« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
WE resume our notice of Archbishop Magee, subject to the prefatory
remarks in our last Number; for not having been personally acquainted with the subject of the narrative, we can only use the statements of the biographer.
After a college life of one and thirty years, "the most highly distinguished and honourable," says Dr. Kenney, "of any upon record in the University of Dublin," he retired in 1812, accepting two college livings, Kappagh in Tyrone, and Killyleagh in Down. The members of the Historical Society, and the scholars, paid him a compliment of which no similar instance has occurred, in sending addresses to him, accompanied by a handsome present of silver plate. His predecessor at Killyleagh was his old friend and tutor Dr. Stack; and he took upon himself the expense of the repairs and dilapidations of the glebe house, rather than suffer any demand to be made upon the widow.
In his new situation as a parish minister he evinced his customary zeal and fidelity. He had ever been strict in his observance of the Sabbath; and not only did he take delight in his Sabbath duties in church, but he formed Sunday schools at his own house; and on every day of the week he visited his poor parishioners, attending to their spiritual wants, and supplying their temporal necessities.
In 1811, the Prime Minister of State, Mr. Perceval, who had read and appreciated his work on the Atonement, and had a high personal esteem for the writer, would, it is stated, have made him Bishop of Oxford, but that he found the unprecedented appointment from the College of Dublin to that see likely to give dissatisfaction to many leading persons in the University of Oxford. The Princess Charlotte of Wales, young as she was, had read his work, and spoke of it with the warmest praise, and said that if ever she were on the throne, the author should be a bishop. Dr. Kenney seems to attach more importance to the Princess's opinion, than intrinsically it was worth; for though it was highly pleasing and satisfactory to find a young person in her station studying such a work, and convinced by its powerful arguments, she could not be qualified to decide upon its merits. We think that the biographer is misinformed CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 66.
in supposing that the "very marked attention" shown by George the Fourth to Dr. Magee, may be ascribed to his daughter's "peculiarly favourable sentiments" towards him. He is, we doubt not, more correct in stating that Magee's zealous support of Mr. Plunket delayed his own promotion. But at length, in 1814, he was appointed by the Lord Lieutenant to the deanery of Cork, where he exerted himself in the faithful discharge of his duties. To the charitable establishments he shewed the most anxious attention. As a preacher, in the cathedral and in other churches, he was followed by crowds, though no man less courted popularity. His sermons, his biographer says, "might be characterized as solid Gospel truth, strongly and plainly enforced in simplicity and sincerity."
During his residence in Cork, he was involved, for the first time, in a personal contest with popish authorities; in consequence of his opposition to the claims of Roman Catholics in regard to the churchyards of the Established Church. The popish press assailed him; but nothing could be said to the disparagement of his pure morals and eminent private virtues. His talents could not be doubted; or his extraordinary powers of eloquence; respecting which, Bishop Barrington, addressing Dr. Kenney, said, "I have often heard and admired Mr. Pitt, but while I am listening to my friend Dean Magee, I feel that if I were to shut my eyes I could fancy that Mr. Pitt was speaking."
Dr. Magee was a man of great tenderness. During the prevalence of severe typhus fever in 1817 in Dublin, he went from one infected house to another, administering to the bodily and spiritual necessities of the afflicted. In one of his visits he found a man in great misery, who had once been in very comfortable circumstances, and had been educated in the University of Dublin. This sufferer had no attendant but his wife, who was so weak that she was scarcely able to assist him. The afflicted gentleman was Mr. Trotter, formerly private secretary to Charles James Fox. Dr. Magee administered to all his wants. He used to sit on his bed, assisting him with the attention of a nurse, wetting his parched lips, raising his drooping head, and, above all, imparting the consolations of religion, and pointing out the way of salvation. efforts appeared to be blessed by God to the sufferer, whose spirit in a few weeks afterwards was called away.
In 1819 Dr. Magee was appointed to the see of Raphoe. In this diocese he found amongst the Rectors some old companions and friends, with whom he had long associated in the University; and the renewal of these associations, "in his calm and dignified retirement," (so Dr. Kenney denominates it; but the phrase is not happy as expressing the duties of the episcopal office,) with his attached family, was delightful to him. He was cordial in his affectionate conduct to his old friends, kind to his clergy, but strict in his requirement of their attention to their sacred duties. In dispensing his liberal charities he was aided by his excellent wife and his elder children. He also greatly extended the religious education of the poor; and the gratitude and attachment of the people towards him became so strong, that on his return to Raphoe after an absence, the inhabitants of the town expressed their joy by an illumination.
At the time of Dr. Magee's promotion to the episcopate, Mr., now Sir Robert, Peel was, at an unusually early age, Chief Secretary for Ireland. Dr. Magee, finding his health suffering from the close air of his deanery at Cork, wrote to him, communicating his wish for a removal to another situation; though apparently without any intention of asking for a bishoprick. Mr. Peel replied that the ecclesiastical arrangements
rendered necessary by the death of Bishop Porter were completed, and that it had been determined to prefer Dean Magee to the see of Raphoe; adding, "My compliance with the wish which you have done me the honour to express to me, has been thus rendered superfluous, by a nomination which has placed on the bench of bishops in Ireland the ablest of her scholars and divines."
