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devotions, when, with or without the use of words, he poured out his whole heart to his Father who seeth in secret. It was evident to all his acquaintance, that his devotion was both intense and habitual, the idea of God and his providence being never long absent from his mind. No person well acquainted with Dr. Price could say, that rational sentiments of Christianity are unfriendly to devotion.
Perhaps the sentiments of no man's mind were ever more clearly perceived in the natural expression of them, than those of Dr. Price. It was impossible to converse with him, and not apply to him the character which our Saviour gave to Nathaniel, of a man without guile. Such simplicity of manners, with such genuine marks of perfect integrity and benevolence, diffused around him a charm, which the forms of politeness can but poorly imitate. Accordingly, his society was coveted by those who were bred in courts, as superior to any thing they found in the most polished circles.
As a preacher, without any thing that is termed oratory, he never failed to gain universal attention ; and what he delivered in his plain and artless manner, coming evidently from the heart, made a deeper impression than those discourses which are heard with the loudest bursts of applause. I am confident that all that you who have attended upon his ministry can wish for in a speaker, is such a delivery as his, which to appearance had nothing in it that was striking, or peculiarly excellent, because it was unstudied.
# # #
Notwithstanding Dr. Price's ability, which however was the least article in his praise, and the confidence which, on that account, he might be supposed to place in his own judgment, which no man took more pains to form, he was remarkably diffident of himself, and in public controversy his naturally ingenuous temper led him to express his doubts in the frankest manner ; and though, when he thought his argument well-founded, he made use of pretty strong language, he did not think the worse of his antagonists in a moral respect, The topics on which he engaged in controversy with myself were those on which it is well known that he laid peculiar stress. He thought some of them to be of great importance even in a practical view; and yet my openly differing from him with regard to them, made no change whatever in his respect for me. Nay, if I might judge from appearances, which in him were never deceitful, it increased that respect. Nor, which is another usual effect of public controversy, did he in consequence of it become more tenacious of the opinions for which he contended. Judging by the same sure appearances, he became in consequence of it more doubtful, and on many occasions, with his usual ingenuousness, never scrupled to acknowledge it; though it did not appear that his opinions were materially changed. That this circumstance did not diminish my respect for him, is not to be wondered at. Besides I did not lay the same stress on the points in dispute that he did. In real candor, I question whether Dr. Price ever had a superior. - The greatest defect in Dr Price arose from an excess of this amiable virtue of candor. He could hardly see a fault in those to whom he was much attached. Of this pleasing foible I myself was happy to have the advantage. Dr. Price's extreme unwillingness to disoblige any person, was the occasion of no small trouble and embarrassment to him. His well known public spirit and benevolence brought upon him many applications for advice and assistance and many requests of personal interviews, which he did not know how to decline. In this case alone did he want firmness of mind. In the cause of truth or public liberty, no man had less concern about what any person thought, or said of him; but he could not without great pain to himself, do any thing that had the appearance of being unkind, or uncivil. On this principle he sacrificed much of his own ease and satisfaction to that of others. He often complained to me, and I doubt not to others of his friends, of his want of resolution in this respect, and the great loss of time, which he could very ill spare, by this means. Humility is a virtue nearly allied to candor and benevolence, and I never knew a person less sensible of his own excellencies, or so little elated by the great celebrity to which he attained (and this was greater than any dissenting minister ever acquired before him), as Dr. Price was. But with the greatest disposition to please, and to comply with others as far as he innocently could, he never made a sacrifice of his opinions to complaisance, but on all proper occasions openly avowed every important principle that he held. Conversing much with the world at large, and of course with many unbelievers, he always appeared a zealous Christian, and with bigots, a rational one; so that to the latter he was, from very early life, an object of dislike; and his zeal for what are usually called liberal opinions in religion, was as great as theirs for those of an opposite kind.
CHARACTER OF THE REW. ROBERT ROBINSON.
HE was a wonderful example of a man rising to considerable eminence by his own exertions. His education was no other than that of a grammar school,” and his first serious turn was given to him by the preaching of Mr. Whitefield.t But he gradually devoted himself wholly to the work of the ministry among the Baptists, and in the discharge of the duties of it, especially in his labors among the lower ranks of people, he greatly distinguished himself. What you saw and heard of him here would give you no idea of what he had been. For, the disorder to which he had been more than a year subject, and which, it is said, was brought on by intense, and I may say intemperate application to study, had weakened his mind, as well as his body, and, as is always the case, much more than he was himself aware of; though he still retained a fluency of speech and a command of language, that few can boast. When he was in his prime, he used, without any art, or ostentation of oratory, perfectly to command the attention of his audience; and always speaking extempore, he could vary his style and address, according to his hearers, in a manner that was truly wonderful. His writings discover equal powers of imagination and of judgment. His Sermons, preached in the villages near Cambridge,[*] are remarkable for their plainness and propriety. But at the time that they were composed he had not acquired all the sentiments that he had before he died. What most of all distinguished Mr. Robinson was his earnest love of truth, and his laborious search after it. Educated in Calvinistic
* Mr. Robinson was educated under the Rev. Joseph Brett, at Scarning in Norfolk, where the late Mr. Norris, [who founded a Divinity Professorship at Cambridge, the present Lord High Chancellor, [Thurlow], and most of the gentlemen of that county, received the rudiments of learning. There Mr. Robinson was taught the Latin, Greek, and French languages, and he was a great favorite with his master on account of his “large capacity, uncommon genius, and refined taste,” which were the words his master used when speaking of him at twelve years of age. He added, that “he expected great honor from him in future life.” This was when Mr. Robinson was intended for the church; and it does not appear that he was ever engaged in business. (P.) Advertisement. He was bound apprentice to “a hair-dresser in Crutched Friars ” in 1749; but his master appears to have given up his indentures some time before the expiration of the term. — Dyer's Mem. p. 11. See ibid. pp. 8–11. Brief Mem. pp. x111. - XV.
# See Dyer's Mem. pp. 18–25. In Mon. Repos. VII. 678, 679, I mentioned my too short acquaintance with this extraordinary man, and described a curious record in my possesion. It is in a copy of Jennings's “Life of Cotton Mather.” At the beginning of the book is written Robert Robinson, 1754, prefixed to the verse Heb. vi. 12. The
account of his birth and parentage, and what he considered as his new birth, is thus written by himself at the end of the book:
“Robertus, Michaelis Mariaeque Robinson Filius.
Natus Swaffhami, Comitatu Norfolcia,
Que septem, absolutionem plenam gratuitamgue
Per sanguinem pretiosam Jesu Christi
Et gloria, in secula seculorum. Amen.”
[" Republished in this country a few years since.]