« PreviousContinue »
BISHOP VAN MILDERT.
The Holy Ghost, speaking by St. Paul, theologian; and his translation to the see of Durham, has given a short, simple, perfect rule to reflected honour alike upon himself, and the patron guide us. “ Whether ye eat or drink, or
who was ever anxious to encourage merit. whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of
Dr. William Van Mildert, who died on the 21st of God." This appears a hard saying to some ;
February last, was born in London in the year 1765 but it is a sweet saying to those who have
of respectable parents; and after remaining some tasted and seen how gracious the Lord is. years at Merchant Tailors' School, was entered at Such will desire to wear it as a frontlet be.
Queen's College, Oxford. Having in due course tween their eyes-yea, to have it so written
taken his degree, been ordained in 1788, and served as on their hearts, that not all the cravings of
curate for some years, and afterwards as incumbent of unhallowed curiosity, stimulated by the crafty presented in the year 1796, to the rectory of St. Mary
the living of Bradden in Northamptonshire, he was devices of the god of this world, shall prevail le-Bow, Cheapside, London. He also, in process of to turn their steps aside from the path of time, obtained the vicarage of Farningham in Kent, consistent obedience to their Father's loving from the Archbishop of Canterbury (Sutton). In commands.
1812, he was elected preacher of Lincoln's Inn; in 1813, he was appointed Regius Professor of Divinity
in Oxford, on the elevation of Dr. Howley to the see Biography.
of London; in March 1819, on the translation of Dr. Herbert Marsh to Peterborough, he was conse
crated Bishop of Llandaff; in 1820, he was appointed So far from its being detrimental to the interests of Dean of St. Paul's, on the resignation of Dr. Tomline: religion in general, or the stability of our own Church and in March 1826, was translated to Durham, on in particular, that her ministers should be composed the death of Dr. Shute Barrington. of persons taken from very different grades in society, The bishop was distinguished for his theological te conceive that this circumstance has been produc- writings. His Boyle Lectures, preached in the years tive of the greatest advantage. It has endeared the 1802-1805; his Bampton Lectures in 1814; his Church more, we conceive, to persons of all classes. edition of the writings of Dr. Waterland; and his She shuts her gates, in fact, against none; she opens Sermons preached at Lincoln's Inn, and published in her preferments to persons of every rank. The son of two volumes; besides smaller works; shew that his the peer, and the son of the peasant, may be found was no flimsy theology, but that he had entered deeply alike ministering at her altars; and if the former is into its study. sometimes labouring in the humble sphere of a village Bishop Van Mildert may be regarded as one of the pastor, content with an income barely sufficient to school of Waterland. Though not entertaining premeet the demands of a family, and the many calls con- cisely the same views as Bishop Ryder, and not nected with his profession, the extent of which is patronising every institution which the latter would seldom taken into consideration by the opponents of have fostered, Bishop Van Mildert was the uncomthe Church,—the latter may not unfrequently be found promising champion of “ the faith once delivered to the adorning the episcopal bench, and by the profundity saints.” He was a profound theological scholar, and he of his learning, the superiority of his acquirements, was ever ready to shew the absurdity of scepticism,and the depth of his piety, casting a lustre on his to demonstrate the truth of holy Scripture. The profession.
Church of England is not the only branch of Christ's We have indeed been delighted to behold, in more Church which is under deep obligations to his lordthan one sequestered village of England, the zealous, ship; the Christian world at large has felt, and will devoted, self-denying pastor, of a noble stock, will- continue to feel, the value of his writings; and not a ingly relinquishing worldly grandeur for the sake of few of our most eminent lawyers have acknowledged his Redeemer. We have witnessed such men labour- the powerful effect produced upon their minds by his ing in conjunction with others infinitely below them in rank, and parentage, and worldly connexion, but Bishop Van Mildert was a munificent benefactor to meeting on the equal, footing of fellow-labourers in every institution which he could conscientiously pathe vineyard of the Lord, equally anxious for the tronise. And there is no greater mistake, than to supsalvation of the flocks entrusted to their care, and pose that he was of a bigoted or contracted spirit; the forgetting all earthly distinctions in their devoted reverse was the case. His benefits were not bestowed zeal to win many souls to Christ, and to obtain a more on those of his own communion alone; and although lasting emblem of greatness than the earthly coronet the diocese of Durham will benefit greatly by his acts of -the crown of eternal glory, which fadeth not away- unbounded generosity, and its university will tell in the crown which the great Shepherd shall bestow at future generations of his zeal in its foundation, the Dishis appearing upon every subordinate shepherd who senter can record no small kindness shewn to those of can render his account with joy.
