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only, however, the pre-eminent and the few: the bulk and mass of the saints fade away from time in undistinguishable excellence, to be recalled in the more capacious memory of eternity. They are all treasured above with a fidelity that certifies, Not one of them is lost. This is sufficient guarantee of posthumous remembrance for us all. We are content to abide the great day which will revive the forgotten, and rectify the erring verdicts of the past. But the church sees fit to preserve the memorials of some in every age; to continue the golden chain from the beginning; to attest the unfailing vigour of the Gospel; to insure the fidelity of history to the glory of God; to degrade all other standards of excellence; and to stimulate posterity to emulation. These objects give a sublime dignity to religious biography; and they warrant, also, a rigorous censorship, that the recorded mind of the church may echo His estimate who is the Fountain of all honour. There cannot be a higher commendation of this book than to say, that it establishes a valid claim for its subject to a place in the church's remembrance,-of which, doubtless, he himself cherished, among his profoundest sentiments, a secret and joyful instinct. It portrays a man whose great aim through life was the advancement of the Christian religion ; whose zeal in this behalf was never weary; and who, if surpassed by many that are gone-as he undoubtedly was-in various particular attributes of excellence, was honoured in death by his Master with as full testimony of Ilis favour as ever anticipated the last award.
But this work is a tribute, also, to the interest which is felt by the Chris tian community in the history and habits of those who have been long familiar to our eye, commanding our attention, or influencing our wellbeing. This curiosity so far governs the public taste, as to have created for its gratification an entire department of literature. We love to connect public events with the actors in them, and to trace the current of affairs by the lights of domestic life, as well as by the torches of more dignified history. The eagerness with which biographies of this class are demanded, and the rapidity with which large editions are yearly exhausted, very impressively suggest how much they mould the public opinion on religious subjects, and low great, therefore, is their importance as an element of usefulness. Dr. Stowell will think it but faint dispraise that we assign his volume a place lower than the first, among works of popular interest. This may be owing either to the slenderness of his material, or to the stringency of the rule he applies in such composition. There is, however, much high enforcement of Christian principle, to atone for the meagerness of private detail. If a prurient curiosity is baffled in the pursuit of secret history, coincidences, and revelations, no earnest student of the things of the age-no inquirer after truth—will be disappointed in these pages, viewed as a delineation of the growth of a character. No study is more profoundly interesting than the development of a great mental and moral being. Especially is it edifying, to see how Christianity compounds the elements of a Christian man and a Christian Minister; to watch the touches of time and of grace upon the character; to mark the struggles of the strong man with the Stronger than he; to see good tendencies gradually matured, and evil ones repressed ; and all the mystery of man’s nature raised to perfection. It is most useful, also, though of less tremendous import, to watch the moulding of the intellectual man, and the steps which lead to public eminence. All these things elevate biography-when the subject is worthy, and worthily treated-almost to the highest range of human writing. Dr. Hamilton presents a noble object of such contempla
tion; and had he permitted his own hand to be more manifest, by such disclosure of the history of his inner life as he only could make, the work might have been more directly and permanently useful to a large class of readers. If the spirit of autobiography could have been infused into the earlier portion of it, the masterly analysis of the author himself, given at the close, would have left nothing wanting.
The grandfather of Hamilton came from Scotland to London in the early part of the last century. Himself a Baptist, he married one of the first Methodists; and became the father of a family distributed between the English Established Church and the Congregationalists. Richard Winter descended from him in the Nonconformist line. His father was an Independent Minister in Brighton, connected by marriage with several eminent families of that denomination. The ministerial honour seemed to rest upon the whole lineage,--a distinction of which the subject of this notice was deeply sensible. Blessed are the households in which the linen ephod thus dwells. Blessed are those fathers whose sons are counted worthy to transmit it.
He was born in 1794. In his eleventh year he lost his mother. The extracts from her correspondence, which are almost too copious, prove this to have been an irreparable loss. She watched and studied the marked character of her son ; and was beginning, when death removed her, to exert a wholesome influence upon it. We see in the traces of his childhood the versatile attention, the riotous spirits, and the dawn of that beautiful imagination, which afterwards distinguished him. We find there no promise of learning ; but exact premonitions of the bold, frank, buoyant love of the beautiful which gladdened his after-life. His education does not seem to have been favourable for the peculiar constitution of his mind. Removed from place to place, no stringent discipline fashioned him to habits of system and perseverance. His vivacity of mind carried him through everything forced upon his attention, but over many things left to his own discretion. His earliest deep religious impressions were formed at school ; and scarcely had he reached his sixteenth year when the precocity of his piety and gifts induced his friends to further his fixed inclination to the Christian ministry. After some preliminary correspondence, we find him admitted to Hoxton Academy. There he commenced his career of preaching, and at this premature age gave earnest of brilliant success. While at Hoxton, he seems not to have been subjected to the rigorous discipline which his case required : for, though his tutors were men of worth and penetration, the general efficiency of the institution was far below the point it subsequently reached. This is an element of great importance in the estimate of an intellectual character in inany respects so lawless. In his twenty-first year we find him, after a short, irregular ministration, ordained to the pastoral charge of the Independent congregation then assembling in Albion chapel, Leeds ; among whom he spent his public life.
