« PrécédentContinuer »
supplication. It is true, we do not deserve that he should receive us; for our sins have been so great and multiplied, that he might justly cast us off without extending one single offer of pardon. But such is not the character of our heavenly Parent: he is always more ready to hear than we to pray: he waiteth to be gracious; and having given his own Son to die for us, will he not with him freely give us all things? He has provided pardon for our sins, and a supply for all our wants. He is willing to restore us to our forfeited privileges: his encouraging language is, "Turn ye, turn ye: why will ye die?" His Holy Spirit is promised both to give us the will to do so, and to work with us when we have the will. What, then, has he not done to reconcile us to himself? And whose will be the guilt if we still continue impenitent and unmoved?Pp. 260, 261.
In the same spirit, and with the assertion of the great scriptural doctrine of universal redemption, is what follows:
God is love: this is the original bond of union between him and the creatures whom he has made: the inexhaustible source from which flow all the blessings of creation, preservation, and redemption. We are not to view the Almighty as a tyrant, more prone to inflict penalties than to confer mercies. Such is not his character: he is "the Lord God, full of compassion and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth." The whole plan and accomplishment of human salvation originated in this Divine attribute; for God so loved THE WORLD, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoso believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”—P. 300.
Occasionally we meet with passages so just and so comprehensive, that we almost believe ourselves to be turning the folios of some of our old divines. Take for instance the following:
Of all symptoms of ceasing to run well, the loss of Christian humility is one of the most common and dangerous.-When a person becomes spiritually proud and disputatious, thinks that he knows more than all other men in the affairs of religion, neglects the plainer and weightier matters of God's law for difficult speculations, which minister rather to his pride than his edification, there can be little doubt, that, how clear soever may be his creed, and how ardent soever his zeal, he is in reality going back instead of advancing in the ways of God. It matters little in this respect what particular turn spiritual pride may take: for whether it draw us, on the one hand, to a cold, speculative, formal system of pharisaism, and dependence upon our own unenlightened reason; or, on the other, to a scheme rash, lawless, and presumptuous, in which every thing practical is undervalued or neglected, the evidence is equally strong of our having gone back; and the fear is, that unless we become aware of our danger in time, we shall continue to go back even to perdition.-Pp. 37, 38.
Prayer," remarks a pious author, "will not plough one's field, nor fence it, nor reap the grain, nor thresh it; but prayer may procure strength to labour, and a blessing to accompany and succeed our prudent industry.' And it is thus in religion: God does every thing that is good for us; but he expects us to make use of the appointed instruments of spiritual blessing as much as though we did every thing for ourselves. He graciously preserves us from many an unseen peril; but if, instead of using the means of prevention, we wilfully put our foot into the snare, we cannot hope that he will interpose to prevent our being entangled. We are to watch as well as to "pray" that we enter not into temptation: we are to keep at a distance from it: we are to employ every effort to resist it; and if we neglect to do this, are we to wonder if we fall? Moses, and the people of Israel, did well to cry unto God in their extremity : but they did ill in neglecting the means of escape which he had set before them; and their supineness was accordingly rebuked by the Almighty: "Why criest thou unto me? Speak to the people that they go forward."-Pp. 61, 62.
VOL. XII. NO. IX.
The atheist, the scoffer, the professed unbeliever, the notorious profligate, openly oppose the cause of Christ; they are his avowed enemies; and it is said of all such, "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." But there are others who may be said to betray him; namely, those who call themselves his disciples, while they “crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." There are many ways in which persons may do this in a greater or less degree. They may do it by false doctrines, or by an unholy and inconsistent life. Suppose that, professing to believe the Divine mission, the spotless character, and the perfect doctrines and precepts of Christ, we should deny his claim to be equal with the Father, as touching the Godhead, though inferior to him as touching his manhood; should we not, while calling ourselves his disciples, rob him of his highest honour, and take part with those who thought it blasphemous that he made himself equal with God? Again, if acknowledging his Divinity, we virtually set aside his atonement, by a proud trust in our own merits, are we not undermining the foundations of the religion we profess, and reducing the Divine Saviour to the level of a mere teacher and example, instead of a sacrifice, the only sacrifice, for the sins of the world? Again, if professing to trust alone in his atonement, and perhaps vaunting loudly of the efficacy of faith, we slight either in word or practice the obligations of his law, are we not betraying him under the pretence of friendship, setting his commands at variance with his promises, and virtually maintaining that his Gospel leads to that most unscriptural conclusion, “Let us sin that grace may abound?"-Pp. 74—76.
