« AnteriorContinua »
attachment to Methodism never knew any diminution; and towards the people his affection was maintained, through evil and through good report, unaltered, and, we believe, undiminished to the last. But as he was the very, antipodes of bigotry and sectarianism, he took a lively interest in every thing affecting the fortune, and condition, and prosperity, and destiny of the church of Christ. A more expansive and generous mind we know not. His judgment of his brethren was never harsh or severe; and he was always ready to put the best construction on their sayings and doings which truth and justice would admit, and almost more than that. His kindly feeling towards his brethren and mankind at large, it has been thought, he carried to excess; but he knew more men and more of men than most : and the result of his extended commerce with liberal and opposing parties was that his love to all was increased—the never failing effect of travel being to rub off the austerities, to dilate the contractions, to diminish the selfishness, which are found to hang about all men who live within the narrow limits of some nut-shell locality.
As a patriot and citizen he is entitled to honorable mention, having an ardent love of the constitution and the king, and regarding the liberty and independence of the people as their birthright and their glory. And though he meddled with politics much less than some of his brethren, he was never indifferent to any thing that bore, directly or indirectly, upon the weal or the wo of this great empire, which he longed to see filled with knowledge and righteousness. He felt an interest in the welfare of all countries as well as his own, because he felt that every man was his brother, and that every man might be saved. He therefore looked forward to the time when the errors and delusions of Satan would come to an end—when ignorance, cruelty, slavery and war should be expelled the world—when the beauty of holiness should fill every region, and the sound of salvation float on every breeze. Vast and unbounded was the extent of his labors for the accomplishment of this consummation. Many of his mightiest physical efforts in the cause of the renovation of the world, have been the sermons he delivered on behalf of the Missionary Society. In him the heathen have lost a friend, whose advocacy of their cause was crowned with unparalleled success.
His great and primary distinction was a clear, and searching, and profound, and powerful understanding, which apprehended speedily, and seized eagerly, and discriminated sagaciously on the merits of any subject, in all its various issues and complex relations; and which advanced to its decision with unhesitating promptitude and unflinching firmness. His learning was immense; and being all devoted to benevolent ends, it stamped on his life and character an interest of the most exalted order. He was generally taken to be one of the most learned men of this age, or of any other since the fall of man. His acquaintance with languages and dialects, living and dead, was prodigious, and considering the active life he was compelled to lead, scarcely credible. His accumulation of all knowledge was to an astonishing amount, as much, perhaps, as any man; he was an encyclopædia of all knowledge. His mind was a garden of deep and rich things, in the soil of which actual creations took place, and whose growths exhibited at once the freshness of spring, the beauty of summer, and the plenty of autumn, where the chills and barrenness of winter were never known. Yet that same mind was a laboratory, into which knowledge without measure was brought from every kingdom of nature, and all the labyrinths of history, and all the wells of literature, and all the depths of philosophy, and especially from that great and endless dell—human nature, in which they were all subjected to the processes of a gigantic apparatus of mental chemistry; and the results of the whole were deposited in the spacious receivers and unnumbered cavities, where, whenever called for, they were ready to be run off to serve the grand purposes of the Almighty, in the firmament of the physical, moral and spiritual improvement of the species.
Nor can I suffer this occasion to pass without stating my opinion of that chef d'ouvre of his laborious hand—I mean bis Commentary on the Scriptures. His labors, in that respect, were those of a miner; he separated each portion of metal from its adjacent mass- -assayed, weighed, measured, tested every sentiment, word, article, accent, point, and sound of the sacred treasure; and then fearlessly, manfully, unequivocally and truthfully recorded, in the fear of God, his conviction of the meaning of the written Word. And, as I have said, he was an encyclopædia of letters and knowledge, so his Commentary is an encyclopædia of biblical science and learning, and will be remembered longer than the Egyptian pyramids, and stand a mighty, Alpine monument of the wisdom, piety, benevolence, zeal, Herculean labor, indefatigable industry, and immense application of its gifted, and distinguished, and ennobled, and illustrious author. As to the few liarities of opinion, on account of which the work has been, by some, attempted to be disparaged, they do not affect any essential, leading doctrine of religion: and we affirm, that no other commentator, in this or any other country, has taught and established more clearly, and pointedly, and forcefully, the fall and depravity of human nature-the redemption by Christ Jesus—the efficacy and extent of the atonement --the justification of the sinner by faith in that atonement—the necessity and reality of the influence of the Holy Ghost—and the entire sanctification of the whole man, than he who, though “dead, yet speaketh.” By his labors he has not only cleared the ground, filled up the ditches, and smoothed the roads; but drained, planted, sowed, and watered the surface of the country. The press, as well as the pulpit, was the great weapon of his warfare ; and it might be said of him as it was said of Luther, “ He had thought, matter and mind for all that he did.”
I am aware that this eminent man has been much blamed for broaching any opinions—however light they may be and comparatively insignificant—which are not generally received and avowed by the body to which he belonged, and to which he was ever proud to belong. I confess, that, though I am not one of those that adopted these opinions, yet I always admired and confided in, and venerated the character of the doctor the more and yet the more, for his unflinching, uncompromising, unprevaricating honesty and faithfulness in this matter. He had undertaken and had announced himself to the world in and under the character of a commentator on the Bible ; and this being the
case, it was not optional for him to withhold his deliberate sentiments on any portion of the volume. He had voluntarily engaged—but solemnly and bindingly engaged—to give the sense and meaning, as he understood it, and as far as he understood it, of the Scriptures, and of the whole Scriptures. He fulfilled his engagement; and he had the rare good fortune and the transcendent honor of finishing and giving to the world, a learned, pious, critical, colossal and honest Commentary on the entire books of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, which is found alike on the shop-board of the mechanic and in the cabinet of the learned—on the shelf of the poor man's cottage and in the libraries of the kings and princes of the earth.
