Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

cision in the arrangement of his thoughts. The subject here alluded to, is the Scotch Episcopal Church; and one of the papers was an address to his friends on its behalf, which, according to his directions, was printed after his death, and circulated among them. A copy of it is here subjoined.*

* " In early life, Providence placed me in a situation which gave me such an insight into the merits and wants of the clergy of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, as seemed to call upon me to do every thing in my power to assist them; for I found them to be inferior to our own clergy only in wealth, rank, and some of the advantages of a polished education. The more I became acquainted with them, the more I was convinced of the great advantages which must result to true religion by affording them some support and encouragement. By the exertions of their lay members in Scotland, and of their friends in England, they were by degrees raised from a state of absolute destitution, to one which barely affords them the common necessaries of life; yet we have witnessed such good effects, as have given us abundant encouragement to persevere in our endeavours to procure a decent provision for them, and the means of educating others to succeed them in their calling. Still, however, they are greatly deficient in these respects, as well as in a fund for providing places of worship, even of the most humble description, adequate to receive their several congregations. It was my humble hope that I might be able to procure them some further assistance, while life was continued to me; but that expectation, and the measures which were in prospect, have been interrupted by the near approach of my dissolution. No means, therefore, seem now to remain for me, but by a short statement of their case to excite the friends of pure religion to take an active interest in their welfare; and upon such, I trust, it may make a strong impression.

"For, consider only, these are not worthy men differing from us in many of the essential points of our holy faith, and in the

To his friends, Mr. Bowdler's heart was always open; and the warmth of his affection appeared

form of church government; but they accord with us in holding all the articles of our church; their form of worship is the same with our own, and their practices and ours correspond in almost every particular. Another favourable circumstance is, that they aim not at any public display, or rank, or power: all they wish for is, orthodox clergy; decent places of worship, of the plainest description, sufficiently extended to contain their congregations; and such pecuniary aids as may enable them to support themselves and their families in the humblest style, and to provide a decent education for their children, and their successors in the ministry.

"I hope, therefore, it may not be thought presumptuous in me if I make it my dying request both to my lay and clerical friends to exert themselves in support of an object which has so long been near my heart. All I request is, that those who are able to afford pecuniary aid will give it, and that those who are not blessed with such means, will give their countenance and protection; for sooner or later it may fall to their lot to be able to afford them assistance in one way or other. Foundations have already been laid for two or three small funds; one in particular meets most exactly my wishes, because it is intended to relieve the poorest among them, and provide suitable education in the most economical manner. Upon this head particulars may be known by applying to my son, the Reverend Thomas Bowdler, Rector of Addington, West Mailing, Kent; the Honourable Mr. Justice Park, Bedford Square; Lancelot Shadwell, Esq., King's counsel, Lincoln's Inn; George W. Marriott, Esq., of the Inner Temple.

"There are in their church six bishops, and about sixty clergymen; and without endeavouring to ascertain with exactness the number of the laity, it may be stated at an average of 300 in each congregation: which would, no doubt, increase if the means were provided of affording them the regular performance of the services of their religion on every Lord's day; whereas

to glow with brighter lustre as his bodily powers declined. When one in whose welfare he had long taken a deep and active interest was, by a fearful visitation, deprived of the wife of his bosom, Mr. Bowdler on being informed of it, expressed his concern with an earnestness quite his own, and immediately directed a sum of money to be sent to him, in the hope of supplying his present wants. Some of his friends visited him from time to time, and were delighted in witnessing the clearness of his faculties, the cheerfulness of his spirits, and his strong and elevated piety. One of these, G. W.

now they can in some places be performed only once, in two, or even three weeks.

"Some interesting information has lately been received respecting the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, which, through the exertions of some of its members, is rising to an eminence delightful to contemplate, and highly favourable to the promoting of true religion. It is an interesting circumstance, that Episcopacy revived in that country after the revolution, by means of the Scottish bishops; and those churches correspond exactly with each other, and with our own, in doctrine, in discipline, in every requisite of a sound portion of the true Catholic church of Christ; exhibiting, at the same time, a proof that pure religion, even without the aid of worldly support, will best flourish under a faithful adherence to those forms of church government which have been received from the Apostles.

"See two volumes of most excellent discourses by the Rt. Rev. Theodore Dehon, late Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church, for the diocese of South Carolina.

» JOHN BOWDLER." Eltham, 30th May, 1823.

Marriott, Esq. had the privilege of sitting by him for an hour and a half on the evening which preceded his dissolution, when he revived from a state of great exhaustion, listened with much eagerness to the legal news, conversed with his usual cheerfulness, and bade an affectionate farewell to the friend whom he loved, leaving upon his mind an impression not to be effaced,—an impression to be contemplated in the hour of private meditation, but scarcely to be lost in the bustle of active life,—the recollection of firm faith and elevated hope, the effect and present reward of a pious and useful life. The following account of this interview has been kindly communicated by Mr. Marriott, who will receive the thanks of the reader for permitting it to be inserted.

"On Sunday, June 29th, I went, after morning service, to Eltham, that I might once more see my excellent friend, Mr. Bowdler. It was out of my power to go on any other day before I left town for the circuit; and to this circumstance I owe, under Providence, one of the most interesting and instructive occurrences of my life. If I could have gone on any other day, I should have deferred my visit; and if I had deferred my visit, I should never more have seen him here. He died about eleven the next morning. When I arrived at Eltham, I heard that Mr. Bowdler was very ill. I went to church, with little hope that he might be able to see me afterwards, though not at all expecting so early a termination of his life. But he revived a good deal towards the evening, and at a quarter past seven he sent for me to his room. He lay on the sofa, and said he could not look up, and should scarcely see me if he did. This, however, did not lessen the impressiveness of the scene; for it enabled me to observe his looks more intently, and to see an instance of 'peace at the last,' such as, I fear, is not of frequent occurrence. Most evidently, although his flesh and his heart failed, 'God was the strength of his heart,' as he now is 'his portion for ever.' We talked together (he taking his full share in the conversation) an hour without interruption, and every thing he said evinced perfect clearness, and even vigour of mind, and the purest and soundest feelings and principles. He seemed to take the same interest in public matters of real importance as he would have done at any period of his life; and his private friendship never could have been more warm and affectionate. He desired me to tell my wife, that he felt himself overwhelmed by the mercies vouchsafed him from heaven; and particularly mentioned the entire preservation of his faculties at his great age, notwithstanding the weakness of his body,—the constant attendance of a good son, which, he said, was doubled by his being a clergyman, for the blessed sacrament to which he formerly went, now came to him;—that his beloved wife (a year older than himself) was well, his children affectionate, his friends kind, his servants wonderfully attentive; — but, above all, the communion he was enabled to hold with God, and the thoughts of His mercy and goodness which God continually gave him. He said he had no bodily pain, except when he perceived soreness occasionally from lying in one posture, and that but slightly. And as to mental suffering, he appeared neither to feel or anticipate the smallest portion of it, but to rely implicitly on his Saviour's merits and death, for the blessedness of the change he was about to experience. He spoke in very strong terms of Bishop Theodore Dehon's

T

« FöregåendeFortsätt »