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NEW EVANGELICAL MAGAZINE,

AND

Theological Beviel.

JUNE, 1817.

MEMOIR OF THE REV. THOMAS ROBINSON. M.A.

Late Vicar of St. Mary's, Leicester. THOMAS ROBINSON, the author representations. His parents, how of the well known “Scripture ever, probably directed in their Characters," and other useful pub- judgment by the clergyman who lications, was born at Wakefield, had the care of his education, ultiin Yorkshire, on the 29th of mately determined upon bringing August 1749. His father was a him up to the church, and with a respectable hosier in that town, view to that, to confer on him an though in circumstances not af. University education. When the fluent. Desirous, however, of con- / time drew nigh, that he was to ferring upon his son, all the ad. quit the place of his nativity, he vantages of education which were one day met in the streets of Wakein his power, he placed him, when field, a poor shoemaker, who at a proper age, in the Grammar asked him if he were not going to school of that town, under the be a clergyman. Answering in the care and tuition of the Rev. Mr. affirmative, the man replied, “Then, Atkinson, where he continued him Sir, I hope you will study your until he went to College. Young Bible, that you may be qualified Robinson early evinced a fondness for feeding Christ's flock with the for learning, and was never pleased bread of eternal life.” A word with himself unless he were at the fitly spoken, is like apples of gold head of the class. At the age of in pictures of silver. Mr. Robinson fourteen, his father took him from never forgat the shoemaker's hint, school with the design of training while he lived. him up to business; but the reluc- In October 1788, he became a tance which he manifested towards student of Trinity college, Camhis new employment, determined bridge, and applied himself sedu. his father to send him back to lously to the acquisition of knowschool, where he prosecuted his ledge, husbanding his moments

with such parsimony, that every He appears to have been con. 1 hour was filled up by his studies,

among which he wisely introduced turn, and at an early period of life a portion of the Greek Testament discovered a strong attachment to daily, not merely as a critical but the reading of dramatic composi-, a devotional exercise. It is indeed tions, particularly of the tragic pretty certain that at this time his cast; and sometimes even in mind had taken a serious turn, Qulged himself in acting a part whatever was the particular and na his companions in theatrical efficient cause of it. His strict

VOL. III.

OF THE

T ness in the discharge of his religi duties is said to have been astonishous duties; the faithfulness withing, considering his boyish years. which he always reproved what he Numbers went over from Caraconceived to be siuful; and the bridge to hear him preach, and decided attachment that he mani were surprised to witness a crowdfested towards such of his fellow- ed audience hanging on his lips students as were of a pious cast, and listening with unusual atten. soon marked him out as a speckled tion to his doctrine. bird among his fellow collegians, Mr. Robinson continued at and drew upon him no small por Witcban, however, only two years. tion of their obloquy. " His holi- He had occasionally introduced a ness," and "the Pope" were among Selection of Psalms and Hymns, the number of opprobrious epi a certain mark of Methodism! this thets bestowed upon him at this was eagerly laid hold of by some of time; but he wisely regarded them his parishoners who disliked bis not;' he set his face as a fint doctrine, and they raised an oppoagainst the scoffers of his day and sition against him which is said to could say with David, “ if this behave hastened his departure from to be vile, I will be viler still.” the people of his charge, whom

On the 1st of October 1772, he he left with sincere regret. He was chosen Fellow of Trinity Col visited them, however, occasionlege, under peculiar circumstances ally during the remainder of his of distinction; and soon after was life; always remembered them presented to the curacies of with tender affection; and con. Witcham and Wichford, situated stantly testified that the days he about fourteen miles from Cam- spent among them were the hapbridge, which consequently be-piest and most useful of his life. came the scene of his first minis- Leicester, which has since been trations. No sooner had he en the scene of the labours of Carey tered upon his pulpit labours, than and of Hall, was at that time, in an he excited great attention by his awful degree, destitute of the exertions, both in his own parishes preaching of the gospel of salvaand the surrounding neighbour- tion. What little religion existed hood. He laboured diligently, among its inhabitants was to be lifting up his voice like a trumpet found among the Baptists and (though not perfectly musical) and Independents: the members of the the sound was heard, and the establishment were given up to alarm spread, through all the region dissipation, or the indulgence of round about. The places of wor- various lusts equally ruinous to the ship were crowded, and his ser- souls of men. The curacy of St. vices were effectually blessed to Martin's church falling vacant, it many of his hearers. The favou- was offered to Mr. Robinson, who rite subjects of his ministry were, at first declined the offer on ac. the fall of man—the mediation of count of the very low state to Jesus Christ-salvation freely by which religion was reduced in the grace- the necessity of divine in place. The remonstrances of a fluence to give the gospel its saving friend, however, overcame his effect-and holiness, without which scruples. “ If the place were in no man shall see the Lord, the this dissipated state,” said his genuine fruit of faith. Such a friend, “they had the more need ministry at such a period could not of his services: Where should a fail of giving offence to many. The man labour so soon, as where he is country rang with his fame, and most wanted ? Ease and conthe stir which he caused at Witcham venience might keep him back; by the discharge of his clerical but zeal and self-denial would urge him to go.” He saw the Miscellany,” to which Mr. R. lent force of this reasoning, and after his aid, by furnishing a sketch of some deliberation consented to un each Sermon, as soon as it was dertake the curacy, but under a preached, and these were inserted full conviction that he should be under the title of “Scripture Charejected ere three months were racters.” These discourses were expired.

