ed the most unfavorable prejudices against Mr. Belsham, and induced even in the liberally-minded, and in avowed Unitarians, not only a strong unwillingness to be identified with him in his speculations, but a general shyness and distrust in regard to himself and his writings. Time, reflection, inquiry, and the changes which have taken place in other respects, have not tended to reconcile the Unitarians of this country to many of the most obnoxious sentiments of the subject of this memoir, but they have done much to dispel the general shyness and distrust just mentioned. Accordingly we are better prepared than at any former period, with the ample materials now before us, to form a just estimate of Mr. Belsham's character and genius, and of the value of his public services. *

He was born at Bedford, April 15, 1750, 0. s. His father, James Belsham, was an orthodox dissenting divine, respected for his character, talents, and learning, but not popular or acceptable as a preacher. He had been settled at Bishop's Storiford, and after removing from that place he officiated for a time at Newport Pagiel, in the neighbourhood of Bedford, Bedford, however, being his home. Here, while settled at Bishop's Stortford, he had married Anne, daughter of Mr. Woodward, an eminent brewer, by a daughter of Sir Francis Wingate, Knight of Harlington, Bedfordsh re, and of the lady Anne Annesley, daughter of Arthur, first earl of Anglesey of that name, who was Lord privy seal under Charles II. Through this excellent lady, his mother, Thomas, the subject of this memoir, was connected with a family of considerable influence in that county, zealously devoted to the whig interest in politics, and in religion rigid Independents. Through her, also, he was collaterally related to the truly liberal and gifted family of the Aikins.

Mr. Belsham, writing in 1806, gives the following account of his early studies.

* The Memoirs under review, though sufficiently full and impartial, are not, we regret to say, very judiciously collected and arranged. For further information respecting Mr. Belsham, the reader is referred to notices in his own works, and particularly in his Memoirs of Lindsey, and in the Preface to his “ Calm Inquiry”; to the seventh and eighth chapters of Dr. Carpenter's Reply to Bishop Magee; to an Essay, in three num

“On the Character and Writings of the_Rev. T. m,” in the Monthly Repository for 1830; and to the Funeral Sermons, on occasion of his death, by the Rev. Messrs. Madge, Aspland, and Kentish.

“ Till 1757, I lived at home, went to a day-school, met with little indulgence, but much attention to health and instruction. From June, 1757, to June, 1758, I was at Kibworth under Dr. Aikin, and, for the time of life, it was a year of pleasure and improvement. From July, 1758, to June, 1762, I was at Wellingborough, under Mr. French, a time which I reflect upon with little satisfaction, having enjoyed little pleasure, and made little improvement. From July, 1762, to August, 1766, I was at Ware, having removed thither with Mr. French. If possible, less attention was paid to instruction here than at Wellingborough, and my time was deplorably and irrecoverably lost. Upon the whole, however, these four years have left a pleasant impression upon my mind. The scholars were numerous, and the boys in general of good morals. I met with many agreeable companions, and formed friendships, which have been a pleasure and advantage through life.” – pp. 4, 5.

Another witness is here introduced by the biographer, who speaks much more favorably of Mr. Belsham's proficiency, and general standing and connexion at this time.

“In the beginning of the year 1764,' observes Mr. William Smith, late M. P. for the city of Norwich, I was placed at eight years of age, with the highly-respectable Mr. French, who had recently taken the management of a Dissenting school at Ware. Here I found the late Mr. Belsham, six years older than myself, and, from his attainments and conduct, in high favor with his master. He was able, and proved himself will. ing, to afford me protection and encouragement, and to him, I believe, I owed the exceeding kindness which, for five years, I received from Mr. French. Mr. Belsham left Ware, I think in the year 1766, for Daventry, whither I followed him in 1769, he being then in the fourth year of his course,

so that our intercourse, before most friendly, and then renewed with additional advantage, lasted but a short time at either place, but was kept up by personal visits and epistolary correspondence, without interruption, or a single interval of coolness, during the remainder of his natural and intellectual life.

“My correspondent's testimony to the good conduct of Mr. French's pupils is highly creditable to the attention and vigilance of that gentleman, and to the moral discipline maintained in his seminary. 'I think I can say,' continues Mr. Smith, “that I never heard an oath, or a flagrantly indecent expression uttered by any boy during the five years of my continuance at Ware. I cannot refrain from adding my testimony, also, to the almost singular purity of conduct, as I fear, of the students at Daventry, especially considering their period of life, from sixteen to twenty-one.

– pp. 5, 6.

From Ware, in August, 1766, Mr. Belsham went to Daventry, and was admitted into the Dissenting Academy in that place, then under the superintendenre of Dr. Ashworth, the successor of the pious and learned Doddridge, and remained there as a siudent till the year 1771. This seminary, first established at Northampton, then removed to Daventry, afterwards back again to Northampton, and subsequently to Wymondely, is dear to the friends of sound learning and rational piety, as having been, 'under Dr. Doddridge the founder, the alma mater of Hugh Farmer, Andrew Kippis, and Newcome Cappe. At the time of which we are now speaking it was one

