THE BAPTIST MEMORIAL AND MONTHLY CHRONICLE:
DEVOTED TO THE HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY - THE STATISTICS AND LITERATURE
OF THE DENOMINATION -- WITH A COMPENDIOUS CHRONICLE OF PASSING EVENTS OF
STRIKING OR PERMANENT RELIGIOUS INTEREST.
"To put you always in remembrance of these thing." — Peter.
NEW YORK, OCTOBER, 1843.
Rev. R. Babcock, Rev. J. O. Choules: Editors.
Towards A History of Bristol Baptist College, England
By Dr. John Rippon
[The Footnote is changed to an Endnote.]
BRISTOL BAPTIST COLLEGE, ENGLAND. We are sure that our friends will read with interest the following valuable Essay "Towards the History of the Bristol Baptist College, England." It was prepared in 1795, by the late Dr. Rippon, and contains much information entirely new to our American brethren, and of great service to the historian of the denomination. We shall give a brief view of the institution down to the present time. The Essay was delivered originally in the form of the Anniversary Sermon. — EDS.
BRETHREN AND FATHERS:
In the course of your anniversaries, the flower of the denomination to which we belong have appeared before you; and what article of interesting consideration have they omitted? When I think of the subjects of their address, and the great names who have discussed them, I have feared that it might not be within the compass of my ability to bring into your assembly any topic at all suited to this occasion. But it occurred to me at length, that there is one subject quite untouched — yet this, unhappily for me, a subject of prodigious magnitude, which involves difficulties, requires materials ancient and modern, with catalogues of names, and volumes of character; so that now my embarrassment was greater than before: I refer to the History of the Baptist Academy, at Bristol. This I am not prepared to give; but I have prevailed on myself to look towards the subject. And if I may be suffered to avail myself of a few papers which have already appeared in print — to give a portrait instead of a long-length picture — to hint as it may suit, without detailing — and to introduce names with or without character: then, relying on the plenitude of your candor, I shall, after making a few prefatory remarks on the former state of religion and learning among us, attempt an Essay towards a History of this Institution from its beginning.
Were I to unite what we contemplate with any select portion of scripture, and to preach a sermon, I should remind you of a glowing promise in the 45th Psalm, 16th verse — "Instead of thy fathers, shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth."
These animating strains seem to be addressed to the Messiah, for the consolation of his bride, whose trouble was anticipated that it might be lessened. And they teach us, by implication, that among the distresses of the children of Zion, some of the most pungent would arise from the death of those ancestors and friends of Christ, who in their generations were distinguished by a truly paternal regard to the whole church. But that the mystical head, and the members regard of his body might have support under their sorrows, assurances are here given, that when David and Solomon, and the holy prophets were no more, the apostles and other good men should be raised up in their stead that "when the Jews were broken off from the olive tree, the Gentiles should be grafted into it;" after which a fruitful progeny should arise from the Redeemer's groans, whose wisdom and integrity, whose generosity to men and power with God, should capacitate them honorably to fill the stations of their ancestors, and to shed, in their successive generations, an influence which shall, at last, felicitate the globe.
But as history and not Prophecy solicits our attention to-day, I shall waive a farther consideration of this beautiful prediction, requesting, however, leave to carry the couplet with me as the motto of our discourse.
While our Anti-pedobaptist forefathers were intermingled among other denominations of Christians, and had not yet formed distinct and separate societies, their religion and learning must be estimated, in general by the piety and erudition of those good men to whom they were affectionately united, and with whom1hey worshipped. We had at that time literary men, whose abilities reflected honor on themselves, and on the cause they espoused; and of these. some who ranked high among the learned were disposed to teach. Such, however, was the unsettled state of affairs in the Protectorate, and so great the persecutions of our brethren and other non-conformists afterwards; from the restoration in 1660, till the glorious revolution in 1688, that we must not be surprised if we find no splendid seminaries of learning among the Baptists, or any other Protestant dissenters in those early days. Indeed, several of the ejected or silenced ministers, in different counties, took under their care a few young men of promising abilities for the ministry, and, without regard to our distinguishing sentiments, assisted them in their preparatory studies for sacred service. Senior Pedobaptsits helped junior Anti-pedobaptists, and, venerable ministers of the Baptist denomination were the tutors of amiable Pedobaptists.
It is not easy for me to say with precision, how early in the last century our learned brethren, in this country, began, among themselves, to educate their juniors for the work of the ministry. Though it is certain, if they had not been much inclined to it before, the act of uniformity in 1662, made it necessary for them to turn their attention to this object. For now the seats of learning were made so difficult of access by oaths and subscriptions, as to prevent the admission of the wise and good, who were of non-conforming principles.
The earliest Baptist preceptor of whom I have any account, is the famous Mr, John Tombes, of Bewdley, Worcestershire -- a man whose attainments fitted him for any station in which learning and piety were requisite. The noted Mr. Wall, in his elaborate History of Infant Baptism, says, that "of the professed Anti-pedobaptists, Mr. Tombes was a man of the best parts in our nation, and perhaps in any other." And Dr. Calamy's honorable testimony of him is, that he was a person "whom all the world must own to have been a respectable man, and an excellent scholar." This learned divine, about the year 1650, took under his tuition three amiable young men -- Mr. Boylston, of whom no particulars are in my possession, Mr. Richard Adams, and Mr. John Eccles. Mr. Adams, in 1662, was ejected from his living at Humberstone, in Leicestershire, was afterwards pastor of the Baptist church near Devonshire Square, London, and at length died in a good old age. Mr. Eccles became pastor of the Baptist church at Broomsgrove, suffered much for non-conformity, preached the gospel there and at Coventry near sixty rears with reputation, and died honorably in the year one thousand seven hundred and eleven.
By a manuscript letter in my possession, dated London, the 2d of the 8th month, 1675, many copies of which were sent to the churches in the country, I find that our ministers of London invited their brethren of the Baptist persuasion, throughout England and Wales, to meet the following May, in the metropolis, with a view to form a plan for the providing an orderly standing ministry in the church, who might give themselves to reading and study, and so become able ministers of the New Testament. This letter is signed by most of the London pastors, among whom were the learned Daniel Dyke, William Collins, Henry Forty, and William Kiffin. The result of this proposal I am yet to learn.
