Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE CHRISTIAN GUARDIAN,

AND

CHURCH OF ENGLAND MAGAZINE.

JUNE, 1845.

MEMOIR OF THE REV. THOMAS JONES, M.A.

LATE CHAPLAIN OF ST. SAVIOUR'S, SOUTHWARK.

PROVIDENCE had cast the lot of the subject of this memoir in those days of our Church when she was just awaking from the long slumber which had stolen upon her since the Revolution. It is wellknown that, during the earlier part of the last century, the sermons delivered by the English clergy were, for the most part, mere moral essays, in which the doctrine of the atonement and the name of Jesus were but sparingly introduced, and anything like earnest exhortation seemed to be deprecated as indicative of false taste. "On Sunday

last," says says the author of the "Meditations," "a neighbouring clergyman sent me, for my perusal, a Sermon, preached by Dr. T-k before the House of Commons, on the late public fast (February 1756). When I perused it, and saw not a single mention of Christ, nor a single hint of an evangelical nature, I was surprised and grieved: and so much the more, as it was preached by one of the most celebrated divines in the kingdom, and before the whole kingdom conJUNE-1845.

vened in their representatives."* While things were in this state, a certain number of serious persons met at stated times for the purpose of praying that God would be pleased, in His mercy to the establishment, to raise up faithful ministers in it; and within a space, it pleased Him to answer these petitions by raising up many true pastors both in town and country.t But it was not to be expected that persons could then come forward and preach "a free salvation through the alone merits of Jesus Christ our Redeemer," without meeting much opposition. Yet, in spite of all impediments, the word of God went on and prospered: and a fire was kindled in the Church. whose warmth is felt at the present day.

Of this noble minority the Rev. Thomas Jones formed one. He was born in the year 1729 or 1730; but of his parents, or early life, no information is given by his biogra

*Hervey's Works, vol. 5, p. 312. 8vo. † Middleton's Evangelical Biography, vol. 4, p. 389.

2 H

pher, the Rev. William Romaine, who has confined himself to a relation of his spiritual history; considering that, as to the other particulars of his life, it was of no consequence to lay them before the public. He took the degree of M.A. at Queen's College, Cambridge.

Mr. Romaine's acquaintance with him commenced in the year 1754; at which time, I presume, he held the chaplaincy of St. Saviour's, Southwark. He was then suffering great anxiety respecting the state of his soul. His first

awakening," says Mr. R., "was by the gradual working of the law upon his conscience. It was not by outward means, such as hearing the word preached, or by some afflicting providence, sickness, trouble or the like, but by the inward conviction of sin, that the Spirit of God wrought upon his conscience. He had his strongest convictions where he could have no means. The views which he had hereby of his state and danger were very deep and very distressing. While he was under this soul-concern my acquaintance first began with him. And since that time, which is about eight years ago, our great intimacy and friendship has given me a constant opportunity of being a witness of God's gracious dealings with his soul. He went mourning for a long time, bowed down under the sense of guilt and the power of unbelief. In this school of humiliation he learned self-knowledge. Here he was taught the sad effect of a ruined, spoiled nature; of a soul depraved in all its faculties, and estranged from the mind and will of God, and governed by its own corrupt and stubborn will, commanding the body to give up its members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin. Here he was taught what sin is, namely, the transgression of the law, which

is exceeding sinful, because the law is holy, just, and good, a perfect copy of the divine perfections."

over.

66

"

That the life of Mr. Jones previous to his conversion had been outwardly moral we have every reason to suppose, as his natural disposition was most amiable, and the meekness of his temper eminently great. But when the Holy Spirit showed him the dark chambers of his heart in the light of God's word, he discovered sins of whose existence he had been unaware, which lay there, coiled up, like serpents hissing against the majesty of heaven. He learned that the sins of the heart were not the less dangerous because they were concealed, but that, on the contrary, they were the fountain from which all sin flows, and which in the heart of the natural man is ever flowing He learned these lessons,' continues Mr. R., "with such a deep experience, that the impression lasted all his days. For when God showed him great mercy, and he was enabled to believe in the Lord Jesus, yet still he found nothing of himself wherein to glory. Humble and low in his own eyes, he was ready to give the honour to whom alone honour was due. Yea, after he was greatly strengthened and established, so as to live by faith on the Son of God, still he knew that all was mercy. Mercy, free mercy, had from him all the praise. And this was so much the frame and abiding temper of his mind, that it appeared on all occasions. His spiritual friends and acquaintance can bear me witness that he was clothed with humility, and that he walked humbly with his God. A demonstration this, that he had found mercy, because he had made it the end and aim of his life to show forth the praises of that free mercy which he had so freely received."

As a necessary consequence of these doctrinal views, we find him indefatigable in his ministerial duties. His own flock was much on his heart he was often heard in earnest prayer for them and was always studying and contriving something that might be useful to their best interest. In the Lent

