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When Mr. Bull*was still a boy he was the means of permanently enbetrayed remarkable tenacity of feebling his intellectual and nervous memory. At twelve or fourteen years power. His first attempt at preaching of age he was taken to Weston Flavel was under interesting circumstances. to hear Mr. Harvey preach, on the The minister at Newport Pagnel had condition of his repeating the sermon been taken ill, and was in urgent on his return; a task he fulfilled need of a substitute. It was then without difficulty.
the law at Daventry that no student He early discovered an ardent should preach till he had commenced thirst for knowledge.
He obtained his fourth year at the academy; and possession of a Hebrew Bible, but he though it was vacation time, Mr. Bull had no tutor, grammar, or lexicon ; would not violate the rule. and all the aid he could secure was length it was agreed that he should that of an old Bible, which had the go to Newport, and after informing Hebrew letters heading the different the congregation of the illness of their sections of the 119th Psalm. “He pastor, read a printed sermon of Dr. at once saw that the Hebrew Bible Watts's. He read the sermon with began at what to us is the end. The so much propriety and animation, first word he knew must be either .in,that the attention of the people was or in the beginning. He looked in aroused to degree not very common his 'Concordance for other places with them; and when, spite of college where the word beginning occurred, law, he could not refrain from conand finding the same letters, he wrote cluding with an extempore appeal to down the word, Berasbeeth in the his audience, his congregation was beginning), and thus, with amazing still more impressed. And thus Mr. pains, proceeded to make out the text Bull most unexpectedly preached his word by word, till he had formed for first sermon in the pulpit he was himself a rude lexicon, and at length destined of Providence to fill with å grammar, and was able to read his such benefit to many for fifty years of Hebrew Bible tolerably well—a mar
his life.” vellous proof of his thirst for know- When Mr. Bull entered the“preachledge and of his skill in its acquisition. ing class,” his pulpit services were It is no wonder that the Hebrew was generally very welcome, and as his colalways afterwards a favourite study lege career drew to a close, several with him."
congregations, it is believed, would After his conversion he desired to have welcomed him to the pastorate. devote himself to the public service of Ultimately he accepted the invitation the Church of Christ, and he was of the then obscure church at Newport admitted to the Theological Academy Pagnel, perhaps influenced in the at Daventry, in 1759, then under the decision by the nervous depression charge of Dr. Ashworth, who had from which he suffered. succeeded Doddridge as tutor. While Soon after Mr. Bull's settlement at a student he was brought to the gates Newport Pagnel, he arranged to of death by an attack of brain fever. receive pupils, and in a short time This affliction seems to have been gathered a highly respectable school. greatly blessed to his spirit, but it Among his scholars was Sir John
Leech, late Master of the Rolls. At Next door to the vicarage, and comthat time it was illegal for a Dissenting municating with the grounds by a minister to keep a school without a doorway in the garden wall-through license from the bishop, and he was which they could communicate without threatened with prosecution. It is going into the street-lived the poet worthy of notice that it was not till William Cowper, and Mrs. Unwin. 1779 that this statute was repealed. With these interesting family circles, In June, 1768, Mr. Bull married and their friends, Mr. Bull became Miss Hannah Palmer, a daughter of intimate. At first there appears to an excellent deacon of the Old Meeting have been some misunderstanding at Bedford.
