On Friday, 21st March 2014, Dr. Matthew Hyde delivered the annual lecture for the Strict Baptist Historical Society at Bethesda Chapel. After the lecture, he and I shared a brief exchange on the subject of high-calvinism and nineteenth-century Strict Baptist pastors. Since one of these pastors, John Hazelton, had been connected with the church that I pastor, his name naturally came up. Subsequent to our chat, Dr. Hyde graciously gave me one of his copies of William Styles’, “John Hazelton: A Memoir”.
I believe Baptists should be familiar with the life and ministry of John Hazelton for three reasons:
First, the life and ministry of John Hazelton is worth knowing because he was one of the leading Baptist ministers in the city of London during the nineteenth-century.
Second, the life and ministry of John Hazelton is worth knowing because he is among a gallant group of Baptist ministers who tenaciously subscribed to a high view of Sovereign Grace.
Third, the life and ministry of John Hazelton is worth knowing because he has much to teach this generation of professing Christians who like to call themselves Reformed Baptists.
The following chapters have been mainly compiled from materials supplied to the Author from various sources. His task has, therefore, to a great extent, resembled that of one who binds together into a bouquet, a number of flowers, chosen and culled by others.
His special acknowledgments are due to Mr. J. E. Hazelton, without whose laborious and indefatigable help, this Memoir of his beloved father could not have been prepared.
To the Rev. C. T. Bust, LL.B., of Westerfield, Ipswich, and the Rev. E. Spurrier, of Colchester, he is under great obligations. His respected ministerial brethren, W. Barnes, of Walshamle-Willows…
“A time to be born.”—Ecclesiastes 3:2
Most of us have stood at eventide on some tall cliff that towered above the far-stretching ocean, glowing with the reflected tints of the setting sun; while each restless wave, as it rose and fell, caught the golden glory. Then, as fresh beauties struck us—as new effects of light and shade, harmony and contrast, successively claimed our admiration—we longed for the skill of an artist to depict the scene, for our delight in coming days. The wish, though natural, was vain. The radiance departed from the solemn west; the darkness crept on and hid the distant prospect; and as the evening bell warned us of the flight of time, we wended our homeward way, with faint and fast-fleeting recollections of a vision of grandeur and loveliness.
Somewhat similar has been the case with not a few of the worthies of the great King. They served their generation wisely and well. They won esteem and love. But none were found on earth able or willing…
Cowper, “The Task,” Book III.
I was a stricken deer that left the herd
Long since. With many an arrow deep infixed
My panting side was charged, when I withdrew
To seek a tranquil death in distant shades.
There was I found by One who had Himself
Been hurt by the archers. In His side He bore
And in His hands and feet the cruel scars.
With gentle force soliciting the darts,
He drew them forth, and healed, and bade me live.
Since then, with few associates, in remote
And silent woods I wander, far from those
My former partners of the peopled scene;
With few associates, and not wishing more.
The salvation of a sinner is the result of divine arrangements which were made before the foundation of the world. The chosen of the Father were ransomed by the blood of the Son; and the power of the Spirit is…
“Put thou thy trust in God,
In duty’s path go on;
Fix on His Word thy stedfast eye,
So shall thy work be done.”
The example of our Lord and Master not only gives to the scriptural rite of baptism by immersion its highest and most solemn sanction; but His sacred experience exemplifies the wonderful privileges often conferred upon Christians who loyally and lovingly follow His holy example. As He went straightway up out of the water the heavens opened, and the Spirit, like a dove, descended upon Him; and there came a voice from heaven saying, “Thou art My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” In like manner it not unfrequently happens…
“I desire to follow providence, not to force it.”—Dr. Doddridge
“Happy the man who sees a God employed
In all the good and ill that chequer life!
Resolving all events, with their effects
And manifold results, into the will
And arbitration wise of the Supreme.”
The county of Suffolk will ever he regarded with interest by those to whom the Gospel is precious and important. Here pure and undefiled religion has long found illustrious exemplifications. In thousands of its cottage homes God has been honoured and His precepts obeyed. Its places of worship have often been associated with deeds of truest heroism, and with patient and prolonged efforts for the salvation of men, that were grand in their tenderness and…
“Along my earthly way
How many clouds are spread!
Darkness, with scarce one cheerful ray,
Seems gathering o’er my head.
Yet, Saviour, Thou art love;
Oh, hide not from my view!
But when I look in prayer above,
Appear in mercy through.
And, O! from that bright throne,
I shall look back and see—
The path I went, and that alone
Was the right path for me.”
“Our lives through various scenes are drawn.” So writes the great poet of the sanctuary; and his words find exemplification in the narrative we are relating; the next scene of which is laid in the heart of the Fens of the Eastern Counties.
This district was originally one of those immense forests which abounded in our land, broken at intervals by spaces which had been cleared, in which were farmhouses, surrounded by land either under tillage or pasturage. In course of time, however, the aspect of the country was changed. Storms which raged from the East raised the sea to…
“He that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isa. 28:19)
“Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be;
O lead me by Thine own right hand
Choose Thou the path for me.
Smooth let it be, or rough
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight it matters not,
It leads me to Thy rest.
I dare not choose my lot,
I would not if I might:
But choose Thou for me, O my God.
So shall I walk aright.”
Our narrative brings us to the year 1852. A curious lull followed the closing of the Great Exhibition of 1851, which some had considered as the pioneer of the reign of anti-christ, and others as the harbinger of the millennium, but dreams of universal and unbroken peace were soon rudely interrupted by the fierce conflicts of contending politicians…
“‘Tis not a cause of small import
The Pastor’s care demands.”—Doddridge.
“Preaching administ’ring in every work
Of his sublime vocation, in the walks
Of worldly intercourse ‘twixt man, and man,
And in his humble dwelling, he appears
A labourer with moral virtue girt,
With spiritual graces like a glory crowned.”
The settlement of a pastor over a Church is an important event in the history of religion. It is intimately connected with the glory of God, and the welfare of souls, and is to the individual himself, and to the people of his charge, the commencement of…
“Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.”—Proverbs 4:28
“There stands the messenger of truth! there stands
The legate of the skies! His theme divine,
His office sacred, his credentials clear.
By him the violated law speaks out
Its thunders; and by him, in strains as sweet
As angels use, the gospel whispers peace.”—Cowper
Chadwell-Street is in the heart of a densely populated district in the north of London, and was in 1858 one of the most advantageous positions for a dissenting chapel that could have been found in the whole of the metropolis. Many changes have occurred in recent years. Old Smithfield, which was then an institution, has disappeared. Clerkenwell was the home of…