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OBITUARY OF BENJAMIN BATES, ESQ.

To the Editor of the Christian
Guardian.

SIR,

VARIOUS circumstances, more especially the subsequent removal of another branch of the same family, have hitherto prevented my sending you the following obituary; all the particulars of which were committed to paper very shortly after the event had taken place. Hoping it may conduce to the furnishing of consolation to others, who will have to tread the same path, in their passage from this world to another and a better, it is submitted to you, with best wishes for your continued and increasing success. I remain, Sir, your humble servant,

in the year 1733, being the tenth of a family consisting of twelve. At his birth, and for many years afterwards, his delicate state of health indicated the probability of a premature decease; a circumstance which seems to have been peculiarly beneficial to his own mind, and frequently led him to acknowledge, with lively gratitude, the goodness of God in sparing his life, so greatly beyond his expectation. The education which he received at the foundation school, in the town where his parents resided, was well adapted to that particular station in society, which was not only most consonant to his views, but most suited to his attainments. His early proficiency, in writing and accounts, obtained for him the G. F. B. situation of assistant to the steward of the late Duke of Bridgewater, with whom he remained until his twentieth year, when he came up to London. Shortly after his arrival he was seized with the smallpox, a disorder at that time exceedingly prevalent; and, from the effects of which, his life was deemed to be in considerable danger.

The goodness of Almighty God, in overruling ordinary events to the accomplishment of his own merciful designs, is what every true Christian will delight in contemplating. To such individuals, the following particulars of the character, experience, and dying hope of one, who, for many years, exhibited the constraining influences of divine grace in his life and conduct, will not, it is presumed, prove uninteresting, although they may not materially differ from many of a similar kind. The public naturally expect to know in what manner the lives of men of eminent talents, or extensive literary attainments, have terminated. But to the true believer, it is equally gratifying to learn, how others, who have moved in the less conspicuous walks of life, have been sustained at that awful period, when nothing, short of a scriptual hope in Christ, can administer any well-grounded hope or consolation.

Mr. B. was born at Berkhampstead on the 12th day of January,

On his recovery, a most advantageous situation presented itself, which he happily obtained; and which he never quitted, till he finally relinquished all commercial engagements whatever. His sedulous attention to the duties of his station, together with his ability for business, gradually won upon the esteem of the late Jukes Coulson, Esq. who was at that time, and for many years after, the principal of an extensive concern in the iron trade in the city. The manner in which Mr. B.'s long and faithful exertions were appreciated and rewarded, is satisfactorily shown, by his being ultimately taken into partnership with his employer; a circumstance, which, while it tended to strengthen an attachment for one, to whom he

was never backward in avowing his sense of obligation, served, likewise, as a powerful incentive for praise to that gracious Providence which had thus signally forwarded his temporal prosperity.

Nor is it wholly undeserving of notice, that, although engaged for more than half a century in the active duties of life, he was enabled, by an uniformly consistent mode of conduct, more especially after his change of religious views, to elicit approbation from those, who, though they commended, were by no means desirous of following the example which was thus set before them. But it is to his religious principles we must look for the true and impelling cause, seconded by the grace of God, which enabled him to adorn his profession with the fruits of righteousness.

His mother, being a truly pious woman, was accustomed at an early age to teach him to read the Sacred Scriptures, and to enjoin his constant attendance at church; the happy effects of which early initiation in the Christian religion he had frequent occasion, in after life, to speak of with grateful recollection of the benefit he then received: for, at that time, it may be presumed, the seed of divine truth was sown in his heart, though the pleasing evidences of it did not appear so soon as might have been expected. When he first came to reside in London, his religious impressions had no further influence upon him, than to restrain him from gross violations of the law of God. That he was in considerable danger of departing from the sound principles and good example with which he had been favoured, may be learned from the numerous and seductive allurements to which youth are subject on their first residing in the metropolis; especially when, as in his case, they have no kind friend to admonish them. At this period of his life he entered into

some of the fashionable amusements of the world; amongst which, cards, and a regular attendance at the theatre, to witness the acting of the celebrated Mr. Garrick, were the principal sources of his pleasure. From the time, however, of his attaining more correct views, he was not only induced to abandon practices, which he found, by experience, eminently detrimental to his devotional feelings; but ever afterwards to preserve a profound silence respecting them.

