LORD BISHOP OF SALISBURY.
ONE OF HIS LORDSHIP'S CHAPLAINS.
BROWN & CO., SALISBURY.
LIFE IN DEATH. ST. LUKE xxiv. 4, 5.
"Behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?"
As addressed by the two angels who guarded our Lord's empty sepulchre to the holy women, "coming, as they did, very early in the morning," "bringing the spices which they had prepared," to embalm His Body, these words have an application which was strictly proper to the occasion. Our Lord's Body, which the women sought among the dead in the rock tombs of the city suburb, was even at that early hour alive and abroad in the world of living men: the sepulchre was open, and visibly empty; the weeping visitors "found the stone rolled away;" "they entered in, and found not the Body of the Lord Jesus." They were told, "He is not, here, but is risen." Had He not, even in the days of His Galilean ministry, foretold His death by crucifixion to be; followed by a Resurrection on the third day? Did not the women who came to honour His body believe His saying? Why, then, should they seek the living among the dwellings of the dead, when His own words might have prepared them to find His sepulchre deserted? It was partly in surprise, partly in reproof, but mainly and above all by way of encouragement and consolation, that that great question was put to the holy women gazing disconsolately into the tomb of Christ, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
That first sense of the words, in its fulness, cannot apply to the Christian mourner of to-day; since, as yet we are waiting for the Resurrection of the dead in Christ. The tomb of the departed Christian is not yet untenanted; the soil closes over the precious remains; nor can we be any thing like certain that it will re-open before we ourselves have passed away. No messenger from heaven stands hard by to tell us, that he whom we love is not here, but is risen; and day succeeds to night, and sunshine to storm, and winter to summer, and year to year, and still the mould and the stone rest upon the dead whom we laid beneath them. Are we, then, seeking the living among the dead, if indeed the loved remains are still there, parted from our sight only by a few feet of earth? Surely, we say to ourselves, as a matter of fact, we seek the dead among the dead: we are unlike the holy women in this, that we are not sharers in their sublime disappointment. For us the dead lie on, lying still each in his narrow chamber; and as our thought would fain follow and cling to them through the weeks, and months, and years of advancing dissolution, it becomes, even at the foot of the Cross, painfully depressed, almost materialized; as if in momentary forgetfulness of the faith and hope which have robbed death of its sting for the servants of a dead and risen Redeemer.
For what is it that Christianity has done for mankind, in respect of the most awful moment of our common destiny? It has done this:--it has given us a broader and more distant horizon; death is merely a halting-place in the journey of existence, and Christ has bidden us look beyond it. Beyond those dark caverns, beyond those frowning heights in the immediate foreground of our view, we can catch the summits of a distant range upon which the sunshine rests unceasingly, and which we may, if we will, reach at last. For Christians, indeed, death is not without its awe, not most assuredly without a sorrow, which Christ Himself has shared and blessed; but it has had the sting of despair taken altogether out of it; the Christian dead are yet, in the truest and most absolute sense, among the living; and there is a life of glory and honour in reserve even for the poor body which, for a while, and so entirely, death has humbled beneath his sway. "And I look for the Resurrection of the dead"--that is the Faith of the whole Church of Jesus Christ. It is one department of her trust in the love of a Divine Saviour, "Who shall change our body of humiliation, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious Body, according to the mighty working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself."
And yet with this faith on our lips and in our hearts, it requires a distinct effort to rise well above the depressing and materializing associations of the grave; to feel as well as to know that the victory of death over the body is but temporary, and that over the redeemed soul death has won, can win, no victory at all. Let us, then, this afternoon, forget for a while the tomb in yonder cloister, and follow reverently the steps of a great spirit passing calmly into the presence of Christ. For though we see him not, our departed Bishop is living now, in all the completeness of his intellectual life, and of his moral and spiritual consciousness; and in analyzing his character we are dealing, not with a thing of the past, which death has dissolved by a process analogous to that which separates the chemical ingredients of the decaying body, but with a perpetual, an indestructible, a living fact, known and registered before the Throne of the Eternal Christ; to Whom all souls, in some sense, live, and with Whom, after their moment of waiting in the Royal ante-chamber, "the souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are in joy and felicity."
