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BIOGRAPHY OF JOSHUA OLDFIELD, D.D.
[With a Portrait.] The family from which this eminent Ralph Cudworth, presided, and were minister descended, was of high respec- the great oracles of the University. Of tability, during the seventeenth century, these distinguished scholars, Mr. Oldin the county of Derby. His father, field uniformly spake with the greatest who was a clergyman of the Established | veneration and respect. He was much Church, had the honour of being-eject-noticed, while at the University, on aced by the Act of Uniformity, from his count of his exemplary deportment, and living of Carsington, in that county. also for the superiority of his college He had four sons, who were all brought exercises ; but, when the time arrived up to the ministry." John, the eldest of for taking his degree, he thought proper them, conformed to the requirements to quit the University, being much disof the national standards, while the satisfied with the required terms of subother three cast their lot among the scription. Dissenters.
| His first entrance upon public life, Joshua OLDFIELD, the subject of this was in the capacity of Chaplain to Sir memoir, was born at Carsington, in the John Gell, in whose family he lived year 1656, prior to the ejectment of his highly esteemed, and exerting his infather, who undertook the superinten- Auence in cnforcing the dignity and alldance of his education, and had the thority of religion. Quitting that stahappiness to see his labour in culti- tion, he becaine tutor to the son of vating the youthful mind of his son, Paul Foley, Esq. who, in the reign of amply recompensed, hy his rapid innWilliam III. sustained the high office provement in the various elementary of Speaker to the House of Commons. branches of his education. The young Whilst in that family, a church-living man gave early presage of future ex of the value of £200. per annum, fell cellence, and inspired hopes and ex- into the gift of Mr. Foley, who kindly pectations that were not disappointed. made a tender of it to Mr. Oldfield, with But the best wishes of his pious parents a pressing invitation to him to conform; were, that he might become wise unto but, after mature deliberation, he desalvation, and, in due time, enlist him-clined the offer of his patron, and made self on the Lord's side; and their felicity up his mind to continue with the Nonwas crowned, by beholding their prayers conformists. in this respect, in due time, also rea- After some time passed in the princi. lized. Having gone through a course pality of Wales, and on a visit to of philosophical studies, under Mr. Ireland, where he was strongly pressed Reyner, of Lincoln, he was entered a to continue, he settled in London, and student of Christ's College, Cambridge, was statedly employed in the work of during the period that those eminent the ministry, at Trinity Chapel, Leaprofessors, Dr. Henry More, and Dr. Ither Lane, Holborn, in conjunction with · VOL. Vili.
Mr. Samuel Doolittle; but how long, 1 persons, in that important employment: does not appear. Owing to the severe these were, Mr. John Spademan, and measures that were enforced against Mr. W. Lorimer; anrl, after the death the ministers of the gospel in those of the former, he obtained that of Mr. evil days, their residences were held Capel, who, prior to the persecution of upon a very precarious tenure. We find the Protestants in France, had been Mr. Oldfield, soon after this, pastor of a Professor of Hebrew in the University congregation at Tooting, in Surrey, at of Saumur. It is remarked by Dr. which period, he delivered a discourse William Harris, in his funeral sermon at Grocer's Hall, before the Lord Mayor, for Mr. Olfield, that, “there was no which was honoured with great ap- house in England, amongst the Displause. From Tooting, however, he senters, which had so great advantages, removed to Oxford, by the advice of and where three such learned persons several London ministers, and lived were joined together, so excellently there for several years in great esteem, qualified for the several parts allotted mingling with some of the most emi-them.” At this seminary were eduneni men in the University, particularly cated many of the more considerable Dr. Wallis, and the learued llenry Dod- I persons who adorned the Christian miwell. He also contracted an intimate nistry in that period, as well as other acquaintance with the celebrated John learned professions, both in and out of Locke, at the time he was writing his the establishment. Expository work on the Apostolic Epis. In 1707, Mr. Oldfield published a tles. We are told of a controversy, or, large and valuable treatise on the Imrather, public disputation, which he re-provement of Human Reason, in which luctantly engaged in, when at Oxford, he discovered an extensive acquainon the subject of Infant Baptism, and tance with human nature, as well as his in which he acquitted himselt so much | profound judgment and skill in abstract to the satisfaction of a numerous au- reasoning; and, soon afterwards, he dience, that some who heard him re- was honoured with a diploma from the niarked,--the Dissenters had not such University of Edinburgh, creating him another man among them! From Ox- Doctor of Divinity. ford, Mr. Oldfield removed to Coventry,l Dr. Oldfield was blessed with a where he was joint pastor of a numerous sound and healthy constitution, which church, with the excellent Mr. Tung. carried him through life; seldom moThey also established a classical aca- lested by bodily infirmities, or the least demy in that city, but met with much abatement of his natural goud temper, annoyance from the spiritual courts, which he preserved to the latest period which obliged them to remove their of life. In his declining years, he was cause to Westminster Hall, where they called to encounter some very severe obtained a noli prosegui.
