« PreviousContinue »
Here give me leave to observe a similitude of circumstances. between his son and him. It pleased God to prolong the son's days, even beyond those of his father, to preserve to him his great understanding, and to give him leisure to review his incomparable Discourses, and to make them fit for the reception which the world has given them. He too has had his controversies, and those carried on with warmth. and spirit; but without any injury to his temper, or any interruptions to his thoughts and mind. His father lived in more difficult times, had much to struggle with, and perhaps had more of labour in his composition, The son was more bright and brilliant, and carried a greater compass of thought and genius along with him. The one wrote with great care and circumspection, as having many adversaries to contend with; the other with greater ease and freedom, as rising superior to all opposition. Indeed, the son had much the advantage of his father, in respect to the time and other circumstances of his life; not to say what I believe must be owned by all, that his natural abilities and talents were much greater, He was made Master of the Temple very young, upon the resignation of his father, and was obliged to apply himself closely to business, and take infinite pains to qualify himself for that honourable employment; which he effectually did in the course of a few years, and became one of the most celebrated preachers of that time.
In this station he continued many years, preaching constantly, rightly dividing the word of God, and promoting the salvation of souls. For his preaching was with power; not only in the weight of his words and argument, but in the force and energy with which it was delivered. For though his voice was not melodious, but accompanied rather with a thickness of speech, yet were his words uttered with so much propriety, and with such strength and vehemence, that he never failed to take possession of his whole audience, and secure their attention. This powerful delivery of words so weighty and important, as his always were, made a strong impression upon the minds of his hearers, and was not soon forgot. And I doubt not but many of you still remember the excellent instruction you have heard from him to your great comfort.
About this time also it was, that he published his muchadmired Discourses upon the Use and Intent of Prophecy, which did so much service to the cause of Christianity, then openly attacked by some daring unbelievers.
Upon the accession of his late majesty to the throne, he was
soon distinguished; and, with another truly eminent divine, [Bishop Hare] advanced to the Bench, where he sat with great lustre for many years; in matters of difficulty and nice discernment, serving his king and country, and the church over which he presided, with uncommon zeal and prudence. Indeed, such was his discretion and great judgment, that all ranks of persons were desirous of knowing his opinion in every case, and by his quick and solid judgment of things he was able to do great good to many individuals, and very signal services to his country.
All this time, while he was thus taken up in the business of the station to which he was advanced, he vet continued to preach to his congregation during term; and in the vacation constantly went down to visit and to reside in his diocese; where he spent his time in the most exemplary manner; in a decent hospitality; in repairing his churches and houses, wherever he went; in conversing with his clergy; and in giving them and their people proper direc tions, as the circumstances of things required.
And thus did this great man lay himself out for the public good; always busy, always employed, so long as God gave him health and strength to go through those various and important offices of life, which were committed to his
But now, though his mind and understanding remained in full vigour, infirmities of body began to creep very fast upon him. And then it was that he declined, when offered him, the highest honours of the church, because he was sensible, through the infirmities he felt, he should never be able to give that personal attendance, which that great office requires. And this also induced him afterwards to accept the charge of this diocese wherein we live, because his business would be at home and about him, and would require no long journeys, for which he found himself very unfit. And certain it is, that for the first three or four years he applied himself closely to business, and made one general visitation of his diocese in person nay, he extended his care to parts abroad, and began his correspondence there, which would have been very useful to the church, if his health had permitted him to carry it on: but about that time it pleased God to visit him with a very dangerous illness, from which indeed he recovered, but with almost the total loss of his limbs; and soon after his speech failing him, he was constrained to give over the exercise of his function and office, and was even deprived of the advantages of a free conversation.
But though he was thus obliged to provide for the ministerial office, yet he still took care himself for the dispatch of business. For the mind was yet vigorous and strong in this weak body, and partook of none of its infirmities. He never parted with the administration of things out of his own hands, but required an exact account of every thing that was transacted; and where the business was of importance and consequence enough, he would dictate letters, and give directions about it himself. Under all his infirmities, his soul broke through like the sun from the cloud, and was visible to every eye. There was a dignity in his aspect and countenance to the very last. His reason sat enthroned with him, and no one could approach him without having his mind filled with that respect and veneration that was due to so great a character.
His learning was very extensive: God had given him a great and an understanding mind, a quick comprehension, and a solid judgment. These advantages of nature he improved by much industry and application; and in the early part of his life had read and digested well the ancient authors, both Greek and Latin, the philosophers, poets, and orators; from whence he acquired that correct and elegant style, which appears in all his compositions. His knowledge in divinity was obtained from the study of the most rational writers of the church, both ancient and modern; and he was particularly fond of comparing Scripture with Scripture, and especially of illustrating the Epistles and writings of the Apostles, which he thought wanted to be more studied, and of which we have some specimens in his own discourses. His skill in the civil and canon law was very considerable; to which he added such a knowledge of the common law of England, as few clergymen attain to., This it was that gave him that influence in all cases where the church was concerned, as knowing precisely what it had to claim from its constitutions and canons, and what from the common law of the land.