Yes, what our Bishop was, he is still; and am I not justified in adding, my brethren, in view of that vast demonstration of affection and respect which we witnessed yesterday in this Cathedral around his coffin, and in yonder cloister at his grave, that, although parted from our sight, he lives at this moment as he never lived before--a vast moral power among us? We of his flock are like the two disciples whom the risen Christ had met on the Emmaus road, and who wondered, when it was too late, that they could not sooner recognize Him. Now that our Father in Christ is withdrawn, our eyes are opened; and in the fulness of our love and grief we feel that, almost for the first time, we can do some sort of justice to his greatness.
It is, indeed, a part of the inalienable dignity of the human soul that some influence, whether for good or evil, is inevitably exercised by each one of us--by the youngest, the weakest, the most illiterate. Often, indeed, this influence is so feeble or so subtle as to escape analysis, or even to escape observation; but it is there, whether we can detect and take it to pieces or not; and He to Whose eye the secrets of the moral world are open, and Who can take the full measure of its mysteries, has already, in His Wisdom and His Love, weighed and judged it. And in the case of a Chief Pastor of the Church, from the mere force of his position, such influence is vast, complex, penetrating, beyond all power of words to tell; so that we are to-day in danger of losing ourselves in a very maze of considerations which might rob us of their proper fruit and profit by the mere fact of their number and complexity. I shall therefore impose a severe restraint upon myself this afternoon by confining what I may have to say to those, prominent features in the example set us by our late Bishop, which it is good for us all carefully to pander over now, and indeed to keep well before our eyes until the day comes when we may hope again to meet him.
For there were, as it appears to me, three virtues in the character of Bishop Hamilton, towering high and conspicuously above the rest, and which, in their combination, constituted his force and excellence, both as a Christian, and as a ruler in the Church of Christ.
1. Of these the first, and that which at once, so to put it, caught the eye of an observer, was his transparent sincerity. It may seem but a poor thing, at first, to say of a Christian Bishop, that he was a perfectly honest man; but by the virtue in question, I do not mean merely that degree of conscientiousness which would save a man from saying deliberately what he knew to be untrue. When the moral nature is challenged, and on its guard, no man in whom the principle of truthfulness has not been fatally undermined, would be other than jealously loyal to truth; cost what it might. But the sincere habit of mind goes much further than is necessary to dictate honest words and acts on emphatic occasions. It is felt in a higher and more delicate region of the moral life; that region of minor actions in which, men are off their guard; in which nothing of consequence is at stake; where no vigilant public opinion can follow or control them; where even good, men sometimes indulge themselves in liberties with strict truth, which they only do not analyze sufficiently to condemn. It may be added that in the present circumstances of the Church of England, this higher sincerity is by no means an easy virtue, for her rulers on all occasions to exercise. Where conscientious men are unhappily and seriously divided upon subjects of grave importance, a Bishop of large-hearted sympathies will often be under the stress of a temptation, the subtlety and power of which other men can but imperfectly measure, to make some lesser sacrifices of perfect Sincerity at the shrine, I do not say of popularity, but of his own kindliness and good-nature; the anxiety to avoid giving offence to those whom he respects being a stronger motive than the desire to be true, true without exaggeration, but also without reserve, to his clear, convictions.
Now, it was in this higher sense that Bishop Hamilton was sincere, and sincere under the pressure of motives to a refined insincerity, the force of which a man of his affectionate disposition was especially likely to feel. He was in private what he was in public; he was in the inmost recesses of his heart what he was before the world. He said what he meant, and he meant what he said. His reserve, his hesitation, his very indecision or indistinctness all belonged to this sincerity: they were the outward counterpart of his inward thought when it was really indistinct or undecided. He had no notion of rounding off a sentence at the expense of an exaggeration, however slight; he had no scruple about qualifying his language with a cumbrous apparatus of adjectives and adverbs, if he could thus make it more perfectly representative of his exact mind. It never would have occurred to him to aim at a mere literary reputation; but he desired, even passionately, to be scrupulously true. On this account his style, which has sometimes been criticized by men who did not know him on the score of inflation and clumsiness, has always appeared to me to reflect one of the most consummate graces of his character: it was a living counterpart of his perfect sincerity, in making language do the exact work of expressing thought.
