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CHARACTER OF THE REV. JOHN SUTCLIFF. [WRITTEN IN 1814. NOT PUBLIshed before.]
A SWEET humility formed a very distinguishing feature in his character. Who ever witnessed, in our deceased brother, those airs of arrogance, or that fondness for display, which are frequently found in persons of very inferior talents and acquirements to those which he possessed? In truth, his aversion to ostentation might alone be said to be carried to excess, since it prevented him, in his public ministry, from availing himself of [those] ample stores of knowledge by which he could often have delighted and instructed his hearers. He had far more learning than the mere hearer of his discourses would have conjectured; for he seemed almost as anxious to conceal as some are to display.
Nor was it in this particular alone that his humility was apparent. It diffused itself over the whole of his character and deportment, and gave it a certain beauty which [no] artifice could successfully imitate. His humility was not displayed in depreciating his performances, nor in speaking
CHARACTER OF THE REV. JOHN SUTCLIFF. 303
of himself in degrading terms: it appeared rather in forgetting himself, and in a natural readiness to give others the superiority. It accompanied
him so incessantly, that he might truly be said to "be clothed with humility."
As his disposition little inclined him to ecstasy and rapture, so his piety shone with a mild and steady lustre, perfectly free from the false fire of enthusiasm, and equally from a lukewarm formality. There were few men in whom it appeared more natural, or more manifestly as a principle interwoven with the inmost texture of his mind. His great modesty seldom permitted him to advert to his own experience, either in public discourse, or in more private conversation; but a savour of experimental piety pervaded his whole character.
The mild and placid cheerfulness which marked his countenance and deportment, would lead us to suppose that he habitually walked in the divine light; and the evidences of his interest in the divine favour were rarely, if ever, impaired or eclipsed. He was one of the few men whose cheerfulness appeared to be increased by age; verifying, in this particular, the description given of "the path of the just, which is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." His life was truly exemplary, being filled up with an uninterrupted series of useful, benevolent, and pious actions, proceeding from their true principles, and distinguished by an eminent decorum of time and place. He was a pattern to
believers, "in faith, in purity, and in conversation." Though rather the opposite to loquacious, he had a high relish for the pleasures of christian society, in which it is difficult to say whether he imparted or received most pleasure. "The law of kindness was on his tongue;" and so attentive was he on every occasion to the feelings of those with whom he conversed, that his company was both inoffensive and delightful.
Through a long series of years his attendance at the association, and at ministers' meetings, was so constant and punctual, that his occasional absence was severely felt; and that meeting seemed essentially defective, which was not graced with his presence. His appearance amongst us was hailed as a certain presage of harmony and love. Multitudes can witness the deep and pungent regret experienced at the last annual association, at the melancholy tidings of that fatal illness which prevented his attendance.
Few men took a deeper interest than our deceased brother in the general state of the church, and the propagation of the gospel abroad. The future glory of the kingdom of Christ, and the best means of promoting it, were his favourite topics, and usurped a large part of his thoughts and his prayers; nor was he ever more in his element, than when he was exerting his powers in devising plans for its extension. The baptist mission in India is under incalculable obligations to his sagacity and prudence.
THE REV. THOMAS TOLLER.
[WRITTEN IN 1821.]
THE subject of the following Memoir was born at South Petherton, a populous village in Somersetshire, A. D. 1756. His parents were John and Mary Toller, whose maiden name was Northcote. His father was an attorney of eminence, two of whose sons were educated for that profession. Of the early years of Thomas, the subject of the following narrative, I have little information, farther than that both his parents were eminently pious, and that he always considered himself indebted, under God, for his first religious impressions, to the tender solicitude of his mother for the promotion of his eternal welfare. Whether those impressions issued at that period in genuine conversion is not known nor are we possessed of any authentic information of the circumstances connected with that event. The extreme diffidence and modesty which distinguished Mr. Toller, probably prevented his relating to his nearest friends the early exercises of his mind on religious subjects: the consequence is, that in this instance, as in many others, we are left
to infer the reality of the change from its effects. The light and insinuations of the Divine Spirit so often accompany the conduct of a strictly religious education, that some of the most eminent Christians have acknowledged themselves at a loss to assign the precise era of their conversion; but whether this was the case with our excellent friend, it is impossible to say.
At the early age of fifteen, his parents sent him to the academy at Daventry in Northamptonshire, over which Dr. Ashworth, the worthy successor of the celebrated Dr. Doddridge, presided: his assistant in the academy was the Rev. Mr. Robins, who afterwards occupied the same station with distinguished ability. Of both his tutors he was wont to speak in terms of high respect: of Mr. Robins, he was often heard to say, that he considered him as the wisest and the best man he ever knew. Among many other mental endowments, he was remarkable for delicacy of taste and elegance of diction; and, perhaps, my reader will excuse my observing, that the first perception of these qualities which the writer of these lines remembers to have possessed, arose from hearing him preach at Northampton on a public occasion. It is to be lamented that he has left none of those productions behind him, which a correct and beautiful imagination, embodied in language of the most classic purity, rendered so impressive and delightful. The qualities of his heart corresponded to those of his genius; and though, long before his death, his bodily infirmities