صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

only of loaves and fishes, and nothing of the souls of men.

Among the measures lost for the present by the dissolution of Parliament, is the Bishop of London's Church-building Bill. It is called his Lordship's, because by him it was introduced; but we do not believe that it embodies all that his Lordship would consider desirable. We make no doubt that it was the best bill which his Lordship thought could be carried through Parliament; and we are sure that he conscientiously considered that in the main it would work well, though susceptible of improvement. But we cannot, after another month's deliberation, see any reason to withdraw our charges against it; and we trust that in its present form it will never be revived: indeed, it is stated that both the Right Rev. Prelate who introduced it, and the Board of Commissioners, have expressed their willingness to accede to the important amendment proposed, of rendering the provisions imperative,instead of discretionary. This is the point which those who are anxious for the erection of churches wherever wanted should most

strongly urge. Without it the bill would

be, as we said in our last Number, "sectarian," and capable of being abused to miserable party-purposes. The present Bishop of London, no man doubts, would act impartially; and there is not a prelate on the bench more anxious for the erecting of churches, and the supply of active, efficient ministers in them: but would the public or the clergy have felt the same confidence in the case of the late Bishop Randolph? We are plain men, and must speak plainly. Were not the Bishop of Peterborough's questions sectarian? Is it not sectarian that every diocese should have a veto on church building, governed by principles wholly distinct, perhaps, from those adopted in the next county? Mr. Stewart, late of Percy Chapel, has just been presented to a new church at Liverpool, after the Rector of St. Pancras had refused to allow him to be licensed to any chapel purchased for him in his parish; and as the Rector stated that no clergyman to whom the title of Evangelical happens to be applied shall be admitted into that parish, it is clear, that, if he were allowed to interfere, he would prevent any chapel being built if the nomination were in the hands of persons thus obnoxious; which he could easily do under the new bill, in more ways than one; and if in no other way, yet, as a last resource, after the parties had been put to great expense and inconvenience, by getting one built by other persons. We mention this particular parish, not with a view either to individual praise or censure, but because Mr. Stewart's case happens already to be before the public. We know of many parishes, and we fear we might say some dioceses, similarly circumstanced. A public church

building bill ought not to admit the operation of this sectarian spirit. Our parishes should be open to all our clergy fairly, according to their character and qualifications; and not under a narrow-minded system, which would make as many confessions as dioceses, as many courts of inquisition as parishes. Why not enact specifically, that wherever there are so many thousand persons without churchroom, or so many at such a distance from a church (the exact proportion of a third or fourth of the parish, adopted in some former Acts, is no certain guide, as parishes vary greatly in size and population), there it shall be lawful to build a church or a chapel, under suitable regulations, to be precisely defined by the Act, and not left to caprice or irresponsible jurisdiction. It is not a matter of paltry fees or miserable jealousies, but one that concerns the honour of God, the stability and usefulness of the Established Church, and the souls of men for whom Christ died. Most anxious are we to see the sectarianism which has divided and desolated the Church done away. Let the question be, not-Does he belong to the Bible Society, or the Christian-Knowledge Society? what does he say of regeneration in baptism? does he preach written or extempore sermons? does he read the Seventeenth Article in a Calvinistic or an Arminian sense? but-Is he truly, decidedly, and with all his heart, anxious for the salvation of the souls of his people? does he preach Christ to them, as the way, the truth, and the life? is he honest and in earnest? is the salvation of his own soul evidently his first great object? is he really a man of God, or a man living for the present world? If points like these are satisfactorily settled, we can be quite willing to leave innumerable matters of detail, and some even of doctrine, to be adjusted at leisure. But without these preliminaries nothing will long uphold the Church, as nothing will reach the hearts of men or bring glory to God.

