The hidden Life of a Christian, exemplified in the Diary, Meditations, and Letters, of a young Minister, published from authentic Manuscripts, by Thomas Gibbons; with a recommendatory Preface, by the Rev W B Crathern, Dedham, Essex. Sold by Manden, Colchester; Simpkin and Marshall, London, &c. 1816
These memoirs were first published by Dr Gibbons, in 1752, from manuscripts delivered to him by the sister of the deceased, in his own hand, with an injunction to conceal his name.* A great part of the Diary was drawn up at a very early period of life. He was the subject of serious impressions when very young; and, at twelve years of age, he made a solemn dedication of himself to the Lord. "I am resolved," says he, "in God's strength, otherwise of myself I can do nothing, for the future, to make the glory of God my aim and end in every thing I go about. I have ventured my soul on Christ, and given up my all to him. I cannot, but abhor the thought of going back. He giveth more grace. The Lord give me more as 1 need it. I would not forget this day, wherefore I date it June 3,1711."
When he was fourteen he joined his father's church. While he felt the deepest sense of unworthiness, he rested his hope with firmness on the sure foundation. "On thee," says he, "О Jesus, who art almighty to save, whom God hath made strong for himself, but no venture at all on such a sure foundation. Here I rest, and stay my whole soul, a sinking soul, under whose weight the shoulders of an archangel would bow." When he was about eighteen, he was desired by some friends to tum his thoughts to the work of the ministry, for which his father had designed him, if God so inclined his heart; in reference to which, he observes, "By reason of some conversation with my friends, my thoughts were this evening especially led to what my relations have desired I might be, if it were the will of God, even and with awe do I speak it, (trembling at my own unworthiness) a minister of Jesus Christ. Though unworthy of so great an office, and high calling, yet in an humble manner, I am willing, if God would touch my lips with a coal from the altar, to say, Here am I, send me. And when God sends, he gives qualifications, which I humbly and entirely expect from him. Here is learning of divers kinds, in the prosecution of which, I rise up early, and sit up late; yet I hope I can say with my whole heart, that ray dependence is ten thousand times more upon the teaching of the Spirit, than all this learning."**
We regret that our limits will not allow of more extracts, highly interesting, from this valuable work; for the Diary, Meditations and Letters, are all excellent. They are adapted to the young, and especially to those who in the bloom of life are sinking into the grave - and young ministers will find much to edify and improve them. We can only notice the happy manner in which he finished his short course. The day before he died, he tuned, as far as he was able, an anthem, and said, "My soul doth rejoice, and therefore I sing." About four o'clock the next morning, having turned his eyes to one of his friends, he whispered, in a feeble, interrupted voice, but yet distinct enough to he heard, "Peace - Praise - I have peace," and so expired.
*It may gratify some of our readers to be informed, that the worthy young minister was Mr Timothy Thomas, the son of the Rev Timothy Thomas, Baptist minister, at Pershore, in Worcestershire. The father was grandson of the Rev John Evans, of Wrexham, whose son was Dr John Evans, the author of two volumes of sermons on the Christian Temper. Mr. Timothy Thomas, (the father) was very popular and useful at Pershore, for 20 years. He died January 10, 1716, aged 40 years. The son survived him but about four years, and died of a decline, in his 22d year, 1720. Both father and son were buried in the parish church-yard at Pershore, where a handsome tomb-stone records their names. The worthy sister, to whom Dr. Gibbons dedicated the work, was Mrs Gillam, the mother of the late Mr Gillam, of Worcester, whose widow, and some of his children, now reside in that city; a family well known, and highly respected.
**In the preface, Dr Gibbons intimates,"that he finished his course quickly, after his entrance upon the ministerial office." It appears that he preached at Pershore, more or less, as his state of declining health would allow, for two or three years.