An exceptional, museum and research worthy piece of Baptist history with exceptional provenance. The present 390 page manuscript volume is a treasure trove of 18th century spirituality and history from the period of the Great Awakening in a community deeply influenced by the itinerant ministries of George Whitefield and John Wesley. And arising from one of the most historic Baptist pulpits in England and preached contemporarily with John Gill, who was during this period at the height of his ministry. The sermons are deeply experimental, evangelical, Baptist, and Calvinistic. Further, they are written out completely in manuscript, entirely legible and, in our view worthy of publication.
The author of the present sermons was that eminent servant of Jesus, Isaac Hann [1698-1788.] Hann was prominent among the Particular Baptists and was instrumental in setting up the Western Association of Baptists in 1733 and insisting upon their alignment with the 1688 Baptist Confession of Faith. He preached the Association sermon at their annual meeting and authored the association letters distributed to its pastors.
Hann’s ministry at Loughwood Chapel, one of the most ancient of the English Baptist churches, began in 1743. His ministry was, by all accounts, a time of refreshing and great grace. During the same period, a significant revival occurred in Axminster [where Loughwood resides] under the ministries of George Whitefield and John Wesley. If the accounts of “thousands” in attendance at the open air meetings from Whitefield’s journals are accurate, it seems almost necessary that Loughwood Chapel was impacted by the season of awakening. Hann resigned in 1763 and commenced his ministry in Upottery. With two other pastors in between, Richard Gill was chosen for Loughwood in 1788. His ministry was highly blessed. His own son, Henry V. Gill, was graciously converted, experienced a call to the sacred ministry among the Baptists, and pastored at Loughwood for 38 years after his father. The present volume bears the signature of H. V. Gill, through whose family the manuscript has descended.
An early 19th century stone in Loughwood Chapel reads, “In memory of the Rev. Isaac Hann, an old disciple, and a truly able, eminent, and faithful minister of Jesus Christ. He was for many years the worthy pastor of this Christian church, and universally respected by all the churches in the circle of his extensive acquaintance. . . He died in peace, March 17, 1778, aged 88 years. Wit sprarkled in his pleasing face | with zeal his heart was fired | Few ministers so humble were | Yet few so much admired | Ripened for Heaven by grace divine | Like autumn fruit he fell | Reading, think not to live so long | But seek to live so well.”
The volume is a standard larger 8vo comprised of 213pp and 157 pages, totaling approximately 185,000 words, written between 1744 and 1764,bound back to back and contains:
Six Sermons upon Acts 16:14: And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshiped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. [On the work of the Spirit in the opening of the heart, election, and saving faith]
Ten Sermons upon Acts 22:18: Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. [On the dangers of rejecting Christ]
Two Sermons upon Romans 11:36: For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen. [A stunning pair of sermons on the glory of Christ in redemption]
Two Sermons upon Jude 24, 25: Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. [Superb on the grace of Christ in the perseverance of the saints]
Three Sermons upon Exodus 34:6: The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. . .
One Sermon on Peace upon Psalm 147: 14: He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat.
One Sermon on Account of a Fire in Axminster upon I Samuel 4:22: The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.
Two Sermons upon Ephesians 5:15: See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.
One Sermon upon John 10:28: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
“Twas God’s rich mercy which prompted him thus to regard poor helpless creatures, and the apostle also endeavours to make all believers sensible how deeply they are indebted to the divine mercy when he thus speaks, not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. Oh there is an eminent display of the divine mercy of God therein, to have the heart opened to receive the word of God and diligently attend to the things that have reference to a person’s everlasting peace, to have the inclination of the soul turned from sin to holiness, to be rescued from the tyranny of Satan and from the dreadful slavery of his own lusts!”
“The ministers and servants of Christ that are to publish his Gospel must be furnished out by him in whose name they come. They must not publish their own vain imaginations concerning him; but what he commissions them to speak, that are they to deliver. . . . and though ministers of Christ in general are not indeed called into the ministry in such a surprising way as the Apostle Paul was, great care is requisite that men intrude not themselves into this sacred office. Some there are to whom God thus speaks, ‘What have ye to do to declare my statutes? Or that thou shoulds’t take my name into thy mouth?’ They never received a commission from Christ, and yet they dare take upon them to bear a testimony concerning him. Such therefore would do well to consider whether indeed they have a call to the work in which they are engag’d or not? For unless Christ has intrusted them with his Gospel they have no reason to expect his presence in their work or his blessing upon their labours; such should seriously weigh what the Lord speaks concerning some that pretended to be his servants when he never employed them to His work. ‘I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophecied.’ They who enter upon the work of the ministry without Christ’s warrant have no room to wonder if they fall into error and publish that concerning Christ which is not founded on his word, but takes rise from their own imaginations. . . . Those whom Christ has not sent have never received the Gospel from Him, and consequently they have not authority to give their Testimony concerning him.”
“They that are clothed with the perfect robe of his righteousness shall all see without the least consternation, shall find all peaceable within, and lift up their head knowing that their everlasting redemption draweth nigh. They that are then adorn’d with the robe will appear glorious indeed; this is that white raiment spoken of in Revelation 3 wherewith a poor sinner, being once arrayed, the shame of his nakedness, the guilt of his transgressions can appear no more forever. It is a truth that must and will be dear to all those that have felt the power of it upon their hearts.”