[ocr errors]


During the night he slept a good deal, and a little after sun-rising he desired us to draw up the window curtains. We were afraid the light would be too powerful for him at the first, and drew them up but a little way. *Draw them to the top,' cried he,

the light refreshes me.' He then looked through the window with inexpressible pleasure in his countenance, and exclaimed, “ The sun shines upon every tree and plant; and the Sun of Righteousness shines upon me.'

". Sept. 27.--I sat with him a considerable time. He was very weak, and could not speak without difficulty. I quoted that verse out of the 23d Psalm, . Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, &c.' He answered, "Yes, he will be with me.

What are all my sufferings, when compared with the Redeemer's! when in his agony he sweat great drops of blood! What love was this !' Here his speech began to fail, and he intimated that it pained him to speak, but wished he was able.

“ Thus sustained by the omnipotent Redeemer to the last—and to the last exhibiting the power of faith in his every sentiment and in his whole demeanour—this great and good man found the iron gate of death opened with no grating and appalling sound but easily and as by an angel's hand and he passed into the paradise of God.' ” pp. 52, 53.

Mr. Thomason entered at Magdalen College, Cambridge; and his diligence and strict attention to his studies are attested by his being Fifth Wrangler, obtaining the premium for the Norrisian-Prize Essay three times, and being elected Fellow and Tutor of his college. Mr. Jerram, who was his friend and constant companion, adds, that he was most struck with his intimate acquaintance with the original languages of the Holy Scriptures. He had read the Greek Testament so often, and with so much care, that it was scarcely possible to mention a passage in English for which he could not immediately quote the original. In Hebrew his attainments were considerable. He had the Hebrew Bible divided into several small volumes, and was never without one of them in his pocket. His usual relaxation from his severer studies was reading; and every fragment of his time was gathered up for the purpose of adding to his stories of Biblical knowledge. It is not therefore surprising, that, with this taste and continued perseverance, he arrived at considerable eminence in sacred literature.

Mr. Jerram, Mr. Thomason, and another friend, Mr. Cocker, spent much time together in devotion, Christian communion, and reading the Scriptures. Mr. Jerram, the survivor, adds :

“ These engagements were not only the happiest, but the most profitable of our college occupations. They greatly tended to relax the weariness of the same routine of reading ; they counteracted the chilling effect of abstract studies, and the unchristian tendency of Pagan literature and profane mythology; they elevated our minds and feelings above secular pursuits; they kept alive the spark of Christian piety; they fixed our thoughts on our future and holy destination; they prepared us for that part of our approaching ministerial functions which are of all others the most difficult to perform, and yet are of indispensable importance, when we should be called upon to comfort such as were in sorrow, to direct those that were perplexed about their spiritual state, and to pray with those whose difficulties and peculiar circumstances of trial required more direct and appropriate notice than could be anticipated by any preconceived form of devotion.” pp. 38, 39.

Fine work for idle under-graduates, who ought to have been minding their books! Men do not go to college to pray and sing psalms.” If any of our readers, some quarter of a century or more ago, have passed through either university without ever hearing some such remarks as these, they were more fortunate than we were. But, to the credit of religion and the discredit of the irreligious sneer at it, we must add what follows; and we recommend the remark strongly to the religious as well as the irreligious students of our three Episcopal universities :

“Nor did these exercises rob us of any of that time which we felt it our duty to devote to our literary pursuits. On the contrary, they gave a sensitiveness to our conscience, and an edge to our sense of duty, which forbad us to neglect the course of studies prescribed by our academic superiors.” p. 39.

This combined elevated piety and effective train of study were strongly urged by the Classical College Tutor, the late Mr. Jowett, and the Mathematical Tutor, the venerable and much-beloved Professor Farish, who is enjoying in the evening of his days, free from bodily decay, a blessed serenity of mind, which makes even declining years enviable*.

Mr. Simeon, who has survived the senseless and graceless opposition which at that time assailed him, was an affectionate friend to Thomason, and other young men of kindred mind, who gained the greatest benefits from his conversation and lectures. We need scarcely add, that among their other gains they gained the honour of persecution. One of Mr. Thomason's own acquaintances was refused holy orders, though against his conduct nothing could be alleged, except that he was enrolled in Magdalen college, by whose gates the martyr Bilney was wont to pass on visits of mercy to the Castle, and within whose walls Bilney's doctrines were then prevalent. The Master of the college generously took up the young man's cause, but his defence and remonstrances were unavailing. To relate this, without an expression of thankfulness in comparing that period with the present, would be unpardonable. So says Mr. Sargent, and to his remark we respond. May it never happen that a follower of Cranmer, Latimer, and Herbert, or rather of the same Divine Master, is rejected from serving at our altars !

