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discoveries of Divine mercy which constitute the essence of the Gospel; and these he is said to hare preached with a simplicity and force which, when combined, display a mind of the highest order, and form a preacher most eminently calculated for usefulness. He was far from obtruding at the throne of the Eternal the quaintness and familiarity with which some dare to joke with the God whom they profess to adore, but was ever serious and solemn in his prayers, without the slightest tinge of drollery.

"It is, however, difficult to give a verdict on his mode of preaching, which has since had many imitators, both in the Establish ment and among Dissenters. Much allow nce should certainly be made for natural temper, which will shew itself whenever a man feels perfectly at home; so that when we see clergy who glory in the title of queer fellows, and who set the table in a roar, stand in the pulpit like statues of ice, while their bearers betray alarming symptoms of the fatal lethargy which precedes being frozen to death, who will give them praise for their contemptuous jokes on droll preachers? Or who will think that man in earnest, who feels the touch of a pulpit like that of a torpedo, who is all quicksilver every where else, but dull as lead in the rostrum; animated when discoursing on the prices of stocks, or the speed of a race-horse, and only inspired with the genius of slumber when discoursing to Aeedless mortals on approaching death, judge ment, and eternity? Yet these are the men who delight to profane the ashes of such preachers as Daniel Burgess,

"On the other hand it must be owned, that in the footsteps of one who, by natural

eccentricities wins uncommon attention, and

by nobler singularity is crowned with emibent success, follow crowds of extravagant imitators, who, aiming to excite what their model has studied to repress, degrade the sacred majesty of divine truth, and sink the palpit below the stage. The serious consideration of the subject leads to this conclusion, that where it is natural and not forted, the corruscations of wit, which will sparkle through all efforts to restrain it, will impart a vivacity to preaching which may awaken attention, fix stings in the memory and conscience, and rather help than hinder usefulness. But where it is indulged through lexity, and still more where it is mimicked to court a grin, it will grieve the Holy Spirit of God, shock the pious, disgust the judies, and leave the pulpit buffoon to the vile honours and rewards of making people laugh where they ought to weep, and furpiling them with food for religious jokes

and gossip, where they ought to have provided themes for devout meditation and prayer." Vol. ii. pp. 275–279.

The observation which is made Testament is both harsh and unjust. on Burkitt's Exposition of the New After giving deserved praise to the ministry of this good man, the authors proceed

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"His Exposition of the New Testament, which, like many other middling or indifferent performances, has slipped into considerable popularity, is thus characterized by the candid and judicious Doddridge. has but few valuable criticisms, but many schemes of old sermons. His sentiments vary in different parts of the work, according as the authors from whence he took his materials were orthodox or not.' Thus a book, which is a mere compilation of error and truth, is the oracle with that class of readers who are least able to sift the chaff from the wheat." pp. 357, 358.

Here is a virtual confession, that the writers had not read, or even largely consulted, the work themselves. But they rest their general and judgment of Dr. Doddridge, censure of it entirely on the candour who, we must say, in defence of an eminent clergyman, is not in this case whole of his degrading representaeither candid or judicious. Were the tion just, yet this is not an equitable account of the whole work, which those, who are acquainted with it, know to be principally displicity, by evangelical correctness tinguished by plainness and sim-. in the representation of doctrine, and by a practical application and enforcement of much solidity, weight, life, and effect. The last part of Dr. Doddridge's judgment is very harsh and undeserved: his own Exposition might afford a captious critic equal ground for similar censure. The judgment of the histo rians is still harsher and more unjust. If the bad criticisms, useless repetitions, and now as useless controversies, which abound in the work, were expunged, and some variation and vivacity given to the form of the remainder, it would stand on the first shelf of practical expositions.

The thirty-two pages of the third volume, in which the Methodists will find themselves saluted, not with pure panegyric, is intended, we suppose, as an intimation, that the present two volumes do not complete the work.

