A. D. 1690.
The Revolution had deprived us of our learned and pious Vicar, Mr.
Milner, but a kind Providence furnished us with a worthy successor,
anno 1690, the excellent Mr. Killingbeck, a public blessing to this
parish, whose preaching was with so peculiar an energy and fervency
of spirit, as was very affecting; and his life was answerable to his
preaching, truly excellent. I will give an instance of the conclusion
of a sermon, which suited well with my constitution. " I will,"
says he, " conclude with a familiar instance, like to be all our
cases ere long. Suppose thy chamber darkened, thyself laid speechless
upon a dying-bed,—a profound silence,—nothing heard but
sighs and groans and inarticulate sound of mourners, and thy poor trembling
soul ready to take its flight into an unseen world, now just gone, and
then for a few moments recalled by the stragglings and gaspings of nature
:—suppose thou hadst then the liberty of speech—oh ! how
pathetically wouldst thou bemoan thy loss of time, and delays of repentance
and reformation, never sufficiently bewailed, though in an ocean of
tears, to all eternity."
This year also, 1690, the no less pious than Right Honourable Philip, Lord Wharton, began his noble charity, in sending Bibles to be distributed to the poor. Some of a warm spirit were displeased at the conditions required of the poor children, not only to repeat seven Psalms memoriter, but the Assembly's Catechism, which wanted the stamp of public authority, and was above their capacities. But this did not hinder their repeating the Church Catechism in public; nor was it above their capacities when more adult, and it comprehends an excellent summary of the Christian religion.
Upon these conditions, fourscore Bibles were sent to Leeds, and the like number to York, £c. ; a most excellent spiritual charity, whereby many poor families, not otherwise provided, became acquainted with the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make them wise unto salvation. My Lord was pleased to continue this number to the time of his death, and condescended to acquaint me that they should be for my time too, and perhaps for ever.
I could say much concerning the good effects of this most excellent charity upon thirty years' experience : that whereas at first there came many young men and women in hopes of the Bibles, that, at sixteen or seventeen years of age, could not say (though perhaps the Lord's Prayer) the Commandments, and much less the Creed, there are now numbers that can, both these and the entire Catechism, at six or seven years of age, as appears by book containing a list of their names, &c. ; and many other people's children have been taught to read, in hopes of getting Bibles.
I had the honour of several kind letters from his Lordship; and this year also began my correspondence with the Rev. Mr. Nicholson, then Archdeacon, and since Bishop of Carlisle, a most learned and ingenious antiquary, from whom I have received many instructive letters upon those subjects, and in return communicated some matters that were not unacceptable to his Lordship. About the same time, I had the happiness to become acquainted with the pious and learned Richard Thornton, Esq. (afterwards our worthy Recorder). He had a good library, and curious collection of manuscripts ; his conversation was most pleasing and agreeable. He condescended to admit me into his intimate friendship, which was continued, to my great comfort, to the time of his never-enough-lamented death.