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Secretary of State. He was a man of the most amiable disposition, of unblemished integrity, and a highly cultivated understanding; and his death, which happened prematurely in 1785, was generally and deeply lamented; by none however more sincerely than by his early friend and tutor, who had conceived the highest opinion of his abilities, and had lived with him for nearly thirty years on terms of mutual intimacy, confidence, and regard. Mr. Porteus had been long destined for the Church, as well by his own deliberate choice, as the wishes of his family; and accordingly, at the age of twenty-six, he took orders, being ordained deacon at Buckden in the year 1757, by Dr. Thomas then Bishop of Lincoln, and not long after, priest by Archbishop Hutton at York, where he - preached preached the ordination sermon. On his return to the University he resumed the charge of his pupils; but, amidst the cares of tuition, he found time for other pursuits, and more particularly for the exercise of his poetical talents, which were certainly of no ordinary stamp. Of this indeed he soon after gave a public proof, by obtaining Mr. Seaton's prize for the best English poem on a sacred subject. The subject fixed upon was “Death;” and it was one, perhaps, at that time better suited than any other to his feelings, in consequence of his father's death, which had occurred a little before. The loss of so kind a parent, whom he most sincerely loved, had very deeply afflicted him ; and he was therefore well prepared to describe in the language of the heart the sad and solemn scenes of human mortality. How admirably he has done it, those who know and can feel the poem, are best able to judge. It has been long in print, and, I believe, has been uniformly considered as a very able composition. Undoubtedly, as a juvenile performance, there are few superior; for it displays a correctness of taste com• bined with a sublimity of thought, and a power and justness of expression, which have seldom been exhibited in the first effusions of poetry.
In the mean time he was not inattentive to the duties of his profession, nor unmindful of the engagement into which he had entered, "to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God's word." A profane and very licentious pamphlet, entitled, "The History of the Man after God's own Heart," was about that time much in circulation, and had made a dangerous
impression impression on the public mind. Its object was to strike a secret blow at Revelation by ridiculing the habits, manners, and religion of the Jews, and, particularly, by representing the character of David in a most odious point of view. Mr. Porteus saw at once the fallacy and mischief of this publication; and, with the view of checking its pernicious tendency, composed and preached before the University a sermon in answer to it, in which he forcibly exposed its many errors and misrepresentations; vindicated the Mosaic Law from the charges brought against it; and gave the clearest and most satisfactory reasons for the high and peculiar name by which David was distinguished, namely, "The man after God's own heart/' Nothing indeed can be more strictly just, than the character which he has there given of the Royal
Penitent, or more impressive than the moral application; and it is therefore no wonder that the sermon should have been heard, as it was, with great attention at the time, and afterwards, when in print, most favourably received. It is now the fifth in his second volume of Discourses; with the omission however of some passages of a polemical nature, in order, as he has himself observed, "to render it more practical, and of course more generally useful." r Before the appearance of this sermon he stood high in the estimation of the University for literary attainment; but it tended undoubtedly to raise him still higher in the public opinion; and, as a proof of it, he was not long after appointed by Archbishop Seeker one of his domestic chaplains. This appointment took place early in 1762, and in the course of ibat