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CORRESPONDENCE.

In our next the Memoir of Ellis Bent, Esq.

We give this month the Portrait of the late Rev. William Vidler. Proofs in 4to. on fine paper, may be had of the publishers, price 5s. to accompany the former Monthly Repository Portraits of Servetus, Dr. Priestley, and Dr. Toulmin.

Subscribers are requested to complete their sets, as we are constrained to confine the number printed to the number actually sold; and on account of the Portrait it is likely that the present Number will be soon out of print.

Erratuin.-Vol. XI. p. 701, col. 2, 33 lioes from top, for injurious, read injudicious..

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Memoir of the late Rev. W. Vidler.

a preacher. His reputation as

a at Battle, in Sussex, May 4, riousness of disposition, which was 1758, the tenth child of John and strengthened by his perusal of the Elizabeth Vidler, of that place, who sacred books, led his family and neighe in their humble rank of life were bours to foretel, in one of those halfhighly respected for their virtues. He serious, half-jocular predictions, sugo was of so infirm a bodily constitution gested by an evident bias of early chathat his parents were apprehensive reter, which are so frequently fulthat they should not rear him to ma- filled, that he would one day ascend turity. At the early age of nine years, the palpit. he was afflicted with an asthma ; and In the general habit of his mind, this disorder was followed at the dis- * Mr. Vidler may be said to have foured tance of a few years by a rheumatic God from his youth up, but there were fever, which deprived him for a time seasons when his religious impressions of the use of his liinbs, and doomed were particularly strong. He him. him to a tedious confinement. He self, in a memorandum before us, was afterwards subject to frequent dated August 4, 1784, attributes his attacks of disease. These infirmities decided sense of religion to the afflic. laid the foundation of his character; tion, to which we have already refor though they prevented his enjoy- ferred : he says, “I was taken ill ing the common sehool education with the rheumatism while I was at: which the circumstances of his pa- Hooe" (a little village near Battley rents allowed them to contemplate, "preaching. I was very troubled to they were the occasion of his acquiring get home again, being afoot. I re- : a taste for books, the only amusement joice that my Father found me doing by which he could beguile the weari- the work which he had committed to someness of a sick chamber. He me. I have great reason to be quiet read every book which came in his under affliction of body, and I think way, and whatever was the subject particularly under this disorder ; for I or plan or style, it was remarked that was visited with this same complaint he always went through it; thus about eleven years ago, by means of giving an early indication of that intel- which God was pleased to awaken my {ectual resoluteness and perseverance stupid soul to such a concern for which strongly marked his character eternity as never left me till I had in the whole of his life.

tasted that he was gracious; and all But of all the books which he met the illness which I have had from with, the Bible was his favourite that day to this, has more or less been study: and he was encouraged in a blessing to me. The present dis-cultivating an acquaintance with the order is very painful; but I can truly Scriptures by his mother, who was say, The will of God be done." sincerely pious according to her degree At the usual age, Mr. Vidler was of light, and to whose maternal in- put to his father's bnsiness, which was structions the son on his death-bed that of a stone-mason and bricklayer; acknowledged to the writer that he a laborious employment, scarcely owed incalculable obligations. He suited to his weak state of body. He was in the habit of reading aloud, and devoted himself to it, however, as far thus formed that clear and distinct as his strength permitted, working manner of speaking which gave him with his father long after he comsuch a cominand over his auditory as menced preacher. Ill health only VOL. XII.

к

induced him at last to abandon this lept character, in the house of whose employment.

parents the preacher carried on public In 'childhood and youth he was worship. This person, though much habitually irascible: he was accus. older than himself, Mr. Vidler aftertomed to relate that, before he felt wards married, actuated in great the necessity of subduing his temper measure by gratitude for the signal by patient moral discipline, eren trifes blessings which she had been instruwould throw him into paroxysms of mental under God in conferring upon passion which were very dreadful. It him. He took this important step may be supposed that his good sense early in life, and he was ever after and his religion did not acquire the accustomed to recommend early mar. ascendancy, in this particular, on a riages, as tending to preserve the sudden or without many hard and morals and improve the characters of painful struggles. We find the fold young persons and to promote dolowing note in his Diary, bearing mesric happiness. date, May, 1788: “ Towards the end We are now to consider Mr. Vidler of this month, I was surprised into a as a Protestant Dissenter; entering fit of violent and unreasonable anger upon the path of inquiry which he in the midst of my people at a church- continued to parsue to the last meeting : whatever provocation I re- moment of conscious existence, and received from man, I have great reason beginning to encounter the opposition to be ashamed of my sin before God. and obloquy which were not to cease I bless God that though my passion to his life's end, in the assertion of was very great, the sun did not go the independence of his mind and in down upon my wrath. O Lord ! give the performance of his religious duty. me more meekness and patience, that The commencement of his Christian 1 may forbear towards others, as thou life has been described by his own forbearest towards me." This mo- pen ; and the narrative is so intedest and pious sense of infirmity led resting, both from the facts recorded him to exercise great watchfulness and the manner in which they are over his temper and to strive to attain related, that, though loug, we shall self-command; and he succeeded to here insert it entire, as it has been such a degree that those persons who transmitted to us, copied from the were acquainted with him only in the register of proceedings of the Baptist latter years of his life have been church at Battle: it was written, as always surprised to hear him confess the reader will perceive, with all the this failing of his early character. He fervour of first love in religion, at a becane remarkable for coolness in the time when the writer considered midst of opposition and for patience Christianity and Calvinism to be the of contradiction : he could discuss same. with perfect calmness the most inte. " A short account of the planting of the resting questions: his favourite maxim, Particular Baptist Church at Battle, on which he himself acted, was in Susser. “ soft words and hard arguinents."

