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This is but a summary of what Lardner did, and of what he was; and when it is recollected that not a few of his works were published at, a considerable loss, it may be justly said of him, that he did good, “ expecting nothing again ;" his delight was to be spent in the service of his Lord. And can we believe, in the absence of all evidence to the contrary, that the closing hours of this faithful servant of Christ, were not cheered and consoled by the sure and steadfast hope of a happy immortality !--Can we believe that no recompense awaits him in the resurrection of the just ?
Dr. Abraham Rees, the well-known Editor of the New Cyclopædia, after an active, useful, and happy life, extended beyond the common term of human existence, having attained to his eighty-second year, was favoured with a departure hence as natural, easy, serene, and christian, as could be desired by mortal being. “Our departed friend,” says Mr. Aspland, who preached his funeral sermon, “was equally anxious to secure in his religious system the supreme glory of God the Almighty Father, and to magnify the work, exalt the mediation, and honour the charracter of the Saviour. * * * His heart was always right. His Christian principles never forsook him; they had been the guide of his youth, and the distinction of his mature life, and they were the stay of his old age. His trust was fixed on the mercy of God through Christ, and he was not afraid to die. The expression of his eyes
and the posture of his hands, in his last moments, denoted that his mind was engaged in devotion after his tongue had ceased to perform its office. He sunk gradually into his last sleep, and the tenor of his life emboldens me to say that he died in the Lord.”
The Reverend Thomas Belsham, died November 11th, 1829, twenty-one years after the Rev. Theophilus Lindsey, and was buried, by their previous mutual agreement, in the same vault, at Bunhill Fields. As regards the intimate relation in which he stood to the latter pious confessor in the cause of Christian truth, he is described in the words of one who highly cherished his memory as his friend, his successor in the pastoral office, his fellow-labourer in the cause of divine truth, and his affectionate biographer. Amiable and venerable were they in their lives, and, agreeably to their mutual wishes and pledges, in death
they are not divided. And we are told by the same able delineator of his mind and character, his intimate and faithful friend (the late Mr. Aspland), that there was nothing in the time or manner of his death to produce consternation and terror, or to excite that bitterest grief which refuses to be comforted. He came to the grave full of days. His end was peaceful, and a release, in short, from growing infirmities. He died as he had lived, cherishing the blessed hope of immortality. Few persons
had studied the evidences of the gospel more, or were more familiar with the pages of the New Covenant ; and none, perhaps, have entertained a more steady, rational faith in the glorious doctrine of eternal life. He acknowledged with gratitude, as he looked back upon the way in'which the Lord his God had led him, that he had passed a happy life ; not wholly exempt, indeed, from care and trouble, but still abounding in goodness and mercy. It was always in his heart to glorify his Maker, and to serve his fellow-creatures; and, now that his course is finished, we who survive may take comfort from the knowledge that he was an active and useful servant of Christ, and rejoice in the expectation that he will hereafter be welcomed with Well done! good and faithful servant ! from the lips of his heavenly Master.
Of the illustrious Dr. Channing, who has but recently gone to his reward, it behoves us to say a few words before we close this section of our article. It
may be truly said of the works of this highly-gifted writer and Christian minister, that while they are calculated to exercise an influence on the world at large, and to win for the cause in which he wrote, a sympathy and admiration, more extensive and beneficial than perhaps those of any of his predecessors or even contemporaries, the Unitarian body have special reason“ to cherish his memory
with gratitude, for his skilful and noble treatment of the evidences and doctrines of their faith, and his powerful recommendation of both by strength of argument, by felicity of illustration, and by warm, pure, generous, and fervent emotion. His ardent and glowing piety, indications of which abound in every page of his writings; his high estimate of the character and the religion of Christ ; his lucid and convincing representations of the harmony subsisting between reason and religion, between Christianity and human
nature ; and, above all, his glorious views of that nature and its worth, inasmuch as these peculiar characteristics of his splendid genius have imparted an interest to Unitarian views previously unfelt, and inspired a con: fidence in their worth and power heretofore unrecognized, must entitle the name of Channing to the deepest reverence of his contemporaries and to the enduring homage of an enlightened and grateful posterity.
