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complication of disorders, utterly incapable of ministerial labour, and only waiting for his approaching dissolution. His last moments were peaceful, and he enjoyed a comfortable assurance of his interest in the Redeemer. He died May the 12th, 1802, in the 63d year of his age, and was interred in the Burian church-yard, at Boskenna.
Mr. Wills's publications consist of “ The Spiritual Register," in three volumes, duodecimo, 1787 -- 1795; a sermon on the death of Mr. Romaine, 1795; and “ A Farewell Address,” before-mentioned. He, also, reprinted a book, written by Mr. John Gammon, a nonconformist minister of the seventeenth century, entitled, “ Christ a Christian's Life." *
ROBERT CALDWELL.-Upon Mr. Wills's retiring into the country, the congregation at Silver-street chose for his successor, a Mr. Robert Caldwell, who rose from an obscure situation, to that of a respectable minister in the Countess of Huntingdon's connexion. Disliking an itinerant mode of life, he resolved to take the first opportunity of settling, and cheerfully accepted the call of the people at Silver-street. He preached his first sermon there February 16, 1800, and his services were so acceptable, that the congregation, which had declined during the latter part of Mr. Wills's time, began to revive. But the pleasing prospects entertained by his friends, were speedily withered by his untiinely death, in the month of April, 1809. Mr. Caldwell, though not distinguished for literary attainments, was an affectionate and acceptable preacher. His delivery, however, was somewhat too rapid. During the time he was at Silver-street, he was very popular.
EVAN JOHN JONES.-Mr. Caldwell was succeeded immediately after his death, by Mr. Evan John Jones, the
# Memoirs of the Rev. Thomas Wills, &c.
present minister, who received a classical education at Merchant-Taylors'-School, but never pursued any studies for the ministry. He followed for some years a secular profession in London, became a member at the Tabernacle, near Moorfields, and commencing occasional preacher, officiated sometimes upon a week-day at that place. When Mr. Wills retired into the country, he engaged Islington chapel, and after about three years, upon the death of Mr. Caldwell, he added to it the charge of Silver-street. He was ordained at the latter place, Feb. 12, 1800. As the interest at both places increased, the chapels were enlarged at different times, at a very considerable expense, till they assumed their present handsome form. The congregation at each place being numerous, and both ticketed to great advantage, the joint concern cannot be an unprofitable one,
Mr. Jones, we understand, holds both leases in his own hands ; but as it is supposed neither concern would afford a sufficient maintenance alone, he is not to be lightly condemned as a pluralist; more especially as these things are sanctioned by authority. Besides, the strait-laced notions of certain rigid disciplinarians, respecting pluralities, and the popular constitution of primitive churches, are quite oldfashioned things, and therefore not to be attended to. In the present age of improvement, when a due inixture of worldly policy is considered essential in matters of religion, a man would be esteemed a dolt who attempted to revive the simple manners of his forefathers. Though the preaching of the pure gospel, without the meretricious ornaments of a worldly worship, was sufficient to gain their attention, yet modern times have greatly improved upon their notions. Sectarianism must lose much of the odium formerly attached to it, by assuming the trappings of the establishment, and by stripping it of that austerity for which the puritaris and nonconformists were so highly censurable!
