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MEMOIR OF THE REV. THOMAS STEEVENS,
LATE PASTOR OF THE BAPTIST CHURCH AT
Light and shade seem not more Mr. Thomas Steevens, the only essential to the production of a child of his parents, was born at finished drawing, than variety of Northampton, October 6, 1745. incident to the formation of an His father and mother sat under interesting memoir: yet we are, the ministry of Dr. Doddridge, occasionally, presented with a and
both truly pious. moral excellency of manners, Scarcely had his father welcomed which effectually relieves the the entrance of his beloved child monotony of life, and more than into the world, when, called to supplies the regretted absence embrace him for the last time, he of striking vicissitude. In some solemnly committed him to the instances, rapid movements, con protection of an infinitely granected with reverses the most cious Providence, and the superunexpected, may afford the best intendence of maternal tender. opportunity for developing supe- ness, himself being dismissed riority of mind; while, in others, from all earthly anxieties; and the undeviating occupation of ta- she, who had been a wife only lent, through a lengthened course, one year, became a widow, and in which the same duties are so remained during the rest of constantly recurring, constitutes her life. She was, however, a a distinction of character which widow indeed, trusting in God, claims our unqualified respect. and, like another Eunice, watchOn this account, we have often ing over another Timothy, the enjoyed more satisfaction in trac- concern of her life appeared to ing the almost silent progress of be, that, from a child, her son unassuming worth, than when we should be made acquainted with have been hurried through the the holy scriptures. Her solicicontrasted scenes of noisy, rather tude experienced an early rethan useful existence. With some ward in the docility with which such reflections, the reader may her instructions were received, profitably turn from contemplat- and the pleasing appearances ing the placid countenance in the accompanying her endeavours. engraving which accompanies our Habitual thoughtfulness characpresent Number, to the following terized almost the infancy of Mr. account of its original.
Steevens, to an extent which led VOL. IX.
several persons confidently to ed: the part Mr. Steevens was predict what would be his future enabled to take on these occaemploy. Dr. Doddridge himself sions, considerably raised him in appears to have been attracted the estimation of his most judiby what he discovered in this cious hearers, and confirmed the child ; and engaged, when he sentiment to which his earlier should be sufficiently advanced, years had given existence, that, to take him under his patronage. ere long, he would occupy an Pleasing as such an arrangement important station in the church must have been, the accomplish- of Christ. ing of it was frustrated : for, when The term of his apprenticeship his intended pupil had but just being expired, he had the satisreached his sixth year, the Doctor faction to receive from his master, was called to the heavenly inhe- who had always treated him as a ritance, and Mr. Ryland, of confidential friend rather than as Northampton, became the pre- a servant, the most honourable ceptor
young Steevens, whose testimony to his conduct during proficiency appears to have been his residence in his family. ereditable to the well known abi. An event occurred in 1768, lity of his tutor.
which contributed, in a large In his fifteenth year, Mr. Stee- proportion, to promote the bapvens came to London, and was piness of Mr. Steevens during apprenticed to the weaving trade the remainder of his life: for, in with a pious and respectable this year, he received the hand of master. Such now became his Hannah Carter, whose parents thirst for information, that the were in communion with Mr. hours which should have been Potts. The conjugal harmony devoted to rest, were often em- of Mr. and Mrs. Steevens appears. ployed in the pursuit of know- to have been mutually cherished Jedge. His master, observing by the most affectionate solici. the prevailing taste of his ap- tude; and the deservedly esprentice, generously afforded him teemed widow yet survives, veevery facility that might assist nerating the recollection of her his progress; in doing which, he deceased husband, and cheered was amply compensated by the by the animating prospect of fidelity and diligence with which shortly joining that assembly, Thomas discharged the duties of whose members have triumphed his station. Just at this time a over death. clergyman, of the name of Neale, One inducement to Mr. Stee. gave private instruction to a se- vens to form this important relalect number of young men, among tion, and that not the least conwhom Mr. Steevens attended; siderable, was, that under his by which the improvement of roof, his mother, who had been his mind was considerably ad- a widow more than twenty vanced.
years, might receive such eviDuring this period, he sat, dences of affectionate attention, chiefly, under the ministry of and filial reverence, as might Dr. Čonder and Mr. Potts, the soften the asperities of declining latter instituted a monthly exer- life, and leave her nothing to cise for the assistance of serious wish of an earthly description. youth, in which theological ques. For sixteen years these duties tions were proposed and discuss were discharged with cheerful
vigilance, till his aged parent was and, consequently, his attention removed where the exercise of was directed to seek communion such benevolence is no longer where the convictions be had reneeded.
ceived might be honoured by For some time after his mar- obedience. riage, Mr. Steevens attended the Mr. Macgowan was, at this ministry of Mr. Potts in the time, pastor of the church meetmorning, and Mr. Brewer, of ing near Devonshire-square; and Stepney, in the afternoon of the his celebrated “Shaver” having Lord's-day: he also occasionally fallen into the hands of Mr. Steeheard, and with considerable vens, he felt a more than ordinary satisfaction, that extraordinary desire to hear the author : the preacher Mr. George Whitfield, result affords another opportuand some others, who, at that nity of perceiving with how period, were distinguished by much caution first impressions their eminence in the Christian should be allowed to govern our ministry.
judgment, and influence our conA divine blessing appears to duct. Having heard Mr. Machave accompanied these diver-gowan, the conclusion was, that sified' means, and Mr. Steevens he would hear him no more. For advanced in knowledge of re- some time he attended at various vealed truth, and in a concern to places, without finding a settled be governed by its influence. home; till, at length, a near relaThus it was that he came to the tive expressing her intention of determination of declaring his hearing Mr. Macgowan, Mr. faith in Jesus Christ, and uniting Steevens remarked, that he thought with a Christian society. Hav- her edification would be more ing concluded to join the inde promoted by hearing some other pendent church at Stepney, he minister: she was not, however, proceeded to prepare a written to be diverted from her purpose; account of his views and expe- and, on her return, informed Mr. rience. In this attempt, the sub- Steevens she had been much ject of baptism came under his gratified, and added, that in this consideration as it had never instance she could not help susdone before: by a diligent exa- pecting he had too hastily formed mination of the New Testament, his opinion: for that, were he to without any supplementary inter- persevere in attending on the ference, he soon discovered, that, ministry of Mr. Macgowan, her like
many others, he had, on this conviction was, that he would subject, trodden the hackneyed ultimately approve.
With this path, taking that for granted intimation he complied; and, which is completely destitute of though his prejudices were not evidence, and allowing custom to instantly removed, they gratyrannize over truth. Being fully dually yielded, till he became convinced that the immersion of strongly attached to Mr. Macbelievers was the command of gowan's ministry; and, in 1772, Christ, and that no authority on he was baptized and united to earth could be sufficient to jus- the church. His serious and .tify so flagrant a violation of affectionate behaviour greatly enpositive institute as that of infant deared him both to his pastor sprinkling, he respectfully de- and the members of this Chrisclined the intended connection, tian society. An opportunity soon