Foster, John

Foster, John the celebrated essayist, was born vat Halifax, Yorkshire, September 17, 1770. In early life he was set to the trade of a weaver. At the age of seventeen, having joined a Baptist. church, he entered the Baptist College at Bristol. On the completion of his studies he began preaching at Newcastle on Tyne. Being somewhat unsettled in his doctrinal views,' he sought a connection with the "General Baptists," and made an unsuccessful attempt to establish himself at Dublin. Returning to England, he labored successively at Chichester, Frome, and Downend. His moderate success as a preacher was in striking contrast with his unquestioned intellectual power sand his literary reputation. While residing at Downend he produced the Essays which have won a permanent place in English literature. Becoming disabled for labor in the pulpit, he removed to Stapleton, near Bristol, and gave himself wholly to literary pursuits. For thirteen years he was a principal contributor to the Eclectic Reviews. In 1819 he published his essay On the Evils of Popular Ignorance, which he esteemed his best production, though it has never attained to the popularity of the essay On Decision of Character. His contributions to the Eclectic Review we published ins 1840, in two volumes. A volume selected from these has been published in this country. He died October 15, 1843. Since his death have appeared Lectures delivered. at Broadmead Chapel, Bristol (2 volumes), a discourse on Missions, an essay On the Importance of Religion, written as an introduction to Doddridge's Rise and Progress, and an unfinished essay On the Improvement of Time. His Life and Correspondence, edited by J.E. Ryland ,(1846), is a work of great interest (republished in Boston). A letter written late in life, and then first published, disclosed the fact, before unsuspected, that he lad renounced the doctrine of the eternity of future Punishment. His writings are marked by strong original, often sombre thought, stimulating to the best principles and purposes. (L.E.S.)

 
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