Newton, Robert Dd
Newton, Robert D.D., a Wesleyan preacher greatly noted for his popular oratory, was born at Roxby, Yorkshire, of poor but pious parents, Sept. 8, 1780. He was early brought under the influence of the Methodists, but was not converted until seventeen years of age, when, after nine weeks of great mental anguish, he experienced deliverance by Christian faith. In 1798, though possessed of but a limited education, he was received by the British Conference. In 1803 he was appointed to the Glasgow Circuit, and at the same time attended lectures on theology and philosophy at the University of Glasgow. While he received his appointments regularly from the Conference, most of his time was spent in England and Scotland. His appointment, in 1812, to London brought the extraordinary pulpit talents which he possessed more prominently before the public. He there became intimately associated with Butterworth and Coke in behalf of the British and Foreign Bible Society. During the rest of his life Robert Newton was the most popular advocate of missions in England. When he began his missionary labor there were but fifty Wesleyan missionaries, with seventeen thousand communicants; he soon increased them to more than three hundred and fifty missionaries and one hundred thousand communicants. The demand for his services became universal throughout England, Ireland, and Scotland. In England and Scotland he was eminently successful, especially in Sheffield, where it is said he broke the spell of Paine's influence which then prevailed among the working classes. During his labor of forty years he probably addressed from year to year a greater number of people than any other man of his time. For forty years he was known in all the cities and large towns of England, and his coming was always hailed with great pleasure by the people. He was four times elected president of the British Conference, and for many years acted as its secretary. In 1839 he was sent as a delegate by the British Conference to the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States, and during his visit to this country his popularity as a speaker was so great that he attracted vast crowds whenever he preached. He died April 30, 1854. He was the author of Sermons on Special and Ordinary Occasions, edited, with a Preface, by Rev. James H. Rigg, D.D. Lond. 1853, 8vo); these, regarded simply as pulpit compositions, are entitled to be ranked with the best published discourses which this generation has produced. "It has always seemed to us," says the London Review, July, 1856, p. 563, "that the great popularity of Dr. Newton was very inadequately explained by referring it to those rare physical characteristics, and to that sympathy and depth of feeling, which contribute mainly to the constitution of one of 'nature's orators,' and which were found pre- eminently in him. Such qualities may for a time give distinction to those who are otherwise slenderly endowed, but their conjunction with intellectual powers of a high order is required to maintain permanently a widespread influence and reputation. That Dr. Newton possessed, with other essential but inferior qualifications, great mental vigor, we find ample evidence in nearly every page of this volume; and we are at no loss to comprehend the causes which enabled him, for nearly half a century, to gather around him, wherever he went, listening and admiring crowds, and which made him the greatest preacher among a body of ministers unequaled for the power and success of their ministry in any period of the Christian Church." See Jackson, Life of Dr. R. Newton (Lond. 1855, cr. 8vo; 1856); Life, Labors, and Travels of Rev. R. Newton, D.D. (ibid. 1855, 12mo); Stevens, Hist. Methodism, 3:168, 260, 461, 504; Meth. Quar. Rev. Jan. 1856, art. 5; London Quar. Rev. July, 1855, art. i; Wesleyan Magazine, Oct. 1854, and May, 1855.