St Peter's School and Church, Walworth

St Peter's School and Church, Walworth

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Memoirs of a Christian Friend

In 1849 a small book by Edward D. Jones entitled Immortality Unveiled; or Revelation Essential to Right Knowledge of God was posthumously published. The book’s preface, including a memoir of the author, was written by the Rev. Francis F. Statham. His own personal copy of this book is now held in the British Library, and contains copious notes in the margins in Statham’s own hand.

It was published in the month’s following Jones’s death on May 3, 1849. Both preface and handwritten marginal jottings are Calvinistic in character. It is clear that Statham believes in the doctrines of grace. “Search the scriptures daily,” he urges the reader, “think more seriously, believe more faithfully.” The subject of the book, completed ten years earlier, concerns the truth of God’s Revelation to man, i.e. the Holy Scriptures.

In the brief memoir of Jones, Statham describes his friend’s interest, whilst at college, in the pernicious French philosophers of the eighteenth century. Were it not for the Lord’s restraining hand on him, he says, he could well have followed those harmful theorists.

Edward Jones, himself a local worthy, lived in Carter Street. He and Statham had been fine friends for over twenty years. Jones was a liberal contributor to local charities and the poor of the district, helping a number of individuals financially after they had fallen from respectable positions into poverty. “His purse” we are told, was “ever open to the appeals of the really destitute and deserving, and [his] heart ever warmed to the plea of the widow or the cry of the orphan or distressed.”

Jones wish was to one day have his book (completed in 1838) printed and distributed free or for a minimum charge, chiefly in his own parish. It was therefore put into the “care and inspection” of Francis F. Statham, his minister from St Peter’s.

Born in 1780, Edward Jones suffered from a nervous disorder, a long illness that helped shape him into a more solemn character of sober piety. He believed his affliction to be the work of God for his own sanctification.

The first edition of Immortality Unveiled was distributed free of charge in the area. Subsequent editions were sold at a small price, in aid of the labouring funds of the St Peter’s National Schools

Statham’s own works appeared as a number of published sermons. One that has survived, titled Loyalty – a Christian Duty, is a sermon on the text 1 Peter 2v17, and preached on the Sunday after the insurrection in Paris in June1848.* (* Known as The June Days, three days of bloody fighting on the streets of the French capital. The crushing of this uprising ensured the conservative nature of the Republic, creating among the bourgeoisie a fear of working-class radicalism that influenced French politics for the next quarter-century.) Clearly shocked by the reports of this terrible violence across the Channel, Statham advocates the divine appointment of kingly power and the consequent Christian duty of loyalty. 

He concludes by urging his hearers: “Let it be our constant prayer that our beloved country may long be spared from the horrors of civil dissension, let us assist, each in his several sphere to inculcate a love of order and obedience to the constituted authorities of the land, and let us look up with honour and reverence to that Beloved Sovereign [Queen Victoria] whom it has pleased God to call to reign over us. Let us pray daily for the abundant outpouring of the grace of God upon her head, that she may be blessed in all her counsels with ‘the spirit of wisdom and might’, and be long spared to reign in the hearts of a grateful people, and to be the honoured instrument for promoting their temporal and spiritual welfare.”

Statham’s other works include The Message of the Spirit to the Seven Churches of Asia, a volume containing a series of seven lectures preached during that same summer of 1848 based on two chapters in the book of Revelation..

Immortality Unveiled; or Revelation Essential to Right Knowledge of God; with a preface, memoir of the author, and notes by FF Statham. Published: London 1849. Shelf: 4014.a.37. Author: Jones, Edward D.
Loyalty – a Christian Duty. A sermon (on 1 Peter 2v17) preached on the Sunday after the insurrection in Paris etc. Published: London 1848. Shelf: 4478.f.54. Author: Statham
Copyright: Jack McInroy © 2010

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