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The following heads of self-examination may give us ome idea of his occupation in his secret chamber. They are suggested by the words in the Acts (vi. 4), We will give ourselves over continually to prayer, to the ministry of the word.
“Have I done so this day? Have I been mindful of the duties of my proper calling? Do I make it the great concern of my life to promote the eternal interests of
my flock? Have I read the Holy Scriptures, in order to instruct my people and to preserve them from error ? Do I call upon God for the true understanding of the Holy Scriptures? Do I deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, so as to be an example unto others?
Have I endeavoured to keep up the discipline of this Church by correcting the criminous ? Have I an eye to such as are in Holy Orders, and to such as are designed for the ministry? Have I been charitable and kind to poor and needy people? Do I make the Gospel the rule of my private life, and Jesus Christ my pattern ? Do I endeavour after holiness? Do I live as in God's presence? Is my conversation unblameable? Do I give the praise of this to God through Jesus Christ ?”
The honesty and strictness with which he prosecuted these enquiries and searched out his spirit, are manifest from the subjoined memorandum made so early as the year 1699, which gives a correct idea of the frequent employment of his solitary hours: “Upon a serious review of my time past, I find that I have been too negligent of the duties of my calling ; I do therefore resolve solemnly, (being heartily sorry for what is past,) that for the time to come I will rectify (by the grace of God) my ways in these following instances :
vations upon the clerical character. He ventures to think that good would result from their wider circulation amongst the ministers of Christ themselves, and that no harm can possibly arise from the people being led to expect quite as much from their spiritual instructors as is there set down. We have indeed the treasure in earthen vessels, but then our bishop has encouraged no expectations of any thing else ; and what he represented to be the duty of others he scrupulously exacted of himself,
“Ist. More diligently follow my studies. 2ndly. Immediately regulate my devotions, and attend them constantly. 3rdly. Preach more constantly than I have done. 4thly. Compose prayers for the poor families in order to have them printed. 5thly. Endeavour with all my might to draw my heart from the things of the world.
“ And that I may not forget these purposes, I resolve that this memorandum shall remain as a record against me, until I have thoroughly amended in these particulars. The God of Heaven give me grace to set about the work immediately, and give me strength to finish it! Amen, Amen."
Many publications were the fruits of his hours of retirement; some of these are mentioned incidentally in other parts of this memoir, the rest are as follows:
1. A History of the Isle of Man.
3. The Principles and Duties of Christianity, published in Manks and English, in 1699; and afterwards printed in an altered form in 1740, and entitled The Knowledge and Practice of Christianity made easy to the meanest capacities; or an Essay towards an Instruction for the Indians ; which will likewise be of use to all such who are called Christians, but have not well considered the Meaning of the Religion they profess; or who profess to know God, but in works deny him. In twenty dialogues. Of this work he says, in a letter to his son, “I have the poorest opinion of my own abilities, and I can approve of little that I have done on
this head; but since it is gone so far, there is no drawing back.”
4. A Commentary upon the Holy Bible.
5. A Short Introduction to the Lord's Supper. A work not superseded, perhaps not surpassed, by any other upon the same subject. Writing to his son, who had sent to him some letters which were highly commendatory of his publications, he says, “I am not elated with the letters you enclosed me; if any good is likely to be done, far be it from me to take the praise to myself; let it be ascribed to the good Spirit of God; and let me take the shame to myself for the many faults I plainly see in it, and for the negligence with which it is performed. May God forgive me these, and pardon the things I have been wanting in, and the good I might and have not done in the way
of my duty, in a long, long life, and in my proper calling; and I shall bless his name for ever!"
6. Short Observations on the Historical Books of the Old Testament.
7. Morning and Evening Prayers and Meditations for Families, and for Persons in Private.
8. Maxims of Piety and of Christianity.
9. Forms of Prayer for several public occasions. Amongst these is a form of Prayer for the Herring Fishery. The bishop says, in his History of the Isle of Man, that “formerly herrings were the great staple commodity of this Isle, of which, (within the memory of some now living), near twenty thousand barrels have been exported in one year to France and other places. The time of herring-fishing is between July and All-hallows' tide. The whole fleet of boats, (every boat being about the burthen of two tons) are under the government of the waterbailiff on the shore, and under one called a vice-admiral at sea, who, by the signal of a flag, directs them when to
shoot their nets, &c.
In acknowledgment of this great blessing, and that God may be prevailed with to continue it, (this being the support of the place), the whole fleet duly attend divine service on the shore, at the several ports, every evening before they go to sea; the respective incumbents on that occasion making use of a form of prayer, lessons, &c. lately composed for that purpose.” This pious practice is still continued.
10. Instructions for an Academic Youth, and a Catechetical Instruction, both intended for Candidates for Holy Orders.
In addition to these, many prayers, memoranda, and a few letters on clerical subjects, have been printed in the accounts of his Life, by the Rev. Mr. Cruttwell and the Rev. Mr. Stowell.
This chapter may appropriately conclude with an extract from a letter written by the celebrated Dr. Samuel Johnson to the son of this admirable prelate ;—“To think on bishop Wilson with veneration is only to agree with the whole christian world. I hope to look into his books with other purposes than those of criticism, and, after their perusal, not only to write but to live better.”
Unskilful he to fawn, or seek for pow'r,
But in his duty prompt, at every call
GOLDSMITH's Deserted Village,
The small revenues of the bishopric of Man amounted in the time of bishop Wilson to no more than three hundred pounds a-year, and he found that the lands annexed to it were nothing better than tracts of pasturage for sheep. It soon occurred to him to turn these lands to more profitable account by husbandry; and by skilful management he soon made them produce more thạn was required to supply his house; a portion of the residue was bartered for other commodities which his farms did not furnish;
and what remained was devoted to charitable purposes. Thus it happened that he was able to employ considerable sums in promoting the glory of God and the good of man.
He wished to act in accordance with the sentiment which was thus expressed (we believe) by bishop Fleet