« ZurückWeiter »
REV RICHARD LUCAS, D. D. THERE is no other period in the history of England that produced as many able polemic writers, as the seventeenth century. The enthusiasm and cruel persecutions that attended the first outbreak of the reformation in that country, had then much subsided, and both the great leading powers (Protestant and Papal) were made willing to consecrate their faith and creeds at the shrine of reason and revelation. This concession, so long sought for by the reformers, inspired and brought into the field many of the most learned and distinguished men of those spirit-stirring times. Their fervent discussions of holy writ, tempered with that moderation and zeal which an earnest inquiry after the truth always inspires, resulted in the discovery and establishment of those vital doctrines, in the propagation of which the Christian church has since been so eminently successful. In this arena of giant intellects, was spent the life of our author, a bright luminary, lighting up the path of the inquirer after truth, and by his profound learning vanquishing the advocates of error on every side.
This eminent divine was of Welsh origin, the son of Mr. Richard Lucas, of Resteign, in Radnorshire, England, and was born in that county in the year
1648. He early evinced a strong desire for knowledge, and after a thorough training in the common branches of science, he was sent to Oxford, and entered a student of Jesus College, in 1664.
Having taken both his degrees in arts, he entered into holy orders about the year 1672, and was afterwards master of the free school at Abergavenny; but being much esteemed for his talents in the pulpit, he was chosen vicar of St. Stephen's, Coleman-street, London, and lecturer of St. Olave, Southwark, in 1683. His sight began to fail in his youth, but he lost it totally about this time.
The privation of this important sense, in the full vigor of life and highest sphere of usefulness, might have been considered by some, (less noble,) a justifiable excuse for a retirement from the duties and re sponsibilities of public life. But he, true to that excellency of soul that characterized his former career, made up in energy and perseverance what he lost in sight, and continued to devote himself to the public good with such well-directed zeal as must merit the highest respect of all succeeding generations.
Early in life, at an age when most young men spend their time in trifling an usements, this champion of the cross consecrated all his powers to the service of his divine Master, and was, therefore, meekly resigned to whatever privation or affliction a benign Providence might assign him.
As a testimonial of his resignation we quote the following from the preface of the author's work, entitled “Enquiry after IIappiness:” “It has pleased God, that in a few years I should finish the more pleasant and delightful part of life, it sense were to be the judge and standard of pleasure, being confined (I will not say condemned) to retirement and solitude.
“In this state conversation has lost much of its former air and briskness; study, which is the only employment left me, is clogged with this weight and incumbrance, that all the assistance I can receive from without, must be conveyed by another's sense, not my own; which, it may easily be believed, are instruments or organs as ill fitted and awkwardly managed by me, as wooden legs and hands by the maimed. Should I ambitiously affect to have my name march in the train of those, although not all equally great ones, Homer, Appius, Aufidius, Didymus, Walkup, Père Jean l'Avengle, &c., all of them eminent for their service and usefulness, notwithstanding their affliction of the same kind with mine, even this might seem almost a commendable infirmity ; for the last thing a mind truly great and philosophical puts off, is the desire of glory. But this treatise owes neither its conception nor birth to this principle; for, besides that I know my own insufficiency, I must confess I never had a soul great enough to be acted by the heroic heat which the love of fame and honor has kindled in some.”
Notwithstanding the inconvenience of this privation, Dr. Lucas continued to discharge the duties of his holy calling, with such zeal and ability as brought him to the notice and favor of some of the leading men of his day. He took the degree of doctor of divinity, and was installed prebendary of Westminster, in 1696. He died, June, 1715, and was interred in Westminster Abbey.
“So, peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
That once had titles, piety, and fame.”
Dr. Lucas wrote many valuable works, namely: “A Treatise on Practical Christianity;” “The Morality of the Gospel ;” “ A Guide to Heaven;" “An Enquiry after Happiness ;” “ Christian Thoughts for every Day of the Week;” “ The Duty of Servants ; and "Sermons," in five volumes. He also made a Latin translation of the “Whole Duty of Man," which was published in 1680.
Of Dr. Lucas, Mr. Orton has given the following from Dr. Doddridge's Mss. : “His style is very peculiar: sometimes exceedingly fine, nearly approaching to conversation; sometimes grand and sublime; generally very expressive. His method not clear, but his thoughts excellent; many are taken from attentive observation of life; he wrote as entirely devoted to God, and superior to the world.” His “ Practical Christianity” is most valuable, and also his “Enquiry after Happiness," especially the second
volume. Orton speaks of reading the latter work a sixth time. The pious Mr. Hervey, in speaking of his work, says: “May I be permitted to recommend as a treasure of inestimable value, Dr. Lucas' • Enquiry after Happiness;' that part, especially, which displays the method, and enumerates the advantages of improving life, or living much in a little time; chapter iii, page 158 of the 6th edition. An author in whom the gentleman, the scholar, and the christian, are most happily united ; a performance which, in point of solid argument, unaffected piety, and a vein of thought amazingly fertile, has, perhaps, no superior. Nor can I wish my reader a more refined pleasure, or a more substantial happiness, than that of having the sentiments of this entertaining and pathetic writer woven into the very texture of his heart.” The treatise on “Practical Christianity” is earnestly recommended, also, by Sir Richard Steele, in the Guardian, No. 43. To these great names we must add that of Rev. John Wesley, who warmly recommends the “Treatise on Happiness” to his people, as one of the most valuable books a Christian can read.
What has been said in the foregoing sketch, respecting the life and commendable characteristics of this great inan, may have raised a wish in our readers to have a specimen of his writings. We therefore copy at length from his inimitable work.
We do it the more cheerfully, from the conviction that none of the literary productions of this author, so em