Edward Mitchell

The Life And Ministry Of Edward Mitchell

Earthen Vessel 1890:

Pastor Of Mount Zion Chapel, Chadwell Street, Clerkenwell

The name of our highly esteemed brother, the pastor of Chadwell Street, having, until recently, been closely associated with Guildford, we find a little difficulty in detaching it entirely from that locality. However, feeling convinced that God has placed him in his present position, we wish to become familiar to the change, knowing, as we do, that both Churches are in one and the same vineyard, and under the control of one Master, Jesus. Therefore:—

“Let saints proclaim Jehovah’s praise

And acquiesce in all His ways:

He keeps eternity in sight,

And what His hand performs is right.”

Mr. Edward Mitchell was born in Brighton on August 22nd, 1843. His beloved mother was a very gracious woman, a member of the Church at Ebenezer, Richmond Street, for forty years—called under and baptized by Joseph Sedgwick, the then worthy pastor. She frequently spake with her children relative to salvation and eternity; and would gather them together and pray with and for them. Thus the early training our brother received under the tuition of his fond mother will probably never be forgotten by him. His godly schoolmaster, Mr. W. S. Waterer, late of Hornsey Rise, always opened school with a portion of Scripture and a few words of prayer; and frequently addressed his scholars on divine things. By these means he early acquired a fair knowledge of the Bible, and knew that he needed a change of heart or he could not enter heaven. When very young he had, at times, many serious thoughts about death and eternity; and was tempted to envy the horses and dogs as they passed through the streets because they had no souls to be saved or lost.

At the age of fifteen, our brother was apprenticed to the engineering; and being placed amongst a large body of men, almost entirely ungodly, the early impressions he had received from his affectionate mother and schoolmaster, gradually wore off, and he soon entered greedily into the vanities, follies, and so-called pleasures of the world without restraint. The theatre, the music hall, the ballroom, became places that he greatly loved to visit, and whatever took with his natural inclinations he followed with zest. His conduct was a source of deep sorrow to his dear mother, who often remonstrated with him; but though he loved her much, he loved his sins more. Yet, for her sake, he generally attended the house of God once on a Lord’s day. At times the faithful testimonies he heard there from the lips of the late Israel Atkinson, much disturbed his mind. One very solemn discourse on death laid hold of his heart very powerfully, and, as a consequence, he determined to amend his ways, but his goodness, like the morning dew, soon passed away. About the same time he received some sharp chastenings, and was made to feel that the way of transgressions was hard. God also sent him many mercies, but neither judgments nor mercies changed the bent of his heart. Temporary amendments there were, but they all stood in the flesh, and ended in leaving him worse than before.

Having finished his apprenticeship, he removed to Boston, in Lincolnshire, and, being away from the parental roof, with no one to restrain. him, he ran on in the downward course for some months. But a change came over him, he began to be dissatisfied with himself, yea, he was led to despise himself and the sad life he was living, yet had no strength nor even will to turn from it. By this he could see himself a lost and miserable being, still he loved his idols, and after them he would go. But God’s time of mercy came for working a radical change in his soul. One morning, as he was going to his lodgings, to breakfast, God in an instant of time, changed his heart, and turned his face from his sins to Himself. Since then he has often looked back with grateful feelings to that eventful moment. His experience of the circumstance was as though a powerful voice spoke to him inwardly in the following language: “You are going to hell as fast as you can go, seek for mercy now, or you will be lost for ever.” Our brother now felt himself a sinner, as he had never done before, and was turned instantly from his sins (to which he had been a very slave for years) to loathe them.

