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than I ought to have done. I may likewise in many instances have seen, or thought I have seen, things not to be inconsistent, which warm men on one side the question and the other, have thought to be so: and it is possible too, that in some of these cases, they may have thought right, though I believe in more, they have been on both sides wrong. I may have had more real esteem and love for persons in very different views and interests, than they (knowing the narrowness of their own hearts in these instances) could easily imagine to be sincere ; and among these have been some of the methodists. Besides all which, a disposition to use some forms of complimental expressions, especially in younger life, and to tell persons the good things I thought of them and their performances, may have exposed me to censure; though I may truly say, I have always inwardly thought what I said: For my mind has never been in such a state, but that I must have felt a sensible and memorable horror for doing otherwise. These things may have given advantages against me. The vast variety of public affairs, in which I have been concerned; which, with all my tenderness, and desire, as far as I honestly might, to please every one, I could not manage without displeasing some, hath increased the number of those, who are offended with me. The acquaintance, and for a while friendship, which I have had with some persons of the laity, who have proved treacherous and infamous persons, hath been a further snare; as the friendship of bad men always is. My refusing to be blindly the tool of a party, and to go plumb into all their measures, hath disobliged no small number.
"When all these things come to be traced in their several streams and combinations (together with what I have said of my own acknowledged infirmities, of which I am truly sensible) they will account for this strange phoenomenon, at which you are surprised. I have all this while retained the esteem and friendship of several persons of great worth, by whom I have been most intimately known for many years. I will tell you, in confidence, that these aspersions are a cross, which God hath enabled me to bear with a christian temper; and he has really given me a heart to pray, in the most affectionate manner and every day, for my slanderers; and conscientiously to abstain. from saying many things, which I could have said, to the disadvantage of many of their characters. These things may perhaps be permitted, that I may not be too much exalted by the unreasonable and extravagant applauses I have sometimes met with. I have a persuasion in my own heart, that if God con
tinue my life a few years, many of these things will die. I shall be made more cautious by them and more humbly seek that wisdom from God, which is necessary to cut off occasion from some who spitefully seek it. I shall also, while they continue, have opportunities of exercising several graces of the christian temper, which though concealed from human eyes, have their value in the sight of God. And I may be made more desirous of leaving a world, where I meet with so much unkindness, for that, where love will be perfected. I do in the mean time, empower and desire you, when you hear any thing to the disadvantage of my character, to tell the reporters, that I am not afraid that any part of my conduct should be canvassed, if they will fairly hear my own account of it, and prepare themselves to pardon some infirmities, which an honest man, with my frank temper and various affairs, may fall into; but if they will condemn me unheard, I must appeal to a higher tribunal: And in the mean time, I will in the general appeal to those, who have long and intimately known me, and on whose sincerity I could venture my life.
While I am conscious to myself that I act upon christian motives, I make little of the censures of men; but I would avoid unnecessary offence. In the midst of all, my soul dwells at ease in God, and I find unutterable pleasure in a conquest obtained over those resentments, which are ready to rise on such occasions, but which, I can truly say, are crucified on the cross of Christ. God is teaching me good lessons, and exercising my graces (alas! too low and feeble in proportion to so much cultivation) by such things as these; and I desire to adore his wisdom and bless his name in all. I am seeking for opportunities to overcome evil with good. In the midst of agitation, I thank God that I can say, It is not a very great thing to me (if I cannot say so chearfully as I ought, that it is a very small one) to be judged of man's judgment. The day of the Lord is at hand. I had rather suffer many of these injuries than offer one. It is my desire to behave under them, as becometh a christian and to be made more watchful by them. Let but my heart be with God; the visits of his grace made to me, and the prospect of glory presented to my believing eyes, so as to engage my more constant pursuit; let but my temper be becoming a christian and ministerial profession; and I hope other things will impress me little. I am a weak and a sinful creature, but one who sincerely believes the gospel; who could desire to spread the savour of it, if possible, over all the world, and to bring the power of it into every
heart, that it may grow humble and pure, benevolent and upright; and who heartily wishes every thing opposite to the gospel, might fall, not by might or power, but by the spirit of the Lord. Nor am I much concerned, any further than the honour of my master is interested in it, whether I go through evil report or good report. If any think me a deceiver, God knows I am true. If any wish that I were unknown, I bless God, I have reason to believe that I am well known to not a few, by tokens which will never be forgotten." In some of his private reflections, he saith; "These are the favours of my God to me the last year: And may I not also reckon in the number of them, the opposition I have met with, I think undeservedly, for things well intended, and; I believe, for bearing a faithful testimony to the truths of the gospel, which hath occasioned me many enemies, and will, I doubt not, prove an occasion of verifying my master's words, Great is your reward in heaven.”—These are some of his sentiments on the reflections thrown upon his character and designs; and whoever attends to the account he gives of his temper and business, will easily see how malice, prejudice or ignorance might graft aspersions upon them.
