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From this scene of sorrow Bishop Wilson returned to the duties of his diocese, which he continued to prosecute with increasing ardour and apostolic zeal, till they were at length interrupted, in 1718, by an event of a most singular and trying nature. The most unwarrantable encroachment had been made in the island on the ecclesiastical authority, and the privileges of the Bishop and the Church invaded by the civil officers, under the tyrannical government of Captain Horne. At length the Bishop thought proper to remonstrate with the Governor, and Lord Derby, who seems to have taken part with the civil officers; the immediate ground of his appeal being a fine of 101. which had been illegally levied upon him for contempt, in not appearing in London to defend sentence passed in a case purely spiritual. He could obtain, however, no redress; and in the meantime a most abominable pamphlet, called “ The Independent Whig," written against the interest of the Church, and reviling the Christian religion, was industriously circulated, with the connivance of the Governor, through the island. Of this the Bishop was informed by John Stevenson, Esq. who sent him a copy of the pamphlet; for which interference he was imprisoned by an order from the Governor. Against this act of oppression the Bishop again remonstrated; issuing at the same time a circular to the Clergy, and exhorting them to use their best endeavours to counteract the dangerous tendency of the pamphlet in question. While these events were in progress, Mrs. Horne, the Governor's wife, by means of a false accusation against a widow of irreproachable character, induced Archdeacon Horribin to refuse her the sacrament; and refusing to retract, was in her turn forbidden by the Bishop to approach the Lord's table. This decree being violated by the Archdeacon, Bishop Wilson,—who, though he could forgive any offence against himself, would not suffer a breach of the laws and orders of the Church,-suspended him for contumacy and canonical disobedience. Upon this, the Archdeacon, instead of applying to the Metropolitan, sought redress at the hands of the Governor, who fined the Bishop 501., and the Vicars-general, Dr. Walker, and Mr. Curghey, 201. each; the payment of which being refused, they were imprisoned on the 29th of June, 1722, in Castle Rushen. Here he was confined two months, at the termination of which period he was released on preferring an appeal to the King in Council; and his return to his home was welcomed by a general jubilee throughout the island. His cause was tried by the King in Council, on the 4th of July, 1724, who reversed all the proceedings of his adversaries. The expenses, however, attending the suit were enormous; and, as the Bishop would not be prevailed upon to sue for damages, fell heavy upon him, though he was assisted by a considerable subscription. King William, indeed, had promised to
ion. Wife, by mean induced Archet, was in hehis decree be
defray them, but his death prevented the fulfilment of his intention. He had also offered him the Bishopric of Exeter, as some compensation for his sufferings in defence of the laws of the Church; but he could not be persuaded to leave the scenes of his usefulness, which he saw the prospect of being enabled to increase.
It was observed in the outset, that the leading feature in Bishop Wilson's character was a firm reliance on God's providence, accompanied with continual prayer, and daily supplication. Before we bring his life to a close, it will not be an uninteresting object to illustrate this point from the miscellaneous events of his life.
Bishop Wilson kept a regular diary both of merciful and afflictive providences, and made a wise and suitable improvement of them. From this diary it appears that a fire broke out in the palace, about two o'clock in the morning, in the chamber over that in which the Bishop slept, “ which," says he," by God's providence, to which I ascribe all the blessings and deliverances I meet with, I soon extinguished. Had it continued undiscovered but a very short space of time, the wind was so high, that in all probability it would have reduced my house to ashes."
“ Blessed be God for this and all other his mercies vouchsafed to me and to my family. God grant that a just sense of his obligations laid so often upon me may oblige me to such returns of gratitude as become such mighty favours." Amen. He made every incident in his life a subject of humiliation or thanksgiving. Whatever befel him reminded him of the divine presence, and of his continual dependance on the great Preserver of all. Of this the following passage in his diary is a striking example.
“ The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
“ Thursday, Feb. 10th, 1703. Blessed be the good providence of God, which secures and delivers us from dangers which no care can prevent, no skill but the hand of God only can free us from. The cook-maid having left a pin in the breast of a fowl, I swallowed it unawares; but by the help of a vomit, and God's great goodness to me, I got it up again; for whose goodness I desire to be for ever thankful; and beseech him that I may never forget the many peculiar favours I have received at his hands. Let them give thanks whom the Lord hath delivered.”-Pp. 213, 214.
No incident in the Bishop's life passed unnoticed, or unobserved. In his diary, 1st January, 1725, he writes as follows : “ My dear child coming to see me from Liverpool, was in a tempest driven to the coast of Ireland, and there shipwrecked; but by the great mercy of God, his life was saved ; and this day (January 16,) I have a letter under his own hand. The Lord make me thankful.” Thus every occurrence raised his heart to heaven, enlivened his devotion, or increased his thankfulness.-P. 220.
