Images de page
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

v. 21



[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

of love to the churches, gentle among them even as a nurse that cherisheth her children,* and who at the same time exhibited all that force of character in the power of the apostle, and in the courage of the martyr, which had been marked in the infuriate enemy of the Cross! And thus it is that regret accompanies the survey, when we look over the memorials of those in our own times, who have divided the talent of life in the service of this world and of that which is to come, and who have cast into the treasury of the former much of the immeasurable value of their immortal energies. Yet to these complainings over what we too proudly term the waste of human capacities, the language of inspiration supplies at once a gentle and a severe re-` buke, who art thou, O man, that repliest against God?

MEMOIR OF THE REV. W. W. SIMPSON. NOT only are our sensibilities often affected by the early death of many of the most promising and interesting of the human race; but our beclouded judgment frequently allows the harassing conjecture of sceptical inquiry, and we ask why are they taken thus young, thus happy, thus useful, as if to mark more strongly the desert spots of our earth, which, as their youth adorned, their maturity would have enriched? And sometimes, too, when we vary the object of contemplation, we indulge the same unhallowed propensity to object against the dispensations of Him, whose way is in the sea, whose path is in the deep waters. Now and then, perhaps, we observe a man of vigorous intellect, of indefatigable ardour, of acute sensibility, and, as the world would say, of sterling worth, left in the exercise of these talents, these graces of the natural character to the very meridian of his day, before the only light that can direct the native energy, can harmonize the powerful affections, or can sanctify the liberalities of nature, is afforded; and we say, Oh! that it had dawned upon his morning hours. Thus when we turn even to the great champion of the christian faith, we almost dare to sigh over the tardy approach of the heavenly vision, thinking for how long a period the zeal of the persecutor had overflowed from the heart, and nerved the merciless grasp of him, who was afterwards a messenger VOL. IV. 3d Series.

These remarks have been suggested by a review of the years that passed over the head of the good and venerable subject of this memoir, forty-two of which were withheld from the service of that great Master, to whom in advancing life, and even to hoary age, he gave himself with a devout affection, an honest enthusiastic piety, which, alas! too frequently characterizes only the first religious fervours of ordinary men. No very detailed account therefore of his early life will be expected in a record, which is principally intended to preserve a remembrance of him in his work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

* 1 Thessalonians, ii. 7.

Hall of Ipswich. The sermon which he heard on that occasion (founded on John, xiv. 6.) produced a deep and salutary influence on his mind, the vivid impression of which he retained to the closing hours of his life. A pious book, too, the

[ocr errors]

He was born of respectable pa- quently wishing I was like them, rents at Diss in Norfolk, on the 5th and sometimes entertaining secret of March, 1748. The unspeakable hopes that I should be so before I advantages of a strictly religious died." These transitory and almost education were not afforded to his oblivious anticipations were mercichildhood, the recollection of which fully realized. In the early part of deficiency awakened in his after the year 1789, a train of circumlife a constant solicitude for the stances, apparently contingent, led moral and religious culture of chil-him to hear the late excellent Mr. dren; not only his own, but of all that most interesting portion of human society. At an early age he was apprenticed to the wool trade in Bury St. Edmond's, but a strong predilection for an agricultural life induced him to relinquish this business and enter upon a farm, Scripture Characters" of Mrs. in which he was successfully en- Robinson, too well known to regaged for many years. In 1776 quire eulogy in this place, became he was married to Miss Goldsmith, subservient to his best interests. a lady who, for nearly half a cen- A large comment on its heartfelt tury, contributed to the happiness value is found among his papers. of his domestic life, and the many After many alternations of mind virtues of whose conjugal character over different religious societies, will be long blended with the re- and a lingering preference for the membrance of his own. Shortly Wesleyan communion, with which after this union, he left his favourite he was associated for nearly four pursuits in the farm, and engaged years, an impulse was given to his in a large brewery, with a banking mind, that decided him fully in establishment, at Diss. At this favour of what is popularly termed period, it appears, from passages Calvinism, a scheme of doctrine to in his journal, that he entered with which he ever after most rigidly avidity into the dissipations of fa- adhered. In 1797 he became idenshionable life, not, however, without tified, by a public profession, with the conflicting emotions which arose the Baptist denomination. A short from a latent perception of the note, expressive of his religious beauty of that religion, which was joy, is appended to the date that sometimes presented to him in all notices this event. This year also the attractive influences of living was remarkable to him for a short christian character. The following but severe temporal reverse in his passage, from a MS. of corre- affairs, from which he was rescued, sponding date, so clearly states not merely without loss of reputhis part of his experience, that we tation, but with added testimonies cannot withhold it :-"I do not to the integrity of his character, remember that, in any period of and with such spiritual benefit, as my life, I could sin without some to prove indeed that light is sown convictions and remorse of con- for the righteous, and gladness for science, and though I was entirely the upright in heart. His own destitute, nay really ignorant, of affecting language, breathed, as true religion, I always felt a kind we suppose, from his retirement in of veneration for those who ap- the day of trouble, is so expressive peared to me to be religious, fre- of devout simplicity, that we quote

it:-" March 31, 1797. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. Blessed be the Lord for his goodness to me, the chief of sinners! I was in very great darkness and distress of soul on this day; it is therefore to be remembered with gratitude to the dear Redeemer."

their countrymen from the tyranny and oppression of Rome. It was their godlike employment, by giving the people scriptural and evangelical instruction, to work the mine, which, at length exploding, demolished the strong fortress of the papal supremacy in this kingdom, which had stood for centuries, defying every attack and seeming to say, "I sit a queen and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.”Rev. xviii. 7.

