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years, rather to the deliberate conviction of his mind, than to any diminution of the imaginative faculty.
But I must restrain myself, and pass to Mr. Hall's everyday habits after his return to Bristol. The course of his life at home, when not interrupted by visitors, was very uniform. He generally rose and took his breakfast about nine o'clock. Breakfast was immediately succeeded by family worship. At this exercise he went regularly through the Scriptures, reading a portion of the Old Testament in the morning, and of the New Testament in the evening. On Sunday morning he almost invariably read the ninety-second Psalm, being short, and appropriate to the day. He also read in his family the translation of the four Gospels, by Campbell, whom he particularly admired, and often recommended, as
ccurate translator, and a critic of great acuteness, taste, and judgement. He seldom made any remarks on the portion of Scripture, except when strangers were present, who, he knew, would be disappointed at their entire omission. He regarded himself as very incompetent to render this brief kind of exposition instructive. In the prayer that succeeded, he was not in the habit of forming his petitions on the passage of Scripture just read, though the prayer was usually of considerable length, and very minute in its appropriation. He adverted specifically to all the persons belonging to his family, present and absent; never forgot the people of his care; and dwelt on the distinct cases of members of the Church that were under any kind of trial or affliction.
After breakfast and worship, he retired into his study, and uniformly spent some time in devotion, afterwards generally reading a portion of the Hebrew Bible. For the two last years, he read daily two chapters of Matthew Henry's Commentary. As he proceeded he felt increasing interest and pleasure; admiring the copiousness, variety, and pious ingenuity of the thoughts; the simplicity, strength and pregnancy of the expressions. He earnestly recommended this commentary to his daughters; and on hearing the eldest reading, for successive mornings, to the second, he expressed the highest delight. The remainder of the morning until dinner, about three o'clock, was spent in reading some work of learning, or of severe thought. After dinner he generally retired to his study, and, if not in so much pain as to prevent it, slept for some time.
On Tuesday evenings are held what are termed “the conferences,” in the vestry of the Broadmead chapel : they are meetings ordinarily attended by about two hundred persons, at which two of the students belonging to the Bristol Education Society, or one of the students, and the president, speak on a passage of Scripture previously selected for the purpose. Mr. Hall always attended on these occasions, and concluded by speaking for about a quarter of an hour, on the subject of the preceding addresses. He also attended the prayer meetings, in the same place, on Thursday evenings; except once a month, namely, on the Thursday previous to the administration of the Lord's Supper, when he preached.
The other evenings in the week, except Saturday, (and that, indeed, not always excepted), he usually spent at the house of one or other of his congregation, with a very few friends, who were invited to meet him. His inability to walk having greatly increased, his friends generally sent a carriage for him about six o'clock, and conveyed him back about ten.
It is difficult to say whether he had greater fondness for retirement or for company. It displeased him if, especially by sudden interruptions, he was obliged to give up his morning hours of study to visitors ; and it would commonly have been a disappointment, if he had not the opportunity of spending his evenings in society. If he were, at any time, thrown among persons of distinguished talents and attainments, and their general character pleased him, it was soon shewn how truth and knowledge might be educed by the operation of intellect upon intellect, and how rich a field of instruction and delight would thus be open for the general enjoyment of the party. Usually, however, his choice turned simply upon the prerequisite of piety; he sought for no other acquisitions in his associates than the graces of the Spirit; intelligence added to the enjoyment, but was not essential to it. The society of old friends had with him an exquisite charm, which was greatly heightened if their fathers had been known and esteemed by him or his father; such intercourse, requiring no effort, gave full scope to his affections, without disturbing his mental repose. He uniformly retired from these evening parties, full of grateful references to the pleasure which he had felt. If any of his family who accompanied him, happened to say that the evening had been dull, he would reply, “ I don't think so. It was very pleasant. I enjoyed it. I enjoy every thing.” Considering the continuity of his sufferings, how touching a commentary is this upon the inspired aphorism," the good man shall be satisfied from himself!"
Mr. Hall commonly retired to rest a little before eleven o'clock; but, after his first sleep, which lasted about two hours, he quitted his bed to obtain an easier position on the floor, or upon three chairs; and would then employ himself in reading the book on which he had been engaged during the day. Sometimes, indeed, often, the laudanum, large as the doses had become, did not sufficiently neutralize his pain, to remove the necessity for again quitting his bed. * In these cases he would again put on the dress prepared to keep him adequately warm, and resume his reading. On Sunday mornings, as soon as he awoke, it was usual with him to say,
- This is the Lord's day. This is the day the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And he often impressed it on his family, that they ought “not to think their own thoughts," or “ to find their own pleasure," on that day.
He did not pursue any plan of training, or of discipline, with his children. He was remarkably affectionate and indulgent; but he did nothing systematically to correct defects, to guide or excite their minds. Now and then he recommended his daughters to read some particular book; one, perhaps, that he had himself read with peculiar satisfaction: but beyond this there do not appear to have been any direct, specific, endeavours to impart knowledge, or, in any uniform manner, to inculcate religious principles.
