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at Lennox, in Massachusetts. Finding the people around him disposed to forget the slave, he prepared an address for the first of August, the anniversary of the Emancipation in British West Indies. The subject and the locality (for he was writing amidst mountains, the "holy land of liberty”) inspired him. The work grew beneath him, till it required an hour and a half in the delivery. He had strength to speak for the greater part of that time. He felt as he proceeded that he had found his way to the hearts of his hearers, and that he had never spoken with more effect. As he closed that glorious address, his countenance seemed irradiated with a heavenly expression, -his soul was ripe for glory, and the hour of his summons was at hand !
Early in September, he left Lennox to proceed to Boston. He was seized on the road, at Bennington, with illness, which, at first apparently slight, steadily increased, until it assumed the alarming symptoms of typhus fever. With this giant malady his exhausted and feeble frame could not successfully wrestle. He lived till the evening of Sunday, October 2nd. The whole story of his sickness at Bennington is told with affecting simplicity, in the words of one whose privilege it was to minister to him. For the record of the closing day we must find room.
“On Sunday, Oct. 2nd, as he heard the bells ring, he said to us, • Now to church. It is a part of true religion, dear Sir, to nurse the sick and aid our friends. True,' he replied ; 'you may stay.' He asked us to read to him from the New Testament. From what part? From the Sermon on the Mount.' As we closed the Lord's Prayer, he looked up, with a most expressive smile, and said, “That will do now; I find that I am too much fatigued to hear more. I take comfort, 0, the greatest comfort, from these words ! They are full of the divinest spirit of our religion. In the afternoon, he spoke very earnestly, but in a hollow whisper. I bent forward; but the only words I could distinctly hear were, 'I have received many messages from the Spirit.'* As the day declined, his countenance fell, and he grew fainter and fainter. With our aid, he turned himself towards the window, which looked over valleys and wooded summits to the East. We drew back the curtains, and the light fell upon his face. The sun had just set, and the clouds and sky were bright with gold and crimson. He breathed more and more gently, and without a struggle or a sigh the body fell asleep. We knew not when the spirit passed.
“Amidst the glory of autumn, at an hour hallowed by his devout associations, on the day consecrated to the memory of the risen Christ, and looking eastward, as if in the setting sun's reflected light he saw promises of a brighter morning, he was taken home.”
We find it difficult to tear ourselves away from these deeply interesting volumes, which, notwithstanding their deficiencies and obvious faults of arrangement, we are disposed to rank amongst the best biographies of the age. The Memoir succeeds in conveying exactly that impression which its subject desired. Speaking of the attempts of several painters to delineate his portrait, Dr. Channing once said,
These words were probably the airy foundation on which the orthodox" fable rested, that on his death-bed Dr. Channing changed his opinions. His nephew states distinctly that there was no foundation whatever for such a rumour. The frequency of reports of this character on the death of Unitarians of more than common excellence, perhaps shews the uncomfortableness of “orthodox believers in their religious system, and their unwillingness to despair of the salvation of a righteous heretic."
“What has troubled me in my different portraits is, not that they have not given me a more intellectual expression, but that so little benevolence has beamed from the features. I have learned, with the apostle, to prefer charity to all knowledge; and if I am to be handed down to posterity, I should be pleased to speak from the stone or canvas, or rather to breathe from it, goodwill to mankind."
We do not feel assured that this Memoir will exalt the estimate of Dr. Channing's mere intellectual character. As a man of learning, and especially in biblical literature, it does not assign him a high rank. As a mental philosopher, opinions will vary as to his proper rank, accord. ing as persons agree with or differ from his system. Both as a theolo. gian and a philosopher, he appears to have been chiefly swayed by ethical considerations, and to have received or rejected doctrines from their real or supposed consequences. His opposition to the entire philosophy and to portions of the theology of Priestley and Belsham, is so earnest, as sometimes to appear approaching to passionateness. Still we rejoice unfeignedly at the stand he made in defence of what he deemed evangelical Christianity, chiefly because we believe his views contain a very large element of truth, and next because we desire to see Unitarianism free from all narrowness and sectarianism, and to behold it not confined to any one system of moral or political philosophy, but combined with all the forms and modes of thought into which unfettered reason will flow. But as a true servant of God, and as a pure lover of his fellow-man, this Memoir raises Channing to a glorious height. It shews him possessed of an angelic spirit, the study of which is calculated to deepen our faith in the gospel of Christ, whence it drew its perennial supplies of faith, hope and charity, and to renovate our dearest hopes of human improvability.
Before concluding, we would say a word or two respecting Channing's letters, which constitute the great charm of this Memoir.
Of these we had a sweet foretaste in Mr. Thom's Life of Blanco White. Reserved in general society and distrustful of his power of impression, and viewed in consequence with a kind of awe by common acquaintance, Channing opened to the friends who enjoyed the high privilege of his correspondence, the rich treasures of his soul with an unreservedness as delightful as it is rare.
