The Life and Times of Dr. John Gill

 

by

 

Dr. Stanford E. Murrell

 

 

·          ·          1687, November 23. Born at Kettering, in Northamptonshire, England.

 

·          ·          1716, November 1.  Makes a public confession of faith in Christ and is baptized.

 

1716, November 4. On this Lord’s Day he was received as a member into the church, Mr. Thomas Wallis, pastor, and partook of the Lord’s Supper.

 

·          ·          1716, November 11. During the evening service he preached a sermon on 1 Corinthians 2:2.

 

·          ·           1718, Marries Elizabeth Negus of London.

 

·          ·          1719, September 20. Accepts the call to pastor Hosly-down, Fair-street, Southwark, about a mile from London Bridge.

 

·          ·          1720, March 22. Ordained to the ministry in a public ceremony with the laying on of hands. Soon after his ordination he drew up A Declaration of the Faith and Practice of the Church of Christ at Horsly-down.

 

·          ·          1723. Dr. Gill is taken ill with numerous afflictions including a severe fever that threatened his life.

 

·          ·          1724. Begins an exposition of the Song of Solomon, preaching 122 sermons to his congregation from this book. In the same year his first printing was a sermon preached from Romans 5:20,21 on the death of Mr. John Smith, a deacon of his church.

 

·          ·          1725. Publishes a work entitled, The Urim and Thummim found with Christ, from Deuteronomy 33:8.

 

·          ·          1726. Publishes a pamphlet called, The Manner of baptizing with water, cleared up from the Word of God and right Reason, etc. and another work, A Defense of the ancient Mode, etc.

 

·          ·          1728. Publishes his Exposition of the Song of Solomon. Other publications this year included The Prophecies of the Old Testament respecting the Messiah.

 

·          ·          1730. Publishes a work on The Resurrection of the Dead and another work on Justification, and The Necessity of good Works to Salvation.

 

·          ·           1731 Publishes his Treatise on the Doctrine of the Trinity.

 

·          ·          1735. Publishes The Cause of God and Truth setting forth the doctrines of grace.

 

·          ·          1736. Publishes Truth Defended, a response to an anonymous writer who examined the Doctrines in the Supralapsarian Scheme.

 

·          ·          1737, December 31. Preaches an important sermon, The Doctrine of Grace cleared from the Charge of Licentiousness.

 

·          ·          1738. Publishes Remarks on Mr. Samuel Chandler’s Sermon preached to the Societies for the Reformation of Manners, relating to the moral Nature and Fitness of Things. The origin of evil is considered and the vindication of God is upheld (theodicy).

 

1738, May 30. Death of daughter Elizabeth Gill, age thirteen. Her father preached her funeral from 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14.

 

·          ·          1746. The first volume of his Exposition of the whole New Testament is published. The second in 1747 and the third in 1748.

 

·          ·          1748. Receives a diploma from the Marischal College and University at Aberdeen creating him Doctrine in Divinity.

 

·          ·          1749. Dr. Gill writes a treatise, called, The Divine Rite of Infant Baptism examined and disproved.

 

·          ·          1752. Publishes his pamphlet on the Doctrine of the Saints’ final Perseverance.

 

·          ·          1752, March 15. Escapes being killed in his study from a violent hurricane.

 

·          ·          1753. Publishes a pamphlet entitled Anti-Paedobaptism.

 

·          ·          1755. Dr. Gill publishes Dr. Crisp’s Works having written a brief Memoir of the doctor’s life and taking the opportunity to exonerate himself from the charge of Anti-nomianism.

 

·          ·          1756, March 24. Dr. Gill preaches his farewell sermon at a Wednesday evening lecture from Acts 26:22,23. He desires to devote his time to finishing An Exposition of the whole Old Testament.

 

·          ·          1757. Dedicates a new church in Carter-lane, Saint Olave’s-street, near London Bridge, preaching two sermons on Exodus 20:24, which are published as Attendance in Places of religious Worship, where the divine Name is recorded, encouraged.

 

·          ·          1757-58. Publishes his Exposition of the Prophets, and an Exposition of the Revelation.

 

·          ·          1764, October 10. Mrs. John Gills dies at age 68 after being married for more than 46 years.

 

·          ·          1767. Publishes his Dissertation concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, Letters, Vowels, Points, and Accents.

 

·          ·          1769. Publishes A Body of Doctrinal Divinity.

 

·          ·          1770. Publishes A Body of Practical Divinity.

 

·          ·          1771, October 14. Dr. John Gill dies about 11:00 AM at his house in Camberwell, Surrey, aged seventy three years, ten months, and ten days He is buried near Moorfields in the family tomb.

 

·          ·          1773, January. Death of daughter Mary who had married Mr. George Keith, a bookseller in Gracechurch-street.

 

·          ·          1774-1777. The second edition of the New Testament Exposition is published.

 

·          ·          1804, May 22. Death of John, the son of Dr. Gill. John was a goldsmith who lived in Walworth, about a mile and a half from London. He was 78 years old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN GILL

 

A Brief Memoir Of The Life And Writings Of

The Late Rev. John Gill, D. D.

 

by

 

John Rippon

 

Edited by

 

Dr. Stanford E. Murrell

 

Thou hast given a standard to them that fear thee;

that it may be displayed because of the truth

~*~

Psalm 60:4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A BRIEF MEMOIR OF THE

 

LIFE AND WRITINGS OF THE LATE

 

REV. JOHN GILL, D. D.

BY JOHN RIPPON, D. D.

 

Late Pastor Of The Church Of Christ Assembling

At Carter Lane Meeting House, Tooley Street.

 

TO WHICH IS ADDED

 

AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF DR. GILL,

 

BY

 

BENJAMIN FRANCIS.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

 

The late Dr. John Gill was, in various respects, so distinguished an individual, whether we have regard to his talents, his industry in improving them, the eminence to which he attained in oriental and classical literature, or his Christian character, that one may be justly surprised so little is generally known of his life and labors. Were we to have recourse to any of our biographical dictionaries for information on the subject, we should find the article dismissed in about twenty lines, giving us a meager outline of

 

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the place of his birth, his family, education, and the various publications

with which he enriched the literature of his country, while the most

interesting and instructive parts of his biography are wholly un-noticed.

The reason of this is, that the only full and authentic account of this great

and learned man, is that which was compiled by the late Dr. John Rippon,

his successor in the work of the ministry, and prefixed to Dr. Gill’s

“Exposition of the Bible,” in nine volumes, quarto — of course accessible

only to those who happen to be in possession of that laborious

undertaking, the number of whom must be comparatively few. It is

presumed that a re-publication of the former, in a detached form, and at a

moderate price, can scarcely fail of meeting with a favorable acceptance at

the hands of the religious community, more especially, as tending to bring

this great and learned man more prominently before the public, and so

doing his character that justice which hitherto it has not received.

The following has been printed verbatim from the above-mentioned

memoir, which will account for an occasional reference to the Commentary

which will be observed in the perusal.

 

4, Three Tun Passage, Newgate Street,

March 1838.

 

 

 

 

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A BRIEF MEMOIR OF THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF THE

REVEREND AND LEARNED

 

JOHN GILL, D.D.

 

THE Reverend Dr. JOHN GILL was certainly one of the greatest and best

of men. In contemplating a summary Memoir of him, it cannot be the

province of wisdom sedulously to neglect any authentic documents or traits

of his character, merely from an apprehension that they have been

previously known. Such there are; but as it is not probable that one of his

warmest admirers in a thousand can possibly have enjoyed the perusal of

them, this Sketch of his Life and Writings unceremoniously avails itself, at

once, of every such assistance-proposing, when the superfluous is rejected,

to retain the valuable; and then, with the interspersions of what is

illustrative, to introduce other articles of general interest, all of which,

unquestionably, are not before the public.

 

The subject of this Memoir was born at Kettering, in Northamptonshire,

Nov. 23, 1697, of amiable and serious parents, Edward Gill, and

Elizabeth his wife, whose maiden name was Walker.

 

By the indulgent providence of God, they were equally delivered from the

snares of poverty and affluence. ‘Beneath the dome, above the hut,’ by

peaceful industry, and genuine religion, they spent their days, a blessing to

the pious circle which Heaven had assigned them. The father, Mr. Edward

Gill, first became a member of the Dissenting congregation in that place,

consisting then of Presbyterians, Independents, and Baptists. Besides their

pastor, they had a teaching elder of the Baptist denomination, Mr. William

Wallis, who was the administrator of baptism, by immersion, to such adult

persons among them as desired it. But, at length, the Baptists having been

rendered uncomfortable in their communion, by some particular persons,

they were obliged to separate, with Mr. William Wallis, their teacher, and

soon formed themselves into a distinct church of the Particular Baptist

denomination, over which the Reverend Andrew Fuller is now, and for

many years has been pastor. Mr. Edward Gill was one of their number,

and, in due time, was chosen to the office of deacon among them; and, to

the very last, obtained a good report for his ‘grace, his piety, and holy

conversation.’

 

 

 

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His young son, with the dawn of reason, discovered a fine capacity for

instruction; and, being soon out of the reach of common teachers, he was

very early sent to the grammar-school in the town, which he attended with

uncommon diligence, and unwearied application; quickly surpassing those

of his own age, and others who were considerably his seniors. Here he

continued till he was about eleven years old. During this time,

notwithstanding the tedious manner in which grammatical knowledge was

then conveyed, besides going through the common school-books, he

mastered the principal Latin classics, and made such a proficiency in the

Greek, as obtained for him marks of distinction from several of the

neighboring clergy, who condescended, occasionally, to examine and

encourage his progress, when they met him at a bookseller’s shop in the

town, which he constantly attended, on market-days, when only it was

opened. Here he so regularly attended,

 

‘for the sake of consulting different authors, that it became an usual

asseveration with the people of the neighborhood, when speaking

of anything which they considered certain, it is as sure, said they, as

that John Gill is in the bookseller’s shop.’

 

And, as the same studious disposition attended him through life, so did

nearly the same remarks — those who knew him usually employing this

mode of affirmation, ‘as surely as Dr. Gill is in his study.’

 

His leaving the grammar-school, so early in life, is attributed to an

impropitious accident — the master of it insisted that the children of

Dissenters, as well as others, should go with him to church, on week-days,

at the hours of prayer. The parents, considering this as an imposition,

removed their children from under his care, and our young friend was

among the number. Affluent families placed their children at a distance to

finish their education, but this, not being as convenient to his parents,

proved a discouraging circumstance. Various methods, however, were

devised by his friends, but all proved fruitless. Ministers also, of different

denominations, endeavored to place him under the patronage of one or

other of the Funds in London that he might enjoy the additional

advantages, which the most liberal Dissenters provide for the education of

young men in their seminaries of learning, who are considered by

competent judges, as persons of real piety, and of promising talents for the

work of the ministry. With this view, specimens of his attainments were

sent to the proper persons in town, who replied, that he was too young, at

 

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pre-sent, to be admitted on their foundations; and that should he continue,

which was a very supposable thing, to make such rapid advances in his

studies, he would pass through the common circle of learning, quite in his

juvenile days, before it was usual to employ young persons in the sacred

service of the sanctuary.

 

Yet, with all the obstructions thrown in the way of his becoming a scholar,

such was his thirst for learning, he not only retained the knowledge of the

Latin and of the Greek he had acquired, but incessantly improved himself in

both. At length he studied logic, rhetoric, as also natural and moral

philosophy. He likewise learned Hebrew without any living assistance, by

the help of Buxtorf’s Grammar and Lexicon. With these only he

surmounted the chief difficulties of that language, and could soon read

Hebrew with great ease and pleasure. In this language he always took

particular delight. He was next improving his mind by reading Latin

authors in the various branches of literature, and particularly some of those

systems of divinity, by the foreign professors, of which he afterwards made

so liberal an use, and which give such a distinction to various of his

publications. Indeed his object was always near his heart; and though, for

several years, some part of his time was now employed in his father’s

business, which was the woolen trade, the other part of it was religiously

consecrated to his studies, till he was about the nineteenth year of his age.

He had slight convictions of the evil of sin, and occasional thoughts of a

future state, from his very childhood. Sometimes he was terrified with the

fear of death, and hell, and then elated with thinking on the joys of heaven;

but his impressions were superficial and temporary, till he was about

twelve years of age, when the operations of his mind became more serious,

especially after hearing Mr. William Wallis preach a sermon on Genesis 3:9,

 

And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him,

where art thou?

 

For a while the text and subject continually sounded in his ears, and these

interrogatories were addressed to his heart — Sinner, where art thou?

What a wretched state and condition art thou in? — How miserable wilt

thou be, living and dying in an unconverted state? He considered himself as

summoned before the Judge of all, to answer for his conduct. Such effects

following the discourse, he considered Mr. Wallis, if any one, his spiritual

father; but that good man died soon after. Now he began more clearly to

 

 

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see the depravity of his nature, the exceeding sinfulness of sin, his need of

the Savior, and of a better righteousness than his own, even the

righteousness of Christ, to be received by faith. Shortly after he was

favored with a comfortable persuasion of interest in him, through the

application of several exceedingly great and precious promises to his heart,

by the blessed Spirit of God. It was, moreover, his happy lot, in those early

days, to have his mind irradiated with the light and knowledge of the

evangelical doctrines, under the ministry of several Gospel preachers, in

those parts of the country, whom, at times, he had the opportunity of

hearing. And as these sublime truths came to him, not in word only, but in

power, and also in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance, he felt himself

free from the bondage of the law, as a covenant of works, and was filled

with joy and peace in believing. Yet, though he had arrived at some degree

of satisfaction in his mind, concerning the safety of his eternal state, he did

not make a public profession of religion until he was almost nineteen years

of age. This delay, at first, was occasioned by a consideration of his youth,

and the solemnity of making a profession; and, afterwards, by finding that

the eyes of the church were upon him to call him to the ministerial work, as

soon as convenient, should he become a member of it. To this they were

the more inclined, as their pastor, at that time, was greatly taken up in his

temporal occupations, and much needed ministerial assistance.

 

·          ·          1716 — On the 1st of November, Mr. Gill made a public profession of his

faith in Christ, declaring satisfactorily to the church, the dealings of God

with his soul; and the same day Mr. Thomas Wallis, their pastor, who

succeeded Mr. William Wallis in his office, administered the ordinance of

baptism to him by immersion in a river, according to the command of

Christ and the practice of his apostles, in the name of the Father, and of the

Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Many spectators beheld the solemn sight. The

following Lord’s Day, November the 4th, he was received a member of the

church, and partook of the Lord’s Supper. The same evening, at a meeting

of members and of others for prayer, in a private house, he read the

chapter of Isaiah, as suitable to the preceding duties of the day, and

expounded some passages of it. Those who were present estimated the

service as a favorable specimen of the ministerial talents the Lord of Zion

had conferred upon him; and he was encouraged to proceed in the exercise

of his gifts. Accordingly, the next Lord’s Day evening, at the same place,

he delivered a discourse on 1 Corinthians 2:2.

 

 

 

 

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“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus

Christ, and him crucified.”

 

It was a charming season to the godly people. An aged matron, who, in her

youth, was present and heard him deliver this very first sermon, at

Kettering, has frequently mentioned to his successor in Carter-lane,

Southwark, the manner of his rising from his seat, and placing himself

behind the back of a chair when he was about to speak; as also the

solemnity with which he discussed his subject, and the seriousness,

affection, and joy, with which it was heard.

 

Soon after this, at the instance of some of his friends in London, who had

seen and conversed with him at Kettering, he removed to Higham-Ferrets,

a distance of six or seven computed miles. His own view in this was, that

he might prosecute his studies under the Reverend Mr. John Davis, of that

place, with whom he was to board — a gentle-man of learning, who had

just before come from Wales, and settled as pastor of a new church, lately

planted at Higham. Of this felicity, however, the young man was

disappointed. But the design of his London friends, in removing him, was,

chiefly, that he might assist this new interest, help the young converts of it,

and preach occasionally in the adjacent villages. Here he continued the year

following, and contracted an acquaintance with a young lady, whose name

was Elizabeth Negus, a member of the new-gathered church, whom he

married in 1718. His marriage with this excellent person he always

considered as the principal thing for which God, in his providence, sent him

to that place; for she proved affectionate, discreet, and careful; and, by her

unremitting prudence, delivered him from all domestic avocations; so that

he could, with leisure and greater ease of mind, pursue his studies, and

devote himself to his ministerial work. She was continued to him more than

forty-six years, and died October 10, 1764, in the sixty, eighth year of her

age. His sermon on her death has been printed, and is esteemed one of the

best funeral discourses he published. The text of it is, Hebrews 11:16.

 

But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly:

wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath

prepared for them a city.

 

At the close of it, but in the form of a note, is given an honorable account

of her, from early life to her departing moments; but it seems he was so

very much overpowered at the end of the sermon, where the account might

have been given, that he was not able to deliver it. By this amiable woman

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he had many children, all of whom died in their infancy, except three.

Elizabeth, ‘a most lovely and desirable child, for person, sense, and grace,’

died May the 30th, 1738, in the thirteenth year of her age. Her funeral

sermon was preached by her father, from 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14, and

was printed, with a pleasing account of parts of her experience. Mary, who

was a member of her father’s church, was married to Mr. George Keith, a

bookseller in Gracechurch-street, and died in January, 1773. John was a

goldsmith, who lived many years in the same street, till he retired from

business to Walworth, about a mile and a half from London, where he

departed this life, May 22, 1804, in the 78th year of his age.

 

Both these children were a great happiness to their parents, and the family

had always reason to be thankful to God for their domestic comfort, peace,

and harmony.

 

During Mr. Gill’s stay at Higham-Ferrers, he frequently preached to the

church at Kettering; and, the circumstances of its pastor requiring

assistance, Mr. Gill, soon after his marriage, wholly removed thither. Here

his ministry, from the beginning, had been blessed, not only to the comfort

but to the conversion of many, who long continued the seals of his

ministry. Yet his stay here was only short; for, in the beginning of the year

1719, the church at Horsly-down, Fair-street, Southwark, near a mile from

London-bridge, haying by death lost their pastor, Mr. Benjamin Stinton,

son-in-law to the famous Mr. Benjamin Keach, and his successor in the

pastoral office; some of the members, hearing of Mr. Gill, desired a friend

of his to invite him to come up, and preach to them; which he did, in the

months of April and May, the same year, and then returned into the

country. About two months after, the church at Horsly-down requested his

return. He complied, and preached to them till the beginning of September

following. On Thursday evening, the 10th of that month, the church having

been duly convened, it was put to the vote, ‘Whether they should, on the

next Lord’s Day evening, proceed to the election of Mr. Gill’ to the

pastoral office — ‘the question was carried in the affirmative by the whole,

except twelve or thirteen persons.’

 

On the Lord’s Day evening the same question ‘passed in the affirmative by

a very great majority.’ On the following Lord’s Day, September the 20th,

he accepted the call. But as trouble and opposition now began, and much

time was lost in obtaining the old meeting-house, a lease of which at length

was secured for the term of forty years, he was not ordained till March 22,

 

 

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1720, the day appointed for the solemn transaction. The early part of the

meeting being intended chiefly for the members and serious hearers, they

spent some time in prayer among themselves, and, when they had sung an

hymn, paused. This was a pleasant preparation for the more public work

before them. Accordingly, as soon as the pastors of the churches, who had

been invited to be present on the occasion, came in, the Reverend Mr. John

Skepp, author of that valuable book, entitled Divine Energy, proposed

several questions to the church; which were answered by Mr. Thomas

Crosby, a deacon, afterwards author of The History of the Baptists; who

stated, in the course of what he said, that on the day which had previously

been appointed by the church to proceed to the election of a pastor, ‘Mr.

