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Memoir of the late Rev. T. B. Broadbent, M. A. By the Rev. T. Belsham.
[Extracted, by permission, from the Funeral Sermon, preached at Essex Street Chapel, November 9, 1817.]
HE late Rev. THOMAS BROAD
most of the congregations of our denomination in the metropolis and its vicinity, as a young minister of great promise, and who lived in habits of endearing intercourse and intimate friendship with many who now hear me, was suddenly cut off, in the midst of life and health and vigour, by a very awful visitation of Providence a fortnight ago, at his father's house. * ́
On the first Sunday in this month he delivered a very affecting discourse in his father's pulpit, in which he delineated the character of a vicious youth, the slave of bad habits and criminal passions, who, in the prime of life, ruins his constitution, destroys his health, his reputation and his peace, and falls an early victim to his follies and his crimes. His feelings were greatly moved while he was preaching; and the discourse made a very deep impression upon his hearers. The week following he composed another discourse, in which he pourtrayed the opposite character, and described the honour and happiness of a virtuous youth both in life and death. Before he finished his composition he heard of the decease of the illustrious Princess; and under a strong impression of that calamitous event, he concluded his discourse with some reflections suitable to the melancholy occasion. He finished the whole at twelve o'clock on Saturday night, the 8th instant, when he retired to rest in his usual health and spirits, intending to deliver it the next afternoon.
At Latchford, in Cheshire, within a mile of Warrington. VOL. XIII.
But Providence in its mysterious wisdom ordered otherwise. At four o'clock in the morning he was seized with a fit which the physicians pronounced to be apoplexy; and notwithstanding the best medical aid which could be procured, at six he
The sudden removal of an amiable and exemplary young man is at all times a very affecting event. But in this case there were many circumstances of peculiar aggravation. He was the only child of a pious and indulgent father, who had taken great pains to give him a virtuous and liberal education: he was just come into possession of a handsome property: he had a reasonable prospect of being soon settled with some respectable society in the exercise of that sacred profession which was the object of his own free and voluntary choice; for the duties of which he had made long and diligent preparation, to the objects of which his whole soul was devoted, and in the right discharge of which, it was his earnest desire and his fixed resolution to have employed his life. And this pleasing prospect was crowned with the flattering expectation of speedily forming a nearer and tenderer connexion which was the summit of his earthly wishes, and which promised all the happiness which human life has to bestow. Upon this fair and beautiful scene the curtain of death has suddenly fallen, and all its promised glories are now enveloped in the thick darkness of the tomb.
The incidents of the life of this amiable young person were few,
His father, who slept in the adjoining chamber, being awakened by an unusual noise, hastened to his son's apartment,
where he found him in a state of total insensibility, in which he continued till he expired.
though his virtues were many. He was born at Warrington in the year 1793, and had the misfortune to lose an excellent mother when he was too young to be sensible of her loss. He received the first rudiments of a liberal education under his worthy father; and afterwards he passed some time under the tuition of a learned clergyman at Manchester, who was equally distinguished for his attainments in classical literature and for his skill in communicating instruction. When he had finished his school education, conformably to the express desire of his maternal grandfather, who had conducted, with great ability and success, a considerable manufactory in the vicinity of Sheffield, he, for a short time, made trial of a secular employ ment; but he soon found that it did not suit him. He had contracted a taste for literature, and an earnest desire of being useful in the Christian ministry; in consequence of which, with the full concurrence of his pious father, who highly approved though he would not influence his choice, he bade adieu to secular business, and entered as a student at the university of Glasgow. Here he passed through the routine of academical studies with a degree of regularity, assiduity and success, which secured the marked approbation of the professors, while his amiable manners and exemplary virtues won the esteem and affection of his associates. He was graced with many academical prizes, and particularly on account of his proficiency in Greek literature, and he graduated with distinguished credit. *
When he left the university he resided for some time at home, where he pursued his theological studies under his father's eye. And three years ago he came up to London in expectation of deriving peculiar advantage in the line of his profession, from the assistance and advice of friends, from access to libraries, and from the opportunities he would enjoy of attending the public services of eminent and approved ministers of different denominations.
