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For MARCH, 1802.
SUPPLEMENTARY MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV JOHN THOROWGOOD.
To the Editor of the Evangelical Magazine.
Sir, In your Magazine for January, you have given a very faith
ful Memoir of the late Rev. John Thorowgood : but as that account is not so complete, as many Readers might wish, being chiefly confined to the Particulars of his
earlier Life, you will accept of the following, as a Sup. plement to it :- .. MTR. THOROWGOOD was certainly, in many respects, an MV extraordinary man, who possessed strong intellectual powers; and by a long and unwearied application to intense study, had acquired a large fund of diversified literature. The first year of his ministry was spent at Súrton Ashfield, in Nottinghamshire, among an affectionate people; and, for a while, he supplied some other vacant pulpits in different places.
The venerable pastor of the flock of Bocking, to whom Mr. Thorowgood, previous to his ordination to the copastorship, was assistant for seven years,—and with whom, as a son with a father, he served in the Gospel, was the truly reverend and respectable 'Mr. Davidson *. This
* Printed Davis, by mistake, in the former Memoir. Mr. Davidson's predecessor was the Rev. Mr. Shepherd, an excellent and puritanical preacher who raised the congregation, from a very low beginning, to an exceedingly large and respectable society; and whose labours were continued amongst them for forty years. Of Mr. Davidson his successor, is may be said, in the words of Mr. Angus, who preached his funeral sermon, that he “ was a burning and a shining light, a man of great ministerial abilities, -a scribe well instructed in th: kingdom of God,-a very popular, and yet a very judicious preacher, who excelled, in particular, as an expositor of the Scriptures; and whose labours have been crowned with abundant success." Having laboured amongst his people with great reputation and usefulness for forty-six years, this venerable man entered the realms of immortality on the 6th of April, 1788, in the 84th year of his age. His remains were interred in the burying-ground VOL. X.
apostolic man had, through a long period, sustained the pastoral character over that people, with equal honour to himself and profit to them. With so worthy a colleague Mr. Thorowgood lived for twelve years in the most uninterrupted harmony and concord; and, upon his decease, succeeded to the sole charge of that respectable congregation, consisting of about a thousand people. .
Mr. Thorowgood's principal excellency, as a preacher, „seemed to appear in setting before his hearers deep, accurate, and comprehensive views of divine truth, the result of a vigorous mind, enlightened by divine grace, and richly cultivated by assiduous thought and reading: nor was he less remarkable for the perspicuity, order, and connexion of his discourses. His expressions were proper, often elegant, rich, and copious : his ideas not so crowded as to occasion obscurity, nor so expanded as to produce feebleness or dullness. As if the whole of his subject had been present to his view, every part seemed to be placed in its most proper situation, yet connected and subservient one to another; and the train of ideas, under each part, kept unbroken and unentangled. He did not often admit any thing florid into his discourses; but occasionally employed apt allusions and illustrations : “ Flowers in language,” he used to say, “ are like flowers in a field of wheat; they do more harm than good." For vehemence and energy he was not distinguished ; his force depended more on gentle persuasion. There was a simplicity in his style and expressions, which the plainest capacity could understand, and which the learned might admire. A learned critic himself, he did not approve of introducing any parade of criticism into the pulpit. In a letter to an intimate friend, written in the first year of his ministry, he mentions an instance of his indiscretion one time in preaching, which is here introduced as a caution to other young preachers : “ I bite my lips,” says he, “ with vexation at my folly last Lord's day. I was preaching upon a very alarming subject. My people were all şileņce and attention, when, in the midst of an important theme, I meanly stopped to divert them with a trifling criticism, O, how did I blush
belonging to the congregation, over which were inscribed these lines, found in his study after his decease :
“ In yonder sacred house I spent my breath :
at my folly! This I mention, my dear friend, for your Caution, Felix quem facient alienæ pericula cautum !” In another letter, about the same time, he makes some judicious · observations on studying theology in a systematic manner, in answer to a question which had been proposed to him, viz. Whether the serious reading of the Scriptures alone, is not sufficient to give one a just knowledge of theological subjects, &c. Should you think an extract from this letter, calculated to be useful, by shewing your readers the vast utility of method and order, both in private studying of the Scrip tures and in public discourses upon them, you are at liberty to insert it in any part of your useful Miscellany*
Amongst a great variety of other pursuits, the study of botany was with him a very favourite one. The works of that great naturalist Linnæus, he had very carefully and diligently studied ; and upon this subject he had corresponded. with some of the first scientific characters in this kingdom. This science afforded him, not only a very innocent and pleasing recreation, in the cultivation of his garden, in which he used to employ many occasional hours, but it also furnished him with a constant source of amusement and instruction in his rural walks. Observing the beauty, order, variety, and wonderful uses of the works of Creative Wisdom, this religious philosopher “ looked through nature up to nature's God.”
