Imágenes de página





For the Christian Observer. TRUE religion, under every modification, is attractive and profitable. Whether it ennoble the character in the lower stations of life, or bestow on it that brightest of all ornaments, humility, in the highest; whether it appear in youth or in age, tempering the gaiety of the one and soothing the sorrows of the other; whether it soften the asperities of a morose spirit, or call forth and sanctify the emotions of a heart frank, affectionate, and generous; it never fails to be the subject of deep interest to all who take their estimate of good and evil from that Book, the mysteries disclosed in which angels desire to look into, and by which mankind will be judged. We have been led to these reflections by an event productive of deep regret far beyond the confines of an attached family and an extensive sphere, sensibly and immediately affected by it,-the death of the late Commissioner of his Majesty's Dockyard at Portsmouth, the Hon. Sir George Grey, brother to the present Earl Grey.

Sir George Grey spent the early part of his life in the duties of a profession which contains many persons of exalted rank, and has been adorned by no small number of individuals who have graced the annals of their country.

To trace his course minutely through this period, is not our intention: suffice it to say, that he fought in the year 1782 as Lieutenant of the Resolution, in the victory of Lord Rodney; and that he commanded the Victory, bearing Sir John Jervis's flag, in the memorable action off Cape St. Vincent. In the intermediate time, he served under Sir J. Jervis during the whole campaign in the West Indies, obtaining there his rank of Captain in the Admiral's ship, the Boyne. The confidence and friendship of that distinguished chief he long enjoyed; from whence it is easy to infer how great must have been his merit, not in personal courage merely, but in all those qualities which are required in a British seaman and officer.

In the year 1806, Sir George Grey was appointed to the superintendance of the Dock yard at Portsmouth; a station which, if it were somewhat less brilliant than others he had filled, and might have aspired to, yielded to none as a sphere of substantial usefulness. He had previously occupied a similar post at Sheerness from the year 1804. In that responsible and important department, Sir George evinced the same wisdom, energy, and assiduity which he had before displayed in less quiet scenes, and which had raised him so

greatly in the estimation of Lord St. Vincent. Thus employed for twenty-two efficient servant of the public. But what years, he proved himself a faithful and is the approbation of man, compared with to be served? Yet to serve Him without that of God, who first, and above all, is loving him, or to love him without trusting in his Son and being influenced by his Holy Spirit, is impossible: and this trust is surely a pretence, where there is not a humbling consciousness of sinfulness, ignorance, and weakness. Thoughts began now to occupy the mind and to of this kind, through the grace of God, affect the heart of the subject of this narrative.


We seek not to ascertain the cernable, when this change took place. exact time, which is very generally undisIn him it was slow and gradual; but the nunciation of worldly vanities, in the effects began to be perceptible in the restrict observance of the Sabbath, and in the Christian regulation of his household, the week. In his family, the voice of not on that holy day only, but throughout read, as duly and as often as the morning prayer was heard and the word of God scarcely pass the threshold, without disand evening returned. A visitor could covering that the fear of God was in his house. To the faithful ministers of God's word his doors were ever open their commission was recognised; their labours claimed. Christian friends and brethren also, especially on days of public meetings for the advancement of the glory of God, were there most hospitably and heartily received. The hand that holds this pen must be cold in death before the mind that guides it can forget the many happy that roof, on those and on other occasions. sacred hours which have been spent under with this excellent man-or with her who Nor was this zeal for the glory of God, delighted to share his pious labours, but has in the inscrutable providence of God been called to mourn, though not as without hope, over his beloved tomb--a mere occasional fervour, a periodical excitement. Together with concerns of a civil and official kind, acts of mercy and love, shared, were ever in progress Whilst there in which his valued partner abundantly there was fervency of spirit in the more was no slothfulness in worldly business, peculiar service of God. How many ships have been supplied by them with that precious treasure, the word of God, how many strangers have been succoured, how many of the sick and destitute and dying many children have been instructed, how have, through their instrumentality, been visited in their affliction, will be known

only at the resurrection of the just and who, till that decisive day, can venture to say how far the indirect influence of so much excellence, in an establishment composed of such a number and variety of persons, may have reached?

