« VorigeDoorgaan »
Oration delivered at the Library, Red- and to that cause alone do I owe an
Cross-Street, London, February 7, office, which I should feel as an ho1816, l'eing the Centenary of the nour if it were not for the painful conFounder's Death; by James Lindsay, sciousness that I am addressing men D.D.
in every respect so much my superiors.
Happily the occasion does not demand BRETHREN AND FRIENDS,
those arts of an ostentatious oratory, I SHOULD justly incur the charge so often employed to deck out vice in 1 of presumption, if I did not state the garb of virtue. We are not here the circumstances to which I am in- to bestow the praise of talent upon the debted for an unmerited precedence baseness of political intrigue; or to among so many colleagues, who could exalt into heroes the scourges of the have addressed you on the present oc- human race; or to canonize monks casion with greater talent and better and hermits, because they have been effect. To our visitors this statement the ignorant tools or the hired advois especially due. The father of our cates of ecclesiastical domination. We Trust, who has been more than forty burn no incense at the shrine of ambia years its most efficient member; whose tion, and heap no praises upon those fame is coextensive with the world of who consecrate ambition by naming science; whose learning and virtues it religion :--those restless spirits who shed lustre upon our body, and to embroil the world to enrich or to imwhom we all look up with respect and mortalize themselves ;-princes, who affection is present, and in the chair.* in extending the boundaries of empire 'The question naturally occurs, why he contract the limits of freedom and has not been selected to celebrate the happiness ;-statesmen who pian, and memory of his own countryman, and warriors who fight, that they may to distinguish this day, as it ought to found a name upon the ruins of honest be distinguished, by weight of charac, industry and the destruction of human ter and elegance of panegyric? I ain life ;--priests who, instead of being : bound to exculpate the members of messengers of peace, to allay the angry the Trust from what might otherwise passions of mankind, become, whenbe imputed to the want of discrimina- ever it suits the purposes of the state tion : -Our united voice would have which supports them, the trumpeters called him to a post, which no other of discord to irritate the phrensy which can fill with equal dignity; but in it is their duty to restrain. These pleading precarious health and urgent may constitute fit themes of panegyric avocations, he resisted our importuni- to pensioned orators and venal poets :ties, and has disappointed your expec- the praises of an enlightened piety and tations. Next to our father in stand- an honest patriotism will be reserved ing as a trustee, and in all the quali- for very different subjects. fications which would entitle hiin to He who came not to destroy men's be the eulogist of our excellent founder, lives, but to save them, has imparted is that venerable brother who, with a to us far other views of that glory mental eye yet clear and strong, can which ought to be the chosen object unfortunately claim exemption on the of a Christian's ambition. He who lainented ground of bodily darkness.f shared the secret counsels of divine I am third in the order of seniority; wisdom, and knew what true and last
ing glory is, has instructed us in the The Rev. Abrabam Rees, D.D. means by which he obtained himself, + Rev. Thomas Tayler..
-by which every one of us, in our VOL. XI.
310 Dr. Lindsay's Oration at the Red-Cross-street Library, measure, may, obtain,--that honour connected with the occasion of our which cometh only from God. He meeting? In my judgment, closely. aspired not at that baneful fame which We must know the true nature of is seized by diabolical skill and animal Christian glory, before we can select courage in fields of death, which the proper objects of Christian admihistory records in blood, which cha- ration, or confer a suitable tribute of rity defaces with tears; which, if there Christian eulogy. He only who imis justice in heaven, will be the sub- bibes a portion of the same spirit, who ject of an awful retribution in that acts upon the same views, who coworld where the destroyers of life will operates according to his abilities in meet themselves a more terrible de promoting the same ends to which we struction. To the desire of such fame bave just ahluded, as the ends of our as this the doctrine and the life of Je- great Master ;-he only merits the sus are directly opposed. His was the name and the honours of a Christians glory, of pouring the light of divine hero; and it is upon this ground alone truth into the dark and bewildered that we have assembled to express our mind, and of delivering it, by just veneration for the character and meconceptions of the moral government mory of Dr. Daniel Williams. Is is of God, from that bondage of ignorance rat by sphersdour of birth, of brilliancy and superstition, which constitutes its of genius, or any of those qualities or degradation and its misery. His was deeds which dazzle a rain imaginathe glory of speaking promises of rest tion, that this veneration is excited. to the weary and the heavy-laden; of No. But it is because our founder taking the desponding penitent by the voluntarily abridged even that splenhand, and leading him direct, without dour which his fortune might have the intervention of priests or sacrifices, commanded ;—it is because he volunto the mercy-seat of a Father ever tarily devoted solid talents and useful ready to forgive, ever anxious to bless learning to the duties of a profession even his prodigal child. His was the which the world despised, and from glory of exposing