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an effusion as a poem ; and this will greatly determine what specific character it should assume. We are speaking now in reference to the pulpit. Three grand requisites these sermons exbibit, wbich are of universal application: they are simple, affectionate, and interesting. For family reading, they will on this account be found eminently suitable.
We regret to observe a very perverse and inconvenient punctuation adopted in the present volume, for which we do not know whether the Author or the Printer is responsible. In almost every case, the relative is cut off from its antecedent by a comma; not merely when the latter is employed to introduce a parenthetical branch of the sentence, but often when it is introduced for the purpose of specifically qualifying the thing to which it relates : e. g.. the deep sorrow, with which his repentance was
accompanied ;' the banks of the rivers, which flowed ;' 'but be, who has redeemed them,' &c. The effect of this is not unfrequently to throw an obscurity over a plain sentence, and exceedingly to embarrass a person in reading aloud, till he learns to disregard the commas thus capriciously scattered over the lines. In the second instance, the comma would be proper if it was the banks that flowed, instead of the rivers, the immediate antecedent.
As we are on the subject of minute faults, we may just add, that Mr. Bradley, who is in general distinguished by the sobriety and chastity of his expressions, ratber deviates from his usual good taste in the following sentence : ' Whilst these graces are in lively exercise, they envy not the inhabitants of heaven. We cannot conceive of any frame of devout feeliog, in which the holiness of heaven should not be aspired after as infinitely desirable, and in which the present state should not be felt to be one of privation and infirmity. In the same sermon, the eleventh, which is not perhaps written with quite bis usual care, the following sentence occurs :
• And, like the agitated Joseph, he (Peter) sought where to give vent to his sorrow unseen, and to implore undisturbed that mercy which he so greatly needed.'
The reader is at a loss to know on what occasion Joseph retired to implore undisturbed that mercy which he needed. The Author meant to 'restrict the comparison to Joseph's retiring to vent his sorrow in secret ; but he has not done this, and the sentence as it stands, is incorrect.
The subjects of the Sermons, we have already said, are wellchosen. Looking at the volume as a complete sample of ministerial labours, however, we should demand some of a description more directly practical. This is the tendency of all of them, but we think the Apostolic example, as exhibited in the
close of the Epistles, is in favour of at least an occasional insisting upon the grand points of social duty, in connexion with those peculiar motives which distinguish Christian morality from all ethical systems whatsoever. It is a true axiom,“Make “ the tree good and the fruit will be good ;" and for this reason, many good men seem to think that the time which is spent in exhorting men to the practice of holiness is comparatively thrown away: that is not, they will say, preaching the Gospel, which is a proclamation of Divine mercy to sinners.
This definition of the Gospel we readily admit; we admit, too, that irreligious persons are not within ibe reach of those considerations and motives by which the Apostolic writers enforce their practical exhortations. The proper subjects of practical preaching are that description of persons to whom those exhor-, tations were addressed; that is, believers, true Christians, those whom the lax Christianity of the present day takes for granted to be above the need of such initiatory instruction. In this respect, it is not a little remarkable how completely and perversely at variance are Apostolic and modern practice. On the one hand, the class to which our ethical lecturers direct their recommendations of Christian morality, the uninstructed and the unconverted, the first preachers of Christianity never, thought of addressing in any other language than that of Repent-Believe-Be converted: they would as soon bave thought of expatiating upon colours to the blind as of exhorting them to the practice of holiness. On the other hand, the class to whom a minute specification of moral duties, and an earnest enforcement of the simply preceptive part of Christianity, appear to be deemed superfluous, is the very class which the inspired teachers addressed in that higher style, “ Be ye holy as “ God is holy.” They were, surely, sufficiently evangelical, and yet they never contented themselves with the preaching of the Gospel. Wherever a Christian church existed, there were other parts of their high ministration which it became incuwbent upon them to discharge; and the great stress of their instructions was henceforth laid on the importance of “ walking 6 worthy of the Christian vocation.” This topic, pursued out into all the details which connect it with the private duties and diversified circumstances of social life, comprehends the only effective system of morality. The view which it takes of practical duty, is exclusively and peculiarly Christian ; and the motives which are connected with that view, are the only effective substitutes for those lower motives which Christianity disallows and supersedes, but which, in the absence of true religion, have an undoubtedly beneficial influence upon society. There is such a thing as a person's being, by the circumstance of a religious
education or associations, abstracted, as it were, from the inAuence of that sense of honour, that lofty regard for reputation, that repugnance to any thing mean or ungenerous, by which worldly men are sometimes rendered most estimable members of society; abstracted, too, from the operation of a pharisaic creed, which yet may prompt to outward acts of virtue, and of a slavish fear of the terrors of the law, which yet may engender a salutary caution ;-while yet he is not so brought under the genuine influence of vital religion, as to have bis temper and conduct governed by its bigher principles-the nice feeling of Christian honour, the courtesy, the wisdom towards them that are without, the respect to the recompense of reward, the reverence for the Divine Inhabitant of the human temple, the self-denying benevolence, and the constant reference to the Divine glory, which the New Testament every where assumes as the only adequate basis of Christian morality. The lax practice, the alleged meanness and dishonourableness in commercial transactions, the rudeness and coarseness in social intercourse, the symbolizing with the world and the intense pursuit of gain, by which a large proportion of reputed Christians are characterized, can be explained to the satisfaction of the staggered noviciate, only by this consideration. What would seem, then, to be peculiarly called for in times when the religious profession is so extended as to become almost undistinguishing, and so prosperous as no longer to involve a reproach, is, that species of practical preaching which sball call upon Christians, as such, to realize the morality of the Gospel, and attest its superiority; and this by the exhibition of those spiritual motives which reflect impotence on every other system, considered merely as a system of ethics. What is wanted, is, not merely evangelical preaching, in opposition to the preaching of Blair or Alison, or orthodox preaching in opposition to the Pelagianism of the highchurch clergy, or the Antinomianism of the low-church seceders; but, Apostolic preaching which should follow out the doctrines of the New Testament into all their bearings on human virtue and human happiness, and, having first rescued the revealed matter of faith from suppression or neglect, recover the rule of obedience, the law of morality also, from the essayists and moral philosophers, whose works have hitherto been considered as a code of practical duty even to the disciples of Christ.