At the commencement of Mr. Thomason's last term at Cambridge, his studies received a serious interruption, by a proposal from the late Mr. Grant to fill the Mission Church at Calcutta. This call Mr. Thomason was not unwilling to obey ; but some domestic circumstances occurred to cause him to waver in his design; and he at length resolved to decline the appointment, which was then offered to Mr. Buchanan of Queen's College, and by him accepted. Upon this decision Mr. Jerram remarks :

Here we cannot but notice the wisdom and goodness of Divine Providence in so over-ruling events as to bring about the best final results. Had Mr. Thomason accepted the chaplaincy, he would doubtless have been a very faithful and efficient minister of the Gospel, and have done much good. But I do not think he would have exercised a commanding influence, nor formed any very comprehensive plans for the benefit of that vast continent, nor have entered at all in that almost boundless field in which Dr. Buchanan rendered himself so eminently conspicuous, and which he cultivated with such great advantage to the millions of India. Of all the literary and pious men which Cambridge at that time possessed — few, perhaps none, had the peculiarly appropriate qualifications of Dr. Buchanan for that important station.”

Mr. Thomason now returned to his studies, and took a very honourable degree, and was soon after ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Ely; though not without considerable hesitation and suspicion on the part of his Lordship, on account of Mr. Thomason's religious views, and his connexion with Mr. Simeon : such were the absurd prejudices and disgraceful bigotry which a few years since were permitted to check the extension of Scriptural piety and Church-of-England principles in our national communion. Mr. Thomason now exerted himself diligently in the pastoral relation, as Curate of Trinity Church, Cambridge, and of Stapleford, about five miles from that town, and he justly considered it no slight privilege and advantage to be a fellow-labourer with Mr. Simeon in both those places. The expenses of living at Cambridge had nearly led him to dissolve his connexion with Trinity Church, when he obtained a fellowship and tuturship at Queen's college, which rendered him independent in his circumstances, but entailed upon him great exertion; his daily duties

pp. 63, 64.

It was chiefly owing to the exertions of this excellent man that the late proceedings took place at Cambridge respecting academical oaths. The effort has, for the present, failed; but we feel persuaded that it can only have been from the objector or objectors to Professor Farish’s proposition not having considered the question. We do not believe that any Christian man of tender conscience and enlightened judgment would wish our academical oaths to continue as they are, when he has taken the pains to inform himself on the subject. Christ. OBSERV. No. 378.


being now two public and two private lectures, besides five sermons weekly during Mr. Simeon's absence from Cambridge.

He describes as follows his views as a Christian minister in regard to his academical pursuits :

“I wish to consider the ministry as the primary object I should keep in view; and the work of a tutor as a part, a very important part, of that primary object. If it were not for this, I should be labouring over my lectures as a shoemaker over his last, considering it merely as a drudgery to which I am called : but by considering it a part of the ministerial labour, I not only go through it with pleasure, but I endeavour the more to aim at the communication of what is truly useful. There are reasons for fearing the 'mathematical religion' which so prevails here. However, I do not find this to be my besetting danger : there are other things connected with college infinitely more poisonous than this at least to me. Here is every thing that can contribute to the ease and comfort of life : whatever pampers the appetite and administers fuel to sloth and indolence is to be found in abundance : nothing is left to want or desire. Here is the danger; this is the horrible precipice : when you think of me, think of this

danger, and fear this fear above all others.” pp. 85, 86.

Of his pastoral and ministerial engagements at this period, and his constancy in prayer, we read :

“ His Sundays had been to him days of spiritual refreshment, and for them he could bless God. The ignorance which prevailed around him he did not witness without many a sigh ; nor did those sighs resemble the yawnings of oscitancy, they led to labour and to prayer. In these petitions, his country, then threatened from without and within, as well as the church and neighbourhood in immediate contact with him, had a share. Every Monday morning a meeting was held in Cambridge to entreat God in bebalf of the nation, endangered by the rejection of Mt. Wilberforce's motion for the abolition of the slave trade ; by the profanation of the sabbath, and by many other grievous sins : amongst these supplicants Mr. Thomason gladly bent his knees. • I am engaged,' said he, in the service of One who can give strength to the weak, and light to the ignorant. He has strengthened me, and I trust will be with me to the end." pp. 88, 89.

It will be seen from this extract, that the national sins of West-Indian slavery and the profanation of the Lord's-day have long been among the most humiliating confessions of the faithful in the land. Would that in reference to both these transgressions we could before this have been able to record the noon-tide of a brighter day! But it is much that in the mercy of God we witness even its dawn; and this, notwithstanding all our national provocations, we earnestly hope is beaming upon us. If all those who feel with Thomason and his friends, in regard to these and all our other national sins, would imitate their conduct in setting apart a solemn season of prayer for adverting the Divine judgments, we should entertain yet brighter hopes.

In January 1799 Mr. Thomason was united to Miss Fawcett, of Scaleby Castle, near Carlisle, and their union was conducive as much to his spiritual as to his temporal happiness. “One thing I may mention, to the honour of Mr. and Mrs. Thomason," writes Mr. Simeon, “that in all the ten years I lived under their roof I never heard on any occasion an angry word from either of them ; nor ever saw a different countenance in either of them towards the other, or in either of them towards me.” Another friend, testifies—" She was ever active, but never hurried : self seemed annihilated—she lived for the happiness of others.”

We must allow Mr. Thomason himself to describe the happiness he enjoyed in his duties, his partner, his endeared friend Mr. Simeon, and his beloved flock. He is addressing his mother, from his residence at Shelford :-

“Do you remember a very pleasant spot, where there are two bridges, and you have a sweet view on both sides ? Close to that spot is our mansion ; the walks extend down to the river. A more beautiful place I never saw : it is the garden of Cambridgeshire. When I look around me, it seems a dream: I can scarcely persuade myself it belongs to me. If you think of me between the hours of twelve and two, you may imagine me walking in the shrubbery with my little Hebrew Bible in my hand. Should the sun be very hot, depend upon it I have taken my seat under the shade of a thick chesnut; there I endeavour to collect my thoughts and stir myself up to diligent improvement and application of the word of God. But, alas ! I find it easier to admire the landscape around me, than to raise my heart to Him who made it; easier to thank him for the walks and gardens, than to besiege a throne of grace for spiritual blessings : yet these are what I earnestly long for, and without which my soul cannot be satisfied. Mr. Simeon has a room on the ground floor, which opens into a delightful pleasure garden, surrounded by a wall, where he can walk privately, in which he so much delights. One door of his room opens into my study, so that we are as near each other as possible. His friendship I must name amongst my chief blessings : he is more and more dear to us, as indeed he ought to be; his kind. ness to us is wonderful. It quite overpowers me when I think of it. I hope we shall provoke one another more and more to abound in the work of the Lord. O how short is time! I am sure there is no time for idleness ; would to God that the preciousness of each passing hour might be more deeply impressed upon my mind.

“ It has pleased God to send us pious servants ; indeed our domestic comforts are invaluable ; our seasons of family prayer are seasons of refreshment. I have found my own mind stirred up to make them as profitable as possible.” pp. 102, 103. Mr. Simeon thus describes his pastoral character :

“ The parishes in which Mr. and Mrs. Thomason were able to exert their influence seemed as their own family,—schools of industry, as well as other schools, were established by them—the poor and the sick were visited and relieved-all that Chris. tian love could plan and devise was planned and executed with the tenderest assiduity and most unwearied constancy. If I were to fix on one thing more than another, where Mr. Thomason was at home, it was in his Sunday evening and Tuesday evening lectures, in his school-room. There the poor were permitted to come, and he was as a father amongst his children, or a pastor amongst his flock. In his addresses there was an unrivalled simplicity and divine unction, which left a savour that is not forgotten to this hour. The name of Thomason in Shelford and Stapleford is remembered like that of Swartz in Tanjore and Trichenopoly, and I doubt not but to all eternity many will have reason to bless God for his affectionate ministrations." pp. 109, 110.

The relinquishment of his fellowship for a wife, obliged him to take pupils; and all that he could spare by economy from the profits of his toils he devoted to repaying the sums advanced by the Elland Society for his education, and before he left England he had liquidated the whole amount, which exceeded four hundred pounds.

During these multiplied labours, of the pupil-room, the sick chamber, the parish, and the pulpit, he found time to write twice for the Norrisian Prize, and all three of his Essays were highly valued by his religious friends, not only for the talent which had elicited academical honour, but for the soundness of doctrine and wise and judicious tone of religious and edifying remark which pervaded them.