*The Rev. T. B. Broadbent was born March 17, 1793: he entered at Glasgow November 1809, and took his Master's degree, April 1813, having received a prize in every Gown class, and in the Greek class, the first.
During his residence in London, which continued for the greater part of the last three winters, he preached for some time with great acceptance to a highly respectable congregation at Westminster, which was then vacant; and afterwards occasionally in other places. For two years he assisted in the classical education of some young men who were candidates for the Christian ministry; and of this department he performed the duties with such diligence, skill and success, as to secure not only the improvement but the affection and gratitude of his pupils, together with the high approbation of his learned colleagues, and the managers and supporters of the Institution.* At the same time he was far from neglecting the main objects of his residence in London. He read and thought and studied, with great application. Nor ought it to be concealed, that the last edition of the Improved Version of the New Testament is greatly indebted for its correctness to the pains which were be stowed upon it by this learned and meritorious young man, in collating its various readings with those of the second edition of Griesbach's Greek Testament, and reducing the text to as exact a conformity as might be with the text of that celebrated scholar. ↑
While he resided in London he formed a véry extensive acquaintance with persons of different persuasions,
The Unitarian Academy, under the able direction of the Rev. Robert Aspland, assisted at that time by the late ingenious and Rev. Jeremiah Joyce.
+ It would be ungrateful not to mention that the principal object of Mr. T. Broadbent's visit to London, last winter, was to assist the writer of this discourse in transcribing, from short hand, his Commentary on Paul's Epistles, with a view to future dient. It may gratify the curiosity of some publication, if that should be judged expeworthy friends who are pleased to interest themselves in the subject, to be informed, that Mr. T. Broadbent transcribed the two Epistles to the Corinthians, the first Epistle to Timothy, and the Epistle to Titus. All the Epistles written from Rome, including that to the Hebrews, have been in readiness for the press some years ago. The Epistle to the Romans is still in hand, and the author is proceeding with it, amidst numerous avocations, as fast as he is able.
and with some whose religious sentiments were very much at variance with his own: and such were his conciliatory and engaging manners that every acquaintance became a friend. And though he never concealed his religious principles, but avowed them upon every proper occasion in the most open manner, and defended them with great auimation, yet such was the goodness of his heart and the courtesy of his behaviour that he never gave offence: nor did a difference in religious speculations ever create the least shyness in social intercourse. His youthful appearance sometimes excited a prejudice against him but this soon wore off with those who had opportunities of conversing freely with him; for with a youthful countenance he possessed a manly understanding and a matured judgment.
His morals were perfectly correct, and his virtue unsullied with a stain. With all the gaiety of his heart and the vivacity of his manner, no expression bordering upon indecency, indelicacy or profaneness, ever escaped from his lips. His regard to truth and honour was stern and inviolable: nor could he restrain his indignation when he saw what he conceived to be the least approach to an infringement of these sacred principles in any who called themselves his friends. And upon such occasions as these, as well as upon any other when he thought it necessary, he would administer rebuke with a gravity and dignity which were highly impressive and generally efficacious.
The virtues of his character were founded upon the piety of his principles. His faith in the Divine existence was the result of rational conviction, and it was firm and unwavering. His conceptions of the Divine character and government were just and sublime, encouraging and practical. They produced in his mind an habitual awe of the Divine Majesty, which was apparent in the deep solemnity of his public addresses to the Supreme Being. He had thought much upon the subject of the Christian religion. He had studied the evidences of divine revelation, both external and internal, with great attention. He understood them completely; and with
the most deliberate and unhesitating conviction, he submitted to Jesus as his Master, and bowed to his authority as a teacher sent from God to reveal the doctrine of eternal life.
He had paid uncommon attention to the great controversy of the age concerning the person of Christ: and after very serious and diligent inquiry he attained a clear conviction of the simple humanity of Jesus Christ. But while he regarded him, in respect to his nature, as in all respects like unto his brethren, he at the same time viewed his character with the profoundest reverence and veneration as the greatest of the prophets of God. It was also his wish, to the best of his abilities, by calm reasoning and gentle persuasion, to contribute his part towards reclaiming the Christian world from the gross errors in which it has been so long involved upon this and other important subjects. But though opposition to antichristian errors is an important duty, it did not, in the judgment of this estimable young man, constitute the whole or even the principal part of the work of a Christian minister. He regarded the doctrine of Christ chiefly as a practical principle; as the great message of God to man enforcing the practice of universal virtue by the awful sanctions of a life to come. As such he felt it in his own mind; and as such it was his desire to inculcate and urge it upon those who might attend upon his ministry. This he plainly evinced by the last discourses which he composed for the pulpit; both of which will, trust, be shortly communicated to the public. And it was the great object of his virtuous ambition to devote his best powers through life to this important service.