What, then, it may be asked, was the closing scene of the life of this distinguished individual ? We are not in possession of any account of his last moments; and shall therefore conclude this brief notice by an extract from an able and truly eloquent Tribute to the Memory of Dr. Channing, being a Discourse Preached on the occasion of his Death by Mr. Tagart., “As a worthy conclusion of his labours,” says Mr. T., “Dr. Channing delivered on the first of August, (but a short time before his death) an address on the Anniversary of Emancipation in the British West Indies. It was his dying legacy to his country to hold up to its admiration and imitation the example of England in this holy and Christian work. Very affecting and solemn are his tones. Beautiful and earnest are his rejoicings for the triumphs which religion and humanity have already achieved, and his hopes and anticipations of what they would still further accomplish for the oppressed and degraded among mankind. His words derive a sanctity from the knowledge that they are his last; and they cannot but have a great effect upon his country. 'I have turned aside,' he says 'to speak of the great stain on our country, which makes us the bye-word and scorn of the nations, but I do not despair. Mighty powers are at work in the world. Who can stay them ? God's word has gone forth and it cannot return to him void. A new comprehension of the Christian spirit, a new reverence for humanity, a new feeling of brotherhood and of all men's relation to the common Father-this is among the signs of our times. We see it ; do we not feel it ? Before this, all oppressions are to fall. Society, silently pervaded by this, is to change its aspect of universal warfare for peace. The power of selfishness, all grasping and seemingly invincible, is to yield to this divine energy. The song of angels, On Earth Peace,' will not always sound as fiction. O come, thou kingdom of Heaven, for which
we daily pray! Come, Friend and Saviour of the race, who didst shed thy blood on the cross to reconcile man to man, and earth to Heaven! Come, ye predicted ages of righteousness and love, for which the faithful have so long yearned! Come, Father Almighty, and crown with thine omnipotence the humble strivings of thy children to subvert oppression and wrong, to spread light and freedom, peace and joy, the truth and spirit of thy Son, through the whole earth!”
We have now to deplore the loss to the Unitarian Church of our late estimable friend, the Rev. Robert Aspland. In presenting to the readers of this publication a few remarks on his pastoral and literary character, it is by no means our intention to give any thing like a full or complete portraiture of his worth, his talents, or his use fulness—we leave this to some abler and more experienced pen ; but we have thought that a brief notice of his religious and intellectual qualities, at the present moment, might be beneficial as well as interesting. In the early part of his life, Mr. Aspland seceded, we believe, from Calvinistic to Unitarian views of Christianity, and was ordained about forty-five years ago as pastor of the Unitarian Congregation at Newport in the Isle of Wight. Eventually, on the removal of Mr. Belsham from Hackney, to Essex-street, Mr. Aspland was invited by the Congregation of the former place to become his successor ; and, consequently, he had continued to reside among, and to officiate till within a short period of his death, to the same respectable and affectionate Congregation for the space of forty years. As a pastor he was most highly respected and esteemed, not only for the sterling excellence of his discourses, composed in a strain of manly eloquence, and in a truly evangelical spirit, and calculated to diffuse sound views of theology with Christian morality; but, also, for his uniform kindness of heart and urbanity of manners. And what contributed still more to the esteem in which he was held, was his extensive usefulness : from the conspicuous station he held in the Unitarian Church, his character, and his talents, he was naturally connected for a very long period with the various Dissenting Charities and Trusts established in the metropolis, and with some of them officially. His regularity, punctuality, sagacity and activity, procured for him the
confidence of his numerous associates in these establishments, and, what might be still more valuable, the gratitude of many Dissenting Ministers whom by means of these connexions he was enabled to serve. He bore a very active part in the establishment of that highly useful institution, the Unitarian fund, of which he was the in-defatigable secrectary until ill-health compelled his retirement from the office. During his residence at Hackney he originated two periodicals, the “Monthly Repository, and the “Christian Reformer,” the latter of which he continued to edit till within a few years of his decease. Both are indeed the "repositories" of many papers written .by himself, of deep learning, sound Christian theology, and masterly argument.
His manner in the pulpit was characterised by earnest-ness, feeling, and dignity. He practised no arts in preaching; on the contrary, he was an utter enemy to all affectation, and especially in the Christian Minister. His sound and practical, and Scriptural ministrations were enforced with a simplicity, clearness, and warmth, peculiarly his own, which reached the heart of his auditory, and which will not be readily forgotten by those who had the happiness of attending upon his ministry.
Of Mr. Aspland, as a man, a friend and neighbour, it has already been very justly said (making some allowance for infirmities from which indeed none are wholly exempt) that he was “hearty, courteous, generous, plain-spoken, self-relying, ready to employ his talents and influence to promote the welfare of any one he thought worthy of them ; and uniting with these qualities a detestation of cant and pretension of all sorts, that was equalled only by his love of truth and goodness, wherever they appeared in a genuine form." While no man was possessed of a keener insight into what constitutes the noble and generous and estimable in the true Christian character, as well as the genuine and requisite indications of these qualities, but few could be more solicitous to observe them in their own prac tice ; few discovered or more cordially appreciated them in others; and perhaps none ever more severely exacted them in all who aspired to his esteem and friendship. * Meanness, insincerity, falsehood, and a narrow-spirit were his abhorrence, as alike degrading to the man and disgracing to the Christian.”