MEMOIRS AND REMAINS OF BISHOP DICKINSON. LAST week we had
to notice the able Ordination Sermons of Dr. Hinds, the friend and Chaplain of the Archbishop of Dublin. We have now be- fore us the Memoirs and Remains of Bishop Dickinson, a man who was him not only Chaplain to the Archbishop, but drawn by hi; from obscurity. Dr. West, the editor-author of this work, is another of his Chaplains ; and scarcely two months have elapsed since we were called upon to notice Dr. Whately's liberal and kindhearted patronage of Blanco White. Com- pared with the manner in which the other occupants of episcopal dignity exercise their influence, these are significant facts : for, much of literature as necessarily passes before us, we cannot call to mind any Bishop's Chap- lain who, in our time, has particularly distinguished himself in theological letters ; and of Prelates we remember but two—Biahop Mant and Bishop Wilson. Dr. Whately is not only able himself, but develops the abilities of others.
This discriminating patronage was more especially the case with the btu Bishop Dickinson ; whom Dr. Whately drew from comparative ob- scurity, alvanced in the Church and his own household, brought of ne- cessity into connexion with the Irish Government, and thus paved the way for his elevation to the diocese of Meath without solicitation by or for him; Dr. Whately never "offering himself as a debtor to any Govern- ment by asking favours either for himself or his friends.' Charles Dickinson, to whom a career was thus opened, was born at Cork, in 1792, the youngest but one of a family of seventeen. Having early distin- guished himself at school, his master strongly recommended that he should receive a university education; and in due time he was entered of Trinity College Dublin. At the University, as at the Academy, he was equally remarkable for ability, industry, and the loveable character of his manners. He contracted many friendships among his fellow-students,- of whom the most popularly known was Wolfe; and attracted the notice of Dr. afterwards Archbishop Magee. Some College honours were achieved ; and his attainment of a Fellowship was expected, till an ate tachment for the sister of his friend Russell, the present Archdeacon of Clogher, disqualified him for success : he entered into holy orders - and in the following year, 1819, accepted the Assistant-Chaplaincy Of the Magdalen.
In 1820 he married; and towards. the end of next year resigned the Chaplaincy, "in order to assert his own right of private judgment on points which he regarded as properly belonging to his province of Chap,. lain." Shortly afterwards, he was offered the Chaplaincy of the Female Orphan House ; and bright prospects of preferment opened upon him when his old friend and master Dr. Magee was translated to the Archbishopric of Dublin.
"Mr. Dickinson was one of the very first persons to whom he communicated the information of his appointment; and this mark of private confidence was accompanied with the most flattering assurances that his advancement was an object which he had much at heart. Mr. Dickinson deemed it prudent, notwith- standing, to accept the Chaplaincy which had been offered to him. Archbishop intentions ntentions were never realized: not from any diminution of regard on his Grace's part but Mr. Dickinson's single-minded adherence on every occasion, to his own clear convictions of what was right or sarong, restrained him from ; affording the Archbishop that degree of cooperation in his public measures which his Grace naturally enough expected from one whom he had distinguished by such friendly advances."
Which being interpreted means, we imagine, that Charles Dickinson re. fused to sacrifice his views on politics and religion to become the instals- ment of Dr. Magee.
The expense of a growing family induced Mr. Dickinson to take pupil"; and ten years of his life had passed between the duties of his Chaplaincy and his teaching, when, in 1832, he fell under the notice of Dr. Whately.
" On paying an unexpected visit to the Orphan House, the Archbishop found Mr. Dickinson engaged in giving religious instruction to the children; and, not choosing that his presence should interrupt the routine of business, he waited as an auditor till the usual time of the Chaplain's instructions had concluded. The rare tact and judgment with which Mr. Dickinson adapted his teaching to the capacities of the children, his success in awakening their interest, in retaining their attention, and in calling forth the proper Christian emulation—that which strives after improvement, for its attainment and not from a spirit of rivalry—afforded the Archbishop so high a gratification that he came again and again, till it be- came at last an habitual appropriation of his Grace's leisure-times to be present at these instructions."