Gill was chosen by a very great majority.’ The Reverend Messrs.

Matthews and Ridgeway now prayed, when the Reverend Mr. Noble

desired the members of the church to recognize their choice of Mr. Gill to

the pastoral office. This done, he requested Mr. Gill to confirm his

acceptance of the call; which he did with a full and solemn declaration. The

Reverend Mr. Curtis, and the aged and Reverend Mr. Mark Key, then

pastor of the church near Devonshire-square, were apppointed to take the

lead in the distinctive part of ordination — and the excellent man ‘was

ordained by laying on of hands.’ Three brethren also were immediately

‘ordained and set apart’ to the office of deacons, ‘Mr. Gill joining with the

other elders in the imposition of hands.’ Mr. Noble then went into the

pulpit, and delivered an exhortation to the pastor and deacons from

Acts 20:28.

 

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over

which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church

of God, which he had purchased with his own blood.

 

Mr. Skepp now addressed the church from Hebrews 13:17.

 

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for

they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, etc.

 

The church-records say that the sermons were suitable to the work of the

day, and excellent. Mr. Gill then went up and called on the Lord; and after

the assembly had sung the 133d Psalm he dismissed the assembly, with one of the apostolical benedictions.

 

The substance of the preceding pages is taken from the church-book

belonging to Dr. Gill’s congregation, and from an ancient Manuscript

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volume in the possession of the Doctor’s successor. But the Confession of

Faith, as such, is not recorded in either; nor could it reasonably have been

expected in them. The substance, however, of his creed, at the time, may

be seen in the Declaration of Faith and Practice, which he drew up soon

after for his people, or else modified for them, perhaps, from his personal

confession. This is inserted in his own hand-writing, in the church-book,

instead of the Church Covenant, printed in 1697 by one of his

predecessors, the Reverend Benjamin Keach; which paper, at that time,

was assented to by each member introductorily to communion, as the

Declaration, written by Dr. Gill, was afterwards, and is at this time.

Apprehending that this explicit document may not be unacceptable in our

Memoir, it is here given from the church-book, and will serve to show how

this eminent servant of Christ, from the beginning, united faith and practice

together; in which also the people, who continued in his communion, were

cordially one with him.

 

A Declaration of the Faith and Practice of the Church of Christ at

Horsly-down, under the Pastoral Care of MY. John Gill, ,Sic.

 

Having been enabled, through divine grace, to give up ourselves to the

Lord, and likewise to one another by the will of God; we account it a duty

incumbent upon us to make a declaration of our faith and practice, to the

honor of Christ, and the glory of his name; knowing, that as with the heart

man believeth unto righteousness, so with the mouth confession is made

unto salvation — our declaration is as follows: —

 

I. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the

word of God, and the only rule of faith and practice.

 

II. We believe that there is but one only living and true God; that there are

three Persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,

who are equal in nature, power, and glory; and that the Son and the Holy

Ghost are as truly and as properly God as the Father.

 

III. We believe that, before the world began, God did elect a certain

number of men unto ever-lasting salvation, whom he did predestinate to

the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, of his own free grace, and

according to the good pleasure of his will: and that, in pursuance of this

gracious design, he did contrive and make a covenant of grace and peace

with his Son Jesus Christ, on the behalf of those persons, wherein a Savior

was appointed, and all spiritual blessings provided for them; as also that

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their persons, with all their grace and glory, were put into the hands of

Christ, and made his care and charge.

 

IV. We believe that God created the first man, Adam, after his own

image, and in His likeness; an upright, holy, and innocent creature,

capable of serving and glorifying him; but, he sinning, all his posterity

sinned in him, and came short of the glory of God: the guilt of whose sin

is imputed, and a corrupt nature derived, to all his offspring, descending

from him by ordinary and natural generation: that they are by their first

birth carnal and unclean, averse to all that is good, uncapable of doing

any, and prone to every sin; and are also by nature children of wrath, and

under a sentence of condemnation, and so are subject not only to a

corporal death, and involved in a moral one, commonly called spiritual,

but are also liable to an eternal death, as considered in the first Adam,

fallen and sinners; from all which there is no deliverance but by Christ,

the second Adam.

 

V. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, being set up from everlasting as

the Mediator of the new covenant, and he, having engaged to be the surety

of his people, did, in the fullness of time, really assume human nature, and

not before, neither in whole nor in part; his human soul, being a creature,

existed not from eternity, but was created and formed in his body by him

that forms the spirit of man within him, when that was conceived in the

womb of the virgin; and so his human nature consists of a true body and a

reasonable soul; both which, together, and at once, the Son of God

assumed into union with his divine Person, when made of a woman, and

not before; in which nature he really suffered and died as their substitute, in

their room and stead, whereby he made all that satisfaction for their sins,

which the law and justice of God could require, as well as made way for all

those blessings, which are needful for them both for time and eternity.

 

VI. We believe that that eternal redemption which Christ has obtained, by

the shedding of his blood, is special and particular, that is to say, that it was

only intentionally designed for the elect of God, and sheep of Christ, who

only share the special and peculiar blessings of it.

 

VII. We believe that the justification of God’s elect is only by the

righteousness of Christ imputed to them, without the consideration of any

works of righteousness done by them; and that the full and free pardon of

 

 

 

 

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all their sins and transgressions, past, present, and to come, is only through

the blood of Christ, according to the riches of his grace.

 

VIII. We believe that the work of regeneration, conversion,

sanctification, and faith, is not an act of man’s free will and power, but of

the mighty, efficacious, and irresistible grace of God.

 

IX. We believe that all those who are chosen by the Father, redeemed by

the Son, and sanctified by the Spirit, shall certainly and finally persevere, so

that not one of them shall ever perish, but shall have everlasting life.

 

X. We believe that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just

and unjust; and that Christ will come a second time to judge both quick and

dead, when he will take vengeance on the wicked, and introduce his own

people into his kingdom and glory, where they shall be for ever with him.

 

XI. We believe that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances of

Christ, to be continued until his second coming; and that the former is

absolutely requisite to the latter; that is to say, that those only are to be

admitted into the communion of the church, and to participate of all

ordinances in it, who upon profession of their faith, have been baptized by

immersion, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy

Ghost.

 

XII. We also believe that singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,

vocally, is an ordinance of the Gospel to be performed by believers; but

that as to time, place, and manner, every one ought to be left to their

liberty in using it.

Now all, and each of these doctrines and ordinances, we look upon

ourselves under the greatest obligations to embrace, maintain, and defend;

believing it to be our duty to stand fast, in one spirit, with one mind,

striving together for the faith of the Gospel.

 

And whereas we are very sensible, that our conversation, both in the world

and in the church, ought to be as becometh the Gospel of Christ, we judge

it our incumbent duty to walk in wisdom towards them that are without, to

exercise a conscience void of offense towards God and men, by living

soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.

 

And as to our regards to each other, in our church-communion, we esteem

it our duty to walk with each other in all humility and brotherly love: to

14

 

watch over each other’s conversation; to stir up one another to love and

good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as we

have opportunity, to worship God according to his revealed will; and,

when the case requires, to warn, rebuke, and admonish one another,

according to the rules of the Gospel.

 

Moreover, we think ourselves obliged to sympathize with each other, in all

conditions, both inward and outward, which God, in his providence, may

bring us into; as also to bear with one another’s weaknesses, failings, and

infirmities, and particularly to pray for one another, and that the Gospel

and the ordinances thereof might be blessed to the edification and comfort

of each other’s souls, and for the gathering in of others to Christ, besides

those who are already gathered — all which duties we desire to be found in

the performance of, through the gracious assistance of the Holy Spirit,

whilst we both admire and adore the grace which has given us a place and

a name in God’s house, better than that of sons and daughters.

 

This form of sound words, containing the sub-stance of his early creed, he

maintained, without deviation, to the very end of his days; and few are the

formulas which have at any time been more closely united with duty. The

term and the thing are remarkable, in this confession — and no man was

more fond of either in their proper place, and fairly understood.

 

Mr. Gill’s ‘preaching had been very acceptable from the beginning,’ and his

‘auditory became so numerous, that the place of worship, though a large

one, could hardly contain them.’ And now being settled, ‘his people were

very zealous in manifesting their affections towards him, and, to the utmost

of their abilities, raised him a suitable maintenance.’

 

·          ·          1723 — In the early part of life he was subject to frequent fevers, and

often to fainting fits, which have come upon him whilst engaged in his

public work. And, when he was between twenty-five and twenty-six years

of age, an hectic fever, and other disorders of body, greatly reduced him,

and threatened his life: but means for the restoration of his health were

blessed of God, as he had much work for him to do in his church, and to

promote the general interests of religion.

 

·          ·          1724 — He was now twenty-six years of age, when he began his

Exposition of the Book of Solomon’s Song; which was delivered on Lord’s

Day mornings, to the church under his care, in one hundred and twenty-two

sermons, until the whole was finished. This year he published a sermon

15

 

on the death of Mr. John Smith, a deacon of his church, from Romans

5:20,21, which was the first thing printed by him. And another Sermon the

following year, entitled, The Urim and Thummim found with Christ, from

Deuteronomy 33:8.

 

·          ·          1726 — A pamphlet was published, called, The Manner of baptizing with

water, cleared up from the Word of God and right Reason, etc. written

dialogue-wise; the author of which afterwards appears to have been Mr.

Matthias Maurice, an Independent minister, at Rowel, in Northampton-shire.

The Baptists in those parts, and especially at Kettering, two

computed miles from Rowel, thought themselves struck at by this piece;

and therefore Sent it up to Mr. Gill, that he might answer it. He

accordingly soon gratified them, by publishing a piece called, The ancient

mode of Baptism by Immersion, etc. to which Mr. Maurice replied, in a

pamphlet published in 1727, and which was answered, the same year, by

Mr. Gill, in a tract, called, A Defence of the ancient Mode, etc. One Cogan,

an apothecary, and a member of Mr. Maurice’s church, wrote some

remarks on Mr. Gill’s rejoinder, in a most violent and defamatory manner,

which carried its own confutation with it. Cogan himself, it seems, was

afterwards ashamed, and repented, of his having written it. Mr. Maurice

sent several of his pamphlets into North America; and the Baptists there,

hearing of Mr. Gill’s answer, wrote for some of them; and the remaining

part of the impression was sent over, at the expense of the Baptist fund. On

account of this controversy, Mr Gill received from Tilbury-fort, in Essex, a

very spirited anonymous letter, animating him to continue in it, and not to

be intimidated by his puny adversary; concluding with these lines: —

 

Stennett, at first his furious foe did meet,

Cleanly compell’d him to a swift retreat:

Next powerful Gale, by mighty blast made fall

The church’s Dagon, the gigantic Wall:

May you with like success be victor still,

And give your rude antagonist his fill,

To see that Gale is yet alive in Gill.

 

·          ·          1727 — Mr. Gill finished his Exposition of the Song of Solomon this year;

when the church, as well as many others of his hearers, to whom he had

delivered it from the pulpit, most earnestly pressed him to make it public.

To their solicitations he at length yielded, though reluctantly. But his

principal inducement to comply was a desire of contributing what he could

to vindicate the authority and credit of this part of the sacred writings;

 

 

16

 

which has not only been ridiculed by Deists, but called in question by some

pretended friends of divine revelation.

 

The year before he entered upon this exposition, a pamphlet was published

by Mr. Whiston, called, A Supplement to Mr. Whiston’s late Essay towards

restoring the true Text of the Old Testament, 8vo. 1723, in which he

endeavors to discredit the authority of the Book of Solomon’s Song, as a

spurious book, and not fit to stand in the canon of Scripture. His objections

against the authority of it are answered by Mr. Gill, in his Introduction to

this Exposition, or rather in his exposition of the first verse of the book,

which contains the title of it. Whether Mr. Whiston ever saw, this work, is

not certain; it seems as if he had not by a very strange passage in the

Memoirs of his own Life and Writings, published by himself, part 2, p.

575, which shews his obstinate and inveterate opposition to this part of

divine inspiration, to the last: his words are these: —

 

“About August this year [1748] I was informed of one Dr. Gill, a

particular or Calvinist Baptist, of whose skill in the Oriental

languages I had heard a great character: so I had a mind to hear

him preach: but being informed that he had written a folio book on

the Canticles, I declined to go and hear him.”

 

What a sublime reason is here!

 

The first edition of Mr. Gill’s Exposition of the Song of Solomon was

published in folio, in 1728, with a translation of the Chaldee Paraphrase, or

Targum of that book, and notes on the same. In 1751 a new edition of it

appeared in quarto, more correct, and with some additions. His pious,

learned, and ingenious friend, the Reverend Mr. Hervey, in his Theron and

Aspasio, volume 3. p. 145, edition 5, was pleased to give this high

encomium of the work: —

 

“It has such a copious vein of sanctified invention running through

it, and is interspersed with such a variety of delicate and brilliant

images, as cannot but highly entertain a curious mind. It presents us

also with such rich and charming displays of the glory of Christ’s

person, the freeness of his grace to sinners, and the tenderness of

his love to the church, as cannot but administer the most exquisite

delight to the believing soul. Considered in both these views, I think

the work resembles the paridisacal garden described by MILTON, in

which

 

17

 

“Blossoms and fruits at once of golden hue

“Appeared, with gay enamell’d colors mix’d.”

 

The publication of this Exposition served very much to make Mr. Gill

known, and to recommend him to the esteem of spiritual persons, who love

our Lord Jesus Christ, in sincerity; and, it is thought that no one effort of

his pen has been more useful to devotional Christians than this volume. Dr.

Owen on the Person of Christ, referring to the Canticles, says,

 

“Blessed is he who understands the sayings of that book, and hath

the experience of them in his heart.”

 

The third edition of this Exposition was published in 1767, with many

additions. And, having lately met with an objection or two respecting the

antiquity and authority of the book itself, he thought it necessary to

consider and remove them. He also gave a summary of the contents of

each chapter, which was wanting in the former editions. And though he

had, in many parts of the work, attended to the literal sense of the

passages, yet not so frequently as in his shorter notes on this book,

published in his Exposition of the whole Bible. He therefore inserted, from

thence, many things relating to the literal sense, adding numerous others,

which served greatly to enrich this edition; to shew the propriety of the

allusions, figures, and metaphors, used throughout the whole; and to

illustrate and confirm the spiritual meaning of this sublime and mysterious

book. But he left out at the end of this edition the Targum or Chaldee

paraphrase, with his notes thereon, which were in the former copies, ‘they

being,’ as he himself expresses it, ‘of little use and benefit, especially to

common readers.’ The fourth edition of this work was printed in 1776.

 

In 1728, he also published a treatise in octavo, concerning The Prophecies

of the Old Testament respecting the Messiah, occasioned by a book pub-lished

in 1724, called A Discourse of the Grounds of the Christian

Religion, etc. well known to be written by Anthony Collins, Esq., a

Deistical writer. Many answers were given to one part or other of this

production, to which the author of it replied, in another book, called, The

Scheme of Literal Prophecy, considered, etc. published in 1727, which was

chiefly pointed at Dr. Edward Chandler, Bishop of Durham, who had

written against the former: it was to this latter book, chiefly, Mr. Gill made

answer. He was led to it by the ill-directed zeal of a certain gentleman, who

asserted in conversation, that no Calvinist could write in this controversy

to any advantage. Some of Mr. Gill’s friends being present, thought of him;

18

 

and took an opportunity of importuning him to turn his attention to the

subject. Upon which he preached a course of sermons on the prophecies

relating to the Messiah, in a regular order, suited to the history of the life

of Jesus; and then made extracts out of them, which he published, entitled,

The Prophecies of the Old Testament, respecting the Messiah, considered

and proved to be literally fulfilled in Jesus. This answer to the above work

met the approbation of some men of learning and judgment, and even of

the very person above mentioned, whose assertion was the occasion of it.

And it sufficiently reprobates the mistaken notion that the character of the

Messiah cannot be established from the prophecies of the Old Testament,

without a mystical and allegorical sense of them — maintaining that they

are to be understood in their first, literal, and obvious sense concerning our

Redeemer.

 

The ministry of Mr. Gill being acceptable not only to his own people, but

likewise to many in other churches of different denominations, several

gentlemen proposed among themselves to set up a week-day lecture, that

they might have the opportunity of hearing him. Accordingly they met

together, and, forming themselves into a society, agreed to have a lecture

on Wednesday evenings in Great Eastcheap; and set on foot a subscription

to support it. Upon their invitation, Mr. Gill undertook the lectureship, and

continued in it with great constancy, applause and usefulness; with very

little interruption for want of health. He opened it in the year 1729, with a

discourse or two on Psalm 71:16.

 

I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of

thy righteousness, even of thine only.

 

He selected those words, partly to shew that he undertook the service of

the lecture, not in his own strength, but in the strength of Christ, expecting

the assistance of his Spirit and grace: and partly to shew that his

resolutions were to preach that great and glorious doctrine of a sinner’s

free justification before God, by the righteousness of Christ imputed to

him, with all others connected therewith — a doctrine which Luther rightly

denominated “the article by which the church stands or falls”; and which has since been called the

 

 

 

 

 

 

19

 

center-arch of that bridge by which we pass out of time into a blissful

eternity. And, through divine grace, he was enabled to abide by his

resolutions, to the edification of many. This lecture was productive not

only of many of his single Annual Sermons, on various subjects, but of

whole Treatises: as on the Trinity, — Justification, — the first and second

part of the Cause of God and Truth, — and of several of his Commentaries

on some of the books, both of the Old and New Testament.

 

·          ·          1730 — About this time the hearts of many were trembling for the ark of

God. They apprehended that error never raged with greater violence, and

that lukewarmness never discovered itself more generally.

 

‘The sufficiency of the light of nature was warmly contended for,

by such as did not profess to reject revelation; and the doctrines of

religion were given up, one after another, by some who yet

declared that the Bible was their religion.’

 

It was therefore thought high time for the friends of truth to bear their

testimony against the errors of the day, not by a controversy with proper

deists, but by stating the great doctrines of scripture, in opposition to

‘erroneous professors of Christianity.’

 

With this view a number of gentlemen, chiefly of the independent

denomination, thought fit to set up a temporary lecture for one winter and

spring season; and chose nine ministers to preach on some of the most

important doctrines of the divine word, each having his subject allotted to

him. The ministers were, Messrs. Robert Bragge, Thomas Bradbury, John

Hurrion, Thomas Hall, Peter Goodwill, John Sladen, Abraham Taylor,

Samuel Wilson, and John Gill. The first seven were In-dependents, the two

last Baptists. Having accepted the invitation, the lecture was begun

November 12, 1730, at the meeting-house in Lime-street, where the

Reverend Mr. Bragge then statedly preached, and was continued weekly,

till April 8th, 1731. The ministers preached two discourses each, on the

subject respectively assigned them: and when they had finished the course

the gentlemen unanimously desired the sermons might be printed; as they

accordingly were, in two volumes, 8vo. in 1732. Mr. Gill’s subject was The

Resurrection of the Dead. His two sermons upon it have since been printed

separately. An unpleasing incident happened on the printing the above

volumes. Messrs. Taylor, Gill, and one or two more of the lecturers,

agreed to read their sermons in private concert with each other, before they

were printed: with a view to a mutual friendly assistance, in the correction

20

 

and improvement of them as necessity might require. Now as Mr. Gill had

observed some passages in Mr. Taylor’s sermons, when delivered from the

pulpit, which he thought injurious to truth, and calculated to offend many

worthy persons; he determined, when the sermons should be read at this

private and friendly meeting, to point out in the kindest and most respectful

manner, such passages as he wished to see softened or expunged,

proposing to give his reasons; but when the sermons were read those

passages, to the great pleasure and satisfaction of Mr. Gill, did not appear.

