Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

Sermons, one of which had been read to him that morning. Both volumes had been the companions of his long illness, and lay with the Bible and Prayer Book constantly on his table. I more than once felt and expressed my apprehensions that I was staying too long with him, and that he exerted himself too much, and towards the last he appeared to have fallen asleep. I then left the room, and was not sorry, especially on his account, to be spared taking a formal leave. But he was soon roused, and finding I had left him, sent for me again; and on my return he said, smiling, • You are a slippery friend.' I told him my motives for going away, which he seemed to have sufficiently understood. He then said, “Give me a little time.' Very soon after he desired me to tell Judge Richardson and his lady, and Mrs. Marriott, and to believe for myself, that he prayed for God's blessing upon us in all respects, and added very emphatically, Can I say more? I said, that was impossible; and that we should all have an increased expectation of enjoying the blessing of God on account of his prayers, and especially at such a time. I then only said, I was sure I ought, for his sake, to go, and returned his blessing. He sensibly pressed and shook my hand, but did not speak again. Within eighteen hours his spirit was, I trust, in Paradise.”

Little remains to tell of the hours which followed Mr. Marriott's departure. With his usual punctuality, Mr. Bowdler enquired the time, and the usual prayers were read for him from the Visitation Office; to which were added two out of an old collection of devotions, of which one that he deemed peculiarly suited to his own case was read a second time. He was soon after carried up to bed as

usual, between nine and ten, and slept for some hours. Early in the morning he became uneasy, and in a very few words desired the servant who attended him to call his wife : Wife, Oliver, " Son”—These were the last words he uttered. Having kissed his wife, and daughter, and a female friend, the kind and active attendant on his hours of sickness, he sank into a dose, and drew his last breath with a slight struggle a few minutes before eleven.

His remains were deposited in the church-yard at Eltham, according to his own directions, in a walled grave, adjoining the vault of his old and revered friend, Bishop Horne, a spot as near as possible to that on which he used frequently to stand, and planting his foot, say, “ Here I mean to lie.” A low tomb, covered with a black marble slab, (in imitation of one erected to the memory of his friend the late Chief Justice Gibbs, in the church-yard of Hayes,) marks the spot; and may it be long observed by the inhabitants of Eltham with regret, that in him religion lost one of its firmest supporters, and the poor a kind and judicious friend.

If a review be taken of the life, which has now been sketched, it will be found to be marked by sound judgment, strong sense, warm benevolence, and particularly by a practical turn of mind. Though fond of poetry and the fine arts, and full of warm and generous feeling, he did not indulge

his feelings or imagination ; his views were not speculative or theoretical, but practical. Hence his advice was highly valuable in matters of business, and all their details were arranged with admirable foresight and precision. His sound sense directed him to a straight forward view of the matter before him, and he hit the exact point in any difficulty, and prescribed the proper mode of conduct, with rapid but correct decision. He had, as it has been said of some one, no rubbish in his mind; and hence in great measure it was, that he could not endure any doubts and delays.

" It is better,” he was wont to say, “ to decide wrong, than not to decide at all.” His religious opinions partook, as is usually the case, of the natural turn of his mind. He had much of feeling, but no enthusiasm ; strong, nervous devotion, but no extravagance. With him every thing was “ done decently and in order :” he not only admired and approved, upon strict principle, the episcopal form of church government; but he regulated his conduct in every respect according to the rules prescribed by our church. He attended divine service in his parish church both morning and evening, not on the Lord's day only, but at other times, when the church was open; particularly in the season of Lent, during passion week, and on some days of note, new-year's day, the epiphany, ascension day. He was always in his place before the service began; his manner was strictly correct and decorous,

and he was on his knees or on his feet, in exact observance of the various parts of the service. Few persons, probably, had read the liturgy with more attention, or were better acquainted with the rubrics. The tenderness of his conscience has been already mentioned. He had ever upon his mind a strong sense of the responsibility which was laid upon him on account of the advantages he had received ; and would

say,

« How can I tell that the smallest failing in a person so instructed as I have been, may not be more offensive in the eye of God, than the greatest crime in one who possesses no such advantages?” This consideration, and the lowly sense which he entertained of his own conduct, made him look upon death with great awe and solemnity, though without terror. Terror he did not feel, — he could not feel ; so exalted an idea did he entertain of the mercy of God, and the merits of the great atonement. If, indeed, upon any subject he was more than usually eloquent and exalted in his language, it was when he poured out, as he frequently did, the strong feelings of love, admiration, and gratitude, for the blessings of salvation by Christ Jesus. These feelings became more intense, and his expressions more animated, as the hour drew nigh when he was to depart hence and be with the Lord. Yet they were chastened by much soberness of mind and much of self-abasement.

6 I can conceive," he would say, “ that a person who has

passed through life without much open sin, and with a steady endeavour to perform bis duty, may be exempted from punishment; but how so poor a creature as I am should obtain everlasting happiness, and be admitted into the presence of God, surpasses my comprehension. But the Divine Mercy,” he would add, “is infinite; and He that spared not his own Son, but freely gave him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?” The words of the late amiable and excellent Sir W. Forbes, as recorded by Mr. Alison, were continually in his mind : “ Tell my friends,” said he, “ that from my experience death has no terrors; that when it is most needed there is mercy from the Most High, and some change takes place which fits the soul to meet it's God.” A great perceptible change - a crisis, such as many devout persons have looked for - Mr. Bowdler never experienced; but his mind was calm, his faith strong, his hopes elevated, his language full of animation; and his going down was like that of the summer sun, when, after a long and busy day, sometimes darkened by clouds and sometimes wet with rain, he breaks forth in glory, lights up every tear-drop that stands upon the leaves, and sheds an exhilarating smile over the whole face of nature.

66 When now the fair traveller's come to the west,

His rays are all gold, and his beauties are best,
He paints the sky gay as he sinks to his rest,

And foretells a bright rising again.”

« FöregåendeFortsätt »