Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

1

weak points he could detect and expose with much effect, and we shall be happy to find that the public has given him encouragement so to employ himself; but we trust that his natural shrewdness will suffice to admonish him that it will not be wise to commit himself beyond a certain line in this warfare.

Nor can we express any sort of approval of the liberties which he has taken with his mother tongue. These liberties meet you, not merely in the title-page, but throughout the book. New words, it seems, are needed at almost every step. In most quarters, the issuing of such coin will be accounted not only a species of presumption—but as a sort of literary treason. The only men entitled to the exercise of such a prerogative, are those whose genius has vested them with a kind of sovereignty; and what should be well observed by all persons who have some passion for setting up a mint of their own in this way is, that the men who have most right to a display of this high species of authority are generally the least disposed to put it into requisition. We can easily suppose that Mr. Rogers has been far from suspecting the danger to which his head has been made liable by his conduct in this particular, but a man is not the less exposed to the penalties of treason because he has meddled with so grave a matter somewhat unwittingly.

We look also with a little more scrutiny and suspicion on the volume before us, when we call to mind that it is only the first of three, the whole being so devised as to take in the entire compass of the ecclesiastical delinquency of the times. Our Mc Niel's and Mc Ghee's may enjoy the thumps which our author has given to the man of sin;' but let them bear in mind that their own turn will come next; and the sound nonconformist, prepared to enjoy the heavy strokes dealt out upon the Politikirkalians,' will do well not to forget that according to our author even nonconformity is sometimes found nourishing a sort of monster called 'priestrule,' and that the commission of John Rogers extends to the destruction of this last antagonist, no less than to the final overthrow of his holiness the pope. Our friends the Wesleyans will especially do well to prepare themselves for the worst, for loud as may be their cry just now against popery, this new man in the writing world would seem to be incapable of perceiving any great difference between a Methodist conference and a popish conclave, and is about to level his artillery against the former with as little mercy as he has shown toward the latter. With regard to Congregationalism it will of course be found immaculate. Should our pugnacious friend be so ill-starred as not to see it in that light, we shall of course be at our post to administer all due correction as the case may require.

58

Art. V. The Life of Sir Richard Hill, Bart., M.P. for the County

of Shropshire. By the Rev. EDWIN SIDNEY, A.M., Author of the Life of his Brother, the Rev. Rowland Hill, A.M., &c. London : Seeley and Burnside. 1839. pp. 533.

ON N few subjects have there been greater fluctuations of opinion

than on the characters of distinguished men. The traduced of their own age are frequently the idols of the age which follows; while, in the period which still succeeds, the multitude arrive at the correct estimate of distinguished persons,—of their merits and their infirmities, their claim, at once, on our admiration and forbearance. Few men have been more undervalued, in their own day, than the leaders of the religious movement of the last century. As a body, more distinguished by zeal than prudence, more marked by piety than knowledge, every one was capable, or, at least, thought himself capable, of rebuking their mistakes; but few were either able or willing to appreciate the zeal, the self-denial, and the benevolence by which those mistakes were redeemed. The world hated them for their religion ; and the Church, not only in the better part of the Established communion, but also among the Nonconformists, shunned them for their extravagance. In some recent instances, perhaps, the estimable persons in view may have been extolled too highly; there may have been a nearer approach to their apotheosis than their own piety or humility would have approved. But whatever opinion of this kind may be entertained, it is certain that the leaders of the movement will never cease to be regarded as distinguished benefactors of their country and their species.

