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when I was less inclined to Socinianism than at present. I can truly say, it would remove from me all my salvation and all my desire.”
Again, reverting to the expression employed, he adds :“Allowing it to be improper or too strong, I can only say, it does not belong to all to speak equally temperately; that the crime of expression can only be judged from the feelings, and that I am certain I did not utter it with any lightness of heart, but with deep feelings of earnestness and sincerity. Your charge of imprudence I cordially admit; and now see, with more clearness than 1 formerly did, that the imprudent should never come into company with the malicious.
“I had more to say; but have no room. I sincerely thank you for your letter, and shall always be extremely grateful for your correspondence, your good wishes, and your prayers. “ Believe me, as ever, affectionately yours,
“ R. Hall, junior." These letters would not have been inserted after the lapse of fifty years, but for the salutary lesson which they supply. If christian friendship always manifested itself in such fidelity as is here evinced, and uniformly experienced so kind and ingenuous a reception, what a different aspect, in a few years, would the christian world assume !
When Mr. Hall' was about twenty-three years of age, he had an opportunity of hearing Mr. Robinson, his predecessor at Cambridge, preach; and was so fascinated with his manner, as to resolve to imitate it. But, after a few trials, he relinquished the attempt. The circumstance being afterwards alluded to, he observed, “Why, Sir, I was too proud to remain an imitator. “ After my second trial, as I was walking home, I heard one of “ the congregation say to another, 'Really, Mr. Hall did remind “ us of Mr. Robinson !' That, Sir, was a knock-down-blow to
my vanity; and I at once resolved that if ever I did acquire “ reputation, it should be my own reputation, belong to my own “ character, and not be that of a likeness. Besides, Sir,* if I “ had not been a foolish young man, I should have seen how “ ridiculous it was to imitate such a preacher as Mr. Robinson. “He had a musical voice, and was master of all its intona“tions ; he had wonderful self-possession, and could say what “ he pleased, when he pleased, and how he pleased; while my “voice and manner were naturally bad; and, far from having
• Mr. Hall very frequently repeated the word, Sir, in his conversation ; especially if he became animated.
self-command, I never entered the pulpit, without omitting “ to say something that I wished to say, and saying something " that I wished unsaid: and, beside all this, I ought to have “ known that, for me to speak slow was ruin.” Why so ?' “ I wonder that you, a student of philosophy, should ask such “a question. You know, Sir, that force, or momentum, is
conjointly as the body and velocity; therefore, as my voice “ is feeble, what is wanted in body must be made up in velo“ city, or there will not be, cannot be, any impression.
This remark, though thrown off hastily, in unreserved conversation, presents the theory of one important cause of the success of his rapid eloquence.
Shortly after this, Mr. Hall was, for the first time, in Mr. Robinson's society; I believe in London. Mr. Robinson was affluent in flatteries for those who worshipped him, while Mr. Hall neither courted flattery, nor scattered its incense upon others. In speaking of the Socinian controversy, the elder indulged in sarcasm upon "juvenile defenders of the faith," and made various efforts to
young man down," which tempted Mr. Hall to reply that “if he ever rode into the field “ of public controversy, he should not borrow Dr. Abbadie's “ boots.” This enigmatical retort * Mr. Robinson understood, and probably felt more than Mr. Hall had anticipated; for he had about that time quitted the field, put off“the boots," and passed to the verge of Socinianism. In the course of some discussions that followed, Mr. Hall, as most of those who were present thought, completely exposed the dangerous sophistry by which Mr. Robinson endeavoured to explain away some very momentous truths. Mr. Robinson, perceiving that the stream of opinion fell in with the arguments of his young opponent, and vexed at being thus foiled, lost his usual placidity and courtesy, and suddenly changed the topic of conversation, saying, " the company may be much better employed than by
listening to a raw school-boy, whose head is crammed with “ Scotch metaphysics.” Nothing but a consciousness that the
raw school-boy" had defeated him, would have thus thrown him off his guard.
• The allusion was to the defence of the divinity of our Lord, published in French, by Dr. Abbadie, in his “ Vindication of the Truth of the Christian Religion;" a work from which Mr. Robinson was thought to have borrowed many of the arguments in his “ Plea for the Divinity," &c. without acknowledgment.
In 1788, Mr. Hall, weary of the solitude to which he was often subjected, as a mere lodger, and anticipating marriage in the course of a few months, (an anticipation, however, which was not realized), hired a house; his sister Mary, afterwards Mrs. James, kindly consenting to superintend his domestic concerns.
From a letter which he then wrote to his father, I extract a few passages.
“ Feb. 10th, 1788. “We have a great deal of talk here about the slave-trade; as I understand from your letter, you have had too. A petition has been sent from hence to Parliament for the abolishing it; and a committee is formed to co-operate with that in London, in any measures that may be taken to promote their purpose. At Bristol much opposition is made by the merchants and their dependents, who are many, perhaps most of them, engaged in it. Our petition was signed by eight hundred, or upwards ; which, considering that no application has been made to any, we think a great number. Many things have been written in the papers on both sides : some pieces I have written myself, under the signature Britannicus,* which I purpose to get printed in a few pamphlets, and shall send one of them to you. The injustice and inhumanity of the trade are glaring, and upon this ground I mainly proceed : upon the policy of abolishing it I treat lightly, because I am dubious about it; nor can it be of great consequence to the question in hand; for, if it be proved cruel and unjust, it is impious to defend it."..
