Gurney, Joseph John
Gurney, Joseph John, an eminent minister of the Gospel, Christian philanthropist, and theological writer, was born at Earlham Hall, near Norwich, England, Aug. 2, 1788.
The family of Gurney, or Gournay sprang from a house of Norman barons who followed William the Conqueror into England. Such was his reputation for wisdom, discrimination, and sound scholarship, that lord Morpeth, when in Philadelphia, used to say, "Mr. Gurney is authority upon any subject in London." Although his family for two centuries deservedly wielded great influence in Norfolk, his large reputation is based upon his individual character and merits. In early manhood he dedicated himself to the service of his divine Redeemer, and made an open Christian confession as a member of the religious Society of Friends, in which Church he became an illustrious minister, being instrumental in winning many souls to Christ in Great Britain and Ireland. In the love of the Gospel, he made three missionary visits to the continent of Europe, and spent three years (1837-40) in North America and the West India Islands, preaching Christ with powerful demonstration of the Spirit. He often joined his sister, the celebrated and excellent Elizabeth Fry, in labors in the British prisons. The apostolic character of his preaching is shown in the volume of sermons and prayers delivered in Philadelphia in the winter of 1838, and taken in short- hand by Edward Hopper, Esq. Possessed of great wealth, he was a faithful steward, and his large-hearted and well-directed benevolence was "like the dew, with silent, genial power, felt in the bloom it leaves along the meads." He was the associate of Clarkson, Wilberforce, his brother-in-law, Sir T. Fowell Buxton, and others, in the successful efforts for the abolition of slavery; and he was never known to be silent or unsympathizing when Others needed his voice or his purse. Eminent as were his gifts and acquirements, his simplicity of character and humility, and, more than all, his conformity to the will of Christ, made him the sweet and willing minister and servant of all. In this capacity he served his generation according to the will of God. In his Christian authorship, his influence for good will extend to successive generations. His principal writings are as follows: Observations on the distinguishing Views of the Society of Friends (this is a standard book — the seventh edition, containing the author's latest revisions, and an introductory treatise of great value, should supersede former editions): — Essays on Christianity: — Biblical Notes on the Deity of Christ (an illustration of the texts relating to this subject): — Essays on the habitual Exercise of Love to God as a Preparation for Heaven: — A Letter to a Friend on the Doctrine of Redemption: — Hints on the portable Evidences of Christianity: — Brief Remarks on the History, Authority, and Use of the Sabbath: — Guide to the Instruction of young Persons in the holy Scriptures: — On the moral Character of on;
Lord Jesus Christ: — Christianity a Religion of Motives: — An Account of John Stratford: — An Address to the Mechanics of Manchester: — The Accordance of geological Discovery with natural and revealed Religion: — Familiar Sketches of the late William Wilberforce: — Chalmeriana: — Sabbatical Verses, and other Poems: — A Winter in the West Indies: — A Journey in North America, described in familiar Letters to Amelia Opie: — Thoughts on Habit and Discipline: — Terms of Union in the Bible Society: — Puseyism traced to its Root: — Notes on Prisons and Prison Discipline, etc. His last publication was an admirable and Christian declaration of his faith. In him was illustrated the Scripture, "The path of the just is as a shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day." He fell asleep in Jesus Jan. 4, 1847. See Memorial issued by London Yearly Meeting; J. B. Braithwaite, Memoirs of J. J. Gurney, with Selections from his Journal and Correspondence (Norwich, 2 vols. 8vo); Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, 22:854; Allibone, Dict. of Authors, i, 750. (W.A.)