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number of the members of both Houses of Parliament; nor was the solemn ritual of the church ever pronounced over the grave of any of her children with more affecting or more appropriate truth. Never was recited, on a more fit occasion, the sublime benediction— “I heard a voice from heaven, saying, Write, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.” The volumes to which we have been chiefly indebted for this very rapid epitome of some of the events of Mr. Wilberforce's life, will have to undergo a severe ordeal. There are numberless persons who assert a kind of property in his reputation, and who will resent as almost a personal wrong any exhibition of his character which may fall short of their demands. We believe, however, though not esteeming ourselves the best possible judges, that even this powerful party will be satisfied. They will find in this portraiture of their great leader much to fulfil their expectations. Impartial judges will, we think, award to the book the praise of fidelity, and diligence, and unaffected modesty. Studiously withdrawing themselves from the notice of their readers, the biographers of Mr. Wilberforce have not sought occasion to display the fruits of their theological or literary studies. Their taste has been executed with ability, and with deep affection. No one can read such a narrative without interest, and many will peruse it with enthusiasm. It contains several extracts from Mr. Wilberforce's speeches and throws much occasional light on the political history of England during the last half century. It
brings us into acquaintance with a circle in which were projected and matured many of the great schemes of benevolence by which our age has been distinguished, and shows how partial is the distribution of renown in the world in which we are living. A more equal dispensation of justice would have awarded a far more conspicuous place amongst the benefactors of mankind to the names of Mr. Stephen and Mr. Macaulay, than has ever yet been assigned to them. Biography, considered as an art, has been destroyed by the greatest of all biographers, James Boswell. His success must be for. gotten before Plutarch or Isaac Walton will find either rivals or imitators. Yet memoirs, into which every thing illustrative of the character or fortunes of the person to be described is drawn, can never take a permanent place in literature, unless the hero be himself as pic turesque as Johnson, nor unless the writer be gifted with the dramatic powers of Boswell. Mr. Wilberforce was an admirable subject for graphic sketches in this style; but the hand of a son could not have drawn them without impropriety, and they have never been delineated by others. A tradition, already fading, alone preserves the memory of those social powers which worked as a spell on every one who approached him, and drew from Madame de Staël the declaration that he was the most eloquent and the wittiest converser she had met in England. But the memory of his influence in the councils of the state, of his holy character, and of his services to mankind, rests upon an imperishable basis, and will descend with honour to the latest times.
THE LIVES OF WHITFIELD AND FROUDE."
[EDINBURGH Review, 1838.]
If the enemies of Christianity in the commencement of the last century failed to accomplish its overthrow, they were at least successful in producing what at present appears to have been a strange and unreasonable panic. Middleton, Bolingbroke, and Mandeville, have now lost their terrors; and (in common with the heroes of the Dunciad) Chubb, Toland, Collins, and Woolston, are remembered only on account of the brilliancy of the Auto-da-fe at which they suffered. To these writers, however, belongs the credit of having suggested to Clarke his inquiries into the elementary truth on which all religion depends; and by them Warburton was provoked to “demonstrate” the Divine legation of Moses. They excited Newton to explore the fulfilment of prophecy, and Lardner to accumulate the
* The Life and Times of the Rev. George Whitfield, .M. A. By RopenT-Philip. 8vo. London, 1838.
Remains of the Rev. Richard Hurrell Froude, M.A. fo of Oriel College, Oxford. 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1838.
