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the commanding energy of its language, may rank amongst his noblest compositions.
Mr. Robinson printed, at different times, single sermons preached on public occasions, most of them at the request of his auditors. These discourses are distinguished by their originality, simplicity, elegance, and heart-affecting piety. The reader who may be acquainted with the discourses of the most celebrated French preachers, catholic and protestant, will perceive how deeply our author had imbibed their spirit, and more particularly that of his favourite Saurin: he had indeed so habitually feasted on the discourses of that excellent divine, that his mind, like the worm on the leaf, had acquired their very colour and substance: not that he was the servile imitator, or even copyist: his discourses were not formed from any model, but were the entire production of his own intellect: they were much better suited to the capacities of a common audience than those of the pulpit orator at the Hague, part of whose audience consisted of princes and statesmen. Frequently after hearing Mr. Robinson, I have observed to my friends—“We have to day heard Saurin sim
plified.” Several of his printed discourses were much abridged, but by their abridgment appear to disadvantage. The discourse entitled Christianity a System of Humanity, * which may be lei
* Vol. III. p. 267.
surely read in half an hour, took up an hour and twenty minutes in the delivery; and I believe, there was not one of the numerous and attentive audience present, who thought it too long. The Discourse addressed to the congregation at MazePond, on their public declaration of having chosen Mr. James Dore their pastor, may be read in twenty minutes ;* but the original was upwards of an hour long;too long for that tedious service, a modern dissenting ordination, of which all the forms, although the name was avoided, were studiously preserved by the church at Maze-Pond. The subject of the discourse—The Constitution of a christian church, and the principal sources of its corruptions, was treated at considerable length: other persons besides myself, regretted it was not published as preached. That ingenious discourse-The Christian doctrine of ceremonies, (the justice of the criticism, must be left to the learned to determine:t)– That affecting discourse -The Sufficiency of the Scriptures, preached in behalf of the society for distributing bibles in the army and the navy, judging from having first heard, and afterwards read them, were printed almost verbatim as they were delivered.
Mr. Robinson likewise frequently employed his pen on different occasions. He assisted the late learned and excellent Dr. Kippis in drawing up one of the articles in the Biographia Britannica; § and begun a translation of the Revolution de Paris, a periodical work of considerable merit, but of which three numbers only appeared in English: he drew
* Vol. IV. p. 24. + Vol. III. p. 312, 333-336. I Vol. IV. p. l. Ś Art. BAKER.
up A Plan of a charity school for the education of the boys and girls of protestant dissenters, at Cambridge: the imperfect state of the translated work, and the plan of the charity school not being materially different from the plans of dissenting charity schools in general, render the insertion of these pieces in the present collection unnecessary.
I have thús laid before the reader some account of Mr. Robinson's works published during his lífe; but his two largest works—The History of Baptism, and Ecclesiastical Researches, each consisting of between six and seven hundred closely printed quarto pages, and which were only parts of a still larger work, sketched by the author, were not published till after his death. The merits of these works I am not qualified to discuss critically; and as I have already exceeded the limits intended when I first begun these Memoirs, my account of them must be brief.
Many of the principal persons of the Baptist denomination, had long lamented that they had no authentic history of their brethren, particularly of this country, and deeming Crosby's History, which had hitherto been the only one deserving attention, both inaccurate and ill-written, turned their thoughts to Mr. Robinson as a proper person to write such a work as might do honour to the denomination. Some of his London friends accordingly associated and formed a committee, the first meeting of which was held at the King's Head tavern in the Poultry, Nov. 6, 1781. Various resolutions were agreed to. Mr. Robinson was invited to undertake the work. Dr. Giffard the chairman, at that time librarian to the British Museum, offered him an apartment in his house for the purpose of consulting manuscripts. It was proposed that Mr. R. should visit London for ten days in every month, preach various lectures, and that a subscription should be entered into to defray his expences. Mr. Keene was appointed to write to Mr. R. and his church on the subject. This plan on its first proposal occasioned some uneasiness to the congregation at Cambridge, who feared that their pastor to whom they were so justly partial, and whom they had so long loved and honoured, might be tempted by the London dissenters to settle amongst them: but at length, after duly considering the matter, it was agreed to comply with the request. In the answer written by one of the deacons of the church, Mr. William Nash of Royston, it was, however, stipulated that the London committee should “ neither directly
nor indirectly, promote any plan or scheme that “ should eventually tend to remove their pastor, nor
yet to alter the plan, so that he should be absent “ more than one Lord's day in a month.”
Such was Mr. Robinson's popularity as preacher, that as soon as it was understood he had agreed to visit London at stated periods, he was eagerly applied to for his services at different places: the multiplicity of his pulpit labours may be judged of by the following extract of a letter from his friend Mr. Keene.
“ As in your favour of the 26th of March, you “ desired me to adjust your preaching times, with “ the approbation of your friends, they are as follow :
Tuesday evening, April 15, at Mr. Rippon's.
- Dr. Rees's.
Little St. Helen's.
21, Maze Pond Vestry.
22, - Mr. Rippon's. Wednesday morning, 23, - Maze Pond.” Mr. Robinson's discourses, during his visits to to the metropolis, most of which I had the pleasure of hearing, were delivered to audiences equally crowded and attentive.
It may naturally be supposed that so much preaching, together with so much visiting in the social circle as it was impossible to prevent, afforded our author little leisure to examine manuscripts and write history. After a few months trial, his plan of studying in London was relinquished: but it was pursued at home; where he obtained through the kindness of some of the masters of arts in the university of Cambridge, nota