Hence he supposed that Mr. Taylor had seen reason in his own mind to

strike them out. But, when the volumes were published Mr. Gill was much

surprised to find that these passages yet stood, and, as he, thought, with

additional keenness and severity. This obliged him to send Mr. Taylor a

printed letter on the doctrine of God’s everlasting love to his elect, their

eternal union with Christ, and on other things; some of which Mr. Taylor

had reproached with great vehemence. This letter was generally considered

to have been written with great respect, temper and candor without any

undue heat or unbecoming reflections. Nevertheless, this, together with a

treatise on Justification, which Mr. Gill had published a little before,

containing the substance of certain sermons, preached at his evening

lecture, and which the supporters of it desired might be printed, induced

some persons to raise an hideous outcry of Antinomianism against him.

The only thing in it objected to was, what is said concerning the date of

justification: and which yet was said in agreement with some of the best

and most learned Divines, whose testimonies were produced by Mr. Gill in

favor of his sentiments.

 

Mr. Taylor had expressly called the doctrine of eternal union with Christ an

immoral conceit, and those ministers who had heretofore preached it,

ignorant enthusiastic preachers; and, through them, struck at others who

were his contemporaries. Mr. Gill thought his opponent might well have

spared this severe reflection, for the sake of many eminent characters, who

were as far from any just charge of ignorance and enthusiasm, as they

were from being the patrons of immoral conceits. He instances Dr.

Goodwin, who frequently speaks of an election union, a representative one,

which the elect have in Christ, before the foundation of the world;

representing union to Christ as antecedent to the gift of the Spirit, and

before faith, or any grace is implanted in the heart. He next produces the

great and immortal Witsius, who says, ‘the elect are united to Christ —

 

1.       1.       In the eternal decree of God —

 

21

 

2. By the union of the eternal compact, in which Christ was constituted, by

the Father, the head of all those who are to be saved —

 

3. By a true and real union, but which on their part is only passive, they are

united to Christ when the Spirit of Christ first lays hold on them, and

infuses a principle of new life —

 

moreover, since faith is an act flowing from a principle of spiritual life, it is

plain that it may be said, in a sound sense, that an elect man may BE

TRULY and REALLY united to Christ, BEFORE actual faith. ‘So far

Witsius, who allows not only an union to Christ in God’s eternal purpose,

but a federal union with him from eternity, as the head of the elect. Now

Mr. Gill thought, for the sake of these men and others, that Mr. Taylor

might have spared the charge of ignorance and enthusiasm; but if not for

their sake, yet surely for the sake of his own FATHER, Mr. Richard Taylor,

who asserts an eternal representative union with Christ, and that in a

book of which the Son himself was the editor. Mr. Abraham Taylor must

surely have felt this, as a long quotation was given from the father’s

treatise itself, at the end of which Mr. Gill adds —

 

‘You see that all wise and thoughtful men do not abhor eternal

union, as an immoral conceit. But if you say that these men plead

for a real and actual union by faith, you cannot deny that they also

assert an union before faith, yea, in some sense, an eternal union.’

 

It deserves to be mentioned also, that in the printed letter addressed to Mr.

Taylor, Mr. Gill had employed about twelve octavo pages, in stating his

opinion concerning the disputed subject, Whether good works are

necessary to salvation. He affirmed, that good works, though they are of

vast importance in their proper place, have no concern, as CAUSES of

salvation; it being declared in Scripture that God ‘hath saved and called his

people, with an holy calling, not according to their works, but according to

his purpose and grace, given them in Christ Jesus before the world began.’

— That they are not the impulsive causes of salvation, election being of

grace, but if it be of works, then is it no more of grace, otherwise work is

no more work. That they are not the efficient procuring, or meritorious

causes of salvation, as they are imperfect in the best of men, and destitute

of the requisites which constitute merit. — That they are not co-efficient

causes or co-causes of salvation with Christ, who will not admit of any

rivalship in this matter, his own arm having brought salvation. — That

good works are not conditions of salvation, without

 

22

 

which persons cannot be saved; which he thought evident from the

instances of the thief upon the cross, of infants dying in their infancy, and

of such persons whom God calls upon their death-beds, who live not to

perform good works. And then, not being necessary as CAUSES of

salvation, he proceeded to show they were not necessary as MEANS. Not

as the means of procuring salvation, for that is procured by Christ alone,

without them; nor the means of applying it in regeneration; because,

properly speaking, before regeneration no good works are done by the

sons of men. He then turns the medal, and shows, at some length, as he

does in numerous parts of his works besides, in what sense good works are

necessary. They are necessary, on the account of God, who has

commanded them. We are under his law as creatures, and ought to do his

will; and as new creatures are under greater obligations still. — On the

account of ourselves, as they evidence the truth of our faith to the world,

and discover to ourselves the certainty of our election and vocation. — On

the account of our neighbors, whom we are to love as ourselves, and who

are helped and profited by the good works of righteous men. — On the

account of the enemies of religion, silencing the ignorance of foolish men,

and shaming those who reproach the Gospel of Christ as a licentious

doctrine. These are the ‘necessary uses,’ for which believers ‘are to

maintain good works,’ and not, according to the Papists and Socinians, to

merit salvation by them. Now, Mr. Gill having so explicitly stated his views

of the subject, it was exceedingly unhappy that, six years after this, Mr.

Taylor not only resumed the controversy, which he certainly had a right to

do at any time, but employed such opprobrious terms as are seldom used,

and never justifiable, between respectable antagonists, — and such these

are acknowledged to have been. Mr. Taylor having now been made Doctor

in Divinity, and placed at the head of an academy, published An Address to

young Students in Divinity; in which he cautioned them against certain

positions as leading to Antinomianism. This performance Mr. Gill

considered as having several acrimonious flings at different good men, and

their writings, and particularly at himself, and at a section of his concerning

good works, in the printed letter mentioned before. Dr. Taylor, in his

Address, very unhandsomely, and with an illiberal temper, as it appeared to

Mr. Gill, called the particular tenet in question, ‘a filthy dream, an

extravagant position, a dangerous tenet, big with absurdity, a rude ignorant

horrible blasphemy, invented by one of the vilest and lewdest heretics; and,

to close all, an Antinomian paradox.’ This induced Mr. Gill, in addition to

all he had written before, to publish a small treatise concerning The

 

 

 

23

 

Necessity of good Works to Salvation; in which, he yet more fully, if

possible, stated, explained, and defended his views of the subject. Towards

the close of this pamphlet, being warmed with a quick sensibility of the

reviling language used by his adversary, whom he considered as insolent,

and feeling confident in the goodness of his cause, some lines were forced

from him in self-vindication, which sufficiently discovered enough of the

same temporary disposition, which he considered as so very censurable in

Dr. Taylor’s Address. The truth seems to be, that, towards the termination

of the dispute, both the good men, forgetting that disputants are to use soft

words and hard arguments, employed intemperate language; which, it is

very probable, each afterwards lamented. Mr. Gill, it is certain, possessed

magnanimity enough to acknowledge, in a following piece, that he had

‘said some things in the heat of controversy, which, though they were

consistent with truth, were not agreeable to his natural inclination.’

However, he firmly stood his ground, resolved never to put off his armor

till he was to put on his shroud. For, to use his own words, he ‘had chosen

to suffer reproach, the loss of good name and reputation, to forego

popularity, wealth, and friends, yea, to be traduced as an Antinomian,

rather than to drop, or conceal, any one branch of truth, respecting Christ

and free grace.’ He was quite in the spirit of this resolution, at the time to

which the following anecdote relates, here stated as it was told by the

Reverend John Ryland, senior, to the Reverend Mr. Toplady. ‘When Dr.

Gill first wrote against Dr. Abraham Taylor, some of the friends of the

latter called on the former, and dissuaded him from going on; urging,

among other things, that Gill would lose the esteem, and, of course, the

subscriptions of some wealthy persons, who were Taylor’s friends.

 

‘Don’t tell me of losing, said Gill; I value nothing, in comparison of

Gospel truths. I AM NOT AFRAID TO BE POOR.’

 

And there is no reason to believe that he feared poverty, either at this time,

or to the end of his days — of this his family had every pleasing proof —

nor was he ever called to endure it.

 

In 1731, he published his Treatise on the Doctrine of the Trinity, which

was the substance of several discourses delivered on that subject at his

Wednesday evening lecture, and published at the request of the society.

This was occasioned by the progress of Sabellianism among some of the

Baptist churches at that time; and it is considered a master-piece on the

subject. Nor did our champion ever vary from his point. Hence, in the

 

24

 

decline of life, he had the honor of leaving the following record concerning

the publication here announced —

 

‘My treatise on the Trinity was written near forty years ago, and

when I was a young man. And had I now departed from some

words and phrases, I then used, it need not, after such a distance of

time, be wondered at. But so far from it, that upon a late revival of

the piece, I see no reason to retract any thing I have written, either

as to sense or expressions; save only, in a passage or two of

Scripture, which then did not stand so clear in my mind, as proofs

of the eternal generation of the Son of God. But upon a more

mature consideration of them, I am inclined to think otherwise, and

have accordingly altered my sense of them; which alteration, as it is

no ways inconsistent with the doctrine as before held by me, so it

serves but the more strongly to confirm it.’

 

A society of young men, who kept up an exercise of prayer, on Lord’s-Day

mornings, at Mr. Gill’s meeting-house at Horsly-down, desired him to

preach a sermon to them, December 25, 1732, which he did, on the subject

of Prayer: and, in the year following, on the same day of the month, he

preached another, to the same society, on singing of Psalms; both sermons

were from 1 Corinthians 14:15. These discourses were successively

printed at their request, and both were afterwards reprinted together. That

upon singing, some years after the first publication of it, fell into the hands

of Mr. Solomon Lowe, a learned and celebrated Grammarian of Hammer-smith;

who wrote Mr. Gill a letter upon it, dated September, 1747, in which he informs him,

 

‘he took pleasure, at his vacant hours, to read every thing that is

useful, in order to extract the quintessence of its flowers for the

Supplement to Chambers’ Cyclopaedia;’

 

to the carrying on of which work, he was nominated, to the proprietors, as

the properest person, by Mr. Chambers himself, a little before his death,

and had the offer of it, which he declined because of his stated business.

However, having a great regard to that work, Mr. Lowe was willing to

help it forward to the best of his power: and, meeting with the above

discourse on singing, he extracted from it for the article on Psalmody; and

was pleased to give the following commendation of it:

 

 

 

25

 

‘I find there is no dealing with you, as with the generality of

writers. The aforementioned piece is all quintessence; so that,

instead of extracting, I have been obliged to copy the greatest part

of it, to do justice to the article of Psalmody, and know not where

to find any hints for the improvement of it.’

 

But, Mr. Lowe dying quickly after, it does not appear that any extract from

Mr. Gill’s sermon was introduced into the Supplement.

 

About the year 1733, or 1784, Dr. Whitby’s Discourse on the Five

Points was reprinting. It was judged to be a master-piece on the subject

in the English tongue; and extolled as unanswerable; and almost every

opponent of the Calvinists asked, Why do you not answer Dr. Whitby?

Induced hereby, Mr. Gill determined to give it another reading, and finding

himself inclined to answer it, he entered on the work; and in 1735, and the

three following years, he published, in separate parts, The Cause of God

and Truth, in four volumes, octavo.

 

Part the first is an Examination of the principal passages of Scripture made

use of by the Arminians in favor of their scheme; particularly by Dr.

Whitby, in his Discourse on the Five Points: Here, the arguments founded

on the said passages of Scripture, are answered; the objections taken from

them removed, and the genuine sense of them given.

 

Part the second contains a Vindication of the principal passages of

Scripture, and the argument founded upon them, in favor of the doctrines

of eternal election, particular redemption, the efficacy of God’s grace, and

the impotence of man’s will in conversion; and the final perseverance of the

saints; from the exceptions of the Arminians; particularly Dr. Whitby.

 

Part the third is a Confutation of the arguments from reason, used by the

Arminians; and particularly by Dr. Whitby, against the above doctrines;

and a vindication of such as proceed on rational accounts in favor of them.

From whence it appears that they are no more inharmonious with right

reason than they are with divine revelation, which the pretended

rationalists of our day shamefully neglect; pushing forward, as if impatient

to relinquish the sacred volume, in favor of Deism. But ‘to the law and to

the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there

is no light in them.’ This part also considers, Whether the Calvinistic

doctrines bear any likeness to the sentiments of Mr. Hobbes, and the stoic

philosophers, concerning liberty, necessity, and fate. To which is added, a

 

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defense of the objections to the universal scheme, which are taken from the

prescience and providence of God, and the case of the Heathens.

 

Part the fourth contains the Judgment of the ancient Christian church, or

the sense of the Christian writers of the first four centuries after Christ,

and before Austin, concerning predestination, redemption, original sin, free

will, efficacious grace, the perseverance of the saints, and the case of the

Heathens. Wherein also are considered, the testimonies in favor of the

universal scheme, produced by Gerardus Vossius, Monsieur Daille, and Dr.

Whitby. Our indefatigable author instituted this inquiry into the opinion of

the early fathers, not from any apprehension that the faith of Christians

should stand upon the testimony of men; for, had these writers been

entirely on the contrary side, truth would not have been a whir less truth;

but he performed the laborious service ‘to show that the Arminians have

no great reason to boast of antiquity on their side:’ and, after some time

had elapsed, he flattered himself that ‘his point was gained.’

 

This last part of the work was nibbled at by one Heywood, a pert man who

translated Dr. Whitby’s treatise on Original Sin, in the introduction to

which he brings several impertinent charges against Mr. Gill respecting his

translation and sense of some passages in the ancients. The first instance of

the three which he produces of great ignorance in translating, is that Mr.

Gill renders antiqua serpentis plaga, the old plague of the serpent.

Heywood, in the plenitude of his wisdom, rendered plaga serpentis, the

disease of the serpent. The other instances are of a similar description, and

could have been expected only from a mere sciolist, and not from any man

of erudition. Mr. Gill replied in a Postscript to his Answer to the Second

Part of the Birmingham Dialogue Writer, 1739, consisting of about eight

octavo pages. Heywood, upon this, published a pamphlet, called, A

Defence of the Introduction, etc. full of cavils, calumnies, and defamations,

which was answered by Mr. Gill, in a tract, entitled, A Vindication of the

Cause of God and Truth, Part the Fourth, relating to the sense of the

ancient Christian writers, from the cavils, calumnies, and defamations of

Mr. Henry Heywood. In this piece more pains seem to have been taken

than such an opponent deserved.

 

This elaborate work, The Cause of God, etc. issued from the press at a

time when the nation was generally alarmed with the growth of Popery;

and several learned men were employed in preaching against some of its

distinguishing tenets: but the author of this work was of opinion, that the

 

27

 

increase of Popery was greatly owing to the Pelagianism, Arminianism, and

other supposed rational schemes, contrary to divine revelation, which were

now propagated. Of a similar opinion were our fathers, in the last century,

who therefore joined these errors and Popery together among their

religious grievances.

 

“And, indeed, instead of lopping off the branches of Popery, the

axe should be laid to the root of the tree Arminianism and

Pelagianism, which are the very life and soul of Popery.”

 

At the close of the fourth part of the work is given a very interesting table

of the ancient writers cited in the fourth part, with the editions of their

works which are used in it. This will be of considerable utility to those

readers who wish to examine any particular quotations our author has

made from them, in the various parts of his writings. And had the table

been extended, so as to include the editions of all the principal works to

which he has referred, it could not but have been highly acceptable to the

first scholars, some of whom consult his labors, chiefly under the

consideration of his being a learned Divine. This table, if not to be found in

every edition of The Cause of God and Truth, is given in the third, which

is a quarto one, page the 650th, printed in 1772, and, as we learn from the

title, corrected and improved, by the Author — which, perhaps, is

announced in the second edition also. Here it is proper to note, that the

corrections in this work, which the invaluable author of it made, after his

publication of the first edition, relate chiefly, it is supposed, to the dispute

concerning what has been commonly called the Modern Question; in other

words, Whether it is the duty of unconverted men, who are favored with

the sacred Scriptures, to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ to the saving of

their souls?

 

Some of the best of men, about the year 1707, and after 1730, took

different sides on this question; as men, equal in learning and piety to each

other, have since done. The controversy has been supposed very much to

turn on the definition which should be given of believing, or, of believing

in Christ. Some of those who have maintained the high side of the

question, as it is termed, seem to have thought, that special faith is no other

than a sinner’s personal assurance that Christ died for him in particular, and

is unquestionably his, with all the blessings of his mediation. This faith, say

they, is not the duty of any unconverted person. True, reply the people on

the low side of the question, we maintain this as much as you, and assert

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that it is not the duty of any one, in a state of unregeneracy, so to believe;

but, they add, you misapprehend our statement, and also what we conceive

to be the meaning of Scripture when believing in Christ is mentioned. To

believe in Christ, is not for the sinner to assure himself that Christ died for

him in particular, which every Arminian who maintains universal

redemption must certainly do, though multitudes of such give demonstrable

evidence that they have not the faith connected with salvation; but to

believe in him, is to give such a practical credit to the Scriptural testimony

concerning Christ as is connected with our personal application to him that

he may save us. Thus, to believe in Christ, say they, is the duty of all who

hear the Gospel report concerning him; and if any, under the influences of

the Holy Spirit, according to the divine testimony, as sinners helpless and

entirely lost in themselves, are enabled in this manner to apply to him, they

shall be saved. Here it is observable that neither of the parties, in any

respect, denied the doctrine of efficacious grace, as absolutely necessary to

regeneration and faith; nor has either maintained, or implied, that a fallen

ruined creature is capable, either more or less, of restoring the divine image

to himself; or of possessing his own soul with evangelical faith. But both

have unequivocally asserted, that every man who has descended from

Adam by ordinary generation, is dead in trespasses and sins, — so

‘involved in a moral death, commonly called spiritual,that no POWER but

the almighty energy which raised the Savior himself from the grave can

effectually quicken one soul; nor any thing short of the exceeding abundant

GRACE which was displayed in the conversion of Saul, accompanied with

FAITH and love in Christ Jesus, can ever make an individual sinner a

partaker of that divine nature, by which he is enabled to believe to the

saving of the soul. But then capable judges, who were temperate, and by

no means the partisans of either side, have expressed it as their opinion, in

which, perhaps, they have been correct, that had some of the gentlemen in

this controversy but carried to the full length such of their own views which

their opponents admired, and considered as fundamental to a fair statement

and decision on the subject; both sides agreeing in a cardinal point, and

pursuing it to its legitimate consequences, might certainly have

approximated considerably nearer to each other, if they had not entirely

settled and relinquished the dispute. The one point to which those refer

who have so temperately observed both sides, is the essential difference

that subsists between a natural and a moral inability of doing what is

spiritually and evangelically good in the sight of God. This distinction our

Author understood as clearly as ally of his contemporaries; and maintains

 

 

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in his Cause of God and Truth, and elsewhere, that the inability of man is

of the latter description, viz. of a moral kind, and relates eminently to the

will — and therefore is censurable, and sinful. And thus he wrote, in

different places, on John 5:40.

