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The Diary of James Hinton (1761–1823)

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By James Hinton | Introduced by Michael A.G. HaykinEdited By Chance Faulkner

The name of the eighteenth-century Baptist minister James Hinton (1761–1823) is not one that is well-known by any standard, even to those who specialize in the study of English Baptist history. Yet, along with his friends Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) and John Ryland, Jr. (1753–1825), Hinton was ‘one of those Baptist leaders who, at the end of the eighteenth century, secured the revival of Baptist life in Britain.’ And like many of his theological persuasion—Hinton was a Dissenter of Calvinistic Baptist convictions—Hinton regarded the keeping of a diary as a spiritual discipline. Hinton’s diary is no longer extant, but large portions of it can be found embedded in a biographical study of Hinton by his son John Howard Hinton (1791–1873). This book contains these portions that have been skillfully re-assembled by Chance Faulkner as a diary.

“It will take a person about two hours to read this book. Reading it will provide hours of reflection throughout a lifetime. Hinton’s diary confronts us with a brutal honesty about a wide variety of spiritual concerns. He shows the spiritual zeal of a faithful pastor to his people, a loving father to his children, a devoted and charmed husband to his wife. He is in touch with his own soul, aware of both progress and stultification of spiritual growth, the subtlety and ravages of indwelling sin, and the peculiar tendencies of his own temperament. He knows how prone he is to a spirit of anger and prays and works for its mortification. A consistent theme is ‘comfort’ and the sense of being ‘comfortable.’ It is always in conjunction with some element worship in his congregation or some spiritual disposition in the flow of his own devotions. It seems to relate to a sense of receiving the proper benefit from aspects of corporate worship—such as the regular practice of the Lord’s Supper or the effects of his preaching—or intentional personal reflection. Also, he is continually concerned about the effects of infidel writings on his own certainty about Scripture and the power of the gospel. The concerns about skepticism and various shades of ‘unbelief’ make it into the pages of his diary from early entries to late entries. These honest cares do not diminish the sincere exultation in the riches of redemptive love that come through the glorious person and work of Christ. His prayerful solicitation for God’s providential graces in times of travel, family and personal sickness, and for material provision serve as a model for negotiating the uncertainties of this world with the confident and joyful hope of eternal life. The reflections are a hidden treasure and will enrich all who discover it.”

—Tom J. Nettles, Senior Professor of Historical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

 

“The temptation of many is to focus their studies only on the renowned figures of church history—the Luthers, the Calvins, the Edwardses, the Spurgeons. However, the earnest student obtains a more full-bodied understanding when they are able to examine many sides of the gem of history. The Diary of James Hinton offers us a new window into the world of Andrew Fuller, John Ryland, Jr., and the Calvinistic Baptists of eighteenth-century Britain. While nothing remains of his original diary, James Hinton’s thoughts have been meticulously collected and skillfully reassembled. Now, for the first time ever, we have the distillation of the heart and mind of the faithful English pastor in one place. With great clarity and honesty, Hinton offers up his most intimate spiritual thoughts, as we are privileged to behold his pastoral care, his piety, and his fervent love for God. Anyone who is serious about Baptist history needs to own this volume. High marks to Chance Faulkner for this important work!”

—Nate Pickowicz, Pastor, Harvest Bible Church, Gilmanton Iron Works, NH; Author; Editor

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