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learn from Nichols, that some hymns, and a small hymn-book for the children of the " Brethren," were printed by Mr. Gambold's own hand, in Lindsey House, Chelsea.* Nichols also observes, that he was “not only a good scholar, but a man of great parts, and singular mechanical ingenuity.” And in a letter to this writer, by Daniel Prince, who claimed to know him well, he is said to be a “singular, over-zealous, but innocent enthusiast. He had not quite fire enough in him to form a second Simon (Simeon ?) Stylites."
In the year 1754, he was chosen and consecrated Bishop of the Unitas Fratrum in England; † and in indefatigable labors for the spiritual and temporal welfare of those thus committed to his watch and care, he passed the remainder of his days. In 1763, he was seized with a very distressing sickness, but he still continued, in the intervals of severe pain, to perform his official duties. And when he could no longer attend the public congregation, he did not cease to preach to those who were privileged to be near him, even more effectively than in words, by the sweetness, composure, and trustful state of his spirit, during all the increasingly sad vicissitudes of his disease, for the space of nearly three years; when "He, whom his soul loved,
* See that very singular book, entitled “ Anecdotes of William Bowyer, Printer, F. S. A. By John Nichols, his Apprentice, Partner, and Successor. Lond. 4to. 1782.” It is also stated in Nichols's “Literary Anecdotes” that Gambold was “employed by Mr. Bowyer in correcting the press.” In this capacity he edited (among many other valuable pub. lications) the beautiful and very accurate edition of Lord Bacon's Works, in 1765. He was also author or editor of the following works among others. Llistory of Greenland by David Crantz, 2 vols. 8vo.; a neat edition of the Greek Testament, published at the Oxford University Press, but without his name, “textu per omnia Milliano, cum divisione pericoparum et interpuncturâ A. Bengelii," 2 vols. 12mo.; A Short Summary of Christian Doctrine ; Maxims and Theological Ideas, collected out of the several Dissertations and Discourses of Count Zinzendorf, from 1738 to 1747.
f In the striking but not very correct account of Mad. de Staël, of these “ Monks of Protestantism," as she calls them, it is said that they “ were without priests.” But beside the fact related in the text, it is well known, that, when they outgrew their first establishment at Hernhut, (Watch of the Loril,) in Saxony, it became expedient to establish colonies in other countries, where they might be unmolested. Nitschmann was consecrated at Berlin, by Jablonsky and his colleague, to be a Bishop of the Moravian Brethren; and afterwards Count Zinzendorf was by them consecrated as a Bishop. See Southey's “Life of Wesley," Vol. I. ch. 5.
took him into his eternal security, September 13, 1771. His residence here on earth lasted sixty years.'
These are the prominent facts in the life of John Gambold. Considered in a psychological point of view, it presents some anomalous features. It is not strange, indeed, that a young man of tender and impressible mind, of ardent temperament, secluded from society and singular in bis habits, having little sympathy with the living world around him, and absorbed in self-communings, should find, in the mystical lore of the Platonizing Fathers of the early period of Christianity, the precise aliment that his excited and diseased imagination craved. It is not strange, that, having thus become smitten with a love of the ideal in character, which, from the very nature of the case, can never be realized on earth, and seeing continually, in consequence, a painful disparity between bis aims and efforts, he should sink down into all but bopeless despond
It is not strange, moreover, that, while in this deplorable state, he should be glad to welcome any implicit, unquestioning faith, which should promise relief; and especially one which, by substituting the merits of another, should atone for the sad deficiencies of his own. All this is not difficult to be understood. But it is more difficult to comprehend how a man of an intellect so original, perspicacious, and self-relying as his appears to have been in many respects, should, at the mature age of thirty-one, have yielded himself to the guidance of such persons as Boehler, Zinzendorf, Nitschmann, and their coadjutors ; and thenceforth have remained satisfied with a form of faith, which, confessedly, was rather imbibed from them than formed for himself; and one too that rested, mainly, on a mere impulse, which he could give no other account of, except that he felt that he felt it. This is one of those spiritual idiosyncracies, which, we must confess, we do not comprehend, and shall not attempt to analyze. They are matters of individual consciousness, which, not hav
* When will that interesting class of minds, which are striving after a spiritual perfection, learn, that there must ever be an impassable distance between their exertions and the object they pursue ; that their highest attainments must ever be regarded by themselves as miserable failures; and that this very capacity of placing before themselves an indefinite idea of perfection, was intended by their Creator only as a means of continual progress towards Himself; and that the only Perfection of which man is capable is summed up in the humbler term Effort, unwearied, always onward, never-ending Effort?
ing experienced, no self-introspection of ours will adequately explain. Happy, however, are we, that he did gain rest to his excited mind at last, - that the troubled waves of his soul were calmed, even by a halcyon of religious peace like this ; and that he did not, like Cowper, a kindred spirit in many respects, sink down into a condition of remediless gloom and despair.
Of his moral characteristics it is easier to speak with confidence. He exhibited a beautiful personification of much that was pure, lovely, self-denying and self-devoted, in the interesting class of Christians to which he attached himself. Though he was a man of refined and elegant taste, and highly accomplished as a scholar, and was, moreover, engaged in the anxious duties of a spiritual instructor and Bishop of the “ Brethren,” he was yet not unfrequently employed in manual labor for the subsistence of himself and family. He might well have appropriated the language of the great Apostle to the Gentiles, whom, in singleness of heart and purpose, as well as in holy zeal, he greatly resembled, -"With these hands have I ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me; and like him, too, he might have said, “ though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself a servant unto all, that I might gain the more."