It is of general publicity, that the ministers and messengers of more than one hundred baptized congregations in England and Wales met in a general assembly at London, in September, 1689, to consult the good of the whole denomination. At this convention they resolved to raise a fund or stock, for the advantage of churches who were not able to maintain their own pastors or teachers -- for sending duly qualified ministers from the city and the country, to visit the churches, and to preach the gospel where it was not at that time published -- and for assisting members of churches who had promising gifts; were found in fundamentals, and inclined to study, in attaining to the knowledge of the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Towards these benevolent purposes, different congregations made collections, and among them the church in the Pithay, Bristol, sent up by the hands of their pastor, the renowned Andrew Gifford, thirty pounds.
About four months after the General Assembly had met, our brethren, from the church at Plymouth, wrote a letter to the metropolis (the original is before me) with which they remit to the trustees of the fund a collection or twenty seven pounds three shillings and eight-pence, and a promise of nine pounds per annum, to be entirely disposed of in the education of young ministers, observing that if this contribution were applied to the general uses of the fund, and not to the very purpose for which it was collected, no more would be sent. This letter contains the recommendation of a Baptist student, at Bristol. As he was the very first, of whom I have any account, who was educated in this city, though not on our present foundations, a short account of him may be admissible.
This young man was Mr. Richard Sampson, a member of the church at Plymouth. He had been for some time devoted to the attainment of classical knowledge, before the meeting of the General Assembly, in 1689. Yet application was made to the trustees of the proposed fund in London, requesting that he might remain at Bristol two or three years longer, and have the expenses of his board and education defrayed. It seems the petition was granted.
His tutor was a Mr. Thomas in this city, of whom we learn from Dr, Calamy, that he was a minister at Bristol in Oliver's time, and continued so afterwards, was invited to conform by considerab1e offers in Wales, but refused to the last. He was educated at Oxford, trained up many for the ministry, and died in Bristol in 1693.
After Mr. Sampson had finished his studies, he became pastor of the Baptist church at Exeter, in 1692. Under his labors certain records inform us that the congregation flourished greatly, so that the meeting-house would not hold above half the people who sometimes assembled. Mr. Sampson was much esteemed by Sir Isaac Newton; and so strong was his memory, that one day, when the conversation turned on the depriving good men again of their Bibles, Sir Isaac said they cannot possibly deprive Mr. Sampson of his, for he has it all treasured up within him. Mr. Richard Sampson died at Exeter, in 1716. His son was, for many years, pastor of the church at Tiverton, where his grandson, well known to some present, now resides -- I mean James Sampson, Esq., late his Majesty's consul general to the Dey of Algiers, and then in 1770, to the Emperor of Morocco, at Tetuan.
From the death of Mr. Thomas, at Bristol, in 1693, our candidates for the ministry, so far as I can learn, were educated in London at Taunton, Tewkesbury, and elsewhere. Hitherto I have no proof of the existence of any, permanent society among the Baptists, for the education of young ministers.
But here with peculiar pleasure and veneration we introduce the name of TERRILL, the father and founder of the Baptist Academy in this city.
Mr. EDWARD TERRILL was born about March, 1635. The good work of grace was begun in his soul when he was nineteen years of age. He afterwards kept a reputable school in this city, was baptized in 1659 and, after becoming a member of the church in Broadmead, was called to the office of preaching elder. He was several times, with many other members of the same church, for the sake of a good conscience, imprisoned in the Newgate at Bristol; endured his persecutions as a good soldier of Jesus, and died before July 25, 1686; when the church met at sister Terrill's, as the Broadmead records express it, to choose "a ruling elder, in, the place of dear brother Terrill, deceased." This excellent person was doubtless a competent judge of the advantages which result to men in common, and to ministers in particular, from a good education. And it pleased God to, put it into his heart, to promote this object. He left something considerable to the pastor of the church in Broadmead, for the time being, under the following conditions: "Provided he be an holy man, well skilled in the Greek and Hebrew tongues, in which the scriptures were originally written; and devote three afternoons in the week to the instruction of any number of young students, not exceeding twelve, who may be recommended by the churches, in the knowledge of the original languages, and other literature." And out of the estate bequeathed to the pastor of the church, he left ten pounds per annum, to be applied to the use of any student that might need it, and be approved of by his trustees. But though Mr. Terrill died in 1685 or 1686, it has been said, that the estate did not come into hand till about the year 1717.
It is not quite certain that either Mr. Thomas Vauxe, the pastor, in 1687, or Mr. Peter Kitterell, his successor, in 1707, were elected into their office under the limitation of the above clause; but by a letter in which Dr. Evans favored me with a brief account of Broadmead church, I learn, that. "Mr. CALEB JOPE was chosen to educate young men, as well as to assist Mr. Kitterell." This probably was in the year 1710 or 1711. Of Mr. Jope I can obtain but little information from the invaluable records of Broadmead. But I have gathered from divers manuscripts, that he was intimately acquainted with Plymouth church, resided in the beginning of his studies at Trowbridge, and from thence removed to Tewkesbury, under the tuition of Mr. Jones, whose seminary was at that time deservedly in high repute, and produced, besides other noted persons, Mr. Pearsall, of Taunton; Dr. Chandler, and Dr. Gifford, of London; Dr. Butler, afterwards Bishop of Bristol and Durham; and also the late learned and respectable Dr. Secker, Archbishop of Canterbury. Mr. Jope, quitting, his station in 1719, removed to Exeter, and afterwards, labored some time at Plymouth. With the close of his life, and the names of the students who were under his care, I am totally in the dark. The history of his successor has not shared the same fate, for we are in possession of manuscript and printed documents concerning him.