I had written thus far when the time of night summoned me into this place. I might go on a great way, but you, I am sure, are anxious I should close. I am aware you
“Well—had he no faults ?”. O yes, to be sure he had; for he was a man, and not an angel-a saved sinner, and not an immaculate, impeccable creature. Faults! It has been said that he was dogmatical.
and so he was; and so is
every man that has the power of mind, and the mass of learning, and the station and the character which he had. Dogmatical! Why, Dr. Parr was dogmatical—Dr. Johnson was dogmatical—John Wesley was dogmatical; and every great, learned and illustrious man may be said to be somewhat dogmatical. The sun is very dogmatical in the dog-days, when it pours its irradiations on the head of a man that is travelling. The lightning is very dogmatical when it strikes and scathes the stately oak. The food is very dogmatical when it plunges, and dashes, and puts forth its powerful influence to find its level.
It has been said he was obstinate. Obstinate! Why, in the granite of his noble mind, some of the granulations may have been Ainty and adamantine; but you will observe, that firmness is often mistaken for obstinacy; and that every man who stands on the eminence which he stood on, is obliged to be firm to a degree that sometimes does border on obstinacy. It has been said that he was eccentric. Why, yes, indeed; and so would you be if you had a decimal fraction of the strength and originality of his astonishing mass of learning. It
has been said, that he was not eloquent. Eloquent! Why, there is a sort of eloquence that he had : but any man may be eloquent who has got a flood of feeling in his soul, and intelligence in his head, and independence in his thoughts, and volubility in his tongue. But it is not every eloquent man that could think, or say, or do as he did. His attainments were lifted far above the mere character of eloquence and refinement of taste.
1 gave it before as my own opinion, that at the moment of his death he occupied a larger space in the public eye, and a deeper lodgment in the public heart, not only of the eminent communion to which for fifty years he belonged, but of all the living Christianity now found upon the globe. In losing him we seem as if a great river had been dried up—as if a sun had been quenched—as if a lighthouse had been upset in the midst of the ocean. Our loss is great; but his gain is vastly greater.
To my own mind, it is beyond all measure affecting, that the last Sunday evening I preached in this place, it was a funeral sermon for the late Mr. Storry, whom I had interred in the adjoining ground that afternoon, and who had died but the day before! Then we considered and lamented the death of an eminent Christian, and an able and successful minister of the New Testament. We were struck with the suddenness of the loss and separation in that case; and we came and glorified God in him whose holy life and useful labors had been brought to an abrupt close. We then put into the mouth of that much-loved servant of the Saviour, the precious testimony of the apostle, “ I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day.” I was then filled with the conviction, that it was my duty to go to Liverpool. A few hours after I left this pulpit, I was on my way there, to discharge what I felt, be it right or wrong, a debt to Dr. CLARKE and the Methodist connexion. My manner of discharging that, no doubt, was exceedingly faulty, as is my manner of doing every thing I attempt to do; but that I did it then—that I did it at all —affords me the highest satisfaction of any public event of my life. Down to the last day of my existence I must look back upon the attempt-upon the motives that prompted me, with the approbation of my mind." I have lived long enough to know that self-reproach is an infinitely greater calamity than any other reproach except the reproach of the Almighty.
And now, my friends, to Him that liveth and reigneth—to Him that * made the departed individual what he was—to Him that connected his labors with this church-to the only wise God-Him alone who hath immortality,—be honor, and glory, and might, and majesty, and dominicn forever and ever! Amen.
EXTRACT FROM A SERMON
Delivered at the City Road Chapel, London, May 27, 1832.
BY THE REV. RICHARD WATSON.
• Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which
entereth into that within the veil.' HEB. vi. 19.
AFTER directing our attention to that within the veil,' which may be considered both the ground and the object of the believer's hope, viz. the special manifestation of God, the priesthood of Christ, the union of the three persons in the blessed Trinity, in the grand work of our redemption, the special gifts and operations of the spirit constituting that fulness of spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Jesus Christ, which we are taught to expect, the author observes :
But there are other scenes which, if not the ground of our hope, are at least the delightful objects of it. In a verse, which follows the text, there is an expression of great emphasis, “ Whither,” says the apostle, “the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus."
Well, then, if Christ is the forerunner, necessarily others have followed him within the veil. All the apostles have passed within the veil-all the first disciples, who followed him through the reproaches and persecutions of the first ages, have passed within the veil ; all, in point of fact, from that time to the present who have died in the faith, have gone with our Forerunner within the veil. Here there is a scene for hope to fix upon ; and, surely, if we enter there and behold the multitude which no man can number, we may be cheered with the songs and inspired with the glorious scenes of the heavenly sanctuary, and be encouraged to pass through the various troubles and exercises of the present state, when we see that the way to the holiest is made perfect, and that we may follow those who have entered within the veil, and are now within the veil ; for there is everything in that sight to encourage us. Their very multitude