some discouraging cir- cumstances occurred ; and religion, as they ex- press it, " appeared to be at a stand." The number of members, in 1800, was seventy-five.

Derby is an ancient and respectable town, con- taining nearly eleven thousand inhabitants. Mr. D. Taylor, being on a journey, had occasion to pass through this place, May 31st. 1789; and was induced to preach, on Willow Row, near the place where the meeting-house now stands,


260 DEllBY CHURCH. A. D. 1791

from Luke ii. lO, " I bring you good tidings of great joy/' This attempt encouraged Messrs. N. and T. Pickering, of Castle-Donington, to visit Derby, and preach several times at the same place. It seems, that these first essays were made in the open air : but there being some appear- ance of attention, a room was hired, at the joint expence of some members of the neighbouring churches; and regular preaching commenced. Circumstances soon rendering it inconvenient for the ministers from Castle-Donington to carry on the undertaking, the church at Melbourn stept forwards to support it. Messrs. F. Smith and J. Smedley, assisted occasionally by Mr. Goddard, of Ilkiston, attended in rotation at the stated times of preaching, till the close of the following year. But, as the prospect of eventual success still appeared doubtful, the case was referred, at Christmas, 1790, to a Conference at Cauldvvell. That meeting, unwilling to relinquish the at- tempt, engaged the churches at Castle-Doning- ton and Ilkiston to furnish a supply of preachers, for a limited time. Their perseverance w^as crowned with success: several persons soon after- wards professing repentance and faith, and de- siring to enjoy the privileges of church members. The subject was submitted to the consideration of the Conference at Smalley, July 5th. 1791 ; ■when it was thought most prudent, that the can- didates should be formed into a distinct church, and not received as members of any adjacent society. Accordingly, Messrs. F. Smith, Tho- mas Pickering and J. Smedley visited Derby, Aug. 21st. 1791, and baptized nine persons, vihom they formed into a church state. The ministers from Kegworth, Castle-Donington, Ilkiston and Melbourn united in maintaining^

A.D. 1800 DECLENSION. 261

regular preaching on theLord's-days,and a week- dav-evening lecture once a fortnight. Their labour of love was not in vain : before the next Association the members had increased to twen- ty-three.

For several years, the cause continued to be thus supjiorted, by llie disinterested assistance of the neighbouring churches; and it gradually extended. Preaching was introduced into Al- vaslon, a village about three miles from Derby, in a small meeting-house belonging to the Pres- byterians ; and the attendance, at first, was en- couraging. Before 1790, the members of this infant society had increased to forty. But it tln'u began to decline Difference of sentiment on doclrinal points arose among some of the lead- ing persons, and disorderly conduct in others gave great occasion ©f offence. Several withdrew, and others were excluded; so that, in 1799, the mem- bers had sunk to twenty-eight, the congregations had awfully decreased, and the societ}' appeared to be hastening to a dissolution. The midland Conference, anxious to preserve the interest in so populous a town, took the subject into serious consideration ; and, judging that a constant and resident minister might be more successful than occasional supplies, they engaged Mr. James Taylor, of Queenshead, who had just left the Academy, to make the trial. He took up his residence at Derby in 1800. At that time there were thirty members.

During the whole of the period now under re- view, the general baptist church at Ashford, on the Peak, Derbyshire, stood a member of the New Connection. This ancient society was probably founded during the Protectorate of Cromwell.



At the close of the seventeenth century it appears to have been in a flourishing slate, and extended over most of the neighbouring^ villages ; but its principal stations were at Ashford, AVardlaw^, Blackwell, Monsaldale and Puttyhill.* Two buryihg-grounris then belonged to it ; one at Ashford, and the other at Blackwell. five miles north-eastward. About that time, Mr. Samuel White and Mr. Mason, two very worthy mem- ])ers of this churcii, began to preach ; and, for a long liuie, were diligently and successfully en-

* We have satisfactory evidence of the existence of a number of general baptist churches, in these parts of Derbyshire and the adjoining districts of Cheshire and Staffordshire; which, at the commencement of the seventeenth centuiy, were in a flourishing state, held annual Associations amongst themselves, and ap- pear to have cultivated a great degree of mutual harmony. We are sorry that we have not been able to obtain any authentic details of their transactions : but possibly this notice may bring some original documents to light. Their sentiments, on some of the most important points of doctrine, may be collected from the writings of Mr. Samuel Acton, of Nantwich, who was a leading man among these professors, and frequently appointed to preach at their Associations. But they are more clearly stated in an agreement which the church at Nantwich made with Mr. Isaac Kimber, when they engaged him to assist their pastor. After assigning their reasons for inviting him, and stipulating what salary they proposed to allow him, it proceeds to state that this contract is to continue "'so long as he approves himself to be a studious and useful minister, by preaching sound doctrine twice every Lord'sday, in the place of the chui ch's assembling : particularly maintaining, on all necessary occasions, according to the holy scripture, the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ, in which he subsisted as the only begotten of the Father before the world was ; and that he is God, God overall, as the scripture saith : and will not at anytime deny, nor assert the contrary, either in the course of his ministry or conversation. Also, the universal love of God to man — general redemption by Jesus Christ — the baptizing of believers only on their profession of faith — and the necessity of holiness to the end." This agree- ment is dated July 1th. 1724, and signed by Mr. Acton and twenty-eight others.

A.D. 1700 TITUS GATES. 263

gained in the sacred work. Mr. White was emi- nent for his abilities and piety, his affection for the cause of religion, and his zeal to promote it. As he was possessed of some property, he could devote great part of his time to his favourite object ; and was in the constant habit of riding over the bleak mountains of the Peak, to distant places, to publish the glad tidings of sal- vation, or to transact the affairs of the churches. He died Oct. 17th. 1727, aged forty-seven years. Mr. iVlason's exertions appear to have been more circumscribed, being chiefly confined to Black- well and its vicinity.*

After their decease, the cause declined ra- pidly, and there was, for many years, a great interruption of social intercourse amongst the

* Tn 1701, the notorious Titus Oates presented this church with vai ious books ; amone;st whicli were Poole's Annotations and Limborch's Body of Divinitv, which are still preserved— What connection this extraordinary man had with the society at Ashford cannot now be asceiiained ; and, as his character is well known this circumstance might have been passed over in silence, had not our most popular historians generally aggra- vated the list of his real or supposed crimes, by suggesting that he was an anabaptist. It may, therefore, be esteemed the part of candour, to state the facts : especially as there is great reason to believe that the professors with whom he was twice connected were general baptists.

He was, it is probable, the son of Mr. S. Oates, mentioned in the former part of this work, as the coadjutor of Mr -T. Lamb of Coleman- street. In his youth, he had been a member of the baptist church in Pennington-street, under Mr. I. Lamb ; but soon forsook them and went into the establishment. After awhile, he professed to be converted to popery, went over to one of the catholic seminaries abroad, and some say entered into the order of the Jesuits. In the reign of Charles II. he re- turned to England, where for many years, he kept the nation in a state of great alarm with reports of dreadful plets to i'ntroduce popery. In the following reign, he was convicted on several charges of perjury ; and most severely and ignominiously punished. He outlived the Revolution 3 and received a pensioa


264 REVIVAL. A.D. 1740

various branches of tliis extended society. Scat- terred in distant viilaojes, with no shepherd to collect the ramblin*^ tlock, and no public ordi- nances to draw them together, they grew stran- gers to each others' concerns ; the bond of union was broken, and, at length, they nearly forgot each others' existence. In tliis state of apathy, Mr. Israel Cotton, pastor of the general baptist society in the Isle of Axholme, visited his friends on the Peak, of which country he was a native. Pitying their situation, he collected a few of them together and preached for them several times, at a house in Monsaldale. The appearance of things inspired him with hopes, that this drooping interest might yet be revived ; and, on his return, calling on Mr. JefFery of Gamston, he communicated to him the particulars of his visit.

of four hundred per annum from the court, lill his death, in 1705, These particulars being well known to every reader of the English history, we need not enlarge. In the latter part of his life, he again sought fellowship with the society of which he had formerly been a member ; but the character of his public life, made the leaders of that church extremely cautious in listening to his overtures. At length, overcome by the apparent penitence and humility of his conduct, and his earnest protes- tations of sincerity, they, after three years investigation, re- luctantly admitted him, and for a short time, he was employed in the ministry. But it was soon too manifest, that his dis- position for intrigue and love of mischief retained their full power over him ; and, after causing much confusion and distress, he was finally excluded from the communion of the church. He endeavoured to revenge himself for this step by involving a principal member in prosecutions, &c. but his cruel designs weie ultimately defeated. — It was certainly no honour for any body of christians to be connected with Titus Gates ; but whatever infamy attaches to the baptists on this account must be shared by the churches of England and Rome of which he was a member much longer than he was with them, and which do not appear to have proceeded with such cautious jealously in re- ceiving him as the baptists did. Hume's Hist, of England, chap. Ixvii. and Ixx. Crosby's Bapt'uts Vol. HI. pp. 1C4 — 1S2.


That zealous minister was much affected with the relHtion ; and determined to take a journey to the Peak himself. He accordingly went ; and his reception was such as encouraged him to per- severe. Though Ashford is forty miles from Gamston, he and his worthy colleague, Mr. Dos- sey, agreed to pay this neglected people a monthly visit. They went alternately, without any remu- neration ; and if indisposition prevented either of them from taking his turn, he defrayed the expences of his friend, who went in his stead.

These disinterested exertions were crowned with success. The friends of the cause were col- lected, and some attention excited among the neighbours ; but they had no place of worship. Their kind patrons, however, generously resolved to complete their undertaking. A piece of ground was purchased, adjoining to the burj'ing-ground in Ashford-lane, nearly a mile from the town : a situation chosen probably for the accommodation of the friends who dwelt in the adjacent villages. On this ground, a small meeting-house was erected, almost wholly at the expence of Messrs. Jeffery and Dossey : the former advancing, in the first instance, thirty pounds; and the latter, forty. Mr. Jeffery had the pulpit and pews prepared in the neighbourhood of Gamston, and employed his own waggon in conveying all the materials to the building. The edifice was soon finished, and, in 1761, opened by Mr. Boyce. In order to crown the whole, Mr. Jeffery purchased three acres of land, which lay contiguous to the meet- ing-house, and built a dwelling-house; which he designed for the accommodation of the minister.

Mr. Jeffery having given such unequivooal proofs of his regard for this society, was desired to procure a suitable person to become their re-

VOL. II. 2 M


266 DECLINli. A.D. 1779

gular minister. He recommended to their choice Mr. Benjamin Fox, a member of'Gamston church, who removed to them before the chapel was fully completed. He confined his stated labours to Ashford ; but the congregations continued to be small. After an experiment of five years, he relinquished all hopes of being useful, and re- turned to his former connections. He was suc- ceeded by Mr. William Kelsey, who probably came from Lincolnshire, and settled at Ashford, about 1766. But his talents were not popular, and his success was discouraging. After labour- ing here for twelve years, and observing the cause decline under his care, he removed to Knipton. His departure accelerated the decay which had been gradually advancing during the whole period of his ministry ; and the total disso- lution of the society appeared to be rapidly ap- proaching.

In this extremity, the remaining friends of the cause applied for assistance to the New Connec- tion ; and were visited by several ministers from Yorkshire and the midland counties. Desirous of saving this sinking interest, a plan was formed for affording it a regular supply ; which began to be executed in 1779. A minister visited them once a month, and remained with them as long as circumstances rendered it convenient : sometimes two or three Lord's-days ; but fre- quently no more than one. In 1782, this society, which then consisted of only ten members, was admitted into the New Connection. In the fol- lowing year, the members increased to fifteen. Regular preaching was then maintained at Ash- ford and Wardlaw, and the attendance was as numerous as could be expected. On those Lord*s- days when no minister was present, the members

A.D. 1790 MR. W. PICKERING. 267

met as usual ; and endeavoured to fill up the time by singing, prayer, and reading the scrip- tures, or occasionally a sermon.

The distance of this small society from those churches which furnished its ministerial supplies, rendered it highly desirable to all parties, that it should have a resident preacher. In 1786, an attemut was made to obtain the removal of Mr. John Taylor from Queenshead to Ashford. This minister had paid them an annual visit for many preceding years, and evinced himself their sincere friend. They had, therefore, formed an affection- ate attachment to him ; and proposed the subject to the Association, in 1787: but that meeting was decidedly against Mr. Taylor's compliance with their wishes. In the following year, Mr. W. Pickering, who had lately been called to the ministry by the church at Castle-Donington, visited Ashford ; where his labours were accept- able and useful : five persons being baptized in the course of the year. They therefore invited him to settle amongst them ; which he did in 1789, and became their regular minister. Symp- toms of a revival continued to appear. Preaching was regularly maintained, not only at the meet- ing-house, but also at Wardlaw. A room was licensed in the town of Ashford, in which weekly lectures were delivered ; and a door opening for introducing their cause at Bradwell, a populous village, eight miles to the north of Ashford, the opportunity was promptly seized. For some time, Mr. Pickering preached on the evening of the Lord's day, in the place of worship belonging to the methodists at Bradwell, and the hearers were numerous. It soon became necessary to leave this place and look for another, and a large barn was procured ; where many attended with


268 ORDINATION. A. D. 1794

apparent seriousness. The barn however was likeFy soon to be wanted ; and it was deemed expedient to attempt to raise a meeting-house, A piece of ground, in an eligible situation, was soon obtained, and a small building erected ; which was opened, Oct. 1790. For a time, the prospect was encouraging, the hearers numerous and several appeared to receive the word with joy, Many attended the means of grace at Brad- well from Abney, a village two miles distance; and preaching was soon after introduced into that place, with sanguine expectations of success. But, after persevering in the attempt for many years, these expectations were, in a great measure disappointed ; probably owing to the distance of Mr. Pickering's residence from the scene of his labour.

For a long series of j^ears, the members of this society had never enjoyed the privilege of sitting down at the Lord's table, except when they were favoured with the occasional presence of the pastor of a sister church. They felt and lament- ed their loss in this respect, and began earnestly to wish for more regular returns of these solemn opportunities : but they never imagined, that an unordained preacher ought to administer that sacred ordinance. They therefore all united in an earnest and affectionate invitation to Mr. Pickering to become their pastor. After much deliberation and prayer for divine direction, he consented to their request, and the ordination took place, April 6th. 1794, As the members of this church were few and poor, and could not support the expence of inviting several ministers to assist on this occasion: and, as both the people and their pastor were much attached to Mr. John Taylor, they had invited him to undertake th«

A.. D. 1800 REVIEW. 269

whole of the sacred work : and, after consulting several experienced brethren in the ministry, he had yielded to their importunity^ He therefore conducted the whole of the services : delivered a long introductory discourse, offered all the prayers, put the questions to the church and minister, received the confession of faith, gave the charge to the pastor, from 2 Tim. iv. 5, and addressed the people, from Luke iii. 14. — " Perhaps few services of this kind," says an eye- witness of the interesting transaction, " have been conducted with greater solemnity, punc- tuality, affection and fidelity/'

The cause appeared to revive much after this union had taken place. In 1796, eighteen per- sons were added to the church by baptism, and the number of members increased to forty^-three. But this appears to have been only a transient gleam, and the clouds quickly returned. Dis- putes among themselves, and the disorderly con- duct of too many of the members, soon reduced their numbers, and thinned their congregations, especially at Bradwell, In 1800, the raiembers were reduced to twenty-three, " religion ap- peared at a stand, and the prospect was gloomy." This gloom was increased, by the loss of their pastor ; who, this year, accepted an invitation to Ilkiston, and left Ashford, Aug. 14th.

We close this section by observing, that, not- withstanding several partial depressions, the ge- neral baptist cause, in the midland counties, had made great progress during this second period. In 1785, there were twelve churches, consisting of scarcely one thousand, six hundred members; but, in 1800, the churches had increased to twenty two, and the members to two thousand six hun-



dred. How far real {godliness and vital religion had kept pace with this external prosperity, the reader will form his own opinion, from the de- tails we have presented to his consideration.

SiiCT. 2. — Tlie Transaclions of the Geiieral Bap- tist Churches in the Northern District^ during the Second Fifteen Years after the Formation of the New Connection,

We left the church at Birchcliff in a state of progressive improvement,* under the care of Mr, J. Sutcliflfe, The congregation continued to increase : and, in a few years, it was found ne- cessarj' to consider how tliej^ could be accommo- dated ; the old meeting-house having become much too small. Some of" the friends, disliking the lonely situation of the original building, thought thut the cause might be benefited by pulling it down, and erecting another, in the neighbourhood either of Heptonstall or Hebden- bridge ; while others warmly disapproved of a change of place. As they could not agree, they proposed the subject to the Association, in 1792 ; which advised them to defer building till they were more unanimous in their views. They soon after laid aside the scheme of removing, and provided for the increased congregation, by taking down the gallery of their old meeting- house, which was narrow and only in front ; and erecting a spacious one, on three sides of the building. ^ his was completed in 1793, at an expence of upwards of one hundred pounds.

* Supra p. 183.

A.D.1799 Mil. J. sutcliffe's death. 271

But the cause does not appear to have advanced much for several years after this alteration. For, though they were well attended w ith hearers, the members gradually decreased, and they complain of the low state of vital religion amongst them. This probably was partly caused by the weak state of Mr. SutclitFe's health. For several years he had been subject to transient tits, which some- times seized him in the pulpit ; but, as they lasted only a few minutes, he usually resumed his discourse without much apparent confusion. Towards the close of this period, he was afflicted with a fever, which continued for a week, and then seemed considerabiv abated ; when, he was unexpectedly seized with a tit, that held him much longer than usual ; and, after that, with a second, in which he expired, Oct. 4th. 1799, at about fifty years of age. He was an useful mi- nister. His abilities, indeed, were not of the superior order ; but he delighted in the distin- guishing doctrines of the gospel, was a pious meek christian, and animated, in a high degree, with compassion for the souls of men.

This affecting stroke left the society destitute ; and, for a few weeks, they were supplied from the neighbouring churches. Among those who visited them, was Mr. A. Barker, whose manner of preaching and address pleased them so well, that they very soon gave him an invitation to be their regular minister. This invitation he as promptly accepted : and, for some time, every thing seemed to prosper. But we shall have oc- casion to observe, in the next chapter, that these hasty measures laid the foundation of lasting repentance. In 1800, the number of members in this church amounted to sixty -three.




We have seen, in the last chapter,* that, by the exertions of Mr. D. Taylor and his fellow-la- bourers, the gospel had been introduced, and a iiieeting-liouse built, at Shore. The friends there were considered as me-aibers of Birchcliff church, till about 1795; when they became a distinct society : seven or eight ])ersons being dismissed from the parent church to form it. Previous to this division, John Stansfield, a man fearing God above many, had preached regularly at Shore, till he was removed by death. After his decease, John Spencer settled with this people, and be- came their re2:ular minister. He continued to serve them till long after the close of this period; but the progress of religion appears to have been slow. In 1800, there were but nine members ; and some of these few were " verging towards a lukewarm state."

The low condition of religion at Queenshead^ which was noticed at the conclusion of the last period, I continued for several years. Disorderly- conduct in some professors, want of zeal, a dispo- sition to magnifj'^ the failings of tlieir brethren, temporal distress, and various other causes, pre- sented the progress of the truth, and grieved the hearts of its real friends. Some valuable mem- bers were taken away by death, and others re- moved their dweUina,s to a distance. Their places were not supplied by new converts : for no more than twenty persons were baptized in the course of eleven years. The frequent attempts, which about this time were made by other churches, to induce the pastor, Mr. J. Taylor, to remove, tended still further to depress the minds

* Supra p. 179. t Supra, p, 188.

A.D. 1791 COLLECTIONS. . 273

of this people, and excited their fears, lest they should uhimately lose him.* Yet, in 1786, in the midst of this despondency, they exerted them- selves, and erected a dwelling-house adjoining the meeting, for the accommodation of the mi- nister cisid his family.

A heavy debt which, for manj-^ years, had been a weight on the cause, tended probably to in- crease this gloom. In the autumn of 1791, twenty pounds of this was demanded. As these poor people were utterly unable to raise this sCim amongst themselves, they determined to apply to the liberality of their neighbours. For this pur- pose, Mr. J. Taylor, attended sometimes by one of his friends and sometimes by another, tra- versed the adjacent towns with a petition, stating their case ; which was recommended by an inde- pendent and a presbyterian minister, and a cler- gyman. Though disappointed in their expec- tations from some of the principal towns, they collected, exclusive of their expences, about sixty pounds. Several churches in Leicestershire and Lincolnshire hearing of their necessity, kindly lent their assistance, and raised the amount to near ninety pounds. This was a great relief to the interest at Queenshead : and, from that time, it has continued to revive. But this relief was purchased at a heavy expence by the pastor. The fatigues of so many journeys, during the winter .season, were thought by man}^ to have laid the foundation of that debility which has so much diminished the usefulness and happiness of his declining years.

* In the course of three years, the churches at Ashford, Hali- fax, Longford and Gosberton all applied, and some of them re- peatedly, for the removal of Mr. J, Taylor to them. VOL. II. 2 N



Through all these discouraging times, the con- gregations, considering the situation, had been numerous; and, it was thought that the erection of a gallery would tend to render them more respectable. A part of the money collected in the preceding year, was therefore, in 1792, ap- propriated to this purpose, and a front gallery erected ; which was opened, June 24th, by a dis- course from Cant. vii. 5.

After the erection of the gallery, the congre- gation increased ; but there appeared to be little good done in the conversion of sinners. The minister's ability for exertion regularly dimi- nished. In 1795, while attending the Association at Nottingham, he suddenly lost the use of one eye ; and nothing but the strictest attention, in the opinion of the faculty, could preserve him from total blindness. This prevented him from labouring in the neighbourhood, as he had hi- therto done. Several young preachers, indeed, lent their cheerful assistance : but they could not fully supply his place; and their stay with their friends, after they were called to the mi- nistry, was short. Mr. Ellis was dismissed to serve the church at Halifax, in 1793. In 1790, Mr. Joseph Binns was encouraged to preach; and, in the following year, he accepted an invi- tation from the church at Gosberton, Lincoln- shire. In April, 1797, James Taylor, the young- er son of the pastor, was called by the church to labour in the word : and preached, in different parts of the neighbourhood, more than thirty times before the close of that year. His zeal stirred up many to a greater concern for the prosperity of tiie cause : but he went to the Aca- demy in London, Jan. 16th. following ; and was the first student in that institution.


At the close of the period now under review, this part of the kingdom was involved in deep distress ; and the members of this society bore their full share of it. They addressed the Asso- ciation in 1800, in this melancholy strain. " The unparalleledly hard, dark, and dismal state of things, from the dearness of provisions and the dullness of the trade, makes it extremely hard for most of us to procure the necessaries of life ; and impossible for some to do it. Several of our friends are already gone to the workhouse ; and more must probably shortly follow, or famish to death." The number of members then was sixty-five.

We left the church at Halifax sunk in despon- dency for the loss of their pastor :* they were as sheep without a shepherd, and their hearts fainted within them. They, at length, roused them- selves, and endeavoured to repair the breach which his departure had occasioned. Their thoughts were first directed to Mr. John Taylor, of Queenshead, and they proposed the subject to the Association, in 1787 ; but that meeting ad- vised against his removal. Mr. Bentley, an occa- sional preacher at Hinckley, was next invited to assist them. Became; but in two or three weeks left them. After several other ineffectual at- tempts, they wrote to Mr. W. Burgess, who had, for some time,'exercised his giftsamongthe friends at Church-lane, London. He paid them a visit : and his labours were so well approved, that they invited him to settle among them. He accord- ingly removed with his family to Halifax, about the beginning of 1788. This event had a happy

* Supra, p. 192.



effect. The congregation increased in numbers and resj3ecUib)litj ; and several joined ilieniselves to the .society. 1 he friends of the liedeemer were ready to indulge the hope, that his cause in this place, which had so long* drooped, would, at length, revive and flourish.

But this flattering prospect soon vanished. It was found impossible, with their utmost exer- tions, to provide for the temporal necessities of iMr. Burgess and his family: and he was com- pelled to think of a change. While he was deli- berating what step to take, he received an invi- tation from the old general baptist society at Fleet, in Lincolnshire ; and left Halifax in April 1791. Being again destitute, they renewed their application to i^Ir. J. Taylor; but were still un- successful. Thej then turned their attention to Mr. Joseph Ellis, an occasional preacher in the church at Queenshead ; who, after due probation, became their regular minister. He commenced his services probably towards the close of 1793 ; and, in the spring of 1796, was ordained to the pastoral office over this church. On that occa- sion, Mr. J. Taylor gave the charge to the mi- nister, and Mr. J. Sutcliflfe addressed the people.

After the ordination of Mr. Ellis, there ap- peared some symptoms of a revival ; but dissen- sions among themselves checked the progress of the truth. In 1800, they reported, that religion was very low, and that their number was reduced to thirtj'-one.

Among the other places to which the York- shire ministers extended their occasional labours, was Longwood, a rambling village, five miles south of Halifax. In 1785, they made their first attempt there; and, after labouring a year, a


few persons joined them. A small society was formed, consisting, in 1789, of nineteen persons. Mr. John Booth, a worthy member of the church at Halifax who liad long preached occasionally, took this infant cause under his care. Though already advanced in years, he generally walked toLongwood every Lord's-day morning, preached twice, and returned on foot to Halifax in the evening. 1 his laborious service he continued for tit'teen years, without any remuneration : and very seldom did the inclemency of the weather, the want of health, or any other reason induce him to disappoint his few poor friends. Sometimes, indeed, he exchanged with the pastor of a neighbouring church, in order that they might enjoy the ordinance of the Lord's supper.

The interest here had to struggle against many difficulties. They had no place of worship, except the dwelling houses of the friends which they frequently changed. There were some thoughts of building a meeting-house, on the waste ground adjoining the village, in 1790, and permission was obtained of the Lord of the manor ; but the Association advised them not to attempt it, in their low circumstances. The immoral conduct also of some of their members, tended to depress still lower this sinking interest. In 1791, they were under the painful necessity of excluding five of their small number; and three others withdrew. For many years the hearers were very few, and the number in fellowship only eight or nine. Mr. Booth was frequently advised by his brethren in the ministry, and even by the Yorkshire Conference to give up the hopeless attempt ; but he seemed determined to persevere. About the close of the last century, the prospect seemed to brighten. The congre-



gation increased, and two persons joined the church. But the "loom soon returned. The extreme pressure of the times broke liie spirits of the inhabitants, and tixed all their attention on their temporal distresses. The cause was evident- ly expiring: yet Mr. Booth, though now grown old, was unwilling to despair, and continued his visits. liis attachment to the few sheep in that wilderness was so strong, that he seemed in- capable of forsaking them.

At length, providence determined the case. Mr. Booth, in the beginning of 1804, had oc- casion to go to Leeds on business ; and his horse, falling on him, broke his leg. This confined him for several months at home ; and, during his absence, the few hearers and members at Longwood dispersed, and the cause sunk. Mr. Booth returned to the church at Halifax ; of which he continued a honorable member till his death, in 1813. He is doubtless now receiving a full reward for his long and disinterested ef- forts to promote the cause of his Redeemer and the salvation of sinners at Longwood.

The church at Burnlei/, which was formed at the close of the last period,* continued, for a few years, to increase under the care of Mr. Folds. In 1787, it was thought proper to erect a meet- ing-house, which was accordingly constructed in Burnley-lane, about half a mile from the town. It is a compact and well finished building, with a gallery on two sides ; and cost three hundred pounds ; an expence much too great for the state of the church. The debt was long a heavy clog on the interest in that place, and a burden on

* Supra p. 194.

A.D. 1794 MR. WHITAKER. 279

the Connection. In about two years after the opening of this meeting-house, Mr. Folds left them, in a disorderly manner, and went to Long- ford. This caused soir>s confusion ; but Mr Edmund Whitaker, a lively, zealous and la- borious young member of this church, who had ' lately been called to the work of the ministry, with the occasional assistance of Mr D. Laycock, another valuable brother, supplied the congre- gation with much acceptance, and contributed not a little to preserve the cause from disso- lution.

Could Mr. Whitaker have continued to labour here, it is probable, that religion would have revived, as the congregation improved, and several were added to the church. But his tem- poral circumstances obliged him, in 1794, to accept an invitation from Melbourn. About this time, Mr. Folds returned, and, after some altercation, resumed the pastoral duties. The cause declined rapidly under his care; and, in 1800, the state of religion was low, hearers few, and the members reduced to fifteen.

During the period under review, a circum- stance occurred at Burnley which ought to be recorded. A young woman, the daughter of a wealthy farmer, being awakened to a sense of the. importance of divine things, wished to attend the meetings of the general baptists where she had received the first serious impressions. This her father, who was atrached to the esta- blished church, absolutely f prbade. The young woman, determined to enjoy the privileges of the gospel, in Dec. 1789, left the paternal roof, and put herself under the protection of Mr. B. Robinson, a respectable member of Burnley church. Her father, learning the place of her



retreat, followed her; insisting on her return, and threatening her protector with a suit, if she did not, Mr. Robinson, thinking that to drive a per- son out of his house, who had voluntarily fled thither, for the sake of truth and a good con- science, would be unworthy of the character of a christian, resolved to permit her to remain if she chose it, and to take the consequences. The father, therefore, brought an action ; and, after a fruitless attempt to settle the matter by arbi- tration, Mr. Robinson received notice of a trial, at the ensuing summer assizes, at Lancaster. — Thither he went, with six other persons, besides his attorney : and, after spending a week there, the matter was determined by a rule of court, without trial. This rule ordered, that the young woman should return to her father's house ; but that she should be at full liberty to attend, on the Lord*s-day, at what place of worship she pleased: and that her father might, if he thought proper, send a servant to attend her ; but that if he did not send one, she might go alone. Thus were the rights of conscience fully secured ; but the struggle cost Mr. Robinson nearly eighty pounds. He laid his case before the Association at Wis- beach, in 1791 ; and thev recommended it to the churches to assist in reimbursing hun ; but the contributions appear to have been slow and in- adequate

Thus we have glanced at the transactions of the general baptists in this part of the kingdom, during this period; and we turn from them with a sigh. Notwithstanding all the exertions and prayers of the friends of religion, the cause, in these parts, evidently lost ground during these fifteen years. When their zealous founder, Mr.

A. D. 1785 BOSTON CHURCH. 281

D. Taylor left them, there were four churches, which, in 1786, comprised two hundred and thirtj-tive members ; but in 1800, though there were six nominal societies, yet the whole number of members amounted only to one hundred and ninety-two. How far the loss of that active and judicious minister contributed to this unhappy decline may not be easy to ascertain : but that it was one cause cannot be doubted. It is pleas- ing, however, to anticipate a very different pros- pect in the next period.

Sect. 3. — The History of the General Baptist Churches in Lincolnshire, during the Second Fif- teen years after the Formation of the New Con- nection: or, from a.d. 1785, to a.d, 1800.

We now turn to the general baptist churches in Lincolnshire ; but we are sorry that our ac- counts of them, during this period, must be verj general : as we have not been able to procure the information, necessary to give a proper detail of their proceedings.

The church at Boston claims our first attention, which we left, in 1785, in a comfortable state.* This society continued to carry forward the cause of the Redeemer, with considerable har- mony and success. Mr. Thompson, their worthy pastor, laboured diligently in his great work ; and, in the first year of this period, ten were received into fellowship. But there is reason to fear, that some of the members did not suf- ficiently value their privileges. About that time

* Supra p. 196. VOL. II. 2 o


282 MR. W. THOMPSO^'s DEATH, A.D. 1794

also, a party spirit was too prevalent among the professors of different denominations in the town, which led to disputes and angry contentions. This grieved the heart of their pious minister, hindered the conversion of sinners, and retarded the prosperity of religion. The internal peace of tfie church was, however, in a good degree pre- served : and frequent additions were made to its members.

Towards the middle of this period, Mr. Thompson's health began to decline, and he was no longer capable of exerting himself to that degree which he had formerly done. For several years, his infirmities increased, and he was less able to labour in the ministry ; yet the congre- gations were numerous, and the cause prosperous. At length, he yielded to the stroke of death, Feb. 7th. 1794, in the fifty-ninth year of his age. At that solemn moment, he exhibited the efficacy of those doctrines which he had long laboured to propagate. These were his support in the near prospect of eternity, and enabled him to bear a dying testimony to the excellency of the gospel of Christ, as the only foundation of a sinner's hope ; and to express a comfortable assurance of his own interest in the promises which it con- tains. He was a worthy man, a pious christian, and a very respectable and useful minister, who had contributed much to the establishment and support of the New Connection. Mr. Burgess, of Fleet, preached his funeral sermon, from 2 Cor. xiii. 11 : and his ancient acquaintance and fellow-labourer, Mr. D. Taylor, paid a tribute of respect to his memory, by delivering a dis- course, from the same text ; which he afterwards published, with the Memoirs of the Life and Character of his deceased Friend. In that work,

A. D. 1794 AND CHARACTER. 283

the author, who was well qualified from his long intimacy with this minister, thus describes him as a preacher. " It may be acknowledged, that Mr. Thompson's natural abilities were not eminently great. They were indeed superior to those of many other ministers; but did not rise far above mediocrity. His excellency lay chiefly in employing them to the best purposes. Having by grace been made deeply acquainted with his own miserable condition as a sinner, and being impressed with the consideration of the worth of souls and the infinite importance of that salvation which is exhibited to man in the gospel, and having an ardent affection for the welfare of his fellow creatures, he did not trifle about unnecessary inquiries, and subtle disquisitions, respecting subjects not to be known, or of little use when known ; but con- fined himself chiefly to those important doc- trines and duties which are clearly revealed, and upon an attention to which our happiness for time and eternity depends." " To this, and not to eminently superior abilities, it always ap- peared to me, that the success of his ministrations was to be ascribed."* A hint, well deserving the serious regard of all who wish to be " wise to win souls."

The death of Mr. Thompson was sincerely lamented by his affectionate people ; yet they soon began to look about for a successor. For a time, IMr. Binns, who then laboured at Gosber- ton, supplied them, on the LordVday mornings. When he went to Bourn, they applied to Mr. W. Pickering, of Ashford ; but his church refused to consent to his removal. They next laid their

* D. Taylor's Memoirs of Thompson, p. 79,



case before the Association ; and were recom- mended to Mr. J. Kingsford, of Barton, Kent: but it does not appear that this proposal liad any effect. While these nej^ociations were pending, the churches in the midland counties generously endeavoured to furnish the friends at Boston with ministerial supplies : and, by their exertions, the cause was preserved from declining, and the minds of the hearers kept in a lively frame. — Amongst others who visited them, was Mr. W. Taylor, assistant minister at Birmingham. His character and talents being well approved, he was invited to become their pastor ; and was ordained, Mar. 22d. 1797 : when Mr. D. Taylor, of London, gave the charge.

After this settlement, the hearers increased and additions to the church were more frequent: yet, before the conclusion of this period, they com- plained " of a decrease in their congregations, of several of the members going away to other de- nominations, and of trials of various kinds." — The number in fellowship, in 1800, was eighty- six.

The church at Malthy. in 1785, was in a peace- able state ; but the health of Mr. Ingham, their pastor, had already begun to decline.* Through- out the whole of the succeeding period, he con- tinued to grow more infirm and less able for the active duties of his station. The members, there- fore, gradually diminished : for, as death and other causes thinned their ranks, few came for- ward to supply the vacancies. The hearers at Alsford also decreased, when Mr. Ingham was unable to visit them as frequently as he had for-

* Supra, p, 197.


merlj done : and, though the congregation was still numerous at Maltby, yet the preaching of tlie word produced little effect. In 1796, the members had sunk to thirty, and the pastor was hastening to the grave. In two years afterwards, he exclranged a bed of languor and pain for that happy state, in which the inhabitants never say, " We are sick." In a few months after his de- cease, Mr. Irolley settled at Maltby, and became their regular preacher: and there appeared some symptoms of a revival. In 1800, the number of members was thirty-five : they complained, that *' the name of Jesus was too little regarded among them ; and that they were by no means unani- mous in the approbation of the means of grace which they then enjoyed."

Long-Sutton church had begun to decline at the conclusion of the last period.* Of this the friends of the cause seem to have been conscious ; and a church-meeting was held. Mar. 25th. 1785, " to consider what could be done to promote the interest of Christ among them." It was then agreed to establish three distinct meetings for reading and expounding the scriptures and prayer: which were to be held at Tydd St. Gile's, Tydd St. Mary's, and Long Sutton. Proper persons were appointed to superintend and con- duct them ; who were to keep a register of the members belonging to each meeting, and of their omissions of attendance, and to report quarterly to the pastor. At the same time, they recom- mended to their minister to open more clearly, in his preaching, the spirituality of the law ; and to join with them in endeavouring to maintain a

* Supra p. 198.



more regular discipline in the society. These laudable measures appear to have produced a good effect ; as, for several years, a few addi- tions were made to their number.

But Mr. Poole, having- read some of the writ- ings of Mr. E. Winchester, embraced the peculiar sentiments ot" that author, and invited him to come and preach at Long-Sutton. This invi- tation Mr. Winchester promptly accepted ; and gained many proselytes. Difference of sentiment arose among the members, which produced dis- agreeeble altercations ; and the progress of the cause was prevented. To put an end, as they hoped, to these mischievous contentions, it was resolved, Jan. 30th. 1791, " mutually to forbear with each other, and allow each other to think for himself in matters of divinity, without at- tempting to irritate each other's passions on the account of difference of sentiment." Seven bre- thren and six sisters agreed to unite with Mr. Poole on this broad basis.

This professed laxity of principle led to a still greater declension. Fj om the denial of the eter- nity of future punishments, they proceeded to disown the divinity and atonement of the Sa- viour. Having thus renounced the distinguishing doctrines of the New Connection, they very con- sistently dropped all intercourse with it ; and silently withdrew from the union. Their last communication was addressed to the Association at Hinckley, in 1793 : when they reported, that the}'^ had experienced many troubles for some time past ; but then hoped to enjoy peace : and that their number was reduced to twelve.

Though the church at Fleet did not form a part of the New Connection, during this period, yet,

A. D. 1790 FLEET CHURCH. 287

as it made various applications for admission, and ultimately became a branch of that union, it may be proper here to bring forwards its history to the close of the century.

When Mr. Poole left this society,* the neces- sities of the case induced them to encourage two of its members, Mr. Thomas Rusling and Mr. Thomas Melbourn, with the occasional assist- ance of neighbouring ministers, to supply the pulpit. The former was a person of limited abilities, and an inconstant disposition : the latter possessed strong intellectual powers ; and was a good speaker. They both indulged some notions bordering on mysticism; being professed admirers of Jacob Behmen. They did not, how- ever, long co-operate with cordiality. Mr. Rus- ling, conceiving that his colleague's services were preferred to his, took umbrage, laid aside the ministry, and soon after joined the quakers. — About the same time, Mr. Melbourn, for very different reasons, abruptly relinquished the sacred work, to which he had always shewn great reluctance.