“ The town of Battle appears to This example may hold out encourage- have been in a state of darkness with ment to such as are convinced by regard to the gospel for many years experience of the desirableness of until the year 1976, in which year it ameliorating or of the necessity of con was visited with the word of salvation quering their own spirit.

by the means of Mr. George Gil. Mr. Vidler's parents were con- bert, an independent Calvinist, from scientious and zealous members of the Heathfield; who appears to have been Church of England and brought him a man of real zeal for God, and hath up in the profession and observance had the happiness to be much owned of the established religion. He was by God in his public labours. Before first induced to attend Dissenting · his coming to Battle there was indeed worship by means of a Mr. Gilbert, a Dissenting people, of the Presbyan Independent minister, who occa terian denomination, among whom sionally visited Battle as a missionary the gospel had been in its power will preacher; and it appears that he be about the year 1740, about which came one of Mr. Gilbert's hearers time it began to decay, and continued through the influence of a young so to do, till at lengih instead of the woinan, of a serious mind and excels glorious gospel, there was nothing

more than mere imorality for many 1776, and there they met for the years before the year 1770, in which worship of God, Mr. Gilbert coming year, as before observed, God was to preach among them once a month pleased to send his gospel to this dark on the Lord's day, and generally every place by means of Mr. Gilbert. The Thursday evening beside. They still occasion of Mr: Gilbert's coming to met with much opposition, and many Battle was thus. There was a poor attempts were made to prevent the man,

one William Sweetingham, success of the word, but through (Mr. W. Vidler's wife's father) that Divine mercy all those attempts were came from Brighton to Battle to make in vain. bricks; this person loved the gospel, “ In 1777, the power of God still but he could go no where to hear it went with the word and the number nearer than Heathfield, which is ten of hearers gradually increased. Also miles from Battle: he therefore gave the people were occasionally visited Mr. Gilbērt an invitation to come to by some of those worthy ministers his house to preach; he accepted the who were in connection with the invitation, and in January, 1776, he pious and Hon. Lady Huntingdon, came and preached to about forty who for many years was very useful people in the evening; the word in supporting a number of ministers seemed to be well received. In in the capacity of itinerant preachers

February following, Mr. Gilbert came throughout the nation. --and preached again to nearly the same “ The practice of the people on number of people, being encouraged those Lord's days when they had no by the attention of the people : he preacher, was to meet as usual, and came again in March following, after one of them had prayed, to read intending to preach as before, but some sound discourse ainong them, was forbid by William Sweetingham's and conclude the service as at other landlord to preach in his house ; times. This weak and simple way of • therefore Mr. Gilbert sat down and worship was often abundantly blessed, conversed with the people about Dis not only to comfort those who were vine things.

already convinced of their misery by “ Several persons now seemed to nature and had fled to Christ for be in earnest about their salvation, refuge, but also actually to convince the appearance of which set the whole some of their wretchedness, and to lown in confusion : loud clamours fix lasting impressions upon their were raised against Mr. Gilbert and minds. his adherents, and W. Sweetingham “ This was also useful in bringing was threatened with a removal by the forward a gift among the people. A parish officers, who hoped by that youth, whose name was W. Vidler, means to quash the gospel in its bud. who was ofteu their reader when they

