« PrécédentContinuer »
The Gospel the Power of God unto Salvation. A Sermon, preached before the University of Cambridge, on Commencement Sunday, July 5, 1829, and published at the request of the Vice-Chancellor. By T. G. ACKLAND, D.D. of St. John's College, Rector of St. Mildred's, Bread Street, and Lecturer of St. Andrew's, Holborn, London. Cambridge: Deightons and Stevenson. London: Rivingtons and Jennings. Pp. 32.
THERE is much in this sermon which is deserving of the deepest and most serious attention. From Rom. i. 16, the preacher insists upon certain points of resemblance between the Jews and Greeks of old, and many of the present day, to whom the Gospel is a stumbling-block, or who esteem it foolishness.
In the temper and spirit and circumstances of the times, may we not (he asks) mark but too surely the traces of a spurious though specious philosophy, subversive of the benefits, hostile to the principles, and derogatory to the honour, of the Gospel of Christ? May we not behold that which, if not actually designed, (and no such imputation is here intended) has a tendency however to crush the religion of the Saviour, and to rear in its stead a system of vague and heartless morality, calculated to generate and to foster much that is untenable in doctrine, and absolutely pernicious in practice? Do we not too often witness a disposition on the alleged ground of deference to what is called the genius of the age, or with the view of unworthily conciliating irreligious opponents, to suppress, or to acquiesce in the suppression by others of those great truths which are the basis of sound evangelical faith? Do we not see principle sacrificed to popularity, conviction to convenience, the fear of God to the fashion of the time, and that which is inwardly felt and acknowledged to be just and right to that which is supposed to be expedient? And so, in particular, with respect to the great and important object of general instruction,-do we not in too many instances find skill in languages, information in literature and the arts, lectures and treatises on the mechanic powers, and laws of motion, on geometry, astronomy, chemistry and the various branches of physical and mathematical knowledge, assumed as constitu
VOL. XII. NO. V.
ting and completing education? whereas in fact, giving them all due weight and value, these are still but a part, and, as has been well said, "comparatively an unimportant part, of the education of a being who is an heir of immortality, and who therefore should be disciplined for an eternal existence, and instructed in something beyond the wisdom of the world." But when objections of this sort are intimated, we find men of a superior station in life, of aspiring minds, and of undenied abilities and acquirements, (not indeed without a mixture of such as can advance no such pretensions) employing by turns eloquence and wit, ridicule and sarcasm, keen satire, bitter invective, ingenious sophistry, fervid declamation, in support of the system; and to any one who presumes to hint a doubt as to the completeness of its design, or dares to express a wish that the mere earthly mass might be touched with fire from heaven,— these its most distinguished advocates reply, in a tone of measureless superiority, that such opinions are now out of place and out of season; exploded by the intellect of the age, as the result of prejudice and a confined understanding, and as fit only to cramp and impose upon superstitious and inferior minds. Thus do we behold men, who, from their talents, their attainments, and their influence, might be wholesome guides and instructors of the people, confining their exertions in their behalf to objects which, from the exclusive pursuit of them, have the effect rather of misleading and detaching the thoughts from that which
all-important; and of substituting, for the clear light of divine revelation, the dubious and glimmering taper of human philosophy.-Eager to impart or to acquire wisdom, but forgetting or neglecting what is the beginning of wisdom: desirous of producing or of becoming a scientific, a learned population, learned after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ; stimulating and stimulated by all the incentives of worldly profit and aggrandizement, and unmindful apparently that what a man is in relation to his Creator and Redeemer is the only thing which will signify at the last; --as well the patrons as the pupils of this system appear to be of opinion that the purposes which it embraces are all in all; the ultimate objects of human enterprise; and that the individual who secures these, attains at the same time the chief ends of his present existence :-how far qualified he may be for a future one, seems to be left out of the calculation: only let the man be prosperous, and what the christian may be, is a matter of vastly
inferior importance.-Is all this, or is it not, to be ashamed of the gospel of Christ? Pp. 16-19.
Our author then proceeds to point out the folly of being thus ashamed of that which is really the power of God unto salvation; and to urge upon the younger members of the University, the important necessity of seeking that wisdom which is from above, as infinitely superior to all the acquisitions of worldly knowledge. In saying that this sermon is every way adapted to the place in which it was delivered, and calculated to awaken a sense of responsibility in the higher powers, and a just apprehension of the obligations of religion to the students of the University, we do no more than justice to its merits. It is pious, argumentative, energetic, and eloquent; and proves that Dr. Ackland is a well-wisher to the best interests of religion, and firmly attached to the discipline and doctrine of that Church to which he belongs.