 

Ye will not come to me that ye might have life. —

 

‘A spiritual coming to Christ, or a coming to him by faith, is here meant,’

— but ‘these men,’ the Jews, ‘had no inclination, desire, or will to come to

him, any more than power, which is an argument against and not for the

free will of man, unless it be to that which is evil.’ But, ‘though man lies

under such a disability [that is, a moral one,] and has neither power nor will

of himself to come to Christ for life; yet his not coming to Christ, when

revealed in the external ministry of the Gospel, as God’s way of salvation,

is criminal and blameworthy; since the disability and perverseness of his

will are not owing to any decree of God, but to the corruption and vitiosity

of his nature through sin. And therefore, since this vitiosity of nature is

blameworthy, that which follows upon it, and is the effect of it [viz. not

coming to Christ], must be so too. ’ Here Friendship and Fidelity embrace

each other, while we proceed to observe, that this quotation, if we mistake

not, contains the substance of what the patrons of the low side of the

modern question plead for, when they maintain that it is the duty of men to

believe with the heart the divine testimony concerning our Lord, so as to

apply to him for life and salvation. And summarily thus they write — If it

be criminal and blameworthy not to come to Christ in a spiritual manner by

faith (the ideas given above), then it can be no other than right to come to

him, surely say they it cannot be wrong: and if it be right in any poor sinner

to come to Christ, it is his duty to do what is right, whether he is inclined

to it or not. These are free observations. But, in contemplating the life and

writings of the renowned GILL, second to no one in his day, affection

cannot be absent, if we protract this section just to add, that, while it will

not be easy to name any individual writer who was more universally

consistent with himself than the excellent subject of this Memoir, yet it is

pretty evident, from his latter writings, that he was more decidedly on the

high side of the question, we have mentioned, than he had been before it

was agitated by Mr. Lewis Wayman and others, probably between the

years 1730 and 1740. Though it is certain, from his own declaration, that

he had no hand in the early part of this controversy, of which, nevertheless,

he had been suspected.

 

 

30

 

In 1736 was published, by an anonymous writer, a pamphlet, called, Some

Doctrines in the Supralapsarian Scheme examined, etc. The author, it is

said, was one Job Burt, of Warwick; a man very ill qualified for polemical

discussion. But as he pointed chiefly at some of Mr. Gill’s writings,

respecting the doctrines of God’s everlasting love, eternal union,

justification, etc. he thought fit to answer it, the same year, in a tract, called

Truth Defended, etc. The stupidity which Burr manifested in some parts of

his piece, the insolence in others, and the ignorance which he displayed

through the whole, — the consummate ignorance of the scheme he

undertook to expose, induced Mr. Gill to administer to him a little of the

wholesome discipline which is so proper in such cases; and which Solomon

probably intends, when he recommends a rod for the fool’s back. So

entirely ignorant was this writer of his subject that he represents those as

Supralapsarians, who refuse to pray for the pardon of sin any otherwise

than for the manifestation of it to their consciences. ‘Strange that this

should be reckoned a Supralapsarian point, when pardon of sin supposes

sin, and sin supposes the fall, — it is therefore a Sublapsarian, and not a

Supralapsarian doctrine.’ But he is quite certain that the doctrine of eternal

justification is Supralapsarianism, proceeding upon this false notion, that

whatever is thought or said to be done in eternity, must be of this

description. Whereas the Sublapsarians themselves allow election to be

from eternity, before the foundation of the world, and so before the fall of

Adam, though not without the consideration of it. ‘For my own part,’ says

our judicious friend,

 

‘I must confess I never considered justification from eternity any

other than a Sublapsarian doctrine, proceeding upon the suretyship-engagements of Christ, and his future satisfaction and righteousness; upon which footing the Old Testament saints were openly justified, and went to heaven long before the satisfaction was really made, or the justifying righteousness brought in. And, indeed, if the objects of justification are the ungodly, as the Scripture represents them, they must be considered as fallen creatures.’

 

This is indubitably fair statement, with which Mr. Gill’s account must be

accredited.

 

But if it be asked, whether this great Divine himself was a Supralapsarian or a Sublapsarian? the following is the best answer we are prepared to

 

 

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give. It is pretty observable that when he is speaking of the

Supralapsarians, who believe that God chose his people in the pure mass

of creatureship, without considering them either as fallen or unfallen, he is

as clear in his definition of their scheme, as he is respectful to its patrons.

Nor is it less observable, in the far greatest parts of his works, his

Exposition not excepted, that he so unites God’s everlasting love to his

people with their being chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the

world, that they might in time be holy, as to make it the grand center of the

magnificent circle which has in it all the parts of the salvation of the

chosen, and all their desire. Mr. Toplady, who was no incompetent judge,

fixing his eye upon this last-mentioned fact, and recollecting the many

sermons he had heard Mr. Gill preach, would commonly say, that in the

writings of Gill the scale preponderated in favor of Sublapsarianism. But

Mr. Gill knew as well as any man, that the Contra-Remonstrants, in

Holland, were not all of a mind concerning the object of predestination, yet

did not think it worth their while to divide, on that account, Being agreed

in the most material points concerning it, ‘they agreed to differ, as they

should, and not charge one another with unsoundness and heterodoxy, for

which there was no reason.’ Nay, ‘some of them were of opinion, that it

was not necessary to be decided, whether God in choosing men,

considered them as fallen, or as not yet fallen: provided it was but allowed

that God in choosing, considered men in an equal state, so that he who is

chosen was not considered by God, either of himself, or by his own merit,

or by any gracious estimation, more worthy than he who is not chosen.’

Calvin held that God chose his people in the corrupt mass. Beza, who was

co-pastor with him, and his successor in the church of Geneva, preferred

their being considered in the pure mass; and yet they lived in great peace

and harmony. ‘Dr. Twiss the great Supralapsarian, confesses that the difference between the two parties was only, a point in logic. And as to our author,

there is a section which seems as much as any other, to determine what

was his personal opinion respecting the Supra and the Sublapsarian

schemes.

 

“The difference between them,” says he, “lies in the ordering and

arranging the decrees of God; and for MY OWN part, I THINK both

[schemes] may be taken in. That in the decree of the end, the

ultimate end [according to the Supralapsarians], the glory of God,

for which he does all things, men might be considered in the divine

 

 

 

32

 

mind as creable, not yet created and fallen: and that in the decree of

the means [according to the Sub-lapsarian plan], which, among

other things, takes in the mediation of Christ, and the sanctification

of the Spirit; men might be considered as created, fallen, and sinful,

which these things imply. Nor does this suppose separate acts and

decrees in God, or any priority and posteriority in them, for in him

they are but one and together; but our finite minds are obliged to

consider them one after another, not being able to take them in

together and at once.”

 

A new meeting-house being erected by the Baptists, at Birmingham, in

Warwickshire; and their interest a little reviving through the preaching of

several ministers who went thither and assisted them; the jealousy, it

seems, of Mr. Samuel Bourne, a Presbyterian minister of that town, was

excited. Hereupon he wrote A Dialogue between a Baptist and a

Churchman, under the name of a Consistent Christian, Part I. This piece

was intended to set the Baptist ministers, who preached at Birmingham, in

a most ridiculous light. He also fell foul on the doctrines of Christ’s

divinity, election, original sin, irresistible grace in conversion, imputed

righteousness, perseverance in grace, and adult baptism by immersion. The

Baptists in that neighborhood thought it proper that this effusion should be

noticed; and, application being made to Mr. Gill, he published a refutation

of it in 1737. The author of the Dialogue then wrote a second Part, on the

same subjects; taking but tittle notice of what Mr. Gill had writ-ten-not so

much as mentioning his name. To this also he returned an answer in 1739,

but had no reply to either of his pieces at that time, except some abusive

paragraphs in a newspaper, the St. James’s Evening Post, of December 31,

1737. In the first of these paragraphs, Mr. Bourne complains of a false

charge of plagiarism brought against him, or of stealing what he had

written, on the article of election, from Dr. Whitby. But of this Mr. Gill

made proof, in a Postscript to a Sermon of his, called The Doctrine of

Grace cleared from the Charge of Licentiousness, preached December 28,

1737, by placing Dr. Whitby’s words and this author’s in parallel columns,

which occupy six or seven pages in the octavo edition. It is no pleasure to

add, that these pages are entirely omitted in the posthumous edition of A

Collection of the Sermons and Tracts of our author, in three volumes,

quarto, without any single reason assigned for the omission, or any

mention of it, either at the end of the Sermon where they originally

appeared, or at the close of the second part of The Answer to the Dialogue

 

 

 

33

 

Writer, which might have been thought a proper situation for them, in the

new edition. But the omission is certainly to the injury of Mr. Gill, who, in

these pages, justified the accusations he brought against his opponent, of

having pirated Dr. Whitby’s sections, which Mr. Bourne at first denied.

But his defense was his conviction. It ought also to be mentioned, that this

is not the only omission of consequence, which is chargeable on the said

posthumous volumes; acceptable as they were to the public in general: —

One instance is noticed before.

 

·          ·          1738 — He published Remarks on Mr. Samuel (afterwards Dr.)

Chandler’s Sermon preached to the Societies for the Reformation of

Manners, relating to the moral Nature and Fitness of Things. The author

of this Sermon, not content with asserting that the difference between

moral good and evil is certain and immutable, which is readily granted,

further asserts, that

 

“this arises from the nature of things; is strictly and properly

eternal; is prior to the will of God, and independent of it; is the

invariable and eternal rule of the divine conduct, by which God

regulates and determines his own will and conduct to his creatures:

the great reason and measure of all his actions towards them, and is

the supreme, original, universal, and most perfect rule of action to

all reasonable beings whatsoever.”

 

Mr. Gill said,

 

“if all this is true, one would be tempted to think that this same

nature and fitness of things is Deity, and rather deserves the name

of God than he whom we so call — but before we fall down and

prostrate ourselves before this new Deity, it will be proper first to

examine the several magnificent things which are predicated of it.”

As he proceeds in the discussion, he remarks, “either this nature

and fitness of things is something in God, or something without

him; if it is something in him, it must be a perfection of his nature, it

must be himself, and therefore ought not to be considered as

abstracted from him; if it is something without him, apart from him,

which exists ‘independent of his will,’ that is necessarily; then there

must be two necessarily existing beings, that is, two GODS. All

moral good takes its rise from him, and the moral perfections of his

nature; which, and not the nature of things, are the rule of his will,

determinations, and actions. As for things morally evil, which lie in

 

34

 

a defect of moral good, are a privation of it, and opposition to it,

though they are not of God, nor does he put their evil nature into

them, for he cannot be the author of any thing that is sinful; yet

these things become so by being contrary to his nature and will.

The difference between moral good and evil lies in, and the

fitness and un-fitnesses of these things are no other than, the

agreement and disagreement of them with the will of God.”

 

And Mr. Chandler himself in one place says,

 

“that the will of God is not any thing distinct from the everlasting

finesses of things, but included in them, and a necessary and

essential branch of them.”

 

On this it was natural for his examinator to reply —

 

“If the will of God is not distinct from them, but is included in

them, and is a necessary and essential branch of them, then the

nature and fitness of things is not without the will of God, is not

prior to it, and independent of it.”

 

And he afterwards adds,

 

“if the original and unalterable fitnesses of things be ‘the most

perfect rule of action to all reasonable beings whatsoever,’ we may

be led to question whether there be any law binding upon us, — as

arising from the will of God. Indeed, we are told, that “the will of

God is a real and immutable obligation upon us, to which we

should always pay the highest deference!” What! says Mr. Gill, the

highest deference? No, that must be paid to the most perfect rule,

that rule ‘which regulates and determines the will of God.’ — On

this gentleman’s principles, “Sin was wrongly defined by our

forefathers,” who say ‘sin is any want of conformity unto and

transgression of the law of God;’ and by John, who says, that sin is

the transgression of the law; they should have said sin is any want

of conformity to or transgression of the nature and fitness of things,

which is the unerring rule of God himself, and the most perfect one

to all reasonable creatures.”

 

Towards the close of this argumentative piece, he says,

 

35

 

“For my part I have been traduced as an Antinomian, for

innocently asserting that the essence of justification [as of eternal

election] lies in the will of God — I abhor the thoughts of setting

the law of God aside as the rule of walk and conversation; and

constantly affirm [according to Scripture] that all who believe in

Christ for righteousness should be careful to maintain good works,

for necessary uses. But here is a gentleman who talks of something

prior to, and independent of the will of God, and antecedent to any

law of his, as the supreme and most perfect rule of action; whereby

all authority on God’s part, and all obedience on ours, are at once

entirely destroyed. One should think, for the future, that not John

Gill, but Samuel Chandler, must be reckoned the Antinomian.”

 

He subjoins, and with these very remarkable sentences, concludes the

pamphlet;

 

“I would be far from suggesting any charge of libertinism against

Mr. Chandler — but I cannot forbear saying, that for him to

represent stage-plays, cards, and other fashionable games and

diversions, by which the nation is so much debauched, as not

strictly criminal in themselves, is acting out of character as a moral

preacher; unsuitable to a reformation sermon; unserviceable to the

design of the societies to whom he preached; and if these can be

thought to be agreeable to the nature and fitness of things, from all

such fitnesses the Lord deliver us.”

 

When Mr. Gill, in 1719, settled in London, he became more intimately

acquainted than before, with that worthy minister of the Gospel, Mr. John

Skepp, pastor of the Baptist church at Cripplegate, London, and author of

The Divine Energy: the second edition of which book his friend Gill

revised, and divided the work into chapters, with contents, for the more

easy reading and better understanding it; prefixing a recommendatory

preface to it, the memory of that excellent man being dear to him. This

gentleman, though he had not a liberal education, yet, after he came into

the ministry, through great diligence and industry, acquired a large

acquaintance with the languages in which the Scriptures were originally

written; and especially with the Hebrew language; in which he took

immense pains, under the tuition of a Jew, and dipped into the Rabbinical

Hebrew and writings pretty deeply. As Mr. Gill had previously taken great

delight in the Hebrew, his conversation with this worthy minister rekindled

36

 

a flame of fervent desire to obtain a more extensive knowledge of it; and

especially of Rabbinical learning, which he then had but little acquaintance

with, and scarcely any notion of its utility. But he now began to perceive its

importance, and saw it more fully afterwards. This gentleman dying a year

or two after, Mr. Gill purchased most of his Hebrew and Rabbinical books;

and now went to work with great eagerness, reading them, and. many

others, which he afterwards obtained of a Jewish Rabbi with whom he

became acquainted. He plainly saw, that as the New Testament was written

by men who had all of them been Jews, and who, notwithstanding their

being inspired, must needs retain and use many of the idioms of their

language, and allude to rites, ceremonies, and customs peculiar to that

people; so the writings of the Jews, especially the more ancient ones, who

lived nearest the times of the apostles, could not but be of use for the

better understanding the phraseology of the New Testament, and the rites

and customs to which it frequently alludes. With this settled opinion, he set

about reading their Targums, the Misnah, the Talmuds, the Rabbot, their

ancient Commentaries, the book of Zohar and whatever else, of this kind,

he could obtain. And in a course of between twenty and thirty years’

acquaintance with this class of writings, he collected together a large

number of learned observations. Having also, in this time, gone through

certain books of the Old Testament, and almost the whole of the New

Testament, by way of Exposition, in the course of his ministry, in a method

which will be explained hereafter, he put all the expository, critical, and

illustrative parts together, and in the year 1745 issued proposals for

publishing his Exposition of the whole New Testament, in three volumes,

folio. The work meeting due encouragement, it was put to press the same

year, and was finished, the first volume in 1746, the second in 1747, and

the third in 1748.

 

Towards the close of the publication of this work in 1748, Mr. Gill

received a diploma from the Marischal College and University at Aberdeen,

creating him Doctor in Divinity, on account of his knowledge of the

Scriptures, of the Oriental languages, and of Jewish antiquities, as

expressed in the diploma. On this he received two letters, one from

Professor Osborn, Principal of the University, declaring to him, that ‘on

account of the honest and learned defense of the true sense of the Holy

Scriptures against the profane attacks of Deists and Infidels, and the

reputation his other works had procured him in the learned world, as soon

as it was moved in the University to confer the degree of Doctor in

 

 

37

 

Divinity on him, it was readily agreed unto;’ and that he, as Primarius

Professor, made a present to him of what was due to himself on such a

promotion, — a promotion, which, the Professor observed, had been

conferred entirely without the knowledge of Mr. Gill. Hence, when his

deacons, in London, congratulated him on the respect which had been

shown him, he thanked them, pleasantly adding, I neither thought it, nor

bought it, nor sought it. The other letter was from Professor Pollock,

Professor of Divinity in the same University, and afterwards Principal of it:

in which he handsomely congratulated Mr. Gill, and signified that their

Marischal College had, with great cheerfulness, created him Doctor in

Divinity, on account of that spirit of learning which appeared in his excellent

Commentary on the New Testament.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In 1749, the Doctor wrote a treatise, called, The Divine Rite of Infant

Baptism examined and disproved. This was occasioned by a pamphlet,

printed at Boston, in New England, 1746, written by Mr. Jonathan

Dickinson, of Elizabeth-Town, in New Jersey, afterwards president of the

College there, entitled, A brief Illustration and Confirmation of the divine

Rite of Infant Baptism; written, as it was supposed, on account of the

increase of the Baptist denomination in New England, and the parts

adjacant. This pamphlet being boasted of, and multitudes of them spread

about, and printed in several places, the Baptists sent it over to Dr. Gill,

requesting him to write an answer to it: which he did, in the treatise before

mentioned. To this Peter Clark, M. A., pastor of a church in Salem,

replied, in a book, called, A Defense of the divine Rite of Infant Baptism;

consisting of 450 pages, or more, stuffed with things irrelevant to the

controversy, printed at Boston, 1752. To this also Dr. Gill returned an

answer, in a letter to a friend at Boston, which was printed there in 1754,

with a fourth edition of a Sermon of the Doctor’s, preached at Barbican,

upon Baptism, November 2, 1750.

 

A pamphlet, boasted of as unanswerable, appearing under the title of The

Baptism of Infants a reasonable Service, founded upon Scripture, and

undoubted Appostolic Tradition, he published an answer to it, in 1751,

entitled, The Argument from Apostolic Tradition in favor of Infant

Baptism, with others advanced, etc. with which was printed, An Answer to

a Welsh Clergyman’s Twenty Arguments for Infant Baptism; and to the

whole were added, The Dissenters’ reasons for separating from the

Church of England; written chiefly for the use of the Baptist churches in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

39

 

Wales; and translated into the Welsh language, as they had been

occasioned by the reflections the said clergyman had cast upon those of the

principality. On account of the first tract, The Argument from Apostolic

Tradition, etc. the Doctor received two letters from a Franciscan Friar at

Seville, in Spain, who signed himself James Henry, dated in 1754, and in

1755. In the first he requested to have sent him, by a master of a vessel

whom he named, The Dissertation the Tradition of the Church concerning

Infant Baptism; induced as it should seem, by the title of the tract, and

declaring himself a lover of all the learned men, of whatsoever profession.

The pamphlet was accordingly sent to him. In his second letter, he owns

the receipt of it: says he had read it with great pleasure; and purposed to

draw up a few observations upon it, in a candid and friendly manner;

believing that Dr. Gill would yield to inspired apostolic tradition, if clearly

made out or proved to him. He concludes with wishing for peaceable

times, that he might have the pleasure of his correspondence. But the

earthquake at Seville, at the same time with that at Lisbon, obliged him, as

the Doctor understood by a master of a vessel, to go up further into the

country; and he heard no more of him.

 

In 1752, he published his pamphlet on The Doctrine of the Saints’ final

Perseverance, in answer to one called Serious Thoughts upon the

Perseverance of the Saints; written, as it afterwards appeared, by Mr. John

Wesley: who, in another pamphlet, first shifted the controversy, from

Perseverance, to Predestination; entitling his piece, Predestination calmly

considered, and then chiefly ‘harangued on reprobation, which he thought

would best serve his purpose.’ To this the Doctor returned an answer the

same year, and to the exceptions Mr. Wesley had made to part of his

treatise on Perseverance, respecting certain passages of Scripture

employed in the controversy. It is very observable in it how ‘he wanders to

free will and irresistible grace, being sometimes for free will, sometimes for

free grace; sometimes for resistible and sometimes for irresistible grace.’

Yet ‘owning,’ Dr. Gill says, ‘that he had no understanding of the covenant

of grace.’ But the Doctor having stated and defended the doctrine of

predestination largely from Scripture, next refers Mr. Wesley to the articles

of his own church, particularly the seventh, part of which, when abridged,

runs thus: — ‘Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God,

whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, he hath constantly

decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and

condemnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to

 

 

40

 

bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honor.’

And having made this reference, he solemnly adds,

 

‘This is an article agreeable to the Scripture, an article of his own

church, an article which he, as a true son of the church, has

treacherously departed from, and an article which Mr. Wesley must

have subscribed and sworn to; an article which will therefore stare

him in the face, as long as subscriptions and oaths stand for any

thing.’

 

But Mr. Wesley, through the whole, did not so much as attempt “to refute

any one argument” advanced by the Doctor in vindication of the certain

perseverance of the saints in holiness to eternal felicity.

 

To one of these pieces the subsequent paragraph by Mr. Toplady refers:

 

”Between morning and afternoon service, read through Dr. Gill’s

excellent and nervous tract on Predestination, against Wesley. How

sweet is that blessed and glorious doctrine to the soul, when it is

received through the channel of inward experience! I remember, a

few years ago, Mr. Wesley said to me, concerning Dr. Gill, ‘he is a

positive man, and fights for his own opinions through thick and

thin.’ Let the Doctor fight as he will, I’m sure he fights to good

purpose: and, I believe it may be said of my learned friend, as it was

of the Duke of Marlborough, that he never fought a battle which he

did not win.”

 

This year the Doctor had a very memorable escape from being killed in his

study. On March the 15th, in the morning, there was a violent hurricane,

which much damaged many houses, both in London and Westminster.

Soon after he had left his study, to go to preach, a stack of chimneys

forced through the roof into his study, breaking his writing table to pieces,

and must have killed him had the fall but happened a little sooner. Seriously

noticing this remarkable preservation to a friend, who had some time

before mentioned a saying of Dr. Halley, the great astronomer, “That close

study prolonged a man’s life, by keeping him out of harm’s way;” he said,

 

“What becomes of Dr. Halley’s words now, since a man may come

to danger and harm in his closet, as well as on the highway, if not

protected by the special care of God’s providence?

The same sentiment is conveyed in one of Mr. Newton’s letters —

41

 

“The Divine Providence, which is sufficient to deliver us, in our

greatest extremity, is equally necessary to our preservation, in the

most peaceful situations.”

 

·          ·          1753 — A pamphlet being published, entitled, Paedobaptism; or, a

Defence of Infant Baptism in point of Antiquity, etc. by an anonymous

writer; the Doctor replied to it, in a tract, called, Antipaedobaptism ; or,

Infant-sprinkling an Innovation: To which the same author made a

rejoinder; but as he advanced nothing new, nor cleared the antiquity of

Paedobaptism, which was the point in question, the Doctor thought proper

to take no notice of it.

 

·          ·          1755 He republished Dr. CRISPS Works, in two volumes, octavo, with

explanatory notes, on such passages in them as had been considered

exceptionable. To which he prefixed brief Memoirs of the Doctor’s life. If

ever Dr. Gill took unnecessary pains, some very respectable persons have

intimated, he did so in these explanatory notes, many of which are intended

to justify him from the charge of Antinomianism; for, say they, no man

under heaven could more fully have expressed himself than Dr. Crisp has

done, in some of the very sermons to which the notes are subjoined,

concerning the moral law as a rule of conduct both for sinners and saints.

And if this were his creed, they add, how can he be chargeable with

Antinomianism, from which, in this publication, Dr. Gill defends him? It is

pretty well known, and deserves to be repeated, that Dr. Crisp wanted not,

in his day, the testimonies of men of the greatest figure in learning and

religion, to his character and usefulness; particularly the famous Dr.

Twisse, Prolocutor to the Assembly of Divines, who thus expressed him-serf

concerning him — that

 

“he had read Dr. Crisp’s Sermons, and could give no reason why

they were opposed, but because so many were converted by his

preaching; and, said he, so few by ours.” “That excellent Dutch

professor of divinity, Hoornbeck, calls him a learned Divine, and

observes, that he, with others of the same principles, had no ill

design; but [were desirous] that the glory of Christ might more

appear, casting down all the works, dispositions, and conditions of

men, and confidence in every thing, besides him.” But that he went into real Antinomianism, either doctrinal or practical, must be peremptorily denied, in the most unqualified terms. Neale, in his History of the Puritans, says, that “he was certainly a learned and

 

42

 

RELIGIOUS person, modest and humble in his behavior, fervent and

laborious in his ministerial work, and EXACT IN HIS MORALS.”

 

This testimony is sufficient and honorable respecting his Conduct; and, as

for his Doctrine, his Sermons speak for themselves. This is the language of

one of them. Writing of Christ’s mystical members, he says,

 

“The law continues till the whole body of Christ be made complete,

by an actual subsistence of every member in him. Now this seed

will not be wholly complete till the consummation of all things.”

 

But if it be objected that the apostle saith, Ye are not under the law, but

under grace, he adds,

 

“I answer, that in respect of the rules of righteousness, or the

matter of obedience, we are under the law still, or else we are

lawless, to live every man as seems good in his own eyes, which I

know no true Christian dares so much as think.”

 

On another Scripture he thus writes:

 

“Men commonly dream of a strange kind of Gospel which never

came into God’s mind; that, seeing Christ hath died, they may live

as they list, letting themselves loose to all impiety, and yet go to

heaven. Certainly, had God opened such a gap to let in such an

inundation of impiety, he could never have justly complained of the

deluge of it, that overflows the world. Far he it from the Holy God,

whose purity abhors it, to allow such licentiousness to men. It is

true, indeed, that Christ justifies the ungodly, that is, he finds them

ungodly when he imputes his righteousness to them; but he doth

not leave them ungodly after he hath justified them, but teacheth

them to deny ungodliness. He that denies not ungodliness, him will

Christ deny before his Father which is in heaven.”

 

Also in his Sermon, on The Revelation of Grace no Encouragement to Sin;

referring to such who are taxed with saying, that their sins are laid upon

Christ, that they are believers, and therefore may live in sin, he replies

 

“If there be any such, let me deal plainly with them. For my part, I

must account them the greatest monsters upon the face of the earth,

the greatest enemies to the church that ever were; and I say of such

disturbers of the consciences of God’s people, that they are carnal,

 

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sensual, devilish. They are the greatest enemies to the free grace of

God, the greatest hinderers of the course of it, — and I dare be

bold to say, open drunkards, harlots, and murderers, that profess

not the Gospel of Christ, come infinitely short of these in

abomination — and if there be any such here, let me tell them, their

faith is no better than that of devils, for they believe and tremble;

and that Christ will have heavier reckoning with such, when they

come to judgment, than with any other under heaven besides.”

 

Where, in all the regions of practical theology, can be found more explicit,

more solemn, and more practical ideas than these? But he took the

evangelical road in order to enforce duty, and his reigning principal in

preaching seems to he this, which we give in his own words, THAT THE

REVEALING THE GRACE OF GOD IS THE BEST WAY IN THE WORLD TO

TAKE MEN OFF FROM SIN. To those remarks it may be necessary only to

subjoin; that it will not be easy to find in the whole English language,

among the best evangelical and practical writers, any sermons, which, for

solidity of matter, precision of ideas, and “the circumnavigation of the

subject,” equal, not to say excel, the substance of his four Discourses, in

one hundred pages, entitled, Free Grace the Teacher of good Works.

These should be read before Dr. Crisp is called an Antinomian. But if they

are read and understood, and this opprobrious term is yet applied to their

author, the charge of Antinomianism may then be fairly brought; — but, in

the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, it will

righteously apply, not to Dr. Crisp, but to the man who has audacity

enough to sin against the law of God and man, by bearing FALSE witness

against his neighbor.

 

If this had not been Dr. Gill’s full conviction respecting Dr. Crisp, he never

would have written explanatory notes on some paragraphs of his Sermons,

and commendatory notes on others, with exceptions against what appeared

objectionable, of which there are not many instances. But Dr. Gill would

have as soon allowed him to be an Atheist as an Antinomian, that is, a

person who is against the law of God, considered, in its proper sense, as a

rule of conduct for sinners and saints. Yet after all, many ingenuous

persons, who are acquainted with his whole works, and whose sentiments

correspond with his, allow, that he not only expresses himself freely, as he

ought to do, but that he sometimes does it “with the least guard” of any of

his contemporaries. But they maintain, that most, if not all the expressions,

in his writings, which have been considered exceptionable, are capable of

 

 

44

 

being explained in a favorable manner; and when seen in their connection,

and compared with other pages of his works, must be so interpreted. But

these very persons also agree with Dr. Gill, who says, in his letter to Dr.

Taylor in 1732,

 

“Dr. Crisp, I verily believe, used these expressions in a sound sense,

and with a good design; not to encourage persons in sin, but to

relieve and comfort the minds of believers, distressed with sin. Yet

I must confess I do not like the expressions, but am of opinion they

ought to be DISUSED.”

 

In 1755, when he had read and thought twenty-three years more, he had

not altered his mind, but says, in his notes on Dr. Crisp, immediately on his

having made a quotation from Dr. Goodwin, in justification of Dr. Crisp’s

sentiments —

“After all, I am of the same mind I was some years ago, that such

expressions should be DISUSED; and heartily join in the same wish

with the excellent WITSIUS, that nothing of this kind might drop

from the mouth of a reformed Divine; for though sin cannot do any

penal hurt to a believer, [cannot bring eternal damnation on him,]

yet it may damp his spiritual joy, break his peace, interrupt

communion between God and him, dishonor Christ, grieve the

Spirit, and cause him to depart for a season.”

 

Most good men, we conjecture, will be of the same mind.

 

Respecting the subject of, what is called, the Free Address to unconverted

Sinners, certainly the two Doctors took different sides. Dr. Crisp was in

the practice of it, Dr. Gill against it — nor did they perfectly agree in every

other point; but as there was a vast coincidence of opinion, in many

respects, between them; as the latter published notes on the Sermons of the

former; and as their writings and sentiments have generally been considered

of the same tendency, sometimes by persons who have read, and by others

who never read a page of the works of either of them; more has been

introduced, under this article, than might otherwise have appeared

requisite.

 

·          ·          1756 — On March the 24th, the Doctor preached his farewell sermon, at

the Wednesday evening lecture, in Great Eastcheap, from Acts 26:22,23. Having therefore obtained help of God, continue to this day,

 

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etc. His reason for quitting this service, in which he had been engaged

more than twenty-six years, is given by himself.

 

“I take my leave of this lecture,” said he, “not through any dislike

of the work I have been so long engaged in; nor through any

disgust at any thing I have met with; nor through any

discouragement for want of attendance or subscription; I have

nothing to complain of; the lecture was never in better

circumstances than it now is. But I find my natural strength will not

admit me to preach so frequently, and with so much constancy, as I

have done, for many years past; being now on the decline of life, in

the fortieth pear of my ministry; so that it is time for me to have

done with extra service, I mean, service out of the church of which

I am pastor. But a more principal reason is, that I may have a little

more time and leisure to attend to, and finish, an arduous work

upon my hands, An EXPOSITION of the whole OLD TESTAMENT,

part of which work I shall immediately propose for publication;

and, if I meet with encouragement, the publishing of this will be an

additional weight upon me; and I have no other way of easing

myself, but by dropping the lecture; and these, and these only, are

my reasons for so doing.”

 

·          ·          1757 — This year the church under his care erected a new meeting-house

for him in Carter-lane, Saint Olave’s-street, near London-Bridge,

Southwark; which he opened, October 9, preaching two sermons on

Exodus 20:24. These he afterwards printed, entitling them, Attendance

in Places of religious Worship, where the divine Name is recorded,

encouraged. In one of these discourses is this paragraph —

 

“As we have now opened a new place of worship, we enter upon it,

recording the name of the Lord, by preaching the doctrines of the

grace of God, and of free and full salvation alone, by Jesus Christ;

and by the administration of Gospel ordinances, as they have been

delivered to us. To do this, from time to time, is our present design,

and what, by divine assistance, we shall endeavor to pursue, in the

course of our worship and ministrations here. What doctrines may

be taught in this place, after I am gone, is not for me to know; but,

as for my own part, I am at a point; I am determined, and have been

long ago, what to make the subject of my ministry. It is now

upwards of forty years since I entered into the arduous work; and

 

46

 

the first sermon I ever preached was from those words of the

apostle, For I am determined not to know any thing among you,

save Jesus Christ, and him crucified; and, through the grace of

God, I have been enabled, in some good measure, to abide by the

same resolution hitherto, as many of you here are my witnesses;

and I hope, through divine assistance, I ever shall, as long as I am

in this tabernacle, and engaged in such a work. I am not afraid of

the reproaches of men; I have been INURED TO THESE, FROM MY

YOUTH upwards; none of these things move me.”

 

·          ·          1757,1758 — Ever laborious and fruitful, under these dates, he published

his EXPOSITION OF THE PROPHETS, both the larger, and the smaller, in two

volumes, folio, with an Introduction to them on PROPHECY; and with a

Dissertation at the close of them, on the APOCRYPHAL WRITINGS. How

well he was prepared to discuss the prophetic Scriptures is generally

known. His piece on the Fulfillment of the Prophecies respecting the

Messiah, was an early specimen, but of fair promise, as to what might be

expected from his pen, when sacred prediction should be his theme. His

single Sermons, on this subject, have been, of late years, some of the most

popular of his works; and their deserved value has caused them to pass

through several editions. These Sermons, with the two folio volumes on

the Prophets, and his Exposition of the Revelation, have gained him

unfading honors, and induced such who have made those parts of the

divine writings their study, to say, that if the works of Dr. Gill pre-eminently

embrace almost every branch of sacred theology, prophecy is his

forte. Indeed some of the interpretations of this part of Scripture which are

properly his own, he lived to prove were not merely hypothetical. But had

he survived and seen what has passed in our days, unless God had

communicated to him new measures of humility, in addition to all he

possessed before, and beyond what good men in common are favored with,

he must have thought himself a peculiar favorite of heaven. But it is

cheerfully recollected, that, when he waded most into the depths of this

subject, and poured a flood of brilliancy upon the eras of his discussion; he

fixes not his dates with positivity, nor appears with any lofty air, but

expresses himself with these becoming acknowledgments:

 

“In all that I have said concerning what will hereafter take place in

the church, I do not pretend to any extraordinary impulse from

God, or to any prophetic spirit; but I ground all upon his word.

And if what I have said does not appear from thence, and upon the

 

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face of things in Providence, I have no pretensions to any thing else

to support my opinion with; and as such only I deliver it.”

 

·          ·          1761 — Proposals were now issued for printing the remainder of his

Exposition of the Old Testament, beginning at Genesis and ending with

Solomon’s Song. It was then his intention to give the whole in three

volumes, but the work extended to four, and was printed in numbers, as

the other parts of the Exposition had been. The first volume was published

in the beginning of the year 1763; the second in 1764; the third in 1765;

and the fourth and last in the beginning of the year 1766. These four

volumes, with the two on the Prophets, and the three on the New

Testament, being the five printed before, completed his Exposition of the

whole Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament. Who can survey this

wonderful production, and not exclaim, “Here’s work, here’s labor!” Yet,

Herculean as it is, it was achieved by one man. But, unless the writer of

this paragraph is mistaken, Dr. Gill is the only man, who hath published

both the Old and New Testament in the English language, so nearly

including an exposition of every verse. Good Mr. Burkitt’s Expository

Notes; Dr. Doddridge’s Paraphrase, with his practical improvement of each

section: and Dr. Guyse’s Exposition; present their different claims to our

regard; but all these, not to mention others, commence and terminate with

the New Testament alone, which is not quite one fourth part of the sacred

Scriptures. Mr. Henry lived to see his Exposition of the Old Testament

published, and had committed the New Testament to the press, “as far as

the Acts of the Apostles go,” intending to proceed with the following part,

which, said he, “of all others, requires the most care and pains in

expounding.” But “he finished his course well himself, before he could

finish” this important design. Nor did he live to see his first volume on the

New Testament printed. This, thousands must have deplored. But had he

lived to execute his invaluable work to the end, with all its innumerable

charms, it would have been an Exposition of the Sections, rather than of

every sentence and verse of holy writ. In this way, to convey the general

sense and design o£ Scripture, has been the object of other excellent

Commentators, among whom with innocent ambition we mention Mr.

Scott; whose labors admit of no ordinary commendation, but are, in their

holy tendency, beyond all praise. And this method certainly has its

advantages, when such comments are used in families; but then, if at any

time the interpretation of a particular verse is wanted, considerable

attention may be necessary to search it out in the paragraph. Or else a

 

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greater infelicity is felt; for not unfrequently it happens, that but little

explanation is given of the verse in question, or none at all. This is,

sometimes, of great notoriety respecting the difficult and disputable

passages of Scripture, which, surely, not less than others, seem to demand

investigation. When the Doctor comes to any of these, he does not pass

them with a short maxim, or a pretty saying; nor does he satisfy himself

with shewing how expert he is in leaving a perplexity behind; but he meets

the difficulty, examines it on every side; and, if he does not always remove

it, he generally illuminates the subject for us; we see that he has labored his

point, and are happy in having, so far, entered into the benefit of his labors.

 

In short, this Exposition is of unquestionable celebrity in the Republic of

Letters, as well for its unparalleled learning, as for its profound research;

and has obtained the affluence of fame, among all the evangelical

denominations, at home and abroad. It yields to no Theological Publication

whatever, in Decision of Character, and in a manly Avowal of the GRAND

FUNDAMENTAL DOCTRINES OF THE GOSPEL, considered in their native

dignity and in their practical influence. But it is somewhat observable, that

it is the only Exposition of the Old and New Testament which the Baptists

can, at present, peculiarly claim as their own, either in Great Britain, or in

America. The second edition of the New Testament was printed, in five

volumes, quarto, in the years 1774-1777. And in 1778, and onward, the

second edition of the Old Testament, beginning with Genesis and

proceeding toward the conclusion of the book of Psalms, was printed in six

volumes of the same size, the sixth indeed was not quite finished. But the

death of Mr. George Keith, the publisher, Dr. Gill’s son-in-law, and other

incidents, prevented the publication of the remaining part of the Old

Testament, which has never yet appeared in quarto. It will be a

circumstance truly felicitous, that the third edition, for which this Memoir

is sketched, will appear with every advantage; the Parts already published

are considered to be of so fair a promise, and the Publishers of such

respectability, that the succeeding parts, there can be no doubt, will be

equally excellent.

