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“Sir, the writing is old and much worn ; we have but little light just now, and your eyes are not strong; pray allow me to read it to you, I am well versed in writings of this kind.” Another tells him, “ It is true the writing is old, but it is still legible; the light is no doubt dim, but I will procure you a supply of light, and if you will just take the manuscript in your own band, you will soon become familiar with the language of it, and be able to read it for yourself.” Which of these methods is the best, every judicious person will soon discover.
THE WHITEFIELD PAPERS.-No. VI.
Downs, January 20th,
Between 12 and 1 in the Night. To Mr. Bray.
Dearest Gaius, Dear Mr. Habersham (who salutes you) and I have just been solacing ourselves in reading your spiritual letters, and added as many Amens as you could wish. I wondered my dear host had forgot me so long; surely, thinks I, some evil has befallen him; but, blessed be God, when it came, it came with com. fort, attended with the Spirit who helped you to indite it. On, may you more and more feel the influences of the Divine Guest; may he move over your soul, till Jesus Christ be completely formed in you! Oh, may all remainder of pollution die in you; and all the fruits of meekness, holiness, and love, flourish and grow in you! Oh, my dear friend, I hope your kindness, in receiving me into your house, will never be forgotten. I hope your wife's and sister's labours of love will not lose their reward. Oh, God forbid I should not pray for them or you! I have not, blessed be God, (ungrateful as I am,) forgotten them yet, and hope never shall. No; it's not long since I have been interceding for you on open deck, as is my custom every night. My heart was with you on Tuesday : I saw you in spirit consulting the welfare of your fellow-Christians, and I joined my unworthy petitions with yours. Think you not, dear Mr. Bray, they both met at the same place? I thank you, I thank you all for remembering me. I thank you for writing to me; write again, and see if I am backward in answering: I'll rob myself of rest, rather than not return the favours. I only wish I could prevent your present writing being so expensive; but put it down to God's account: He whom I serve will repay you. What is become of dear Mr. Edwards? Why does he not send me speedy answers ? Pray let him have my letters as soon as they come to hand, that I may hear from him as often as possible before I go hence and be no more seen. My hearty love to him; and for my sake deal most kindly with that young man. How does Mr. Bell ? pray go to him, and ask the reason of his silence : has any evil befallen him? Be more par. ticular, my dear friend, in your next, about the state of the friends. Tell me how often, and when you meet; if I may, in spirit, join with you : if you inquire how I go on, I answer, Very well, blessed be God. All people are unanimously civil: my companions grow in grace; ar ] the sailors and soldiers are, in some measure, reformed. God gives me health of body, peace of mind, assists me in writing letters, and enabled me to-night to compose part of a new sermon. Oh, praise the Lord all ye his saints, for they that fear him lack nothing ! The sea is now exceedingly calm, calmer than has been known for some years. I begin to think myself at Oxford. We must expect a storm : welcome by the grace of God. The Lord that dwellet h on high is mightier. Desire Mr. Thorold to show you my letter, and then you will see what God has done for my soul. Tell me, do you communicate letters ? I would have you all of one heart and of one mind. Tell your father and mother I pray for them daily. Tell your wife, sister, and children, I do the same for them. Tell Mr. Edmonds I do the like for him and all. Dear Mr. Bray, good night. No doubt you are sleeping, May a guard of angels watch around you ! Perhaps we may not sail this week. Stir up some to come and see me : stir up others to write to me: stir up all to pray for, dear Gaius, your unworthy though affectionate friend in Christ Jesus,
Himself will have his final day.
I had a vision of the dreary dead.
R. A. V.
An Inquiry into the Constitution, Discipline, Unity, and Worship of the
Primitive Church, for Three Hundred Years. By Lord Peter King. With Remarks, Appendix, &c., by a Clergyman of the Church of England. 8vo. London : Seeley and Co.
