Page images

with great integrity and ability, till his decease in 1702. The proposal made to our author was, that he should be domestic chaplain to her ladyship, and tutor to her youngest son, Brindley Treby. To this proposal he acceded; and it need not be said, how well qualified he was, by his knowledge, judgment, and learning, for superintending a young gentleman's education. After having conducted Mr. Treby's studies three years, he accompanied him in an excursion into France, the Austrian Netherlands, and the United Provinces, which employed four months. From a journal which Mr. Lardner kept of this tour, it was evident, that he did not lose the opportunity it afforded him of making exact and judicious observations on the manners and customs of the inhabitants whom he saw and visited, and on the edifices and curiosities of the countries through which he passed. How long he sustained the specific character of tutor to young Mr. Treby, does not appear: but he continued in Lady Treby's family till her death, which happened in the beginning of the year 1721. By this event, he was removed from a situation which seems to have been an agreeable one, and was thrown into circumstances of some perplexity and suspense. His own remarks will show the state of his mind at that time. I am yet at a loss,' says he,


how to dispose of myself. I can say, I am desirous of being useful in the world. Without this, no external advantages ' relating to myself will make me happy: and yet I have no 'prospect of being serviceable in the work of the ministry: having preached many years without being favoured with the ' approbation and choice of any one congregation.'


It reflects no honour upon the dissenters, that a man of such merit should so long have been neglected. But it must be observed, that in elections which are dependant upon the whole body of the congregation, a regard will usually be paid, not only to internal abilities, but to external qualifications. It is not probable that Mr. Lardner, even in his best days, was possessed of a good elocution; and his simple mode of composition was not calculated to strike the multitude. Rational preaching had not then made a very extensive progress among the dissenters; and it is to be lamented, that, when it became more prevalent, it should too often be disjoined from energy and pathos.

Two years after the death of Lady Treby, Mr. Lardner met with another calamity, which greatly affected him. This

a Beatson's Political Index, part iii. p. 74. b Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the late Rev. Nathaniel Lardner, D.D. p. 4.



was the decease of his former pupil, Brindley Treby, Esq. a gentleman for whom our author had the highest affection and esteem. Indeed, he felt so deeply the loss of his friend, that he imputed to it, in part, the increase of a deafness, which had been coming upon him for some time before. In the beginning of the year 1724, he writes as follows: Mr. Cornish 'preached; but I was not able to hear any thing he said, nor so much as the sound of his voice. I am, indeed, at present so deaf, that when I sit in the pulpit, and the congregation is singing, I can hardly tell whether they are singing or not.' Previously to this account of himself, and at least as early as 1723, Mr. Lardner was engaged, in conjunction with a number of ministers, in carrying on a course of lectures, on a Tuesday evening, at the old Jewry. His first associates were Mr. Hughes, Mr. Chandler, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Kench, and Mr. Godwin; the two latter of whom soon resigned the connection, and their places were supplied by Mr. Calamy and Mr. Mole.d


• Memoirs, ubi supra, p. 11.

d Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Obadiah Hughes was many years minister of a congregation in Southwark, from which he removed to Westminster. By marriage he became possessed of a large fortune. He was an acceptable preacher, and printed some occasional sermons; but did not otherwise distinguish himself in the literary world.

On Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Samuel Chandler's abilities, learning, and writings, it is needless to enlarge, as they cannot be unknown to any of my readers. Such persons as wish to see a particular account of him, may have recourse to the third volume of the Biographia Britannica.