But this quality of sincerity became especially apparent in his public action; and indeed it was the mainspring of his conduct in the two acts of his Episcopate which have perhaps more than any others exposed him to the stress of hostile criticism.
Of these the first was the prosecution of one of the writers in Essays and Reviews, or as he himself expressed it, "the endeavour by legal proceedings to restrain one of my clergy from openly proclaiming what I could not but consider to be heresy." How much it cost him to make up his mind on that occasion; how anxious and painful was the struggle between his large heart and his stern sense of duty; how gladly he would have escaped, had escape been in his judgment morally possible, from the "most painful and unwelcome act" (as he called it) of his whole Episcopate; they only know who knew him intimately during those months of anxious deliberation. "I must take up this case," he said, "if, believing what I do, I am ever to lay my head down quietly on my pillow to die; but God knows how thankful I should be, if it were otherwise."
The other act to which I refer was His last Charge to the Clergy of his Diocese. Of the motives which determined him to deliver that Charge, there was one which weighed very powerfully with him: he had heard that he was accused of believing doctrines which he dared not proclaim, and which were, in the opinion of his accusers, inconsistent with the teaching of the English Church. He determined, as he said, to "make a clean breast of it," and to show that he considered the appeal of the Church of England to Primitive Christianity, as the clue to her interpretation of Scripture, to be, not a mere controversial weapon against the Church of Rome, but an honest, bonâ fide principle of her own, of which she was prepared to accept the full consequences. In that Charge he stated his whole mind on the subjects under discussion. He had nothing in reserve which he felt it prudent to keep back; and he repudiated, as he believed, with sufficient reason, some of these inferences which unfriendly critics deduced from his language. He foresaw much of what actually followed--so painful to a loving, sensitive, nature like his; and he bore his burden of sorrow in an uncomplaining silence, sustained by the conviction that he had been true to his own sense of truth, and to the faith and honour of his Redeemer. "There are many things," he said to me, a few weeks before his death, "with which, on looking back upon my life, I have to reproach myself; but one of the few acts, for the grace and decision to resolve upon which, at this solemn time, I thank my God, was the delivery of my last Charge; and I wish you," he added, "if you have an opportunity, to say so."
Nor may I leave this subject without one word of additional explanation. At the time of its delivery, a rumour was circulated--which has been repeated, I believe, within the last few days--to the effect that that noble Charge was in a great measure the composition of one of his Chaplains. Reading that Charge, as I did and do, with the most deferential sympathy, admiration, and gratitude, I shall not be misunderstood if I meet the rumour in question with an emphatic contradiction;--a contradiction which during his life the Bishop's wonted and Christ-like silence under the hard judgments of men, withheld; but which has now become due, both to the Church at large, and to his own precious memory. All that others contributed, at the most, to his work, were a few facts and quotations, or a few suggested modifications of expression; the outline and drift of the Charge; its idea and purpose; its body and substance, were entirely his own. No one who ever really knew our Bishop could have imagined it otherwise; could have supposed for one moment that a man, penetrated with his high sense of responsibility, would have delegated to inferior hands a duty inalienable from his high office, or would have knowingly used the words of another without explicit acknowledgment. Then, as always, he said out what he believed, as he believed, and because he believed it. He had not indeed time to complete his full intended statement; he would have done so, had God spared his life until next year, by taking, as the main subject of his Charge to his Diocese, the "grounds and the obligations of the allegiance which we owe to the Church of England."
Had he lived to do this, he would have met for himself and in detail another misapprehension which never could have found a place in any man's thought who really knew him. None who really knew him could for one moment have dreamt that any material or social attractions belonging to his position, any shrinking from personal suffering, or even any fear of inflicting perplexity and distress upon others, would have availed to persuade him, for a single hour, to retain high office in a Church whose claims upon his conscience were condemned by his convictions. He would have shrunk with the whole strength of his true and noble soul from the slightest taint of so deep a degradation. Nor, I will be bold to say, were his convictions on this subject governed or even modified by the fact that he was a Bishop. He was a man to be sensitively jealous in watching himself in this very particular; and if there was any real moral danger on such a score to have been apprehended, it was, not lest his belief should be accommodated to his position, but lest his sensitive conscience should treat the worldly attractions, as they might be deemed, of his position itself as a reason for bias against the belief which it implied. Certainly he had scanned long and anxiously the arguments by which the Church of Rome endeavours to justify both her peremptory claim to be alone the Body of Christ, and those additions which she has made to the original and unchanging deposit of the Faith; certainly, also, he never permitted himself to use language with regard to her which was other than studiously respectful, and temperate, and accurately expressive of his exact conviction. But he was satisfied, in his inmost heart and conscience, that he was doing God's Will by living and dying in the Church of England, as being a true portion of the Holy Body of the Saviour, clearly not without her full share of practical difficulties and shortcomings, but also, most assuredly, not without an inheritance of some signal blessings peculiarly her own.
