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esteem, and judged by the world's standard. His biographer thus describes him:
" In learning he was inferior to very few of the most celebrated sons of science and literature at the university. His masculine ability, bis uniform sobriety, and long residence at college, were favourable to improvement; and so insatiable was his thirst for knowledge, that from his entrance at Clare Hall, to his acceptance of the vicarage of Everton, he regularly studied fifteen hours a-day. A clergyman, with whom he had been in babits of friendship about fifty years, said of him, that he was as familiar with the learned languages, as he was with his mother tongue ; and that he could be under no temptation to court respect by itinerant preaching; for he merited and enjoyed that in a high degree among all ranks of literary professions at the university. In a friendly epistle to a clergyman, upon the necessity of preaching Jesus Christ, is the following passage : When I first came to the university, I applied diligently to my studies, thinking human learning a necessary qualification for a divine, and that no one ought to preach, unless he had taken up a degree. Accordingly, I studied the classics, mathematics, philosophy, logio, metaphysics, and read the works of our most eminent divines. This I did for the space of twenty years, and was all the while departing more and more from the truth as it is in Jesus, vainly hoping to obtain that light and knowledge from human wisdom, that could only be had from the word of God and prayer.'
“ Though he obtained the just reputation of being a learned man, and was conversant with all the beauties of language, so ardent was his desire of doing good to his most illiterate hearers, that he laid aside an affected style of elegance, and, from principle, cultivated an easy and familiar diction." Pp. 19, 20.
When first settled in the curacy of Stapleford in 1749, he was entirely ignorant of the gospel. He laboured with increased assiduity to instruct his people in their duties, and pressed fervently upon them the necessity of a holy life. He faithfully reproved sin, and sought to lead them in the way of righteousness. But he saw no fruit. His parish remained unchanged. Gradually the truth began to dawn upon him; yet still it was some years before he preached a free gospel. At first his aim was outward reformation, or, as he expresses it in his own graphic style, “ the knocking off fine caps
and bonnets.' Then, as the Lord began to open his heart' to the truth of the gospel, he began to preach more of Christ as the only Saviour; and when thus doing, a greater blessing seemed to attend his ministry. Still his preaching was defective. He was mixing up the Saviour's work and the Spirit's work. He was leading men to lean for their acceptance on both. He was telling them, that in addition to Christ's work for them, they were to look to the Spirit's work in them for justification, thus subverting the foundations of redemption. In a letter to a clerical friend (1758) he thus describes the progress of the change.
"You may ask, perhaps, what was my doctrine? Why, dear sir, it was the doctrine that every man will naturally hold whilst he continues in an unre, generate state, viz. that we are to be justified partly by our faith, and partly by our works. This doctrine I preached for six years, at a curacy, which I served from college ; and though I took some extraordinary pains, and pressed sanctification upon them very earnestly, yet they continued as upsanctified as before, and not one soul was brought to Christ. There was indeed a little more of the form of religion in the parish, but not a whit more of the power. At length I removed to Everton, where I have lived altogether. Here again I pressed sanctification and regeneratiou as vigorously as I could ; but finding no success, after two years, preaching in this manner, I began to be discouraged, and now some secret misgiving arose in my mind, that I was not right myself. (This happened about Christmas last.). Those misgivings grew stronger, and at last very painful. Being then under great doubts, I cried unto the Lord very earnestly,— Lord, if I am right, keep me so; if I am not right, make me so. Lead me to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.' After about ten days' crying unto the Lord, he was pleased to return an answer to my prayers, and in the following wonderful manner. As I was sitting in my house one morning, and musing upon a text of scripture, the following words were darted into my mind with wonderful power, and seemed indeed like a voice from heaven, viz. · Cease from thine own works.' Before I heard these words, my mind was in a very unusual calm ; but as soon as I heard them, my soul was in a tempest directly, and tears tlowed from my eyes like a torrent. The scales fell from my eyes immediately, and I now clearly saw the rock I had been splitting on for near thirty years."
