General Outline of his Character
To develop the character of any person, it is necessary to determine what was his governing principle. If this can be clearly ascertained, we shall easily account for the tenor of his conduct.
The governing principle in Mr. Pearce, beyond all doubt, was HOLY LOVE.
To mention this is sufficient to prove it to all who knew him. His friends have often compared him to "that disciple whom Jesus loved." His religion was that of the heart. Almost every thing he saw, or heard, or read, or studied, was converted to the feeding of this Divine flame. Every subject that passed through his hands seemed to have been cast into this mould. Things, that to a merely speculative mind would have furnished matter only for curiosity, to him afforded materials for devotion. His sermons were generally the effusions of his heart, and invariably aimed at the hearts of his hearers.
For the justness of the above remarks I might appeal, not only to the letters which he addressed to his friends, but to those which his friends addressed to him. It is worthy of notice how much we are influenced in our correspondence by the turn of mind of the person we address. If we write to a humorous character, we shall generally find that what we write, perhaps without being conscious of it, will be interspersed with pleasantries; or if to one of a very serious cast, our letters will be more serious than usual. On this principle it has been thought we may form some judgment of our own spirit by the spirit in which our friends address us. These remarks will apply with singular propriety to the correspondence of Mr. Pearce. In looking over the first volume of "Periodical Accounts of the Baptist Mission," the reader will easily perceive the most affectionate letters from the missionaries are those which are addressed to him.
It is not enough to say, of this affectionate spirit, that it formed a prominent feature in his character; it was rather the life-blood that animated the whole system. He seemed, as one of his friends observed, to be baptized in it. It was holy love that gave the tone to his general deportment: as a son, a subject, a neighbour, a Christian, a minister, a pastor, a friend, a husband, and a father, he was manifestly governed by this principle; and this it was that produced in him that lovely uniformity of character which constitutes the true beauty of holiness.
By the grace of God he was what he was; and to the honour of grace, and not for the glory of a sinful worm, be it recorded. Like all other men, he was the subject of a depraved nature. He felt it, and lamented it, and longed to depart that he might be freed from it; but certainly we have seldom seen
a character, taking him altogether, "whose excellences were so many and so uniform, and whose imperfections were so few." We have seen men rise high in contemplation, who have abounded but little in action. We have seen zeal mingled with bitterness, and candour degenerate into indifference; experimental religion mixed with a large portion of enthusiasm; and what is called rational religion void of every thing that interests the heart of man. We have seen splendid talents tarnished with insufferable pride; seriousness with melancholy; cheerfulness with levity; and great attainments in religion with uncharitable censoriousness towards men of low degree: but we have not seen these things in our brother Pearce.
There have been few men in whom has been united a greater portion of the contemplative and the active holy zeal and genuine candour spirituality and rationality talents that attracted almost universal applause, and yet the most unaffected modesty faithfulness in bearing testimony against evil, with the tenderest compassion to the soul of the evil-doer fortitude that would encounter any difficulty in the way of duty, without any thing boisterous, noisy, or overbearing deep seriousness, with habitual cheerfulness and a constant aim to promote the highest degrees of piety in himself and others, with a readiness to hope the best of the lowest; not "breaking the bruised reed," nor "quenching the smoking flax."
He loved the Divine character as revealed in the Scriptures. To adore God, to contemplate his glorious perfections, to enjoy his favour, and to submit to his disposal, were his highest delight. "I felt," says he, "when contemplating the hardships of a missionary life, that were the universe destroyed, and I the only being in it besides God, HE is fully adequate to my complete happiness; and had I been in an African wood, surrounded with venomous serpents, devouring beasts, and savage men, in such a frame, I should be the subject of perfect peace and exalted joy. Yes, O my God! thou hast taught me that THOU ALONE art worthy of my confidence; and, with this sentiment fixed in my heart, I am freed from all solicitude about my temporal concerns. If thy presence be enjoyed, poverty shall be riches, darkness light, affliction prosperity, reproach my honour, and fatigue my rest!"
He loved the gospel. The truths which he believed and taught dwelt richly in him, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. The reader will recollect how he went over the great principles of Christianity, examining the grounds on which he rested, in the first of those days which he devoted to solemn fasting and prayer in reference to his becoming a missionary;* and with what ardent affection he set his seal anew to every part of Divine truth as he went along.