Mr. Buxton has fully redeemed his promise of bringing forward the anti-slavery question, and urging nothing short of complete emancipation. The debate being adjourned, the intervening dissolution of Parment prevented any decision or division on the question. As the speeches are to be printed at large in the Anti-Slavery Reporter, we shall not attempt to abridge them. Government proposed drawing up a code of amelioration, to be forced upon the colonies, if not voluntarily accepted.-After all that has occurred, we think this reference, to say the least, an unnecessary delay, if not an insuperable obstacle; nor does the proposed code, so far as developed by Lord Althorp and Lord Howick, proceed to any thing like the extent of the evil. Much more is wanted, and we trust will yet be gained; but in the mean time we must do the justice to Mi

nisters to say, that their proposed code is far more liberal than any thing yet proposed by government; and being peremptory, and not optional on the colonies, was to the utmost extent of what they could possibly hope to obtain against the WestIndian influence in Parliament. In truth, we are not sure that their determination on this subject, and on the Game Laws, has not done almost as much to render them suspected and unpopular in both Houses, as the Reform Bill itself. The fate of the question during the ensuing session now depends, under God, upon the efforts of the British public in the pending elections; and we rejoice to read the excellent address issued on the subject by the Anti-Slavery Society, which most earnestly we recommend to the se

rious consideration of all our readers. The present is a crisis in this great cause of religion and humanity, which, if lost, the opportunity of urging it to a successful issue may even yet long be postponed.


But we must close our remarks. watchwords of the Christian, in times like these, should be peace-loyaltyfaith-prayer. We see much afloat at war with all these; but let the Christian remember that his duties are not regulated by popular applause or disapprobation: he is not the tool of Whigs or Tories; one is his Master, even Christ; whose injunctions, delivered by his Apostle, and confirmed by his own example, are, "Honour all men; love the brotherhood; fear God; honour the king."



To the Editor of the Christian Observer. THE REV. T. M. Hitchins, second son of the Rev. M. Hitchins, late Vicar of St. Hilary in Cornwall, was born at Merton, North Devon, in 1776. He was educated at the grammar-schools of Exeter and Biddeford; and, after a short residence with his father, entered Exeter college, Oxford; where he took the degree of B. A. in the usual course, and afterwards became tutor in the family of H. Goulburn, Esq., at Prinknash Park, Gloucestershire, to his two sons, the Right Hon. H. Goulburn and his younger brother. During this period he was ordained, with a title, to the curacy of Haresfield, in the


county; where he remained about two years, uniting the office of tutor with the duties of his ministry. At the expiration of that time he left the family of Mr. Goulburn, and was presented to a small living in Northamptonshire by the late Dr. Maskelyne. The situation not agreeing with his health, after a little more than a year he returned to St. Hilary, and became his father's curate. The curacy of Stoke Damarel, Devonshire, becoming vacant, by the advice of his father he applied for it, and entered upon the laborious duties of that parish in the year 1794. After remaining there about two years he was induced by solid reasons to quit it; but so strong an interest had he excited in the neighbourhood, that his friends proposed to secure to themselves his permanent residence and ministrations, by building a large and commodious chapel, to which he might return; and such were their zeal and perseverance, that all difficulties were surmounted, and in 1797 the foundation-stone of St. John the

Baptist's chapel, Devonport, was laid by him, who was to fill the important station of ministering in it. He returned to the curacy of St. Hilary and during his residence there formed an attachment to the lady whom he married shortly after his induction to St. John's chapel.


Mr. Hitchins had now arrived at a most important period of his life. While residing with his father, a most decided change took place in his religious principles, the nature and reality of which were fully evidenced by his subsequent conduct through life. He had ever been of an amiable and strictly moral character, and had entertained also a very serious sense of the importance of the ministerial office-so that his preaching was the means of exciting in many very lively feelings of the value of the soul, the vanity of life, and the responsibility of man ;-but here his usefulness ended: and it was not till after the important change stated above that his discourses embodied in them those peculiar and distinguishing doctrines preached by Christ and his Apostles, which afterwards became the prominent subjects of his ninisterial addresses. The result was soon manifested, and God gave testimony to the word of his grace in the hearts of those who heard it. Mr. Hitchins now became a diligent student of the Bible, and avoided every occupation calculated to withdraw his mind from the pursuit of heavenly things. The retirement of his situation was peculiarly favourable to his researches; and his brother, the Rev. Thomas Hitchins, curate of Falmouth, having also with great zeal entered on his Christian course, was probably an instructive associate to him. Mr. Hitchins's pro

gress in Christian attainments soon be came evident to all who conversed with him. His desire now was to preach a crucified Saviour, as the only ground of a sinner's acceptance with God; and his whole deportment was such as became the Gospel of Christ.