his own body. The bishop was an episcopalian in Our first biographical memoir contained a brief principle, from sound and rational conviction ; but he history of one of a noble family, justly raised to the did not on that account despise the conscientious episcopal bench, though family interest may have been members of other communions, neither did he withinstrumental to his elevation. The distinguished hold his aid from promoting the spiritual interests of prelate of whom we shall now give a sketch, owed those who could not conform to the Church of England. his elevation simply to his own acquirements as a
In the northern part of the diocese of Durham there are
many congregations of Presbyterians, not at all mixed in which we breakfasted, I was unable to up with those who were members of the three deno- hear their greetings by reason of the stunning minations in London, of whom the great majority sound of drums, accompanied with clarionets, have become Socinians,—but connected with the es
hautboys, and other martial instruments. I tablished Church of Scotland, or with the Secession
was informed by the waiter, that this day Church, and holding the fundamental doctrines of being Sunday, was the day appointed for the the Gospel. We believe we are warranted in affirm
grand parade of the national guard ; and I ing, that both the ministers and people connected with these congregations received many marks of
was pressed by my informant to take my favour from his lordship: and that although, of course,
place among the spectators. The person who he would have been delighted to have witnessed a
spoke to me was a fine boy, perhaps of fifperfect union in all respects with the Established
teen, and his accent, for he addressed me in Church, yet he regarded them with an eye of bro
English, was perfectly pure. therly affection.
“ You are English,” I answered, " and yet It is, perhaps, well for the prosperity of the Church
you recommend me to employ my Sunday in of England, and for religion in the country at large,
a way so totally different to that in which it that those who are exalted to her high places should
was observed by the Christians of old, of be men of different characters in non-essentials : it whom it was said, “They met on the Lord's is well that there should be upon the episcopal bench the deep theologian, the profound scholar, those whose The boy looked at me, and made no anlife has been spent in academical pursuits, as well as swer ; on which I questioned him respecting the man whose early manhood has been passed in the his parents and present situation, and found field of pastoral labour. We only pray, that all those that he was the descendant of a respectable who are in authority over us in ecclesiastical matters, family in Kent. may be men of sound scriptural views, of deep per- " And have you so forgotten your native sonal piety, and of an ardent zeal in the cause of the land," I said, as not to know that there Redeemer. The Church of England is conceived by is a day especially devoted to the service of some to be now in a dangerous state ; we confess that God ?" we have no fears for her safety. We acknowledge He was affected with the interest thus that her enemies are active ; but we perceive that her
taken in him, and confessed, with tears in friends are active also. Never, perhaps, was she more
his eyes, that he saw and heard nothing but distinguished for zeal in her members, lay and cle
evil in the place where he then was- that he rical; for devotedness in her pastors, whether bishops,
never entered a place of worship--that he priests, or deacons. But our help cometh not from We desire to look for safety to the arm of that
never read the Scriptures--and oh! sad to Jehovah, who is able to cast down all enemies under
say, that the worst examples were given him our feet. We rest on the conviction, that God is in
by his own countrymen, several of whom the midst of her; therefore she shall not be removed:
had sat up gambling all night. He had God shall help her, and that right early--" The Lord
been a year in this situation; and no one, of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
of all the many English who visited the hotel, If the billows of persecution rage around her, and the had spoken a word of Christian kindness to storm causes her to be afraid, let her not merit the him. rebuke, " Why art thou fearful, Othou of little When we had breakfasted, we inquired for faith ?" Let her recollect, that there is One that
the Protestant churches, and set out at the sitteth above the water-flood, and that One, the omni- hour appointed. In our walk we observed potent Jehovalı, who remaineth a King for evermore, that all the shops were open, and that the even through all generations.