Thus left destitute, the church invited Mr. Joseph Proud, who then resided at Wisbeach, to visit them as a supply ; and his labours being approved, he was encouraged to remove to Fleet, In a few years afterwards, he was ordained to the pastoral office; and the cause prospered under his care : so that it was found necessary, in 1782, to enlarge the place of worship. Mr. Proud was a man of superior qualifications for the exercises of the pulpit : and, had his humility equalled his abilities, he might have been an eminent and useful minister of the gospel. But his haughti-

* Supra, p. 197.




ness of temper led him to take several steps which sunk him in the estimation of the friends. He introduced, by his own authority, the practice of congregational singing into the public worship of the church, though he was well aware that many of the member-^ conscientiously disap- proved of it. Discontents arose : and, as it usually happens, each party complained of the other. At length, in 1786, an opening presented at Norwich; and he suddenly left Fleet, without acquainting tlie church of his design.

Thus unexpectedly deprived of their pastor, the leading members endeavoured to supply the loss, by maintaining prayer-meetings, and read- ing sermons from valuable authors. Tiiey did not, however, neglect to look out for ministerial assistance ; but soon turned their eyes to Mr. T. Pickering of Castle-Donington, who had spent some time with them as a supply. Approving his character and ministry, they requested him to settle with them ; but, after much deliber- ation, he declined the proposal. They were then recommended to Mr. Prowitt, of Oxford, who paid them a visit ; and his labours being satis- factory, they encouraged his expectations of be- ing finally chosen as their regular minister. But, while this negociation was proceeding, Mr. T, Pickering informed the church, that those ob- stacles, which had induced him to refuse their request, were removed. This involved them in considerable difficulty : as most of the members preferred his labours to those of Mr. Prowitt; but several thought that matters had gone too far with the latter, to permit them honourably to draw back. The decision was, at length, referred to a ballot, which terminated in favour of Mr. Prowitt. He possessed a friendly temper and

A.I) 1791 MR; W. BUKGESS. 289

great suavity of manners; but inclined too much to the tenets of the Socinians. Though, in his pub- lic discourses, he endeavoured to give no offence; yet there was a deficiency, with which his judi- cious hearers could not feel satisfaction. This produced a coolness on their part, which induced him to take a friendly leave of them, and remove to Newcastle; accompanied by the sincere esteem of his connections at Fleet.

At this time, Mr. Thomas Ewen, the son of a deacon of this church, had begun to exercise his gifts ; and, on Mr. Prowitt's recess, he and Mr. Thomas Fant, another member, were encouraged to supply the public services with preaching. Though grateful for this assistance, yet the so- ciety thought it proper to inquire for a person qualified to sustain the office of pastor over them; and were soon informed, that Mr. Burgess, of Halifax, had thoughts of leaving that station. A correspondence was, therefore, opened with that minister, which led to his settling among them. He arrived, with his family, at Fleet, April 14th. 1791.

The church, at this time, consisted of sixty-two members: but discipline appears to have been too much neglected: and the first attempt of Mr. Burgess was to revive it. A meeting was accord- ingly held, May 29th, to inquire into the state of the society, and to establish church-meetings ; which were afterwards regularl}^ maintained. It was also resolved, to request Mr. Thompson, of Boston, and Mr. Freeston, of Wisbeach, to attend once in two months, to administer the ordinance of the Lord's supper. The imposition of hands, which had hitherto been held necessary to com- munion with this church, was, likewise, Jan. 22d. 1792, left to the option of each candidate. Mean-

VOL. II. 2p



290 PROGRESS. A.I). 1800

time, the labours of Mr. Burgess grew daily more acceptable and useful ; and his character more esteemed. In the following May, the friends gave him an unanimous call to the pastoral of- fice, which he accepted : and, Jan. 2d. 1793, he was ordained ; when Mr. Thompson gave the charge to the minister, from 1 Tim, iv. 6; and Mr. Birley, of St. Ive*s, addressed the people, from Luke iii. lO.

As Mr, Burgess had been uniformly united with the New Connection, it was natural for him to wish that the church, over which he presided, should become a member of that body. At the following Association, therefore, they applied for admission. In stating their religious views, they candidly acknowledged that some of them held the doctrine of universal restoration. On this account, the; church at Mel bourn voted against their admission ; and the subject was referred to the Association in 1794. When they renewed their application to that meeting, seven or eight other churches joined the opposition ; and the conclusion w as again postponed. The church at Fleet, therefore, declined making any further overtures, and resumed their connection with the Lincolnshire Association.

During some following years, the progress of the cause was retarded, by pervsonal disputes, which had been long agitated between several of the principal members; and, in too many in- stances, by the inconsistent conduct of others. Yet an encouraging progress was made ; and the labours of Mr. Burgess, botli public and private, were highly approved and blest. The congre- gations increased in number and respectability ; and the society in members. No fewer than iiixty-four persons were added to the church, in


the interval from the time when Mr. Burgess settled at Fleet to the close of the year 1800.

At the conclusion of the former period, the ancient general baptist society at Killingholm appeared, by the blessing of God on the exertions and care of Mr. J. Hannath, its laborious pastor, to be reviving from a state of deep declension.* And, though there arose a diversity of sentiment, at that time, wliich operated unfavourably on the minds of several friends ; yet it appears to have quickly subsided : for, in 1787, they were una- nimous, and had introduced preaching into two neighbouring places, Halton and Immingham. For several years, the congregations were nu- merous ; and additions to the church frequent. The increase of the cause made it necessary to enlarge the place of worship: which accordingly was taken down ; and a new and more spacious one erected in its place. This was opened, Nov. 10th. 1792 : when Mr. Scott, of Retford, preach- ed, in the morning, from Hag. ii. 9 ; and Mr. Beatson, a particular baptist minister from Hull, in the afternoon, from John iv. 23, 24.

It is probable, that these ministers took this opportunity to state and enforce their opposite views on some important points of doctrine : as, from this time, there arose a difference of senti- ment amongst the members, which produced the most unhappy effects. One party adhered to their ancient principles, respecting the extent of the Saviour's atonement ; and the other espoused the calvinistic views on that question. I'he de- bates ran high. A young man, who had lately been called to the ministry, warmly advocated

* Supra, p. 201.

292 DISSENSIONS. A.D. 1796

the new tenets: and Mr. Hannatli, then eighty years old, was less capable of defending the truth, or convincing gainsayers. Yet, notwithstanding these disputes, the cause prospered. In 1796, thirty eight persons were added to the church by baptism ; and the members increased to seventy- seven..

But, in that year, the contentions, which had so long distracted this society, broke out into an open rupture. About thirty of tlje members per- severed in the principles of the general baptists, and adhered to their venerable pastor ; but the rest, forming themselves into a distinct society, invited a particular baptist minister to settle with them. Considerable discussion and uneasi- ness arose, respecting the property of the church, and the possession of the meeting-house. The one party claimed it as the supporters of the doc- trines for the promotion of which it was origi- nally intended: their opponents, however, having several trustees among them, and being the ma- jority, kept possession of part of the land. By a kind of compromise, it vias also at length agreed, that the meeting house should be enjoyed in common ; the seceders occupying it, on the morn- ing of the Lord's-days; and the general baptists, in the afternoon.

Though the latter were reduced in numbers, they did not despond. They appear to have had several, amongst themselves, who assisted in preaching, with considerable approbation: espe- cially Mr. Joseph Wieles, who was also a very useful and active deacon, and Mr. Edward Hun- ter, of Clixby. They were zealous to support and propagate what they esteemed to be the truth : but the age of their pastor, and the num- ber of places at which they maintained regular

A.D. 1799 Mil. J. HANNATU DIES. 293

preaching, made it highly desirable to obtain further assistance. They, therefore, in ]798, in- vited Mr. ₯/. Smedley, the son of Mr. J. Smed- ley, of Gamston, who had been called to the work of the ministry, to come over and lielpthem. The labours of this young man were blest: the hear- ers increased ; many were added to the church ; and the word of life was carried into new places. At this time, they preached regularly at Killing- holm, Ulesby, Halton, Habrough, Limber, Keel- by, Asby, Binbrook and Clixby ; besides occa- sionally visiting several other places.

While these exertions were making to spread the kingdom of the Redeemer, their venerable pastor, Mr. J. Hannath, was called to his reward. He died March 19th. 1799, at the advanced age of eighty-seven, and was buried in the ground belonging to the meeting-house. But so strong was the prejudice of the parties against each other, that Mr. E. Hunter, whom the deceased had requested to preach his funeral sermon, was prevented from occupying the meeting-house, and obliged to perform that last office of respect in his own house, at Clixby. The text w as Phil, i^. 20, 21. Mr. Hannath appears to have been an active and useful minister ; and a hearty friend to the general baptist cause. By his per- severing exertion it was restored to a good degree of prosperity, in a situation, which, by its dis- tance from other churches of the same denomi- nation, precluded him from that assistance and support, which many of his fellow labourers enjoyed.

Mr. Smedley attended the Lincolnshire Con- ference, Sept. 27th. 1798 ; and expressed a strong desire that, for the advantage of the cause at Killingholm, the meetings of the Conferences


might be extended to that village : but its dis- tance was thought to render such a measure impracticable. The brethren then assembled advised the churches in the north of Lincolnshire to form a distinct conference among themselves ; and promised that some of their ministers should occasionally attend it. The general baptist churches in those parts were not, however, suf- ficiently strong to carry such a design into effect. In the commencement of 1800, Mr. Smedley left Killingholm to pursue his studies, at the newly-formed academy, under Mr. D. Taylor. On his departure, the church applied to Mr. W. Atterby, the pastor of the society at Kirton in Lindsay, who removed with his family to Kil- lingholm, March 8th. 1800. At the following Association, it was stated that his labours were well attended, and would, it was hoped, be ren- dered a blessing. This church then consisted of fifty -two members.

The general baptists at Gosherton were, at first, as has been already noticed, considered as mem- bers of the church at Spalding. Previous to the conclusion of the seventeenth century, it is certain that many of the members of that society dwelt here, and that regular public worship was main- tained in this place : and, if we may judge from the share of the property of the church assigned to it, the interest here was esteemed of great im- portance.* In the former part of the eighteenth century, this branch of the society appears to

* This was four acres of land which lay in Weston, a village about four miles east of Spalding- j purchased, as the Fleet church book informs us, by a Donation from John Rutton. The rent was divided into seven equal parts : of these Spalding had /^fo parts ; Bourn and Hackenby, < wo; Gosberton, ^u'O; and


have flourished, under the care of Mr. Roberts; a minister of respectability and talents, who died about 1724.* From that date, for nearly forty years, we have not been able to obtain any infor- mation respecting the progress of religion at Gosberton ; except that, during that interval, the connection with Spalding was preserved, al- though, from various circumstances, it continued to grow less intimate ; and that, owing rather to the decline of the parent society than to its own prosperity, it is probable th.ti, it was often in a better state than the interest at Spalding.

We hear of no other pastor of this society, till Mr. Joseph Anderson took the oversight of it ; who was ordained, Oct. 31st. 1762. He was then in the prime of life ; and appears to have been an active and laborious minister. We find him con- stant in his attendance at the Lincolnshire Asso- ciation ; and frequently appointed to preach at their meetings. Yet his labours do not seem to have been very successful at Gosberton : for, in 1771, the members in fellowship were only twen- ty-six, though those who dwelt at Spalding were probably included in the account ; and, in two years afterwards, they had sunk to eighteen. But a pleasing revival then took place. The pastor rose high in the estimation both of his religious connections and of the neighbourhood at large: and, in 1781, the number of members increased to thirty. six. In the spring of that year, he was aflected with a cold ; and, before he was per- fectly recovered, had occasion to assist the general

Fleet one. The earliest receipt for this rent is in 1704 : and the first that specifies the distribution of it in the above proportion, is dated January 1st. 1709.

* Supra, Vol. I. pp. 216, 217, 317. Vol. II. pp. 115, U9.


296 DECLENSION. A. D. 1782

baptists at Burii;h and Monksthorpe, who were then destitute of a pastor. While engaged in conducting the worship of God, he was suddenly seized with indisposition, and conveyed from the pulpit to the house of liis friend, Mr. Hursl house, of Croft. After languishing a week, he died April 1st. 1781. Mr. W. Thompson, of Boston, preached his funeral sermon, from Acts xx. 38. A widow and six children were left to deplore their loss.

After the death of Mr. Anderson, Mr. Fant, of Swineshead, supplied the pulpit ; and, for a short time, the cause continued to prosper. In 1782, the number of members was forty. But a sad reverse followed. In the following year, they addressed the Association of the New Connection, at Nottingham, stating their " distressed situ- ation, for want of a pastor, ordinances and dis- cipline ; and their desire to join the New Con- nection." That meeting advised them to take the usual methods for gaining admission into the union ; and requested Mr. Thompson, of Boston, " to visit and assist them, in the order and dis- cipline of the church, and to administer the Lord's supper among them, when he could make it convenient." At the following Association, Gosberton church was placed in tlie list of the New Connection ; and immediately applied for assistance in liquidating a debt which lay heavy on an individual.*

In 1787, the state of religion still continued discouraging: tiiey complained of a want of the ordinances, and earnestly desired, that the visits

* This debt amounted to sixty pounds, and appears to have been contracted by building or repairing a meeting-house : but no carticulars of anv such event have yet reached us.

A.D. 1787 SEPARATION. 297

of Mr. Thompson mig^lit be more frequent. At this time, there arose a misunderstandinii^ be- tween the societies at Gosberton and Spalding, llie brethren at the latter place, had encouraged Mr. Rusling to preach, contrary to the opinion of the friends at Gosberton. Mr. Rusling had formerly been an occasional preacher at Fleet ; and, removing to Gosberton, had, for a short time, assisted them. But taking some offence, he left their communion and joined the quakers; with >^honi he continued six years Those cau- tious people not encouraging him as he expected, to become a public speaker amongst them, he turned round again ; and, leaving the quakers, joined the general baptists at Spalding. There being then a great need of ministerial assistance in that cojigregation, Mr. Rusling soon began to employ hinjstii' in preaching, His earnestness and zeal giinefl him many partizans, whom he inspired >viih an impetuosity like his own. In their eagerness to push him forwards, they at- tempted to intrude his services on the friends at Gosberton. Those more judicious christians, however, totally disapproving of the whole of the pioceedings, laid the case before the Asso- ciation, at London, 1787 ; and were advised to endeavour to bring the people at Spalding to repentance ; and, if they failed in that attempt, to withdraw froai them. As might be expected, from tlie temper by which Mr. Rusling's friends were then governed, they could not be brought to repentance ; and the union between the two congregations, which had subsisted, nominally at least, for upwards of a century, was dissolved. Probably the omission of the names of the mem- bers at Spalding, who had fonnerly been reckoned as belonging to Gosberton, contributed to reduce VOL. II. 2q


298 MR. BINNS. A. D. 1795

their number to fourteen ; as it stands in the Mi- nutes of this year.

Thus left to themselves, they felt the necessity of obtaining a more regular and efficient supply, than Mr. Fant, from distance of abode and other circumstances, could afford them. They, there- fore, turned their attention to Mr. John Taylor, of Queenshead, Yorkshire ; and made strenuous exertions to obtain his removal to Gosberton ; but the Association disapprovingof the measure, they were final iy unsuccessful. Being thus disap- pointed of iheir first object, they invited Mr. Jo- seph Binns, who had lately been called out as a preacher, by the church at Queenshead. In 1790, he arrived at Gosberton, and commenced his la- bours. The cause appeared to revive : hearers increased, and preaching was maintained at Swineshead-Fenhouses ; at which place many attended, and there was an encouraging prospect of usefulness. While Mr. Binns was able to de- vote his undivided attention to this interest, it continued to improve. But, after the death of Mr. Thompson, he was employed one part of each Lord*s-day in supplying Boston; and, about the same time, his health declined so that he was un- able to sustain the fatigue of preaching three times in the day. This proved injurious to the cause at Gosberton ; and caused a degree of dis- satisfaction, which, joined to some temporal dif- ficulties, induced him to listen to an overture from Bourn. He laid his case before his brethren at the Lincolnshire Conference, April 7th. 1795 : when, after a long and serious deliberation, that meeting approved of his removal. He therefore left Gosberton before the close of the year ; but the friends there still retain a grateful sense of his iservice while he resided with them.

A. D. 1798 MR. BKIGGS. 299

The church applied to the following Associ- ation for advice, and were recommended to Mr. Yates, of Cauldwell ; but he decliued the pro- posal. They therefore depended, for a year, on the occasional assistance of neighbouring mi- nisters; and were favoured, beyond their expec- tation, by the visits of M r. W. Taylor, of Boston, and Mr. Wriji^ht, of Peterborough. They wished, however, for a more regular supply; and invited Mr. Briggs, o^' Sutton- Ashfield. He settled at Gosberton, in March, 1797: and his labours were acceptable. Soon after his arrival, two valuable members, Messrs. John Bartol and John Wilkin- son, who had for six years officiated as deacons, were ordained to that office: and, in a short time, the former was called to assist in preaching. He was a man of great piety, and very edifying abi- lities ; and, for some time, was very usefully employed by this society. In the succeeding year, Messrs. Joseph Anderson and J. Clarke began to preach occasionally. Thus plentifully supplied with labourers, they extended their exertions ; and maintained regular public wor- ship at four adjacent places. But Mr. Bartol, after much consultation, removed, in 1798, to take the charge of the church at Spalding; which was a great disadvantage to the cause at Gosber- ton. This loss was, however, in a great measure, supplied by the labours of the young preachers, and the diligence of Mr. J, Wilkinson, who held a weekly conference for reading the scriptures and religious conversation, which contributed much to the promotion of vital and experimenial religion.

In the autumn of 1799, Mr. Briggs, being in- vited to Loughborough, left Gosberton : and the whole supply of the various stations devolved



upon the young ministers ; assisted occasionally by their nei^^hbourinjo^ brethren. These means were, for a time, sutiiciently acceptable to pre- serve the congregations from decreasing. — 'Phis church consisted, in 1800, of thirty-three mem- bers.

During the period now under review, a general baptist church arose at Tt/dd St. Giies\ a village in Cambridgeshire, half-vvaj' between Fleet and Wisbeach. Mr. John Smith, a deacon of the society in Long-Sutton, was called, in 1778, to exercise his gifts as a minister : but, as several of the friends seemed to doubt of his qualifications, he was not much encouraged. About 1782, he removed his residence to Tydd St. Giles', and commenced preaching in his own house. At first, the hearers were few : but his serious and plain addresses gradually gained the attention of his neighbours, and reached their hearts. Five per- sons professing faith in Christ, were baptized by him, and admitted members of the church at Long-Sutton.

Many of the members of that church having, in 1788j embraced the tenets of Mr. Winchester, respecting universal restoration, Mr. Smith and his neighbours withdrew from their fellowship, and endeavoured separately to maintain the cause of truth. They accordingly formed themselves into a church, in Mr. Smith's house; when Mr. Freeston,ofHisbeach, attended andadministered the Lord's supper to them. The divine blessing crow ned the weak attempt; and, in a i'ew years, several were added to their number. Mr. Smith's labours bting increasingly useful, he was solicited by his trie'jds to accept the oftice ef pastor over tiie coiij^iegatiun, which he had been the instru-


tnent of raising. He complied with their request, and was ordained, April 7th. 1795 : Mr. Burp;ess giving the charge, tVoin Col. iv. 17 ; and Mr. Freeston addressing the people, from 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. At the same time, Messrs Wright and Buneil were ordained to the otiice of deacons.

As the hearers increased, it became desirable that they should be accommodated with a more spacious place of Worship. Mr. Smith, there- fore, almost at his own expence, built a conve- nient little meeting-house and a dwelling-house; which he invested in trustees, for the use of the general baptists. Thus favoured, the cause gained ground. In 1796, this church was ad- mitted into the New Connection ; when the number of members was fifteen.

In 1800, thirteen were baptized : and they hoped, that " the Lord was with them, and would soon add to them a few more." There were then twentj-eight persons in fellowship.

We have seen, in the former part of this history, that there was a society of general baptists at Wisbeach, in Cambridgeshire, during the protec- torate of Cromwell;* and that, at Walpole-Bell, a hamlet within five milesof the former, a church was raised by Mr. Marham, which was under the care of Mr. R. Booth. j* This, at the Revolution, consisted of about thirty members. It is highly probable, that, prior to the close of the seven- teenth century, these two congregations united in one society ; which afterwards was denomi- nated from the market-town rather than the ham- let. In the year 1697, these professors built a meeting-house, at Wisbeach ; which cost up-

* Supra, Vol. I. p« 138. f Ibid, p. 224.



wards of one hundred and twenty pounds. At that time, Mr. Henry Place, a wooilen-draper of that town, seems to have been a leading member of this society ; as he accommodated the church with the ground on which the meeting house stands : but whether by gift or sale does not ap- pear.

In the imperfect records of this society which have been preserved, we find the following entry, dated Nov. 26th. 1697. " We, whose names are subscribed, living in or near Wisbeach, do hereby signify, that, as the Lord has been gracious to our souls in calling us by the gospel to the fellowship of the saints, and placed the bounds of our habi- tation near together ; so we do joyfully agree to incorporate ourselvestogether in one churchstate, and to be one people and holy, to manage and carry on the work of the Lord together." This minute is signed by twenty-six persons. This passage does not, however, prove, that the church was then first formed ; as it wdn not unusual for the old general baptists, on solemn occasions, to " renew their church covenant." And it is pro- bable, that this resolution was made when they met, either to unite in building their meeting- house, or at the opening of it. They were then without a pastor : Mr. Booth, who was " a gifted brother," thirty years before this date, being most probably dead.*

While thus as sheep without a shepherd, they were occasionally visited by the messengers of the churches ; one part of whose duty it was to assist and direct destitute congregations. One of these, \lr. Morriss, a minister of some emi- nence, while labouring among them, was seized

Supra, Vol. I. p. 216.

A. D. 1723 MR. SHAUMAN. 503

with an indisposition, of which he died, Sept. 19, 1706, at the house of one of the members ; and and was interred in tiie meeting-house.*

In a tew years after that event, they were fa- voured with a pastor : Mr. John Sharnian being ordained to that important office, June 12th 1710. As we meet with his signature to the minutes of the church-meetings for several previous years, he seems to have been called to the ministry by this church. When he took the oversight of this so- ciety, there were about thirty-five members; and the cause prospered under his care: there being a list of above forty persons received into fellow- ship by baptism ; most of whom appear to have been the fruits of his ministry. He died in Fe- bruary, 1723.

On the decease of Mr. Sharman, the friends wrote to the Lincolnshire Association, May 10th. following, requesting ministerial assistance: and Messrs. Isaacs and Locking were appointed, by that assembly, to visit them in the course of two months. At a subsequent meeting of the same body, Mr. Joseph Hooke was requested " to visit the brethren at Wisbeach as often as he could :" and that active minister took several journeys to serve them. They were also sometimes assisted by Mr. William Stangar, of Northamptonshire.

During the occasional visits of these messen- gers, the church had called one of their own members, Mr. William Fisher, to the sacred work; and, after he had laboured amonffsc them, with increasing acceptance, for several years, they in- vited him to take the oversight of them. He was ordained, June 5th. 1732 ; and continued pastor

* This was, probably, the Mr. F. Momss mentioned by Crosby i Vol. III. p. 140.


•304 A FAST DAY. A.D. 1753

of this congregation for fifteen jears. The in- terest of religion, during his ministry, was nearly in the same state as it had been under his prede- cessors. He was removed by death, April 1st. 1747.

For almost ten years after the death of Mr, Fisher, this society continued in a widowed slate; and experienced the usual effects of such a situ- ation, in the decline of the church and congre- gation. This deeply affected those who loved the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity : and I hey not only mourned over it in secret, but appointed a season of public humiliation on its account. This we learn from the following interesting record. " At our church-meeting, held Oct. 17lh. 1753, after prayer, we have agreed to humble our souls before Almighty God, by a day of fasting and prayer, to be held in this meeting-house, to beof of the Lord to grant us the means of a minister to preach the gospel to us, the poor remains of our ancestors and church which were before us ; that we also, by means of the ministry, may be taught in virtue, in wisdom, and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ ; and also to be ediried one by another, provoking one another to love and good works."

For some time after this solemn supplication, they were deprived of the regular enjoyments of the ordinances of religion, and depended on the occasional assistance of Mr. John Goode, of Bos- ton, who was then in the messenger's office. At length, the Lord heard their prayers, and granted them a pastor. His name was John Proud ; and he came to them from Buckinghamshire. He was ordained in 1756, and presided over this congre- gation for many years ; but the cause was never very flourishing under his ministry. As he ad-

^^.n, 1750 AN ASSOCIATION. 305

vancedin life, hewas rendered, in a good measure, incapable of the discharge of the important du- ties of his station, by the almost total decay both of his bodily and mental powers. Mr. H. Poole, the pa: lor of Long- Sutton church, who had settled ill business at Wisbeach, frequently as- sisted him in his public labours: and, about 1.767, iVJr. Joseph Proud, his son, who afterwards bee '.sue celebrated among the followers of Baron Swfdeiibourgh, was called to exercise his gifts as a preacher. For a short time, he assisted his aged faiher ; but soon removed to Knipton, in Leices- tershire, 'fhese casual supplies tended, in some degree, to retard the decline of the congregation ; but the interest continued to languish, till 1784, when \lr. John Proud ceased from his labours.

During the former part of the last century, this society had been intimately connected with the churches at March, Whittlesea, Peterborough and St. Ives'. This union was cherished,- by maintaining, at stated periods, an association among themselves ; but none of the records of its meetings have fallen under our notice. These congregations never appear to have been included in the Lincolnshire Association ; as we find none of their ministers attending its meetings, till Mr. Joseph Proud ; who, especially after his removal to Knipton, was regularly present, and took a leading part in the business.

On the decease of Mr. Proud, this church in- vited to their assistance Mr. Joseph Freeston, a member of the general baptist church at Lough- borough ; who Jiad lately been called to the ministry. He arrived at Wisbeach, in March, 1783, and commenced his labours. As he had been constantly united with the New Connection, it was probable that he would feel a desire for VOL. II. 2r. *


306 MR. FREESTON. ' A. U. 1785

his new associates to become members of it. In- deed their inviting him to settle among them indicated a friendly disposition towards those with whom he had previously acted. Accord- ingly, they applied to the Association at Kirton, expressing their earnest desire to be included in the union. They were advised to write to the churches, in the usual way; and, at the next Association, at Boston, in 1785, were regularly admitted as members of the New Connection. Availing themselves immediately of their pri- vilege, they presented a case to the meeting : stating the exceedingly low state of religion, and their desire to enjoy the ordinances more regu- larly : and requesting advice and assistance. The Association thought it would be most prudent for the friends to request Mr. Poole, who still resided at Wisbeach, to administer the Lord^s- supper to them as often as it could be made con- venient.

The effects of Mr. Freestones labours were soon apparent, in the revival of the cause. Before the next year, they had introduced preaching into several neighbouring places, with an encouraging prospect of success : and the members then were thirty-two. Yet the disorderly conduct of some gave much trouble to the church ; and the neces- sity of exclusion frequently occurred. Death also deprived them of several of their number; so that, in 1789, they were reduced to twenty-one. The congregations, notwithstanding, continued to be numerous, and their approbation of Mr. Freeston's ministry and character increased. It was, therefore, resolved to give him a call to the pastoral office. This he accepted ; and was ordained, Sept. 1st. 1789 : when Mr. Birley, of St. Ives*, delivered the charge, from 1 Tim. iii. 1 ;


and Mr. W. Thompson addressed the church, from Psalm cxxxiii. 1.

A pleasing change soon appeared. 7'he ordi- nances of the gospel were now regularly admi- nistered, and the value of the privileges of church fellowship began to be more justly appreciated. Before the next Association, fifteen were added to the church by baptism. Such an accession of strength animated them to more vigorous exer- tions; and the interest of the Redeemer continued to prosper. In 1796, the members had increased to fiftj'^-eight : " the greatest part of whom were commendably active and zealous." They ex- tended their care to promote the kingdom of the Redeemer in distant places ; and greatly assisted and encouraged Mr. Thomas Ewen, in his suc- cessful exertions to revive the decayed general baptist church at March : and, for several years, their annual reports to the Association exhibit an increasing spirit of zeal for the glory of God, and affection for each other.

But, towards the close of this period, the aspect of affairs became more discouraging. Disputes arose in the church, and several withdrew from its communion. Mr. Freeston observed the distressing change with deep regret ; and determined to accept the unanimous invitation of the church at Hinckley, to remove to them. He left Wisbeach in the summer of 1799. After his departure, Mr. Thomas Fant, one of their members, preached frequently ; and they were occasionally assisted by the neighbouring minis- ters. But these supplies were precarious and unsatisfactory ; and by no means adapted to uphold, much less to revive, the drooping cause. It continued to decline ; and, in 1800, they gave this melancholy account of themselves. " The

308 ST. IVES* CHUUCH. A. D. 1712

state of religion is very low amongst us : several of our hearers having left us ; and several of our members, we are .sorry to say it, shew great in- difference in attending to the means which we at present enjoy. Our members are now reduced to thirty-four.'*

During this period, the church at St. Ives*', Huntingdonshire, became a member of the New Connection. This was an ancient society ; and appears to be the remains of the flourishing inter- est at Fenstanton, Warboys, and the neighbour- ing places. It may, therefore, be proper here to sketch its history, from the date of our last ac- counts* to the close of the eighteenth century.

At the commencement of that centurj^ we iind this society without a pastor. October 8th. 1712, Mr. Thomas Clack was chosen elder ; and Simon Martin and Robert Knightlj' elected to the office of deacons. At this time, the general baptists at Fenstanton, St, Ives*, and Warboys acted together as one body : and, from an enu- meration of the members, it appears, that the number in fellowship amounted to fifty-seven; which, in the course of six years, increased to eighty-nine. The catalogue has this title : *' A List of the Names of all the Members belonging to the congregation at Fenstanton and Warboys, owning the universal love of God in Christ to all mankind, and falsly called anabaptists/* This list was made in consequence of a renewal of the church covenant, at a meeting held Novem. 5th 1714, at which Mr. T. White, the messenger, pre- sided ; and " the church of Christ of baptized believers of Stanton and Warboys did unani-

* Supra, Vol. I. pp. 104, 146—162, 21S— 223, 326.

A. D. 1716 PROSPERITY. 309

mously agree to hold together as one church, as formerly."

Of Mr. Clack we know nothing, except that " he was a good man, and died in the faith.'' As his name appears neither to the minutes of the meeting just mentioned, nor jet in the list of members, it is probable, that his death took place soon after his election to the eldership.

The general baptists in these parts were earnest, not only for their own prosperity, but also for the spread of what they esteemed to be the cause of truth. April 27th. 1716, a meeting was held at Fenstanton, which was attended by the mi- nisters from several distant societies : as James Richardson, Henry Miller, John Sharman, and Richard Drinkwater : when it was agreed to hold an Association of "the churches of Wis- beach, Fenstanton, Willbrun, Fulborn, and any other congregations, of the same faith, who were of a willing mind." On this occasion, it was also resolved to keep the first Thursday in the ensuing May " as a day of fasting and prayer, to humble themselves on occasion of their own sins, and the sins of the nation ; and to beg of God to send forth more labourers into his vineyard, both there and in other parts."

Though this society then had no pastor, yet they were supplied with several preachers, whose labours were blest to the increase of the cause. Lewis Audley, William Wood, John Cropper and John King were regularly employed in the sacred work, at the various stations at which preaching was regularly supported : and Simon Martin, their worthy deacon, was frequently engaged, not only in matters of discipline, but also in ad- fiiinistering the ordinances. Mr. Richardson, the messenger, frequently visited them; and presided


310 MR. JOHN CROPPER. A.D. 1720

at their meetings for discipline. In their zeal for the interest of the Redeemer, they occasionally sent messengers to places where the cause had declined, " to inquire what friends remained, and to stir them up to the discharge of their duty." For this purpose, Messrs. Audley and Martin were sent, in 1717, to Ellington ; and, though the distance was nearly ten miles, they frequently repeated the visit. But, while thus careful for the welfare of others, ihey did not neglect their own edification. After several meetings on the subject, they elected Mr. John Cropper to the office of pastor over them ; which he accepted, and was ordained, with solemn fasting and prayer, June 7th. 1720, by Mr, J. Richardson: and it was " a day of much comfort and satisfaction to all present." Mr. Cropper had long laboured ac- ceptably amongst this people, as an assistant minister. He was, at this time, near fifty years of age ; having been baptized, in his twenty-se- cond year, at Spalding, Jan. 19th. 1694, by Luke Copeland, a deacon of that church.*

The elevation of Mr. Cropper to the eldership gave great offence to Mr. L. Audley, who pro- bably thought himself entitled to that honour. He was intemperate in his expressions of disap- probation ; and involved, both his own friends, and the messenger, who had presided at the ordination, in his censures. This obliged the church to call him before them for his disorderly conduct ; and issued in his exclusion from their

* On this event, Mr. Cropper has observed — " It was, at that time, a hard frost and deep snow ; and yet no harm ensued. God will be honoured in his own ways, and protect his servants in the obeying of his commands. Let none be afraid to venture into the water when the season is cold, lest they be laid in their graves before the weather be warm." W. C. B.

A. D. 1725 A FAST DAY. 311

communion. Three years afterwards, an attempt was made to settle the differences, by referring them to the arbitration of several ministers from distant churches: but the violence of Mr. Aud- ley's temper seems to have frustrated every pro- posal for reconciliation; and, for a time, widened the breach. It is pleasing, however, to tind, an- nexed to his name, in the list of members, that *' he died in the faith :" which renders it highly probable that he was re-admitted to fellowship.

The building which these christians occupied, as a place of worship at St. Ives', was originally a granary ; and the property of Jonathan Denne, who has been So often mentioned. In 1724, he assigned it to trustees, for the use of the baptists: and it became the principal meeting house of the society, which afterwards assumed the denomi- nation of the church at St. Ives*. An expence of nearly twenty pounds was incurred, by the trans- fer ; which was immediately raised by a private subscription among the members.

The members of this church, attentive to the state of religion in other congregations as well as their own, observed Nov. 5th. 1725, as a day of solemn fasting and prayer, " to bewail the loss of the church, by the death of several ministers, who had been removed from them and other sister churches around them — to implore the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, that he would raise up such amongst them as might be useful to the churches — to lament their own great coldness and decay in christian zeal and piety — and to intreat God on account of such of their christian brethren as were in affliction.'* On this occasion, they again renewed their church covenant, and took an account of the members, lliis catalogue con- tains only fifty names ; but whether the number


312 MU. CHOPPER DILS. A.D. 175'J

had decreased, or the list was left unfinished, is uncertain : yet, when we consider the frequent additions during many preceding years, the latter is the more probable supposition.

In 1745, the cause of religion sustained a great loss, in the death of Mr. Simon Martin, who had, for more than thirty years, filled the office of deacon. Highly respected during his life, his removal was much lamented. It appears, that he sometimes assisted in the ministry, and fre- quently administered the ordinance of baptism. In less than two years after his decease, Mr. W. Janeway, another worthy friend, died ; and be- queathed to trustess a perpetual annuity of six pounds, for the minister of this congregation ; on condition of his preaching occasionally at Sutton, where the land lies on which this endowment is secured.

Mr. Cropper being rendered, by the infirmities of age, less capable of fulfilling the duties of his station than formerly, was assisted, by the friend- ly visits of Mr. Johnson, the messenger, and Mr. Mills, of March : both of whom frequently ad- ministered the ordinances in his stead. At length, he was called to his reward, Feb. I4th. 1752, in the eightieth year of his aae. He had been an honourable and steady professor of religion for more than half a century ; and an useful and respected pastor over this society for thirty. two years.

At the time of Mr. Cropper's death, the mem- bers were about fifty ; but they appear to have been scattered in many distant places. Mr. H, Biggs was soon afterwards invited to preach regularly amongst them; and, in 1758, he was chosen elder : but, as onW twenty-five members voted for him, it is probable that there existed a

A. D. 1765 MR. G. B1RLEY 313

difference of opinion respecting him. He was, therefore, never ordained; but continued his ser- vices till his death, May 23d. 1773. During this period, Mr. Mills, of March, and other neigh- bouring ministers, occasionally visited this people, and administered the Lord's-supper. — The opportunities, however, of enjoying that edi- fying ordinance occurred but seldom, and were thinly attended: meetings for prayer and^dis- cipline were almost totally laid aside ; and the cause had so far declined, that, at the death of Mr. Biggs, there were only seventeen persons united in fellowship.

In this dark state, the few remaining friends of religion began to look about for a minister ; and soon turned their eyes to Mr. George Birley. This young man was originally a member of the general baptist church at Ashford, Derbyshire ; but, in 1765, removed, to assist Mr. Dan Taylor in his school : and joined with the church at Birchcliff, There he was called to the work of the ministry ; and laboured occasionally for some time. In 1768, he eng^ed, in the same station, with the late iVlr. John Ryland, who then kept a boarding-school at Northampton; and left York- shire. He continued still a member of the church at BirchclifF; and was frequently and acceptably employed in preaching to destitute congrega- tions : especially at Moulton, Spratton, Burton- Latimer and Stony-Stratford. The friends at St. Ives', in a few weeks after the decease of Mr. H. Biggs, requested Mr. Birley to pay them a visit. This he did ; and his labours being ap- proved, the invitation was repeated : and, in a short time, it was agreed, that he should spend one Lord*s-day in each month with them. The

VOL. II. 2 s


314 REMOVES TO ST. IVEs', A. O. 1777

intervals were occupied by Messrs. Proud, Payne, Mills and Barron,

This mode of supply continued for several years ; during the greatest part of which the friends at St. Ites* were earnest and unanimous in inviting Mr. Birley to settle amongst them. At length, he yielded to their intreaties ; and, in May, 1777, he took up his residence in that town. He immediately began to preach three times on the Lord's-day, in their meeting-house ; and fre- quently, in the surrounding villages,on the week- day-evenings. Though some success crowned his labours, and a few were added to the cliurch, yet there u as too little attention paid to the public and private means of grace and edification. The members were, however, decided in wishing him to assume the pastoral office, and urging him to be ordained. In 1782, he consulted the Asso- ciation at Melbourn, on the propriety of com- plying with their request : and was advised to be very faithful in his endeavours to awaken, in his friends, a sense of the necessity of practical god- liness, joined to a diligent attention to the duties of church-members, and conscientious exertions for the cause of Christ ; and to defer his ordi- nation till he saw that his exhortations produced some good effect. So slowly, however, was this object attained, that, two years afterwards, the Association recommended his removal to Long- ford. But things soon afterwards assumed a more promising aspect : and the people persist- ing in their importunity, he accepted their call to the pastoral office. He was ordained, Oct. 18th. 1786 : when his much esteemed friend, Mr. D. Taylor, of London, gave the charge, from Rom. i. 9 ; and Mr. Robert Robinson, of Cambridge, ad- dressed the church, from Prov. xxvii. 10.

