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and a thoughtless world. I foresaw, however, many difficulties in the undertaking, particularly in drawing together any considerable number of people to a place of public worship, for any length of time, on a common day of the week. But it pleased God to bless the attempt with a degree of success far beyond every thing I could have expected or imagined. And as I have been assured, that several, even of those amongst my audience, that disbelieved or doubted the truth of Christianity, were impressed with a more favourable opinion both of its evidences and its doctrines, and with a higher veneration for the sacred writings than they had before entertained, I am willing to flatter myself, that similar impressions may possibly be made on some of that description, who may chance to cast their eyes on these pages and that they may also tend in some degree to confirm the faith and invigorate the good resolutions of many sincere believers in the Gospel. With this hope I now offer them to the world, and particularly to those whom Providence has placed under my more immediate superintendance, and to whom I am desirous to bequeath this (perhaps) last public testimony of my solicitude for their everlasting welfare. And whatever errors, imperfections, or accidental repetitions (arising from the recurrence of the same subjects in the sacred narrative) the critical reader may discover in this work; he will, 1 trust, be disposed to think them entitled to some degree of indulgence, when he reflects, that it was not a very easy task to adapt either the matter or the language of such Discourses as these to the various cha
racters, conditions, circumstances, capacities, and wants of all those different ranks of people to whom they were addressed; and when he is also told, that these Lectures were drawn up at a very advanced period of life, and not in the ease and tranquillity of literary retirement, but at short, broken intervals of time, such as could be stolen from the incessant occupations of an arduous and laborious station, which would not admit of sufficient leisure for profound research or finished composition.
MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR.
THIS amiable and distinguished prelate was the youngest but one of nineteen children, and was born at York, May 8, 1731. After having been for several years at a small school at York, at the age of thirteen he was placed under the care of Mr. Hyde, of Ripon, an upright and sensible man, of whose attention he ever entertained a grateful remembrance. Hence he was sent to Cambridge, and admitted a sizer at Christ's college, of which college he eventually became a fellow. Here he pursued his studies with commendable diligence, and, as he has often said, spent one of the happiest periods of his life. He gained a prize in the University, by the production of that admirable poem on Death, which is too well known to require more than this brief notice. Having taken orders, he soon after preached and published a sermon to repel an insidious attack on revelation, which attracted the attention of Archbishop Secker, who made him one of his chaplains. Through the patronage of the Primate, he rose gradually into notice and preferment, and the ardent, growing, uninterrupted attachment of these two eminent persons, certainly exhibits one of the most pleasing pictures of friendship, which our age has produced.
December 20, 1776, he was raised to the see of Chester; a preferment, to which his character and talents well entitled him, but on his own part perfectly unsolicited and entirely unexpected. In this high station he pressed upon the attention of his clergy the
solemn duties of their office, with great earnestness and affection, advising them to admonish the careless, to visit the sick, to promote, by every suitable means, the instruction of the lower classes. In all these things his episcopal counsel was recommended and enforced by his own example. Upon the death of the celebrated Lowth, Bishop of London, Dr. Porteus was called to fill the very important sphere, which he had occupied : and it deserves to be particularly noticed, that this appointment, like all that had preceded it, was, on his part, perfectly unsought for and unsolicited.
Vigilant and alive to the interests of morality and religion, he lent the whole weight of his authority and influence to every plan and institution, which appeared calculated to advance the welfare of mankind. It will be remembered how cordially he joined Mr. Wilberforce and his fellow-labourers, in their benevolent and persevering efforts for the abolition of the odious African Slave Trade, and his generous solicitude to communicate Christian instruction to the Negroes of our WestIndian colonies; how uniformly he recommended and aided the projects set on foot for educating our own poor, particularly in the formation and encouragement of Sunday schools, after the model and example of the excellent Robert Raikes of Gloucester. Nor will it be forgotten, that his well-meant and vigorous exertions to check the torrents of infidelity and profaneness were crowned with no inconsiderable measure of success. He remonstrated with persons of the highest rank, both personally and by letter, on the impropriety and injurious tendency of those parties for pleasure and amusement, which so obviously infringed on the sanctity of the sabbath.
Attached as he was to the establishment, he had yet a mind too liberal and enlarged not to treat, as he says, "with gentleness and courtesy," those who differed from him in religious opinions. Provided they held the fundamentals of Christianity, he considered them as "fellow Christians, fellow Protestants, and fellow mem
bers of the universal church;" and he could never tolerate the thought, that, on account of a diversity in outward forms, they should be avoided as foes to religion, excluded from the covenant of mercy, and thrust with acrimony and scorn beyond the pale of salvation.
He cheerfully accepted the office of Vice-President of the British and Foreign Bible Society. "It is now," he observes, in a passage which strongly marks his sentiments, "It is now well known and firmly established, and has completely triumphed over all the attempts made to destroy it. None of those secret dark designs, none of those plots to subvert the establishment, which were confidently predicted, have yet been discovered in it. It is in fact much better employed. It goes on quietly and steadily in the prosecution of its great object, and pays no sort of regard to the sneers and cavils of its intemperate opponents. It is rising uniformly in reputation and credit; and attaching to itself more and more the approbation and support of every real friend to the church and to religion."
This worthy Bishop finished his course in peace, May 13, 1809.
He had, doubtless, his faults and defects; and among these were noticed, at times, fretfulness and impatience. Dr. Porteus seems to have been neither a first-rate scholar, nor a profound theologian; yet his acquaintance with ancient and modern literature was respectable, and his diligent study of the Scriptures was highly exemplary. As a preacher, he was greatly distinguished. His aspect and manner were prepossessing; his voice, though not strong, was clear and musical; his delivery was chaste, earnest, spirited, and devout.
His general conduct was marked by acts of unwearied benevolence. He was a rigid economist of time. Unless illness prevented him, he rose constantly at six in the morning, and every part of the day had its allotted occupation. It was by this regular arrangement, from which he never deviated, that he was enabled to dispatch his public official business with the utmost accu