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FOR DECEMBER, 1839.
THE LATE RE V. JOHN HALL,
OF CHESHAM, BUCKS. The volume of divine truth evinces a their son, yet they infused a reverence perfect knowledge of man; and while it for religion, and were instrumental, at embraces history, precepts, and doctrines, subsequent periods of his life, in restrainit sketches, with inimitable skill, and re- ing him from daring impiety. veals, sometimes by incidental allusion, When he arrived at the age of sixteen, the broad outlines and changing aspects he left home to acquire the knowledge of of individual character. The virtues and a trade. In the place of his apprenticefailings of good men are faithfully exhibit- ship, which was about nine miles from ed, and an air of honest impartiality per- his father's house, there was a lamentable vades the whole. In some instances, the destitution of evangelical preaching; and bright assemblage of excellence is over. being thus removed from parental overshadowed by singular defects; while sight, and the privileges of a faithful others appear to have passed through ministry, his indifference to divine things life with irreproachable consistency. considerably increased. After the lapse These remarks have been suggested by of two years, the gospel was introduced the eminent piety of the lamented sub- into the town by some students from ject of this memoir; and the writer Hoxton Academy, and to their labours might fear the charge of indiscriminate he refers with special gratitude. eulogy, were it not that his testimony is But the immediate cause of that spisupported by many mourning witnesses ritual change of which his life was so to its truth.
striking a confirmation, shall be given in John Hall was born Sept. 10, 1790, his own words : “ The first serious and at Gatesend, near Fakenham, Norfolk. abiding impressions which I recollect to It was his privilege to enjoy the emi. have been made on my mind were occanent blessing of pious parents, who, by sioned by conversing with the Rev. James steady moral discipline, spiritual culture, Brown, now of North Walsham. I had and fervent prayer, strove to affect his been hearing, on the Sabbath morning, mind with the truths they had experi- an aged minister preach at my father's mentally enjoyed. In their house family house, from Gal. iii. 22, ‘But the scripworship was conscientiously maintained, ture hath concluded all under sin, that and their example gave might to their af- the promise by faith of Jesus Christ fectionate advice. Although these efforts night be given to them that believe." I did not issue in the carly conversion of do not remember that the sermon proVOL. XVII.
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duced any particular effect on my mind. Retaining the text on my memory, and at night being in the company of Mr. Brown, I stated to him whom and what I had heard. He looked at me, and in a serious manner replied, as I repeated the text, 'If the scripture hath concluded all under sin, then you, John, are under sin!' As he proceeded to enlarge, I heard with unusual attention; went home that evening much impressed; retired for repose, but 'sleep departed from mine eyes.' The morning brought with it the common avocations of the day, and such a day till then I never saw. I was compelled, by my situation, to assume the air of cheerfulness, but my heart was sorrowful. I saw and felt myself a sinner, deserving the wrath of Heaven, and was afraid of being abandoned of God, and sent to perdition. I tremoled for fear of being numbered with apostate angels and impenitent sinners. I cannot describe the feelings of that day; they seemed to illustrate the divine interrogation, 'A wounded spirit who can bear?'
This excessive emotion gradually abated, and he was led to employ every prescribed means to escape from the pressure of his distress. He now heard the declarations of the gospel of peace with eager attention, besought the divine favour with great importunity, and, although no particular period can be spe. cified when his doubts forsook him, he ultimately realized the peace that passeth all understanding. His path, however, was frequently darkened by painful, though probably, salutary anxiety, lest he should not persevere in “holding faith and a good conscience;" but, by the judicious encouragement of his father, and other Christian friends, he was enabled to acquire a degree of holy confidence in God.
Gratitude for his own deliverance inspired him with a desire to publish the way of salvation to others; and, although he felt a ineasure of confidence, arising from his knowledge of the Scriptures, that he could reason with his fellow-men, yet his characteristic modesty prevented him from indulging the hope of entire devotion to the ministry.
When the term of his apprenticeship expired, he came to London, where the conviction of his personal obligation to preach the gospel grarlually strengthened. He, therefore, solicited the advice
of his friends, and, especially, sought the guidance of “ Him, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working;" and resolved, amidst much embarrassment, to reveal the conflict of his spirit to his brother, then a student in Hoxton Academy. The letter, which contained the disclosure of his feeliugs, was strictly confidential, wben, to his surprise, he was inforined by his brother in reply, that he had anticipated the same result; and that his pastor, the Rev. Isaac Allen, then of Lyon, Norfolk, had named bim to the Coinmittee of the Academy, as eligible to enjoy its privileges. This incident encouraged him to hope that his path was more clearly discernible; and, after several interviews with his brother, he resolved to offer himself as a candi. date for the Christian ministry, and was received in the usual manner after the midsummer recess of 1812.