A.D. 1786 AND IS ORDAINED. 315

After having suffered a long privation of thirty four years, these christians now enjoyed the high privilege of a pastor of their own, and the regu- lar participation of the ordinances of the gospel. They increased in numbers and in graces : and, in the following year, found it necessary to en- large the meeting-house, ^vhich had become too small for the accommodation of the increasing congregations, especially on the Lord's-day even- ings. In 1789, this church presented a request to the Association at Retford, to be admitted as a member of the New Connection : and, in the following year, was unanimously received. It then consisted of forty members, and maintained regular preaching at Fenstanton and AVarboys ; at both which places they were well attended, though not so well at St. Ives'. During the subsequent years, their reports contain many complaints of afflictions, lukewarmness, negli- gence, and disorderly conduct: but, at the same time, give us the pleasing information, that some of their friends were constant in their attendance on the means of grace, lively and happy in their souls, and really concerned for the revival of re- ligion. In 1800, the members were stated at thirty-four ; and they were well attended with hearers.

During the whole of the present period, and some part of the preceding, the ancient society of general baptists at Kirton* in Lindsay, Lincoln-

* We have postponed our account of this church to the end of this section, which is certainly a little out of place, in hopes of obtaining some particulars of its former history ; but all our endeavours for this purpose have proved inefiectual. Yet, rather than leave a chasm in the work, we have drawn together the few facts which follow j and beg our readers to pardon their paucity and incoherence.


316 MR. JOHN KELSET. A. D. 1660

shire, stood a member of the New Connection. It was probably gathered during the protectorate of Cromwell, or perhaps in the civil wars which preceded it. At the Uevolution, the cause here appears to have been in a flourishing state. The members were zealous in promoting the interest of their Saviour, in the midst of violent oppo- sition ; and affectionately attached to each other. At that time, Mr. John Kelsey was their minister; a person of good natural abilities and great de- votedness to the service of his Master. fSolwith- standing the edicts against nonconformity, this good man continued publicly to preach the gospel and discharge the other duties of his station. For this fidelity, he was apprehended and imprisoned in Lincoln jail, where we Hnd him in I660. After some time, that prison being crowded with the victims of persecution, he was removed, with several others, to Nottingham. Hence he wrote to his people, Sept. 4th. 1663: and here he was confined, if the editor of his letters was rightly informed, till set at liberty by the indulgence granted to nonconformists, by James 11. in 1687. If iiis account be accurate, this worthy minister languished in confinement seventeen years, deprived of the enjoyment of his friends and family ; for he had a wife and several children, to whom he bore a tender at- tachment. After his release, he returned to Kir- ton, and resumed his labours.*

From this time, we have no information respect- ing this society, till the year 1781 ; when it con-

* Several Letters, written by Mr. Kelsey, during his imprison^ ment, were published by Aaron Jeffery, the greatest part of them in rhyme. Though these compositions do not place him in the first rank of poets, yet they contain pleasing evidence that he

A.D. 1794 KIRTON CHURCH. - 317

sisted of upwards of forty members, and the pub- lic opportunities of worship were well attended with hearers. They were then destitute of a j)ai<tor ; and appear not to have had even an oc- casio:ial preacher amongst them. They earnestly solicited the Association to recommend to them a suitable minister; but that meeting couldnot find one at liberty. For several years, they dragged heavily forvvards, and the cause declined; but, in 1787, Mr. Jonathan Scott, of Gamston, pity- ing their sinking state, went once a fortnight to supply Ineisi. A speedy revival was the effect of his friendship : the hearers increased ; and in the following- year fourteen were added by baptism. For two years, the prospect continued encourag- ing; hut Mr. Scott then found it inconsistent with his other engagensents to continue his visits

was a good man, and a sincere christian : humbly resigned to the will of God, and acknowledging him in all the dispensatioi>s of his providence. The following lines will exhibit at once the disposition of the writer and the style of the poetry.

" I hope the more they punish me, that I shall grow more bold : The furnace they provide for me, will make me finer gold. My friends, my God will do me good, when they intend me harm: They may suppose a prison cold ; but God can keep it warm. They double my imprisonment, whate'er they mean thereby : My God in it gives me content ; and then what loss have I ? What if my God should suffer them, on me to have their will ; And give me heav'n instead of earth ; I am no loser still."

Tradition says, that his removal to Nottingham prison was the means of gathering a general baptist church in that town; which Kubsisted for more than a century. He seems to have antici- pated such a result, in the following passage, in a Letter dated " From my Prison-house at Nottingham, Sept, 4th. 1663 :

" They blame my going up and down, and send me further stili. To speak the truth at Nottingham, and thus they got their will. A wise and wonder-working God ! to make such use of those. That they should help to spread his truth, who to his truth are foes."



SO frequently. This produced a rapid decline in the cause; the congregations dwindled away, and the members, in 1794, had sunk to twenty- eight.

In 1797, they obtained a more regular supply of ministerial assistance in the labours of Mr. William Atterby, whom, in the following year, they called to the pastoral office over them. For a short time, this union appears to have been blest, and the interest began once again to revive. But, in 1800, divisions respecting some points of doctrine, which were esteemed important, arose amongst them ; and led to the removal of Mr. Atterby to Killingholm. The ciiurch then con- sisted of forty-four members.

Sect. 4. — The History of the General Baptist Churches in London^ which tvcre united with the New Connection : from a.d. 1785 to 1800.

The general baptists in Church-lane^ White- chapel^ prospered greatly after Mr. D. Taylor settled with them. Mr. Brittain seldom preached after this period ; but cheerfully resigned the pulpit to his 3^ounger colleague ; whose labours were peculiarly acceptable to his hearers, and blest by his heavenly Master. The congre- gations soon became numerous ; and the increase consisted chiefly of persons who had been accus- tomed to attend at the established church. Ad- ditions to the society were frequent : no fewer than twenty being admitted into fellowship, before April, 1786. Harmony and zeal animated the members ; and, at the suggestion of their experienced minister, various regulations were

A. D. 1790 PROSPERS. 319

adopted, to promote the purity and order of the church. He was requested to deliver a discourse, once a quarter, on the duties of church members to each other; and, on August 1st. 1788, com- menced a lecture to young people, which he continued annually till his death. This society having long maintained only an irregular and in- terrupted correspondence with the New Connec- tion, determined, April 10th. 1786, to form a closer union with that body ; and, since that year, it has never failed to .send a representative to the Annual Association.

In 1791, a commodious baptistery was con- structed in the meeting-house, at a considerable expence ; which was raised by private sub- scription: and, during the following year, twen- ty-five persons, professing their faith in Christ, were baptized and added to the church. The cause continued to prosper; and the satisfaction of the people with the labours of Mr. Taylor to increase. In the annual reports to the Asso- ciation, they bore repeated testimonies of their approbation. In 1792, they say, " We are amply fed with gospel truth," and, two years afterwards, " We with pleasure inform you, that the gospel is preached to us in its purity ; and we pleasingly perceive, with increasing zeal, stimulating the hearers to external and internal holiness/* — About this time the meeting-house was painteft and repaired, at an expence of nearly fifty pounds, which were cheerfully contributed by the friends of the cause. It was re-opened, May iSth. 1794 ; after having been shut up for more than a month. During this interval, the congre- gation was kindly accommodated, on the Lord*s- day evenings, at Mr. Booth's meeting-house^ Prescot-street.


320 MR. BRITrAIN*S DEATH. A.D. 1794

In the midst of this increasing success, their ag-ed pastor, iVlr. John Brittain, was called to his reward. Though he was confined to his room only a short time, yet, for several vears, he had been unable to move without support and a.ssist- ance. He died, Sept. 18th. 1794, at the advanced age of eighty-four years. For almost thirty- eight years, he had honourably sustained the oliice of pastor over this church ; and had made great exertions to promote its interest. And, though after Mr. Taylor's settling \i\ London, lie had, in a good measure, stept aside from the public ministry, he retained to the last his regard to the cause, and his affection for the people. His remains were interred, Saturday, Sept. 26th., in the family vault which he had prepared ; and, on the following day, his col- league preached his funeral sermon, to a crouded and affected audience, from Psalm Ixxiii. 25, 26.

1 his event naturally brought under consider- ation the subject of imposition of hands on bap- tized believers, previous to their admission to the Lord's table ; as l^Ir. Taylor did not be- lieve it to be necessary. After various discus- sions, it was agreed, that this method should still be continued, as a decent and becoming mode of receiving church members, though not of divine authority: but, that if any candidate should con- scientiously decline it, he should not, on that ac- count, be refused admission to communion. With this arrangement, Mr. Taylor expressed Iiis satis- faction : and this continues to be the practice of the church.

But various circumstances occurred soon after- wards, and broke the harmony which had so long distinguished the transactions of this society. Some expressed their dissatisfaction, that the

A. D. 1796 DISUNION. 321

meeting-house, in the erection of which con- siderable public property had been sunk, had fallen into the hands of an individual: but the open and candid conduct of the proprietor, who voluntarily came forwards, and gave a full expla- nation of all the particulars, perfectly satisfied the church, both of the legality and equity of his claim. The enemies of peace were, therefore, for that time, disappointed. Other subjects of al- tercaiion, however, succeeded ; and the conten- tions were carried to such a height, that, in Julj, 1796, the pastor sent a letter to the church, pro- posing to resign his office amongst them. This caused a great sensation ; and it was feared, that a division would be the consequence. But, by the exertions of those who sought for peace, the breach was, in some degree, closed, and una- nimity restored. At the request of the pastor, Jan. 3d. 1797, was observed as a day of fasting and prayer, to humble themselves for past im- perfections, and to implore a blessing on their future proceedings.

The disorderly walk of many who stood as members caused much trouble and confusion; by which the hands of those who reallv laboured for the prosperity of the cause were greatly weak- ened. Frequent exclusions became necessary ; but this painful measure had only a partial effect in preventing the neglect of the public ordi- nances of the gospel, which had risen to a dis- tressing height. The finances of the society also became embarrassed ; and, although various plans were adopted to improve them, they were a con- stant source of disquietude ; and the income was with difficulty made adequate to the expenditure. Yet, under all these discouragements, the cause maintained a pleasing degree of prosperity : and, VOL. II. 2t



in 1800, they state, " that they were moderately attended with hearers, and peaceable amongst themselves." The number in fellowship amount- ed to two hundred and eleven.

During this period, several members of this society were called to the work of the ministry : amongst whom were, Mr. W. Burgess, late pastor of Fleet church ; Mr. J. Smith, now settled at Tydd St. Giles ; and Mr. J. B. Shenston, who was for several years pastor of the church in Gravel-lane, now assembling in Great Suffolk- street, Southwark.

At the close of this period, Mr. D. Taylor, with the o:enerous assistance of the friends of religion, erected a little meeting-house at Mile- End, which was opened June 12th. 1800 ; when Mr. D. Taylor, and Mr. Newman, of Oldford, were engaged.

At the close of the last period, we left the church which now assembles in Great Suffolk-street, in a low state, under the care of Mr. Rowcliff.^ It then had a meeting-house in Duke-street; and there Mr. Rowcliff continued to labour, though with little encouragement, till July 31st. 1796; when, in consequence of embracing calvinistic sentiments, he resigned the pastoral office over this society, and removed to Southampton. For a few years, the pulpit was occupied by various preachers, especially by a Mr. Tapp, who, for a short time, was a member of the society inChurch- lane, Whitechapel. The cause regularly de- clined, and the church was hastening to a disso- lution ; when their old friends at Church-lane again interposed their good offices. Mr. D. Tay-

* Supra, p. 209.

i\,D. 1800 CHURCH. 323

lor went occasionallj'^ to preach for them, and to assist them with his advice and countenance: and the students under his care were frequently en- gaged in supplying them. At length, Mr. J. B. Shenston, a member of Mr. Taylor's church, who had been lately called to the ministry, accepted thdr invitalioji to become their pastor. He was ordained, April 23d. 1799 ; when Mr. D. Taylor gave the charge, from Acts xx. 24 ; and Mr. E. Sexton, of Chesham, addressed the people, from Heb. xiii. 17.

In the low circumstances in which the cause here had been for so many previous years, the trust dt-eds of the meeting-house had been suf- fered to fall into private hands; and, through the neglect of renewing them in proper time, this society lost possession of their place of worship in Duke-street, soon after Mr. Shenston settled with them. The building was transformed into a hatter's warehouse ; and the burying-ground, which was of a considerable size and well filled with tombstones, was quickly cleared of those monuments of nonconformitj^ and has since been covered with buildings.* Thus deprived of their ancient place of assembling, the few members of this society hired a place in Gravel-lane, in the same neighbourhood, which had belonged to a public-house ; and fitted it up for a meeting- house. It was opened, April 11th. 1800, by Mr. D. Taylor, who preached from Amos vii. 12, ^^By whom shall Jacob rise ; for he is small :" a pas- sage well suited to the occasion.

* The meeting-house thus lost was built by Mr. Dobson, about 1760, on the sciie of the original one ; which was an ancient structure, erected, piobably, about 1670 ; and is said to have been the place where the famous John Banyan most usually preached when he was in London.-^ JFilson, Vol. IV. p. 179.

324 ATTEMPTS AT A. D. 1790

In the same year, this church renewed its cor- respondence with the New Connection, which had been suspended for nearly thirty years. — They sent a letter to the Association at Spalding, June 24th. 1800: in which they state that their number of members was fourteen ; four of whom had been admitted during the preceding year.

Sect. 5. — The Transactions of the New Cojinec-

tion^ as a hodij^ during the second Fifteen Years of

its existence : or, from a.d, 1785 to a.d. 1800.

That persevering advocate of union, Mr. Gilbert Boyce, though repeatedly frustrated in his attempts to reconcile the Lincolnshire Asso- ciation and the churches composing the New Connection, still persisted in his efforts. In 1786, he brought the subject before the former meeting, when it was referred to the judgment of the churches, without exciting much attention. But, in the following year, it was resolved by the Association of the New Connection, held at London, that a friendly address with a copy of their Minutes should be presented to the general Assembly in Worship-street. This act of civility, ■which was probably repeated for some years, encouraged the good old man to hope, that one great obstacle to the re-union which he so much desired was removed. He therefore proposed a case to the Lincolnshire Association, held at Coningsby, May, 1789, inquiring, " Whether, as our brethren of the Leicestershire Association are now in connection with the general assembly in London,^ with which we are also united, we

* Here the wisheg of the good old man appear to have led

A. D. 1792 RE-UNION. 325

cannot unite with each other ?" This question was referred to the churches, and the answers to it were directed to be sent to Mr. Boyce ; but the result does not appear. Mr. Boyce however for- warded a proposal for re-union to the Association at Wisbeacli, April, 1791; in consequence of which Mr. Thompson was directed to attend the Lincolnsiiire Association and receive their pro- posals. yVs that meeting was held in a few days afterwards, Mr. 1 hompson was probably unable to comply. But the subject was again intro- duced by Mr. Boyce, at the Coningsby Asso- ciation, in the following June, when the repre- sentatives of the churches at Asterby, Coningsby, Spalding, and Fleet, voted in favour of the union ; but the church at Monksthorpe, required time to consider of it. The same proposal was again alluded to in the next meeting of the same body ; but as a conference was to be held, June 26th. 1792, to discuss it, it was thought improper then to enter upon it. We have no account of this conference, which seems to have been the final attempt to effect a reconciliation. Mr. Boyce, who had already reached his eightieth j'ear, was removed by death soon afterwards, and the Lin- colnshire Association did not long survive him.

In the heginning of this period, a measure was adopted, which, if it had succeeded, would have been of essential service to the whole union. In 1786, it was observed at the annual Association,

him into an error, as there never existed any correspondence between the General Assembly and the New Connection that could be called an union. The above present of the Minutes is all the sanction to any intercourse which the Records of the Association of the New Connection afford. It is probable that, during this period, a few ministers of the latter body did at- tend, as individuals; som^ of the meetings of the General Assembly.



that several small delits which remained on va- rious churches, for building and repairing meet- ing-houses, not only retarded the prosperity of the cause in those societies; but also prevented them from alfordinj^ prompt and effectual assist- ance in cases of general importance. In order to remedy this inconvenience, it was proposed to consolidate several of these trifling burthens into one sum, and to make a general efibrt to remove them, throughout the whole Connection, This plan, being referred to the consideration of the churches, was aj)proved ; and, the following year, the Association resolved to attempt its execution. The societies which were admitted to a share in this collection, were those at Har- bury, Long-Sutton, Ilkiston, Shore, Queenshead, Halifax, and Birmingham ; the amount of the incumbrances on which uas about four hundred and iifty pounds. l\ir. J. Deacon was requested to print a circular letter, stating and recom- mending the several cases : and certain ministers were nominated to collect for this object in the different districts; who were earnestly requested to complete the whole business before the follow- ing Association. At that Association, the returns were made : but it then appeared, that some churches refused to lend any assistance — that others could not attend to it till some future pe- riod — and that some of the ministers appointed to collect had not been able to make any at- tempt; while the exertions of others had been only partial and limited : so that not one hundred pounds had been procured. This small sum was divided amongst the societies which were in- eluded in the proposal, in proportion to their respective debts: and further efforts were strongly recommended. Yet it does not appear that much

A,D. 1790 NEW HYMN BOOK. 327

more was done ; and the expected assistance was intercepted by that want of" general co-operation which has, on many other occasions, injured the IVew Connection,

During this period, the Association was very laudably solicitous to procure proper books for the use of the churches. In 1790, a case was sent from the midland Conference, stating the neces- sity of a new Coliection of Hymns for public wor- ship : the former Collection, which had been published soon after the formation of the union, being very imperfect, and nearly out of print. The Association therefore appointed a committee to collect proper hymns; and, at their next meet- ing, directed a Hymn Book for social worship to be published, under the superintendance of a select committee. This was done in the course of the ensuing year.

The instruction of their youth in those prin- ciples of religion which they deemed scriptural and important, also occupied the frequent atten- tion of the Association : and Mr. D, Taylor was repeatedly desired to publish new editions of his catechism. In 1792, at the request of this body, he added to the former contents of that useful manual, a section on the "Reasons for dissenting from established churches." In 1789, Mr. D. Taylor preached, before the Association at Ret- ford, on the Inspiration of the Scripture. The discourse was much approved by his hearers ; and they unanimously requested its publication. It made its appearance, therefore, Aug. 1790, under the title of "An Essay on the l>uth and Inspi- ration of the lioly Scriptures :" and was of sin- gular service in preserving the churches from the snares of infidelity, which were then diligently spread on every side.



328 NEW CONSTlTLTIOiV. A.D. 1797

We have already observed, that the annual Association was, at t!ie formation of the Connec- tion, a conference of the officers of the several churches, who became members of it by virtue of their stations. During the period now under re- view, the nature of that assembly underwent a considerable though silent change. Some in- conveniences were found to arise, iVom a seat in the Association being claimed on account of of- fice : and, in 1795, if was declared, at the meet- ing at Nottingham, that the members of the As- sociation were persons appointed by the churches. Two years afterwards, the meeting at Kegworlh was still more explicit. In answer to the inquiry, *' Who are understood to be members of the As- sociation ?" it was declared — that, though some of the churches considered all their officers as standing representatives, claiming besides a right to add to them annually such others as tliey thought necessary, and other churches chose all their representatives afresh every year ; yet they all sat in the Association as representatives chosen by the churches who sent them : and that no person, whatever his station, could sit and vote as a member of the Association, unless as the actual representative sent by a church to that meeting. The Association was thus formally declared an assembly of delegates ; and has ever since maintained that character.

It had also been usual for each Association to determine the place of the next meeting. But, as the limits of the Connection increased, the claimants for this honour became numerous: and the discussion not only occupied much time, but sometimes excited altercations. It was, there- fore, thought prudent to adopt some fixed mode by which this matter might be regulated. Ac-


rordingly, in 1793, tlie Connection was divided into live districts ; and it was agreed that the As- sociation should visit each in the revolution of eight years. In the first yearof"the eight, it\f as ap- poiHtt'd to bein London; in the second and sixth, in ]N<itiin;^,hvimshire or Derbyshire; in the third and seventh, in Lincolnshire; in the fourth and eighth, in Leicester.sliire or Warwickshire: and, in the fiftii, in YorkNhire. It was left to the de- cision of the respective Conferences at what place in each district the Association should be held. This arrangement commenced in 1794, and has been found very convenient. It is still acted upon : though probably the extension of the Connection and change of circumstances may render it necessary, in a few years, to revise it.

The propriety of endeavouring to assist young men, who were called to the work of the ministry, in obtaining useful learning, seems early to have occupied the minds of the most judicious and zealous upporters of the New Connection.* As

* The first allusion to this subject, that has fallen under our notice, is a manuscript found among the papers of the late Mr. Dan Taylor, intitled " A Plan for assisting the studies and im- proving the qualifications of young men, who appear to pos- sess abilities for the ministry, and are recommended as possessing such qualifications, by the churches to which they belong : humbly proposed to the consideration of my brethren, the ministers and other representatives, associated at Coventry, May 26th. and ^rth. 1779." The writer considers the manner of raising the necessary funds, and of conducting the design — the regulations respecting the tutor and students — the course of study, &c. This paper is unhappily imperfect, but it con- tains the principles and many of the particular measures adopted eighteen years afterwards. The idea, it seems, was not then new } for the writer says, " The design has annually obtained credit and reputation, since it was first begun by a poor blind brother in Wadsworth church and myself." This points to an origin of the Academical Institution not generally known. VOL. II. 2 u


330 FORMATION OF A. D. 1796

the churches increased in number antl respect- ability, the necessity of such assistance would naturally press still more forcibly on every think- ing observer. The subject, therefore, became the frequent topic of conversation, amongst indi- viduals, and on public occasions. It was not, however, till the Association at Boston, in 1796, that it received proper attention. That meeting recommended it " to all the churches to adopt some method which might lay a solid foundation and prove an effectual means of giving instruc- tion to such young men as should be thought, by their respective churches, to possess ministerial abilities: and, in order to facilitate the execution of this important design, it was recommended to the minister, or some other leading member, in each society, to open immediately a subscription for the purpose : Messrs. Joseph Johnson and W. Parkinson, of Quorndon, being appointed treasurers for that year."

This recommendation had the desired effect ; and prepared the Connection to enter heartily on the business, at the following Association, at Kegworth. At that meeting, the subject being introduced, half an hour was set apart for one of the brethren to deliver his sentiments on it ; and a letter, to the same purport, of considerable length, written by a friend at Loughborough, was read. After a serious discussion, it was una- nimously resolved, " that it was highly necessary to do something to instruct young men in biblical knowledge, in order to tit them for the work of the ministry." in pursuance of this decision, it was agreed to establish funds, and open books for subscriptions, without delay ; and to choose a committee to manage the concerns of tlie pro- posed institution. Messrs. S. Heard, of Not-

A. D. 1797 THE ACADEMY. ■ 531

tingham, J. Bakewell, of Castle- Donington, and W. Parkinson, of Quorndon, were requested to act as joint treasurers. No sooner were these pre- liminaries settled, than twenty-five friends of the undertaking, who were then present, laid the foundation of the Fund by donations, amount- ing, in the whole, to nearly one hundred and seventy-five pounds ; and eight persons became annual subscribers to the amount of sixteen pounds per annum.

Thus commenced an institution, which has continued to the present day; and, notwithstand- ing llie difficulties and prejudices with which all first attempts have usually to struggle, has been of real advantage to the cause of religion. A well written letter was printed and circulated ; explaining tlie objects of the undertakir«g, an- swering objections to it, and exhorting s he friends of ihe cause to exert themselves in its support, Thi.N appeal produced considerable effect : and, in January, 1798, an Academy for young minis- ters was opened, under the superintendence of Mr. Dan Taylor, at Mile End, near London. Six months afterwards, a meeting of the subscribers was held, at Loughborough, June 11th. 1798 ; at which the attendance of all the supporters of the plnn vvas urged, to consider matters of im- portance : and they were earnestly solicited to exert themselves to increase its resources ; as applications had been received from several young men, who could not be admitted, on ac- count of the \ow state of the finances.

3ut the attention of the Connection was at length excited, and this infant institution re- ceived encouraging support. A letter, inserted in the Minutes of the Association at Spalding, in 1800, may be considered as containing official


332 clllCULAR LETTEHS. A. D. 1800

information respecting the stateof the institution, at the close of this period; and will form a proper conclusion to our present account. After stating the object and origin of the undertaking, it pro- ceeds thus. " This design, we are happy to say, has been patronized since its commencement, be- yond our most sanguine expecuitions ; and some of the fruits have already been r<^;iped, which, in so short a period, have exceeded our fairest hopes. — The great importance of the object, the flatter- ing prospects which have been presented and which in a measure have been realized, encourage us to persevere with increasing ardour. Enlarged scenes open on our view ; and more extensive good invites us to more vigorous exertion. We implore your assistance, brethren, in this glo- rious cause ; which we doubt not will repay all your labours on your own heads and on your children and posterity to the latest generations." Such were the pleasing hopes entertained by the friends of the Academy in 1800 : we shall have another occasion to examine how far they were realized.

The practice of addressing circular letters to the churches with the Minutes of the annual As- sociation, was continued, with a few exceptions, throughout this period. They proceeded gene- rallj^ from the pen of Mr. D. Taylor ; who, at the request of his brethren, drew up interesting epistles on — the operation of the holy Spirit — the depravity of human nature — the duties of church members to each other — the evidence of rege- neration — and stveral pieces respecting the Aca- demy. So highiv did his friends esteem these services, that, ii. 1796, when the circular on the Duties of Church Ai embers was read, at Boston, it was unanimously resolved, " That the thanks

A.D. 1800 G. B. MAGAZINE. 333

of this Association be given to brother D. Taylor, for writing the circular Letter ; and for all his other essential services to our Connection : and that this resolution be printed in the Minutes." — Mr, J. Taylor wrote the circular for 1790, on Family Worship ; and Mr. S. Deacon the one for 1797, on Church Order and Discipline ; — both very useful compositions.

Towards the close of this period, a monthly publication, entitled the General Baptist Maga- zine, was undertakien, by a society of well-wishers to the cause, under the sanction of the Associ- ation Mr. Dan Taylor was appointed editor: and, for some time, it promised to be of great service to the Connection. It did not, however, obtain sufficient support ; and was, therefore, discontinued, in December, 1800, at the close of the third volume. The profits, had any accrued, were destined to aid the funds of the Academy ; but its failure involved the parties concerned in considerable loss.


A Sketch of the History of the New CoN' hection, from the commencement of the Nineteenth Century ; with a View of


ITS Doctrine and Discipline,

4 S there would be an evident difficulty, and "^ no small indelicacy, in writing a detailed history of recent transactions, in which many of the Author*s living friends, and even the Author himself, have been personally concerned ; it has

334 CARTON CHURCH. A. D. 1816

been thought most prudent lo jiiseri onlva i..ief notice of the principal e^e its that have occurred since 1800; with a more particular review oi the prior historv of such churciies as have, since that period, joined the Connection : and to conchide the work witli a description of the present iale of the New Connection, and some hints respect- ing the doctrines and discipline of the churches which compose that union.

Sect. 1. — A Sketch of the Proceedings of the

Churches in the Midland Counties, since a.d. 1800.

Though the friends at Barton^^ have been con- stantly complaining of tiie want of ministerial assistance, yet the cause of the Redeemer in that neighbourhood appears, during the last seventeen years, to have been graflualij extending its li- mits. Their senior pastor, the elder Mr. S. Deacon, was advanced in life, and soon became incapable, through the infirmities of age, of taking his part in the labours of the ministry. After lingering several years, in a state of help- less debility, he was released by death, March 19th. 1812, in the ninety-eighth year of his age. His son, who had, for many years, been joint pastor with his venerable father, had then reach- ed his sixty-seventh year, and was very feeble. He was assisted, in his public services, by several young ministers, but more regularly by Mr. Ja- cob Brewin, whose labours were well approved. Feb. 18th. 1816, Mr. Deacon resigned the pastoral office ; and, fourteen days afterwards, was called to his reward. About a week previous, Mr. J.

* Supra, p. 3^1.

A. D. 1817 HUGGLESCOTE, 335

Bpevyin had been cut off by death, in the midst of his usefulness : and the church was left des- titute.

Yet, notwithstanding these trials, the cause prospered. Additions were frequent: and, in 1809, fortv-tHo were baptized on a profession of faith. Preacliitig was ii; roduced into several new places, with encoaraijini::; success: the meet- ing houses at Barton and Balson were enlarged, an<i rooms for the accommodation of Sticday- schools added to each of them : and, in 1814, a new meeti'ig-house was erected between Bag- worth and Thornton, at an expence of Ktarly three huncired pounds. In 1817, the number of members was three hundred and twelve, who were peaceful and united,

Aug. 26th. 1798, those members of the churcli at Barton who dwelt at Hugglescote and its vi- cinity, were formed into a distinct society, con- sisting of eighty-five members.* They called Mr. Thomas Orton, one of their own friends, to serve them in the ministry ; and he was ordain«d to the pastoral office. May 18th. 1799. This in- terest has continued to improve. In 1817, the number of members had increased to one hun- dred and fifty-seven : they had then two assistant preachers, Messrs. W. Pollard and J. Dean ; and had extended their labours to Stantpn-under- Bardon, Whitwick, Swannington, and Ibstock : at all which places they maintain regular preach- ing: and, in 1814, erected a meeting-house at Ibstock. In 1809, a Sunday-school was opened at Hug^lescote ; and a coiivenient building was erected for its accommodation : in which one

* Supra, p. 220.

336 MELBOURN. A. U. 1817

hundred and twenty scholars are now instructed. The last reports from this society are very en- couraging.

At Melbourn* the interest of religion conti- nued to gain ground, especially in that part of the church which asseitsbled at Packington. — Preaching was introduced into various dark vil- lages, with a cheering prospect of good being done. But the weak and precarious state of the health of Mr. E. Whitaker, their pastor, cast a gloom on all their undertakings. After being laid aside for several months, from his ministerial labours, death released him from a state of pain and inaction, July 10th. 1808, at the early age of forty-two. Previous to his decease, the bre- thren at Packington had amicably separated from this society. Those who remained at Mel- bourn suffered great inconvenience, after Mr. E» Whitaker's death, through want of proper mi- nisterial supplies. Their distress induced them incautiously to invite preachers who had lately seceded from other denominations ; and this in- creased their difhculties. After various anxious endeavours and painful disappointments, they applied, in 1815, to Mr. John Preston, the pastor of the general baptist church in Great Suffolk- street, Souihvvark. He accepted their invitation, and removed to Melbourn, at the succeeding Christmas. His services were crowned with pleasing success; and twenty-four were baptized within six months after his arrival. The number of members, June, 1817, was two hundred and twenty-seven ; and they had a few candidates for fellowship. They were then at peace among themselves.

* Supra p. 2*24.


We have seen already, that, in ISOO, those members of Melbourn church, who resided at Packington^ invited Mr. Joseph Goadby, to labour amongst them ; and, that they were then nearly independent of the parent society.* A nominal union continued, however, for several years ; and, during that interval, much was done in spreading the news of salvation into various adjacent places. In 1800, Mr, Goadby licensed a house at Ashby-de-la-zouch, a considerable market town, a iew miles north easi of Packing- ton : and soon afterwards a house was purchased and fitted up for public worship, which has ever since been regularly maintained at Ashby, with encouraging success. In 1802, the gospel was introduced into Austrey, a dark village in War- wickshire, nine miles south-west of Ashby ; where the word has been made peculiarly useful. In 1807, the connection between this society and Melbourn, was formally dissolved by mu- tual consent ; and this church became a disstinct body,consisting of one hundred and fivemembers. They invited Mr. Goadby lo accept the office of pastor over them : and, in compliance with their request, he was ordained, Sept. 26th. 18o8. The union thus formed was abundantly blessed ; and the interest has prospered under his care. A new meeting-house was erected, in 1811, at Measham, where, for many years, preaching had been maintained in a dwelling house. They have also begun to rebuild their meeting-hous« at Ashby, in a more respectable style : which, it is hoped, will tend to recommend the interest in that populous town. The number of me,mber$, in 1817, was one hundred and twenty-seven.

* Supra p. 2?4. TOL. II. 2x

338 CAULDWELL. A. D. 1817

The interest at Cauldwell,^ languished for many years after the death of Mr. C. Norton ; the supplies of preaching being uncertain, and, in some instances, unedifying. After various disappointments, they invited Mr. J. Pollard, of Switliland ; who, fixing his residence at Burton- upon-Trent, became their regular minister. The cause seemed to revive under his care ; but secu- lar diificulties soon obliged him to leave them. He was succeeded by Mr. Jarvis ; but though his labours were made useful, he also was under the necessity of removing. In 1811, they were destitute of a minister, and complain that re- ligion was on the decline. Not long afterwards, they obtained the assistance of Mr. Gamble, of Leicester, and the drooping interest experienced a considerable revival : twenly-six persons being added to the church by baptism, in 1813. In 1816, the number of members had increased to aighty-two : and though some of their places of preaching were thinly attended; yet "others were crowded with serious hearers ; many of whom they hoped would soon come forward to follow the Lamb." But, in 1817, troubles arose; their minister left them ; and their members sunk to sixty-six. — Several unsuccessful attempts had been made by the friends at Cauldwell, to introduce their ministers into the neighbouring town of Burton-upon-Trent ; but, in 1814, they licensed a room there for preaching, which, at first, was supplied chiefly by Mr. Moss, who had joined them from the particular baptists. But he soon afterwards dropt all connection with them ; and their hopes became less sanguine.

* Supra, p. 226.

A. D. 1817 KEGWORTH. 3S9

They still, however, persevere in the attempt : and there is some prospect of ultimate success.

Mr. W. Felkin was ordained to the pastoral office over the church at Kegworth^^ in June I80I, when Mr. D. Taylor gave the charge, and Mr. R. Smith addressed the people. His labours were acceptable, both to his friends and the neigh- bours. In I80I, a considerable expence was in- curred in repairing the meeting-house at Dise- worth ; and, in the following year, a gallery was erected for the accommodation of the in- creased congregation at Kegworth. The cause of the Redeemer gradually gained ground, till 1810, when, though many valuable chris- tians had been removed by death, there were upwards of one hundred and twenty members. Yet some unpleasant circumstances then oc- curred, which induced Mr. Felkin to resign the office of pastor over this church. For several years, he served another congregation, though he still resided at Kegworth. During this sepa- ration, supplies were obtained from neighbour- ing ministers, but the congregations and the church greatly decreased. Towards the close of 1813, the friends of the cause became deeply impressed vvith the necessity of obtaining a re- gular pastor; and, directing their attention to Mr. Felkin, made an united effiart to regain him. At length, he yielded to their unanimous request, and resumed his former station amongst them. Since this re- union a pleasing degree of harmony has subsisted, and the prospect is become more cheering. Death has indeed made frequent in- roads among them ; but, in 1817, their number

* Supra, p. 329.



amounted to ninety-seven. — In consequence of the insecurity of the title of the original meeting- house at Kegworth, joined to otherconsiderations, it was determined to remove the place of worship to another situation. A piece of ground was therefore procured, in an eligible part of the town ; and, at an expence of four hundred and fifty pounds, a commodious building erected ; which was opened, Dec. 26th. 1815, by Messrs. T, Orton and R. Smith.

The friends at Sutton Bonington* who sepa- rated from Kegworth church, were formed into a distinct society, Nov. 5th. 1795 : the number of members then being twenty-five. They were supplied with preaching, for some time, by the la- bours of Mr. W. Smith, and the occasional visits of neighbouring ministers. But, in 1802, Mr. Smith's weak state of health obliged him to de- cline the work of the ministry ; and, for several years, they depended on the friendly assistance of the preachers from Kegworth and Lough- borough, and sometimes from Leake. In 1805, Mr. Wilders, a young man who had been called to the sacred work by the church at Kegworth, Mr. Smith, who was enabled in some degree to resume his labours, and Mr. Tarratt, who had lately settled in those parts, united in carrying on the cause of the Redeemer among this people. Their mutual elForts were blest: the congregation increased, and additions to the church were fre- quent. About this time, they established regular preaching at IXormanton, a dark village in the vicinity; where many attended and several heard with profit. In 1808, by some spirited efforts

* suprap.aar.

A.D. 1817 LONG-WHATTON. 341

among themselves, assisted by the liberality of a few friends, they succeeded in removing a pecuniary incumbrance which had long been a burden on the society. They then ventured to engage a larger place at Normanton ; and, fit it up for public worship ; vi^hich was opened by Mr. Felkiu, June 15th. 1809. It has also been usefully employed as a Sunday school. This year also they repaired the meeting-house at Sutton Bonington, and inclosed the burying ground, at an expence of twenty-four pounds, which they cheerfully raised among tliemselves. These exertions, considering that most of them are in very moderate circumstances, certainly do them honour. Soon afterwards the cause sus- tained a heavy loss, in the death of Mr. George Doughty and Mr. Theophilus Thorman, who had been pillars in the house of the Lord.— - For some succeeding years, the reports of this church complain of coldness, decay and worldly- mi ndedness ; till about 1811, when Mr. Wilders became in a more regular manner their minister; and symptoms of improvement gradually ap- peared. 1817, the members were sixty-five: and their congregations were encouraging. — Some years previous, regular preaching had been established at Hathern, where the gospel had been occasionally preached from the first intro- duction of the cause into these parts.

At the close of the last century, the friends at Long'Whatton and Belton,* who had formerly been members of the church at Kegworth, formed themselves into a distinct society, consisting of forty-one members ; and chose Mr. W. Corah,

* Supra p. 238.

342 ILKISTON. A. D. 1817

one of their nflmber who had acted as assistant preacher with iVlr. Tarratt, as their minister. Under his superiiUendance the cause was sup- ported, with considerable harmony and some degree of success, till 1811, when he was removed to the church above, at the age of seventy-four. After his decease, his friends depended, for some time, on occasional supplies; but soon turned their eyes to Mr, John Green, of Loughborough, who accepted their invitation, in 1814. After his arrival, the congregations increased and many were added to the church. A new meeting- house was erected at Belton, which was soon filled •with attentive hearers. They had seventy-seven members, in 1817.

For a few months after Mr. Felkin's departure from Ilkiston^^ the church there obtained a sup- ply of preachers from the neighbouring congre- gations; but they soon invited Mr. W. Pickering, who was then labouring at Ashford, to take the charge of them. He complied; and arrived at Ilkiston, Aug. 12th. 1800. Considerable success attended his ministry ; and, in three years after his settling with them, sixty-live persons w ere added to the cliurch by baptism. The cause spread itself into various adjacent villages ; and the friends of religion began to indulge sanguine hopes of lasting prosperity. At Smalley, their hopes have been, in a good degree, realized ; but, at Ilkiston, coldness, disorders and disaffection soon checked the progress of the truth. Though transient seasons of harmony intervened during the interval ; yet the root of bitterness continued to spread, till 1815; when Mr. Pickering thought

* Supra p. 231.


himself obliged to resign the office of pa'sior over them, and remove to Stajley- Bridge. After this event, about twenty disaii'ected members wiilidrevv from the society ; and peace was, in a good measure, restored. Ministerial aid was procured from (he sister churches; and the in- terest appeared to revive : thirty-two having bet-n baptized, in 1816. In the following year, thev enlarareii the meetinif-hoiise at Smallev; and were crowded with attentive hearers at Newport, a ne>y:hbourino villaaje, into which thev had in- troduced the gospel. In 1817, the number of members, was one hundred and seventy-one.