Nineteen Sermons concerning Prayer. the first Six shewing the Nature of Prayer, as a Preparative thereunto; the residue a large and full Exposition of the Lord's Prayer. By that learned Divine, LANCELOT ANDREWS, D.D. and formerly Bishop of Winchester. A new edition, adapted for general reading, and prefaced by a Memoir of the Author, by the Compiler of the School PrayerBook. London: Whittaker. 1830. 8vo. Pp. xxxiv. 322. Price 9s. "LANCELOT ANDREWS," says Bishop Horne, without exception, the first preacher of his time;" and that his learning was not inferior to his eloquence, the sermons, and other works, which he has left behind him, afford the most ample proof. A selection from his sermons was published some time since by the late Archdeacon Daubeny, to which the volume before us will form a very acceptable companion. We could have wished, indeed, that the editor had softened down the more obsolete expressions,
and rendered them somewhat more in unison with the style and manner of modern composition. It would also have been as well to have given the scriptural texts in the words of the authorized version, which, although it was made prior to the time at which the Sermons on Prayer were written, was still in part the work of Andrews himself; and quotations from any other have something in them unsuited to the ears of the present generation. In its present form, the volume will be of great use to the Clergy, who may find it a profitable auxiliary in preparing a series of discourses on the Lord's Prayer; but the ordinary reader will scarcely be expected to relish the antiquated style in which it is composed. Tautologous repetition and familiar quaintnesses have been now long out of date; and, except to those who make the old divines their study, have little to recommend them.
PREPARING FOR PUBLICATION.
English Prisoners in France: by the Rev. R. B. Wolfe, chaplain, containing observations on their manners and habits, principally with reference to their religious state, during a nine years' residence in the Dépôts of Fontainebleau, Verdun, Givet, and Valenciennes, between the years 1802 and 1812.
The Rev. Professor Lee, is preparing for publication a volume of Sermons, on various subjects connected with Scriptural Interpretation, preached before the University of Cambridge, to which will be appended two dissertations, on the Reasonableness and Excellence of the Scriptures, with reference to the ultra views of Calvinists, Arminians, the modern schools of Germany, and some other modern interpreters of prophecy.
Practical Lectures on the Church Catechism, and an Exercise preparatory to Confirmation. By the Rev. Thomas Adam, Rector of Wintringham, in Lincolnshire.The Exercise on Confirmation is separately printed, and adapted for wide circulation.
MARK X. 49.
Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.
THE circumstances under which these cheering words were originally spoken, are as follow. Our blessed Lord, going through the towns and villages, on his usual errand of mercy, arrives at Jericho. His fame had long previously reached that place; and a poor blind man, who had doubtless listened, in silent wonder, to the many tales of miraculous healing which could be related of this extraordinary personage, but who, probably, had scarcely entertained a hope that his own case of woe would ever obtain a hearing from the Saviour of men, eagerly catches the sound of distant tumult, and the noise of many voices which attended the footsteps of Jesus. Nearer and nearer still the crowd approaches. Now the multitude rushes close by him. He asks what it meant; and when he was informed that Jesus of Nazareth passed by, he began to cry out, and say, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me." Not thinking him of sufficient importance to attract the particular notice of the Saviour, they rebuke him, endeavour to repress his earnestness, and would probably point out the indecorum of so loudly and clamorously attempting to arrest the attention of Jesus, in his progress towards Jerusalem, whither he was now on his way. But all their reproofs were unavailing. He continued to pour forth the prayer he had already preferred, and in the manner which he thought most likely to obtain a favourable hearing; for he cried out the more, a great deal," Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me." The benevolent Saviour stood still, and commanded him to be called. Some kindlier hearts amongst the multitude are touched with compassion, and the welcome message is carried to the imploring creature, who now dismisses the anxious fears he had entertained, lest the exulting crowd should pass on, with Jesus in the midst, and leave him still to mourn over his darkened vision, when, perhaps, the only opportunity in which he might have been restored to sight and happiness, had been lost for ever-" Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee." Joyfully he obeys the welcome summons, and casting away his garment, is forthwith seen in a beseeching attitude before the Son of God. Jesus inquired his object in so earnestly seeking for mercy; "Lord, that I may receive my sight," was his eager reply. "Jesus said unto him, Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole; and immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way."
Perhaps there is scarcely one amongst the many miraculous cures performed by our blessed Lord during his sojourn in this lower world, and embracing his whole course of good-will to men, which is fraught with more important consequences, or replete with more useful instruction, than the case now before us. In what respects it is applicable to ourselves as Christians, will, therefore, form a profitable subject of inquiry.
I need not, I trust, go so far back to first principles, as to dwell at any length on the proof that we are all spiritually and morally blind.
Our mental vision is clouded and obscured by original, as well as actual transgression. We have no occasion to ask, in reference to each other, "Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" inasmuch as we have "all sinned, and come short of the glory of God:" it therefore becomes absolutely necessary that our rebellious hearts be illumined by divine grace. To accomplish this important end, there is only one way, and that is, by coming unto Jesus, according to the directions given us in his word. Thus the means are simple, but decided. It would little have availed blind Bartimeus to have called on any other person to restore his sight. It was not Herod, the king, whose presence occasioned the shout of the multitude; it was no august procession of the Jewish priesthood; the passing scene exhibited no glittering display of Roman pomp: the sacred historian relates the simple fact, "that Jesus of Nazareth passed by," the only physician who could perform the miraculous cure; the only Saviour, too, my christian brethren, who can open our understanding to discern those things which make for our everlasting peace.
We remark, in the next place, that the blind man did not hear from Jesus himself the encouraging invitation to come to him, but yet the invitation was obeyed as decidedly, and the cure was as effectual, as if he had. The lesson to be learned from this circumstance may be useful to the poor man, who is unable to read the Scriptures of eternal truth for himself, and thus hear, as it were, from the lips of the Saviour, his gracious offers of mercy; but by means of the regularly appointed ministry of the Gospel, the invitation may be as clearly made known, as if the individual should read it in the sun-beam. Yes, my brethren, the very poorest of you hear from time to time, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life; that no man cometh unto the Father but by him; and that if you repent of, and forsake your sins, you shall find mercy at his hands; but that he will in no wise clear the guilty. These remarks will also apply in their full force to those professing Christians, who find the crowd of temporal affairs pressing so heavily upon them, as to leave little leisure for their searching the Scriptures; a duty to which they are, nevertheless, constantly exhorted. But, my friends, remember, I entreat you, that this ignorance of the divine records will form no excuse for you at the day of judgment. Why are ye so troubled and careful about many things, when only this is needful, and really essential, to your present and everlasting happiness? To you, then, who are immersed in the cares of time, would we address the language of the text, and say, Arise, he calleth thee." He would have thee "be of good comfort," and not wearied and exhausted by corroding anxiety about the future; he would still the tempest in thine unquiet heart, and say, "Peace, be still."
There is another description of persons to whom the words of the text are applicable; I mean the afflicted mourner. Art thou bowed down by the heavy stroke of calamity? Hast thou committed to the
slumbers of the silent tomb, an object of affection and love?
from thy depths of woe; be of good comfort-he calleth thee,”—he
calleth thee from thy sorrows to himself. If thine affliction shall prove the means of leading thee to the only source of consolation, how great has been the mercy! The way, perhaps, has not yet been perceived by thee, how the trial was to promote thy good; but now, behold the Son of God appearing in the midst of the fiery furnace, through which thou art called to pass, and telling thee not only that thou shalt be uninjured thereby, but that thou shall come out safe, and even purified by the trial. He tells thee to be of good comfort. Hear the Almighty, saying by his holy prophet, "Let thy widows and thine orphans trust in me :"-Weep not for the dead. Arise, and cast off thy unhallowed grief. Exchange the spirit of heaviness for the garment of praise; and thy mental robe of sadness, for the oil of joy and thanksgiving.
Neither is the despairing transgressor excluded from the benefits of this encouraging address. Does the remembrance of your many sins, committed against the forbearance and long-suffering of God, fill your minds with dread, and a fear lest even your repentant tears may not be accepted at the throne of mercy ? Hear the voice of inspiration" Arise, he calleth thee." He has heard thy prayer,thine earnest petition for spiritual light and direction. He tells you to be of good comfort, and asks what it is that you require of him :— you answer, Lord, that I may receive my sight; that the eyes of my understanding being opened, I may behold the wondrous things which are written in thy law." And what is his reply? Does he cast you away in wrath? Does he reject your humble petition? Does he leave you in a state of darkness and despair? Oh! no!-if your faith in him be firm;-if you believe from the heart that he is able to do that which you desire of him, then be of good comfort, for he calleth thee, not to upbraid thee for thy former iniquities, but to show thee that fountain for sin and uncleanness which poured from his bleeding side. Arise, then, and wash away thy sins. Repent, and believe the Gospel, and thou shalt be saved.
Are any of you, my brethren, unhappily indifferent about religion altogether? Supine and inactive on the very edge of a fatal precipice? Alas! yours is indeed a most dangerous condition; you are cradled in death's embrace; and if you continue in this awful slumber, your ruin will be unspeakably dreadful; and, remember, it will be inevitable; for, to those who despise the riches of God's goodness, and will not submit to his easy and merciful yoke, he will, in the last great and terrible day, address this language-" Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels ;" and, amidst the pealing of the loudest thunder, and the angry glare of the most vivid lightnings, you will be consigned to hopeless, irremediable despair. But, you are now in the land of mercy; Awake, then, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."
The words of my text may also be applied to such as are persecuted for righteousness' sake. Fear not what man can do unto you, even the most powerful of all the enemies of your religion. Look at the display of mercy we are now considering; behold, a greater than even Solomon is there. That glorious Conqueror over death and the grave, who could roll away with the breath of his mouth the mighty stone