The distinctive traits of Gambold's mind, and his peculiar tone of thought and sentiment, will best appear from the extracts from his works, wbich we now proceed to give. With the single exception of the piece entitled "The Mystery of Life,” none of his works, considered as a whole, appear to us of very bigh, certainly not of equally sustained, excellence. There are gems, however, scattered through them all, both plain and set, that is, (by interpretation,) both in prose and poetry, that are both rich and rare. These we propose to select from the general mass, and lay before our readers, connecting them together by a thread-like commentary of our own.
The longest of his poetical works is a drama, entitled “The Martyrdom of St. Ignatius,” which was not published until after his death, and seems never to have received an accurate revision by its author. Judged by the common rules of the Drama, it is very imperfect. There is a total disregard of the unities of action, place, and time, which Aristotle supposed he found in the Iliad, and prescribed, in consequence, for the
observance of future epic and dramatic writers in all ages; and we suppose that a French critic would be as much shocked with our author for this departure from prescribed rules, as he would be at seeing an actor, in any scenic representation, though even in the “
very torrent, tempest, and whirlwind of his passion,” turn his back upon the audience. It is, in fact, nothing more than a description, in a dialogue form, of the sad but triumphant journey of St. Ignatius from Antioch to Rome. The whole drama, moreover, is pervaded with a solemn air of stiffness and formality, which, though proper enough to the dramatis persona, where the interlocutors are bishops, presbyters, messengers of the churches, deacons, deaconesses, philosophers, catechumens, penitents, and confessors, yet is, of course, fatal to all facile turns of expression and to all conversational ease. Still it is by no means devoid of interest. It bears the impress of strong reality. It carries us back to the Christians of the first and second centuries; introduces us at once into their society ; makes us, for the time, their cotemporaries, sharers of their trials, dangers, and sufferings, and partakers of something of their spirit. The whole plot, if plot it may be called, is this. The Emperor Trajan, in the nineteenth year of his reign, returning from the conquest of the Scythians and Dacians, and thinking it necessary to the security and stability of his empire, that he should subdue the spirit of the Christians, and oblige them, as the account says, to “worship the devil with all other nations,” instituted against them a violent persecution. It was at this period, while at Antioch, on his way to Armenia and Parthia, that he was voluntarily sought, at least, not shunned, by Ignatius, then more than eighty years old, in that false spirit of martyrdom, which prevailed after the death of the Apostles, in the early ages of the Christian church. This interview, as might well be expected from the temper and bearing of the parties concerned, only seemed to exasperate the Emperor the more ; and Ignatius, having avowed himself “Theophorus, or one who carried about, within bimself, bim who was crucified under Pontius Pilate,” he was sent by Trajan to Rome, “there to be thrown to the beasts for the amusement of the people.” This act of unnecessary and atrocious cruelty, will affix itself, as an indelible stigma, to a name, which was not otherwise gratuitously stained with blood. But it was met on the part of Ignatius with triumphant gladVOL. XXI. - 3D s.
He thanked God, that he was deemed worthy thus to “ put on iron bonds with the apostle Paul.” He considered and spoke of them as " spiritual jewels." He deprecated the unceasing efforts of numerous churches in Asia Minor, in endeavouring to procure for him any abatement of his punishment. “ I fear your love,” said he, “lest it should do me an injury. I shall never hereafter have such an opportunity of attaining unto God. I am willing to die unless you hinder me. I beseech that you show not such an unreasonable good-will towards me." And when, as is supposed, his friends represented the peculiar horrors of the death which awaited him, for the purpose of shaking his resolution, his reply was, " Nay, I enjoy the wild beasts that are prepared for me, which I wish may exercise their fierceness upon me, and which for that end I will encourage.” He finally " attained unto the end he longed for," that of being speedily destroyed by these wild beasts, at the conclusion of one of the horrid spectacles of human butchery in the amphitheatre at Rome, which were common in that age.
It is impossible for us, either as sober men or Christians, to feel any very strong interest in a tale like this. Whatever we may think of a true self-devotion to principle, this self-sacrifice of Ignatius partakes too largely of a diseased excitement of mind, of mere extravagance and enthusiasm, to address itself to the healthy sympathies of our common nature; and for the same reason, it seems to us of very little value as an authentication of Christianity. Martyrdom, even in the best of causes, is only an heroic, or laudable, or, indeed, an excusable act, when it is undergone as a last and dire necessity, and when the only alternative is the sacrifice of life or the sacrifice of principle. But when it is sought as a high and enviable boon, as in the case before us, it discovers nothing more clearly than the morbid excitement and brain-sickness of the sufferer. Such was not the spirit that led his apostles and immediate followers to die for Jesus' sake. Nothing can be more unlike, than, for example, the conduct of Paul and that of Ignatius, though probably they were equally sincere followers of a common Lord, and both went to death for his sake. But the former avoided this awful consummation of his mission in every worthy way, and as long as he worthily might. He cast bimself upon the succour of his friends; he abstained from any gratuitous offence of his enemies; he availed himself of his privileges as a Roman citizen ; he did not think himself a recreant from his principles, in resorting to any innocent means of saving his life.