In this blessed state of mind, having counted the cost of following his Divine Master through evil report and through good report, he returned to Devonport, and in March 1799 opened the chapel designed for him. This was a season of extreme trial, and an occasion calculated to put to the test the reality and practical influence of the principles he had embraced. Surrounded by a congregation of friends, who had manifested towards him the greatest kindness, and made the most strenuous exertions to bring him again among them; valued by them for qualities which he now esteemed "nothing worth," and expected to join with them in the same species of social intercourse which he formerly held; he was called to stand up and proclaim to them the humbling doctrines of the Gospel, and to exhibit in his own conduct the practical results of the change which had taken place in his mind,-devotedness to God, and nonconformity to the world. But, strengthened by the grace of his Saviour, the fear of man had no influence to induce him to keep back those Scriptural truths from his congregation which he had embraced since his separation from them. He explicitly avowed his intention of making these the subjects of his future ministra tions; assured them that the promotion of their salvation would become the constant object of his attention; and that, to secure to them such a blessing, his sermons would contain the humbling doctrines derived from the word of God and embodied in the Articles of our Church. With this declaration the whole of his future life and ministry was in conformity. The world, which he before loved, and the favour of which he sought, had now become an object of disregard: his time, and talents were directed to higher and nobler ends. The eternal interests of those committed to his charge constituted the chief object of his concern; and it may be truly said, that he sought not theirs, but them; he preached "not himself, but Christ Jesus the Lord." And this preaching God was pleased to bless to the conversion, edification, and consolation of many, who will be his "joy and crown," in that day when "they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.


The practical influence of the doctrines which he preached from the pulpit he exhibited in his life. His deportment was holy, humble, benevolent, and consistent. He was the uniform supporter of all that was good, and the nursing

[ocr errors]

father of many institutions having for their object the supply of the spiritual and temporal wants of mankind-such as Sunday Schools, and Benevolent Societies. The Sunday schools were recommended by him in his opening address, and in a short time established; the "Female Benevolent Society was formed by him for the relief of the destitute sick, by which thousands have been greatly be nefited. Church-Missionary, Bible, and other valuable institutions, received the pecuniary aid of his congregation. The poor and the sick derived great comfort from his pastoral visits and he possessed a peculiar talent for administering to them the tender sympathy that he bore towards the sons and daughters of affliction.

Thus was this faithful servant of Christ, in season and out of season, employed in the blessed cause which he had been led to embrace, and to which he stedfastly adhered in the midst of the opposing influence of the world, the flesh, and the devil. The natural delicacy of his mind, his retiring disposition, and an aversion to give offence, could have been kept in their subordinate station only by an overcoming faith in the unseen realities of the heavenly world. Under very difficult circumstances, he never wavered in his Christian course, or endeavoured to find out palliations for a less open and decided adherence to Christ, his cause, or his people. On this point he had peculiar trials, from the circumstance that the change in his character and conduct took place between the time of his leaving the neighbourhood, in the year 1797, and his return to it, in 1799, when, to the surprise and offence of many, he preached new doctrines, and brought strange things to their ears. A few of his former friends were greatly offended; but "the Lord stood by him, and strengthened him:" so that he was regardless either of the smiles or of the frowns of the world; and proceeded, in a spirit of dependence upon God, in the path that his grace had marked out for him and in this path the same grace enabled him to continue for thirty-one years, serving God in his generation with lowliness and meekness, following peace with all men, and holiness-the sure result of the principles which he had embraced— till at length it pleased God to make even his enemies to be at peace with him. Those who rejected his doctrines were constrained to respect his character, and to acknowledge how " holily, justly, and unblameably he behaved himself amongst them."

During the last two years much bodily weakness being apparent, his family and friends had earnestly solicited him to desist from his exertions; but these entreaties he always repelled, by declaring his intention to preach as long as he could. On the 5th of September, 1830, he ad


Obituary:-Rev. Basil Woodd.

dressed his congregation for the last time. The sermon was in behalf of the St. John's Sunday School, and contained a very striking address to the children, on the value of the word of God. He had commenced his ministry in that place with a recommendation of Sunday schools, and now his last address conveyed the same recommendation;-a circumstance calculated to keep alive in the minds of his mourning flock the great importance which their beloved minister attached to these invaluable institutions.

