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cannot last very long ; if it does, to obey God rather than man, when forbidden to do what is undoubted duty, is the invariable rule. Yours, &c., &c., in an all-conquering Jesus, George Whitefield.”
The clouds, says the Persian proverb, pass away, and the blue sky remains! The evils attendant upon and resulting from the irregular proceedings of Rowland Hill, and of some others among the devoted men who were the instruments of that great revival of Christian doctrine, which, during the last century, roused the Church of England from her slumber, have long since ceased ; the good remains, and will remain for ever. Could we count the "numbers without number” of those who, having been led into the way of life through the instrumentality of GEORGE WHITEFIELD and Rowland Hill, or of their disciples and successors, shall swell to eternity the chorus of praise to God and to the Lamb, we might form some idea of its immense amount.
It would be a great mistake to suppose, that, devoted as he was to the work of an Evangelist, Rowland Hill neglected the studies to which, as an undergraduate at St. John's, it was his duty to attend. On the contrary, it is extraordinary, that, under his circumstances, he could find time for the persevering application, which, as his attainments proved, he had not failed to use. He was, indeed, naturally fond of some parts of mathematical science; and, as it ought to be added, he was inferior to none, unless indeed it were to his brother Robert, in all kinds of manly and athletic exercises. No shade of gloom or austerity dimmed, at any period of his life, the lustre of his piety. As a rider, a skater, and a swimmer, he was regarded at Cambridge as being unsurpassed. It was his privilege to have for his tutor, the late Dr. Pearce, who, having been third wrangler, and second medalist, in the year 1767, was afterwards Public Orator, Master of Jesus College, Master of the Temple, and Dean of Ely; and in consequence of this connection it was, that Rowland Hill, after his ordination, had frequent opportunities of preaching at the Temple Church. In the year 1769, the subject of this memoir took his degree of A.B.; his name—a very unusual occurrence as it respected fellow-commoners at that timeappearing in the list of honours.
And now a B.A. of Cambridge, and twenty-three years of age, Rowland Hill was exceedingly anxious to obtain Orders. His past irregularities at College considered, it can be no great matter of wonder, that by no less than six bishops ordination was refused to him. Common prudence suggested, that previous to any further application for admission into the established ministry, he should observe at least a brief period of silence and retirement. The world around him, however, was in gross darkness; and he ardently longed to be the instrument of imparting to it some rays of heavenly light. Had he lived in our own days, when from numerous pulpits throughout the length and breadth of the land, the Gospel is faithfully preached, he would, as it may well be believed, have waited in patience and in prayer. As it was, he could not easily reconcile himself even to temporary silence. Moreover, from what cause cannot now be known, he was deeply impressed by a persuasion, that his life on earth would be very short; and he therefore the more earnestly desired to spend it in the active service of God.
It now, too, pleased Providence, that by the death of Mr. Whitefield -a man whose name will be held in everlasting remembranceRowland Hill should be thrown for advice chiefly upon his friend Mr. Berridge. This excellent man counselled him “ to stand still, and not to hurry ;" to prepare to follow the cloud when it should move ; but to pray that he might be “kept from the delusions of his own spirit;" to " wait for orders without anxiety ; they would come if they were needed ; and to take no counsel but of the Lord.” Mr. Berridge's advice, however, comprehended a recommendation, that, while waiting for episcopal ordination, Rowland Hill should undertake a summer field-preaching expedition. Rowland acted upon his venerable friend's recommendation; and thereby determined the Bishop of Lichfield, who would otherwise have ordained him, to refuse his application for orders.
One circumstance respecting RowLAND HILL ought to be particularly mentioned. Throughout all his deviations from the canonical rules of the Church of England, he continued unalterably attached to her Articles and her Liturgy; nor did any conscientious scruples on the subject of subscription ever insinuate themselves into his mind. admiration of the spirituality and beauty of the Book of Common Prayer was not to be surpassed ; nor did the Homilies, “ those good, sound, old-fashioned sermons," find less favour in his sight. All who remember his ministrations at Surrey Chapel must have a vivid recollection of the devotion apparent in his reading of the prayers. He even regarded the absence of a lively perception of the excellence of the liturgy, as a mark of a lack of spirituality. “A little more liberty than she allowed,” he, even to the last, confessed that he liked; and he might occasionally be heard to express his satisfaction, that he had the power of asking "the great Dr. Chalmers, or the great Dr. Morrison," to preach in his pulpit ; but in affectionate regard for the Church and her services, no man could exceed him.
It will be felt, that something of the unconquerable spirit of the Hills must have been necessary in order to support this zealous preacher under circumstances like those described in his diary, May 10, 1771.
“Preached at Stowey, to the most outrageous congregation I ever saw. There was such a noise with beating of pans and shovels, &c., blowing of horns, and ringing of bells, that I could scarce hear myself speak. Though we were pelted with much dirt, eggs, &c., I was enabled to preach out my sermon.”
Impelled, however, by the conviction that he was fulfilling the will of God, ROWLAND Hill pursued his one great object, unchecked by any obstacle or difficulty. Over the opposition and displeasure, indeed, of his parents, he often wept in agony of heart ; and never did he refuse compliance with their wishes, save only “concerning the law of his God.” If his zeal were not sufficiently tempered by discretion, his eye was single, and his motives pure. His labours were abundantly blessed ; and he failed not to receive, even in this life, the fullness of the promise made to those who leave all and follow Christ.
