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rated. In a year or two afterwards be changed his views on the subject of baptism, and became a Pædobaptist, upon which he removed to Painswick and afterwards to Stroud, where he ended his pilgrimage in 1780. His change of sentiment was of course a great trial to the church, but they bore willing and honourable testimony to his general consistency as a man, a christian, and a minister.
The next pastor of the church was Mr. Turner, who removed from Bacup in Lancashire to Birmingham, in 1754. This society had passed through more painful vicissitudes, more trials of their faith and patience, than usually fall to the lot of dissenting congregations: but they were now approaching an era of peace and prosperity. At the time of Mr. Turner's commencement of his ministry, the congregation, by its various changes, was reduced to about thirty persons, and the church to fourteen members; but under his faithful, intelligent, and earnest labours, a great and rapid increase took place, so that in the year 1763 it was necessary to enlarge the meeting-house. After a successful course of twenty-six years, this excellent man died on the 8th of January, 1780, in the 55th year of his age. He was, says the memorial of him in the church book, “a clear, judicious, acceptable, and successful preacher, and a faithful defender of the glorious doctrines of the everlasting gospel. Mr. Turner published several tracts :
1. The Covenant of Works and Grace, a Scrmon from Jeremiah xxxi. 33,
2. General Remarks on a Pamphlet entitled Four Letters in answer to the Objector.
3. Antinomianism Explained and Exploded, in a Letter to a Friend.
4. The Duty of Keeping and the Sin of Profaning the Sabbath Day.
5. Thoughts on Mixed Communion,
B. Christ the only Foundation, a Sermon from 1 Cor. iii. 11. 7. The Foxes and Viues; a Sermon from Canticles ii, 16. 8. A Letter to a Deist.
9. Remarks on a Letter to a Baptist Minister. · Mr. Turner was succeeded by Mr. Taylor, who was ordained in April, 1782. His ministry was at first very successful. Having come off from the Wesleyan body, he at length reassumed his Arminian views of truth, and returned to the Methodists. He was pastor of the church eight years, and the separation when he left was exceedingly painful, as he had conciliated the affections of his flock. He was soon afterwards drowned in passing over to Ireland. It is much to the credit of this church that, though they lost two pastors by a change of sentiment, no attempt was made to disparage either their talents or their virtues. No language of asperity, of depreciation, or of contempt, is used in their archives in reference to them. It is indeed most pitiable to witness, as we sometimes do, the mean and foolish attempts which are made by those who have lost a member or a minister, to degrade him when he has gone over from them to another party. It is amusing to observe what a different admeasurement they make of his mental stature before and after his secession from their body. He who was, while with them, a very great man, dwindles down, when he leaves them, into a very little one.
The successor to Mr. Taylor was the seraphic Samuel Pearce, and it would be an act of injustice to eminent and rare ministerial excellence to give a mere cursory reference to this distinguished man. And having dwelt at some length on the character and talents of Dr. Williams, who was an Independent, I now with equal complacency dilate on the talents and sacred virtues of Mr. Pearce, who was a Baptist. Neither gifts nor graces are confined within the limits of any denomination.
There are bright luminaries in the sky of every section of the christian church, all of them placed there by Him who holdeth the stars in his right hand, and all shining with a splendour which is the reflection of his own glory as the Sun of Righteousness.
Mr. Pearce's conversion to God was the fruit of the ministry of Mr. Birt, then co-pastor with Mr. Gibbs, of the Baptist church at Plymouth, while Mr. Birt himself was brought to the possession of spiritual religion by the preaching of Mr. Burn, the late minister of St. Mary's chapel in this town. Mr. Pearce soon after his conversion entered the Baptist College at Bristol, to undergo a course of preparatory studies for the pastoral office, and was trained for his future labours under the celebrated Robert Hall, then co-tutor with Dr. Evans, by the former of whom he was recommended to the church in Cannon-street. His ordination took place in August, 1790. Here his ministry proved to be the power of God unto the salvation of many, and the church was rapidly and greatly augmented by his lively, faithful, and affectionate labours : but it is very probable that he opened for himself and the church a source of future uneasiness by an excess of anxiety to swell the number of members. From his first coming to Birmingham his mind was troubled, and his meekness and patience were sorely tried by that antinomian spirit which Mr. Hall so characteristically represents as “a thick skinned monster of the ooze and the mire, which no weapon can pierce, no discipline tame.” This foul and fierce spirit, which has troubled, divided, and desolated so many churches, may be traced to the works of Dr. Crisp and Dr. Hawker, who were Episcopalians; to Dr. Gill, who was a Baptist; and Mr. Huntington, who was a congregationalist. Not that Dr. Gill was himself an antino
mian, or is to be altogether classed with the others just mentioned; but his high Calvinism led many to go still higher than himself, and diffused a bitter leaven through the Baptist churches of this country. Some of the members of the church in Cannon-street, and many besides in this town, were infected with this pestilential heresy. Still the body of the church was sound, and approved of the more moderate views of their inestimable pastor.
Soon after Mr. Pearce settled in Birmingham, he became acquainted with the immortal Carey, then the learned shoemaker in the village of Moulton, and afterwards the great missionary of the East, and the Professor of languages in the College of Calcutta. In him he found a kindred soul, and with him and Fuller, Sutcliffe, and Ryland, laid the foundation of a society which has done more to translate the scriptures into the languages of India than any other society or than all other societies together. He attended the first meeting at Kettering, in October, 1792, and assisted at that conference over which all the nations of the East and all future generations of mankind will rejoice. From that time he threw his whole mind and heart into the mission cause. By correspondence, by journeys to various parts of the kingdom, by preaching, and writing, he laboured to kindle and fan the flame of zeal on behalf of the conversion of the heathen. But this did not satisfy him: his was an ardour too intense to be confined within such a sphere, and he now resolved to lay himself as a whole burnt offering on the altar of the missionary cause. His zeal had all the light of a principle, and all the fervour of a passion. He not only thought, and talked, and wrote, and preached on the subject by day, but mused upon it in his slumbers. “I dreamed,” he says in his diary, “ that I saw one of the Christian Hindoos. O, how I loved him! I long to realise my dream. How pleasant will it be to sit down at the Lord's Table with our swarthy brethren, and hear Jesus preached in their language.” This is the spirit that will accomplish the great object and convert the world to Christ. Then, when this pure and fervent zeal springing from enlightened sentiment, fervent love to Christ and souls, and nourished in the retirement of the closet, shall actuate all our pastors, and all our churches, then will the Spirit be poured out from on high.
Mr. Pearce offered his services to the committee of the Baptist Mission, to follow Carey and Thomas, who had already gone on the mission to India, but on account of his qualifications as a preacher, and his power to influence others at home, they decided on recommending him to remain in England. On hearing their decision, he says, in writing to his wife, “I am disappointed but not dismayed.” Denied the honour of being a missionary, he devoted himself to the work of supporting the cause at home, and in conjunction with Fuller, Sutcliffe, and Ryland, laboured in preparing the Periodical Accounts of the mission and in directing its affairs.
During all this while he neglected not his ministerial labours and pastoral occupations, but continued to be the earnest preacher of Christ and devoted servant of the church. But the course of this flaming seraph was soon to be arrested. Early in October, 1798, Mr. Pearce attended and preached at a ministers' meeting at Kettering, on returning from which he got wet, caught cold, and received the seeds of consumption. The symptoms of that dire disorder, which Dr. Darwin said was not only a glutton but an epicure, soon developed. His preaching was almost immediately suspended, as in December he delivered his last sermon. Mr. Ward, after