In a short narrative of his own religious sentiments, he ingenuously confesses, that, while at home, his attendance in the house of God was not the result of choice, but necessity; as his parents, while he continued with them, would by no means allow of his neglecting one of the great duties peculiar to the Sabbath. But when, on coming to London, he ceased to be under their wholesome control, he admits he was accustomed to spend the sacred day of rest in a manner quite different from what he had formerly done; rambling about the greater part of it in a thoughtless, if not irreverent, manner. "It is true," he says, "I generally left home with the resolution of going to some place of worship; but through want of a regular plan, being lukewarm in my devotional feelings, and acquainted only with those who were wholly indifferent about religion, I frequently neglected to carry my resolutions into effect; and seldom entered into any church or chapel whatever. On some occasions, my wayward fancy led me to attend the prayers in one church, and to hear a sermon in another; a practice truly preposterous." From this absurd propensity he was happily freed, by becoming intimate with a young man about his own age, whose conversation, advice, and excellent example, made the strongest im

pression upon him. He now be came a regular attendant at church and at the Sacrament; and his moral and exemplary conduct, seconded by the injudicious approval of some of his relatives and acquaintance, soon induced him to think more highly of himself than he ought. Of the sinfulness of his own heart by na ture; of the impossibility of being saved by his own works, or righteousness; of the absolute necessity of a faith unfeigned, issuing in fruits of holy obedience; of the finished salvation of Jesus Christ, with the sanctification of the Holy Spirit; of these, and other leading truths of the Gospel, he, at this time, knew nothing. His inadequate and very defective views, were ably exposed by a gentleman of eminent talents and piety. Through his recommendation, he was induced to read with attention Mr. Hervey's well-known treatise of Theron and Aspasio, While he was thus engaged, in reviewing the doctrinal subjects so clearly laid down in that work, and which were so peculiarly suited to correct his unscriptural assumptions, he was prevailed upon to hear the Rev. Mr. Madan at the Lock Chapel. The first time he attended there, he was struck with the exact agreement between the sentiments as delivered by Mr. M. from the pulpit, and those contained in the book he was reading. Subsequent opportunities of hearing Mr. M. were happily blessed to the effecting an entire change in his religious opinions. He soon after became a stated hearer of the Rev. William Romaine, with whom he was long and intimately acquainted. His declining any longer to frequent his parish church, drew down upon him, not only the severe reprehension of the clergyman of the parish in which he resided, who strenuously, but vainly, endeavoured to reclaim him, as he con

ceived, from the error of his ways; but, also, subjected him to considerable odium and opposition from some of his near relatives.

By two of his sisters it was concluded no good could possibly arise from his altered sentiments and habits; but, that either his zeal would settle into its former state of lukewarmness, or, unless duly controlled, would issue in the most fearful results. Happily their conjectures were never realized. But it is somewhat singular, that these very individuals, both of them living to more than eighty years, eventually experienced a similar change wrought upon their own hearts; and died in the belief and love of a crucified Redeemer, as their only ground of expectation of happiness in a future world. Their change of opinions was, under God, principally, if not altogether, the result of their long and habitual attendance upon the services of the Established Church. There they imperceptibly gained a knowledge of those truths which, in due time, were so instrumental in awakening their hearts, consoling their minds, and gradually fitting them for their last great change. Surely if any arguments were wanting in vindication of our invaluable Liturgy, replete as it is with scriptural and appropriate phrases, suited to all the varying cases of sinful suffering creatures like ourselves; such instances would fully warrant the continued use of it. May not a zealous attachment to the Established Church be manifested by some, who are not, as yet, fully aware of the spirituality and excellence of those formularies in which they habitually join, which, at some future period, shall contribute to their own instruction and comfort? And may there not, in more favourable cases, be cherished a similar growing approval of our form of sound words, with

where he could, with facility, frequent the church, and especially the holy ordinance of the Lord's Supper.

The course of life which he now led was of that simple and uniform kind, as to afford little that would prove interesting to any beyond his own immediate circle; but the happy frame of mind which he was enabled to maintain, his increasing spirituality, and progressive advancement in humility, cannot be too extensively known. Many can bear witness, that as he advanced in years, the fruits of righteousness and peace abounded in his life and conversation. He had long lived in the daily habit of referring all his concerns to that God who he knew would do all things well. Whenever, therefore, he approached the Divine Being upon a throne of grace, he seemed to utter his titions with that full persuasion of being heard, that he could not doubt of receiving a propitious answer. At times he was peculiarly fervent and animated, more espe cially when praying in behalf of God's faithful ministers; for the enlargement of his spiritual Zion; or for the increasing success of those institutions, which are so eminently calculated to promote it. It was in this way he endeavoured to aid the progress of societies he highly approved, but which, from natural diffidence, he did not feel equal more openly to advocate.

