JOHN GILL was born at Kettering in Northamptonshire, November 23rd, 1697, and ordained to the pastoral office over this church, March 22nd, 1720, being then in the twenty-third year of his age. A man of profound learning and deep piety, he was notable as a divine for the exactness of his systematic theology in which he maintained the doctrines of grace against the innovations of Arminian teachers. His “BODY OF DIVNITY” has long been held in the highest repute. As the fervent exposition of an entire and harmonious creed, it has no rival. His famous treatise entitled “THE CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH,” obtained for him the championship of the Calvinistic School of Divinity. He likewise published a voluminous “COMMENTARY ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES” in nine volumes folio, remarkable for the copiousness of its glossary, the brilliance of its argument, his apprehension of prophecy, and the richness of his Hebrew scholarship. His preparations for the pulpit having, as is well known, furnished the materials for the press, we can but reflect on the priceless value of his ministry.
The eulogy pronounced upon him by the Revelation Augustus Montague Toplady, a well-known cotemporary divine of the Church of England, was doubtless well merited. He says, “that his labors were indefatigable, his life exemplary, and his death comfortable if any one can be supposed to have trod the whole circle of human learning, it was this great and eminent person. His attainments, both in abstruse and polite literature, were equally extensive and profound, and so far as the distinguishing doctrines of grace are concerned, he never besieged an error which he did not force from its stronghold, nor ever encountered an adversary whom he did not baffle and subdue.”
In the year 1757, a new meeting house for the church and congregation was built in Carter Lane, Tooley Street, which Dr. Gill opened on the 9th of October in that year, “by recording the name of the Lord therein,” agreeably to his own apprehension of that devout service, “preaching the doctrines of the grace of God, and administering gospel ordinances as they have been delivered to us.” This venerable servant of Christ fell asleep in Jesus the 14th October, 1771.
“Though we have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have we not many fathers,” but John Gill was a father of the true apostolic order.