Mr. Thomas Pickering continued to preside over the church at Castie- Donington^* with dili- gence and success, for several years after the close of the last period. In 1801, a new meeting- house was built at Sawley, which cost nearly three hundred pounds. A iew years afterwards, there was a ])ieasing revival in this neighbourhood; and many came forward and declared their at- tachment to the Saviour: no fewer then eighty- five being baptized in the three years previous to June, 1806. Fhey then preached regularly, to numerous congregations, at five places; and ascribe much of the success of the gospel, to the zeal and diligence with which prayer- meetings were supported. But the precarious state of their esteemed pastor's health casta shade over all these animating prospects. In 1807, after a lon^and dangerous qifliction, he was unexpectedly re- stored to his ministeral labours. The hearers then became so numerous, that they v/ere com- pelled to enlarge their place of worship. While

« Supra p'^?.



this was performing", Mr. Pickering had a dan- gerous relapse, which again confined liim to his bed; and he died, Nov. 15th. 1807, aged rifty 3'ears. Three days afterwards, his remains uere interred ; and Mr. Felkin preached his funeral sermon, from 2. Tim. iv. 7, 8 t to a deeply af- fected and numerous congregation, in the en- larged meeting-house, which was I hen occupied for the first time after its enlargement.

This solemn event made a deep impression on the church ; but they did not despond. They obtained supplies for the present ; and soon after requested Mr. William Brand, of Loughborough, to remove to them. This he did, in June, 1810 ; and his labours were rendered useful. Preaching was soon afterwards introduced at Shardlow, an adjacent village, with a good prospect of success. Various circumstances have, indeed, since oc- curred, which have had a tendency to excite trouble and misunderstanding; but, in general, a pleasing degree of harmony and union has been preserved. The number of members, in 1817, was two hundred and forty-five: of whom thirty- eight had been baptized the preceding year. — They were then well attended with hearers at all their stations.

In 1800, the church at Loughborough * had spread to an inconvenient extent ; and it became necessary to divide into more compact societies. The number of members and fewness of the preachers rendered this a delicate and difficult task ; and it caused considerable agitation for several years. The friends who resided at Roth- ley and its neighbourhood first acknowledged

* S«pra p. 35f .

A.I). 1808 DISSENSIONS. 345

Uie propriety of the measure ; and, in 1802, formed themselves into a distinct body. In 1804, the sepaiaiion of the brancli at Quorndon was tlnaliy ettecteti : ar^d the members ih^jt leaiained to Lou<ihborou<jh church, after this arrangement, were one hundred and sixty four; who dwelt in that lown, and in the surrounding villages of Coats, iN'ormanton, Dishley, Hathern, Sheeps- hcad, Garrenton, Thorp Acreand Little Fhorp.

While this business was in agitation, Mr. JV. Hurst, being invited to assist the friends at Lough- borough, preache(i for them. v\ ith much accept- ance, for about a year ; and then returned to Nottingham. After his departure, they were well turuished with supplies from their sister church*-s, and the cause prospered, in 18o6, they invited Vj i . V\ . Brand, who had spent sometime at the Academy, to labour for them during a year; at tht- expiration of which, they requested him lo berojue their regular mi;!!s!er. Hiis exer- tions appear ro have been blest ; as twenty-nine were baptized in 1807. But several causes of unea^ness soon occurred ; and, in the beginning of 1810, he left Loughborough. Not long after- wards, this church invited Mr. Thomas Steven- son, of Leicester, to assist ihem ; and he removed thither. For some time, his labours were suc- cessful, and the church harmonious r but, in 18 i3, troubles arose, and a lamentable spirit of disunion prevailed; which, after distressing the society for many months, issued in a separation of several of the members from fellowship.

During this intestine confusion, the congre- gations continued numerous ; and, the peace of the church being restored, the interest expe- rienced a considerable revival. The hearers in- creased, till it was found necessary to rebuild the

VOL. II. 2 Y


346 ROTHLEY. A. D. 1817

meeting-house, on a much larger scale. This was efiected, at an expence of nearly one thousand pounds : six hundred of which was liberally raised in the neighbourhood, principally among their own friends. The place was re-opened, Sept. 25th. 1815: when Mr. R. Smith and Mr. R. Alliott, both of Nottingham, were engaged. The cause continuing to prosper under Mr. Steven- son's care, he was invited to accept the office of pastor; and was ordained, Oct. 8th. 1816 : when Mr. R. Smith gave the charge to the minister, froai 1 Tim. iii. 15 ; Mr. W. Pickering addressed the church, from Luke iii. 14; and Mr. Orton delivered a discourse to the officers of the society, from Phil. ii. 20. The prospects are still en- couraging. In 1817, the members amounted to two hundred and fifty-two : they were then peaceable and united, had nineteen candidates for fellowship, and were well attended both at their preaching and prayer-meetings.

The friends at Rothley and its neighbourhood separated from the church at Loughborough, and became a distinct society of seventy-three mem- bers, at Christmas, 1801. They chose Messrs. J. Ward and J. Pollard for ruling elders ; and Messrs. W. Parkinson and J. Slea for deacons. At first, they shared with their former associates in the services of Messrs. B. Pollard and C Briggs, in rotation, at Loughborough, Quorndon, and Rothley. But soon finding this mode of supply inconvenient, they called Mr. J. Pollard to the work of the ministry. He preached regularly for them, for about a year, and then removed his dwelling to a distance. They afterwards invited Mr. J. Goddard,of Ilkiston, to assist them ; and he removed to Rothley, June 21st. 1803. Under


his care the cause prospered, for several years; and great harmonj'and affection prevailed among the members. In I808, they called Mr. Thomas Wesle}^ a promising young member, to preach the gospel ; whose services were very accept- able.

Their hands being thus strengthened, they preached more regularly at their established sta- tions, and more iVequentlj'^ in the neighbouring villages, with increasing prospects of usefulness. But some unhappy disputes arising, checked the growing cause ; and issued in the separation of the members who dwelt at Woodhouse Eaves and its vicinity from this church. Forty-seven mem- bers remained with Mr. Goddard, at Rothley ; and, though the health of this minister declined daily, yet the cause advanced, and their numbers increased. Death, however, removed him from his friends, July 6th. 1812. This stroke was im- proved, at the funeral, by Mr. B. Pollard, from 2 Cor. V. 1 : and, on the following Lord's-day, by Mr. Felkin, from 2 Cor. iv. 7.

For a few rears after Mr. Goddard's death, this congregation was supplied by its sister churches, and found a difficulty in obtaining a suitable minister. At length, they invited Mr. Austin, who settled with them, in the spring of 1815.— They have since introduced the gospel into Sile- by, a populous village two miles east of Rothley; where they licensed a house, and commenced preaching, June, 1816. The number of mem- bers, in 1817, was seventy-two ; and the society then enjoyed peace and union.

The friends at Woodhouse Eaves were formed into an independent church, Decern. 13th. 1809 ; the members then amounted to thirty-four, Mr.


348 QUOKNDON A. D. 1817

Thomas Wesley was invited to lal>oiir amongst them ; and, for some years, his services ijave ge- neral satisfaction, i lie cause gradually improved: and, in 1815, the revival became more pleasing. But, in the following year, [Vlr. Wesley was, for several months, laid aside from his labours ; and, after his recovery, dissatisfaction manifested it- self, and caused a separation between him and the church. Occasional supplies have since been obtained. In 1817, there were fifty-six mem- bers.

We have already seen that the friends at Quor7i~ don did, in effect, separate from the church at Loughborough, in 1801 ; but, owing to various perplexing circumstances, the division was not formally completed till 1803 ; when they became a distinct church. The original number of mem- bers was one hundred and seventy-four : and they retained Mr. B. Pollard as their pastor. At that time, they preached regularly at Quorndon, Mountsorrel and Wanton ; and had encouraging congregations. In 1805, and the following year, there appeared a considerable revival. Numbers joined the church ; many of whom had been educated in their sunday-school, and ascribed their conversion to the admonitions which they had there received. In 1806, the members had increased to one hundred and ninety-two : but, from that time, there has been a painful decline. Disorderly conduct in too many professors, not only diminished their number; but weakened the hands of those who were sincerely seeking th« welfare of Zion. About the same time, death depri\e(l I'teiii ofsomt aluable characters; and the ptv-'ssure of the times caused several useful jiijd aciive members to remove to a distance,^-'

A. D. 1817 CHUKCH. 349

All these circumstances contributed to increase their despondency ; yet they enjoyed a comfort- able degree of peace and union among them- selves; and the congregations continued lo be encouraging.

■Mr. Pollard's health now began to be uncer- tain, and his strength to fail. He was no longer able to exert himself, for the promotion of reli- gion, With that activity and spirit for which he had tormerl}' been remarkable. The church, therefore, engaged Mr. Pywell, one of their mem- bers whom they had lately called to the ministry, to assist their pastor in the sacred work of preach- ing. For a sliort time, they laboured together with great zeal and cordiality: but, in 1816, Mr. Pollard was ulioUy laid aside, by a long and severe indisposition, from which he recovered but very slowly. Finding his health not likely to be re-established, in 1817, he resigned the pastoral office

During his indisposition, Mr. Balm, who had been employed as an occasional preacher, by the church at Nottingham, was invited to assist this society, and removed to Quorndon. In 1817, their members were one hundred and forty-nine; who made this affecting report to the Association. *' As a church, we are in a forlorn situation. Our late esteemed pastor has declined every part of the pastoral work, through affliction ; our assist- ant minister, brother Pywell, is incapable of preaching, through bodily weakness ; and the services of our other assistant, brother Balm, on account of worldly concerns, are unequal to the necessities of such a church. We want a suitable yninister."

The spread of the cause at Leake and WimeS'



would,* at the close of the last period, suggested the propriety of" dividing Jhat large church into two distinct societies. This was ellected in 1801: Leake and Wiuiesvvouid forming one body ; and Broughton and its dependencies the other. The former then consisted of one hundred and eighty- three members ; and retained Mr. Bissill, who resided at Minieswouid, for their minister. He, however, left these parts, in the spring of 1802 ; and returned into Lincolnsiiire. On his removal, this people invited Mr. Thomas Hoe, an assistant preacher at Brougiilon, to labour among them. In compliance with their wishes, he re- moved his residence to Wimeswould, May 10th. 1803. And though, for several years, the dis- orderly conduct of individuals brought great reproach on the cause, yet his labours were made very useful in turning sinners from the error of their ways. In 1811, a pleasing revival took place : and, in the following year, forty persons were baptized, on a profession of faith. But the prosperity of the rising interest was soon checked, by the introduction of doctrinal sentiments, which were deemed by many, inconsistent with the principles of the society. After much dis- cussion and uneasiness, a few of the leading ad-, vocates of these novel opinions were excluded, and several others withdrew. The peace of the church was thus, in s;ome degree, restored ; but the injury done to the cause of truth has not yet been repaired. The members which, in 1813, amounted to two hundred and thirty-six, in 1817 had decreased to one hundred and ninety-two. Their last report, however, is encouraging ; and affords reason to hope that the cause is recovering.

* Supra, p. 240.

A. D. 1817 BROUGHTON. 351

Tn 1802, the friends at Brovghton and its vi- cinity dissolved their connection with the church at Leake, and became a distinct body. Mr. R. Thiirman, who had for a long' time been pastor of the united society, continued to hold the same situation in this branch of it. At the formation it consisted of eighty-three members, scattered over the villages of Broughton, Stanton, Widmer- pool, Dalby, Grimston, Saxelby and Hose ; at all which places they preached, either statedly or occasionally. Soon after this division, finding it difficult to hire a convenient place of worship at Widmerpool, they determined to erect a meet- ing-house in that village. This was opened, Julj 29th. 1804, by Mr. B. Pollard. The prospect there was, at that time, highly encouraging : but the scandalous conduct of individuals soon cast a cloud over it. Quarrels amongst professors, respecting secular concerns, and the declining strength of the aged pastor, contributed to deepea the gloom. Towards the close of 1811, Mr. Thur- man resigned the pastoral office, and ceased from preaching. After some time, Mr. W. Hatton settled with this church, as their minister. At first, his labours were crowned with a degree of success, and several joined the church : but dis- union and altercations still continuing, the in- terest again declined. Neighbouring minister* were, however, invited to visit them ; and their labours were blest to the increase both of the church and congregations. In 1817, the number of members was seventy-three ; and they hoped that religion was on the advance.

At the close of the last century, the church at Friar-lane^ Leicester,"^ consisted of seventy-one

* Supra, p. 241,


members, and the state of religion was low. For several subsecjMfnt years, the cause appeared to iiH prove. In 1808, sixteen were added by bap- tism, and four received from sister churches: auionj^ nhoni was Mr. B. Wood, from Hinckley, who WHS requested to assist them as a minister. In ISIO, their number amounted to one hundred and thirl V. J>utsome un])leasai!t circumstances occurring soon afterwards, considerable alter- cations ensued ; and the assistant minister, with many others, left this society : so that the mem- bers were reduced to eighty-six. AVhen this tumult had subsided, an extraordinary change took place. J'he congreg;itions increased ; and additions were frequent. In 1812, jireaching was introduced at Billesdon, a considerable village, nine miles east of Leicester. Jdere their endea- vours were very successful, amidst much oppo- sition : a commodious meeting-house was shortly erected ; and, in 1817, above forty of the inhabi- tants and neighbours had joined the church at Leicester; among whom Mr. Creaton then la- boured with acceptance. In 1815, preaching was commenced, by tlii-s church, at 'I'hurndon, a vil- lage four miles from Leicester, with encouraging prospects. In 1817, the number of members was one hundred and eighty-five: and they antici-> paled increaj>ing prosperity.

The persons who left the church in Friar-lane, in 1794,* uniting together, endeavoured to carry on tiie cause of (-hrist, at Arclulcacoii-lane^m the same town. The Association so far approved of this attempt, as to declare them worthy of the countenance of the neighbouring churches ; and

Supra p. 241.


advised Ihem to look about for a minister. In the f'olioning year, some ineffectual attempts were made^ by the same assembly, to effect a re- conoiiaiion. They continued, however, a dis- tinct body ; and, in 1798, made application for admission into the New Connection. Being ad- vised to take the usual steps, they found a degree ofdirtiruity in com')Iying-; and, for several years, suspended aH further attempts. In 1805, they seem to have laken their place silently on the Minutes, without any previous discussion. This socieiy then consisted of thirty-four m.^aibers ; but v\ished for more lif<' and zeal. In 1808, iMr. Thomas Stevenson was invited to labour among them ; and his ministrations were blest lo the reviving of the cause. Ihey had, pre\ ious to this date, built a meeting-house ; and, in 1807, added galleries to it. The hearers increased ; and, in that year, thirty were added to the church by baptism. For some time, the cause continued to prosper, and preaching was maintained at Smee- ton and Fleckney, two adjacent villages, with encouraging prospects of success. In 1811 Mr. Stevenson accepted an invitation from the friends at Loughborough, and left Leicester ; when Mr, Felkin, who had lately resigned his charge at Kegworth, accepted the call of this society, and became their minister; though he still coniinued to reside at kegworth. The same year, they had also an accession of members who had w ithdrawn from Friar lane.

Though they complain of the lowness of the cause, tit'teen were added to their fellowship, in the following year ; and their number then amounted to one hundred and twenty-four. Yet disorderly conduct in professors, and want of zeal itill checked the progressof theoausCjand grieved

VOL. II. 2z


354 HINCKLEY. A. D. 1817

the hearts of its real friends : and, in the close of 1813, Mr. Felkin discontinued his labours for them. After his departure, Mr. Goodrich was requested to preach for this church ; and there appeared some symptoms of a revival ; but his services ceased in 181G. Tliis appears to have been a season of peculiar trial and discourage- ment ; and the painful measure of exclusion be- came frequently necessary. Yet methods were adopted, by which, it was hoped, peace and mu- tual atlection might be restored. In 1817, the number of members was eighty-nine ; and the congregations, both at Leicester and in the vil- lages, were considerably inproved. For a long season, this society has received much ministerial nnd other assistance from Mr. Wood, who, in all these changing circumstances, has laboured to promote its welfare.

In consequence of the spread of the cause at Hinckley^^' it was thought expedient to seek for more ministerial assistance; an^, in 1803, Mr, Thomas Yates, of Birmingham, accepted their invitation and settled amongst them. In the i»ame year, they enlarged the meeting-house at Wolvey, which had became too small for the congregation. In 1805, a considerable revival commenced, and continued for several years. The number of hearers increased, so as to render the enlargement ot' the meeting-house indispen- sibly necessary. A temporary gallery was, at first, erected ; but, the increase continuing, it was thought most prudent to erect a new meet- ing-house, in a more central part of the town. This was accordingly done, at an expence of

———.——— i»i„.__^ — ■ — -

* Supra p. 244.

A. D. 1817 HINCKLEY. 355

upwards of seventeen hundred pounds ; towards •which the members and neighbours liberally subscribed more than six hundred. It was opened, Feb. 18th. 1807, by Messrs. R. Hall, of Leicester, D. Taylor, of London, and B. Pollard, of Quorndon.

The cause of tlie Redeemer continued to pros- per, and the preaching of the word was rendered effectual to the salvation of sinners : upwards of one hundred and thirty having been baptized, in the four years previous to 1809. Though a few of these converts drew back to the world ; yet, many of them proved the sincerity of their conversion by a consistent conduct. This society had then increased to three hundred. In 1808, the ancient general baptist church at Earl-Shil- ton, which had probably existed from the time of the Commonwealth,* and was then reduced to sixteen members, desired to be united with the society at Hinckley. After mature deliber- ation the proposal was accepted: and, thus this church gained, not only an accession of members, but also a neat little meeting-house and a bury- ing-ground. During this season of prosperity, three young members were called to the work oi the ministry: Mr. B. Wood, now of Leicester; Mr. J. Preston, of Melbourn ; and Mr. B. Comp- ton, who at present labours in Cambridgeshire.

About 1810, the preachers from Hinckley paid occasional visits to Pailton, in Warwick- shire, a village near Monks-Kerby. The pros- pect being encouraging, a piece of ground was purchased at Monks-Kerby ; and a small place

* This is most probably the same society which is mentioned in tlie former part of this work, under the tienomination of Eccleshelton. See Vol. I. pp. 160, 237.


of worship erected: which was opened, in th« autumn of 1813, and vmis subsequently well at- tended. A tew persons joined Hinckle\ cliurch from this neighbourhood; and it was ihouij^ht, that there was a good prospect of raising; au in- terest, had not some rather delicate and per- plexing circumstances damped the ardour and thwarted theexertioiis of the friends of the cause. The church at Hinckley had now spread it- self to such an extent, that it was thought best, for the general convenience, to divide it into smaller societies. This occasioned much dis- cussion and not a little anxiety. After various deliberation, the friends at Thurlaston and l-arl Shilton voluntarily withdrew, in 1814. hi the year following, a separation was effected, though not without great difficulty, between this society and the friends at Wolvey. — After these colonies had been planted, there remained about one hundred members at Hinckley. 1 hey applied themselves to rectify the breaches which these separations had naturally made ; and chose two ruling elders and two deacons. They enjoyed a pleasing degree of peace and unanimity ; and prayed for a speedy revival of the cause of re- ligion among them ; of which they hoped that they percei\ed some encouraging symptoms. In 1817, the number of members was one hun- dred and six.

The friends at Thurlaston^ Earl-Shilton and the adjacent places, who withdrew peaceably from the church at Hinckley, in 1814, formed themselves into a distinct society, consisting of sevtniy tive members. iVlr. Yates, w ho had for some tiiutr been an assistant preacher atHinckley, removed to Thurlaston and became their rainii-

A. D. 1817 LONGFORD. 857

ter. The cause prospered in their hands, espe- cially at Thurlaston ; where the increasing con- gregation made them propose the enlarging of the m*^' ting-house. In 1817, the members were one hutMired and eleven ; of whom fourteen had beeii haptized in the preceeding year.

"Wlieii tlie church at JVolvet/ was formed, in 1815, bv a friendly separation from Hinckley, it coiiisisitd of eiiihty members, and maintained prpaol»iiiof at Wolvey, Witheybrook and Burton, Mr i , Jarvis, who had resided amongst them, for H t't'W '\ears, became their minister. They were Well attended with hearers and their pros- pects encouraging. But subsequent rejiorts were less taM)ural)le : a spirit of disunion having risen amongst them, and produced its usual eifects. In 1817, the ntiniber ot" members amounted to ninety- nine, and they had introduced preaching into Aitelborough, a village four miles west of Woivey.

At tlie commencement of the present century, the church at Longford^^ sulfered much from the pressure ot" the times, which appears to have greatly retarded the progress of the cause. This drooping state continued till 1806 ; when a partial revival took place. Mr. Cramp's ser- vices being blest, he was ordained to the pastoral office : and, about the same time, preaching was introduced into a neighbouring village called Sow, with some prospect of success. The fol- lowing year, a new meeting-house was erected at Longford; and, for a time, was well attended. The congregations indeed were respectable; but

* Supra, p. 246.


358 BIR3IINGUAM. A. D. 1817

additions to the church few: and tlie members complained of deadness and neglect of the means of grace. In 18l(>, tliis society consisted of one hundred and eighty members, who still made the same complaint.

7'he wol-thy IMr. Green continued to labour among the friends at Birmiuo/ium,'^ with great affection and diligence ; and was blest with encouraging success. 1 he removal of Mr. Yates, to Hinckley, in 1803, threw the whole service of the society on Mr. Green : wlio, though sincerely desirous of being spent in the sacred work, yet was unavoidably much occupied in secular af- fairs. The cause, however, continued gradually to advance, both with respect to hearers and members: and, in 1807, the increase of the con- gregation induced them to repair their meeting- house, and enlarge it witli galleries; at an ex- pence of one hundred and sixty pounds. The pros})ect was daily improving, when it pleased the great Head of the church, to call his servant to his rest : Mr. Green dying Nov. 2nd. 1808. As a strong attachment existed between the minister and people, this stroke made a deep impression on tlie church.

After being furnished with occasional supplies for some months, they invited Mr. G. Cheatle, who had been called to the ministry by the church at Castle-Donington, to ])reach for them. He removed to JJirmingham, at Christmas, 1809: and, his ministrations being well approved and successful, he was ordained to the pastoral office, June 22nd. 1813. About the same period, preach- ing was introduced into King's Heath, a popu-

* Supra p. 348.


lous and increasing village, three miles south- east of Birmingham, in which there had pre- viously been no place of worship of* any denomi- nation. The attempt met with encouragement: the attention of the inhabitants was arrested; several hearing, believed and were baptized : a Sunday school was commenced, and soon tilled with ignorant children: and, at length, a com- modious meeting-house was built, capable of seating upwards of three hundred people, which was opened, under very promising auspices^ Oct. 22nd. 1816.

Though trials and disorders have frequently interrupted the progress of religionin this church, yet it has regularly improved. And, in 1817, the members which, at the close of the last period, were only forty, had increased to two hundred and one.

The friends at Sution-Coldfieldy^ after their separation from the church at Birmingham, stood, for a considerable time, unconnected with the Association. During this interval, they were occasionally supplied by Mr. Green, and other ministers, till Mr. Smart settled with them, who, for several years, became their regular minister. In 1809, they applied for re-admission into the New Connection, and were received : their num- ber then was thirty-two ; their meetings were well attended ; and their state peaceable. Little alteration took place in their circumstances, till 1815, when Mr. Smart, removing into Wales, left them destitute. The ministers at Birming- ham kindly stept forwards to their assistance ; and their friendly aid appears to have produced

* Supra p. 248.


good effects ; as fifteen joined the church in the foUowins^ year. In 1817, tlie number of members was forty. seven ; and they had licensed a com- modious room for public worship at Sutton, which promised to be very useful.

The cause of religion among the general bap- tists at Nottingliam* continued to flourish, for many years after the close of the last century. Mr. R. Smith's labours were abundant, useful and highly acceptable. At that time, they maintained preaching at five different places. The prospect was so encouraging at Basford, that it was thought necessary to erect a new meeting-house in that village, which was opened Sept. 25th. 1802. In 1809, the same pleasing considerations induced them to build a com- modious place of worship at Bulwell and Arnold, villages, each about four miles from Nottingham. In subsequent years, death called away several Taluable and judicious friends, and their loss was severely felt in this rising society, which had then increased to four hundred members. Some very distressing circumstances occurred, a few years afterwards, which exposed itiem to much reproach, and tended greatly to discourage their efforts. The interest, however, appeared to be recovering from the shock it had received ; and, in 1816, regular preaching was maintained, every Lord's-day, at JNottingham, Basford, New Rad- ford and Bulwell ; and Mansfield was supplied once a fortnight. I'he congregations were en- couraging, and additions frequent : and the num- ber of members then amounted to four hundred and fifty. But, in the following spring, new

Supra, p, '251.

A.D. 1815 MAVSFIELD, 361

sul>jecfsof contention arose ; and this once floa- riNliino;, lianuonious, aiui re.s|)Clal)le society, the glorv ot" the New Connection was nrihapjiily in\olved in the most deplorable and disgracel'ul contusion.

In the beginninof of the present century, some members o( the jreneral baptist churches in ^ot- tinjjjhamshire, settled at Maii'-Jii Id , a large mann- facturin<2^ market-town, fourteen miles north of INottinjiham ; and commenced preaching there with an encourauintj prospect of doing good. They were soon informed that a snbstatitial meeting house, situated in aneiigil)le part ot tlie town, was on sale, at the moderate price of three bundled pounds. 1 he midland conference laid the case before the Association, in 1815; and it was resolved to make the purchase. The trans- acting ot the business was referred to the friends at Nottingham ; and the ciiurches were requested to make collections, in order to raise the mone^,

'\ he purchase was accordingly com pleated ; and the place was opened, July 28lh. 1815, by iVJr. K. Smith ; when the congregations were large and encouraging. The ministers from ^ottinifham, kirkby- Woodhouse and Retford, with occasional supplies from other churches, supported regular wor.sliip, and some ground v\ hs gained. Oct, 8th. following, !^ir. Smith, bap- tized tive persons, who had been brought to profess faith in Christ, by the preaching of the gospel in this place, I he ordinance was ad- ministered at (Manstield- VV oodhouse, a village upwards of a mile from the town, and a discourse delivered at thewater side, to nearly tv\o thousand auditors * In the evening, Mr. Smith preached

♦ Amongst them was a person who gloried in being an eaemf



in the meeting-house; and afterwards about twenty persons, including the five newly bap- tized, and several friends from Nottingham, sat down at the Lord's table. — For some time, the neighbouring ministers continued to visit Mans- field in rotation, and assist this infant cause ; but, in the beginning of 1817, Mr. W. Smedley settled there, and preached more statedly. — The friends still were considered as members of the church at Nottingham ; though it was probable that a distinct interest would ultimately be formed.

Mr. HardstafF held the office of pastor in the church at Kirkby-Woodhouse, during the first seventeen years of the nineteenth century ; but the cause drooped under his care. Disaffection and disunion perplexed their councils and weak- ened their efforts; and the natural effects fol- lowed. The hearers diminished and the members

to dissenters. In order to turn this solemn service into ridicule and confusion, he had given an old sailor a shilling to jump, from the bridge, upon the back of the first candidate that went into the water ; and had drowned a number of young dogs, which he distributed among the spectators, with directions to throw them into the water, during the administration of the ordinance. Having made these preparations, feeling a cui iosity to hear what could be said in defence of a practice which ap- peared to him as madness, he placed himself directly in front of the preacher. He listened attentively and appeared aflfected. As soon as the sermon was concluded, he stept to the sailor and forbad him to interfere with the solemnity, telling him to keep the money. He then went to his agents in the croud, and positively prohibited them from using the dead dogs which he had provided : threatening, that he would throw the first peri3«)n into the water that dared to make any disturbance. Thebpectators, struck with the change, behaved with the .strictest propriety ; and there is reason to hope that many felt the power gf divine truth.


grew cold and careless. In 1814, these unhappy causes operated more violently and the number of members was reduced to thirtj-nine. Sub- sequent years, however, exhibit a little improve- ment : and, in 1817, the members had risen to forty-seven ; who appear to have enjoyed a com- fortable degree of peace and union.

The church at Gamston and Retford'^ were destitute of an ordained pastor, during the first seventeen years of the nineteenth century. Mr. J. Smedley continued to labour for them, and wasansisted in the work of the ministry by Messrs. S. Skidmore and Shipstone. The cause of re- ligion prospered in their hands; and they main- tained regular preaching at five different places: twenty being baptized in the two last years. In 1815, the necessity of a larger place of worship at Retford became apparent ; and zealous ex- ertions were made to obtain one. One liberal friend offered the loan of a handsome sum for two years without interest; which encouraged his brethren to proceed in the good work with great vigour. At length, a large commodious meetinjr. house was compleated ; and opened, May 25th. 1817, by Mr. Stevenson of Lough- borough. A liberal collection was made on the occasion ; and the female friends entered into a subsiCription for lighting the place. The old meeting-house was appropriated to the accom- modation of a flourishing sunday school ; and, in June of the same year, they made the following report of their state. " We have reason to be thankful both for temporal and especially for

* Supra p. 359.


S64 DERBY A. D. 1817

spiritual blessinsfs. We are well attended with hearers, particularly at KetfV)rd, and eiijov tolera- ble peace among ourheives.'*

The general baptists at Dtrhi/* when Mr. James 'J'avlor first settled with ihem, sultVred great inconvenience through ihe want ot a pro- per place otvvorship. Encouraged bv the sanc- tion of the association, thev ventured, in IbOO, to purchase a piece ot ground ; and a coinnniiee was appointed, by the following associatinn, to superintend the erection of a meeting house. This was opened, July 20th, 1802, On this oc- casion, Messrs. Felkin of Kegworih, VV. Picker- ing of llkiston, and E. Whitaker, of Melbourn, preached; and were assisted in the devotional parts of the service by the ministers of the par-, ticular baptist and independent churches at Derby. After this event, the hearers increased ; and the cause began to assume a more encourag- ing aspect. 1 he small society invited iVIr. James Taylor to accept the pastoral ottice over them ; and he was ordained, March 30th. 1804; when jNlr Pollard addressed the minister, and Mr. S, Deacon the church. Preaching was then main- tained at Derby, Alvaslon, Barnaslon, Allesirey, and Windley. Messrs. liarrow and Dailison, actively assisted the slated minister in dispensing the word ; and for a short time the congregation increased. But, though the members continued, in a great measure, united and peaceable ; yet the hearers soon began to decline and conversions were few. These discouragements induced Mr. Ta\ lor to listen to the eai nest invitations of the

f Supra, p.26i«

A. D, 1817 CHURCir, S65

church at Heptonstall Slack, Yorkshire: and he letJ Herhy, i» Oct lh07.

Afitr his depariure, supplies were obtained from the neiuhbourinji societies, and a pleasinj; change ensued. Tlie coitgie«>alions became more numerous, and uianv were admisted to fellow- ship. In the spriug^ ol' 1810, iVI r. John Pike, M ho h^d becrj a member of the society in Church- lane, Lonchui, was invited to iht^ir assistance and remo\ed t.» Deiby. His labours were abundantly blest ; til'ly-eight being added to the church in the succeeding year. TV) accommodate these new converts and the increasine' number of hearers, j^aljeries were, in 181!, added to the meeting. But the congregations stiSI continuing to increase, it was propo>ed to erect a new meet- ing house, in a more eligible part of the town; and considerable exertions were made to raise funds for this purpose. 1 his design was, bow- ever, ultiujaJely abandoned; and the old build- ing enlarged and repaired, in i8I4, at a con- siderable expence.

This rapid increase had caused discipline to be much neglected ; and the baneful effects were beginning tn appear. But, in 1816, a more re- gular attention was paid to order; and the church being divided into classes, proper persons were appointed to superintend their conduct and religious improvement ; who held stated meetings with the peoj)le of their charges. These measures appear to have been rendered useful. In 1817, thirty were baptized ; who raised the number of members to one hundred and titty- four*

In the spring of 1807, Mr. Joseph Darrow, a valuable and zealous member of the church at Derby, became acq^uuinted with Mr. Taylor, a


366 DUFFIELD A. D. 1809

respectable inhabitant of Duffield, a larc:e and populous villao;e, four miles nortli-east of Derby. The arguments of Mr. Barrow soon convinced his new associate, that believers' baptism was an ordinance of Christ ; and lie joined the society at Derby. Anxious that his nei^hoours also should have an opportunity of hearing the truih, he invited his friend to come and preach at Dutlield. This invitation was promptly ac- cepted ; and Mr. Barrow delivered the first dis- course, in that village, March 2lst, 1H07, from John iii. 16. The attention of the inhabilants was greatly excited, and numbers crouded to hear the new doctrine. A room was hired and prepared for public worship, capable of con- taining two hundred auditors : and the neigh- bouring ministers kindly assisted Mr. Barrow in his labours of love. The blessing of God gave success to their labours ; and many pro- fessed their faith in Christ by baptism. 'J'he room was soon found inadequate to the accom- modation of the increasing number who thronged to hear ; and Mr. Taylor having, at that time, a large factory unoccupied, it was engaged and fitted up as a meeting-house ; which was opened, by Mr. Stevenson, April 23rd. 1809. Four hun- dred persons might be conveniently accom- modated in this room ; and the expence, incur- red by the necessary alterations, was cheerfully defrayed by the subscriptions of the friends of the cause. More than forty of the inhabitants of Duffield and its vicinity had then joined the church at Derby ; and several candidates waited for baptism.

But, while the truth was thus spreading at Dutfield, circumstances arose in the parent society which induced these new converts to

A. D. 1809 CFIURCH. 367

secede from its coniiiiunion. May 21t!i. ISlO, they formed ihemseivesi into a distinct churcli, which then consisted of fortv-seven members. Preaching was maintained at four adjacent villaues, and three hundred hearers usually at- tended on the Lord's-day at Duffield. For two Tears their worthy and active friend, Mr. Barrow laboured dilig'^nily amongst then), in word amd docJrine; and the ministers of neighbouring churches visited them every other Lord's day. Their efforts being crowned with success, and the sphere of their usefulness extending itself, it became desirable to obtain more reijnlar ininisterial aid. 1 hey accordingly invited Mr. Richard Ingfiam ; who, having bet-n called forth to preach the gospel by the church at Hepton- staU-Slack of which he was a member, had spent some time at the Academy. He accepted their invitation ; and went to reside at Dutlield, in Aug. 1812 : when the society consisted of ninety members.

For a few subsequent years, the cause was sup- ported with incieasing success and great har- mony. They carried the gospel to Shot tie, an adjacent village; and met vvilh much encourage- ment. In 1816, they purchased a house at Wirksworth, a market town about nine miles north-east of Duffield; and opened one of its large rooms for preaching ; which they com- menced under favourable auspices. About the same time, Mr. Barrow removing to a place near Turnditch, commenced a weekly lecture in one ot his outhouses. W hile they Mere thus enlarg- ing their borders, a difference arose amongst them, respecting some parts of church order, which caused an unpleasant altercation. Har- mony, however, being soon restored, Mr. Ingham


368 - ASHyORD. A. D. 1811

was called to ihe office of pastor. He was or- dained, June 19th. 1819, when Mr. K. Smith delivered the charge to the minister, from 2 Tim. ii. Irt ; and iMr, James Taylor addressed the church, from 2 Cor. vii. 16. There were tlien two hundred and three members; of whom forty three had been baptized, in the preceding year. Their prospects were encouraging, and their hearers increasing, so that most of their places for preaching were too small to accommodate them. Their worthy friend Mr. Barrow, who had been much blest as an instrument in break- ing up new ground, still continued his useful labours with zeal and activity.

The removal of Mr. W. Pickering from Aah- ford* cast a deep gloom over the general baptist interest in that place. On this event, Mr. Robert Bradbury, one of their own members, who a iew years before had been called to the work of the ministry, was requested to assist them in a more regular manner. But his temporal circumstances prevented him from devoting so much of his time to the sacred work as the cause required ; and compelled him successively to discontinue his visits to Bradwell, Abney and Wardlow. Preach- ing was indeed introduced into Lingston, near Ashford ; yet the cause visibly declined. Pre- quent applications were made to the Association for assistance, and various of the ministers from sister churches visited them. But the distance of the situation rendered these visits unfrtquent ; and no permanent effect appears to have beea produced. Coldness and disaffection increased, and, in 1811, a division took place in this small

II > III* I ■! ! ■ ■ '■ . 1.

* Supra p. %Q9,


but scattered society. The friends at Abney and Bradwell, formed one church of nine members; and those at A^hford and its environs, another of about twenty.

After tl»is division, the church at Ashford ex- perienced a transient revival : eight persons joined it during the following year. Death, however, deprived ihem of several of their most valuable ancl useful members ; and, in 1814, Mr. Bradbury declined the work of the minislrv. A promising younsmt'niber, whohad occa>ioaally avSsist^d in preaching, stept forwards in this ex- igency ; and endeavoured to supply ihe con- gregation. But his domestic duties not per- mitting hi5n to devote much time, either lo pre- paration for the pulpit or to the sacred work it- self, he laboured under great disadvanfages. In 1816, the number had decreased to sixteen ; but it is pleasing to observe, that they then hoped " that vital religion was gaining ground, as their meetiiigs were better attended/'

The few friends at Ahney and Bradicell, who seceded from Ashford, in i811, were, for some, time, supplied by the ministers from Yorkshire ; but the distance and expence of these suj)plies prevented the continuance of them. They after- wards obtained assistance from two occasional ministers at Sheffield, who visited them, once a fortnight, till 1815. What was their state after- wards does not appear ; but it is probable, that in 1817, their number had never exceeded nine.

Austrey is a large village in Warwickshire, about nine miles south-west of Ashby-de-la- zouch. Like too many of the country places in that neighbourhood, it had long been involved ^

VOL. II. 3fi


370 TUB RISE OF A. D. 1802

in great ignorance as to religious subjects. '* Darkness had covered the earth and gross dark- ness the people." Various attempts iiad been made by other denominations to introduce the gospel into this village; but the rage of per- secution and the want of support had rendered them unsuccessful. In the beginning of 1802, IVlr. Goad by, the general baptist minister of Packington, had an occasional interview with Mr. J. Barnes, a respectable inhabitant of Aus- trey ; who, from an early acquaintance with a worthv member of the church at Castle-Donins:- ton, had learnt something of the truths of Chris- tianity. iNIr. Goadby turned the conversation on the deplorable neglect of religion which pre- vailed in Mr. Barnes* neighbourhood : and en- quired if the latter would permit him to go and preach in his house: to which he replied, that he would think of it. The effects of this interview were important. Mr. Barnes went to Packing- ton to hear the gospel ; was happily coi>vinced of its truth and value ; and offered himself a can- didate for baptism. He professed his obedience to Christ in this ordinance, May 15lh. 1802. On the succeeding LordVday, May 22nd, Mr. Goad- by went to Austrey ; and preached his first ser- mon, in Mr. Barnes* wool- room, from 1 Tim. i. 15. This room, being large and convenient, was licensed and furnished with the necessary ac- commodations for a place of worship.