His piety was constant and exemplary, and breathed the true spirit of the Gospel. His zeal was warm and fervent, in explaining the great doctrines and duties of Christianity, and in maintaining and establishing them upon the most solid and sure foundations.
His munificence and charity were large and diffuse; not confined to particulars, but extended in general to all that could make out any just claim to them.
The instances of his public charities, both in his life-time and at his death, are great, and like himself.
given large sums of money to the corporation of clergymen's sons, to several of the hospitals, and to the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts. And at the instance of the said society, he consented to print at his own charge, an impression of two thousand sets of his valuable discourses, at a very considerable expense. And they have been actually sent to all the islands and colonies of America; and, by the care of the governors and clergy, it is hoped by this time, that they are all properly distributed among the people of their respective colonies, to their great improvement in the knowledge of rational and practical Christianity. And to mention one instance more of his great charity and care for the education of youth, he hath given to Catherinehall, in Cambridge, the place of his education, his valuable library of books; and, in his life-time, and at his death, donations for the founding a librarian's place, and a scholarship, to the amount of several thousand pounds.
Besides these, and many other public instances of his charity and munificence which might be mentioned, the private flow of his bounty to many individuals was constant and regular; and upon all just occasions he was ever ready to stretch forth his hand towards the needy and afflicted: of which no one can bear testimony better than myself, whom he often employed as the distributor of it.
He was indeed a person of great candour and humanity, had a tender feeling of distress, and was easily touched with the misfortunes of others. No man was ever more happy in domestic life, and no one could shew greater gentleness, goodnature, and affection, to all around him. To his servants he was a kind and tender master; he knew how to reward fidelity and diligence; especially in those who had been long in his service. They were careful over him, and he remembered their care, by leaving a large sum among them who had been nearest about him during his illness.
IV. Some Account of Dr. STUKELEY, communicated by
THE Rev. William Stukeley, M.D. F.R.S. and F.A.S. was descended from an ancient family in Lincolnshire; born in the year 1687; admitted of Bene't College, Cambridge, in 1703; he took the degree of M. B. in 1709, and practised physic at Boston, in Lincolnshire; he became a fellow of the
Antiquarian Society in 1717; a fellow of the Royal Society in 1718; M.D. in 1719; and was admitted fellow of the College of Physicians in 1723. Conceiving there were some remains of the Eleusinian mysteries in Free Masonry, he gratified his curiosity, and was constituted master of a lodge, to which he presented an account of a Roman amphitheatre at or near Dorchester.
In July, 1729, he went into orders, by the encouragement of Archbishop Wake; and in October following, was presented by Lord Chancellor King to the living of All Saints, in Stamford.
In the year 1741 he became one of the founders of the Egyptian Society, which brought him acquainted with the benevolent Duke of Montague, one of the members, who prevailed on him to leave Stamford, and then gave him the living of St. George the Martyr, in Queen Square, in 1747. From thence he frequently went to a pretty retirement he had at Kentish Town. Returning from thence on Wednesday, the 27th of February, 1765, to his house in QueenSquare, according to his usual custom, he lay down on his couch, where his housekeeper came and read to him; but some occasion calling her away, on her return, he, with a cheerful look, said, Sally, an accident has happened since you have been absent.' Pray, what is that, Sir? No less than a stroke of the palsy.' She replied, I hope not so, Sir;' and began to weep. Nay, do not trouble yourself,' said he, but get some help to carry me up stairs, for I never shall come down again but on men's shoulders.' Soon afterwards his faculties failed him, but he continued quiet and composed, as in a sleep, until Sunday following, the 3d of March, 1765, and then departed, in his 78th year, which he attained by his remarkable temperance and regularity.
By his particular directions he was conveyed in a private manner to East Ham, in Essex, and was buried in the churchyard, ordering the turf to be laid smoothly over him, without any monument. This spot he particularly fixed on, in a visit he paid some time before to the clergyman of that parish, when walking with him one day in the church-yard.
Thus ended a valuable life, daily spent in throwing light on the dark remains of antiquity.
His great learning and profound skill in those researches, enabled him to publish many very elaborate and curious works, and to leave many ready for the press.
In his medical capacity, his Dissertation on the Spleen was well received.
His "Itinerarium Curiosum," the first fruits of his juvenile