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NEW BROAD-STREET, PETTY.FRANCE.-Presbyterian, Extinct.
by Mr. Vincent, continued to meet in Hand-alley, upwards of threescore years; but in 1729, they erected a new meeting-house, in New Broad-street, Petty-France. opened by Dr. Evans, on the 14th of December, in that year. This was a large substantial building, with three good galleries, and capable of seating a numerous congregation.
The society was collected soon after Bartholomew-day, by the Rev. Thomas Vincent, who had been ejected from a living in the city, and was, afterwards, very useful as a preacher. Several of his successors were ministers of eminence in their day, and distinguished themselves by their writings no less than by their learning and piety, The names of Dr. Daniel Williams, and Dr. John Evans, who were pastors of this church, will always be mentioned in terms of particular respect. The congregation at the old meeting was very large and substantial, and continued so for some years after their removal to the new place; but for the last thirty or forty years it gradually declined. At length, upon the expiration of the lease, about the year 1780, it was reduced to so low a state, that a renewal became unadvisable; and the church dissolved. Shortly after, the meeting-house was taken down, and the present handsome range of buildings erected on the site. In point of doctrinal sentiment, the ministers of this society have deviated not very materially from the Harmony of Confessions of the Reformed Churches, with the exception of Mr. John Palmer, the last minister, who was reckoned a Socinian.
The ministers of this society, from its origin, have been
THOMAS VINCENT, M. A.-This laborious and useful minister was born in the month of May, 1634, in the town of Hertford. He was the eldest son of Mr. John Vincent, a native of the West of England, but who died in the rich living of Sedgfield, in the bishopric of Durham. Of this excellent man it was observed, that he was so harassed for nonconformity, that though he had many children, not two of them were born in the same county. Another of his sons was Mr. Nathaniel Vincent, likewise one of the Bartholomew confessors, whose name will appear again in the course of this work. Mr. Thomas Vincent received his grammarlearning first in Westminster-school, and afterwards at Felsted, in Essex. In 1648, he was entered a student of Christ-church, Oxford. There, he conducted himself with so much propriety, that upon his proceeding Master of Arts, in 1654, the president of the college preferred him to the situation of Catechist; an office held only by senior students.
Upon his leaving Oxford, Mr. Vincent became chaplain to Robert, Earl of Leicester. Afterwards, he succeeded
NEW BROAD-STREET, PETTY-FRANCE
- Presbyterian, Extinct.
to the living of St. Mary Magdalen, Milk-street, in the room of Mr. Case, who was dispossessed for refusing the engagement. Here he continued till Bartholomew-day, 1662, when he was deprived for nonconformity. After this, he was employed sometime in teaching academical learning at Islington, in conjunction with the famous Mr. Thomas Doolittle, whom he likewise assisted in the work of the ministry, which they carried on privately, as the times would allow. The plague raging violently in the city, in 1665, Mr. Vincent acquainted his good friend and colleague with his design to quit that employment, and devote himself chiefly to the visitation of the sick, and the instruction of the healthy, in that time of pressing necessity. Mr. Doolittle, from a sense of the danger to wbich he would expose himself, endeavoured to dissuade him from his design; but Mr. Vincent not being satisfied with his reasoning, the case was referred to the city ministers. To them, he stated candidly, his reasons for wishing to persevere. Having carefully examined the state of his own soul, he could look death in the face with comfort; and it was absolutely necessary that such vast numbers of dying people should have some spiritual assistance. He could have no prospect of ministerial usefulness equal to that which now presented itself; and he had solemnly committed himself to the disposal of Providence. The ministers having heard his reasons, unanimously declared their satisfaction and joy; and united in prayer for his protection and success.
Mr. Vincent now applied himself to his work with the greatest courage and assiduity. Through the whole visitation, he preached constantly in some parish church, every Lord's-day. The subjects he discussed were pathetic and searching; and the awfulness of the judgnient gave a peculiar edge both to preacher and hearers. It was a general inquiry through the week, where Mr. Vincent was to preach on the following sabbath. Multitudes followed him whereever he went, and' many were awakened under his ministry.
