« НазадПродовжити »
you will then do what becomes worthy sons of a father and bishop, who every day of his life remembers you at the throne of grace. Tho. Sodor And Man."
"2nd Julii, 1722."
In the same spirit of submission to the will of God in chastening him, the following entry was found in his diary: —" St. Peter's Day, 1722. I and my two vicars-general were fined ninety pounds, and imprisoned in CastleRushin, for censuring and refusing to take off the censure of certain offenders: which punishment and contempt I desire to receive from God as a means of humbling me."
The bishop and his two friends, finding that there was no prospect of the governor's relenting, were advised to pay the fines, and then to appeal to the king in council; and accordingly, after a close confinement of two months, they were released on the 31st of August. The day of their liberation was a day of general joy. Old and young, rich and poor, assembled from all parts of the island, and formed such a procession as had never before been witnessed. The populace wished to spread their clothes under the bishop's feet, and when he refused to accept this demonstration of their regard, they strewed his path with flowers. The road leading from Castletown to Bishop's-court, for more than three miles was thronged with persons on foot and horseback ; and, for want of better music, multitudes had provided themselves with pipes of elder-wood. A bonfire at Kirk-Michael added to these testimonies of love and joy.
His cause was fairly investigated and tried before the king in council, who, on the 4th of July, 1724, issued an order, declaring that the judgments or sentences given by the governor and his officers "be reversed and set aside, in regard they had no jurisdiction," and that the fines be returned.
This affair entailed upon bishop Wilson considerable personal injury. The comfortable habitations called prisons in England, are far different from the place of his confinement; it was a cold and damp cell; and he contracted then a disorder in his right hand, which deprived him of the free use of his fingers, in consequence of which he was obliged ever after, when he wrote, to grasp the pen with his whole hand.
The expense, also, incurred in bringing this case of oppression before the privy council, was seriously felt by the bishop; and though a considerable subscription was raised in England to defray it, yet still there remained heavy claims upon his small purse. His solicitor, indeed, advised him to prosecute the governor in the English courts of law, to recover compensation for his great expense; but to this he would not consent, declaring that having now established the discipline of the church, he felt no resentment for the personal injury he had undergone, but sincerely and fully forgave his persecutor.
During his confinement in Castle-Rushin, the magistrates, officially assembled, forwarded an address to the bishop and the other ecclesiastical judges, in which they paid this testimony to their merits on the only point on which bishop Wilson had ever been called in question. "As to the charge of exercising a spiritual tyranny, we do solemnly testify, (as we are in duty bound,) that there is no cause to us known for so strange an imputation; being verily persuaded that you have been so far from assuming to yourselves any undue authority, that the church was never better governed than in your time, nor justice more impartially administered in the ecclesiastical courts of this isle."
When this affair was concluded, the king offered him the bishopric of Exeter, which he declined to accept. His majesty then promised to defray the expenses out of the privy purse, but, dying soon after, the promise was never fulfilled.
What became of archdeacon Horrobin is not mentioned by the biographers of bishop Wilson. We are only informed that he presented a petition to the bishop for the removal of his suspension; to which an answer was given, that it could only be done when he should acknowledge the legality of the sentence which had been passed upon him, and "promise for the future to avoid giving any occasion of disturbing the peace and unity of the church; and this with a sincerity becoming a christian, and in terms bespeaking a real conviction."
The affliction of their beloved friend and bishop appears to have softened and improved the hearts of the people. He always used to say," that he never governed his diocese so well as when he was in prison; and, for his own share, if he could have borne the confinement consistently with his health, he would have been content to have abode there all his life for the good of his flock, who were then more pious and devout than at any other time."
It must be obvious to every reader, that the bishop of that diocese could not have acted otherwise in this case, consistently with the law. But it will also have been observed, that the bishop was really disposed to maintain a somewhat strict ecclesiastical discipline as a means of promoting purity in the church; and, therefore, in order that his character may not be misunderstood, we shall subjoin in a note to this chapter a few extracts from his writings, in which his sentiments on the subject are plainly set forth.
