Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ and no assistance I can get for him will be of any

avail. The time is come when Israel must “ die, however reluctant he may be to it. You “ see I am scarce able to write, and of course

you will not expect to hear much more from

[ocr errors]

Whatever his inward sensations were, he dined at the house of the writer of this account the

very day week before his death. He appeared in high spirits, and read aloud to the family with his usual energy and pathos during the whole evening. The author saw him again on the Wednesday following, and dined in company with him on Thursday, the 5th of February, which was only thirty-six hours before his death; and though on the latter day he was not quite so cheerful as he frequently was, he ate a hearty dinner, and there was nothing in his manner, nor in his expressions, to occasion the least alarm in the minds of his friends or admirers. So far this good man's wishes and prayers were heard; for he had always hoped that his death might not be lingering; and all who knew him were assured that however sudden it might be, with him it could not be unprepared; which we presume to be the true meaning of the word sudden in our Liturgy. On Friday, the 6th of February,

Mr. Stevens spent the whole morning at home, chiefly in company with his friend, Mr. Bowdler, who says, that his conversation was animated, lively, and very much like what it ever was, with a friend he so tenderly loved, and whose sentiments were so much in unison with his own. These two friends were to dine together at Mr. Richardson's, in Kingos-road. His coachman, who had always been remarkable for his punctuality, and had frequently received the commendations of his master on that account, was, on this day, happily and providentially a great deal after ) his time; and Mr. Stevens had put on his great

coat in order to be ready: but just as he was stepping into his carriage, he was seized with a pain in his chest. Mr. Bowdler asked the cause of his sudden emotion; he answered calmly, nothing but death. He was attended immediately by two physicians; and he was bled; and, though restless at times, he, upon the whole, slept quietly. Mr. Bowdler, who never quitted him till a late hour, relates an anecdote which proves that the same religious spirit, and the same ready obedience to God's will, which pervaded every thought, word, and action, from his earliest youth, continued to operate upon him, even to the latest moment of his existence. After the stroke of death above-mentioned, feeling (I suppose) that he was

dying, he refused the medicines which the physicians had prescribed; and I (says Mr. Bowdler) was desired to prevail on him to take them, which I did with the úsual argument,

“ do it to oblige me;" but in vain; for he still refused: at last I was going to say, It is your duty to God to do " what you can to preserve your life:” but when I had uttered only the six first words, he seized the cup, and drank it to the dregs, and laying hold of my hand, (adds Mr. Bowdler) said with great earnestness several times, “my dear friend, my « dear friend!” as if wishing to express, not only his affectionate regard to this excellently good man, but his gratitude for recalling him to his duty to God, at that moment; when, as our excellent Liturgy in most impassioned language in the burial service, teaches us to pray, that God will not suffer us in our last hour for any pains of death to fall from him. Not long before he expired, Mr. Bowdler asked him, after he waked from a calm sleep, whether he should repeat a prayer: the dying Christian assented. Mr. Bowdler repeated the collect from the order for the visitation of the sick, beginning with these words: “O Lord, look “ down from heaven; &c.” when he had said, Give him comfort and sure confidenee in thee,Mr. Stevens said very calmly and distinctly, Amen! but as he did not repeat it at the end of the col

lect, it is presumed his mind was exhausted. When the clock struck three in the morning, he said to the servant, “ My time is come. Oh dear, good God !and fell asleep without a struggle or a groan.

The remains of this valuable man were deposited on the 14th of February in Otham churchyard, in the county of Kent, which, though not the place of his nativity, yet," from being the parish of his maternal relations, he had always regarded as his home; and in the church-yard of which he had always expressed his desire to be buried. Indeed to the church of Otham he had, during his life time, been a great benefactor, having laid out about £600 in repairing and adorning it. The following Epitaph, written by a friend, is placed upon a marble tablet in the church; and is the best and truest summary of the character of this extraordinary man that could possibly have been given:

Sacred to the Memory of

WILLIAM STEVENS,
Late of Broad-street, in the City of London, Hosier,

And many years Treasurer of Queen Anne's Bounty; Whose remains, by his own desire, were deposited near this

Church, Which he delighted to frequent as the place of his devotion,

And which he repaired and adorned by his munificence.

Educated, and during his whole life engaged, in trade,

He yet found time to enrich his mind
With English, French, Latin, Greek, and especially Hebrew

Literature;
And connected by blood and affection
With many of the most distinguished Divines of his Age,

He was inferior to none,
In profound knowledge, and steady practice,
of the doctrines and discipline of the Church of England:
Austere to himself alone, charitable & indulgent towards others,
He attracted the young by the cheerfulness of his temper,

The old by the sanctity of his life; And tempering instructive admonition with inoffensive wit,

Uniting fervent picty towards God
With unbounded good-will and well regulated beneficence

towards men,
And illustrating his Christian Profession by his own

consistent example,
He became the blessed means,

by divine grace,
Of winning many to the ways of righteousness.
He finished his probation, and entered into his rest,
On the 7th day of February, A. D. 1807,

In the 75th year of his age,

On Sunday, the 15th day of February, the day after Mr. Stevens's burial, his intimate and affectionate friend, the Rev. Mr. Prince, in the chapel of the Magdalen Hospital, of which charity Mr. Stevens had acted on the Committee for many years, on the text of St. Paul, « That

ye sorrow not even as others, which have no hope,” in

« PreviousContinue »