His charge to the clergy of that diocese, in 1821, excited much attention, and was worthy of its distinguished author. We have a vivid recollection of perusing it with much interest, especially that portion of it in which his Lordship warned the clergy against the danger of worldly conformity; though we thought at the time, and still think upon re-perusal, that he did not lay sufficient stress upon spiritual abstinence as distinct from merely professional decorum; that he urged the point too exclusively as a question of duty, rather than as connected with those devout feelings, those aspirations after heavenly objects, those sentiments of love to God, of gratitude to the Saviour, and of holy enjoyment in the ways of religion, which render it the delight as well as the obligation of the Christian, lay as well as clerical, to be crucified to the world, and to set his affections upon things above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. The tone of exhortation in episcopal charges has been so much elevated above that which for the most part prevailed some twenty years ago, that in order duly to appreciate the value of Bishop Magee's address, it ought to be judged of by comparison, as well as in its permanent excellence. As it is in our hands, and may not be in those of our readers, we will quote a passage which presents some important statements as applicable to pending questions at the present moment as to those which were in the immediate purview of the writer,
"The Christian world is, unhappily, much divided on some points; and even within the pale of our own Church, differences have arisen, which interfere lamentably with that unity and harmony which are so desirable in a Christian Community. It might be expected that the standard of doctrines contained in the Articles of our Church, would have prevented this diversity, at least amongst those who have embraced that admirable summary, as the rule of their Christian belief. But here, unfortunately, the difficulty recurs; and such is the imperfection of human things, that that which was designed to compose all differences of opinion, is itself converted into a cause of difference, and made a ground of acrimonious controversy.
"The wisdom of the Fathers of our Church-a wisdom which seems little less than the result of inspiration; a wisdom certainly which marks its origin to have been from above-laid the foundation of this great scheme of Christian doctrine in a deep knowledge of the nature of man, as well as of the things of God. Those excellent persons were well aware, that the minds of men are not all cast in the same mould; that, on the contrary, the varieties of the human understanding are not less diversified than those of the human countenance; and that, as in the case of the latter, even where the closest resemblance exists, there are still found some features of characteristic difference: so in the former, even where the same general truths are embraced, some varying traits of thinking, and some distinguishing modes and qualifications of the primary principle, will present themselves in different minds. The framers of our Articles, therefore, did not determine to proceed as in a mathematical right line; but advanced in a path of reasonable and Scriptural latitude; which, while it comprised within it all that was essential in doctrine, excluded all that was erroneous; and which, consequently, enabled those who agreed in the great fundamental truths of the Gospel, to walk together in Christian harmony, as became those who were brethren in Christ Jesus. Now, in the same spirit in which the Articles of our Church were at first propounded, they should continue to be received and taught. And no individual should conceive himself at liberty-not even the highest in the Church, who in this case has no more right than the lowest to impose upon these Articles any private sense or comment of his own, to the exclusion of every other that may not happen to agree with his in every particular."
"Thus, happily, through the wisdom of the Church, we have one standard, not many. We are not left to the authoritative dictum of every confident person who shall assume more than oracular authority, and pronounce that his view, and his view only, of the doctrines of the Church, as set forth in the Articles, is the true one; but each individual is left to the literal and grammatical' sense of the Articles, and to his own conscience, to judge what they declare to be the doctrines of Scripture: and the same Articles refer him to that Scripture, as the only authority by which they submit themselves to be tried."
"By those who hold the creed of Arminius, they are pronounced to be Arminian; and by those who hold the creed of Calvin, they are pronounced to be Calvinistic. The natural inference of the impartial reasoner would be, that they are neither; while they contain within them what may be traced to some of the leading principles of both and this is the truth. They are not enslaved to the dogmas of any party in religion. They are not Arminian. They are not Calvinistic. They are Scriptural. They are Christian."
"At the same time, the true Christian teacher should not be deterred from setting forth the great fundamental doctrines which the Articles contain, by the imputation of particular names, which ignorance may attach to those doctrines. Nothing, in truth, has contributed to give to some of the sects and parties of religion, so much credit and popularity, as the erroneously ascribing to them, as characteristics of their peculiar creed, tenets which belong to our common Christianity. Thus, for example, nothing is more common, at the present day, than to hear a person pronounced to be a Calvinist, because he holds the doctrine of original sin, or of justification by faith; whereas he might with equal justice be so denominated for holding the doctrines of the Trinity or the Atonement. But let the honest and faithful servant of his Lord not fear to insist on all the great doctrines of the Gospel, as they are laid before him in the Articles. The Fall of man, the atonement by Jesus Christ, the Personality and Divinity of the Son of God and the Holy Spirit, the doctrine of original and actual sin, the insufficiency of man to merit heaven by his own works, justification by faith, the need and nature of the Divine influences, the importance of the Christian Sacraments, the social, moral and spiritual duties, which become the Christian, and which are to be grounded upon evangelical principles, on love to God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ: these are the vital truths, which the Articles fully justify him in preaching; and these are the truths which, if preached zealously and honestly by the clergy of the Established Church, will not fail to uphold the credit of that Church, whilst they promote the true cause of Christian holiness in these lands."