that pride and covet- which he expected and received no ousness, which establishes an usurped worldly advantage; it is because he dominion over the rights of conscience preferred the simplieity of dissenting under the hypocritical pretence of zeal worship, and the full possession of for God an usurpation which was, Christian liberty, to the favours of the and unhappily yet" is, employed by great, which he might have enjoyed ;-men in power, to exalt the few, en- because he chose rather to be the hoslave the many, and defeat the efforts nest, disinterested champion of truth of enlightened, benevolence for the and freedom, than to bask in the sunpeace and improvement of the human shine of courts and churches ;-because race to break down every wall of he thus formed one ith that illustrious partition which divides man from his band, who have maintained the rights brother, and to bind the rational crea- of conscience against the usurpations tion of God together by the tie of a of power, and blessed their posterity common faith, a coinmon hope, and with greater privileges than they themà common charity ; to extirpate the selves inherited ; it is because, after base passions which embroil the world, establishing so many claims to reby inplanting in the heart that love spect by an upright and honourable of God and virtuje which elevates and life, he perpetuated the effect of bris sanctifies all its affections; and thus beneficence, in devoting his worldly to spread a divine influence over the substance, upon a wise and liberal pursuits and enjoyments of mortality: plan, to the instruction of ignorance,
in one word, to restore simplicity to the diffusion of knowledge, and the religion, purity to morals, dignity to encouragement of rational religion. the minds, and inmortality to the It is because Dr. Williams acted thus hopes of rational beings :--this was the piously, thus nobly, living and dying, ambition, this the glory of the great that the trustees of his bounty, after Captain of our Salvation, the joy set the lapse of a century, during which before him ; for which he endured the his beguests have been the ineang ef cross, despisuig the shame, and is in instructing, and we hope of saving consequence set down at the right thousands, incet themselves, and have hand of the Majesty on high,
brought their friends with them, to But it may becos Hoy is this express their own thankfulness to Pro
on the Centenary of Dr. Williams's Dealh...
vidence for having raised hin up, and to purposes of charity, and he showed to venerate those virtues which have them at the end of the year how it had given him a naine by rendering him à been expended ; an example of gene. benefactor to mankind. These are rosity which, whilst it enhances his the peaceful claims of a private man, honour, should put to the blush those which, in the eye of the thoughtless miserable creatures who, with coffers and the proud, are destitute of interest. running over, are deaf to every call, But they are, in fact, and I hope and either of public benefit or private disa believe in your estimation, above all fress. His politics were those of free: Greek-above all Roman praise.
dom. Fearful lest the machinations It may be expected, perhaps, that of the High Church party should do I should enter into some details rela- feat the Protestant succession, he re tive to the life of Dr. Williams; but monstrated boldly on that subject with this would not be consistent with Lord Oxford, to whom he was well the brevity of such an address : besides, known, and incurred his resentment the necessity is precluded by a short because he communicated his fears to memoir, * written, with his usual perá others. But his principles were to spicuity and information, by our ex- him more dear than the favour of the Lellent' friend and librarian. I shall great; and his adherence to rectitude therefore merely oliserve, that, judging on this ocoasion received an approfrom his writings, our founder was priate reward. For the displeasure of evidently a man of strong natural a tory minister was soon compensated powers, of considerable learning and by the approbation of a constitutional acuteness; and, what is still more to king, to whom, at the head of the his credit, whilst he steadily defends dissenting body of ministers, he deli. what he conceived to be important vered a congratulatory address on his truth, he discovers that spirit of can accession to the throne. He had fors dour which ought ever to distinguish, merly been consulted by William III.; though it too seldom has distinguished, one of the few princes who have had the Christian controversialist. His the wisdom and the manly condescenreligious sentiments were orthodox, sion of mind to advise with such a according to the common acceptation character. His counsels were conge. of that word, though not orthodox nial to the private opinions of that truly enough to satisfy the bigots of his time, great man, who, had he been permit. by whom he was accused of the horrid ted to follow his own inclinations, crime of Socinianism. Had he lived would have extended the limits of retill now amidst increasing light, there ligious freedom much further than the is reason to believe that he would have prevailing toryism of the country would imbibed what we think more rational permit, But Dr. Williams's solid and enlarged views of the Christian claim to fame rests upon the favour or doctrine: and from the candour which displeasure of the great, only as these he exhibited, when candour was not were indications of his unshaken and very common, we may pronounce disinterested integrity. With us he with assurance, that, whatever might stands upon higher ground. Though have been his religious opinions, he dead, he yet speaketh. His best would have yielded to