Page images
PDF
EPUB

The indifferent morals of the

age

in which we live, afforded matter of most serious concern to him ; and the amendment of them in every person, the wealthiest, and the

poorest, with whom he had any intercourse, occupied his chief attention. All his undertakings had this end in view. His charities, which were very considerable, were ever directed, and made subservient to the encouragement of virtue, as well as to the feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. His indefatigable pains in promoting a better regulation, and reducing the number of the public ale-houses in his parish, were intended to give security to virtue and sober industry, by diminishing these nurseries of vice and idleness, and consequently bringing them more easily under the observation and correction of those, to whom the law has intrusted their superintendence. In this work, tho' opposed, and sometimes defeated by certain magistrates, whose conduct, in this respect, reflected no honour upon their character, he was greatly useful : but it was principally on account of this opposition, and to avoid the vexation incidental thereto, that,

though

though his name was inrolled in the same commission of the peace, he forebore formally to qualify himself to act under it.

Mr. Disney was a benefactor to his vicarage, not merely by his residence and keeping his parsonage in that exact order and neatness which were obvious to the eye of the most inattentive visitor ; but by his liberal repairs and improvements, to the amount of upwards of 7ool. without availing himself of the advantage which the wisdom of the legislature had provided. It was his desire not only to enjoy, but to leave behind him, an habitation that should invite his successor to regular residence, by sufficient and ample accommodations.

Concerning Mr. Disney's compositions for the pulpit, the Discourses now published, will preclude any account by the editor. In the delivery of them, his voice was low and weak, but he was, at all times, so much in earnest, when he officiated in the church, that he occupied the whole attention of his congregation. The selection of such of them as compose the present volume, has been made

in

in compliance with his own request, about a year

before his death, and in discharge of my promife, in case I survived him. And, as he had chiefly in view the benefit of his parishioners, it is intended fo far to enter into the fpirit, as well as letter of his request, as to distribute feveral copies among fuch of them, as may

be presumed most likely to make a good use of them.

The natural temper of our author, was warm, but he kept it, by continual watchfulness, in subjection to the dictates of reason, and the demands of religion. Above every mean action in himself, he reprobated every thing like one in others.

In the great political questions, respecting economy in the expenditure of the public money, equalizing the representation of the people, and shortening the duration of

parliaments,which have of late years excited the attention of all parties in this kingdom, Mr. Disney was uniformly, in all of them, on the side of the petitioners, and entered actively into the necessary means of forwarding their success. In his religious opinions respecting the doctrines of the trinity and atonement, Mr. Disney was in very general agreement with the established articles of the church of England; but along with these sentiments, he had not the confined and partial ideas which are frequently connected with them. His catholic spirit indeed soared above the established ordinances of human systems, and was congenial with that gospel from which it sprang, and with the liberal minds of those, who, regardless of human ordinances, look with love upon all, who, with integrity and singleness of heart, maintain a conscience void of offence to God and

doctrines

man.

After this statement of the fact, in respect to his notions concerning particular doctrines, it is needless to obferve to those, to whom we were both known, that his opinions and my own on these subjects, were at an irreconcilable distance from each other. It is, however, greatly to his honour, that he was more grieved, (as I afterwards learned,) by my continuance in the church of England, than by my entertaining opinions contrary to those held forth in her liturgy

and

and articles. When I had come to a resolution to resign my preferment, and acquainted him with my purpose, by letter, I was so far from expecting that he would concede to my intention, that I did him the injustice to think that I hazarded his future friendfhip and favour.

But his christian spirit was not servily attached to particular doctrines, or confined to a zeal for their fuccess. He cordially approved my resolution, as being consistent with the obligations of truth and integrity :-or, as he expresses himself in a paper, which, though written four years before my resignation of my preferment, in 1782, came not to my knowļedge till after his decease in 1786; If, after all, says he, my dear cousin, (speaking then of myself,) finds himself obliged, by the regard which he owes to what he thinks the truth, to perlift in his first opinions, then I earnestly with that he would give up the office of a pastor in the church of England, and not hold his livings by a subscription which he abhors, nor read a liturgy to one page of which he cannot affent. To hold a benefice by a false de

claration,

« PreviousContinue »