Our extracts are numerous, but under all circumstances, it is perhaps as well they should be so. From these our readers will be best enabled to collect the general character of the work. We can assure them that the above are specimens as fair as they are favourable.
The want of "Family Sermons" is often deplored. Few sermons composed for the pulpit, are wholly applicable to family reading. The want is now supplied, and supplied well. The writer has our thanks, and if our recommendation can be of advantage to him, it accompanies our best wishes for his success. He will be satisfied that our opening remarks have proceeded from no spirit unbecoming the Christian name, which he and ourselves bear in common. But we must repeat that the Christian Observer has no title to be identified with the sermons which have adorned its pages.
Let us offer one more friendly observation to the worthy author. If he should be disposed, in another edition, to republish his dedication, let him expunge the quotation from Quintilian. If the Right Rev. Prelates therein addressed are not disgusted with that extravagant piece of heathen flattery, it is only because they smile at it. We read, a short time since, an article in the Observer, reprobating all classical quotations. The rule is not less extraordinary than the present violation. Were all classical allusions as unfortunate as this, we might perhaps be tempted to think with the worthy writer of that curious paper.
ART. II. A Sermon preached before the King's Most Excellent Majesty, in the Chapel Royal at St. James's, on Sunday, July 4, 1830. By CHARLES JAMES, Lord Bishop of London, Dean of his Majesty's Chapels Royal. Published by his Majesty's Command. London: B. Fellowes, Ludgate Street. 4to. 1830. Price 2s.
THE learned and eloquent author of this excellent Sermon has performed a delicate task with admirable propriety. Looking to the solemn occasion on which it was preached, when His Majesty, "for the first time as Sovereign of these Realms, partook in the most holy ordinance of our Religion in presence of the Chief Pastors of that Reformed Church, of which He is the Chief Governor upon earth, and to whose doctrine and discipline His Majesty," we are here authoritatively told,* "was pleased to declare his firm and cordial attachment; we are persuaded that the office of Preacher could not have been assigned to any man more able and willing to do the work of an Evangelist than the Dean of His Majesty's Chapels Royal. The text is taken from 1 Cor. x. 16, and the Sermon is an orthodox, plain, and very appropriate exposition of the nature, the benefits, and the obligation of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The Bishop's style is remarkable for its simplicity, its perspicuity, and its earnestThe child may understand, the man must feel, the weight of his arguments, and the efficacy of his persuasive eloquence; and we are willing to hope that the effect of his pious address upon the heart of Him, whom the Almighty has called to the throne of these Realms, may be manifested by his steady and uncompromising support of the interests of that Church, the consolations of which he wisely sought so early an opportunity to enjoy.
said any thing new upon the
No, indeed; and we like his We hate novelties in religion,
Has the Bishop of London, then, familiar topic under his discussion? Sermon the better on that account. and we despise the vanity of an author who is perpetually striving to dazzle us by what is new, rather than to instruct us to walk in the old paths, as much as we pity the itching ears of those unstable and gaping dupes, who mistake paradox for piety, and sound for sense, and who are taught to prefer "the lean and flashy songs," which pulpit declaimers, with their "scrannel pipes of wretched straw," palm upon their fond admirers as the sacred effusions of the Great Spirit of Wisdom, to the words of soberness and truth.
Our excellent author has taken occasion to reprobate the notion of Bishop Hoadley, that the Eucharist is simply a commemorative rite: and we beg leave to adorn our pages with an extract from that part of his Sermon.
* Dedication to the King.
It (the Eucharist) is the appointed method of celebrating the most important fact in the Gospel history, the most vital doctrine in the Gospel scheme; the atonement made for the sins of the world by the death of Jesus Christ. But it is more than this: it is more than a simple tribute of respect and gratitude to our greatest benefactor—although even in that light it assumes a sacredness of obligation beyond all common acts of devotion-it is the solemn renewal of that covenant of grace and pardon, which was sealed with the blood of Christ. It is indeed a commemorative feast; it is a symbolical celebration of the wonders of redeeming love; but it is something, as far as man is concerned, more sacred, more affecting, more beneficial than all this. It is the means of joining the faithful communicant to Christ in that intimate and mysterious union, which is indispensable to the perfectness of the Christian character, and to the availableness of Gospel privileges.-Pp. 9, 10.