To the clergy of his diocese Dr. Magee was remarkably kind, but he maintained discipline. The mildness and delicacy, but good effect, with which he could convey reproof when it was necessary, may be judged of from the following anecdote. He was in the habit of attending divine service in various churches of his diocese, and witnessing the manner in which the sacred duties were attended to by the clergy. On one occasion, finding that the clergyman was absent from his church on Sunday morning, he performed the whole of the duty himself, and signed the book containing the names of preachers. The clerk, not knowing who he was, and observing the signature, "W. Raphoe," informed the clergyman of the church that "a Rev. Mr. Raphoe" had officiated for him. The clergyman immediately desired to see the signature of the preacher, and recognised the hand-writing of his Bishop. He became exceedingly uneasy, and proceeded next day to the episcopal residence, expecting a very severe reprimand. But he was received and treated with courtesy, and invited to stay to dinner. Not one of the Bishop's family, except himself, was aware of this clergyman's neglect. He returned home in the evening deeply impressed with the great kindness of the Bishop, who hoped that the delicate reproof which he had already implied would be effective. And he was not mistaken; for that clergyman felt the Bishop's conduct to him as he ought; and he never again gave him occasion for reproof.
When George IV. visited Dublin, in 1821, he appointed Dr. Magee Dean of the Viceregal Chapel at the Castle. The Bishop wished to
decline the office, on account of the distance of his see from Dublin; but the King replied, "We can bring you nearer;" apparently referring to an intention which had been entertained of appointing Dr. Magee to the bishopric of Meath, at the decease of Dr. O'Beirne, which was shortly expected. On the second Sunday after the King's arrival, Bishop Magee preached before his Majesty, on the text, "What must I do to be saved?" Within a few minutes after the commencement of the sermon, the King rose from his seat, came forward in the royal pew, and leaning on his sword with his eyes fixed on the preacher, continued standing for an hour, listening with the deepest attention till the sermon was ended. The King directed the Lord Lieutenant to express to the Bishop his unqualified admiration of the discourse, with his desire that it might be published. Dr. Magee thought very humbly of his own sermons, and was in general averse to printing them; and even on this occasion he offered an excuse. With the exception of his two celebrated discourses on the Atonement, scarcely any of his sermons have been printed. It was his custom, for many of the latter years of his life, to preach for an hour. His preaching was always attended by crowds; and notwithstanding the length of his sermon, no person in the congregation appeared to be fatigued. There was a peculiar awakening animation in his manner, a nervous strength in his style, a plainness in his language intelligible to all, and an interesting and awful importance in his matter, which kept up attention. Upon the death of Dr. Broderick, Archbishop of Cashel, in 1822, the Marquis Wellesley sent for Bishop Magee, and offered him the vacant archbishopric; but he declined the offer, informing His Excellency that he was very happy in his see of Raphoe, and that he felt that he was very useful there. While he was sitting with the Lord Lieutenant, a dispatch arrived from London. The dispatch announced the death of the Archbishop of Armagh, Primate Stuart. The Lord Lieutenant handed to him the Earl of Liverpool's letter, which was to this effect: "The King wishes Dr. Magee to be appointed Primate; but it is better to do what is useful than brilliant." The prime minister added his advice, that Magee should be recommended for Dublin, and the Archbishop of Dublin, Lord John Beresford, translated to Armagh. The Lord Lieutenant then asked, "What say you, my Lord?" The Bishop replied, "I desire to do whatever may be best for the interests of the Church." On the night of that day, the Bishop of Raphoe received a second communication from the Lord Lieutenant, desiring his immediate return to the Castle. On his arrival, his Excellency said that he had received a second dispatch from Lord Liverpool, stating that it might not be desirable to place Bishop Magee in such close connexion with the University as his appointment to the see of Dublin must involve. The Lord Lieutenant appealed to the Bishop for his opinion, and his answer was, "If I am not deemed trustworthy, leave me where I am; I do not desire a change." The Lord Lieutenant immediately replied, "Well, well, forget this: and let things remain as we fixed them."
The arduous duties of Archbishop of Dublin were rendered more onerous, by the diocese having suffered for nearly twenty years the great disadvantage of having an Archbishop (Dr. Cleaver) who was afflicted with mental derangement, during which great length of time the Archbishop of Cashel had usually acted on his behalf; but the additional burden of the heavy duties of the see of Dublin were too oppressive for that prelate; and Lord John Beresford, who succeeded Dr. Cleaver, had been but a short time in that archbishopric. Under such circumstances