Henry VIII. came to the throne in 1509, at the age of eighteen. "The reign of this king," saith Fox,

But this world and its affairs were progressively losing their hold upon his heart, and, advanced as he was in the pilgrimage of life, he felt an intense desire for the high calling of the Christian ministry. In 1801 he began to speak in his great Master's name, and, at the continued with great nobleness age of fifty-three, his delight in publishing the grace of the gospel was distinguished by an ardour that, perhaps, rarely glows in the bosom of the young. But we open bere on a new era of his existence, the developement of which we shall leave to a future Number.

(To be continued. )


NO. I.

William Tyndale.

and fame for the space of thirtyeight years. During whose time and reign was great alteration of things as to the civil state of the realm, and especially to the state ecclesiastical and matters to the church appertaining. For by him was exiled and abolished out of the realm the usurped power of the Bishop of Rome; idolatry and superstition somewhat repressed; images and pilgrimages defaced; abbeys and monasteries pulled

scriptures reduced to the knowledge of the vulgar tongue; and the state of the church and religion redressed."

OUR pious and venerable Marty-down; sects of religion rooted out; rologist has given Tyndale the noble designation of "THE APOSTLE Or ENGLAND IN THIS OUR LATTER AGE;" evidently considering him as the principal instrument em- It would be difficult to give a ployed by Divine Providence in correct picture of the degraded effecting the Reformation from Po-state, both as to intellect, learning, pery, nor was any man better and morals, to which popery had qualified to form a correct opinion. reduced the kingdom; and espeThe history of Tyndale fully ex- cially as to the religious knowledge emplifies the propriety of his being which existed among the nobles so considered: "Other men" cer- and the mass of the people. Of the tainly, as Wickliffe, Oldcastle, former it might truly be said, Thorpe, and many besides, "had" They have altogether broken the laboured," but it was reserved for Tyndale and his band of associate martyrs so to "enter into their labours," as not merely to lead the way to victory, but to complete the grand enterprize of emancipating

Exodus, xiv. 14.

yoke and burst the bands;" of the latter, "They have altogether refused to receive correction; they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return." Speaking of the state of the popish clergy in England at

this period, Bishop Burnet says, | numerous; that they wore a peculiar habit; that they preached in many churches and other places against the faith of the Church; and refused to submit to the government of the Church." The description of Rienhar, a popish historian respecting them, is more full:-" The

"The bishops were grossly ignorant; they seldom resided in their dioceses, except it had been to riot it at high festivals; and all the effect their residence could have was to corrupt others by their ill example. They followed the courts of princes, and aspired to the great-disciples of Wickliff are men of a est offices; the abbots and monks were wholly given up to luxury and idleness; and the unmarried state, both of the seculars and regulars, gave infinite scandal to the world. The inferior clergy were no better: all ranks of churchmen were universally despised and hated; the worship of God was so defiled with gross superstition, that all men were convinced that the Church stood in great need of a reformation."

[ocr errors]

The reader will bear in mind, that of the bishops referred to by Dr. Burnet were Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury; Tonstal, Bishop of London; Longland, Bishop of Lincoln; Wolsey was Cardinal Legate and Lord Chancellor; and the King such a bigot to the popish religion, as to have entered the lists against Luther, and with such success as to obtain the title of Defender of the Faith."

The principles of Wickliffe had, during the whole of the fifteenth century, been propagated by his numerous disciples (commonly called Lollards), and had been received and professed by great numbers of our countrymen, so that he is justly designated "The morning star of the Reformation." Some idea may be formed of these dissenters from popery, though not formally separatists from the established church of England, from the preamble of a law made against them in the reign of Richard II. In this it is said, 66 they were very Abridged History of the Reformation,

p. 29.

serious modest deportment, avoiding all ostentation of dress, mixing little with the busy world, and complaining of the debauchery of mankind. They maintain themselves wholly by their own labour, and despise wealth, being fully content with bare necessaries. They are chaste and temperate, are never seen at taverns, or amused with the trifling gaieties of life, yet you find them always employed either in learning or teaching. They are concise and devout in their prayers, blaming an unanimated prolixity. They never swear, speak little, and in their public preaching lay the principal stress on charity."

Richard Hunne, who was murdered in the Lollards' Tower in 1514, was one of these people. Fitz-James was then Bishop of London. The imprisonment of this pious citizen, and the circumstances which attended and followed his death, had a most powerful effect in exhibiting the bishops and priests in their true character: " outwardly appearing in sheep's clothing, inwardly they were ravening wolves."

Amongst the pretended heresies of Hunne, publicly denounced after his death at "Paul's Cross," the twelfth and thirteenth are—“ He damneth [condemneth] the University of Oxford, with all degrees and faculties in it, as Arts, Civil, Canon, and Divinity, saying, that they let [hinder] the true way to come to the knowledge of the laws of God and Holy Scriptures. He defendeth the translation of the Bible and Holy Scripture

« PrécédentContinuer »