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out indulging any thing like a narrow or bigoted feeling towards those who differ from us on this subject? Should not, also, such examples of the beneficial effects of our liturgical mode of worship, not only endear it to ourselves; but cause us to join in it with hearty and devout affections, that what is so appropriately uttered by the lips, may be uniformly exemplified in the life and conversation?

It was the long-cherished opinion of the subject of this Memoir, that no church on earth was so highly privileged as our own, in possessing Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy, so sound in doctrine, so scriptural in exhortation, and so suitable for general adoption. From the time when he first evinced the genuine symptoms of the change that was produced upon him, he, at different periods, was very strongly solicited to join those who dissent from the Establishment; but he never could be prevailed upon to quit the Church of England. He was not averse, when peculiarly circumstanced, from an occasional attendance upon other places of worship, being well known and highly esteemed by many dissenting ministers; but he returned, as speedily as possible, to his own church, whose services he regarded as inferior only to inspiration. Even when increasing infirmities came upon him, he never, when able, missed attending divine worship. With the holy Psalmist, he could say, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go up to the house of the Lord; our feet shall stand within thy walls, O Jerusalem." It was this very feeling which gave rise to his change of residence. Having been enabled, by the good providence of God in seconding his humble labours, to purchase for his son the presentation to a living near Maidstone, he was exceedingly desirous, on its becoming vacant, of going thither to spend the remainder of his days,

DEC. 1823.

His frequent perusal of the Sacred Scriptures, together with his habitual attendance upon the divine ordinances, caused him to be thoroughly conversant with the highly important truths of the Gospel. But he knew his own abilities and attainments too well, to be forward in obtruding upon any person his religious opinions, or in discussing nice and curious subjects in theology. Speculative or fanciful interpretations of holy writ, were never indulged by him: it was enough for him if the doctrine could be clearly proved from Scripture;

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tion: such as, « JEHOVAH.—Į AM, that I AM.-JEHOVAH JIREH, the Lord will provide.-JEHOVAH ROPHI, the Lord that healeth thee." The last title of the divine Being, which from the writing appears to have been added but a short time previous to his last illness, was peculiarly appropriate to his religious sentiments in the near prospect of that deeply momentous period which was then fast coming on; JEHOVAH EL SHADDAI, God all-sufficient!

but beyond the simple boundary of truth, as far as he was enabled to perceive it, he had no desire to pass. The doctrines which are usually denominated Calvinistic, were those which he considered most consonant to the general tenor of the Bible, and most in accordance with the Articles of the Established Church. But though he had great pleasure in hearing them preached, or in reading works of this description, he seldom in conversation alluded to them, and not at all during his last illness. Anxiously desirous of knowing and practising what is right, he calmly pursued the path marked out for him, and certainly with very few material deviations from it. As far as human frailty would admit, he endeavoured, by every means in his power, to advance the glory of God. He sought not the praise of men, but the approbation of his heavenly Father, and the peaceful enjoy ment of an enlightened conscience. In contemplating the holy law of God, as revealed in the Bible, he discovered its spirituality and extent; and he soon found by experience, how impossible it was for him perfectly to fulfil any one precept of the divine code. The more he looked into it, comparing his own defective obedience with its perfect and absolute requirements, the more effectually he was convinced, that, notwithstanding all his care and vigilance, he was a transgressor thereof; and that by the deeds of the law, no flesh living can be justified. Hence he found greater satisfaction in contemplating the history of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Lord our Righteousness, than in any self-satisfying opinions of his own moral superiority, which he had formerly indulged. The scriptural nature of his hope and expectations clearly appears from various memoranda written in his pocket-book, evidently intended to suggest to his mind subjects suitable for private medita

He reflected much upou death and the judgment-day. At times, particularly in former years, the thought of dying, notwithstanding his well-grounded hope, occasionally oppressed his mind; but as he drew nearer the end of his course, this distressing feeling was subdued by the bright prospects and glorious expectation he was enabled to realize of the blessedness of the saints in heaven.

The illness which terminated his earthly career, was at first of a slight inflammatory nature, arising from cold. On the Sunday before his attack, he had attended divine service as usual; and it was then noticed how well, for his advanced years, he appeared to be. The subject of the morning's discourse was not inapplicable to his character and circumstances, Ps. xeii. 12. "The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree."

It had always been his earnest wish that he might not, if agreeable to the will of God, languish for any length of time upon a bed of sickness, being apprehensive he should become impatient when confined to his room, It was a further subject of anxious solicitude, that he might not during his illness be deprived of his senses, and either say or do any thing that would be contrary to the profession he had made. In each of these respects, God was pleased to grant the desires of his heart. Very soon after he was confined to his room, he

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