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pursue extravagant notions, or attempt something foreigu to the immediate purpose. The bishop, however, saw the subject in a better light; and it may be safely affirmed, that if the society could always be under guidance like his, its acts would not have been subject to any question.
Of the more public transactions to which he devoted his zeal and attention, the most important were the improvement of the condition of the West India slaves, and the abolition of that inhuman trade itself.
To the first of these objects he directed his attention so early as the year 1793, when he was Bishop of Chester. He preached before the society for propagating the Gospel, a sernon recommending the civilization and conversion of the West India negroes; he printed at the same time a plan for carrying it partially into execution ; but as other views and interests prevailed with those who were most concerned, his efforts were then unsuccessful. Soon after his accession to the diocese of London, he addressed a letter to the clergy of the several West India islands, exhorting them most earnestly to attend to the condition of the negroes,
and to instruct them in the principles of the Christian religion. An opportunity soon occurred of doing something more effectual : a considerable sum of money, left by Mr. Boyle for the promotion of christianity among infidels, for which as Bishop of London he was trustee, happened to be placed at his disposal by a decree of the Court of Chancery; and he immediately appropriated this to the instruction and civilization of the West India negroes. A society for this purpose was accordingly founded, of which he was president, and he was indefatigable in his endeavours to promote the object: he employed great care in the selection of
proper ministers to act as missionaries; he made a selection of passages from the old and new Testaments, which he thought best suited to the apprehension of the negroes, and he endeavoured by all possible means to secure the co-operation of the planters. The success of his unwearied exertions, he often lamented, did not answer his wishes; but he expressed his confi. dence, that perseverance would at last surmount all obstacles, and accomplish the desired end.
But to the abolition of the slave trade all the energies of his mind were directed. The first step towards this measure was Sir William Dolben’s- bill in 1788, for regulating the number of slaves conveyed in each ship, and alleviating the miseries of the voyage. The bishop was so anxious during the progress of this bill, that he attended the House of Lords from Fulham every day for a month. And in the long and arduous struggle which preceded the final abolition, he was always foremost amongst the most strenuous supporters of the cause,
· Next Next to the great and paramount concern of religion,' says Mr. Hodgson, “it was the object of all others nearest to his heart. He never spoke of it but with the utmost animation and enthusiasm, He spared no pains, no fatigue of mind or body to further its accomplishment. He not only expressed his sentiments on every occasion that presented itself publicly and strongly in Parliament; but he was indefatigable in urging all, over whom he had any influence, to conspire and co-operate in what he considered the general cause of civilized man against a most intolerable system of cruelty and oppression. In short, the best years of his life, and all his talents and powers were applied and devoted to it; and I believe the happiest day beyond comparison, that he ever experienced, was the day of its final triumph.' HODGSON'S LIFE, p. 222.
The bishop himself, in his reflections on the final abolition, says, “The act which has just passed will' reflect immortal honour on the British parliament and the British nation. For myself, I am inexpressibly thankful to a kind Providence for permitting me to see this great work, after such a glorious struggle, brought to a conclusion. It has been for upwards of four and twenty years the constant object of my thoughts; and it will be a source of the purest and most genuine satisfaction to me during the remainder of my life, and above all, at the final close of it, that I have had some share in promoting to the utmost of my power the success of so important and so righteous a measure.' -Hodgson's Life, p. 217.
Such were the unwearied exertions of the bishop to fulfil the duties of his high station in the church, to extend the influence of religion, and to compass the ends of the purest philanthropy. He lived to his 78th year, and retained the full possession of his faculties. During the last year or two of his life, an increasing weakness had been gradually marking the approach of death. The final close of his life is thus related by Mr. Hodgson,
Within a few days after this interesting occurrence, (the interview with the Prince of Wales before mentioned,) a visible and alarming alteration took place in the bishop's already shattered and exhausted frame; and it became evident to those most constantly with him, that nature could not much longer sustain the shock. He was himself indeed strongly impressed with the conviction, that his end was fast approaching; and he contemplated the event with all that calm, composed resignation, which nothing can inspire but a deep sense of piety, and a devout religious submission to the will of God. On Thursday the 10th of May I saw him for the last time; and never can I forget the affecting solemnity of voice, and look and manner, in which he begged my most earnest prayers for his early and easy release. He said little more to me, for his mind seemed wholly absorbed in the near prospect of an eternal world. The following day he was at his own desire removed to Fulham; and for a short time the change of air appeared to cheer and exhilarate him.
As he sat the next morning in his library, near the window, the brightness of a fine spring day called up a transient glow into his countenance; and he several times exclaimed, O, that glorious Sun! Afterwards, whilst sitting at dinner; he was seized with some slight convulsions, which were happily of short duration; and he then fell, as it seemed, into a gentle sleep. From that time, bowever, he never spoke, and scarcely could be said to move. Without a pang or a sigh,--by a transition so easy as only to be known by the pressure of his band upon the knee of his servant, who was sitting near him,---the spirit of this great and good man fied from its earthly mansion' to the realms of peace !'
Bishop Porteus is said by Mr. Hodgson to have mixed with peculiar pleasantness and freedom in the private intercourse of society; he had particularly the talent of dissipating all reserve and restraint in persons around him, and of placing them perfectly at their ease.
He was ever fond of promoting lively and cheerful conversation, he expressed himself in common society with facility and perspicuity, and his colloquial remarks were characterized by correct judgment and accurate information.
