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Lying one night in bed, he was contemplating the case of his mother. “I see,” said he, within himself, “two unquestionable facts. First, my mother is greatly afflicted, in circumstances, body, and mind; and yet I see that she cheerfully bears up under all, by the support she derives from constantly retiring to her closet and her Bible. Secondly, that she has a secret spring of comfort of which I know nothing; while I, who give an unbounded loose to my appetites, and seek pleasure by every means, seldom or never find it. If, however, there is any such secret in religion, why may not Í attain it as well as my mother?-I will immediately seek it of God.” He_instantly rose in his bed and began to pray. But he was soon damped in his attempt, by recollecting that much of his mother's comfort seemed to arise from her faith in Christ. “Now," thought he, “this Christ have I ridiculed : He stands much in my way, and can form no part of my prayers.
In utter confusion of mind, therefore, he lay down again. Next day, however, he continued to pray to “the Supreme Being :" he began to consult books and to attend preachers : his difficulties were gradually removed, and his objections answered; and his course of life began to amend. He now listened to the pious admonitions of his mother, which he had before affected to receive with pride and scorn: yet they had fixed themselves in his heart, like a barbed arrow; and, though the effects were at the time concealed from her observation, yet tears would fall from his eyes as he passed along the streets from the impression she had left on his mind. Now, he would discourse with her, and hear her without outrage; which led her to hope, that a gracious principle was forming in his heart, and more especially as he then attended the preaching of the Word. Thus he made some progress; but felt
no small difficulty in separating from his favourite connections. Light, however, broke into his mind, till he gradually discovered that Jesus Christ, so far from “ standing in his way,""* was the only way, the truth, and the life, to all that come unto God by Him.
While Mr. C. pursued this new course, his father began to take alarm; and said to him one evening “I know not what to do with you. I have made two experiments for your subsistence: I have offered to bring you into my own business, which at my death will be as good as an estate to you: you have rejected all my proposals. You now to be taking a religious turn : but I tell you plainly, that, if you connect yourself with Dissenters or Sectaries, I will do nothing for you, living or dying; but if you choose to go regularly into the Church, I will not only bear the expense of a University, for which you have had some education, but I will buy you a Living on your entering into Orders.” Mr. C. promised to consider this proposal; and, finding his father continued in the same mind, he went on the recommendation Dr. Bacon, an old family acquaintance) to Queen's College, Oxford, May 19, 1773.
I have heard him mention, with much feeling, many deep and secret conflicts of mind with which he was exercised while at College: added to which, he had to meet many insults which profligate men offer to piety. Under these impressions, he was one day walking in the Physic Gardens, where he observed a very fine Pomegranate Tree, cut almost through the stem, near the root. On asking the gardener the reason of this, “Sir," said he, "this tree used to shoot so strong, that it bore nothing but leaves. I was therefore obliged to cut it in this manner; and when it was almost cut through, The gar
* Mr. Cecil's own expression.
then it began to bear plenty of fruit."
On Sept. 22d, 1776, Mr. Cecil was ordained Deacon on the Title of the Rev. Mr. Pugh, of Rauceby, in Lincolnshire. In the Lent Term following, he took the Degree of B. A. with great credit; and, soon after, took his name off the books. On Feb. 23d, 1777, he was admitted to Priest's Orders. With Mr. Pugh he staid but a short time; for at Mr. Pugh's request, he went to serve three Churches in Leicestershire. These Churches were Thornton, Bagworth, and Markfield.
The object of his going thither was that of serving the Churches till Mr. Abbott, the son of the deceased Vicar, should be able to take the charge of them. The END of his being sent thither, appears still more important.
On his going forth in this beginning of his Mission, he found little of real religion in these Churches; but by means of his ministry, a general attention to the truth was excited among the people, and many of them believed and clave unto the Lord. Mr. Abbott, in particular, and a sister of his, owed to Mr. Cecil, under the divine blessing, their knowledge and belief of the truth: and, at length, a flourishing congregation was formed in each of the Churches.
Mr. C. laboured to awaken the mind of Mr. Abbott not merely to the necessity of embracing the truth, but that he might continue in the things which he had learned, and preach among the people the glorious Gospel of the Blessed God, which was committed to his trust. Mr. Cecil, anxious that these
“ Plants of his hand, and children of his prayer"should not be left like sheep without a shepherd,
earnestly urged on Mr. Abbott his responsibility as a minister—the obligation of making full proof of his ministry—and the infinite consequences attaching to his holy function. It pleased God to bless his endeavours : and Mr. Abbott, not only received the truth in the knowledge of it, but in the lode of it, and became a faithful and upright Minister. He died in early life.
On Mr. Cecil's return to Rauceby, he found a letter informing him, that, by the interest of friends, two small Livings had been obtained for him, at Lewes, in Sussex. This was a great disappointment to Mr. Pugh, who, at that time, wished to go to Bath; but he generously dismissed his Curate, and accordingly Mr. C. proceeded to take possession of his Livings.
At Lewes, residing in a damp situation, near one of his Churches, he was long afflicted with a rheumatic disorder in his head; and, at length, was disabled for duty for several months, and was under the necessity of procuring a Curate. I have heard him mention, with much feeling, a very singular providence, which occurred to him on his going from London to Lewes to serve these Churches. Instead of his leaving town early in the morning, the farrier, who shod his horse, detained him till noon; in consequence of which, he did not arrive on East Grinstead Common, till after it was dark. On this Common he met a man on horseback, who appeared to be intoxicated, and ready to fall from his horse at every step. Mr. C. called to him, and warned him of his danger; which the man disregarding, with his usual benevolence he rode up to him, in order to prevent his falling, when the man immediately seized the reins of Mr. C's horse; who, perceiving he was in bad hands, endeavoured to break away, on which the man threatened to knock him down if he repeated the attempt. Three other men on horseback immediately rode up, placing Mr. C. in the midst of them. On perceiving his danger, it struck him “Here is an occasion of faith!” and that gracious direction also occurred to him-Call upon me in the time of trouble, and I will deliver thee. He secretly lifted up his heart to God, entreating that deliverance which he alone could effect. One of the men, who seemed to be the Captain of the Gang, asked him who he was, and whither he was going. Mr. C. here recurred to a principle, to which his mind was habituated—that “ Nothing needs a lie.” He therefore told them very frankly his name, and whither he was going; the leader said, “Sir, I know you, and have heard you preach at Lewes : let the gentleman's horse go: we wish you good night."
Mr. C. had about him sixteen pounds, Queen Anne's Bounty, belonging to his Churches, which he had been to town to receive, and which, at that time, was to him a large sum.
It may not be improper to add here, that both the Livings brought in only about 80l. per annum; and when Mr. Cecil's health rendered it necessary for him to engage a Curate, from that time he derived no emolument from them, as the income was only adequate to the expense of a Curate. He held' these Livings for no other but the express purpose of continuing the preaching of the truth in that place, and had many difficulties to contend with in carrying his point: but he persevered in this way for many years, till he could resign them, SATISFACTORILY, to the late Rev. Mr. Dale.
Although Mr. C. was a single man while Rector of two Livings at Lewes, yet, possessing no personal property, he was always straitened in his