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rooms adjoining, to which several other friends contributed, and by whom the expence of the building, amounting to several hundred pounds, was defrayed. The former Vestry, being very small, was made into a pew, and appropriated to the use of the Minister. At the same time, a gentleman in the Law offered to lend Mr. C. all the money that might be required for the repair of the Chapel, without any other security than his note.
Mr. Cecil's mind was, at length, made up, as to engaging in this affair. He thought, that though the Chapel, so encumbered, might not yield any considerable advantage in his life-time, yet that the call appeared providential and the sphere useful. Accordingly, in March 1780, he entered on his Ministry at St. John's. At this time, his whole income was but 80l. per annum, which he received for the Lecture preached at Orange Street Chapel.
The pious desire of his friend just mentioned, to promote the interest of religion, led him to hazard so large a sum on this occasion : he may be justly termed, by his liberality, the Nursing-Father, both of St. John's and of its Minister, throughout these years of Mr. Cecil's life; and still remains the uniform friend of his bereaved family. He was one of the first who proposed a subscription for their support, when the income arising from the few remaining years of the lease should fail.
This kind friend, Mr. C. considered, and highly valued, as his coadjutor in every interest that
respected this place and people: in this object, they were of one mind and one heart; and Mr. C. often very feelingly expressed, not only his obligations, but how great would be his loss, should he ever be deprived of this faithful friend - from whose observations and ever watchful eye he derived much advantage; nor could any thing more strongly evince this gentleman's disinterested attachment to St. John's, than his unceasing and unwearied attentions there, without any other motive or reward than the pleasure of observing its prosperity and success.
William Cardale, Esq. of Bedford Row, this invaluable friend of my dear husband, not only advanced a large sum for the first repair, on Mr. Cecil's engaging in the Chapel, but was ever ready to assist him with such additional sums, as were continually and necessarily expended, in order to obtain for the congregation that complete accommodation, for which St. John's has been remarkable.
When Mr. Cecil entered on St. John's the usual custom prevailed of playing a Voluntary after the reading of the Psalms. As he considered this no part of the worship, but rather an intrusion into it, he appointed that an appropriate Voluntary should precede the service-to allow for which, the bell was ordered to cease five minutes before the hour for Divine Worship; and, instead of the usual Voluntary after the Psalms, he directed that a Psalm should be sung after the Second Lesson.
Any inattention to the established economy of the Chapel was grievous to him; and he strictly watched over all abuses, particularly that so frequently observed in various Churches in London -imposition or misbehaviour on the part of the pew-openers. He set his face determinedly against this; and enjoined on them, as the condition of their holding their situations, that they should, without previously receiving a bribe, accommodate with a seat, when practicable, every respectable stranger: but, finding, that, through the frailty of human nature, his injunctions were in one form or another violated, and being fully determined on carrying his point, he engaged a person, both to superintend the conduct of the pew-openers, and to keep a watchful eye over every part of the Chapel during the time of Divine Service. This he did with a view to prevent inattention to such persons as occasionally dropped in, and who therefore had no regular seat. His very soul abhorred the thought, that any one should be discouraged or prevented from hearing the free offer of salvation, who did not pay his way into a seat; and, though he was aware that his liberality might be abused, yet his grand object was obtained-that dying creatures should be encouraged to hear the message of the Living God.
He was a great admirer of order, and particularly so in the Church. There was, in consequence, much more attention paid at St. John's, than in most other places, that all the parts of the Service
should proceed in a regular succession, without any intermission, from the time when it commenced till it ended. The Clerk constantly called on a Sunday morning and took the time from a regulator in Mr. Cecil's study. He appointed that the bell should begin precisely at half-past ten o'clock-that the Organist should begin instantly on the stopping of the bell--that the Reader should be in the desk ready to begin the prayers on the organ ceasing—and that, throughout the whole Service, the same uniform punctuality should be preserved.
At St. John's Mr. C. performed all the duty for three years, without receiving any emolument, as the hearers were few, the expenses and interest of the money laid out upon it great, and the pews much underlet: Mr. C. objected to having them raised, lest it should disturb the mind of the old hearers, and discourage others from attending: an annual sum of 251. was, moreover, paid to the Rector of St. Andrew's for the privilege of the pulpit in the afternoon. These, together with the continual and heavy expenses, arising from his zeal to render the Chapel commodious to his congregation, occasioned his income from it to be much inore confined, for many years, than was generally conceived. He sought not theirs,
but THEM: during, therefore, his first years as the Minister of St. John's, his income but very gradually encreased, which will account for his being
so involved in his circumstances, the greater part of his life. During the first eighteen years, that is from 1780 to 1798, he made a point of paying the interest of the money lent for the repair of the Chapel. A legacy of 1001. left me by a relation, and another 1001. given by a friend,* and every smaller legacy or sum given, and all that could possibly be spared from domestic demands, were immediately devoted to paying off the principal, which was at length thus reduced to five hundred pounds, as appeared by his accounts, examined by his friends during his confinement in Dec. 1798.
In gratitude to Mr. Cecil's friends I ought to mention, that, in the afflictive state of his health just referred to, they were anxious to know his circumstances; and finding, on investigation, that part of the debt for the first repair of the Chapel (about 5001.) was not paid off, they generously made a subscription to defray it. An overplus of about 2001. remaining, they put this into the funds for his use; but an affecting circumstance in his family obliged him to sell it out some time after.
St. John's Chapel was part of the estate of the Rugby Charity; the management of it was principally left to Sir Eardly Wilmot, one of the Rugby Trust, who was resident in the neighbourhood. It having been some time advertized, Sir Eardly determined, that, if he could not get a Minister recommended to it by the Archbishop of Canter
John Thornton, Esq.