We now approach the period of his leaving England for India. He had long been anxious for the conversion of the Heathen ; his mind having probably been led very early to reflect upon the matter, in consequence of his youthful connexion with Dr. Coke; and since that period the feeling had matured by his own frequent consideration of the unspeakable importance of the subject, and his conversations with Mr. Simeon and other founders of the Church Missionary Society ; in whích, as in the Bible Society, he took from the first a zealous interest. Mr. Sargent observes, that

“Often, whilst walking in the grounds that so charmed him at Shelford, did he think of those who were enduring hardness for Christ; preaching his name amidst privations and perils; and he would accuse himself of a disposition to softness and self-indulgence. There were two proximate causes of a revival of that missionary spirit in Mr. Thomason, which had nearly carried bim out of England before he took his degree. One of these was a review he undertook, in the Christian Observer, of Nott's Bampton Lectures", which necessarily led to a close consideration of Wesley's and Whitfield's devotedness in their Saviour's service : (for, after every abatement which candour must concede, or prejudice may demand, their determination of soul in the highest cause was entire and amazing): the other was the intended departure

• The review referred to by Mr. Sargent will be found in our volume for 1805.

of Henry Martyn from his native land, to preach the Gospel to those wretched men who had never heard the joyful sound.” p. 115.

He accordingly resolved, in the strength of God, to go out, with the Bible in his hand and his Saviour in his heart, where the darkness was dense, and the sphere extensive for the diffusion of light. In the spring of 1805 Mr. Simeon visited London, to impart Mr. Thomason's intentions to Mr. Grant; but at that time there was no opening towards the East Indies, where it was thought most advisable for him either to accompany or to follow Henry Martyn. The resolution which he had adopted cost him many sacrifices ; but he was contented to make them. Referring to his review of Nott's Lectures, he says, in a letter to his mother

“ One good effect has already been produced on my mind—an increased and painful sense that I am doing nothing to any good purpose. "The reading the life and labours of those excellent ministers, fills me with admiration of their zeal, and with shame that I am such a blank in creation. My sphere is contracted, and I long for a more extensive field of labour. God has given me an education and a spirit, I trust, which might render me far more useful in the church than I now am. Where my present thoughts will lead me, I know not : but I look round upon this lovely spot with all the indifference of a man who would, with the greatest cheerfulness, part with all if a situation of greater usefulness, however laborious, should offer itself. Here I am,

Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?' But more of this at a future time : in the mean time let us both remember-you, that you have frequently devoted me to God; and I, that I have professedly done so for years; and that, as a redeemed creature, I ought to be presenting my body a living sacrifice to God.” pp. 116, 117.

We cannot avoid introducing a portion of a letter written by Mr. Simeon to the parent of his friend on this occasion, as an interesting illustration of the writer's sympathizing spirit, and his unwearied activity in comforting the afflicted. No man living, we presume, has made so many journeys of pure affection, condolence, religious or charitable business, or Christian congratulation, as Mr. Simeon and now, in his venerable yet vigorous years, we see him as active in pressing forward to pay his last tribute of affection over the remains of the writer of this memoir, as he was in journeying to the widowed mother of its beloved subject. He writes thus to Mr. Thomason's mother :

“Your letter fills me with deep concern, and I am extremely anxious to remove, as far as possible, the load from your mind. To convey on paper all that I have to say, would be tedious. I have judged it better, therefore, to set off instantly, for the purpose of making known to you every thing that has arisen, and precisely as it has arisen

... I have, in this respect, manifested disinterestedness, at all events ; for next to yourself there certainly is no person living who would feel his loss so much as I. Indeed, I can scarcely yield to you in this particular; for though your sensibilities are beyond all comparison more exquisite than mine, and your bereavement would be more pungent, your habits of life would remain the same ; whereas mine would be wholly changed. I should lose not only a dear friend, but the friend with whom I live in daily habits of communion : the friend that is as my own soul. I know no loss that would come so near to my feelings, or leave such a blank in my life.” pp. 117, 118.

It was not however till the year 1808, that Mr. Thomason's design of consecrating his powers through life to the service of his God and Saviour in a distant land, was brought to maturity. At length, through the influence of Mr. Simeon, who had introduced him to Mr. Grant, he received the appointment of Chaplain to the Mission Church at Calcutta, and in June 1808 set sail for the place of his destination ; Mr. Simeon accompanying him to the vessel, and spending the last moments with him and his beloved partner and children in earnest prayer for the blessing of God upon the voyage, and the great work which he had undertaken, of endeavouring to make Christ known among the natives that were hitherto sitting in darkness and the shadow of death.

In the early part of the month of November, after a voyage of above five months, and of singular serenity, “a long interval crowded with mercies beyond all that can be expressed,” Mr. Thomason and those

« VorigeDoorgaan »