At this juncture, he was led to cry repeatedly for mercy, as he feared that his very prayers had increased his condemnation. A Bible, which had been placed in his box by the hand of a loving sister before leaving home, was now eagerly searched for and read. Thus he went on for some time, crying for mercy, but fearing he should never obtain it. However, on one Lord’s-day evening shortly afterwards, he obtained his first gleam of hope. The preacher, on the occasion, read Jer. 31, and when he came to the description of Ephraim’s condition, in the 11th verse, his soul was powerfully arrested; he there saw himself fully described, but the 20th verse was as the audible voice of God Himself, speaking to him. The tenderness of the expression was too much for him; he knew not how to bear it, and sunk down in confusion, contrition and melting of heart, and thus a hope of mercy immediately sprung up in his soul. The next morning, however, his mind was darker than ever. It was a lovely day in the month of July, but he was so burdened, wretched, and miserable, that, though in perfect health, he knew not how to drag himself about in his work. But, when in this condition, instantly Jer. 31 was applied to his soul with wondrous power and sweetness: and away went darkness, load, and misery, and his whole soul was filled with light, joy, and praise to God.

In the following December, our dear brother was baptized by the late Charles Fish, and added to the Church at Ebenezer Chapel, Liqnor-pond Street, Boston. About fifteen months after this he returned to Brighton and united with the Church at Ebenezer Chapel, then under the pastoral care of the late Israel Atkinson of precious memory.

The subject of preaching the gospel of Christ then began to deeply concern our brother’s mind; but he put the thought away as well as he was able, fearing lest it should have its origin in pride or something akin to it. He also felt himself altogether unqualified and unfitted for such a solemn work. However, the Lord had designed the ministerial office for him. Mr. Virgo, pastor of Wivelsfield, then deacon at Ebenezer, asked him to go and preach at a village station at Poynings; he declined to go; but some months afterwards Mr. Virgo again pressed the matter before him; and after prayerful consideration and consultation with his beloved pastor, who encouraged him to go; he went, and was helped far beyond his expectations. A short time afterwards he preached, at the pastor’s request, twice on week nights at Ebenezer; and also spoke as opportunities were afforded him at other places in the neighbourhood.

In after years, when living at a distance from Brighton, his beloved paster, Mr. Atkinson, wrote him many excellent letters on ministerial work, &c., several of which will be found in Mr. Robert Hoddy’s Memoir of Mr. Atkinson, published in 1882.

In 1872, our beloved brother Mitchell removed in the order of Providence to Battersea, where he assisted in preaching amongst the little Church just formed in the neighbourhood of Clapham Junction, and there he continued until 1877, when, after supplying a few Lord’s days at Guildford, be received a six months’ call with a view to settlement, which ended in his becoming the pastor, and in which office he continued until September 29th, 1889, when he removed to London, having received from the friends at Mount Zion, Chadwell Street, Clerkenwell, a unanimous invitation to the pastorate six months previously. 

It will be seen in the brief record we have given of our brother Edward Mitchell’s career, that, although he has undoubtedly been the subject of many heart exercises, the dealings of the Lord have been very tenderly and lovingly measured out to him. With a view to express our belief of him as a minister of Jesus Christ, we give an adapted snatch from Cowper’s “Task,” with no desire whatever to flatter. We have always found him—

“In doctrine, uncorrupt; in language, plain,

And plain in manner; decent, solemn, chaste,

And natural in gesture much impressed

Himself, as conscious of his awful charge:

And anxious, mainly, that the flock he feeds

May feel it too; affectionate in look,

And tender in address, as well becomes

A messenger of grace to guilty men.”

Since the Lord first opened our brother’s mouth to speak in His great name, he has met with considerable acceptance amongst the Churches of truth, and his ministry has been blest to many precious souls. It is our sincere hope, therefore, that his valuable life may long be spared in usefulness and honour, as the worthy successor of the late John Hazelton of very blessed memory.—The Editor


Edward Mitchell (1843-1919) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. After serving twelve years as pastor of the church in Guilford (1877-1889), he was appointed the pastor of Mount Zion, Chadwell Street, Clerkenwell (1889-1914). He also served as President of the Metropolitan Association of Strict Baptist Churches, President of the Strict Baptist Mission, Editor for the Earthen Vessel and the Gospel Herald.