Page images

And, in order that his people might profit by the Liturgical part of the services of the Church, and "pray with the understanding," he was careful to instruct them in the object and end of its various offices. "The church keeps up," as Isaac Walton observes, in his life of George Herbert, "an historical and circular commemoration of times, as they pass by us; of such times as ought to incline us to occasional praises, for the particular blessings which we do, or might, receive by those holy commemorations." To these, whether involving calls to special humiliation, or to devout thanksgiving, he directed the attention of his hearers, and he was no less assiduous in explaining to them the nature, obligations, and privileges of the Sacramental ordinances.

Deeply attached to the Church of England, convinced that its doctrines are scriptural, its mode of government apostolic, and its formularies impregnated with the elevated yet chastened devotion of the purest ages of Christianity, he was among the most devoted of her sons. But although, in this sense, a high churchman, there was no bitterness in his orthodoxy. However uncompromising in his opinions, charity and kindness influenced his whole mode of communicating them to others; nor could a Dissenter, after personal conference with him, fail to bear away the impression that he was one in whom the love of God and of his neighbour was predominant, and who had

a smile for real goodness, wherever it was to be found.*

Although it is anticipating the order of events, the following extract from a letter of Hannah More to the Rev. C. Wilks, written in 1809, is so much in unison with the above statements, that we venture to insert it here: "The good Bishop of St. David's has paid us a second visit. He drove over from Bath to breakfast, and, as it was Easter Monday, he desired, after breakfast, to read the whole church service to us. It was so primitive and so like all he does, it pleased me. With guests and workfolks we mustered a decent congregation."



THE life of Mr. Burgess at Winston was divided between the faithful discharge of pastoral and parochial duties, the prosecution of his learned studies, and the assiduous cultivation of personal religion. The piety and integrity of his heart, and his conscientious desire to consecrate his various talents to the glory of God, have already been described; but his portraiture as a private Christian has not been attempted. We shall now place him before the reader in this character; and in doing so, shall not be reduced to indulge in imaginary traits, since he has himself furnished the requisite particulars in a variety of private reflections and soliloquies, written at different intervals, though chiefly about the time to which we now refer, and which prove him to have been, early in life, a bright example of faith and holiness. To subdue his own will, and to bring his senses, passions, and affections into subjection to the law of Christ, had so become his predominant object, that, without any hyperbole, it might have been said of him,

Thy care is fix'd and zealously attends

To fill thy odorous lamp with deeds of light,
And hope that reaps not shame.


At the same time it will appear how sensible he was that his best services were marred with imperfection, and that "he gloried only in the cross of Christ, by which he was crucified to the world, and the world to him."

The reflections alluded to were chiefly written in the blank leaves and in the margins of some of his favourite devotional writers, among whom may be enumerated Bishop Wilson's Sacra Privata, Doddridge's Rise and Progress of Religion, Payne's Thomas à Kempis, Robinson's Scripture Characters, Nelson's Practice of True Devotion, Law's Serious Call, and Baxter's Saint's Rest. Only eighteen months before his death, he took down from a book-shelf a copy of Payne's Kempis, and pointed out with much feeling to the present writer its numerous marginal annotations, as indexes of the state of his mind while residing at Winston, and as no less expressive of his latest convictions. He added, that he had written similar notes and reflections in the margin of another devotional book, which, however, has, unfortunately, been lost. His Nelson on True Devotion is also replete with similar annotations. These, and a few sheets of manuscript, are the principal sources to which we are indebted for the means of graphically developing his inmost thoughts. To such spiritual exercises he could have been no stranger before he came to Winston, but the opportunities he there enjoyed for calm and uninterrupted reflection tended, as he

himself avowed, to deepen and confirm in his soul every holy principle.

By some memoranda referable to this period, it appears that he so apportioned his time as to assign particular hours to study, to devotional exercises, and to his active duties; and in order to compass these objects without injury to his health, he practised the strictest temperance. We shall now, without further preface, place before our readers the following specimens of his "Sacra Privata."

A Heathen Emperor used to say of a day in which he had performed no good action, "I have lost a day." Go and do thou likewise. Look out for objects, and seek for opportunities of doing good; and when thou hast neglected any such, then, at least, say, "I have lost a day." Record omissions. Keep a moral register, with a column for omissions.

If we expect no return for any good we do but from God, he will repay us with infinite interest.

Those occasions in life are truly valuable which give exercise to the best Christian virtues, such as long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, forgiveness, and all other gifts of the Spirit, and the graces of charity that charity "which suffereth long and is kind."

Thou hast been all mercy to me, O God! May I be so to others!

« PreviousContinue »