These attempts were crowned with success. Many attended tiie preaching of the gospel, and some from distant places. Several respectable inhabitants of Austrey joined the church at Pack- ington ; especially ]Mr. J Barnes, jun. the son of the first convert. Preaching was successfully introduced into various of the dark villages in

A. D, 1817 AUSTREY CHURCH. 371

the vicinity, and the prospect was encouraging. But the distance fiom Packington and the num- ber of other places whicii the preachers of that society had to supply, rendered it impossible for them to give that attention to this neigh- bourhood which its importance required. The friends therefore determined to take the cause into their own hands; and Aug. 7th. 1808, were formed into a distinct churcli, by Mr. S. Deacon, of Barton. Their number then was fifteen.

This infant society had to struggle with many difficulties and was surrounded with enemies. The members endeavoured to obtain an accept- able minister; and invited Mr. Jarvis, of Long- ford, to tlieir assistance. Me removed to Austrey ; but, in about a year, left tliem again destitute. For some time, supplies were obtained from Bar- ton ; till Mr. Barnes, jun. impelled by the necessity of the case, attempted to give a word of exhortation to his brethren. His services were accej)table, and he became the regular minister. For several years, he steadily and diligently pursued his great work ; but though his labours were generally attended by numerous auditors, yet few declared themselves on the Lord's side. '1 he members however were united, and zealous in their endeavours to spread the news of salva- tion on every side. The good seed, which they had been sowing in hope, at length produced most cheering fruit. Additions to their number were frequent ; and in the four years previous to 1817, one hundred and one persons were baptized on a profession of faith. The members of this society then amounted to one hundred and thirty one. They maintained preaching at nine places ; and had large congregations at each. Prepara- tions were making for erectiuv » "'-'•**n«r,house


372 THE RISE OF A.D. 1802

at Polesworth, a neighbouring village, at which the prospect was peculiarjy encouraging.

Beeston is a large and populous village, five miles north-west of Nottingham, in wliich no dissenters had established themselves till towards the close of the last century ; when the iVJeiho- dists obtained a few votaries, and erected a small chapel. At Chilwell, a little place near Ueeston, Mr. W. Pickering, of Ukiston, had irequently preached, and there two members of his church resided. At their invitation, several of their neighbours had accompanied them to likiston, and had found the preaching of the gospel blessed to their souls. This encouraged the preachers at Ilkiston to visit this village more frequently ; and the happy result was, that thirteen of the inhabitants of Chilwell professed their faith in Christ; were baptized, and joined the church at Ilkiston. But the affecting death of Mr. Twells,*

* This eminent Christian was, for twenty years, an honourable, active and useful member of the church at Ilkiston. He wag very lively in religion, and enjoyed, in an extraordinary degree, the assurance of his interest in Christ. Though he never affected to be considered as a preacher, yet he was in 'he practice of going about to neighbouring villages to hold meetings for prayer and reading : and, for some of the last years of his life, he took frequent opportunities of addressing the people in a manner that evinced a deep sense of the wretched state of sinners, an ardent desire to promote their, eternal welfare, and a strong attachment to the doctrines of the cross. 1 hesc ad- dresses were often blest to the souls of those who heard them. He was called to his reward, Oct. 2nd. 1803, in >^he forty-sixlh year of his age. — Having to descend to inspect aco;d-pi!, through a dt.'fect in the machinery by which he was suspended, he wa» precipitated su(ld<.nly to the bottom, a depth of more thaa thii'ty yards, and received so much injury that he died in two days, iie kft a widuw and seven children.

C. fi. R. Vol. I. p. 17Z,

A. D. 1803 BEESTON CHURCH, 373

and the removal of Mr. Stevenson, so dimi- nished the number of ministers in that society, that it was found impo.^sible to continue their u>uai labours at Chilvwell : and indeed the house was bhul aii:ainst ihem in which they had been accusiomed to assemble. This cast a deep gloom o\er I he prospect; and the friends who could remove had already determined to fix their habila'ions isi -oine |)iace w'here they might more COiivenieiiKv tijov the means of grace.

At ihis jusicmre, iV!r. Jhomas Rogers,* who was iiuMi i!;e as>istaid preacher in the church at JVoniiigham, deU'rmiiied, from motives of eco- Hom , to helfie at Ht^estoti and open a school. 'J his Itf elfet led in Oct 1S03. Desiring that his fatuiiv shuuitl liave an opportunity of hearing the iiospel, and bt^ing zealous to promote the eternai interests of his neighbours, he soon ob- tained permission to preach in a dwelling house at beeston, which was occupied by a methodist ; and not long^ afterwards a door was opened for his visit ir.g Chilwell. For some time, he main- tained regular service, on Monday evenings, at each of these villages in rotation ; which were attended with an encouraging number of hearers.

Mr. Rogers being convinced that, with proper exertions, an interest might be raised in this

* Mr. Rogers joined the church at Nottingham, in 1792, and l)egan to preach. May 16th. 1783. He was much employed, in subsequent years, in ihe villages about Nottingham, and in supplying neighbouring congregations. He frequently visited Ilkiston, after Mr. Goddard's secession ; and in con- junction with Mr. Whittle, was very instrumental in improving the cause at Widmorpool and Broughton, which was then in its infancy and struggling under great difficulties. In 1799, his friends called him to assist Mr. Smith in the labours of the pulpit, and he retained that situation till his removal to Beeston.


374 FORMATION. A.D. 1804

neighbourhood, relinquished his engaajement with the friends ut ^oUill^ham, and resolved to devote his undivided attention to this object. The house at Beeston, in which public worship was commenced, beinjif inconvenient he, with the approbation of his landlord, fitted up a large room in his own house for the purpose, which was opened, Jan. 1st. 1804. J'he attendance became numerous; and several professed to be convinced of the truth, it was, therefore, thought necessary to endeavour to form a society which might regularly receive these converts into fellow- ship. 1 he church at Ilkiston declining to dis- miss their members who resided at Chilwell, eight members of Nottingham church, four of whom dwelt at Beeston and four others at a short distance, were cordially dismissed to lay the foundation of a new interest. Mr. R. Smith went over to Beeston, March 4th. 1804; and delivered a most affectionate exhortation to the members of this infant church, and afterwards preached to a crowded and attentive auditory. The few friends who had thus united were soon afterwards joined by the thirteen members of Ilkiston church at Chilwell, and two members of another society who were settled in the vicinity. May 20th. five candidates, the fruits of Mr. Rogers' ministry, were accepted by the church, and baptized in a pond, in Mr. Rogers* croft, amidst a large concourse of well behaved spectators. On July 27th. twelve other persons were baptized ; and, Oct. 21st. following, fifteen others made, in the same manner, a public pro- fession of their faith. Almost every week, during many succeeding months, one or more professing to be convinced of their sins, desired communion with this increasing society ; and early in 1805,


twenty persons were baptized in one day, and added to tlie church. Most of these candidates were arrived at years of maturity, and some were advanced in life. In many casfs, husbands and wives, and, in more than one instance, wjioie families, gave themselves up together to the Lord and to his people.

This society having thus increased to eighty members, and the congregation being propor- tionably numerous, the room in which they as- sembled became too small to accommodate them. As a temporary expedient, iVIr, Rogers occupied a barn which was tlten empty : and though it was cold and very inconvenient, it was soon tilled with serious hearers. It was, therefore, a matter of urgent necessity, that some more suitable place of worship should be pro- vided. I'he subject was laid before the Midland Conference and the annual Association ; and both these assemblies recommended the erection of a new meeting-house. Weekly subscriptions were immediately commenced by the friends at Bees- ton ; and the neighbouring churches liberally assisted in the design. A piece of ground was purchased, and a commodious edifice raised, which was opened, Aug. 24th, 1806. On this occasion, three dissenting ministers from Notting- ham, of different sentiments, cordially engaged. Mr. R. Smith, a general baptist, preached in the morning; Mr. Alliott, an independent, in the afternoon; and Mr. Jarman, a particular baptist, in the evening. 1 he utmost harmony prevailed ; the place was crowded on all parts of the day ; and the collections at the door were liberal. The w liole cost of the building was upwards of four hundred pounds.

The church continued to increase; and Mr. Ro-


376 ORDINATION. A. D. 1807

gers, who had been chosen an elder, was desired to administer the ordinances. It was, however, judged necessary to invest him, in a more formal manner, with tlie pastoral office. He was, there- fore, publickly ordained, May 20th. 1807 ; when Mr. Felkin delivered the introductory discourse, Mr. R. Smith gave the charge to the minister, and Mr. W. Pickering addressed the people. But the progress of the cause afterwards was less rapid. Domestic bereavements induced Mr. Rogers to remove his residence to Nottingham : and, though he continued to preach regularly at Beeston, yet he could not so incessantly walch over the interests of his friends there, as when he dwelt in the midst of them. In 1810, he settled at Stapleford, a village three miles south-west of Beeston ; and commenced preaching in his own house, with a view to strengthen the cause at Beeston. In the following year, he extended his labours to Long-Eaton, another village at nearly the same distance west of Beeston. At both these places there was an encouraging attendance; and a small chapel was built at Stapleford by a friend, who let it to the church on reasonable terms.

But the public distress, which was felt in all parts of the nation, began now to press heavily on the friends at Beeston, and especially on their pastor; whose means of support were, in a great measure, intercepted. His people saw with pain the injury that his domestic circumstances were receiving; and, though unanimously desirous of his continuance with them, they thought it justice to set him at liberty from his engage- ments. This they did : and he received in- vitations from several other churches to remove t9 them. But, being sincerely attached to his

6. D. 1700 NANTWICH CHURCH. 577

friends, he determined to make every effort before h'- forsook tfiem. He stru^'^led on till Christma^i, 1813 ; when, tiiidia^ it impo^sihie to subsist at B^e'1ton, he accepted the call of llie church at Fleet, in Lincolnshire. The society at Beeston then consisted of one hundred and one members. Thoiiiih the removal of their highly esteemed pastor checked tlie progress of this rising cause; yet the coni>re<i;'atioiss continued to be encourag- ing anci heveral persons soon afterwards joined the church. Peace and unanimity were preserved in their councils : and, for a time, supplies were kindly atlbriied them by the neighbouring con- gregations. Mr. Bull at length became their in.)re regular preacher, and the cause seemed to prosper in his hands. But, in 1817, tlie stag- nation of trade and dearness of provisions affected them severely; and obliged them to suspend their efforts at Stapleton and Eaton ; though they had previously collect* d large congregations at each of these places. J hey therefore confined their public labours to Bees- ton, where they preached thrice on the Lord's- day; and, ia the afternoon, had a numerous auditory. The members then amounted to one hundred and six.

We have already observed,* that, in the be- ginning of the eighteenth century, there existed a cluster of general baptist churches in Cheshire, and the adjacent counties, which were then nu- merous and respectable. The society at Nant' uich, a considerable market town in Cheshire, appears to have been of note amongst them. It probably owed its prosperity, if not its forma-

■*^—**— Mi"iW^— *^—— ^— — — ■! ■ ■-.«■■ — M . ■ ■ • ■■ ■— ^ W— m i m i ■■>!■' U ■ lllll ^ lllli ..

• Supra, p.262.— »NQte.. YOjb. II. S 6


378 MR. SAMUEL A. D. 1820

tion, to Mr. Samuel Acton, who, for nrany years, presided over it with great diligence and success. He was by trade a tobacconist, and possessed some property ; the ground on which the meet- ing-house stands having been presented by iiim to the church. We have no information when he began his ministry ; but it was probably before 1688.* The ground, wliich we have just men- tioned, was conveyed to him, Sept. 19th. 1695 ; and he was then established in trade. In 1704, he published a treatise, which he called, "■ Fruit from Canaan; or Foretastes of Glory : in several Discourses on Assurance," from Heb. vi. 9. At that time, he was a leading man among his

In I7I8, Mr. Acton published a small piece, which he called, " Naked Truth : or, a Plea for Union." In this he describes himself as "a man in j'earsj" and says that "he had, for more than forty years^ lamented the inconveniencies arising from needless contentions,- and, for more than tliirty years, had been striving, though to little purpose, to persuade christians to lay them aside." The worthy author's object is to promote an union between the general and particular baptists. In order to this, he briefly but perspicuously states the views of the former, on those points in which they differ from the latter j and endeavours to prove that they are agreeable to scripture, " The principal and main points of difference," he says, " are these four. I.God's Decree about Election and Reprobation, 2 The Universal Love of God to Man. 3, General Redemption by Jesus Christ. 4. The Certainty of Perseverance." This pamphlet excited a con- siderable sensation in the neighbourhood ; and his opponents there, not thinking themselves qualified to refute it, sent it to theii' friends in London. The author, therefore, in tlie following year, published " An Appendix to Naked Truth :" in which he endeavours to strengthen his sentiments, by additional argu- ments. We notice this work to shew, that the heresy of the general baptists, in thesre parts, was then confined to the points connected with personal Election, and did not extend to the more important subjects of the Divinity and Atonement of Jesus Christ. Thi- is still more clearly evinced bv the agieement of the church at iNantwich with Mr. Kimber, alluded to already, in the Note to page 262.

A.D.1820 ACTOII. 379

friends ; and dedicates this book " to the churches of God in Cheshire, Stalfordshire, Shropshire/* &c. From this dedication, we learn, that he had previously experienced violent persecution, pro- bably of a religious nature. He addresses his brethren thus : " Glad I am of any opportunity to signify the grateful acknowledgments of my soul, for your love in striving together with me and for me, in your prayers to God ; whereby I firmly believe my deliverance was furthered, from the violence of them who rose up against me, and threatened my ruin, without cause. But since I have escaped, as a bird from the snare of the fowler, I cannot but warble forth the praises of God, who has pleaded my cause, and given me so pleasing an issue ; by restraining the wrath and turning away the insults of those who would have rejoiced in an opportunity to have triumphed over me. To Him, therefore, must the vow be performed, which strongly binds me more dili- gentl\7 to minister in the place where God by his providence has set me."

Mr. Acton's abilities and character were highly esteemed by his contemporaries, and he was fre- quently appointed to preach at their associations. Several of the discourses which he delivered, on these occasions, were printed : and, in 1723, being prevented by indisposition from attending the association, he published the sermon which he had designed to preach, from Psal. iv. 3, under the title of " The Lord's Favourite." It is pro- bable, that he was then advancing towards old age; as in the following year, the church invited Mr. Isaac Kimber, of London, to settle with them asa minister; " upon the reasonable supposition," asthey express it, " from bro her Acton's age and very sensible decays, that the church would, er«


380 MR. ISAAC KIMBER. A.I) 1724

long, want a man to minister to tliem in Iiis room, in the word and ordinances of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the furtherance of their eciilication and salvation " In this measure, the zealous old man cordially acquiesced ; and hiuiself sub- scribed ten pounds annually towards Mr. Kim- ber's support. 'I'he airreement was dated, July 8th. 17*24; and siu;ned by twelve sisJers. a. id and tuentj-two brethren: the principal of w horn, if we judge from the amount of their subscrip- tions, were John (ioodall, John Wright, Ralph Orton and James Maddock.

Mr. Kimber did not reside long at Nantuich. Difference of sentiment, on some important points of doctrine, caused a separation; and he returned to London. How long Mr. Acton sur- vived, is not known ; but, in a good old age, he was called to the church above ; and his remains were deposited in the meeting-house.* Many of his most useful and respectable friends were re- moved about the same time ; and the cause ap- pears to have gradually declined. Not being able to procure ministers of their own persuasion, the church permitted Mr, Pine, a particular baptist, to occupy the pulpit: but his distin- guishing tenets not being approved by the people,

* In 1714, Mr. Acton published a pamphlet, containing three sermons. 1. "The Christian's Salvation all of Grace," from Eph. ii. 5.-2. " Christ's Ministers Soul Compellers," from Luke xiv 23 — 3 " V\'i£e Men but Fouls in rtjecting God's Word," from Jer. viii. 9. During the printing of this volume, queen Anne died, and George I. was quietly called to the throne 1 he aviil.or look the op; ortunity of adding a Postscript, addressed to *' Dissenies in geneial," in which, after cautioning th"ui "not to wrap tht ln^elves up in a gioundless fancy that the king wa» coming to sin-ile them out for his faNourittb," and advibiug them to heliave them-t-lvos discree'ly in the fa\ourable change of af- iMiHj he coucludes thus ; " Whalever others do, I hope you, mj

A. D. 1812 DECLINB. 381

he was, not without difficulty, dismissed. Not lonjjf afterwards, the methodists obtained posses- sion ot" tlie meeting-house ; and, for many years, enjoyed the use of il without interruption.

Before ihe close of the eighteenth century, all traces of the general baptists had nearly disap- peared : not one person beinj; left at Nantwlch, who professed to be of that denomination. Two iTsensbersof the cimrch at Barton were then in the ha!>ij of frequiMitly visitinj^ Nantwicli on busi- ness; ajsd formed an acquaintance with iVlr. John Cooper and somf others, who were zealously at- tached to I he meihodists. On comparing^ their sentiments on reliiiious subjects, they found a cott^iderable coincidence, except on the point of believers' bapism : and this topic was, of course, fr»cjuently discussed between them. The INantvjich tneiuis, at length, yielded the victory to tijeir opponents; and professed themselves willing to evince their sincerity by being bap- tized. 'I his result was reported to the church at Barton : and that society, thinking it deserved attention, requested Mr. J. Deacon to visit Nant- w ich, and make further enquiries. He went, in Sept. 1812, and learnt, that the meeting-house occupied by the methodists belonged to the ge-

brethren of the baptized churches, will distinguish yourselves by loyalty, modesty and peaceful behaviour^ as becomes a people worthy of your privileges and of such a king : whose reign let the God of heaven grant to be long, glorious and happy, to and over ail his people. Amen."- — The good man had felt the miseries of the tyranny of the Stuarts, and duly appreciated the blessings of the Protestant succession.

The other publications of this minister are — " Slowness to Anger the truest Gallantry," from Prov. xvi 32 1713. — " The Royal Charge," from 1 Chron. xxviii. 9 1715 — " To honour God the sure Way to Honour," from 1 Sa ■». ii 30. — "Union witU Ctirist our Hope of Glory/' from Col. i. 27. 1721.


382 A NEW CHURCH, A. D. 1812

neral baptists, and that only two of the trustees survived. On his return, he laid the subject be- fore the midland conference at Lough1>orougjh : and it was there agreed, to nominate eleven per- sons as trustees, to whom the property mi^jht be transferred ; and to request iMr. H. Smith to take a journey to forward the business. This he did, in December following ; and succeeded in reco- vering the nieetinu;-house.

On the 17th of the succeedinij month, Mr. T. Stevenson, of Loughborough, baptized three per- sons at iNaiituich, luid formed them intoa church. The ministers from the midland and Yorkshire districts visited them as of' en as circumstances would permit ; and Mr. Cooper, one of their number, was encouraged to preach for them in the intervals. Before the Association in 1813, nine had been baptized ; and this infant society- was then enrolled on the list of churches formina: the i\ew Connection. In subsequent 3 ears, many others were admiited : but, owing to the ravages of death, and the disgraceful conduct of some who went back to the world, the number of mem- bers remained nearly stationary. The interest, hov\ever, gained gtound : and June, 1817, they make this encouraging report. "The general baptist cause here wears a more favourable aspect than it did. We are peaceable and united, and trust that vital religion is reviving amongst us." The labours of Mr. Cooper and his friends had then been extended to Torperly, a large village ten miles north-west of Nantwich ; where seven persons were baptized, Sept. 14th. 1817.

Knipton is a village in the north-east of Leices- tershire, bordering on Lincolnshire. At this place there is an ancient society of general bap-

A.I>. 1780 KNIPTON CHURCH. 383

tists, the origin of which we liave not been ahle to ascertain. In the early part ot'the eighteenth century, it was under the care ot" \lr. .John \\ ort- lev. He was succeeded by Mr. Joljn Bissiil ; and the churcli then consisted ot about thirty mem- bers. After Mr. Bissili\s decease, Mr. 1 . Smart, the minister at V^ inii^swould an(i Monntsorrfl, occasionally supplied them wish j>reachin^, till Mr R. Stokes settled amoni^st them. VV hde he laboured for them, the m.^etinjij-house was hnilt. This was scarcely uiiished, vvh«-n he removed to London : and they were aiijain kindly assisted by their former friends at V\ imeswouiti. In 1769, this church joined the Lincolnshire Association. It was then destitute of a pastor; and remained, in the same state, in 1711. PvJr. }3oyce, the mes- senger, was requested to visit it, as often as con- venient ; and that active minister cheerfully complied with their rec|uest. This society was then respectable; consisting of between fifty and sixty members, two deacons, and one stated un- ordained preacher. The minister was, probably, I\Jr. Joseph Proud, jun. from Wisbeach; who at- ten(h-d the Association both these years, and is rardced among " the brethren in the ministry." Mr. Proud remained with them only three or four years, and then left them without supply. They once more turned to the ministers at VVimes- would for assistance, and appear to have been, for some time, united with that church : as they tell the Lincolnsisire Association, in 1788, that *' thev were well attended both at V'v'imeswonld and ivnipton." At that lime, their number was reduced to thirty-six : and they were under the pastoral care of Mr. W. Kelsey, who attended the same Association, in 1785, as " tiie elder of the church at Knipton." Mr. Kelsey continued to


364 DECLINE. A. D. 1817

preside over this people eleven years, till towards the close of the eighteeinh century, when discon- tent arose in the society : liis temporal circum- stances became embarrassed ; and his abilities vrere enfeebled by age. A .>ej)aration followed. Mr. John Bissill, one of their members, was, about this time, called to exercise his gifts in preaching; and, for a season, assisted in supplying the pul- pit : but he soon left them ; and, in 1799, went to pursue his studies at the Academy.

The cause appears to have been tljen in a low state, as, in 1801, there were but sixteen members. These were frequently visited by Mr. Hoe, of Hose, whopreached for them every fortnight, for four or five years: and his labours appear to have been very useful. As he was united to the New Connection, he advised them to leave the Lin- colnshire Association, and attach themselves to his friends. Accordingly, in ISOO, they applied for admission into the New Connection : and, the following year, were received. After this, there appeared transient symptoms of a revival : eight persons being baptized in 1802. But Mr. Hoe discontinuing his visits, they speedily de- clined : and want of preachers, joined to neglect of discipline, had, in 1814, diminished their num- ber of members to ten. They were then in a de- plorable state ; having been deprived of preach- ing during the whole year, except two or three occasional sermons. In these dark circumstances, their only two male brethren united, to conduct a prayer-meeting on the Lord*s-day. In 1816, Mr. J. Turner settled among them as their regu- lar preacher ; and they began to hope for better times : but, in the following year, he removed ; and they were again left without the regular mi-


tiistry of the word. Their number was then but eleven.

Sect. 2. — A Sketch of the History of the Churches in the Northern District^ from j),d. 1800 to a.d.

: 1817.

Foil a short time after the commencement of ' the nineteenth century, affairs in the church at Birchcbjf^ went on prosperously ; their congre- gations were laro^e, and additions freqijent. liut the conduct of their pastor soon bec<;me incon- sistent wish h\s profossion, and caused much troisblf and dissanstVsctiou. In Jan. 1803, he abruprly left the neii^hbourhood ; and was ex- cluded from tiieir feitorvship. Supplies were, at first, obtained ^om the neitrhbouriisg churches, and I'jp pf'^^ce of the society was restored ; and they soon turned thfir eyes to iVir. James Taylor, of Derby, and made some unsuccessful efforts to obtain him. i hus disappointed, they rs quested Mr. W. JNoilinrake, a re.-pectable member of their body, to exercise hi^^ taients in preaching ; and, bt-ing^satistieu with his attempts, called him to the work of the ministry, lie tlien joined with the other ministers in supplyinjj;- their own pulpit, and was oftnn invited to preach for sister cons^re- gations. His labours, boih at home and abroad, were acceptjibb-; and, under the divine blessing, rendered v«^rv nsetui. His friends already began to look oii bim as likely to supply their need. He wished, however, 1o avail himself of the advan- tages o tiered by the Acaf'emy, and went to Lon- don, July, i804 : where he spent a year under

* Supra, p. 271. VOL. II. 3 D

386 SEPARATION. A.I). 1S07

Mr. D. Taylor. During!^ his residence there, he wasinviled, by lii^^ brethren, to accept the office of pastor; and, after proper deliberation, com- plied, lie returned to Birchcliif, and commenced his regular labours there, July 30th. 1805.

Soon after liis return, sym])tonis of discontent shewed themselves, which ; for a season, caused great uneasiness and much discouragement, both to himself and his friends. But the majority, being satisfied tiiat,in supporting him, they Avere foUovving the leadings of divine Providence, de- termined to persevere : and the numbers who crowded to hear him, with the frequent insjances of his discourses being blest to the awakening of his auditors, strengthened them in their reso- lution. He was accordingly ordained to the pas- toral office, July 1st. 1806; when Mr. D. Taylor, of Loinion, gave tlie charge, and Mr. E. \\ hitaker, of Melbourn, addressed the people. 1 hough these proceedings were warmly approved by a decided majority of tlie society, yet a respectable minority doubted of their propriety : and, as it did not appear probable that they could cor- dially co-operate in carrying on the cause of the Redeemer, they resolved to separate from their former friends. When this resolution was fully taken, the parties met, by mutual agreement ; and, commenditig each other, in alFectionate prayer, to the favour of God, took a friendly leave. After this division, about eighty mem- bers remained at Birchdilf.

From this period, the cause of the Redeemer prospered in this place ; and Mr. Hollinrake's labours were abundantly blest. The congre- gations increased, both in number and respect- ability: and, from the return of their pastor from the Academy to June 1817, upwards of two

4.1>. 1807 NEW CHURCH FOKMED. 587

liundred persons had been baptized and added to the church. And though death had deprived them of many useful and pious members ; and they had, in some painful instances, been obliged to withdraw from such as walked disorderly; yet their number then amounted to one hun- dred and ninety-nine. They enjoyed peace among themselves ; their congregations were large; and they had two assistant preachers.— In 1808, a piece of ground was presented to this society, by a neighbouring gf ntlemen, by which the burying-ground was enlarged, at an expence of nearly forty pounds.

The persons who withdrew from the church at Birchcliif in the commesicement of 1S07, amounted to forty-two. They united to carry on the cause of the Redeemer ; and engaged an old meeting-house* at Heptonstall- Slack, about a mile and a half distant from Birchcliff. In this building, they commenced public worship, and obtained supplies from Queenshead and Halifax. The congregations were encouraging; and it soon became evident to all parties, that the separation would prove advantageous to the interest of religion in the neighbourhood. This persuasion had a happy tendency to remove

* This meeting-house had existed almost a cent iiry. Mr, Tho- mas Greenwood, a gentleman of the neighbouihood, built it, and preached in it. After his death, it was frequently unoccu- pied, Mr. R. Thoai'as, for a long time, labouied alternately here and at Rodwell-End : and Mr (afterwards Dr.) Fawcett preached in it re^^ularly, till his new place of worship was erected at Hebden-bridge From that time, it lay almost useless, till the seceders from BirchclifF obtained possession of it. After the opening of their new place at Slack, it was employed as a school through the week, and afforded good accommodation for their Sunday-scholars on the Lord's-days.



opposition, and to procure this attempt the countenance otall who wished tor the extension of the kingdom of the Redeemer. The friends at Slack naturally desired a seltkd minister, and soon turned their attention to Mr. James Taylor of Derby. I'he subject was brought before the Association at Nottingham, in 1H07 ; and that assembly encouraged his removal. Accordingly he settled at Slack, in October following.

Mr. Taylor's character and labours being well approved, the cause gained ground rapidly: the congregations increased so as to be much too large for the old meeting-house; and several joined the church. All ranks of persons in the neighbourhood wished success to the rising in- terest, and evinced a disposition to encourage it. In these iavourable circumstances, the friends thought it advisable to provide a more com- modious place of worship. 1 hey obtained, from the genilemen of Heptonstall, the grant of a piece of ground from the common, in a very eligible and conspicuous situation. On this they erected a substantial and convenient meeting- house ; to which were attached a spacious bury- ing-gronnd and a handsome baptistery. The place was opened, Oct. 6rh. 1808, by Mr. John Taylor, of Queenshead, wiih a discourse from Eph. ii. 21. The expence of the meeting-house and burying-ground was nearly seven hundred pounds; exclusive of a dwelling-house for the minister, which v. as built at the same time. — Alter the erection of the meeting-house, the cause continued to advasice : but l\Jr. I'aylor could not soon be induced to assume tlie pastoral office over tiiis affectionate people. At length, he determined to devote himself to their service ; and was solemnly set apart, Oct. 25th. 1810:

A. b. 1817 CHURCH. 389

when Mr. Hollinrake opened the service, bj reading the scriptures and prayer; M, John Tayior gave the charge to his son, from 1 Tim. i. 18 ; and Mr. D. Taylor, of London, addressed the church, from 1 f hess. v. 13. On the fol- lowing Lord's-day, seven brethren were ordained to the office of deacons; to whom Mr. John Taylor deliverei4 a charge, from 1 Tim. iii. J3.

The church, being thus regularly organized, carried on the blessed cause in which thev were engaged with vigour; and the Lord was pleased to crown their exertions with success. 'J he con- gregations were numerous, and the members increased with rapidity. Prior to the Asso- ciation, in 1817, one hundred and fift^'^-seven had been baptized ; and the society then con- sisted of one hundred and sevenly-seven mem- bers. Harmony prevailed in tlieir deliberations, and the neighbours continued to be friendly. They had then f«ur assistant mini?.ters whom they had called to the work, and who were well approved.

The small church at Shore* under Mr. J. Spencer, experienced a considerable revival in the commencement of the nint teenth century. The pastor applied with diligence and zeal to the duties of his office ; and increased in useful- ness and respectability. Their congregations, considering the situation, were numerous; and the number of additions encouraging. In 1807, the members had increased from nine to forty- three ; and a pleasing degree of harmony and aiFection reigned amongst them. But the in- firmities and age of Mr. Spencer, who had now

Supra p. 27'i.


reached his seventieth year, checked this grow- ing prosperity. The cause drooped in his feeble hands ; few were converted ; and the hearers diminished. In 1817, their number was reduced to thirty-six : and tliongh tUey were then tolera- bly peaceful amongst themselves; jet the state of religion was low.

In 1800, we left the church at Queenshead^ oppressed with poverty, and their pastor in- capable, from bodily intirmities, of those stre- nuous labours in which he liad formerly been abundant. This depression continued for a few subsequent years ; and was increased by disunion and disaffection among themselves: so that, in 1803, their number had sunk to iifty-seven. But, about that time, a pleasing change took place. Harmony and affection were restored to their councils ; and their esteem and love to their pas- tor revived. His labours, therefore, were more useful ; the congregations increased, and many were added to the church. In order to accom- modate the numerous hearers, two side galleries, as large as the meeting-house would admit, were erected, and other alterations made. The ex- pences of these improvements were borne by the friends, with the liberal assistance of their neigh- bours, who shewed a strong disposition to en- courage them. In 18o7, the progress of the cause here was checked by the buiiding of three places of worship by the methodists, within less than a mile of the meeting-house at Queenshead. This naturally lessened the hearers, and divided the attention of the neighbours, 'i'he effect, how- ever, was only temporary : in a few years, their

* Supra p. 244.

A. D, 1817 HALIFAX CHURCH, 391

hearers again became numerous and additions frequent. Though death deprived them of many valuable members, and some forsook the good way; the cause of the Redeemer still gained strength. The pastor, indeed, grew every year less capable of active exertions ; but, with a few short interruptions, he was enabled to till the pulpit on the Lord's-day and to superintend the concerns of the church. The kindness of his friends excused and supplied his lack of service; and he had the uuconiuiou felicity of seeing that cause, over which he hisd watched for so many years with a parent's anxiety, ajMl for which he liad long laboured with persevering assiduity, re- vive in his old age, and ft«.urish in his weakness. In 1814, seven deacons Here ord;iined, to manage the temporal concerns of the society ; and three young uien, whom tliey had caUed to the work of the ministry, were acci^fstably engaged in preach- ing the gospel. In 1817, the number of members had increased to one Imndred and forty-two. In that year, they, in cojijunction with the ministers olneighbouring ciinrches, commenced preaching, with some encouraging prospect of success, at Apperiey Bridge, a viiiage about nine miles south-east of Queenshead.

The church at Halifax* continued under the pastoral care of Mr. Joseph Ellis, during the first seventeen years of the nineteenth century. In the former part of that period, I lie cause was low and discouraging ; but a pleasing degree of unani- mity prevailed amongst the members. In 18o5, the meeting house was altered and repaired, at a considerable expence ; which was cheerfully de-

I ■ 1 ■ II .11.

* Supra p. 276.


392 BURNLEY CHTTRCrr. A. D. 1817

frajerl by the subscriptions of the friends and nt'ifihbour.s They lioped that this step would be advantaojeous to the drooping interest; and llieir hopes were not wliolly disappointed. From that time, the hearers gradually increased, and several came forwards from time, to time, and joined the church. In 1817, fourteen were baptized on a profession of faith. And, thouj^h the peaceof the society was repeatedly interrupted by internal dissensions, which caused jsome of the members to withdraw from its fellowship, and several valuable friends were removed by death, yet the cause continued to gain ground. In 1817, this society consisted of sevent^^-one members, who were peaceful and unanimous.

The few friends at Burnley* experienced great di;.co«ragement during the period now under review. 1 he character of Mr. Folds was so un- stable and irregular, that, in 1804, they were con.prlUd to v\ithdraw from him, both as a member and a m'nister. Another person was then employed to preach for them, and they venUnnt^. to repair the meeting-house. 1 he ex- pence increased their former debt to a sum which, though small in itself, was a grievous burden to the few i)oor triends who supported the cause in this place. To add to their depression, their minister's character and pursuits were found to be totally inconsistent with his sacred profession; and, in 1807, they were obliged to dismiss him from their tellowship. At this time, the interest of religion, v»hich had received so many dreadful wounds in tlie hou^e of its friends, was almost expiring. The number of members was reduced

* Supra p. 380.

A. D. 1817 LIDGATE CHURCH. 393

to ten ; and the hearts of those {tiw who still stood in the breach fainted within them. They resolved, however, to continue the struggle, and invited assistance from the Yorkshire churches. This mode of supply was continued for upwards of two years, and produced a happy effect. In the beginning of 1810, Mr. George Dean, who had for some time been an assistant preacher in the church at Queenshead, being repeatedly invited by this society and advised by the York- shire Conference, removed with his family to Burnley, and became their regular minister. His labours were well approved, and the people exerted themselves to render his situation com- fortable. This long depressed cause shewed symptoms of a revival, and some respectable neighbours appeared disposed to countenance it. In 1817, thn number of members had risen to twenty- rive, among whom peace and harmony prevailed ; and the prospect of future prosperity was encouraging.

Towards the conclusion of this period, the friends at Shore had observed, that many persons attended their public worship from the valley that stretches towards Todmorden, and even from places beyond that village. This induced the friends of religion to turn their attention to those parts ; and Mr. James Taylor visited Tod- morden, and preached there, Dec. 3rd. 1814. A worthy individual, encouraged by the prospect of usefulness, exerted himself with great zeal to obtain the assistance of a few friends in establish- ing regular preaching in this neighbourhood. Aftt^r considerable perseverance this was effected; and a room was hired at a place called Lidgate, about two miles from Shore. The subject was /

VOL. II. 3 £



laid before the Yorkshire Conference and several ministers engaged to supply the place in rotation, for some months to come. As supplies could be obtained only for the morning and evening, the friends were advised to employ the afternoon in an experience meeting. This greatly assisted those who had turned their faces towards Zion, by accelerating their growth in grace and know- ledge. These young christians soon began to wish for the privileges of church-fellowship ; and presented a case to the Conference at Shore, Aug. 27th. 1816; soliciting directions how to obtain them. After due consideration, it was concluded, that it would be advisable to form them into a distinct church ; and Messrs. Ellis, Hollinrake, Hodgson and Dean, were requested to visit Lidgate, and carry this advice into effect. Accordingly, Nov. 30th. 1816, they went, and baptized eight persons ; whom they formed into a society, and to whom Mr. Ellis administered the Lord's supper. The spectators and auditors behaved with seriousness and attention, and the solemnity was pleasing and edifying. In June, 1817, this infant church consisted of eleven members ; who were peaceful and unanimous, and whose prospects were encouraging,

Staylefj'Bridge is a populous and genteel manufacturing village in Lancashire, on the borders of Cheshire ; about eight miles east of Manchester. To this place, Mr. Barkerwandered, when he had left Birchclitf; and procured a creditable situation in a factory. As he still pushed himself amongst professors of religion, the methodists engaged him to preach for them on Christmas-day, 1804. 'i'his arrangement being made by the people without consulting^

A. D. 1815 AT STAYLEY BllIDGE. 395

their leaders, the latter interfered after the morning service, and prevented him from preach- ing in the evening. Some of his associates, thinking him not well used on this occasion, determined to support his cause. The necessary measures were taken ; and, in a few weeks, he commenced public worship in a large room in his own occupation, and soon became popular. At first, he ranked with no particular denomina- tion ; but, in 1806, he declared himself a general baptist. Towards the close of 1808, he baptized twelve persons and formed a church. His hearers increased rapidly : and a more capacious place of worship became necessary, and was obtained. The number of members soon rose to upwards of sixty, and every thing appeared prosperous.

But the prospect soon darkened. In 1813, twelve of their members, disapproving of the principles and conduct of the preacher, with- drew from their communion and formed a distinct society, which afterwards attached itself to the particular baptists. In the following year, this church and its founder applied to the Association at BirchclifF for admission into the New Con- nection ; but that assembly promptly refused to form any union with them. Soon after this ap- plication, the conduct of the preacher gave painful evidence, that he was totally unfit for the station he had assumed, and a separation ensued between him and the people. This disgraceful event, plunged these young pro- fessors into the utmost perplexity. Many forsook them, and turned to the world : but, there was a goodly number who were earnestly engaged with their Saviour, and could not deseri his cause. They were depressed with reproach and sorrow, and knew not how to attempt to supnort



the sinking interest. These afFecting circum* stances being reported to the Yorkshire cliurches, their ministers generously slept forwards, and endeavoured to collect and organize tliis scattered flock. Their visits, which were reoularly re- peated for many months, produced the happiest effects : the congregations increased ; several joined the church; and the friends of the truth began to assume new courage.

The Yorkshire ministers continued to supply them, till the Association, in 1815; when they laid the case of this rising interest hei'ore that assembly, In consequence of the information and advice which Mr. W. Pickering received on that occasion, he removed with his family to Stayley-bridge, towards the clo»e of the year ; and became their regular minister. At the following Association, this church was admitted into the New Connection : when the number of members was sixty; of whom, twelve had been baptized and nine restored, during the preceding year. In 1817, their members were increased to eighty : they then enjoyed peace, and religion was advancing among them. 7'heir public seasons of divine worship and their more private meetings were well attended ; and they had in- troduced preaching into Ashton-under-line. One young man among them had been called forth to preach the gospel, and promised to be useful and acceptable.

