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MEMOIR OF THE REV. WILLIAM BENNET,
LATE OF CHAPEL-EN-LE-FRITH.
IT has been often remarked, that the life of a retired scholar, or a divine not actively engaged in the ministry of the Gospel, affords little to interest or instruct mankind. This observation, though in most cases just, will doubtless admit of exceptions. Some such instances of variation from the general rule are occasionally introduced to public notice; and that this has not been more frequently done, has probably arisen from the difficulty of the undertaking. To collect the necessary materials, is, in such cases, often impossible; and even where it can, in some measure, be accomplished, it is a task to which no ordinary diligence is competent.
These remarks are perhaps not inapplicable to the case of the Rev. William Bennet, a gentleman who, for a considerable part of his life, was little known to the world, except by his publications, but whose talents and acquirements, as well as his ardent attachment to the interests of "pure and undefiled religion," justly claim for him a respectful memorial among the records of departed worth. It is, however, much to be regretted, that our means of performing this duty are very insufficient; but we shall cheerfully endeavour to "gather up the fragments which remain, that nothing may be lost."
Mr. Bennet was the second son of John and Grace Bennet, and CONG. MAG. No. 61.
was born December 24, 1752, at Lee-End, in Chinley, a village near to Chapel-en-le-Frith. He was singularly honoured in his parents, of whom it is difficult to speak without exceeding the proper bounds. His father was a man of respectable family in Derbyshire, and had been intended for one of the learned professions, with a view to which he received a good classical education; but having heard, much to his own. spiritual profit, one of the itinerant Methodist preachers, he became warmly attached to them, and was the first person by whom they were introduced into his own and the adjoining counties. In 1743, he entered, as a preacher, into connexion with Whitfield and Wesley, and laboured indefatigably in the ministry of the Gospel. For some time after the separation between those two eminent men, Mr. B. adhered to Mr. Wesley, and superintended a circuit. Some diversities of religious opinion, however, springing up between them, particularly respecting the righteousness of Christ being imputed to believers, as the only ground of their justification before God, (which Mr. B. openly avowed,) together with some other occasions of uneasiness, they publicly separated at Bolton, in April, 1752. In 1754, a meeting-house was erected for him at Warburton, in Cheshire, a thinly inhabited part B