« PreviousContinue »
'The memory of the just is blessed ;'- the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.' Sanctioned by these sentiments, the biographical part of our Magazine is peculiarly important and interesting. To the numerous sketches which have been given of eminent ministers and distinguished Christians, we now add a brief Memoir of the Rev. Joseph Parkin, late pastor of the church of Christ, of the Independent denomination, in Wigan, Lancashire.
This amiable and faithful servant of Christ was born at Sheffield, January 6, 1780. Both his parents dying when he was very young, he was left to the care of an aunt, with whom he resided during the early part of life, at Dronfield, Derbyshire. By the kind providence of God, he was apprenticed, at the usual period, to Mr. Roome, a deacon of the church assembling in Queen Street, Sheffield. Here he enjoyed many religious ada vantages, to which he was indebted, under God, for his acquaintance with the gospel of Christ.
It appears that, during his childhood, he was the subject of religious concern, though he enjoyed no means of promoting his spiritual interests. In one of the papers which he has left behind him, adverting to this circumstance, and to the manner of his being brought to the knowledge of the truth, he remarks, • From early life, I well remember the serious impressions with which I was constantly attended, amidst all my juvenile pursuits. My connections, however, were not favourable to early piety. Every symptom of an awakened conscience, or desire of seeking after God, was condemned as childish fanaticism, and suppressed by remonstrance. Too weak to withstand those who demanded, my obedience, and too prone to listen to the syren voice of Pleasure, I said, with the multitude of youth, · Who will shew me any good ?' About the age of 14, a kind Providence brought me under the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Brewer, then of Sheffield.
Immediately, the convictions of my sinful condition were res newed and deepened ; and, I bless God, that, under him, I trust, I was brought to that adorable Saviour, whom I now esteem as the only ground of my hope, and the object of my supreme affection."
Modesty and self-diffidence had for some time concealed the impressions which were made on his mind; but, at length, an extraordinary providence wrested from bim a testimony which he could not withhold. In the middle of the night there was a most dreadful storm of thunder and lightning. The whole family, and he among the rest, arose to prayer. Such were the wisdom and the fervour of his addresses to the throne of grace, that his mas. ter could not help remarking, “The youth that can pray as he does, must be under the teachings and influences of the Spirit of God!'
From this time, the light kindled in his soul, and began to shiny more and more, to the great satisfaction of his master and of the religious society with which he assembled. Athirst for spiritual improvement, he met regularly, once or twice a week, with the serious young men of the congregation, for reading, conversation, and prayer; and he has often expressed the very great pleasure and profit which he enjoyed in these exercises ; nor was he concerned merely for his own edification. Experiencing the blessed effects of evangelical religion in his own soul, he felt exceedingly desirous of introducing the gospel of the grace of God to the fa. vourite scene of his early days, the village of Dronfield. Thither it was sent, through bis instrumentality; and there it has ever since oontinued to be dispensed with success!
Having joined the church where he had received his spiritual birth, and given evidence to his brethren of his promising talents for preaching, he was encouraged to exercise his abilities in the neighbouring villages. These first efforts proving acceptable, he was introduced to the academy at Rotherham, that he might en. joy a regular course of preparatory studies for the Christian ministry.
During the latter part of his residence at the academy, he preached both in the neighbourhood and to distant congregations, with great acceptance and usefulness; but his youthtul appearance generally produced, at first, an unfavourable impression. This was so much the case when he applied at the Quarter Ses. sions for a license to preach, that the worthy, chairman was very reluctant to grant it; and signified his determination to move in the House of Commons, of which he is an honourable member, for an act to limit the age of persons applying for licenses. He gave the intimation accordingly; assuring the House, that' he had been compelled, by the laws of this realm, to license boys (without any education) of seventeen, to be the guardians of our souls, and the teachers of our holy religion! This mistake has already
been corrected by a letter from Dr. Williams to Mr. Parsons, pub. lished in a well-written pamphlet *.
When Mr. Parkin's studies at Rotherham were nearly com. pleted, he was sent, on probation, to the congregation in Wigan. After preaching there a few Sabbaths, he received a unanimous invitation to exercise his ministry among them statedly. This invitation he accepted, and entered on his labours in August, 1803. In the same month of the following year, he was ordained to the pastoral office; and, in four or five weeks after that, he married Miss Wightman, of Mansfield, a young lady of amiable manners, of unaffected piety, admirably calculated to be a helpmeet to him, and a grand-daughter of the venerable Abraham Booth, of London.