“ I now proceed to acqnaint you with the success I have lately had in my ministry. As soon as God had opened my own eyes, and showed me the true way to salvation, I began immediately to preach it. And now I dealt with my hearers in a very different manner from what I had used to do. I told them very plainly, that they were children of wrath, aud under the curse of God, though they knew it not; and that none but Jesus Christ could deliver them from that curse. I asked them if they had ever broken the law of God once in thought, word, or deed ? If they had, they were then under the curse : for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all the things that are written in the book of the law to do them. And again : He that keepeth the whole law, and yet offendeth in one point, is guilty of all. If, indeed, we could keep the whole law, without offending in one point; if we had done, and continue to do, all the things in God's law, then, indeed, we might lay elaim to eternal life on the score of our own works. But who is sufficient for these things? If we break God's law, we immediately fall under the curse of it; and none can deliver us from this curse but Jesus Christ. There is an end, for ever after, of any justification from our own works. No future good behaviour can make any atonement for past miscarriages. If I keep all God's laws to-day, this is no amends for breaking them yesterday. If behave peaceably to my neighbour this day, it is no satisfaction for having broken his head yesterday
If therefore, I am once under the curse of God for having broken God's law, I can never after do any thing, of myself, to deliver me from this curse. I may then cry out, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of sin ?' And find none able to deliver but Jesus Christ. Rom. vii. 23—25. So that if I am once a sinner, nothing but the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse me from sin. All my hopes are then ip him; and I must fly to him as the only refuge set before me. In this manner, dear sir, I preached, and do preach, to my flock, labouring to beat down self-righteousness ; labouring to show them that they were all in a lost and perishing state, and that nothing could recover them out of this state, and make them children of God, but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And now see the consequence: This was strange doctrine to my hearers. They were surprised, alarmed, and vexed. The old man, the carnal nature, was stirred up, and railed, and opposed the truth. However, the minds of most were seized with some convictions, and the hearts of some were truly broken for sin, so that they came to me as these mentioned in the Acts, thoroughly pricked to the heart, and crying out with strong and bitter cries, What must we do to be saved ? I then laid the promises before them, and told them, if they found themselves under the curse, Christ was ready to deliver them from it; if they were really weary and heavy-laden, Christ would give them rest; if their hearts were broken for sin, and they would look unto Christ, he would heal them. I exhorted them also to thank God for these convictions, assuring them it was a token of good to their souls. For God must first smite the heart before he can heal it. Isa. xix. 21. I generally found that they received comfort from the promises ; and though they complained much of the burden of sin, and of an evil heart of unbelief, yet they always went away refreshed and comforted. Many have come to me in this manner, and more are continually coming; and though some fall off from their first convictions, yet others cleave stedfastly unto the Lord. They begin to rejoice in him, and to love him; they love his word, and meditate much upon it; they exercise themselves in prayer, and adorn their profession by a suitable life and conversation.
And now let me make one reflection. I preached up sanctification (by the works of the law he means) very earnestly for six years in a former parish, and never brought one soul to Christ. I did the same at this parish for two years, withont any success at all, but as soon as ever | preached Jesus Christ, and faith in his blood, then believers were added to the church continually, then people flocked from all parts to hear the glorious sound of the gospel, some coming six miles, others eight, and others ten, and that constantly."
Having thus found rest for his own soul in the free grace of God, and preaching that free grace to others in all its amplitude, he soon witnessed the blessed results. His ministry was, from that time forward, attended with amazing success. Not only at home, but wherever he wen, this word was heard, with marvellous power, in the conversion of sinners. It might be said of him, that now he never seemed to preach one sermon in vain. In season and out of season, he laboured, often in much bodily weakness and languor ; on Sabbath and week days, he preached without intermission ; in his own parish and in the neighbourhood, throughout the bounds of his own county; and when he had traversed that, extending his labours over several adjoining parishes, sometimes taking smaller circuits, at others larger, ranging and itinerating wherever he could find an open door! When on these circuits, which were very frequent, he preached on an average ten or twelve sermons a-week'; and all this continued during a period of more than twenty years !t
• His letters are, perhaps, the most interesting of all his works, and certainly the most characteristic. They are precious relies; and our only wish is that there were more of them. Besides those in this volume, there are others in Lady Huntingdon's Life and Times ; and, if we are not misinformed, there are others which have never seen the light, in the possession of some of the descendants of his correspon. dents in Scotland. His “ Christian World Unmasked" (republished by the Tract Society), is a valuable book, and most suitable for a self-righteous worldling. His “ Zion's Songs," though perhaps deficient occasionally in poetic merit, are yet most precious and refresbing, containing some of the most pointed statements on divine truth, and especially in reference to a free gospel, which one could desire to read.
+ In a most quaint but characteristic letter to Lady Huntingdon, be tbus gives us
But love to the Master and the Master's work made all labour lightsome, and the success which followed his footsteps was å most ample recompense. What minister of Christ is there who would not gladly encounter such hardships, and undergo such labours, to be repaid with such a costly reward ? Hear his biographer.
" Mr Berridge possessed a firm and undaunted spirit, not alarmed by the menaces of those who endeavoured to displace him from the station he occa. pied as the vicar of Everton, nor in the least intimidated when standing up to preach to the multitudes that surrounded him. He feared not man, but was, as it is said of the righteous, bold as a lion. No one, however, could be more sensible of his own helplessness and insufficiency for the performance of spiritual services than he was. He felt bis utter need of divine aid, which evideotly appeared in the terms he used almost invariably in the prayer he offered up before his sermon, humbly acknowledging his own inability, and earnestly and devoutly imploring the presence and assistance of his God and Saviour. Thus, as well as in other ways, be honoured God and God honoured him. He made no sacrifice unto his own net, nor burned incense to his own drag; but gave all the glory of what he was by grace, and of what he did for the benefit of his fellow-mortals, to the Giver of every good gist, and every perfect gift. No. thing was scarcely more offensive to him than pride and self-conceit; and whenever they appeared in the conversation and deportment of any one, he never was at a loss for some mode of expressing himself, so as to make the subject of them in some measure ashamed of himself. He perpetually aimed in his preaching at laying the creature low, and exalting the Saviour. His discourses were chietly of the expository kind, experimental and practical. His voice was strong and loud; but perfectly under command. The numbers that sometimes heard him were very great.
