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It is delightful to think that these good men, Adams and Romaine, Orton and Hill, have passed into a world where suspicion and contest are no more.
Although Mr. Hill was not formally connected with any class of Methodists, he felt a deep interest, and sometimes took a share, in their proceedings. We have, hence, an interesting account of the memorable Wesleyan Conference of 1770. We regret the terms which Mr. Sidney employs with regard to Thomas Olivers. The man who bequeathed to the Christian church that fine hymn, · The God of Abrah’m praise,' is entitled to some other designation than either Thomas Olivers, 'the Welshman,' or • Thomas Olivers, the cobler. Mr. Olivers, whatever extravagancies he might utter in the warmth of controversy, was an estimable man. These were the days of our folly,' was his language many years afterwards, when referring to the stormy period of which we are speaking.
In the autumn of 1780, Mr. Richard Hill was returned, without opposition, to parliament for his native county.' In August, 1783, he succeeded to the title and estates of his father, Sir • Rowland.' Almost from the beginning of his parliamentary career, Sir Richard Hill adhered steadily though not servilely to the politics of Mr. Pitt, who entered the House a few months after him. Like Mr. Pitt, the subject of this memoir entered parliament a reformer; and like him, he seemed to discover that any time was fitter for reform than the time present. Sir Richard opposed the continuance of the anti-revolutionary war. It would, however, have been more to his honor, had he opposed its commencement, as well as the tyranny by which the government did its best to promote a revolution at home. He was a frequent speaker in the House. Few were the important debates which he did not enliven by his wit. The fertility of his imagination was sometimes displayed by the suggestion of new taxes; an exercise of ingenuity which a modern member would find rather hazardous. Some of his parliamentary suggestions, as the tax on hair-powder, and the impolitic and long since repealed tax on watches, were adopted; while others of them, as a tax to be paid on admission to the theatres, a tax of rather questionable morality, and a tax on all livings and benefices above a certain value, all deans, chapters, bishoprics, and all idle non-resident clergy,' were rejected. A proposal from an evangelical Episcopalian, to tax the rich and idle clergy, would be a phenomenon in our days; nor would it be endured that an honorable member should garnish his parliamentary speech, as Sir Richard Hill did, by reading a copy of his own doggerel verses.
The political portion of the work is well written, and contains a vast deal of interesting information. We transcribe the following passage with regard to Burke.
• Eloquence, which to this day draws forth the warmest emotions of every reader of his wondrous pages, was seldom received by the House, without silent frowns and inattention, or clamorous opposition. Never did there rise in parliament a more unwelcome speaker; and it is impossible to conceive what the gestures and voice could have been that utterly disfigured the creations of his lofty and brilliant imagination. His magnificent language on the affairs of India was met by uproar, and efforts were perpetually made to silence him. Mr. Granville went so far as to tell him, that he was astonished he should
himself so frequently on the House ; and after one of his most surprising efforts, Mr. Pitt took not the slightest notice of a word he had said, evidently because it fell powerless on impatient and dissatisfied hearers. Such was the mortification of this wonderful man, and such the reception of speeches, that will be considered of the highest order of composition as long as our language lasts.'— pp. 357, 358.
Sir Richard Hill resigned his seat in parliament in the year 1806, and died on the 28th of November, 1808.
In forming our estimate of his Christian character,--of the strength of the religious principle by which he was governed, the state of that class of society in which he mixed must be considered. We are by no means satisfied that the higher ranks are even now so greatly improved as Mr. Sidney intimates: but in the days of Sir Richard Hill, a member of the patrician classes could not be religious without a complete sacrifice of character among his fellows. That sacrifice Sir Richard cheerfully made; and though we cannot say with Mr. Sidney 'a willing public,' we can say the Christian church, will now afford to his memory that deserved reputation, which he was ever ready to sacrifice to the honor of « God and the interests of religion.' In point of religious sentiment, he was a strict though not perhaps a high Calvinist. Some of his expressions, however, are such as none but a high Calvinist can approve. Attaching an undue importance to the peculiarities of his creed, he could not be satisfied unless he could bring others to go its whole length; an infirmity which in the case of one of his correspondents, a sceptical man of fashion, appears to have been followed by unhappy consequences. He loved all good men; but his charity was solely the product of pious feeling, and was unaccompanied by the just and enlarged views of Christian liberty, which, while they cherish affection toward the good, dictate tolerance to all. Had a Protestant resident in France converted a Roman Catholic, he would have thought the act meritorious; and yet, when two French emigrant priests had converted an ignorant woman to Catholicism, he wrote to Bishop Porteus to induce him to put a stop at least to any further external attempts • of these two popish priests.
The mind of Sir Richard Hill was rather sprightly than pro
found. His wit often amused the House, but was not always either chaste or dignified ;-nor was the form in which his religious convictions were exhibited invariably
the best that might have been chosen. And yet such was the effect of his cheerful, consistent goodness, that he was the object of universal regard; and whether in the senate, or on the bench, he was listened to, not merely with respect, but with an attachment approaching to personal affection. On the whole, his was the elevation of goodness more than of greatness; or rather without any faculty highly developed, he became great, through a large degree of the goodncss, which is the chief component of true greatness.