“ I am afraid the abolition will not take place speedily, if at all. The trading and mercantile interest will make great outcry; the scheme will be thought chimerical, and after producing a few warm speeches, will, I fear, die away."
* My own temper, I know, needs some correction, and it will be my daily endeavour to mend it: it wants gentleness. Mr. Mhas done me much good by convincing me, from his own example, to what perfection a temper naturally keen and lofty may be carried.”
“So far, I am happy that my duty and my gratification lie in the same direction : so that every step I take towards improvement. may be a step towards real pleasure. One inconvenience, indeed, I labour under with respect to my temper, by being connected with my sister; and that is, she never tries it."
• These I have not been able to procure. It would be curious to compare them with his more mature sentiments on the subject, so admirably exhibited in Vol. III. pp. 305—326.
A serious trial of another kind, now, however, awaited Mr. Hall-a painful misunderstanding between him and his friend and colleague Dr. Evans. It continued not only to disturb the minds of both, but, as might be expected, to create partisans among their respective friends, and indeed to endanger the peace
of the church at Broadmead, for more than two years. I have read various written papers, and some pamphlets, which relate to this painful affair; and cannot but conclude that, like many others, it originated in such trifling misconceptions, as, in more felicitous circumstances, neither party would have suffered to disturb his thoughts for an hour. A few hasty expressions, retorted by others both hasty and strong, tempted the Doctor and his friends to accuse Mr. Hall of ingratitude, and a want of deference to his superior in age and station; he, in his turn, repelled the accusation, in language too natural to a young man glowing with a lofty spirit of independence; and thus, new charges and fresh recriminations arose. The interposition of friends availed but little; for their unhallowed passions became ignited too. After many months spent in this unseemly strife, a meeting between the belligerent parties was held, in the presence of two friends of each, at the Mansion House, the Mayor of Bristol being one of the persons chosen by Dr. Evans. No beneficial effects resulted from this meeting; the individuals, who hoped by their interposition to ensure the restoration of amity, having long before ceased to be impartial judges in the affair. The parties on both sides, who were convened on this occasion, published their respective statements; from which it appears that one of them thought Mr. Hall justifiable, and censured Dr. Evans; while the other approved of the Doctor's conduct, and condemned that of Mr. Hall.
It will not, then, be expected, that I should draw from the obscurity which time has cast over them, more particulars relating to this unhappy collision. Nor, indeed, should I have adverted to it, had it not operated strongly in preparing Mr. Hall for his removal from Bristol. Whatever regret it might occasion him, on subsequent meditation, it excited no selfreproach, nor left any malevolent feeling. On the decease of Dr. Evans, which took place in 1791, his former colleague prepared an inscription for his monument; and he wrote the following letter to his brother-in-law, Mr. Isaac James, in reply to that which announced the Doctor's death.
Cambridge, Aug. 12, 1791. “ DEAR BROTHER, “ The contents of your letter received this day have affected me more than almost any thing of the kind I ever met with in my life. It is in all points of view a most solemn event; but, from obvious circumstances, to me it cannot fail of being peculiarly so. It is truly affecting to recollect the friendship that so long subsisted betwixt us, and that it should end so unhappily in a breach that admits of no repair, no remedy !! Yet, though I feel most pungently upon this occasion, I am happy to be able to join with you in declaring that my conscience is not loaded with guilt. Abating too much of an unhappy violence, I have the mens conscia recti. Were the circumstances to occur again, a breach would, as before, be inevitable. But though, in justice to myself, I say thus much, there is no one more disposed to lament the deceased than myself, or who has a truer sensibility of the real virtues of his character. I have written to Mr. Higgs, and therefore I need say the less to you upon these melancholy topics. The chief purpose, indeed, of my troubling you at present, is to request you will be so kind as to give me the earliest and most particular account of every thing that passes at his funeral ; the persons present, the sermon, the impression of the event, deep no doubt and awful, the whole state of things at Bristol, their future prospects and intentions, every thing relating to these matters that you know. The situation of the family and the church, though I doubt not I am the object of their joint abhorrence, I most sincerely compassionate. May God guide and comfort them. I think you and all my friends ought now to bury all that is past, and renew a connexion with the church, if their temper will permit you. My friends will most oblige me by carrying it respectfully to the Doctor's family and memory. Anger may glance into the bosom of a wise man, but it rests only in the bosom of fools ;' and our best improvement of the death of this useful servant of God, will be to imitate his excellencies and forget his errors. Pray write as soon as possible. I shall be extremely impatient till I hear. I am, dear Brother,
“ Your affectionate Brother, “ To Mr. Isaac James."
“ R. Hall." Before this time it was generally apprehended that Mr. Hall's sentiments had, on some momentous points, deviated considerably from the accredited standards of even moderate orthodoxy; and he had given much pain to some of his Baptist friends on account of his views with regard to re-baptizing. Some correspondence took place between him and the