« PreviousContinue »
PRINTED FOR AND SOLD BY THE UNITARIAN
ASSOCIATION, 3, WALBROOK BUILDINGS, WALBROOK. ALSO BY R. HUNTER, 72, ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD,
AND C. FOX, PATERNOSTER ROW.
BY THE EDITOR.
THE celebrated Author of the following Essay was born at Exeter on the 16th of September 1697. When five years old, he was sent to the Grammar School of his native city; and from this school, in due time, he was removed to the Academy for Students in the Ministry kept by the Rev. Joseph Hallet the elder, under whose superintendence he completed his academical studies. In the
year 1718, when he was twenty years and a half old, he entered upon public life by beginning to preach ; but having embraced that form of Christian doctrine which had been recently advocated by Whiston and Clarke, Clergymen of the Established Church, he did not immediately receive a call to a situation among the Dissenters. He soon after, however, removed to a small congregation at Milborn Port in Somersetshire ; but finding this situation unsuitable, he found a friendly asylum and
calm retreat at the house of the Rev. Nicholas Billingsley, at Ashwick, under the Mendip Hills. In this retreat, Mr. Foster pursued his studies with close attention, and preached to two country congregations near Wells, which together did not raise him more than the yearly salary of £15. “His chief view," as one who knew him
has attested, “was to maintain his own integrity, and promote the honour of his great
Lord; bearing difficulties with rational firmness, and calm submission to the Divine Will.” From Ashwick, he removed to a small Presbyterian congregation at Trowbridge in Wiltshire,where, however, his means of subsistence were so inadequate, that he had some intention of quitting the Ministry, and learning the trade of a glover from a Mr. Norman, with whom he boarded*. At this juncture, however, a change took place in his opinions respecting baptism, partly in consequence of reading the controversy between Wall and Gale, in which he thought the latier, who was the advocate of believers' baptism, had the advantage : he accordingly submitted to this ordinance at Barbican, London,
His refusing to starve, was no indication of his want of cheerfulness; and his choosing rather to have learnt the trade of Mr. Norman, than seek for succour in the establishment, is an early instance of his steadiness in the principles of Nonconformity, of which he gave later testimonies in declining the large offer made him by Dr. Rundall, Bishop of Derry."-Note to the "Sermon preached at Pinners' Hall, on occasion of the death of the late Rev. James Foster, D.D., by Caleb Fleming.”