The Rev. Mr. BERNARD FOSKETT, son of Mr. William Foskett, of North Crawley in Bucks, a gentleman of good repute, easy fortune and blessed with a numerous offspring, was born March10,1684-5, near Wooburn, in Bedfordshire, where he had an estate. And as he early discovered a taste for learning, he was put under the care of a very able master, with whom he soon made considerable progress. He became experimentally acquainted with religion in the early part of life, and at seventeen years of age joined the Baptist church, then under the pastoral care of Mr. Piggott, in Little Wild Street, London, over which our excellent friend, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Stennett, I hope yet presides1. About this time, an intimacy had commenced between Mr. Foskett and Mr. John Beddome, (the father of our venerable friend, the Rev. Benjamin Beddome, of Bourton, on the water) some years after a respectable minister of the church in the Pithay. The friendship of Mr. John Beddome and Mr. Foskett was like that of Jonathan and David, and lasted through life. Mr. John Beddome was called to the work of the ministry by Mr. Keach's church, of which Dr. Gill was afterwards pastor, and was sent to Henley Arden, near Aulcester, in 1697, to assist the aged Mr. John Wills, pastor of that church, who died about 1705. A few years after the death of Mr. Willis, viz. in 1711, Mr. Foskett, who had been regularly called to the work of the ministry, and exercised his preaching talents several years, quitted the flattering prospects of his profession in London, preferring the character of an amiable minister to that of a skilful physician, and removed to Henley Arden, a place to which his peculiar friendship for Mr. Beddome led him to give the preference. At Henley, at Bengeworth, and at Aulcester, these two worthies continued their joint labors, till the year 1719, when Mr. Foskett received a pressing invitation from Broadmead, to assist Mr. Kitterell, their pastor, and to become the tutor of the academy in the room of Mr. Jope, just removed into the west. This invitation he thought it his duty to accept, and, in 1720, entered on his double charge with great seriousness and firmness. One who for upwards of twenty-four years served with him in the gospel of Christ, and who could not be uninformed of his real character, has favored us with a biographical sketch of him, which demands a place in this essay.
"His natural abilities were sound and good; and his acquired furniture, of which he never affected making a great show, was very considerable. He had a clear understanding, a penetrating judgment, and a retentive memory. His application to study was constant and severe: but though he was of a retired and contemplative disposition, yet he was not so far detached from the world, as to be wholly unpractised in the duties of social life. In the management of his temporal concerns, he was inflexibly just, and honest; in his counsels, prudent and faithful; in his friendships, sincere and steady; and though he was not a man of strong passions, yet in the relations of a brother and son, he was tender and affectionate, dutiful and obedient. His conduct as a Christian, through a course of nearly sixty years, was most exemplary and ornamental. So that it may be truly said of him, he had few equals, hardly any superiors. Religion he considered not as a matter of mere speculation, but as an affair the most sacred and important. How serious and regular he was in his private devotions, in his attendance on family and public worship, and every other religious exercise, they who best knew him will be readiest to declare. Nor was his religion confined to the closet, the family, or the house of God, but happily diffused its sacred influence through his whole life. Few, they were, if any, of the Christian virtues, that did not shine with a bright and distinguishing lustre in his temper and behaviour; to delineate them all would carry me too far: I must not, however, omit to mention what he was always careful to conceal, his disinterested and extensive benevolence; for in this, as well as in many other respects, in imitation of his Divine Master, he went about doing good. The necessitous and deserving, without distinction, partook of his bounty; but the pious poor he ever considered as the special objects of his regard. And while he often judiciously prescribed to the indigent sick, he generously supplied them with the means of obtaining what was necessary to their relief. And as the gospel ever held the highest place in his esteem, his charities were chiefly directed in such a manner as tended most effectually to promote its interests; so that the poor ministers of Christ shared very largely in his compassionate regards, and were, multitudes of them, refreshed by his liberality. Nor did he confine his benevolence to those of his own sentiments only, but cheerfully extended it to many who differed from him. In a word, as his charities were thus generous and extensive, so the prudence, humanity, and privacy, with which they were conducted, secured to him the most cordial respect from those who shared of them, as well as merited the imitation of those who could not avoid knowing them. And as he was thus charitable whilst living, so in this respect, as well as in many others, being dead he still speaketh.
"In the character of a minister, he approved himself judicious, prudent, faithful and laborious. His religious principles, which were those commonly called Calvinisfical, he ever maintained with a steady Christian zeal. But though he was strenuous for what he apprehended to be the truth, yet was he fond of no extreme. While he strongly asserted the honors of free grace, he earnestly contended for the necessity of good works; preaching duty as well as privilege; and recommending holiness as the on1y way to happiness. And with what judgment, seriousness, and affection, he insisted on these important and interesting subjects, some yet alive remember; as also the extraordinary weight which these his instructions received from his own very regular and pious example. He was indeed a pattern to the flock, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Nor was he without the pleasure of seeing his labors crowned with great and happy success; of which the very flourishing state of his community, at the time of his death, will be considered a sufficient evidence.
"To all which I may add, that in the office of a tutor, he failed not to pursue the same ends, which animated his profession as a Christian, and his public labors as a minister. He was always studious to promote the real advantage of those under his care, endeavoring to lead their minds into a general knowledge of the most beneficial and important branches of literature. And though he judged a superficial education best suited to the years and capacities of some; yet he encouraged and assisted others in the pursuit of a more finished one, conforming himself in the whole to the professed design of the founder of this institution.
"In the regular and unwearied discharge of all these several duties of his profession, he spent near forty years; during which time he suffered little or no interruption in his work from the disorders incident to human nature. But at length, by a paralytic seizure, he received the notice of his approaching dissolution. In these circumstances he continued near a fortnight, still enjoying the perfect and undisturbed use of his reasoning powers, and still discovering the same serene, pious, and heavenly spirit which ran through his whole life. Within a day or two of his decease, he addressed himself to his dear friend and colleague, the Rev. Hugh Evans, with a peculiar solemnity, and an uncommon pathos, in these words: 'I have done with man and the inhabitants of this world, and I have nothing now to rely on, but the merits of my dear Redeemer, who of God is made, I trust, unto me, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption: this is all my salvation and all my desire!' Sustained with these blessed hopes of the everlasting gospel, he cheerfully submitted to the stroke of death, and quietly fell asleep in Jesus, September 17, 1758, in the 74th year of his age."