His rapidly increasing weakness, and his being absent from home for change of air, precluded him from much intercourse with his friends: but when he was able to converse with them he continued to attest, with great energy, that he had no reliance on any thing that he had ever done; that he felt himself to be an unprofitable servant; and that the blood of Jesus Christ alone was the ground of his hope for pardon and reconciliation with God. "Blessed be his name," he said, "he has pardoned all my sins." He expressed his thankfulness that he had been permitted to preach for more than thirty years the unsearchable riches of Christ, and that God had given testimony to the word of his grace. On hearing that it had been reported that his spirits were dejected, his eyes became filled with tears, while he thanked God that this was not the case, and that throughout his illness not a doubt or fear had been permitted for a moment to harass his mind. Yet, while he desired to glorify God by speaking of the comfort he enjoyed, he watched over his heart with humility and holy jealousy. Having mentioned in a letter his peace of mind, he became very uneasy from the idea that he had not expressly stated that he was kept thus by the power of God, and requested that the letter might be destroyed.

The last week of his mortal life was one of great suffering, which he bore with meek submission, as coming immediately from Infinite Wisdom and Love. "Wearisome nights,' he observed,' are appointed

unto me.

[ocr errors]



But they are appointed; and this consideration relieves my mind." now learning," he frequently "I am said, "to suffer the whole will of God." As he approached the dark valley of the shadow of death, he conversed delightfully on his heavenly prospects with his beloved and much-valued partner, whom he strove to console and animate. On the day before his death he addressed every member of his family and household, in terms suitable to their state, and gave them his dying blessing. Some texts of Scripture being repeated at his desire, he asked, "Is there no other to prepare the soul for an entrance into Several others were then menglory?' tioned after one of which he observed, "I know the glorious truth, and it supports me now." After a very distressing night of bodily suffering, he said, "Dying underis hard work, but Satan is a conquered enemy. O Lord, I am oppressed; take for me." At another time he observed, "We dare not dictate to the Lord in the least particular; and I have committed my all to him: therefore I will only say, Thy will be done!' His time is the best." As his departure drew near he frequently inquired what the hour was, shewing disappointment at the slow lapse of time, and adding, "Come, Lord Jesus; come quickly." Then, fearing there might be impatience in the desire, he would My times are check himself, saying, in thy hand, O Lord." His mind continued clear and vigorous, and he requested to have reading and prayer. Mrs. Hitchins having remarked, "This will be a blessed Sabbath to you," he faintly articulated, "Yes, the best." His last words were an It was heard: the affecting petition to God for help in his present extremity. struggle subsided; and the happy spirit was released from a body of pain and death to the sight and enjoyment of his God and Saviour. He expired at noon, on Sunday, December 19, 1830, surrounded, like the patriarch of old, by his weeping family, G. and while his flock were praying for him in the house of God.


exemplary life were not recorded.-
It is intended in the present notice to
glance at the following particulars: The
general outline of his life; the peculiar
place which he occupied in the church of
Christ, in relation to the ecclesiastical
communion established in this land; his
ministry; his personal character; his
connexion with religious and charitable
and his last
his publications;

"PRECIOUS in the sight of the Lord,"
says the Psalmist David, "is the death of
his saints." Surely, then, it ought to
be embalmed in the affectionate remem-
brances of those who have witnessed their
holy life; and blessed is the memorial, in
order to teach those who come after, to
follow them as they followed Christ. To
few persons of the present age is this
posthumous tribute more due than to that
much-beloved and revered servant of
Christ, the late Rev. Basil Woodd;-a man
who had drunk deeply into the spirit of
his Divine Master, and whose many af-
fectionate and edifying memorials of
others would render it doubly ungrate-
ful if the chief passages of his own


The personal narrative of this excellent man is concise and simple. His life was not distinguished by any of those novelties, those vagrancies, those eccentricities, or those startling adventures, which often deform, while they enliven, 2 K

the pages of biography. His course was mild, uniform, and settled; and he owed much of his extensive usefulness, and of the attachment and respect which attend his memory, to the very circumstance of his having been for so many years consistent and stationary; far the oldest clergyman, and perhaps the oldest resident, in his neighbourhood; who had seen one generation die, and another grow up around him, and a third pressing forward into active life; while he remained, the unshaken and venerable friend, adviser, and guardian of race after race, who found him where their fathers had left him, and beaming with the same affectionate and holy sympathies which had endeared him to those who had gone before; whose youth he had nurtured, whose manhood he had counselled, and who had preceded him to heaven.

