Page images

essed with red by gloome. Stevens the samee had

of Christian consolation to the afflicted lady to whom it was addressed. · But having shewn that, from his earliest youth, his mind was deeply impressed with pure and unaffected feelings of devotion, undebased by gloom or fanaticism, I proceed to shew by a letter from Mr. Stevens to the daughter of Mrs. Randolph, that he was at the same time full of vivacity and playfulness. It seems he had been commissioned by the young lady to buy a share of a lottery ticket, and he thus gives an account how he had executed his commission.

- 6th Nov. 1753. “I have been particularly careful to execute your commands, and herewith you receive, all one as it were, a draft upon my banker for 10,000l. ; the damage, as we say, is 31. 8s. and it is hardly to be expected that it will be 31. 8s. damage ; for this lottery like Ben Jonson's Alchemyst, with a prontise of increasing the sum, annihilates the whole. However, I wish you all success; and as your gold is now converted to paper, I wish you may meet with that philosopher's stone, that shall again transmute the paper to gold. This is an excessive bad lotttery, and a man need have great interest with the Commissioners to get a prize ; for you know there are eleven blanks to a prize: but if for three or four pounds one could come to any degree of certainty, as to the 10,0001., I should be tempted to have a ticket myself ; else I cannot afford it."

Mr. Stevens, after this, continued to pursue his business with his usual activity for many years, with little alteration as to the circumstances of it. When Mr. Hookham died, his nephew., Mr. Paterson, succeeded, with whom, and Mr. Watlington, Mr. Stevens continued to conduct the business, as chief partner, till 1801, when he relinquished a great part of the profits, in order to be relieved

from the drudgery of business, and to dedicate more of his time to the society of friends that he loved, and to those studies in which he delighted. About two years before his death he gave up the concern entirely to Mr. Paterson, with whom, however, he continued to board till his death. During the whole of his life, he dedicated much time to study, to intercourse with learned men, to the most noble and disinterested acts of beneficence and charity, and to continued and regular devotion. Of his studies I have already given some account, as far as his knowledge of languages was concerned ; and I have said, but I proceed to prove, that he was a deep theologian. He was well read in the writings of the fathers of the church of the three first centuries : he had twice read through Dr. Thomas Jackson's Body of Divinity, in three large folios ; a divine, for whose writings Bishop Horne always expressed the highest respect, and which he has - frequently resorted to, both as authority and ex. ample, in his own matchless writings. The works of Bishops Andrewes, Jeremy Taylor, and Dean Hickes, those fathers of our church, those masters in the great art of holy living, those giants in religious knowledge, as our most excellent sovereign has justly called them*, were quite familiar to Mr. Stevens : and there was hardly a writer of modern days, at all celebrated for orthodox opinions, sound. ness of principle, or purity of conduct, who was unknown to him. In history, particularly that of our own country, he was extremely well informed ;

* The King (George the Third,) who was extremely well read on all these subjects, one day conversing with a young divine, asked if he was acquainted with the writings of Andrewes, Taylor, Hickes, and other divines of that age; the young man answered, he had employed himself in reading the divines of more modern times : his Majesty smartly answered, “there were giants in those days."

and as the society in which he mingled, led him to hear much of literary controversy, and of the pro. ductions of the press, so he was not an inattentive hearer ; but both profited by the discourse, and, generally applied himself diligently to read the publications which had been the subject of discussion. Of the opinion which was entertained of him as a theologian, I cannot give a better proof than that declared by the very learned Dr. Douglas, late Bishop of Salisbury. When this prelate preached before the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, a meeting which Mr. Stevens constantly attended, and of which society, in his latter years, he was one of the auditors, when the other Bishops were thanking his Lordship for his discourse, Mr. Stevens humbly, but politely, offered his tribute of thanks; the Bishop expressed himself much gratified, and turning to the other prelates, · said, “Here is a man, who, though not a Bishop,

yet would have been thought worthy of that character in the first and purest ages of the Christian Church.” And upon a similar occasion Bishop Horsley, who was not given to flattery, said, " Mr. Stevens, à compliment from you upon such a subject is of no inconsiderable value.”

