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but wholesome : what he hath is little, but very good; it consisteth most of mutton, beef, and veal ; if he adds anything for a great day, or a stranger, his garden or orchard supplies it, or his barn and farm-yard: he goes no further for any entertainment, lest he go into the world, esteeming it absurd that he should exceed, who teacheth others temperance. But those which his home produceth he refuseth not, as coming cheap and easy, and arising from the improvement of things which otherwise would be lost. Wherein he admires and imitates the wonderful providence and thrift of the great Householder of the world." These were precisely the sentiments of bishop Wilson, and it is very likely that he was led to these views by this very passage, in a book which he admired and valued. He himself describes hospitality as not consisting “in making great entertainments, but in providing a sober and suitable refreshment for such as are in want, and for such as come to visit us.”
Many persons of note, whom his fame had reached, desired to enjoy his conversation, amongst whom Dr. Pococke, after his return from his travels, went to see the aged bishop of Man in the year 1750, and sent him his works richly bound, to announce his arrival. The bishop received him with a graceful welcome, but told him that “he ought not to approach the poor bishop of Man with a present, as if he were an eastern prince."
His temper was composed and calm, and he was never excited to violent or unguarded language. In conversation he was remarkably cheerful and entertaining. He lived in a perpetual sunshine of happy spirits. He found, as Herbert says, “ that pleasantness of disposition is a key to do good; not only because all men shun the company of perpetual severity, but also for that when they
are in company, instructions seasoned with pleasantness both enter sooner and root deeper." Country Parson.
Mr. Moore, one of the clergymen of the island, who knew him well, describes him as being “ of admirable simplicity of manners; of a most engaging behaviour, affability, and sweetness of temper. In his private conversation he was agreeable and entertaining; lively and facetious without levity; and always consistent with the dignity of his character; never at a loss for something pertinent and proper to embellish and illustrate his discourse; on these occasions nothing ever proceeded from his mouth but what was good to the use of edifying, and ministered not only grace but also pleasure and delight to the hearers." Mr. Corlet, another of his clergy, writes,* that he recognizes in the devotional works of bishop Wilson the frequent remarks of his daily conversation. " Often, and often again, did I recollect, as I read, that I had heard from his own lips the very sentiments then before me, and the heavenly smile wherewith he delivered them. But perhaps I tire you; better judges than I have said, and will yet say, more to the purpose, but not one, unless yourself, from a warmer heart, recollecting the blessed man as I saw and heard him!”
• Letter to the Rev. P. Moore, dated April 18, 1781, twenty-six years after the bishop's death.
Simple, grave, sincere ;
His thoughts are full of making the best of the day, and contriving it to his best gains.
HERBERT's Country Parson.
Bishop Wilson cultivated the society of his clergy, and endeavoured to make them feel that the sincere servant of Christ would always find in him a real and affectionate friend. So greatly was he averse to any appearance of the pride of station, that in the ordinary intercourse of life it would have been difficult to discover from his demeanour that his office was invested with any authority or worldly dignity; indeed he always wished his clergy to feel that the chief bond of union consisted in their being embarked in the same sacred cause, as stewards of the mysteries of God; and his first thoughts and anxieties were ever directed to the quickening of their zeal, and increasing their efficiency in the work they had to do. Amongst other plans which he pursued to this end, was a frequent participation in their labours. And indeed he felt that though he had not the express charge of any particular congregation, yet that he was nevertheless obliged, as a minister of Christ, still to watch for the souls of men as one that must give account, and that he might devote himself the more to that work, because the see, (comprising only the seventeen parishes into which the island is divided, required a comparatively small portion of his time for the discharge of the episcopal functions. Hence it came to pass, that during the fifty-eight years of his pastoral life he rarely failed on a Sunday to preach the Gospel, catechise and expound, or administer the communion, in some one of the churches of his diocese. Being an excellent horseman, he set out when the family devotions of the morning and the early meal were ended, and arrived a little before service at the place where he intended to officiate, without having given any previous notice. He thus had the best opportunities of judging whether all things were done decently and in order, as well as of using his personal exertions to promote the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Often, while the sabbath-bell was calling the poor people together to worship God in the unornamented but not unsanctified structures dedicated to his Holy Name, they descried the welcome and well-known form of their good bishop emerging from the defiles which intersected their bold and rugged mountains, and hastening to offer up with them his humble praises and prayers to God.
And, in the exercise of this ministry, never preacher appears to have had less regard for human praise, or a more earnest desire to make the people wise unto salvation. One of his prayers was this : “ May I, O Sovereign Pastor, always so speak, as that my flock may hear and understand me; so converse with them, as that I may know them; and lead such a life as that they may safely follow me.” And the same desire is repeated in various forms of expression throughout his book of private devotions.
His style, like his mind, was a pattern of simplicity; it was so plain that none could go away from the church asking one another the meaning of what they had heard; and his sentiments were so eminently pure and devout, that the word of God in his mouth was seen to be truth. He studiously adapted his instructions to the wants and attainments of the Manksmen, avoiding in his own preaching, and advising his clergy to avoid, such questions as minister to disputes rather than to godly edifying. And while he thus preached the Gospel to the poor, his appeals derived no small degree of force and efficacy from an affectionate and animated delivery, and a life which exemplified what he taught. In the beautiful and valuable sermons which have been bequeathed to posterity, he instructs, exhorts, expostulates, entreats, and warns his hearers, in a manner that can hardly fail to search and prove the heart; and it will be found that the leading topics of his discourses were the same which he recommended to others; “ the bondage of man by sin,
- the necessity of a deliverer, the manner of our redemption, — the danger of not closing with it, — the power of grace to deliver us.”—And blessed are they whose purity of doctrine and holiness of life are liable to as few exceptions as his, and who labour as earnestly and diligently in the cause of their Master and Saviour. On them the second death hath no power.
His biographers do not say that he ever preached in the Manks language, but they inform us that he early applied himself to the study of it, and that he was able
converse with the natives in their own tongue.