Townley, James (2), Dd
Townley, James (2), D.D.
an eminent Wesleyan minister, was born in Manchester, England, May 11, 1774. His early education was received at the school of Rev. David Simpson (q.v.) of Macclesfield. The training of his pious mother and the impressions made upon his heart by the funeral services of his lamented teacher, resulted in the commencement of that earnest and true Christianity which was ever his best adornment. He became a local preacher at the age of nineteen, and in 1796 was received on probation as an itinerant, from which time until 1832 he fulfilled the duties his ministry faithfully and with increasing honor. In 1827 he was appointed general secretary of the Wesleyan Missionary Society, in which office he abounded in loving and arduous services. At the Conference at Sheffield in 1829 he was elected to the chair, he presided at the Irish Conference of 1830, and retired to Ramsgate in, 1832. This forced cessation from active work was due to physical prostration under his great literary, mission office, and presidential toils. Dissolution, in fact, was already in progress; it was only a question of time. After a sickness of great suffering, the spirit of the gentle and generous Townley was released in the triumph of peace and faith, Dec. 12,1833.
Amid the active duties of his pastorate and offices, Dr. Townlev devoted himself to literary labors with an indomitable perseverance. His studies in Biblical lines made him in all probability the most learned man in the Wesleyan Conference after the death of Dr. Clarke (whom he only survived fifteen months and a half), particularly in all relating to the literary history of the Bible, The following is a list of his works: Biblical Anecdotes (Lond. 1813, 12nmo). Illustrations of Biblical Literature, exhibiting the history and fate of the sacred writings, including notices of translators and other eminent Biblical scholars (ibid. 1821, 3 vols. 8vo; N.Y. 1842, 2 vols. 8vo) — Essays on various subjects in ecclesiastical history and antiquity (Lond. 182.4): — The Reason: of the Laws of Moses, from the More Nebochim of Maimonides, excellently translated, with notes (100 pp.), dissertations (nine), and life of the author (ibid. 1827, 8vo): — Introd. to Literary Hist.
of the Bible (ibid. 1828, 12mo; N. Y. 1832 [a kind of a sequel to his Anecdotes, and introduction to his Biblical Literature): — Introd. to the Critical Study of the Old and New Testaments (his last): — Sermon (in the volume of Miscellaneous Sermons, by Wesleyans, published at the Conference Office [Lond. 1833]).: — History of Missions (valuable sketches published posthumously in the Wesl. Meth. Mag. for 1834, an earnest of an exhaustive work to have, been written had his life been spared): — various articles in the Meth. Mag., etc.
Dr. Townley's fame rests upon his Biblical Literature, a work as valuable now as it was upon the day of its publication, and which the Eclectic Review (18, 386, 407) affirms to be the most comprehensive of the kind in the world. It won for him the doctorate from an American university (that being the first instance of such a degree being conferred upon an English Wesleyan minister), the congratulations of the University of Dublin, and numerous encomiums slight compensation, however, for the immense labor it cost. For reviews and notices of this work see Meth. Quar. Rev. July, 1843, art. 1; October, 1842, p. 638; Christ. Rev. [Baptist], June, 1844 (by Dr. Smith); Meth. Quar. Mag. 1822, see Index; Orme, Biblioth. Bibl. p. 435; Horne, Introd. etc. On the Life of Dr. Townley, see Minutes of Eng. Conf. 1834; Hoole, Wesl. Meth. Mag. May, 1835; Peck, in Amer. ed. of Bibl. Lit. vol. 1; Smith, Hist. of Wesl. Meth. 2, 649, 650; 3, 144-146, 203; Stevens, Hist. of Methodism, 2, 79; Meth. Mag. 1834, p. 78.