His funeral sermon was preached, but not printed, by the Rev. Hugh Evans, from I Cor. 9: 27 -- "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others myself should be a castaway." Thus the course of one holy apostolic man was finished.
If the list of Mr. Foskett's students now before me is complete, they were in number sixty-four, not including a pupil of the independent denomination, who afterwards lived and died a useful minister at Maidstone, in Kent. Concerning the first of these sixty-four, this memorandum is preserved: "November the 5th, 1720, Mr. Thomas Rogers was proposed as a student to Mr. Foskett, recommended by the church in the Pithay, and the ten pounds left by Mr. Terrill was granted to him." Mr. Rogers was from Ponty-pool, in Monmouthshire, and soon came to the close of life. And as the first of Mr. Foskett's students, so the last of them was from Wales, namely, Mr. Samuel George, who was pastor of the church, at Wantage, Berks, and left an excellent character behind him. It is somewhat remarkable that the number of the English and of the Welsh students should have been exactly the same. For there were thirty-two of them Englishmen, and thirty-two belonging to the Principality. But I hope it will appear much more interesting to report, in the words of our ever dear Hugh Evans, "that most of those who were under Mr. Foskett's, care approved themselves truly serious, and with great reputation filled many of our churches." Here let us pause -- and most heartily praise the great Head of the church, for his mercy and grace. I am sure they are willing to do it, who still survive of that respectable catalogue."
Blessed be God, there are a few of these good men yet in the wilderness. I know not whether they are more than six or seven; but as you will conceive a favorable opinion of the rest from them as a specimen, I with pleasure recite their names.BENJAMIN BEDDOME, A. M., at Bourton. JOHN OULTON, A. M. at Rawden, York. EDMUND WATKINS, at Usk. JOHN EVANS, now at Northampton. BENJAMIN FRANCIS, A. M., at Horsley. MORGAN JONES, L. L. D., at Hammersmith, and JOHN EVANS, of Pentre.
May the latter days of these reverend ministers abundantly increase.
By such disciples we may, in some measure, form a judgment of the master. And if it be conceded that his method of education was limited rather than liberal; severe rather than enchanting; employing the memory more than the genius, the reasoning more than the softer powers of the mind; in a word, if it be granted that Mr. Foskett was not the first of tutors, it is a piece of justice to his memory, and a debt of honor to the divine grace, most cheerfully to acknowledge, that some good scholars, and several of the greatest ministers who have adorned our denomination since the days of the reformation, were educated by him. Here I pass the names which have been just recorded. But were I to single out from his students a scholar, it would be proper to repeat what the late Dr. Gibbons said to me some years since, when several eminent linguists had been mentioned: “I think, my young friend, that Dr. Llewelyn is the first scholar we have among the Protestant dissenters" Were I to distinguish those who were eminent as scholars and preachers too, I should select not only from the short list which adorns a preceding paragraph, but produce several others, and among them I might mentionROBERT DAY, A. M., at Wellington. JOHN ASH, L.L.D., at Pershore. JOHN RYLAND, A. M.. at Northampton.
But there is one name I cannot omit -- the name of the third student in the roll of the sixty-four -- I mean that of the immortal
HUGH EVANS, A. M.
Mr. Foskett finished his labors and entered on his rest; but instead of the father came up this son, who, had in general the esteem and influence of a prince, wherever he was known, in all the earth.
It was the honor and happiness of Mr. Hugh Evans to be descended from Welsh parents, in easy circumstances, illustrious for their piety and benevolence. His grandfather, Mr. Thomas Evans, was eminent in his day, for gifts and grace. In the time of Oliver's commonwealth, he passed his examination before the triers appointed to license ministers, and received from them an honorable testimonial. The original was entrusted to me, of which the following is a copy:
By the Commission for the Propagation of the Gospel in Wales.
"Whereas five of the ministers, in the act of Parliament bearing date the 25th of February, 1649, and entitled, 'An Act for the better Propagation of the Gospel in Wales,' have, according to the tenors of the said Act, approved of Mr. Thomas Evans the younger, and have recommended him, with their advice to us, that he be encouraged in the work of the ministry: we do, according to an order directed to us by the committee of five at Neath, therefore order, that Mr. John Pryce, treasurer, shall forthwith pay unto the said Mr. Thomas Evans the sum of thirty pounds, which we have though fit to allow him towards his salary, and encouragement in the word of the ministry. And this our order, together with his acquittal, shall be a sufficient discharge for the said treasurer."
"Dated under our hands, the 16th of May, in the year of our Lord; 1653.
"JOHN WILLIAMS," &c,
By these five gentlemen, Mr. Thomas Evans was appointed to preach in the parish Maesmynys, where he continued till the restoration in 1660, and appears to have been useful, and highly esteemed by those who knew him and attended on his ministry. But when he was no longer permitted to officiate in the parish church, as his conscience would not suffer him to comply with the terms of conformity then imposed, it was thought he formed a separate church of the Baptist denomination; but: the Welsh historian, our venerable friend, the Rev. Joshua Thomas, of Leominster, who has enabled me to correct several mistakes which have crept into the history of this family, informs me it is correct to say, "That Mr. Thomas Evans, united himself to the Baptist Society, which now constitutes Dolau and Pentre churches, and which were then one church, under the care of Mr. Henry Gregory, who was the pastor of it from 1660, till about the year 1700. Mr. Thomas Evans was first his assistant," and then perhaps co-pastor with him. "The church met for divine worship many years in his father's house. He suffered much for conscience’ sake, but was carried honorably through all his difficulties, and in 1688 died in peace."