Dr. Whately also observed and noticed him on other omasions : but, such were his singleness of mind and aversion to push hit:itself, that " he had been for a considerable time in the habit of receiving very marked attentions from the Archbishop without conceiving that they amonnted to an invitation to make some advances in return ; and it was not till his
Grace at last goodnaturedly remarked to him, find I am only to have your acquaintance by taking all the pains myself,' that he became a visiter at the Palace."
Soon afterwards, he was appointed one of the Archbishop's Chaplaina, as assistant to Dr. Hinds ; and when the latter retired in 1833, on ao- count of ill health, Dickinson became Domestic Chaplain and Secretary. The appointment to the living of St. Anne's Dublin, in the gift of the Archbishop, brought him into more close connexion with the citizens; and he accomplished that difficult task in Ireland of uniting both political parties of the parish in his favour. At the same time, he actively tut- sisted the Archbishop of Dublin in advancing the plan of National Edu- cation; he drew his pen in favour of a plan of questionable propriety, to give the Church a power of self-government,—questionable, that is, so long as the Church retains her temporalities and calls upon the State for any sort of assistance; and advocated another proposal of the Arch- bishop, to buy up the tithes and with the produce purchase land, so as to remove the temporalities of the Irish Church from any connexion with the Roman Catholic tenantry. He also published anonymously the po- pular pamphlet entitled Pastoral Epistle from His Holiness the Pope to some Members of the University of Oxford ; in which he skil- fully brings together the Papistical doctrines of the Tractarians, and tri- poses their Jesuistical arts with delicate irony: though the amiable na- ture of the man prevented him from excelling in this kind of controversy —he wanted the true theological gall. His official position necessarily brought him into connexion with the Irish Government, and so impressed Lord Fortescue and Lord Morpeth with his merite, that, on a vacancy occurring in the Bishopric of Meath, in the autumn of 1840, he was raised to the mitre. But he was removed before theChurch or the public had time to reap much benefit from his elevation : he was suddenly struck by typhus fever, and died in June 1842, on the day he had proposed to deliver his first charge.
Besides the brief memoir whence we have drawn this extract of Bishop Dickinson's life, and some selections from his correspondence, the volunie contains ten Sermons, the fragment of his proposed Charge, the fifth edition of the Pope's Pastoral, the pamphlets published during his life on Church Reform, and several miscellaneous productions. Excepting his Sermons, the works of Dr. Dickinson will scarcely sustain the repu- tation which many have formed of him by his social and clerical in- finance. He appears to have been one of those men who operate upon the minds of others by teaching, exhortation, and the influence which their personal character brings to the plans and party they espouse, rather than by promulgating with their pen the results of their cloeet meditations or their remarks upon life. Not that Bishop Dickinson was feeble as a writer ; but he chiefly addressed himself to temporary sub- jects, and he certainly wanted the rare power to render them permanent and universal.
This remark does not extend to his Sermons ; a branch of literature in which we think he would have excelled had he more exclusively applied himself to it. He has not, indeed, the closeness of matter with the com-
pactness and large purpose that characterize the Ordination Sermon's of Dr. Hinds; nor has he the poetico-metaphysical mind of Archdeacon
Wilberforce and his schoolman's acquirements. Dr. Dickinson's matter, however, is sufficient for general purposes ; and his amiable character infuses itself into his sermons, giving them something more valuable than mere poetical feeling. In a thorough study of the Scriptures, as well in
a theological as in an historical point of view, he seems to us to excel any modern divine who has fallen in our way. He is alike masterly in
.illustration or explanation—in bringing before us the social state of the world or the feelings of the Jews at the particular time, or in clearing up the errors into which Romanists or sectarian enthusiasts have fallen in interpreting particular texts to answer their particular objects. His theology also strikes us as unexceptionable,—alike avoiding the extremes of superstition, coldness, or enthusiastic speculation. He never loses sight 'of moral practice to inculcate dubious or extreme doctrines. Here and there, however, the controversial atmosphere in which he had his being teems indicated by delicate hits at Romanism, or at least what appear inch. The following passage from a consecration-sermon, on the 18th
-chapter of Matthew, verses 18-20, touching the " commission" granted to the Church, is in direct opposition to the principles of the Romanists and Tractarians. The preacher has been showing that the Apostles, in- -spired and working miracles as a proof, were entitled to demand an acquiescence which ceased on their departure. "But it was not designed by our Lord and Saviour that his ministers in the succeeding ages of his Church should be invested with miraculous powers. And