He acquired the esteem of his tutors, as well by his general spirit and behaviour, as by his respectable attainments in useful literature. His habits, as a student, were highly exemplary. He was diligent in securing as large an amount of knowledge as the season of preparation would allow; and, while his piety was cheerful, he maintained that severe self-inspection and control so necessary for the strength and solidity of Christian character.
In the year 1815, Mr. Hall was invited to undertake the pastoral office, by the unanimous request of the members of the Independent church at Chesham; but, as he was unwilling to allow any thing to hinder the completion of his studies, he refused at that iime to accept the call. The invitation was repeated in March, 1816, and in the following month he intimated his acquiescence in their request.
He was publicly ordained to the work of the ministry, July 10, 1817, when the Rev. A. Redford, of Windsor; Dr. Redford, of Worcester ; J. Clayton, Jun., of London; and the late J. Hooper, of Hoxton, assisted at the impressive service.
Ministerial life, as has often been remarked, furnishes but few incidents; yet this, instead of being a matter of regret, will appear to be eminently advantageous. The operations of nature are proverbially regular; and the greatest amount of spiritual good will be found to result from labours which afford little scope for
historical remark. We shall, therefore, pain in the chest, and great weakness, refer to a few events in the history of our which increased alarmingly during the departed friend; state the particulars of night. Early the following morning bis his death; and then attempt a brief medical attendant pronounced him very sketch of his character.
ill, and about the middle of the day, he As Mr. Hall was favoured with an was seized with violent spasms, which unusual measure of health, the interrup- were supposed by the sufferer to be the tions to his public labours were com- agonies of death. He, therefore, took a paratively few. His ministrations were sorrowful and affectionate farewell of his always distinguished by deep solemnity, beloved wife and daughter, saying, “I and the care with which he prepared for am going to eternity ; but I am not them showed an accurate perception of afraid to die, my hope is in the Lord the dignity and importance of his work. Jesus Christ; and my consolation for Being solicitous to maintain a harmony you is, that you trust in him.” The inbetween his public exhortations and his tense sharpuess of the pain led him to personal conduct, his words fell with implore that the Lord would not take weight, because his people felt confi- him away “in that awful storm," as he dence in the sincerity of his character. termed it, saying, “ I should wish to die These exertions were attended with suddenly — suddenly – but peacefully." proofs of divine approbation, and many His prayer was heard; the pain, in a were added to the church who gave great degree, subsided; and many faample evidence of a spiritual change. vourable symptoms appeared, which conBut combined with his pulpit labours, tinued, though with great restlessness, there was another sphere in which his debility, and sickness, until Wednesday efforts and example were beneficially felt. evening, when he experienced another In the domestic circle, which included a spasmodic attack. During the twelve select number of young ladies, who en- hours of suffering which immediately foljoyed the instructions of his beloved lowed, his mind was serene, and, occapartner, (the eldest daughter of the late sionally, triumphant; while his' heart Rev. William Maurice, pastor of the teemed with gratitude to all around him, church assembling in Fetter-lane, Lon- for their tender and assiduous services. He don,) his Christian solicitude has been evinced a simple dependence on Christ; rewarded with many cheering instances and in answer to those who inquired of permanent usefulness. Many can as- respecting the state of his mind, he recribe, with holy gratitude, their first im- plied, “ I am a poor sinner, but my hope pressions, under God, to his instrumen- is in the Lord Jesus Christ.” The vitality; and should this allusion meet the gour of his faith enabled him to exclaim notice of any who have not prized their with striking earnestness, " I shall behold advantages, even they, we are convinced, -I shall behold-his face in righteouswill acknowledge his tender fidelity, and ness !” He repeated, at intervals, several the convincing evidence which his life stanzas of a favourite hymn,afforded of the excellence of the gospel.