none of us in monument is that charity which for liberality towards those who might a century has been communicating have held a different creed. In cha- instruction to youth, administering racter he stood high, not only in his the consolations of religion to age, own immediate connexion, but among and giving relief to indigence and deDissenters in every part of the British privation. This charity embraces vadominions. And no wonder. For rious objects; but these so wisely his labours were abundant and dis- combined, that they all concur in interested. He very properly insisted, promoting one great end-the spread indeed, upon his annual salary from of religious knowledge, in connexion his congregation, who could well afford with that liberty which alone can renit; but none of it went to increase his der it efficient as the means of proown fortune. It was wholly devoted moting rational piety and social happi
ness. His first object was to establish * Communicated to Mon. Repos, and
schools in the different parts of the inserted Vol. X. p. 201---203.
country where his different properties * The Rev. Thomas Morgan.' lay; and in these schools more thach
312 Dr. Lindsay's Oration at the Red-Cross-street Lilrary, 200 poor children receive annually fully then should such considerations that kind of education which is suited speak to the heart of that Protestant to their circumstances; whilst the en- Dissenter, who regards religious freedowment for this purpose, forms an domn as the best foundation of all that important addition to the little stipend is truly excellent and dignified in the. of those dissenting ministers to whose moral nature of man? If we set any care our schools are committed. His value upon our own principles, if we next aim was to furnish a few young believe what some of our adversaries men seriously disposed to embrace have been forced to confess, that to the profession of religious teachers these principles, asserted by our foreamong Protestant Dissenters, with fathers at the expense of persecution those advantages from which they are and blood, our country itself is chiefly excluded by the universities of this indebted for that share of civil and country. With this view he esta- religious privileges which it enjoys; if blished exhibitions at the college of we are persuaded that the same prin: Glasgow ; and, owing to the increased ciples, more generally understood and value of his estates, and the care and more widely diffused, would extend fidelity with which the produce of and perfect this liberty with all the them is husbanded and applied by this rational views of truth and piety that trust, we are now enabled to assist eight are connected with it ;-then what young men annually at that college, respect, what gratitude do we not owe besides giving occasional aid to several to the memory of a inan who has done more at other institutions. Thus nu so much, living and dying, to encou. merous students derive from our funds rage and propagate these principles, the means of that liberal education and to render them efficient for the which qualifies them for being ho- great purposes of godliness and virnourable and useful ministers of Christ, tue? among Protestant Dissenters in En- One thing more was necessary to gland and Wales. It was the intention complete the beneficent design of our of our founder in this bequest to pro- pious founder. There was no public vide a succession of men who, sub- library in this great metropolis, tó jected to no test, and acknowledging which Dissenters, as Dissenters, might no ecclesiastical jurisdiction, might be have easy access. The sagacity of Dr. nursed in the very bosom of freedom; Williams perceived, and his munifi. might be encouraged to think without cent love of learning supplied, the debias or constraint, and to speak con- fect. He purchased the curious books scientiously and boldly what they of Dr. Bates, and adding them to his think. This is the inestimable ad own, formed a valuable collection, vantage of our dissent. It was seen which, by the donations of Dissenters, and appreciated by our founder, and and even of liberal Churchmen, and he was anxious to do his part that it recently by an annual sum of 501. might be rendered perpetual: nor have from our funds, has been greatly inhis efforts been vain. Many of those creased. Every lay Trustee gives a who, for atmost a century, have dis- donation of ten guineas when he enters tinguished themselves amongst us as upon the trust; and if other wealthy the advocates of a simple worship, a individuals amongst us, who have the rational belief, and a truly gospel honour of our institution at heart, liberty, have been indebted to his would remember it as they ought, we funds for that learning which enabled might soon have to boast one of the them in their day to uphold the cause most valuable and magnificent collecof truth and piety. These are consi- tions in this capital. This is not all. derations which cannot but speak to The house in which we are now as. the judgment of any impartial man sembled, built in compliance with our who looks into our history. For there founder's will, has become, through he will see, how much freedom, and the liberality of the trustees, the place the consequent prosperity of the king of public business' to the collective dom, have been owing to the barrier body of Dissenters in this great city; erected by Dissenters against those a place, in which noble stands have encroachments on the rights of con- often been made against ecclesiastical science to which even the most mode usurpation; in which generous efforts pate establishments have a natural have originated to promote the extentendency How much more power; siod of religious privileges to men of
on the Centenary of Dr. Williams's Death.