He had likewise some enemies from his own household. It will not be wondered at, that a person who had educated about two hundred young men, should meet with a few in that number, who behaved ill, and requited him evil for good. Some of them proved wicked; and he humbly acknowledged before God in his private reflections on such a painful circumstance, "That by a false complaisance he lost much of his authority over them; in consequence of which they grew worse, and he was obliged to expel them." As to others of them, he was not so well satisfied of their real piety, and being hearty in undertaking the ministerial work, as to be able with a good conscience to recommend them. Some of them had embraced tenets, which he knew would render them unacceptable to most dissenting churches; and therefore he could not recommend them to some, where they would have chosen to settle. Being therefore carried away with the warmth of their passions, and that pride and impatience of controul, which is so often found in youth, they charged their tutor with treating them unkindly, though they were on many accounts under great obligations to him, and set themselves to misrepresent his character.
Thus he laments his own case; "Some have thought themselves injured, because I cannot oblige them, at the ex
pence of my conscience, by granting them testimonials which I know they do not deserve; or by helping them into settlements, which would be unhappy to themselves and the congregations, which refer their case to my advice. For this reason, imaginary injuries, never complained of to me, were talked over and aggravated. My conduct was continually watched over for evil: My writings, lectures, sermons, letters, words, every thing, were compared to find out imagi. nary inconsistencies, and to charge them, as instances of dishonesty, partiality, and what not? When they went abroad they talked of these things; and there were those in both extremes, who were ready to lay hold on any story to my disadvantage. But this is my comfort, that most of those, who have been my pupils, are my cordial and affectionate friends: And I find all the tenderest and most grateful friendship from those now under my care. I am more and more confirmed in the judgment I passed on those, who are setting out in the church; and am convinced that the part I have acted, in the difference I have made between them, hath been approved in the sight of him, to whom my final account is soon to be rendered. In the mean time, the longer I live, the less I am inclined to enter into debates, which I have neither time nor heart for; and perhaps have been too indolent in tracing out injurious reports, and too dilatory in making remonstrances for ill usage. I have generally chosen the shorter way, heartily to forgive and pray for those from whom I have apprehended that I have received the most injurious treatment; and to endeavour to live in such a manner, that they, who intimately know me, may not lightly believe rumours to my disadvantage. Methinks the lovers of mankind, and the lovers of christianity too, should pardon each other some little mistakes in conduct, and should put the gentlest, not the harshest, construction upon things which may wear a dubious aspect. I will endeavour to bear these things, as a burden, which providence is pleased to lay in my way. I will remember him, who bore, in all respects, infinitely worse usage for me; and will comfort myself with looking forward to that day, when every calumny will be wiped off: when omniscience will attest, as it certainly will, the integrity of my conduct, and when those evil principles, which may in some degree, and at some times, leaven the minds of good men, will be all purged away."With regard to those of his pupils, who occasioned the foregoing reflections, I have great reason to believe, that further knowledge of the world and themselves,
convinced them, that they had acted wrong. I assuredly know, that some of them deeply repented of it afterwards; and particularly one, who a little before his death, wrote his tutor a most pathetic and friendly letter, in which he largely confessed his own guilt; laid open to him many of the sly arts, which had been used to hurt his character, and, with all the marks of humility, penitence and affection, earnestly desired his forgiveness and his prayers.*
I have been larger upon this part of the Doctor's character than was, perhaps, necessary to illustrate and vindicate it but probably some yet living may entertain prejudices against him and against his writings in consequence thereof. I was therefore willing to set it in its true light; and to exhibit a noble pattern of a christian behaviour, under such reproaches and slanders, as many good and useful men are yet suffering by, and the best, perhaps, most. I shall only add, that he practised the advice which he gave to others in such circumstances, and did not suffer himself to be interrupted in his generous, worthy course, by the little attacks of envy and calumny, which he met with in it. He was still attentive to the general good, and steadily resolute in his endeavours to promote it; and he left it to providence to guard or to guard or to rescue his character from the base assaults of malice and falsehood, which, he had observed and experienced, will often, without a person's labour, con
*It may not be amiss to take notice of an aspersion, which was thrown on the Doctor, a little before his death, as if he had acted unfaithfully in the guardianship of Miss Ekins, daughter of Thomas Ekins, Esq; of Chester on the Water, in Northamptonshire, one of his Majesty's justices of the peace and the Doctor's intimate friend: Especially as I have heard, that it had spread itself as far as NewEngland, where the falsehood of such a charge could not so easily be detected. It will be a sufficient answer to such a calumny to say, that the young lady, at the Doctor's decease, was so sensible of his integrity, that at her request, being then eighteen years of age, the Lord Chancellor Hardwicke appointed the Doctor's widow guardian in his stead; that on her attainment of her age of twenty one years, the whole account of her estate was carefully examined by her and met with her entire approbation. This lady is since married to the Rev. Dr. James Stonhouse, a gentleman of a handsome paternal estate, formerly a physician of great eminence at Northampton, and now (1765) lecturer of All-Saints, in Bristol: And it is at their united request I add, that they are sensible of their obligations to the Doctor and his lady, for the fidelity, prudence and friendship discovered by them in the discharge of their trust, and that they retain the highest veneration for the Doctor's memory. Those who were best acquainted with the whole affair, were so far from thinking that his · conduct stood in need of any defence, that they considered both his undertaking the trust, amidst his various other cares, and the manner in which he discharged it, especially in the education of his ward, as a striking instance of his probity, friendship and benevolence.