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ble distance. Gratifying associations of thought would form in my mind, as I contemplated their approach and successive arrival within the precincts of the house of
prayer.” His reflections on this occasion are thus interestingly expressed :
“How many immortal souls are now gathering together to perform the all-important work of prayer and praise-to hear the word of God-to feed upon the bread of life! They are leaving their respective dwellings, and will be soon united together in the house of prayer. How beautifully does this represent the effect produced by the voice of the good Shepherd,' calling his sheep from every part of the wilderness into his fold! As these fields, hills, and lanes are now covered with men, women, and children, in various directions, drawing nearer to each other, and to the object of their journey's end; even so, 'many shall come from the east and from the west, and from the north and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.'”
In the year 1801, he formed a society at Brading, which proved an occasion of much benefit ; the rules and regulations being peculiarly calculated to promote order, sobriety and religion. This society met every Wednesday evening, and he himself assumed the office of director. * The members of whom it was composed were such as had derived advantage from his ministry, and were sincerely desirous of advancing in knowledge and true holiness. A copy of the first address delivered to thein, has been found among his papers, from which we extract the concluding passage :
“In a word, my dear friends, I consider you all as deeply sensible that the care of the soul is the one thing needful, which if you neglect you will perish ; but which, if you regard with a humble, devout, and sincere heart, God will receive and acknowledge you among the number of his children. I hope more will join themselves to our society, who are in this mind and persuasion. It shall be my care to do all in my power to cherish and support you in all virtue and godliness of living ; to comfort you in affliction, to clear up your doubts, to reprove your faults, encourage your good resolutions, and to be, by God's help, a spiritual pastor among you, to lead you through the pilgrimage of this life, to the enjoyment of the glories of Paradise.
* The following regulation will afford a general idea of the character and object of this society :
“ The society will meet every Wednesday evening, when the director will attend, for the purpose of explaining the holy Scriptures, the Liturgy of the Church of England, and other such godly books as he may think useful and profitable for the instruction and edification of the members ; giving them such friendly and Christian exhortation and counsel as each or all of them may require ; answering any questions which they may wish to propose, respecting the meaning and design of the word of God, and their own conduct and religious progress in general; and joining in prayer with them to Almighty God for a blessing upon themselves, their families, their neighbours, and their country, and the whole Church of God, wherever dispersed in the world."
" Ul that I now ask, and beseech of you is, that you will be in earnest in your present professions, and strive with heart and soul to persevere in that good road, wherein I trust you now are going. And remember how sad will be the lot of those who, having put their hand to the plough, look back again, and are no longer fit for the kingdom of heaven. Be strong then in the Lord, and may his grace preserve you in your good resolutions, and bring you to the full knowledge of the excellency of Jesus Christ, and give you the greatest of all blessings, forgiveness of sins in this world, and life everlasting in the world to come. Ever be it, blessed Lord, now and evermore."
To the soldiers that were occasionally quartered in that part of the country, he was made highly useful by his preaching. The history of one of these men is remarkable. It is related at length in the “ Christian Observer,” for the year 1802 (p. 772.) Being too long for insertion here, the substance of it is inserted as follows:
“A young soldier introduced himself to Mr. Richmond, in company with one of his comrades, begging to know if he would kindly purchase from him a few clergyman's bands, and some manuscript sermons. Being aske
Being asked by what means they came into his possession, he stated, with much embarrassment, that his history was wholly unknown to his companions in arms, but that being thus urged, he would recount the painful circumstances of his past life. He proceeded to declare that he was the son of a clergyman in Wales—that he had been regularly ordained, and officiated during three years on a curacy in the county of W
; that disorderly habits, and debts, incurred without the possibility of discharging them, had brought him at length to ruin and disgrace; and that, to avoid imprisonment, he had been induced to enlist as a common soldier--that he had served in the last campaign in Holland, and was then about to proceed with the army, in the expedition to Alexandria, under Sir James Abercrombie. He added, that it was to furnish himself with a few necessaries, that he was led to offer the articles in question for sale. Mr. Richmond having ascertained as far as possible, the correctness of his story, purchased them; and afterwards held a very long conversation with him, on the awful consequences of his past life, and his unfaithfulness to the solemn and sacred engagement he had formerly contracted. The soldier seemed to be more abashed by the disclosure of his history, than impressed with the consciousness of his guilt, and the admonitions that he received. In June, 1802, the comrade who had originally accompanied him, once more called on Mr. Richmond, and stated that he was just returned from Egypt, and that the young man, in whose welfare he had taken go lively an interest, had fallen in battle, and died a true penitent—that on the evening preceding the engagement of the 21st March, he had been seized with a presentiment that he should not survive the event of the following day; and had commissioned him, (the bearer,) should he be spared to return, to inform Mr. Richmond, that the counsel he had so faithfully given to him, though it had failed at the time to impress him as it ought to have done, had ultimately sunk deep into his conscience, and produced all the effects that he could have wished; "tell our dear pastor, continued he, “that I owe him more than worlds can repay; he first opened my heart to conviction, and God has blessed it to repentance. Through the unspeakable mercies of Christ, I can die with comfort. The event that he had prognosticated was fulfilled; and it was discovered that poor Mr. E- lost his life by a cannon ball, at an early period in the action.”
