The minister whose memoir is now presented to the attention of our readers, was an eminently useful pastor of one of our most respectable churches in the metropolis. Under his ministry in Goodman's Fields, (commencing about the year 1724, and continuing till 1750,) and that of his successors in office, Mr; Burford, and the late excellent Mr. Abraham Booth, the church increased in numbers; property, and usefulness. Many of its members have liberally and bountifully contributed towards the Baptist fund, and other institutions. Of these the most distinguished was the late Mr. Taylor, of Newgate-street, who was baptized by Mr. Samuel Wilson, and who founded, by his munificent donations, the Baptist Academical Institution at Stepney.
In the funeral sermon, preached by Dr. Gill, October 14, 1750, is contained the following account of Mr. Wilson. The doctor prefaced it by observing -"I want the eloquence of the deceased to paint him out in his proper colours, and to describe him as the accomplished man, real Christian, and excellent minister."
"The Rev. Mr. Samuel Wilson was descended from godly ministers of the denomination of Protestant Dissenters, both by father's and mother's side. He was the son of the Rev. Mr. Ebenezer Wilson, a worthy minister of Christ in this city; whose father also was an eminent preacher of the gospel at Hitchin in Hertfordshire; and as he had a religious so a liberal education. His grammar and classical learning he received under Dr. Hay, an eminent Clergyman, and Professor Ward of Gresham College: his academical studies he went through under the direction of Dr. Ridgley and Mr. Eames, under, whom he made great advances in polite and useful literature; with which being furnished, he shone out aud made that figure of the church and world he afterwards did.
"His natural parts were very quick and strong; he had great vivacity of spirit, a lively fancy and imagination, a retentive memory, a penetrating mind, and a solid judgment; which, with the above advantages of human literature, and above all, the grace of God bestowed upon him, and spiritual light and knowledge given him in the mysteries of the gospel, made him the great man he was.
"He was favoured with many preservations and providential deliverances in his infancy
and younger years, when life was in danger, which he has remarked with his own hand, as expressive of the tender care of Providence over him; and no doubt the Lord saved him in order to call him by his grace, reveal his Son in bim, and make him an able minister of the New Testament.________________________
"He received his first serious impressions under the ministry of the late Rev. Mr. Daniel Wilcox,* an eminent minister of the Presbyterian denomination in this city, as he himself relates in a discourse he published on occasion of the death of that minister, upon the same words which I have been treating of: and that he was truly a partaker of the grace of God, was not only the judgment of the church to whom he first gave up himself, but will easily be admitted by all good men that have known him, heard bim, or read him. And it was your happiness as a church, that you had such a minister, who himself had tasted that the Lord was gracious: an unregenerate ministry has been the bane of the established church, and it like to be the ruin of the Protestant dissenting interest.
"Though the father and grandfather of our deceased brother were both of the Baptist denomination, yet it was not this that determined him to become of the same persuasion himself; besides, his father dying when he was young, he was under another influence; and when he entered upon the inquiry about Baptism, no one, he himself says, could enter into it with a more earnest desire to find truth on the side of the common practice, all his conversation and prospects leaning strongly that way; but, upon taking the method which he did to search the scriptures, collect the whole evidence from them, and consider every part separately, he found himself obliged to conclude the balance was greatly on the side of Adult Baptism by immersion, and therefore determined to comply with his duty, and on the closest reflection never saw reason to repent of it. This inquiry, which he calls a scripture manual, was published a little before his death, and is worthy the perusal of every serious enquirer into truth; and by it, and other printed performances, of his, though dead, he yet speaks.+ "After he was fully satisfied in his mind about the point of Baptism, he joined himself with the church at Maze Pond, South wark, then under the pastoral care of the Rev. Mr. Edward Wallin;
* This sermon, entitled "The Blessing of a Gospel Ministry," was preached at Monkwell-street, May 20, 1733, on occasion of the death of Mr. Daniel Wilcox, the author of a work entitled "The Noble Stand," &c. in relation to the Salters' Hall controversy. Mr. Wilson says, in the passage referred to by Dr. Gill, "I cannot but express a proper value, and retain a just esteem for this congregation, since it was in this place, among you, under the ministry of your late most useful and affectionate pastor, that I received (if my heart deceived me not) the first serious impressions. And as for several years, with the greatest pleasure, and, I trust, some advantage, I made one of the throng who crowded after him, who was well skilled to speak a word in season to souls who were weary; so you will, I persuade myself, easily excuse me, if, as a debt of gratitude to his memory, I drop a tear or two of affection on his hearse, and cry out with the prophet on a like occasion, 'My father! My father! The chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.'"
