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humble life, being manually employed in the paper manufacture. But though, in a worldly sense, the subject of this memoir was thus undistinguished in his birth, it was a matter of gratitude, not to say of worthy pride, on his part, to be able to remind his children that his father was an industrious, honest, and truly pious man.
The supposable influence of the religious habits of his parents will render the facts mentioned in the following unadorned pieces of autobiography, as natural as they are interesting. • These short and simple annals of a young villager, a rustic boy, who, under the blessing of God, by the native force of an original and persevering mind, emerged from comparative obscurity into a life of great popularity and usefulness, will be the more acceptable from the touching simplicity of the style in which they are recorded.
• The desire of being a minister was very early in life experienced by me, for, when a school-boy about seven or eight years of age, I felt strong impressions of being a minister; and what makes me so mindful of it is, the great delight I recollect to have enjoyed when I could get by myself, and laying a Bible, Prayer-book, or some other book before me, read aloud, and endeavor, by making a noise, to imitate the ministers whom I had heard.
“Between eight and nine years of age, I was under the necessity of going to labor in the paper business, when, mixing with men and boys whose morals were bad, I found those serious thoughts I remember to have had at school, and in hearing the conversation of my good grandmother, Lydia Marlow, and some good people who frequently came to the house, wear away, and evil ones take their place. About this time, my father, who was a good man, and belonging to the religious society at Wooburn, was in a lingering illness, or decline ; but being able to sit up, he was capable of seeing something of my sinful conduct, and of hearing some of my obscene and wretched language, which he once, in a most tender, gracious, and faithful manner, called me to him, and with tears in his eyes said, he must soon die, and, added he, If you live and die a naughty boy, you will go to the place of torment, which is prepared for the devils and all wicked people.' His soft tears washed deep furrows in my hard heart ; for the impressions then made were never obliterated. Soon after this, he died on a Sabbath-day morning, rejoicing in God. His death had some little effect on my mind, but not so much as one might imagine.
" About the age of twelve or thirteen, I felt my little heart puffed up with pride, thinking myself a man in wisdom, though a boy in station and age. My mother was tender, and I believe at that time gracious, but too fond of me (as many parents are of their children) to restrain me at first. Having thrown the reins too loose on my neck at first, I then began to be too headstrong, and did not care tamely to submit to all she wished; but always bearing a filial regard for her, and she bearing such a parental regard to me, her tears were more than I could bear. These were of more avail to curb my proud and roving thoughts than threats or the whip could possibly be. I recollect a striking proof of the effect of her tears. One evening, some time before I arrived at the age mentioned before, we were sitting
together, and my mother read the twenty-fourth, twenty-fifth, and twenty-sixth chapters of Matthew ; and the subjects much affected her. Looking in her face, I perceived her weep: being moved with tender affection and sympathy, I said, “Mother, why do you weep?" And received for an answer, · My dear, it is a hard thing to be a Christian.' The impressions which the tears and the answer made on my mind were great, and though sometimes not thought of by me, they yet were never erased.'
• The above touching anecdote, so simply narrated, evinces that his heart had, even while he was a boy, become impressed with the sentiments of religion and a sense of the obligation of personal piety.