between Mr. Bull and Mr. Newton, Mr. Bull's residence at Newport but their friendship soon became most Pagnel early brought him into con- real and ripe, and their correspondence nexion with a select circle, whose continued till Mr. Newton's death. names are identified with the religious As an indication of the frankness of history of that period. Only five their relation to one another, it may miles from Newport was the town of be mentioned that Mr. Newton was Olney-the most northerly in Back- frequently a hearer at the Dissenting inghamshire-its one long street of chapel, and that he was habitually stone houses, and large church with present at the gatherings of the lofty spire, being seated in the midst Baptist Association at Olney, and at of pleasing and picturesque" scenery. ordination services. He records in About the time that Mr. Bull settled his diary in May, 1776, that the at Newport a new curate came to ministers of the Baptist Association Olney. He had been the captain of breakfasted with him. “We seemed," a Liverpool slave-ship ; and after he writes, “all mutually pleased. I much suffering and many deliverances thank Thee, my Lord, Thou hast had become a sincere Christian, and given me a heart to love Thy people had taken orders in the Established of every name. And I am willing to Church. He was no other than the discover Thine image without respect Rev. John Newton. The vicar of the of parties.” parish was one Moses Brown, who At the vicarage at Olney, Mr. Bull had been a pen-cutter by trade, after- met Mrs. Wilberforce, the aunt of the wards a dramatist, and always a poet. statesman and philanthropist, and He was also, according to Mr. Cecil, sister of the benevolent John Thorn"an Evangelical minister, and a good ton. We are not surprised to learn man;" but having been much pressed how Mrs. Wilberforce was impressed by pecuniary cares, had accepted the by the conversation and prayers of chaplaincy of Morden College, Black- the Nonconformist minister; that Mr. heath, and in consequence was a non
Bull visited her in London; and that resident vicar. Mr. Newton accepted there arose a friendship which ended the curacy in 1764, his small stipend only with her life. “I never receive being supplemented by a liberal a letter from you," she writes, “but allowance from Mr. Thornton, who it affords me pleasure and profit." was known as “the common patron Again she says, “ You are inquired of of every useful and pious endeavour.” by very many;" and subsequently, “I know it will greatly rejoice your heart The state of Cowper's health had to hear that many say they had great induced in him the strongest reluctrevivals while you were at Greenwich. ance to seeing strangers; but before I bless the Lord that I can say it was Mr. Newton left Olney he had so far a useful season to my poor soul.” prevailed with his friend as to intro
It is pleasant to see Mr. Newton's duce to him “ The Reverend William thoughtful consideration for the health Bull, a Dissenting minister,” says of his friend, as he begs Mr. Bull to Southey, 66 who was settled in the force himself “ to ride and chat with adjacent town of Newport Pagnel. some friend ; and,” he adds, "among Feelings of compassion induced Mr. all the friends you treat with your Bull to consider it a duty to visit company on such occasions, be sure him once a fortnight;' he soon benone will be more glad to receive you came attached to Cowper, and by his than your friend at the vicarage, own amiable disposition, congenial Olney.” We see Mr. Newton's af- taste, and cultivated understanding, fectionate relationship to Mr. Bull's gradually gained his cordial and confamily in the single sentence—“ Give fidential esteem.” my love to the dear mistress of
The estimate which Cowper formed nest.” We observe the piety of his of Mr. Bull is expressed in a letter heart in the quaint plea—“When the Olney poet writes to a friend. you are with the King, and getting “You are not,” he says, “ acquainted good for yourself, speak a word for with him ; perhaps it is as well for me and mine."
Subsequently Mr. you that you are not. You would Newton disclosed to his friend the regret still more than you do that fact of his intended removal to Lon- there are so many miles interposed don. “My race at Olney,” he writes,
He spends part of the “is nearly finished. I am about t day with us to-morrow. A Dissenter, form a connexion for life with one but a liberal one ; a man of letters Mary Woolnoth, a reputed London and of genius ; a master of a fine saint, in Lombard Street. I hope imagination, or rather not master of you will not blame me.
it-an imagination which, when he would not, if you knew all the cir
finds himself in the company he loves cumstances." And when Mr. Newton and can confide in, runs away with had gone to London life and labour,
him into such fields of speculation as we see that he did not forget his amuse and enliven every other imagifriend. “ Come May! come June !"