people were better dressed, and the streets
fuller, than usual. Women were walking in A SABBATH AT BOULOGNE.*
groups; men were lounging at every corner My first Sunday, spent on the Continent, was
of the streets ; every window was opened, at Boulogne-sur-Mer, a town which can hardly and the daughters of superior families had be called French, inasmuch as more well
their necks stretched out from the upper dressed English persons are seen in the streets
Here and there, in a niche of some than those of the other nation. I was suffi- dirty wall
, were forsaken and dusty images ciently aware of my situation, to feel that the
of the Virgin, sometimes decorated with a bells which sounded during the early morn
garland, as an emblem of her sovereignty in ing from the different towers and steeples heaven; and sometimes being thickly inwere not for me; they, therefore, produced volved with the web of the spider; neither no further effect, than to remind me of what could it be seen that any one individual ever was then passing in my dear native country. stopped to make a single genuflection, or to Proceeding to meet my family in the room
pronounce a single Ave-Maria. A few old
women, and now and then, though rarely, Abridged from an interesting little work, entitled “Sabbaths on the Continent." By Mrs. Sherwood. London, Thomas
a younger one or two, appeared among the Ward and Co. 1835.
other passers-by, having their livre d'ordre, or
mass-book, in their hands, proceeding to with lines of white, others being of marble, wards the churches,
and others gilt; and on the tombs were So we passed on, and coming to the Pro- various devices indicative of mortality. But testant church we found it closed. The the inscriptions were what we chiefly sought; doors were shut; the neighbours knew no- and what were these? They vaunted the thing about the service, and we could obtain virtues of the deceased; to wit, the goodno information. After dinner we again sought ness of a father, the perfections of a wife, this place of worship; and they only who the obedience of a daughter, the honour of a have been in foreign and infidel lands, can son; they spoke of the tears of friends, of have an idea how bitter it is, where a hope long regrets, of blighted hopes, of bloom deof a sweet word of divine consolation has stroyed, of sudden woe : but where religion been excited, to meet only with cold, dull was alluded to, it was in that dark and doubtmorality, or at best a garbled statement of ful spirit which always attends a false religion, Christian doctrine. I will add no more: we
I will add no more: we accompanied with frequent entreaties for the left the Protestant church, and turned under prayers of the living in behalf of the departed the shade of many trees, and descended into soul,--that soul which, if not redeemed alcertain narrow lanes leading into a valley of ready, is for ever lost. 66 And is this all which great beauty.
the covenant of works (for the Roman CathoOn the heights above us, on the opposite lic religion is nothing more, in fact, than side of the ravine, was a lofty pillar, serving another exhibition of the covenant of works) as a beacon, and built by Buonaparte, on oc- can do for these poor mourners ?” we said ; casion of his intended triumph over England. can they not trust their dying friend, in The hill before us was steep, and the evening perfect hope, to that God, and those saints in sultry; we, however, began to ascend from whom they pretend to place their trust in the bottom of the valley, and turned into life? Do they still require the aid of man to a shady walk. Presently we saw before us patch the ragged garment wherein they trust a small house where beer was sold, and on to be received above ?"! And we turned away our right a large garden cut into alleys; on from this sad scene of earthly woe and spiriour left was a terrace encircled by plane-trees, tual gloom, towards the Protestant buryingwhich included a considerable area; within ground, where rest many of the English who were benches, and persons smoking and drink- have died at Boulogne. Here the emblems ing; and on the left of the house beyond the of superstition had disappeared ; the cross garden, another terrace, surrounded by trees, and the tablets demanding the prayers of where a company of the lowest orders of men the living were, indeed, not to be seen; but and women were dancing.
the vain boastings of the tomb were quite as Leaving this melancholy scene to us, while eloquent here as in the former cemetery; and one of our party inquired whether this dan- | in one instance only did we observe the procing was worse than the drinking in public- per expressions of Christian humility and houses on the Lord's day in England, we Christian confidence. There might be others conversed together on the privileges and (we will not pass so severe a censure as to say blessings of the Sabbath, and pursued our there were not), but we did not see them; and walk along an open road, crowded with per- with a sense of sadness not easily to be shaken sons running to and fro in search of pleasure, off, we turned in silence towards our hotel. and bordered with houses and gardens for It was evening when we arrived ; the air was Sunday entertainments, into a shady path, hot; and, as we sat near our open window, a where suddenly we beheld the summits of new scene of vanity forced itself on our notice. tomb-stones and black crosses elevating them- Our street was particularly busy; well-dressed selves above a wall or wooden fence.
persons of all sexes and ages, rich and poor, This burying-ground was a new one. It were all pressing on, with a glee, an animahad been lately enlarged. The part at which tion, which we could not comprehend, till inwe had arrived was devoted to the Roman formed that it was the hour of the comédie, Catholic inhabitants of the town, whilst the and that the representation was about to commore distant belonged to the Protestants. mence; and it is Sunday evening," added Having found entrance into that of the Roman our informant, “ when the theatres are always Catholic, although with some difficulty, for particularly crowded.”
