Bickersteth, Edward

Bickersteth, Edward, was born March 19, 1786, at Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmoreland. He received his early education at the grammar-school of Kirkby Lonsdale, then spent five years in an attorney's office in London, and commenced business as a solicitor at Norwich in 1812. While yet in business he took a prominent part in various religious movements.: He wrote and published in 1814 A Help to the Study of the Scriptures, which in its enlarged form has had an enormous circulation. His strong religious feelings led him to devote himself to the ministerial office, and in 1815 he was ordained deacon; the Bishop of Norwich having been induced to dispense in his case with the usual university training, in consequence of its being represented to him that the Church Missionary Society were anxious to obtain his services to reorganize the stations of the society in Africa, and to act afterward as their secretary. A fortnight later the Bishop of Gloucester admitted him to full orders, and he almost immediately departed with his wife to Africa. He returned in the following autumn, having accomplished the purposes of his visit. He continued in the secretaryship for fifteen years, and in the course of his official journeys he acquired great influence and popularity. In 1830 he resigned his office, and accepted the rectory of Watton, in Hertfordshire, where he spent the rest of his life. He was during the whole of that time in constant request as the advocate, by sermons and speeches, not only of the missionary, but of almost every other religious society connected with the Church of England, or in, which, as in the Bible Society and the Evangelical Alliance (of which he was one of the founders), Church of England men and members of other churches associate. He also produced during his residence at Watton a constant succession of religious publications, which were for the most part read in the circles to which they were chiefly addressed with the greatest avidity. He was earnest in denouncing the spread of Tractarian opinions in the Church of England. In his later years he manifested a growing interest in the study of prophecy. The unfulfilled prophecies were made the frequent subject of his discourses, and he published several treatises on the prophetic writings. Among his literary labors ought to be mentioned the Christian Family Library, which he edited, and which extended to 50 vols. Mr. Bickersteth was in 1841 attacked by paralysis, but recovered. In 1846 he was thrown, from his chaise under a laden cart, the wheels of which passed over him; but, though dreadfully injured, he was after a time restored to health and activity, and survived till Feb. 28, 1850, when he died of congestion of the brain. His writings are characterized by earnest religious feeling rather than by power or depth of thought. They are collected in an edition published in 1853 (16 vols. fcp. 8vo). See Birk's Memoirs of Rev. E. Bickersteth (New York, 1851, 2 vols. 12mo); Eng. Cyclop. s.v.

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