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LIFE OF THE AUTHOR.
IT T was earnestly wished, that to the invaluable Works of an eminently learned Author, famous in his generation for wisdom and virtue, a well digested, interesting, and edifying History of his Life and Studies might have been prefixed-but it was wished in vain. Some of the select companions of his pilgrimage, who could have done it to perfection, having finished their course before him, and others, who still sojourn in this vale of misery, shrinking from the task through diffidence, no one could be found to undertake it. It was recommended to the Editor to supply this deficiency with the substance of the friendly, well-meant biographical sketch, published in the Anti-Jacobin Review for December laft, with such fresh matter as may have since come to light: in which he has acquiesced. And though the good man "being dead speaketh" more effectually for himself by his writings than any of the living can speak for him, yet these Memoirs, deficient as they are, may be in some measure useful to "stir up others by way of remembrance," to excite an holy emulation, and, as the Apostle speaks, to "provoke them to good works."
The Rev. WILLIAM JONES, Rector of Paston in Northamptonshire, and Curate of Nayland in Suffolk, was born at Lowick in Northamptonshire, on the 30th of July, in the year 1726. His father was Morgan Jones, a Welsh Gentleman, a descendant of Colonel Jones (but of principles very different from those of his ancestor) who married a sister of the Usurper, and is mentioned in Noble's History of the House of Cromwell. Morgan Jones married Sarah, the daughter of Mr. George Lettin of Lowick, by whom he had this son. As the Angel said to Zacharias concerning the Baptist," thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth;" so might it have been said to these happy parents concerning their son. “He was indeed a burning and a shining light, and we rejoiced for a season in his light."
He was remarkable from his childhood for unwearied industry and ingenium versatile. Like the judicious Hooker, "when a school boy, he was an "early questionist, Why this was, and that was not, "to be remembered; why this was granted, and that "was denied." As soon as he was of the proper age, he was admitted, on the nomination of the Duke of Dorset, a scholar at the Charterhouse, where he made a rapid progress in greek and latin, and laid the foundation of that knowledge, which has since been such a blessing to the christian world. It is reported, that even while a lad, he so abhorred the sin of rebellion, and so dreaded the judgment of God upon it, that he used to say his family, he feared, would never prosper in the world for the iniquity of his Ancestor, who had been a principal in the murder of the Royal Martyr; but God visiteth the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of
them (only) that hate him, not of them that love him and keep his commandments; and he had learned betimes to "fear God and honour the King." His turn for philosophical studies soon began to shew itself;" for meeting, when at the Charterhouse, with Zachary Williams (the father of Dr. Johnson's Mrs. Williams) Author of a Magnetical Theory, which is now lost, he copied some of his tables and calculations, was shewn the internal construction of his instrument for finding the variation of the compass in all parts of the world, and saw all the diagrams whereby his whole theory was demonstrated and explained. Here hẻ commenced an acquaintance with Mr. Jenkinson, now Earl of Liverpool, who was his chum, which acquaintance was farther cultivated at the University, where they were of the same College, and it continued to the last. Their different pursuits leading them different ways in their journey through life, they did not often meet, but they ever retained a great regard for each other, and the humble Country Parson occasionally experienced marks of friendship from the elevated Statesman.
At about 18 years of age, he left the school and went to University College, Oxford, on a Charterhouse Exhibition. There he pursued the usual course of study with unremitted diligence, till falling in with some Gentlemen, who, having read Mr. Hutchinson's Writings, were inclined to favour his opinions in theology and philosophy, he was induced to examine them himself, and found no reason to repent his labour. Among the several companions of his new studies, whom he loved and respected, there was no one dearer to him than the Author of An Apology for certain Gentlemen in the University of Ox
ford. Between them" there was a sacred friendship; a friendship made up of religious principles, which "increased daily by a similitude of inclinations to the same recreations and studies; a friendship elemented "in youth, and in an University, free from self ends, "which the friendships of age usually are not. In "this sweet, this blessed, this spiritual amity they "went on for many years. And as the holy prophet "saith, so they took sweet counsel together, and “walked in the house of God as friends. By which "means they improved it to such a degree of amity "as bordered upon heaven; a friendship so sacred, "that when it ended in this world it began in the "next, where it shall have no end."
Having taken the degree of Bachelor of Arts, in 1749, he was ordained a Deacon by the Bishop of Peterborough, and in 1751 he was ordained a Priest by the Bishop of Lincoln at Buckden. On leaving the University his first situation was that of Curate at Finedon in Northamptonshire. There he wrote A full Answer to Bishop Clayton's Essay on Spirit, which was published in 1753, and dedicated to the Rev. Sir John Dolben, to whom, as his Rector, he considers himself, he says, in some measure accountable for the use he makes of his leisure hours. And a full answer it is to all the objections urged by his Lordship, who, eating the bread of the Church, did lift up his heel against her. Besides a compleat confutation of the Writer of the Essay, in this tract, many curious and interesting questions are discussed, and several articles in the Religion and Learning of
a Mr. Horne, afterwards President of Magdalen College, Oxford, and Bishop of Norwich.