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whom so many pains had been taken, should have been in the silent grave at a time when we expected he would have been in the full vigör of life, proclaiming the truths of the gospel of the grace of God, is one among the many mysterious events that call for submission. It is with peculiar satisfaction I reflect that you, my dear friend, are continued a blessing to a part, a large part, of the church of Christ,
MY VERY DEAR FRIEND,
If sloth in any department of life be a blemish to a character, it must be a very dreadful one in that of a minister; but a minister may be free from the charge of sloth, and yet not perfectly busy. To 'spend the hours and days in composing a few sermons smooth and elegant to the ear, which, should be employed in preaching many'with energy to the heart, is a waste of time. Of many good men it may be said they are Operosi agente nihil ; whereas if they would study usefulness, they would give many of these moments to public labor, that are now devoted to unnecessary exactness. The thought applies to country minis-. ters, who are surrounded with villages, but communicate the gospel of the grace of God, to none of them. When there are real and insurmountable impediments to exertion, a mau is free from the reflection; but if circumstances and situation favor diligence, and a man is not diligent, he is inattentive to the direction, “ work while it is called to day.” Village preaching is of importance to usefulness. I am glad such powerful efforts are now used to support it. To carry it on, was always an object with
I diligently attended to it, while I was at. Marlborough, but my attention to the school, and the studies to which I was obliged to turn my mind, in order to discharge my duty in it, relaxed my attention to this important object. I therefore wished I had it in my power to support a young man of pious character, and of im. provable gifts, who might receive my commų, nications, and by preaching in the villages, ha: bituate himself to free speaking. Though the idea of such a person was in my mind, I knew not where to look for him, and if I had met
with him, I was at a loss to know how I should
Mr. Surman, an excellent youth in humble life, always engaged my notice when I preached at Dursley; and I seldom left the congregation without exchanging a word with him, but as I hardly ever had time upon my hand, we did not abound in conversation. Being pon a visit in Glocestershire, in the midsummer of 1784, and having appoịnted on a Lord's day to preach at Frampton, entering the court, I un, expectedly saw him. Instantly I had an im. pression for which I cannot account, that I must take him to impart instruction to him, and to introduce him into the ministry: I de. sired him to meet me in my retirement; I was under such a fever that I suspected at the same time I should be ļaid aside. I begged him to read the scriptures to me, by which I found his deficiency. I asked him if ever he thought of the ministry. He replied, he had, but could not indulge it, as he concluded there was no opening in Providence: I proposed bis coming to me under certain terms, which he approved of, if he saw on prayer and deļiberate consideration, it was the divine will. When hiş mind was fully satisfied, hie acceded to my
motion, settled his affairs with great integrity, and
gave himself first to the Lord, and then to me. Surely I may venture to call that an act of faith, which was engaged in under what I conceive to have been a divine impression; and for the prosecution of which I had no prospect of support. The event has shewn it was of the Lord. Mr. Surman soon proved a very acceptable and useful minister, and a very consistent character. For the sake only of giving him an opportunity to learn the world, I sent him upon a pleasurable excursion to London, where his preaching gained such attention, that in less than three years after he came to me, he was providentially taken from me, and yet lives a blessing to the church at large, and to a particular society more immediately at Chesham-bois, in Bucks, over which he was ordained pastor. --May his life and usefulness be prolonged.
Soon after Mr. Surman came to me, Mr. Yockney, of Warminster, signified his desire to retreat from secular life, to devote himself to the preaching of the gospel. He was already blessed with rich experience, and of decent education. Given up to God, and fond of retirement, he made the best use of a little time, and by his assiduity in my absence, I was reJeased of anxiety about the school, as the best care was taken tolkeep my little folks to business, and the devotions of the family by these two good men, and Mr. Higgs, were regularly carried on. As Mr. Yockney purposed paying for his board, I had no difficulty about accepting him. He was happy and useful with me, till removed by Providence, and soon after ol ained a settlement at Staines, in Middlesex, where abundant honor continues to be put upon his ministry.
It was at this time our services were required, and freely given in the village of Tisbury, that gave you birth. Several months previous to the 2nd of April, 1785, 'my eye was upon you, my dear friend, more immediately than upon any other in the congregation, and my heart knit unaccountably to you. Making enquiry concerning you, of Mrs. Turner, she mentioned your name with the anecdote which distinguishes you in her life. I told her I was impressed with an idea that I should one day have you under my roof. You having perfect understanding of all things from the very beginning, can trace the occurrences of this period respecting yourself. You recollect the number and the order of our family, and the worthy female friends which made part of it. How