 

·          ·          1765 — This year some copies of Mr. Clark’s Defence of the Divine Rite

of Infant Baptism, being imported from America, and published here, the

Doctor reprinted and re-published his reply to it.

 

Another treatise being also sent hither, and reprinted in London, nearly

about the same time, called, A fair and rational Vindication of the Right of

 

 

49

 

Infants to the Ordinance of Baptism; being the substance of several

discourses from Acts 2:39, by David Bostwick, M. A., late minister of

the Presbyterian church in the city of New York; the Doctor made some

strictures on that performance, which are published at the end of the reply

to Mr. Clark.

 

Soon after this, the Reverend Mr. Carmichael, a minister of the Gospel in

Edinburgh, being convinced of the truth of believer’s baptism by

immersion, came to London to enjoy the institution; and was baptized by

the Doctor at Barbican, who also preached a sermon on the occasion, from

1 John 5:3, which, a few days after, was reflected upon in one of the

public newspapers. This obliged him, very contrary to his inclination: to

publish his Sermon, which he declares in the Preface of it

 

was not designed for the press, and that the warmest solicitations

of his friends would never have prevailed on him to make it public,

as he was unwilling to renew the controversy about baptism

unnecessarily, and having determined to write [on this subject] only

in self-defense, when attacked, or when the controversy is renewed

by others.”

 

Nor do we recollect that any single pamphlet or page of the Doctor’s ever

revived the dispute concerning this sacred ordinance. Conscious of this, he

asks Mr. Matthias Maurice, to whose piece on Baptism he was replying,

“Who is the aggressor? Who gave the first provocation?” And, to the close

of his career, he might have repeated the hint, with ambition. Nor will his

tract on the Jewish Proselyte Baptism, hereafter noticed, which appeared in

his Body of Divinity, where it seems naturally to claim a situation, be

considered as an exception to the spirit of this observation, or fairly be

interpreted into a renewal of the controversy, as the tract has an aspect

only to the multitude of such pamphlets antecedently published by the

Paedobaptist brethren, though more than a century before, which

pamphlets imply or maintain that infant baptism came in the room of

Jewish proselyte baptism, or is sanctioned by it. The fore-mentioned

strictures then, which appeared in the newspaper, having agitated the

subject afresh, and introduced it again before the public, the Doctor felt

himself called upon to publish his Sermon, which he entitled, Baptism a

divine Commandment to be observed. It had also marginal notes,

vindicating it from the gross abuses, misrepresentations, and cavils of the

letter-writer in the newspaper. This affair made a great stir; and many

 

50

 

things appeared in the said paper, on both sides the subject: until the

conductor of the newspaper himself put a stop to it, by refusing to publish

any more letters from the unyielding disputants. Some or other, however,

of the Paedo-baptists, were yet desirous of protracting the debate; and, this

their object, it was not unnatural for them attentively to look back, and

examine what he had previously written on the subject. In this research, a

paragraph was eagerly selected from the Preface of Dr. Gill’s Reply to Mr.

Clark’s Defense, already mentioned. That the article may be seen in its true

light, rendering the very bosom of the author transparent on the subject of

baptism, as it was on every other, the whole section, which has appeared

so objectionable to one side of the controversialists, and which has been so

generally admired by the other, shall here be given at full length, without

any variation.

 

“The Paedobaptists are ever restless and uneasy, endeavoring to

maintain, and support, if possible, their unscriptural practice of

infant baptism; though it is no other than a pillar of Popery: that by

which Antichrist has spread his baneful influence over many

nations; is the basis of national churches and wordly establishments:

that which unites the church and world, and keeps them together;

nor can there be a full separation of the one from the other, nor a

thorough reformation in religion, until it is wholly removed; and

though it has so long and largely obtained, and still does obtain, I

believe with a firm and unshaken faith, that the time is hastening on

when infant baptism will be no more practiced in the world; when

churches will be formed on the same plan they were in the times of

the apostles.; when Gospel doctrine and discipline will be restored

to their primitive luster and purity; when the ordinances of Baptism

and the Lord’s Supper will be administered as they were first

delivered, clear of all present corruption and superstition; all which

will be accomplished, when the Lord shall be King over all the

earth, and there shall be one Lord and his name one.”

 

This paragraph, in another newspaper, the Doctor was called upon either

to expunge or explain. He chose the latter, and, with unabating zeal for the

cause he espoused, published a tract, entitled, Infant Baptism a Part and

Pillar of POPERY; with a Postscript, containing an Answer to the Letters of

Candidus, the other writer mentioned before. This tract, very contrary to

his intention, gave great offense to some worthy Paedobaptists, with many

 

 

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of whose ministers he lived in great intimacs; but a reply, so far as we have

heard, was not given to it at the time, if there has been any since.

 

·          ·          1767 — His Dissertation concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew

Language, Letters, Vowels, Points, and Accents; in an octavo, of 282

pages, with a Preface of 43 pages more, now appeared. This masterly

effort of profound research, which would have shewn our author to be a

PRODIGY of reading and literature, had he never published a syllable on any

other subject, “was written” by him “at his leisure hours, for his own

amusement, not with any design, at first, to publish it to the world; but by

way of essay to try how far back the antiquity of the things treated of in it

could be carried.” But the confidence which, about this time, some writers

had expressed, “as if victory was proclaimed on their side,” prevailed on

him to send it into the world. Some of the first scholars have expressed

themselves astonished at the erudition everywhere so conspicuous in this

volume.

 

When this elaborate work came before the public it was treated with

candor and ingenuity by the Critical Reviewers; who, though they could

not agree with every thing in it, particularly concerning the authority of the

Points, yet allowed the work was executed with great industry, sagacity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the notice which the Monthly Reviewers took of this Dissertation, the

Doctor perceived so clearly their ignorance of the subject, and such a vein

of dullness, and ill nature, running through the whole of what they say, that

he thought their remarks too low for his attention, and acted according to

the spirit of his resolution in the Preface to the work —

 

“Should any truly learned gentleman do me the honor to

animadvert upon what I have written, I am sure of being treated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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with candor and decency; but should I be attacked by sciolists, I

expect nothing but petulance, supercilious airs, and opprobrious

language — such will be righteously treated with neglect and

contempt.”

 

The same year, Dr. Gill collated the various passages of the Old

Testament, quoted in the Misnah, in the Talmuds, both Jerusalem and

Babylonian, and in the Rabboth; and extracted the variations in them from

the modern printed text; which he sent to Dr. Kennicott, at Oxford, who

was then collating the several Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament

which were to be met with in any of the libraries in Europe. Dr. Kennicott

thus acknowledged his receipt of the extracts, in his state of that collation,

published in the year 1767:

 

“I have been highly obliged by the Reverend and Learned Dr.

GILL, who has extracted and sent me the variations from the

modern Bibles in the passages quoted in the Talmuds, both of

Jerusalem and Babylon, and also in the Rabboth: which variations,

in these ancient books of the Jews, affect the Hebrew text of the

Old Testament, as the variations in the ancient Christian fathers

affect the Greek text of the New.”

 

Towards the close of his life, as it appears, when the Doctor had narrowly

watched the Trinitarian controversy, and long stood in its defense, he

seems to have put his finishing hand to a piece which must have cost him

immense pains. It is published in the posthumous edition of his Sermons

and Tracts, volume 2. p. 534, and is styled, A Dissertation concerning the

Eternal Sonship of Christ. His filiation he considered as essential to the

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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defense of the Trinity; and hence seems resolved, to the very last, to give it

the support which its importance demands. Now as both these doctrines,

which he considered as inseparably united, make so conspicuous a figure in

the Gospel system, and are so visible throughout the writings of our

orthodox Divine, and in the works of others, of the greatest name; we will

attempt to collect his ideas respecting them into as narrow limits as

possible.

 

The doctrine of A TRINITY OF PERSONS IN THE UNITY OF THE DIVINE

ESSENCE; or, of three distinct divine Persons in one God, he considered to

be as truly the fundamental article of revealed religion, as the Unity of God

is the foundation of what is called natural religion. In stating and defending

it, he was decidedly against the many strange representations and

comparisons which have been introduced into this subject, some of them to

its great disadvantage. But he certainly had precise ideas of this sublime

mystery; and as he advanced in his discussion of the doctrine of three

Persons in the unity of the Divine Essence he defined his terms.

 

The Essence of God means

 

“that God is that he is, — I am that I am. And if God is, then he

has an essence. An essence is that by which a person or thing, is

what it is. And seeing God is, essence, or his being what he is, may

be truly predicated of him.”

 

By the Unity of the divine essence, he intends that there is but one God; or

that the essence of God is one, and not divided. But then he observes, that

the Unity of God is not to be understood in the Arian sense, that there is

one supreme God, and two subordinate or inferior ones, which resembles

the notion of the wiser Pagans, making more Gods than one. Nor is this to

be understood in the Sabellian sense, that God is but one Person, for

though there is but one God, there are three persons in the Godhead. Nor

is this to be admitted in a Tritheistic sense, as if there were three essences,

or beings numerically distinct, said to be one because of the oneness of

their nature. This is to assert three Gods, and not one. The Trinitarians

maintain that there it but one divine essence, undivided, and common to

Father, Son, and Spirit; and in this sense but one God, though there are

different modes of subsisting in it, which are called Persons.

 

“All, professing Christianity, are Unitarians in a sense, but not in

the same sense. Some are Unitarians in opposition to a Trinity of

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Persons in one God. Others are Unitarians in perfect consistence

with that doctrine. Those of the former sort stand ranked in very

bad company; for a Deist, who rejects divine revelation in general,

is an Unitarian. A Jew that rejects the writings of the New

Testament, and Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, is an Unitarian. A

Mahometan is an Unitarian who believes in one God, and in his

prophet Mahomet. A Sabellian is an Unitarian, who denies a

distinction of Persons in the Godhead. A Socinian is an Unitarian,

who asserts that Christ did not exist before he was born of the

virgin, and that he was God not by nacre but by office. An Arian

may be said, in a sense, to be an Unitarian, because he holds one

supreme God, though rather he may be reckoned a Tritheist, since

along with the one supreme God, he holds two subordinate ones.

Those only are Unitarians, in a true and sound sense, who hold a

Trinity of distinct Persons in one God who is but one in his

essence.”

 

But though God is one in his essence, he is three in his personality, that is,

there are three Persons in the unity of Jehovah’s essence. This is what he

means by the Trinity. The Doctor distinguishes between personality, and

person.

 

“Personality is the bare mode of subsisting: a Person, besides that,

designs and implies the nature or substance in, and with which he

subsists.”

 

A Person is an individual that subsists and lives of itself, endowed with

will and understanding, who is neither sustained by nor is part of another

Such is the Father, therefore a Person; such is the Son, therefore a Person;

such is the Holy Ghost, therefore a Person.” “The great and

incommunicable name of JEHOVAH is always in the singular number,

because it is expressive of his essence, which is but one; but the first name

of God we meet with in Scripture, and that in the first verse of it, is plural.

 

In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heaven and the earth; Genesis 1:1

and therefore must design more than one, and yet not precisely two, or two only; for then the word would have been in the dual number; but it is plural, and, as the Jews themselves say, cannot design fewer than three.” “The words may be east into a distributive form, in perfect agreement with the idiom of the Hebrew language, and be thus read: In the beginning

 

 

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every one of the divine Persons created the heavens and the earth.”

Another plural name of God is ADONIM.

 

If I am (Adonim) Lords, where is my fear? Malachi 1:6. It is here said of God

 by himself. And of Christ Adonai is used in

Psalm 110:1. THE LORD said unto my Lord. And so of the Holy Spirit,

Isaiah 6:8, compared with Acts 28:25. And, omitting numerous other plural

modes of expression, it is very observable they are employed even when

the unity of God seems to be the leading idea of the passage. Thus, in

Deuteronomy 6:4, the one God is spoken of plurally, and it seems

evident the Trinity is intended, and that these three are one. Hear, O

Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. “Not that this is peculiar to the

Father, for Christ the Son of God is Jehovah, and is often so called, and so

is the Holy Ghost, and all three are manifestly included in Elohenu, a word

of the plural number, and may be rendered our Gods, as Dr. Watts renders

it; or rather it may be read, our divine Persons, and then the text will stand

thus, Hear, O Israel, Jehovah, our divine Persons, is one Jehovah. This is

not the sense of Christian writers only, but even of the ancient Jews.” This

is the doctrine of the Old Testament, of which there are innumerable proofs

also in the New; namely, that the three divine Persons are one — one God.

If it were said that these three Persons are one Person, this would be an

absolute contradiction; but it is no contradiction to assert, that the three

Persons subsisting in the essence of Jehovah, which is but one essence, are

but one God. But such persons are fairly chargeable with self.

contradiction, who, when Christ says, I and my Father are one, interpret it

of one Person,

 

“which is as absurd as it is to say, I and myself are one: or, that I

who am one, and my father who is another, are but one person.”

 

This is a flat contradiction, or profound nonsense. How opposite to such

an idea is John 14:16.

 

I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that

he may abide with you for ever.”

 

“Here is God, the Father of Christ, who is prayed to, who is one Person;

here is the Son praying to him, a second Person; and then there is another

Comforter prayed for, even the Spirit of Truth, distinct from the Father and

the Son, and he is a third Person. If the distinction between them is not

personal, but merely nominal, the sense of the words must be this; I will

 

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pray myself, and I myself will give you myself that, HE who is not another,

but is myself, may abide with you for ever.”

 

But those who maintain, in opposition to the Old Testament and the New,

 

“that Father, Son, and Spirit, are but one Person under these

different names,” are of the opinion of Sabellius, who lived in the

third century, “the foundation of whose heresy was laid by Simon

Magus. He first invented the notion, afterwards imbibed by

Sabellius, of only one Person in the Godhead. To which he added

this blasphemy, that he was that person. Before he professed

himself a Christian, he gave out that he was some great one. He

afterwards said he was the one God himself under different names,

the Father in Samaria, the Son in Judea, and the Holy Spirit in the

rest of the nations of the world.”

 

But other erroneous persons, in one form or another, are nearly allied to

these ancient heresiarchs, who denied the divine personality; and indeed,

Person, as it is applied to the Triune God, is the term which, as Calvin

says, has generally made heretics bark.

 

Dr. Gill universally defended the doctrine of the Trinity, or of a threefold

personality in God; but he apprehended that its very foundation is the

proper Sonship, or filiation of Christ — the doctrine to which the last tract

mentioned above entirely relates; and a doctrine, without the admission of

which, he is confident a Trinity of Persons in God cannot be defended.

Thus he writes:

 

“It is easy to observe, that the distinction of Persons in the Deity

depends on the generation of the Son. Take away that which would

destroy the relation between the first and second Persons, and the

distinction drops. And that this distinction is natural, or by necessity

of nature, is evident, because had it been only arbitrary, or of

choice and will, it might not have been at all, or have been

otherwise than it is — and then he that is called the Father might

have been called the Son, and he that is called the Son might have

been called the Father. This has so pressed those who are of a

contrary mind as to oblige them to own it might have so happened,

had it been agreeable to the will of God.”

 

That is, if we understand them, that the divine Being, who is necessarily

what he is, might never have existed as he does: and that if he had not,

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God would never have been known as Father, Son, and Spirit, only as

God. This seems to be a legitimate conclusion from their sentiments,

whether they perceive, and admit, it or not.

 

So when he proceeds to the question, Whether Christ was the Son of God

before time, or his eternal Son; he has determinate ideas, as on every other

part of the sublime mystery connected with it. He conceives that the Father and the Son are of the same nature, and that Christ is the Son of God by nature, not the Son of God by mediation. He who is the Mediator is God, and is the Son of God, but though his mediation shows him to be the friend of God, there was nothing in it which could make him his Son. He was the Son of God antecedent to his incarnation, and before all worlds; as he is frequently represented in the Scriptures. And thus, if God the Father were the eternal Father, as he truly was, then the Son was the eternal Son. The one not antecedent to the other, but both co-eternally existing together, and with the Holy Spirit. In speaking of Christ, as the only-begotten Son of God, or generated Son of God, which means the same, he says,

“the divine nature of the Son is not begotten: the divine essence neither begets nor is begotten: it is a divine Person in that essence

that is begotten; and though there are more Persons than one, yet there is no more than one essence.”

 

Thus also in another section;

 

“I cannot see any reason to object to the use of the phrase eternal

generation, as applied to the Sonship of Christ, since one divine Person is

said to beget, Psalm 2:7, and therefore must be a Father; and another

divine Person is said to be begotten, John 1:14,18, and elsewhere, and

therefore must be a Son; and if a begotten Son, as he is often said to be,

then he must be a Son by generation. For he is an illiterate man indeed who does not know that to beget and generate are the same; and therefore generation, if used of the Father in the divine nature, then of the Son in the divine nature; and there being nothing in the divine nature but what is eternal, then this generation must be eternal generation — a phrase which is no more a contradiction than a Trinity in Unity, or a Trinity of Persons in one God.” —

 

The opposition to this doctrine is nothing new. It is only a revival of the

“stale objection of the Arians of old. Arius,” in the fourth century, was

the first who pretended to acknowledge the Trinity, that actually, and in

express words, set himself to oppose the eternal Sonship of Christ, by

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generation.” And, being a man or parts, he must have discerned, that if

Christ were truly and properly the Son of the Father, he must be of the

same nature; and, if of the same nature, then equal in power and glory, as

it is expressed by the Assembly of Divines.

 

But the said pamphlet, concerning The Eternal Sonship of Christ, shews

yet further who have been the opposers of this doctrine, indeed from first

to last; and on the other hand, by whom, from the earliest times to the

present, it has been defended. But, towards the close of the piece, the

Doctor states, what perhaps is not generally known, and may be mentioned

with honest ambition, by the wisest Trinitarians, and what deserves much

consideration from one class of their opponents — that

 

“this article concerning the Sonship of Christ, and the doctrine of

the Trinity, has been maintained by all sound Divines and

evangelical churches, from the Reformation to the present time, as

appears by their writings and harmony of confessions. So that upon

the whole it is clear the church of God has been in the possession of

this doctrine of the eternal generation and Sonship of Christ, from

the beginning of Christianity to the present age, almost eighteen

hundred years.” —

 

Now observe,

“Nor has there been any one man. who [sincerely] professed to

hold the doctrine of the Trinity, or of three distinct divine Persons

in the unity of the divine essence, that ever opposed it, till the latter

end of the SEVENTEETH century. If any such person, in this course

of time, can be named, let him be named.”

 

The eternal Sonship of Christ, or the eternal generation of the Son of God,

appears then to have been a part of the faith of all Trinitarians for about

seventeen hundred years from the birth of our Lord. In what a light does

this exhibit the contrary scheme!