+ This admirable tract, which has been repeatedly printed, and most widely circulated, may be had of Button and Son, price 1 1/2d.
It has been lately translated into the French language.
and when he had finished his studies, was called forth by that church to the work of the ministry, into which he came not only with the entire approbation of that church, but with great acceptance to the public. He was soon called te be an assistant to the Rev. Mr. John Noble,* in whose meeting-place a Lord's-day evening lecture was opened for him, where he preached to a crowded audience. He came forth even at first with clear evangelical light, with great warmth, zeal, and fervency of spirit, and, like another Apollos, with a torrent of eloquence, being mighty in the scriptures - all which things recommended him to all sorts of people, and made him exceedingly popular.________________________
"After some time, you, this church of Christ, being destitute of a pastor, called him to take the pastoral care of you, which he accepted of, and was solemnly invested with the office of a pastor, elder, or overseer, many ministers assisting in that service, who all rest from their labours, excepting myself: this, I think, was about five or six and twenty years ago. His ministry among you has been greatly owned to the conversion of many sinners, and to the comfort and edification of you all present, as well as of many that are gone to glory before liim. The low estate in which you were when you came to this place, and the numbers of which you consist, and the flourishing' condition in which you now are, abundantly show the success of bis ministration among you, notwithstanding the breaches which by one providence or another have been made upon you; his popularity continuing to the last.
"Need I describe him as a preacher to you, who, at least many of you, have so long sat under his ministry? His mien and deportment in the pulpit were grave and venerable; his gesture graceful; his address very moving and pathetic; his language striking; his discourses spiritual, savoury, and evangelical; having a tendency to awaken the minds of sinners to a sense of sin and danger, and to relieve and comfort distressed minds: he was indeed an eloquent preacher, and a warm defender of the peculiar doctrines of the Christian religion; and in one word, laborious, indefatigable, and successful; not a loiterer, but a labourer in the Lord's vineyard; as in his public work, so in the more private duties of his office, visiting the church and members of it, without respect of persons: fervent in his prayers for them, and with them; hearty in bis advice unto them, and unwearied in doing any service for them he undertook. And let me not forget, and I am persuaded you will not easily forget, his conduct at your church-meetings, where he presided, becoming his character and office; what authority he used when necessary; what prudence in all things; what patience in bearing with the infirmities of the weak, and it may be sometimes the rudeness of some, and the invectives of others; what lenity to offenders; what compassion to backsliders; what reluctance to pass the awful sentence on the incorrigible; and with what tears in prayer he would weep over such unhappy professors.
"His gift in prayer was very
* Mr. Noble was pastor of a Baptist church at Tallow-chandlers' Hall. He died in June, 1730.
remarkable and extraordinary. With what fulness of matter, freedom of mind, and fervour of spirit, as well as pertinency of expression, and propriety of language, would he pour out his soul before God, and wrestle with him! What a compass would he fetch, and how would he reach every case, both private and public; and not only express the sense of his own heart, but that of others that joined with him, in a better and fuller manner than they could do it for themselves!
"He was affable and courteous in his behaviour to all men; of a cheerful spirit; his conversation pleasant, profitable, entertaining, and useful, which made him generally beloved by all sorts of persons. In social life, he was the tender husband, the affectionate father, and the faithful friend.