Who can ever have seen him, as have you yourselves, my brethren, so often seen him, when engaged in administering Orders or Confirmation in this his Cathedral Church, without being struck by the intense reality of his accent and action; without feeling, that to him every single word represented a spiritual fact, or some part of it, clearly displayed before the eye of his own soul, and commanding its most earnest attention? And, as with his language to God so with his language to man: he always meant it. Never was there a man in whom truth of feeling was less encumbered and shrouded by conventionalisms of phrase; never was there a high official in Church or State more entirely free from the spirit of a routine officialism. And this profound sincerity was a first condition of his moral power over the hearts and minds of men. Men might dislike or resist his teaching; they might, while they kept at a distance, mistake its significance. But to know him at all, as he was, was to feel that you stood in the presence of a great soul, hating the darkness of falsehood, and loving the light of truth with its whole strength and intensity; it was to be awed, if not into absolute acquiescence in what he said, at least into a love and reverence for what he was, which a really guileless heart ever commands.
2. A second leading feature of your Bishop's character was his large-heartedness. He was naturally genial and affectionate, loving the fellowship of others, and entering warmly into their hopes and fears; and what nature had begun in him was purified and carried to a higher perfection by Divine Grace. Next to the service of God and communion with Him, the deepest and purest pleasures of his life were, I am well persuaded, those which came, from intercourse with his fellow-men: his great heart seemed to warm and expand almost sensibly when it was in contact with others. Especially did he enter, as few men with the business of a great diocese on their hands could enter, into the individual sorrows, and what perhaps is harder, into the individual joys of all,--of clergy and laymen, of old and young, of simple and gentle,--of the poor and the friendless more especially. There seemed to be in him a fountain of sympathy which was never dry, never ill-supplied; all men had a claim upon it; all who would were, refreshed by it. It was St. John's doctrine in practice; the love of God showing itself in the love of men; the Divine love penetrating a human heart and shining through it on hearts around. You read it in that open beaming, countenance, in that frank engaging manner; you read it in those countless deeds of generosity, known many of them to all men, many of them unknown to all save a very few, many, I am certain, known only to God besides himself; you read it in that hospitality which, while it was never ostentatious, was carried to the very verge of imprudence; you read if in that assemblage which gathered yesterday around his grave, and which comprised not even a tithing of the hearts that, throughout this diocese, ay, and the length and breadth of England, have mourned in him a departed father. For indeed his generous love was impatient of any Barriers, such as fence in the sympathies of narrower souls; even when his most energetic convictions might have appeared likely to cramp the play of his affections, he was especially on his guard to prevent it. Although his attachment to the Church was a matter of profound conviction, which jealously guarded, as in the interests of Christ, every detail of her apostolical structure and of her distinctive sacramental teaching, so that he was, what the world calls a very High Churchman; yet I never once heard him use, I believe that he never was capable of using, one single word of impulsive disrespect or ill-feeling towards Nonconformists. On the contrary, he frequently maintained that they had great claims upon his sympathy and those of his clergy on the express ground that if in bygone times we of the Church of England had done our duty, had given proof of the love and zeal which they too often sought in vain in the parish Churches of England, they never would have drifted into separation and error. And few things gave him truer pleasure during his last illness than the players which, as he was told, were offered for him in the Nonconformist chapels of Salisbury, and elsewhere in his diocese.
