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Published May 11826. for the Congregational Magazine, by B.J. Holdsworth 18. St Pauls (hurch Id London,

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

. OF THE LATE
REV. JOHN TOWNSEND, OF BERMONDSEY.

mnnnnnnn The venerated subject of this brief that connexion was at that period memoir was born in London, blessed. March 24th, 1757. His parents. At length the set time arrived, were in humble life, but happily when a permanent effect was propossessed of those principles which duced on his mind, by a sermon impart dignity to the character, upon Psalm ciïi. 19. * Like as a irrespective of the distinctions of a father pitieth his children," &c. world which passeth away. The 'from Dr. Peckwell, then a very father of Mr. Townsend had in- popular and eloquent preacher deed, in his youth, enjoyed brighter amongst the Calvinistic Methoearthly prospects, but in conse- dists. He subsequently joined the quence of his conscientious atcommunion at the Tabernacle, and tachment to the ministry of the was introduced to one of those soRev. G. Whitefield, he was dis- 'cieties which then existed amongst inherited, and doubtless found the the young men, for prayer and blessedness of those who are per- reading the scriptures. It was secuted “ for righteousness' sake.” usual, on these occasions, for each His son John was admitted, at a member to deliver his sentiments proper age, as a scholar, into on some passage of Holy Writ, Christ's Hospital, one of the no- which, while it doubtless often blest institutions of which the me- betrayed the crude and ignorant tropolis can boast, and here a solid 'notions of many a self-possessed foundation was laid for those re- but uninformed mind, yet also spectable attainments which, by elicited those talents for public his own industry, he was afterwards instruction which might otherwise to acquire. On the term of edu- have remained concealed from obcation expiring, he was appren- servation. ticed to his father, who was em The ministerial gifts of Mr. ployed in a mechanical business, Townsend were thus discovered and who probably retained his son by a friend, to whose christian beneath his own roof, from a soli- advice and instruction his introcitude that he should attend that duction to the ministry may be gospel ministry for which he had attributed. By him he was insuffered, and by which he had duced to visit Mitcham, in Surrey, enjoyed so much. With him, where he preached his first sermon, therefore, he constantly heard at which proving acceptable, he was Tottenham Court Chapel and the encouraged frequently to exercise Tabernacle, and was often serious- his gifts as a preacher. ly impressed by the faithful and Having been introduced, in heart-stirring ministry with which 1779, to supply the chapel at New SERIES, No.17.

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Lewes, in that county, for six Bermondsey, in which those able weeks, he continued there for eight ministers and eminent confessors, months; which season of seclusion James Janeway and Thomas Rosewas connected with circumstances well, had presided, became exhighly favourable to his ministerial tinct, through the ill health and improvement. At that period the Arian sentiments of their last pasRev. R. Cecil possessed two tor, Dr. Flaxman ;. upon whose small livings in that neighbour- resignation, the meeting-house hood, the united annual value of was taken by some Independents, which did not exceed £80. Here, and the following year Mr. Townshowever, in the spirit of Christian end was invited to become their disinterestedness, which so peculi- minister; and, in 1784, he was arly characterized that eminent set apart for the pastoral office minister, he laboured abundantly amongst them.

was Mr. Townsend's privilege to Hawkes purchased the lease of hear him preach twice every week : Orange-Street chapel, formerly and he could not hear such a man the church of the French Protestin vain. Not only was his heart ant refugees, and subsequently an made better, but an impulse was episcopal chapel, in which the given to his mind highly favour- Rev. Messrs. Toplady, Cecil, Fosable to its improvement. Under ter, and Eyre succesively laboured. this excitement, he providentially This chapel was opened on the discovered, in an upper room of Calvinistic Methodist plan, March the house where he boarded, put 25, 1787; and, in consequence of away as useless lumber, a good the failure of one of the ministers selection of old divinity books; engaged for that service, Mr. from which, to use his own ex. Townsend was, at a short notice, pression, he procured “ many a prevailed upon to preach in the precious morsel.” With such a evening; and it pleased God to tutor, and such an academical li- bless the discourse he delivered to brary, his leisure was most advan- the conversion of a female, who tageously occupied ; for what de- attended the chapel expecting to voted young minister could hear hear the preacher who had been Cecil, and read the Puritans, with- previously announced. out advancement in knowledge This encouraging incident led and piety? At the close of eight the managers of that chapel to months, he was compelled to re- form a regular engagement with turn to London, much to the re- him; and from that time, to the gret of himself and the people last Sabbath of his ministry, he amongst whom he had laboured. occupied their pulpit four times in

