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THE

CHRISTIAN OBSERVER.

No. 301.]

JANUARY, 1827. [No. 1. Vol. XXVII.

RELIGIOUS COMMUNICATIONS.

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For the Christian Observer. haps be introduced to that very MEMOIR OF THE LATE BISHOP

scene of which the thought is so

dreadful to us. In a moment our HEBER.

soul would find itself introduced to WHILE preparing to lay before the vast world of invisible beings;

our readers a brief memoir of would behold, it may be, the angels the beloved and lamented Bishop of God ascending and descending as Heber, our eye rests upon the follow. ministers of his will between heaven ing iinpressive passage in a sermon and earth; and our Maker himself preached by him a few months before in his boundless glory, and our Rehis death, and which has just issued deemer standing at his right hand. from the press of Bishop's College This moment, while I speak, this at Calcutta. The discourse is en- prospect is offered for the first time titled “ The Omnipresence of God," to many who, in the different naand was preached at the consecra- tions of the world, are passing from tion of the church of Secrole, near life into eternity; this moment it Benares. What an affecting com- may be offered to any of us who are ment does the sudden bereavement' here assembled. Surely the Lord which has afflicted so many hearts is in this place, and we knew it not. afford to the truth of the solemn How dreadful is this place! This reflections which we are about to place may to each of us become, quote!-reflections, however, which; according as we are prepared for the solemn as they are, carry with them passage, the gate of hell or heaven!" a sacred solace, since they shew The Right Reverend Reginald that, violent as was the shock.caused the second son of the Reverend to others by the sudden departure Reginald Heber, of Marton Hall, of this valuable man, in the full tide York, and of Hodnet Hall, Salop, of life and the zenith of his useful: was born in the year 1783 at Malness, to himself death could never ar- pas, in Cheshire *. He was sent, in rive an unexpected stranger; it could never find him unprepared for that

• There is some confusion of dates, blessed world to which he has been which we have endeavoured to rectify, in -We will not say so prematurely - the several accounts that have been pubsummoned. The passage to which lished of Bishop. Heber's life. One, for we allude is the following:

example, dates his birth in 1780, another

in 1784; but neither, we believe, correctly. « Alas! have we forgotten how Again, the Asiatic Journal, the Gentlethin a screen that is which separates man's Magazine, and some other biograus from this glorious and awful phical sketches, remark, that he could not spectacle of Jehovah's Majesty? Let have been much more than seventeen but the word go forth from his when he made his tour on the continent;

dating his journey during his undergramouth, let but one of his innumer- duateship, instead of in the year 1805. able ministers cut the thread of our Again, Mr. Robinson, his lordship's days, and set our spirit free from the chaplain, in a note to his funeral sermon,

that he was chosen preacher at curtains of this bodily tabernacle, Lincoln's Inn in 1821: the right data apand in a moment we should per- pears to be May 1822. CHRIST. OBSERY. No. 30).

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1800, to Brasenose College, Oxford. of rank and beauty; those antique In 1801, he gained the chancellor's mansions of learning; those venerprize at the university by his “ Car- able groves, refreshing streams, and men Seculare ;” and in 1803, in his shaded walks; the vision is broken twentieth year, his talents were by another, in which the youthful displayed to still greater advantage and presiding genius of the forner in his celebrated prize-poem of scene is lying in his distant grave, “ Palestine.” This poem was not amongst the sands of Southern Inat first published separately; but dia,-believe me the contrast is having found its way into an annual striking, and the recollection most volume of “ fugitive poetry,” we painful." eagerly took up the casket for the In 1805, Mr. Heber produced his sake of this gem, and held it up to prize-essay, on “ The Sense of Hothe admiration of our readers (see nour;" and soon after set out on a our volume for 1805, p. 300), only tour to the eastern parts of the conexpressing our regret, that a poem tinent of Europe, in company with of such merit had not been given to Mr. John Thornton, the present the public unmixed with baser mat, treasurer of the Bible and Church ter. This memorable era of Mr. Missionary Societies. Dr. Clarke Heber's academical life is alluded has given in his travels copious exto as follows, by the chief justice of tracts from Mr. Heber's journal of Calcutta, Sir Charles Grey, in bis his excursion in Russia, with a well splendid address delivered at the deserved encomium on the writer. public meeting at that presidency, In 1809, Mr. Heber published for the erection of a monument to another poem entitled “ Europe, the Bishop's memory,

