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to him. The labour is therefore cheerfully undertaken, and if in performing it, the writer can come up to his own ideas of the important uses to be derived to society from the close contemplation of such a character, he is sensible that he shall discharge a very essential duty to the Christian world ; and he knows assuredly, that, in such a deep consideration of it, he shall greatly improve himself. He is however aware, that he has not to entertain the reader with the life of a man, filling a distinguished station in the Senate, or in the councils of his Sovereign; of one gloriously fighting his country's battles ; of great eminence at the bar; or celebrated in the pulpit as an eloquent divine. He was indeed none of these; but
he was one of the most excellent of men, and therefore it has been deemed advisable to communicate to the world some of the passages of his life. Being convinced that actions, which obtain a great share of worldly applause, are not always most deserving of praise; and that such a Christian, as is here truly described, is in reality a character most important to be held up to universal admiration, it has been thought that a Memoir of Mr. Stevens was well worthy of public attention. It is indeed impossible for any man to deny, the delight and pleasure he has deriyed from the perusal of the lives of men, who have gained immortal glory to themselves, who
have saved their country by their valour, adorned its councils by their wisdom, or captivated Senates by their eloquence and learning. When biography is employed, in recording the lives of such men, delightful as the study is, still its utility, by way of example, is chiefly felt by those who are to fill the same walks of life, as those illustrious persons trod before them. But it is of inestimable benefit to all mankind to know by actual facts, that a life of cheerful piety and purity, of temperance and humility, being that which all ought to imitate, is that to which all may attain. The writer therefore agrees with Dr. Johnson, “that there has “ rarely passed a life of which a judicious and “ faithful narrative would not be useful :" and he is also of opinion, that the private lives of some persons, such as Mr. Stevens was, belong, in a manner, to posterity for instruction and example. The fault of biography, in general, is, that it is not sufficiently minute : for instance, we find it recorded that the person whose life is written, attained to excellence; but it is seldom pointed out by what means, by what previous preparation, by what course of study, by what exertions of time, of thought, of talents, or by the exercise of what virtues, such heighth of excellence was attained.
One view, therefore, which the Author has in submitting this sketch of the life of Mr. Stevens to
the world is to prove, and particularly to the young, how much every man has it in his power, even under very discouraging circumstances, by diligence, fidelity, and attention, to advance himself, not only in worldly prosperity, but in learning and wisdom, in purity of life, and in moral and religious knowledge. He wishes also to convince mankind, by the lustre of the bright example here held out to them, that a life of the strictest piety and devotion to God, and of the warmest and most extensive benevolence to our fellow men, is strictly compatible with the utmost cheerfulness of disposition, with all rational pleasures, and with all the gaiety, which young persons naturally feel: but of whom many are deterred from the pursuits of piety and goodness, because they have been falsely taught that a life of virtue is not consistent with cheerfulness, and that the pursuits of religion are gloomy and enthusiastic. It is said by a learned writer, “ that a good God, and a good conscience, and the “ consciousness of being at peace with both, fur“nish a perpetual feast, and that it well becomes a “ wise man to be merry at it.”* In no man was this truth more fully exemplified than in the subject of the following Memoir, whose uniform and habitual cheerfulness, whose lively but inoffensive
Bennet's Sacred Oratory.
wit, made the young and the gay delight in his society to the last week of his life; because his whole life and conversation proved that in him true and undefiled religion, undebased by superstition on the one hand, or fanaticism on the other, had had her perfect work.
From the perusal of this Memoir also, it will be learnt that this just, this excellent man, was so far from being puffed up with his own merits, or feeling any of those inward experiences or assurances, to which some enthusiasts pretend, that the whole tenor of his life will fully establish this truth, how humbly at all times he walked with his God: and that, although he had the fullest reliance upon the merits of his Saviour, still the fate of the unprofitable servant begot the strongest apprehensions, even in his rightly constituted mind. Whatever enthu
boast, or fanaticks dare to express, the great and good Dr. Horne, Bishop of Norwich, is a more sure and safe guide for us to follow
upon this subject, a subject most interesting to all mankind : “ the indolent man,” says that great prelate, “who is without apprehensions as to the close of
life, has never yet considered the subject, as he “ought. For one person, who fears death too
much, there are a thousand who do not fear it
enough, nor have thought in earnest about it.” That the Bishop's excellent cousin, Mr. Stevens, did
think of it in the manner in which Dr. Horne conceives every true Christian ought, is apparent from a letter now lying before me, written by him to a lady, who had been his constant correspondent above thirty years, about five weeks before his death. “ As for your having been overwhelmed with the “ fears of death, it could not be on your own ac
count, but for the sake of others. The love of “ life is natural, and I hope the fear of death not " sinful: for if it is, I am in a woeful condition. I “am haunted with it night and day, and though I “ have no comfort now in life, the approach of “ death appals me. I experience daily the kind“ness and attention of friends, and have to lament, “ which I unceasingly do, how unworthy I am of "them.”
None but the enthusiast, who glories in selfrighteousness, will condemn these feelings; for every Christian knows, that to ensure to himself the blessings of Heaven, his repentance ought to be sincere, his faith stedfast, and his charity fervent; and he knows and feels, that till the last moment of life, while clogged with human infirmity, the exercise of these virtues requires constant exertion on the part of man, continual supplies of assistance from above.