Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

nations. It was in the reign of Elizabeth, when the reformed Church was firmly established, which first exhibited the full portraiture of the Anglican Churchman, in the simple and manly character of the English gentleman, the English merchant, the English yeoman, and the English peasant. And then too was formed, in all its loveliness and excellence, the character of our countrywomen, which, more than any of the rest, still retains its national peculiarities. If in later days the English character has lost much of its manliness and honest simplicity, it is because Church principles have been neutralized by those of dissent and popery, and infidelity. The self-will and arrogance of sectarianism, the bad faith of Romanism,-features as alien to the true English character as to that of the Christian Churchman—the dark malignity of infidelity, and, still more dangerous, because more subtle and more plausible, that deadly indifference to all religion, which lurks under the garb of liberalism,—these have obtained an influence, nay almost an ascendancy, which has been effective of the deepest injury to this our generation.

Still I do not despair; but look rather for a sure and speedy revival of Church principles, and, through them, to a re-establishment of our national character. And in the wide influence which our Church exercises, as the maintainer of sound doctrine throughout the Christian world, and the diffusion of the gospel in other lands, we may discern, not, I trust, without a reasonable faith, a cause why God should still preserve the work of His hands; and infinitely extend the influence of our Church to the gathering in of the nations to his fold. Yet the hope is not without apprehension. Perhaps it may tend more to God's glory to disperse His Church throughout the world. If we are lukewarm and indolent, and hide our candle under a bushel, and suffer heathenism to increase at home, and do little or nothing to spread the Gospel abroad; it may better answer the ends of Divine providence to drive us forth, and force us, in our own persons, to proclaim throughout the world the truths of His revealed word. Thus our fate as a Church and nation may, humanly speaking, at this moment depend on the revival of our zeal: we may continue as a great nation to extend God's kingdom to the uttermost parts of the world; or, the servants of God, who are amongst us, may be scattered throughout the nations, and plant on other shores the standard of that faith which here shall be trampled in the dust. CHAPTER VI.

THE CHURCHMAN ENTERING UPON THE

WORLD.

“The world's a stately bark, on dangerous seas ;

With pleasure seen, but boarded at our peril.

What though we wade in wealth, or soar in fame;
Earth's highest station ends in "here he lies "
And “ dust to dust " concludes her noblest song."

Young.

TIME passed on, and Ridley's residence at Oxford approached the period of its termination, He went through his examination with high honour; and was about to leave the University, with a heart full of regrets and hopes. He had already entered himself as a member of the Society of Lincoln's Inn, and it was his intention to commence immediately the study of the

law.

On the evening before his departure he walked out with his friend Herbert, to whom he

had become so warmly attached that the thought of separation from him cast a damp on his otherwise hopeful prospects. It was a beautiful evening in June, and they strolled along the banks of the river, until they arrived opposite the little village of Iffey. Here they crossed over, that they might avoid the groups who were assembling to witness the boat race. Proceeding onward they arrived at the old Saxon Churchi, where they lingered for awhile, as they had often done before, admiring its ancient and venerable structure, and conversing on such topics as the scene naturally presented, to men in whose thoughts the past and present fortunes of the Church held so prominent a place.

As they lingered in the Churchyard a funeral procession advanced slowly to the consecrated ground. It was the head of a humble yet respectable family, whose honoured remains were followed to the grave by his descendants even to the third generation. The Church was gathering in one of her ripe shocks to the garner of heaven - the business of life was over—and to the departed soul all its cares and interests were no more than a brief dream-a speck on the ocean of eternity. The earnest and respectful behaviour of the mourners, the holy solemnity of the service, and all the accompaniments of the scene, were calculated to impress the deepest awe on those who beheld it. Herbert and Ridley felt the full impressiveness of the scene which they witnessed.

Scarcely had the solemn ceremony concluded and the mourners dispersed, when the wellknown sound of oars arrested their attention,not

“The splash so clear and chill

Of yon old fisher's solitary oar” which is described by poets,—but that quick, regular, business-like stroke, which is caused by the rapid turning of many oars at the same moment of time. Presently, a gallant eight-oar appeared in the bend of the river, in which, as it passed gaily by them, Ridley distinguished many of his friends; and then another boat succeeded, and another;—they entered the lock together, and, for a short time, all was hushed in silence. Soon the creaking of the opening gate was heard and the boats sprang forth one by one; the sky was rent by the mingled shouts of the friends of each party, as they followed them along the bank cheering them on in the race; until, as they approached towards Oxford, the sound died upon the breeze.

« ZurückWeiter »