proofs of the credibility of the Gospels. A greater than any of these, Joseph Butler, was induced, by the same adversaries, to investigate the analogy of natural and revealed religion, and Berkeley and Sherlock, with a long catalogue of more obscure names, crowded to the rescue of the menaced citadel of the faith. But in this anxiety to strengthen its defences, the garrison not only declined to attempt new conquests, but withdrew from much of their ancient dominion. In this its apologetic age, English theology was distinguished by an unwonted timidity and coldness. The alliance which it had maintained from the days of Jewel to those of Leighton, with philosophy and eloquence, with wit and poetry, was dissolved. Taylor and Hall, Donne and Hooker, Baxter and Howe, had spoken as men having authority, and with an unclouded faith in their divine mission. In that confidence they had grappled with every difficulty, and had wielded with equal energy and ease all the resources of genius and of learning. Alternately searching the depths of the heart, and playing over the mere surface of the mind, they relieved the subtleties of logic by a quibble or a pun, and illuminated, by intense flashes of wit, the metaphysical abysses which it was their delight to tread. Even when directing the spiritual affections to their highest exercise, they hazarded any quaint conceit which crossed their path, and yielded to every impulse of fancy or of passion. But divinity was no longer to retain the foremost place in English literature. The Tillotsons and Seckers of a later age were alike distrustful of their readers and of themselves. Tame, cautious, and correct, they rose above the Tatlers and Spectators of their times, because on such themes it was impossible to be frivolous; but they can be hardly said to have contributed as largely as Steele and Addison to guide the opinions, or to form the character of their generation. This depression of theology was aided by the state of political parties under the two first princes of the house of Brunswick. Low and high church were but other names for whigs and tories; and while Hoadley and Atterbury wrangled about the principles of the revolution, the sacred subjects which formed the pretext of their disputes were desecrated in the feelings of the multitude, who witnessed and enjoyed the controversy. Secure from farther persecution, and deeply attached to the new order of things, the dissenters were no longer roused to religious zeal by invidious secular distinctions; and Doddington and Watts lamented the decline of their congregations from the standard of their ancient piety. The former victims of bigotry had become its proselytes, and anathemas were directed against the pope and the pretender, with still greater acrimony than against the evil one, with whom good protestants of all denominations associated them. The theology of any age at once ascertains and regulates its moral stature; and, at the period of which we speak, the austere virtues of the Puritans, and the more meek and social, though not less devout spirit of the worthies of the Church of England, if still to be detected in the recesses of private life, were discountenanced by the general habits of society. The departure of the more pure and generous influences of earlier times may be traced no where more clearly than in those works of fiction, in which the prevailing profligacy of manners was illustrated by Fielding, Sterne, and Smollet; and proved, though with more honest purposes, by Richardson and Defoe. It was at this period that the Alma Mater of Laud and Sacheverel was nourishing in her bosom a little band of pupils destined to accomplish a momentous revolution in the national character. Wesley had already attained the dawn of manhood when, in 1714, his suture rival and coadjutor, George Whitfield, was born at a tavern in Gloucester, of which his father was the host. The death of the elder Whitfield within two years from that time, left the child to the care of his mother, who took upon herself the management of the “Bell Inn;” though as her son has gratefully recorded, she “prudently kept him, in his ten
der years, from intermeddling with the tavern business.” In such a situation he almost inevitably fell into vices and follies, which have been exaggerated as much by the vehemence of his own confessions, as by the malignity of his enemies. They exhibit some curious indications of his future character. He robbed his mother, but part of the money was given to the poor. He stole books, but they were books of devotion. Irritated by the unlucky tricks of his play-fellows, who, he says, in the language of David, “compassed him about like bees,” he converted into a prayer the prophetic' imprecation of the Psalmist—“In the name of the Lord I will destroy them.” The mind in which devotional feelings and bad passions were thus strongly knit together, was consigned in early youth, to the culture of the master of the grammar-school of St. Mary de Crypt, in his native city; and there were given the first auspices of his future eminence. He studied the English dramatic writers, and represented their female characters with applause; and when the