If salvation had been of works, few men, according to our way of estimating characters, had a fairer claim; but, as he himself has related, he could not meet the king of terrors in this armour.+ So far was he from placing any dependence on his own works, that the more he did for God, the less he thought of it in such a way. "All the satisfaction I wish for here," says he, "is to be doing my heavenly Father's will. I hope I have found it my meat and drink to do his work; and can set to my seal that the purest pleasures of human life spring from the humble obedience of faith. It is a good saying, 'We cannot do too much for God, nor trust in what we do too little.' I find a growing conviction of the necessity of a free salvation. The more I do for God, the less I think of it; and am progressively ashamed that I do no more."
Christ crucified was his darling theme, from first to last. This was the subject on which he dwelt at the outset of his ministry among the Coleford
* See Chapter II, p. 386.
+ Chapter I, p. 374.
colliers, when "he could scarcely speak for weeping, nor they hear for interrupting sighs and sobs." This was the burden of the song, when addressing the more polished and crowded audiences at Birmingham, London, and Dublin; this was the grand motive exhibited in sermons for the promotion of public charities; and this was the rock on which he rested all his hopes, in the prospect of death. It is true, as we have seen, he was shaken for a time, by the writings of a Whitby, and of a Priestley; but this transient hesitation, by the overruling grace of God, tended only to establish him more firmly in the end. "Blessed be his dear name," says he, under his last affliction, "who shed his blood for me. He helps me to rejoice at times with joy unspeakable. Now I see the value of the religion of the cross. It is a religion for a dying sinner. It is all the most guilty and the most wretched can desire. Yes, I taste its sweetness, and enjoy its fulness, with all the gloom of a dying bed before me; and far rather would I be the poor emaciated and emaciating creature that I am, than be an emperor with every earthly good about him, but without a GOD."
Notwithstanding this, however, there were those in Birmingham, and other places, who would not allow that he preached the gospel. And if by the gospel were meant the doctrine taught by Mr. Huntington, Mr. Bradford, and others who follow hard after them, it must be granted he did not. If the fall and depravity of man operate to destroy his accountableness to his Creator if his inability to obey the law, or comply with the gospel, be of such a nature as to excuse him in the neglect of either or, if not, yet if Christ's coming under the law frees believers from all obligations to obey its precepts if gospel invitations are addressed only to the regenerate if the illuminating influences of the Holy Spirit consist in revealing to us the secret purposes of God concerning us, or impressing us with the idea that we are the favourites of Heaven if believing such impressions be Christian faith, and doubting of their validity unbelief if there be no such thing as progressive sanctification, nor any sanctification inherent, except that of the illumination before described -- if wicked men are not obliged to do any thing beyond what they can find in their hearts to do, nor good men to be holy beyond what they actually are and if these things constitute the gospel, Mr. Pearce certainly did not preach it. But if a man, whatever be his depravity, be necessarily a free agent, and accountable for all his dispositions and actions if gospel invitations be addressed to men, not as elect nor as nonelect, but as sinners exposed to the righteous displeasure of God if Christ's obedience and death rather increase than diminish our obligations to love God and one another if faith in Christ be a falling in with God's way of salvation, and unbelief a falling out with it if sanctification be a progressive work, and so essential a branch of our salvation as that without it no man shall see the Lord -- if the Holy Spirit instruct us in nothing by his illuminating influences but what was already revealed in the Scriptures, and which we should have perceived but for that we loved darkness rather than light and if he incline us to nothing but what was antecedently right, or to such a spirit as every intelligent creature ought at all times to have possessed then Mr. Pearce did preach the gospel; and that which his accusers call by this name is another gospel, and not the gospel of Christ.
Moreover, If the doctrine taught by Mr. Pearce be not the gospel of Christ, and that which is taught by the above writers and their adherents be, it may be expected that the effects produced will in some degree correspond with this representation. And is it evident to all men who are acquainted with both, and who judge impartially, that the doctrine taught by Mr. Pearce is productive of "hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
and perverse disputings;" that it renders those who embrace it "lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, false accusers, fierce, despisers of those that are good;" while that of his adversaries promotes "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance?" . . . . "why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right? . . . . ye shall know them by their fruits."