In the midst of opposition, Mr. Gils were destitute of preaching, about :bert came again in May, 1776; and nineteen years of age, at the desire of

as he was denied a house, he ate the people in general was iuduced, in tempted to preach by the way-side, April, 1777, to speak among them by and though he met with much noise way of exhortation. Being encouand blasphemy from several that came raged to continue this practice by the on purpose to hinder, yet he went on good acceptance it met with, he went and the word was blessed. This on in it, though in much weakness encouraged him to come again in and fear, till October, 1777, when the June following, when he preached at temptations he met with in the work, the same place, still meeting with and a fear lest he was not in the path

many insults. The number of those of duty, prevailed with him hastily to * who gave proof of a work of grace leave Battle and go into the Isle of upon their hearts was now abodt Wight. The loss of this

person

did twelve: and as it was quite disagree not continue long; it hath since apo able to be exposed thus to the insults peared God designed him to labour of an outrageous mob, they much in his vineyard at Batile, and there. wished for an house to carry on the fore Providence brought him back worship of God peaceably. Accord- again (though he came with reingly, Providence graciously favoured luctance) in July, 1778. During his thein in this, and an house was pro- absence the work still went on, the vided towards the close of the year people enjoying Mr. Gilbert's labours

as before, and had substituted another sprinkling, and the validity of bebrother to read and pray among them lievers' baptism by immersion. This on the vacant sabbaths.

conviction' he communicated to some .“ About this time, the conduct of of the brotherhood, who though they the inhabitants of Battle was a prac- could not but confess that believers' tical comment upon that passage baptism was a Scripture doctrine, which

says, *the carnal mind is en- yet entreated him not to break the mity against God.' . They had long peace of the brotherhood by being songhi to stop the work of God in the baptized. He then communicated town, and threats and promises had his thoughts to Mr. Gilbert, and been used towards those who had after frequent conversation with him, embraced the gospel; falsehoods had and reading various authors on both also been often raised to deter others sides of the question, and earnest from hearing the word, but all those seeking to God in prayer for direction, things had proved ineffectual. God and being fully satisfied it was his enabled his people to take joyfully the duty to comply with the ordinance of spoiling of their character for his sake, baptism, he gave himself up to God yea and the work of God prospered in that ordinance, in January, 1780, also in the midst of this.' It was and was baptized by. Mr. Purdy, and therefore consulted how to put an two more of the brotherhood were entire stop to it, and the next probable baptized at the same time with Mr. inean to that end was thought to be, Vidler. And as the professors at the breaking off all manner of dealing Battle were not in a church state, with those who professed the gospel. those three who were baptized joined Unjust as this was, yet the chief part themselves to the Baptist church at of the town agreed to it; and in order Rye, of which Mr. Purdy was pastor. to make it the more effectual, articles The baptism of these three persons were also drawn up to which they gave Mr. Gilbert and some of the were to put their names, laying them- brotherhood great uneasiness, and as selves under an obligation not to buy Mr. Gilbert supposed many more or sell any thing of or to those who would soon beconie Baptists' if Mr. encouraged the word, intending by Vidler .continued to exercise his gifts this means to subdue them and bring among the people, he therefore inthem to poverty. But here the power formed them, that if Mr. Vidler conof God was displayed : some of the tinued to do so, he was under the chief promoters of this scheme refused necessity of leaving them. Accordto sign the articles at last; this dis- ingly, upon the people's refusing to

couraged the rest, so that the matter part with Mr. Vidler, Mr. Gilbert was quite dropped. But the spirit of left them in February, 1780. The it continued, and some of the breth- care of the people was now entirely sen felt it long afterwards by decays upon Mr. Vidler, though he was not in their business, occasioned by the yet called out to the ministry; but the inalice and ill services of their ene- church of Rye thought fit to set apart mies.

the 16th day of this month as a day “ In 1779, the work of God still of solemn prayer and fasting in order went on, notwithstanding the oppo- to separate hiin for the sacred work, sition it met with, and the ordinance which was accordingly done. Several of the Lord's supper was adminis- of the people who saw it their duty tered by Mr. Gilbert monthly to near were also baptized the same day by fifty communicants ; notwithstanding Mr. Purdy. In March, 1780, some which, these persons had never been more of the friends at Battle were formed into a church, nor had they baptized, which in the whole inade been instructed in any kind of dis- the number abont fifteen. They now cipline, but had been taught to agreed to enter into a church state, by de pise all church order as detrimental giving up themselves to one another to the power of godliness.

in a solemn covenant to carry on the “ Mr. Vidler continued to exercise worship of God together and practice among the people, and this year went the discipline and order among them io bear a worthy Baptist minister, in which they found appointed for the the neighbourhood, whose name was churches of Christ in the New TestaPurdy, and was by his conversation ment. This intention the brethren convinced of the invalidiiy of insant signified to the Rev. Mr. Purdy, of

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