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Mb. RALPlf Thompson was born at Helmsley, in Yorkshire, in the year 1769- His disposition to serious things appeared at a period uncommonly early. He was not addicted to juvenile pursuits, as children generally are; hut, instead of playing, in the streets, he was observed to be constantly attentive to the Scriptures, whether at home or in the school; and 10 'extraordinary was his attention and his memory, that, whiles yet a ehfld, he had learned the whole of the New Tesfcliaent* by heart. The report of this remarkable attainment having reached the ears of Air. (afterwards Di\) UHngworth, then curate to Dr. Conyers, he was desirous of seeing and examining the child; when, to his great astonishment, he found the account he had heard to be exactly true. From this time, young Thompson obtained the name of' The Walking Concordance.'
Dr. Ulingworth having removed to London, as curate. at Tottenham Court Chapel, Ralph Thompson, when, 12 year* old, followed him, and continued under his tuition about foiyr years; after which he jeturned to Helmsley. .
The following account is extracted principally from his own private statement of the gracious dealings of God to his soirf, presented to the writer by his brother, the Rev. Mr. Thompson, of Bishingham, Lincolnshire.
'It was the Lord's command to the poor demoniac, whom he dispossessed of a legion of devils, to go to his friends and neighbours, and tell them what great vhings the Lord had
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418 MEMOIR OF TBI RK*. R, THOMPSON.
done for him, and how he had mercy on him. Thus the vile** of the vile would erect a monument of praise to the God of all grace and mercy, inasmuch as he hath had compassion on him. When the Lord-was pleased to bring me under concern for my immortal soul, so great was my ignorance of the plan of redemption, that I thought nothing was wanting in me for acceptance into the divine favour. Puffed up with a high conceit of my moral righteousness, I concluded no mc-rtal could lay any thing to my charge. Thus composing my soul to rest, I prosecuted my studies with vigour,- knowing the letter of Scripture, but not the spirit and power of it as yet. It pleased God,, in his gracious providence, to send the Rev. Mr. Browning to Helmsley; under whose ministry the Lord revealed himself to my soul, and brought me, like Saul of Tarsus, to seek righteousness and strength in Him alone. Now J appeared vile in my own eyes. My goodness and self-righteousness received an effectual check, and 1 was constrained to renounce them, as of the law, which was now be. come my condemnation. Here my legal and carnal hopes died, and I was left to abhor myself, and. repent in dust and ashes, crying for salvation through Jesus's blood and righteousness. At length, my soul was set at liberty by those gracious words of oar Lord,* Him that cometh to me I will in nowise cast out*.' My mind now found peace, and I enjoyed the gospel, walking in the joy of the Lord, as my Strength and my bong; yet soon my corruptions, and an evil heart, aidea by Satan, began to rise, and caused me great distress arid painful anxiety, sons to call in question all my experience, and conclude my&elf a hypocrite. At seasons I could adopt the words of Paul,' For I am persuaded that neither death, Tier life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, ner thing* present, nor tilings to come, nor hcigtrth, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall, be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lordf-' But when in the contrary state, 1 was ready to exclaim with David,' I shall now perish one clay by th« hand of Saul: there is nothing bette* for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines, and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of israei; so shall I escape out of his hand +.'
'Having now tasted that, the Lord is gracious, I felt a concern for the salvation of my rellowtsinnen, and wished to point them to the Lamb,of God; but, reflec ing on my weakness and.unworthiness, 1 concluded myself unfit for such an important office; being greatly distressed, and recollecting
* John vi. 37. + Raman* vaL 38,93. J 1 Samuel xxVii. 1.
MEMOIR OF THE REV. J. THOM'PSON. 21£>
ifbat the sacred word of God has declared, that God hath chosen the weak and foolish things of the world, to magnify the riches of his grace in them that are saved: he honoureth the rriost weak and feeble to be instrumental in turning many to righteousness; and thus I thought indeed it must be, if I became a minister of the everlasting gospel. After conversation with, and opening my mind on this subject to my spiritual father, the Rev. Mr. Browning, I, at length, obtained liberty to speak publicly in the name of the Lord 'Jesus Christ, about Christmas, 1790, makingmy appeal to the Searcher of hearts, that the glory of God and the salvation of precious souls was the grand and leading motive in my engaging in this important work. On Jan. 1, 1791, I was appointed to preach at Appleton; and, on April 12, I was sent M> Sudbury, in Suffolk.'
Mr. Thompson was now a labourer in the vineyard of Christ, and a preacher of the gospel, in La<ty Huntingdon's connexion, at Sleaford, Lincolnshire; and afterwards at Woster, ia Gloucestershire.
In 179fi> Mr. Thompson came to preside over an Independent church and congregation at Guyhem, in the county of Cambridge. Here continuance for a series of years and great usefulness were expected; but, oh! the depth of the ■ riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God !— how unsearchable arc his judgments, and his ways past finding out! — the Lord was preparing him for himself, and was pleased to remove him from the church militant to the church triumphant, on Sep. 1, 1806, in the S7th year of his age.
Mr. Thompson was a personable man, a good speaker, a sound and useful preacher (Calviuistic in sentiment) of pleasing manners, and greatly esteemed by his people, and by the Ministers of the Lincolnshire Asscjciation, in whom all have lost an affectionate brother, and a faithful servant of Christ.
Reflecting on the life of Mr. Thompson, many striking and important subjects arrest our attention; such as, submission to the divine will, — the evidence of the restraining grace of God on our infant years,—the insufficiency of all human attainments and exercises to produce a new creature, withoutj the regenerating grace of God, —arid the sovereignty of God in the disposal of all men and means, however accomplished, and desirable to his church and people, to the end that aU .should be still and kaow that he is God, and will alone be exalted.
Great Grimsby. W. S
r~- 220 .
DISREGARD OF DIVINE INSTITUTIONS-,
REMARKS ON A RASH EXPRESSION,
[Extracted from a Letter to a Gentleman in Scotland.] •
Sir, — Although the estimate of your religious character, when you came to reside in our vjcinity, was by no means over-rated, yet I was exceedingly struck to hear that your answer to the question, " Are you going to sermon to-day ?" was, 'No: it is all.nonsense!' The following remonstrance on your abrupt reply to the above friendly enquiry, is submitted to your serious perusal, without the remotest intention to give you offence.
'It is all nonsense!' Did-the expression escape you when' there was no watch before the door of your lips.? Were you not aware.of their import when applied to a divine ordinance? They cannot be excused even on this ground. Is this a subject on which we may use lightness? You are not the first, it is (rue, who has styled the preaching of the cross' Foolishness.' The Greeks, so much famed for their wisdom, were mar.y of them of your opinion; and you will be kept in countenance by the whole tribe of Deists, whether more learned or more illiterate:'For the preaching of the cross is to them tha* perish foolishness.'
'All nonsense!' And are you likely to meet with credit from many who do not put even a proper estimate on gospelpreaching? How many of those who have been amused, in-strueted, and enraptured with the eloquence of the pulpit, will be ready to mark him down as one either wholly illiterate, or devoid of taste for rational entertainment, who, with so muclj. confidence, talks in this manner? What must have been the original pouring forth, under the immediate influences of the divine Spirit, of such a torrent of sublime and convincing eloquence as reached the conscience of some in the firs.trassembly in the world,~when the painter and xhe statuary can-make so much of Paul in the midst of Mars-hill? How different from yours was the opinion of Dionysius the Areopagite, of Damaris, and of-others, who at the same time felt, to tlioir everlasting satisfaction, the force of truth upon their hearts J Did they count that foolishness, which so effectually persuaded them to take up their cross and follow Jesus?
'ft is nonsense!' Surely, the institution is not. Is it riot well known by those who are even enemies to the cross of
* Letten and Euaj»,by the ReT. John Parker. — Secptge \i6ofthi«