Like his sincerity, Bishop Hamilton's large-heartedness was not without an influence on his theological teaching; it was at the root of the aspirations to which he gave expression in his Charge of 1864 for the Reunion of Christendom. To his loving heart it seemed intolerable that no note of brotherly affection should ever replace for a moment the harsh misunderstandings or the cruel necessities of controversy; that no message of good will should ever be sped across the chasms which part the divided Churches of Christ. Not that he was prepared to deny any thing vital that Rome might deny to us, or to concede all, or any thing like all, that she might ask for herself; not that he saw his way through the intricacies of a feud, complicated by national prejudices as well as by inveterate suspicions. Even if nothing came of it, one voice at least, he felt, should be raised, which might lead some, either now or hereafter, at least to wish to rectify or to explain; to dismiss passion and to look at questions on their naked intellectual merits; to make the most that was honestly possible of points of agreement, and the least that, could be made honestly of points of difference. Surely this was no unworthy work in a servant and minister of the Crucified, Who had died, that He might break down the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile; Whose Blood at this very hour alone washes all souls who are admitted at all to the Eternal Presence. Our Bishop has passed into that Presence, where separation and controversy are unknown; where no harsh voices of irritated combatants struggling desperately with each other at the very foot of the Cross of Reconciliation can ever penetrate; where involuntary hostilities have been mutually pardoned, and errors made in good faith have been explained. But his words of peace still sound among us; they still have a work, it may be, to do, in the cause of charity and of God, within this or the coming generation. "It is God That maketh men to be of one mind in an house;" but short of the disposition itself, which is a grace from heaven, a great Ruler in the Christian Church can do much towards levelling those barriers of mutual prejudice which are the most potent causes of separation. And Bishop Hamilton did it.
Our Bishop's earnest charity was not, however, restricted to circumstances, where it might be made easy by the bent of natural disposition, or by the impulses of ecclesiastical bias. He practised it resolutely at times when to most men it is very difficult to do so; in private as well as in public; in matters where his deepest convictions and feelings were not unlikely to embarrass him. He was not merely a man who was easily roused, even to indignation, by any reflections upon the character of his friends; he would not suffer, in his presence, any ascription of false motives to those who felt it to be their duty to oppose him. "Really," he would say, "we are bound to give them credit for the upright intentions of which we are conscious ourselves; depend upon it, we are very likely to look upon what they say and do with a jaundiced eye; they mean to do well, in their way, just as much as we do."
It once happened that the same post brought him one letter containing an account of a case of distress, and another with an extract from a newspaper containing a sharp attack upon himself. The latter he destroyed at once; the former he discussed again and again during the day, as if it had quite taken possession of him, and he was unable to put it aside. On another occasion he had been looking forward with considerable anxiety to a public meeting which was summoned, for a controversial purpose, in another part of the diocese. Yet, when the newspaper containing the report of that meeting was brought him, he desired his chaplain first to "see whether there were any such misrepresentations of fact as required an answer, and next to observe whether any thing that was said was in any way likely to give him bitter feelings towards any one of the speakers." On being answered, he said, "Don't tell me the names of the speakers, and put the whole thing into the fire at once; it is not easy, now-a-days, to be in charity with all men, if I am to read all that is said about me in the newspapers."
Certainly, in his last illness, this great grace of charity was very conspicuous. Among the hours which he daily spent in prayer, he devoted two or more in each day, during some months of his illness, to intercession for his diocese. He used to take so many parishes each day, with a map; and then went over the clergy, churchwardens, school-teachers, laity, all of whom he knew any thing in the parish praying for them, one by one, according to their individual needs, as he knew, or understood, or conjectured them. He more than once said, "I have not been able to-day to get over so many parishes as I expected; there was so very much to be thought of." Late in his illness, he said, "In spite of my sins, God has given me one blessing for which I cannot sufficiently thank Him; so far as I know, there is no one human being in this world towards whom I have any feeling of bitterness whatever, or for whom I do not wish from the bottom of my heart all happiness here and hereafter."