of the most respectable, and, through the patronage of Mr. Coward's trustees, one of the best endowed, literary institutions among the Dissenters; consisting of from twenty to forty students under the tuition of the superintendent, who generally instructed in theology and in moral and intellectual philosophy, and of two Assistants, one in mathematics and natural philosophy, and the other in the languages. Thougb lay-students were received, it seems never to have been lost sight of as the priinary object of the institution, that they were to train up a succession of learned and faithful ministers, for the supply of the Dissenting churches, and the studies, appointments, and all the other influences of the place were arranged and regulated accordingly. Dr. Ashworth, Mr. Belsham's divinity tutor, was a decided Trinitarian and Calvinist, and, to borrow Dr. Priestley's words, who was also one of his pupils, “ was earnestly desirous to make the students as orthodox as possible”; to which end not only the oral instructions, but the text-book used by the class, Doddridge's Lectures, must have materially contributed. It is but justice, however, to add, that like his excellent predecessor, he was unwilling to sacrifice to party the two great and fundamental principles of Protestantism, the sufficiency of the Scriptures, and the right and duty of private judgment in the interpretation of them. From lectures, and text-books, and creeds, the students were referred on every disputed point to the word of God as the only umpire in the controversy, and this too, not as a hollow and deceptive formality, but in good faith; - a circunstance which sufficiently explains the otherwise unaccountable fact, that in this orthodox school, and under orthodox teachers, were trained so many able and enlightened advocates of Unitarian Christianity.

While resident at the school, and in the diligent and successful prosecution of his studies, Mr. Belsham was the subject of deep and serious religious experiences, of which a minute and full account is given in his diary. Under the influence of the feelings and purposes thus awakened, he in his seventeenth year copied and signed the abridged form of selfdedication recommended by Dr. Doddridge in his “Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul,” which transaction, after an appropriate meditation on the subject, he thus records :

“ The time I chose for this solemn purpose was between the devotional lecture and dinner. When I first entered into my closet, which was a little before twelve o'clock, I reviewed my notes of the discourse, and prayed over them, and begged, I hope earnestly, of God to assist me in the great work which I intended to perform. After that, I walked to and fro in my closet, endeavouring to summon up my courage, and to conquer my fears; and then, after reading over the form of self-dedication, and Doddridge's exhortation to it, I prayed upon my knees, I hope with earnestness and importunity, that I might have

every doubt removed, and that I might be enabled to give up myself unto God with sincerity and truth, and that I might not dare to mock him with the mere outward ceremony. After this I rose from my knees, and after meditating a few minutes, I took the form in my hand, and with fear and trembling knelt down again, and did at length begin to read it. O that I could say that I read it ardently, and that my whole soul was in every sentence; but I hope I can say, that I desired it might be so; and that I was grieved that I was no more affected. When I had finished reading it I signed my name, and rose up from the ground, and read the 116th Psalm, 2d part, of Dr. Watts's Psalms, and meditated for a few minutes, and then was called down to dinner. — Though I was not so earnest as I could wish, while I was reading over the form of self-dedication, yet I hope that I felt an inward satisfaction after the duty was over ; a joy to think that I had devoted myself to God, to be his for ever.

- pp. 15, 16. He did not offer himself for communion with the church until the following year. The conversation he then had with Dr. Ashworth gives doubtless a just, as it certainly does an affecting view of the state of his mind, at that time.

“Daventry, March 5th, 1768. - I have at length, through the riches of divine grace, notwithstanding the many, very many discouragements I have met with from the world, the corruptions of my own heart, and the inveterate malice of Satan,


VOL. XV. - N. S. VOL. X. NO, I.

been enabled to apply to Dr. Ashworth to be admitted to communion with his church. I went to him and asked him, if he had leisure to converse with me for a few minutes. I sat down, but could not say any thing, and burst into tears. The Doctor then asked me, whether I was in communion with his church. I told him I was not. He asked me, whether I desired it. I said I did. He told me he was exceedingly glad of it, and asked me, whether I had thought of it a long time. I said I had; but had been prevented from speaking of it before, because I was afraid of profaning the ordinance by an unworthy attendance upon it. He then told me that he thought people erred on the right hand and on the left with regard to this institution ; some thinking it little more than any other duty, while others counted it so solemn a thing, that they thought they must needs be perfect in order to a proper attendance upon it; that he thought that none but those who had a principle of religion in them might attend upon it, but that the weakness of their graces was no objection. It was made with a design to strengthen our faith, our hope, our love, and every other grace; that we were all unworthy of it, but our unworthiness did not profane the ordinance. I said to him, that it was my desire to attend upon it with a view to the improvement of my graces. He then asked me whether I could give any account at what time I began to receive religious impressions. I told him I could not remember any time when I had not some convictions, as could hardly fail to be the case with one who had enjoyed so many advantages as I had done. He said, it was to be sure an unspeakable advantage to have a good education. He added, it had always been his custom to desire his young people, though not to impose it upon them as a condition, to give a general account of the dealings of God towards them, especially if they had had any thing remarkable in their circumstances, in order to satisfy his people of their right to be admitted, and that they might come in the most onorable manner, so as to leave no room to doubt of their uprightness, and the truth of their profession. He desired that I would write a short account of my experience, and thought I might do that with greater freedom than I could speak, and told me he would propose me to-morrow with all his heart. He knew his people would approve of it, and he would take some other opportunity of conversing with me. I then went away.

pp. 20, 21, 22. A modest and well written account of his religious experience was prepared and handed in at the time appointed, and on the first Sunday in May following Mr. Belsham was admitted for the first time to the Lord's table. In his jour

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