In estimating the moral qualities of his mind, his great characteristic was an unfeigned warmth of benevolence. The main plans and objects of his life were conceived and pursued in this spirit. He entered into them not merely from the cooler considerations of duty, but with an earnestness and a glow of feeling which shewed that his whole heart and soul were in the business. In private acts of munificence, the same feeling seems to have marked his conduct. His charities, Mr. Hodgson tells us, were so extensive, that he can hardly speak of them without risking the charge of exaggeration. The poor and the necessitous always found in him a warm and ready friend; he was disposed to deal out his donations with discrimination, but often ran the risk of being imposed upon, for the chance of relieving real distress. He ever a liberal contributor to charitable institutions. Besides this, he made some donations on a larger scale during his life, than is often observed in the example even of the most wealthy and munificent. Among these was the transferring of nearly £7000 stock for the relief of the poorer clergy in the diocese of London, and the erection and endowment of a chapel of ease at Sundridge in Kent, at a very considerable expense.
He was unalterably attached to the church of England from principle, and the firmest persuasion of its superior excellence; and held its articles, homilies, and liturgy, to be essentially and fundamentally scriptural.
• The Calvinistic interpretation of them,' Mr. Hodgson says, p. 265, he would never admit to be the true one, and in this opinion he was
firm and consistent. He conceived them to speak the language of scripture, which, in his view of it, was decidedly adverse to the sentiments of Calvin. Upon this point I wish to be distinctly understood as asserting from my own positive knowledge, that in no one article of faith, as far as they differ from our church, did he sanction the tenets of that school; on the contrary, I have heard him repeatedly, and in the most unqualified terms, express his astonishment, that any
soberminded man, sitting down without prejudice to the study of the sacred writings, should so explain and understand them.'
He was a true friend also to the discipline of the Church, and supported it with firmness on just occasions. In the cant language of the day, he was often styled a methodist: but, as far as disapprobation of wild fanaticism and enthusiastic pretensions to immediate inspiration could exempt a man from this imputation, no one was ever more free from it.-On some points connected with the relative state of the church and dissenters, he differed from many of his brethren; particularly in the zealous support which he invariably afforded the British and Foreign Bible Society.' That his views in this were truly benevolent, cannot admit of the slightest doubt; some indeed have questioned whether his conduct was as much guided by sound discretion as it was prompted by real goodness of heart; but this is foreign to our present bu
He was not friendly to the claims of the Irish Catholics, although he never publicly expressed his sentiments on the subject. The following opinion is produced from his private papers by Mr. Hodgson, p. 200.
• If the petition from the Catholics of Ireland had been for a more complete toleration in matters of religion, though it can hardly, I think, be more complete than it is, there was not an individual in the House who would have given a more cordial assent to the petition, than myself. I am, and ever have been, a, decided friend to liberty of conscience. The truth is, it is an application for political power, and that power, I for one, am not disposed to grant them, because I believe it would be difficult to produce a single instance where they have possessed political power in a Protestant country, without using it cruelly and tyrannically
The bishop's reputation as a preacher was deservedly high. Independently of the sterling merit which his discourses possessed, he had the best external qualifications for excellence as a pulpit orator. His voice was clear and sonorous; he had the power modulating it with good effect: his delivery was correct and chaste; his manner dignified and impressive. Above all, he appeared to feel as he spoke: there was an animation and earnestness about him, without the smallest tincture of art or affectation, which came home to the bosom of his hearers, and gave effect to every word.
Mr. Hodgson does not claim for him the credit of profound erudition or comprehensive research. He appears indeed to have possessed a mind, less formed for a close and patient investigation of any one subject, than for a diffused attention to several, We should characterise him rather as a just thinker, than a deep
In regard to theological attainments, we should describe him as a clergyman well inforined in the studies of his profession. He is said by his biographer to have been, to a certain degree, an Hebrew scholar, well versed in ecclesiastical history, in the evidences of religion, and in the different systems of theology: and we have no doubt that his knowledge in all these was sufficiently respectable. His apprehension seems to have been quick, his taste correct, and his memory retentive. The distinguishing and prominent feature of his mind was a rich and exuberant imagination, which gives a peculiar warmth and colouring to his style. He did not excel in analysis or nice discrimination, nor was he remarkable for a keen penetrating sagacity. As a reasoner, he is not distinguished by a close and logical accuracy: still his arguments are generally so well conceived, and always so dressed out with expression, as forcibly to strike the attention.
As a writer, Bishop Porteus now presents no doubtful claim to distinction; for the public voice long ago pronounced a decision in his favour by the most unequivocal of all proofs, the rapid and extensive circulation of his works. In the edition now before us, several of his compositions are mentioned as published for the 11th, 12th, and 13th time. It is creditable to the public taste that his writings should have acquired this high popularity; for their excellencies both as to matter and style, well deserve it.
His sermons, 35 in number, occupy two volumes of the present edition: and it is on these that his literary reputation will chiefly rest. We consider them amongst the best productions of this kind, which the present times have produced. Without giving him the title of a first-rate master of eloquence, or placing him in the same rank with a Barrow or Jeremy Taylor, for copiousness and richuess of invention, and the sublimer Nights of genius, we would claim for him a respectable rank amongst those divines who have composed useful, elegant, and impressive pieces of pulpit oratory. He appears to have written with ease to himself, to have had a ready command of words, and those generally the most proper.
There is, on the one hand, a total absence of false glare and inflatiou; and on the other, an elevation of spirit which prevents his sinking into fatness and insipidity. The peculiar charm of his pulpit compositions is undoubtedly that which we mentioned to have characterised his manner of preaching; a degree of glow and animation, which shews him