very favourably received at home, The instances that are upon and their appearance in print gave record of the opposition which he them encreasing celebrity. Some met with from persons of note, are of his friends urged it strongly affecting enough; but they are so upon him to collect them into a much a matter of course, and so Volume, and to print a neat edition. naturally to be expected under assuring him of their general acsimilar circumstances, that they ceptance and usefulness. And ought not to have excited sur- while he hesitated to accede to the prise; nor should they now be proposal, through fear of pecumentioned “as though some strange niary loss, a few of them entered thing had happened.” Such is into an engagement to indemnify the nature of the gospel of divine him, in consequence of which he grace, that when faithfully de- consented to make the experiment. clared, if it do not humble it will He first published a Single Volume harden-if it is not received in the in duodecimo, about the year love of it, the enmity of the human 1785. When that was sold off, he mind is sure to be roused against republished it, and added to it a it. And so Mr. Robinson found second. When that impression the case to be in his new connec- was exhausted, he published the

whole series in four vols. 12mo. In the year 1738, Mr. Robinson Two or three editions more were was presented with the valuable published in the same size ; and living of St. Mary's, Leicester, since that time the work has been which he obtained through the in-handsomely reprinted in Octavo. fluence of the Earl of Dartmouth. The reception which it has met This however was not a bed of with, is abundant proof that the roses to the new incumbent, who, work is a favourite with the public. if he found opponents at St. Mar- | Its reputation is now firmly esta. tin's, here also met with personsblished, and there cannot remain who possessed still greater means a reasonable doubt of its conof annoying him, and rendering tinuing a standard book for ages his situation irksome. By pru- / and generations to come. The dence and perseverence, however, merits of the “ Scripture Charache, in process of time, surmounted ters,” are probably a little over many of the obstacles he had to rated by the public; but in this encounter, and conciliated most of there is not much to regret; and it those who were opposed to him. would be unjust to deny that the His congregations at St. Mary's book has no merit. Dr. Fawcett, were very considerable, and they the author of the “Devotional soon became serious and very at- Family Bible,” has, in one of his tentive. When Mr. Robinson had small tracts, praised the “Scripbeen some time settled in his vi- ture Characters," at a most extracarage of St. Mary's, he com- vagant rate, as we conceive, when menced a course of Lectures on he pronounces them the most the History of the Patriarchs. Mr. finished System of Scripture BioDe Coetlogan was at that time graphy that was ever produced in publishing a monthly Journal un- any language. This is surely hyperder the title of the “ Theological 'bolical. The most that can with

tion.

truth be said of them is, that they | the established church; and, we furnish an agreeable species of might venture to affirm that there Light reading for leisure hours.” is not one single minister, high or Critical they were not intended to low, belonging to the national be; and there is nothing profound establishment adequate to the vast in the general observations. The undertaking, unless he make it a reflections interspersed throughout mere compilation from the works the work, are such as would natu. I of others. It is an achievement rally strike the mind of almost any which, independent of natural or ordinary reader of the Bible; and acquired talents, demands a prothere is this misfortune attending found acquaintance with the sacred the whole, that the subject, pass- writings—the result of an ening through the bands of the lightened mind, and of a careful preacher, and becoming incor- and diligent study of the economy porated with his common place of Redemption in all its multiobservations, unavoidably loses farious bearings. But to expect much of its native grandeur and this from a minister of the national divine simplicity as delivered to us establishment, is about as wise as by the pen of inspiration; and it would be to expect to gather then in proportion as it is expand grapes of thorns or figs of thistles. ed, it necessarily becomes aitenu. There are doubtless many truly ated and less impressive. Even excellent men among the clergy Mr. Vaughan acknowledges that of the church of England-men the work would have been more who know and love the saving properly entitled “Scripture His- truth, and whose delight it is to tories" than Scripture Characters. point sinners to the Lamb of God,