mayor and aldermen were to be harangued by one of the scholars, the embryo field-preacher was selected to extol the merits, and to gratify the tastes of their worships. His erratic propensities were developed almost as soon as his powers of elocution. Wearied with the studies of the grammarschool, he extorted his mother's reluctan" consent to return to the tavern; and there, he says, “I put on my blue apron and my snuffers, washed mops, cleaned rooms, and, in one word, became professed and common drawer for nigh a year and a half.” The tapster was, of course, occasionally tipsy, and always in request; but as even the flow of the tap may not be perennial, he found leisure to compose sermons, and stole from the night some hours for the study of the Bible. At the Bell Inn there dwelt a sister-in-law of Whitfield's, with whom it was his fortune or his fault to quarrel; and to sooth his troubled spirit he “would retire and weep before the Lord, as Hagar when flying from Sarah.” From the presence of this Sarah he accordingly fled to Bristol, and betook himself to the study of Thomas à Kempis; but returning once more to Gloucester, exchanged divinity for the drama, and then abandoned the dramatists for his long neglected school-books. For now had opened a prospect inviting him to the worthy use of those talents which might otherwise have been consumed in sordid occupations, or in some obscure and fruitless efforts to assert his native superiority to other men. Intelligence had reached his mother that admission might be obtained at Pembroke College, Oxford, for her capricious and thoughtful boy; and the intuitive wisdom of a mother's love assured her that through this avenue he might advance to distinction, if not to fortune. A few more oscillations between dissolute tastes and heavenward desires, and the youth finally gained the mastery over his lower appetites. From his seventeenth year to his dying day he lived amongst imbittered enemies and jealous friends, without a stain on his reputation. In 1731 the gates of Pembroke College had
finally closed on the rude figure of one of her illustrious sons, expelled by poverty to seek a precarious subsistence, and to earn a lasting reputation in the obscure alleys of London. In the following year they were opened to a pupil as ill provided with this world's wealth as Samuel Johnson, but destined to achieve a still more extensive and a more enduring celebrity. The waiter at the Bell Inn had become a servitor at Oxford—no great advancement in the social scale according to the habits of that age—yet a change which conferred the means of elevation on a mind too ardent to leave them unimproved. He became the associate of Charles, and the disciple of John Wesley, who had at that time taken as their spiritual guide the celebrated mystic, William Law. These future chiefs of a religious revolution were then “interrogating themselves whether they had been simple and recollected; whether they had prayed with fervour Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and on Saturday noon; if they had used a collect at nine, twelve, and three o'clock; duly meditated on Sunday from three to four on Thomas à Kempis, or mused on Wednesday and Friday from twelve to one on the Passion.” But Quietism, indigenous in the East, is an exotic in this cold and busy land of ours, bearing at the best but sorry fruit, and hastening to a premature decay. Never was mortal man less fitted for the contemplative state than George Whitfield. It was an attempt as hopeless as that of converting a balloon into an observatory. He dressed the character indeed to admiration, for “he thought it unbecoming a penitent to have his hair powdered, and wore woollen gloves, a patched gown, and dirty shoes.” But the sublime abstractions which should people the cell and haunt the spirit of the hermit he wooed in vain. In the hopeless attempt to do nothing but meditate, “the power of meditating or even of thinking was,” he says, “taken from him.” Castanza on the “Spiritual Combat” advised him to talk but little; and “Satan said he must not talk at all.” The Divine Redeemer had been surrounded in his temptations by deserts and wild beasts, and to approach this example as closely as the localities allowed, Whitfield was accustomed to select Christ Church meadow as the scene, and a stormy night as the time of his mental conflicts. He prostrated his body on the bare earth, fasted during Lent, and exposed himself to the cold till his hands began to blacken, and “by abstinence and inward struggles so emaciated his body as to be scarcely able to creep up stairs.” In this deplorable state he received from the Wesleys books and ghostly counsels. His tutor, more wisely, sent him a physician, and for seven weeks he laboured under a severe illness. It was, in his own language, “a glorious visitation.” It gave him time and composure to make a written record and a penitent confession of his youthful sins—to examine the New Testament; to read Bishop's Hall's Contemplations; and to seek by prayer for wisdom and for peace. The blessings thus invoked were not denied. “The day-star,” he says, “arose in my heart. The spirit of mourning was taken from me.
