(Excerpted from J. C. Philpot's "Memoir of William
I feel that my Memoir gives but a feeble and defective
record of William Tiptaft. Those features of his natural and spiritual
character which won from all who knew him such renowned affection and
esteem, were so personal and practical that they were better seen in
him, than can be described of him. His daily, I may almost say hourly,
self-denial was such as I believe few others have ever witnessed. He seemed
ever ready to make any personal sacrifice for the glory of God, or the good
of His people. Time, money, health, strength, and life itself—he did not
consider his own. He felt he was but a steward who held them in trust, and
who might be called at any hour to render an account of his stewardship. To
live for God—to walk in His fear—to serve and please Him—to preach His
truth—to do His work—to know and obey His will—and be made a blessing to His
people—seemed to be his daily end and aim.
I have known men—of greater natural abilities—of deeper
and more diversified experience—of more shining pulpit gifts—of more
enlarged views of divine truth; but I have never seen anyone, whether
minister or private Christian, who approached him in practical godliness—and
which was carried out with undeviating consistency for the 35 years during
which I had the pleasure and profit of his friendship.
The churches of truth needed an example of the
practical power of the doctrines which they profess. A light, loose,
antinomian spirit had too much prevailed—and with a great deal of religious
talking, there was a very small amount of religious walking.
But however low quickened souls or living churches may sink, they have still
a conscience made tender in the fear of God, and to this conscience William
Tiptaft's keen, pithy remarks, and, above all—his godly life and shining
example, commended themselves.
And as he honored God, so did God honor him. His last
days were his best days. He was buried amidst the sobs and tears of a people
who loved and revered him—and he has left to us all the benefit and blessing
of a conspicuous example of vital godliness and practical religion,
as well as a testimony of the faithfulness of God to His own Word and work.
I have always thought that his distinguishing feature,
through the whole of his spiritual life, was the fear of God—manifesting
itself in a most self-denying, upright, practical walk and conduct. Where
shall we find one, who, from the beginning to the end of his profession,
lived and walked like Tiptaft? Truly in him the fear of the Lord was a
fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. This fear, as the
beginning of wisdom, was implanted in his soul. Its first effects were—to
separate him from the world—to lead him to solitude and reflection—and give
him an earnestness and seriousness of character which were in striking
contrast with the lightness and frivolity of his college life.
Those who knew William Tiptaft know that no minister
feared man less—or God more. He was full of zeal and
earnestness—of a most bold, undaunted spirit—and counted the smiles of men
as dust in the balance.
Yet, one of the most marked features of his character was
the sympathy he felt with the poor, and the thoroughness with which he
identified himself with their feelings, views and interests. He was
eminently—the poor man's friend.