• He thus proceeds :
" About the age of fourteen, I went out of curiosity to hear a good young man (Mr. Cooke) who spoke on the subject of the two blind men sitting by the way side begging. I heard the sermon, and remember it; but I do not recollect any great effect that it had ; still my mind, by small degrees and various means, appeared to be bending towards religion. About that time, hearing Mr. English preach from Matthew vii. 13, 14, · Enter ye in at the strait gate,' &c., I was remarkably affected. When I came home, I sat down and wept. My mother asking me the reason of my tears, I showed her the text. She then said, 'Was it the sermon that affected you?' I answering in the affirmative, she then endeavored to instruct and comfort me. From this time my conduct began to alter, and some religious friends took notice of me, and among the rest Mr. Cooke, who, by what little he said to me, was very useful. I was very fond of hearing. He being ordered by my master and friend, Mr. Revell, to give me Watts' Hymns and Psalms, I loved them and him much. After this, Mr. English gave me Mason's Pocket Companion, which, through the influence of the Spirit, was made very useful to me in giving me to understand the way of salvation through Christ ; for before, and in some measure afterwards, I was exceedingly legal in my ideas. I remember a remarkable evidence of it; for having heard Mr. Hawkins from • Tekel ; Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting,' I was asked by a young man afterwards what was intended by being weighed in the balances. I answered, “Our good works are put into one balance, and our bad ones into the other; and if our good ones do not outweigh our bad ones, we shall be lost for ever.' But not being satisfied about the meaning, I, the next day, asked Mr. C. He said, we are weighed by the justice of God, and our works are put into one balance, and the works of Christ into another; if we are believers in Christ, we should be happy, but if not believers, then we should be found wanting. This gave me an insight into the plan of salvation, and, then reading that little book, I was enabled to rely on Jesus for salvation ; and for some time I went on rejoicing in God my Saviour, thinking I should never be unhappy more, little sensible of the power of corruption, the strength of temptation, and the influence of the world. I thought my feet stood so fast, I should never be moved. But my youth, and, through want of knowledge, too much forwardness in religious company, made some despise me,
which tried my faith exceedingly; but the more judicious, who knew, at least hoped, that would wear off as age and knowledge increased, were more free and encouraging. I now earnestly wished to join the society. Taking every opportunity of hearing Mr. English in the country, I had frequent conversations with him now about being a member of the church. But he wished me to stay longer on account of my youth, I being only between fifteen and sixteen. From about this time I felt an earnest desire to be in the ministry, which increased with almost every sermon I heard. This drove me frequently to my knees, and led me to seek every opportunity to read. Fox's Book of Martyrs, Henry's Commentaries, Hervey's Dialogues and Meditations, with some other good books, employed much of my time, often till midnight or two o'clock in the morning, though under the necessity of being up by four or five.'-pp. 3—8.
In due course he was admitted into the church, and under the direction of his excellent pastor, was soon after employed in village preaching. The ability he manifested in these early exercises induced his minister to think him a suitable person to be wholly devoted to the preaching of the gospel. But his friends had no means of providing for his education.
• In September, 1789, Mr. English came into Gloucestershire, and calling on Mr. Winter, who was then authorized by Mr. Thornton to educate a youth for three years for the ministry, and by Mr. Welch to educate three, Mr. Winter asked Mr. English if he knew a serious young man, who wished to be in the ministry, whom he could recommend. Mr. English, thinking it in providence, rejoiced to find such an eligible method of introducing me as a minister of the church of Christ. My having formed an attachment to a young female friend was at first considered a barrier : and the result rested upon my being able to keep single for four or five years; which being left to me, was soon settled, for my heart was so much in the ministry that I was comparatively careless about every thing else. The thought that providence had appeared in so remarkable a manner was almost too much
I now saw that the Lord was a prayer hearing and answering God. I thought I should never doubt his providence more, nor indeed have I ever done so as before.'
* The pious and distinguished servant of Christ mentioned in the last extract, Mr. Thornton, of whom our deceased father never lost any occasion of speaking in terms of most affectionate and grateful veneration, in the exercise of that truly catholic spirit which was the brightest distinction of his character, was in the habit of assisting, by his beneva lence, in the education of pious young men for the ministry, whether in or out of the establishment.
• At the time when Mr. Griffin was informed by Mr. English of the opening under Mr. Winter, he was made acquainted with this fact as to Mr. Thornton's benevolent practice; and it thus became a matter for his consideration whether he would prefer to exercise his ministry in connexion with the Church, or as a Dissenter. He decided on the
latter. He has often informed his family with reference to this important event of his life, while reminding them of his and their obligations to God for his merciful direction and guidance, that it was a singular instance also of a special providence in another respect, since, as he was afterwards led to understand, if he had at this time determined to go into the church,and had been studying under Mr. Thornton's patronage with that object, there might not, according to that benevolent gentleman's plans, have been the vacancy which a year or two afterwards, by the application of Mr. Newton, was occupied by Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Claudius Buchanan, the enterprising traveller in India, and the pious and learned author of Christian Researches.' The subject of this memoir never lived to regret the course he had adopted, or to doubt, in the least degree, or in any view of it, its propriety. The sincere friends of the cause of Christ will all unite in and appreciate the sentiment, constantly expressed by our father, of veneration and esteem for the memory and services of his distinguished contemporary.'
