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following prayer, expressive of the same sense of the obligations that were upon him, and the same desire to fulfil them.
"Bless, O Lord, thy holy church, and particularly this part of it, where Thou hast made me an overseer and guide. O, my great master, let me not satisfy myself in building and beautifying the places dedicated to thy honour, but assist me by thy Holy Spirit, that I may use my utmost endeavours to make every one of these people living temples of the living God, that they may believe in Thee, the chief corner-stone; and that by this faith, both they and 1 may at last come to worship Thee in heaven, and to give Thee praise and glory for all thy mercies bestowed upon us; for Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power, for Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created."
His official residence, Bishop's-court, was at this time in a very dilapidated state; owing, in part, to its having continued without an inhabitant for eight years; he was therefore obliged to rebuild the dwelling-house, and almost all the offices, from the ground. The expense of these and other necessary improvements amounted to fourteen hundred pounds; a heavy outlay, when we consider that the money-payments of his bishopric djd not exceed three hundred pounds a-year. One only regret seems to have possessed his mind with regard to this large expenditure; "It having pleased God," he says, " to bring me to the bishopric of Man, I find the house in ruins, which obliges me to interrupt my charity to the poor in some measure."
It was also soon after his appointment that the earl of Derby again offered to him the living of Baddesworth, to hold in commendam. For this new proof of his noble patron's regard he was duly thankful, but as he still felt the propriety of the resolutions which he had made at an early period of his ministry, he declined accepting the offer. In this instance, as well as in his conduct on many other occasions, he presented a noble example of a strict adherence to the dictates of his conscience, and showed that he would not allow his worldly interests to give a fair appearance to what he really believed to be wrong.
In order to our forming a right judgment of his conduct as a governor of the church, it is requisite that we should be acquainted with a few particulars relative to the scene of his exertions.
The Isle of Man is situated in the Irish sea, and nearly at an equal distance from the English and Irish coasts, in latitude between fifty-four and fifty-five degrees north, and longitude about five degrees west. It is about thirty miles in length, varies from eight to twelve miles in breadth, and is about eighty miles in circumference. We should form a very erroneous idea of the place and the people of whom bishop Wilson had the spiritual charge, if we were to judge by their present condition. The towns are handsome and extensive; large sums have been expended, (particularly since the commencement of the present century,) in erecting churches, chapels, a college, schools, places of public amusement, hotels and boarding-houses, markets, piers, and lighthouses. Elegant mansions and tasteful villas are scattered throughout the island, a considerable number of English families have settled there, and the society differs in no respect from that of our larger island. By the last census the population appears to be 41,000. Some soldiers of the British army are always quartered there. Manufactories of paper, cloth, linen, and other commodities, are in full work; and the number of ships belonging to the island in 1829, was 217, of the aggregate burden of 5714 tons.
In all these particulars the Isle of Man has undergone a remarkable change since the days of bishop Wilson. When he was appointed to the see, the population did not exceed 15,000. In the time of Bede, that is, in the eighth century, it had not amounted to more than 2,000. In the early part of the bishop's residence there, the island was frequented by very few strangers; the higher classes of the inhabitants consisted of those who held the soil under the lord of the island; the poor were employed in agriculture and fishing, living chiefly upon oat-cake and salted herrings, and dwelling in cottages built of sods, often without a window, and with an aperture in the roof for the passage of the smoke. Indeed, habitations of this sort are still to be seen in the more retired parts of the island.
The social state of the people at that period was probably somewhat like the present condition of the Waldenses, or of the flock of Oberlin in the Ban de la Roche, both of which have recently been made so well known to us by numerous publications. Indeed, not only did the bishop exercise his ministry in a sphere similar to that of Oberlin, but he was also a man of the same spirit. Both were holy, zealous, disinterested; both were distinguished for simplicity, integrity, and sweetness of temper; both were ardently loved and highly revered; and both diligently helped forward a poor, simple, and unlettered people on their way to heaven.
The Manksmen are represented as being then contented and happy; and so honest that theft was unknown amongst them. Their laws were for the most part nothing more than unwritten principles of equity, and bore the significant name of Breast-laws; and bishop Wilson says, in his History of the Isle of Man, which was written after the year 1739, that is, full forty years after his arrival there, that " it is but of late years that attorneys, and such as gain by strife, have ever forced themselves into business; and except what these get out of the people, lawsuits are determined without much charges." He also expresses his opinion of the general character of the people in the following terms:— "The natives are in general an orderly, civil, and peaceable people, well-instructed in the duties of christianity as professed in the church of England, more constant in their attendance on the public worship of God, and behaving with more seriousness and decency, than in many other places where there are better opportunities of instruction."
"The inhabitants have a great many good qualities; they are generally very charitable to the poor, and hos"pitable to strangers; especially in the country, where the people, if a stranger come to their houses, would think it an unpardonable crime not to give him a share of the best they have themselves to eat or drink. They have a significant proverb (which generally shows the genius of a people), to this purport, 'When one poor man relieves another, God himself rejoices at it.'"
Such was the flock of which bishop Wilson found himself the pastor and patriarch. And considering, as he did, that he was appointed to watch over their souls, and that he was bound by the most sacred ties to use all diligence in building them up in their most holy faith, and to preserve them from the infection of corrupt doctrine and evil practice, he betook himself at once to serious inquiry as to the most likely means of discharging this duty efficiently. After mature deliberation, he came to the conclusion that the primitive church had exercised a wholesome discipline, warranted by holy Scripture, for the warning of heedless persons to walk more warily, and for the punishment of evil-doers; and he wished that the church over which he presided might be regulated, as nearly as possible, according to that model. Such a discipline appeared more likely to be useful and efficacious, since all the inhabitants of the island at that time belonged professedly to one church, and therefore an offender who might be separated from the congregation would be the more likely to be brought to repentance by that punishment, because there was no other christian communion with which he could take refuge.
Bishop Wilson found some ancient laws in the island which had been framed for this very purpose; and all that he now saw occasion to do, was to revise and arrange them, and to adapt them to the present condition of the church of Christ. This was put into execution in the year 1703, when certain Ecclesiastical Constitutions were at his suggestion adopted by a full convocation of the clergy; and all the official persons in the island, including the lord, subscribed the same, in token that they "found them very reasonable, just, and necessary."
The preamble of this document clearly shows the design with which it was drawn up. It is as follows :— "In the name of our great Lord and Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the glory and increase of his kingdom amongst men; We the bishop, archdeacon, vicarsgeneral, and clergy of the Isle, who do subscribe these articles,— that we may not stand charged with the scandals which wicked men bring upon religion, while they are admitted to, and reputed members of, Christ's church; and that we may, by all laudable means, promote the conversion of sinners, and oblige men to submit to the