In common with, perhaps, the generality of successful reformers, they accomplished a vast deal more than they designed or anticipated. We have no reason to believe that they sat down and sketched their plans of operation with a view to the results which have actually flowed from them. In the simplicity of their hearts, they obeyed the calls of present duty; an obedience that conducted to results which, in the early part of their career, were most distant from their thoughts. Their first object was their own literary and religious improvement: while pursuing this object circumstances awakened their solicitude for the good of others ;*

* In a letter to the father of Mr. Morgan, of Christ Church, whose death was slanderously said to have been hastened by the rigorous fasting imposed on him by the Wesleys, Mr. John Wesley writes, 'In November, 1729, at which time I came to reside at Oxford, your son, my brother, myself, and one more, agreed to spend three or four evenings in a week together. Our design was to read over the classics, which we had before read in private, on com

but nothing could have been further from their minds than that, in the course of far less than a century, they should be represented by the immense body of Wesleyan and other Methodists, as well as by a large section of the ministers and supporters of the Established Church.

For awhile, the Methodists were of one mind. The most attached Episcopalians of their number did not scruple the performance of irregular acts. Gradually, however, they separated into two parties, the one anxious to promote religion through means auxiliary to the Church, and the other, anxious by an exact obedience to the terms of conformity, to advance religion in the Church. Each party pursued its object; and each has secured its end.

The subject of this memoir was a highly ornamental adherent to Evangelical Episcopacy, at the period when it was beginning to loosen its connexion with Methodism; a connexion which he lived to see dissolved. Sir Richard Hill - was born on the sixth

day of June, 1732, at Hawkstone,' in Shropshire, the admired residence of the family for many generations. As the birth-place of the Rev. Rowland Hill, the brother of Sir Richard, must be an object of curiosity, we transcribe the following passage.

mon nights, and on Sunday some book in divinity. In the summer following Mr. M. told me he had called at the gaol, to see a man who was condemned for killing his wife; and that from the talk he had with one of the debtors, he verily believed it would do much good if any one would be at the pains of now and then speaking with them. This he so frequently repeated, that on the 24th of August, 1730,* my brother and I walked with him to the Castle. We were so well satisfied with our conversation there, that we agreed to go thither once or twice a week; which we had not done long before he desired me to go with him to see a poor woman in the town, who was sick. In this employment too, when we came to reflect upon it, we believed it would be worth while to spend an hour or two in a week, provided the minister of the parish in which any such person was, were not wholly against it.' Such is Mr. Wesley's account of the origin of Methodism; an account which confers the honors of paternity on Mr. Morgan rather than on Mr. Wesley himself. This view of the case is confirmed by a preceding passage in the same letter. 'In one practice for which you blamed your son I am only concerned as friend, not as a partner. That therefore I shall consider first : your own account of it was in effect this, ' He frequently went into poor people's houses, in the villages about Holt, called their children together, and instructed them in their duty to God, their neighbour, and themselves. He likewise explained to them the necessity of private as well as public prayer, and provided them with such forms as were best suited to their several capacities.”—Letter to the Father of Mr. Morgan, of Christ Church, prefixed to 'An Extract of the Rev. Mr. John Wesley's Journal from his embarking for Georgia (1735) to his return to London.'

It is remarkable that active Methodism should have originated on a day so distinguished in the annals of old Nonconformity.

Though I felt yesterday,' says a popular tourist,* writing from Hawkstone, ‘ perfectly blasé of parks, and thought I could never take any interest in them again, I am quite of another mind to-day, and must in some respects give Hawkstone the preference over all I have seen. It is not art, nor magnificence, nor aristocratical splendour, but nature alone, to which it is indebted for this pre-eminence; and in such a degree, that were I gifted with the power of adding to its beauties, I should ask, what can I add ? So commanding is the situation of this enchanting ground, that from the lofty column erected to the memory

of a distinguished ancestor of the Hills, the first Protestant Lord Mayor of London, the eye can wander over fifteen counties, or rest upon the curious rocks and woods mingled with the richest pasturage immediately beneath it. Three sides of this wide panorama rise and fall in a constant change of hill and dale, like the waves of an agitated sea, and are bounded at the horizon by the strangely formed jagged outline of the Welsh mountains, which at either end descend to a fertile plain, shaded by thousands of lofty trees, till, in the obscure distance, it blends with a white misty line--the ocean.'— pp. 3, 4.