From this hasty glance of the proceedings of these churches, it appears that the general bap- tist cause had made a pleasing progress, in the northern district, during the first seventeen years of the nineteenth century. The number of societies had indeed only risen from six to eight;


but the members which composed these churches, who, in 1800, amounted only to one hundred and ninety-two, liad, in 1817, augmented to seven hundred and forty-one : and in most places the prospect of future prosperity was highly encouraging.

Sect. 3. — A Sketch of the History of the Churches in Lincolnshire and the adjacent Counties, from

A.D. IbOO to A.D. 1817.

In the first seventeen years of the nineteenth century, death made awful inroads on the church at Boston * The progress of the cause was low and additions few ; but, in 1804, there appeared symptoms of a revival ; fifteen persons being added that year by baptism. In 1806, being- deprived, by an affect ing dispensation of pro- vidence, of their venerable deacon, Mr. Stephen Smalijf they called two brethren to that im- portant office. Though many were added to their fellowship, yet the frequent ravages of death, for several years, kept down their num- bers : no fewer than fifteen valuable members of

* Supra p. 284. f This pious and useful christian was about seventy-five years of age ; and had been an honourable member of this church for upwards of fifty years. He was liberal to the poor, and generous in the support of religion : often repeating his favourite maxim, " God loves a chearful giver," He set out to go to a prayer-meeting, on the evening of Jan. 19th. 1806, and was found, some time afterwards, dead in the river. It appeared probable, that, through an awful mistake, he had walked into the water, at the quay, when he intended to go over the bridge. A few days after his funeral, Mr. W. Taylor, his pastor, improved the affecting event, from the appropriate exhortation of our blessed Saviour, « Be ye also ready." G. B. R. Vol. II. p. 88.

398 MALTBY CHURCH, A. D, 1817

this comparatively small society being removed to the church above, in the short space of two years previous lo 1812. This prevented their increase and weakened their hands: and, in the following years, they complain of lowness, in- activity and trials. In 1817, they had ninety- three members. — In 1809, Mr. W. Bampton was called by this church to the work of the ministry.

Mr. Trolley continued to preach at Malthij^^ for a short time after the commencement of the present period, and then removed to Alford. After his departure, Messrs. J. Jarrom, W, Smedley, and N. Hurst, who were successively stationed at Louth, laboured occasionally for this people. Mr. Cameron settling at Louth, in 1803, agreed to preach at ]\laitby once a fort- night, on the Lord's-day afternoon ; and con- tinued this mode of supply, till 1811. His labours here attracted many hearers, and the meeting-house was generally crowded; but few came forwards to declare themselves on the Lord's side. His successor, Mr. J. Stevenson, adopted the same plan of supplying Maltby ; but, tii.ding the congregation to decrease, in 1814, he discon- tinued his visits. In subsequent years, being almost deprived of the public means of grace, the decline of the interest was rapid. In 1816, this society had sunk to seven or eight aged members: and the meeting-house was occupied, one part of the Lord's-day, by a follower of the late Mr. Johnstone, of Liverpool.

The first year of the nineteenth century was marked, at Fleet,\ by the baptism of three

■^H ..,,■.— . ■-■■■■ - " ■ i ■ I !■ I ■ ■ ■- ■ ■ _ - ■ - - ■ -

* Supra, p. 285. f Supra p. 291

A.D. 1810 FLEET CHURCH. 399

persons, a brother and two sisters, from Gedney- HiJI, a village about eleven anles north of Fleet ; which laid the foundation of an important ac- cession to the cause at that place. In 1803, Mr. Pocklington, one of their members was called forth to preach the gospel, and was usefully employed in the adjacent villages. For several subsequent j^^ars, a diversity of sentiment on some important doctrinal points, occasioned much uneasiness and altercation ; and issued in the loss of several who had been useful and re- spectable members of this society. This gave a check to the progress of religion, but the stea- diness, zeal, and alfection of !VIr. Burgess, the pastor, in a good measure, prevented the mischief that otherwise might have been pro(iuced. The cause continued to gain ground ; and, about this time, attemj)ts were mafle, by (his church in con- junction with Spalding, to introduce the general baptists into ilolbeacb, a market town a few miles distance. The m.^eting. house which the methodists had occupied wa- iiired, and preach- ing commenced ; b«t these attempts proved unsuccessful. July 26t!!. a house was registered at Sutton St. James, liix miles south of Fleet, when Mr. Burgess preached the first discourse there, from Acts vii, 42. — In the following year, the practice of singing was adopted into the public worship of this society. In June 1808, Mr. H. Everard was called to the ministry by his brethren at Fleet ; as was Mr. VV. Smith, in 1810. The members of this church residing at Gedney Hill had now increased to bfteen. Preaclsins: had been established in this village for several years, and the labours of Mr. Everard, their prin- cipal supply, were approved and blest. The spirit for hearing which had been excited, ren-

400 Mil. BURGESb' DEATH. A.D. 1S13

dered the congregations too large for the dwell- ing-house in which they had hitherto assembled; and it was determined to build a meeting-house. One of their friends generously made them a present of a piece of ground, and a neighbouring gentleman kindly advanced pecuniary aid. The design was at length accomplished, at an expence of nearly two hundred pounds. This commo- dious place of worship was opened, April J2th. 1811, bj' Mr. Burgess, of Fleet, and Mr. Jarrom, of Wisbeach : who preached, the former from 1 Cor i. 23, 24 ; the latter, from Luke xv. 7.

In 1812, this society renewed its application for admission into the New Connection : and, as the causes of the former objection were removed, it was, at the subsequent association, unanimously received. It then consisted of one hundred and seven members, and the cause was prosperous. Preaching was maintained, every Lord's- day, morning and evening, at Fleet ; and in the after- noon at Lutton.

But the health of Mr. Burgess began now to decline, and he was not able to exert himself in the work of the ministry as he had formerly done. An asthmatic complaint, which gained strength daily, obliged him to forbear preaching in winter on the Lord*s-day evenings. He was seized with a violent attack of this disorder, on the night of Nov. 30lh. 1813 ; but recovered so far as to be able to preach a funeral sermon, on Dec. 2nd. and afterwards to attend a church-meeting. The exertion and the coldness of the weather greatly increased his complaint; and Dec. 11th. 1813, he was released from mortality and all its pains. His remains were interred in the meeting-house, as a mark of the affection and respect of his mourning people; and the day following his

4.1). 1817 KILLJNGHOLM CHURCH. 401

death was observed by the church as a season of fasting and prayer. Mr. Binns, of Bourn, preached his iurieral sermon, Dec. 16tli. to a crouded and weeping auditory, from Psa. Ixxiii. 26: a text which had been chosen by Mr. Burgess a short time before his dissolution.

In a few weeks after the decease of their la- mented pastor, the friends at Fleet turned their attention to Mr. Rogers, of Beeston, who paid them a visit, Feb. 1814. His labours and character where so satisfactory, that he was unanimously invited to accept the pastoral otiice He com- plied ; and settled at Fleet in the following Au- gust. He commenced hss labours with zeal and affection ; and the blessing of the Lord rendered them very successful. In 1817, the number of members had risen to one hundred arid thirty; and the cause of religion was advancing both at Fleet and Gedney. Six preaching stations were then occupied by this society ; and at each of them the congregations were numerous.

Through the wiiole of this period the state of religion at Kt/ling/ioiiu* wore a discouraging aspect. The congregations were indeed as nu- merous as could be expected ; but conversions were few. For some time Mr. Atterby preached for the friends here ; but they depended, during the greatest part of this interval, on the labours of Mr. E. Hunter. His temporal circumstances were low, and he was much afflicted with a rheumatic lameness : he could not, therefore, exert himself with that perseverance and vigour which the drooping cause required. And though, towards the middle of this period, one or two

* Supra, p. 271. YOL. II. 3 F



young men joined this society, and afforded him valuable assistance, yet little progress was made. In 1816, the members were thirty, who lamented the low state of religion amongst them.

The church at Gosherton* continued destitute of a regular minister, till the spring of 1802 ; when Mr. John Bissill left Wimeswould, and, settling at Sutterton, a village about four miles east of Gosberton, became its constant preacher. He laboured with diligence, zeal and success ; and the cause extended itself into neighbouring places. Mr. Bissill was ordained to the pastoral office over this society, Oct. 24th. 1805. On this occasion, Mr. D. Taylor, of London, addressed the minister, from Prov. xxiii. 15, 16 ; and Mr. J. Deacon, the church, from 1 Thess. v. 12, 13.

For a short time after this solemnity, the cause of religion prospered abundantly: the congre- gations increased, and the members who, in 1802, had sunk to twenty-seven, amounted, in 1807, to seventy-two. But, in the close of that year, in- disposition obliged Mr. Bissill to suspend his exertions ; and this suspension was soon followed by a division in the church : the friends at Sutterton and its vicinity withdrawing, in the following spring, and leaving only thirty-five members at Gosberton. At first, they obtained supplies from neighbouring churches ; but, though the congregation continued considerable, yet the cause declined. In 1809, Mr. C. Biggs returned to them, and laboured amongst them till Michaelmas, 1812. On his departure, they depended for preaching chiefly on their own friends, Messrs. Clark and Anderson ; who en-

Supra^lp. 300.

A.». 1802 SUTTEIITON. 403

deavoured to supply the wants of a more regular ministry. In 1815, Mr. W. Bampton, who had for some time assisled at Sutterton, removed to Gosberton ; and divided his labours bet^veen the two congrejjations. 1 his arrangement appears to have been useful ; as they reported, in 1817, that they were well attended with hearers, and hoped that the prospect was, on the who!*, en- couraging. Ti'.eir number then was twenty-two; of whom tive had been baptized the preceding year.

When Mr. Bissiil first settled at Sutferton, the neighbourhood was almost totally ignorant of dissenters, and paid very little attention to re- ligion. 1 he methodists had, indeed, a i'ew we»ks previously, registered a small house in the village, which was occupied by a person whose wife had been connected with the general baptists; but Mr. Bissiil being invited to preach in it, the methodists discontinued their visits. He con- tinued, therefore, to preach there regularly, on the evenings of the Lord's-days ; and the house was soon crouded with hearers. This place being found too small and in other respects in- convenient, several of the friesids exerted them- selves ; and a new and commodious meeting- house was erected, at an expence of three hun- dred pounds; which was opened, by Mr. D, Taylor, of London, Sept. 29th. 1803. After some lime, Mr. Bissiil, finding himself incapable, through weakness of body, of preaching twice every Lord's-daj at Gosberton, and once at Sut- terton, relinquished the morning service at the former place; and, when his strength was in some measure recovered, commenced service in the morning and evening at Sutterton ; visiting

404 THE CHUHCH A. D. 1808

Gosberton in the afternoon. At first, the con- gregations in the mornings were small ;• but they gradually increased, till they became too large for the meeting-house.

The pleasing effects were not confined to this village. The family of a gentleman at Fosdike, a place a few miles to the eastward of Sutterton, having attended with profit on Mr. Bissill's ministry, he licensed one of his own houses, in the summer of 1805, and invited that n?inister to declare the way of salvation to his neighbours. This invitation was gladly accepted; and preach- ing was maintained there regularly every Friday evenii^g, for several years. In the summer follow- ing, another generous friend, at his own expence, hired a room at Kirton, near Boston, in which Mr. Bissill conducted a weekly service on Thurs- day evening. The attendance at Kirton was encouraging, though little permanent good was effected; but, at Fo>dike, the hearers were nu- merous, and several were brought to profess faith in Christ.

But these vigorous exertions to spread the gospel, undermined the health of the pastor; and brought on a complication of disorders which compelled him to retire, though very re- luctantly, from the active duties of the ministry. On this occasion, a misunderstanding arose among the members of this flourishing church, which issued in a division. In the spring of 1808, the friends who resided at Sutterton and its vicinity, who had been hitherto reckoned mem- bers of the church at Gosberton, formed them- selves into a distinct society, consisting of thirty- one members; and invited Mr. Bissill to take the oversight of them.

A.D. 1817 AT SlITTEKTON. 405

This minister's indisposition continuing, the congregation was supplied with preaching by the friendship of I he neighbouring ministers, till Midsummer, 1809 ; when Mr, James Smith, who then laboured at Kirton in Lindsay, was invited to settle with them, as an assistant to the pastor. He accepted the invitation, and removed to Sut- terton in the toiiowing August. The hearers had begun to decline previous to Mr. Smith's arrival, and this declension became afterwards still more visible. Discontent arose, which led to alter- cations; and parlies were formed. The peace of the church was destroyed, and the progress of religion retarded. The congregations at Sut- terton were still more diminished by these in- testine contentions ; and the houses at Fosdike and Kirton, in which preaching had been main- tained, with such a prospect of success, were there- byshut against the ministers. Atlength Mr. Smith left the neighbourhood, and harmony was re- stored ; but the interest of the Redeemer had received a check, which it could not speedily recover.

In 1811, Mr. W. Bampton, who had been called to the ministry by the church at Boston, was invited to settle at Sutterton ; and Mr. Bissill had then so far recovered his health as to be able, in some measure, to resume his pastoral duties. The cause j^radually recovered strength, and the congregations improved at Sutterton; but the ground gained at the outposts was irretrievably lost. Attempts were made, in 1811, to introduce the gospel into Swineshead, a village about six miles north-west of Sutterton ; and a house was licensed for that purpose. But, when the time arrived, the occupier refusing hisconsent, Mr. Bissill preached in the street; and continued


406 TTDD ST. Giles' church. a.d. 1810

that practice through the summer Towards winter, a place was fitted up for public worship, which would accommodate two hundred per- sons; and preaching was supported in this place, with various interruptions, for several j^ears. Some success attended the attempt, but its dis- tance and the want of ministers retarded the progressof the cause; and induced them, in 1817, to discontinue their visits. In 1812, some un- successful efforts were also made to establish a station for preaching at Algarkirk. In 1814, death deprived this society of several valuable members, which, in connection with the dis- couraging aspect of the times, and the precarious state of the pastor's health, cast a still deeper gloom over the prospect. In 1817, the number of members was twenty-six, and they complained that the word was attended with little success.

The church which Mr. John Smith had gathered at Tydd St. Giles'* gradually improved untfer his care, till Jan. 24lh. 1807 ; when, after a fort- night's indisposition, he was removed by death, in the sixty second year of his age. His remains were interred in the meeting-house which his friends owed to his li!»erality ; and Mr. Burgess, of Fleet, preached his funeral sermon, from Psal. xii. 1. After his decease, Mr. Pocklinton, an oc- casional preacher at Fleet, was invited to assist this people, and laboured for them several years. Though the congregations were considerable and harmony prevailed in their councils, yet ad- ditions were few. In 1810, preaching was com- menced at Tydd-Gote, a neighbouring village, and the hearers were numerous. Desirous of

* Supra p. 301.


obtaining a settled pastor, these friends invited Mr. James Smith, who had lately left Sutterton, to settle with them. His labours were highly aj;)proved and greatly blest. The cause revived, and seventeen persons were baptized in the following* yer.r. Mr. Smith was, therefore, or- dained, June 3rd. 1813 : when Mr. Burgess gave the charge, and Mr. Jarrom addressed the church. About this time, a few friends at Sutvon St. James, a place in the vicinity, to which iViessrs. Burgess and Everard had extended their labours with encouraging success, withdrew from the church at Fleet, and joined the church at Tydd St. Giles*. Mr. Smith, therefore, preached at Suiton ; and the hearers increasing, it was thought necessary, in 1814. to provide more suit- able accommodations. A neat meetiny; house was accordingly erected: which was soon tilled with attentive hearers. In 18^7, the congre- gations were numerous, at all the three places, where they maintained regular preaching ; and the members, which in 1811, were only twenty- three, had then risen to sixty-five.

The church at llisheach* early in the nine- teenth century, invited Mr. Joseph Jarrom, who had been some time at the Academy, and was then supplying at Louth, to settle with them. He complied ; and removed to that town, Jan. 1802. So()n after his arrival, the hearers in- creased, and pleasing symptoms of revival ap- peared. The meeting-house, which was old, decayed and very inconveniently situated, having become too small tor the corsgregation, it was determined to evect a larger one in a more eligible

II ■ I I III ^ . ■■■ — - I « I I II I ■!■

• bupra p. 308.


408 ST. lYES' CHURCH. A. D. 1817

part of the town. This new buildiiij? was opened, Oct. 27fh. 1803, by i\Ir. D. Taylor, who preached in the morninp^ and afternoon ; and Mr. W. Burgess, who delivered a discourse in the evening". The prospect still continuing to brighten, Mr. Jarrom was requested to take the oversight of this church ; and was ordained to the pastoral office, May 22nd. 1804; when Mr. D. Taylor addressed the minister, from 2 Tim. ii. 15, and Mr Pollard, of Quorndon, the people, from 1 Thess. V. 12.

From this period, the society of general bap- tists at VV isbeach gradually increased in number and respectability. The hearers were numerous; additions frequent ; and their minister highly approved and respected In 1812, it was found necessary, for the accommodation of the auditors, to erect tivo side galleries in the meeting-house. And thot»t;;li, in subsequent years, death made aiFecling inroads on their numbers, yet, in 1817, the members amounted to one hundred and four, who gave this encouraging account of the state of religion amongst them: " i he peace of our church, the prosperity of vital g<»dliness in the meuibers, the Dumber and seriousness of the hearers, and the attention paid to church meet- ings and prayer meetings, are not less than in former years:" when they had represented the interest as iiourishing.

For a few years after the commencement of the nineteenth century, the church at .S7. /t;e«'* exhi!)ii^fi some symptoms of prosperity. Regular preuchiiig was supported at Fenstanton and Warboys; and the congregations at both of those

* Supra p. 315.

A. D. 1817 KtRTON CHURCH. 409

places, as well as at St. Ives', were numerous. Thinking that a more commodious place of worship) might V".\d to the advancement of the cause, they deteruimed, in I806, to sell the old meeting house, and purchased a building in a more eligible sil nation, which they fitted up, for their relib^ious assemblies: the whole expence amounting to six hundred pounds.

A slight revival followed ; but, it was partial and transient. During the last eight years of the period under review, no additions were made to the society, and the members gradually decreased. Mr. Birley's strength and health failed ; and, for the greater part of that interval, he was wholly laid aside from preaching. Supplies were obtaiaed from various parts of the Con- nection ; but no permanent g-jod was elFected. In 1817, tliey slated, thai religion continued to droop ; and their conijregations were small. The number of members then was twenty-seven.

Throu!»:h the whole of the first seventeen years of the nin.-leent!» century, the church at Kirtori in Linthiuj^ was destitute of a pastor, Mr. J, Smith, of l home, removing to this pJace, in 1805. his labours were blest, and several additions were made to their number. But, in 1809, he accepted an invitation at Suiterton, and they were again left without a regular ministry. The preachers from the Yorkshire churches frequently visited them, during subsequent years, and their etforts retarded the decline of the cause. It continued, notwithstanding, to droop; and its most sanguine friends felt apprehensions for the issue. In 1815, an exertion was made, with a hope of raising the

* Supra p. 318.

VOL. II. 3 a



^10 FORMATION or A. D. 1800

interest; and, as the meeting was in an incon- venient situation, verj' damp, and hastening to decay, a new one was erected in an eligible part of the town. But the want of proper ministerial supplies prevented the good effects of this measure ; and, in 1817, the members had sunk ta thirty-one, who gave this affecting account of their state: " Our situation is truly distressing. Tbs cause is rapidly declining ; and should not Providence interpose, we are in danger of being ovcrvyhelmed. At present, the friends at Epworth kindly assist us once a fortnight."

Lonth is a respectable corporate town in Lin- colnshire, twenty-eight miles north-east of Lin- coin. At this place, there was formerly a general baptist church, of which we have not been able to obtain any particulars. It had totally disap- peared in 1800, and the meeting-house was offered for sale. There were no dissenters in the town besides the methodists, and religion was in a lov/ state. These circumstances being laid before the Association, held at Spalding, in 1800, it was resolved to p^jrchase the meeting-house and endeavour to raise a church. Mr. D. Taylor, at the request of this assembly, went to Louth ; and purchased the building for two hundred pounds. For a short time, the place was shut u?) ; but public worship was soon commenced, snd supported by tlie occasional visits of Messrs. 11. Smith, W. Taylor, and other ministers. Mr. Jrrrom went from the academy to Louth, in the beginning of 1801 ; and laboured there regularly till the following Christmas. liis preaching extracted the attention of the neighbours, and was blest to the conversion of several ; but, being under a prior engagement with the friends at

A. D. 19015 A CFIUHCH AT L^TJTE. 411

Wisbeach, he removed at the close of the ye^vf. Mr. W. Smediey, another student, succeeded him ; and carried th.? good work for ."iirds with diligence and success, Tiie subject v;as again submitted to the consideration of the Asso- ciation, in ]8v>2, when it was agreed, th.i* it would be for the interest of religion lo forra a regular society at Louth : and INiessrs R. Sinith and W. Taylor were requested to take a journey thither to carry this resolution into effect. They accordingly went, Sept. l'2th. 1802; and five candidates were baptized, with whom twelve others, who had formerly been members of l?y.p- tist churches, united themselves. 7'hese seven- teen persons were formed into a society, to wh«^;n Mr. Smith delivered a discourse on the order of a christian church, and administered tiie Lord's supper.

Mr. Smedley, after spending upwards of a year at Louih, returned to the Academy to finish his sudies. His place was occupied by Mr. IS, Hurst, whose efforts were productive of much good, and many were added to the cluuch. He was obliged to leave them at the expir»tiiou of four months ; though he afterwards made them another visit. Mr. F. Cameron, v^ !io h^ui then completed his preparatory studies under Mr. D, Taylor, was stationed at Louth, after Mr. Hurst's departure. His labours and character were highly approved ; and the interest daily acquired strength and respectability. i\o fewer than eighteen persons were added by baptism, in 1805; and the members then amounted to tifYy-njue, They therefore invited Mr. Cameron to b< ooiue their pastor; and he was ordained to tlie sacred office, July 4th 1805. Oa this occasion, i\lr. £>. Taylor delivered a charge to the minister, from

412 DISSENSIONS, A.D. 1815

Col. iv. 17 ; and Mr. W. Burgess preached to the people, from Deut. iii. 28.

After the ordination of Mr. Cameron, the cause of religion prospered for several years. The pastor and his flock strove together to pro- mote it ; and the great Head of the church crowned their united exertions with his blessing. In 1807, the increase of the hearers made it necessary to erect a gallery. Eut, in 1810, iVlr. Cameron resigned his office, aeui discontinued his stated labours among this people. 1 his cast a temporary gloom over the prosp«^ct. I'he church, soon afterwards, invited Mr. Joseph Stevenson, the pastor of the society at Coningsby, to their assistance ; and he removed to Louth, in Nov. 1810. For several years, his services were acceptable, and harmony prevailed. Additions were not unfrequent; but various subjects of discontent occurring from time to time, several withdrew, and the number of memberi> remained stationary. In 1813, there were seventy-eight in fellowship, and preaching was regularly sup- ported at five adjacent stations, besides Louth. But unhappy events tended to foster the seeds of discontent; and animosities were carried so far, that nearly thirty of the members withdrew ftom the societ}^ ; and the cause seemed hastening to ruin. At length, in 1815, Mr. Stevenson's con- nection with this church ceased ; and Mr. Jones, who had been pursuing his studies at Wisl;each, was invited to preach. His services were well approved, and the breaches, which former di^cord had made, were gradually repaired Many of those who had wilhdraM.n were restored lo iheir stations ; and, in less than tv*o years, tv^eniv were added by bapti^m. In 1817, the members had increased to eighty, " who were peaceable and


united : and the number and seriousness of those who attended the ministry of the word, encou- raged them to hope, that the work of the Lord was advaucinor."

We have already hinted, that the general bap- tist cause at Spalding had, at the formation of the New Connection, sunk very low.* We have not been able to collect any further particulars respecting it, till 1786, when Mr. Rusling settled at that place. -j' It is probable, that only six or seven nominal members of that once fiourishing society then remained. Ijut such was the effect produced b}' his vehement zeal, that, in the two months previous to iiis ordination, seventeen candidates were baptized. This encouraging success made his friends impatient for a closer union ; and, in Oct. J787, he was ordained to the pastoral otiice over them, by Mr. G. Boyce, the messenger. In the following year, he attended the Lincolnshire Association, and proposed to unite his churcfi with that body It was received with pleasure by that declining assembly, and esteemed a valuable acquisition ; but the union lasted only a few years. For a season, the cause advanced rapidly ; and, in less than four years, fifty-one members were added to the church by baptism and recommendations. In the latter years of his eldership, there was, however, an affecting reverse. Being of a violent disposition, and supposing his labours slighted, his public discourses became pointed, and his language censorious. This imprudent conduct naturally increased the dissatisfaction of his auditors, and inBamed th^ir resentment. An open rupture

Supra, pp. 120, 121. f Supra p. 297.

414 A RETI^^AL. A.D. 1708

was the disgraceful result ; and, in 1797, he was excluded from the society.

Being thus left destitute, the Spalding friends turned their eyes to Mr. John Bartol, a worthy member of the church at Gosberlon, who, though advancing in years, liad been only recently called to the work of the ministry: and he visited them, for a short time, as a supply. They soon after* wards, probably at his suggestion, applied for admission into the New Connection, to the Asso- ciation at Halifax, in 1798 ; and requested ad- vice respecting the removal of Mr. Bartol, to Spalding. That assembly discouraged the design, and advised them to look for a younger preacher. Mr. Bartol and his friends, however, ventured to act on their own judgment. He was ordained to the pastoral office, Nov. 22nd. 1798: when Mr. Burgess gave the charge, from 1 Cor. i. 7 ; and Mr. Binns addressed the church, from 1 Thess. V. 13. At the same time, Messrs. Lawson and Neale were ordained deacons; to whom Mr, Britfo-s gave an admonition, from 1 Tim. iii, U. At the next Association, this church was ad- mitted into the New Connection, and the number of members then was twenty-two. " The congregations increasing and the prospect brightening, it was thought proper to give their old place of worship, which had stood more than eighty years, a thorough repair. This was compit ted previous to the Association, in 1800, and the alterations gave great satisfaction. Mr. BartoTs labours being well approved, the con- gregations continued to increase, and the cause dail;. gained strength. The members had risen to forty- two, when an unexpected event cast a sudden gloom over every mind. On the morning of July 18th. 1810, their pastor, who had then


attained his seventieth year, being employed in pruning a fruit tree which was trained to the wails of" his house, by some accident, fell from the ladder, struck his head- against the ground, dislocated his neck, and instantly expired. 1 his affecting dispensation was improved by Mr. Burgess, at (iosberton, where Mr. Bartol was interred, from 2 Cor. v. 8; and at Spalding, from Psal. xii. 1.

But {he cloud, which the loss of this venerable pastor had spread over the interest in this neigh- bourhood, was quickly dispersed. Mr. H. Everard, an occasional minibter, at Fleet, was invited to assist the friends at Spak'ing; and his visits were so w<t ji approved, that, at tljeir earnest request, he became their regular preacher. His stated labours soon drew hucli crouds of hearers that the place of worship was too stnall to ac- commoclate them ; and, it was judged expedient to pull i*^ down, and erect one on a larger scale. 1'his was accordingly dane ; and the new, com- modious and spacious meeting-house was opened, Nov. 7th. Ihll, with three appropriate dis- courses, by IVlessrs. Bissiil, of Sutterton, W. Tay- lor, of Boston, and W. Burgess, of Fleet. In- creasing success crowned their subsequent ex- ertions; and the friends were unanimous and earnest in requesting Mr. Everard to accept the otHce of pastor among thtm. He was, thi.refore, ordained, May 21st. J812. Mr Burgess delivered the charge, from 1 Fet. v. 2 — 4: and Mr. W. Taylor preached lo the peopie, irom 1 Thess. v. 12,13. On the same day, 'Mr. iJuUers was or- dained to the deacon's otiice, anci 'Mr. Binns ad- dressed !rim, from Acts vi, 2, " Serve Tables."

In the following year^, I\ir. Everard's health was so seriously affected, that he was, for a con-


siderable time, laid aside from the active duties of his station. The disorderly conduct of some of the members likewise greatly retarded the prosperity of the cause. But, in the midst of these discourageinents, reiijj^ioa advanced. The congregations were large and attentive; and, in 18 17, the number in fellovv'ship had increased to sixty-two.

We have already seen that the general baptists at Bourn^ formed one society with the friends at Spalding and Fk'et, till towards the close otthe seventeenth century, when they became a distinct church under the pastoral care of Mr. J. Hooke.* The cause seems to have prospered in his hands, and to have extended itself to various adjacent places. In 1717, a few friends united and pur- chased certain premises; on whicli they erected a commodious meeting-house ; and conveyed it to the " baptized believers at Bourn for ever.'* 1 he principal persons concerned in this good work were, Mr. R. Ives, sen. R. Ives, jun. J. Arnold, W. Hus«ey, and J. Richardson ; and the cost appears to have been nearly one hundred pou'.ids. A short time after this erection, in June 1720, this church contained sixty-three members: of whom thirty resided at Bourn, and the rest were scattered over many adjacent villages.

As the duties of the messenger's office, fre- quently called Mr. Hooke to distant places, his friends vvere obliged to seek for a supply of preaching during his absence. Mr. J. lialford, the paiitor of tlie church at Coningsby, having settled at Bourn, an arrangement was made be- tween the two societies, in 1725, for him to

- , I ■ - - - - ■ — >- ■....- - . — ■■ ■ -■ ■ — . ■■■■ ..■^ — ,Mi.- n ..,-^...

* Vol. I. 216, 318.

A.D. 1794 DECAY. 417

administer the ordinances at Bourn. The death of Mr. Hook«, in 1736,* left Mr. Halford sole minister; and he appears to have discharged the pastoral duties amongst them till July 4th. 1759 ; when he was removed by death. ■]• Some time after this event, Mr. Young from Yarmouth settled here, and was ordained, Aug. 30th. 1761, by Mr. Boyce. He sustained the pastoral office for thirty j^ears ; but the interest declined under his care. At the period of his decease, Sept. 27th. 1791, only four or five nominal members re- mained ; and the form as well as the power of religion had nearly disappeared. For a few years, the preachers from Spalding paid occasional visits to Bourn : and, in 1794, Mr. Porter settled with them ; but the irregularity of his conduct compelled him, in a few months, to quit the town.

In these destitute circumstances, the few per- sons who still adhered to the cause applied for assistance to the ministers of the NewCounection, in Lincolnshire; who held their quarterly con- ference, at Bourn, Sept. 24th. 1794. At this meeting, various preachers were mentioned, as likelv to suit them; and, after some ineffectual overtures to others, they finally turned their at- tention to Mr. Binns of Gosbertoii, to whom they gave an earnest and unanimous invitation to settle amongst them. He laid the case before the Lincolnshire Conference, April 7ch. 1795; and that assembly, after a serious and circum-

* Supra p. 108 f Tn a note to page 1^0 in this volume, it is stated, that Mr. Halford's death was occasioned by a mistake of his apothecary. This we have since learnt, is not coriect. The person to whom that accident occurred was Mr. Ives, a member of this church, who was occasionally employed in the work of the ministry. VOL. 11. 3 H

418 llEVIVAL. A. D. 1800

stantial investigation, gave an opinion in favour of his compliance. He accordingly removed fo Bourn ; where his services were highly blest. He was therefore requested to assutne the pastoral oiice ; and ordained, April 19th. 1796-. when Mr. Burgess gave the charge to the minister, from ITim. iv. 16; and addressed the people, from Heb. xiii. 7.

After this solemnity, Mr. Binns prosecuted his sacred work with increased vigour. He ex- tended his labours to nei<jhbourin<i: villages; and at Morton the hearers were so numerous, that the usual place of preaching could not hold one fourth part of them. He therefore preached in the open air, throughout the summer of 1798. In the following year, the improvement of their prospects encouraged them to repair and enlarge the meeting-house at Bourn. In this year, they made application for admission into the New Connection ; and, in 1799, were received. The number of members then was thirteen ; religion they hoped was reviving ; and regular preaching was maintained at Bourn, Morton, and Castle- By th am.

But, in the decay of the cause, discipline had been much neglected. One principal object, therefore, of the pastor's solicitude, was to re- establish €rder in this reviving society. His etforts for this purpose were much assisted by the CO- operation of Mrs. Gibson, a worthy mem- ber of this church. Being a person of large pro- perty and good natural abilities, she was highly respected arid had great influence in the town as well as amongst the members. Convinced of the propriety and importance of the reforms proposed by the minister, she exerted all her interest to carry them into effect. She continued

A.D. 1817 BEQUESTS. 419

to be an effectual " fellow labourer" in the work of the Lord, till June 7th. 1800; when she died, full of" hope and joy in the Saviour.

The cause at Bourn gradually improved ; and the members and congregation increased : but various causes contributed to render the progress slovv and uncertain, in 1806, they were obliged to discontinue their visits to Castle-Bytham ; but, about the same time, they opened two other places. The succeeding year however produced more pleasing events: fourteen being added to the church by baptism, and the increase of hearers rendering it necessary to enlarge the meeting- house. From this time, the revival was more rapid : and, though the disorderly conduct of some who had professed to devote themselves to the Lord, the death of several valuable members, and the removal of others to distant abodes, tended to lessen their prosperity ; yet, in 1817, the members amounted to fifty-four, and the congregations were generally numerous.

It appears from the former part of this work, that the general baptists had formed a society at Peterborough^ in INorthamptonshire, during the protectorate of Cromwell ;* but of its future proceedings we have not been able to obtain any regular account. In 1718, Mrs. Dorothy Ewen, of Peterborough, probably a member of this church, bequeathed certain houses and lands to trustees, the rents and profits of which were to be applied towards the support of a minister *' to preach the gospel to the general baptists at Peterborough." Towards the close of the same century, Mr. Moyses was their pastor for a num-

* Vol. I. pp. 136, 137, i60.


ber of years ; but, iii the latter part of the time, seldom preached, because he could not collect a congregation. Mr. Poole, of Wisbeach, also, for some time, received the emoluments of the office: though, for similar reasons, he very seldom was called to discharge its duties. In 1794, the cause had sunk so low, that on\y two members re- mained, and the property was in danger of being lost. In these circumstances, Mr. Peel attended the Lincolnshire Conference, at Boston, June 20th. 1794, and laid the particulars before that meeting. Such advice was then given as was thought most likely to secure the property and revive the expiring interest. After some further arrangements, the ministers who composed this conference agreed to supply Peterborough with preaching once a fortnight on the Lord's day, and as often on the week-day evening. The re- maining members of the ancient society were, at the same time, joined by several other inhabitants of the neighbourhood, who stood in fellowship with distant churches.

This mode of supply was continued till May, 1797, when Mr. S. Wright, who had been an occasional preacher at Spalding, removed to them, and became their regular minister. His labours were made useful ; and, though he en- countered some opposition, yet the cause gained strength. In less than two years, the old meet- ing-house, which was gone to decay, was taken down and a new one erected ; and some ad- vantageous alterations were made in the en- dowment.

In 1798, this society applied for admission into the i\ew Connection ; but its name does not appear on the List of Churches till 180l ; when it consisted of eighteen members, and its seasons

A.D. 1817 CHURCH. 421

of worship were well attended. An unhappy dispute in 1804, retar<Ied the progress of reliijion. The breach'however, was soon healed; and, for munv succeedinoj years, a regular improvement was visible: the congre<jjatious were encouraging; the members gradually increased, and some attempts v^ere made to carry the gospel into neighbouring villages. In 1817, the persons in fellowship amounted to thirty-four; and the prospect was then cheering.

In the beginning of the seventeenth century, a general baptist church existed at l]Jarc/i, a market town in the Isleof-Ely, about Iwenly-six nnles north-west of Cambridge: the origin of which we have not been able to trace. It was then under the pastoral care of i\lr. I'homas iMears, who died, in 1735, aged sixty-six years. After him Mr. Jeremiah Buckland presided over this society till 1744, when he also was removed by death. In a few months after his disease, Mr. T. Mills removed from Spratton in Northamptonshire; and, settling at March, was invited soon after- wards to take the oversigiit of this people. He sustained the pastoral office for more than fifty 3'ears ; but, towards the close of his ministry, as he advanced in years, a degree of dissatistiiction arose and the cause declined.

In order to revive the drooping interest, it was agreed to invite the neighbouring ministers to preach for them occasionally: and about 1790, Messrs. Birley of St. Ives, Freeston of Wisbeach, and Scott of Chatteris, paid them frequent visits. In 1792, Mr. T. Ewen, who had been called to the ministry by the church at Fleet, removed his habitation to A^alsoken, and became a member of the society at Wisbeach. Besides regularly

422 MARCH A. D. 1797

assisting Mr. Freeston, he occasionally supplied destitute cliurclies. Among other places, he was invited to March ; and delivered his first dis- course there, Dec. 9th. 1792. During the nine succeeding months, he visited them only a tew times ; but his services were so well approved^ that, in Oct. 1793, the pastor and people nnitfd in requesting him to preach for them once a month. In the following May, he consented to visit them once a fortnight, and continued liius to supply them, to their great satisfaction, till the end of the following year.

January 1796, Mr. Mills, being then in his eightieth year, was induced, at the request of the church, to resign the pastoral and ministerial offices ; and Mr. Evven was invited to preach for them statedly; except once a month when Mr. Freeston visited them and administered the Lord's-supper. It was soon evident that Mr. Ewen's more constant labours were made useful; the congregations increasing, and in the course of the tirst year, thirteen persons being added by baptism. This pleasing success induced him, May ]8lh. 1797, at the earnest intreaty of the people, to remove his residence to the scene of his exertions.

His first care was to restore regular discipline, which had been too much neglected, and stated church meetings were appointed. He also ex- tended the sphere of his labours ; and, in the following year, commenced preaching at Dod- dington, a village some miles south of March. I'he congregation had increased so much in 1799, that it was determined to erect a new meeting- house at March. Many of the wealthy friends of religion, both members and others, entered heartily into the design ; and upwards of three

A.D. 1805 CHURCH. 423

hundred pounds were immediately subscribed towards carrying it into etfect. It was therefore pro!>!ecuted with vigour; and compleated, at an expence of more than six hundred pounds. IVlr. D. Taylor, of London, preached the first discourse in this new building, Oct. 1799, from Exod. XX. 24. About the same lime, this society applied for admission into the New Connection; an<l, in 1800, was admitted. Preaching, which was then mairitained at iMarch, Doddington, and W iini)lington, was generally well attended ; and the members were forty-four.

For several succeeding years, notwithstanding this encouraging success, Mr. Ewen declined accepting the pastoral office, and the church depended on the occasional presence of an or- dained niiiiif^ter for the administration of the Lord's. supper. But, the cause continuing to prosper and the atFection of his friends to in- crease, he at length yielded to their wishes; and wasordaii»ed, Aug. 1805. On this occasion, Mr. Burgess, of Fleet, delivered the introductory discourse ; Mr. Pollard, of Quorndon, gave the charge to the minister, from 2 Tim. ii. 15 ; and Mr. Freeston, of Hinckley, addressed the people, from Phil. i. 2.