Lines on the present War;" a re: “It is just four and twenty years, view of which, with copious extracts, this month, since I first became ac- our readers will find in our volume quainted with him at the university, for that year (p. 725). We there of which he was, beyond all question offer, as our opinion, that it was or comparison, the most distin-"always correct, ordinarily vigorous; guished student of his time. The where the author means it, pathetic; name of Reginald Heber was in and in several passages extremely every mouth; his society was courted glowing." The poem, being of a by young and old; he lived in an temporary kind, is not now generally atmosphere of favour, admiration, known. Mr. Heber maintained in and regard, from which I have never it, that England could, as was after. known any one but himself who wards proved, have saved Europe by would not have derived, and for life, larger exertions, and that Europe an unsalutary influence. Towards was worthy of being saved. He the close of his academical career supplicated his country to assist he crowned his previous honours by Spain, and concluded by affirming, the production of his Palestine;' that “ Spain shall be free." We of which single work, the fancy, the copy from our review, the following elegance, and the grace, have se passage, as exhibiting the feelings cured him a place in the list of those of deep interest with which every who bear the proud title of English Christian mind, even at that early Poets. · This, according to usage, period of his life, must have contem. was recited in public ;--and when plated this youthful aspirant after that scene of his early triumph far better than poetic fame.“ The comes upon my memory, that ele- only aspect in which his muse has vated rostrum from which he looked hitherto presented herself to the upon friendly and admiring faces ; public eye, (namely, in bis Palesthat decorated theatre; those grave tine,] is such as to conciliate the forms of ecclesiastical dignitaries, esteem of every critic who presumes mingling with a resplendent throng to prefix the epithet Christian te his name. She did not come tricked which Mr. Heber discharged the out in the gaudy or licentious habits duties of his sacred ministry while of the age- a 'reeling goddess with at Hodnet, shall be told in the words a zoneless waist'—but invested in of Mr. Robinson, his chaplain the pure garb of the sanctuary. “But his career of fame and human The good have to thank Mr. Heber praise, whatever were its value, and for a poem, which even they may whatever facilities were presented to read with improvement; for a poem, him for its acquisition, had, for a which they should rejoice to put in mind like his, but a feeble and tranto the hands of their children ; for sient fascination. He had a higher the alliance of religion and taste in and more noble ambition : the obthe same work; for a phraseology ject of his pursuit was less splendid 50 richly imbued with scriptural in the eyes of men; it was one of language, as at once to sanctify the secret virtue and self-denying dilipoem, and to dignify religion; for gence; but if estimated(as we around scenery calculated to endear to us his grave can now measure it) by that land so dear to God the bill the standard of eternity, it was the of Zion wbich he loved ;' for a path of the purest happiness on earth, spirit of sacred chivalry, which and terminating in certain and imwarms us with the feelings of other perishable glory. His society was days, and which, in our expedition much courted by the world, and in with him to · Palestine,' inspires us the learned retirement of his college; with all the zeal of crusaders, with- and never surely was any one so out any of their extravagance or formed to enjoy the society of those profligacy."

around him, or to win their admiraIn 1809, Mr. Heber also publish- tion and affection by the varied and ed his Palestine, to which he added inexhaustible charms of his own a fragment entitled “The Passage delightful conversation. But he of the Red Sea :" an extract from devoted himself to the humble duties which our readers will find appended of a parish priest in a retired vilto our review just referred to, with lage, and thought he had attained an expression of our regret that so his highest happiness, and most interesting a specimen of sacred honourable distinction, in becoming poetry should have been but a frag. the friend, the pastor, the spiritual ment.

guide of the simple villagers around But it is time that we should in- him ; in consecrating bis talents, his troduce this excellent man to our time, and his resources to the serreaders in a yet higher capacity than vice of bis God and Saviour. The that of a scholar or a poet. His more humble was the sphere of bis literary acquirements had justly duty, the more did his heart rejoice gained for him many exalted aca- in its performance. He laboured demical honours; which had been to accommodate his instructions to consummated by his election to a the comprehension of all; a labour fellowship at All-Souls' College - by no means easy to a mind stored Soon after his return from the con- with classic elegance, and an ima. tinent in 1807, he had received Holy gination glowing with a thousand Orders; and was subsequently in- images of sublimity and beauty. ducted into his patrimonial prefer- He rejoiced so to form his manners, ment, the rectory of Hodnet, in his habits, and his conversation, to Shropshire. Another most auspi- those who were entrusted to his care, cious event also occurred about this that he might gain the confidence period of his life; we mean his union and affection of even the poorest to the lady who has now the afflic. among his flock ; so that he might tion to be his widow,-a daughter the more surely win their souls to of the late Dr. Shipley, dean of St. God, and finally, in the day of last Asaph. The exemplary manner in account, present every man faultless before his presence with exceeding or have had the happiness of listenjoy. He was, above all, singularly ing to him from the pulpit, will join happy in his visitation of the sick, in the earnest hope that many of and in administering consolation to those papers which he has left be those that mourned ; and his name hind may yet be permitted to see will long be dear, and lris memory the light. The short career of his most precious, in the cottages of the public life was spent in active and poor, by whose sick-beds he has of- useful labour, not in establishing a ten stood as a ministering angel." literary fame, the materials of which

In the year 1811 Mr. Heber was were so largely within his reach." pleased to become a poetical con- In 1822 an edition of the works tributor to our work; by favouring of Jeremy Taylor appeared, to which us, under the signature of D. R., with was prefixed a life of that prelate, a considerable number of “ Hymns written by Mr. Heber, and which appropriate to the Sundays and prin- has been separately published, accipal Holidays," and which appear companied by a critical examination in our volumes for 1811, p. 630 and of Bishop Taylor's writings. We p. 697, and 1812, p. 225 and p. 289. pass by any notice of this work for His intention in writing them is ex. the present, as we propose to ourpressed in his preliminary remarks. selves to condense from it a memoir The just celebrity which several of of that highly gifted prelate, the these compositions have acquired Shakspeare of the English Church, renders it unnecessary for us to with some interesting notices from descant upon their merits.