Having shewn that the Eucharist is to the faithful recipient the channel and conduit of an inward grace, from John vi. 53, 54, 56:— and having insisted, moreover, upon the necessity of the influence of the Holy Spirit to bless the means of grace to our edification, “in answer to our importunate entreaties; "-having demonstrated that he, who is most sensible of his own defects of faith and holiness, is especially bound to have recourse to the methods ordained by God, in compassion to human weakness, for the revival and enlargement of Christian graces and desires; and that this solemn ordinance, at all times grateful and salutary to the believer's soul, is more peculiarly "medicinal and restorative," when our affections towards God have become cold, and our piety has become languid;—the Preacher states, with his usual wisdom and peculiar emphasis, that "there is no diversity of religious character, which can render unnecessary a sacramental communion with Him who is the light and the life of the world.”
It is alike indispensable for growth in grace, and for confirmation in godliness; for him who is but just awakened to the great interests of his soul, and for him, who walks in the meridian light of Christian knowledge, and in the matured strength of Christian motives and hopes.-P. 17.
If this spiritual ordinance be necessary for "all sorts" of Christians, so is it indispensable for all "conditions of men." A constant application to the source of spiritual wisdom, through the appointed means of access, and especially through the communion of the body, and of the blood of Christ, is equally necessary for every man, be his external circumstances what they may. The king upon his throne, and the peasant in his cot, are alike pensioners upon the bounty of heaven, and must be alike strengthened by aid from above, to enable them to think and to do such things as be rightful. This solemn truth is most appropriately enforced upon his royal auditor by the Bishop of London. We are sure of pleasing our readers by a copious extract touching this very point.
If the poor and humble members of the family of Christ desire the help of the Spirit, to enlighten, and sanctify, and console them, in order that, amidst all the discouragements of their hard condition, they may turn to good account the single talent entrusted to their care; surely the rich, and the mighty, and
the learned, may not disdain the aid of Him, who alone can enable them rightly to appreciate the value of things temporal, compared with things eternal; who alone can repress the risings of an ambitious spirit, convince them of the vanity of earthly grandeur, and of the insufficiency of this world's wisdom; and yet teach them the awful responsibilities which rest upon those, to whom these talents are given in charge. In exact proportion to the number and strength of those ties, (and with whom are they not too numerous and too strong?) which bind our affections to this world, and interrupt the steadiness of our progress towards a better, should be our anxiety to profit by all the memorials and aids, in which the beneficent Author of religion has made provision for its continuance; for its application to the understandings and consciences of men, and for its revival in the forgetful heart.
"If a man abide not in me," said our blessed Lord, "he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered;" but how can they, whom the world endeavours to persuade, by a thousand pressing arguments and ingenious devices, to make it their abiding place, the place of their repose, their trust, their desire; I ask, can they be effectually strengthened to resist it, and to adhere to, and abide in Him who has called them out of it, but by the most sincere and continued efforts and strivings towards Him through the Spirit? To them surely it is of unspeakable importance, that they should, from time to time, solemnly renew their oath of allegiance to the King of kings and Lord of lords, and be united to him by visible symbols; that they should offer, in the faithful use of them, a solemn pleading for pardon, and receive his own pledge of their sanctification; that they should oblige themselves, by that solemn act, to enter upon a life of holiness and charity, and to copy his example, in devoting themselves to the good of mankind. Compared with the richness of that consolation, which a sincere and devout mind will experience in the performance of such an act of worship; and compared with the conscious dignity of a soul thus taken into communion with its Saviour, the pleasures, the riches, the honours of this world, fade into insignificance and worthlessness!-Pp. 18, 19, 20.
Fain would we quote the peroration of this good Sermon,-" What then is the conclusion?" but we have already exceeded the limits which we usually assign to single discourses, and therefore forbear to make any further extracts. It is fit for general perusal, as being worthy of the Royal Auditor, the solemn occasion, and the learned Prelate. We rejoice that his Majesty commanded the publication of this Sermon, and we sincerely thank the Bishop of London for the pleasure which we have experienced, in this our official notice of his pastoral labours.
ART. III.-Hours of Devotion for the Promotion of true Christianity and Family Worship. Translated from the original German by the Rev. E. I. BURROW, D.D. F.R.S. & F.L.S. London: Rivingtons. 1830. 8vo. pp. xvii. 574. Price 14s.
THERE is a striking, and somewhat anomalous, distinction between the devotional, and the expository, divinity of the Germans. While most of their Scripture commentaries are strongly tainted with the Neologian leaven of scepticism and doubt, their works on practical religion are marked by a warmth of piety, and elevated tone of Christian