 

In 1769, he published A Body of DOCTRINAL DIVINITY, in two volumes,

quarto. This work contains the substance of what he delivered from the

pulpit to the people under his care, through the space of more than five

years. There are but few, if any, theological publications, in the English

language, of more deserved repute than these 1091 pages. Here is the

Doctor’s whole creed. Here his very heart appears, while he states,

maintains, and defends, the Truth as it is Jesus. His meaning cannot be

 

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mistaken. Like the sun, he transmits his own rays with him wherever he

goes, and is himself seen in the light which he dispenses. He has his

SYSTEM; and, without a system, he would have considered himself little

other than a skeptic; and this FORM of sound words, according to divine

direction, he held fast in the exercise of faith and love which is in Christ

Jesus. He was sensible that systematical divinity had become very

unpopular, and says,

 

“Formulas and articles of faith, creeds, confessions, catechisms, and

summaries of divine truths, are greatly decried in our age; and yet,

what art or science soever but has been reduced to a system?

physic, metaphysic, logic, rhetoric, etc. Philosophy in general has

had its several systems: not to take notice of the various sects and

systems of philosophy in ancient times; in the last age, tee Cartesian

system of philosophy greatly obtained, as the Newtonian system

now does. Astronomy in particular has been considered as a

system; sometimes called the system of the universe, and sometimes

the solar, or planetary system. In short, medicine, jurisprudence or

law, and every art and science, are reduced to a system or body;

which is no other than an assemblage or composition of the several

doctrines or parts of a science. And why should Divinity, the most

noble science, be without a system? Accordingly we find that

Christian writers, in ancient times, attempted something of this

nature; as the several formulas of faith, symbols or creeds, made in

the first three or four centuries of Christianity; the Stromata of

Clemens of Alexandria; the four books of Principles, by Origen;

with many others that followed. And even those who now cry out

against systems, confessions, and creeds, their predecessors had

those of their own. Arius had his creed; and the Socinians have

their catechism, the Racovian catechism; and the Remonstrants

have published their confession of faith; not to mention the several

bodies of divinity, published by Episcopius, Limborch, Curcellaeus,

and others.”

 

That Dr. Gill had his system also, and maintained it, is evident to all who

are conversant with his character and writings; but it is a memorial to his

praise, that it was such a system as deserved the most cordial embrace.

Nothing is more conspicuous in it, than the harmony of all the ineffable

perfections of Jehovah, and the Union of each of the three divine and

equally glorious Persons of the sacred Trinity, in all the parts of the

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salvation of God’s elect; and that this sovereign and gracious scheme, from

its decree to its final consummation, primarily embraces the glory of

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as its ultimate end, securing to its

distinguished objects, not merely individual safety now, and felicity

hereafter, but the personal HOLINESS of every one of them, in this life, by

which they resemble Christ; and perfect PURITY beyond the grave, in the

everlasting beatific vision of him. This is the evident tendency of the

evangelical system he espoused, — a tendency which might rationally

create a prejudice in its favor, among the genuine friends of holiness, who

are brought into its native light. But no one clearly understands the subject,

if he does not perceive that personal election, election to holiness —

particular redemption, or redemption from all iniquityefficacious

grace in regeneration and conversion; or, the implantation of a principle of

holy fear in our hearts, that we may not depart from God, — and

perseverance in grace, in holy duties’ and delights, to the kingdom of

glory: No one is properly acquainted with these important and essential

parts of the Christian system, if he does not clearly see, not only their

tendency towards the promotion of internal holiness first, and then of

boundless felicity; but that this devoutly wished for consummation is as

necessarily and infallibly following in their train without a single

exception, as the diffusion of light and heat must be the never-failing

attendant of the sun, when, according to the beautiful imagery of Scripture,

he goeth forth in his might, spreading his resplendent wings in the eastern

skies.

 

·          ·          1770 — This distinguished patron of the doctrines of grace, and of

practical experimental godliness, having favored his connexions with his

two volumes of Doctrinal Divinity, now gratified them with a third

volume, which he properly called a Body of Practical Divinity. This he

thought would be the last work he should ever publish. It consists of no

less than 514 pages, 4 to. This volume also contains the substance of what

he delivered to the church and congregation, in Carter-lane, in his usual

Lord’s Day services. The sermons were heard with great attention by the

members and the auditory in general; many of whom, to the end of their

days, mentioned, with great satisfaction, the interest they felt in them. It is

undeniable that the Doctor, when his theme was practical, went the full

length of his subject, as much as when it was doctrinal; but he well

distinguished between the moral law as a RULE of conduct, and the same

law as a COVENANT of works. Under the latter consideration, he every

 

 

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where maintains, with our best Divines, that believers are delivered from it,

totally delivered, having no just reason either to expect life from its

promises, or to fear death from its threatenings. But that, as a RULE of

obedience, it is of universal obligation, equally binding on saints and

sinners, and must remain so forever, while God is God and man is man. An

extract from one or two of his paragraphs, on this head, may here suffice,

instead of a multitude.

 

“Though the moral law is made void as a covenant of works, it still

continues as a rule of action and conversation. It is done away as to

the form of the administration of it by Moses; but the matter, the

sum and substance of it, remain firm, unalterable, and unchangeable

in the hands of Christ. Believers are delivered from the curse and

condemnation of it, yet they are not exempted from obedience to it.

And though they are not to seek for justification by it, they are

under the greatest obligations, by the strongest ties of love, to have

a regard to all its commands. Obedience to the law is enforced

upon them by the best of motives, Gospel motives and principles;

and they yield obedience to it, under the best of influences.

Believers in Christ ought not only to be careful to maintain, but

even to excel, to go before others, in good works, giving evidence

that they have a proper regard to the unchangeable law, as to the

everlasting Gospel of Christ Jesus. Let us, therefore, by divine

assistance shew, in our lives and conversations, the truth of this

doctrine, ‘that the law is not made void, but established by the

Gospel;’ and thus, as it is the will of God we should, with well

doing put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, and shame them

who FALSELY accuse our good conversation in Christ.”

 

In this way, our practical theologist maintains the authority and perpetuity

of the moral law. This he does not only in his Sermon, entitled, The Law in

the Hands of Christ, and in another, The Law established by the Gospel,

and in his chapter on the Law of God, in his Body of Divinity, but,

probably, in more than an hundred sections besides, interspersed all

through his writings. Of this his exposition of the New Testament

particularly will be a standing witness, But those sections of it, in which he

made the true and just distinction between the law as a covenant, and the

law as a rule, were the very passages which provoked some persons of

Antinomian principles, who were excluded only a few years since from the

church of which the Doctor had formerly been pastor, when they were

 

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referred to his opinion on the law, as he had given it in his Exposition, to

say in a spirit which was as malicious, as the declaration itself was false,

that the Doctor asserts we are under the law, and that we are not under the

law, so going forward and backward, maintaining and denying; and that

they find him palpably contradicting himself, in certain places, five or six

times in a chapter. Yea, some of them insisted on it that believers had

nothing at all to do with the moral law. But, in his time, the Doctor spared

no individuals who were of these infernal sentiments; and his preaching was

as pointed on the agenda as on the credenda of the Christian system. Of

this, the following is no unfair specimen. While he was pursuing the course

of subjects since published as his body of Practical Divinity, one of his

most sincere and generous friends, from whom the writer of this page had

the anecdote, took a gentleman from the country to hear him. The Doctor

warmed with his subject, and the congregation was animated. He put the

crown on the Savior’s head, by exhibiting him in the glory of his kingly

office; and, in several sentences, particularly leveled his shafts against every

species of Antinomianism, yet not mentioning the term. Service over, the

good friend of Dr. Gill, who had himself enjoyed the opportunity, said to

the gentleman, Well, Sir, what do you think of our Doctor to-day? Why,

said he, you must not be offended with me, but I assure you, if I had not

been told it was the great

 

Dr. Gill who preached, I should have said that I had heard an Arminian.

Probably this incompetent judge formed his opinion, as many other

mistaken persons still do; who, when they hear any thing practical

recommended, or even the term duty mentioned, violently exclaim in some

opprobrious terms or other; yet, in the superabundance of their wisdom,

not knowing what they say, nor whereof they affirm. However, the

plenitude of their folly is no more conspicuous, than the mistake or

malevolence of others, who, running to the contrary extreme, whenever

they hear the doctrines of sovereign and distinguishing grace, eternal

election even to holiness, and the perseverance of the saints, though it be

in grace to glory, fully and scriptually preached, immediately cry,

Antinomianism! — horrid Antinomianism! — Thus exhibiting the very

spirit of those ancient heretics, who slanderously affirmed, concerning the

apostolic preachers themselves, that they said Let us do evil that good may

come. But Paul repelled the charge, demolished the accusation, and

magnified his office; declaring, of all such perjured plaintiffs, that their guilt

is on their own foreheads, and of such uncommon atrocity, that their

 

 

 

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damnation is just. The Doctor had, doubtless, consistency enough not

fairly to incur the charge of espousing contrary and totally opposite

schemes. He could not be an Arminian, for he maintained the five

distinguishing and Scriptural points which they deny. Nor could he be an

Antinomian, as he for ever denied what they affirm, viz. the destructive

and damning text, which is the very soul of their system, that believers are

not under the moral law, as the rule of their conduct. Yet he was charged

with these glaring inconsistencies. But the Savior himself was crucified

between two thieves; and, unwilling as his servants are to be conformed to

him in his sufferings, they must not think it strange, if they also are hung up

between the robbers, — Arminiasm, which robs God of his grace; and

Antino-mianism, which robs him of his glory. It will be well for them, if, on

the one hand, with Christian humility and patience, they possess

equanimity, which will enable them to say, It is enough that the disciple be

as his Master; and if, on the other, they, at present, pity those who would

thus make them spectacles unto the world, and to angels, and to men; and,

at last, with their dying breath, can pray for them, saying, Father, forgive

them, for they know not what they do.

 

At the close of the Body of Divinity is given the Doctor’s Dissertation

concerning the Baptism of Jewish Proselytes. He frequently observed, in

his polemical career, that

 

“several learned men had asserted, that it was a custom or rite

among the Jews, before the times of John the Baptist, Christ, and

his apostles, to receive proselytes into their church by baptism or

dipping, as well as by circumcision; and these both adult and

infants; and that John and Christ took up the rite of baptizing from

thence, and practiced, and directed to the practice of it, as they

found it; and which, they think, accounts for the silence about

infant baptism in the New Testament, it being no new practice.”

 

This, he saw, was the principal refuge, the dernier resort of some of the

Paedobaptists, who are of opinion, with Dr. Hammond, that this is the

BASIS of Infant Baptism; and with Sir Richard Ellys, who, in his Fortuita

Sacra, says, that he knows not of any stronger argument in favor of infant

baptism than this. Now, as the later writings of the Jews had been referred

to, in support of this hypothesis, and no early authorities were produced,

there being none in existence; and as the Doctor found, upon examination,

that several respectable writers had derived their intelligence not from the

 

 

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fountain head, but had copied from one another, and that the great Mr.

Wall himself, according to his own acknowledgment, not being sufficiently

versed in the Jewish writings, had done the same; he felt a desire that some

one man or other might be found, since the birth of Christ, who should

fully investigate the point. And as our laborious friend did not suppose it

very probable, that any of the Baptist denomination might soon rise up and

take the pains in studying Rabbinical literature he had done, which yet was

necessary in order to master this subject; he thought the business properly

devolved on himself. Hence he resolved to draw up the whole compass of

the argument, as he has done, in his Dissertation, that it might survive him,

and be used as occasion should require. This subject had been upon his

mind many years, and, no doubt, he made references to it in his Adversaria

from time to time, as he was accustomed to do, in other instances.

 

Having, at last, taken the circumference of the subject, he favors us with

the result of his enquiries, as they appear in the first part of his piece; the

heads of which shall be given mostly in his own words: —

 

“Now upon search” after the proof of the baptism of Jewish

proselytes, says he, “it will be found — that nothing of this kind

appears in the writings of the Old Testament, which chiefly concern

the Jewish nation — that in the books of the Apocrypha, generally

thought to be written by Jews, though there is sometimes mention

made in them of proselytes to the Jewish religion, yet not a syllable

of any such rite or custom, as of baptism or dipping at the

admission of them — that in the New Testament, where mention

indeed is made of proselytes, nothing is said concerning their

admission and the manner of it — that as there were no traces of

this custom in the writings before, or about the times of John,

Christ, and his apostles, so neither are there any in those which

were written in a short time after; not in Philo the Jew; nor is there

the least trace or hint of this custom in any Rabbinical books, said

by the Jews to be written a little before or after — that Josephus,

the Jewish historian, in treating of whole nations, and of individuals

who became Jews, and were made so by circumcision, says not a

word of their baptism and dipping, which, had it been practiced,

could not well have been omitted by the historian — that in the

most ancient Targums or Chaldee Paraphrases, at the beginning,

and ‘toward the end of the first century; nor even in the Jews’

Misnah or Book of Traditions, written in the middle of the second

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century, or beginning of the third, where, if any where, one might

expect to meet with this rite or custom, no mention is made of it;

though Dr. Gale seemed to allow it, upon what Dr. Wall had

translated from Selden, without examination — and that it is not

spoken of by any of the Christian fathers of the first three or four

centuries.”

 

Having illustrated all these particulars, which shew, that “the rite of

receiving proselytes by baptism, or dipping, among the Jews, is no where

mentioned in any writings before the times of John and Christ, nor in any

after, nearer than the third and fourth centuries; Dr. Gill proceeds to shew,

that the first mention of it, for aught as yet appears, is in the Jewish

Talmuds, the one called Jerusalem, being written for the Jews at

Jerusalem, in 189, and the other the Babylonian, written for the Jews in

Babylon. and in those parts, and finished, as is usually said, about AD

500. And when he had given

 

the whole compass of the evidence from these writings, not

omitting any thing relating to it in them, that had fallen under his

observation,” he adds, “Since then this rite, or custom, has no

foundation, but in the Talmuds,” which were written, especially the

Babylonian, so distant from the apostolic age, “surely it can never

be thought that Christian baptism was borrowed from thence;” the

“folly and falsehood of which,” he says, “would be evinced in his

following chapter.” This chapter consists of eleven or twelve very

interesting considerations, to which the Doctor subjoins this, as an

argument ad hominem — “If this custom” of Jewish proselyte

baptism, or dipping, “is to be considered as a rule of Christian

baptism, then sprinkling ought not to be used in it.”

 

Finally, it may be proper to observe, that Dr. Gill was not alone in his

views of proselyte baptism among the Jews, but is justified in his principal

statement by certain learned Paedobaptists themselves. For as the

testimonies produced, by the several writers, in favor of the point, were not

early enough to answer the purpose for which they were brought; the late

Dr. Jennings, author of the Jewish Antiquities, has given up the argument

from them in favor of infant baptism.

 

“There wants,” respecting Jewish proselyte baptism, says he, “more

evidence of its being as ancient as our Savior’s time, than I

 

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apprehend can be produced, to ground any argument upon it, in

relation to Christian baptism.”

 

And again,

 

“After all, it remains to be proved, not only that Christian baptism

was instituted in the room of proselyte baptism, but that the Jews

had any such baptism in our Savior’s time. The earliest accounts

we have of it are in the Misnah and Gemara; the former compiled,

as the Jews assert, in the second century, the latter not till the

seventh century.”

 

Dr. Gill, making this quotation from Dr. Jennings, says, as to accounts of it

in the Misnah we have none at all. Dr. Jennings, though an acknowledged

Hebrean, perhaps, had not read the Misnah through; but Dr. Gill had, and

therefore says, in another place,

 

“It is mentioned in the Gemara, a work of later times.”

 

But he boldly adds,

“I am content to risk that little reputation I have for Jewish learning, if any passage can be produced in the Misnah, mentioning

such a tradition of the Jews, admitting proselytes by baptism, or

dipping, whether adult, or children.”

 

To this testimony our author subjoins Dr. John Owen’s. That learned man,

in his Theologoumena, says,

 

“The institution of the rite of baptism is no where mentioned in the

Old Testament, no example is extant; nor, during the. Jewish

church, was it ever used in the admission of proselytes; no mention

of it is to be met with in Philo, Josephus, nor in Jesus the son of

Syrach; nor in the Evangelic History.”

 

Dr. Gill having thus investigated his subject in all its ample round, and

supported it by argument and authorities, concludes his Dissertation in

those very remarkable words of the same great Dr. Owen, who affirms,

that “the opinion of some learned men concerning the transfer of the rite of

Jewish baptism by the Lord Jesus, which indeed did not then exist, for the

use of his disciples, IS DESTITUTE OF ALL PROBABILITY.” But sufficient

justice cannot be done to this Dissertation by any mere sketch. It merits the

close attention, and will liberally reward the critical acumen, which may be

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employed about it, whatever side of the question is espoused. And a proper

acquaintance with this elaborate piece will create astonishment, at the

Herculean labor, the deep research, the ceaseless patience, the profound

literature, and the fair argument, which are signally displayed by our author

in it, to the everlasting credit of his head and of his heart. And, had the

church and the world been indebted to his labors, for no other effort than is

made in this Dissertation on Jewish Proselyte Baptism; and in his

Dissertation concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, etc. he

must have ranked high in the literary world as a distinguished prodigy.

Both these publications certainly have placed him on lofty ground; and,

being in the full light, however insensibly to himself, he must not only have

left his predecessors and cotemporaries far behind in the literary career; but

have thrown into shades his survivors, some of whom are at so vast a

distance from him, by an acknowledged inferiority, that even the extreme

skirts of his shadow cannot reach us.

 

This is the man who had been represented as one of two or three, who had

scarcely any learning; this is the man who had been called, by a person who

was certainly his inferior, only a botcher in divinity. But how few, in his

days, or since, have been able to say, as he, “in self-defense,” supposed it

necessary to say of himself, that he had read the Classics,” and indeed

Virgil, at nine years of age?” That he had “read Logic, Rhetoric, Ethics,

Physics, and Metaphysics? The Ethnic Philosophers. Platonists, and

Stoics? The Greek and Roman historians, Herodotus, Pausanias, Livy,

Sallust, etc.? The Greek and Latin Fathers of the Christian Church, and

Church History? And that he had also read the Jewish Targums, the

Misnah, the two Talmuds, Babylonian and Jerusalem; the Rabbot,

Midrashim, Zohar, with other writings of the Jews, ancient and modern?”

This statement was “forced from him,” in 1739, the 42d year of his age,

when he adds,

 

“I am not too old to learn, and, through divine goodness, do not

want industry, diligence, and application.”

 

And proof sufficient he gave of the truth of this assertion. For, after the

year 1739, when he penned the above distinguished section, and while his

acquisitions were augmenting with his years, he published his Exposition of

the whole Old and New Testament; his Body of Divinity; and other

writings. Now if these, with his earlier publications, had been all uniformly

printed in the size of his Old and New Testament, they would, it seems,

 

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have made the astonishing sum-total of above TEN THOUSAND folio pages

of Divinity. All this was his own composition; the result of his own most

laborious studies; and written with his own hand, without any amanuensis;

and published by his own care, no one reading the sheets as they came

from the press but himself. This report of almost unexampled application

and labor, if spread on a distant shore, where the facts were not easily

ascertainable, might have been consigned to the chapter of incredibles; but

the results, the astonishing results, of his learning and piety are before us;

our eyes have seen and our hands handled the invaluable productions. And

we anticipate the felicity and gratitude both of the rising generation, and of

future ages, when the Jews, whom the Doctor had so particularly in his eye

through all his writings, as well as the Gentiles, shall be brought into an

evangelical acquaintance with the whole sacred volume.

