Joseph Hart

Joseph Hart

Infobox Person
name = Joseph Hart (1712-1768)

image_size =
caption =
birth_date = 1712 (unknown date)
birth_place = London
death_date = 4th May 1768
death_place = London
education = Place of study is uncertain
occupation = Minister/Pastor and language teacher
religion = Christian- Congregationalist
spouse = Mary Hart (née Hughes)
parents =
children =
nationality = British

Joseph Hart (1712 - May 24, 1768) was an 18th century Calvinist minister in London. His works include "Hart's Hymns", a much-loved hymn book amongst evangelical Christians throughout its lifetime of over 200 years, which includes the well-known hymn, "Come ye sinners, poor and needy".

One of Joseph Hart's early publications was a tract denouncing Christianity (prior to his conversion) called "The Un­rea­son­a­ble­ness of Re­li­gion, Be­ing Re­marks and An­im­ad­ver­sions on the Rev. John Wes­ley’s Ser­mon on Ro­mans 8:32". His other works include a short autobiography and a few poetical translations of ancient classics.

Joseph Hart preached at Jewin Street chapel in London, a building with multiple galleries, to a congregation of significant size.

Only one of Hart's sermons remains discovered to us: that of Christmas 1767. Several of his hymns appear in the Sacred Harp.

Hart died in the year 1768, on May 24th, with a congregation estimated at tens of thousands around his grave side at Bunhill Fields.

Early life (1712-about 1732)

Not much is known about Hart's early life due to scanty documentation.Joseph Hart had a good educational upbringing, learning the classic languages (Latin, Hebrew, and Greek) to perfection, which afterwards he taught for a living. Hart spent a lot of his early life translating and writing poetry.

It was in this period of his life that Hart translated Herodian and Phycolides.

Hart writes about his early life in his own autobiography:

"As I had the hapiness of being born of believing parents, I imbibed the sound doctrine of the Gospel from my infancy; nor was I without touches of the heart, checks of the conscience, and meltings of affections, by the secret strivings of God's Spirit within me while very young; but the impressions were not deep, nor the influences lasting, being frequently defaced and quenched by the vanities and vices of childhood and youth. [The Author's Experience (at the beginning of Hart's Hymns).]

Hart was brought up to be a good Christian and to praise God, but soon fell into temptation and sinned.

Good Works (about 1732-about 1740)

Joseph Hart begins to see that his youthful sins are wrong, and decides he must learn to be a better person. It all seems to be going well, but there is one sin yet, Hart is proud of his new status as a religious man. Later Hart repents of this sin of pride and denounces it.

It is about this time of turmoil in Hart's life, that he meets a girl (14 years younger than himself) called Mary, falls in love with her, and they get married.

A Libertine And An Author (from about 1740 - about 1751/52)

It was during this period of Hart's life that he left off doing his good works, and became a libertine, believing that there is no need to be righteous, all you need is to believe in God, then salvation is certain. It was then that he wrote "The Unreasonableness Of Religion", in an effort to convince John Wesley that he should not be doing good works only believing in God. Evidently the pamphlet had no effect upon Wesley, being accounted mere blasphemy. Later Hart repented of writing the pamphlet, giving his universal apology to John Wesley.

During this period, Hart also translated Phycolides from the original Greek in 1744, and Herodian from its original Latin in 1749.

A True Conversion

Hart soon learned that there was a need both to do good works and to believe in God. But then came the uncertainty: Was he really and truly saved? He had ad no indication from God, no elaborate vision, telling him that he had been saved. This was a great worry to Joseph Hart. He began to pray to God that there would be some revelation granted him, or perhaps just a little sign. This tormented Hart for more than a year.

Then, the week before Easter of the year 1757 Hart "had such an amazing view of the agony of Christ in the garden [of gethsemane] " [The Author's Experience (at the beginning of Hart's Hymns)] showing to Hart that all Christ's sufferings were for him (along with the rest of the church).

But soon after this, Hart again began to be afraid of the life to come- eternity, and feared exceedingly when reading about the condemned in passages in the Bible.

But It was on Whitsunday that Hart's true conversion came. Hart was converted under the ministry of Whitfield, and felt blessed in his soul.

After these times Hart still had sufferings and uncertainties as to his conversion, but he could always look back to his conversion, and believe that God saved his soul.

Hart's motto after this time was: "pharisee zeel and Antinomian security are the two engines of Satan, with which he grinds the church in all ages, as betwixt [between] the upper and the nether [lower] millstone. The space between them in much narrower and harder to find than most men imagine. It is a path which the vulture's eye hath not seen; and none can show it us but the Holy Ghost." [second part of The Autor's Experience] Indicating that we need a good balance of doing good works, and believing in God.


*"The Unreasonableness of Religion" (1741)
*Herodian, a translated work of poetry (1749)
*Phycolides, a poem translated from Greek (1744)
*A sermon from the Gospel of Luke preached at Christmas in the year 1767
*And "Hart's Hymns", collection of his own poetical hymns


*"The Life of Joseph Hart" (1910) by Thomas Wright. (Not currently in print)

External links

* [ Hymns by Joseph Hart]

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