trials, which made a deep impression In the year 1700, the pastoral office on his mind; but they were alleviated of the church, assembling for worship by remarkable instances of kindness on in Maid Lane, or more properly, in the part of his friends. These storins Globe Alley, leading into Maid Lane, of life, however, passed away; and his London, became vacant by the death of heavenly Father interposed to render Mr. Kentish; and, an application was Tihe last stage of his pilgrimage both made to Mr. Oldfield to succeed him in easy and honourable, under the disadit. His removal from Coventry was far vantage of his outward circumstances, from mecting the approbation of his for which he was devoully grateful. He colleague, and was particularly opposed died peaceably and happy, on the 8th by Major Beak, a gentleman of exten- | Nov. 1729, at the age of 73. sive acquirements; but, Mr. Oldfield, Dr. Oldfield was unquestionably posafter weighing all the circuinstances of sessed of superior talents and endowthe case, thought it his duty to comply ments. His penetration was acute, and with the invitation; and in this con- he had great strength of mind, which nexion lie spent the last thirty years of fitted him for abstract studies, in which his life.
The much delighted. His skill in mai On his removal to London, Mr. Old-thematical learning enabled him to profield"commenced an academy; first inject several thinys for the public beSouthwark, but afterwards removed to nefil, which obtained the approbation Hoxton, where he obtained the assis- of Sir Isaac Newton; but, he rarely put tance of two very learned and pious 'the finishing hand to his studies. His first thoughts were solid and judicious; 1 ON CHRISTIAN CHARITY. but his mode of expression was less happy than that of some others, whose
| As the Scriptures are a revelation knowledge was not so extensive. We from the God of truth, containing an are assured by Dr. Harris, that he was ac
account of his will concerning the sal. remarkably communicative to others of
of vation of mankind, it is highly imporwhat he knew, and few men more
tant to form just conceptions of every patient of contradiction. He was always
thing contained therein. And, as the ready to hear the utmost that could be
subject of Christian Charity is one link objected; and he would do it, not only
in the golden chain of salvation-and, without the least uneasy emotion, but
as the apostles so frequently exhort to with manifest pleasure. His pupils
this duty, and shew us, that, without were indulged with the greatest freedom
it, all other gifts are of liitle valuemit of access and of conversation, whilst he
certainly becomes us as Christians, not ever maintained his just authority over
only to study the Scriptures upon this them. He was a friend to free en
subject, but also to examine ourselves quiry, which he strongly encouraged,
by this touchstone, whether we are in and was always ready both to give and
the faith. “Though we could speak with receive satisfaction. He communicated
the tongues of men and of angelsinstruction, not less by his own ex
| Though we had the gift of prophecy, ample, than by precept; and his re
and understood all mysteries, and all proofs, when necessary, were dealt out
| knowledge-Though we had faith to with gentleness and wisdom. In the
remove mountains-yet, if we had not vigour of life, his judgment of men and
charity, we should only be like soundthings was highly valued, and much re
ing brass, or tinkling symbols.” And, lied on. In matters of Theological
lest we should deceive ourselves by acts controversy he was moderate, and cau
of liberality, while the heart is not right tious of running into extremes. For
in the sight of God, the apostle tells us, civil and religious liberty he was a
that, “though a man should give his warm advocate; because he regarded
goods to feed the poor, and his body to them as essential to the happiness of
be burned, and have not charity, it promankind, and the existence of religion | fiteth nothing." How important, then, and virtue in the world. In private life,
is it, not only to know what charity is, he was a man of strict integrity, and of
but also to know whether we have “puit ardent piety, of exemplary meekness
on charity !”-To illustrate the subject* and humility, and of a calm unassuming
I observe, temper. His behaviour was very inof- |
1. Charity originates in the love of God. fensive and obliging; while towards
“Herein is love: not that we loved God, such as differed from him, his modera
but that he loved us, and sent his Son tion and candour were always conspi
to be the propitiation for our sins. And, cuous. It was observed of him, that he
if God so loved us, we ought also to was scarcely ever known to speak an
love one another.” It is a view of this uukind or inhandsome word of any
love, which is sovereign in its nature
boundless in its manifestations-rich in person, and always prompt to forgive the unkindness of others. His prayers
bestowing all spiritual blessings upon were remarkable for their gravity and
the poor and wretched--and free in fervour, as well as for the order and
bestowing them without money, and connexion of thought which ran through
without price, that begets love or chathem, and which often rendered them
rity in the hearts of men. So long as very striking. His patience in affliction
our hearts are not warmed with a view was very exemplary, and he had it much
of the love of Jehovah, displayed in the called into exercise some years before
redemption of man, we have reason to his death; owing to the loss of an eye,
| fear we have not put on charity. occasioned by a fall.in a fit of apoplexy.