"Jesus, thy robe of righteousness," &c. During the past year our deceased friend became the subject of indisposition, And again, intimating his humble conresulting, according to the opinion of his fidence, by uttering with peculiar emmedical friends, from debility, in measure, phasis, perhaps, occasioned by preaching three
" But the bright world to which I go," &c. times on the Sabbath. Under these circumstances, he considered it to be his At midnight, he suggested, that if any duty to remove; and the church received of his friends desired to see him, they an intimation, in December last, of the might then visit him. As several imme. probability of his resignation during the diately embraced this opportunity, he ensuing year; but as they readily con- addressed them with special tenderness sented to dispense with his labours on and fidelity; commending them and their the Sabbath afternoon, he decided, after families to God, urging them to bring up seeking divine guidance, and the opinion their children for heaven, saying, “ Let of his friends, “ to remain with them, at them all be gathered in, let not one of least, for the present.”
them be wanting.” He addressed one of From that time he proceeded with his his medical friends present, the senior ministerial engagements until Saturday, deacon of the church, as his “old and March 30th, when he was affected with tried friend,” calling him, in a tone of affection, “ Fidus Achates.” Then, look- and many touching allusions to the ing round, he said, “I know you all, breach thus made in the circle of his every one, and soon I shall know even personal friendship. The body was then as I am known,” assuring them that his conveyed to the tomb, when the Rev.W. hope of heaven arose from the work of Harris, of Wallingford, closed the solemn regeneration in his soul, and simple faith service with prayer. The inhabitants of in Jesus Christ; and that re-union with the town generally manifested their rehim was only to be expected from a gard for the deceased, and intimated the share in the same blessings. He said, loss they had sustained by the usual “ I have always insisted on the doctrines signs of mourning. On the following of justification by faith, and free grace: Sabbath evening, the Rev. J. Staughton, of these I have never been afraid to speak of Windsor, preached an impressive futoo strongly, as far removed from Anti- neral sermon to the bereaved congrega. nomian principles as from cold legality: tion, from Genesis v. 24,
« And he was Withiu the last few years I have studied not: for God took him," a text from the Scriptures closely, particularly the which Mr. Hall had, only a few weeks New Testament, which I have read before, delivered an excellent and intertwelve times in the original language, esting discourse. and the more I read, and the more I The church and congregation from think of these things, the more I am per- which our friend was removed, being suaded that the kingdom of God cometh conscious of his many excellences, and not with observation: it is a silent work, anxious to give a proof of their esteem like the breaking of the morning.” After for his character, unanimously subscribed a pause he said, “I could preach a ser- for the erection of a tablet to perpetuate mon, if I might be allowed; I had pre
It is now affixed in a conpared two for last Sabbath.” Being asked spicuous part of the chapel, and the folthe texts, he repeated at length 1 Thess. lowing is a copy of the inscription:i. 10, “And to wait for his Son from
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF heaven, whom he raised from the dead,
THE REV. JOHN HALL, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come :" Isaiah lv. 6,“ Seek ye the Lord while he may be found." He frequently alluded to the happiness of WHO DIED APRIL 4, 1839, AGED 49. his life, which had, in no small degree, arisen from his nearest connexion; and IN HIS CHARACTER WERE HAPPILY intimated his persuasion of the approach
BLENDED, ing close of that life by adding,
CHRISTIAN ZEAL AND UNIVERSAL “ And every beating pulse I tell, Leaves but the number less."
HIS JUDGMENT WAS SOUND;
HIS INTEGRITY BLAMELESS; And when his voice became almost in
HIS PIETY FERVENT ; audible, he was heard to whisper, “I
YET WAS HE CLOTHED WITH HUMILITY; have seen glorious things this night.”
FIRM IN HIS OWN VIEWS OF TRUTH; Thus did the foretaste of that joy, on CANDID TOWARDS THOSE WHO DIFFERED the fulness of which he was so soon to enter, enable him to triumph in the ALIVE TO THE BEST INTERESTS OF SOCIETT; agony of dissolution, and at a quarter ACTIVE IN THE CAUSE OF LIBERTY, to five on Thursday morning, April 4th, he fell asleep in Jesus.
PATIENT, SELF-DENYING, GUILELESS. The remains of this excellent minister were removed, on Wednesday, April
RESTING HIS JOYFUL ROPE UPON THE 10th, from his late residence to the ad.
