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OR, COMPENDIUM OF RELIGIOUS, MORAL, 8. PHILOSOPHICAL KNOWLEDGE.
"READING IS THE CIRCULATING MEDIUM OF INTELLECTUAL COMMERCE."
| he, therefore, brings the result of his THE REV. THOMAS ROBINSON, M. A.
speculations to the law and to the tes.
timony, and by this important test (With a Portrait.)
learns to distinguish the dross from Among the literary pursuits which the pure ore, and thus makes himself engage the attention of mankind, there acquainted with the intrinsic value of is scarcely any species more instruc- his laborious researches. By appealtive than that which traces the marching to revelation, he is taught to enter of intellectual energy from obscurity an unseen world, to penetrate beyond to eminence. It records the progress the grave, to gather indubitable assurof perseverance in surmounting diffi-ances of an hereafter, and to perceive culties; embodies the virtues by which the majesty of a soul possessed of individuals bave been distinguished; immortality. and holds out both invitation and en- It is in this exalted light that we are couragement to those who are climb-called upon to survey the subject of ing the steep ascent to imperishable this memoir. He comes before us as honours. The statesman, the warrior, a divine, and a man of letters; and in and the man of science, claim, from both characters his reputation appeals their fellow-mortals, the meed of alike to our justice, our admiration, praise ; and the pen of the biographer and our bigh esteem. We shall, thereis rarely backward to transmit their fore, without farther apology or intronames and actions to posterity. duction, proceed to give the more pro
But while these, and characters such minent particulars of his life. as these, arrest our attention, and com- THOMAS ROBINSON was born at mand our esteem, we must not forget, Wakefield, in Yorkshire, on the 29th that the man who devotes his time to of August, 1749. His father, Mr. the cultivation of literature, mounts James Robinson, was a respectable into a still higher region, and expa- hosier of this place; but though entiates at large in the vast empire of gaged in business, he was not ignorant the intellectual world. He traces the of the value of education, and thereoperations of the mind through the fore resolved, as far as his means diversified labyrinths of its excursions, extended; that his son should not connects abstraction with fact, and remain destitute of this important combines, in new associations, the acquisition. To this he was the more harmonious agreement of ideas. pov erfully stimulated, from observing
In the more elevated ranks of this in his son a strong predilection for class, stands that man, who endeavours learning. To cherish this disposition, to improve the morals of his contem- young Robinson was sent, at a very poraries, by directing them to survey early age, to a neighbouring grammarthe excellence of virtue, and stimulat-school, then kept by the Rev. Mr. Ating them to the possession of this kinson, ander whose tuition he renoble acquisition. The mere moralist, mained until he was qualified for colhowever, unaided by the light of reve- | lege. lation, can have but contracted views While continuing with Mr. Atkinson, of that boundless ocean of realities on he evinced so strong a propensity for which his mind is afloat. He sees the improvement, and made such rapid advast expanse immeasurably diffused vances in his attainments, as to attract on all sides around him, but he navi- the notice and esteem of his master, gates the hoary deep without a sun to who did not hesitate to predict his enlighten him, or a polar star to direct future eminence. The young pupil his course.
was not insensible of this favourable Of these important truths, the pious opinion, and he expressed bis grati. and intelligent divine is well aware; I tude by renewed applications, that he 84.VOL. VII.
might deserve the honour with which lege. Here his conduct was exemhe had been so unexpectedly compli- plary: he scrupulously attended to all mented.
| the duties of his station, and soon Having attained his fourteenth year, acquired the reputation of having he was taken from school to be appren- made great proficiency as a scholar. ticed to some trade; but to this mode But although his conduct was deof life, in all its forms, his disinclina- corous, and every way becoming his tion was so decided, that his father station, and even formed a contrast abandoned the intention, and he was with the manners of those around him, again sent to school. Here he found bis religious views were somewhat himself in his proper element, and the obscure and indistinct; nor had they beight of his ambition was, that he acquired thatconsistency and stability, might find his way to one of our for which he was afterwards distinfamous universities. With this design gnished. bis father was made acquainted; but Having been at college about a year, as the period of his probable removal | he happened one day to meet with the drew near, some serious obstacles celebrated dialogue of Mr. Harvey, arose respecting the means of defray-between Theron and Aspasio. Tbis ing the expense of a college educa work he perused with much attention, tion.