We read of devout men carrying a devout man to his burial, and making great lamentation over him. The death of one who is employing his ten talents for his Master's honour, must be the occasion of profound grief. We are perplexed as well as grieved at the providence, till we hear a voice saying, "Be still, and know that I am God." The decease of the subject of this memoir was of this kind: his illness came upon him very unexpectedly; it was of a nature singularly painful and distressing; and whilst it severed many tender ties, it defeated many pious plans and purposes; terminating a course eminently conducive to the Divine glory. But our merciful Father does what He pleases in heaven end earth, and He does all things well. His ways, however mysterious, are perfect. The complaint which cut off the valuable life of Sir George Grey originated in tumour in the neck, which turned to a cancer, and baffled every attempt at a cure. It was attended with extreme pain and many distressing circumstances, which, to the delicate frame and sensitive mind of the sufferer, must have been a source of acute anguish. From the beginning, however, of his sad and hopeless malady, to its conclusion, no murmur was heard to escape his lips. Patience had in this instance so perfect a work, that to witness it might have been even discouraging to others less tried and less supported, but for the remembrance that such grace is reserved for moments of extreme exigency. When the agony was intense, he uttered no complaint; only remarking with calm acquiescence, "If it should please God to give me a few hours' ease from pain, I should be thankful." Often, when assisted by those around him, even when suffering acutely, and reduced to the most distressing state of weakness and exhaustion, he would exclaim, "What shall I render to the Lord for all his mercies!" and, contrasting frequently his own case with that of the poor similarly afflicted, he would remark, "What must they suffer!"

The ground-work of this resignation was laid in deep penitence and prevailing peace, arising from a simple dependence on his Redeemer. His protracted illness led him to a constant, close, and faithful self-examination; the result of which was a truly broken heart and contrite spirit. If ever man lay in the dust at the feet of the Saviour, he did so: uttering the confession of the fifty-first Psalm, and resting on the truths of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah,he looked at Him whom he had pierced, and mourned. He deeply reproached himself with not having lived nearer to his God than he had done. He never expressed a

wish to recover, but was heard earnestly to pray, that, should it please God to restore him (adding, "not that I ask this"), he might be enabled to serve God more faithfully than before. He bewailed all his sins, and adduced some, as proofs of declension, which with men in general are not considered sins at all. With a peculiar tenderness of conscience, he arraigned and condemned himself for offences of which most think nothing, and which few are in the habit of viewing constantly with those sensations to which a death-bed sometimes gives birth. These he spoke of to the last in terms of shame, sorrow, and abasement. On the chapter " on cautions and warnings," in a work called Christian Re tirement, being read to him, hearing the awful but often mistaken passage, Heb. vi., "It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance;" he was much agitated, burst into tears, and repeated," Ah! it is-it is-it is true. On the passage being explained, as applicable only to apostates, he replied, with much solemnity, "Ah! but it is impossible that those who have fallen back should receive the same comfort with those who have lived close to God."

[ocr errors]

Still, notwithstanding, or rather in consequence of, this humiliation, much peace was diffused through his soul: the fear which hath torment rarely, if ever, assailed him. To death he looked forward with blessed satisfaction--not so much because suffering then would cease, as because sin would be no more; not because he should have escaped from the bed of anguish, but because he should be conformed to the Divine image, and should see God. He often inquired how soon it was expected his disease would terminate his life. "They need not be afraid of agitating me,' he said, "I only wish to be told the truth. If they were to tell me I should die the next hour, they would not see the slightest alteration on my countenance." member of his family, whom he observed much affected at witnessing his emaciated frame and altered countenance, about a fortnight before his death, he said, with remarkable force and pathos, fully testifying that the words he uttered expressed the deep feeling of his soul, "Oh my dear ****, I am quite calm; composed; quiet, I have not one worldly wish; one worldly feeling."

