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Rer: Thomas Morgan.
from an Original linding
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. BENJAMIN FRANCIS,
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH AT HORSLEY,
The subject of the following and impure conversation, that if
Memoir, though long since he ever heard any thing of the deceased, * yet possessed' so kipd, he could not forbear severe much excellence, and was so ly reproving 'it. He had, at this extensively known and respect- carly period, such a flow of affeced, especially in our own deno- tion sometimesin prayer, which he mination, that we doubt not then began to practise, that * his but the following brief account whole heart was overwhelmed of him will prove highly ac- with rapture." He was baptized ceptable to all our readers. It at fifteen years of age, and began is extracted from a narrative of to preach at nineteen, as his fahis life and death, published ther had done before him." He with the sermon preached to went to the academy at Bristol in his bereaved church and con- | 1753, where he continued three gregation on the occasion of years. He preached for some his death, by Dr. Ryland.
time at Sodbury, but removed to Horsley, in Gloucestershirë, in
1757, where he was ordained the THE late Rev. BENJAMIN year following. At his ordination FRANCIS, M.A. was the youngest in October, 1758, Mr. Thomas, son of the Rev. Enoch Francis, a of Bristol, gave the charge, from very eminent Baptist minister in Col. iv. 17; and Mr. Hugh South Wales. He was born in Evans preached to the people, 1734, and his youthful mind be from 1 Thess. ii. 19. The church gan to be deeply impressed with consisted then of only 66 mema conviction of the great worth bers, and such was their poof the soul, and of the necessity verty, that they could raise for of being truly religious. When their minister no more than 201. only seven years of age, he felt an per annum." But however disabiding
reverence of the divine couraging the prospect as to ex. Majesty, a dread of associating ternals, our young evangelist with wicked companions, and girded up the loins of his mind, such an abhorrence of all profane and put his trust in the Lord; he
laboured indefatigably in his * He died December 14, 1799,
Master's work, and through the
Divine blessing on his ministry, attachment to his friends at Horbe not only introduced thirteen sley was immoveable, and their persons to church connexions in affection in return
very the first
year after his settlement, strong and permanent. but the auditory was so much His continued success, and the increased, as to require the en- many open doors of usefulness largement of the place of worship which Providence pointed out in
1760. About this time, and Gloucestershire, might well inin following periods, be had press-deed strengthen his resolution to ing invitations to settle in the continue with his charge. Within metropolis, especially from the two years after, he had a farther church in Carter-lane, Southwark, addition of 31 members, and 40 just before the death of Dr. Gill, the next two years. Iọ the mean when many very respectable mi-while he made frequent excurnisters united in urging him to sions into the neighbouring towns comply with the request of the and villages, to seek for lost souls. doctor and his people;* but his In 1765, he resolved on building
a place of worship in the town of
Minchin. Hampton, about three A memorandum, written on this occasion, has been found among Mr. miles from Horsley, where some Francis's papers, in the following words: of his members lived, and whose " In 1772, spent two sabbaths in Lon. inhabitants appeared greatly to don, and preached both days at Dr.