Bishop Heber's critiques on his In 1812 he published a small writings. In 1822 Mr. Heber was volume of poems and translations; chosen preacher at Lincoln's Inn ; and in 1815 he was chosen to de- an appointment usually considered liver the Bampton Lectures before highly honourable, and which he emjthe University of Oxford. The lec- nently adorned by his talents and tures, conformably to the directions his piety. of the founder, were published the Upon the death of Dr. Middleensuing year, under the following ton, the bishopric of Calcutta was title : “ The Personality and Office offered to Mr. Heber, who, alof the Christian Comforter asserted though in possession of clerical preand explained, in a Course of Ser- ferment, it has been stated of nearly mons on John xvi. 7." The copious equal revenue to that of the see, and review of this learned and elegant justified in indulging sanguine hopes work, in our volume for 1816, to which of advancement in England, if amour readers may refer (p. 584), su- bition had been his object, consentpersedes the necessity of our agained to sacrifice his comforts and his dilating upon its merits, or pointing expectations, in order to make his out what we considered to be its talents useful, for a toilsome life in defects. Mr. Robinson says of it; a distant and unhealthy climate.“ These lectures contain an admira. He was appointed to the vacant see ble view of the doctrine of Divine in May 1823, and arrived at Calcutta influence, the most vital and essen- in the October following. The Unjtial article in the Christian system. versity of Oxford conferred upon him, The reality and importance of that on this occasion, the degree of D.D., influence is asserted' and vindicated by diploma. The confidence inspired with great clearness of reasoning, and by a knowledge of the new bishop's and with no less energy of imprese learning and talents, his piety and sive eloquence.Mr. Robinson activitycaused this appointment adds; 16 Besides these, a few of his to be hailed as a most auspicious occasional sermonsonly have hithertoevent by the Christian world at large. been given to the public; but all His intention to devote himself who are either acquainted with theseys wholly and fervently to the establish

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mentofChristianity, by every suitablo that he came to us, his immediate
Heads, was explicitly declared in his charge, and to the heathen nations
addresses, previous to his departure, among whom we dwell, in the futu
to the various societies in England ness of the blessing of the Gospel of
engaged in the work of promoting Christ."
Christianity among the heathen. Bishop Heber's whole conduct
The ardent hope which he expressed in his diocese was, if possible, even"
that he might be a useful instrument more admirable than his warmest
in the propagation of the Gospel of friends and admirers had ventured
Christ, will not be forgotten; nor the to predict. We shall lay before our
zeal with which he declared he look- readers a few of the many testi-
ed forward to the time when he monies to this effect which might be
should be enabled to preach to the easily accumulated. Archdeacon

natives of India in their own Corrie, who knew him intimately, , language." Mr. Robinson has well and whose judgment is of the highest described the spirit in which he value, says, respecting his doctrines undertook the duties of this momen- and his diligence in preaching, tous appointment.

"" It is known to you all, how assi" He left his native land with no duously he preached in one or other common sacrifice of private interests; of the churches in this city, when of individual affections, and of all present, every Sabbath-day-how the reasonable hopes and prospects he assisted in our weekly lecturesof his family and admiring friends; how, in his journeys, whenever two for such had been his life, that they or three could be collected, weekwho were but his acquaintance loved day or Sunday, he administered to him as a friend; his friends loved them the word of God and the sahim as a brother; and his family craments, consecrating every place, cherished him as a part of their own and diffusing a sacredness over it, existence. He left his native land by the fervour and holy earnestness (I speak from intimate knowledge with which he entered into every and full conviction) with the devoted part of Divine service. spirit of a true Christian bishop, “It was the word of God which he with no selfish feeling, and no shrink- administered. For man, fallen from ing from the arduous and perilous God and far gone from original duties which he well knew awaited righteousness, he preached a full him. He sought not the office; but and free redemption by the blood felt, while he undertook it, the heavy' of Christ-justification by faith burden which it imposed, and the the need of the Holy Spirit's grace awful responsibility of the charge. to incline and enable men to repent, Indeed, if there was any thing in my and to bring forth fruit meet for honoured friend and master which I repentance; persuading men by the presumed to think a fault, it was that terrors of the Lord to fee from the he thought too little of the external wrath to come, and by the mercies dignity which is annexed to his spi- of Christ to be reconciled unto God ritual power; and, from a feeling the pleasantness of religious ways of entire humility, and, from that the comfort attending the death modesty and gentleness which per of the righteous--the terrors of a vaded every word and every action, judgment-day to the impenitent, sooght rather to escape from that and the rewards of the faithful serhomage and respect which it was vant-setting forth every Christian equally our duty and our happiness duty, in its relation to Christian to pay. He came to this country, principle, in his own peculiarly accompanied by the prayers and lively and impressive manner. How blessings of thousands; and I speak eloquently he pleaded the cause of only the language of many hearts in the poor destitute, and advocated: every distant province; when I say,' the claims to our Christian compas-

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