« AnteriorContinuar »
the project of Kennicott in the light of a speculation pregnant with mischief to the cause of revelation. Among others, who took alarm on this occasion, was Mr. Horne, whose apprehensions, instead of being removed by the publication of the plan, were increased by the petulance of its language, the confidence of the author, and the freedom of his censures. This work drew from Mr. Horne one of the keenest of his performances, under the title of " A View of Mr. Kennicott's method of correcting the Hebrew Text, with three queries formed thereupon, and twenty submitted to the consideration of the learned and Christian world." It is but jus tice, however, to these two eminent men, to observe in this place, that as the work which was the subject of animadversion in this tract proceeded, the opposition to it abated, in consequence of the circumspection adopted by the collator, who had the discretion to turn the hints of his opponents to the advantage of his literary labours. Thus controversy, when properly managed and duly improved, tends to put the one party upon his guard, and to direct him in a better course, while it acts as a stimulant to the other in detecting errors, and suggesting practical improvements. The province of science has been extended by those disputes, in which the world at large finds little interest, and of which superficial minds are apt to entertain an unfavourable judgment, as though it were nothing more than a waste of words and the ebullition of passion excited by the difference of opinion. But it should be considered, that truth is not elicited without inquiry, and that on subjects of importance, when men of ability contend, they of necessity bring forward their strongest reasons, and examine every argument and testimony with a rigid and scrupulous severity. It is, however, happy when theological contests are conducted in the spirit which distinguished that great ornament of our church, the judicious Hooker, whose sharpest language to a captious disputant was this, "Your next argument consists of railing and of reasons; to your railing I say nothing; to your reasons, I say what follows." Such was the temper in which our author defended the principles he espoused: and it is pleasing to remark, that though he had received rather coarse treatment from Kennicott, and thought very little of his great scheme, a perfect friendship afterwards subsisted between them, which was not in the least disturbed till the death of the collator, in 1783.
In 1758, Mr. Horne discharged the office of junior proctor of the University; and the next year, he took his degree of Bachelor in Divinity. At this time he was a liberal correspondent of Dr. Dodd, who had then undertaken the management of the Christian Magazine, for Newberry. Some of the most valuable papers in that useful miscellany came from the pen of our author, under the signature of Academicus.
In 1764, he took the degree of Doctor in Divinity; but it is remarkable that he never had any benefice, or preferment, till, by the death of Dr. Jenner, President of Magdalen College, in 1768, he was elected to succeed him in that important station. This year he also entered into the marriage state, with the daughter of Philip Burton, Esq. of Hatton-street, in London, and of Eltham, in Kent. By this lady he had three daughters. The year following he testified his regard for the Junior members of his college, by publishing, with a view to their edification, "Considerations on the Life and Death of St. John the Baptist." This inestimable little work was the substance of several sermons, which were delivered by the author, before the University, in Magdalen Chapel, according to annual
In 1771 he was appointed Chaplain in Ordinary to his Majesty; and in 1772, when an association was formed by those divines who inclined to the Arian or Socinian tenets, for the purpose of abolishing subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles, Dr. Horne printed a letter, addressed to Lord North, "On the projected Reformation of the Church of England;" in which he showed clearly, that the projected scheme, instead of promoting unity, and advancing the cause of Christianity, would be the occasion of discord, and the source of infidelity.
In 1776 appeared that great work which had for many years been his favourite employment, and to the perfection of which he brought all the stores of his multifarious studies, and the fruits of his retired meditations. This was his "Commentary on the Psalms," in two volumes, quarto; and when Mr. Prince the publisher, was carrying the first set to the college, some person who met him asked what he had got there. "It is," said the bookseller, "a new work of the President of
Magdalen, whose former productions have given him a name, but this will render his name immortal." Of this Commentary it may be truly said, that it is equally adapted to edify the profound scholar and the unlearned Christian; that it throws light upon dark passages, and clears up difficulties without the parade of criticism; while in every elucidation, practical improvement is consulted, and the reader of every description is enabled to draw spiritual instruction even from the dry subject of philological discussion.