Accordingly, in his commission to us, He does not direct us to use similar language;
which he well knew to be calculated, when unsupported by miracles, to excite feelings very different from those of respect. He promises' indeed, to be with us even to the end of the world; but this promise is addressed to our faith rather than to those we preach to. The assurance is a most gracious relief to us when oppressed with a sense of our heavy responsibilities; but we cannot plead this _promise as a ground of conviction to the Heathen whom we would convert, nor earl we rest upon it as a reason for your uninyuiring submission to our instruc- tions. The commission addressed to us, accordingly, does not authorize us to use the language referred to The use of it is withheld from us by our Lord and Master, because it has pleased Him to withhold from us the power of proving by sensible miracles that we have the right to use it. " When we preach to you, my Christian brethren, we must preach to you not in the manner suitable to the Apostles, who could place before your eyes un-
questionable evidences of their authority, but in the manner which is becoming our far humbler claims. We have to bring before you the evidences of the troth of Christ's religion, the grounds and reasons upon which our own faith is founded. And when you are convinced that the Scriptures are the Word of God, we are to
-expound to you the doctrines which we believe they contain. But, so far from ..demanding your unquestioning acquiescence in what we say, we are bound to state to you, that it is your duty to examine for yourselves, and to compare our expositions with the revealed Word. We are commissioned to help you, but not to dictate; to lay before you the truths of God as in our best judgment we collect them, but not to stop the exercise of your own judgment as to the truth or falsity of what we say to you. " We are not, in short, like the Apostles, peremptorily to claim your assent on the ground that our preaching is ' with demonstration of the Spirit and of power.' We cannot pretend to represent God as responsible for the instruction we give. We must admit ourselves to be liable to error; or, if we thought otherwise of our- selves, still we cannot demand or expect that you should acquiesce in our own assertions of our infallibility, because we are not empowered to exhibit to you sen-
sible proofs of our inspiration—we cannot work miracles. We are not commis- -sion.d to convey to you a new revelation, but to help you in the study of the reve- lation already made; to help you in the proper understanding of it; and, what is
of no less importance, to press upon you its continual recollection, and its constant application to the regulation of your hearts and conduct." The following rebuke to intolerance, in continuation of the preceding argument, has more extensive application than to one or two churches : unhappily, it may apply to all, and especially to the greatest sticklers for opposition to any authority except their own.
" Our Lord of course foresaw that religious communions would arise in the world differing from each other in sentiments, and even that many differences would exist among members of the same communion. Still, He has not empow-
ered any to pronounce an authoritative decision binding as such on their fellow- creatures. If any should claim such a power without being able to exhibit sea- agile miracles, they are left to maintain that claim by an appeal to reason and ar- gument—an appeal which effectually defeats the claim inquestion inasmuch as argument is M. to the judgment, and implies that Christ has kit you to the exercise of thatjudgment. " It is perfectly obvious, on the slightest consideration, that those who cannot work indisputable miracles are not justified in claiming (nor would you be justi- fied in conceding) that unhesitating confidence which is most rationally to be de- mended and granted in the case of that preaching to which God bears wit- ness by signs' from heaven. But would God that all churches and all in-
dividual Christians would remember this in practice! Would that all abstained
from engrafting on the permanent commission the awful language which the Apostles only were authorized to employ, and which, when used by those who
cannot prove their inspiration by miracles, can be ascribed to nothing but human
arrogance. Say not to any that they cannot be saved, because they do not belong to the true church—that is, to what you regard as such; or because they do not know the gospel—that is, receive the doctrines which in your judgment constitute the gospel. These assertions are not arguments, but decisions; decisions which have no peculiar force when proceeding from you, but which can be pronounced
with equal peremptoriness by those from whom you most differ. Avoid, then,
the use of language which self-conceit is fully capable of dictating, and which you cannot prove that you employ itpoi:, any higher pretensions. Be content to rea- son with all—to place before their view the ground of your own convictions, the passages of God's inspired Word on which you rely, and your own interpretations of these passages: reason with them in meekness and love: but remember this— if your reasons leave them unconvinced, no weapons remain in your hands which you are authorized to employ, or to which they would be justified in yielding."