In the year 1735, a circumstance occurred, which appears to have given him heart-felt pain. Three persons in the diocese, who had been convicted of the crimes of robbery and housebreaking, were under the sentence of death. This was an unusual occurrence in the Isle of Man. The Bishop viewed it with sensations of unfeigned commiseration, and earnestly endeavoured to improve it to the spiritual benefit of the unhappy sufferers, and of the country at large. To this end he drew up prayers and exhortations, to be used in the different Churches throughout the diocese; and he himself called on the people from the pulpit to join with him in fervent prayers, for the conversion and salvation of the wretched culprits, concluding with an impressive address on the dreadful nature and fatal consequences of the sins which had occasioned such deep distress. Pp. 223, 224.
The following circumstance is recorded in his diary. “On Tuesday, 26th Feb. 1750, my son sitting in his study by the fire, an hurricane blew down, or rather carried off, a whole stack of chimneys, directly over his head, without one VOL. XI. NO XII.
brick breaking off the stack, which was carried and fell clear from the house. At the same time the house was stript, and all the family (so great was the goodness of God) unhurt,"
Again, March 2d, 1750, he writes : “My dear son returning from a funeral, the coachman ran against a brewer's dray, and hung over the coach, and cut my son's hand, of which my daughter gives me this account, and hopes by the blessing of God he will do very well; but he is not able yet to hold a pen. These are great visitations of mercy. God sanctify them to his glory and our salvation! This is the second miracle of mercy, by which my son's life has been preserved. Blessing and honour, and wisdom and thanksgiving, and power and glory, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen."—P. 242.
Our limits warn us that we are trespassing, not upon our readers' patience, but upon our own space. We must, therefore, bring our memoir to a close. After visiting England, in 1735, and meeting with every demonstration of respect, not only from the people, but in the courts of Anne and the first two Georges, he returned to his Diocese, and there resided during the remainder of his life; the closing years of which were marked with the blessings, which the aged Christian never fails to enjoy. He was prepared for death, and its approach was welcomed as the passport to happiness, through the merits of the Redeemer. Having passed his 92d year, his intellectual powers began to fail, and he remained in a state of delirium for some weeks previous to his dissolution. Still there was a sensibility in all his expressions, and pious ejaculations were ever on his lips. He died on the 7th of March, 1755, in the 93d year of his age, and the 58th of his consecration.
His funeral was such as had never before been witnessed in the Isle of Man. It must have been a most interesting and affecting spectacle. The inhabitants of the island assembled from every town, and parish, and village, to pay their last tribute of respect to one who had been so dear to them all. Scarcely an individual was absent, excepting such as age or infirmity kept at home. The tenants on the demesne, habited in mourning, were appointed to bear the corpse to the grave; but at every resting-place, the crowd earnestly contended for the honour of carrying the precious remains for a few moments on their shoulders, and such of them as were permitted, esteemed it a peculiar honour.
The coffin was made from one of the elm-trees which the Bishop had planted soon after his coming to the Isle of Man. A few years before his death, he got the tree cut down and sawed into planks, to be in a state of readiness to receive his remains, and probably to answer the further end of a memento mori. The day of the funeral was a day of universal mourning throughout the island.—Pp. 258, 259.
His remains were interred in the church-yard of Kirk Michael, and a plain black marble monument has been erected over his grave, with the following Epitaph inscribed on it:
Sleeping in Jesus, here lieth the body of
Who died March 7th, 1755,
This Monument was erected
Let this Island speak the rest !- P. 261.
Such was Bishop Wilson; and such, “ being dead, he still speaketh," by his example, and by his writings. These last embrace a variety of subjects; all of them, with the exception of the “History of the Isle of Man," connected with the duties of his office. Their characteristic feature is simplicity both of sentiment and language ; and his devotional exercises bear a marked similarity to the Liturgy of the Church of England, in point of chaste composition, deep humility, and ardent piety. His Sacra Privata are a rich treasure of devotion, not only for the Minister of God, but for every Christian ; and his Maxims of Piety are full of the most important matter, delivered in the most instructive and impressive form. His Sermons, ninety-nine in number, are almost entirely practical ; written in a plain and familiar style, studiously avoiding all points of controversial divinity, and directed to the reproof of sin and the reformation of sinners.