2. The chief object of Christian charity " In the several relations of life," says
| is the Lord Jesus Christ, Man can only Dr. Hughes, “ wherein he was placed, * It may be in the recollection of our readers, he conducted himself so as to secure the that we inserted a pretty elaborate " Essay on
Charity, or Christian Love." in our last Vol. (see love and respect of those with whom he
New Evan. Mag. July, 1821, or Vol. vii. p. 209.) conversed; and, he will always be re but the subject is so good in itself, and so impormembered with affection by those who
tant to Christians, that we hope no apology will be
required from us, for giving place to this corres knew him.” Funeral Sermon, p. 34, pondent's favour,
be happy, so far as he delights in the will not suffer a brother to go on in sin, same object that God delights in. And without ailmonishing him of it, lest it as Jesus is set forth in the Scriptures should be his ruin. as the centre of Jehovah's delights 4. Christiun charity is regulated by the amongst men, so the believer no sooner truth. Nien may love one another from sees the suitableness of his person-the various motives, on account of the reperfection of his work, which was lation in which they stand one to anofinished when he humbled himself, and ther in the world ; but Christian love is became obedient unto death--thereby “ for the truth's sake, which dwelleth magnifying the law of God, and making in them.” And they no longer love it eternally honourable, than he is one another as Christians, than they ready to exclaim with joy and transport, continue to walk in the truth. When “ He is the chiefest among ten thou- the Galatians, to whom the apostle had sand, and altogether lovely."--He sees preached, setting forth Jesus Christ the suitableness of the work, thus ac- crucified and slain before their eyes, complished, to his fallen and ruined received another gospel, (or had de. condition.-He sees all the blessings of parted from that gospel which the salvation treasured up in him, who came apostle had preached) he says to them to seek and to save the lost.-He sees “I marvel that ye are so soon removed thern secured by the blood of the ever- from him that called you into the grace lasting covenant. He rejoices in the of Christ, unto another gospel, which inviting testimony_“Tuis IS MY BE- is not another; but there be some that LOVED SON, IN wuOm I AM WELL trouble you, and wonld pervert the PLEASED; HEAR YE HIM.” Here, God gospel of Christ." And, he adds, “ But and the sinner meet in friendship. The though we, or an angel from heaven, divine approbation to Jesus, as our preach any other gospel unto you, than surety, is beautifully set forth in the that which we have preached, let him words of one of our own Poets:
be accursed.” Thus, we learn, that,
though charity be universally benevolent Christ be my first elect, he said:
towards all men, but, especially, to the Then chose our souls in him, our lead.
household of faith; yet, it rejoices not Nor shall our souls be thence remov'd, Till he forget his first belov'd.
in iniquity, but in the truth. In the
aspect it bears towards all men, it imi3. Christian charity flows to all who be- tates the divine goodness, who “sends long to the household of faith. “As I have his rain upon the just, and upon the unloved you, (says Christ) so ought ye just." But, it espouses those only as also to love one another. If any man | brethren, who have received the truth, say, he loveth God, whom he hath not, and whose conversation is as becometh seen, and yet love not his brother, the gospel of Chrisi. whom he hath seen, he is a liar, and ! 5. Charity is long-suffering and kind. the truth is not in him.” Whosoever | It teaches to bear with patience and rethey are, therefore, who belong to signation, the will of God--the insults Christ, by visibly professing his name of enemies--in imitation of him who, before the world, are objects of love or when he was reviled, reviled not again; charity one to another. This may be but committed himself to him, “ who said of them universally, whether they judgeth righteously,” &c. It is longbe high, or low, rich or poor; Barba- suffering to those whom it esteems as rian, Scythian, hond or free. And this the children of God, whether they are is manifested by imitating that love babes, young men, or fathers in Christ. which raises the poor out of the dust, Different degrees of knowledge is no even from the dunghill, and sets him hindrance to the free circulation of love. with the princes of God's people. It bears with the infirmities of the weak, Christ's people love one another only so long as there is any evidence that as disciples, without regard to rank or they know the truth. It supports and situation in life. Charity seeks the nourishes the feeble-minded. It teaches good of all. It comforts, nourishes, us to profit by the failings of others; and supports the weak and feeble leading us to consider ourselves, lest minded; while it faithfully admonishes we also be tempted. While it teaches the backslider in heart, lest he be filled to be long-suffering and ready to forgive, with his own ways. Charity covers a it is at the same time to be unfeigned, multitude of sins, when confessed; but, and without dissimulation. It is no.