The good old vicar of Everton had now succeeded Whitefield as Mr. Hill's principal friend and adviser ; and, by his animating and encouraging counsels, constantly incited him to persevere in his arduous career. “Go forth, my dear Rowley,"—such was the tenor of Berridge's communications,—“wherever you are invited, into the devil's territories ; carry the Redeemer's standard along with you; and blow the gospel-trumpet boldly, fearing nothing but yourself. . . . Expect clamour and threats from the world. These bitter herbs make good sauce for a young recruiting-sergeant. . . . Jesus sitteth above the water-floods, and his heavenly guards surround you ; therefore go on humbly-go on boldly, trusting ouly in Jesus, and all opposition shall fall before you. Make the Scriptures your study, and be much in prayer. The apostles gave themselves to the word of God and to prayer. Do thou likewise. . . . Now is your time to work for Jesus. You have health and youth on your side ; and no church or wife on your back. The world is all before you, and Providence your guide. Go out, therefore, and work while the day lasteth ; while the Lord affords you travelling health and strong lungs, blow your horn soundly ; and may the Lord Jesus water your own soul, and give you ten thousand seals to your ministry. I am, with great affection, your's, John Berridge."
These, and similar urgent appeals found a ready response in the warm heart of RowLAND Hill. His exertions as an itinerant preacher of the gospel would seem to have equalled even those of his friend Whitefield, or of the great founder of Methodism. At early dawn, and at close of day, he was to be found in fields and market-places, declaring to countless multitudes the great doctrines of “repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ;" his texts being, for the most part, short and striking passages of scripture, such as—" Awake, thou that sleepest ;” “I will, be thou clean ;” “Repent, and be converted ;" “ The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost ;" “I will arise, and go unto my Father;" “ How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation ?” &c., &c. The times, as it must be remembered, were very dark; and it pleased God signally to bless these itinerant labours. “ The word," wrote Mr. Hill,
power ; the people were deeply attentive ; and a great blessing seemed visibly
A singular instance of Rowland Hill's persuasive power and peculiar tact, occurred about this time. His elder brother, Richard, who, to the great dissatisfaction of his father, had formerly himself laboured as an itinerant preacher, had desisted from that practice ; and hearing that Rowland was about to preach to the colliers at Kingswood, followed him thither, with the hope of persuading him to relinquish his purpose. He found him surrounded by a countless multitude of the poor, neglected colliers, whose streaming tears, marking their black cheeks with white streaks, bore witness to the power of the solemn appeal which he was addressing to them. Rowland saw his brother, and, guessing his errand, proceeded in his sermon with even increased earnestness. Mr. Richard Hill was, as well he might be, much affected by the scene ; Rowland observed his emotion, and, to his utter astonishment, exclaimed, after having concluded his discourse, “My brother, Richard Hill, Esq., will preach here, at this time to-morrow." Richard, thus taken by surprise, actually did preach to the colliers on the succeeding evening.
In the summer of the year 1772, ROWLAND Hill proceeded to the degree of A.M., and availed himself of the opportunity thus afforded him of visiting various friends in the university and neighbourhood of Cambridge.
The lucid views which this eminent man’s public discourses ever exhibited of the great doctrines of the gospel, his simple and forcible style, and the vivid and often original illustrations by which he elucidated his addresses, worked together to render his preaching, under the Divine blessing, singularly efficacious. By some persons, indeed, and by one great and excellent man in particular-John Wesley-his statements of what are called pre-eminently the doctrines of grace, were misunderstood and misrepresented; and this notwithstanding his frequent, full, and complete vindication of the practical character of his preaching. “I bless God,” he writes, “it is our mercy, who are called Calvinists, that we can appeal to heaven, as well as to the consciences of our hearers, that in the integrity of our hearts we are ever bearing the swiftest witness against all iniquity, without the least reserve ; that we are ever declaring, in almost every discourse, that without holiness, personal universal holiness, no man shall see the Lord. Yet with the greatest injustice is Mr. Wesley ever branding us with the detested name of Antinomians ; while he must be convinced, that in our inmost souls we entirely disown both the principles and the practices of those revolters from obedience.” Such misunderstandings and misconceptions will occur among the best Christians, while they continue to see as “through a glass darkly." Essential differences, however, there cannot be among the real children of God. Misapprehension of each other's tenets may occasion among them apparent, partial, and transitory separation, or opposition ; but such misapprehension, however lamentable, can be but transient. John Wesley and Rowland Hill have long since met, where
“The true light e'er shines, and the darkness is past,
For that which is perfect is come ;
To their only congenial home.” In the beginning of the year 1773, Mr. Rowland Hill's mind was occupied by the contemplation of two important events—his ordination, and his marriage. He had some time before formed an attachment to the sister of his brother-in-law, Clement Tudway, Esq., long M.P. for Wells ; and a lady better qualified by Christian piety and intellectual advantages than was Miss Tudway, to promote the domestic happiness which he enjoyed during a union of nearly sixty years' duration, it might have been impossible to find. It may be as well to mention here, that all the stories which have been circulated respecting Rowland Hill's want of due consideration for this excellent lady, or his public allusions to her character and manners, are utterly without foundation. At many