This year Dr. Horne was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University, in which important station he continued till the close of 1780; and it may be truly said, that no person ever held that office with greater dignity and popularity. On the death of David Hume, his zealous admirer, Adam Smith, published an extravagant panegyric upon the philosopher; in which he was not contented with praising his friend for his meritorious qualites, as a moral character, and his splendid talents as a writer, but he coloured the picture in such a manner as to give his hero every virtue that could adorn human nature, and that obviously for the purpose of undervaluing the principles of revealed religion, and of depreciating the motives of its professors. As an antidote to this pernicious apology for the poison of infidelity, the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford published "A Letter to Dr. Smith, on the Life, Death, and Philosophy of his Friend, David Hume, Esq. by one of the People called Christians." In this little piece, which happily blends the closest reasoning with the keenest wit, the character of Hume is faithfully delineated, and the malignant conduct of his panegyrist completely exposed. In 1779, Dr. Horne favoured the world with two volumes of admirable Sermons, in which line of composition it may safely be affirmed that he has been equalled by few and excelled by none; for his style is remarkably vigorous, and yet so perfectly simple, that the plainest understanding cannot avoid being immediately convinced by the arguments, and affected by the exhortations.
On the advancement of Dr. Cornwallis to the bishopric of Lichfield, in 1781, the President of Magdalen was appointed to succeed him in the deanery of Canterbury, from which period, till his elevation to a higher station in the church, he divided his time in a regular course between the duties of the College and the Cathedral, to the equal satisfaction of all who had the happiness of living under his government. During his residence at Canterbury, he was ever ready to exert his services in the pulpit on public occasions. The opening of a new organ in the Cathedral, the institution of Sunday Schools, the anniversary of the gentlemen educated in the King's School, and the visitation of the Archbishop, afforded him opportunities of displaying in that city with what taste and feeling he could describe the power of music; with what zeal he could plead for the indigent; with what energy he could point out the means of obtaining true wisdom; and with what strength he could "contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints."
While on these occasions he gratified the public as a preacher, his talents were also employed as a writer, in exposing the vain pretensions of "Science, falsely so called." In 1784 appeared, but without his name, a small volume entitled, "Letters on Infidelity;” in which the system of Hume is held up to just contempt, and the sophistry of that sceptic laid open in all its native deformity. With the same anxious concern for the cause of Christianity, our author next encountered the great champion of Socinianism, in "A Letter to the Rev. Dr. Priestley, by an Undergraduate." For while, in the judgment of the Dean, infidelity had a necessary tendency to destroy morality, by depriving it of the only sanction that can give it force for the regulation of human actions, he also looked upon that which is called the Unitarian doctrine, especially as taught in the modern schools, in the light of an auxiliary, or rather guide to that enemy of God's image in the soul of man.
At length, though too late for the benefit of the church, the great merit of Dr. Horne was rewarded with the mitre, by his consecration to the bishopric of Norwich, June 7th, 1790; the sermon on which occasion being preached by his old and constant friend Dr. Berkeley, Prebendary of Canterbury. Soon after this event, he resigned his station in Magdalen College; but, though he repaired to his episcopal palace, he found it difficult to go up and down the steps, owing to his increasing infirmities, for the alleviation of which he was constrained to reside at Bath, where the use of the waters gave him temporary relief. At this time his eldest daughter was married to the reverend Mr. Selby Hele, rector of Colesworth,
in Bedfordshire, and chaplain to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. On this occasion, the Bishop wrote the following letter to Dr. Berkeley, which evinces the same fervent piety and innocent gaiety that distinguished the accomplished writer throughout life.
Bath, May 21, 1791.
MY DEAR FRIEND.