and its contents so deeply affected his The governors of the school, on mind, that he became convinced salhearing this, and being willing to fur- vation was only attainable by the ther his views, generously offered him mercy of God through Jesus Christ. one of their exhibitions, amounting to From this he was led to examine the twenty pounds per annum. But still sacred writings with devout attention, the additional expense was beyond to pray for the assistance of the Holy the father's means, and it is probable Spirit, to spend every sabbath in the that all bis hopes would have been duties of religion, and in earnestly blasted, if the governors had not aug- seeking a spiritual acquaintance with mented their former liberality. This God. The evenings of this sacred they did, by granting him the privilege day he spent with some pious friends of a double exhibition.
in a garret, which served them as a All obstacles being now removed, chapel; and here they presented their preparations were made for his depar- petitions to the throne of grace, that ture, and he was admitted as a sizar they might be prepared, by their stuof Trinity College, Cambridge. The dies, to become the honoured instrureport of bis going to college was soon ments of setting forth the divine glory. circulated throughout his native town; A portion of the Greek Testament was and becoming for a time, among his generally read, and commented on, acquaintances, the subject of general and the evenings concluded with conconversation, it gave rise to the follow- versation on religious topics. ing anecdote, which ought not to be In his public intercourse, Mr. Robinomitted.
son preserved the same uniform conNot long before his departure, a sistency of deportment. Indelicate shoemaker, who lived in the town, and unbecoming expressions rarely meeting him accidentally, inquired if failed to draw from him some marks he was going to be a parson. On of disapprobation, and not unfre-receiving a reply in the affirmative, he quently a well-timed censure. This observed, “Then I bope, sir, you will drew upon bim the honourable stigma study your bible, that you may be of being “righteous overmuch;" and, enabled to feed the flock of Christ with “his holiness," and “the pope,” were spiritual food." This friendly and epithets by which he was occasionally solemn admonition was followed by distinguished. His principles had, an offer to lend him some books on however, acquired a stability which practical subjects. The books, ac the sneer of sarcasm was unable to cepted with gratitude, were perased shake. with advantage; and the circumstance Although Mr. Robinson confined his altogether, was not without its influ- pursuits chiefly to mathematical and ence on his future life.
classical studies, he did not neglect to In the month of October, 1768, Mr. read works on divinity, among which Robinson repaired to Cambridge, and those of President Edwards, of New took up his residence in Trinity col-, England, claimed his chief attention, 1073
Memoir of the Rev. Thomas Robinson, M.A.
and from the perusal of them he de- your example.” But every effort was rived considerable benefit.
used in vain, for nothing could lead In April, 1771, he was chosen a him to alter his prior determination. scholar of Trinity college, and in the A few weeks after he bad received December following, he gained the his first degree, he was appointed to second of Dr. Hooper's prizes for the curacies of Wicham and Wichford, Englişb declamation. In the senate- two small parishes within about fourhouse he stood seventh, on which occa- teen miles of Cambridge. In these sion bishop Tomline was his competi- places he preached twice on the Sun. tor. But this circumstance, instead day, and once in the week. In addiof creating envy, gained for him the tion to this, he visited from house to friendship of that afterwards worthy housc, to enforce in private, those prelate; who, from that time forward, truths which he delivered in public cherished for his talents a high degree from his pulpits. These exertions of respect.
soon attracted general attention, not In October, 1772, he was elected only in his own parishes, but among fellow of Trinity college in a very the inhabitants in the neighbouring flattering manner; and in 1773, he districts. In consequence of this, his gained the second of the middle bache-church was speedily so crowded with lor's prizes, for the best Latin essay, hearers, that additional fornis were On this occasion, his tutor, Dr. Postle-placed in the aisles for their accommothwaiie, declared, that, among the nu- dation. His discourses were chiefly merous pupils committed to his care, addressed to the consciences of bis he did not remember one who excelled numerous hearers in a solemn and him as a general scholar.
affectionate manner, and to many Having gained a fellowship much among them his ministry was much earlier than it was usually obtained, blessed. he was sent for immediately on his Consonant with the experimental and election, by bishop Hinchcliff, who, practical tendency of his preaching, congratulating him on the event, endea- are the following observations made voured to prevail upon him to take up by him, to a man who desired to be his residence in the college. “You admitted to the holy communion. “Do have now," said his lordship," a much you cordially grieve on account of brighter prospect in life, than what I sin? Do you depend simply on Christ? had when at your age. Come among Are you fully resolved to serve the us, and it shall be my aim to recom- Lord in holiness ?" On being answered mend you to some nobleman;- you in the affirmative, be added, “Then may thus attain to an eminent station come, and may God be with you." in the church.” Mr. R. was not in. Continuing to draw crowded audi. sensible to the pecuniary advantages ences to his church, it was not long of this generous offer, but after deli- before Mr. Robinson had to encounter berately weighing it in all its branches, a formidable opposition from persons he, with suitable thanks for the favour who sagaciously discovered that he intended him, begged leave to de- was tinctured with Methodism. This cline it.