The work, which we are now dismissing, has some excellences, and discovers capacities in the writers for many more. The style is generally vigorous and animated; and the best authorities are in the main referred to. But there is so much declamation, so much digression, so much colouring, such a degree, at times, of unworthy and offensive levity, that the value of the work is greatly diminished by these deductions. It has few, indeed, of the characters of a standard performance; and must, we apprehend, content itself with the inferior praise of interesting the passions and prejudices of more sanguine dissenters, and of rousing the animosity of more sanguine churchmen. In comparison with the more moderate of the body, the authors may not improperly be considered as high-dissenters, prepared to carry the claims of nonconformity and opposition to ecclesiastical authority to an almost unlimited extent. But the most serious part of our complaint is, not the partiality and unfairness, but the want of a Christian spirit, in our dissenting historians. A bitterness of expression (which must be considered as the counterpart of feeling) is perpetually recurring with respect to the church of England: particularly in that part of the work which professes to give the reasons of dissent, a spirit of sarcastic levity is indulged with a prodigality, which, if we are not mistaken, and mistaken in a judgment of charity, which we would least wish to be, can hardly be read without a sigh by a large portion of Dissenters themselves. Churchmen are under a temptation to cherish a servile satisfaction with things as they are, with all their defects and abuses, and to treat all their oppo

nents as enemies to religion and peace. Dissenters, on the contrary and for a correspondent reason, are as strongly solicited to an indiscri minate discontent with what is esta blished, to a proud impatience o controul and imposition, and to a kind of resentful hostility agains the national church. Each party should be peculiarly upon their guard against their own tempta tions; and we wish the present history had not forcibly obliged us to reflect upon the extreme diffi culty of such resistance. In the conduct, which we have thought it our duty to censure, there is likewise a circumstance, of which the authors were not perhaps aware, and which it appears important to state: and that is, that the intemperate use of satire and sarcasm has a natural tendency to defeat its own object. In our progress through these volumes we have often felt ourselves in the condition of a traveller assaulted on his journey by a brisk shower of hail or sleet full in his face. At first the little importunate asperities occasion considerable smart; but in a short time their very violence produces a numbness in the visage, which almost completely defends it from further molestation. In like manner the too inquisitive churchman, who, in the hope of historical information, may, like ourselves, be tempted to travel through these pages, will soon find himself assailed by such a tempest of sarcasms, flings, inuendoes, &c., that he will perhaps resolve to proceed no further. If, however, he take the bolder resolution, it will not be long before he discover, that these formidable weapons have deprived themselves of their virtue by their number and pertinacious ra pidity of succession, and by im parting to the mind an insensibility which performs the part of a shield against their future attacks; in con sequence of which, the archest in sinuations and the most epigram matic and finely turned pieces satire come to be regarded as sim

ple propositions, concerning which the only sentiment excited is, whether they be true or false.

There is another observation, upon the style of the work, with which we feel it right to trouble our readers. When we discovered

We

the name of two writers in the titlepage, we at once began to apprehend some evidences of this literary copartnership in the composition of the volumes. And, in fact, the resalt is sufficiently singular. know not if we can so well illustrate it as by some images familiar to every eye. If, then, our readers have ever seen a colt yoked to a broken-down coach - horse in a break; or a lively infant dancing in the arms of a decrepid nurse; or the wheel of a jack merrily revolving while the weight almost imperceptibly gravitates, they have a pretty correct notion of the mixture of the grave and gay, the sombre and brilliant, the andante and presto, the funereal reasonings and sportive sarcasms, which are congregated in these pages. They are like a "piece of tesselated pavement," or like Mr. Clarke's picture of Moscow, or like the members of a new coalition-administration, or Like any thing but that harmony and consistency which the laws of rhetoricians seem to demand.

We cannot say that what we have read in the first two volumes of the History of Dissenters has inspired us with any sanguine expectations respecting those which are to follow; for, if the authors have been able to maintain so little impartiality and moderation in times comparatively distant, what can we look for when they are approaching their own? We are unwilling, however, to despair, and will hope that, if it be not too late, our historians will profit by some of the counsel here tendered to them; especially when we tell them, that a history of the more modern dissenters and their cause, written with a fair portion of candour, is to us an object neither of fear nor aversion. Only CHRIST. OBSERY. No. 110.

let there be more of the mind in them which was in their and our Master, and we shall be proportionably satisfied.