IN negotiations of the matrimonial kind, multa cederunt inter, &c. and therefore I think it better to say nothing of the matter till the newspapers tell it every body at once that the thing is done, and there's an end of it. I always desired my girls to secure three points in a husband-good temper, good sense, and good prin. ciples: if they meet with a good person and a good fortune, they might be thrown in, and no harm. For the present instance, as far as I can judge, we are well off throughout, and all parties pleased, and so God bless them. To see a little of the world before they settle, they are gone for three or four months upon the Continent; as to cake, we must therefore wait, I believe, for a slice of right national, for they set off on the evening of the wedding-day; and the trusty Betty, on her return to Eltham, deposed she had seen 'em under sail for the coast of France. Best thanks to Mrs. Berkeley, for her very kind letter, which has found its way hither. My wife is passing a few days at Otham, after the hurry and heat of Sackville
I bless God the waters and weather here carry me on charmingly. I write, you see, nearly as well as ever I did; and as to utterance, hope to be a match for Norwich Cathedral by the end of July, when I am engaged there for the infirmary. Once a year, by God's blessing, I propose to refresh nature at Bath, and keep things going.
I hope, when we get rid of these cold winds, for such they are, notwithstanding the sun this day, Mr. Berkeley's gout will melt away like ice in the fair weather. The doctors want me to have a fit; but I wish to leave that matter to God's goodness. I soothe my mind, and settle my temper every night with a page or two of Bozzy (i. e. Boswell's Life of Dr. Johnson,) and always meet with something to the purpose. My sleep is sweet after it. God bless you all. So prayeth, my dear friend,
Your affectionate friend and servant,
This year the good prelate published the "Charge to the Clergy of his Diocess;" which, on account of the declining state of his health, he had been prevented from delivering personally, but which he now sent to them from the press, as he says in the preliminary advertisement, "that so, whenever he should be called hence, he might leave some testimony of his regard for them, and attention to their concerns." This was the completion of all his public customs; and the close was marked by the same liveliness of sentiment, perspicuity of illustration, and zeal for evangelical truth, which distinguished him in every stage of his ministry. In this farewell discourse, he treats with a vigour of reasoning almost peculiar to himself, "the nature of God; the nature of man; the saving principle of faith; the importance and use of the church; the obedience due to civil government; and the necessity of a pure life and holy conversation."
The complication of disorders with which this excellent man was afflicted, compelled him to return to Bath; but, on the road, he was attacked by a paralytic stroke, which, though it did not weaken his mental powers, deprived him of arti culate utterance; and it was but by slow degrees that he so far recovered his speech as to be understood by his attendants. Not long before his departure "to that rest which remaineth for the people of God," he signified a strong wish to have the sacrament of the Lord's Supper administered to him; and when the solemn ordinance was over, he clasped his hands with an emotion of rapturous devotion, and exclaimed, “Now am I blessed indeed!" He languished on, from this time till January 17th, 1792, and then breathed his last, without a groan. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace."
The mortal remains of the bishop were interred in the family vault, belonging to his father-in-law, Philip Burton, Esq. at Eltham, in Kent; in the church-yard of which parish is a monument, with the following inscription, a copy of which,
with some slight alteration, is also placed on a tablet to his memory, in the Cathedral of Norwich:
Here lie interred
The earthly Remains of
The right reverend GEORGE HORNE, D. D.
And late Bishop of Norwich.
Depth of Learning, brightness of Imagination,
Or the Country Parish,
His Commentary on the Psalms will continue to be
Till the Devotion of Earth shall end in the Hallelujahs
Having patiently suffered under such infirmities
His Soul took its flight from this Vale of Misery,
And his surviving Friends and Admirers,
The style of Bishop Horne is nervous, and frequently epigrammatic, particularly on subjects of a controversial nature, and where serious argument would have been thrown away upon those who either wanted sense or honesty to feel its force, and to treat it with reverence. But though this Christian advocate sometimes indulged in a sportive humour, when he condescended to enter the list with writers whose talents he conceived to be dangerously employed, he never disgraced his powers by acrimony, nor weakened the effect of them by abuse. "Wit," said he, "if used at all, should be tempered with good humour, so as not to exasperate the person who is the object of it; and then we are sure there is no mischief done. The disputant ought to be at once firm and calm; his head cool, and his heart warm."