is, at all times, a serious charge, but Of the high estimation in which he it was then a crime of almost inexpiwas held by his fellow-students, the able turpitude. The report gained following fact gives ample evidence. ground; and his former tutor, Dr. PosDaring the time of his under graduate- tlethwaite, half believing the charge to ship, an attempt was made to set be true, became alarmed for the safety aside subscriptions to the thirty-nine of the church, and for the honour of articles, and a petition for this pur- bis own and of his pupil's reputapose was handed round the university tion. He accordingly sent for Mr. R. for signatures. In his own college, and, assuming the charge as founded the inquiry was, “has Robinson signed on fact, seriously admonished him to it?” and when it was found that he avoid every thing that should merit this had declined, the students refused to dishonourable epithet. On being asked give their names. To induce bim to to explain what it was in his (Mr. alter bis resolution, he was waited R.'s) conduct that had given so much upon in form; and, among other argu- offence, the worthy tutor informed ments, it was urged, “If you will give him, “ that he had impressed upon the your name, all the others will follow minds of his people, the necessity of attending to the doctrines delivered, its prevalence was not remarkably as they would have to give an account conspicuous. at the day of judgment of their treat- Mr. R. having accepted the offer of ment of them.” To tbis Mr. R. replied: the curacy, reached Leicester on a
-“If this be a prominent feature of Saturday, and the next morning etMethodism, the prophets, apostles, and tered on the duties of his office, by even Christ himself, must doubtless be preaching at St. Martin's church. His classed under that order."
fame having arrived before him, public Among the methodistical crimes of expectation was strongly excited.Mr. Robinson, one was, that of having The pious few were highly delighted introdúced hymns into his churches, with bis discourse, but many others instead of the compositions of Stern-were greatly offended, and hesitated hold and Hopkins. At this the vicar not to avow their disapprobation. of Wichford, during Mr. R.'s tem Among the latter, were two gentlemen porary absence, took the alarm, and belonging to the corporation, who, began a controversy which created a though much displeased with his docferment, that the latter thought likely trines, signified their willingness to to prevent his usefulness. He, there-bear with him, from a persuasion that, fore, prepared to take his departare from his bodily appearance, he would from a place in which he had been not long be an inhabitant of time. It, preaching about two years. No sooner however, so happened that they were was his resolution known, than three both first called to give an account of caracies were immediately offered for their stewardship; and it is pleasing his acceptance, by men in power, who to add, that, before their death, their knew bis zeal, piety, and talents, and animosity against Mr. R. had so far were well aware how much these ex subsided, that they spoke of him with cellencies were wanted in the Esta much respect. blishment. One of these, in the gift On Mr. R. coming to Leicester, it of Mr. Haines, was at Leicester, which was intimated by his friends, that, in his friend, Dr. Stevens, then a fellow a Mr. L. he would find a sturdy foe, of Trinity college, used every endea- and under these impressions he envoor to procure for him, and streng-tered on his duties, Mr. L. was among ously urged him to accept.
his first hearers; but, on having an This offer Mr. R., for some time, interview, his fears were dissipated, resolutely refused, from the following and be afterwards found him to be a circumstance. Happening to pass sincere friend. On their first meeting, through Leicester, during the heat of Mr. R. observed, “I suppose, sir, the a contested election, he was so dis- good people of St. Martin's begin to gusted with the scenes which be wit- think they have a singular sort of man nessed, that he mentally prayed to among them ?” “Indeed,” replied God he might never have bis lot cast Mr. L. “they do: the ladies feel more in this city. His friend, bowever, difficulty in going from their prayers urged the wickedness of the people to the card-table, than they did foras a reason why he should endeavour merly. It is time we had something to reclaim them, and that where be new; the humdrum has continued long was most wanted was the station of enough.” duty.
