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“Very few," adds Mr. Birt,“ have entered upon, and gone through their religious profession with more exalted piety, or warmer zeal, than Samuel Pearce ; and as few have exceeded hiin in the possession and display of that charity which • suffereth long, and is kind, that envieth not, that yaunteth not itselt, and is not puffed up, that duth not behave itself unseemly, that seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, that beareth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things.' But why should I say this to you? You knew him yourself.”
While at the academy he was much distin guished by the a:niableness of his spirit and behaviour. It is sometimes observable that where the talents of a young man are admired by his friends, and his early
efforts flattered by crowded auditories, effects have been produced which have proved fatal to his future respectability and usefulness. But this was not the case with Mr. Pearce. Amidst the tide of popularity, which eyen at that early period attended his ministerial exercises, his tutors have more than once remark. ed that he never appeared to them to be in the least elated, or to have neglected his proper stud ies; but was uniformly a serious, industrious, ducile, modest, and unassuming young man.
Towards the latter end of 1789, he came to the church in Cannon-street, Birmingham, to whom he was recommended by Mr. Hall, now of Cambridge, at that time one of his tutors. After preaching to them a while on approbation, he was chosen to be their pastor. His ordination was in August, 1790. Dr. Evans gave the charge, and the late Mr. Robert Hall of Arasby, delivered an address to the church on the occasion. In the year 1701, he married Miss Sarah Hopkins, daughter of Mr. Joshua Hopkins of Alcaster; a. connexion which appears to have been all along
a source of great enjoyment to him. The following lines addressed to Mrs. Pearce when he was on a journey, a little more than a year after their inarriage, seem to be no more than a common letter; yet they shew, not only the tenderness, of his affection, but his heavenly mindedness, his gentle manner of persuading, and how every argument was fetched from religion, and every incident improved for introducing it:
“Chipping Norton, Aug. 15, 1792. " I BELIEVE on retrospection that I have hitherto rather anticipated the proposed time of my return, than delayed the interview with my dear Sarah for an hour. But what shall I say, my love, now to reconcile you to my procrastinating my return for several days more? Why I will say, it appears I am called of God; and I trust the piety of both of us will submit and say, Thy will be done.
“You have no doubt perused Mr. Ryland's letter to me, wherein I find he solicits an exchange. The reason he assigns is so obviously important, that a much greater sacrifice than we are called to make, should not be withheld to accomplish it. I therefore purpose, God willing, to spend the next Lord's-day at Northampton.- I thought of taking tea with you this evening : that would have been highly gratifying to us both ; but it must be our meat and drink to do and submit to the will of our heavenly Father. All is good that comes from him, and all is done right which is done in o. bedience to him. On to be perfectly resigned to his disposal--how good is it ! May you, my dear est Sarah, and myself, daily prove the sweetness of this pious frame of soul : then all our duties will be sweet, all our trials will be light, all our pleasures will be pure, and all our hopes sanctifiod.
“ This evening I hope to be at Northampton. Let your prayers assist my efforts on the ensuing Sabbath. You will, I trust, find in Mr. Ra ship richly laden with spiritual treasures. Ol for more supplies from the exhaustless mines of
THE soul of Mr. Pearce was formed for friend. ship : It was natural therefore to suppose, that while engaging in the pursuit of his studies at the academy, he would contract religious intimacies with some of his brethren; and it is worthy of notice, that the grand cement of his friendship was kindred piety. In the two following letters, addressed to his friend, Mr. Steadman, the reader will perceive the justness of this remark, as well as the encouraging prospects which soon attended his labours at Birmingham : "My very dear Brother,
May 9, 1792. “ YOU live so remote that I can hear nothing of your prosperity at Broughton. I hope you are settled with a comfortable people, and that you enjoy much of your Master's presence, both in the study and the pulpit. For my part, I have nothing to lanient but an insensible, ungrateful heart, and that is sufficient cause for lamentation. This, only this, bows me down ; and under this pressure I am ready to adopt the words I preached from last evening--Oh ihat I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away and be at rest ! .“ As a people we are generally united : I believe more so than most churches of the same dimensions. Our number of members is about two hundred and ninety-five, between forty and fifty of whom have joined us since I saw you, and most of them I have the happiness of considering as my children in the faith. There is still a crying out amongst us after salvation ; and still, through much grace, it is my happiness to point them to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.
" In preaching, I have often peculiar liberty ; at other times barren. I suppose my experience is like that of most of my brethren : but I am not weary of my work. I hope still that I ain willing to spend and be spent, so that I may win souls to Christ, and finish my course with joy : but I want more heart religion : I want a more habitual sense of the divine presence: I want to walk with God as Enoch walked. There is nothing that grieves me so much, or brings so much darkness on my soul, as niy little spirituality, and frequent wan. derings in secret prayer. I cannot neglect the da. ty ; but it is seldom that I enjoy it.
• Ye that love the Lord indeed,
Tell me, is it fo with When I come to the house of God, I pray and preach with freedont. Then I think the presence of the people seems to weigh more with me than the presence of God, and deem myself a hypocrite, almost ready to leave niy pulpit, for some more pious preacher. But the Lord does own the word ; and again I say, if I go to hell myself, y will do wliat I can to keep others from going ihi. ther ; and so in the strength of the Lord I will.
" An observation once made to me helps to support me above water :-" If you did not plough in your closet, you would not reap in the pulpit.” And again I think, the Lord dwelleth in Zion, and loveth it more than the dwellings of Jacob.
Feb. 1, 1793. " THE pleasure which your friendly epistle gave me, rises beyond expression; and it is one of the first wishes of my heart ever to live in your valued friendship, Accept this, and my former Jetters, my dear brother, as sufficient evidences of my ardent wishes to preserve by correspondence, that mutual remembrance of each other, which on my part will ever be pleasurable, and on yours, I hope never painful.
“ But ah, how soon may we be rendered in. sapable of such an intercourse! When I left Bristol, I left it with regret. I was sorry to leave my studies to embark inexperienced as I am) on the tempestuous ocean of public life, where the high blowing winds, and rude and noisy billows, must more or less inevitably annoy the trembling voyager. Nor did it make a small addition to my pain, that I was to part with so many of my dear companions, with whom I had spent so many happy hours, either in furnishing or unburthening the mind. I need not say, among the first of these I considered Josiah Evans. But ah, my friend, we shall see his face no more! Through divine grace I hope we shall go to him; but he will not jeturn to us. • He wasted away, he gave up the ghost, and where is he?' I was prepared for the news because I expected it. The last time I heard directly from him was by a very serious and affectionate letter, which I received, I think, last September. To it I replied ; but received no answer. I conjectured, I feared ; and now my conjectures and fears are all realized. Dear departed youth! Thy memory will ever be grateful to this affectionale breast. May thy amiable qualities live again in thy surviving friend, that to the latest period of his life he may thank God for the friendship of Josiah Evans !
“I assure you, my dear Steadman, I feel, keenly feel, the force of the sentiment, which Blair thus elegantly expresses,
* Sce a brief account of him, given in part by Mr. Pearce, in Dr. Rippon's Register, Vol. 1. p. 512.516.