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· It being deemed necessary that Mr. Secker should obtain
In April, 1721, he entered himfelf a gentleman-com-
Bishop Talbot being, in November, 1721, appointed to the fee of Durham, Mr. Secker was ordained by him the following year, and appointed one of his chaplains.
On the death of fir George Wheeler, in 1724, the bishop gave his vacant prebend, in Durham cathedral, to Mr. Ben. fon, and the rectory of Houghton-le-Spring to Mr. Secker. Being thus settled to his satisfaction, he turned his thoughts to matrimony ; and, in 1725, was united to Mrs. Catherine Benson, the filter of his worthy friend just mentioned. At the earneft desire of both, Mrs. Talbot and her daughter consented to live with them; and from that time the two families became one.
Mr. Secker now gave up all the time he could, to hłs residence at Houghton, where he set himself to discharge the duties of a country clergyman with diligence, omitting nothing which he thought useful to the bodies and souls of the people entrusted to his care. He brought down his fermons to the level of their understandings; he visited them privately, he received his neighbours and tenants with kind. ness and hospitality, and was of great fervice to the poor by his skill in physic. Though this place was in a remote part of the kingdom, yet the folitude perfectly suited 'his ftudious disposition, and the income of it perfectly satis. ked him. Here he would have willingly fixed his lot; and here, as he used afterwards frequently to declare, he 1pent some of the happiest hours of his life; and it was no thought or desire of his which removed him to a higher and more extensive sphere. But, in confequence of the declin. ing fate of Mrs. Secker's health, he refigned Houghton for Ryton, which was in a more healthy situation, and to this was added a prebendal fall in the cathedral of Durham. In 1732, he was appointed chaplain to the king, for which Tavour he was indebted to bishop Sherlock. His month of waiting at St. James's was Auguft, and on the 27th he preached before queen Caroline, the king being then abroad. A few days after, her majefty sent for him into her closet,
and held a long conversation with him; in the courfe of which, he took an opportunity of mentioning his friend Ms. Butler. The queen said, she thought he had been dead. Mr. Secker assured her he was not; but afterwards she asked archbishop Blackburne, whether Mr. Butler was not really dead. To this his grace replied, “No, madam, but he is buried.” This he in a manner was at his living of Stanhope, where he was without society, and at too great a distance from his friends. No man lamented his seclusion and absence more than Mr. Secker, and therefore he contrived every means he could to bring him out of his retire. ment. Accordingly, soon after the above conversation, when Mr. Talbot was made lord-chancellor, Mr. Secker recommended his friend Mr. Butler to him, for his chaplain. His lordship readily acceded, and sent for him. This promotion bringing him back into the world, the queen very soon after appointed him clerk of the closet, from whence he rose to those high dignities which he so well merited, and adorned by his virtues and writings. · Mr. Secker now began to have a public character, and was held in great estimation by the best judges of intellectual and moral worth. He had already given proofs of his abili. ties, that plainly indicated his future eminence; and it was not long before an opportunity offered, of placing him in an advantageous point of view. Dr. Tyrwhit, who had succeeded Dr. Clarke in the rectory of St. James's, found that preaching in so large a church' injured his health. His faiher-inlaw, bishop Gibson, therefore proposed to the crown, that he should be made residentiary of St. Paul's, and that Mr. Secker should succeed him in the rectory. This arrangement was perfectly agreeable to those in power, and Mr. Secker was accordingly instituted rector, May 18, 1729. In July following, he went to Oxford, and took his degree of doctor of laws, not being of sufficient standing for that of divinity. It was on this occasion he preached his celebrated act sermon, on the advantages and duties of an academical education, which was universally allowed to be a master. piece of reasoning and composition. It was printed at the request of the heads of houses, and soon passed through several editions.