The name of King is so celebrated in the republic of letters, that they who may censure this as a pun, cannot deny its truth. Dr. John King, one of Queen Elizabeth's prelates, was termed by her successor, the sapient James, “the king of preachers.” He was not one of those unpreaching prelates whom a sturdy reformer compares to bells without clappers ; but preached, every Lord's-day, in some pulpit of his diocese of London. His eldest son, Dr. Henry King, was promoted to the see of Chichester, and after enduring the mortification of seeing, for some years, Presbyterianism the established religion, recovered his diocese, at the Restoration. His metrical version of the Psalms of David was no hinderance to the celebrity which Dr. Watts afterwards acquired in the same line. Dr. William King, though allied to the noble families of Clarendon and Rochester, and celebrated in the court of the Princess Anne of Denmark, was a humorist who employed his powers chiefly in such works as an imitation of Ovid's “ De Arte Amandi.” Another Dr. William King, Archbishop of Dublin, was descended from an ancient family in the north of Scotland. For defending the Reformation, he was twice confined in the Tower, by order of James II., on whose abdication he was promoted to the see of Derry, and published “The State of the Protestants of Ireland, under the late King James's Government,”—"a history,” says Burnet," truly as it is finely written.” It was, however, attacked by Mr. Charles Lesly. To win the numerous dissenters in Derry, the Archbishop published “A Discourse concerning the Inventions of Men in the Worship of God.” To this, Mr. Joseph Boyse, a celebrated and very able dissenting minister, wrote an answer. The prelate replied ; the presbyter returned to the attack, and the prelate to the defence. But the basis of Dr. William King's literary fame was a quarto treatise, published at Dublin, in 1702, entitled “ De Origine Mali.” Mr. Edmund Law, afterwards Bishop of Carlyle, became celebrated by a translation of this treatise, with copious notes and metaphysical dissertations. The design of the essay was to prove that there is more moral good than evil in the universe.
We come now to the author of the work at the head of this article. Peter King, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain descended, in 1669, from a family of that name in the west of England, his father being an eminent grocer and dry-salter in Exeter. His passion for learning weaned him from business, inducing him to spend his money and his leisure on books, by which he became an excellent scholar, who burst on the wondering world, while yet a youth, with “An Inquiry into the Constitution, Discipline, Unity, and Worship of the Primitive Church, that flourished within the first three hundred years after Christ.” London, 1691, 8vo. The passages quoted from the fathers are given in the margin, to verify the translation ; and the comments are lucid, succinct, and candid. Some have asserted, that the work was written with a view to the comprehension of dissenters within the Establishment,-a scheme which was entertained, but happily failed; for it would have been fatal to the best interests, both of liberty and religion.
It has been related, with as much evidence as can be adduced for some other anecdotes concerning the work and its author, that he wished to enter the ministry in the Establishment, and studied the subject of the volume, in order to satisfy his own conscience. When the publication had elicited no answer, he waited on the Bishop of Exeter, and told him what engaged his thoughts ; to which the prelate replied, “ If you are inquiring into the primitive church, you cannot do better than read an inquiry which has lately been published.” Referred to his own work, he abandoned all expectation of farther satisfaction, and turned aside to the study of the law. The celebrated Locke, who was his relation, and left him half his library, advised him to study in Holland. His learning and diligence soon raised him to eminence, and in several parliaments of King William and Queen Anne, he represented Beer Alston, in Devonshire.
In 1708, he was chosen recorder of the city of London, and was one of the members of the House of Commons, on the trial of Dr. Sacheverel. He became lord chief justice of the Common Pleas, in 1714; and in the following year was created Lord King, Baron of Ockham, in Surrey, and appointed lord high chancellor, a post which he retained till 1733, when he resigned; and the next year died, at Ockham.
He published a second part of his Inquiry, which treated of the worship of the church ; and, in 1702, still without his name, he gave to the world a very useful history of the Apostles' Creed.
As he never became an avowed dissenter, some have hastily concluded that he was converted by the answer of Mr. Edmund Elys, entitled “ An Original Draught of the Primitive Church.” But, not to plead that Lord King was not to be convinced by such a performance, it should be known and recollected that a curious distinction was made, in his day, between clerical and lay conformity to the Establishment. The whole connexion between church and state was then untouched.