He was now invited to King- each month : à fact which is at ston in Surrey, where he preached least creditable to his catholic for fifteen months, as a candidate spirit, seeing that he was a conscifor the ministerial office, and was entious dissenter from the liturordained, in 1781, as the pastor of gical services of the national the Congregational church in that church. town. At the close of three years He was, doubtless, encouraged he felt it his duty to resign his 'iu these extra-pastoral duties at charge, as the Antinomian heresy, Orange-street by the peculiar sucat that period, begun very se- cess with which his ministry there riously to disturb the peace of was blessed. He has been frethat and inany other churches in quently heard, in his own modest the neighbourhood.

way, to state that he had known In 1783, the ancient Presby more than one clergyman, and terian congregation, Jamaica Row, several Dissenting ministers, who had acknowledged that they re- ful, but it is no longer problemaceived their first religious impres- tical, as may be witnessed by sions through his labours in that visiting the Asylum, where it will place.

be found, that those who were It was early in the summer of once deaf, and dumb, and igno1792, when a lady, in the neigh- rant, are receiving a course of bourhood of London, first sug- moral and religious instruction, gested to Mr. Townsend the neces- and enabled to speak, read, sity of establishing an Asylum for write, cypher, and comprehend the Deaf and Dumb. Her own the meaning and grammatical arson, who was born with that humi- rangement of words, and also to

scientific instruction, very con- of mechanism and handicraft, so siderably relieved ; and she felt as to carry on several manufacsolicitous that for such cases, fear- tories as part of the establishment. fully aggravated by poverty, a Enviable, indeed, must have been public asylum should be founded. the feelings of our venerable friend,

The idea was wisely suggested when he first heard the feeble acto the man who had benevolence cents of the emancipated tongue, and energy to realize it. Mr. and first witnessed the bright Townsend consulted Mr. Henry dawning of intelligence in the counThornton, who pledged his assist- tenance which seemed destined to ance. He then drew up and pub- undeviating inanity and dulness. lished, both in the newspapers and It was Mr. Townsend's prias a circular, an address to the vilege to be engaged in the forpublic, in which he expresses a mation and establishment of nearly hope, that their liberal assistance all those important moral and “will raise another lasting monu- religious institutions, which have ment to the munificence of the arisen to adorn and bless our English nation.” The project was country during the past half cenpatronized, and a meeting was tury. He was one of the little held at the Paul's Head, Catea- band that met in the apartments ton-street, Aug. 30, 1792, H. of the late excellent Joseph HardThornton, Esq. M. P. in the Chair, castle, to direct the formation of for the establishment of the Deaf the Bible Society, to which, and Dumb Asylum, to which his indeed, it was his happiness to beloved friend, the Rev. H. C. give its very appropriate and Mason, was appointed gratuitous expressive title. The writer of Secretary. The formation of this this article remembers to have important institution, brought to heard him refer to this circumview a far greater number of in- stance at a public meeting, when, digent deaf and dumb, than it with the amiable pleasantry by was at first imagined could be which he was characterized, he found, and which rendered the remarked, “that though he was erection of a large and appropriate a Dissenter, yet he once stood Asylum necessary. In 1808, this godfather, for when, at a provi.. was accomplished, and with such sional meeting, it was asked what persevering zeal did Mr. Town- the Society should be called, he send prosecute this favourite replied, call it the British and object, that by his own individual Foreign Bible Society.” efforts and personal applications, In a note to his funeral address he brought a sum of more than at the grave of Mr. Hardcastle, £6,000 to its funds. At first, he thus tenderly alludes to those there were many who thought the benevolent deliberations :success of this attempt very doubt. «I scarcely ever pass over London Bridge, withont glancing my eyes towards now accomplished that object, far beyond those highly-favoured rooms appertaining his most sanguine expectation, he has to our departed friend's counting-house, determined, by the assistance of the Alat Old Swan Stairs, and feeling a glow mighty, to devote all the time and strength of pleasure at the recollection, that there which can be spared from other necessary the London Missionary Society, the Religious and important avocations, to the formaTract Society, the Hibernian Society, &c. tion of an institution, to be denominated formed those plans of Christian benevo- the Congregational Asylum; to embrace, lence on which Divine Providence has so Ist. The education and boarding and signally smiled. This pleasure is greatly clothing, if possible,) of 80 or 100 chilheightened, when I also recollect, that dren of ministers of the above denominain those favoured rooms was brought tion; and, 2d. To provide a comfortable forth that gigantic agent of moral and retreat for 10 or 12 aged ministers, worn spiritual good--the British and Foreign out in the honourable and arduous service Bible Society. These rooms, in my judge of the Christian sanctuary. ment, are second to none but that in " In proportion as the exertions in farour which the disciples met after their Mag- of religion increase and prosper, and the ter's ascension, and from whence they churches of course are multiplied, the went forth to enlighten and to bless a dark number of our public teachers must also and guilty world.”