The period of his residence with Mr. Winter was divided between study and preaching. His occasional services in villages and neighboring congregations were made eminently useful in the conversion of many individuals. Even during his novitiate at Painswick, he received the name of 'A young ‘Whitfield. The following anecdote pertaining to this early period of his ministry will be read with pleasure by all who appreciate generosity and admire the overruling providence of God.
• The following highly interesting anecdote was related in the vestry after his preaching a very excellent sermon on the doctrine of divine providence overruling all mortal affairs ; a subject on which he delighted to dwell. I took the liberty of expressing the wish that he had related the anecdote in his sermon, as confirmatory of the doctrine ; he replied, that he had entertained some thought of doing so, and had considered it better to omit it, on account of so much of himself being mixed with it.
· When a student for the Christian ministry, his vacations were usually devoted to preaching the gospel in the adjacent town and villages, and after the labors of the Sabbath he felt it to be his duty, during the week, to visit the members of the church of Christ, especially the poor of Christ's flock. On one of these occasions, he called to see a poor but pious widow who kept a small shop in the haberdashery line, and on which alone she depended for a maintenance. While they were in conversation in the shop, a person entered, whose presence so alarmed the widow, that she abruptly left, and ran up stairs to her chamber. Unacquainted with the cause of the sudden disappearance of the widow, and wondering in himself what it could mean, he anxiously inquired of the stranger his business, who promptly replied, that he had a bill against Mrs. for goods which he was anxious to have discharged, and he supposed his unexpected appearance had created the alarm he had witnessed. A glow of benevolence fired the generous breast of the young minister, and he requested to know the amount of the bill. The bill was then produced, which amounted to between six and seven pounds, just about the sum he had in his possession. Now the question arose in his mind for a moment, as to the path of duty, but the kind and sympathizing feelings of his heart overpowered every other consideration : he paid the bill, and received a receipt for the same. After the creditor had taken his departure, he called to the widow to come down ; she came with a heart big with anxiety and grief :-he stated to her what he had done, saying, that whenever it was in her power she could repay him, and then presented her with the receipt.' The joy she felt was expressed with overpowering feelings, mingled with tears, to her kind benefactor. On leaving the widow's shop he experienced some conflicting feelings, lest he should have overstepped the bounds of prudence ;-he had emptied his purse, but the sweet recollections he entertained of the encouraging admonitions to acts of benevolence which he had received from his venerable tutor, enforced not only by precept but example, had the effect of removing his scruples on this point, and of encouraging him to cast himself and his circumstances on the Lord. On the following Sabbath he was engaged to preach to a large congregation, and an aged widow lady of some affluence had her attention excited by what she had heard of the preaching of the young minister, and determined on hearing him in the evening. She was conveyed to the chapel in a sedan chair; and such was the effect of the sermon on her mind, on the following morning she sent for her attorney, and directed bim to place Mr. Griffin's name in her will for one hundred pounds. Mr. G. recollected seeing the lady in the congregation, but never spoke with her. This circumstance remained unknown to him till the death of the lady, which occurred several years afterwards, when he had become the settled pastor over the Independent church at Portsea, surrounded with a numerous and rising family, whose calls at that time were of a very pressing nature. The post brought him tidings of the late decease of the lady, and of the unexpected bequest of this unknown friend.'— pp. 64–67.
In the year 1793, he received
1793, he received a unanimous invitation to settle as pastor over the Independent church at Portsea. One of the most interesting and important events connected with his ministry at that place was the conversion of Captain Wilson, who subsequently took the command of the ship Duff, and conveyed the first Christian missionaries to the South Sea Islands. The whole narrative of Captain Wilson's conversion was published in his memoirs, but a brief notice is contained in the following passage from Mr. Griffin's diary.
Among some others, a young man of the name of Wilson, who was deistical in his sentiments, appeared to be concerned for bis im