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Tae volume now presented to the public, owes its origin to one of those mysterious events in Providence, which seem commissioned, at distant intervals, to alarm and admonish the church of God. A loss so sudden, so awful, so universally deplored, as that of Mr. Spencer, demanded improvement. Many impressive discourses were delivered on the sad occasion, several of which have issued from the press. But his life was not less instructive than his death ; and the more it was contemplated by his friends, the more deeply they felt the importance of rescuing from oblivion those traits of his character, and circumstances of his his. tory, by wbich their own private circles had been interested. Upon my acceptance of the solemn office from which he was so unexpectedly removed, his bereaved people, anxious to see some authorized memoirs of their beloved pastor embodied and preserved, committed the mournful duty to my hands. My respect for the honoured dead, and attachment to the living, induced me to accept the charge : how I have executed the important trust reposed in me, I must now leave it with a candid public to decide.
Various causes have contributed to create the delay which has attended the publication of the book. It was with considerable difficulty that I collected the materials necessary for my purpose. I had imagined, from the general impression which prevailed, at least amongst Mr. Spencer's friends, of the propriety of such a publication, that information would have been spontaneously offered from
every quarter whence it might be furnished. But in this I was disappointed; and it was some considerable time from the annunciation of my design, before I was sufficiently supplied to commence, with any degree of prudence, the composition of the volume.
In addition to this, the laborious duties of a new and most extensive charge, conspired often to suspend the prosecution of the work, for the appearance of which I knew many to be anxious, but none more so than myself.
Had I at first anticipated the extent of these Memoirs, I should most probably have shrunk from the undertaking. But the volume has grown almost imperceptibly beneath my hand. What I have recorded of the dear departed is strictly true, so far as the veracity of the most excellent men can warrant the assertion; and whatever opportunity the narrative has afforded of administering instruction I have gladly seized, and conscientiously improved, leaving the issue to a higher agent.
I have at length completed the work; and now, with the deepest humility and diffidence, I resign it to the blessing of God—the consideration of friendship--and the candour of the public. If to those who knew and loved him, it shall sometimes recall, with grateful emotions, the image and the excellencies of their departed friend; if it shall induce any to emulate the bright example of his manly virtues, and his christian graces ; or if but one, anticipating or commencing the laborious duties of the christian ministry, shall derive from the contemplation of Spencer's character, instruction, caution, or encouragement-I am amply recompensed I have not laboured in vain !
TOXTETA PARK, LIVERPOOL,
February 15th, 1813.
SELDOM has a task so painfully arduous fallen to the lot of a biographer, as that which, in the mysterious providence of God, has unexpectedly devolved on me. The recollection of departed excellence, which a long series of years had developed and matured, is mingled with a melaneholy feeling, and not unfrequently excites the tribute of a tear: but the individual who erects a monument to friendship, genius, usefulness and piety, prematurely wrapt in the oblivion of the grave, must necessarily prosecute his mournful work with trembling hands, and with a bleeding heart. And yet the mind is soothed by the communication of its sorrow; the bosom is relieved of an oppressive burthen while it tells the virtues of the friend it mourns; and the best feelings of the heart are satisfied with the consciousness, that instead of indulging in solitude the luxury of unavailing grief, it has employed its powers to pourtray, in lively colours, for the improvement of the living, the excellencies of the
beloved and pious dead. For myself, with mournful pleasure, I hasten to sketch the rude outline of one of the loveliest and most finished characters the present age has known ;-pausing only to express my deep regret, that one so ripe for heaven, and yet so eminently useful upon earth, should be called from the important sphere he occupied, so soon; and that to hands so feeble should be committed,
together with the solemn trust which he resigned in death, the painful duty of erecting this monument to his worth.
THE REVEREND THOMAS SPENCER, was born at Hertford, January 21, 1791. He occupied the third place out of four who surrounded his father's table, but shared equally with them in the tender and af. fectionate solicitude of parents, who, placed in the middle sphere of human life, were respectable for their piety, and highly esteemed in the cirele in which a wise Providence had allotted them to move. It cannot be expected that any thing peculiarly interesting should mark the early childhood of a youth, retired from the observation of the world, and far removed from the presence of any of those circumstances which might be considered as favourable to the excitation of latent talent or the display of early genius. And yet the years of his infancy and ehildhood were not undistinguished by some intimations of a superior mind, from which a thoughtful observer might have been induced to augur something of his future eminence, and which his amiable father it appears did with silence watch. He himself observes, in a hasty sketch of his life, which now lies before me." As far back as I can recol