To readers of this work familiar with the peculiar approaches of our own ministry, many things in the details of this summary process may seem strange ; especially at a time when all that concerns the sacred office encounters a keen and irritated scrutiny. The extreme youth of the candidate, the negative character of his own impressions, the sanguine reliance en the mere prophecy of his preaching powers, nay, the seeming absence of peculiar Divine sanction, and even of confirmation on the part of the people, may contrast unfavourably with the severe rigour of the fences which guard the ministry among ourselves. Yet we find both the people
and the Holy Ghost undeniably sanctioning this great step; and thus teaching us that there is something above the mechanism of the church, which we may but dimly understand. To those, however, who are free from such sensitiveness on this subject, Mr. Hamilton's position will appear deeply interesting. In the very prime of his youth he is the centre of a high and sacred combination of men ; his charge and responsibility increasing only with the increase of his power and experience. A dense population around awaits his influence, and may be infinitely interested in its character. His people sympathise with him, allowing nothing to rob their Pastor of the slightest fraction of their essential co-operation. Evils may suggest themselves to qualify this picture ; but, as far as they were external, his commanding talents set them at nought; as far as they are within him, his help is in God alone.
Mr. Hamilton's first impression upon the town of Leeds promised the soundest popularity. His chapel was crowded. The extraordinary powers of the young Preacher, the intellectual elaboration of his discourses, and the attractions of a sparkling style, excited the deepest interest in the community. But the premature publication of a sermon, in which his peculiarities of thought and diction appeared in unchastened exuberance, checked for a season his growing influence. The sermon was connected with an incident deeply affecting to the Preacher. His pastoral services had been engaged in behalf of an unfortunate man who lay under the severe sentence of the law against forgery. Mr. Flamilton's conduct, throughout this most trying inauguration into the cure of souls, was most creditable to his skill and to his zeal. The sermon alluded to was preached after the death of the penitent offender. It was published by request, but found no favour in the eyes of criticism. A consciousness of sincerity and purity of motive, however, sustained the writer; and his elastic mind, though long vibrating to the shock, re-asserted its independence. In the same year, and before the public had recovered from his sesquipedalian assault, we find him either defying or propitiating its judgment by two other discourses on the most influential topics of the day. The one on the death of the Princess Charlotte sustains a very fair comparison, in some points, with much of the best pulpit-oratory which that affecting event awakened. Practical earnestness appears in a combination, not usual, with ornate dignity of elocution. These sermons were followed, in almost annual succession, by others of the highest pretension ; all of them giving proof of qualities in the Preacher strikingly incongruous with his age.
About the year 1827 Mr. Hamilton began to engage the public attention as a man of letters. The establishment of a “ Literary and Philosophical *Institution” furnished at once a congenial source of intellectual gratification, and an opportunity of turning to account his stores of miscellaneous knowledge. In the lectures which he delivered, his versatile intellect disports over many a region of history and imagination. There his humour and wit are unchecked. Many of the most elaborate of these disquisitions, with some others that had been floating in periodicals, were subsequently re-published under the misnomer, “ Nugæ Literariæ." His taste for learning, and his enthusiasm for the fine arts, soon made him the centre of a pretty wide circle. All admired the richness of his gifts ; but some wondered, and others grieved, at his marvellous facility in mingling the sacred with the secular, and his unrestrained resort to sources of pleasure conventionally proscribed. But Mr. Hamilton must have the benefit of every honest man’s refuge,-his principle. He acted, through life, on the determination to use the full liberty of Christianity in the full enjoyment of every instinct of pleasure in his nature. While faithful to the central claims of his spiritual being, he was not inclined to be forgetful of the subordinate elements of life. He disowned the distinction of secular and sacred, which he would doubtless have denounced as a miserable perversion of the idea of Christianity,—the system which is designed to sanctify all life. If the pleasures of the table, the social circle, the concert, the lectureroom, were admitted into his idea of Christian enjoyment more freely than many would tolerate, it was on the principle that “all things are yours,” by an unlimited charter to a thankful and spiritual mind. Perhaps, while his eye was straight before him, he was not anxious enough to look obliquely at accessory results. He perhaps overmuch disregarded the imposed habiliments of religion :-a dangerous contempt, save when the irradiation from within is intensely bright. But, while the relations between the free and the subject spirit of personal religion may be but dimly defined to many, the general sense of Christian people scarcely errs in demanding a severe tribute to the latter element from the Minister who represents to them holy things alone. All bore witness that the principle which regulated Mr. Hamilton's ministerial and pastoral duties was as rigid as his private rule was tolerant. There must have been much repression in such grave and reverent handling of all Divine things as distinguished his ministry ; a plea that will be duly estimated by those who call to mind the licence of too many pulpits in the last and the present century.
Mr. Hamilton had not long been devoted to the public service, when his energies were attracted to two great objects, glorious outgoings of the Christianity of later times,---namely, the Abolition of Slavery and the Cause of Missions. It might be expected that a young man with so warm a heart, and so vigorous a mind, would be roused by the most powerful appeals that ever issued from the heart of Christianity ; but we were scarcely prepared to expect, at so unripe an age, such loftiness of principle and such dignified oratory as we find him bringing to their service. The firstfruits of his ardour were offered on a memorable occasion, which affectingly united these two great objects,-the martyrdom of the Missionary Smith, who fell a victim to the cause of liberty and Christianity in Demerara in the year 1824. Mr. Hamilton's lament over the death of this proto-martyr of modern Missions scarcely befits, in its magniloquence, the simple awfulness of the subject ; but the sermon may be read with much interest, as an expansion of the topic suggested in the following sentences :
The fire will alike prey on the worth. He was “straiteaed,” by earnest and less stubble of the field, and devour the mighty longings, to assume. But if we lofty cedar of the forest. We wear the refuse labour, sacrifice, privation, rebadge of Him who had “a baptism to be proach, and even death, for His sake and baptized with," and votively dedicated ihe Gospel's, we virtually renounce the Himself to the consummation of His Christian profession. Whilst He rati. mediatory work with His own blood. fies His baptism, we are a postates from He has not forsaken His pledge, which our own. (P. 140.)
He fully gave up the sympathies of his soul to the cause of the slaves. No one was more deeply touched by those most amazing wrongs of humanity ; and no one responded more heartily to that vehement appeal which they made to the British community for emancipation.-A like devotion to the Mission-cause gave a distinguishing feature to his life. Its vast principles and objects enchained a mind which sought out, with the avidity of instinct, all that was stamped with grandeur in the world of thought and enterprise. More than this, his soul was touched with that mighty influence which originated the mercies of heaven and the hopes of earth. Faithful to its impulse, he declined no service which it imposed upon him. He was a ready servant of the London and other Missionary Societies, for which he undertook journeys, preached sermons, and delivered speeches, that would have sufficed to give a character to his life. Among his later labours was the preparation of a Prize Essay on Missions, which was esteemed, in practical value, second to “ The Great Commission,”—a judgment in which he gracefully coincided. Two interesting episodes of these Memoirs are occupied with Dr. Hamilton's own narrative of Missionary excursions in Ireland and Scotland. Altogether, in fact, the work has a deep Missionary interest.
To this baptism of the Missionary influence he earnestly endeavoured to bring his people. He was deeply convinced that a Christian church is but an unworthy counterpart of the pattern shown in the Mount, while this element is wanting in its constitution ; that it very faintly reflects Christ's image, and very feebly executes His will, if it forgets the world. His congregation enlarged their charity, and the Lord soon enlarged their borders. The following detached passages are echoes of a sermon preached a quarter of a century ago. It may be remarked, in passing, that the Preacher prefaced this discourse with an apology for its unlaboured, simple, and common-place style ;-& striking illustration of the inveterate perversion of his taste.
Speaking of Britain, and its Roman conqueror, he says :
But we now see that his eagle was Without occupying your time in the the harbinger of a nobler conquest; that attempt to pursue the race from which he was the breaker-up before a more vic- our forefathers descended, wben the torious influence ; and that, though “he “isles of the Gentiles were divided in meant not so, neither did his heart think their lands, every one after his tongue, so,” the Cross was ushered into our na- after their families, in their nations ; tive borders beneath his banner; and or to discuss the legends of our remote that all the blessings of Christianity fol- and uncertain history; we may assert that lowed in his train. With nearly his Christianity was early made known to promptitude, our religion “ came, saw, us by son.e Missionaries-- Missionaries conquered."
authorised and appointed for the work, I am not to learn that many have exclusively attached and given wholly to treated the origination of Christianity it, labouring, watching, striving, endurin this land as the effect of accident; as ing contradictions, meeting discomfitures, the result of military and mercantile re- not conversing about this religion as lations; as attributable to the process accidental sojourners might, but arriving which ever assimilates the colony to the and settling here to introduce it, living parent state. This supposition is con- and dying here to propagate it. No trary to all fact; is opposed to the na- heraldic blazonry irradiates their name ; ture of things. The Gospel can only be no monumental marble
their planted by direct and systematic exer- dust; but not less beautiful were the tions. These exertions must be single feet of them that preached to us the and most devoted. “How could we hear Gospel of peace, and brought us glad without a Preacher? how could they tidings of good things. preach, except they were sent?” It The Christianity which was planted would be just as reasonable to ascribe among us was not distorted and wither. our conversion to mere travellers, traders, ing, but healthy and vigorous. It was and soldiers, as it will be in a future age no sickly scion, but an offshoot from the to affirm that Tahiti was christianised by tree of life. The parent sap was long Cook, Africa by Chievres, or Hindustan retained. It struck a deep root into our by Clive.
soil; and its leaves were for the healing of our nation.