His poetical talents, of which the former memoir has given a very favourable specimen, were far from mediocrity; and if he had cultivated them, might have entitled him to a very honourable niche among our sacred poets. However, so modest and diffident was his own opinion of his talent in this way, that he said to a friend, “You must be sensible, as well as I, that every thing of mine is only made-poetry, and not the effects of a poetic genius.”
Besides the Poem on Sentimental Feelings, he wrote a beautiful Address to Cynthia, another very affecting piece written in Westminster-abbey, and an Epistolary Ode to a poetical and highly respected friend, now living. If the last of these poems should not be thought too long for a place in that department of your Magazine which is allotted to the possession of the sacred muses, its insertion may gratify seme of your readers. I must, however, claim the perinission of putting asterisms for names;- an asterism for every syllable f.
• Sce the article which follows this memoir, p. 88.
. In the latter part of the year 1792, he entered the cona jugal relation with Miss Reeve, of Bocking, niece of Mr. Jonah Reeve, grocer, of that place; with whom he lived in great connubial felicity. The conjugal and the parental duties he discharged in a very exemplary manner. His behaviour to his relations and friends, in all the connections of life, and upon every occasion, was kind, generous, and amiable.
Though Mr. Thorowgood was, upon principle as well as from education, a dissenter from the national establishment, in which he was firm and unwavering; yet his dissent was of so mild and bland a nature, as could give no reasonable offence to any liberal churchman. He never thought that either good sense or true piety were confined to those of his own opinion; but he was a lover of good men in every communion.
It will be owned by every one who knew Mr. Thorowgood, or who has only heard of him, that he possessed a fair and unblemished reputation, which the malignant breath of calumný had never sullied; and such was the pacific disposition with which he was actuated, that his voice was never heard in angry debate, nor did his name ever appear in any furious controversy.
Nor was he less deserving of notice for that firm integrity of conduct which he ever maintained; for that solid judgment of men and things by which he was distinguished; and for that generous spirit which actuated him, from whieh he devised liberal things, to his ability, and beyond it: and though he was well qualified, from a large fund of knowledge, to make a very conspicuous figure in the world, yet such was the modest and unassuming nature of his character, that he never courted public observation, but rather shrunk from general notice: “not obvious, not obtrusive, but retired.”
About two years since, it was suggested to him that a selection from his sermons might probably be acceptable to the public, and inight be highly useful; and he was solicited to revise and correct some of them for that purpose. To this solicitation he seemed disposed to attend ; but that illness which terminated in his dissolution, soon after this advancing rapidly upon him, he was obliged to relinquish his design :-and it is to be lamented, that as his manuscripts are in a short-hand not generally known, and, perhaps, from a mixture of some of his own charac
ters, not all perfectly legible, it seems improbable that they should ever be communicated to the world.
About a twelvemonth before his death, when he visited Hampshire, to try the effects of his native air, his affectionate flock provided an assistant during his absence, whom they very much wished him to retain. But they could not prevail ; as he said his strength' would not permit him to do any thing but preach. The work of the pulpit seemed to be his beloved employment; and it is thought. that his life might (humanly speaking) have been considerably extended, if he could have been persuaded to spare himself more. It is remarkable, that the last time he met his people in the house of God (though so weak as not only to be incapable of preaching, but of attending the word) was at the Lord's table; when, after the service of the afternoon, with the greatest difficulty he walked to the, meeting-house (a small distance); but was obliged to administer the ordinance sitting. He was confined upstairs a month and a day. The state of his mind in his affliction, may be known by an extract from a letter, written to a relative in affliction a few months before his death: “ I have often wished to write to you, but my own illness. has hitherto prevented me; and though I now begin to write, I foresee I shall not be able soon to finish this letter, nor to finish it. without several interruptions. I am as weak almost as can be; and can scarcely walk two or three hundred yards. It is with extreme difficulty I can get up stairs ; cannot write without much labour and pain ; and can scarcely read. Till now, though I could do nothing else, I could muster up spirits, to surinount my weakness, and preach; but now I cannot do even that; and I must for a season at least, retire from public service. This is my greatest affliction :- I regard illness but little as it respects myself alone, but it is indeed painful to me to be prevented exercising the Gospel ministry. It hath pleased God thus to lay his hand both on you and me; and his hand we are called upon both to acknowledge and to bless. Affliction certainly comes from him; and he is honoured when the children of men submit to him. We have also cause to bless his chastening hand; not only be cause he certainly doth all things well, but also because we receive and enjoy so many mercies in our afflictions.. There is in him strength for those that faint; there is grace to help in time of need; there is rest, and even joy, to be found in Christ Jesus, though we be in a state of tribula