Mr. Harrison was a minister of the Antipædobaptist persuasion, who officiated in Wild-Street. Not long after his having been engaged in the Tuesday lecture, he conformed to the church of England, and preached a sermon at St. Vedast's Foster-lane, in vindication of his conformity. The sermon, which was afterwards printed, did not obtain the approbation of bishop Hoadly. When Mr. Gough, another young dissenting minister, some years after, applied to that prelate for orders, his lordship advised him not to follow Mr. Harrison's example with regard to publication. This Mr. Gough was the author of a pamphlet on the Causes of the Decay of the Dissenting Interest, an answer to which was one of Dr. Doddridge's earliest performances. Mr. Gough published likewise a volume of sermons, which are sensible and judicious, and not destitute of elegance. He was of the school of Clarke and Hoadly, and was very intimate with Dr. James Foster. Mr. Harrison became insane, and died in early life: but there is no reason to believe that he was dissatisfied with his own conduct. For these particulars concerning him, the present Biographer is indebted to an excellent and learned friend, the Rev. Edward Williams, of Nottingham. The author of the Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Dr. Lardner is mistaken in asserting, that Dr. Harris was one of the Tuesday evening lecturers: Dr. William Harris was then an old minister; whereas the lecture was carried on by young men.

Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Kench was, as well as Mr. Harrison, a Baptist minister, and of considerable note in his day. I do not recollect that he published any other than a few occasional discourses.

At this time, and indeed many years before, Mr. Lardner was a member of a literary society, consisting of ministers and lay gentlemen, who met, on Monday evenings, at Chew's coffee-house, in Bow-lane, Cheapside. The chairman of this society, at every meeting, proposed two questions, to be freely and candidly debated; besides which, each member, in his turn, produced an essay on some learned or entertaining subject. Such institutions have been of eminent service to the republic of literature: they have given rise to many important discoveries, and to many valuable works, which otherwise would never have existed. A history of societies of this kind, which are now diffused through every part of Europe, and are extended to the Western and the Eastern world, tracing their small beginnings, their gradual increase, their more permanent establishment, and their beneficial effects, would be a very instructive and entertaining performance.

Another society, which met at Chew's coffee-house on a Thursday, and of which Mr. Lardner was a member, consisted entirely of ministers. The gentlemen belonging to this society, had a design of composing a Concordance of Things to the Bible, and began to methodize the book of Proverbs for that purpose. They had first drawn up a scheme of the whole undertaking, the different parts of which were assigned to Mr. Lardner, Mr. Cornish, Mr. Hughes, Mr. Read, Mr. Clark, Mr. Hunt, Mr. Wroe, and Mr. Savage. It doth not

Mr. Godwin was long the respectable pastor of a congregation that met in Little St. Helen's, Bishopsgate-street. He was an intimate friend of Dr. Doddridge, and assisted him much in correcting his works for the press, and in drawing up the index to the Family Expositor.

Mr. Calamy, the son of the famous Dr. Edmund Calamy, was an ingenious and learned man. He was for some time assistant to Dr. Benjamin Grosvenor, but declined preaching several years before his death.

Mr. Mole was first a minister at Uxbridge, then at Rotherhithe, and last of all at Hackney. At length he retired to Uxbridge, where he died not many years since. In point of learning, he might be ranked with Lardner, Benson, and Chandler. He was the author of some valuable publications, and employed the latter part of his days in writing, in Latin, a life of the celebrated Laurentius Valla, including the religious and literary history of the time. The manuscript of this work Mr. Mole's executors, with an inattention which can never be justified, permitted to be sold with his books at a common auction.

• Mr. Cornish was assistant to Mr. Joshua Bayes, sen, and continued in that capacity till his death, which happened when he was under forty years of age. Mr. Hughes I have already mentioned. Mr. James Read preached to a society in New Broad Street, behind the Royal Exchange, first as assistant to Dr. John Evans, author of the "Christian Temper," and other useful publications, and afterwards as joint pastor with Dr. Allen. He had a brother, Mr. Henry Read, who, to a very advanced age, was minister of a congregation which met in St. Thomas's, Southwark; and of whom the following charac

appear that the design was ever carried fully into execution; and one impediment to it, so far as M. Lardner was concerned, probably arose from the more infportant work in which he now began to be engaged.