way was choked with briars and rank We were to leave Boulogne early the next grass, we saw an amazing number of memo- morning, in the contemplation of which we rials of the dead, pyramids, and obelisks, and retired to our beds at nine o'clock, and were coffin-shaped sarcophagi; with urns of mar- in a deep sleep, when a noise of rattling ble, over which depended the elegant branches wheels, and a sort of mixed murmur, from of the weeping willow, and various crosses of which occasionally issued the sound of loud different materials, some being simply black merriment, suddenly awoke us.
this but the breaking up of the theatre, and difference, no doubt could exist in their mind the return of the company through the streets ? as to his being an extraordinary individual, Neither was the street clear and quiet again and endowed with extraordinary gifts; and till the midnight hour had struck.
even of his most inveterate enemies and such Thus terminated the Sabbath at Boulogne. were the Pharisees-not a few must have been And may the God of all mercies have pity on anxious to have some intercourse with him, a country in which the Lord's day is thus that they might at least have their curiosity systematically devoted to evil purposes; and gratified, and might be enabled to form some may it be put into the hearts of all those estimate of his character ; for it was fully Christian Protestants, of whatever denomina- manifest that he was a man approved of God tion they may be, who visit the continent, to by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God shew that respect for the Lord's day, which wrought by him. every person must feel who has the smallest The text records the visit of one of these regard for the cause of religion.*
Pharisees to our Lord. The statement of the
evangelist is at once instructive and interSermon.
esting; and on further directing our atten
tion to it, we may advert, NICODEMUS.
I. To the peculiar circumstances under
which Nicodemus is introduced to our notice Sr. Joun, iii. 1, 2.
by the evangelist. “ There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to Jesus by
II. To the important testimony which was night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou borne by him to the dignity of our Lord's art a teacher come from God; for no man can do character. these miracles that thou doest, except God be with III. To the caution which he manifested, him."
that his visits to our Lord should be in secret. The public ministrations of our blessed Lord,
And may that heavenly Saviour, whom we while they attracted the notice of the multi
acknowledge to have been “ a teacher come tudes who flocked to listen to his discourses from God," be graciously pleased, by his Spirit, --to witness the miracles which he wrought to assist our meditation on this important upon others--or themselves to be benefited by portion of the sacred word. his healing power, excited no ordinary degree 1. Nicodemus appears to have been a perof jealousy among the chief priests and rulers son of considerable consequence among the of the people. They were doubtless fully Jews. He is stated to have been a ruler ;" aware of the expectation, at this time so pre- a member of the sanhedrim, or chief council valent not only in Judea but throughout the of the nation ; and from the conversation East, that a remarkable personage was to ap- which took place with our blessed Lord, we pear. They may have been themselves await
are led to the conclusion that he was of a ing the advent of their long-looked-for Mes highly cultivated intellect, as well as ofexalted siah. But what was there in the son of Joseph rank. He is addressed as a
master in Isand Mary that could lay claim to this exalted rael;" and our Lord expresses some astonishdignity ? Surely it was at variance with reason ment that a person of such attainments should and common sense, that one so humble in
not be able to comprehend the force of his birth, so lowly in condition, so abject when reasoning on this important subject of regenetried by the world's estimate, could be that ration. The evangelist does not state what Prophet who was to be raised up, to whom effect this conversation produced upon the they were to hearken ; that Messiah whom mind of Nicodemus; whether he was led to they expected to appear amongst them seated understand the import of that radical change on the clouds of heaven. It was their grand of the natural heart to which the Saviour object, therefore, to refer the mighty works of alluded, and which was described as a new our Lord to some imposture, which they could birth : whether he fully comprehended the not discover ; and whatever might be their love of God the Father, in giving his only beindividual conviction, to represent the whole gotten Son, “ that whosoever believeth on him circumstances connected with his ministry as should not perish, but have eternal life.” unworthy the notice of men raised above the
Though we cannot suppose that his mind ignorance and credulity of the common people. was fully enlightened on these particulars, it Hence we find them asking the officers who is obvious that a considerable impression was were sent to take him, but who, instead of so
made upon him; for he is again introduced doing, returned with the answer, “Never man to our notice in the seventh chapter of this spake as this man,"_" Are ye also deceived? gospel, as speaking in favour of our Lord, Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed
when the other members of the council of the on him?" Notwithstanding this apparent in- synagogue would have condemned him. He