In speaking of Mr. Stevens's studies and learning, I ought not, as a faithful biographer, to pass over in silence, that he was a great admirer of the works of Mr. John Hutchinson: so were his dear friends, Bishop Horne, and the no less eminent, Mr. Jones, of Nayland, a name ever to be mentioned with the deepest respect by every true son of the Church of England.

The first considerable writer upon the opinions which Hutchinson promulgated was the Right Hon. Duncan Forbes, Lord President of the Court of Session in Scotland ; and it appears, that when Bishop Horne was at College, he himself, and a vast

number of young men, his friends, and who aftere wards filled very distinguished stations in life, had adopted these opinions; and there can be little doubt, from the correspondence which has been mentioned to have been constantly kept up between these near relations, that Mr. Stevens received from George Horne, some of his first hints upon this subject, which he afterwards improved by a deep and attentive perusal of the orignal author, an undert taking which his intimate knowledge of the Hebrew language greatly facilitated. Mr. Stevens made the study of these works his delight; and certainly he was blessed with that right disposition of mind, that he never delighted in any thing even as a subject of study, but what he believed to be just and correct. The author of this sketch is not competent to enter upon this subject, not having had time to investigate it so fully as becomes one who wishes to convey instruction to others; but those who wish for more information, without the trouble of persuing the twelve large volumes of Hutchinson himself, which, however important the matter,. do not abound in the beauties and graces of style, may receive it, by consulting the small work of Lord President Forbes, above alluded to; Mr. Skinner's Ecclesiastical History of Scotland, vol. ii. p. 673, letter 59; Mr. Jones's Life of Bishop Horne, particularly the preface to the second edition, written purposely to explain the Hutchinsonian Doctrine ; Bishop Skinner's Life of his Father; and lastly, Mr. Stevens's own Sketch of the Life of Mr. Jones, prefixed to that gentleman's works. Without presuming to form any opinion upon the subject, I think it right, having referred the reader to writers who have written expressly upon the point, to give, in justice to my friend, Mr. Stevens's own sentiments upon the merits of Hutchinson. “. The Bishop of Lincoln (Dr. Pretyman Tomline) in his useful work, called the Ele

ments of Christian Theology, quotes with approbabation, a long passage from Mr. Maurice's Disserta. tion on the Oriental Trinities, and observes, that every friend to true religion will consider himself as indebted to his laborious researches, which (uns doubtedly he must) while every admirer of an animated and elegant style will read his works with peculiar satisfaction. What a pity (says Mr. Stevens) that his Lordship never fell in with the writings of Mr. Hutchinson! Pleased as he is with Mr. Maurice, he must have rejoiced in an opportunity of recommending, in the most earnest manner, the works of that author also, (for matter, though not for style) to the attention of all those who are desirous of seeing strong additional light thrown upon some of the most important doctrines of the Holy Scriptures. He would there have seen not less clearly evinced than by Mr. Maurice, that the doc. trine of the Trinity; so far from owing its origin to the philosophers of Greece, as infidels and sceptics assert, was the doctrine revealed to man;-that, from the beginning, all true believers worshipped one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the sub stance. He would there have seen what Mr. Jones so fully demonstrates in the tract; (to which Mr. Stevens alludes) that the kind of Trinity acknowledged by the pagan nations of antiquity, the hea, thens, who knew not God, was not, could not be, a • Trinity in the divine nature,' the sacred Trinity, Jehovah Elohim, the God they did not like to retain in their knowledge, but a physical Trinity, that which by nature is not God. He would have seen, that the works of heathen antiquity, and classical literature, are rendered abundantly more interesting and useful from the view which Mr. Huchinson has given of the doctrines and rites of heathen idolatry, which he has traced backward into the most remote antiquity. The New Testament tells us of

« PreviousContinue »