Being now fully organized and enjoying the regular participation of all the privileges of church-membership, they proceeded with in- creased vigour and alacrity: and though they had to encounter the usual difficulties and ex- perienced their portion of those trials which are common in this imperfect state, the interest still gained ground. In 1813, they enlarged the galleries of the meeting-house which was tilled with attentive hearers. In 1817, the number of members had risen to ninety-one, and the con- gregations continued to increase.

424 FORNCETT ST. Peter's a. d. 1817

A place of worship was erected at Forncett St. Peter's, Norfolk, about the middle ot the eigh- teenth century, and was occupied by various parties in succession. Soon atter the close of that century, Mr. J. Hall, who had been a mem- ber of the clmrch at Fleet, settling at Barliam, opened ascliool and commenced preaching in it. Learning that the person who then preached at Forncett, which was only six miles distant, had been baptized by immersion, and approached, in many things, to the sentiments of the general baptists, he paid him a visit ; and proposed an occasional exchange of labours. This was readily agreed to ; but soon afterwards a difl'erence arose between the preacher at Forncett and his people, which ended in a separation. On this rupture, Mr. Hall was invited to remove to this place and become their minister. For some time, he de- clined leaving Barham ; but, at length, he yielded to their wishes and removed to Forncett, in Nov. 1813.

Here he commenced his labours with zeal and diligence; and, being assisted and encouraged by the occasional visits of the ministers from the Lincolnshire churches, his labours were crowned with success. In June, 1814, three persons were baptized by Mr. Binns of Bourn ; and, being joined by tive others who had been formerly members of baptist societies, a church was formed, consisting of eight persons; which, tiie same year, was placed on the List of Churches composing the New Connection.

In the following three years, the progress of the cause was rapid. Many were baptized ; and Dec. 25th. 1816, Mr. Hall was ordained over tins risin* society ; when Mr. Jarrorn addressed the minister, from 1 Tim. iv. 16 ; and Mr. Binns the


people, from 1 Thess. v. 13. On the following- evening, two of the brethren were set apart to the office of deacons; to whom Mr. Binns de- livered a charge, from 1 Tim. iii. lO. Great ex- ertions were made to extend the news of salvation into the dark places of" the vicinity ; and, before June, 1817, reg^ular preaching was established at eight of the adjacent villages. The members had then risen to sixty-nine, who were peaceable, united aiid zealous ; and the congregations were increasing in numbers and respectability.

The Isle of Axholme, situated in the north-east corner of Lincolnshire, was early a noted station of the general baptists, who probably gathered a society there during the time of the civil wars, or under the protectorate of Cromwell. It ap- pears, from the tattered remains of their Records, that, in 1673, this church consisted of nearly one hundred members, scattered in various towns and villages ; but chiefly residing at Epworth and Butterwick, which afterwards gave their united names to the church. Messrs. John Norfolk and John Shaw were joint elders of this society. The former of these ministers died, in May, 1678; but the latter continued in his station for more than thi' ty years ; as his sig- nature is affixed to the minutes of a meeting for discipline in 1705. During his ministry, the cause seems to have prospered ; for we are in- formed by an author who wrote against the bap- tists, in 1700, that the river Torn, in the Isle of Axholme, was then famous for dipping;* and, in 1699, a piece of land was given to this society for a burying-ground, by John lie, one of its

* Hooke's Necessary Apology, page 111. TOL. II. 3 I

426 Ma. ISRAEL COTTON. A.D. 1738

members, which was fenced in by a voluntary subscription.

We can learn no more particulars of the pro- ceedings of this society, till 1738, when it is probable, that affairs had gone to confusion through the neglect of a proper attention to order. At a meeting for discipline, on March 13th. of that year, at which Mr. Johnson the messenger presided, it was agreed to hold re- gular church-meetings every four months, and to chose Israel Cotton for their pastor, and Cor- nelius Chamberlain and William Keighley for deacons. Messrs. Cotton and Chamberlain were ordained to their respective offices, April 13th. 1739, by Mr. Johnson ; but we hear no more of Mr. Keighley. Mr. Cotton was a native of the Peak, Derbyshire ; a pious christian and diligent pastor. The cause of the Redeemer flourished under his care ; and several young men were then called forth, by this church, to preach the gospel, who afterwards became useful mimisters, ^mongst these was the late Mr. W . Thompson, of Boston ; whose father was, for many years, an useful and honourable deacon of this society. How long Mr. Cotton was pastor, does not ap- pear : he attended the Lincolnshire Association, in 1758, and probably lived some years beyond that date; as his successor, Mr. Edward Foster, was not ordained till 1765,

Mr. E. Foster was a member of this society, and had been occasionally employed in the ministry before Mr. Cotton's death ; when he was ciiosen pastor, and held that office for forty eight years. But his ministrations were not of a character to support the cause : and, though Mr. W. Anderson, who filled the deacon's office, contributed much by his piety and activity to

A.D. 1S12 A REVIVAL. 427

promote itsprosperity, yet it evidently drooped. After the decease of Mr. Anderson, the decline was rapid : the most interesting doctrines of the gospel were seldom introduced in the j)ublic discourses, and discipline was almost totally neglected. The natural consequences ensued: the congregations dwindled away, few joined the church, and the ancient members became formal, cold and dead.

This declension continued to increase for several years, and the interest seemed hasten- ing to destruction, when a pleasing and un- expected revival took place. A few young men, who had been roused to an attention to eternal things, by the preaching of the metliodists, de- termined to search the scriptures for themselves, and follow what they tauglit. They were soon convinced, that believers' baptism was sanctioned by those Oracles of truth ; and, in consequence, offered themselves, in 1812, as candidates for fellowship with the general baptists. They were accepted and baptized ; and, being zealous and hearty in the cause of religion, their example and exertions soon produced the happiest effect. In Aug. 1813, Mr. Foster was removed by death ; and, Mr. D. Cheeseman, who liad for some time been engaged as an assistant preacher, was or- dained to the pastoral office, in Sept. following. He was assisted in his exertions to bring sinners to the Saviour by these zealous young associates. Their labours were crowned with the divine bless- ing ; and many soon gave themselves up to the Lord in his own ordinance.

June, 1815, this church was received into the New Connection, It then consisted of thirty- six members, who were comfortable and unani- mous ; and their religious services were well

428 MORCOT CHURCH. A. D. 1729

attended. In the followincr year, fourteen were baptized, and preaching was established at Mes- singliam, a neighbouring village, with encourag- ing prospects. In 1817, the number of members was fifty : they had one pastor and three assist- ant preacliers ; the hearers were numerous at Bnttervvick and increasing at Epvvorth ; and harmony reigned in the society.

It has been already observed, that, in the seven- teenth century, a number of respectable general baptist churches existed in Northamptonshire and the adjacent counties.^ One was at Harins:- worth, under Mr. Stephen Curtis, who suffered fines and imprisonments for his adherence to the truth. He was pastor in 1716, when he must have been advanced in years, and probably did not long survive. In 1729, the church consisted of fortv^five members. Mr. Matthew Stanser was pastor of this societ}'^ in 1745 ; when they purchased a meeting-house at Morcot^ in Rut- landshire, a few miles west of Ilaringworth, and removed their public assemblies to that place. f

* Vol. I. pp. 231—236.

f The church at Morcot, during the eldership of Mr. M. Stanger, reckoned amongst its adherents, if not noembers, the noted William Whiston, M.A. Thirty-five years before that date, he had been called, as a minister of the Church of England, to baptize two adult persons who had not been baptized in theip infancy. On this occasion, one of the candidates, struck pro- bably with the propriety of the preparatory examination, asked him : " Would it not be better if baptism were deferred liU after instruction, than used befoie it ?" To this Mi' Whiston had replied: "Ihontslly confess, that I should nnselt have thought so : but, I am no Icyisiatot ; and submit to what 1 take to be a li.v of Christ " Whin the bu.-iness was over, and he rtfiectedon what had passed, he fell dissatisfied, thai he had been forced to allow liiat ihis law of ( hrist was not so right oe it migUi have been. He therefore delerniincd to examine the

A. D. 1747 WILLIAM WHISTOJr. 42d

In 1747, the small general baptist church at Oakham, in the same countv, which was then reduced to nine members, united themselves to the churcli at JVlorcot. Mr, William Stanger was pastor of this people in 1770 ; and a considerable revival took place. He was noted tor his skill and success as a medical practitioner; and his death. June 23d. 1790, was sincerely lamented, both by his neighbours and his religious connec- tions. For several years, this church depended, for ministerial supplies, on the visits of neigh-

New Testamen*, (in uliicli he included the Apostolical Con- stituiioDS,) and tlie most early fathers, in order to ascertain what they meant when they fpoke c»f the baptism of infants. The result was a discovety, that those infants were capable of in- struction; and that none were admitted to baptism, during th« first two centinies, who had not been previously instructed in the. principles of Christianity. With his usual frankness, he pub- ished thisdii:COvery, in 17 1*2. in a piece which he called " Primitive Infant Baptism Revived," and sent it to many of his friend* who were dignitaries in the national church. Amongst others he sent it, by an intimate friend, to Sir. Isaac Newton, who re- turned for answer, that he had already made the same discovery ; and, as Mr. Whiston afterwards learnt, was so hearty in hi» approbation of the baptists, that he believed them to be one of the two witnesses, mentioned Rev. xi.

Though Mr. Whiston so far paid homage to truth as, after this conviction, to refuse to baptize any literal infants, yet he maintained a kind of grumbling union with the establishment, till he leached his eightieth year: when, being disgusted by the introduction of the Athanasian Creed, he forsook her assem- blies, and in 1747> attached himself to the general baptists at Morcot; regularly attending at their public worship, and some- times assisting in conducting it. In order to justify his con- duct, he published a " Friendly Address" to his new associates ; in which he enumerates their excellencies at full length, and with equal candour, reminds them of several " imperfections" which he had noticed in their system. "A full and paiticular answer" to this piece was drawn up by Mr. Granthaa* Killing- worth, in a Letter to the author, dated May lith. 1749, and published, after Mr. Whiston's death, in 1757.

JVhi$tQn's Menmfs, page 205, &c.


bouring preachers, or the occasional labours of some oi' their brethren, who were induced, by the necesh.ity of the case, to endeavour to give a word of exhortation. The cause naturally de- clined in these circumstances ; and they were induced to request Mr. William Curtis, one of their deacons, who had been thus occasionally employed, to accept the pastoral office; to which be was ordained, June 26th. 1797. He continued to preside over them for twenty years ; but, being" aged, and for a long time intirm, the interest drooped in his hands. In 1816, this declining society was admitted into the New Connection ; when the members had sunk to sixteen. In the following year, Mr. Payne, who had left the Academy, was invited to spend a year with them : and, from the spirit for hearing which appeared in the adjacent villages, and the affection which reigned among the members, who then amounted to twenty, the future prospect was encouraging.

. In 1816, a small society of general baptists at Misterlon were admitted into the New Connec- tion. It was probably an ancient church ;* but we have not been able to obtain any account of its rise or progress. In 1817, it was in a low state ; consisting of only nine members ; several of whom had removed to a distance.

Sect. 4 — A Sketch of the History of the Churches

of the New Connection in the London District^

from A.D. 1800 to a.d. 1817.

The ancient general baptist society in Church' lane^ Whitechapcl^^ experienced many discourage-

- U I. ■ '■ ■— — ■ ■■ MiMii ■ — " ■ " - — — — — ., ^ , imt

* Vol. I. page. 236. f Supra p. 322.



ments during the first seventeen years of the nineteenth century. In the beginning of that period, the cause appeared to tiourish, and the additions were encouraging. But, about 1807, the sparks of discord, which had never been alto- gether extinguished, blazed forth afresh. Several distressing and irritating circumstances occurred, in quick succession, which had a most unhappy tendency to increase the Hame. Dissatisfaction at length rose to such a height, that, in 1811, thirty-one of the members withdrew themselves from fellowship. The remainder endeavoured to support the drooping interest : but, weakened and dispirited by tliis division, their efforts were languid, and its progress was slow. 'J'he ad- vanced age of the minister, also, operated much to prevent a revival. For several years, a con- siderable degree of unanimity prevailed in the church ; but the congregations were small, ad- ditions few, and the future prospects discou- raging.

Some symptoms of returning prosperity began at length to appear : several of the members seemed more interested in the welfare of Zion; and meetings for prayer and exhortation were better supported, liut new troubles soon arose; and contention had risen to an alarming: height, when their venerable pastor, Mr. Dan Taylor, w^as suddenly called to his reward ; ex- piring, without a sigh, in his chair, Nov. 26th. 1816, in the seventy-eighth year of his age. This awful stroke had a ha})j)y effect in hushing the tumult of discord, and uniting the sincere friends of the cause. Supplies were obtained from the sister churches in the country, as frequently as possible ; and, in 1S17, tliey reported, that, al- though the state of religion was low amongst


them, jet thoy hoped that there was a revival. The number of members was then stated at one hundred and thirl v-seven.


rVTanyof the iViends who seceded from Cljurch- lane, in 1811, formed ihemselves into a distinct Kociety ; and, for a few months, assembled in Artillery-stvect. Finding that place inconvenient, they soon removed to a school- room in Charles- atreet ; where they maintained public worship, and enjoyed the ordinances of the ji;ospel, for a few years. They obtained a supply of ministers, partly from general baptist churches in the coun- try, and partly from other denominations in London. They made several attempts to procure a piece of ground, for a meeting-house, in a pro- per situation ; but were as often disappointed, i'he obscurity and inconvenience of the place of worship, and theditlicuhy of obtaining accept- able ministers, prevented their making any rapid progress : and, at length, they became discou- raged. In 1814, they gave up the attempt, and dissolved the union ; when the number of mem- bers had increased from twenty- two to thirty- four. A few returned to their old friends, several of the leading persons amongst them afterwards joined the church in Great Suffolk-street, and some united with other denominations ; but it is to be feared that several returned to the world.

The church, which now assembles in Great Sujf'olk-street^ had, in 1800, just opened their small meeting-house in Gravel-lane.* For several succeeding years, an encouraging revival took place, and the members increased to thirty-seven,

■ ■■■!■ — ^iw^i»i J , ij^ m i I iii w n ^iiM^ — . ■*■■ ' ■ ■■■■ ■ - wiM ■ iwpi^^^»i*^aw^-— ^i*«^w**-— ^

* Supra p. 349.


The obscure situation, and the mean appearance of the little place in which they worshipped, ope- rated much to their disadvantage. Several at- tempts were made, to procure more convenient accommodations : but the term of the lease ran out, and nothing was effected. The cloud, whicK overspread the prospect, was increased, by a change in the sentiments of the pastor, Mr. J. B. Shenston ; which induced him to resign his charge, at Lady-day, 1809,and join the particular baptists. Soon after this, they were deprived of their place of worship ; and this ancient interest appeared again hastening to ruin. Many of the members forsook the cause ; and the rest were scattered and discouraged. In this exigency, Mr. D. Taylor and his friends once more stepped forwards, and, collecting the desponding wan- derers, encouraged them to make a fresh attempt to maintain the cause. A room was engaged, be- longing to one of the members, in which Mr. Taylor, and the students under his care, supplied them with the regular ministration of the word. But, as this was only a temporary accommodation, he persuaded a few friends to join him in pro- curing a piece of ground and building a con- venient meeting-house, in Great Suffolk-street, Southvvark. They exerted themselves to obtain subscriptions, and made themslves responsible for the whole expence. The new building was opened, Oct. 9th. 1809, by the Rev. Dr. Collyer of Peckham, and the Rev. J. Hughes of Battersea. The students continued, for some time, to supply this destitute people; and, among others, Mr. J. Preston frequently visited them. When he had completed the usual term at the Academy, he was invited to preach on probation ; and, in due time, was requested to assume the pastoral

VOL. II. 3 K

434 RISE A. D. 1817

office. He was ordained, Feb. 13tli. 1811 ; when Mr. D. Taylor delivered the charge, from Frov. xxiii. 15, 16; and Mr. E. Sexton, of Chesham, addressed the people, from 2 Cor. xiii. 11.

The cause, at first, appeared to gain ground under Mr. Preston's care ; no fewer then twelve persons being added to the church by baptism, in the year following. But symptoms of dis- satisfaction soon manifested themselves, and retarded the good work. The heavy debt on the meeting-house, was also a continual clog on their exertions, and checked every attempt to revive or extend the interest. These discourage- ments induced Mr. Preston to accept an in- vitation from the church at Melbourn, and leave Southwark, at Christmas 1815. On this event, Mr. J. Heard, and several of the principal seceders from Church-lane, united themselves with the society in Great Suffolk-street, and made a vigorous attempt to raise the cause. The meet- ing-house was repaired and new galleries erected: repectable ministers were procured from their sister churches; and considerable efforts were used to lessen the debt. In 1817, Mr. J. Farrent, who had been the pastor of a general baptist church at Isleham, in Cambridgeshire, was in- vited to labour amongst them for a j'ear ; and, in a few months, was requested to take the over- sight of this society. The members were thirty- four, and the congregations more numerous than they had been.

We have seen, in the former volume, that a general baptist church had existed at Ports- mouth, probably from the time of Cromwell, and that, in 1700, it was in a flourishing state.*

* Vol. I. pp. 394, 352.


In the succeeding century, like most other so- cieties of the same denomination, it suffered much from the inroads of doctrines very dilFerent from those of its founders; and, towards the close of it, had greatly declined. At that period, Mr. John Kingsford was an assistant preacher in this church : and his brother George Fvingsford, who for several years had been pastor of the general baptist church at llamsgate, settling at Ports- mouth on account of business, became also a member of the same society. As both these ministers were desirous of being instrumental in spreading the gospel, they began to look round for some proper scene where they might exert themselves in this noble cause ; and soon fixed their attention on Clarence Street^ a populous district without the fortifications of Portsea. At that time, there was no place of worship near it, though four were built in a few years afterwards. In conjunction with Mr. Hill, another member of the same church, they opened a subscription towards building a place of worship in this neglected neighbourhood. Their design was liberally encouraged by most of their fellow members : and, a piece of freehold ground being purchased, the building was erected, at an ex- pence of nearly two hundred pounds. It was opened, December 16th. 1798, by Mr. Bogue of Gosport.

Meanwhile, dissatisfaction on account of dif- ference in doctrinal sentiments increased in the church at Portsmouth ; and arrangements were, in consequence, made, for the formation of a new interest at Portsea. This was effected, in 1802 ; a distinct society being formed, consisting of sixteen members. Over this little flock, Mr. J. Kingsford was unanimously chosen pastor ; and

436 REVIVAL. A. D. 1810

ordained, Oct. 31st. 1802, by Mr. D. T,aylor, of London, and Mr. J. Kingsford, then pastor of the church at Deal. On the same dny, Messrs. James Hill and Joseph Sajer were ordained to the deacons' office.

The blessing of the great Head of the church crowned these attempts with success. The hearers increased and the preaching of the word was rendered effectual to salvation. Many professed their faith in Christ, and gave themselves up to the Lord by baptism. In 1804, these pleasing circumstances made it necessary to unroof the meeting-house, enlarge its dimensions, and erect a gallery in the front. The same encouraging causes continuing to operate, it was found ex- pedient, in 1806, to construct a gallery on one side of the building; and, in J808, to add a third on the remaining side.

In 1805, this society was cordially admitted into the New Connection ; and, at the next annual meeting, they state that their number of members was forty- nine, and that they were well attended with hearers. For several succeeding years, the congregations were encouraging, but few appeared to be properly affected by the word preached. But, in 1810, some symptoms of re- vival appeared; and, not long afterwards, prayer- meetings, being established, were diligently at- tended. The friends of religion, sensible of the necessity of divine assistance to enable them successfully to promote its interest, were earnest and u»iited in seeking for this important blessing. The happy results were soon apparent. 1 heir asspml)lies were crouded wiih attentive hearr rs ; and the word reached their hearts. In 1S12, twelve were added by baptism, and in the year following thirteen. In lbi4, the prosperity of


the cause induced them to add thirty-two (eet to the length of the meeting-house, which increased it to seventy-two feet. Its breadth was thirty- three feet, with galleries all round. These various erections and additions cost nearly two thousand pounds; upwards of twelve hundred of which had, in i8l7, been raised by the zealous exertions of tlie fnejids at Portsea, with the generous as- sistance of sister churches.

The cause continued to prosper : and, though they complaii* of tlie ravages made by death, the discouraging eftVcts of the disorderly walk of individuals, and the distress arising from the pressure of the times; yet, in 1817, their num- ber of members was one hundred and six, and the prospect encouraging.

The general baptist church at Dow7iton, in Wiltshire, was founded before the Revolution.* Towards the close of the seventeenth century, it declined; and in 1699, the members were only thirteen. At that time, Mr. Benjamin Miller was called to the oversight of this drooping society, and continued to preside over it, with diligence and success, for nearly fifty years He was removed by death, in 1747, when the mem- bers had increased to ninety-four, and the interest was respectable and flourishing. Mr, Miller was a minister of considerable eminence among the general baptists of his day ; who raised him to the dignity of a messenger, and^ for many years, chose him chairman of the general assembly in London.

For a long time after Mr. Miller's decease, the friends at Downton continued destitute of a pas-

* Vol. I. pp. 297, 352.


tor. They were occasionally visited by preach- ers from neighbouring churches ; and, at other times, were supplied with the ministration of the word by Mr. Bungey, one of their own mem- bers. About this period, several opulent friends enlarged the donations of the society, b}'^ ge- nerous endowments and bequests. This encou- raged them, in 1764, to invite iMr. Brown, of Coventry, to settle with them as their minister. He complied ; but his stay was short : as, in less than two years, he left Downton. At length, in 1773, Mr. r. Twining, of Trowbridge, was or- dained to the pastoral otiice among them. He enjoyed, in a high degree, the aliections of his people : the cause revived, and many valuable members were added to the church. But this pleasing scene soon vanished. The opposition and avarice of some who had controul over the property of the church, induced Mr. Twining to resign his charge, in 1777.

Soon after his resignation, not only the endow- ments, but the meeting-house itself was withheld from the church : and a long and painful state of darkness ensued. The depressed people, de- prived of the regular means of grace, were in danger of being scattered, and the cause appeared to be hastening towards extinction. But a pri- vate member stepped forwards, collected his friends together, and, by his exhortations and example, preserved a laudable degree of order and affection amongst them, through all this season of discouraoenient.

In 1783, Mr. Aldridge, of Lyndhurst, visited this oppressed society: and, pitying their situ- ation, repeated his visits as often as circumstances •would permit. These friendly interviews were very acceptable, and tended much to support th«

A. D. 1784 SUCCESS. 43^

hopes of the people. A few years afterwards, Mr. J. Deacon, of Leicester, passinj^ through the town, was informed of the state of their affairs, and advised them to apply for assistance to the Deputies for the protection of the civil rights of Dissenters. 1 hey did so ; and were directed to ]ay a plain statement of their concerns before counsel, and request his opinion. A case was accordingly submitted to Mr. Maddocks, who encouraged them to hope for success, in a pru- dent attempt to recover their rights. In order to this, it was requisite that some person should be legally authorized to claim, as pastor, the emoluments and accommodations belonging to the church. They therefore requested Mr. Al- dridge to accept the office, with which he com- plied : and, being reguh^rly invested with it, made a formal demand of the meeting-house for public worship, and of the endowments for his support. This demand being refused, a bill was filed in Chancery, under the sanction of the com- mittee, to enforce compliance. The contest was long and doubtful : but, after thirteen years of anxiety and prayer, a judgment was given in favour of the oppressed. The endowments were fully contirmed to the church ; and possession of the meeting-house was obtained by an arrange- ment with the holder.

During this anxious period, the cause of reli- gion had made some progress. Several had Joined the church from time to time ; and, in 1789, no fewer than eighteen were baptized. — ■ Though affectionately grateful to Mr. AJd ridge for the essential services which his friendship had rendered them, yet, as he conld visit them but very seldom, it became desirable, on the favourable issue of the contest, to enjoy the pri-

440 ORDINATIONS. A.I). 1816

Tilege of a resident pastor. After some inquiry, they invited Mr. AVilliam Smedley, vvlio had then finished his studies at the Acadesnv, to visit them. His labours being acceptable, he was iinanimouslj req jested to become their pastor. — He was ordained, April 18lh. 1804. Previous to the ordination, Mr. Aldridge solemnly resigned the oflice which he had assumed for tiie recovery of their rights ; and the connection, that had subsisted nearly seventeen years, was dissolved with striking marks of reciprocal esteem and approbation. The service then proceeded : when Mr. D. Taylor addressed Mr. Smedley, from 1 Tim. iv. 12 — 16; and Mr. J. Kingsford the church, from Rom. xii. 4, 5.

In 1803, this church applied for admission into the New Connection, which it obtained the fol- lowing year. It then consisted of twenty-eight members, the hearers were increasing, four had lately been baptized, and the prospects were encouraging. For several succeeding years, the cause continued to make a gradual, though slow, progress : but disaffection, which had long been silently gathering force, breaking out into dis- sension, a separation ensued, early in 1816; and Mr. Smedle}^ removed fromDownton,at the close of the year. Mr. Mead, a member of the church at Portsea, was invited to supply his place ; and ordained to the pastoral office, June 12th. 1816. We have no account of the church at that time : in the preceding year the members amounted to forty-four.

At the close of the seventeenth century, the general baptist church ?it Berkhamstead^ Chesham and Tringj was in a flourishing state, under the

A. D. 1720 CHESHAM CHURCH. 441

joint superintendence of four elders.* All these active pastors, except Mr. Cook, were removed by death before 1712; but, at that time, there were six respectable assistant preachers : Messrs. T. Foster, W. Miller, J. King:, J. Woodward, J. Anderson, andJ. Widmer; and seven deacons. Toivartjs the close of that year, " considering that they were many in number, and their places of abode far distant one from another, it v;'as thought lit to choose asi^tler person to serve them in the capacity Oi an eider." Mr. Vt oodward was accordingly noininated to that office, and unani- mously chosen. Soon afterwards, Mr. Foster and Mr Widmer were proposed to the church, as candidates for the same station : the former was then elected ; but, there being some differ- ence of opinion with respect to the latter, several years elapsed before he attained that dignity.

The ministers of this society appear to have been highly respected by their sister churches. The general assembly, in 1717, nominated Mr. Cook to the office of Messeiiger ; and, the year following, conferred a similar token of respect on Mr. Foster. 7 he friends at Chesham refused their consent, at first, to Mr. Cook*s elevation ; though they yielded at length. But Mr. Foster was prevented, by domestic affliction, from ac- cepting the honour. In a tew years afterwards, Mr. Widmer was called to the same honourable station.

The cause continued to prosper, and new mi- nisters were called forth, who laboured zealously and success fullj?^ in spreading the gospel. In 1723, they appear to have had ten respectable preach- ers, who were all diligently employed in different

* Vol. I. pp. 229—223. VOL. II. 3 L

442 PHOSPEHITY. A. D. 1750

parts of this extensive societ3^ A very laudable attention was paid to discipline ; and a holy vigilance exercised over the conduct and welfare of the members. Seasons of solemn prayer and fasting- were frequently observed, to implore the divine blessing and direction ; and days of thanksgiving appointed, when special mercies had been received. Such measures as these doubtless contributed mucli to the prosperity of vital religion amongst them.

In 1730, Mr. Cook, being indisposed and ad- vanced in years, became incapable of much ex- ertion. Mr. Butler, who had, for some time, been employed as an occasional preacher, was therefore called to assist him in the more active duties of his otJice ; and was ordained, May 17th. 1733, co-pastor with that venerable minister.

For a long season, the friends at Chesham ad- hered steadily to the doctrines on which the church was founded. So lat« as 1731, they, by a solemn church act, refused " to exchange iri the work of preaching" with a minister whose sole offence appears to have been sitting in the general assembly with those who, as they believed, *' countenanced the dreadful and dangerous errors of the late Mr. Catiin." Success rewarded their constancy ; and, about 1735, it was found necessary to enlarge the meeting-house at Ches- ham. Probably Mr. Cook was then removed to his reward; and Mr. Butler also appears to have died or to have left these parts, as we hear no more of him. The chief care of this extensive church, therefore, devolved on Mr, Sexton, who had been called to the work of the ministry so early as J718. In 1744, Messrs. I rustram ;uid Young, were nominated to the ofhce of joint pastors with hiui ; but were not ordained, till

"A.D. 1775 DEATHS. 443

July 24th. 1749. In the following year, Mr. Sexton was raised to the dignity of a messenger. About the same period, the meeting-house at Tring was built : and Mr. Young the elder, with Mr. Cock, an assistant preacher, visited the baptized churches, in order to collect money to defray the expence of the erection. There were then a number of valualile theological works which belonged to the church, and were lent to the ministers and others for their perusal. And, in 1753, a baptistery was constructed in Chesham meeting-house.

Thus the cause seems to have proceeded, for a long season, from strength to strength ; but, un- happily, the records of the succeeding twenty years are lost. The latter part of this interval was rendered mournfully interesting, by the re- moval of several valuable ministers. In July, 1762, Mr. Trustram, one of their pastors, died ; and, in the ensuing year, Mr. Deely, an assistant preacher. Feb. 8th. 1775, Mr. Sexton, wlio had served this society with diligence and success, as minister, elder and messenger, for fifty-seven years, was called to the church above. His fu- neral sermon was preached by his colleague, Mr. Young; who, in two months, followed him to rest, dying April 13th. following.

This appears to have been the commencement of a time of gloom and declension. Sentiments widely differing from those on which the interest was founded, insinuated themselves among some of the leading persons ; and gave rise to dis- putings and contentions, which, in several in- stances, led to divisions. For many years, tiie church declined in zeal, in discipline, in numbers and in a conversation becoming the gospel. — During this dark state, Messrs. Caleb Cock and

444 ORDINATIONS. A. D. 1800

William Thrussell were ordained to the elder- ship, June 10th. 1775: and, in October, the following year, Mr. Pyall, of ileadcorn in Kent, settled annono^ them, " to assist in the work of the ministry/*

In 1780, Mr. Cock was removed by death, when the members had decreased to one hundred and twelve, in that year, Mr. Edward Sexton, the grandson of their former elder of that name, was called to the work of tlie ministry ; and la- boured with so much acceptance and success, that he was ordained to the pastoral oliice, Sept. 14th. 1784, He presided, in conjunction with Mr. Thrussell, till 1796, when the latter removed from the church. Several young men were, about this time, brought forwards in the sacred work : amongst whom, Mr. Seabrook Young was so well approved, that his brethren invited him to become joint pastor with Mr. Sexton. He was ordained, April 11th. 1799; when Mr. D. Taylor gave the charge, from 1 Cor iv. 2 ; and Mr. Hobbs. of Chatham, addressed the people, from 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. This union, which pro- mised to be an important benefit to the cause, was of short duration: Mr. Young being snatched away by death, Feb. 10th. 1800 ; ten months after his ordination.

A short time previous to this afflicting event, the ministers of this society had extended their labours to Ashiey-Green and Ilawridge, villages within a i'ew miles of Chesham. At both of these places, preaching was established, which was well attended, and continued, with encourag- ing success, to the close of our present period. Some time afterwards, the gospel was introduced at Friezden, a place two miles from Berkham- stead. Early in 1802, Mr. Joseph Hobbs, re-

A. D. 1817 REVIVAL. 445

moved from Chatham to this people; and, settling at Berkhamstead, became their regular preacher. His services being acceptable, he was ordained co-pastor with Mr Sexton, Dec. 2nd. 1802. On this occasion, Mr. D. Taylor, ad- dressed the pastor, from Acts xx. 28 ; the cliurch, from 1 Ihess. v. 13 ; and four deacons who were ordained at the same time, from 1 Pet. iv. 1 1.

These active and zealous colleagues prosecuted their sacred work with cordiality and success. The great Head of the church blest their en- deavours to the re-establishment of their charge in their original principles of faith, and the re- vival of that regard to the discipline of the JNew Testament, which had distinguished their best days. The happy result was a pleasing- increase in numbers and in graces. And being now decidedlv of the same sentiments as those on which the New Connection was formed, they naturally sought an union with that body. In 1809, this union was effected. The number of members then was one hundred and fifty : they were peaceful and making vigorous exertions for the spread of the gospel. In the following year, agreeably to the advice of the Association, they invited Mr. John Ewen, who was then leaving the Academy, to preach among them. His labours being approved, he settled at Tring, in 1810; and became a regular assistant minister in this increasing church.

The cause continued to revive : peace reigned in their councils, the congregations improved at the three stations, and additions were frequent. In 1817, the members had risen to two hundred and twenty-two: of whom, one hundred and sixty resided at Chesham and its neighbourhood; forty, at Berkhamstead ; and the remainder, at Tring.

446 RISE OF A. D. 1809

Manj young men were, from time to time, called to the ministry by this society, who became useful pastors of other churches. Among these may be mentioned, Mr. Hobbs, who, in 1705, was chosen pastor by the society at High Wy comb, and afterwards raised to the messenger's office. Mr. Birch, wlio, in 1721, was settled over a church in Northamptonshire: Mr. Young, who, in 1753, removed to Yarmouth;* Mr. James Drow- ley, who settled at Lewes ; Mr. J. Kingsford, who removed to Portsmouth and became pastor of the society at Portsea ; and Mr. J. Sexton, pastor of Ford church : besides Mr. Payne, who, in 1816, went to labour at Morcott ; and Mr. Darvill, who was then chiefly employed at Wendover.

The general baptist church at Jpswic/t, in Suf- folk, owes its rise to the labours of Mr. W. Jack- son, who was originally a member of the society at Deal, in Kent. Removing to Ipswich on ac- count of business, and not finding a church of his own denomination within less than forty miles, he united himself with a few methodists. By their persuasion, he was induced to go into the adjacent villages, to preach the gospel ; and was made the instrument of awakening in many an attention to the concerns of eternity. But some of these converts being afterwards baptized by

* This Mr. William Young afterwards settled at Bourn (See page 417 ) Though unsuccessful as a pastor, he seems to have been a man of considerable attainments in classical learning. He tept a school at Bourn; and was in habits of intimacy with several dignitaries of the chinch of England, with whom he maintained a literary correspondence. And so highly did one of them esteem his abilities for composition, that he occasionally emplo\ed him to write his sermons, when he was called to preach on particular occasions j and shared the emoluments with his dissenting friend.

A.I). 1809 IPSWICH CHURCH. 447

immersion, his associates became jealous of his influence, and wished him to conceal his senti- ments on that subject. This he refused to pro- mise, and an amicable separation ensued.

About this time, the Derby militia lay at Ips-r wich ; anion J? whom were several memb«'rs of the general baptist churches in the midland counties. These nien, hearing of this rupture, sought out Mr. Jackson, and encouraged him to procure a suitable place for public worship. A room was accordingly hired and licensed; which was opened June 18th. 1809. At tirst, there were but eight attended ; but the room was soon tilled with se- rious hearers. In a short time, seven persons proposed tliemselves for baptism. The pastor of the church at Norwich, being invited, visited them ; and, Aug. 3d. 1809, baptized the candi- dates, and formed them into a church state. — They immediately chose Mr. Jackson for their minister, and went on their way rejoicing.

Being obliged to leave two rooms in succes- sion, they wished for a more certain place of worship. They therefore engaged the owner of a house which had been burnt down to rebuild it ; and agreed to pay him a yearly rent of twen- ty-five pounds. This place, which would ac- commodate three hundred people, they furnished with a pulpit and pews, to the amount of nearly fifty pounds. It was opened, April 22d. 1810. The expence of fitting it up being too heavy for the members of this infant society, who were all poor, the minister applied to the churches in Kent; and, by their liberality, discharged the debt. In this house the cause continued to ad- vance : many being added to their number, and the hearers increasing. But the rent proved a great clog to their exertions ; and, being obliged


to give a year's notice before they left it, they determined, at Christmas 1811, to inform the owner that they would quit it at the termination of the year, and to trust to divine Providence for their future accommodation. A few days after they had given this intimation, a builder volun- tarily proposed to erect a meeting-house for them on very reasonable terms. They accepted his offer ; and the new building was opened, May 27th. 1812, by Mr. D. Taylor, of London, and Mr. J Preston, of Great Suffolk-street. On the following day, Mr. Jackson was ordained to the pastoral office ; when Mr. B. Taylor ad- dressed the minister, from Acts xx. 24 ; and Mr. Preston the people, from 1 Thess. 12, 13. In the evening, several brethren were ordained to the deacon's office ; to whom Mr. Taylor delivered a charge, from 1 Pet. iv. 11. — The friends at Ips- wich made very laudable exertions to assist in defraying the expences of this building: but, when they had done their utmost, a debt of up- wards of four hundred pounds remained ; which was long a heavy burden on the cause, and tended greatly to prevent its progress.

In 1813, this society was placed on the List of churches forming the New Connection. It then consisted of fifty-three members; twenty-three ot" wliom had been added in the year preceding. For a time, the cause prospered ; the congre- gations were large ; and, in the space of three years, tifty-four persons were baptized on a pro- fession of faith. But it could not reasonably be expected that this prosperity should continue without interruption. Such a rapid increase of members must, almost unavoidably, introduce some improper characters ; and, especially when all the members of the church, and even the of-

A. D. 1817 CHATHAM CHURCH. 449

ficers, were little acquainted with the order and duties of church-fellowship, must produce a de- gree of anarchy inconsistent with the real wel- fare of the cause. This was the case at Ipswich. In 1816, tliey complain of irregularities which caused ditficulties. These difficulties increased in the ibllovving year; and they were under the painful necessity of excluding many on account of their disorderly conduct. This caused dis- satisfaction in others, and they withdrew from communion. In June 1817, however, the storm appears to have, in some degree, subsided, and the congregation had begun to improve. The number of members then was forty-six.

In 1813, a small society of general baptists at Chatham in Kent was admitted into the New Connection. 1 hey had separated from the ancient church of that denomination, which we have already noticed.* For more than half of the eighteenth century, that society had been under the care of Mr, Neale. He died about 1792, aiid was succeeded by Mr. Joseph Hobbs, who had, for some time, assisted them in the ministry. About 1800, dissensions arose respecting points of faith ; and a separation ensued. Mr. Hobbs and his friends withdrew, and formed themselves into a distinct society, at the house of one of their members. In the spring of 1802, Mr. Hobbs removed to Berkhamstead ; and, after his departure, they were supplied with preaching by Mr. S, Garrett, who continued to labour amongst them to the close of our present period. Their number appears never to have exceeded seventeen : and, in 1817, it had sunk to twelve.

* Vol. I. pp. 270, 723. vgL. II. 3 M


Wrotham is a market-town in Kent, twenty- four miles south-east of London. At this place, Mr. G. Purcell, who then served the ancient o-eneral baptist church at Bessell's-Green, com- menced preaching, May, 1815, on the Lord's-day evenings. The auditors were attentive ; and, considering circumstances, numerous. In the ensuing: year, Mr. Furcell, finding it necessary, on account of difference of sentiments, to sepa- rate from the friends at BesselTs Green, he was enabled, by the liberal assistance of a pious individual, to remove to Wrotham, and make an attempt there to found an interest. A room was hired, and regular service established. In a few months, three persons were baptized ; who, with the minister and his wife, formed themselves into a church state. In 1817, this small society was placed on the List of the New Connection ; and it was hoped that, under the divine blessing, this weak attempt might be crowned with ulti- mate success.