NEW BROAD-STREET, PETTY-FRANCE.
He visited those who sent for hiin, without fear; and administered such advice as was suited to their necessities. Notwithstanding the danger to which he exposed himself, it pleased God to take particular care of him. For, though the whole number reckoned to have died of the plague in that year, was 68,596, and it proved fatal to seven persons in the family where he lived, yet he continued in perfect health during the whole of the time.* (F)
(F) His account of the plague in his treatise, entitled, God's Terrible Voice in the City, is very affecting. He there tells us, that it was in Holland, in 1664, and the same year began in some remote parts of this land, though the weekly bills of the city took notice but of three that then died' there of that disease. In the beginning of May, 1665, wine died of it in the heart of the city, and eight in the suburbs. The next week, the bill fell from nine to three. In the next week it mounted from three to fourteen, in the next to seventeen, in the next to forty-three. In June the number increased, from 43 to 112; the next week to 168 ; the next to 267 ; the next to 470. In the first week of July, the number arose to 725, the next week to 1089, the next to 1843, the next to 2010. In the first week in August, the number amounted to 2817, the next to 3880, the next to 4937, the next to 6102. In September a decrease of the distemper was hoped for : but it was not yet come to its height. In the first week there died of it 6988: and though in the second week the number abated to 6544, yet in the third week it arose to 7105, which was the highest : and then of the one hundred and thirty parishes in and about the city, there were but four which were not infected ; and in those there were but few people remaining that were not gone into the country. In the house where Mr. Vincent lived, there were eight in family; three men, three youths, an old woman, and a maid. It was the latter end of September before any of them were touched. The maid was first seized with the distemper, which began with a shivering and trembling in her flesh, and quickly seized on her spirits. This was on the Monday, and she died on the Thursday full of tokens. On Friday one of the youths had a swelling in his groin ; and on the Lord'sday died with the marks of the distemper upon him. On the same day another of the youths sickened, and on the Wednesday following he died. On the Thursday night the master of the house fell sick, and within a day or two was full of spots, but was strangely recovered, beyond his own or the expectations of others. In the fourth week in September there was a decrease, Vol. II.
NEW DROAD-STREET, PETTY-FRANCE.--Presbyterian, Extinct.
After the termination of this dismal calamity, Mr. Vincent gathered a numerous congregation of Nonconformists, whose place of meeting is said to have been in Hand-alley, Bishopsgate-street ; but Mr. Wood says, “ he preached in a conventicle at Hogsden, near London, till his dying day.”+ These accounts are to be reconciled thus: During the life time of Mr. Vincent, his congregation met at Hoxton; but after his death they removed to Hand-alley, of the church at which place he certainly was the founder. He continued in the diligent discharge of his office as a faithful and laborious pastor, till death, the great silencer, removed him to his everlasting rest.
The end of Mr. Vincent was triumphantly happy, and truly instructive to those who witnessed it. The night before his death, he broke out in the following language, expressive of his comfort, peace, and joy: “ Farewell the world, the pleasures, profits, and honours of the world; farewell sin ; I shall ever be with the Lord : farewell my dear wife, farewell my dear children, farewell my servants, and farewell my spiritual children.” With the latter, he left the following advice; “ Be careful in your choice of a pastor; choose one who in his doctrine, life, and manners, may adorn the gospel; I shall be glad to meet you all in heaven.” The approach of the last enemy, he hailed thus : “ O noble death, welcome, welcome! Death hath wounded my head; death hath wounded my breast, (which was diseased,) but he hath not wounded my conscience, blessed be God." He then said, “ Hasten, hasten, oh hasten death! where is thy
to 5539. In the first weck of October, there was a farther decrease to 4929; in the next to 4327, the next to 2665, the next 1421, and the next to 1031. The first week in November, there was an increase, to 1414 ; but it fell the week after to 1050, and the week after to 652, and so lessened more and more to the end of the year. And the whole number of those that were reckoned to die of the plague in London, this year, was 68,596.
+ Wood's Athenæ, vol. j. p. 622.