Immagini della pagina

His candour was great, too great for the bigots of his own denomination. It was engrained in his mind, and while others were ever uttering the war-whoop of a party, he was for peace and unity; and unmoved by the clamours of the illiberal and uncandid he vigorously pursued his design of promoting union among

Christians, so long as there was any hope of accomplishing it. Amiable man! would to God the church of Christ abounded with ministers likeminded! Such may we be disposed to imitate, to emulate, and if possible to excel; and with such, after the toils and sorrows of this state shall come to a final close, may it be our felicity to spend the long and ever-lengthening ages of eternity.

Leeds, May 23d, 1815.

W. F.

[merged small][ocr errors]





On the utility of Biography or personal history, there is a general concurrence of opinion. Some there are, who, in point of utility, judge its claims to be superior to those of general history. Without presuming to decide those claims, it may be asserted without much hesitation, that to the generality of readers, Biography is a species of reading, the most instructive, interesting and amusing. Its legitimate object, is, in the faithfulexhibition of particular characters, to rouse the mind to a noble emulation of the virtues of the good, and excite its abhorrence of vice, in all the Proteus forms it may assume.

Hence the Biographer selects those characters, of whom the por. traiture will be the best calculated to produce these important results.

“ They are,” as :ar excellent

'? living author observes, “ by no means persons raised to the highest elevations, or distinguished by: the most extraordinary achievements. - För:not" to observe that such characters are rarely remarkable for goodness and worth, it is easy to see, that they fall not within the reach of common imitation that they exhibit nothing that leads to self-reflectionnothing that occasions moral comparison—nothing to stimulate, to encourage in the course we pursue. Neither are eccentric characters the best suited to instruct and impress. Eccentricity is sometimes found connected with genius, but it does not coalesce with true wisdom. For the purposes of Biography those lives are the most eligible, that are the most



corously. He frequently interrupted Mr. Baxter, and appealed to Dr. Bates, saying—“ what say you Dr. Bates, is this your opinion ?” to which the Dr. replied—“ I pray my Lord, give Mr. Baxter leave to speak.” Dr. Gunning appeared to lean considerably towards a reconciliation of the church of England to Rome. He used, says Bishop Burnet, all the arts of sophistry in as confident a manner, as if they had been sound reasoning, and was very fond of Popish rituals and ceremonies. When Dr. Bates urged upon him, that on the same reasons as they imposed the cross and surplice, they might bring in holy water, and lights, and abundance of such ceremonies of Rome which had been cast out; Gunning replied, “ Yes, and I think we ought to have more and not fewer.” During the whole of this protracted, but fruitless debate, Dr. Bates conducted himself with great wisdom and moderation; whenever he spoke it was “ very solidly, judiciously, and pertinently,” and procured great respect from his brethren, who were of opinion that had the rest been of his mind, things had not come to so unsuccessful an issue.

The act of uniformity passed in the year sixteen hundred and sixty-two, when Dr. Bates was thirty-seven years of age, by which he was deprived of the valuable living of St. Dunstan’s, in the West. On this trying occasion he displayed heroic firmness of mind in lovely union with that mildness and candour which breathe in his writings. Terms were imposed by this act, with which he could not conscientiously comply, though every thing in his nature strongly disposed to a compliance, and made him deeply lament the circumstances that imposed the absolute necessity of secession from the established church. Re-ordination of those who had not been episcopally ordained-A declaration of unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing prescribed and contained in the book of common prayer--Administration of sacraments, rites and ceremonies as enjoined by the church of England-were among those terms which forced him from her communion with 2000 others who were among her brightest ornaments, both for learning and piety. This was a peculiarly trying time to him; the state of his mind, as well as the principles on which he acted, may be learned from the close of the farewel sermon he preached to his people at St. Dunstan's church, on this painful occasion, Aug. seventeenth, sixteen hundred and sixty-two,

“ I know you expect I should say something as to my non-conformity. I shall only say thus much: It is neither fancy, faction, nor humour that makes me not comply; but merely the fear of offending God. And if after the best means used for my illumination, as prayer to God, discourse, and study, I am not able to be satisfied concerning the lawfulness of what is required, it be my unhappiness to be in error, surely men will have no reason to be angry with me in this world, and I hope God will pardon me in the next.”

Subsequently to this, some of the more moderate in the establishment, among whom were Lord Keeper Bridgman, Lord Chief Justice Hale, Bishops Wilkins and Reynolds, Drs. Tillotson and Stillingfleet, attempted a comprehension of such as could be brought into the church by a few abatements. Proposals were drawn up by Bishop Wilkins and Dr. Burton, and communicated to Drs. Bates, Manton and Mr. Baxter, and by them to their brethren. According to these proposals a bill was prepared for the parliament, but violent opposition being made to it by some of the Bishops it never passed.

In sixteen hundred and sixty-eight, we find Dr. Bates with Drs. Manton and Jacomb, presenting an address to the King, who received them graciously, and expressed himself well pleased with the address; how much he was persuaded of their peaceableness, that he had known them to be so ever since his return; and promised to do his utmost to get them compre

« IndietroContinua »