3. A third prominent feature of our Bishop's character was his humility. This was a result of his sincerity in dealing with himself; he was so habitually impressed with the sense of his personal sinfulness and nothingness before God, that he took no pleasure in any thing that enhanced or emphasized his personal importance, and much in anything that diminished it. His inmost feeling was that of St. Paul in to-day's Epistle: "I am the least of the Apostles, that am not meet to be called an Apostle;" it was that of the Publican in to-day's Gospel, who "lifted not up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." His humility was not so much a virtue as an instinct; or rather it was a virtue which had become an instinct. But it was not, probably, always natural to him; and had been cultivated by a severe self-discipline through which he made the most of the teaching and grace of the Holy Spirit, in beating down the self-asserting tendencies of his natural heart. How carefully he had marked, as was his wont, passages in books which bore on the formation and growth of this particular virtue, I have had occasion to observe more than once; and now and then sayings would fall from him, showing how earnestly he longed to make way in what he held to be the very first step of all practical Christianity. "So long," he said once, "as a man keeps pride and conceit in his heart, no spiritual good can really come to him;" and his life, so far as I knew it, was one constant effort to put this maxim into practice.
It is indeed true, that of his office in the Church of Christ he had the highest possible estimate. Believing with his whole heart that he was a, true successor of the Apostles, he would not consent, either to please friend or foe, to bate one inch of an Apostolical bearing. But he drew a line, trenchant and deep, between the spiritual essence and the temporal accidents of his office. The Peerage, with which the English Episcopate is still decorated by the State, presented no real attractions to so unworldly a soul as Bishop Hamilton's; he did not neglect the opportunities it occasionally afforded him of guarding the spiritual interests of the Church, but it formed no element whatever in his habitual appreciation of his place and work as an English Bishop. For himself he dreaded the worldly tone which this side of such a position so often seemed to him to bring with it; and after the first year of his Episcopate, when, as Chaplain to the House of Lords, he was obliged to reside in London, he lived, as you know, constantly here among the people whose Chief Pastor he was, and in whose spiritual good the whole interest of his heart was entirely centred. His tastes, his habits, his life, were those, not of an English nobleman, but of a Christian pastor; he studiously avoided every thing that could minister to mere personal ostentation; he gave of what he possessed with both hands, but he spent little enough on himself or on his family. To use his own words, he "could not see that it would be for the good of the Church, if he were to diminish his subscriptions in order to keep a carriage, or to take a house in town during the season."
Certainly, too, he drew another line, equally deep and broad, between his Office and his personal self. To him his Office was Christ's gift, Christ's commission; and he felt that he could not easily make too much of it, either in thought or practice. But it was conferred on him, not for his personal aggrandizement, but in the interests of souls; and he was perpetually dwelling upon the contrast which, to his mind, there existed between its requirements and his own life and work. If with the Apostle he could exclaim, "I magnify mine office," he would with the same Apostle add most fervently, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." Of his whole self--intellectual, moral, spiritual--he had the lowest possible estimate; he always protested that, but for an influence which he dared not resist, the voice which spoke to him from the death-bed of his predecessor, nothing would have induced him to be a Bishop; he was persuaded in his heart, that in point of mental ability and moral power his own position was far below that of every member of the Bench. "I believe," he said once, after a long silence, during his last illness, "that I have been one of the very worst and most useless Bishops that the Church has ever had; I never felt," he added, "the truth of this so fully as I do at this moment."
It has, indeed, to say the truth, often occurred, at least to me, that his great humility, leagued with his generosity, sometimes betrayed him into administrative mistakes. In those about him, in those who were more immediately in his confidence, he habitually beheld the foil to his own shortcomings; and, as a consequence, he invested them with ideal qualities beyond their real capacities and merits. For himself he had literally no generosity or consideration whatever; he gave himself no quarter; when he did allude to his own ministerial acts, it was with the melancholy accent which befits an unwelcome and repulsive subject.