Paganism and Christianity compared.
A Course of Lectures to the King's
Scholars at Westminster, in the
Years 1806, 7, 8.
By JOHN
IRELAND, D. D. Late of Oriel
College, Oxford, Prebendary and
Sub-dean of Westminster. Lon-
don. Murray. 1808.

THE animadversions of Dr. Rennell
and the Bishop of Meath, a few
years since, on the neglect of reli-
gious instruction in the great pub-
lic schools of England, must be in
the recollection of most of our read-
ers; together with the defence of
the system pursued in those cele-
brated seminaries, with respect to
religion, which was called forth by
the strictures in question, from Dr.
Vincent, the present Dean of West-
minster. Whatever might have
been the effect produced by that
defence, on the mind of Dr. Rennell,
it is certainly to be regretted, that
the further discussion of a subject
of such vast importance should have
been so suddenly abandoned; and
we cannot but rejoice that it has of
late again attracted the notice of
the public. It is not our intention
at present to enter professedly into
this interesting investigation, as we
may shortly have a better opportu-
nity for bringing it before our read-
ers. An examination, however,
of the work before us, may in the
mean time afford some materials for
the determination of the question to
which we have referred, by exhi
biting a specimen of the religious
instruction, which was, during the
course of three years, given to the
young members of one of our great
national schools.

We owe the production of this volume to the appointment of Dr. Ireland as lecturer in theology in Westminster Abbey; and the particular subject of which it treats, to

P

the actual circumstances of his audience. It appears that the statute by which the lecturer is appointed, describes his office to be "sacram Scripturam ad plebis et auditorum edificationem interpretari." To the objection therefore, that the follow ing lectures are not prepared with the simplicity supposed by the statute, Dr. Ireland replies, that at present there is no audience except the school; and that to young men in a train of education for the universities, the lecturer is at liberty to address himself in a literary manner, and to recommend a religious subject by the attractions of their scholastic studies. The plan of Dr. Ireland's lectures is accordingly chiefly historical, and divides itself into two parts. The event which serves as the foundation of the whole, is the capture of Rome by Alaric, in the beginning of the fifth century. Out of this arises, in the first part, a defence of the character of the church against the slanders of paganism. The true causes of the decay of the empire are contrasted with the false; the im.potence of the heathen deities to whom the prosperity of Rome had been attributed, is exposed in the arguments employed by the ancient Apologists of the faith; and the beneficial tendency of the Gospel is asserted, in its connection with the condition of man in the present life, This part may therefore be called a vindication of the civil character of Christianity in the Roman empire during the first four centuries.

The second part is employed in discussing the opinions of the pagans concerning the worship of a deity, and the pursuit of happiness as it was prescribed by the philosophical sects. It may be termed a view of mythological and moral no tions, as they are opposed to the everlasting promises of the Gospel; and it contains an examination of some of the more eminent systems of theology, and of the views of the summum bonum which prevailed in the heathen world. With these are

interwoven occasional appeals to th superior doctrines of the Scriptures and to this purpose is also dedicated the first, or introductory chapter which presents a general statemen of the blessings annexed to the sin cere profession of Christianity, i the "life which now is, and in tha which is to come." The learne author is aware, that some migh wish that a larger and more regu lar plan of revelation had been pre pared, in contrast with the vai search after God and happiness by the efforts of philosophy; and afte observing, that many notices tend ing to this purpose are intersperse through the body of his work, and that it would not have been possibl to have done this more fully withou injury to his present plan, he an nounces his determination to begin another course of lectures, which shall look to this as their principa object; describe, in a regular man ner, the scheme of revelation; an impress more fully on the young hearers its doctrines and its duties We profess ourselves satisfied with this apology. Had the work pos sessed less merit, or been considere as already perfect, we should cer tainly have been disposed to objec strongly to the partial plan on which it is formed; but there is really s much sound learning, scriptural doc trine, and correct and elevated sen timent in this volume, that we are thankful for it as it is, and look for ward with pleasure to the comple tion of the whole design. The re verend author, however, thinks i necessary more particularly to de fend this part of it from the objec tions of two classes of persons-First of "the fanatic, a portion of whose spirit," he says, "has been lately reviving among us." We scarcely imagine that there is much groun for alarm on this head. If then should be any persons amongst u who seem to value religion in pro portion to the ruggedness of its ap pearance, and reject the assistanc of profane learning, as if it tende to impair the character of evange

