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We are not in possession of the circumstances attending Dr. Stennett's conversion, but it is apparent that he was called by the grace of God to a saving knowledge of the truth in early life: and it is probable that the following hymn, which he composed, contains some allusions to this event:
PRAISE FOR CONVERSION.-Psal. LXVI. 16.
Our author, when very young, was baptized by his father, who had previously removed from Exeter to London, where he continued to exercise the pastoral office of the Baptist church in Little Wild Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields; and of this church the subject of our memoir from that time became a member. It appears from a reference to the church-books of the society in Little Wild Street, that Dr. Joseph Stennett, the father, had two sons, viz. Joseph and Samuel, both members of the church under his
pastoral care, and both of them his assistants in the worķ, one of them succeeding the other. Joseph Stennett, the elder brother, received a call from the church to assist his venerable father, on the 2d April 1740, which he accepted, and continued to labour in that station for about two years and a half, when he was invited by the Baptist church of Coate, in Oxfordshire, to accept the pastoral office among them, which he complied with, Sept. 1st, 1743.
It seems to have been about four years after this, that Samuel, the subject of this memoir, succeeded to the station which the removal of his brother had left vacant, as appears from the following item, in the church registry :
“ At a church-meeting held at Little Wild Street, July 30th, 1747,
The church having had several trials of the gifts of brother Samuel Stennett, and having heard him preach this evening, it is agreed that he be called out into the public service of the ministry.” And on the 24th July, 1748, it is farther recorded, that “the church having had opportunity for some time past to
partake of the gifts bestowed on brother Samuel Stennett, it was thought very advisable to call him to their service, as an assistant to the pastor-which proposition was put to the vote and carried nem. con.”
In the year 1758, being then thirty-one years of age, he was ordained to the pastoral office of that church, as successor to his father, having previously officiated about ten years in the capacity of his assistant,
The following Letter was written by Dr. Stennett to the church, signifying his acceptance of the pastoral office, and having never before been submitted to public view, it is here inserted.
To the Church of Christ, meeting in Little Wild Street, lately under
the pastoral care of the Rev. Dr. Stennett,
MY DEAR FRIENDS AND BRETHREN!
Your very affectionate letters I received, and take this the earliest opportunity that offers of acknowledging my grateful sense of your tender sympathy with me in my affliction. As I cannot but have the highest bonor for the memory of my dear Father, so nothing could be more pleasing, or serve more effectually to endear you to me, than the concern you so properly express on this mournful occasion. Nor can I, my friends, better express my affection for you (which I assure you is very great) than by deploring the loss you sustain, and mingling my tears as an afflicted son with yours as a sorrowful and destitute people. It has been a trying time indeed. The providence of God has by one stroke deprived you of a most worthy and excellent Pastor, and me of a most prudent and tender Parent—a Parent whose life was peculiarly dear to me on account of bis great and undeserved affection for me, and the happy advantages I reaped from his daily counsels and instructions. Not to say wbat I have felt for the loss of a dear and only child.-But I forbear. Your concern, as well as the sensible emotions of my own breast while I am writing to you, forbids my enlarging any farther on this melancholy subject, or making those reflexions upon it which might
otherwise be naturally expected. May the awakening dispensation be sanctified to you, to me, and to all !
AMONG the many other aggravations of my affliction, the destitute circumstances which this providence has left you in has been no inconsiderable one. For, while it has given you an opportunity to express that affection for me which I shall always with gratitude acknowledge, it has occasioned me such concern and distress of mind, as I cannot easily describe. The pastoral office I have long since trembled at the very thought of, conscious of my own inequality to it, and sensible, from the little observation I have made, of the difficulties that must needs attend it. And though I could not but wish my poor services among you might prove acceptable and useful, yet I well hoped to have been excused, at least for some years, from that necessity which providence and your earnest and unanimous solicitations have now laid me under. Duty to God therefore, and affection to you, have obliged me to take into the most serious consideration the call you have given me.
And with earnest cries, and I hope a heart in some degree subjected to his will, I have sought God in this important affair: while I have with pleasure been assured that you have done so likewise. And, upon the whole, apprehending it to be my duty, I do now, though with a trembling heart, remembering the greatness of the service, and the eminent character Į succeed, accept your invitation ; at the same time, humbly relying on the power and grace of God for that assistance whereby I may be enabled to discharge this important trust with faithfulness and success.
My dear friends, I take this opportunity to express the pleasure I feel in the assurances you give me of the favorable acceptance my poor labors have met with the few years I have been among you. Whatever success may have attended them, I would with you ascribe the glory to God--to that God who can render the meanest endeavors effectual to the salvation of the immortal souls of men.
this occasion, to return you my hearty and unfeigned thanks for all the regards you have hitherto shewn me, and for the very kind expressions of your readiness to make the future part of my life easy and comfortable among you
AND pow, brethren, I earnestly beg your most fervent prayers on my behalf; that God who is the author of every good and perfect gift, would
prepare and qualify me for this arduous service I undertake—that he would grant me the presence and assistance of his Spirit in it;—and that he would crown my sincere though weak attempts with his bless. ing and success. And it is, I assure you, and always will be, my prayer for you, that the God of pace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, thro' the blood of the everlasting covenant, may make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Your most sincere
SAM. STENNETT. Bartholomew Close,
May 5th, 1758. ]
His ordination took place on the 1st of June, and Dr. Gill, and Mr. Benjamin Wallin, preached on the occasion-one addressing the minister, the other the people; three persons were at the same time invested with the office of deacon. Of this church he was an ornament for more than fifty years, during fortyseven of which, he exercised the ministerial functions among the people committed to his charge.
For the successful discharge of the duties of the pastoral office, Dr. Stennett was eminently qualified. Such was the affability of his disposition, that he was ever ready, when occasion required it, to accommodate himself to the meanest understanding ; and his unwearied zeal prompted him to neglect no opportunity of administering assistance and consolation to the poor, to the sick, and to the dying. He generously relieved their temporal wants, and implored, with fervent supplications, the Father of mercies in their behalf. As a minister of the gospel, his labours were highly beneficial to the church. He . boldiy maintained in his discourses the peculiar doc.