For some time I could not avoid singing Psalms wherever I was, but my joy became gradually more settled. Thus were the days of my mourning ended.” And thus also was ended his education.— Before the completion of his twenty-first year, Whitfield returned to Gloucester; and such was the fame of his piety and talents, that Dr. Benson, the then bishop of the diocess, offered to dispense, in his favour, with the rule which forbade the ordination of deacons at so unripe an age. The mental agitation which preceded his acceptance of this proposal, is described in these strange but graphic terms in one of his latest sermons. “I never prayed against any corruption I had in my life so much as I did against going into holy orders so soon as my friends were for having me go. Bishop Benson was pleased to honour me with peculiar friendship, so as to offer me preferment, or to do any thing for me. My friends wanted me to mount the church betumes. They wanted me to knock my head against the pulpit too young, but how some young men stand up here and there and preach, I do not know. However it be to them, God knows how deep a concern entering into the ministry and preaching was to me. I have prayed a thousand times, till the sweat has dropped from my face like rain, that God of his infinite mercy would not let me enter into the church till he called me to and thrust me forth in his work. I remember once in Gloucester, I know the room; I look up to the window when I am there, and walk along the street. I know the window upon which I have laid prostrate. I said, Lord, I cannot go, I shall be puffed up with pride, and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Lord, do not let me go yet. I pleaded to be at Oxford two or three years more. I intended to make one hundred and fifty sermons, and thought that I would set up with a good stock in trade. I remember praying, wrestling, and striving with God. I said, I am undone. I am unfit to preach in thy great name. Send me not, Lord—send me not yet. I wrote to all my friends in town and country to pray against the bishop's solicitation, but they insisted I should go into orders before I was twentytwo. After all their solicitations, these words came into my mind, “Nothing shall pluck you out of my hands;’ they came warm to my heart. Then, and not till then, I said, ‘Lord, I will go; send me when thou wilt.” He was ordained accordingly; and “when the bishop laid his hands upon my head, my heart,' he says, “was melted down, and I offered up my whole spirit, soul, and body.’” A man within whose bosom resides an oracle directing his steps in the language and with the authority of inspiration, had needs be thus self-devoted in soul and body to some honest purpose, if he would not mistake the voice of the Pythoness for that which issues from the sanctuary. But the uprightness and inflexible constancy of Whitfield's character rendered even its superstitions comparatively harmless; and the sortilege was ever in favour of some new effort to accomplish the sing'e object for which he henceforward lived. The
next words which “came to his soul with power” were “Speak out, Paul,” and never was injunction more strictly obeyed. “Immediately,” he says, “my heart was enlarged, and I preached on the Sunday morning to a very crowded audience with as much freedom as if I had been a preacher for some years. As I proceeded I perceived the fire kindled, till at last, though so young, and amidst a crowd of those who knew me in my infant childish days, I trust I was enabled to speak with some degree of gospel authority. Some few mocked, but most for the present seemed struck, and I have heard since that a complaint had been made to the bishop that I drove fifteen mad by my first sermon. The worthy prelate, as I am informed, wished that the madness might not be forgotten before next Sunday.” Thus early apprized of the secret of his strength, his profound aspirations for the growth of Christianity, the delight of exercising his rare powers, and the popular admiration which rewarded them, operating with combined and ceaseless force on a mind impatient of repose, urged him into exertions, which, if not attested by irrefragable proofs, might appear incredible and fabulous. It was the statement of one who knew him well, and who was incapable of wilful exaggeration— and it is confirmed by his letters, journals, and a whole cloud of witnesses—that “in the compass of a single week, and that for years, he spoke in general forty hours, and in very many sixty, and that to thousands; and after his labours, instead of taking any rest, he was engaged in offering up prayers and intercessions, with hymns and spiritual songs, as his manner was, in every house to which he was invited.” Given, a preacher, who during the passage of the sun though the ecliptic, addresses his audience every seventh day, in two discourses of the dwarfish size to which sermons attain in this degenerate age, and multiply his efforts by forty, and you do not reach the standard by which, for thirty-five successive years, Whitfield regulated this single branch of his exertions. Combine this with the fervour with