Horne, George

, the late amiable and exemplary bishop of Norwich, was born Nov. 1, 1730, at Otham, near Maidstone, in Kent, where his father, the rev. Samuel Home, was rector. Of four sons and three daughters he was the second son; and his education was commenced at home under the instruction of his father. At thirteen, having made a good proficiency, he was sent to school at Maidstone, under the rev. Deodatus Bye, a man of good principles; and at little more than fifteen, being elected to a Maidstone scholarship at University college, Oxford, he went there to reside. He was so much approved at his college, that about the time when he took his bachelor’s degree, which was Oct. 27, 1749, in consequence of a strong recommendation from that place, he was elected to" a Kentish fellowship at Magdalen. On June 1, 1752, he took his master’s degree, and on Trinity Sunday, in the year following, he was ordained by the bishop of Oxford, and soon after preached his first sermon for his friend and | biographer, Mr. Jones, at Finedon, in Northamptonshire. A short time after he preached in London with such success, that a person, eminent himself for the same talent, pronounced him, without exception, the best preacher in England.

At the early age of nineteen, Mr. Home had imbibed * very favourable opinion of the sentiments of Mr. Hutchinson; which he afterwards adopted and disseminated without disguise. Supported by the learning and zeal of his friends, Mr. Watson of University college, Dr. Hodges, provost of Oriel, and Dr. Patten, of Corpus, he ably vindicated his principles against the intemperate invectives to which their novelty exposed them. That part indeed of the Hutchinsonian controversy which relates to Hebrew etymology was discountenanced by Mr. Home as, in a great measure, fanciful and arbitrary. He considered it of infinitely more importance to be employed in investigating facts than to be disputing about verbal criticisms. The principles of Mr. Hutchinson beginning to extend their influence in the university, in 1756 a bold attack was made upon them in an anonymous pamphlet, entitled “A Word to the Hutchinsonians.” Mr. Home, considering himself more particularly called upon for a defence, as being personally aimed at in the animadversions, produced an Apology, which has been universally admired for in temper, learning, and good sense. The question agitated seems rather to involve the very essense of religion, than to concern Mr. Hutchinson or his principles. The pamphlet was attributed by the public in general, and Mr. Home in particular, to Mr. Kennicott, of Exeter college; a man who had distinguished himself by an accurate acquaintance with the Hebrew, and two masterly dissertations, one on the Tree of Life, the other on the Sacrifices of Cain and Abel.

After his Apology, Mr. Home took an active part in the controversy with Mr. Kennicott on the propriety of collating the text of the Hebrew Bible with such manuscripts as could then be procured, in order to reform the text, and prepare it for a new translation into the English language. Mr. Home strongly objected to the proposal, from a persuasion, among other serious reasons, that the wide principle upon which it was to be conducted might endanger the interest of genuine Christianity, He conceived that the unsound criticism to which the text would | be liable by this measure, might afford some additional pretexts for the sceptical cavils of those, who, with affectation of superior learning, had already shewn themselves active in discovering imaginary corruptions. Whatever, in these speculative points, the opinions of Mr. Home might be, he was esteemed both now and throughout his life, a good and valuable -man, a sincere Christian in thought and in action, and in all respects worthy of the preferment he obtained. About 1756, he had planned and begun to execute his “Commentary on the Psalms,” which he did not complete and publish till twenty years after. It was a work in which he always proceeded with pleasure, and on which he delighted to dwell and meditate. Soon after the publication of this valuable work, Dr. Home, feeling much concern at the progress of infidelity, to which the writings of Mr. Hume seemed in no small degree to contribute, endeavoured to undeceive the world with respect to the pretended cheerfulness and tranquillity of the last moments of this unbelieving philosopher. He addressed an anonymous “Letter to Dr. Adam Smith,” in which, with clear and sound argument, and the most perfect natural good humour, he overthrows the artificial account givefn in Mr. Hume’s life, by allusions to certain well-founded anecdotes concerning him, which are totally inconsistent with it.