Of the work which has furnished the materials of the foregoing rapid sketch of the life and character of this truly amiable man and distinguished prelate, our opinion will readily be formed, without much additional observation. It has reached its third edition, and is fully entitled to the patronage it has received. Mr. Stowell never fails to improve the example of Bishop Wilson to the edification of his readers, and that in the spirit of one who has learnt Christianity in the same school, which he would throw open to others. We do not say that there is not here and there an opinion, which we could wish suppressed, or an expression which is somewhat out of place ; but, taken as a whole, we have seldom opened a more interesting and instructive piece of Christian biography, or one more likely to make a deep and lasting impression upon the mind.
the examponage it has "cached its thirformed,
LITERARY REPORT. Sermons on Various Subjects and Occa- so entirely and so readily affix, not
sions : including Three Discourses on only our critical, but our cordial apthe Evidences, the Obligations, and probation, as to that of Dr. Walker. the Spirit of the Gospel. By the Elegant in style, sound in doctrine, Rev. JAMES WALKER, D.D.F.R.S.E. scriptural in argument, and persuasive of St. John's College, Cambridge, in exhortation, these sermons are equally Episcopal Professor of Divinity in adapted to the study of the divine, the Edinburgh. To which is added, a closet, and the congregation. To say Sermon on Redemption, by the late more would be superfluous; but as we Rev. James RAMSAY, A. M. Vicar do not wish to be taken altogether upon of Teston, and Rector of Netilestead, trust, we shall extract the following in Kent. London: Rivingtons. 8vo. truly evangelical exposition from the pp. 414. Price 108. 6d.
second Discourse. It is a good sample
of the author's manner; and his matter We have not often met with a is, throughout, of the same solid and volume of Sermons, to which we could convincing character.
It is very certain in reference not only to times past, but to the present, that the scale of holiness, instead of being, as it really is, essentially raised by the Gospel standard, bas, in fact, been lowered, by fixing the attention too exclusively on one portion of the truth, and by forgetting that the whole system is essentially practical. All the truths of the Gospel are to be considered together, not separately, one or more to the exclusion of the rest. With a view to their just influence on the heart and conduct, they must be considered in that just and necessary connexion in which one is njodified by another, and in which, thus modified, they all combine to bring us in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
When we maintain, with St. Paul, that we are justified by faith alone, we mean that our justification is of free grace, and that our works had and have no part whatever in procuring to us this great gratuity. But then we must consider that our faith, so far as it is an actor, an attribute of our own, is as little meritorious as our works. It is a mean whereby we are enabled, by God's preventing and assisting grace, to apply to ourselves that justification of which the blessed Redeemer is the sole, efficient, and meritorious cause. But for asmuch as faith on our part, though it is in no respect meritorious, is yet a necessary mean; so also are works the equally necessary fruits of a true and lively faith It is not the bare assent to the truths of the Gospel, nor the mere embracing of Christianity, as our outward profession, because we believe it to be true, which constitutes that faith to which so many and such great things are ascribed in Scripture. The sound and saving faith of which such mighty things are predicated, is a gift or grace of a much higher quality. In this respect it is the vivifying principle of the Christian life, which prepares and promotes all the graces of the Gospel, and all the indispensable works of Christian piety. When it is considered simply in itself, and apart from the practical graces which it is calculated to prepare and intended to promote, it becomes a comparatively inferior quality, greatly inferior to charity, and even to hope. When it is combined with all the gifts and graces which are implied in a true and saving faith, it justly merits all the high attributes conferred upon it by St. Paul; but then it merits them in the very same respect as the works which are insisted on by St. James : nor would there be any difficulty
in the matter, if men, instead of dwelling on parts of the system, and thereby involving themselves in speculative difficulties, and in practical obscurities, would consider the whole in combination, as it involves the theory, the practice, and the result of the Christian Revelation. Those who carry the consideration of salvation by faith to excess, do so in vindication of free grace, and in just abhorrence of all claim of right on the part of man in virtue of his own works and deservings. But where free grace is and operates, it is productive of good works. These no Christian will ever plead as meritorious at the bar of judgment, though without them he will never be meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. The foundation stands firm. At the final judg. ment we can plead nothing that is properly our own; neither our faith, nor our works, nor both combined. When we stand there, if we shall have assigned to us a portion in the inheritance prepared from the foundation of the world, it is in the Redeemer's strength and mercy and merits that we shall so stand acquitted and rewarded, and not in our own. But forasmuch as He has freely furnished the means in the preparation, in the commencement, and in the progress of our Christian career, we must of necessity possess the fruit, or we shall never hear the welcome call which leads to the eternal reward.- Pp. 52–56.
The Sermon on Redemption was written, but not preached, by the author's uncle, Mr. Ramsay. It is added as well on account of its practical utility, as in honour to the memory of a departed relative and a worthy man. Our limits do not admit of another extract, or we would gladly have enriched our columns from this source.
Memoirs of the Reformers, British and
Foreign. By the Rev. J. W. MIDDLETON, A. M. formerly of Trinity College, Oxford. 3 vols. 18mo. pp. x. 383, 355, 379. London: Seeley. 1829. 10s. 6d.
The object of this work is to give an account of select individuals of the great family of European Reformers, “ equally removed from the prolixity of extended memoir, and the meagreness of biographical notice;" and elucidate the several opinions maintained by each, from their professed publi