which he habitually spoke, the want of all aids to the voice in the fields and the thoroughfares he frequented, and the toil of becoming distinctly audible to thousands and tens of thousands; and, considered merely as a physical phenomenon, the result is amongst the most curious of all well authenticated marvels. If the time spent in travelling from place to place, and some brief intervals of repose be subtracted, his whole life may be said to have been consumed in the delivery of one continuous or scarcely uninterrupted sermon. Strange as is such an example of bodily and mental energy, still stranger is the power he possessed of fascinating the attention of hearers of every rank of life and of every variety of understanding. Not only were the loom, the forge, the plough, the collieries, and the workshops, deserted at his approach, but the spell was acknowledged by Hume and Franklin—by Pulteney, Bolingbroke, and Chesterfield—by maids of honour and lords of the
bed-chamber. Such indeed was its force, that when the scandal could be concealed behind a well adjusted curtain, “e'en mitred “auditors' would nod the head.” Neither English reserve, nor the theological discrimination of the Scotch, nor the callous nerves of the slavedealers of America, nor the stately self-possession of her aborigines, could resist the enchantment. Never was mortal man gifted with such an incapacity of fatiguing or of being fatigued. No similar praise could be honestly awarded to Whitfield's present biographer. He has followed the steps of the great itinerant from the cradle to the grave, in a volume of nearly six hundred closely printed pages, compiled on the principle that nothing can be superfluous in the narrative of a man's life which was of any real importance to the man himself, or to his associates. The chronicle so drawn up, illuminated by no gleams of philosophy, human or divine, and arranged on no intelligible method, is a sore exercise for the memory and the patience of the reader. It records, without selection or forbearance, thirteen successive voyages across the Atlantic— pilgrimages incalculable to every part of this island, and of the North American continent, from Georgia to Boston—controversies with Wesley on predestination and perfection, and with the bishops on still deeper mysteries— chapel buildings and subscriptions—preachings and the excitement which followed them —and characteristic sayings and uncharacteristic letters, meetings and partings, and every other incident, great and small, which has been preserved by the oral or written traditions of Whitfield's followers. His life still remains to be written by some one who shall bring to the task other qualifications than an honest zeal for his fame, and a cordial adoption of his opinions. From the conflict with the enemies who had threatened her existence, the church militant turned to resist the unwelcome ally who now menaced her repose. Warburton led the van, and behind him many a mitred front scowled on the audacious innovator. Divested of the logomachies which chiefly engaged the attention of the disputants, the controversy between Whitfield and the bishops lay in a narrow compass. It being mutually conceded that the virtues of the Christian life can result only from certain divine impulses, and that to lay a claim to this holy inspiration when its legitimate fruits are wanting, is a fatal delusion; he maintained, and they denied, that the person who is the subject of this sacred influence has within his own bosom an independent attestation of its reality. So abstruse a debate required the zest of some more pungent ingredients; and the polemics with whom Whitfield had to do, were not such sciolists in their calling as to be ignorant of the necessity of riveting upon him some epithet at once opprobrious and vague. While, therefore, milder spirits arraigned him as an enthusiast, warburton, with constitutional energy of invective, denounced him as a fanatic. In vain he demanded a definition of these reproachful terms. To have fixed their meaning would have been to blunt their edge. They afforded a solution at once compendious, obscure, and repulsive, of whatever was remarkable in his character, and have accompanied his name from that time to the present. The currents of life had drifted Warburton on divinity as his profession, but nature designed him for a satirist; and the propensity was too strong to yield even to the study of the gospel. From them he might have discovered the injustice of his censure; for the real nature of religious fanaticism can be learnt with equal clearness from no other source. They tell of men who compassed sea and land to make one proselyte, that when made they might train him up as a persecutor and a bigot; of others, who erected sepulchral monuments to the martyrs of a former age, while unsheathing the sword which was to augment their number; of some who would have called down fire from heaven to punish the inhospitable city which rejected their master; and of those who exhausted their bodies with fasting, and their minds with study, that they might with deeper emphasis curse the ignorant