In 1784 this Letter was followed by his “Letters on Infidelity;” which abound with instruction and entertain* ment, and are exceedingly well adapted both to arm the minds of youth against the dangerous tendency of philosophizing infidelity, and to counteract any impression* which its specious garb and licentious easy temper may have already made. The unsoundness of Mr. Hume’s opinions, and the futility of his arguments, are displayed in so happy a strain of ridicule, that none, says one of his biographers, “but an unbeliever can be angry, or even feel displeased.” The latter part of these Letters is employed in attempting to shew the fallacy of some miscellaneous objections against Christianity, brought forward by a more modern advocate for infidelity.

The character and conduct of Mr. Home were so much approved in the college to which he belonged, that on a vacancy happening in 1768, he was elected to the high office of president of that society. Nearly at the same time he married the daughter, of Philip Burton, esq. of | Eltham, in Kent, by whom he had three. daughters. The public situation ‘of Mr. Home now made it proper for hint to proceed to the degree of doctor in divinity; and he was also appointed one of the chapla-ins to the king. In 1776 Dr. Home was elected vice chancellor of the university of Oxford, which office he held for the customary period of four years. In this situation he became known to lord North, the chancellor, and this, it is probable, prepared the way to his subsequent elevation. In 1781, the very year after the expiration of his office of vice-chancellor, he was made dean of Canterbury, and’ would williogly have relinquished his cares at Oxford, to reside altogether in. his native county of Kent; but he yielded to the judgment of a prudent friend who advised him. to retain his situation at Magdalen. In 1789, on the translation of bishop Bagot to St. Asaph, Dr. Home was advanced to the episcopal dignity, and succeeded him in the see of Norwich. Unhappily, though he was no more than fifty-nine, he had already begun to suffer much from infirmities. “Alas!” said he, observing the large flight of steps which lead into the palace of Norwich, “I am come to these steps at a time of life when I can neither go up them nor down them with safety.” It happened consequently, that the church could not long be benefited by his piety and zeal. Even the charge which he composed for his primary visitation at Norwich, he was unable to deliver, and it was printed “as intended to have been delivered.” From two visits to Bath he had received sensible benefit, and was meditating a third in the autumn of 179 I, which he had been requested not to delay too long. He did, however, delay it too long, and was visited by a paralytic stroke on the road to that place. He completed his journey, though very ill; and for a short time was so far recovered as to walk daily to the pump-room; but the hopes of his friends and family were of short duration, for, on the 17th of January, 1792, in the sixty-second year of his age, his death afforded an edifying example of Christian resignation and hope; and he was buried at Eltham in Kent, with a commendatory but very just epitaph, which is also put up in the cathedral at Norwich.

It cannot often fall to the lot of the biographer to record a man so blameless in character and conduct as bishop Home. Whatever might be his peculiar opinions on some points, he was undoubtedly a sincere and exemplary | Christian; and as a scholar, a writer, and a preacher, a man of no ordinary qualifications. The cheerfulness of his disposition is often marked by the vivacity of his writings, and the sincerity of his heart is every where conspicuous in them. So far was he from any tincture of covetousness, that he laid up nothing from his preferments in the church. If he was no loser at the year’s end he was perfectly satisfied. What he gave away was bestowed with so much secrecy, that it was supposed by some persons to be little; but, after his death, when the pensioners, to whom he had been a constant benefactor, rose up to look about them for some other support, it began to be known who, and how many they were.