We had marked numerous passages from these letters for extract, but must limit ourselves to one or two which bear on the anti-supernatural controversy. There occur in several of these letters a variety of passages which we doubt not will be often used by such as desire to quote a high authority for boundless intellectual freedom in discussing not only the doctrines, but the sanctions, of religion. We have already shewn that Channing was as earnest in securing the religious liberty of the atheist, as he was in using his own Christian freedom. But that he himself did not waver in his Christian faith,- that to the last he kept a firm hold of the miraculous evidences of the gospel of Christ, let the following extracts prove:
"Newport, Sept. 20, 1835. The doubts which you express as to Christianity are founded on misapprehension. There is no reason whatever for supposing the religion to have changed since it came from Christ. The books of the New Testament have come down to us as they were originally written, or the exceptions are
so few as to deserve no notice. Probably no ancient writings have reached us with so few changes.”—II. 433, 434.
“Newport, Aug. 29, 1834. “I am truly sorry to find you oppressed with such difficulties. I have long since left them behind me, and they have no more influence on my faith than a breath of wind on a rock.
That Jesus was the Christ, the anointed, the commissioned, that these titles belonged to him and to no other, is very plain.”—II. 430.
“Boston, Nov. 20, 1839. “ To me the history of Christianity in the Gospels is inestimable. The life, spirit, works and character of Jesus Christ, are to me the brightest revelations of his truth. I know no histories to be compared with the Gospels in matters of truth, in pregnancy of meaning, in quickening power. I attach great importance to the miracles. They have a vital union with the religion, are full of it, and marvellously adapted to it. They are not anomalous, arbitrary events. I have no faith in abstract, insulated, purposeless miracles, which, indeed, are morally impossible; but the miracles of Christ belong to him, complete the manifestation of him, are in harmony with his truth, and at once give to it, and receive from it, confirmation. I should pay little heed to a narrative, from ever so many hands, of the resurrection of a low-minded man, who had died for no end, and had risen, according to the story, to lead as low a life as before. But the resurrection of Christ, related as it is to his character and religion, taught and sealed with blood by the grand reformers of the race, and recorded as it is in the Gospels, is a fact which comes to me with a certainty which I find in few ancient histories. The evidence of such miracles as accompanied Christianity seems to me precisely suited to the moral wants of men in present and past times, that is, to a stage where the moral development is sufficient to discern more or less of divinity in Christian truth, but not sufficient to produce full, earnest faith. I need miracles less now than formerly. But could I have got where I am, had not miracles entered into the past history of the world ?"— II. 442, 443.
“Boston, Nov. 2, 1840. “ If ever a being understood himself, it was Jesus Christ. I cannot explain his sublime yet calm consciousness of his end and destiny,—the wonderful grandeur, and at the same time the simplicity and naturalness, with which he expressed it,—the severe assurance with which he looked forward to his death, and to the triumph of his cause in future ages, under the humble ministry of his disciples,—by any thing but the admission of the truth of his convictions. As to his biographers, they speak for themselves. Never were more simple and honest ones.
How can we read them and not see that they give us a real being? and if so, how can we escape his miracles ? And these give us additional assurance of the justness of Christ's conviction." II. 445, 446.
“Boston, Nov. 8, 1840. “ According to your view, Christianity stands in the history of the race as a fact wholly unexplained and inexplicable. The Gospels are to me their own evidence. They are simple records of a being who could not have been invented ; and the miraculous and more common parts of his life so hang together, are so permeated by the same spirit, are so plainly outgoings of one and the same man, that I see not how we can admit one without the other. I have no difficulty in receiving the miracles, for they belong to the man, they are in harmony with a character which stands so separate from our common humanity, they form a beautiful whole.”—II. 447.
"Newport, July 6, 1841. “Still there was a good deal in the discourse * I did not respond to. I
Theodore Parker's Discourse on the Transient and Permanent in Christianity.
grieved that he did not give some clear, direct expression of his belief in the Christian miracles. His silence under such circumstances makes me fear that he does not believe them. I see not hoo the rejection of these can be separated from the rejection of Jesus Christ. Without them he becomes a mere fable, for nothing is plainer than that from the beginning miracles constituted his history. They are so interwoven into all his teachings and acts, that in taking them away we have next to nothing left. Without miracles, the historical Christ is gone. No such being is left us ; and, in losing him, how much is lost! Reduce Christianity to a set of abstract ideas, sever it from its teacher, and it ceases to be the power of God unto salvation.”—II. 452, 453.
Newport, July 18, 1840. “I hold a clear conviction of truth to be essential to a religious teacher, and I reprobate as well as dread the teaching of that which we have not thought upon calmly and seriously, or which, on being examined, has opened before us problems, perplexities, difficulties, rendering much reflection needful in order to our speaking with the deliberate consciousness of truth. The want of reverence for truth, manifest in the rash teaching of our times, shocks me greatly."
