Page images
PDF
EPUB

young, and at so early a stage of his academical course, there will be perhaps a diversity of opinion. On the general question, in which this is but an individual case, there can be but one sentiment. Nothing tends more to dissipate the mind, than much travelling and much society; and particularly injurious to the fixed and laborious habits of a student's life is that kind of intercourse with society, which the young minister, in his occasion, al visits, usually obtains. T'he esteem in which, for the most part the name of a minister is held, in the circles which he enters, secures him an at. tention and an ease by far too flattering not to be injurious ; whilst the refined and fascinating manners of some societies but ill prepare the mind for the imperatively severe characters of academic life. But perhaps a far more serious object of regard is the time which is thus necessarily and irretrieva. bly lost to the great and avowed object of his pure suit.-It is impossible to take a review of the past year of Mr. Spencer's life, and number up the several places at which he has preached-at some of them two or three times, whilst others he visited more than once, calculating their respective distances from Hoxton, and the time necessarily occupied in travelling, together with the many hours, perhaps days, which must have been consumed in preparing the discourses there delivered-without being struck with a conviction, of the immense loss which in a literary point of view he must have sustained; and the pursuit of literature is, after all, the professed object of our dissenting colleges. Considering too, that this was but Mr. Spencer's second year of stu

dy, and connecting this with the shortness of the term he had to stay, and his exceeding youth, the impression is yet deepened. But Mr. Spencer's was an extraordinary case. His fort was the composition and delivery of sermons.

He was at home and happy only in this sacred work. He seemed but to live for this object. Other objects he might contemplate, with respect and even esteem, excited .by an impression of their utility and excellence on this his heart perpetually dwelt with a fervent and impassioned love. It was evidently for this God had especially designed him; and for the work he had to accomplish, and the early account he had to render, all perhaps are now.convinced that he was not suffered to begin too soon. For one whose day of usefulness has proved so short, and over whom the night of death so early and so suddenly has shed its gloom, we cannot but rejoice that the first dawn was devoted to his honourable labour, and not even a solitary hour neglected, from the commencement to the termination of his career. *

Mr. Spencer preached again at Hoxton chapel on Christmas day, morning and evening; and also delivered an address, on the following evening, at

* A contemplation of the facts connected with the interesting, but melancholy history of Spencer, may however tend to shew, that, whilst much preaching and much travelling are to be depricated as evils, especially in the earlier stages of a student's course, yet that no specific rules can be established in this case for universal and invariable application. On the propriety of the thing, in every case of students under their care, the TUTORS are the best qualified to de. cide.

the

prayer meeting. A day or two after he left London for Brighton, and preached his first sermon in that celebrated seat of gaiety and fashion on the evening of Thursday, December 29th, at the Countess of Huntingdon's chapel, from Zach. vi. 12, Behold the man whose name is the branch, and he shall build the temple of the Lord.' On Sunday, 1st January, 1809, he preached in the afternoon at the Rev. Mr. Styles? chapel, and again in the evening at the Countess'.

I am the more particular in marking the date of his first visit to Brighton, as it commences a new year, and forms also a most important epoch in his history. The interesting and endeared connexions which he afterwards formed there, tend to throw a new and brilliant light upon his character; whilst they shed a softer air of melancholy around the circumstances of his early and lamented fate !*

Alas! of what moment to the Christian minister is the formation of connexions such as these.. Delicate as the subject may be, and ill qualified as I feel I am to enter fully into its discussion, I yet cannot suffor it to pass without some observations on its vast importance. By imprudence here, how many have destroyed, if not their character, yet to an alarming extent their usefulness and comfort. Upon the partner which a minister selects much of his happiness depends. He must be indeed a child of

* Those who knew Spencer, will enter fully into the meaning of this paragraph. lowe it however to those who knew him not to say, that tenderness to feelings I should dread to wound, compels me to draw a veil over one of the most in. teresting scenes of his life.

sorrow, who with a heart broken by disappointment, and a brow clouded by care-such cares and disappointments as too frequently impart a character of gloom to many a pious pastor's life--finds no relief in his domestic circle, and seeks in vain for the soothing influence of sympathy in the individual whom he has ehosen to be a "help meet for him.'

The important subject thus reluctantly though unavoidably introduced, distributes itself into many branches, each interesting in its kind, on each of which age and experience might with considerable propriety descant; and however unwilling I might be to enter more largely into the discussion, yet did I think myself sufficiently possessed of either, I would certainly reprobate in the severest terms that rash and thoughtless haste which too often marks the decision of students and youthful ministers in this respect, and which too frequently leads to settled distress,-final ruin,—or shameful infidelity! To the honour of Spencer be it recorded, that his choice in the first instance displayed his wisdom : his uniform attachment until death,-his constancy!

Mr. Spencer preached again at the Countess of Huntingdon's chapel at Brighton on Thursday evening, January 5th, and left that place on the following day. On the ensuing Sunday he preached at Holloway, morning and afternoon; and on the evening of Tuesday the 10th, addressed an immense congregation from the pulpit of that truly excellent man the Rev. Rowland Hill, at Surry chapel. The subject of his discourse was Deut. xxxiii. 3, Yea he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand, and they sat down at thy feet, every one shall receive of thy words!

Besides occupy

Between this date and the following midsummer, his labours appear to have been, in point both of number and success, truly astonishing.

He now preached much in and about London, and wherever his name was announced, the crowd that flocked to his ministry, proved how extensive and deep the im. pression was which it had excited. ing many of the most respectable pulpits in the metropolis, during this period, he visited and preached in the following places : Guildford, Epsom, Worthing, Barking, Roydon, Dorking, Buntingford, Winchmore-Hill, Saffron Walden, and Hertford.

During his stay at Worthing, which was in the month of February, he made several excursions to Brighton, which became more endeared to him by every visit. The attachment was mutual. His ministry excited universal attention : multitudes pressed to hear him. The publie prints declared their admiration of his powers; and the private circle forgot the trifling topics of the day, intent upon the discussion of his rare and extraordipary talents. More especially did he bind to him, in affectionate remembrance, the hearts of the young, by the warmth, simplicity, and affection of his addresses to them : and in no place which was honoured by his Jabours, was his worth more fully appreciated in life, or his loss more deeply and universally lamented in death!

On the evening of Thursday, the 18th of May, he preached again at Hoxton chapel. His text on that occasion was Isaiah lxi. 10, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »