Amongst the articles of neglected Biography may be noticed that of the late Rev. Joshua Symonds, many years pastor of the church assembling at the Old Meeting-house, Bedford: a remote successor of John Bunyan, and the intimate friend and correspondent of Newton, Scott, Howard, Ryland, Sutcliff, and Fuller, and an indefatigable labourer in the Lord's vineyard at Bedford twenty-one years.
Mr. Symonds was born at Kidderminster, (the nursery of piety at that day,) on January 23, 1739. His father was an apothecary, and a man eminent for godliness, as his ancestors had been for time immemorial. The late Mr. Joseph Williams speaks of him in his diary as one of the most eminent christians of his day. He was remarkably strict in the education of his children, training them up in the fear of the Lord; and he was especially careful that the whole of the Sabbath should be spent in the exercises of religion, either public, social, or private. He did not adopt the neutralizing opinion too prevalent amongst professors of the present day, that such a strict observance of the Sabbath only tends to disgust young people; an opinion it is to be feared too often adapted as an excuse for the parents own indifference on the subject. In the case of Mr. Symonds, Sen. it had no such disgusting effect; his children, two sons and three daughters, were like their parents eminent for piety, and even spoke with gratitude and affection of those who thus led them in early life to serve and fear the Lord.
Joshua, the subject of the present Memoir, commenced in his youthful days a record of his religious experience, which he continued till within a few weeks of his death, and many very heart-searching views of his own mind he has noted down; which no doubt from the conmencement of this practice led to a serious and correspondent deportment, influencing his friends to a decision in concluding he was one who ought to qualify himself for the christian ministry. It was originally intended he should be a farmer, and for this purpose he resided from the age of fourteen to twenty-one with various agriculturists in Shropshire, Herefordshire, and Worcestershire, in order to improve himself in farming. Whilst in the neighbourhood of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, he joined the church in that town, (under the pastoral care of the Rev. Mr. Jenkins,) when about eighteen years of age. Whilst he was occupied in agricultural pursuits,
he experienced several remarkable deliverances when his life was in danger; all of which made a suitable and abiding impression on his mind.
The late Rev. Gervas Wilde, then an Independent Minister of Cunsham, Birmingham, appears to be the person who first particularly pressed upon Mr. Symonds the duty of turning his mind to serious views of the ministry. April 21, 1760, Mr. Symonds writes, “About a fortnight ago I was in company with that pious and valuable servant of Christ, the Rev. G. Wilde; after we had been conversing together some little time, he moved a matter to me, which for some time I had not the least thought of. “I think (observed Mr. Wilde) you should go to London, there to prepare yourself by academical studies to enter upon the work of the ministry.' Being somewhat surprised, I asked him how he could think of it, stating at the same time I was so conscious of my unfitness for it, I could not think of undertaking that great work. However, he still pressed the subject, and answered some objections I made to it, observing also how my way was shut up as to the employment of husbandry, my strength not being sufficient for the labour required; that as to my usefulness, I must look to God to prepare me for the work; that he should not urge me to it if I thought myself sufficient as of myself. I still paid little regard to what he said till the morrow morning, when the thing was deeply impressed on my mind, and as I was returning home to Kidderminster I burst into a flood of tears at the consideration of what had occurred; I was much enlarged that morning in begging Divine direction about this matter, entreating of the Lord it might be prevented if not according to his will, or otherwise that he would powerfully incline and bend my heart to it. I also applied to my pastor, the Rev. Mr. Jenkins, for advice, and had a great deal of talk with my dear and honoured father about it.” All this brought on the good old way of doing things, for Mr. Symonds goes on to state; “At last we concluded for some of my christian friends to meet at West Bromwich, and there unite together in beseeching the Lord to show his will concerning me. Accordingly, last Wednesday, the Rev. G. Wilde, Messrs. Walker and Horton of Bromwich, my father and myself, met at Mr. Walker's, to commend the affair to an all-wise and gracious God, and blessed be his name it was a time of love to my soul—my heart was exceedingly affected, (I hope by the Divine Spirit,) especially when I engaged in prayer.—We thus left the matter to Divine direction, in a way of earnest supplication.”—Two more special prayer-meetings were held on the occasion; one at Bromsgrove, and another at West Bromwich—whilst many an ardent supplication rose in secret from his own heart, accompanied with very humbling views of his insufficiency for the work. The result of all was the decided conviction of his friends that he should engage in the work of the ministry, and the preparatory steps taken to obtain his admission as a student in the academy at Mile End, under the superintendance at that time of Dr. Conder, &c.
Sept. 1, 1760, was the day appointed for his examination before the Committee of the King's-head Society; in reference to this he
writes, “But O, my soul, how unequal am I to the awful, arduous work! Ah, where is my sufficiency? O not in myself, but blessed be God there is a sufficiency, yea, all-sufficiency, in Jesus Christ, the great Head of the church, who holds his ministers in his right hand, and walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks; I humbly hope he is my all in all; to him therefore let me apply, upon him depend, and expect all from him that I stand in need of, O for the teachings of the Holy Spirit! for it is no matter how weak the learner, if he is the teacher.” — Previous to his leaving home for London, other prayer-meetings were held on his account, and his own mind was exercised with much anxious solicitude in reference to the path of duty. All this is very characteristic of the seriousness with which christians of that day engaged in the important concerns of the sanctuary.
September, 1759, he arrived in London, and passed his examination,* with much credit to himself and with delight to those engaged on the occasion. During his residence at the Academy, he was not only diligent in the acquisition of knowledge, but was anxious that increase of learning should produce increased
* On this occasion, the late Rev. and pious Richard Winter wrote to his father, Mr. John Symonds of Kidderminster, the following satisfactory epistle.“London, Cursitor-street,
Sept. 10, 1760.
DEAR SIR, -- I received yours by your son, and return you thanks for your kind wishes. — It is a pleasure to me to be doing good, that God may be glorified. With respect to what you hint at the close of your letter, I am persuaded, as far as I am able to judge, there will be no unbecoming freedom taken with your son. I cannot help observing, what I have often observed before, that the word jesting, in Ephesians v.4, might better be rendered scurrility, for there is such a thing as a lawful, just, and innocent pleasantry. However, this I can say, that I know of nothing at the Academy that will be an hindrance; but there are many things that are likely to prove helps to him.
“Last night he was conversed with by six of the Society; I went into the room just as they had finished the conversation, and when your son was withdrawn they told me they had not received such pleasure and satisfaction in conversing with any young man proposed a long while. He gave such a solid, judicious, and entertaining account of himself, that he prevented their asking him many questions; and there was so much modesty and humility ran through his account, that they were highly delighted with him. One of the gentlemen, a man of considerable judgment in the best things, was so pleased, that he said, “This young man has given us a sermon; I dare say when he comes out into the ministry he will preach without notes.' I do assure you, my good friend, I was so affected with their pleasing opinion of him, that I could not forbear tears. — After this conversation, the report was made immediately to the Society, who were assembled in another room, upon which they were all so pleased that he was unanimously voted into the Academy for three months, for trial of his abilities; then he was called in and addressed by Mr. Webb the minister, (who was the chairman for the night, and one who examined him,) in a short religious speech, and so dismissed. I suppose your son will send you other particulars, but I could not help writing these things, because you have an answer to prayer in this matter, and great reason to rejoice in a covenant God. I think I now see tears of joy trickling down your cheeks, and a strong desire in your heart to hasten into some retired place, to return praise to God for this his goodness to you and yours. I cannot but add, your son, the first days he has been in my house, has behaved so well that he has endeared himself to me and mine. Please to inform Mr. Fawcett of these things, and as many more christian friends as you please, that they may join in thanksgiving to God. Our hearty respects to yourself and family.
I am, dear Sir,
Yours very affectionately,
sanctification of heart, and was more careful than ever to walk closely with God, examining constantly the state of his heart, with a watchful jealousy, mourning over the first symptoms of declension, and not ceasing to wrestle in prayer, till the love of God was renewed with vigour in his soul.
Previously to this time he records several remarkable escapes from death, and whilst paying a visit to his friends at the vacation of 1764, he records another very providential deliverance. Riding a horse which had been a racer, it ran away; after it had galloped near two miles at full speed, and his attempts to stop the animal had proved unavailing, he came to the determination of throwing himself off, but his fright and confusion at the time were so great, he could not afterwards recollect whether he did fling himself off, or whether he fell owing to fear, but he suspected he was dragged a yard or two, owing to his foot being entangled in the stirrup; but through mercy the only inconvenience he suffered was his ankle's being somewhat sprained. The spur leather broke, which released him from his perilous situation, and he was led to exclaim, “O Lord, how infinite thy power! how surprising thy care! how condescending thy goodness!"
Lord's-day, March 9, 1766, is the first record of his preaching at Bedford, where afterwards he laboured for so many years, setting forth the unsearchable riches of Christ crucified, proclaiming salvation to wretched dying men, and not only in Bedford, but in all the adjacent villages, entering the cottages of the poor, and carrying the glad tidings of salvation to the simple inhabitants, giving in his Master's name a welcome to all to partake of the blessings provided for them in the gospel.
His going to Bedford at this time was what men would call accidental; but no doubt it was of the Lord, who, directed his steps. Mr. Vennor, a friend of his, was invited to supply, but owing to a great fall of snow, the letter of invitation was detained so long, Mr. Vennor had not an opportunity to reply in time to prevent their writing to Mr. Symonds, and this arrangement with Mr. Symonds prevented his going to Poole, where he had been invited; in consequence, Mr. Ashburner went to supply at the latter place, and thus an opening was made for him in that part of the Lord's vineyard, where he was to labour for so many years with great acceptance and usefulness. The lot is cast into the lap, but the disposal is of the Lord.
He very soon commenced a practice, which he continued as long as health permitted, that of frequently retiring to the neighbouring woods and fields to meditate. Often in summer has he risen with the sun, rode to an adjacent
cottage, and there after a short conversation with the pious inhabitants, leaving his horse at the door of this cottage, he has retired to the solitude of the wood to converse with God, to meditate on his works and ways, and thus devote the earliest hours of day to the service of religion, and the spiritual welfare of his people.
The church at Bedford at length united to give Mr. Symonds a call to take the oversight of them as their pastor, which, after much prayer, self-examination, and many fears of his own unworthiness, he accepted; and at this season of anxious solicitude he found the value of the Rev. John Newton's friendship. “To him (says Mr. Symonds) I opened my whole heart, and enjoyed much spiritual conversation with and comfort from him.” On the 4th of August, 1767, he was solemnly set apart for the work of an Evangelist, and to one who carried all his concerns to a throne of grace, it was no doubt a time of unusual wrestling in prayer. His own account is as follows. “I rose before two o'clock. - And now the solemn day is come — this morning I have had many sore conflicts and much agonizing distress on account of my weakness, pride, and the other corruptions that work within me. Hence a dark cloud has overwhelmed my soul, and I am full of sinkings, doubts, and fears, lest I am not a child of God, and lest I am not called to the work I am going to undertake. O what bitter groans and soul-rending cries have I uttered before the Lord! Yet have I cast my poor tossed soul upon his free-grace and mercy in Jesus Christ, and would leave myself, my cares, my burdens, my sorrows, and woes, with him. O for relief from him: Amen.”
No sooner was Mr. Symonds settled as a pastor, than he began with assiduity to fill the duties of his office with affection and zeal; and he laboured with great success the remainder of his days; and as a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth; but this brought against him much opposition, owing to the great variety of sentiment that prevailed amongst a portion of his hearers, and which soon after his settlement manifested itself in personal and bitter attacks on his mode of preaching; some condemning it as legal, whilst others objected to his holding salvation by free grace alone, as the ground of it: but none of these things moved him; he still continued to set forth works as necessary to the christian character, and Christ Jesus as the only procuring cause of salvation. Christ, and his mediation, were the delightful themes that melted his own soul, and often did the flame of sacred love descend upon his hearers whilst he expatiated with flowing tears on the heavenly subject.
On the 3rd of November, 1767, Mr. Symonds was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Kingsley, daughter of an eminent druggist, who resided in Lime-street, London, and who proved a most excellent christian both in young and mature age; amiable, modest, benevolent, and heavenly minded, she was indeed the pastor's wife. Previously to her marriage much of her time had been spent with her friend, the late Mrs. Wilberforce, whose habitation was a heaven upon earth, and every day resembled a Sabbath. Here Mrs. Symonds no doubt in spiritual converse with
her friend, acquired that habit of and delight in abstractedness from the world, and that deep toned piety which characterized the whole of her life.
After Mr. Symonds had resided at Bedford some years, and had laboured with much esteem and affection amongst the good people, a change took place in his sentiments on the subject of baptism; this had nearly caused a separation between him and his people. It was to himself a time of much agitation, perplexity, and agony of mind, and very much outward opposition he experienced from his people; but the Lord enabled him to persevere and remain firm to the convictions of his mind. “Amidst all (he says) the Lord is my support and refuge, and now prayer and the promises are doubly sweet and precious. My soul is even as a weaned child, willing to stay or depart hence, just as God pleases. My dearest friends are many of them angry with me, but I hope God is not offended, yet concerning this many anxious inquiries and many alarming challenges have occurred to my mind; however, the result is a firm persuasion that I have acted right, being made willing to follow the Lord whithersoever he leads, though it be through the fire of tribulation. Hence after much sorrow and suspense, I now enjoy inward peace and tranquillity, yet at times dejected, especially as the leading members plead for my removal from my beloved people.” But he soon called upon his soul to praise the Lord for his abundant goodness. Friends were softened, prejudices abated, and the members of the church soon adopted the right way of proceeding in such a case. The brethren met for prayer and consultation. How often might breaches in churches have been healed, if the brethren had thus met for prayer: but neglecting this, all has been discord, and in the end division and desolation.
Mr. Symonds continued to pursue his course with unabated diligence, and was the happy instrument of feeding many a hungry soul with the bread of life, while he faithfully but affectionately warned sinners: but he felt his own weakness, and was often greatly discouraged on account of it: this led him to cry mightily to God for help. On one occasion he writes, “I was greatly discouraged and distressed about my work, and the frame of my mind, especially toward the latter end of the week. I uttered many groans before the Lord, which I have reason to believe he condescended to notice and regard.” In such a strain he often writes; but such seasons of humiliating perplexity were not unfrequently the forerunners of rejoicing. After one such season he records, “This afternoon was a time of remarkable liberty in prayer;” and of the evening service he observes, “A precious friend is Jesus, excellent, constant, and everlasting. O that my soul could live nearer to him” how would this lessen my burdens, alleviate my distresses, banish my fears, relieve me when low, calm and compose my spirits — quicken and animate to greater zeal, diligence and fervour, in my Master's work Precious have been the discoveries my soul has this day enjoyed. O that the word I have this day delivered to others, may be as a nail fixed in a sure place by the great Master of assemblies; and may my own soul retain the savour and impression of divine truths! — How diffusive is the religion of Jesus! the mind that is a partaker of its delightful enjoyments, soon expands in ardent desire that others may also partake of the same felicity.
March 14, 1774, Mr. Symonds notices in his diary a very affecting occurrence. “A poor Independent minister in this county (Bedford) was committed to our gaol for taking a little hay at three different times from a neighbouring gentleman, whose horses had damaged his straw, and for which he could obtain no recompense; so the poor man very improperly took this method of making reprisals. Last Friday he was tried and convicted; on Saturday evening sentenced to be privately whipped, and was yesterday (the Sabbath) discharged. Surely the melancholy event may remind us of the apostle's exhortation, “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” The affair has made much noise in town and country, and much dishonour is hereby cast on the good ways of the Lord, as well as the dissenting interest.
Mr. Symonds generally begins the year with recording the goodness of God to him through the past year. January 1, 1775, he writes, “Innumerable have been the instances of the Divine good mess, care, and tenderness, to me and mine the past year. The Lord has been pleased to grant me a liberal supply for both soul and body for my person and family, and for the flock I am called to feed. Many a time when I have been at a loss for texts, method, and matter, I have been supplied, by the word and spirit of God, out of the rich and glorious fulness of Jesus Christ. Many a time when I have been distressed and dejected, a kind and generous Father has cheered and supported me; and has kindly reconciled several of his children to me, who were alienated in some measure by my change of sentiment.”
Disease at length began to make inroads upon his strength, and he was called, in the exercise of severe and protracted suffering, to display the influence of those principles and doctrines which had been the delightful theme of his ministry in supporting the mind under such trying circumstances, and it was in these seasons the love of Christ was to him as ointment poured forth.
“January 14, 1782. — Last evening I was affected with the asthma at Meeting, but worse afterwards, especially from nine till after twelve o'clock; but O it was a night much to be remembered! O the sweet consolations with which my soul overflowed at times! I was favoured with precious views of the dear Redeemer, and delighted with the manifestations of his love and condescension. I felt more than can be expressed, and cried out, “O sweet, sweet, sweet, precious, precious, precious Jesus! How ravishing, how unsearchable thy love and grace; O free, free, free, sovereign, sovereign, sovereign grace! I had more insight than common into my own weakness, and therefore cried out, ‘Vile, vile, wretched, unworthy being!' but I cried out for pardon and cleansing through a Redeemer's blood, and was satisfied I had obtained mercy.
'O what immortal joys I felt,
And raptures all divine;
When Jesus told me I was his,
And my Redeemer mine!'
“I thought the time went away a great pace. I was both these nights of illness vastly confirmed in the truths I had been enabled to preach, both as to doctrine and practice.”
From this time Mr. Symonds was frequently called to great bodily suffering, arising from asthma, gravel, gout, and dropsy; but he proved the promise to be sure, “As thy day so shall thy strength be.” From this period he appears to have experienced
increasing delight in the secret silence of the mind.
April 6, 1783, he writes, “Monday morning I longed, I languished, I panted after the blissful and immediate presence of my precious Lord.”
“7th. O the sweet discoveries of love divine that I have been favoured with this day! O the condescending visit that my Lord has indulged me with! Sweet communion and familiar converse did I enjoy with my heavenly Father, and dear Redeemer, and with the blessed Spirit, towards whom my heart was ardently drawn out, in vehement longings and aspirations.”
In the year 1785 Mr. Symonds was much troubled with hearers who disliked his addressing sinners, and much he endured from them; but the Lord, as heretofore, was his helper; and convinced that as his divine Master came to call sinners to repentance, so it was the duty of his ministers to hold out the offers of mercy to all, he persevered amidst all the opposition he sustained, and the designs of those who were inimical to him proved abortive, though they used great exertions to form a party strong enough to obtain his removal from Bedford. Many bitter things they said of him; but he observes, “The more mine enemies rage, the more the Lord cheers and comforts me, both in a way of providence and grace; — the more they load me with calumnies, the more he loads me with his bene. fits.” At the same time he was very watchful over his own heart, lest he should indulge in an improper temper against those from whom he had received such ill treatment, and very carefully avoided an allusion to the subject both in his public prayers and preaching. He was at length delivered from these disturbers of the church, some being cut off for immoral conduct, and others leaving of their own accord.
The commencement of the year 1788 brought with it a considerable increase of bodily affliction, which frequently laid him aside from his beloved work; but herein was displayed the faithfulness of a covenant God, and the power of that religion which is wrought in the soul by the Spirit of God.
Jan. 20, he remarks, “A dismal night was the past, with the asthma, which did not go off till four o'clock this morning. I could not lie down, but sometimes sat and sometimes kneeled in bed. I cried for mercy, and begged for patience, and the Lord graciously heard me, and granted me both, and supported me with the text I preached from this afternoon, [the only part of the day he was able to preach] Psalm xlii. 8; ‘The Lord will command his loving-kindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.' The Lord graciously manifested himself to me, so that I was for a short time almost overwhelmed with a view and persuasion of it.”
“Jan. 21. I feel too often a selfish spirit about my removal by death, and too much eagerness and impatience for my dissolution: yet at other times 1 am willing to live, if it pleases the Lord to enable me to glorify him as an instrument in his hand, but I long to be resigned to suffer affliction, as well as to be actively engaged in his service.”
“March 9, 1788. Daily afflicted more or less with asthma and sickness, yet through the Divine goodness no bad fit of my disorder last week till yesterday
evening. I retired to rest at seven o'clock in the evening, but was obliged to rise and kneel or stand for two hours, then sat by the fire till between three and four o'clock this (Sabbath) morning; yet, after all, to my great astonishment, I was enabled to preach three times. The two first discourses from Psalm lxviii. 18, and Isaiah xl. 4, were rendered very delightful to my soul, by the Divine presence and assistance; but in the evening l was dull, being much exhausted. Notwithstanding my returning affliction on the one hand, and my enjoyment this day, I was in the evening grievously harassed with corruption, and my imagination and affections were defiled with sin, especially whilst I was exercised with obstruction in breathing, from three to four o'clock in the morning; but at length the Lord heard my cry, and kindly relieved me.”
“June 1. I was very ill last night and this day with the asthma; sometimes could hardly sit at Meeting, yet was helped to administer the Lord's Supper, though with difficulty; but O what a delightful soul-melting season did I enjoy! My heart was broken and comforted; the Lord drew from me tears of repentance, love, and gratitude.”
Whatever was observed by others as to his growth in grace, he continued to have the most humiliating views of himself.
July 20, 1788, he writes: “Last night I had a sore conflict, and great distress, so that I dreaded the thoughts of preaching this day; I was ashamed to mention the name of the Lord, because of my unworthiness; yet I was favoured with great and divine assistance.”
August 3, O, what an unspeakable honour and pleasure it is to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ; but alas how unable and unworthy I am to be thus employed; and what sad returns do I make for the kind assistance granted me by the God of all grace Ah! what proud thoughts whilst preaching! the recollection of which has produced within me grief and astonishment. O how humble and condescending was the Lord of life and glory! and yet I, a vile creature, high minded!”
“Aug. 10, 1788. This forenoon I preached from a text chosen by my sister K____ , Revelation vii. 17; “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall feed then,’ &c.; and O what a sweet heavenly feast of love divine was I indulged with! I hope it was a prelibation, or foretaste, of heavenly bliss, an earnest of eternal life, and a cluster of grapes from the celestial Paradise. I showed that Jesus was the Author of heavenly happiness; noticed his Title, Lamb of God; his Situation in the midst of the throne; his Supreme Authority and Inftnite Majesty: always accessible, near, and visible to glorified saints and angels, whom he feeds and leads to living fountains, which yield inexpressible refreshment, and most exquisite delight. Here we have but shallow streams, yea, but a few drops, in comparison of overflowing and ever-flowing fountains, immense unfathomable oceans of glory, love, and joy, for the infinite entertainment of immortal souls throughout an eternity.” These were the lively and animated descriptions of a soul fast ripening for the immortal state he had been exhibiting to his people in such glowing colours, and of the blessed felicity and glory, of which he was soon to enter into the full enjoyment.
“Sept. 2, 1788. While my people were assembled for prayer upon my account, (being laid aside by illness,) I retired to seek the Lord by supplication; in which, when I had been engaged for a while, I was filled with holy joy and ecstacy, from the consideration of Divine and infinite love, free and sovereign grace, to such a worthless sinner as I." — Many texts of sacred writ he here enumerates, which yielded him joy and consolation, but with the words recorded, 1 Peter i. 3-9. he was much affected, and almost transported. “O how seasonable, sweet, and suitable are these verses, especially concerning the inheritance — heaviness for a season, through manifold temptations — the trial of our faith being much more precious, &c.; lastly, loving, believing, and rejoicing in an unseen Saviour. — I was the same evening ravished with the union that subsists between the Father, Son, and real Christians. John xvii. 21; “That they all may be one, as thou Father art in me, that they may be one in us,’ &c. My views of heavenly happiness were, after a while, absorbed in the view of Christ himself, in comparison of whom heaven is a dark spot, indeed loses all its lustre, separate from the Sun of righteousness.” — Such were the employments and enjoyments of the sick chamber, and though the prayers of his beloved people were not answered as to their specific object — the restoration of the health and ministerial labours of their pastor; yet no doubt the Lord answered them, by granting an increased manifestation of his presence, and forming his faithful servant meet for the enjoyment of his everlasting reward.
The 13th of September, 1788, is the last record of Mr. Symond’s own writing. It concludes thus; “l forgot to record yesterday, that the Lord brought with application to my mind Psalm ciii. 12–17; “Like as a Father pitieth his children,’ &c. &c.;” and as the conclusion he writes, “This verse often recurs to my mind—(Watts's Hymn-book);
‘See the kind angels at the gates
Inviting us to come;
And Jesus, the forerunner, waits
To welcome travellers home.’
And a beautiful conclusion it is for a dying saint. The remainder of his diary was written by one of his deacons, and consists principally of a number of texts of scripture, which appear to have been very supporting and consolatory to him in the midst of his affliction, and tending also to show that the same spiritual comfort was afforded him to the latest period of his earthly pilgrimage; and which closed at last suddenly and unexpectedly, on Sabbath morning, November 23, 1788, when he entered into the joy of his Lord. The interment of his mortal remains was a peculiarly solemn and affecting scene. His memory was embalmed with the tears of his mourning flock, who on this occasion forcibly illustrated the words of scripture, “The memory of the just is blessed ;” and though thirty-four years have passed away since his removal, his name is still precious in Bedford ; and the church, with their respected pastor, (the Rev. T. Hillyard,) and Mr. Symonds's immediate successor, delight to evince their affectionate regard to his memory, by continued tokens of kindness to his family.
Mr. Symonds left a family of eight children, to mourn the loss of an affectionate and pious parent, and a widow, berest of one of the kindest of husbands: they
had indeed walked together in love. Mrs. Symonds only survived him four years, when she also departed in peace, leaving the orphan children to the care of a kind Providence; and as they have received the blessings of Providence in the midst of numerous straits and difficulties, so may they render to the Lord according to his mercy unto them. Mr. Symonds, on his dying bed, had strong assurances that with regard to the everlasting welfare of his family, “Not one hoof should be left behind.” An old servant, writing to one of his daughters, thirty-three years after his death, in reference to another* then lately deceased, says, “It brought to my mind the last night I sat up with your dear father, how he repeated and dwelt on part of the fifty-fourth chapter of Isaiah, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Some are already gone, leaving a happy testimony behind them that they have joined their departed parents, never more to experience separation. O that the living may all lay it to heart, and seek, earnestly seek, salvation through that Saviour, whom their earthly parent delighted to hold forth as the refuge and the Redeemer of sinful creatures then will their father's God be their God, and their guide, even unto death.
* Mrs. Bailey, of whom see an Obituary in The Baptist Magazine, for November, 1822.
[From The Baptist Magazine, August, 1823, pp. 317-319, 361-363, 411-416.