Ten and fifteen thousand at some places composed his congregation; and he was well heard by all of them. People came to hear him from the distance of twenty miles, and were at Everton by seven o'clock in the morning, having set out from home soon after mid. night. At that early hour he preached to very considerable congregations ; also at half-past ten and half past two o'clock, and again in the evening Thus was he engaged in preaching four times on the Sunday. The blessing of the Lord attended his ministry in a very powerful and extraordinary manner. He cast the net, and many, whenever he did so, were enclosed in it, and departed not without letting him know how powerfully their hearts were im. pressed with the truths he had delivered. He at first wrote down the names
some idea of his labours. " I do not want a helper merely to stand up in my pulpit, but to ride round my district ; and I fear my weekly circuits would not suit a Lon: don or Bath divine, nor any tender evangelist. Long rides and miry roads in sbarp weather ! Cold houses to sit in, with very moderate fuel, and three or four children roaring or rocking about you! Coarse food and meagre liquor ; lumpy beds to lie on, and too short for the feet; stiff blankets, like boards, for a covering. Rise at five in the morning to preach ; at seven breakfast on tea that smells very sickly; at eight mount a horse, with boots never cleaned, and then ride home, praising God for all his mercies. But enough of these matters. Let us now talk of Jesus, whom I treat in my letters as I deal with in my heart-crowd bim into a corner.
He has taught me to labour for him more cheerfully, and to loathe myself inore beartily than I could before. I see myself nothing, and feel myself vile, and hide my head, as bamed of all my sorry services. I want his fountain every day, his intercession every moment; and would not give a groat for the broadest fig-leaves, or the brightest human rags to cover me. A robe I must bave, of one whole piece, brond as the law, spotless as the light, and ricber than an angel ever wore-the role of Jesus.
and places of abode of those who applied to him for instruction, till he had writien more than a thousand names, exclusive of the numbers that were convinced of the error of their ways, under his ministry in London, and other places at a distance from Everton. So impressive were some parts of his sermons, as to disarm those who went to hear him with the full intention of silencing him, and doing him some personal injury. On one occasion a man of more than the common size came to hear him at Everton, and placed himself immediately before the pulpit with the full design of incommuding him, and rendering him confused; for that purpose he made various gesticulations, and uttered most contemptuous expressions. Mr Berridge, not in the least intimidated, thought it proper to address bim personally, which he did in so powerful a manner as to cause him to sink down in the pew, and to perspire through his great-coat. As soon as he came out of the church he acknow. ledged bis intention, saying, : I came to confuse this good man, but God has made him the means of convincing me that I am a siuful, lost sinner.' The conviction thus produced proved saving and permanent. He lived an orvament to the gospel, and when he departed this life he slept in Jesus.
" At another time, while he was standing upon a table, and preaching in the open air to a multitude of people, two men got under the table with the desigo of overturning it, but the word so powerfully penetrated their hearts, that they could not effect their purpose; and afterwards they desired to speak to him, when they declared with expressions of grief and shame, what they had intended to do. Others came with their pockets filled with stones to throw at him wbile preaching, but finding the discourse they beard affecting their hearts, they gradually emptied their pockets of the stones they had put into them; and afterwards they also confessed to him the motive by which they were actuated respecting him, and requested that he would pray for them. Thus mightily did the word of God by his ministry prevail in subduing num. bers to the obedience of Christ, and inclining them to manifest in their walk and conversation, the traits of the upright followers of Christ. Many, it is true, were impressed with the discourses they beard, who afterwards evinced fuinous neglect of religion ; but a great number, which the last day will bring to light, were, by his instrumentality, brought out of darkness into the marvellous light of the gospel, and from under the power of Satan unto God, to fear, love, and serve Him here below, and to enjoy Him as their portion in the world above for ever and ever.
His usefulness was indeed uncommonly great and extensive. He was in the first year visited by a thousand different persons under serious impressions; and it had been computed that under his and the joint ministry of Mr Hicks, about four thousand were awakened to a concern for their souls in the space of twelve months." Pp. 29–32.
His zeal and faithfulness soon raised up enemies, both lay and clerical. Opposition and persecution awoke against him, and $ought, by every expedient, to silence or expel him. Just as it is in our own day, so was it in his. When a minister of Christ, full of grace and zeal, lifts up his voice like a trumpet, both in denouncing sin and in proclaiming a free salvation ; when truth begins to prick the seared conscience; when many are turned from the error of their ways,' immediately an outcry rises : fanaticism, madness, hypocrisy, heresy, excitement, irregularity !*
• It is singular how many professedly evangelical have always joined in such opposition to the truth, whenever that truth begins to produce its natural results in the