 

Hence, contemplating the Doctor in his Theological, Polemical, and

Literary career, we conclude, that, when Genius and Candor have

projected his medallion, and Science with Justice shall have executed it to

his praise, the well-earned memorial will exhibit, what, at present, is

conjecturable. On the FACE of it will be seen our Author, the principal

figure; whose features the golden embossment gives, with perfect

discrimination. In his hand is a page of letter-press, with the date of 1770

on it, intending the final one he ever revised for publication; at the foot of

which is written, the LAST of more than TEN THOUSAND, and which he

stretches out for their acceptance towards a number of persons,

representing Gentiles, some of whom are leveling a path for the

accomodation of others, who are in the habit of Jews, towards whom the

figure is looking, as with the ardor of desire, and the joy of expectation. On

the REVERSE, a celestial Beauty appears; behind whom is seen a motley

group of figures, fierce of countenance, and of various features, supposed

to represent Simon Magus, the precursor of Sabellius, with all the

succeeding Heresiarchs, and their followers of every age; some of whom,

in a later dress, appear as if appalled at an enemy, but, in their flight, meet

this terrifying legend — CASTIGATOR HERETICORUM, intimating that our

immortal Divine was the scourge and dread of heretics. The foremost

figure, who turns her back upon all apostates, and appears with celestial

charms, is Religion the friend of literature. Her eyes are somewhat

elevated towards the heaven; from whence the rays of an eastern sun,

stretching over a range of intervening hills, one of which seems to be

Mount Calvary, mildly irradiate her countenance, which principally

 

 

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bespeaks gratitude and joy. With her left hand, gently inclining, she directs

us to an inscription, which, skirting the medallion, says, in legible

characters, of her favorite — FLOS SCHOLASTICORUM — meaning, by a

liberal translation, that he was the pride of literature, at the summit of

general learning, and, in his day, of unparalelled erudition in the department

of Oriental literature. But, as if all this were of comparative insignificance,

as indeed universal science itself must be, if not consecrated to the honor of

God, and the best interests of men; the celestial Beauty, with her right

hand, points us to the illuminated mount on which the Savior expired;

while the design of the medallion, and the whole reason of the joy in her

countenance, is told out, by a label issuing from her lips, which says,

concerning the various literature, the preeminent labors, and gracious

attainments, of her favorite — He devoted them ALL to his REDEEMERS

praise.

 

Here, if we pause, let it be to recollect, as Dr. Gill has expressed it,

 

“that had it not been for learning, or learned men, we never should

have enjoyed an English Bible.”

 

And thousands have blessed God for his talents and literature. But when

the fruits of his labors are surveyed, it will seem a rational inquiry for

ourselves, and which posterity will certainly be induced to make; How

could any one man perform all this labor? It is fair to answer — it must

have been naturally impossible for any person to have done it, without

method, unremitted exertion, and cheerful perseverance. These were

perennially the companions of his labors; and delight must occasionally

have mingled in their society. Indeed it may be literally said that he was

never tired of reading and study. General good health also administered to

the execution of his design, and a very retentive memory. These things

considered in their general effect, the remaining arcana will be easily

developed, by knowing his manner of composing the chief parts of his

Exposition of the Old and New Testament. Had the indefatigable man

studied and preached two or three sermons weekly, as he did, and made

these no part of his Commentary, he never could have prepared half the

work for the public eye; but the substance, or at least the heads, of almost

every sermon he preached being inserted in their proper place, the very

week they were delivered, the mighty mass increased with his months.

There was seldom a weekday without a line. And, as each evening he left

the weight of his mind on paper, he was quite prepared with a new

 

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morning, to enter on new sections. In going through any single book of the

Scripture, he would sometimes take only a single verse for his sermon;

more frequently six or eight — and seldom above ten or twelve. These he

generally expounded one by one. But at other times he speedily

paraphrased most of the paragraph under consideration, taking a principal

verse in it, which he divided, sub-divided, and enlarged upon in the form of

a short sermon. When he did so, the people frequently made this remark,

— As soon as the Doctor came to the sweetest part, he left off. He did not,

however, begin a book of the sacred volume, and pursue it, in every

succeeding sermon, from the first verse of it to the last; but he threw a

pleasing variety into his discourses, by considering part of one book in the

morning, of another book in the afternoon; and then of some other on the

Lord’s Supper days. For example — the writer of these pages has in his

possession the substance of some scores of sermons which the Doctor

preached in the year 1737, etc. By these it appears, that on Lord’s Day

mornings he was then constantly on the epistle to the Hebrews; in the

afternoons on the book of the Proverbs; but on Lord’s Supper days, which

were monthly, he was regularly on the Gospel of John in the afternoons.

This method was very acceptable to his people, and facilitated his daily

employment to himself; and to this method, principally, we are indebted,

under God, for the numerous volumes he published.

But it may also be inquired, how he distributed his time, and whether he

indulged himself in any relaxations. When the Doctor was once asked by

the late Mr. Ryland, whose name is mentioned before in this Memoir, how

it was he had waded through such vast labors; he answered, it was not

done by very early rising, nor sitting up late — the latter he was confident,

must be injurious to any student, and not helpful. The truth is,

 

“he rose as soon as it was light in the winter, and usually before six

in the summer.”

 

In the last part of his life, not quite so early. He breakfasted constantly in

his study, and always on chocolate; but came down with his family at

dinner, and, even to the last affliction, carved for them. Through the latter

years of his life, he seldom went into his study after tea, unless about an

hour in summer, but sat below, reading some book, or correcting his sheets

as they were issuing from the press: and with some of these he had care

enough, partly occasioned by his own indistinct autobiography, for, at last, he

wrote very small, and considerably illegible; and partly by the inattention or

 

 

 

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incompetency of the compositors, from whom, we are certain, he has been

under the necessity of getting six or seven revises of a sheet, especially of

such sheets as contained learned quotations. These corrections, which

perhaps should not be mentioned among his amusements, served, in some

degree, to afford relaxation from his more intense labor, as they gave a

diversified employment to his mind. Never was he to be seen indolent. He

neither wanted, nor wished for, relaxation from study; for this was his

element. But if avocations from laborious application are of the nature of

relaxations, such he occasionally had. They consisted of a few visits to his

people. He never was distinguished for the length and frequency of them.

In the midst of his days also, it was his practice, once a week, to meet his

ministering brethren, at their accustomed coffee-house; or else to spend a

friendly hour with them under the hospitable roof of Thomas Watson, Esq.,

an honored member of the Baptist church, then meeting near Cripplegate.

That gentleman kept an open table on Tuesdays for the dissenting ministers

of the three denominations. The Doctor generally met with them, took his

part, cheerfully, in conversation, with the brethren present; and maintained

it, on their return home, whether they came back on foot, or by the boat, as

they now and then did. Coming back one day by water, an excellent

minister of the Independent denomination, of whom Dr. Gill was

particularly fond, said to him, when there was a great swell of the tide, and

some of the gentlemen were uneasy, Ah! Doctor, you don’t fear, you love

much water: Yes, he replied, I do love much water in its proper place, and

I love you too; but Brother Bentley, a little water, in a barber’s basin, is

enough for some people. You know what I mean, Brother. Yes, said

Bentley, in a good humor, I do. All smiled. The repartee was quite in the

spirit of genuine friendship; and it was natural for one of them, when they

were got on shore, and parting, quite in the fraternal way, to say, Well,

Doctor, much water, however, has done no one of us any harm. True, said

he, and we are all sure, that sprinkling alone would never have brought us

safe to land.

 

It seems also that, while his mother was alive, he had the annual pleasure of

visiting her at Kettering, and of seeing the fruits of his early ministry in that

neighborhood. But the moment he received the news of her death, he laid

down his pipe, and, from that time, never smoked again. Though, previous

to this, he never disgraced himself as a great smoker.

 

Besides this he had the pleasure, once in the close of every year, to meet

the principal people of his congregation, at some public dinner, with a view

 

 

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the better to procure pecuniary aid for them in the inclement season. At

this meeting he would generally unbend. And, though excessive loquacity

was no trait in his character, he was as ready to converse, and to answer

questions, which all were at liberty to propose, as any judicious person

could have desired. Some of his most active friends enlivened these

meetings, by discreetly introducing such persons, members of the church or

not, to whom they knew the Doctor was partial. On such occasions, the

great John Ryland, sen., often graced and invigorated the company. The

Doctor was fond of him as a genuine Calvinist, a good Hebrew scholar,

and as having read as much English divinity as any man in his day. Their

conversation, being on cheerful and interesting subjects, chained the

attention of the company, and generally produced a reluctance at parting. If

any thing could detain him from the study, it was the conversation of such

a friend as this — or of the eminent Mr. Toplady. There was a mutual and

an endearing friendship between these two. They agreed in almost every

point of theology. Dr. Gill had read the Fathers, Toplady was acquainted

with several of them. Persons of his talents always afforded him relaxation.

Some of his own people also well knew how to render his visits interesting

to themselves and pleasing to him. He would seldom converse on trifles;

but, touch the string of prophecy — the calling of the Jews — the latter-day

glory — or, introduce any interesting question on Christian experience,

he was engaged at once, and out of the abundance of the knowledge and

grace, treasured in his heart, his mouth freely spake.

 

Indeed he felt himself sometimes interrupted, by people who, knowing not

the worth of time as he esteemed it, called upon him, from the country,

principally that they might have the pleasure of saying they had seen and

conversed with him. It was a toil to him to be detained when no

information could be either gained or given. But with people of the right

description he was very free. The worthy Mr. Geard, pastor of the Baptist

church at Hitchin, is a proof of this. Among his many cheerful

recollections, it will always be one, how Dr. Gill received him, as soon as

he found that he had come from Bristol to London, with the only design of

seeing this great man. They talked and dined together, and the Doctor was

happy in obtaining every information concerning the Academy at Bristol, to

which Mr. Geard belonged, the condition of the churches, and the general

state of religion in the western parts of England. The Doctor now resided

at Camberwell, a village about two miles from London-Bridge. Here his

garden also afforded him amusement. He would walk in it, weed the plots,

 

 

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yea, and sometimes work in it, with pleasure, almost to the close of life.

But when he was here alone, yea, and even at his meals, he was not quite

unemployed about his sacred work; for his family have noticed, how

commonly “the activity of his mind might be judged of by the motion of his

lips.” Thus, in a sort, he was always in his studies.

 

But labor and literature, abstractedly considered, are not intended to

constitute the highest style of man; and as they form not his only

excellence, our attention is recalled to the other walks of life, which

Providence had assigned him, in each of which he appears to advantage.

 

He was a genuine DISSENTER from the Established Religion, as appears by

his whole life, and by his little piece, entitled, The Dissenters’ Reasons for

separating from the Church of England. But as a Dissenter, he considered

himself under signal obligations always to discover his love to the

Hanoverian succession — no one was a heartier friend to the PRESENT

FAMILY on the throne than John Gill. The Amor Patriae roused his best

feelings; and in his prayers you might feel the love of his country. It swelled

his bosom in his earlier career, and continued with him to the very last of

life. Had pride been made for man, with towering ambition we should have

introduced part of one of his sections under this article, which he wrote in

the time of the great Rebellion; and the page bears his own date at the foot

of it, December 2, 1745. Writing on Psalm 25:3.

 

Let them be ashamed, which transgress without cause;

 

or, as he reads it, act treacherously without cause, as King David’s

subjects did; he adds, “Such are those who are now risen up against our

rightful Sovereign King George; a parcel of perfidious, treacherous

wretches; some of them who were in the last rebellion, and obtained his

father’s PARDON; others that partook yearly of his royal bounty, for the

instruction of their children, and all have enjoyed the blessings of his mild

and gentle Government; and therefore are without cause his enemies.” This

is the heart of a genuine Dissenter — here is the true patriotism — and

manifested at a time when tribes of the national hierarchy had been tacking

from one side to another, entirely as it suited their interest. This was the

Dissenting minister and pastor of Carter-lane; and as was the shepherd so

were his flock.

 

As a MINISTER, in his early days few persons were more animated than

himself; and he gave himself wholly to divine things. His constant studies

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prepared him for his public work, rendering it easy to himself, and

beneficial to his people. He came into the pulpit, at times, with an heavenly

luster on his countenance, in the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of

Christ; enriched, and generally enriching. In preaching funeral sermons,

and on other extraordinary occasions, when he was a young man, and

surrounded with large congregations, his exertions have been such that the

people have conveyed to him, as well as they were able, three or four

handkerchiefs to wipe his face, in one discourse. The sermons, which were

not inserted in the body of his Exposition, he generally wrote an outline of,

making what might be read in less than ten minutes. Such we have yet

preserved in his own hand-writing. The ideas contained in these

manuscripts it is certain were familiar to him when he entered the pulpit.

Bat he delivered not his sermons memoriter, as it is phrased; treasuring up

words, as a schoolboy does his lesson. Of him it cannot be said

 

“He toil’d, and stow’d his lumber in his brain,

He toil’d, and then he dragg’d it out again.”

 

He had so mastered his subject before he appeared among his people, that

it was totally unnecessary for him to adopt the servile method execrated in

this couplet. And when, after a course of years, the fervor of his youth had

much abated, his public labors commanded attention. But this was

notsecured by a flood of eloquence, by rhetorical action, by meretricious

ornaments, or by any of the eccentricities which gain upon weak persons.

But the effect was produced by his solemn deportment, his expressive

language, his perspicuous method, his nervous reasoning, his interesting

address; and, by his substantial matter delivered with accuracy. And, all

being ornamented with his own personal religion, and crowned with the

superabundant influences of the Spirit of God, he sometimes preached as

with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, and poured out his PRAYERS,

with divine freedom and fervency, into the very bosom of God.

 

As a PASTOR he presided over the flock with dignity and affection. Mingled

were his cares and comforts — such as other faithful shepherds have

experienced in their different situations. In the course of his ministry he had

some weak, some unworthy, and some very wicked persons to deal with.

As to the feeble of the flock, it may be truly declared he was an

affectionate friend and father to them. He really “bore with their

weaknesses, failings, and infirmities,” and particularly when he saw they

were sincerely on the Lord’s side. A godly woman visited him one day, in

 

 

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great trouble about the singing; for the clerk, in about three years had

introduced two new tunes. Not that he was a famous singer, or able to

conduct a variety of song. The young people were pleased; but the good

woman could hardly bear it. The Doctor, after patiently listening, asked her

whether she understood singing? No, she said. What! can’t you sing? No;

she was no singer, nor her aged father before her. And, though they had

had about an hundred years between them to learn the old hundred tune,

they could not sing it, nor any other tune. The Doctor did not hurt her

feelings, by telling her that people who did not understand singing were the

last who should complain; but he meekly said, Sister, what tunes should

you like us to sing? Why, Sir, she replied, I should very much like David’s

tunes. Well, said he, if you will get David’s tunes for us, we can then try to

sing them. Such weak good people may be found among most

denominations of Christians.

 

But he sometimes was accosted by rude people, and in his own

congregation. A cynical old man, who had taken an antipathy against some

of his minister’s tenets, oftener than once had grinned contempt at him

from the gallery; and then would meet him at the foot of the pulpit-stairs,

and ask, Is this preaching? repeating his question. The insolence at first met

no answer from the preacher. But, it seems, he determined not to be often

treated in this manner. Not long after, the said churl, planting himself again

in the same position, expressed his contempt somewhat louder; Is this the

great Doctor Gill? The Doctor, immediately, with the full strength of his

voice, looking him in the face, and pointing him to the pulpit, said, Go up,

and do better — Go up, and do better. This was answering a fool

according to his folly. And the answer afforded gratification to all who

heard it.

 

But the holy man felt himself exceedingly distressed when any of his

communion disgraced their profession, by errors either in doctrine, or in

practice. From both sources he had his share of sorrows, as the records of

his faithful church-discipline evince. A single extract shall here be given

respecting some, who seemed pleased enough, in their own way, with the

work of Christ, but who were totally inimical to the work of the Spirit.

Understanding, that several of the members positively denied the doctrine

of an internal principle of sanctifying grace; or, in other words, of a new

nature infused into the heart by the Holy Spirit, in regeneration; the Doctor

seriously brought the business before the church, and, as he, by virtue of

his pastoral office, kept the church-book, he has made this entry in it of the

 

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result of the transaction, with his own pen: — “Agreed, that to deny the

internal sanctification of the Spirit, as a principle of grace and holiness

wrought in the heart; or as consisting of grace communicated to and

implanted in the soul, which, though but a begun work, and as yet

incomplete, is an abiding work of grace, and will abide, notwithstanding all

corruptions, temptations, and snares, and be performed by the author of it

until the day of Christ, when it will be the saints’ meetness for eternal

glory; is a grievous error, which highly reflects dishonor on the blessed

Spirit and his operations of grace on the heart, is subversive of true religion

and powerful godliness, and renders persons unfit for church-communion.

Wherefore, it is further agreed, that such persons who appear to have

embraced this error be not admitted to the communion of this church; and

should any such who are members of it appear to have received it and

continue in it, that they be forthwith excluded from it.” Two members then

present declaring themselves to be of the opinion condemned in the above

resolution, and also a third person who was absent, but who was well

known to have been under this awful delusion, were consequently excluded

that evening.

 

But, notwithstanding this report, it would be unpardonable were this article

not also to maintain, that few have been the pastors, in any situation, to

whom greater respect has generally been shown than to himself; a respect,

which, towards the last, might have been termed a reverence of the

reverend man. Yea, it seems almost impossible for any people to have

retained a more profound respect for their pastor, after his death, than the

people who had been his care. They always spoke of him in the highest

terms. They gladly made him the subject of their conversation. They were

happy to hear any one speak of him with his merited respect. All of them,

without exception, endeared themselves to his successor, by the

affectionate remembrance they preserved of his departed worth. It deserves

to be repeated, that this is a fair description of each of the members who

survived him, as thirty or forty did for many years. All of them are at this

time gone down to the dust, except one afflicted brother of the church,

who is now in years, and has been supposed, for several months past, to be

tottering on the verge of life.

 

The Doctor not only watched over his people,with great affection,

fidelity, and love;” but he watched his pulpit also. He would not, if he

knew it, admit any one to preach for him, who was either cold-hearted to

the doctrine of the Trinity; or who denied the divine filiation of the Son of

 

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God; or who objected to conclude his prayers with the usual doxology to

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as three equal Persons in the one Jehovah.

Sabellians, Arians, and Socinians, he considered as in perfect opposition to

the Gospel, and as real enemies of the cross of Christ. They dared not ask

him to preach, nor could he, in conscience, permit them to officiate for

him. He conceived that, by this uniformity of conduct, he adorned the

pastoral office.

 

At Church-meetings he was admired; one while for his gentleness and

fidelity; and another while for his self-possession and wisdom. And when it

was necessary for him to magnify his office (and no one knew better how

to do it), he discovered himself to be both the servant of Christ, and the

servant of the church for his sake.

 

But if in any part of his pastoral work he excelled himself, it was at the

Lord’s Supper. Here he was solemn, sententious, and tender; as his people

often have remarked: —

 

He set before their eyes their dying Lord;

How soft, how sweet, how solemn every word

!How were their hearts affected, and his own!

And how his sparkling eyes with glory shone!

 

In Conversation with his people he was very deliberate. He weighed their

cases of conscience; he considered their trouble. And, not being

unpracticed in the solution of doubts, he sometimes resolved them by a

single sentence, or by a few apposite words. It was one of his talents so to

do.