Caleb, the eldest son of Mr. Thomas Evans, a man of good abilities, and of a most amiable disposition and character, succeeded him in the pastoral office, and continued in the faithful discharge of the duties of it, til1 removed by death, in the year 1739. Our Rev. Hugh Evans was the youngest son of this Caleb, by his first marriage with Mrs. Hannah Lewis, from Herefordshire, of whose piety and other personal excellencies, it is scarcely possible to say too much. Mr. Thomas informs me, that she was of a reputable family, in the Valley of Olchon, who were distinguished in the Principality for sheltering the Baptists in persecuting times. As our dear preceptor descended from such parents, it may reasonably be inferred that he was a child of many prayers. In early life he was placed under the tuition of the Rev. Mr. Pryce, a worthy dissenting minister, who at that time kept a boarding school of high reputation, near Talgarth, in the county of Brecon, and was eminent in his day as a sound classical scholar. Here Mr. Hugh Evans was thoroughly grounded in the knowledge of the learned languages, and at the same, time had the distinguished happiness of being brought effectually acquainted with Christ and his own heart. Several things concurred, under the divine influence, towards his conversion; the recollection, when he was at school, of the prayers and counsels of his father, before he left home; the conversation of a godly family of his father's acquaintance, and the preaching of that eminent servant of God, old Mr. Enoch Francis -- made such impressions on his mind as were never obliterated. Soon after having come to this city to visit a near relation, and to receive advice for a complaint in his foot, he pursued his learning under the direction of Mr. Foskett, by whom he was baptized, August 7, 1730.
By letters, which have come to light since the death of Dr. Evans, we learn that soon after Mr. Hugh Evans was baptized, he went into Wales, for the sake the his health, and to see his father, to whom Mr. Foskett wrote, advising him and his friends to try the young man's ministerial gifts while at home; for at Bristol, he said, they could not prevail on him to exercise, such was his extreme modesty and diffidence.
In these early traits of character, the church at Broadmead must have perceived a golden sheaf which presaged a glittering harvest. Accordingly, they called him to the work of the ministry on the 17th of August, 1733, and, in the December following, gave him an invitation to become an assistant to their worthy pastor, which he accepted, notwithstanding much fairer prospects, as to this world, opened before him from two churches in the metropolis. And in 1739, he was called to the station of teaching elder. The higher he rose in office, the brighter he shone as one of the ambassadors of the churches who are the glory of Christ. The biographical account of him in his funeral sermon, though it be the eulogy of a son, is temperate and just.
Every one who knew him must admit that his gift in prayer was uncommon, his students thought it was unequalled. In the family, at occasional meetings, in the services of the Lord's day, and upon extraordinary occasions, with copiousness, dignity, and warmth of devotion; he poured out his soul unto God; and yet with such variety, that he was seldom, if ever, heard to pray twice alike.
His pulpit compositions were clear, nervous, and pathetic. Few men were more capable of taking a large, comprehensive, masterly view of a subject; or of representing it with greater perspicuity, energy and fervor. His language was striking, his voice clear, and his elocution manly. Nor did any preacher, perhaps, ever know better than he, especially at some happy seasons, what it was to reign over his audience, enlightening their understanding; convincing their judgment, and then kindling all their noblest passions into a blaze of devotion.
After he had many years habituated himself to study, his fort as a minister was an extemporaneous illustration of the Sacred Scriptures. This was evinced by the weekly conferences; and we are able to assert that many of his sermons, which his people deemed the best and most useful, exactly answered to this description. His ministerial labors were far extended all around. He had the care of numerous churches resting upon him; and many were the long journies he took to assist at ordinations, and at the annual associations, in England and Wales.
As a tutor, he was not inferior to either of his predecessors. He possessed the assiduity without the severity of his immediate predecessor, and led his disciples into the fields of science by a method, in which hourly acquisitions brought new pleasures, and enabled us to pursue thought from thought, with tranquillity and delight. Everyone who sat at his feet, recognized in him a friend and a father. He so took us under his care as to inspire affection to him as our friend, and we never left his wing, till affection having grown to reverence constrained the filial heart to say, This is my father.
O what condescension, what tenderness have we seen in him! What solicitude for our usefulness and felicity has he discovered. With an appropriate facility he planted many a shrub in the very soil which reason and grace had adapted to its growth, and soon as its fruit appeared, how did he rejoice! When we no longer enjoyed the bosom of our Alma Mater, nor rested under his shade, he interested himself in our history: his sympathy lessened our sorrows, and his participation with us increased our joys. What man, since the apostolic days, could have said with more sincerity and accent, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth? Well, therefore, it was said, in his funeral sermon, that it gave him "inexpressible pleasure to see so many who had been under his tuition fulfill his expectations concerning them." And that, not long before his death, he spoke with tears of joy to this effect: "I am happy to see these young men rising up, I hope, for great and eminent usefulness in the church of God, when I and many others shall be here no more!"
But over the annals of this peculiarly eminent servant of the Lord, we exclaim, "The fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?" Through intense application, the machine of mortality began to wear out, and the vigor of this holy, useful man, decayed. But before his dissolution, our churches had the pleasure of seeing him attend the association at Frome. Here he took a solemn leave of his connections in all affecting discourse from those alarming words: "Be not deceived, God is not mocked." And soon after his return to Bristol, he closed his public ministry, with a truly paternal address from Gal. 4: 19 -- "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you."
During his declining state, it is scarcely possible to describe his placid resignation to the divine will, his meekness and his affection to all around him. Every passion seemed to be extinguished but love. With that he overflowed to his family, the church, and all his connections. When speaking of the prosperous state of Broadmead and the academy, he once said, that he thought he might adopt the words of good old Simeon, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." He frequently said, "My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever."
A student, who was with him in the two last nights of his life, informs me, that for twenty-four hours before he departed, he lay totally insensible. About midnight, he began visibly to alter, and appeared to struggle with the last enemy. His dear son Caleb was sent for, who came just in time to witness the closing scene. Several of the students were in the room, and his three sons and two youngest daughters surrounded the bed while he breathed out his last. The scene was unspeakingly striking and solemn. There lay, in the arms of death --the great Hugh Evans.