Sect. 5. — -A List of the Churches which com- posed the New Connection of General Baptists, A.D. 1817, with a Scheme of their Origin,

Having thus glanced at the proceedings of the various churches which composed the New Con- nection, we shall present the reader with a List of them and the number of members in each, in the order of the respective districts ; assuming, as our authority, the Returns made to the annual Association at Castle- Donington, June, 18i7, and published in the Minutes of that assembly.

A.D. 1817



I. The Midland District. Members,

1 Barton 312

2 Hugglescote 157

3 Melboum 227

4 PackingtonandAshby 127

5 Cauldwell 66

Q Kegvvorth 97

7 Sutton Bonington.. , 65

8 Long-Whatton and \ ^-;

Belton 5 ' ^

9 Ilkiston and Smalley . 171

10 Castle-Donington . . . 245

1 1 Loughborough 252

12 Rothley 72

13 Woodhouse-Eaves V. . 56

14 Quorndon 149

15 Leake & Wimeswould 192

16 Broughton 73

17 Friar-lane, Leicester. 185

18 Archdeacon-lane, do. 89

19 Hinckley 106

20 Thurlaston, &c Ill

21 Wolvey 99

22 Longford 108

23 Birmingham 201

24 Sutton Coldfield 47

25 Nottingham 436

26 Kirkby-Woodhouse . . 47

27 Gamston and Retford 87

28 Derby 154

29 Duffield 203

30 Ashford 16

31 Abney and Bradvvell . 9

32 Austrey 131

33 Beeston 106


34 Nantwich 10

35 Knipton 11

In the Midland District, 4494

n. The NoRTHEKN District.

36 Birchcliff 199

37 Heptonstall-Slack ... 177 33 Shore 36

39 Queenshead 142

40 Halifax 71

41 Burnley 25

42 Lidgate 11

43 Stayley-Bridge 80

In the Northern District, 741

in. The Lincolnshire District.

44 Boston 93

45 Maltby *8

46 Fleet 130

47 Kiilingholm 30

48 Gosbej ton 22

49 Sutterton 26

50 Tydd St. Giles' 65

51 Wisbeach 104

52 St. Ives' 27

.S3 Kirton 31

54 Louth Sq

55 Spalding 62

56 Bourn , . . . 54

57 Peterborough 34

58 March 91

59 Forncett St. Peter's. . 69



A.I). 1817


60 Epworth & Butter- ) ^^

wick j

61 Morcott *20

62 Misteiton 9

In the Lincolnshire District 1005

IV, The London District. 63 Church Lane 137


64 Great Suffolk Street. *34

65 Portsea 106

66 Dovvnton 44

67 Berkhamstead, &c . . . 222

68 Ipswich 46

69 Chatham 12

70 Wroiham 5

In the London District, 606


Midland District, 35 cliurches 4494 Members Northern Diritrict, 8 ditlo 741 ditto Lincolnshire District, 19 ditto 10o5 ditto London District, 8 ditto (i06 ditto

The New Connection 70 churches 6846 Members

*** The number of Members in these churches has been corrected by subsequent information : the result wiil therefore differ a little from the result in the Minutes.

Pehhaps the following Scheme of the Origin of these societies may not be uninteresting to the attentive reader.

In the Midland District,

BARTON the parent society, formed in 1745, was divided, in 1760, into the Churches of Barton, Melbourn, Kegworth, Lough* BOROUGH, and Kirkby-Woouhouse. ^

From Barton Church were formed, Hinckley Church, in 1766 ; Hugglescote Church, in 1798.


From Hinckley Church arose

Longford Church, in 1773 ; Thurlaston Church, in 1814; AVolvey Church, in 1815.

From Melbouhn church were formed,

Cauldwell church, in ]785 ;

Ashby and Packington, in 1807. From Asfiby and Packington church, arose

Austrey church, in 1808.

From Kegworth church were formed,

llkiston and Smalley church, in 1785 ; Castle-Donington church, in 1785; Sutton Bonington church, in 1798 ; Longwhatton and Belton, in 1799.

From Loughborough church arose,

Leake and Wimeswould church, in 1782;

Quorndon church, in 1804 ;

Rothlev church, in 1802. From Leake church was formed,

B rough ton church, in 1806. From Rothley church sprung,

Woodhouse Eaves church, in 1808.

The following churches were not formed from any single church : but were raised by the united efforts of several societies.

Sutton Coldfield church, in 1775 ;

Birmingham church, in 1786 ;

Nottingham church, in 1775 ;

Beeston church, in 1804 ;

Derby church, in 1791 ; from which was

formed, Duffield church, in 1810.

454 ORIGIN OF CHURCHES. A. f). 1817

Besides these original churches, a few others in the midland counties joined the JNew Connec- tion, which, thoujijh founded lona^ before the commencement of that union, had declined and were almost extinct. These were,

Friar-lane church, Leicester, from which arose,

Archdeacon-lane church, in 1794. Ashford church, from which was formed,

Bradwell and Abney church, in 1811. Gamston and Retford church. Nantwich church. Knipton church.

In the Northern District.

From BiRCHCLiFF, the parent church, formed

1763, arose, Queenshead church, in 1773 ; Burnley church, in 1780 ; Shore church, in 1795. Heptonstall Slack church, in 1807. From Queenshead church was formed, Halifax church, in 1782. Lidgate church was founded by the joint exer- tions of the Yorkshire ministers, in 1816.

Stay ley Bridge church was formed indepen- dently of all others, in 1808.

In the Lincolnshire and London Districts, the churches had generally existed long before they joined the New Connection, except Sutterton church, which was separated from

Gosberton, in 1808 ; Tydd St. Giles* church, from Long Sutton in 1788; Louth church, formed in 1802; Forncett St. Peter's churchy in 1814 ; Portsea church, in 1802 ;

A.D. 1812 THE ACADEMY. 455

Ipswich church, in 1809 ; Wrotham church, in 1816.

Sect. 6. — The Transactions of the New Connec- tion as a body ^ from a.d. 1800 to a.d. 1817.

The transactions of the New Connection as a body, during the first seventeen years of the nine- teenth century, thous^h numerous and important, consisted chiefly in the prosecution of plans pre- viously formed ; and therefore will not demand a long detail in this brief sketch of the proceed- ings of that period.

I'he Academy, for the instruction of young men preparing for the ministry, was continued, with satisfaction and success, for many years, under its tirst tutor, Mr. Dan Tavlor. A con- siderable number of the pupils who had enjoyed the advantage of his instructions, became useful and acceptable ministers of the gospel, and re- spectable pastors of churches. But, in 1812, various circumstances united to introduce a de- gree of embarrassment into the concerns of this institution ; which induced the subscribers and supporters, who had till then conducted the un- dertaking by a committee chosen annually frona themselves, to resign the management of it into the hands of the annual Association. This was done at the Association at Birmingham, June, 1813 ; and the charge was accepted by that as- sembl}'. On this occasion, the funds of the institution were declared to be designed " to sup- port an Academy for such young men of approved ministerial abilities as could devote their whole time to preparatory studies ; and, by pecuniary grants, to assist those young preachers in the pur-

456 G. B. UEPOSITORY. A. D. 1802

suit of knowledge, who could not leave their stations/' It was also resolved, " that the design of the Association, by the maintenance of this institution, was to promote and cherish the sen- timents contained in the Articles, drawn up and signed, in the year 1770, at the formation of the IVew Connection." ■ Having thus detined their object, they appointed a committee to prepare a plan for the effectual accomplishment of it. On the recommendation of this committee, various principles and regulations were adopted for the future management of the institution. Mr. D. Taylor being in his seventy-fifth year, the Asso- ciation felt itself obliged, though very reluctantly, to look out for a younger man to superintend the Academy. They, therefore, after expressing their deep and jrrateful sense of the valuable services of the former Tutor, of iiis firm attach- ment to the principles of the Connection, and of his long and valuable labours to promote its inter ;st, chose Mr. J. Jarrom for his successor. Mr. Jarrom accepted the appointment ; and the Academy was accordingly transferred to Wis- beacii. In 1817, it consisted of five students,

in 1802, alter the failure of the General Bap- tist Magazine, Mr. Adam Taylor, at the request of the Association at London, undertook to pub- lish a periodical miscellany, under the title of " \\\e Gen< ral Baptist Repository." It was de- signed to serve as a register of the transactions of the New Connection, as a medium of communi- cation and appeal on subjects of general interest, and as a repository of original communications. At first, a number appeared every six months; but, in 1810, it began to be published every three months : and continued to be supported to the close of the period now under review.


In 1814, a writer in the General Baptist Repo- sitorj proposed a plan, hy which he supposed the debts and incumbrances which depressed and shackled many churches, might easily be re- moved. fHs propor^al was, for each member of the Coanection to subscribe one penny monthly, for this trxpress purpose. By tlds means, he cal- culated, that he should raise, annually, two hun- dred pounds, towards the accomplishment of his design. This paper attracted attention ; and the subject was brought forwards, at the ensuing Association, at Leicester. The result was, an attempt to establish " a Fund for religious pur- poses." A list of objects to which relief should be afforded was drawn up, and approved. But, though the plan was resumed the following year, and otiicers chosen, nothing permanent was ef- fected. Probably an attempt to accomplish too much prevented the success of the scheme.

Considerable difficulty had often been expe- rienced, in the efforts made by the ministers of the New Connection, to spread the gospel, through the want of pecuniary means: and many opportunities of doing good had been lost, be- cause the expence of improving them would have fallen on individuals, unable to bear it. By these means, the energies of the friends of religion were cramped, and their exertions checked. At the Association in London, June, 1810, a proposal was made, that a minister should be requested to visit certain ancient general baptist churches in Lincolnshire, which had fallen into decay. The visit was unanimously allowed to be desirable, and likely to produce much good ; but the usual previous question, *' Who will defray the ex- pences of the journey ?*' had nearly quashed the motion. A worthy private member of tbe Asso-

VOL. II. 3n

458 RULES FOR A. D. 1817

ciation, observing this, stept forwards, and sug- gested the propriety of raising a fund, expressly devoted to meet the expences of attempts that might be made to spread the gospel, or to revive it where it had decayed. The hint was unani- mously approved ; and fifteen pounds were im- mediately subscribed, towards carrying it into eft'ect. This was afterwards denominated " the Itinerant Fund ;'* and met with considerable support. Its utility was eminently manifest in the number and the success of the attempts made, in following years, under its patronage. In the year, ending June 24th. 1817, upwards of seventy- one pounds had been paid from it, for the supply- ing of destitute churches, and the formation and encouragement of new interests. Mr. J. Heard, of London, was chosen Treasurer.

As the Connection increased, it became more necessary to have some mode of admitting and dismissing churches, that might secure the pri- mary objects of the union. In 1802, the church at Castle-Donington sent a case tothe Association at London, " requesting that assembly to endea- vour to form some rule, by which churches might be received into the Connection, and, when ne- cessity required it, excluded from it." After due deliberatiouj it was however replied, that " the diversity of circumstances in those cases was so great, that no invariable rule could be laid down.^* In this unsettled state it remained till 1815; when Mr. James Taylor presented a case to the Association at Nottingham, inquiring, *' Would it not be advisable to form some rules for our Association and Coniiection ; especially for the admission and exclusion of churches and individuals ?" After some discussion, ihe subject was referred to the following Association at


Boston, in 1816. It was then considered at great length, and occasioned some warmth. At Jength, it was resolved, by a large majority, " That the Connection continue to adhere to the religious principles on which it was established, in 1770 : and that all churches which may here- after be iadniitted into it, satisfy it that they maintain the same ; and if any church in the connection depart from these principles either in doctrine or practice, and by proper steps cannot be reclaimed, it shall be excluded from the Connection." A committee was then ap- pointed to devise the best means of carrying this resolution into effect: and, on their re- commendation, two rules were adopted : one pres<;ribing the mode of procedure in the admis- sion of churches; and the other, the steps to be pursued when exclusion became necessary. — This resolution and the rules founded on it, pro- duced a considerable sensation in some parts of the Connection ; but, at the succeeding asso- ciation, in 1817, they were confirmed, with very little opposition.

The Circular Letters, annexed to the Minutes of the annual Associations, in this period, were on important subjects, and from various pens. Mr. D. Taylor drew up the epistle for 1801, on "The concurrence of people with their ministers in promoting the interest of Christ." In 1802, no letter having been prepared, the same mi- nister was requested to write "an Address to the Connection, founded on a view of the state of the churches." The Letter, for 1805, "on the Atone- ment of Christ ;" and, for 1809, " on Covetous- ness "* were also by the same author. Mr W,

* After this Letter had been read to the Association, approved and ordeied to be printed, it was, by some mistake, lost before publication ; and therefore never appeared.


Felkin addressed the churches, in 1803, on " the Nature and Objects of saving Faith :" and, in 1808, on " Spiritual Mindedness." Mr. J. Free- ston wrote tlie circular, for 1804, on *' the Doubts and Fears of Christians, their Source and Cure;'* and, for 1806, on " Private Prayer." iMr. W. Pickering, in 1807, recommended " a conscien- tious Attendance on Meetings for prayer, exhor- tation and church business:" and, in 1816, ani- mated his brethren to " Christian Zeal." In 1810, Mr. John Faylor wrote a long letter on the important subject of " the religious Education of Children." Mr. J. Jarrom, in 1811, explained " the Importance and Influence of religious Prin- ciple." Mr. K. Smith, in 1812, wroie the cir- cular on *' Perseverance :" and, in 1813, Mr. T. Stevenson exhorted his brethren to " Public Spirit in promoting religion." In the following year, the death of Mr. Burgess, whc had been requested tow rite thecircuiarletter, disappointed the expectation of liis friends ;* but, in 1816, Mr. Bissill took up the subject, " Directions and Encouragements to Christians in times of tem- poral Distress." In 1817, Mr. J. Pike was re- quired to state and inforce the " Scriptural Motives for vigorous Exertion in spreading the Gospel among the Heathen."

Sect. 7. — Miscellaneous Notices — Conferences — Aged Ministers* Fund — Derby Religious Tract Society — Sunday Schools — Friendly Societies— Be- ligious Benefit Societies — General Baptist Mission- ary Society,

* The Aiticles of 1770, were reprinted this year, as a substitut* for the circular Letter.


Besides the annual Association, of which we have already given a sutficient account, a Con- ference of the ministers and representatives of the churches is established in each district of the New Connection, which claims some notice in a work of this nature.

The Midland, or, as it was originally denomi- nated, the Leicestershire Conference^ took its rise from the weekly meetings of the first ministers, mentioned in a former part of this history.^ Af- ter the division of the original body into distinct churches, it was found expedient to continue regular meetings of the officers and brethren of the various societies, to consult for the general good. These meetings were supported by all the general baptist churches in the counties of Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Warwick ; and held, every two or three months, at each place in rotation. At each Conference, there were generally two sermons, preached by minis- ters previously appointed by the church at which it was held. For a long series of years, this Con- ference was maintained with great harmony and advantage ; but, at length, the extension of the cause and the number of churches, suggested the propriety of forming them into two classes. This division was effected in 1803 ; and two Confer- ences formed : the one, under the denomination of the Nottingliamsliire Co7ifere?ice, including the churches at Derby, Kegworth, Melbourn, Don- ington, Leake, Broughton, Sutton Bonington, Ilkiston, Nottingham, Kirkby-Woodhouse, Ash- ford and Long-VVhatton ; the other, which re- tained the name of the Leicestershire Conference^ comprehending the societies at Loughborough,

* Supra p. 67.


Quorndon, Rothley, Leicester, Hinckley, Long- ford, Birmingham, Cauldwell, Barton, Hug^gles- cote and Packington. In order to cultivate mu- tual acquaintance and affection between the two districts, an union Conference, including both, was annually held aiternatelj at Kegworth and Loughborough. I'his plan was pursued till 1810; when, supposing that acting separately tended to weaken their strength, they reunited, and formed what has since been called the Mid- land Conference. In 1813, the churches compo- sing this Conference were ranged in four dis- tricts ; in each of which the meeting was pro- posed to be held once every year. This plan being found convenient, was contirmed in 1817.

The continued spread of the cause so enlarged the extent of this district, that the Conference became difficult of access to those churches w hich were situated at its limits. '1 his induced the friends at Birmingham, Austrey, Longford, Wol- vey, and adjacent places, to establish a separate meeting, under the name of the Warwickshire Conference. It assembled, for the first time, at Sutton-Coldtield, Sept. 27th. 1816, The meet- ings were held every three months, and promised to be very useful in the promotion of the cause of Christ in those parts.

The Vorkshire Conference was begun, in 1772, by Messrs. Dan and John Taylor, when there were no other general baptist ministers in the northern district. At its commencement, it was confirifd to ministers; soon afterwards the officers of the church were admitted ; and ultimately it was opened to the ministers, the officers, and as many of the private members of any of the churches as chose to attend, 'i'he meetings were held every two months ; and the professed design


was to consult together on the best means of promoting the mutual benefit of the ministers, the good of the respective churches, and the glory of God. At eai;h meeting, three enquiries were made : " 1. What have we heard or known of each other as preachers and of our preaching since the last meeting ? 2. What difficulties have we to mention ? 3. What more can be done to promote religion among us?" Under one or other of these questions, the whole business was dis- posed: and much useful discussion often took place. A sermon was preached at each con- ference.

The first meeting of the Lincolnshire Conference was held at Gosberton, June 23rd. 1791. As Mr. Burgess, who had been labouring in the ministry at Halifax in Yorkshire, had seen the advantages resulting from the conferences in the northern district, he endeavoured, soon after his settlement at Fleet, to establish similar meet- ings in Lincolnshire. His endeavours were sue- cessful ; and the principles and regulations of the Yorkshire conference were adopted, with little variation, by the new conference. It was held every three months,and a discourse delivered at each meeting. In 1815, several regulations for conducting these meetings were adopted, a scheme for the rotation of the conferences was fixed, and it was agreed to have two public services at each conference.

The London Conference owes its existence to Mr. D. Taylor, who invited a few friends to meet him at Chatham, Sept. 11th. 1799; when it was determined to hold a conference twice in the )'ear, to consult on the most proper methods of promoting the interest of the Lord Jesus Christ. At each of these meeting, two sermons


were preached, the state of the churches con- nected with it reported, and the question, " VV hat steps can we take more eftectuailj to promote the religion of Jesus?" proposed to each one present.

All these Conferences existed in full vigour at the period when this work concludes. I hey had contributed essentially to the prosperity of the New Connection. By these interviews, the bonds of friendship among- ministers were ce- mented, and their drooping spirits cheered ; they were animated to activity and faithfulness in the cause o^their common Master; and instructed in the best means of supporting it. The people had the opportunity of obtaining the advice of judicious and disinterested friends, in difficult or delicate cases ; and of having their faith, hope, and obedience strengthened, by hearing the same sacred truths enforced and motives urged by the ministers of other churches, which their own preachers were daily labouring to impress on their minds.

In 1808, a Fund was established at Lough- borough, chiefly supported by the general bap- tist churches in Lincolnshire,under the designation o^ " The Aged Ministers' Fund" of which Mr. Jarvis Miller was chosen Treasurer. Its object was to furnish assistance to aged and decayed ministers — to aid indigent churches in sup- porting their ministers— and to assist destitute congret^ations in obtaining proper supplies. Tor some years, it was little known, except in its immediate vicinity ; but, towards the close of the present period, in consequence of repeated apj)eals in the General Baptist Repository', it obtained increased patronage. Previous to April

A. D. 1817 SUNDAY SCHOOLS. 465

30th. 1817, this laudable institution, had ad- vanced upwards of two hundred and forty pounds, towards the accomplishment of its benevolent purposes.

A society was formed at Derby, Sept. 1810, denominated " The Derby General Baptist Reli- gious Trad Society :" tlie object of which was the gratuitous distribution of religious tracts. — Though it did not receive that extensive en- couragement, which, from its obvious utility, might have been expected ; yet, besides pur- chasing a considerable quantity of tracts from other societies, it printed large editions of several valuable original pieces. As it was only in its infancy at the close of our account, it may be hoped, that it would, in future years, become better known and more justly appreciated, by the denomination to which it was devoted.

The churches of the New Connection early and zealously countenanced those useful insti- tutions, Sunday Schools. In 1808, a scheme was proposed to secure the co-operation of the teachers and friends of the rising generation in the midland district ; and, for several years, an annual meeting of the delegates from the various institutions was held at Loughborough. In 1811, this assembly was attended by the representatives of thirty-seven general baptist Sunday schools, in which three thouand seven hundred children were instructed, by five hundred and eighty five gratuitous teachers and fifty assistants. The object continued to be pursued by the churches with increasing assiduity, and the happy effects were highly encouraging. Nor were these ex- ertions confined to the midland counties : in

VOL. II. 3 o


1815, eight flourishing general baptist schools were united to the South Lincolnshire and Isle- of-Ely Sunday School Union. In the northern district, the same object was pursued with equal alacrity and success. In short, it appears from the accounts which have reached us, that, in 1817, there were very tew churches in the New Con- nection which did not support a sunday school ; and it is probable, that more than seven thousand children then received instruction under their patronage.

In many of these churches, Friendly Socielie.t were formed, with a design, under the divine blessing, of administering religious instruction and consolation to the ignorant and afflicted, when lying on the bed of sickness or approach- ing the hour of dissolution; and to alleviate their temporal necessities, by pecuniary assis- tance. These societies were chiefly supported by subscriptions of a penny weekly ; and, in many instances, were rendered highly beneflcial to the present and eternal welfare of the objects. One of these institutions, though not peculiarly noted either for its numbers or zeal, in the two years previous to Oct. 1817, paid three hundred and twenty-seven visits, to eighty objects, and distributed amongst them upwards of thirty- three pounds.

Religious Benefit Societies were also instituted in several of the congregations, to provide funds for the support of the members in times of sick- ness and expence. The most noted of these was the Christian Fu7id, which was established, in 1773, by a tew members of the church at Fleet. After encountering various ditticuities and re-


verses, it obtained considerable countenance awiong the churches in the Lincolnshire district. In 1817, it consisted of upwards of two hundred and fifty members : and had distributed, during the preceeding seventeen years, more than two thousand two hundred pounds. These sums were raised by subscriptions of one shilling monthly from all the members, and the bene- volent assistance of the more affluent, who, as honorary members, subscribed for the benefit of others. These generous friends composed, at least, one fifth of the number of subscribers. An annual general meeting of the friends and sup- porters of the institution was held, in January, at Fleet : when a sermon was preached, and the business of the society transacted. Similar in- stitutions were established at March and Tydd St. Giles*; and the result was equally satisfactory.

In the beginning of the nineteenth century, considerable attention was excited, in various parts of the union, to the subject of foreign missions. Many respectable friends, indeed, feared that the Connection did not possess suf- ficient strength to attempt a separate mission ; and, therefore, recommended it to the churches to lend what assistance they could to the par- ticular baptist society. Some local circum- stances, however, roused the zeal of the friends at Nottingham, and they commenced a subscription to support a general baptist mission. They also recommended the subject to the midland con- ference, and that meeting proposed it to the churches and the annuil Association at Boston, in 1816. The Association expressed its hearty approbation of the design, and advised the friends of the object immediately to form themselves

468 DISCIPLINE. A.I). 1817

into a society for the prosecution of it. This was accordingly done: and a new institution was formed, under the title of " Tlie General Baptist Missionary Society." A treasurer, se- cretary, and committee were chosen to manage the concerns of the infant society, and measures adopted to forward its object. But the progress and success of this attempt must necessarily be left to the historian of future years.

Sect. 8. — A brief Sketch of the Discipline and

Faith of the New Connection of General Baptists.

The churches composing the New Connection of General Baptists were, in their discipline, strictly congregational. They considered that a church of Christ was a society of faithful men, voluntarily associated to support the interests of religion and enjoy its privileges, according to their own views of those sacred subjects. They believed, that each society was competent to manage its own concerns ; and allowed of no fo- reign controul, not even from their own confer- ences or association. The executive power of a church, they conceived, to be lodged in the members regularly assembled. The laws by which they are to proceed, they maintained to be the precepts of Christ, in the New Testament: of the intent and application of which, every church and each individual had a right to form his own judgment. And, while th<y disclaimed all external authority, ihej were equally jealous of undue internal influence : liolding their rights as church membt-rs sacred against the en- croach njeni of their own ofticers. it may, there* fore, be supposed, that their modes of proceedings

A.I). 1817 FAITH. 469

in matters of discipline were diversified ; and that the same society did not, at all times, pre- serve a consistency in its decisions. Whatever case occurred, or question arose, it became a sub- ject of discussion, at their church-meetings ; and was determined, according to the judgment or the will of a majority of those who happened to be present. This mode of proceeding doubtless had its inconveniencies ; but they esteemed it to be the appointment of the great Head of the church, and therefore most to his glory and their own edification. This, however, renders it im- practicable to detail their system of discipline ; as no such system, as applied to them as a Con- nection, ever existed.

The doctrinal sentiments of the New Connec- tion, on some important subjects, were stated in the six articles adopted at its formation. But, as these were intended to declare their views only on a few disputed points, the reader may be de- sirous of seeing a more comprehensive account of their faith ; and we are happy in being able to gratify him. When Mr. Dan Taylor removed to London, he read a " Confession of his Faith" to the society in Church-lane, which, by their di- rection, was entered in their records. As Mr. Taylor was then confessedly at the head of the Connection ; and as that church *' thoroughly approved of this Confession," it may be pre- sumed to speak the general sentiments of the body ; and will form an appropriate conclusion ^f this History.

470 Mil. D. TAYLOll's A.I). 1785

Mr. Dan Taylor^s Confession of Faith ^ read and approved^ at a special Church-nieethig of the General Baptist Society^ in Church- lane. White- chapel^ June \st. 1786.

1. I BELIEVE that the whole creation ^\ve^ proofs of a Deity ; and that man is capable of forming such reasonings and arguments from the evidence of wisdom arid power presented to our view in the several objects that our eyes daily beiiold, as are suHicient to manifest the work- manship of One, who is infinitely superior to mere mortals. But, however evident this may be, and how certainly soever all nations of the world have experienced the truth of it ; yet the most sagacious mortal never was, nor ever will be, able to conceive clearly of God, nor of those things which are necessary to give comfort and satisfaction, respecting future happiness or the way to enjoy that happiness, by the light of na- ture. Therefore, as far as we can judge, there is an apparent necessity of a fuller discovery of the mind of God to man than the light of nature, in order to understand how we can be accepted with him.

2. rhat the great God has therefore been pleased, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to make himself known and to reveal his will to man, by voices, visions, Sec. by the ministry of the prophets and of his own Son; anil afterwards by his apostles : and has given such full evidence, by miracles, prophecies and otherwise, that they all received their mission from heaven, that there is no just reason to doubt of it.

3. That these instructions are since collected, by divine appointment, into one book, called the


Bible, and preserved, by divine Providence, for the illujnination oi a dark world, in spite of many efforts that have been made use of to de- stroy them.

4. 1 hat the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are f^iven by i -^piration ot God, as a full and sufBcit-nt revelation of liis will to mortals : and, that we may learn from thence, whatever is needful to be known in order to enjoy present and everlasting felicity. That there is no other book in existence that can lay a just claiin to divine inspiration besides the Scriptures, And that nothing is to be added to them by the invention or tradition of men, or from any opinion or authority whatever ; and, that nothing can with impunity be substituted in the stead of any part of them. That we have no authority to expect nor can we with safety depend upon, any other revelation or suggestion whatever besides the scriptures: they are our only rule in every branch of practice and faith ; and are sutiiciently plain to every one who reads them with attention and is willing to follow them : so that all others are without excuse.

5. That the Scriptures give us a clear and sufficient account of the Blessed God, and teach us, that he is infinitely wise, powerful and holy ; that he is eternal and immutable ; that he knows all things ; that he is good, kind and pitiful to all men, and is not wiliitig thai any should perish ; that he is invariably faithiul to ail his promises and threatnings. That God is one; yet there are Three represented by the name of father, Son, and Holy Ghost, who have communion in one Godhead, and have proper Deity ascribed to them ail. But I cannot lind, tljat any man has yet learned from scripture to describe how

472 Mil. D. Taylor's a.d. 1785

these three are united in one Godhead ; nor the exact modes of their distinction. Nor do 1 pre- tend to be able to give an exact account of this mystery. — As I do not find them called in Scrip- ture, three Persons, I do not chuse to call them so myself; but, I neither wish to condemn nor to contend with those who think it proper to use this manner of speech.

6. That the great God formed all things by his powerful word ; and preserves, supports, sup- plies and controuls the whole creation; and even overrules the wickedness of men and devils by the same power for his own glory and according to the counsel of his own will.

7. That the great God, for his own praise and glory, formed and continually supports two classes of intelligent beings; i. e. Angels and Men ; who are tiie principal subjects of his kingdom, and are under the most indispensible obligations to do his will, and consecrate them- selves to serve his interest and promote his glory ; and, that he justly demands this of them. 1'hat some of the Angels rebelled against him, and are consigned to everlasting woe, hopeless; while others continued in obedience and kept their first estate, and so continue happy in his presence. That these fallen angels, or one of these, by a stratagem led our first parents into rebellion against their Maker; and hereby this world of ours, which would otherwise have been a place of felicity, is become a region of iniquity, mi- sery and death.

8. That, in consequence of this first sin, all mankind lost their primitive rectitude, and are ail prone to rebel against God ; and, when they come to understanding, do actually rebel against God, and are. in consequence of that rebellion,


exposed to his wrath as thejiist punisbment of it. That in consequence ot" this revolt from God and rebellion atijainst him, mankind can never be happy, till their sins be pardo'-ed and their hearts purified.

9. That the moral law requires all men to love God, with all their heart, wiih all their mind, with all their soul, and with all their strength, and to love their neighbour as themselves: and, that this is the test of right and wroii^", and the only rule of every man's conduct. That all mea are transgressors of it both in temper and life, and are hereby exposed to condemnation ; from which they cannot recover themselves by anj duties they are capable of performing. There- fore, that salvation is not of works, but of free grace. That all that is done for us, or given to us, or wrought in us, or that we are able to do for him, is entirely of the free, rich and unde- served bounty of the great and blessed God ; whom we have grievously offended by our ini- quities, and who might justly consign us to punishment for them.

10. That God is loving, tender and com- passionate, towards poor sinful men: and, ia. order to preserve his justice inviolate, to main- tain the honour of his holy law, and the dignity and rectitude of his government, and yet to make condemned sinners everlastingly happy, he has brought in a new covenant; in which he has given his dear Son to be man's surety, to take our nature and place under the law which we have broken, and by which we are justly con- demned ; and to suffer for our sios. So that now, in perfect consistency with law and justice, with honour to his government, and all his glorious perfections, Jie can and does treat with mankind

VOL. II. 3 P

474 MR. D. TAYL01i*S A.D. 1785

on a new foundation, in a way of free grace ; and can now be just and the justifier of him that be- lieveth in Jesus.

11. I believe, that, in our stead, Jesus has, by dying for us, made reconcilial ion forour iniquities, brought in everlasting righteousness, and pro- vided a complete and free salvation for miserable sinners, and for all sinners without exception.

12. That this glorious salvation, with all the various blessings contained in it, is plainly re- vealed in scripture, and proclaimed to the world in the gospel, accompanied with such invitations and promises, directions and threatenings, as are directly calculated to answer the purpose and suit the circumstances of fallen men ; to allure and incline the will as a rational appetite, and to beget the fallen soul anew, and bring it home to God ; to dispose it to the practice of holiness, and conduct it to the posession of real, present, and everlasting felicity.

13 That repentance, regeneration, and holiness in heart and life, are absolutely necessary in order to prepare the soul for salvation and eternal glory. But that faith in Christ and that only, or the believing of the gospel, entitles poor sin- ful mortals to every part of happiness.

14. That the Holy Spirit, by the instrumen- tality of the word which exhibits the free sal- vation of Christ, works on the minds of sinners to bring them to God, and to the enjoyment of salvation by Jesus Christ : that the word accom- plishes this blessed purpose wherever it takes place and is cordially received : and that pardon, righteousness, comfort, strength, and every other spiritual blessing are, in this way, communicated to man.

15. As God now treats with men on this nevr


foundation, both reason and scripture shew, that, though man is exposed to condemnation as a transgressor of the law, yet the condemnatory sentence is not executed upon any man, where the word is enjoyed, for breaking the law only, but for neglecting and rejecting the gospel and the salvation exliibited to us in it. In other words, men are now condemned and consigned finally to endless misery, because they receive not the love of the truth that they mia:ht be saved.

16. That God has chosen or appointed, from the beginning, that believers should he saved, and that unbelievers should be damned. Hence, in the New Testament, believers are called Elect; and unbelievers, Reprobate. These are not chosen because they are lioly, but that they may be holy. The scripture does not say, that they are 'chosen to faith, but through santification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. As God fore- knew all things, therefore this choice was made according to his foreknowledge: and, this is what I understand by the election of grace.

17. That true believers receive the Spirit by faith; by w hich they are regenerated or renewed ; and hereby, not only are constituted the heirs of God ; but, in a measure, made conformable to him in their minds ; and so are from that time meet for glory. Yet they ought to grow in grace; and, by activity in all holiness, to be laying up treasure in heaven, where they shall, of free grace, be rewarded according to their works.

18. i believe, that the saints ought to be subject to civil magistrates, according to the constitution and laws by which they are governed in all civil matters; but in matters of religion, they are to pay regard to none but Christ.

19. That a gospel church is a community of

476 Mil. D. TAYLOll's A.I). 1785

faithful persons, who are voluntarily united in christian love, to support their Redeemer's interest upon earth, and make it their great con- cern to proceed according to the best of their capacity, according to the rule of the New i'esta- ment, and those rules only : rejecting opinions and traditions of men, and hearkening diligently to the voice of their great Master who is in heaven.

20. That Jesus, our great Saviour and Master, has appointed two special ordinances, or positive institutions, to be observed in his church. These are Baptism and the Lord's-supper : the former to be performed only once ; but the latter, as often as can be made convenient : and both are to be continued in the church to the end of time.

21. That Baptism is designed to be a standing memorial and emblematical representation, of the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and of our recovery from a death in sin to a spiritual and holy life by him; and also to denote our surrendering of ourselves upintirelyto his service. That the only scriptural way of administering this ordinance, is to immerse the person in water : and the only scriptural subjects are those that repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

22. That the Lord's-supper is a solemn eating of bread and drinking of wine together, as a memorial or emblematical representation of our blessed Saviour's sufferings for our sins, and the refreshment and spiritual nourishment that his sufferings administertothe soulsof true believers: and that believers only are the scriptural sub- jects of it.

23. That there is a fixed time approaching, known only to God, when all the dead shall arise from their graves, and shall stand before


the Lord Jesus Christ, who is appointed of the Father to jud^e the uorld in lif^hteousnes ; and will be seated on a glorious throne for tijat pur- pose. That rhis jfuiif^ijCiit, and the rewards or punishments consc-quent upon it, will be ac- cording to our works: ihi&t those who died in a state of siij and negject of God, vvjii be sent to evfrlastinof punislimeiit ; but ih'' riifhteous re- ceived to life eieroal. 7 liat ev^rv man will be judged, and rewarded or punished according to the dispensati'Mi he has lived under, and that revelation of tlie will of God with which he has been favoured on earth. Those who have sinned without law must perish without law ; those who have sinned in, or under the law, must be judged by the law ; and all those who have had the use of the .\ew Testament, will be judged according to the iijospel. That the wicked, under every dispensation, will be punished in proportion to their wickedness; and the righteous rewarded according to their righteousness.

24. That when this awful and tremendous scene shall be closed, the two grand classes of mankind, the wicked and the righteous shall be sent to their own places, in which they shall eternally remain. The wicked must be ever- lastingly tormehted with the devil and his angels, as they have in this world imitated them in sin- ning against the God of heaven and earth ; and must for ever groan beneath the vengeance of that God against whom they have rebelled : while the righteous shall be eternally happy in the kingdom of their Father and Saviour. For they are then made kings and priests unto God, and shall reign with him for ever.

YOL. If. 3 Q


page 162. — A few particulars respecting the early history of the General Baptist church in Friar- Lane, Leicester, having been recently communicated, we insert them here, to perserve them from oblivion.

The origin of this society cannot be traced. The deed of con- veyance of the premises, which were afterwards used as a meet- ing-house, is dated Aug. 8ih. 1719. They were consigned, by Elias Wallin, to T. Davye, VV, Arnold and S. Durance, in trust, for the congregation of Baptists at Leicester. An annuity of four pounds ten shillings, was, for a few years, imposed on them ; but this was soon relinquished in favour of the pastor. Mr. T. Davye, who appears at this time (o have been tiie pastor, was an attorney by profession : a man of considerable abilities and great piety. In 1719. he pubhshed a work intitled ; " The Baptijim of adult Believers only, asserted and vindicated ; and that of Infants disproved." This is a well written piece and discovers extensive reading. — Mr, Davye was succeeded in the pastoral office by Mr. VV. Arnold; who was elder in 1750, when the number of members was twenty-four. After his decease Mr. J Johnson laboured for them during a few years. Mr. S, Durance afterwards was the minister ; but the cause declined under his care. After the death of Mr. Durance, Mr. Green, of Earkhilton, and several neighbouring ministers preached oc- casionally for this people. But their number diminished, and the cause was on the eve of dissolution, when a revival took place, as recorded in the work.

In the early part of the last century, several members of this society embracing calvinistic sentiments, left its communion, and laid the foundation of the particular baptist interest in Leicester. There was a kind of association maintained, for some time, by the General Baptist churches of Leicester, Earl- shilton, Mountsorrel and Wimeswould, Smeeton and Knipton.

Pa^e 203. Note* — The amount of the money collected by the friends at Church-Lane towards building the meeting-house at Leicester, is highly incorrect. Mr. Deacon had paid a visit to Kent, &c ; and as the building was not then begun, he was advised to place the proceeds of his journey in the public funds. This was done in the name of one of the deacons at Church- Lane ; who, with a laudable concern for the security of the property, made an entry of the purchase in the Records of the


church, in such a style as led the author to conclude that the whole sum had been collected in London. The Leicester friends have kindly corrected the mistake : it seems that the contributions of the society in Church-Lane did not much exceed twenty pounds.

Page 352. — The term " assistant minister" is here improperly applied : as it appears that here was no other minister at Friar- Lane during any part of the time when Mr. Wood laboured for that society.

Page 366 — The room at Duffield, which was first fitted up for preaching, was not hired ; but gratuitously provided by Mr Taylor, that his neighbours might hear the gospel of salvation.

Page 409 — We are sorry to learn that the design of building a meeting house at St. Ives was, owing to some unexpected difficulties, abandoned ; and that the church continues to as- semble in the old inconvenient place of worship. The confident language used in the sixth case of the Minutes for 1806, caused this misapprehension.

Page 418. — The meeting- houee at Bourn was reparedin 1800^ but not enlarged.