We deem it wholly unnecessary to guard these remarks from misapplication to Mr. Bradley, with whom we have no further acquaintance than is derived from his printed works, and of the complete fidelity of whose ministerial labours we entertain no doubt. We cordially recommend the present volume to our readers; and repeat, ibat it is from no dissatisfaction with its
contents, that we have taken this opportunity of submitting these few hasty but not unimportant considerations on the general subject of evangelical preaching.
Art. v. Lyra Davidis ; or a New Translation and Exposition of
the Psalms; grounded on the Principles adopted in the Posthumous Work of the late Bishop Horsley ; viz. that these Sacred Oracles have for the most part an immediate Reference to Christ and to the Events of his First and Second Advent. By the Rev. John Fry, B.A. Rector of Desford. 8vo. pp. xxviii. 584. Price 18s. 1819. IN N enumerating the circumstances which have been injurious
to the religion of Christ, a fair advocate for its authority would not omit to include the injudicious treatment which the Bible bas received in the hands of many Christian teachers. The interpretation of the Scriptures has but too frequently been conducted, both by preachers and by authors, in a manner whiclı, if applied in the attempt to elucidate other books, would not only fail to procure respect for the critical adventurer, but would attach to his name and bis labours a character that might prove an efficient means of preserving the purity of literature from some of its grossest abuses. The neglect or the mockery which has fallen on some wayward writers, is the just reward of their irrationality; a visitation by which the insults offered to the Classics are sure of being avenged and punished. Nor are the abuses of sacred literature deserving of a better reward. For if books are written to be understood, and that the knowledge which they convey may be applied to the purposes intended by the communicator, the object of the sacred interpreter must be the same as the object of the classical or scientific reader and expounder, namely, to ascertaio distinctly the sense designed by the writer on whose text he has andertaken to comment. No serious book was ever left by its author to the arbitration of its readers, to construe its terms, and to attach to its expressions such meaning as their caprice may dictate; and least of all is the Bible committed into our hands to be dealt with as our fancy may suggest. But how often are expressions and entire passages selected from that volume, to be the trials of erratic minds, and to furnish the occasions and means by which a disordered imagination may indulge itself in self-complacent follies! We have no wish on a serious subject to disturb the grave feeling of our readers, by adducing examples in point, remarkable for their being in opposition as much to simplicity as to truth, and calculated, not to edify, but to produce ludicrous effects. The practice, indeed, to which we are now referring, is so common, that, in the absence of all examples, we may safely reckon on the concurrence of every one of our sober readers, in our belief, that many miods have taken disgust, and have received injury,
probably in some cases irreparable injury, from religious teachers whom they should bave known only to be benefited by them. What other result can indeed be expected than an unfavourable one, when texts of Scripture, obvious and definite in their connexion and import, are presented to notice as sustaining reniote relations, and as being full of recondite and mystical meaning; while the palpable and literal sense is not merely overlooked, but is altogether denied? Will they who came to scoff,' be diverted from their purpose, and remain to pray,' when they are supplied with this sort of antidote to seriousness?
Passages, we well know, are of frequent occurrence in the Bible, which relate to spiritual objects, and which are of a prophetical character; and some of those passages are vot, it must be admitted, so clear and express, as to preclude difficulty in expounding them. But their character and relation as referring to their subjects, will be less or more apparent; and there are modes of interpretation which a sober expositor will never permit bimself wantonly or arbitrarily to violate. In elucidating such portions of the Scriptures, the Christian teacher is engaged in a service which, while he gravely and skilfully uses the proper means of explaining them, must ensure him attention and respect, and obtain, what is so much his proper object, from the persons whom he bas interested in the inquiries brought under notice, the virtual promise of reserving them for renewed examination. In such cases the hearer, or the reader, has the feeling that his perception of the subject is indistinct, or may be inaccurate, and he receives the suggestions of an instructer as aids to his understanding. But in the other instance, where neither symbols nor figures are part of the language, and where too the plainest forms of speech are assigned to the most distinct and simple subjects, a meaning is denied to the words, which the words fairly and literally contain, and a meaning is asserted to be the only and exclusive meaning, which is not perceptible. And when, in these most intelligible and most obvious meanings, a remote connexion is sought, and a sense remote and foreign is assigned to the passage, what other apprehension can be expected to be excited by this class of mystical interpreters in certain minds, than the apprehension that the Bible is an unintelligible book, different from all other books as to the design and style of its writers, and as to the means of its being understood ? And with this impression, is a man likely to take the Bible to be a light to his path in the pursuit of truth? Or can those expositors who have led him thus to the threshold of scepticism, be regarded as doing service to religion ?
We are truly sorry to preface our notice of the volume before us in the manner we have done. Our remarks, however, have been entirely suggested by the perusal of its contents. It is a