“ The profound ignorance of Jesus Christ, shewn by those who find in him a restraint, and also talk of outgrowing him, is discouraging. I find in him only freedom.”
“ September 10, 1841. “ Here, as in England, we have a stir. Happily, we have no material antisupernaturalists.
Our reformers are spiritualists, and hold many grand truths ; but in identifying themselves a good deal with Cousin's crude system, they have lost the life of an original movement. Some among them seem to lean to the anti-miraculous, have got the German notions of myths,' &c., and I fear are loosening their hold on Christ. They are anxious to defend the soul's immediate connection with God. They fear lest Christ be made a barrier between the Soul and the Supreme, and are in danger of substituting private inspiration for Christianity. Should they go thus far, my hopes from them will cease wholly.”—II. 462.
The tendency which Channing detected seven years ago in some of the professed reformers and spiritualists amongst the Unitarians of America, has since developed itself in them more decidedly, and less distinctly, still in some degree, amongst persons of the same class in England. Deeply have we been pained by the slighting terms in which both English and American writers have spoken of historical, as something inconsistent with spiritual Christianity. Those of their brethren who cling with fond and earnest faith to the Gospels as something infinitely better than an accretion of amiable but incredible myths, are regarded with a feeling approaching to disdain. May we not hope that the remonstrances of Channing recorded in this Memoir will teach them a better wisdom? In consideration that Channing himself said, that he “ looked jealously on whatever would shake the foundations of Christianity,” let them believe that resistance to their new views may spring from higher motives than bigotry and fear. Bright will be the prospect of liberal Christianity on both sides of the Atlantic, if those who profess to hold it in its most spiritual form, while they rest Christianity on a spiritual basis, still hesitate not to accept its miraculous attestations—while they recognize the inward as supreme, bow with an unfaltering faith before the authority of Christ!
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. ROBERT ASPLAND.
CHAPTER XVI. “ 1810. Jan. 4.-Walked to Mile-end Road to dine, for the first time, with my new hearer, Mr. David Ricardo. Dr. Lindsay and Mr. T. Foster of the party. After tea, we had a long debate on the natural evidences of a future state.
“ Jan. 21.-To-day received from Mrs. Barbauld a little collection of Hymns* for the commencement of worship, used at Norwich, among which are three of hers which I have not before seen.
“ Jan. 23.-At the House of Commons on the opening of the session. Got in after two hours' hard squeezing. The debate was good and lasted till five in the morning,t when the House divided.
“Jan. 28.-Morning sermon on the Justice of God. The large Committee (of 24) met to-day to consider the propriety of having any inscription on the front of the new meeting. When I left the lectureroom,
I was requested to go to them in the vestry to deliver my opinion; but this I declined. Young Mr. Harris, of Maidstone, dined with us.
“ Feb. 4.-Morning sermon, Peace in the Church, -an useful topic, meditated for some time, but begun yesterday and finished this morning.—This morning Mr. E. Johnston brought to the Gravel-Pit Mr. Wyvill'sť Petition to the House of Commons, and instructed Street to give out that a Petition for the Repeal of the Test Act lay for signatures in the vestry. This Petition I declined to sign, because I considered it inexpedient and ill drawn up. The original design of Mr. Wyvill was good, to present a Petition, signed by Churchmen only, for the abolition of all penal statutes. Why the design has been abandoned, I know not. As it is, the Petition will have but little effect; few Dissenters will take it up, and it may hamper the Catholics in their application to Parliament. If they gain their object, our relief will follow.
“Feb. 18.-Last week a paper was drawn up, at the request of some parishioners, by Wilks, the lawyer, and circulated in the parish, calling a general meeting to oppose parish aristocracy. I find it is imputed to me, for two reasons: first, that it contains some hard words; and, secondly, that it is violent. This determines me to have
* Mr. Aspland was now compiling his Selection of Hymns for Public Worship.
† Of this debate he recorded his impressions in Mon. Rep. V. 42. It turned upon the disgraceful Walcheren expedition, and the recent duel of Mr. Canning and Lord Castlereagh. Mr. Peel seconded the address. The opposition speakers were Lord Gower, Mr. Ward, Mr. Ponsonby and Mr. Whitbread. The other speakers were Lord Bernard, Mr. Peel, Lord Kensington, Mr. B. Bathurst, Lord Castlereagh, Mr. Canning and Mr. Perceval. For the address, 263 voted; for the amendment, 167.
| The Rev. C. Wyvill, of Burton Hall, in the county of York, a zealous friend of civil and religious liberty, the author, in 1792, of a “Defence of Dr. Price and the Reformers of England." He early in life declined clerical duty and ecclesiastical preferment, but did not openly secede from the communion of the Established Church. He took much interest in Mr. Lindsey's Reformed Liturgy. He died March 8, 1822, in the 83rd year of his age. The petition referred to in the diary was presented to the House of Commons on Friday, June 8, 1810. It is inserted in the Mon. Rep. V. 311.