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off, enlarged his plan in consequence of the Doctor's death, so as to include their earlier history; though I think it probable, from the preface to his first volume, that he had not seen Dr Evans' papers. Dr Joshua Toulmin has lately published a new edition of Neal's history, with considerable additions, and encouraged us to hope for his continuation of that work from the Revolution.
Many of the friends of religion anxiously wish that Mr Palmer may live to publish the lives of the early Nonconformists ; being deeply sensible how much such striking examples of holy conversation and godliness are calculated to edify.
I have heard, but cannot recollect from whom, that Dr Evans was a writer in the Occasional Paper, which was published in three volumes, 1716-18. In 1719. he was engaged in a controversy with the learned Mr John Cumming, on the importance of scripture consequences, and the propriety of subscription to confessions of faith ; and it was generally allowed, even by such who did not espouse his side of the question, that he managed the debate with ability and candour. He published many sermons upon various occasions. A few of these, for the use of young people, have been collected in a small volume, and passed through three or four editions. They are, however, less generally known than they deserve. If they should be reprinted, either here or at London, it were well that some other of his sermons to young people, his sermon on occasion of the plague in France, &c. were subjoined.
All I have learned of Dr Evans' family, is, that he was married to a daughter of Mr John Quick, one of the ejected ministers, author of Synodioon in Gallia Reformata, of whom there is an account in Mr Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial.
Excellencies were combined and conspicuous in Dr Evans, whose union or lustre, peculiarities in constitution, natural temper, education, and line of life, often prevent or obscure. His
fervent piety was sullied with no tincture of enthusiasm. His warmth of friendship did not blind or bias him, in matters of conscience. With meekness he endeavoured to instruct and convince such who opposed the fundamental articles of our holy religion, whose truth and importance he firmly believed. Zealous for what he accounted the cause of truth, and of civil and religious liberty ; he honoured and esteemed good men, whose sentiments on some of these subjects were the reverse of his own. Slander, and ill-grounded, or unnecessary reflections, on men of any party, he abhorred and discouraged. His imagination and readiness of thought were guided and governed by a sound judgment. He so arranged his doctrinal exercises, pursuits of literature, and active duties, that none might be neglected in its proper time and place. Uprightness and integrity led him steadily to pursue the measures which he apprehended just, and conducive to the best interests of mankind : nor would he be turned aside from this, by selfish and interested prospects, or by fear of danger in conducting such measures. He could foresee difficulties, which his sagacity and prudence often suggested the properest plans for surmounting. I pretend not, however, that his character was free of every blemish and defect. The best of mere men, when they dwell on earth, have not already attained and are not already perfect. Perhaps he was more the man of feeling than suited the comfort of his life and the state of his finances. Pain and sickness he bore with manly fortitude and Christian resignation ; but he did not support with the same magnanimity, trials, which equally affected others, near and justly dear to him. His worldly circumstances became straitened and embarrassed, from an income not adequate to his necessary expenses, not from extravagance. Many were the friends who could, and gladly would, have relieved him from the difficulties in which he was involved, had not an excessive delicacy hindered his making known to them his case. In the mean time, anxiety so preyed upon his spirits, as to bring on disorders which proved mortal.
The benevolent Mr Isaac Toms, who died last year at Hadleigh in Suffolk, above 90 years of age, and who was, when young, a private tutor at Hackney, exerted himself among his friends in Dr Evans' behalf, and procured him a considerable supply. But the worthy Doctor had received an incurable wound! What need have the most eminent Christians to keep their hearts with all diligence, since the most lovely propensities of human nature when not properly restrained, may have consequences so mournful !
Our author's last illness was a complication of the dropsy and other distempers. From the long continuance of his trouble, from its frequent intervals or relaxations, and from the fervent prayers put up for his recovery, many who knew his worth flattered themselves that the public would derive further blessings from his abilities and labours. But HE, who doth all things wisely and well, had otherwise determined, and the clouds returned after the rain. He told one, who visited him, that he was obliged to the friends who had expressed 60 great a desire for his life, yet it was not so much his own desire. If he might be continued for further usefulness in the church of Christ, he would be glad to live : if not, it was his earnest wish to finish at present. Burthensome, however, as he felt confinement from active service, and violent as the pain he often suffered, he discovered habitual serenity of mind, and a placid submission to the divine will. When he found himself tolerably easy, he would say, “ Thank God for this :" when in exquisite agony of body, “ Blessed be God for the
my mind, -I must not complain,-God is good, -The will of the Lord be done.” Though he had not that full assurance of salvation, and those ravishing joys, with which dying saints are sometimes favoured, he said to one, “I have good hope through grace, and such as I am persuaded shall never make me ashamed.” When looking on his body swollen with his distemper, he would often say with pleasure, “ This corruptible shall put on incorruption.” At one time he remarked with earnestness and tears,
“ I have reason to be thankful for an early sense of religion and dedication to God. I have endeavoured to order the main part of life as before him, and I have desired to be faithful in the ministry. I am conscious of many failings, both in public and in private life, but
I can rest on the gospel-covenant for mercy. I am fully persuaded of the truth of it, and desire no other salvation.” At another time he said, “I die in the faith and hope of the gospel I have. preached, and find much comfort in it.” When he could not sleep, he spent whole nights in prayer for himself, his family, his friends, and the church of Christ. To an old and intimate friend he observed, that the greatest difficulty he fele in leaving this world, was the thought of parting from the company of his brethren, whom he had always loved, and with whom he had conversed with so much pleasure. While he was yet sensible, some of his last words were, “ All is well, all is well.” He died in the 51st year of his age, May 23d, 1730, according to Dr Toulmin's account, who probably had better access to be well informed, than the writers of the Biographical Dictionary, who make his age 54, and place his death in 1732.
Readers, quick-sighted in discerning blemishes, but blind to real beauties; object on different grounds to the merit of the book now republished. Some observe, that there are sermons and tracts on several graces and duties, superior to these on the same subjects which it contains. Others complain, that it equals not an Atterbury, or a Blair, in fine and elegant composition; a Shaftsbury, or a Hervey, in picturesque description; a Watts in tender address; a Butler in depth of thought; or a Baxter in speaking to the conscience with pathos and energy
Others desiderate in our author, the evangelical strain, and the improvement for Christian experience and direction, of the fundamental articles of our holy faith, for which they highly esteem a Cruso, a Traill, or a Bragge. I dispute not the premises in these exceptions ; but the conclusions drawn from them are illogical. Can our writers point out the book, which gives a fuller, and yet more concise view of the Christian temper and conduct? Is it not desireable, that as the taste of readers, so the style of authors should be different? Ministers ought, indeed, to declare to the people of their charge, the whole counsel of God. But, will not publications bid fair to prove the most extensively useful, when the
authors follow the peculiar bent of their genius, and chiefly confine themselves to subjects which they are best qualified to illustrate and enforce? Let him be the second in accusing and condemning the Doctor's work, who can furnish the world with a better model of plainness and gravity of style, of heads always distinct and well arranged, and of thoughts properly adapted to the point discussed, and thrown close together; and let him be the first who writes a book, in which every excellency of style is equally conspicuous, and where every doctrine is explained and defended, and every duty illustrated and enforced, in a manner perfectly convincing and unexceptionable, so that no son of slander shall be able to make him an offender, even for one unguarded and incautious word.
LAURISTON, January 22d, 1802.