It was in the Isle of Wight that the scene is laid of those popular tracts, composed by Mr. Richmond, the reputation of which is now so widely diffused in all parts of the world.
His “Dairyman's Daughter” resided at Arreton, a village six miles distant from Brading, where he was in the habit of occasionally visiting her, by particular request, during her last ill
Her name was Wallbridge ; and who that has read her history, can repress the emotions that such unaffected piety and sanctified affliction are calculated to awaken?
His “ Negro Servant” lived in the family of an officer in the neighbourhood. His “ Young Cottager” was one of his Sunday-school children, at Brading, and the first fruits of his ministry in that parish. As we shall have occasion to allude to these publications in another part of the memoir, we shall restrict ourselves to this brief allusion to incidents in the relation of which the author has excited so much interest; and where the charms of style and beautiful representations of nature are blended with the faithful narrative of facts, and the whole made subservient to the advancement of the cause of scriptural truth.
Having described him thus engaged in his ministerial duties,
we shall introduce a letter addressed to his friend, the Rev. Mr. T-, expressive of his views and sentiments, within the period just mentioned.
My reading in divinity has been considerable since we last parted. The more I attend to the sacred writings, and to the sentiments of the most pious and unprejudiced authors, the more deeply sensible do I feel of the unspeakable importance of religious attainments, both in knowledge, faith, and practice. I am, at the same time, unavoidably led to see how very, very deficiently the Christian scheme is apprehended by the great body of the laify, and preached in many of our pulpits. The force of that admirable charge of Bishop Horsley, 1791, is strongly impressed upon my mind, and fully confirms these sentiments,* which a diligent perusal of the Bible, of the primitive Fathers, and of the Reformers, had previously excited.
“ It is curious to see with what undisguised simplicity and plainness, many of the doctrines which are now reprobated as enthusiastical, methodistical, and puritanical, are, in one and all these old writers, asserted and maintained. The plain literal sense of our Church Articles, are by them made the foundation of every discourse, and of every scriptural exposition; and the practical faith in the Holy Trinity, is the first, the middle, and the last end, object, and aim of all they said, all they wrote, and all they thought. It may be answered, that modern divines admit the truth of these things also; but if they do, they explain the doctrines almost entirely away, and what is principally to be lamented, they do not make them the ground of their sermons. It is nevertheless, a very gratifying circumstance that so many clergymen and laymen have of late adopted an opposite way of preaching and thinking. As my valuable friend and correspondent Mr.
says in a late letter to me, however thinly, comparatively speaking, they are sprinkled over the bosom of the Church, yet I trust that the maintainers of the good old principles of the Reformation are daily gaining ground; and that at this time sound doctrine is oftener preached in many
of our parish Churches, than has been the case since the days of Archbishop Laud.""
In the year 1801, he was invited to preach the annual Sermon, in the Abbey Church at Bath, on the subject of cruelty to the brute creation, in conformity with the will of the Rev. Henry Brindley. It is to this circumstance that the following letter alludes.
* Bishop Horsley had asserted, in the above charge, that there was a grievous departure, at that period, from the sound doctrines of the Reformation. See also a similar charge, published about the same time, by the Bishop of Durham.
Brading, March 26, 1801. “ My dearest Mother, -It gives me real and unspeakable gratification that any thing you observe in me should give you the pleasure you describe ; yet I fear you over· rate
Daily do I become more and more sensible of my own deficiences ; and when I hear myself praised, my failings and corruptions seem to be magnified in the mirror of conscience and conviction. I do feel an earnest and solemn wish to be a real Christian minister of the gospel of Christ; but it is indeed a character too exalted for my expectations of attaining, and unutterable is the responsibility attached to it. To be a Christian at all, in the scriptural sense, is a business of unwearied attention, watchfulness, and labour; but to be a teacher, an example, a shepherd to the flock, requires tenfold circumspection. May God make me what he wishes, in order to form that character; and may no self-sufficiency, carelessness or presumption, ever lead me to false security, neglect of duty, or inactivity—to all of which we are so prone by nature. In exact proportion as we struggle to rise above our natural propensities, General Satan (as good Doctor Harrington calls him) endeavours not only to stop our progress, but to turn our very improvement into danger, and a snare, by exciting pride and self-satisfaction at what we have been enabled to do. I have no objection to hearing that my preaching excited attention at Bath (though I ought to avoid every thing likely to awaken vanity,) because I am convinced that it is not so much from any thing in me, individually speaking, as in the scriptural truths which, by God's grace, I invariably endeavour to advance and expound, that approbation was manifested. I claim no praise, but that of being in earnest; and when I open the counsel of God to a congregation, I hope I feel anxious for the welfare of my hearers, and really desirous that they should, for their own sakes, ‘mark, learn, hear, and inwardly digest, the Holy Scriptures,' when explained according to the principles of sound orthodoxy, and evangelical truth. And, thus considering sound truth as the matter, and pastoral anxiety as the manner of my preaching, I hope to steer clear of any personal vanity, or silly presumption, in the arts of human eloquence, either written or oratorical. I have no wish to be a popular preacher in any sense but one, viz., as a preacher to the hearts of the people.