"In his last illness, he was seized at first with such a stupor as rendered him very little conversable during the whole time, so that nothing of his gracious experience could be taken from him; only some broken words and expressions now and then were dropped by him, which shewed him to be in a spiritual frame. But from a small manuscript, written by him in health, I shall give a few extracts, in which he not only expresses his sense of mercies, temporal and spiritual, but observes the gracious dealings of God with him, and his experience of his divine favours. 'I have had,' says he, 'many sweet visits of his love, especially in secret, and at his table. God, in Christ, I hope, is my portion, his providence my defence, and his good Spirit my guide and comforter.' And in another place he expresses his sense of the corruption of his heart, the infirmities of his life, his faith aiid hope in a bleeding Saviour, and his desires after unspotted purity and holiness; he complains of a polluted, proud, peevish heart, prone to atheism, folly, and every evil - and of a life tarnished with many blemishes, sad indiscretions, and heart-breaking ingratitude. 'Surely,' says he, 'God hath hardly done more for any, nor have any been left to do more against him!' He then expresses a hope founded upon a bleeding Mediator, and concludes - 'Blessed day that will bring perfect purity.' Which day has come to him, and has brought it to him. A word or two more, and I have done.
"To you, the mournful widow of the deceased, give me leave to say, Your loss is indeed great; you have lost a kind and indulgent husband; but remember, Christ your spiritual husband lives; and from him, and his love, you can never be separated; put your trust in him, he will never leave you nor forsake you. You, his dear offspring, whom he most affectionately loved, you have lost one who has been, and still would have been, the guide of your youth, and constant monitor; follow his example, remember his instructions; shun the pleasures of sin, and the vanities of this world; flee youthful lusts; seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and serve your father's God, and things will be well with you. And to you this church of Christ, among whom he has ministred many years, I would only say, abide by the truths he preached to you; imitate him in every thing praiseworthy, and of good report; you have lost your shepherd, keep close to one another, and do not scatter and stray from the fold;
preserve the order and discipline of Christ's house; seek peace and pursue it; unite in your counsels; be frequent and fervent in prayer; and I doubt not but in due time, God will send you a pastor to feed you with knowledge and with understanding."Mr. Wilson was interred at Bunhill-fields, October 12, 1750, when the oration was delivered by Mr. Joseph Stennett, and afterwards printed with a volume of Mr. Wilson's Sermons. Mr. Stennett gives a very similar description of Mr. Wilson to that which Dr. Gill has given in the funeral sermon. A short extract from this oration is all which is required. "With all these happy talents," says Mr. Stennett, "he soon became a very popular and successful preacher. And that this popularity was not the effect of novelty and superficial attainments, appears, in that it was not the blaze of a few months or a year only, as is often the case, but continued with him through the whole course of his ministry. So that, by the blessing of God on his labours, he raised a congregation from low circumstances, to become one of the most flourishing in this city. And he discharged his pastoral office with seriousness, prudence, and temper, attended with such a series of increase and harmony, as few communities have for so Jong a time enjoyed."
Mr. Wilson, in addition to the publications already noticed, published in his life-time,1st. A Funeral Sermon for Mr. Edward Chamberlain, master of the charity school in Shakespeare's-walk, March 19, 1732.After the death of Mr. Wilson, eighteen sermons were published, edited by his intimate friend, Mr. Joseph Stennett.
2d. A Sermon, entitled "God's Compassion to an Ungrateful People," April 6, 1732.
3d. A Funeral Sermon for the Rev. William Arnold, pastor of the church in Unicorn-yard. This was printed in 1734.
4th. A Sermon preached to the Societies for the Reformation of Manners, at Salters'-hall, July 8, 1734.
5th. A Sermon, entitled "The Duty of the People to their Pastor," delivered in Devonshiresquare Meeting-house, at the ordination of the Rev. George Braithwaite, M. A. March 28, 1734.
6th. Two Sermons, entitled "The Doctrine of Efficacious Grace Asserted," preached at the Lime-street lecture.
[From The Baptist Magazine, January 1819, pp. 141-145. Document from Google Books On-line. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall]
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