As a Christian and as a minister, Mr. Parkin excelled many. He possessed an uncommon degree of prudence. He united inflexible firmness and fidelity with an equal degree of meekness and affection. His devotional temper, and relish for religious conversation, were manifest to all who enjoyed the pleasure of his acquaintance. In his preparatory studies for the pulpit, he was exceedingly close ; and his sermons displayed deep thought, as well as much seriousness and fervour. Very few young ministers, perhaps, possessed a more ardent thirst for ministerial improve ment. Under the direction of his respected tutor, he had col.
* Parsons's Vindication of the Dissenters against the charge of Democratic Scheming.
We take the liberty of introducing this letter, not merely because it relates to ae interesting circumstance in the life of Mr. Parkin, but because it serves to explain the origin of a case, which might have produced the most lamentable effects :
To Mr. Parsons, Leeds. Dear Sir,
Rotherham, Dec. 12, 1801. In reply to your enquiry concerning a passage in a late pamphlet, which relates to granting licences to boys (without any education) of seventeen, I have reason to think that the declarations made in the British Senate, by one of its Members,' was in allusion to a student under my care. At the Quarter Sessions held at Rotherham, October, 1799, the student, whose name I need oot mention, except by the initials J. P. applied for a license, as a Dissenting teacher. The chairman, observing his youth, intimated that he would bring forward the case of limiting the age of applicants for licenses. The truth is, the young man was then in his twentieth year.
You may suppose it gave me some alarm, that a mistake of this nature should be the ostensible occasion of a legislative step, so important in its consequences ; I, therefore, concluded to write to the gentleman who announced the design, and to state that, if this was the case to which he alluded, his information was not correct, stating to him the real case. Had the allusion been maile to any other fact, I have reason to think the civility of Mr. M. A. T-r would have given me the information.
I must add, That I believe he was the youngest who ever applied from this seminary for a certificate. He was, however, at this time, a divioity student, of good abilities, regularly admitted into this place by a committee of gentlemen, whose business it is, cor junction with the tutors, after four months probation, closely to investigate the natural capacities, the moral character, and religious knowledge of the candidates. Should this plain statement appear calculated to rectify any published mistake, it is very much at your service, from, dear Sir,
your Friend and Brother, EDWARD WILLIAMS,
lected, though a small, yet a very valuable library ; which, with him, was not for shew, but for use. Following the apostolical exhortation, he gave attendance to reading; and his profiting ap. peared to all. On every occasion, he manifested an earnest concern for the cause of Christ, not merely by indolent wishes, but by arduous exertions. His labours were not confined to his own congregation, though they ju tly claimed and enjoyed his principal attention ; but, in the villages around, he preached the glad tidings of salvation by Christ; and the fruits of his ministry, when observed in the conversion of sinners and the edification of saints, afforded him the liveliest satisfaction. His personal religion, his ministerial digence, his fervent desire of usefulness, and his anxious concern for the purity and strictness of Christian discipline, in the church under his care, might be exemplified by extracts from his Diary ; but these would extend the Memoir beyond the bounds of a periodical publication.
The ministerial labours of this excellent young man were, alas! soon completed. In the latter end of the summer 1807, his health appeared to be in a declining state, though not so as to create any considerable alarm. In the winter he grew worse'; and his disorder seemed to be much increased by a short journey, in which he was exceedingly wet, both in going and returning. Several of his friends attributed his illness to too great exertion, especially in preaching in the neighbouring villages. Their intimation of this, cut him to the very heart. To a very intimate acquaintance, he spoke of it with tears, saying, "My friends accuse me, in this respect, very unjustly. I am sure I never suffered any harm from preaching. It grieves me exceedingly to hear them say that I have; and, especially, lest the report should prove an occasion of causing any of my brethren in the ministry to slacken their diligence in the work of the Lord.'
Apprehending that he was threatened by a pulmonary consumption, he consulted Dr. Jarrold, of Manchester ; through whose skilful prescriptions the progress of his disorder appeared, for a season, to be hopefully arrested. In the spring of 1808 he seemed to revive ; and, in the month of May, was attended by Mrs. Parkin to the Isle of Man, in hopes that the voyage and the sea air might be serviceable. In about nine weeks he returned home, apparently much recovered; and immediately, after a silence of several months, resumed his labours on the first Sabbath in August. His first discourse after his return, was å very impressive ine, evidently the language of his own experience and prospects, from 2 Cor. iv. 17, 'Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us à far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.' - During upwards of four months after, he continued to preach generally twice on the Sabbath, one of the members of the church, when necessary, engaging in prayer and reading a sermon. Every persuasion of his friends to