To a

The sick chamber of Sir George Grey was a privileged place. Daily, as long as he could bear it, did his family assemble around his bed, to pray with him and read that word of God, which promised them another meeting, under the most opposite circumstances. Often did he pray for them. Once in particular was he over

heard, with uplifted hands and heart pour-
ing out his whole heart on their behalf
before his God.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The last interview which he had with the minister who most frequently saw him is too affecting to be omitted. Hearing him complain that he lay there and could not fix his mind, he said, "When you were asleep this morning, we were praying for you.' Then," he replied, you were praying for the most unworthy creature upon earth.” "I will leave part of a well-known text with you," the minister added, "which I trust you will think of: Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.' I am sure you desire to take freely.' "With indescribable pathos and emphasis he answered, "Indeed, indeed, indeed I do." Again and again has that minister heard him break out in the most earnest manner, in the midst of his prayers with him. He never witnessed more ardent desires.

It would be too long to specify the pas sages of the word of God which he felt as peculiarly applicable to his case; but they were in general those which treat of the two great points of penitence and pardon.

Of the natural dispositions of the subject of this memoir, it may be said, that they were cast in no common mould. He possessed unreserved openness, sincerity, and cordiality of feeling; a playfulness and simplicity, which greatly attracted young persons; with a manly generosity of temper, which would carry him fearlessly forward in any direction to which friendship, honour, or justice might point. A remarkable instance of this last quality is alluded to in a letter from a naval character of very high distinction, couched in terms which, could they be published, would, with all who value tenderness and gratitude, add lustre to the writer's title and fame. He wrote to Sir George during his last illness, to condole with him, and to convey a sense of lasting obligation for substantial aid imparted at a critical juncture, at considerable personal risk. But we notice this letter chiefly for the sake of the following endorsement in Sir George's hand-writing: "This kind, gratifying letter was received July 21, 1828, but, for fear of reviving earthly vanity, was not read a second time. As, however, it may be some satisfaction to to have

[FEB. What a

it hereafter, I leave it for him." testimony is afforded in the letter to the character; what an evidence is the super. excellence of our valued friend's natural of October, without a struggle, he, whose scription of a renewed heart! On the 3d character has been thus feebly but faithfully delineated, fell asleep in Christ.

The mortal remains of this exemplary in a vault in the garrison chapel. The man were interred on the 11th of October, funeral was intended, in accordance with his own express wish, to be private; but the multitude which assembled to witness the mournful ceremony proved the hold tion of the inhabitants of Portsmouth and he had acquired on the respect and affecits neighbourhood. The pall was borne by Admiral the Hon. Sir Robert Stopford, Vice-Admiral Sir Harry Neale, Rear-AdCampbell, and Captains Loring and Cheetmiral Giffard, and Major-General Sir Colin jesty's Dock-yard attended in mourning bam. The principal officers of his Macoaches, and several hundreds of the shipwrights and other artificers of the yard followed on foot. On the grand parade, a passage, to prevent interruption, was formed by the military. The service was read by the Rev. W. S. Dusautoy; who on the next Sunday, in the church where ing, preached an impressive sermon upon Sir George had been in the habit of attendthis text: "These are they that come out robes and made them white in the blood of great tribulation, and have washed their of the Lamb."

Truly has it been remarked, that "chaof dissolution it possesses a force that is racter is power." Even in the weakness commanding and beneficial. The memory be forgotten; it will be cherished in the of this sincere Christian will not quickly bosom of numbers; it will be treasured under this bitter bereavement can bear up by his friends, and by his family, who this testimony," The day of adversity was cheered by the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness; the season of rial became a time of wonder and praise; the hand of the Lord chastened with heaviness: but he has caused his bereaved serhis faithfulness, and in the hour of great vants to sing of his mercies, to trust in kindness." tribulation to rejoice in his tender loving


We pass by every other subject of intelligence, foreign or domestic, to notice that which has almost exclusively engrossed the attention and agitated the feelings of the

country. To the surprise of persons of
Speech, at the opening of Parliament, con-
every party in church and state, the King's
tained a direct recommendation from his