Mr. Pearce's ideas of preaching human obligation may be seen in the following extract from a letter addressed to a young minister who was sent out of the church of which he was pastor. "You request my thoughts how a minister should preach human obligation. I would reply, do it extensively, do it constantly; but, withal, do it affectionately, and evangelically. I think, considering the general character of our hearers, and the state of their mental improvement, it would be time lost to argue much from the data of natural religion. The best way is perhaps to express duties in Scripture language, and enforce them by evangelical motives; as the example of Christ the end of his sufferings and death the consciousness of his approbation the assistance he has promised the influence of a holy conversation on God's people, and on the people of the world the small returns we at best can make for the love of Jesus and the hope of eternal holiness. These form a body of arguments which the most simple may understand, and the most dull may feel. Yet I would not neglect on some occasions to show the obligations of man to love his Creator the reasonableness of the Divine law and the natural tendency of its commands to promote our own comfort, the good of society, and the glory of God. These will serve to illuminate, but, after all, it is 'the gospel of the grace of God' that will most effectually animate, and impel to action."
Mr. Pearce's affection to the doctrine of the cross was not merely, nor principally, on account of its being a system which secured his own safety. Had this been the case, he might, like others whose religion originates and terminates in self-love, have been delighted with the idea of the grace of the Son; but it would have been at the expense of all complacency in the righteous government of the Father. He might have admired something which he accounted the gospel, as saving him from misery; but he could have discerned no loveliness in the Divine law as being holy, just, and good, nor in the mediation of Christ as doing honour to it. That which in his view constituted the glory of the gospel was, that God is therein revealed as "the just God and the Saviour just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus."
He was a lover of good men. He was never more in his element than when joining with them in spiritual conversation, prayer, and praise. His heart was tenderly attached to the people of his charge; and it was one of the bitterest ingredients in his cup during his long affliction to be cut off from their society. When in the neighbourhood of Plymouth, he thus writes to Mr. King, one of the deacons, "Give my love to all the dear people. O pray that He who afflicts would give me patience to endure. Indeed the state of suspense in which I have been kept so long requires much of it; and I often exclaim, ere I am aware, O my dear people! O my dear family, when shall I return to you again!" He conscientiously dissented from the Church of England, and from every other national establishment of religion, as inconsistent with what he judged the Scriptural account of the nature of Christ's kingdom; nor was he less conscientious in his rejection of infant baptism, considering it as having no foundation in the Holy Scriptures, and as tending to confound the church and the world: yet he embraced with brotherly affection great numbers of godly men both in and out of the establishment. His spirit was truly catholic: he loved all who loved our Lord
Jesus Christ in sincerity. "Let us pray," said he in a letter to a friend, "for the peace of Jerusalem they shall prosper who love not this part, or the other, but who love her that is, the whole body of Christ."
He bore good-will to all mankind. It was from this principle that he so ardently desired to go and preach the gospel among the heathen. And even under his long affliction, when at times he entertained hopes of recovery, he would say, "My soul pants for usefulness more extensive than ever: I long to become an apostle to the world!" The errors and sins of men wrought much in him in a way of pity. He knew that they were culpable in the sight of God; but he knew also that he himself was a sinner, and felt that they were entitled to his compassion. His zeal for the Divinity and atonement of his Saviour never appeared to have operated in a way of unchristian bitterness against those who rejected these important doctrines; and though he was shamefully traduced by professors of another description as a mere legal preacher, and his ministry held up as affording no food for the souls of believers and though he could not but feel the injury of such misrepresentations, yet he does not appear to have cherished unchristian resentment, but would at any time have laid himself out for the good of his worst enemies. It was his constant endeavour to promote as good an understanding between the different congregations in the town as the nature of their different religious sentiments would admit. The cruel bitterness of many people against Dr. Priestley and his friends, at and after the Birmingham riots, was affecting to his mind. Such methods of opposing error he abhorred. His regard to mankind made him lament the consequences of war; but while he wished and prayed for peace to the nations, and especially to his native country, he had no idea of turbulently contending for it. Though friendly to civil and religious liberty, he stood aloof from the fire of political contention. In an excellent Circular Letter to the churches of the midland association in 1794, of which he was the writer, he thus expresses himself: "Have as little as possible to do with the world. Meddle not with political controversies. An inordinate pursuit of these, we are sorry to observe, has been as a canker-worm at the root of vital piety; and caused the love of many, formerly zealous professors, to wax cold. 'The Lord reigneth;' it is our place to 'rejoice in his government, and quietly wait for the salvation of God.' The establishment of his kingdom will be the ultimate end of all those national commotions which terrify the earth. 'The wrath of man shall praise him; and the remainder of wrath he will restrain.'" From this time, more than ever, he turned his whole attention to the promoting of the kingdom of Christ, cherishing and recommending a spirit of contentment and gratitude for the civil and religious advantages that we enjoyed. Such were the sentiments inculcated in the last sermon that he printed, and the last but one that he preached. His dear young friends who are gone to India will never forget how earnestly he charged them by letter, when confined at Plymouth, to conduct themselves in all civil matters as peaceable and obedient subjects to the government under which they lived, in whatever country it might be their lot to reside.
It was love that tempered his faithfulness with so large a portion of tender concern for the good of those whose conduct he was obliged to censure. He could not bear them that were evil; but would set himself against them with the greatest firmness; yet it was easy to discover the pain of mind with which this necessary part of duty was discharged. It is well remembered how he conducted himself towards certain preachers in the neighbourhood, who, wandering from place to place, corrupted and embroiled the churches; whose conduct he knew to be as dishonourable as their principles were loose and unscriptural; and, when requested to recite particulars in his own defence,
his fear and tenderness for character, his modest reluctance to accuse persons older than himself, and his deep concern that men engaged in the Christian ministry should render such accusations necessary, were each conspicuous, and proved to all present that the work of an accuser was to him a strange work.
It was love that expanded his heart, and prompted him to labour in season and out of season for the salvation of sinners. This was the spring of that constant stream of activity by which his life was distinguished. His conscience would not suffer him to decline what appeared to be right. "I dare not refuse," he would say, "lest I should shrink from duty. Unjustifiable ease is worse than the most difficult labours to which duty calls." To persons who never entered into his views and feelings, some parts of his conduct, especially those which relate to his desire of quitting his country that he might preach the gospel to the heathen, will appear extravagant; but no man could with greater propriety have adopted the language of the apostle, "Whether we be beside ourselves, it. is to God; or whether we be sober, it is for your cause; for the love of Christ constraineth us."
He was frequently told that his exercises were too great for his strength; but such was the ardour of his heart, "He could not die in a better work." When he went up into the pulpit to deliver his last sermon, he thought he should not have been able to get through; but when he got a little warm, he felt relieved, and forgot his indisposition, preaching with equal fervour and freedom as when in perfect health. While he was laid aside he could not forbear hoping that he should some time resume his delightful work; and, knowing the strength of his feelings to be such that it would be unsafe to trust himself, he proposed for a time to write his discourses, that his mind might not be at liberty to overdo his debilitated frame.
All his counsels, cautions, and reproofs appear to have been the effect of love. It was a rule dictated by his heart, no less than by his judgment, to discourage all evil speaking; nor would he approve of just censure unless some good and necessary end were to be answered by it. Two of his distant friends being at his house together, one of them, during the absence of the other, suggested something to his disadvantage. He put a stop to the conversation by answering, "He is here, take him aside, and tell him of it by himself: you may do him good."
If he perceived any of his acquaintance bewildered in fruitless speculations, he would in an affectionate manner endeavour to draw off their attention from these mazes of confusion to the simple doctrine of the cross. A specimen of this kind of treatment will be seen in the letter, No. I., towards the close of this chapter.
He was affectionate to all, but especially towards the rising generation. The youth of his own congregation, of London, and of Dublin, have not forgot his melting discourses, which were particularly addressed to them. He took much delight in speaking to the children, and would adapt himself to their capacities, and expostulate with them on the things which belonged to their everlasting peace. While at Plymouth, he wrote thus to one of his friends, "Oh how should I rejoice, were there a speedy prospect of my returning to my great and little congregations!" Nor was it by preaching only that he sought their eternal welfare: several of his letters are addressed to young persons. See No. II. and III., towards the close of this chapter.
With what joy did he congratulate one of his most intimate friends, on hearing that three of the younger branches of his family had apparently been brought to take the Redeemer's yoke upon them! "Thanks, thanks be to God," said he, "for the enrapturing prospects before you as a father, as a
Christian father especially. What three of a family! and these three at once! Oh the heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths of his unfathomable grace! My soul feels joy unspeakable at the blessed news. Three immortal souls secured for eternal life! Three rational spirits preparing to grace Immanuel's triumphs, and sing his praise! Three examples of virtue and goodness, exhibiting the genuine influence of the true religion of Jesus before the world! Perhaps three mothers training up to lead three future families in the way to heaven. Oh what a train of blessings do I see in this event! Most sincerely do I participate with my dear friend in his pleasures, and in his gratitude."
Towards the close of life, writing to the same friend, he thus concludes his letter, "Present our love to dear Mrs. S____, and the family, especially those whose hearts are engaged to seek the Lord and his goodness. O tell them they will find him good all their lives, supremely good on dying beds, but best of all in glory."
In his visits to the sick he was singularly useful. His sympathetic conversation, affectionate prayers, and endearing manner of recommending to them a compassionate Saviour, frequently operated as a cordial to their troubled hearts. A young man of his congregation was dangerously ill. His father living at a distance was anxious to hear from him; and Mr. Pearce, in a letter to the minister on whose preaching the father attended, wrote as follows: "I feel for the anxiety of Mr. V___, and am happy in being at this time a Barnabas to him. I was not seriously alarmed for his son till last Tuesday, when I expected from every symptom, and the language of his apothecary, that he was nigh unto death. But, to our astonishment and joy, a surprising change has since taken place. I saw him yesterday apparently in a fair way of recovery. His mind for the first part of his illness was sometimes joyful, and almost constantly calm; but, when at the worst, suspicions crowded his mind; he feared he had been a hypocrite. I talked, and prayed, and wept with him. One scene was very affecting: both he and his wife appeared like persons newly awakened. They never felt so strongly the importance of religion before. He conversed about the tenderness of Jesus to broken-hearted sinners; and, whilst we spoke, it seemed as though he came and began to heal the wound. It did me good, and I trust was not unavailing to them. They have since been for the most part happy; and a very pleasant interview I had with them on the past day."
Every man must have his seasons of relaxation. In his earlier years he would take strong bodily exercise. Of late he occasionally employed himself with the microscope, and in making a few philosophical experiments.
"We will amuse ourselves with philosophy, said he to a philosophical friend, but Jesus shall be our teacher." In all these exercises he seems never to have lost sight of God; but would be discovering something in his works that should furnish matter for praise and admiration. His mind did not appear to have been unfitted, but rather assisted by such pursuits, for the discharge of the more spiritual exercises, into which he would fall at a proper season, as into his native element. If in company with his friends, and the conversation turned upon the works of nature, or art, or any other subject of science, he would cheerfully take a part in it, and when occasion required, by some easy and pleasant transition, direct it into another channel. An ingenious friend once showed him a model of a machine which he thought of constructing, and by which he hoped to be able to produce a perpetual motion. Mr. Pearce, having patiently inspected it, discovered where the operation would stop, and pointed it out. His friend was convinced, and felt, as may be supposed, rather unpleasant at his disappointment. He consoled him; and, a prayer-meeting being at hand, said to this effect, "We may learn from hence our own
insufficiency, and the glory of that Being who is 'wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working:' let us go and worship Him."
His mild and gentle disposition, not apt to give or take offence, often won upon persons in matters wherein at first they have shown themselves averse. When collecting for the Baptist mission, a gentleman, who had no knowledge of him, or of the conductors of that undertaking, made some objections on the ground that the Baptists had little or nothing to say to the unconverted. This objection Mr. Pearce attempted to remove, by alleging that the parties concerned in this business were entirely of another mind. "I am glad to hear it," said the gentleman; "but I have my fears." "Then pray, sir," said Mr. Pearce, "do not give till you are satisfied." "Why, I assure you," replied the other, "I think the Methodists more likely to succeed than you; and should feel more pleasure in giving them ten guineas, than you one." "If you give them twenty guineas, sir," said Mr. Pearce, "we shall rejoice in their success; and if you give us one, I hope it will not be misapplied." The gentleman smiled, and gave him four.
His figure, to a superficial observer, would, at first sight, convey nothing very interesting; but, on close inspection, his countenance would be acknowledged to be a faithful index to his soul. Calm, placid, and, when in the pulpit especially, full of animation, his appearance was not a little expressive of the interest he felt in the eternal welfare of his audience; his eyes beaming benignity, and speaking in the most impressive language his willingness to impart not only the gospel of God, but his own soul also.
His imagination was vivid, and his judgment clear. He relished the elegances of science, and felt alive to the most delicate and refined sentiments; yet these were things on account of which he does not appear to have valued himself. They were rather his amusements than his employment.