Soon after he expired, his son, the Doctor, who had been kneeling by the bedside for some time, and appeared to have been pouring out his whole soul unto the Lord, rose from his knees, lifted up his hands to heaven, and in all the tenderness of filial grief, said, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord;" he wept bitterly, but then added, "for they rest from their labors, and their works follow them." And indeed all who were present wept aloud for some minutes.
The evening before the interment, the corpse was taken to the meeting house. The service was to begin the next day at two o'clock, but the house was full before one. A suitable and truly melting discourse was preached by an excellent brother, now assembled with us; after which the funeral procession, covering half a mile in length, attended the body from the meeting house to the Baptist burying ground, where the venerable Mr. John Tommas delivered a pathetic address on the occasion. This was a solemn hour, and the countenance of unnumbered spectators said -- We have lost a friend.
This stroke was felt, throughout the kingdom. Our parlors, our pulpits, and our assemblies in general, not without many a trickling tear, sighed, "How are the mighty fallen!" But affecting as was this dispensation, by which the church and the WORLD sustained a loss, one thing consoled us -- instead of this father, came up his son, the Rev. Dr. Caleb Evans, enrolled with the worthies, whom our ascended Lord himself was to make princes in all the earth.
The first accounts that we have been able to obtain of our late President, furnish us with a genius in embryo. He was, blessed be God! in early life, called out of darkness into marvellous light. From his own pen, we collect, that when he was only a youth, he beheld with admiration his father in the pulpit, and was delighted with the heavenly sounds which flowed from his lips. Hearing the awful terrors of the law, and the astonishing grace of the gospel, he was brought into the very dust, before the throne of an holy God, and enabled to magnify the riches of free grace in his salvation. Under the parental care and instruction of his father, he received his grammar learning, and ranked with other students under Mr. Foskett, about the year 1753. On his removal to London, he was baptized by Dr. Samuel Stennett, and became a member of the church in Little Wild-Street. And having gone through the usual course of studies in the dissenting academy then at Mile-end, now at Homerton, while Dr. Walker, Dr. Condor, and Dr. Gibbons were the tutors, he was called to the work of the ministry by the church to which he belonged; and then for two years, as he himself informed me, assisted the Rev. Josiah Thompson, at that time pastor of the Baptist church in Unicorn-yard, Southwark; and the Rev. Dr. Furneaux, at Clapham.
At the expiration of this time, in 1759, he received an invitation to become his father's assistant, and began his public career in Broadmead, with a discourse from these words: " I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." This determination he held fast. It gave vigor to his ministry through the varying scenes of life, and at last it placed for him the lamp of hope in the valley of the shadow of death. Having preached at Bristol about eight years, he was ordained, and became his father's colleague. The congregation and the church, already large and reputable, felt his influence. His piety, adorned with an animated eloquence, gave a zest to his prayers and his sermons. His connections in town and country were numerous and respectable. Where he was known and heard, he was admired and loved. And now, when the influence, of his father was apostolic, the popularity of the son proverbial, and every thing in the church and academy was approximating to perfection -- in the full affluence of fame, he seized the golden opportunity; and in addition to all the other efforts of an expansive benevolence, his liberal heart devised another liberal scheme.
Having surveyed with pleasure the institution of Terrill, the assiduity of Foskett, and the improved method of education adopted by his father -- with a disinterested zeal for the glory of God, and the welfare of men, he said of the academy according to the language of sacred song, "If she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar; if she be a wall," the foundation is laid, and the fabric for years has been going up, we will build upon her a palace of silver." Canticles 8: 9.
He devised -- he planned -- he executed. It was a structure of faith, founded on hope, on the basis of character; to which he, its father gave the name of THE BRISTOL EDUCATION SOCIETY -- a society of Christian philanthropists, before whom I appear with a respect bordering on reverence.
This society was formed in 1770, in aid of the Baptist Academy in Bristol, with the design, "That dissenting congregations, especially of the Baptist denomination, in any part of the British dominions, may, if it please God, be more effectually supplied with a succession of able and evangelical ministers; and that missionaries may be sent to those places where there is an opening for the gospel."
Some of us who had the honor of sitting at Dr. Evans' feet, before after the mission of his scheme, well remember his anxious solicitude concerning it, and the unremitted exertions he made, in town and country, to realize his plan. And, blessed be God, his efforts were not fruitless. So far from it, that we have reason to believe, indulgent Heaven and a smiling public exceeded, by far exceeded, his first expectations. Under his fostering hand, the most benevolent men in all our connections enrolled themselves as subscribers to the institution; and names, which add a lustre to any catalogue, became its patrons and benefactors. Among them, I perceive the Chief Magistrates of the cities of London and Bristol, and other illustrious names, over some of whom, "now to the dust gone down," we drop the tributary tear. Out of these departed worthies, it will be a gratification to mention,
The Right Hon. FREDERICK BULL, Lord Mayor of London. THOMAS LLEWELYN, L. L. D. Rev. ANDREW GIFFORD, D. D. JOSEPH TOMKINS, Esq. JOHN BULL, Esq. FRANCIS BULL, Esq. WILLIAM STEELE, Esq. Dr. JOSEPH MASON. Dr. THOMAS BUNN. ROBERT HOULTON, ESQ., and his nephew. JOHN HOULTON, Esq., Admiral of the Blue.
To these, many other characters might be added: but I dismiss them, expecting that the next age will gratefully embalm their memories in successive anniversaries, while all the churches will give glory to God on your account.
Bristol College - Part II
As the affairs of the Academy were now to be conducted on a larger scale, and a greater number of students to be educated, the Rev. James Newton, A. M., assistant preacher of the Rev. Tommas, at the Pithay, was respectfully invited to take a share in the education. The province of classical tutor was assigned him -- a department for which he was admirably fitted. With the Latin and Greek classics, with the Christian Hebrew scriptures, the Misnah, Talmuds, and other Jewish writings, he was intimately acquainted. Some of us now assembled, who in our later years at the Academy were under his care, perfectly recollect with what humility, prudence, and affection, he entered on his office among us, and with what patience and assiduity he sustained it. But though he is no more, Newton will long be a fragrant name in this connection. I am extremely sorry at being under the necessity of referring the audience for a full account of him, to the funeral sermon on his death, in which, however, it will be found that justice is done to his memory, by Dr. Evans, to whose character the voice of this society is my summons to return.
