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: I am now to proceed to the investigation of those motives, by which the Founder may be conceived to have been influenced in his conduct; and upon these, I think, we shall have but little difficulty in forming a favourable determination, if we consider the aspect of the times in which he lived, and the solemn and overflowing expressions of godly zeal which adorn and sanctify the pages
of his last Will and Testament.
- Mr. Hulse was born, as I observed, about the beginning of the eighteenth century, and the former part of that century was disgraced by a more copious list of unbelieving writers, than can be furnished by any other equal portion of ourhistory as a nation. The names of Toland and of Tindal, of Chubb and of Collins, of Morgan and of Shaftsbury, who all flourished within the period to which I allude, are sufficient, without the recapitulation of others, to redeem the accuracy of the assertion I have made. It would not then be an unfair, oran unnatural, supposition to imagine, even in the absence of all positive information as to the real motives of the Founder, that, living, as he did, in an age when the spirit of Delusion had transformed itself into an angel of Reason, his mind became so deeply impressed with the danger of the Church, as to resolve to devote the gifts of fortune to the service of God, and so endeavour to avert from his country the bitterness of spiritual death. We are not, however, left entirely to the inferences of conjecture upon this subject; for the Founder himself has explicitly and repeatedly alluded in his Will, in terms of the most lively sorrow, to the prevailing evil of the times upon which he had fallen, and has expressed his hope that, in an age so unfortunately “abandoned to vice, and devoted to shameful infidelity and luxury,” his bequests might “prove a means, through the divine grace, to induce others to the like charitable, and, as he humbly hoped, seasonable and useful benefactions." Here then it is, in the holy desire of guarding the ignorant and indolent against the deceits of a false phi. losophy, and the pleasing prospect of rousing others to co-operate in the same work of beneficence, that we are to look for the origin of these religious establishments, and it is most certainly aconsolatory reflection, that the benefits bestowed upon us were not suggested, like so many other charitable benefactions, by the feelings of remorse, of caprice, or of vanity. In the sight of manfor in the sight of God we may call no man righteous—the Founder was a good and holy man, nor can we frame to ourselves the suspicion of ány presumptuous and flagrant violation of laws human or divine, the consequences of which
he might have foolishly sought to obliterate by: a vain and posthumous act of beneficence.. It is also satisfactory to know, that the kindness by which we profit was not accompanied by the loss to a wife, a brother, or a child, of that inheritance to which kindred and the laws had given them a natural claim and a legitimate hope.-The Founder of our institutions died childless and brotherless and unmarried, and has also taken particular care to vindicate his endowments from the charge of injustice, by stating that he had disposed of his property to charitable purposes, only “after a proper provision being made by his Will for his several relations, he having left no children, nor his relations having any." To -relieve him, in the last place, from the imputation of vanity in his holy deeds, one anecdote has providentially escaped the general forgetfulness of the other incidents of his life, to convince us at once of the singleness of his heart and the piety of his intention. It is related of him by his favourite servant, who still lives, that he was sometimes heard in the solitude of his cham. ber and the silence of the night, pouring out his soul in humble and fervent prayer to God, that he would, of his abundant mercy, be pleased to bless the disposition which he had made of his property for religious ends, and cause it to prosper, in the establishment of the belief and practice of Christianity, to his own glory, and his people's
welfare. A similar and solemn prayer for a benediction upon his charities is added at the conclusion of his Will, in which he beseeches that “the divine blessing may go along with all his benefactions, and that the greatest and best of Beings may, by his all-wise providence and gracious influence, make the same effectual to his own glory and the good of his creatures.” If a man ever speaks with sincerity, it is in the secret act of solitary prayer, and in that last communication of his thoughts which he lays before the world, and I cannot conceive a proof more convincing of the pure and holy views of this pious man, than what is here afforded us by these two evidences of his goodness.
What then remains for us? What, but that whilst we bless the memory of the just man, we be careful also to follow the example of his holiness, and, like him, both now and often, to lift voices to the throne of God, and beseech him that he, who alone can give wisdom to the simple, and strengthen the hands of the feeble, would be pleased so to bless the efforts of one of the weakest of his servants, in the fulfilment of an awful and laborious office, as to make them, however unworthy in themselves, to become effectual, through grace, to the conversion of sinners, and the salvation of souls.
HEBREWS II. 4.
“And by it he, being dead, yet speaketh."
In a former Discourse, I, first of all, laid before you the obligations of a minister of religion, as they relate to the exercise of his intellectual powers. I then referred to the very few incidents which are remembered of Mr. Hulse's life, and briefly touched upon the ends and motives of the several benefactions he has bestowed upon the University of Cambridge. I would now enter into a more particular examination of the duties of the Christian Preacher, and the manner in which they are required to be performed. The materials of this inquiry must of course be solely derived from that instrument by which the office itself was established; I mean the last Will and Testament of the Founder himself, by which “he, being dead, yet speaketh" to’us, of his intentions in the bequest, and which, whatever may be its difficulties in a legal point of view, is, as a moral picture of the writer's mind, a very beautiful and affecting document.