• 313 all persuasions;—a central point, round by which so many excuse themselves which the friends of religious freedom from taking any active part in those in every part of Britain rally, and from public labours which are essential to which even recently a spirit has gone the improvement of the world. They. forth, by which the bigots and per- forsooth, are not public men. It is secutors of another country are abash- enough for them to attend to their ed, at least, if not finally overcome. private concerns. They leave the civil
Having thus laid before you a short and religious affairs of their country account of the objects which Dr. Wil- to princes and statesmen, and wonder liams contemplated, in a scheme so that private individuals should be offi. wisely planned, so nobly endowed, cious enough to meddle in such mat. permit me to say, (and from the small ters. It is a language too common; share of merit that I can claim in the sometimes heard even in the mouth of management, I trust I may be ex- Dissenters. But from whatever quarempted from the imputation of vanity, ter it may proceed, I can never hear when I do say confidently,) that no it without indignation. True, we trust was ever discharged with more must mind our private concerns ; but care, or applied with more disinterest- have we not likewise a duty to dised fidelity to fulfil the intentions of the charge to that social state of which we founder. If that founder could have are members? Are we not bound to foreseen that men who were to be watch over that liberty which we inthe ornaments of science as well as of herit from our fathers, and to see that religion,—the Chandlers and Kippises, this inheritance is not tarnished or -the Prices and Priestleys, the diminished in passing down to our Recses and Belshams of the coming posterity? And is it not by the coinage; the future champions of that bination of individual exertion that learning and freedom which he loved : all great effects must be produced ? No
if he could have foreseen that such man who has enjoyed the advantage men would have given their time and of education is so insignificant, but labour to promote the objects of his that by uniting his own efforts with piety, it would have added one delight- those of others, he may withstand the ful feeling more to those which must inroads of civil and ecclesiastial power, have passed through his mind, in con- and extend the limits of that religious templating the probable effects of his knowledge and civil freedom which own beneficence.
must ultimately enlighten and bless It is difficult indeed to conceive a mankind. A 'Priestley in his closet more exquisite satisfaction to a pious communicates those ideas of liberty and good heart, than that which our which a Smith* carries with him into founder must have enjoyed at the close the senate, and renders triumphant, of a life devoted to virtue, and the at last, over narrow views and impoapproach of a death, after which he litic laws. And a Wood,t under the was to become, under God, a powerful like influence of education and princiand constant agent in promoting the ple, goes into the magistracy, and I kingdom of his Son. It is a satisfac- trust will one day go into the legislation compared with which all the ture, with the determined purpose of pleasures of selfishness are less than becoming the advocate of popular rights nathing and vanity; a satisfaction and of the reform and improvement of which every man who is conscious of popular institutions. Thus the student having a soul to exalt and save, should co-operates with the man of active coret as his richest treasure. We may life, and from this co-operation no not, indeed, possess the means of that individual can justly plead an exempextensive usefulness which has digni- tion. He who will not lend his arm fied the name of Dr. Williams :--but to the work of purification, because, every one of us, by being an advocate forsooth, he has not the arm of a Her. for truth and freedom in his own age; cules, is a selfish dastard, who, under by speaking, acting and giving for the the cover of weakness, hides corrupsupport of those institutions by which tion, and deserves to suffer the worst knowledge is diffused and liberty promoted, may form, and is bound to Wm. Smith, Esq. M.P. for Norwich, form, one link in that chain upon present. which the future destiny of social man + Matthew Wood, Esq. the Right Hon. depends. Despicable are the pretences the Lord Mayor, present.