multitude. They all laboured under a mental disease, which, amongst fanatics of every generation, has assumed the same distinctive type. It consists in an unhallowed alliance of the morose and vindictive passions with devotion or religious excitement. Averting the mental vision from what is cheerful, affectionate, and animating in piety, the victims of this malady regard opposing sects, not as the children, but as the enemies of God; and while looking inward with melancholy alternations of pride and self-reproach, learn to contemplate Deity itself with but half-suppressed aversion. To connect the name of the kind hearted George Whitfield with such a reproach as this? To call on the indolent of all future generations who should be] eve in Warburton, to associate the despised itinerant with the Dominics, De Rances, and Bonners of former ages! Truly the indignant prelate knew not what manner of spirit he was of. If ever philanthropy burned in the human heart with a pure and intense flame, embracing the whole family of man in the spirit of universal charity, that praise is pre-eminently due to Whitfield. His predestinarian speculations perplexed his mind, but could not check the expansion of his Catholic feelings. “He loved the world that hated him.” He had no preferences but in favour of the ignorant, the miserable, and the poor. In their cause he shrunk from no privation, and declined neither insult nor hostility. To such wrongs he opposed the weapons of an all-enduring meekness, and a love incapable of repulse. The springs of his benevolence were inexhaustible, and could not choose but flow. Assisted it may have been by natural disposition, and by many an external impulse; but it ultimately reposed on the fixed persuasion that he was engaged in a sacred duty, the faithful discharge of which would be followed by an imperishable recomense. With whatever undigested subtleties is religious creed was encumbered, they could not hide from him, though they might obscure the truth, that, between the virtues of
this life and the rewards of a future state, the connexion is necessary and indissoluble. Referring this retributive dispensation exclusively to the divine benevolence, his theology inculcated humility while it inspired hope. It taught him self-distrust, and reliance on a strength superior to his own; and instructed him in the mystery which reconciles the elevation and the purity of disinterested love with those lower motives of action which more immediately respect the future advantage of the agent. Whatever else Whitfield may have been, a fanatic, in the proper sense of that term, he assuredly was not. The charge of enthusiasm was so ambiguous, that it might, with equal propriety, be understood as conveying either commendation or reproach. Hope is the element in which all the great men of the world move and have their being. Engaged in arduous and lofty designs, they must, to a certain extent, live in an imaginary world, and recruit their exhausted strength with ideal prospects of the success which is to repay their labours. But, like every other emotion when long indulged, hope yields but a precarious obedience to the reasoning powers; and reason herself, even when most enlightened, will not seldom make a voluntary abdication of her sovereignty in favour of her powerful minister;-surrendering up to the guidance of impulse a mind whose aims are too high to be fulfilled under her own sober counsels. For in “this little state of man" the passions must be the free subjects, not the slaves of the understanding; and while they obey her precepts, should impart to her some of their own spirit, warmth, and energy. It is however, essential to a well constituted nature, that the subordination of the lower to the superior faculties, though occasionally relaxed, should be habitually maintained. Used with due abstinence, hope acts as a healthful tonic; intemperately indulged, as an enervating opiatt. The visions of future triumph, which at first animated exertion, if dwelt upon too intently, will usurp the place of the stern reality, and noble objects will be contemplated, not for their own inherent worth, but on account of the day dreams they engender. Thus, imagination makes one man a hero, another a somnambulist, and a third a lunatic: while it renders them all enthusiasts. And thus are classed together, under one generic term, characters wide asunder as the poles, and standing at the top and at the bottom of the scale of human intellect; and the same epithet is used to describe Francis Bacon and Emanuel Swedenborg. Religious men are, for obvious reasons, more subject than others to enthusiasm, both in its invigorating and in its morbid forms. They are aware that there is about their path and about their bed a real presence, which yet no sense attests. They revere a spiritual inmate of the soul, of whom they have no definite conciousness. They live in communion with one, whose nature is chiefly defined by negatives. They are engaged in duties which can be performed acceptably only at the bidding of the deepest affections. They rest their faith on prophetic and miraculous suspensions, in