Thus eminently qualified beyond the common lot of his brethren for distinguished usefulness, it was in his heart to build a house to the name of his God: and he did well that it was in his heart. It was his wish to be useful in the church of Christ; to instruct his fellow-mortals in truth, in piety and in virtue. And it was an honourable design; as acceptable in the sight of him to whom the heart was known, and the life was devoted, as if the offer had been accepted, and the desire fulfilled to its utmost extent.
He did well that it was in his heart, and in proportion to his generous zeal will be his ultimate reward.
We cannot refrain from extracting I
also the following passage, which Mr. Belsham inserted into his sermon, from a letter of his learned and much-respected friend, the Rev. W. Broadbent, father of the deceased:
It is indeed a severe stroke, if I could call any thing severe which God does; peculiarly severe as it regards my feelings and all my views and hopes respecting this world. But these perhaps were wrong, and stood in need of correction; even those which regarded my hopes of service and instrumentality in the church of Christ. We are gratified, and I hope not blameably, in being honoured as instruments in such a cause. But if the service which God requires be performed, and it most surely will, we ought to be satisfied. We have authority, indeed, for believing that it is good that it was in our hearts, though the service is denied us.
But I feel the strongest conviction that this event was appointed in infinite wisdom and benevolence: that it entered into the original plan of Providence, with all its circumstances, the arrangement of which will not fail to produce those consequences both immediately and remotely which infinite wisdom and goodness has intended. Who then am I that I should complain? And I am confident that the distresses which I feel do not, in any degree, exceed what the benevoJent and moral purposes of the Divine government require.
In such reflections as these I have experienced invaluable consolation. I wish to bow, and I hope I do bow with dutiful and pious submission to the appointment of God. I am sure it is all wise, all right, all good. My faith also in the great doctrine of the resurrection is cloudless and strong, and greatly strengthens my consolation.
[The Portrait of Mr. T. Broadbent, which accompanies this Number, is engraved from a Miniature Painting, by Partridge. ED.]
Additions to and Corrections of the Memoir of the late Rev. W. Vidler. By Mr. Teulon. SIR, Dec. 3d, 1817. CONFESS myself pleasingly disaprespected friend, Mr. William Vidler, pointed in your Memoir of my late [XII. 65–72, 129–136, 193–200,] by finding it contain much more information concerning him than I supto nearly the whole I can give my posed could have been collected; and testimony of its correctness. There are some few particulars in which I think it may be amended. Mr. Vidler came to town in February 1794, to baptize, and on Mr. Winchester leaving England in May 1794, he was unanimously invited to come from Battle and keep the congregation together till such time as they could hear from Mr. Winchester. He was to have had always appeared to me the mistake of an income of £150. per annum: here Mr. Vidler and his friends. It was an engagement with any body, every body and nobody. The consequence was, that Mr. Vidler never had £100. a abstemiousness, notwithstanding the year; yet out of this little, through his benevolence of his disposition and the largeness of his family, he had paid off £98.3s. 6d. in December 1799, of debts that had before accumulated. To my knowledge, these debts preyed much deal of that active usefulness for which on his spirits, and prevented a great he was peculiarly calculated; and though his few encumbrances might have been easily removed had he made them known to a few confidential friends, he had such a sense of the very appearance of being mercenary, that he could not do it. I believe I knew most of his anxiety, and its when I did know it, it was too late cause, but I did not know all; and for my remedying.
party in the congregation considered You observe [p. 134] that a small themselves as the Church. This is not strictly the fact. In 1778, a small society began to meet at a large room in Shoreditch: persons of all sentiments were welcome visitors, with
full permission, on notice, to controvert any religious opinion. These meetings were held every Tuesday evening, and were frequented by Ministers of the Establishment as well as Dissenters. The heads of this so