In the year 1805, Mr. Robinson who taketh away the sin of the again appeared before the public world :--and in so far as they exas an author, in a work entitled hibit Jesus Christ and his finished “ The Christian System.” This work as the alone foundation of publication, the substance of which hope to perishing sinners, we have had been previously delivered to ground to expect the blessing of his own congregation in a course God upon their labours, and the of Sermons, was intended to fur-genuine spirit of Christianity will nish a popular body of divinity, I always lead us to rejoice in seeing both doctrinal and practical, and such characters raised up, and in is comprised in three Octavo | wishing them “ God-speed." But Volumes. The reception, however, let the writings or preachings of which the work met with from the the very ablest among them be public, was not at all calculated to compared with the productions of tlatter the author's vanity. It was such men as Dr. Owen, or Charhandled with, what Mr. Robinson nock, or Manton, or Bates, and it considered to be extreme severity, I will soon be seen, that, in comin the Christian Observer, inso-parison of these men, our modern much that their review of it almost divines of the Episcopal church, operated to the extent of a pro- have none of them advanced a hibition in regard to its sale--and step beyond the A B C of Christhe feelings of the author, as may tianity. It was a striking obserbe easily conceived, were not a vation, said to have been made by little hurt on the occasion. The lourvenerable and beloved monarch, truth is, that if Mr. Robinson had when, speaking of the divines of not altogether mistaken his forte, I ancient times, he remarked,“There he had never attempted a work of were giants in the earth in those that nature. The subject is wholly | days!” We should be happy to ayt of the reach of a minister of see a generation of them revived

England.

in ours, whatever denomination of under the ban of exclusion, than Christians they might be found from the, lips of him who was amongst.

lolling on his bed of roses! And The subjeet of faith, occupies here we cannot help remarking, several Essays in Mr. Robinson's that the Evangelical part of the “ Christian System,” but it is very ministers of the established church, pertinently remarked by his able have generally surpassed, on the and friendly biographer (Mr. score of hostility to the dissenters, Vaughan) that his idea of it is every other class of them that is neither simple nor philosophically to be found. Exceptions, no correct." He confounds it” says doubt, there are; and we are Mr. Vaughan, “ with reliance, happy to rank in this honourable which is the fruit or effect of the few, Mr. Robinson's liberal and enprinciple," instead of restricting lightened biographer (Mr. Vaughit to a simple crediting of the an) whose Memoir of his friend, divine testimony, or " à realis- justly reflects a lustre on his own ing view of things not manifest character and talents, while it to the senses.” In this incor- entitles him to our gratitude and rect view of the subject of faith, respect. We have heard it said it would be well if Mr. R. had of Mr. Robinson, that, to such an stood single and alone; but un- extravagant pitch did he carry his happily it is an error far too deference to his Alma Mater, that prevalent among the teachers of he was accustomed virtually to Christianity both within and with issue his edict against any of his out the pale of the church of congregation entering a dissenting

place of worship--and has even "Illiacos intra muros peccatur et extra." gone so far as to tell them, that

Mr. Robinson was not very were their lot east, on a Lord's liberal-minded towards the non- day, in any town, in which the conform ing part of the commu- gospel was not preached in the nity. Mr. Vaughan has recorded national church and yet was a most pointed and cutting rebuke preached among the dissenters which he gave to several dissent- still it would be their duty to ating ministers whom he had invited tend the worship of the establishto breakfast with him at his own ment! Now this evidently betrays house, on the morning of the day I a judgment warped by the spirit on which a meeting was held at of party, and it deserves the severest Leicester to draw up a petition reprehension, forasmuch as it is against the Corporation and Test obviously exalting human instituActs in the year 1788) telling tions, above the truth of God them that “ they ought to be a conduct highly presumptuous, ashamed of their meeting-that daring, and profane in any worm their application manifested an un- of the earth. grateful and an bighly worldly Mr. Robinson was engaged to spirit—that they wanted money preach the Church Missionary and power, not the means of Sermon, in London, for the year serving God more acceptably, or 1809, which he did at the late Mr. of preaching his gospel more ex- Romaine's church, St. Ann's, tensively." This was sufficiently Blackfriars. The place was large indicative of the high-churchman, and crowded with hearers, which certainly; but, whether true or necessarily called forth exertions false of them, we may be allowed on the part of the preacher, to to say that, it would have come which he was scarcely competent; with an infinitely better grace and from that period his health from one who was himself placed began to decline, And though

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