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minds; and concerning whom we are thus able to gather incidentally that they must have been wise and amiable companions, who did good in their generation by a holy life and conversation. We think that it must have been a great privilege to have taken sweet counsel with them during their sojourn on earth, and we contemplate with peculiar pleasure the prospect of commencing an uninterrupted intercourse with them, in the better world whither they are gone.
Such feelings are particularly connected with the name of him who is best known as "the good Bishop Wilson." We are wont to fancy that a purer, gentler spirit has seldom inhabited an earthly tabernacle; and multitudes of persons who may never have read or heard one incident of his life, love and venerate the name of one whose Private Thoughts, and Preparation for the LoraVs Supper, and the little volumes of whose simple Sermons, have been their familiar closet companions, and who has thus bound them to himself by helping them forward in the right way, through the influence of the same feelings and convictions which confirmed his own faith, and animated his own piety.
Thomas Wilson was born in the village of Burton, in the county palatine of Chester, on the 20th of December, 1663. We are not informed what occupation his parents followed, but they apparently moved in humble life, since in one of his papers he speaks of his education raising him above his father's house; and says, that though honesty and industry secured the family from poverty, yet it was far from being rich. In the subject of this memoir, therefore, we have one of those instances which are happily of such frequent occurrence in this country, of the elevation of a person who had none of the advantages of wealth or high connexion, to a high and important situation. But if his parents were not great, they were good; and he confessed that he owed much to them. In his diary he mentions them with gratitude as "honest parents, fearing God;" and in a prayer which he composed and used in their behalf, and which throughout betokens a conviction that they merited the warmest filial affection, he makes an express acknowledgment, on the part of his brothers and sisters as well as himself, that they could never be sufficiently thankful, either to God or their parents, for the care taken of them by the latter, and for all their godly instructions.
It is difficult to estimate how large a portion of the evil and the good which exist in the world flows from the early management of children; but, as we know that the most important consequences are dependent upon it, we cannot but feel regret that there are no means of introducing us to the domestic circle in the little parlour at Burton, where we might have observed the planting, the watering, and the growth of the good seed in the heart of him, who was there led from a child to know the Holy Scriptures, which made him wise unto salvation, through faith, which is in Christ Jesus.
His classical education was entrusted to Mr. Harpur, an eminent school-master at Chester; and at a proper age he was sent to the University of Dublin, with an allowance of twenty pounds a year; a sum which, however small it may be thought, was in those days sufficient, we are told, "for a sober student, in so cheap a country as Ireland."
The medical profession was that towards which his thoughts and studies were at first directed. But occurrences, apparently trifling, are often appointed by Divine Providence to alter the current of our plans. While at college, young Wilson became acquainted with the Rev. Michael Hewetson, one of the prebendaries of St. Patrick's cathedral, and archdeacon of Kildare; the acquaintance ripened into intimacy, and the archdeacon, judging that his friend possessed a disposition and talents which might be employed advantageously in the work of the ministry, persuaded him to turn his thoughts towards the sacred office of a minister of Christ.
"During his residence in Dublin, he conducted himself," says his first biographer, "with the utmost regularity and decorum ; and by his diligent application made a great proficiency in academical learning. He continued at college till the year, 1686, when, on St. Peter's day, the 29th of June, he was, at the immediate instance and desire of his friend Mr. Hewetson, ordained a deacon by Dr. Moreton, bishop of Kildare," in the cathedral church of that diocese, which was consecrated on the same day. On that occasion, he and the archdeacon jointly presented a small silver paten for the service of the communion table, on the inside of which was engraved this inscription:
DEO ET ALTARI ECCLESLE CATHEDRALIS S'tje BRIDGIDvE DARENSIS SACRUM; with I H S in the middle; —and on the reverse, Ex unitis Devotionibus maxime Amicorum Mich. Hewetson et Tho. Wilson: Hie Presbyter, et Prebendarius Ecclesiai Cathedralis S'ti Palricij, Dubl: Hie ad sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem solemniter admissus die Consecrationis hujus Ecclesiai, vix. Festo S'ti Petri 1686." •
» The following is a translation of these words:—Dedicated to God, and for the use of the altar of the cathedral church of St. Bridget of Kildare, hy the united devotion of two dear friends, Michael Hewetson and Thomas Wilson: The former a Presbyter, and Prebendary of the Cathedral Church of St. Patrick, in Dublin; the latter, solemnly admitted to the holy order of Deacons on the day of the consecration of this Church, viz. on St. Peter's day, 1686.
A heart so devout as Wilson's could not fail to be strongly impressed by the solemn engagements into which he had that day entered. A beautiful prayer, preserved in a memorandum book, records his feelings and desires on that occasion; he beseeches God, who gave him a will, to give him also power and strength to serve Him in the sacred ministry, to which he was on that day dedicated; and the following passage conveys in a few words his views of that holy calling: "Give me, O Lord, I humbly beg, a wise, a sober, a patient, an understanding, a devout, a religious, a courageous heart; that I may instruct the ignorant, reclaim the vicious, bear with the infirmities of the weak, comfort the afflicted, confirm the strong; that I may be an example of true piety, and sincere religion; that I may constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and cheerfully suffer for righteousness' sake. Let my great Lord and Master, let his example, be always before my eyes. Let my days be spent in doing good, in visiting the sick, helping their infirmities, in composing differences, in preaching the glad tidings of salvation, and in all the works of mercy and charity by which I shall be
judged at the last day Give us all grace, that we
may often and seriously lay to heart the nature and importance of our calling; that these thoughts may make us diligent and zealous, and that our zeal may be ever concerned in matters of real moment."
Nor did he permit the solemn act of that day to fade from his memory, for he ever after set apart the anniversary for reflection and devotion, and for the more express consideration of his ministerial obligations, and the manner in which he had discharged them.
His further stay in Ireland was short; for in December of the same year he was licensed to be curate of Newchurch, a chapelry in the parish of Winwick, in Lancashire, of which Dr. Sherlock, his maternal uncle, was then rector. Here he early exercised the charity which Goldsmith so much commends in the "VillagePreacher" of sweet Auburn, though his income fell short of that possessed by the latter, being only thirty pounds a year. Yet was he also " passing rich," for he contrived, then and ever after, to set apart a stated portion of his income for charitable purposes.
In the society of Dr. Sherlock he possessed very great advantages, and had opportunities of studying a character, which he seems in many respects to have imitated, and of which he expressed his admiration and love in a memoir, which he commences in the following terms :— "When I have said that he was born of very honest and religious parents, the pious reader will not be offended that he finds nothing more considerable in the account of his family." He then proceeds to state, that after various sufferings and reverses during the troublesome times of the great Rebellion, Dr. Sherlock found a refuge in the family of sir Robert Bindlosse, of Borrick, in Lancashire, to whom he became domestic chaplain. It is remarkable, that at this time, and in this neighbourhood, George Fox, the quaker, was then making a stir; and hearing of his reputation for learning and piety, desired to bring him round to his views. Accordingly, he commenced a correspondence, which ended in Sherlock's publishing several small tracts upon the subjects in controversy between them, which, his biographer says, " by the blessing of God, had their effect."
Sir R. Bindlosse afterwards recommended Dr. Sherlock to the notice of Charles, eighth earl of Derby, who reposed so much confidence in him, that at the restoration he gave him a commission to settle the affairs of the church in the Isle of Man, " which during the great rebel