MERITS OF THE SAVIOUR, joining chapel, where he had so faithfully
IN THE MINISTRY OF HIS WORD,
WHOM, preached the gospel of Christ, wlien a numerous train of ministers and friends
Heb. xili. 7, 8. united to pay their last tribute of respect to his memory. The Rev. J. J. Free- It now remains to present a brief man delivered an affecting address, which sketch of his character; and since it evinced tender sympathy for the be- would be unscriptural to insinuate perreaved, and sorrow for the church, fection, it would be equally wrong to demingled with expressions of high adó preciate the victory of grace over human miration and esteein for his character, nature. The Apostle of the Genuiles
MORE THAN TWENTY-TWO YEARS THE
OF THIS CHURCH,
CIVIL AND RELIGIOUS;
HE DIED AS HE LIVED,
HE DELIGHTED TO HOXOUR.
cheerfully avowed, “By the grace of God reading was extensive; and his mastery I am what I am," and in that confession, of the subjects of inquiry enabled him to we are certain our departed friend would impart his treasures with facility. He cordially unite.
steadily watched the progress of science, If character is ever likely to be known, and felt an interest in the varied efforts it appears that the domestic circle is the of the human mind. He was eininently place where it may be correctly ascer- susceptible of impressions produced by tained; for, however infirmities and dea natural beauty, and the scenery of those fects may be veiled from public gaze, parts of our country which he visited they will, if they exist, be apparent here. during the season of relaxation, always But the constant observers, especially appeared to him as a magnificent tablet the mourning relatives of this devoted on which the characters of divine wisminister, bear a unanimous testimony to dom and paternal care were legibly imthe circumspection, cheerful piety, and pressed; but that which threw a special holy benevolence which he perseveringly charm over the works of God was the displayed. It seems to have been with thought that He who created them had him an abiding resolution to illustrate become, through Christ, his unchangethe themes of his ministry by an unceas- able friend and portion. ing jealousy over his own spirit, and to He would sometimes embody his carry the savour of divine truth into
thoughts in the appropriate decorations every sphere of life.
of verse, and many specimens might be His mourning widow can bear testi- selected, which present indications of mony to the ardour and constancy of sincere piety, blended with a chaste imahis affection, and the tender solicitude gination. Take, for example, the followwith which he sought to promote her ing stanzas suggested by this passage of happiness, by every means within his Scripture :power; while his bereaved daughter, and only child, having enjoyed the privilege
“So he giveth his beloved sleep."
Psalm cxxvii. 2. of his instruction and mild control, can
" Some there are who hare no pillow; sufficiently appreciate the depth and fer
Day and night they live unblest; vour of parental love ; they derive solace Rising, falling as the billow; from the fragrance of his memory, and
Seeking, never finding rest. acknowledge with thankfulness the ope
“ Others-and their name is legion, ration of that grace which enabled him
Sleep both day and night away,
In that dark, cold, cheerless region to “ show piety at home.”
Where their softest bed is clay. His surviving brother affectingly al- " We sleep-'tis Heaven the blessing gives; ludes to his genuine love towards him,
We wake, to see the morning ray; and beautifully remarks, in a brief me
O may we sleep in Him who lives,
And wake with Him in endless day!" moir, published in the Congregational Magazine for July last, “ Did the clouds But that which gave vigour and sta- ; gather blackness, or the sun threaten to bility to his piety was his devout and scorch, he was sure to be found at hand, ample study of the Holy Scriptures. For endeavouring to afford a shelter or a many years it was his practice to spend shade; this relation he sustained to one two hours every morning early, in dili. only; and it affords no small degree of gent effort to understand the sense, pleasure to him who is now left alone, combined with earnest desire to feel the to reflect that he never spake or looked influence of divine truth. He read the any thing but kindness."
original text with care, and availed him. As a master, he exercised his autho- self of those auxiliaries for its elucidation rity with peculiar gentleness, so that his which showed anxiety rightly to perceive servants counted him “worthy of all ho- the mind of the Spirit. These habits of nour," I Tim. vi. 1.
patient attention and research qualified The scenes of domestic enjoyment him to appear before his people as “a were enlivened by his intelligent conver- scribe instructed unto the kingdom of sation, and so intent was he upon the heaven. .. bringing forth out of diffusion of happiness around him, that his treasure things new and old." His bis benevolence led him to devise many sermons were distinguished for the prosurprises of pleasure. His mind was
minence given to the capital doctrines of richly furnished; since the acquisition the gospel; and his luminous illustrations and spread of knowledge were, at once, a of Scripture were always subservient to matter of duty and a source of delight. His the furtherance of practical religion.