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livery in the pulpit having nothing in them that was generally striking, I hope I have been more attentive to qualifications of a superior kind.
It is not, I believe, usual for young persons in dissenting academies, to think much of their future situations in life. Indeed, we are happily precluded from that, by the impossibility of succeeding in any application for particular places. We often, indeed, amuscd ourselves with the idea of our dispersion in all parts of the kingdom, after living so happily together; and used to propose plans of meeting at certain times, and smile at the different appearance we should probably make after being ten or twenty years settled in the world. But nothing of this kind was ever seriously resolved upon by us. For my own part, I can truly say I had very little ambition, except to distinguish myself by my application to the studies proper to my profession; and I cheerfully listened to the first proposal that my tulor made to me, in consequence of an application made to him, to provide a minister for the people of Needham Market, in Suffolk, though it was very remote from my friends in Yorkshire, and
inconsiderable place. When I went to preach at Needham as a candidate, I found a small congregation, about an hundred people, under a Mr. Meadows, who was
superannuated. They had been without a mi. nister the preceding year, on account of the smallness of the salary; but there being some respectable and agreeable families among them, I flattered myself that I should be useful and happy in the place, and therefore accepted the unanimous invitation to be assistant to Mr. Meadows, with a view to succeed him when he died. He was a man of some fortune.
This congregation had been used to receive assistance from both the Presbyterian and Independent funds; but upon my telling thom that I did not chuse to have any thing to do with the Independents, and asking them whether they were able to make up the salary they promised me, (which was forty pounds per annum) without any aid from the latter fund, they assured me they could. I soon, however, found that they deceived themselves; for the most that I ever received from them, was in the proportion of about thirty pounds per annum, when the expense of my board exceeded twenty pounds.
Notwithstanding this, every thing else for the first half year appeared very promising, and I was happy in the success of my schemes for promoting the interest of religion in the place. I catechised the children, though there were not many, using Dr. Watt’s catechism; and I open
od my lectures on the theory of religion from the “ Institutes,” which I had composed at the academy, admitting all persons to attend them, without distinction of sex or age; but in this I soon found that I had acted imprudently. A minister in that neighbourhood had been obliged to leave his place on account of Arianism; and though nothing had been said to me on the subject, and from the people so readily consenting to give up the Independent fund, I thought they could not have much bigotry among them, I found that when I came to treat of the Unity of God, merely as an article of religion, several of my audience were attentive to nothing but the soundness of my faith in the doctrine of the Trinity.
Also, though I had made it a rule to myself to introduce nothing that could lead to controversy into the pulpit; yet making no secret of my real opinions in conversation, it was soon found that I was an Arian.. From the time of this discovery, my hcarers fell off apace, especially as the old minister took a decided part against me. The principal families, however, still continued with me; but notwithstanding this, my salary fell far short of thirty pounds per. annum ; and if it had not been for Dr. Benson and Dr. Kippis, especially the former, procuring
me now and then an extraordinary five pounds, from different charities, I do not believe that I could have subsisted. I shall always remember their kindness to me, at a time when I stood in so much need of it.
When I was in this situation, a neighbouring minister, whose intimate friend had conformed to the church of England, talked to me on that subject. He himself, I perceived, had no great objection to it; but rejecting the proposal, as a thing that I could not think of, he never mentioned it to me any more.
To these difficulties, arising from the sentiments of my congregation, was added that of the failure of all remittances from my aunt, owing in part to the ill offices of my orthodox relations; but chiefly to her being exhausted by her liberality to others, and thinking that when I was settled in the world, I ought to be no longer burdensome to her. Together with me, she had brought up a niece, who was almost her only companion, and being deformed, could not have subsisted without the greatest part, at least, of all she had to bequeath. In consequence of these circumstances, though my aunt had always assured me that, if I chose to be a minister, she would leave me independent of the profession, I was satisfied she was not able to perform her
promise, and freely consented to her leaving al} she had to my cousin; I had only a silver tankard as a token of her remembrance. She had spared no expense in my education, and that was doing more for me than giving me an estate.
But what contributed greatly to my distress, was the impediment in my speech, which had increased so much, as to make preaching very painful, and took fronme all chance of recommending myself to any better place. In this state, hearing of the proposal of one Mr. Angier, to cure all defects of speech, I prevailed upon my aunt to enable me 10 pay his price, which was twenty guineas; and this was the first occasion of my visiting London. Accordingly, I attended him about a month, taking an oath not to reveal his method, and I received some temporary benefit; but soon relapsed again, and spoke worse than ever. When I went to London, it was in company with Mr. Smithson, who was settled at Harlestown, in Norfolk. By him I was introduced to Dr. Kippis, and Dr. Benson, and by the latter to Dr. Price, but not at that time.
At Needham I felt the effect of a low despised situation, together with that arising from the want of popular talents. There were several 45cancies in congregations in that neighbourhooi,