Note: — Containing some passages from the writings of bishop Wilson, in which he speaks of Church-government and of the office of a bishop.
"The duties of a bishop, by the laws of God, and the church are:—
"To instruct the people committed to his charge out of the Holy Scriptures, and to teach or maintain no doctrine but what may be proved from thence. Sunday. [This little sketch of episcopal duties is probably thus marked out as furnishing to him daily matter for reflection and self-examination.]
"To exercise himself in these Holy Scriptures; to call upon God for the true understanding of the same. Monday.
"To use all faithful diligence in driving away all doctrines contrary to God's word, and to encourage others to do so. Tuesday.
"To deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live a sober, righteous, and godly life, so as to be an example unto others. Wednesday.
"To maintain and set forward, as much as may be, quietness, love, and peace, among all men; and to correct and punish the unruly, criminous, and disobedient, as far as God's word and the laws of the land do require and will warrant. Thursday.
"To be faithful in ordaining, sending, or laying hands upon others. Friday.
"To be gentle and merciful for Christ's sake, to poor and needy people, and to all strangers destitute of help. Saturday." Sacra Privata.
"If ever church discipline were necessary, it is certainly so now, when not only evil practices (which have ever, God knows, been too rife), but evil books and evil notions (not heard of before in this place), are become very common." Charge, June 1720.
"However church discipline may be weakened and despised in England, by reason of the schisms and heresies which abound there, yet here, God be praised, it is not so; we have power and authority both from God and the laws, to rebuke gainsayers; and, while we are unanimous and faithful in the discharge of our duty, we may hope that our people will not be corrupted with novel opinions. Now the most effectual way to prevent this will be, for all of us, that are appointed to watch over the flock of Christ, to employ our thoughts, our zeal, and our time, in promoting of true piety; in labouring to make men good; and in converting sinners from the error of their
ways, that we may preserve the power as well as the form of godliness." Charge, 1720.
"We knew very well the sin and danger of a rash excommunication."—Then after stating that he, with the presbyters of his diocese, being called together, " according to primitive usage," had patiently heard the whole case of the archdeacon, and weighed well the nature and value of the evidence, he proceeds; "it was then, and not till then, you know, that we proceeded to the last sentence, after the most solemn appeal to God, and invocation of his holy name and aid. So that it must be very rash and great uncharitableness in any body to judge of our proceedings by hearsay; as if we had forgotten the apostle's rule, which yet at that very time we had before us, To do nothing by partiality." Charge, 1720.
"Prudence is very necessary in dangerous times ; it being no small fault to give occasion to the raising of storms against the church and her ministers, for want of having a due regard to the times and to the passions of carnal men." Sacra Privata.
"Every Christian, when he is baptized, is admitted into the church upon a most solemn promise to live as a Christian ought to do ; if he does not do so, those very ministers who admitted him are bound to exhort, to rebuke, and to censure him: and if these methods will not do, to excommunicate him; that is to cut him off from the body of Christ and from God's favour and mercy. Not that he may be lost for ever, but that he may see his sad condition, and repent and be saved." Form of Excommunication.
"Let us take care that we use this authority, as the apostle directs, for edification and not for destruction." ib.
"It is a part of that ministry which we have received by the imposition of hands, and which we most humbly pray God to enable us to exercise to his glory, to the putting a stop to the growing vices of the age, and to the edification of the church of Christ, which he hath purchased with his blood. Amen." ib.
"If God be satisfied with a pastor, it is of little importance whether he please or displease men." Sacra Privata.
"They whose duty it is to punish offenders should take great care not to be influenced by pride, hypocrisy, passion, false zeal or malice; but to punish with reluctancy and compassion, as having a sense of their own misery and weakness, which perhaps render them more guilty in the sight of God." Sacra Privata.