The works of bishop Home amount to a good many articles, which we shall notice in chronological order: 1. <( The Theology and Philosophy in Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis explained; or a brief attempt to demonstrate that the Newtonian system is perfectly agreeable to the notions of the wisest antients, and that mathematical principles are the only sure ones,“Lond. 1751, 8vo. 2.” A fair, candid, and impartial state of the Case between sir Isaac Newton and Mr. Hutchinson,“&c. Oxford, 1753, 8vo. 3.” Spicilegium Shuckfordianum or a nosegay for the critics,“&c. Lond. 1754, 12mo. 4.” Christ and the Holy Ghost the supporters of the Spiritual Life,“&c. two sermons preached before the university of Oxford, 1755, 8vo. 5.” The Almighty justified in Judgment,“a sermon, 1756. 6.” An Apology for certain gentlemen in the university of Oxford, aspersed in a late anonymous Pamphlet,“1756, 8vo. 7.” A view of Mr. Kennicott’s method of correcting the Hebrew Text,“&c. Oxford, 1760, 8vo. 8.” Considerations on the Life and Death of St. John the Baptist,“Oxford, 1772, 8vo. This pleasing tract contained the substance of several sermons preached annually at Magdalen-college, in Oxford, the course of which had commenced in 1755. A second edition in 12mo, was published at Oxford in 1777. 9.” Considerations on the projected Reformation of the Church of England. In a letter to the right hon. lord North. By a clergyman,“London, 1772, 4to. 10.” A Commentary on the Book of Psalms,“&c. &c. Oxford, 1776, 2 vols, 4to. Reprinted in 8vo, in 1778, and three times since. With what satisfaction this good man composed this pious work, may best be judged frora, the following passage in his preface. * Could the author | flatter himself that any one would have half the pleasure in reading the following exposition, which he hath had in writing it, he would not fear the loss of his labour. The employment detached him from the bustle and hurry of life, the din of politics, and the noise of folly. Vanity and vexation fiew away for a season, care and disquietude came not near his dwelling. He arose fresh as the morning to his task; the silence of the night invited him to pursue it; and he can truly say that food and rest were not preferred before it. Every psalm improved infinitely on his acquaintance with it, and no one gave him uneasiness but the last; for then he grieved that his work was done. Happier hours than those which have been spent in these meditations on the songs of Sion he never expects to see in this world. Very pleasantly did they pass, and move smoothly and swiftly along foi; when thus engaged he counted no time. They are gone, but have left a relish and a fragrance on the mind, and the remembrance of them is sweet.” 11. “A Letter to Adam Smith, LL. D. on the Life, Death, and Philosophy of David Hume, esq. By one” of the people called Christians,“Oxford, 1777, 12mo, 12.” Discourses on several subjects and occasions,“Oxford, 1779, 2 vols. 8vo. These sermons have gone through five editions. 13.” Letters on Infidelity,“Oxford, 1784, 12mo. 14” The Duty of contending for the Faith,“Jude, Ver. 3. preached at the primary visitation of the most reverend John lord archbishop of Canterbury, July 1, 1786. To which is subjoined, a” Discourse on the Trinity in Unity, Matth. xxviii. 19.“1786, 4to. These sermons, with fourteen others preached on particular occasions, and all published separately, were collected into one volume, 8vo, at Oxford, in 17y5. The two have also been published in 12mo, by the society for promoting Christian knowledge, and are among the books distributed by that society. 15.” A letter to the rev. Dr. Priestley, by an Undergraduate,“Oxford, 1787. 16.” Observations on the Case of the Protestant Dissenters, with reference to the Corporation and Test Acts,“Oxford, 1790, 8vo. 17.” Charge intended to have been delivered to the Clergy of Norwich, at the primary visitation,“1791, 4to. l. * Discourses on several subjects and occasions,Oxford, 1794, 8vo, vols. 3 and 4; a posthumous publication. Ttyc four volumes have since been reprinted in an uniform edition; and lately an uniform edition of these and his other works, with his life, by Mr. Jones, has been printed in 6 | vols. 8vo. Besides these, might be enumerated several occasional papers in different periodical publications, but particularly the papers signed Z. in the " Olla Podrida,‘-’ a periodical work, conducted by Mr. T. Monro, then bachelor of arts, and a demy of Magdalen college, Oxford. 1


Life by the Rev. W. Jones. See some valuable remarks on his character in Dr. Gleig’s Supplement to the Encyclop. Britannica. —Gent. Mag. LXII, LXIII, and LXVLBoswell’s Life of Johnson. Forbes’s Life of Beattie, &c. &c. To his woiks may be added, “Considerations on the Life and Death of Abel, Enoch and Noah,” 12mo, 1812, a work which we happened not to see in time to insert in the text.