The temper of the work before us is bland and Christian. To some few points, however, we object. Mr. Sidney is greatly mistaken in saying that subscription does not curtail the • limits of our Sion. Subscription has deprived the Church of England of a larger number of well qualified ministers than any other cause.
Mr. Sidney appears to think that the blame of the bad spirit which prevails between the Church and the Dissenters, lies exclusively on one side. Far be it from us to say, that while Dissenters have been bringing into light certain great but neglected principles of the New Testament, they have acted in every instance, in the spirit of meekness ; but we may ask Mr. Sidney whether his own work, mild as we confess it to be generally, is always quite in the tone of the New Testament? It was not necessary to call the religious edifices of his brethren conventicles; nor was it necessary to introduce Sir Richard Hill's opinion, that Dissenting worship frequently dis
gusts or hurts the feelings of a congregation.' Mr. Sidney knows, though possibly Sir Richard Hill did not, that the devotional services of the great body of educated Dissenting ministers, contain at least as few verbal inaccuracies as the liturgy requires its readers to repeat. In common with many of his brethren, our author exclaims against the Oxford sect in the matter of tradition and baptismal regeneration ; but he protests not against their primary error of apostolical succession: a procedure the more remarkable as the Church to which Mr. Sidney has pledged his unfeigned assent and consent, countenances the two former errors, and, by implication, decidedly opposes the latter.
With regard to its literary execution, the work is, on the whole, respectable. There is, however, rather too much of gentlemanly nonchalance in the construction of some of the sentences; a nonchalance which, in competent writers, always reminds us of the youthful courtiers who first used powder in their hair, because the aged monarch had grown grey: The higher classes would not write carelessly if their education and attainments enabled them to write correctly. The county of Shropshire, as written in the
title-page, is an awkward redundancy. The interesting journal of Miss Hill, and, perhaps, some other parts of the work, would have appeared better in an appendix. In conclusion, we cordially thank Mr. Sidney for an able, acceptable, and useful addition to the rich treasures of religious biography.
Art. VI. The Inquirer. October, 1839. Art. The Plymouth Breth
ren and the Eclectic Review. London: J. Dinnis.
HE Inquirer' of October, 1839, contains an elaborate
answer by one of the Plymouth Brethren, to the article in our May number concerning them. As this writer has taxed us with disingenuousness and open misstatements, we are forced to reply; otherwise we should have avoided putting ourselves into controversy with an individual.
He opens with many pious but misplaced thoughts on the painfulness of being attacked and having to defend oneself; and throughout, indeed, by entitling us accusers, assailants, &c., he might seem to be laboring under the delusion, that it is we who began the assault. He reminds us of the duty of dealing as tenderly with the Lord's brethren as with the Lord himself; and afterwards intimates that we might have cried out, crucify him, against Jesus himself. In concluding, he warns us to let them alone, lest haply we be found fighting against God. Any one would suppose that the Brethren had never assailed us, nor our views: : or that they had employed only words and arguments, while we answered with deeds of violence. Yet from the very beginning of their course they have not ceased to attack our principles and the persons of our leading men, sometimes by name; in print and by word of mouth. One strong instance from the 1st vol. of the Christian Witness will show what they can say, p. 392 (on the Present Apostacy). The gospel sets forth the alienation, * Ist, of the [Jewishj nation as a whole ; 2ndly, of all the religionists of the day; 3rdly, of the Instructors and Officers, • Scribes and Lawyers, Elders, Priests, and High Priest; and, • lastly, of the people as persuaded by them. And this we say, * with all confidence, that they who have not proved in their own
persons the very same among the professors of our day' [here very is printed in italics], ' either have not the Spirit of life in • Christ Jesus, or have the guilt of burying its light in their own
bosoms.' What an unamiable bigot! our readers may exclaim. No such thing : it is an enthusiast, perhaps really amiable, but cramped in heart and stunted in mind by false notions ; not least,
by the habit of imagining all mental error to be a result
we would on no account defend our faults by those of another, we have been reviewing carefully all that we said, and do not find that we have laid any such immoral imputations on the Brethren, individually or collectively. Certainly we did not impugn their good faith or sincerity: nay, we spoke very freely concerning their many praiseworthy points of conduct and character. We did not grudge them their liberty to establish in their own church whatever they believe right: we did not attack their Open Ministry as wicked or absurd : but we attacked their intolerance. Our Brother appears little to understand the difference of assailing persons † and assailing principles; otherwise he would not charge us with inconsis
tency' (the great staple of his reply), because we can see good in his party, and are not afraid to publish it. Forsooth, if George Fox or Ignatius Loyola were again to run their course among us, we should be inconsistent' in strongly opposing and exposing their errors while we cheerfully acknowledged their benevolent intentions, their deep piety, and thorough self-devo
* We do not mean to imply that the Brethren have more than very partially developed the results of this evil dogma.
+ They attack the personal character of Dissenters, more than of others. For an illustration of their mode, we quote from Christian Witness, Vol. i. p. 354, ' Their systems are on the whole more scriptural than the Church of England, but their practice worse. It is clear also that (speaking of them as a body) the same fact which gives the character of apostacy to the Establishment, -union with the world, stamps the same features upon modern dissent: and in a form more fearful, because with infinitely less of spirituality among individuals, it is more connected with the irreligion and ungodliness of popular feeling.'
He cannot understand how any one should covet power over men's minds more than rank or money!