The conduct of the bishop corresponded with the picture of his heart exhibited in his literary productions. He was distinguished by the suavity of his manners, no less than by the firmness of his faith and the ardour of his zeal. He was not only a "burning, but a shining light," exhibiting in every relation the practical influence of those principles which he thought it his duty to defend against all gainsayers.
He was a most agreeable as well as instructive companion; and, as he abounded in anecdote, which he always introduced in season, his conversation never failed to afford delightful entertainment to those who had a taste for moral and intellectual pleasure. That he might never forget the solemn obligations by which he had bound himself, it was his prescribed custom to read over the service for the ordination of priests, on the first day of every month, which practice being accompanied by devout meditation, was well calculated to increase his humility, to strengthen his faith, and to animate his resolution in the discharge of his duty.
Besides the publications which have been already noticed, he wrote the "Preface to Dodd's Translation of Callimachus;" a Tract "On the Repeal of the Test Act" the "Miscellany by Nathaniel Freebody," in the St. James's Chronicle for 1767; several papers signed Z. in the Olla Podrida, published in 1787; some others printed by the late Rev. William Jones, his Chaplain, in the "Scholar Armed," 2 vols. 8vo.; and, since his death, three volumes of his Sermons have been printed, together with his "Miscellaneous Works and Essays;" and "Considerations on the Life and Death of Abel," &c.
THE Psalms are an epitome of the Bible, adapted to the purposes of devotion. They treat occasionally of the creation and formation of the world; the dispensations of Providence, and the economy of grace; the transactions of the patriarchs; the exodus of the children of Israel; their journey through the wilderness, and settlement in Canaan; their law, priesthood, and ritual; the exploits of their great men, wrought through faith; their sins and captivities; their repentances and restorations; the sufferings and victories of David; the peaceful and happy reign of Solomon; the advent of Messiah, with its effects and consequences; his incarnation, birth, life, passion, death, resurrection, ascension, kingdom, and priesthood; the effusion of the Spirit; the conversion of the nations; the rejection of the Jews; the establishment, increase, and perpetuity of the Christian church; the end of the world; the general judgment; the condemnation of the wicked, and the final triumph of the righteous with their Lord and King. These are the subjects here presented to our meditations. We are instructed how to conceive of them aright, and to express the different affections, which, when so conceived of, they must excite in our minds. They are, for this purpose, adorned with the figures, and set off with all the graces of poetry; and poetry itself is designed yet farther to be recommended by the charms of music, thus consecrated to the service of God; that so delight may prepare the way for improvement, and pleasure become the handmaid of wisdom, while every turbulent passion is calmed by sacred melody, and the evil spirit is still dispossessed by the Harp of the Son of Jesse. This little volume, like the paradise of Eden, affords us in perfection, though in miniature, everything that groweth elsewhere," every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food:" and above all, what was there fost, but is here restored, THE TREE OF LIFE IN THE MIDST OF THE GARDEN. That which we read, as matter of speculation, in the other Scriptures, is reduced to practice, when we recite it in the Psalms; in those, repentance and faith are described, but in these they are acted; by a perusal of the former, we learn how others served God, but, by using the latter, we serve him ourselves."What is there necessary for man to know," says the pious and judicious Hooker, " which the Psalms are not able to teach? They are to beginners an easy and familiar introduction, a mighty augmentation of all virtue and knowledge in such as are entered before, a strong confirmation of the most perfect among others. Heroical magnanimity, exquisite justice, grave moderation, exact wisdom, repentance unfeigned, unwearied patience, the mysteries of God, the sufferings of Christ, the terrors of wrath, the comforts of grace, the works of Providence over this world, and the promised joys of that world which is to come, all good necessarily to be either known, or done, or had, this one celestial fountain yieldeth. Let there be any grief or disease incident unto the soul of man, any wound or sickness named, for which there is not, in this treasure-house, a present comfortable remedy at all times ready to be found."* In the language of this divine
* Hooker's Ecclesiast. Pol. B. v. Sect. 37.