At an early period of life, and by means, of which an interesting record will be found in this volume, Sir Richard Hill was brought to the possession of true religion. From this period his entire soul was, as far as human frailty would allow, devoted to God and goodness. It does not appear that he was ever formally connected with the Methodists, yet although attached to the Church, of England, he became a preacher; but apprehending, probably, that he could, in other forms, promote religion more effectually, he soon relinquished the function.

His first appearance as an author was in the year 1768, when in a pamphlet entitled Pietas Oxoniensis, he came forth as the champion of the six students who had been expelled from St. Edmund's Hall. Of this transaction Mr. Sidney has presented a correct and an interesting account. The University documents with regard to this affair do no honor, in any form, to the rulers of Oxford. With regard to the Pietas Oxoniensis Mr. Sidney justly says,

I confess that though he proves that the reformation truths opposed, are contained in the pandect of our Church's doctrine, he would have written much more effectively, had he taken them simply on their own broad scriptural basis, instead of calling them by any other name, in order that he might attack the notions of the Arminians. He weakened his cause and prejudiced many of his readers by this course, as well as by the levity he mingled with his gravest arguments—a fault (which) both he and his brother, Mr. Rowland Hill, were too apt to commit.'

-p. 112.

* Tour of a German Prince.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

The Dissenters of that day, for the most part, stood aloof from the Church and Methodist controversy ; but the most popular production called forth by the discussion, was written by a Dissenting minister, the Rev. John Macgowan. His pamphlet is entitled Priestcraft Defended. A Sermon occasioned by the 'expulsion of Six Young Gentlemen from the University of Ox' ford for Praying, Reading, and Expounding the Scriptures. · Humbly dedicated to Mr. V-Cr and the H-ds of

H--. By their humble servant, The Shaver.' The Shaver's sermon is not altogether conformed to the requirements of an exact criticism, but it contains a vast deal of genuine wit, and must have told powerfully against the learned but (as their own papers show) obtuse men, whom it was designed to reprove. Mr. Sidney censures the Shaver for taking his text from a newspaper; but Mr. Macgowan's error did not consist in the quarter from which he derived his text; (his error would have been greater had he obtained it from the Bible), but in putting his satire into the form of a sermon. It seems, however, to be the fate of Oxford to array herself, once or twice in a century, with a pompous stolidity which, in spite of himself, is sure to turn her gravest opponent into a satirist : a consideration which, had Pietas Ox

oniensis' contained the only instance of mingled seriousness and levity in the writings of its excellent author, might have disarmed the rebuke which has just been quoted.

In the following year, Mr. Hill (for he had not yet succeeded to the baronetcy) appeared as the champion of his friend, the Rev. William Romaine. The latter gentleman having preached at St. Chad's, Shrewsbury, his sermon gave great offence to the vicar, Dr. Adams. The doctor preached a sermon in reply, which, four months afterwards, was printed. This roused the • indignation of Mr. Richard Hill, and caused him to print a letter

to Dr. Adams on his sermon.' Dr. Adams was not a Calvinist, but he was an excellent man, the friend of Sir James Stonehouse, Mr. Orton, and Mr. Stedman, and imbued with the spirit of these distinguished ministers. Mr. Orton engaged in this controversy, in which he published two pamphlets ; he embarked in it, however, rather as a moderator than as an antagonist. We apprehend, that the subject of this memoir depreciated Dr. Adams, a course in which his biographer seems to unite. On the other hand, Mr. Orton had far too low an opinion of Sir Richard Hill. Referring to his Answer to “Flechere's Checks,' Mr. Orton says, Mr. · Hill's Answer is weak, childish, and fawning. He now speaks ‘out, and shows himself to be, what I always thought him, a rank • Antinomian, and thorough in the worst sentiments of Dr. Crisp.'*

* Orton's Letters to Dissenting Ministers, vol. ii. p. 132.

« ElőzőTovább »