Page images

Mr Belsham was faithful and exemplary. In that part especially of the pastoral charge, so interesting and important, the instruction of the young, did he labor with assiduous and affectionate zeal. The writer of this brief notice was favored with the opportunity of attending some of his Lectures to the young of his flock, on the · Evidences of Christianity ;' and it was impossible not to remark his ability, fidelity, and tenderness in this work, which were well worthy of imitation by every

young minister.

As a writer, scholar, and divine, Mr Belsham is known by numerous publications, theological and moral, biographical and political; more particularly, by his last work on the Epistles of St Paul. And whatever diversities of opinion may exist-many such there unquestionably will be-with regard to some of his speculations;—nay, however some even of those, who count it their honor, as did he, to be numbered with Liberal Christians and asserters of the strict unity and supremacy of the one God, even the Father,—may find cause to object either to the doctrine, expression, or sometimes to the spirit, more especially of his earlier productions, yet no one can withhold from him the praise, undeniably due to his learning and integrity; to his clearness of perception and freedom of investigation, to his ardent love of truth, to his faithfulness, intrepidity, and zeal, in maintaining it.

Mr Belsham was no stranger to the opposite trials of honor and reproach. Not only in England but to multitudes in America, also, his name has long been familiar.

[ocr errors]

And it has borne a large share of the obloquy, which misconception or prejudice, uncharitableness or honest zeal have never ceased from the days of Priestley, to pour upon the name of Unitarians. The characteristic honesty of Mr Belsham would never permit him to shrink from the most open avowal of all his sentiments; and his moral courage never failed to sustain him amidst the harshest censures. Nor is it surprising, however it may be lamented or condemned, that a controversialist, so ardent and bold, should have been the special object of dislike with the bigoted of every class ; or that his learning and piety, and even his belief in Christianity, should have been brought into question by such writers as Dr Magee, and other like slavish advocates of creeds and establishments.

But by whatever weapons, either of ignorance or of bigotry, Mr Belsham may have been assailed; whatever honors


be conceded or denied to him, as a philosopher or a divine, he possessed, beyond all controversy, the far more enviable distinctions of true goodness. Few men have lived more faithful than was he to their convictions and principles. The strictest purity, unimpeachable integrity, kindness and benevolence in all the relations he sustained, were among his distinguishing virtues. He cherished the most filial views of the whole government and providence of God. His convictions upon this subject were the source to him of habitual cheerfulness. They were ever present to his mind, cheering his solitary hours; and the instructive and delightful subjects of his conversa

tion. He loved to exhibit them in their power to inspire habitual serenity and trust; as supplying the strongest incentives to virtue, and maintaining contentment and hope amidst the most painful vicissitudes of life. Of his devotional spirit, some of his practical discourses, particularly that on ‘Resignation to the will of God, after the example of Jesus;' and a Charge, which he delivered at the ordination of a friend,* may be mentioned as just illustrations.

Mr Belsham was eminent also for his social virtues. His temper was truly benevolent; and he delighted to dwell upon the future prospects and happiness of mankind. His soul was the seat of the most expansive charity. He was always ready to the utmost of his ability to impart good. He was, more particularly, the considerate friend and wise counsellor of youth.

And to students in theology, as well as to his younger brethten in the ministry, his friendship and his patronage, his advice--and, when needed, his purse-were freely bestowed. Though without a family of his own, he had also that qualification of a christian bishop, commended by an apostle,-being much given to hospitality. It was his delight to gather around him his friends and brethren ; and while making them partakers of his own enjoyments, he failed not to mingle with them the charms of his conversation, and of his uniform urbanity.

* See a beautiful Extract from this charge in the Christian Disciple for 1820, Vol. 2, p. 205, adduced in refutation of an unprivcipled ca. jumny by Archbishop Magee, that Mr Belsham rejected the votion of prayer,

Multitudes of our countrymen have been debtors to his kindness; and bear grateful testimony to his frequent and courteous hospitalities; to the invariable friendliness, which marked his manners; and to the yet greater kindness of faithful remembrances and good wishes, with which he ceased not to follow them to their native country, and along their progress in life. Some of our most lamented friends and brethren, now gathered with him in their graves-of whom were Buckminster,Carey, and Thacher-with others happily yet surviving--experienced largely of his friendship. Their days of weakness and pain, their drooping spirits and fading temporal hopes, at a distance from their homes, though in the land of their fathers, were cheered by his sympathies and effectual care. The friends of these, our departed brethren, cherish with sacred recollection, the tenderness and disinterestedness of his services, both to the living and the dead. And God himself will not forget those works of love, which were shown towards his name, in that they were ministered to his saints.'

We leave to others to settle the claims of Mr Belslam to intellectual eminence, and to a permanent rank with the philosophers or theologians of his day. To us it is a more grateful task-and it is but the offering of personal gratitude-to recal his private virtues. They were the virtues of a true lover of God and goodness; of a faithful servant of Jesus Christ; of an hearty friend to human happiness, who labored by a useful and exemplary life to advance it.

F. Paruman


Under this head the Monthly Repository (English) contains some observations of an interesting nature, if we can rely on their accuracy. They are given as the • result of a recent visit to Paris, which, though short, enabled the writer to ascertain the mind and feeling of various portions of the population of that metropolis. The writer quotes a remark of Napoleon, that the revolution, in spite of all its horrors, had nevertheless been the cause of the regeneration of morals in France,' and observes that a change for the better has undoubtedly taken place.

On the subject of religion he expresses himself as follows. • The complaints of the prevalence of infidelity in France were at one time thought in England to be a mere political manæuvre; but it appears by the event that they were scarcely overcharged. A generation has grown up without religion. The churches are thinly attended, and chiefly by women and children. Nothing is more common in society than a joke upon the rites of the church. It is said, however, that a large proportion of intelligent men, who are masters of families, and approaching to middle age, are wearied with skepticism, and for the sake especially of their children are strongly dissatisfied with the state of religious destitution in which they find themselves. They cannot return to the dogmas and practices of the Roman Catholic Church; they abhor the domination of the priesthood; and at the same time they see

« PreviousContinue »