When, however, any of his children were about to quit home for a short time, it was his practice to summon them to his study, exhort them, and pray with them. One of his daughters on writing to a friend after his death, says, “Well I remember " that, when I was a child, on leaving home for a few days, or on
going to school, he would call me into the study, give me the “tenderest advice, make me to kneel down by him at the same "chair, and then, both bathed in tears, would he fervently sup" plicate the divine protection for me. This, I believe, he did “ with regard to all of us on leaving home, while young." Their minds were also often deeply impressed, by hearing him, as they passed his study door, commending them, by name, with the utmost fervency, to God, and entreating those blessings for each, which, in his judgement, each most needed. *
* For more than twenty years he had not been able to pass a whole night in bed. When this is borne in mind, it is truly surprising that he wrote and published so much; nay, that he did not sink into dotage before he was fifty years
Periodical private fasts, such as those which he observed at Leicester, he continued to observe at Bristol, making them seasons of extraordinary self-examination, prayer, and renewed dedication to God. He was not in the habit of keeping a regular journal, nor, generally speaking, did he approve of it, from a persuasion that it tempted to an artificial tone of expression which did not accord with the actual state of the heart. But on some solemn occasions he made a short note, in one of his memorandum books, containing hints of texts, &c. Thus: “New-years'-day, January 1st, 1826.
I have begun the year with a sincere resolution, in the strength of divine grace, to devote myself wholly and entirely to God: but, knowing my extreme weakness and corruption, I dare place no dependence whatever on my own resolutions. I have, on many occasions, found them unstable as water. I can only cast myself on the mercy of my God, and cry, with the Psalmist, ‘Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe.' O Thou most holy and merciful Lord God, I beseech Thee to take up thine abode in my heart, and shape me entirely
Amen. Amen." Again, on his birth-day, 1828. “ This day I commence my 64th (65th] year.
What reason have I to look with shame and humiliation on so long a tract of years spent to so little purpose. Alas! I am ashamed of my barrenness and unprofitableness. Assist me, O Lord, by Thy grace, that I may spend the short residue of my days in a more entire devotion to Thy service. It is my purpose, in the strength of divine grace, to take a more minute inspection into the state of my heart, and the tenour of my actions, and to make such observations and memorandums as circumstances may suggest. But, to Thee, O Lord, do I look for all spiritual strength, to keep Thy way, and do Thy will.”
Mr. Hall still evinced a peculiar solicitude for the welfare of the poorer members of his flock, and greatly lamented his incapacity, from the loss of locomotive energy, to seek them out
* His habit of oral, audible, private prayer, rested upon the conviction, that silent prayer was apt to degenerate into meditation, while, from our compound nature, a man cannot but be affected by the sound of his own voice, when adequately expressing what is really felt.
in their own habitations, and associate with them frequently, as he had done with the poor at Cambridge and Leicester. He publicly expressed his concern that some plan was not arranged for his meeting them in small parties at specified times, and assured them of the cordial readiness with which his part of such a plan should be executed. This, I believe, was not accomplished.
The indications of infirm age now rapidly exhibited themselves, but happily were unaccompanied by a decaying mind, or a querulous spirit. The language of his conduct, and of his heart, corresponded with that of the pious ancient, “Lord, give me patience now, and ease hereafter!" If tempests come they will not last long, but soon will be hushed into an eternal calm.
His inability to take exercise, on account of the gradual increase of his complaint, gave rise, about six years before his death, to another disorder, formidable in its nature, and fatal in its issue. The indications of a plethoric habit became more and more apparent. “Thus,” adopting the language of Mr. Addington, “the system of the blood vessels had a laborious duty to perform in circulating their fluid, which, for want of the full aid of muscular exertion, could not be equally distributed. The smaller ones on the surface of the body, and in the extremities, never appeared to derive a sufficient quantity of blood to furnish the usual proportion of animal heat, while the large trunks in the interior became overloaded. The natural consequence was, that the heart, on whose power the propulsion of the blood to the extremities depends, being over stimulated and oppressed by the condition of the large vessels, became weakened; and, occasionally failing in the regular and equable transmission of the blood, would produce a sensation of distress in the region of the chest.” The malady, thus produced, becoming more and more severe, Mr. Hall, when in London in 1828, was persuaded by his friends to take the advice of an eminent physician: from which, however, no permanent good resulted. By the summer of 1830, the disorder had increased, so seriously, that his medical friends at Bristol recommended a suspension of his pastoral duties for a few weeks, that he might try the effect of a total change of air and scene.
He therefore spent some time at Coleford, in the forest of Dean, in the society of his old and valued friend, the Rev. Isaiah Birt. He also spent a few weeks at Cheltenham. At