Majesty to the legislature, to consider the civil disabilities which attach to his RomanCatholic subjects. This announcement was followed up by the declaration of Government, that the cabinet had become unanimous in their conviction of the necessity of removing those disabilities, and of admitting Roman Catholics in common with their fellow-countrymen to offices of trust and power, with only some few exceptions, which the circumstances of the case rendered necessary. They added, however, that this proposition was to be accompanied with some other arrangements which they considered adviseable to guarantee the safety of the Protestant interest, and the existing order of things in church and state. As a preliminary to both these measures, and in accordance with the recommendation in the King's Speech, they had determined to bring in a Bill for the suppression of the Catholic Association, which had usurped a most dangerous power: and accordingly a Bill is rapidly passing both houses to effect this object; the provisions of which, in fact, apply equally to Brunswick clubs, or any other association, which the Lord Lieutenant may consider dangerous to the public peace. This formidable authority is however granted only for a year; being intended, it would seem, merely to prevent temporary collisions dangerous to the public peace, and to allow an interval for the adjustment of the feelings and circumstances of Ireland, in accordance with the new relations which may arise out of the projected measures.

With regard to the measures themselves no light has yet been thrown upon the details: neither the provisions of the enactment of grace, nor those of guarantee or restriction, are as yet disclosed to the public. Writing therefore in the dark upon both these points, we are unable at present to lay before our readers our views of the case with that explicitness which so important a question demands; otherwise it would have been our wish, with all Christian frankness, to state some considerations which appear to us of importance in coming to a right decision on a subject of such moment to the interests, both temporal and spiritual, of our beloved country, of millions now living, and of hundreds of millions yet unborn.

The intended measures we have stated consist of concessions and of safeguards. With regard to the latter, we are not sanguine in believing that it will be possible to propose any specific arrangements of much practical efficiency; the only real guarantee for the loyal and peaceable behaviour of any large body of men is, their feeling that they have an interest in the common weal which cuts off the sources of temptation to discontent and opposition. Among a variety of specific safeguards have been mentioned-abridging the right of suffrage in Ireland; a concordat with CHRIST. OBSERV, No. 326.

the pope; a veto on Catholic Episcopal appointments; restricting Catholic members of parliament from voting on matters which affect the welfare of religion or the Protestant church; but, above all, paying the Roman-Catholic clergy from the public purse, in order to bind them to the interests of our church and state. Looking at these matters, not as secular politicians, but as Christians and Protestants, we shall pass over the first of these recommendations, abridging the right of suffrage, which is purely a concern of civil arrangement, in no way involving any point of religion. Restrictions on voting within the walls of parliament would, we fear, be found nearly impracticable in operation; for what legislative question is there which does not in some way affect the interests of religion? and how could parliament itself be able to decide at every turn upon the matter; at least without endless debate and loss of time? With regard to vetos and concordats, we should object to them on the ground of our thus recognizing, we might say truckling to, a power which has not and ought not to have any authority in this Protestant country. But infinitely more still should we object to paying the Catholic priesthood. To treat our Catholic neighbours as fellow-subjects, to give them every civil privilege, is not to be compared for a moment with the guilt of actively supporting a corrupt churcha church prophetically denounced of God, and historically proved most baneful to man. We would keep no measures with the papal superstition, as such: no, let it be opposed and reprobated as it deserves ;with temper indeed, and Christian charity, with enlightened wisdom and hallowed weapons;—but still, with firmness, with scriptural zeal, and with an earnest desire to rescue from its snare, those who are oppressed by its spiritual thraldom. We trust, therefore, that should any measure be brought forward for paying the Roman - Catholic priesthood from the public purse, a measure which so many mere political Protestants have urged as a master-piece of policy, and which would greatly abate their opposition to the removal of civil disabilities; it will be opposed by all religious Protestants, as a direct violation of Christian duty, an unhallowed union with a communion with which we ought to hold no intercourse but that of kindly social offices as men, or of active zeal for the spiritual reformation of its members. What are called the evangelical clergy in our church, as well as those dissenting ministers and laymen who symbolize with them in their leading views of Christian doctrine and piety, are, as is well known, divided in opinion, respecting the propriety of removing civil disabilities; but we doubt not they would be found united to a man to oppose that miserable system of alleged political expediency which would seek to secure the