107

lical truth, we can only say, that we are very far from being of that number, and most sincerely deprecate the prevalence of so narrow and misguided a spirit. We fully concar with him, however, on the other -band, in his just and sensible rebake of the too fastidious scholar, who, turning with disgust from the ruder models of declining taste, would for ever confine his attention to those writings which exhibit the purest classical language: and with him he would urge the sacred nature of ecclesiastical truth, and the doty of pursuing it wherever it may be found; the peculiar interest which attends the warfare of the church with the early race of infidels, and its importance to the history of our faith. To forget this, as Dr. Ireland justly observes, is to indulge a spirit, which prevailed in an early age of the church, but could then be more readily excused; and which prevailed also, though less allowably, at the revival of literature; a spirit, which, while it professes an extraordinary reverence for letters, tends to circumscribe their influence, undervalues the materials of ecclesiastical history, and sacrifices truth to sound. This is no unseasonable admonition to our classical and cle tical scholars; and we trust that it will not be received in vain.

lished and philosophical Greeks to the Gospel, and the consequences of it to the harassed Christians, Dr. Ireland states some curious and instructive particulars from sacred an tiquity.

the manner in which Tatian conducts his It would appear," he observes, "from oration against the Greeks, that one of the principal causes of their hostility to the Gospel, was the injury supposed to be done by revelation to their philosophy. By a strange vanity, which had long distinguished that people, and which no calamities or had imagined themselves to be the first of disgraces of their own could exirpate, they men, the original possessors of their soil perhaps the produce of it, and they fondly cherished the notion, that from their genius flowed, or ought to flow, to the rest of mankind, the knowledge of all art and science. This pretension was completely overthrown by the superior claim of the Scriptures, which therefore became the object of their hatred and detraction,"... ...." and never did wounded vanity shew a more implacable resentcomplish by the sword, they endeavoured to "Whatever the Greeks could not acand such was the madness with which they effect by the force of impious language; were inflamed, that they proposed rewards and honours to such of their poets and sophists as should write with most wit and elegance in opposition to the one, true, and incorruptible God, from whom descended to mankind the gift of eternal happiness, through Jesus Christ." pp. 12-15, 16.

ment.

What an instructive commentary is this, on the apostolic caution The first of the lectures under our against the philosophy and vain dereview, opens with a brief statement ceit of the Greeks! During several of the general happiness of believers centuries it either openly opposed, under the Gospel, both as to the or, when this was no longer practipresent and a future world; which cable, it laboured to corrupt the pu is followed by a detailed compari- rity and simplicity of Christian docson of the apostle's assertion on this subject, with the outward circum- ed antipathy to the truth. Nor is trine, maintaining all along a rootstances of the Christian church in this Grecian spirit yet extinct. the age in which the apostle wrote. Though constrained by the circumA very elaborate and striking view stances of the age to repress its hais then given of the various persecu- tred of the Gospel, and of those tions of the primitive Christians, by who contend earnestly for the faith the Romans, Greeks, and Jews, and once delivered to the saints, within the of the faith and patience with limits of external decency, it will cer which they were endured, confirm tainly be found, that too many of those the origina ecclesiastical writers. are still amongst the bitterest eneed and illustrated by extracts from who affect the name of philosophers Concerning the enmity of the po- mies of Christianity and do not fail

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