How well the Dr. was fitted, first to assist the great Hugh Evans, and then to preside over the growing institution, it is unnecessary to say, for there can be but one opinion on this head.
As he had known the scriptures from his youth, been called by divine grace in early life, addicted himself to the ministry, improved his mind by extensive reading, and had enjoyed a truly liberal education; he was prepared not only to rise, but to shine like the sun -- an universal blessing. How often have we been illuminated and warmed by his genial rays! Who can read his address to his students, drawn up in 1770, and then delivered, first of all, to some of us who are this day associated; -- who can read it, and not perceive that the welfare of every one is his pupils lay very near his heart? O, how often has he in prayer, and in advice, melted over us? We all of us felt a sincere affection for him, and in some of us it seemed to be a mixture of the filial and fraternal. Similar emotions also of mind were inspired by his conduct in the circles of his friends, in which he charmed by his piety, affability, and good sense.
Our Baptist College in America was proud to confer on him her highest honors, in which she was followed by the Principal and Professors of the King's College in Aberdeen, in the year
1789. But though courted by some, caressed by others, and valued by all of his connections, his native excellencies, as a renewed man and Christian minister, never forsook him. He had been descended from a race of apostolic men, and his character reflected lustre on his ancestors. Great without arrogance, he maintained the dignity of his rank, nor ever gave any one reason to repine at his success. He never professed himself to be a profound metaphysician, or the possessor, in a superior degree to all his brethren, of atalent for generalizing his ideas; yet his mind was enriched with numerous conbinations of thought, with a taste cultivated and pure, and a memory eminently accurate. Warm and occassionally rapid in his manner, he sometimes succeeded more through a kind of natural felicity than previous study. With a plentitude and vigor of expression, the legitimate offspring of genius, his eloquence was neither disgraced by false and meretricious ornaments, nor degraded by dulness and insipidity. His flowing periods, and the harmonious cadence of his voice fitted him, in no common degree, for public speaking. Whether he read his sermons, or delivered them impromptu, they were as distinguishable for their easy elegance and evangelical savor, as his prayers were for a rational, manly, and affectionate devotion. His audience, neither attracted by fashion, won by the splendor of establishments, nor the inspiration of music, always numerous, always increasing, and often highly devotional; demonstrated that he was "a workman who needed not to be ashamed, irghtly dividing the word of truth."
He was closely attached to the system of theology which we call Calvinism; yet candid in judging of the characters and speculations of others. His zeal, though warm, never degenerated into a rancor and bitterness, in proof of which his numerous publications may be produced; yet his temper was not formed for approving virture with coolness, nor for censuring vice with apathy. Open, honest, generous, his morals were pure without moroseness, his piety sincere with gloominess or ostentation. No good man ever held free intercourse with him without warm approbation, nor was deprived of it without regret. In a word, those who knew Dr. Evans, and were capable of estimating his character, all agree, that his talents were highly respectable, and his virtues rare, solid, and exalted.
For several months before his illness, to use the words of a ministering brother now present, it appeared evidently, to those who conversed with him, that he was ripening fast for eternal blessedness. His mind was in general much taken up with the employ of heaven. In humble abasement of spirit did he often speak of himself, as a fallen depraved creature; but, when he contemplated his privileges as a redeemed, regenerated sinner, his joy was unutterable. With rapture he exclaimed, "O, the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge! Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be!"
About a week after his first paralytic seizure, he said to one of his students, who now hears me, "I am prefectly resigned to the will of God." And it being signified to him that at the approaching Associaiton at Wotton, the ministers and other brethren would be much affected by the death of dear Mr. Day, of Wellington, who was appointed to preach the sermon, the Doctor wept aloud, saying, "I expected to have joined him before this time in the kingdom of my Father: he is gone, and I am languishing behind: 'but I know in whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.'" Recovering himself, he added, "If I had been able to attend the association,
and had preached, I intended to have improved these words: 'We have this treasure in earthen vessels.' "Ah, truly," said he, "ministers are brittle, earthen vessels; but blessed be God for the treasure which he puts into them. The best composed sermons are nothing without the excellency of the power which is of God, and not of us."
In the same conversation he most earnestly recommended village preaching, giving a detail of the rise and progress of a favorite congregation at Downend, near Bristol, where he then was. And speaking of the foundation of his hope, he said, "As for those who deny the doctrine of the atonement, I cannot tell how it may be with them in the near prospects of death; for my own part, I have nothing to rest my soul upon, but Christ and him crucified; and I am now unspeakably happy to think of my feeble effort in vindicating that glorious doctrine, in my four sermons on that subject." Thus happy was the frame of his mind, and he was yet alive -- and while he was living we hoped; and prayer was made for his life. We made it, and thousands made it to God continually for him. Innumerable were the hearts which ascended to heaven, and, with all the pathos and piety of a wrestling devotion, cried --
"Eternal God, command his stay,
Stretch the dear months of his delay,
O! we could wish his age were one eternal day." - Watts
And indeed there were moments when some of his dearest friends enteretained a flattering hope of his recovery. But on the first of August, 1791, he had a second attack, which alas! proved fatal on the Tuesday following. Blessed be God for all the felicity he enjoyed during his affliction, and that during the last hours and moments of life, with glory in his cheeks, he often repeated Dr. Doddridge's animating lines --
"And dying, clasp thee in my arms, The antidote of death."
Hence those who were around his bed declare, that they never saw so much of the power of the gospel, to support under the pains of dying, as they beheld in the expiring moments of dear, dear Dr. Evans; who, with an eminently propitious gale, had an "entrance ministered unto him abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savious Jesus Christ."