In 1774 Mr. R. was appointed chapOvercome by the importunity and lain to the Infirmary, for which office arguments of bis friend, Mr. R. at he was particularly qualified. In this length reluctantly consented, but ac- abode of disease and pain, he genecompavied his compliance with this rally selected some suitable portion remark, that he was persuaded he froin the church service, and a chapter should be dismissed within three from the sacred scriptures, on a few months. It is to be lamented that the verses of which he spoke about a character of Leicester, at this time, quarter of an hour, and then concluded gave a melancholy sanction to this with prayer. His services in this prediction. The higher orders were place were rendered a blessing to devoted to feasting, frivolity, and many, and several pleasing testimonies amusements, and the lower classes have been preserved, of persons who were sunk in sensuality. The little were benefited by his ministry piety which the city contained, was During many years of his life, while among the dissenters, and even here l established at Leicester, he gave in
Memoir of the Rev. Thomas Robinson, M.A.
struction to young gentlemen, prepa-, of the zealous clergy, on becoming ratory to their going to college. Among acquainted with Mr. Robinson's un. these were four sons of a gentleman wearied exertions to do good, desired with whom he was acquainted, for him to apply for the living either of whose tuition he refused to receive St. Martin or St. Mary, according as any remuneration, although they re- either should happen to become vamained under his care five or six cant. This recommendation was speeyears, and made considerable pro- dily adopted; and in August, 1778, the ficiency in their learning. This favour, death of Mr. Simmons led the applihowever, was not forgotten. Through cant to look for the issue of his former the patronage of one of them, a son of petition. The lord chancellor was Mr. Robinson has been promoted to accordingly reminded of the previous an exalted situation in India, which application, and in about four months has been filled with credit to his own Mr. Robinson was instituted to the family, and much satisfaction to his living of St. Mary's. benefactor.
But while this change in his cirWhile Mr. R. had officiated as curate cumstances operated to his pecuniary at Wicham, he became attached to a advantage, it was accompanied with young lady, but, having no permanent troubles that tended to diminish his settlement, all thoughts of a matrimo- peace. His former opponents, on findnial alliance were then viewed at a ing that his residence among them distance. But, on his becoming esta- was now likely to be permanent, reblished at Leicester, the acquaintance newed their hostility, and became more was matured into an engagement, and formidable from their determined viruthey were married on the 20th of Oc- lence, and the additional means of tober, 1774. This lady was in every annoying him, which bis new situation respect qualified for her station. She afforded. The pretended subject of became the mother of eleven children; contention, was the mode of singing and died at the age of forty-three, which had been adopted. This, the leaving six sons and daughters to new vicar disapproving, endeavoured deplore her loss. For some time prior to suppress; but, in attempting to to her departure, she was the subject remove the evil, he became entangled of much bodily affliction, but the con with many serious difficulties. The solations of religion supported her churchwardens supported the singers, under all her sufferings, and she was while the clerk sided with the minister. enabled to say, “I have a Saviour The consequence was, that two psalms who is fully adequate to all my peces-were announced, and sung at the same sities. One less than this could not time, one in the gallery, and the other suffice me.” This severe trial Mr. R. in the body of the church, and the bore with true Christian resignation, utmost confusion prevailed. At length considering it as a test of those prin-| things wore so serious an aspect, that ciples by which he had been actu- the wardens closed the church doors ated.
against their new vicar, and it was In 1778, Mr. Joseph Wheatley, a with difficulty they were prevailed respectable manufacturer in Leicester, upon to open them without the appliprojected the plan of a weekly evening cation of force. lecture, which the poor might have an Peace, however, being at length reopportunity of attending. This design stored, his audience, which was very having met the approbation of the in- large, settled down into a respectable cumbent, and the sanction of the bishop congregation of attentive hearers; and being secured, Mr. Robinson was ap- his mind regained that tranquillity, of pointed the first lecturer. The motives which, by the late conflicts, it had wbich led to the establishment of this been for a season deprived. In all institution, were stated by Mr. R. in his sermons, his grand object was to his inaugural address, in a manner | impress divine truth upon their hearts, highly creditable to the worthy pro- and to call forth its strongest evijector; and though the founder and dence, a correspondent holiness in the first lecturer have ceased to prove their lives. To accomplish this, he its utility, the memory of both is still left no method untried; and although honoured by its continuance.
his success was not equal to his wishes About this time the late pious earl and bis exertions, he had sufficient of Dartmouth, the patron and advocate proof that he was not labouring in vain.