Like the other two virtues which I have named, Bishop Hamilton's humility determined very largely his posture towards Christian truth. It explains the deep moral repulsion which he felt for the temper and methods of the modern destructive criticism, and the unreserved deference with which he bent before the clearly ascertained mind of Scripture, and the Consent of the Universal Church. It explains, beyond all else, his simple worship of, love towards, dependence on Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, as the Teacher, and, above all, as the Redeemer of his soul. It is, I trust, no violation of the sanctities of his death-bed to bear witness before his flock to his own experience of the great realities which he has so often preached. His illness was one long act of penitence for sins. By night and by day he was, as he said often, in the words of the Prayer Book, "made to possess his former iniquities;" iniquities, many of which, to a coarser and less sensitive conscience, would not have appeared to be iniquitous at all. By night and by day, he repeated again and again, with tears, the Seven Penitential Psalms, and the Confession of Sins in the second part of Bishop Andrewes' Devotions; feeling that he could never be sufficiently broken-hearted for any single act, or word, or thought by which he had ever offended God. "The one thing," he said, "which I dread more than any thing else is a hard, cold heart in thinking of my sins." Certainly such a penitence as his, so much in keeping with the spirit of the Psalter, was a token, not of any exceptionable sinfulness which made it needful, but of his nearness to and understanding of the Sanctity of God. Nor was this utter repudiation and contempt of self unbalanced by that which can alone prevent its degenerating into a reckless despair. The two prayers which he said, especially during the later months of his illness, most Constantly during the day, were those from the Litany and the Service for the Visitation of the Sick, which, as he remarked, kept him most effectually at the feet of our Lord. "O Saviour of the world, who by Thy Cross and Precious Blood hast redeemed me, Save me, and help me, I humbly beseech Thee, O Lord." "By the mystery of Thine holy Incarnation; by Thy holy Nativity and Circumcision; by Thy Baptism, Fasting, and Temptation, Good Lord, deliver me. By Thine Agony and bloody Sweat; by Thy Cross and Passion; by Thy precious Death and Burial; by Thy glorious Resurrection and Ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Ghost, Good Lord, deliver me." The one chief thing for which he expressed a longing a very few hours before he died, was, to "place his whole confidence, more and more perfectly, in the Precious Blood."
It may seem wonderful that a man endued with such graces as your Bishop should have passed through so sharp a trial to his rest. For, indeed, his mental sufferings were of themselves excessive. "I am sure," said the author of the Christian Year in 1864, "that no man with the tender heart and sensitive conscience of the Bishop of Salisbury could be in his position without leading a very suffering life." So, indeed, it was; and his mental distress was in time aggravated by the illness which it immediately precipitated. Well nigh ten months of bodily anguish preceded his release. "I suppose," he said, "that an English Bishop gets a great deal of the dust and dirt of this world about him during his passage through life; and that he needs something like this, if he is ever to have any place, even the lowest, in the Presence of Christ." His stormy day was followed by a sunset so bright and blessed, that they who looked on cannot easily call to mind all that preceded it. All the incidents of his dying hours were a long comment upon the gracious promise, which seemed fully realized for him, even before its predestined time, "And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
He has gone: leaving us the legacy of his great example, of his clear truthfulness, of his wide charity, of his deep lowliness of heart. Much might be said of the lesser gifts which clustered around these more magnificent graces;--but I forbear. Yet I cannot admit that Bishop Hamilton's claim to lire in the memory of a grateful Church is only associated with the virtues of his character. His intellectual power was of an order which, apart from his high position, would always have ensured deferential attention. It is true that he took no part in politics; he had fixed opinions about them, and felt strongly upon some political questions, especially if he understood them to bear upon the moral or material interests of the people. But he deliberately abstained from identifying the cause of the Church, as represented in his person, with any political party whatever. "We clergy have enough work to do," he used to say, "in bringing men to know and love God, against the bent and bias of their nature, without making our task more difficult by enlisting against ourselves any of the great sections of political feeling." His intellectual life found its exercise in the administration of his diocese, in dwelling on the great problems which must be suggested to every thoughtful mind by the present state of Christendom, and, when his diocesan work permitted it, in the eager study of pure theology. As an administrator, indeed, a much less able man than he, with such commanding moral qualities, must necessarily have succeeded; as a theologian, he has unfortunately had time and leisure to leave nothing behind him which affords any moderately adequate idea of his great accomplishments. It may, however, safely be said that he has left Charges and Sermons which are not destined to be forgotten.