As when speaking of the living, we wish to confine ourselves to what is merely historical fact, we shall close this
article by leaving with the reader an anecdote of one who has been dead nearly a hundred years. Though it may seem somewhat out of place, yet as anecdote tends much to enliven the dulness of history, the reader will excuse the digression. That excellent and conscientious prelate, Bishop Burnet, in his charges to the clergy of his diocese, shewed a great deal of disinterested integrity, by vehemently exclaiming against pluralities, as a most sacrilegious robbery. In his first visitation at Salisbury, he urged the authority of St. Bernard, who, being consulted by one of his followers, whether he might accept of two benefices, replied, “ And how will you be able to serve them both !-I intend (answered the priest) to officiate in one of them by a deputy.--Will your deputy be damned for you too? (cried the saint) Believe me, you may serve your cure by proxy, but you must be damned in person." This solemn admonition so affected Mr. Kelsey, a pious and worthy clergyman then present, that he immediately resigned the rectory of Bemerton, in Berkshire, worth two hundred pounds a-year, which he then held with one of
The late Mr. Simpson, of Macclesfield, who cites this anecdote from Bishop Burnet’s life, has the following reflections upon pluralities. “ It is well known to be the custom of great numbers of the clergy in the Establishment to procure as many (livings) as their interest will reach. This we call good management, prudent foresight, taking care for a family, and the like. If there is no God, it is all very well. But if we are accountable creatures, and are to exist in a future state, our present trading in livings and souls will not yield us satisfaction another day. It is popery, rank popery, the worst part of popery, under the highest pretensions to being the most pure and reformed part of Christ's holy catholic church.”* The reader should recollect that these things are spoken of the Church of England, and are not at all applicable to Dissenters !
• Simpson's Plea for Religion, p. 237, note.
Embroiderers'-Hall, Gutter-lane, Cheapside, in common with most of the city halls, was occupied for several years by the Nonconformists; the account we have of it, however, is extremely circumscribed. A short time before the death of Charles II. the meeting was disturbed, and the minister dragged to prison. This was Mr. AlexANDER SHIELDS, a Scotsman, of whom we have the followmy account.
Mr. SIELDS was born at Haugh-head, in the Merse, about the year 1660, and received his education in the college of Edmisurgh. He afterwards went for further improvement to Holland. Finding but little encouragement as a minister in his own country, where prelacy triumphed over the sufferings of the persecuted, he went to London, to be an amanuensis to Dr. Owen. There he accepted of a license from the Scots Presbyterian Divines, but refused the oath of allegiance. He had not been long in London before persecution put a stop to bis ministry. On the 11th day of January, 1085, he was, with some others, apprehended by the city-marshal, who came into the meeting unawares, and conmanded them to surrender in the king's name. Mr. Shields being first in his way replied, “ What king do you mean; by whose authority do you disturb the peaceable ordinances of Jesus Christ ? Sir, you dishonour your king, in making him an enemy to the worship of God.” To which the marshal said, “ He had other business to do than to stand prating with him.” Mr. Shields made an attempt to escape, but was prevented, and, together with his com
panions, brought before the Lord-Mayor, who threatened to send him to Bridewell. Being admitted to bail, he appeared at Guildhall upon the 14th ; but while he went out for some refreshinent, his name was called over, and not answering, his bail bond was forfeited. This him
great uneasiness, and to prevent further ill-consequences, he appeared again on the 20th. Being arraigned in form, he was examined as to whether he was at Bothwell, and if he approved of Bishop Sharp's death. To which he replied, that he was not obliged to give an account of his thoughts, but came there to answer to his indictment. Upon which he was in a most arbitrary manner taken to Newgate, without a mittimus, in order to his trial at the next quarter sessions.
King Charles II. dying in the interim, Mr. Shields, with seven others apprehended with him, was put on board the Kitchen yacht for Scotland, and landed at Leith on the 13th of March. On the next day he was examined before the council, where he pleaded the liberty of his thoughts, and put them to prove his accusation. He was remanded back, to prison, and after being confined several months in the bass, contrived to make his escape in woman's clothes. Had it not been for this fortunate circumstance he would, probably, have suffered death. After his
After his escape, he went to reside with Mr. James Renwick, and the faithful remnant that continued in the fields, preaching in Crawford muir at Disinckornhill in Glaston parish, and at many other places. At the Revolution he rendered great service to the army, and was in high esteem by King William. Soon afterwards, he was settled minister at St. Andrews, where he continued in the discharge of his office till the year 1699, when he was fixed upon to go over, with other of his countrymen, to the national settlement at Darien, in America. This expedition failing for want of proper inanagement, and a reinforcement from the mother country,