need religious instruction. He Gill's meeting-house, and had a call to succeed him, which greatly affected kept up a lecture once a fortand perplexed me; but I determined to night in this place for 35 years. continue with my poor dear people at He persisted in his unwearied Horsley.' A copy of a letter has also been found,
efforts for the good of the inbawritten on this, or a similar occasion, bitants of this town, notwith(for neither date nor address has been standing his want of success, of preserved positively to ascertain it,) which he had more room to comwhich breathes so amiable a spirit, that the reader will be gratified by the inser
plain than in any other instance. tion of some extracts. “ Surely, there For as it had long been noted for never was,” says he, “ so unworthy a the peculiar wickedness of many creature so honoured, so courted, so of its inhabitants, and the vioperplexed with engaging prospects be- lence of persecution in the early fore! Lord, what am I? I blush, I tremble, I wonder, praise ! Yes, in- / part of Mr. Whitfield's ministry deed, the fibres of my heart are entan- 21 years before, when they riot. gled among you, and I know not how ously assaulted Mr. Adams, one to give you the parting look, and bid of his preachers, dragged him enough to carry me to-morrow to Lon through the town, and threw don, and yet such is the sense I have of him into the brook; so it seemed my unfitness and inability to succeed as though the people were given your late eminent pastor ; such is my up to judicial hardness, even to relation to, and concern for, my poor the present day. God grant the affectionate people at Horsley; such is the success which seems to have attend. set time to favour them may yet ed my labours in these parts, and such appear to be at hand, in which the call there still is for my continuance he shall pour out his Spirit upon here, that I am not satisfied it is my them, in answer to the unnum. duty to remove, and change my present difficulties for future affluence and ease. The people here will advance my salary sound in harping upon this string(which, a few pounds if I stay ; but I have dis- by the bye, may soon snap,) while their countenanced them from doing this hi. own circumstances are so extremely intherto, and they can make but a dull digent."
bered prayers his servant offered hood around. For many years up in their behalf! *
he made excursions monthly, Though Mr. Francis met with into the most uninstructed parts so little success at Hampton, bis of Gloucestershire, Worcesterlabours at Horsley, and in the shire, and Wiltshire; besides vi. neighbourhood, were owned to siting bis brethren, and strength. the spiritual benefit of many. In ening their hands in God. 1771, 2, and 3, fifty-four mem- In the course of his journeys bers were added to the church. through Worcestershire, which In 1774,- his meeting-house at he regularly made from about Horsley required another enlarge 1772 to 1784, it appears he had ment, which was accomplished preached at Cheltenham, 130 ser. at the expense of 5001. Thus, mons; at Tewkesbury, 136; at through the blessing of God on Pershore, 137; and at Uptonthe labours of his dear servant, a upon-Severn, 180. His manner very numerous congregation was was to set out from home on collected in a situation which, Monday morning, and return on at the first, appeared very unpro- Friday evening, after having taken mising. From more than fifteen a circuit of 90 miles, and preachparishes round, his members and ed every evening. At Malmshearers flocked to the house of bury, in Wiltshire, also, he estabthe Lord ; and, surely, any friend lished a monthly lecture; where, of evangelical religion must have from 1771 to 1799, he preached enjoyed the sight of the several 282 sermons; and at Christian companies descending the sur-Malford, 84; at Devizes, 56 ; and rounding hills on the Lord's-day, at Melksham, Frome, Trowto assemble for public worship; bridge, and Bradford, 90 in each. where, on the rising ground above At Wotton-under-Edge, he kept the meeting-house, one group up a monthly lecture for 30 after another would appear years, and preached there 394 emerging from the woods; some
times. His sermons at his own of them having come from the place amounted to more than distance of 10 miles, and up- 4000; and at Hampton, 802. On wards: nor was it uncommon for his visits to Bristol, he had persons to unite in worship under preached 101 times at Broadthat roof whose dwellings were 30 mead, and 28 at the Pithay. He miles asunder. During the whole had preached 22 sermons at of his ministry, he baptized at Portsmouth, and an equal numHorsley' nearly 450 persons.
ber at Plymouth and Dock; and At the time of his decease, the 20 times he had preached in church consisted of 262 mem- Cornwall. He frequently visited bers: but his usefulness was by his native country, and was often no means confined to his own at their annual associations, and congregation; his occasional la- preached in the principality, bours for the good of souls were both in Welsh and English, about abundant, He was the first 150 sermons. In 1791, he visited means of introducing evangelical Ireland, and preached, chiefly in religion into many dark towns Dublin, 30 times. and villages in all the neighbour
Whenever he visited London,
he was abundantly employed in This was written in 1799 ; we under his Master's work, and in various stand that since that period, considerable success has attended the labours of Mr. other parts of the kingdom, his Winterbotham, at Minchin-Hampton.