If it should be thought that a neglect of the beauties of style, or the fact that he wrote but little, are fatal to a man's claims to be a divine, it might be remembered that the rugged Latin of Tertullian was no bar to his vast influence in the Anti-Nicene age of Western Christendom, and that the few "thoughts" of Pascal have done more work in defence of Christianity than many ponderous volumes that might be named. Or, if we go higher, St. Peter's place in the Theology of the Apostolical Church, as bridging over the contrasts between St. Paul on the one hand, and St. John, and still more St. James, on the other, is not the loss permanently important, because he wrote, not fourteen, but only two short Epistles; and the inspired Apostle of the Gentiles is not, at this hour, less absolute in the sway he wields over the mind of Christendom because some of his Corinthian contemporaries were deliberately of opinion that his "speech" was "contemptible." Excellence, not bulk; thoughts, not style; these are the criteria which really deserve attention; and Bishop Hamilton possessed in a very high degree some of the special qualities of a theological mind. His thought was full of substance and muscle, and yet he was sensitively alive to the finer subtleties which fringe many of the frontiers of truth, and the perception of which is needed in order to save men with the best intentions from blundering into very serious errors. He was, in the play and action of his intellectual life, at once enthusiastic and cautious; he could see as far as most men into the true reach and drift of an argument, whether it were sceptical or constructive; he could do justice to the intercepting facts which might claim to bar its onward progress; he could follow it, under modified and attenuated forms, into consequences reaching to a very distant horizon, almost beyond the reach of the mental vision. His great reverence for truth always supplied a check upon any tendency to setting value on constructive or imaginative speculation, beyond the ascertained limits of Revelation; and it is only here and there, in a chance word or phrase, that you detect the great vistas of thought which were frequently before him. Yet, as men speak, it was a "chance" sentence of Origen which suggested his great "Analogy" to Bishop Butler; and there are pregnant thoughts in the few remains which Bishop Hamilton has left us, capable of being expanded by other hands, into speculative treatises or into practical consequences, which might reveal the real extent of his penetration. It were easy to dwell at length on such a subject, as to which I confess to feeling jealous of his honour; but, once more, I forbear. He himself never coveted in his secret heart the applause which is given among men, so readily but so falsely, to intellectual rather than to moral greatness; he would, could he speak to us now, rebuke me for dwelling, in these, solemn moments, on any thing that only touched his personal credit. Ay, if that beautiful soul, which somewhere in the Land of Rest is gazing with awe and love upon the unveiled Face of Jesus, could rejoin the body which we yesterday laid to rest in yonder tomb till the morning of the Resurrection, in order once more to address a message of love and warning to the Church he loved so well from this pulpit of his Cathedral,--what would that message be? Surely none other than the angels' reproof, "Why seek ye the living realities amid the dead bones of human reputation and applause, or of human criticism? Lift up your hearts to a higher and a truer comprehension of the solemnities of life; and at the grave of your Bishop understand what it is to live--and whether you will or not, to have to die. That awful and blessed gift of life;--we only take its measure in the presence of death; then only do we perceive that, whatever may be its length, it is but the moment upon which there hangs an eternity. What we arc outwardly in this world, what men think or say of us, of our titles, of our incomes, or of the absence of them;--all this matters but little; all these are levelled by death. But what we are in ourselves, in our consciences, our hopes, our affections, and wills, before God our Father in heaven, and His blessed Son our Divine Redeemer;--this is a matter of an importance that is simply unspeakable, fraught to each one of us with consequences more lasting and momentous than the mind of man can conceive."
This, or something like this, is what he would say; and as we leave this Church let us take to heart, each and all, as from him, such a parting message in full view of his true and affectionate character. No one of us, I am certain, can fail to feel something of the responsibility which is involved in having, according to our several opportunities,-been brought so near to a great and noble a Christian. "Let us fear, lest, a promise being left us also of entering into the rest." which became his one short week since, "any of you should seem to come short of it." It is easy, but perilous, to waste in a burst of transient feeling, or in a few conventional phrases of homage and admiration, an opportunity for laying in a "stock of solid principles, capable of working in us a true and lasting change, and certain to stand us in good stead in our parting hour. Let us fear to seek the living spirit, only amid the dead, half-insincere expressions which will soon have been forgotten. Let us indeed honour with all love and reverence his silent tomb in yonder cloister; but let us remember that we honour him best when, with an eye to our own practical improvement, we resolve to keep steadily and constantly before our minds, all or something of what he was, while he was still among us, or rather, of what he is in Paradise before the Throne of Christ.