His personal narrative, then, may be summed up in a few notices. He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. Of less than thirteen months, which elapsed from the day of her marriage to the birth of this her sole earthly hope, at Richmond in Surrey, on the 5th of August, 1760, nearly seven had passed in desolate loneliness; for she had lost her beloved partner within six months after their union. But her desolation was not without far better support than the dearest earthly comforter could have afforded; for, by the Divine mercy, through the spiritual counsels of affectionate friends among whom her son has gratefully recorded the names of Dr.and Mrs. Conyers, the elder Mr. Venn, and the mother of that beloved and revered friend of mankind Mr. Wilberforce-her affliction was the means of leading her to God; and she was thus enabled to commit herself, a widow, and her fatherless child, to Him who has invited the fatherless and widows to put their trust in him. Her mind being now, by one stroke, severed from worldly prospects, and rent from the love of the creature, she began more anxiously to seek the knowledge and love of the Creator. "She had from early life," says her son-who loved with thankful heart to recount her excellencies, and those of several others of his beloved relatives, whose scattered memorials he had just been collecting for publication when the stroke of death came upon him-" She had from early life been of a devout turn of mind, a strict observer of moral duties and the ritual of religion; but now, in the day of adversity, she was brought to deeper views of the depravity of her heart, and the need she stood in of a Saviour; she perceived the insufficiency of her own righteousness, and the necessity of being born again." From this happy period, to a disposition naturally benign and amiable were added the graces of the Holy Spirit; and the Christian motive of love to her Redeemer gave life

and spirituality to her moral duties. "Religious exercises," adds her son, "which hitherto she had not regarded higher than a devout form of godliness, now became her soul's delight. She ordinarily retired three times in the day for private prayer; and in every department of life she was a lively ornament of the truth as it is in Jesus."

The excellencies of this admirable woman will justify a somewhat larger digression, as it was to her maternal instructions and example, under the Divine blessing, that her affectionate son ever attri buted it that he had early learned "to love the ways of God." She had borne him in sorrow; she had committed his feeble infancy to the care of that Fatherly Providence which had been her own support, and which he was often accustomed to say had been his also; she had nurtured him in the ways of God and the love of his Redeemer; she was spared to see him enter the sacred ministry, and become an honoured instrument of spiritual benefit to others, as a faithful and affectionate servant of Jesus Christ; and then she departed in peace to that better world where he has now rejoined her. To separate the memorial of her son from hers would be injustice to both. The biographer of St. Augustine fondly dwells on the maternal virtues of Monica; nor did an inspired penman detach the name of Timothy from Lois and Eunice. Besides which, the best instruction of the narrative would be lost, if it were not shewn how faithful is God to his promises to those parents who make it their first endeavour to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; how affecting in after-life are the reminiscences of a sainted mother's tears, how indelible her hallowed lessons, how powerful her prayers. Let parents, let children, listen

and oh that the latter may be able to do so with devout sympathy, and the former with consolation, and both without occasion for self-reproach!-to the declarations of this venerable man respecting his only parent; for he had never gazed on the countenance of a father, and had he rejected her maternal counsels, there was no rude hand to curb the impetuosity of headstrong youth; but the promises of God are to the weak as well as the strong; and the desolate mother, who makes Him her confidence, and would bring up her fatherless children only to His glory, adding her example to her instructions, and her prayers to her tears, may cherish a consoling confidence that God will not forsake her, or frustrate her pious endeavours. But, then, let her be, what this excellent woman was,-not a soft, sentimental professor of religion; not a flippant caviller or captious controvertist about speculative theorems; not a woman talking of godliness and living to the world; not a giddy pursuer after new doctrines, new

« السابقةمتابعة »