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in the prime of life, did not in the least abate his diligence and attention to business; for which indeed there was now more occasion than ever. He immediately set about the visitation of his Diocese, confirmed in a great number of places, preached in several Churches, sometimes twice a day, and, from the informations received in his progress, laid the foundation of a parochial account of his diocese, for the benefit of his successors. Finding, at the same time, the affairs of his parish of St. James's in great disorder, he took the trouble, in concert with a few others, to put the accounts of the several officers into a regular method, drew up a set of excellent rules to direct them better for the future, and, by the large share which he always took in the management of the
poor, and the regulation of many other parochial concerns, was of signal service to his parishioners, even in a temporal view. But it was their spiritual welfare which engaged, as it ought to do, his chief attention. As far as the circumstances of the times and the populousness of that polite part of the metropolis allowed, he omitted not even those private admonitions and personal applications which are often attended with the happiest effects. Not being able, however, to do so much in this way as he wished, he was peculiarly assiduous in giving and promoting every kind of public instruction. He allowed out of his own income a salary for reading early and late prayers, which had formerly been paid out of the offertory money. He held a Confirmation once every year, and examined and instructed the candidates several weeks before in the vestry, and gave them religious tracts, which he also distributed, at other times, very liberally to those that needed them. He drew up for the use of his parishioners that admirable course of Lectures on the Church Catechism, which
have been lately published, and not only read them, once every week on the usual days, but also every Sunday evening, either at the church or one of the chapels belonging to it. They were received with universal approbation, and attended regularly by persons of all ages and conditions.
The judgment of the public has since confirmed the opinion of his parishioners, and established the reputation of this work, as one of the fullest, clearest, and exactest compendiums of revealed religion that the English language affords. .
The Sermons which at the same time he set himself to compose were truly excellent and original. His faculties were now in their full vigour, and he had an audience to speak before that rendered the utmost exertion of them necessary. He did not, however, seek to gratify the higher part by amusing them with refined speculations or ingenious essays, unintelligible to the lower part, and unprofitable to both ; but he laid before them all, with equal freedom and plainness, the great Christian duties belonging to their respective stations, and reproved the follies and vices of every rank amongst them without distinction or palliation. He studied human nature thoroughly in all its various forms, and knew what sort of arguments would have most weight with each class of men. He brought the subject home to their bosoms, and did not seem to be merely saying useful things in their presence, but addressing himself personally to every one of them. Few ever possessed, in a higher degree, the rare talent of touching on the most delicate subjects with the nicest propriety and decorum, of saying the most familiar things without being low, the plainest without being feeble, the boldest without giving offence. He could descend with such singular ease and felicity into the minutest concerns of common
life, could lay open, with so much address, the various workings, artifices, and evasions of the human mind; that his audience often thought their own particular cases alluded to, and heard with surprise their private sentiments and feelings, their ways of reasoning and principles of acting, exactly stated and described. His preaching was, at the same time, highly rational and truly evangelical. He explained with perspicuity, he asserted with dignity, the peculiar characteristic doctrines of the Gospel. He inculcated the utility, the necessity of them, not merely as speculative truths, but as actual instruments of moral goodness, tending to purify the hearts, and regulate the lives of men ; and thus, by God's gracious appointment, as well as by the inseparable connection betwixt true faith and right practice, leading them to salvation.
These important truths he taught with the authority, the tenderness, the familiarity, of a parent instructing his children. Though he neither possessed nor affected the artificial eloquence of an orator who wants only to amuse or to mislead, yet he had that of an honest man who wants to convince, of a Christian preacher, who wants to reform and to save those that hear him. Solid argument, manly sense, useful directions, short, nervous, striking sentences, awakening questions, frequent and pertinent applications of Scripture; all these following each other in quick succession, and coming evidently from the speaker's heart; enforced by his elocution, his figure, his action, and above all by the corresponding sanctity of his example, stamped conviction on the minds of his hearers, and sent them home with impressions not easy to be effaced. It will readily be imagined that with these powers he quickly became one of the most admired and popular preachers of his time. And though it is not to be expected that his Sermons
will now afford the same pleasure, or produce the same effects, in the closet, that they did from the pulpit, accompanied as they then were with all the advantages of his delivery; yet it will plainly appear, that the applause they met with was founded no less on the matter they contained, than the manner in which they were spoken.
On the death of Archbishop Wake, Dr. Potter was appointed to succeed him in the see of Canterbury, and that of Oxford was offered to Dr. Secker, who at first declined it. But at the earnest request of Bishop Sherlock, who was desirous to obtain the Bishopric of Bristol for his brother-in-law Dr. Gooch, he was at length prevailed on to accept the proposal, and was confirmed Bishop of Oxford in the month of May, 1737. Towards the end of the same year died Queen Caroline, and the Sunday following Bishop Secker preached a Sermon on that occasion, at St. James's church, which the Princesses desired to see, and shewed it to the King, who read it. It was afterwards published in the second volume of his Occasional Sermons, which appeared in his life-time.
When the unfortunate breach happened betwixt the late King and the Prince of Wales, his Royal Highness having removed to Norfolk house, which is in the parish of St. James's, attended Divine Service constantly in that Church. The first time he came there the Clerk in orders, Mr. Bonney, inadvertently begun prayers with his usual sentence of Scripture, “ I will arise and go to my father, &c.” This quickly became the subject of much conversation; and an addition was made to it, that the Rector preached on the fifth Commandment, “ Honour thy father and mother, &c.” which was so positively asserted, that Bishop Sherlock could only defend him, by saying that he must certainly have been in
a course of Sermons on the Commandments, and therefore could not help preaching upon that particular one in its turn. But the truth was, he preached on a quite different text, “ The Lord is good to all, &c.” and the whole sermon was on that subject. The Prince was pleased to shew his Lordship several marks of civility and condescension. He had the honour of baptizing all his Highness's children, except two; and though he did not attend his court, which was forbidden to all those that went to the King's, yet on every proper occasion he behaved with all the submission and respect due to his illustrious rank. In consequence of this, his influence with the Prince being supposed much greater than it really was, he was sent, by the King's direction, with a message to his Royal Highness ; which not producing the effects expected from it, he had the misfortune to incur his Majesty's displeasure ; who had been unhappily persuaded to think that he might have done more with the Prince than he did, though indeed he could not. For this reason, and because he sometimes acted with those who opposed the court, the King did not speak to him for a great number of years.
In February, 1742-3, a bill was brought into Parliament to take off the high duties on spirituous liquors, and to lay on others much lower in their room. As this alteration was thought likely to have a most pernicious effect on the health and morals of the common people, it met with a vigorous opposition in the House of Lords, especially from the Bench of Bishops, all of whom voted and several spoke against it. Amongst the latter were Bishop Sherlock and Bishop Secker : and when it passed, the Bishop of Oxford entered his dissent. Mr. Sandys was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and this was considered as his bill; yet soon after, on the death of Bishop