See additional remarks on this subject in No. XI. appeals to the law, as being utterly at variance with their base attempts to destroy Jesus; for that he died in the faith of the meritorious that law judged no man without a fair candid efficacy of that atoning blood which was shed hearing; and so convincing were his argu- on Calvary, through which alone pardon and ments, that the meeting was dispersed, and acceptance are to be found. A decided every man went to his own house. It is change, in fact, appears to have taken place reasonable to suppose that he was led to act in his views and sentiments. His caution, his thus not only by his love of justice, but even fears, his doubts, all vanished. So true it is, from personal regard to our Lord's character; that the change wrought by the Spirit of God and though he was not sufficiently convinced, in the heart of the believer is not a partial, or at least did not allow his conviction to in- but a total change. If any man be in Christ, duce him to declare himself to be a disciple, he is a new creature: old things are passed he was yet evidently actuated by a far dif- away; behold, all things are become new.” ferent spirit from the majority of his country- Let us hail with gratitude and praise the first men. It required no little fortitude to stand symptoms of conversion wrought in the mind forth the champion of the persecuted Jesus. of the sinner long opposed to the doctrines of The scorn and derision of his brethren were, the Gospel; the first token of the softening in fact, the consequence of his appeal. “Art of the stony heart, long hardened against the thou also of Galilee ?" said they; "search and truth ; the first dawnings of spiritual light on look; for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” the soul long enveloped in spiritual darkness.
But whatever were his views of the Saviour's Let us cherish the vivid hope, that a good character when this latter incident occurred, work has been begun, which will be perfected We are not left in doubt as to his ultimate in God's own time, in God's own way, and to conviction of that Saviour's dignity, and of the God's own glory. Let us not be disheartened mighty purposes for which he condescended because there is not an immediate attainment in mercy to become a partaker of human in- of the measure of the stature of the fulness firmity. In company with Joseph of Arimathea, of Christ. The light may be scarce visible ; Nicodemus assisted at the burial of Jesus. It but it will shine more and more, we may is recorded of him, “that he brought a mixture trust, unto the perfect day. The existence of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound of the good seed sown may be scarcely perweight,” to embalm the body: and if the good ceptible; but the blade will spring up, then work of Mary, in anointing the body of her the ear, then the full corn in the ear. Let Lord, in preparation for his burial, shall be us earnestly pray that the influences of the told as a memorial of her wherever the GosEternal Spirit may fan the spark that has pel is preached throughout the whole world, been kindled, until the flame of holy ardour let not the good work of Nicodemus be for- and devoted attachment to the Redeemer gotten,-a work which proceeded, we doubt bursts forth in all its enlightening and purinot, from the most ardent affection. Here fying energy. was an open avowal of discipleship. It was Il. But we are to advert to the important a proclamation to the world that he was con- testimony which was borne by Nicodemus, on vinced that “ Jesus was the Son of God.” | the occasion recorded in the text, to the digWe presume not to inquire what were his ex- nity of our Lord's character. The birth and pectations of the Saviour's resurrection, or of parentage of Jesus were well known to the his ultimate triumph over his enemies. This, Jews. "Is not this the carpenter's son?" was however, is certain, that the very mark of the question frequently put by them. Somerespect which he testified to the crucified times the inquiry was made with feelings of body, as it was sure to expose him, not simply wonder ; sometimes by way of ridicule and to the ridicule, but to the indignation of his contempt. Nicodemus, however, addressed countrymen ; so was it an open acknowledg- our Lord with the respectful title of Rabbi. ment of his decided conviction that the doc- He acknowledged that Jesus was, at least, a trines which Jesus taught were the doctrines teacher come from God; and adduced, in of God. The mind of Nicodemus, in fact, proof of this, the miracles which he wrought, seems to have been gradually unfolding for and which he could not have wrought "had the reception of the truth. His conversion not God been with him." was not sudden. Like the blind man of Miracles were, in fact, among the chief Bethsaida, who just saw "men as trees walk- evidences by which our Lord declared his ing," bis views on divine subjects were very divine mission. To them he appealed when indistinct. But under the gracious influence the messenger of John asked him, “Art thou of the Holy Spirit—that Spirit by whom be- he that should come ? or do we look for anlievers are led into all truth-these views be- other ?" It was highly important that he came clearer and clearer, until, we doubt not, should be invested with the power of perhis mind was enlightened to a full compre- forming them, otherwise his pretension to the hension of the doctrines of the Gospel ; and high character of the Messiah would have