nation that has the happiness to be he writes, “ that we may trot down to
of the party
At other times he is Olney, Weston, Newport, Bedford . tender and melancholy in his disThen, if we shall be spared, be alive, position, not less agreeable in its way. well, and have money in our pockets, No men are better qualified for comand the Lord's good leave, away for panions in such a world as this than Bucks ; and then I shall hope to
men of such a temperament. Every scene of life has two sides— a dark
and a bright one; and the mind that 'A Theosophic pipe with Brother B., Beneath the shadow of his fav'rite tree,
has an equal mixture of melancholy And then how happy I! how cheerful he!' and vivacity is best of all qualified for
I think you
the contemplation of either. He can the pulpit and inform him when he be lively without levity, and pensive had preached for five and forty minutes. without dejection. Such a man is The clerk obeyed, and Mr. Bull Mr. Bull. But he smokes tobacco ! thanked him aloud, and said he would Nothing is perfect. Vihil est ab
conclude immediately. At that time omni parte beatum.'” “ Yes,” adds afternoon congregations were always his grandson, “Mr. Bull smoked
“ Mr. Bull smoked large, and sometimes drowsy. Obtobacco ! three pipes a day; but he serving this, he once said in a loud was always a dry smoker.” Perhaps voice, “ My chest aches very much, he found the anodyne a relief to his and I will sit down and rest till you nervous irritability, and his friends are all awake, and then I will proceed." were very considerate of his infirmity. Another time, under similar circum
The fifty years of Mr. Bull's minis- stances, he paused, took up a Greek try at Newport were not diversified Testament and began to read. The with events of romantic or tragic sleepers were at once aroused. Lookimportance, but they were filled with ing up from his book, Mr. Bull added, incidents of quiet Christian life and Well, I thought you could underservice, many of which are full of stand Greek as well as English when interest. and profit to the reader. you were asleep. Now I will put this His evangelistic labours in the rural aside and go on with my sermon.” districts—his preachings in barns and Mr. Bull's preaching sometimes proin the open air (“ airy pluralities," as duced a very powerful impression. George Whitfield called them)—his “ His addresses," says his grandson, services at the Tabernacle and at were often very original, sometimes Surrey Chapel — his correspondence very elaborate and well. reasoned, with Rowland Hill--his tutorship at always more or less eloquent, and the Evangelical Institution, at New- characterized by a remarkable depth port—his “parlour expositions” in and earnestness of feeling. His the homes of his friends—his popu- quaint touches of thought and oclarity as a preacher of the Gospel — casional familiarity of illustration his travels - his playful title from added to this impression. Closely Mr. Newton of " Rev. and dear did he follow the example of the Taureau”—his son's entrance into Apostle in preaching Christ and Him the ministry—his interview with the crucified. His love to the SaviourAlgerine Ambassadors—his affection- as is evident from his letters—was ate solicitude for his grand-children, most ardent. Once, in the pulpit, he and his closing days, the “memorials” quoted the words, `About the ninth these may all be perused with pleasure hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, and profit, though upon them our space saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani,' he forbids us now to dwell.
covered his face with his hands and The manners of that age were burst into tears. Unable to conclude homely and quaint. On one occasion the sentence, he said, “You know the Mr. Bull was preaching at the Taber- rest.' Often he would speak of the nacle, and thinking, perhaps, that old blessedness of the heavenly world in age might in his case be garrulous, the most glowing terms. It is only a he desired the clerk to come up to
few weeks since I was told by a very
old lady, who distinctly remembered debts, as we forgive our debtors,' that his preaching, that when he spoke the impression never left me, and of heaven it was as if he carried you from that time I date my conversion there.'
to God.” There was much of natural dignity Mr. Bull's piety was eminent. in the appearance of Mr. Bull in the “Much religious thought, much readpulpit, and great impressiveness, ing of a devotional character, and especially in his devotional exercises. much prayer, with the subduing The Rev. W. Spencer mentions that influence of almost constant affliction, after his
settlement in the seem to have contributed to this ministry at Holloway, a female some- blessed result.” what advanced in life sought admis- On the 23rd of July, 1814, in sion to his church, and stated that his 77th year, he “ fell on sleep.” she had been in the habit of worship- “ Bless the Lord,” were the last ping at Surrey Chapel.
" On one
words he uttered, and he then occasion,” she
she said, " the Rev. breathed his soul away without a William Bull was the preacher, and groan.
said I was so much struck with the manner
more like a translation in which he repeated that petition of than a death."
F. S. W. the Lord's Prayer, Forgive us our
66 It was,
We are apt to suppose little things tempestuous, and the waves are rolling to be of little consequence.
But the angry flood, the bewildered mariner faithfulness in little things often proves may see that light, may know his to be, literally, faithfulness in much. position, may sail clear of rocks and By this I mean that little things are, quick-sands into a desired haven. in their connexions and consequences,
But on some stormy night, the keeper of immense importance. A heedless of the lighthouse is indolent or sleepy, Foung man does up and delivers, in he trims not his lamp, lights it not in a small package, not the substance season, or lets it go out during the called for, but another closely resem- night watches. He fancies the disbling it. A slight mistake, one might appearance of his light for an hour or think. An unpractised eye would not two is a little thing. But just at that detect it, but instead of a useful time a vessel is on the dark waters ; medicine he has substituted a deadly the voyagers look anxiously after that poison, and life is the forfeit, the light, they lose their bearings; the destruction of a family perhaps. ship strikes, and is wrecked. Just then
There is a man whose business it is that light was missing. It was but to keep a light burning; that friendly little thing, but it caused the dread light is to be constant, reliable ; it is calamity. to shine along a dangerous coast, and Enter a certain workshop, where is when the sky is dark and the winds heard the sound of the hammer. The