Thus terminated the exemplary and successful career of our late beloved President, who departed this life, August 9, 1791, in the 54th year of his age. The Rev. John Tommas, of Bristol, delivered the address at his interment in the Baptist burying-ground, in this city; and Dr. Stennett, on whom it naturally fell to perform the service, preached his funeral sermon at Broadmead, Lord's day the 21st of the same month, from Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, to-day, and forever."
What a yearly meeting of the society was that on the Wednesday following, when the Chairman reported -- the death of our President! Father of mercies! God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! hear a single request, That such another day -- if it ever must arrive -- may be far -- very far distant! At the annual service of 1791, what passage of Scripture could have been more suitable than 2 Chronicles 1:7, "Ask what I shall give thee" -- the text on which our valued friend, the Rev. Samuel Dunscombe, preached to the assembly! And what resolution of the society could have been more just or more grateful than that which expressed an affectionate concern, honorably to transmit the memory of our invaluable resident, as the founder of the society, to late posterity?
And now when he was emtombed, calculate our hopes. Ah! whither had they fled! Under former bereaving dispensations in the church, and in the seminary, we comforted ourselves with this prophetic motto, "Instead of thy fathers, shall be thy children." And indeed our hope then
reached its object, and attained fruition. But now the fathers were gone -- gone the way of all the earth, and the children also. In this distress we looked far and near -- and looked in vain. Our heads were bound round with weeping willows, and our harps lay neglected on the ground; but
"Wonders of grace to God belong:"
His own arm brought salvation. The motto of our essay received a new illustration. Jehovah singled out a man from all the tribes, whose parent, the great John Ryland, in the year 1774, was one of us. Instead of the father came up the son. But, to speak in allusion to Old Testament accents, the young man would fain have hid himself; then the people ran and fetched him, and it was said with peculiar joy in Israel, "See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen!"
The dawn now succeeded the darkness. Since that time, two annual days have been spent in prayer, in gratitude, and in hope. And shall not this, the third, be consecrated to the same employ? Blessed be God, the God of Zion, that the constitutents of Broadmead Church, and the members of the Bristol Education Society, join in saying, Our eyes behold our teachings; and for both of them our hearty prayers shall ascend to God, that they may have body enough, and soul enough, for the arduous work to which they are called, and find it crowned with universal success. In these strains, I am confident every heart is united, for while we embalm the memory of our departed tutors, with the incense of praise; on the high altar of devotion we offer the sacrifice of prayer for their successors --
We bow to those whose course is run,
And join to hail each rising sun.
My dear brethren, the pupils of the academy, cannot expect me particularly to address them, in an Historical Essay. But I would remind them of the honor which I trust high heaven has conferred upon them, in counting them faithful, and putting them into the ministry. The work, to which the providence and grace of God directs your views, is the most solemn -- the most important -- the most eventful to yourselves and others for ever, that can possibly employ any intelligent being on earth --
"Tis what might fill an angel's heart,
And fill'd a Saviour's hands." - Doddridge
O! that you may be enabled so to advance in this service, with a single eye to the divine honor, as not to count your lives dear to you, if you may but glorify God, and finish your course with joy.
But though I presume not to suggest any rules of my framing for your direction, I freely recommend to your attention, and beseech you, while you remain in this seminary, to read again and again, one short piece which I venture to say exceeds all praise -- I mean Dr. Evans' address to his students. If this is regarded by you, my dear friends, seriously and conscientiously regarded, any one without enjoying a prophetic afflatus, may prognosticate the event -- those of you who are entering on an academical education, and those who of you who are soon to finish it, will beautifully exemplify the promise before us -- you will be, what we pray God every one of you may be, holy and happy yourselves, and, in addition to this felicity, you will make others, many others, holy and happy; and thus, in the highest sense, under divine influence, without which you can do nothing, you will be "princes," wherever the providence of God may direct you, "in all the earth."
How can I conclude this service, though already protracted to an unusual length, without addressing the honored friends, of the academy in general, and of the Education Society in particular?
I will not anticipate the pleasures and encomiums of posterity, when they shall contemplate the origin, and review the progressive stages by which the maturity of this seminary
shall have been accelerated. But it may pass for an assumption that the next ages will look back on this, as we review the past. At that time your names, my brethren, will be recounted with a gratitude, joy and reverence, like that we feel at the mention of TERRILL, of FOSKETT, of the EVANES, and of NEWTON.
But while we recollect, with every honorable sentiment, the history of our fathers who have lived, and taught, and died; let us rejoice and will all our powers bless the Lord, that their sons, as heirs of their talents and virtues, have arisen in their room. The humble villages, the commercial towns, the populous cities, have heard their voice, embraced their message, adored their Master, imbibed his spirit, copied his example, and are now many of them beyond all sorrow, beyond all sin, casting their crowns at the Saviour's feet, and, in all the variety of song, exulting, "worthy is the Lamb that was slain." And while this academy may humbly boast of her sons in Europe and America, who have shown unto millions the way of salvation; let us, this moment, anticipation the period, when the Alumni of our institution shall have made fruitful, not only wicked, warring Europe, and also the American States to the utmost bounds of the western world; but when, through their instrumentality, and that of other good men and gospel missionaries, all Asia and Africa's sons shall be converted to humanity and TO CHRIST -- then shall the motto of our essay, which is now seen only in the background and shades of prophecy, be read in a long-length historic picture; and the fathers, the patrons, and the sons of the institution meet, and enjoy a rapturous anniversary which shall never break up. In that perfectly holy, happy society, may we all meet! Amen and Amen.
1 It will be recollected that this discourse was delivered at Bristol; on August 26, 1795, when it was hoped that the Doctor might survive his affliction; but at the close of the public dinner of the society, news came that he was no more. On its being announced, every countenance was marked with sorrow, and every voice pronounced the eulogy of tributary esteem.
[From The American Baptist Memorial and Monthly Chronicle, New York, October, 1843, pp. 289-300; part 2, November, 1843, pp. 321-325. Copied at The Southern Baptist Seminary Library, Louisville, KY. - jrd]
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