This week in History...
British Baptist Minister, 1764-1831
Robert Hall was born at Arnsby, England, May 2, 1764, and died at Bristol, February 21, 1831. He was educated at King's College, Aberdeen, where his intimate companion was James Mackintosh, afterwards the celebrated philosopher. Mackintosh lamented that by Hall's choosing the pulpit, speculative thought had lost one of its master minds. He preached for fifteen years in the Baptist church at Cambridge, and afterwards at Bristol. Through his active life he was a great sufferer from an affection of the spine, and much of his writing had to be done when lying on the floor. His noble intellect, too, suffered eclipse on several occasions, requiring his stay in an asylum. During one of these periods of mental aberration, a visitor came to the asylum and, seeing Hall, addressed himself to him, saying in a pompous tone, "And what, my dear sir, brought you here?" "Something," responded Hall, pointing to his forehead, "which will never bring you here!"
Hall was an intellectual preacher of the highest order. His voice and pulpit manner were weak, but the order and sweep of his ideas held vast congregations spellbound. Dugald Stewart, the Scottish philosopher, described Hall as one who "combines the beauties of Johnson, Addison and Burke." His few printed sermons were written out after their delivery, but the grace and elegance of the sermons as delivered are said to have surpassed even the written sermons. The one which follows was a charge delivered to Eustace Carey when he went out to India as a missionary. It is a grand declaration of the work of the Christian Church in the world.
[From Clarence Edward McCartney, Great Sermons of the World, 1958, pp. 257. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]