increase ; and it is a fact, too well known The reputation which Mr.

to need any enlargement or proof in this

Circular Letter, that the pecuniary cir. Townsend had necessarily ac

cumstances of the generality of our minisquired by his philanthropic la

ters are far from being what they ought to bours, brought under his notice be: but few of them can provide for the privations of many of his bre their families more than food and raiment; thren in the Dissenting ministry,

some scarcely these. As to any surplus,

i to lay by to meet the peculiar necessities who naturally applied to one pos- of old age, or decently educate their chilsessed of extensive influence, dren, with too many it is utterly imwhich he evidently consecrated practicable.

* “ The children of Dissenting ministers to the cause of benevolence. He

are shut out from all those schools which therefore, in September, 1810, are under the influence of the Establishpublished a circular letter, ad- ment. Is it not, then, much to be re. dressed to the Ministers, Officers, gretted that, as yet, there has been no betand all other Members and Friends ter provision made for them among their

own denominations ? The want of this of the Congregational Churches in accounts for their being, generally, so illEngland; in which he thus de- educated As to Dissenting ministers velopes another benevolent project teaching their children themselves, that is he had formed :

next to impossible, owing to the multi

tude and variety of their avocations; and " Whilst our ministers have taken a

to provide them with suitable private most active and liberal share in these

schools is nearly as difficult, arising, in works of faith and labours of love, and

general, from the smallness of their insome even beyond their ability, it is evi

comes. dent to the writer, as well as to many

" Although the individual who, in an others, that something is needful to be

humble dependence upon God, has taken done towards supplying their necessities,

upon himself the laborious task of raising and lightening their cares. Some of them

and establishing this temple of mercy, and have already spent, and others are cheer

on whose exertions and zeal it must mafully and laboriously spending, their time,

terially depend, at least for some time, is their strength, and their talents, for the

a minister of that denomination for wbose cause of God, and the advantage of their

advantage it is formed ; yet he feels great fellow-men, whilst the interests of their

gratification in being able to say, thas own families are not adequately provided

Providence has placed him out of the for. Much has been said upon the sub

reach of deriving any advantage from ject, and many ways proposed for their

it

himself, either now or in future. He is, relief ; but it is time that something of an

of course, necessarily exonerated from adequate and permanent Aature was actually done. "

even the suspicion of having any interested i. The advocate of this new object bas

motive in devoting himself to this needful

and important service. long had his eye and his heart fixed upon

“ In making this appeal to the libethis work of mercy; but the time and

rality of Christians, the writer thinks Le labour required to nourish and bring to maturity his first and darling child, have

may especially and most confidently bitherto prevented.* Providence having

reckon upon the zealous co-operation,

not only of the ministers and officers of * Asylum for Deaf and Dumb, Congregational Societics, but he also

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