In one of the schemes for the Tuesday evening's lecture, which is preserved in the Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Dr. Lardner, the subjects are entirely of a practical and moral nature, and admirably calculated for instruction and improvement in that view. But besides treating upon subjects of this kind, the gentlemen who carried on the lecture, preached a course of sermons on the evidences of natural and revealed religion. In this course, the proof of the Credibility of the Gospel History was assigned to Mr. Lardner; and in the latter end of the year 1723, and the beginning of 1724, he delivered three sermons on that most important object of christian inquiry. Here it was that the foundation was probably laid of his great work. Certain it is, that from this time, he was diligently engaged in writing the first part of his Credibility. His modesty, however, was such, that he was doubtful about the publication of it, and greatly regretted that, by the decease of his dear friend and pupil, Mr. Treby, he was deprived of his advice, on this and other occasions.

ter was given, between twenty and thirty years ago, in some verses that were written upon the six Tuesday Salter's Hall Lecturers of that period.

"Through youth, through age, O Read, thy honest heart
"Hath never quitted the consistent part.

Thy thoughts are useful, though thy stile is plain,
"And genuine goodness breathes through all thy strain."


Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Samuel Clark settled at St. Alban's, where he lived many years, and died with great reputation. He was the author of a collection of Scripture Promises, with a discourse prefixed concerning the proper use and application of them. This work, which has gone through several editions, and has afforded no small degree of consolation to many pious christians, was recommended by Dr. Watts. Dr. Clark published, likewise, three sermons on the folly, sin, and danger of irresolution in religion. It is to the honour of this gentleman, that he was the early patron of Dr. Doddridge, who ever retained for him a filial regard and affection. He was the father of the late excellent Mr. Samuel Clark, of Birmingham. Both father and son will probably be noticed when Dr. Doddridge's life shall come to be written in the Biographia Britannica.

Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Jeremiah Hunt, of Pinner's Hall, was a very judicious divine, and the author of several learned and valuable publications. Some account of him will be found in the discourses of Dr. Lardner, who preached his funeral sermon.-Of Mr. Wroe I am not able to give any intelligence.--Mr. Savage was a worthy and sensible minister, who settled at Edmonton, where he continued to the time of his decease. I do not recollect that he published any thing, besides a few occasional sermons.

It is hence evident, how much Mr. Treby had profited by the instructions which had been given him, since his tutor could thus look up to him for his opinion and assistance.

Notwithstanding Mr. Lardner's diffidence, he took courage to proceed in his undertaking, and in February, 1727, published, in two volumes, octavo, the first part of The Credi'bility of the Gospel History; or, the facts occasionally ⚫ mentioned in the New Testament confirmed by passages of 'ancient Authors, who were contemporary with our Saviour, or his Apostles, or lived near their time.' An appendix was subjoined, concerning the time of Herod's death. It is scarcely necessary to say how well this work was received by the learned world. Not only was it highly approved of by the Protestant Dissenters, with whom the author was more immediately connected, but by the clergy in general of the established church; and its reputation gradually extended into foreign countries. It is, indeed, an invaluable performance, and hath rendered the most essential service to the cause of christianity. Whoever peruses this work, (and to him that does not peruse it, it will be to his own loss,) will find it replete with admirable instruction, sound learning, and just and candid criticism. It was not long before a second edition was called for, and a third was published in 1741.

In the beginning of February, 1728, the course of Mr. Lardner's studies was interrupted, and his life threatened, by the attack of a violent fever, which proved of long continuance. For some time his recovery was despaired of by his relations and friends; but he was relieved, and at length happily restored to health, by the divine blessing on the prescriptions of Dr. (afterwards Sir Edward) Hulse, who was called in to consult with the other physicians. Mr. Lardner's own remark upon this occasion was as follows: I think God 'put it into my mind to send for Dr. Hulse, for from that ' time forward I mended.' His pious sentiments after his recovery are thus expressed: I thankfully acknowledge the 'great goodness of God, who raised me up again, and desire that this great mercy may be had in perpetual remembrance ‹ by me. May I serve him the remainder of my time in this ' world with inviolable integrity, unshaken in my stedfastness 'by all the snares of a vain and deceitful world.' f


With all Mr. Lardner's merit, he was forty-five years of age before he obtained a settlement among the dissenters. On the 24th of August, 1729, he happened to preach for the Rev. Dr. William Harris at Crouched Friars; and the con'Memoirs, ubi supra, p. 11.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »