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MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. A. COLE.
415 Distry of Mr. Cruden, of Crown Court; but Mr. Madan was honoured as the instrument of bringing him to clearer views of the gospel, as a system of free and sovereign grace. It has been already observed, that Mr. Crole was, long before this time, not only the subject of many convictions, but remarkably strict and serious; yet, as he afterwards frequently confessed, he had too much of that pharisaical spirit, which leads persons who are ignorant of the righteousness of God, to establish their own righteousness; if not in opposition to the merits of the Redeemer, at least as co-operating with thein, in obtaining the blessings of pardon and eternal life.
He was now led to place his undivided dependence on the Rock of Ages, the sure and tried foundation, chosen of God, and precious to the penitent believer.
Soon after this, Mr. Crole became a member of a small but truly respectable society which then met in Archer Street, and more lately in Castle Street, Leicester Square. Here, after much solicitation, he was prevailed upon to deliver his sentia ments on some religious subjects, which had been previously proposed for discussion.
The unaffected simplicity, seriousness, and ability with which he delivered his sentiments on these occasions; the bumility and fervour with which he poured forth bis soul in the devotional exercises of the evening; the sanctity of his life, and the affectionate concern he always expressed for the souls of his fellow-men, not only excited the admiration, and gained him the esteem of his hearers, but convinced them that such talents ought to be employed in the service of the sanctuary. It was a considerable time, however, before Mr. Crole exercised his gifts more publicly. The first time he preached, was at Mr. Mercer's meeting-house, in Grafton-street; where, on the failure of an expected supply, a friend observing Mr. Crole in the gallery, went to him, and not only intreated bim to give them a word of exhortation, but even dragged himn, abaslied and trembling, to the pulpit; and shut the door upon bim almost before he was aware. Though Mr. Crole must have been considerably agitated on this occasion, not daring, as he afterwards told his friends, to lift up his eyes during the whole service, yet his labours were very acceptable to the congregation; and from this time he received many applications to preach : but he wished to go through a course of preparatory studies; and with this view, relinquished business, and went to the ColJege at Trevecca ; where he diligently and successfully applied himself to recover his knowledge of the Latin, and to gain an acquaintance with the Greek and Hebrew languages. The excellent patroness of that institution, the late Countess of Huntingdon, knew how to appreciate his talents; but did not Tully enter into his ideas respecting the necessity of improvin
them by an unremitted application to academical studies; and she, therefore, urged him immediately to commence his ministerial labours. As far as he could with propriety, Mr. Crole resisted her Ladyship's importunity in the most respectful but decided manner, giving her to understand, that his principal object in coming under her roof, being the acquirement of knowledge, he could not continue in the college, unless he was permitted to enjoy those literary advantages which he had been encouraged to expect.
In this connection he continued three years; and from the testimony of his fellow-students it appears, that such was his diligence in study, so exemplary and edifying his spirit and conduct in the family, so evident his superiority in knowledge and experience, that they revered him as a Father. For some time Mr. Crole itinerated; and in this service his labours were abundant, -his zeal, prudence, and fortitude were worthy of the best times of Christianity: and though he laboured under many discouragements, and, in some instances, was cruelly maltreated; yet, through good report and evil report, honoured and caressed by the friends, or despised and persecuted by the enemies of religion, he failed not to declare the whole counsel of God. Nor did he labour in vain, but was the instrument of great good to the souls of many; and he had the consolation, at a late period of his life, to hear of some remarkable iostances, in which his early labours had been followed with a blessing to those who were never personally known to him.
But while this excellent man was thus faithfully and successfully labouring to bring sinners to Christ, he was, for a considerable time, harassed with the most distressing doubts respecting his own interest in the Redeemer; and though be frequently administered seasonable and acceptable words of consolation to the weary and heavy laden, his own soul was bowed down with sorrow. Though the great Head of the church was now bonouring him with many seals to his ministry, and his friends were abundantly satisfied respecting his call for the work, - yet the state of his mind on this subject, was such as can scarcely be conceived by those who have not experienced something similar. His ideas of the awful responsibility that attaches to the character of a minister of the gospel, were accompanied with the most humiliating and painful apprehensions of his own unworthiness and insuficiency. He was now strongly tempted to relinquish the ministry, into which he feared that he had unwarrantably intruded himself; but was restrained, by the dread of adding the guilt of treachery to that of rashness; and, at the same tiine, being convinced of the truth and importance of the doctrines which he preached, and somewhat encouraged by the success of his former labours, he was not altogether without
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. A. CROLE.
417 hope that the Lord might be pleased to put honour upon his word, and bless the ordinances of his own institution, however unworthy and vile the instrument by whom they were dispensed. He, therefore, determined to preach to others, even though himself should prove a castaway.
Mr. Crole was suffered to continue in this state of darkness for some time ; and while it lasted, his mind was often so entirely absorbed in gloomy thought, that he would scarcely have provided himself with necessaries, or have been sensible to the want of them, had not the kind remonstrances of his friends, and a rooted dislike to the very appearance of affectation, roused him to pay some attention to the things of this life.
Under the pressure of this burden his work dragged on heavily, and he grew almost weary of life; but a: length the light broke in upon his soul, and he was indulged with such manifestations of divine favour as entirely removed his fears; and from that time to the day of his death, it is believed that he never once doubted his interest in the adopting love of God, nor his call to the work of the ministry. Mr. Crole returned to London about the year 1776: that he first preached at Cumberland-street chapel; where, on receiving á unanimous call from the people, he was ordained to the pastoral office; and for some time exercised his ministry among them with great acceptance, unwearied diligence, and considerable success; but some differences arising in the congregation, chiefly respecting forms of worship and church order, Mr. Crole, and a considerable number both of the church and congregation, agreed to withdraw peaceably, and to adopt the Independent mode of worship and discipline,
This respectable Society, united in the strictest bonds of Christian love, continued for many years to meet at Pinners® Hall; and have lately removed to Founders' Hall. Perhaps it would not be too much to affirm, that this congregation and their beloved pastor were as happy in each other as mutual affection, cherished by reciprocal acts of kindness, could possibly make them. On this subject Mr.Crole's heart overflowed with joy and gratitude to the day of his death.
By a clause in his will, he expressly desired that the officiating minister at his interment should present his cordial thanks to the church and congregation for their steady attachment, affectionate sympathy, and unwearied patience under the disappointments and inconveniences arising from the frequent interruption of his ministerial services; and, above all, for the many prayers they had offered on his account. This just tribute to Christian friendship was accordingly paid by the Rev. A. Waugh, who delivered the funeral oration.
For many years Mr. Crole was favoured with an uncommon share of health ; and, notwithstanding his other engagements, used to preach constantly thrice, and occasionally four rimes, on the Lord's Day, besides a lecture on Wednesday evening; and being, from experience of its usefulness, a strenuous advocate for catechising children, one evening in the week was appropriated to this important and delightful employment. Mr. Crole was remarkably fond of children; and none could feel more strongly than he did, the importance of the rising
Having besides a happy facility and a most engaging inanner in illustrating and enforcing the great subjects of religious instruction,' he so entirely gained the affections of bis catechumens, that these weekly exercises were always anticipated with pleasure, as they are still remembered with gratitude by many who had the happiness to attend them, and who, it is hoped, will never forget the tender solicitude with which their deceased pastor laboured to instil into their youthful minds the knowledge of truth and the love of virtue.
During the last five years of his life, Mr. Crole was exercised with great bodily affliction ; which he bore with that' manly fortitude and Christian resignation to the divine will, which nothing but real religion could inspire, and which were evidently the effects of faith unfeigned. So far was he from repining, even when the symptoms of his disorders were inost alarni ing, and the pain most excruciating, that he always spoke with evident satisfaction of the honour that was conferred on him, in being thus called to experience and exemplify the power of divine grace. From the first attack of his disorder to the period of its fatal termination, he was repeatedly given over by the most skilful physicians; but, conirary to the expectations of all his friends, was several times raised from the borders of the grave; and each time appeared to resume his work with more fervent zeal for the glory of God, and warmer affections for the souls of his people. On some of these occasions, it was observed by his friends, that he seemned like a messenger froin the invisible world, whose lips had been touched with a live coal from the altar. So animated and so affectionate were his discourses, and his prayers were poured fourth in so elevated a strain of devotional fervour, that his hearers frequently thought their dear and venerable pastor was preaching his last serion; and that, feeling in himself the sentence of death, he had determined to spend his last breath in beseeching sinners to be reconciled to God, or in exhorting believers to stand fast in the Lord. He could truly say, with holy Mr, Baxter,
“ I preach as tho' I ne'er should preach again;
" And like a dying man to dying men. Though Mr. Crole's illness was of long continuance, and his dissolution had been ofien expected ; yet, in the event, his departure was sudden ; it was likewise tranquil and easy ; and
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. A. CROLE. 419 to himself, a desirable and happy change from faith to sight,from hope to complete and everlasting enjoyment.
Mr. Crole was sixty-three years of age at the time of his decease; and had been thirty years a preacher, and about twentysix years pastor of a church which he first gathered, and which he had the happiness to leave in a very prosperous state.
He was buried in Bunhill-fields, on Wednesday, July 14, when the Rev. A. Wauglı delivered a very suitable address to as large and respectable an assembly as, perhaps, were ever collected on a similar occasion. On the following Lord's Day a funeralsermon was preached at Founders' Hall, by the Rev. M.Wilks, from 2 Sam. iii. 38.
In whatever view we contemplate the character of this servant of the living God, we shall find him entitled to a very high degree of respect, and worthy of the imitation of those who stand in the saine relations to society, and to the church of Christ.
As a busband and father, he was prudent, affectionate, and faithful in the discharge of every duty resulting from those interesting relations. I- As an instructor of youth, his ability and integrity were generally confessed and admired. member of civil society, he was not only remarkably inoffensive, but always ready to do good to the souls and bodies of his fellow-creatures of every denomination. - As a Christian, he exemplified the meekness, the dignity, and the purity of christianity : – In him, religion appeared at once venerable, dignified, and engaging. - As a minister of the gospel, he was not less diligent in the study than animated in the pulpit. He despised the meanness, and abhorred the dishonesty of delivering crude and indigested discourses to those whose improvement in knowledge and establisment in faith, — whose comfort, growth in grace, and salvation, were not only the professed objects of bis ministry, but objects dearer to him than life itself. He was unwearied in his endeavours to get at the mind of the Spirit in the oracles of truth; unreserved and undaunted in communicating the result of his enquiries. It was his constant study to shew himself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Not walking in craftiness, or handling the word of God deceitfully; but, by manifestation of the truth, commending himself to every man's conscience as in the sight of God.
Mr.Crole published but little. All the pieces that have come to the knowledge of the present writer, are the following:
1. Theotekton; or Meditations on Mark vi. 3.
2. Practical Remarks on Religious Profession in general, and on the Nature and Advantages of Evangelical Churches.
3. A Sermon, preached at the opening of Cheshunt College,