When he waited at Hampton-court, the queen sent for him, and said very obliging things to him of this sermon. And“it was thought, that the reputation he acquired by it contributed to that promotion which very soon followed : for, in December, 1734, he received a letter from bishop
· Gibson, grear et abonu diligen Deckenler.Preached? chaper
Gibson, informing him that the king had fixed upon him to be bishop of Bristol. At the same time, Dr. Benson was made bishop of Gloucester, and Dr. Fleming bishop of Carlille, and they were all three consecrated in Lambech chapel, January 19, 1734-8; the sermon being preached by Dr. Thomas, afterwards bishop of Winchester. · The elevation to which Dr. Secker was now raised, did not in the least abate his diligence and attention to business. He immediately set about the visitation of his diocese, confirmed in a great number of places, preached in several churches, sometiines twice a day; and, from the information received in his progress, laid the foundation of a paro. chial account of his diocese, for the benefit of his fucceffors. Finding, at the same time, the affairs of his parish of St. James's in great disorder, he took the trouble, in concert with some others, to put the accounts of the several officers into a regular method ; drew up a set of rules to direct them better for the future, and by the large share which he always took in the management of the poor, and the regulation of many other parochial concerns, was of signal service to his parishioners, even in a temporal view. But it was their spiritual welfare which engaged his principal attention. As far as the circumstances of the times, and the populousness of that part of the metro-'. polis allowed, he omitted not even those private admonitions and personal applications, wbich are calculated to produce the happiest effects. But, as he was not able to do so much in this way as he wilhed, he was peculiarly assiduous in giving and promoting every kind of public instruction. He allowed, out of his income, a salary for reading early and late prayers, which had formerly been paid out of the offer, tory money. He held a confirmation once a year, and examined and instructed the candidates several weeks before in the vestry, giving them religious tracts, which he also distributed at other times, very liberally to those who stood in need of them. He drew up, for the use of his parilhioners, that admirable course of lectures, on the Church Cate. chism, which was published after his death, and may be pronounced a complete body of doctrinal and practical divinity.
The sermons which he composed were truly excellent and original. His faculties were now in their full vigour, and he had an audience to address, that rendered the utmost exertion of them indispensible. He did not, however, seek to gratify the higher part, by amusing them with refined speculations.
or ingenious essays, unintelligible to the lower orders, and unprofitable to both; but he laid before them all, with equal freedom and plainness, the great Christian duties belonging to their respective stations, and reproved the follies and vices of every' rank amongst them, without distinction or palliation. He studied human nature thoroughly, and knew what arguments would have most influence with every class of men. He brought the subject home to their bofoms, and did not appear to be merely saying useful things in their presence, but addressed himself personally to every one of his hearers. Few ever possessed, in a higher degree, the talent of touching the most delicate subječts with the niceft propriety, of saying the most familiar things, without being low; the plainest, without being feeble; and the boldeft, without giving offence. He could descend with such ease and felicity into the minutest concerns of common life, could Jay open, with such address, the various workings, artifices, and evasions of the mind, that his hearers often thought their own particular cases were attended to; and heard with furprize their private sentiments and feelings, reasonings and principles, exactly stated and minutely described. His preaching was, at the same time, highly rational and truly evangelical. He explained with perspicuity, and asserted with dignity, the peculiar doctrines of the gospel. He inculcated the utility and necessity of them, not as speculative truths, but as the instruments of moral goodness, tending to purify the hearts, and regulate the lives of men ; and thus, by God's gracious appointment, as well as by the inseparable connection between true faith and right practice, leading them to salvation.
These important truths he taught with the authority, tenderness, and familiarity of a parent inftruéting his children. Though he neither possessed nor affected the artificial elo. quence of an orator, who wants only to amuse or to mislead, yet he had that of an honest man, who wants to convince, and of a Christian preacher, who wishes to reform and fave his hearers. · Solid argument, manly sense, useful dire&tions, short, and striking sentences,' awakening questions, frequent and apposite applications of Scripture ; all following each other in quick succession, and coming from the speaker's heart, enforced by his elocution, figure, and action, and above all, by the sanctity of his life, stamped conviction on the minds of his hearers, and sent them home with imprefa fions not easily effaced.
(To be concluded in our next.)
LETTERS to a Young GENTLEMAN, &c.
The clerical a personal office. Some confiderations of im.
portance recommended for a right discharge of it.--Introduction to the duty in the reading-defk.
N O man can make a good minister, who is not first a IV good christian. Be the latter, my dear brother, and I will answer for it, you will be the former. You will then never think your profession gives you licence to indulge lucrative or self-pleasing views; you will never think your. self allowed to live as you lift; to enjoy the emoluments, and to discharge none of the duties of your preferments: but convinced, that yours is a personal office, and can be ful. filled only by the man himself, who takes it upon him, you will not, with casuistical niceness, inquire into ihe quantily of residence, and so on, which may be immediately necessary; but will make it your continual study and delight, to discharge the ministerial function, and to acquit yourself as a fervant and messenger of that redeemer, who will one day call you to an account, for the trust reposed in you. .
I intend not to insinuate any thing here concerning plu. ralities, non-residence, and the like: these are matters which concern not our present inquiry : but let the determination respecting them be what it will, this certainly is as clear as the light, that “ every man, who takes upon himself the office of a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, is absolutely and indispensably obliged to a personal discharge of that office, some where or other."- And from such a discharge. no laws or human considerations whatever, can acquit or absolve him; and they who do not, or are resolved not to discharge that duty, had far better abjure their profession, if they would avoid the terrible condemnation, which they