His address was easy and insinuating; his voice pleasant, but sometimes overstrained in the course of his sermon; his language chaste, flowing, and inclining to the florid this last, however, abated as his judgment ripened. His delivery was rather slow than rapid; his attitude graceful; and his countenance, in almost all his discourses, approaching to an affectionate smile. He never appears, however, to have studied what are called the graces of pulpit action; and whatever he had read concerning them, it was manifest that he thought nothing of them, or of any other of the ornaments of speech, at the time. Both his action and language were the genuine expressions of an ardent mind, affected, and sometimes deeply, with his subject. Being rather below the common stature, and disregarding, or rather, I might say, disapproving every thing pompous in his appearance, he has upon some occasions been prejudged to his disadvantage; but the song of the nightingale is not the less melodious for his not appearing in a gaudy plumage. His manner of preparing for the pulpit may be seen in a letter addressed to Mr. C____, of L____, who was sent out of his church, and which may be of use to others in a similar situation. See No. IV. towards the close of this chapter.
His ministry was highly acceptable to persons of education; but he appears to have been most in his element when preaching to the poor. The feelings which he himself expresses, when instructing the colliers, appear to have continued with him through life. It was his delight to carry the glad tidings of salvation into the villages wherever he could find access and opportunity. And as he sought the good of their souls, so he both laboured and suffered to relieve their temporal wants; living himself in a style of frugality and selfdenial, that he might have whereof to give to them that needed.
Finally, He possessed a large portion of real happiness. There are few
characters whose enjoyments, both natural and spiritual, have risen to so great a height. He dwelt in love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." Such a life must needs be happy. If his religion had originated and terminated in self-love, as some contend the whole of religion does, his joys had been not only of a different nature, but far less extensive than they were. His interest was bound up with that of his Lord and Saviour. Its afflictions were his affliction, and its joys his joy. The grand object of his desire was to "see the good of God's chosen, to rejoice in the gladness of his nation, and to glory with his inheritance." "What pleasures do those lose," says he, "who have no interest in God's gracious and holy cause!"*
If an object of joy presented itself to his mind, he would delight in multiplying it by its probable or possible consequences. Thus it was, as we have seen, in his congratulating his friend on the conversion of three of his children; and thus it was when speaking of a people who divided into two congregations, not from discord, but from an increase of numbers; and who generously united in erecting a new and additional place of worship: "These liberal souls are subscribing," said he, "in order to support a religion which, as far as it truly prevails, will render others as liberal as themselves."
His heart was so much formed for social enjoyment, that he seems to have contemplated the heavenly state under this idea with peculiar advantage. This was the leading theme of a discourse from Revelation v. 9-12, which he delivered at a meeting of ministers at Arnsby, April 18, 1797; and of which his brethren retain a lively remembrance. On this pleasing subject he dwells also in a letter to his dear friend Birt. "I had much pleasure, a few days since, in meditating on the affectionate language of our Lord to his sorrowful disciples: 'I go to prepare a place for you.' What a plenitude of consolation do these words contain! what a sweet view of heaven as a place of society! It is one place for us all; that place where his glorified body is, there all his followers shall assemble, to part no more. Where he is, there we shall be also. O blessed anticipation! There shall be Abel, and all the martyrs; Abraham, and all the patriarchs; Isaiah, and all the prophets; Paul, and all the apostles; Gabriel, and all the angels; and, above all, Jesus, and all his ransomed people! Oh to be amongst the number! My dear brother, let us be strong in the Lord. Let us realize the bliss before us. Let our faith bring heaven itself near, and feast, and live upon the scene. Oh what a commanding influence would it have upon our thoughts, passions, comforts, sorrows, words, ministry, prayers, praises, and conduct. What manner of persons should we be in all holy conversation and godliness!"
In many persons the pleasures imparted by religion are counteracted by a gloomy constitution; but it was not so in him. In his disposition they met with a friendly soul. Cheerfulness was as natural to him as breathing; and this spirit, sanctified by the grace of God, gave a tincture to all his thoughts, conversation, and preaching. He was seldom heard without tears; but they were frequently tears of pleasure. No levity, no attempts at wit, no aiming to excite the risibility of an audience, ever disgraced his sermons. Religion in him was habitual seriousness, mingled with sacred pleasure, frequently rising into sublime delight, and occasionally overflowing with transporting joy.
* See the Letter to Dr. Ryland, May 30, 1796.
[From Joseph Belcher, editor, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume III, 1845, rpt. 1988; pp. 429-437. Document provided by David Oldfield, Post Falls, ID. Formatted by Jim Duvall]
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