civil adhesion of the Catholic body by offering a bonus upon their corrupt faith. Their rights, real or supposed, as men and citizens, is one thing; but it is quite another to afford pecuniary aid for the maintenance of their religion. Many religious persons feel disposed to think that we ought to cease legally to recognize Papists, in order to persecute them, who would be still more averse to recognize them in order to embrace them. They would employ neither rewards nor punishments: what they wish is oblivion. We tolerate Hindoos and Mohammedans in India, but we do not pay their Brahmins and Muftis. But we cannot persuade ourselves that Government will consent to view Protestantism so much as the creature of state policy, and so little as connected with religious sanctions, as to propose any such measure; and in truth, as we have before said, there is little real guarantee for the good conduct of any large body of men, except their interest in the public weal; and the feeling that if they are unreasonable in their wishes, they are sure rather to lose than to gain, from the vast majority of their countrymen who would be arrayed against them.

From safeguards we pass on to concessions; where, as we have before said, public feeling, even among pious and well-judging men, is greatly divided. The avowed argument in parliament, that which has swayed the duke of Wellington, and even Mr. Peel himself, is, that the adjustment of the question has become absolutely necessary for the public welfare; that Ireland is in a most lamentable state of faction, and that the government at home is constantly embarrased by a difference of opinion on this vital subject; that a divided cabinet ought no longer to be allowed, and that one united in opposition to the removal of Catholic disabilities cannot be formed; or, if it could, would be unable to govern either Ireland or England. It is said also, though not on authority, that some of the members of the government have seriously doubted whether they could legally disprove Mr. O'Connell's right to sit in parliament; and that thus, in fact, one chief point in dispute was conceded, whether by accident or otherwise, at the Union. These representations, grounded upon alleged expediency amounting to necessity, have induced great numbers of persons, both in public and private life, to withdraw their opposition to the proposed concessions; and even some of the most zealous friends of religion, who still doubt the propriety of the projected measure, have thought it, upon the whole, their duty to confide in the information and integrity of the constituted authorities of the country.

Such, however, has not been the more general feeling among the great body of the friends of piety and Protestantism;

who, alarmed at the fear of papal ascendency, and considering the wrath of God as denounced upon the Church of Rome and her abettors, maintain that no considerations of alleged public necessity, or deference to the opinions of " the powers that be," ought to induce them to withdraw their opposition to every species of concession. This is certainly the feeling most likely first to arise in the mind of a truly religious Protestant: (we lay great stress on these words:) yet we think that there are many counter considerations which ought not to be overlooked; nay, which ought to have very considerable weight in the minds of such persons, towards reconciling them to the proposed healing measures. For ourselves, though we can by no means divest our minds of all anxiety, our preponderating feeling, we frankly admit, is one of hope. We have looked with much pain at the civil and religious distractions of Ireland; we have seen how little good effects, in a religious view, has attended measures of exclusion; we have doubted how far penal statutes are legitimate instruments for promoting the Gospel of Christ; we have been concerned to see individuals of notoriously evil lives, fondly hailed, yea, even by truly Christian men, as the champions of Protestantism, to the great injury of Protestantism in the public eye as a religious system, and to its identification with mere party and political ascendency; we have mourned over the frustration of the hopes of so many zealous friends to the spiritual welfare of Ireland, in consequence of that opposition to every scheme of improvement which has been generated by political feuds; we have lamented to see some political Protestants breathing out the threatenings and slaughters of the Church of Rome, and even some religious Protestants carried away by the same fierce and exterminating spirit; we have lamented to think how little prospect there was of civilizing, educating, and scripturally instructing the populace of Ireland, while civil feuds rendered suspected every agent of Protestant benevolence; we have seriously feared that the disabling statutes far from thinning the ranks of Romanism, have, by a natural re-action, replenished them, and have greatly tended to prevent Catholics of rank and influence from opening their eyes to the errors of their church, lest they should thereby seem to desert their party while in disgrace; we have lamented also to witness the injurious anomaly by which Popery has found allies in the ranks of liberalism, thus banding scepticism and superstition in strange alliance; enlisting tolerance in defence of an intolerant church, causing many of our public men to soften down its baneful features, who would have been the first to pourtray them in their hideousness, if the subject had come before them in its proper aspect, apart from the question of

« AnteriorContinuar »