season of 1755, he commenced a series of Eight Discourses on the Church Catechism, which were delivered in the course of that year, and having reason to think that they had been greatly blessed from the pulpit, he hoped that they might be made still more useful from the press, and therefore published them in the following year. On the 16th September 1755, he preached, at St. Saviour's, a Sermon, on Acts xx. 26, (latter part,) at the Visitation of the Archdeacon of Surrey, which, in consequence of its being "misrepresented by some and mistaken by more," he published. It reached a seventh edition. In February, 1756, he published two Sermons, preached at St. Saviour's, accompanied by a serious and affectionate Address to the inhabitants of that parish. The latter of these sermons was preached on the Fast-day, to an especially numerous congregation from Matthew v. 25, 26; and is a solemn and energetic appeal to the consciences of his hearers, boldly declaring man to be by nature the adversary of God, and setting forth the atonement of Jesus, as the only means by which an agreement" with Him can be effected. A striking contrast to the Sermon preached, on the same day, before Parliament, to which Mr. Hervey refers! In May, in the same year, he published a sermon, preached in his own parish church, entitled "The Beauties of Spring," (Cant. ii. 10-13,) in the preface to which he says, "It is a real pleasure to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the author, that he can congratu late his countrymen on the revival of inward religion and vital holiness in this land. The amazing progress the Gospel has lately made among us cannot but rejoice the heart of every true believer in Jesus. My brethren in the ministry must particularly rejoice when they see the work of the Lord thus prospering in their hands.' It is the desire of my soul to be in some degree instrumental in promoting this glorious work with this view I put forth the following discourse, hoping that it may be made useful to those in whose hearts a work of grace is begun, and excite a thirst after righteousness in such of my dear fellow-mortals as are yet in their sins. Our Saviour often works by the meanest instruments. May he be pleased to work by me!"

[ocr errors]

"In the parish of St. Saviour's," says his biographer, "there is an almshouse, called the College,' and some small stipend for doing duty in it. Mr. Jones thought it not right to take the money unless he did the duty. Accordingly he began to read prayers, and to expound the Scriptures in the college chapel, and went on for some time. The congregation used to be very large, and the success was very great. Many souls were in this place first awakened, who are now walking in the faith and fear of God, adorning the Gospel of our Saviour. But here he was stopped, and refused the use of the chapel. After this, he set up a weekly lecture in his church, but he had not preached it long, before he was denied the use of the pulpit. However, he was not discouraged, he went on giving away good books, some of which he carried in person to every house in the parish; and paying religious visits among his parishioners, when they used to

talk freely of the state of their souls. By these methods he tried to win his people to Christ, beside the stated duties of his office; in performing of which he seemed to set God always before him, and to be greatly drawn out in love to his hearers, of whom a very great number, I trust, did frequent his ministry, not led thither by the ease of his delivery, the sweetness of his voice, or the smoothness of his periods, but because they felt the weight and importance of the doctrines preached."

How affectionate and judicious an adviser he was to persons under spiritual concern, the following letter will show :

"" TO MR. T-S-.

"MY DEAR BROTHER,-I am much concerned to hear of your present distress; but I hope you will soon experience a truly happy deliverance. I find you are fearful that you have committed the unpardonable sin:-if you had, depend upon it, you would not be at all concerned about it. This is the insinuation of the enemy of souls, who, for a while, is suffered to buffet you; but, remember for your comfort, he is a conquered foe, and cannot go beyond his chain. I doubt not but yoù will shine brighter for being in the furnace of affliction. In the mean time, do not entertain hard thoughts of God, nor write bitter things against yourself, your present distress is an argument of the Redeemer's love who scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.'

[ocr errors][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

renders this impracticable: but as this is a duty you all owe your respective families, permit me to press it strongly. You will certainly be accountable to God for every soul committed to your care. Let me then entreat you, for your own sakes, as well as theirs, to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord: do not spend all your time and care in furnishing them with worldly wisdom, (which, God knows, they will soon learn,) and at the same time leave their minds uncultivated. I am sensible it is my duty, as your minister, to go from house to house, and minister to the spiritual improvement of those who are committed to my charge. This too, in so large a parish as this, (where there is so much other duty,) is in a manner impossible. To remedy this inconvenience, I have one method to propose, and it is this: you who are desirous of having your children instructed in the things of God, are welcome to send them to me. I hope you will not be displeased with the proposal, as my meaning is honest, and as I earnestly wish even your and their salvation. God knows my prayers for you are, that I may meet you all with joy at God's awful tribunal. I will therefore set apart an hour every Saturday in the afternoon, (for that I take to be the most convenient time, as your children are then absent from school,) in order to instruct them, as well as I am able, in the great truths of Christ's religion.”* ."* Accordingly, it was his custom to catechise the children, who came weekly to his house for that purpose.

But though his labours were chiefly among his own parishioners, they were not entirely confined to them. On the 23rd April, 1754, being St. George's day, he preached * Works, p. 206.

On

a Sermon at St. Bride's, before the several Associations of the laudable order of Anti-Gallicans, which he afterwards published. It is founded on Joshua xxiii. 11-13, and breathes a warm spirit of patriotism. On the 24th November, in the same year, he preached a Charity Sermon, from Psalm xlviii. 9, at the re-opening of the church of St. Botolph, Bishopsgate. This sermon gave great offence to the Rector, who, after it was over, accused Mr. Jones, in a very extraordinary manner, of having asserted many things he could not defend, and requested it might be published, which was accordingly done. Trinity Sunday, 1760, he delivered a Sermon at St. Ann's, Limehouse, on "the Good of Affliction," (John xvi. 33, latter clause,) which was preached and printed pursuant to the last will of Captain John Sibson, who had died in the preceding month; and in the following year he preached a Sermon, on 2 Cor. v. 17, former clause, at St. Lawrence Jewry, before the Society for promoting Religious Knowledge, which was the last work he published. While under the spiritual anxiety before alluded to, he became acquainted with the Countess of Huntingdon, most likely through the introduction of Mr. Romaine ; and being afterwards on terms of great intimacy and friendship with her Ladyship, was greatly strengthened and established in the faith of the Gospel by her advice and conversation. This eminent lady was accustomed to invite numbers of the nobility to hear the Gospel preached in her drawing-room: and the weekly lecture which was there delivered, by various popular clergymen, to a very polite circle, was occasionally preached by Mr. Jones.†

+ Life and Times of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. 1. p. 133 and 135.

« PreviousContinue »