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FOUNDERS'-HALL, LOTHBURY,- Independent. ,
the Three Cranes, of which Mr. Samuel Pike was pastor. Mr. Barber, after preaching upwards of thirty years at Founders'-Hall, upon the expiration of the lease, in 1797, united his people with the Independent congregation at Aldermanbury Postern, under the pastoral care of the Rev. Thomas Towle; and upon Mr. Towle's death, in 1806, assumed the sole charge of the united society. At that place we shall make further mention of Mr. Barber. Upon bis removal, a fresh lease of the meeting-house, was taken by the Independent congregation at Pinners'-Hall, of which Mr. Crole was pastor; and by this church it is now occupied
The meeting-house is situated at the top of Founders'Hall Court, and is accessible by means of a flight of stairs, the lower part being occupied for a tavern. The building is of an oblong form, the size moderate, and the whole fitted up with great neatness. There are four galleries, one being raised a tier above the rest. The congregation is in a respectable state, and the church upon the Independent board.
As this church is but of modern date, the history of it is extremely short : we have to record the life and labours of only one pastor, who finished his course but a few years ago. The present minister is the second in succession.
1778 1803 1804 18..
ANTHONY Crole. This worthy minister was a native of Scotland, and born in the year 1740, at the village of Fettercairn, in the shire of Kincardine, about twelve miles from Montrose. At seven years of age he had the misfortune to lose his father, who was a serious man ; but this
want did not deprive him of the inestimable privilege of a religious education. His pious mother discharged, with affectionate fidelity, the important trust that devolved upon her; and it pleased God that her instruction and example made a deep and lasting impression upon his mind. To the pious labours of a worthy school-master, under whose care he was placed, Mr. Crole ascribed much of his early improvement in religious knowledge. This good man used to catechise his pupils, and, with great seriousness, and in a inanner suited to their understandings, would explain and inculcate the important truths and duties of religion. A text of scripture explained upon one of these occasions, greatly affected the mind of Mr. Crole. It was this : One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Many years afterwards, when he visited the place of his nativity, he had the satisfaction to find his venerable preceptor still living. Though age had deprived him of his sight, his faculties were unimpaired; and he enjoyed the exquisite pleasure, not only of hearing his former pupil preach with great acceptance, but also of receiving from him every expression of affectionate and grateful remembrance.
Upon his leaving school, Mr. Crole was apprenticed to a cabinet-maker, and, in this situation, he was not only regular and decent in his general conduct, but his integrity and industry were truly exemplary. He was assiduous in attending on the means of religious instruction; and, at the age of sixteen, received the Lord's-Supper. After the expiration of his apprenticeship, he left his native country and though he passed through scenes of great temptation, still retained a strong sense of religion, and was remarkably circumspect in his morals. At about twenty-two years of age, he removed to London; and having established a business for himself, it pleased God to prosper him, so that he lived very comfortably. He now availed himself of every opportunity to hear the gospel. Mr. Cruden, of Crown
court, was the minister whom he chiefly attended; but the preaching of Mr. Madan, was the means of bringing him to clearer views of the gospel. Soon afterwards, he became a member of a small, but respectable society, which then met in Archer-street, and more lately in Castle-street, Leicestersquare.' Here, after much solicitation, he was prevailed upon to deliver his sentiments on some religious subject, which had been previously proposed for discussion. The unaffected simplicity, seriousness, and ability with which he delivered his sentiments on these occasions, gained him the esteem of his hearers, and convinced them that his talents ought to be employed in the service of the sanctuary.
It was a considerable time, however, before Mr. Crole exercised his gifts in public. His first sermon was delivered at Mr. Messer's meeting-house, in Grafton-street; where, on the failure of an expected supply, a friend observing Mr. Crole in the gallery, went to him, and brought him most reluctantly into the pulpit. Though greatly agitated on this occasion, not daring, as he afterwards told his friends, to lift up his eyes during the whole service, yet his labours were very acceptable to the congregation. From this time, he received many applications to preach ; but as he wished to pass through a course of preparatory studies, he, with this view, relinquished his business, and went to the College of Trevecca. There he diligently, and successfully applied himself to recover his knowledge of the Latin, and to gain an acquaintance with the Greek and Hebrew languages. The patroness of that institution, the late Countess of Huntingdon, know how to appreciate his talents ; but did not fully enter into his ideas respecting the necessity of improving them by an unremitted application to academical studiet. She, therefore, urged him immediately to commence his ministerial labours. As far as he could with propriety, Mr. Crole resisted her ladyship's importunity in the most respectful and decided manner, giving her to understand, that his principal object in coming under her
roof, being the acquirement of knowledge, he could not continue in the college, unless he was permitted to enjoy those literary advantages which he had been encouraged to expect. In this connexion Mr. Crole continued three years
and from the testimony of his fellow-students it appears, that such was his diligence in study, so exemplary his conduct in the family, and so evident his superiority in knowledge and experience, that they revered him as a father. For some time he itinerated; and in this service his labours were abundant. His zeal, prudence, and fortitude were worthy of the besť times of Christianity; and though lie laboured under many discouragements, and, in some instances, was cruelly mal-treated; yet, through good report and evil report, honoured and caressed by the friends, or despised and persecuted by the enemies of religion, he failed not to declare the whole counsel of God. Nor did he labour in vain, but was the instrument of great good to the souls of many; ant he had the consolation, at a late period of life, to hear of some remarkable instances, in which his early labours had been followed with a blessing to those who were never personally knowu to him.
But while this excellent man was thus faithfully and successfully labouring to bring sinners to Christ, he was, for å considerable time, harassed with the most distressing doubts respecting his own interest in the Redeemer; and, though he frequently administered seasonable and acceptable words of consolation to the weary and heavy laden, yet his own soul was bowed down with sorrow. Though the great Head of the church was now honouring him with many seals to his ministry, and his friends were abundantly satisfied respecting his call to the work, yet the state of his mind on this subject, was such as can scarcely be conceived by those who have not been in a similar situation. His ideas of the awful responsibility attached to the character of a minister VOL. II.
FOUNDERS'-HALL, LOTHBURY.-- -- Independent
of the gospel, were accompanied with the most humiliating and painful apprehensions of his own unworthiness and insufficiency. He was now strongly tempted to relinquish the ministry, into which he feared that he had unwarrantably intruded himself. But he was restrained by the dread of adding the guilt of treachery to that of rashness, and at the same time, being convinced of the truth and importance of the doctrines which he preached, and somewhat encouraged by the success of his former labours, he was not altogether without hope that the Lord might be pleased to put honour upon his word, and bless the ordinances of his own institution, however unworthy the instrument by whom they were dispensed.
In this state of darkness Mr. Crole was suffered to continuc for some time ; and while it lasted, his mind was often so entirely absorbed in gloomy thought, that he would scarcely have provided himself with necessaries, or have been sensible to the want of them, had not the kind circumstances of his friends, and a rooted dislike to the very appearance of affectation, rouzed him to pay some attention to the things of this life. Under the pressure of this burden his work dragged on heavily, and he grew almost weary of life. But, at length, the light broke in upon his mind, and he was indulged with such manifestations of the divine favour as entirely removed his fears; and, from that time to the day of his death, it is believed that he never once doubted his interest in the Redeemer, nor his call to the work of the ministry.
About the year 1776, Mr. Crole returned to London, and first preached at Cumberland-street chapel; where, on receiving an unanimous call from the congregation, he was ordained to the pastoral office. With this people he contipued his ministry for some time with great acceptance, unwearied diligence, and considerable success.
But some differences arising in the congregation, chiefly respecting forms of worship, and church order, Mr. Crole, and a cout