« НазадПродовжити »
cuity of composition; whilst the calling up his own powers, in the discourse which he makes himself, will preserve him from indolence and security. For after all, no external aid can supply the place of personal diligence. A minister must study his Bible, and study it carefully; he must compare the several parts, observe the manner in which every thing is stated, and elucidate one passage by another, with the sincere and most tender anxiety to follow in every thing the revelation of God. In such a state of mind, our author's work will be a singular benefit to him. It will aid, not diminish his labours. It will animate, not supersede the toil of composition. It will relieve in a moment of languor, not exonerate from the burden of active duty. Perhaps there is no one effort from which the human mind so much shrinks, as from intellectual exertion. In young men, this will often increase to depression, and at times to despondency. In such exigencies, the friendly aid of this work will supply the exact consolation required. And even in more advanced periods of ministerial labour, the new and important thoughts, the happy illustrations, the forcible addresses to the conscience, and the references to appropriate passages of scripture which perpetually occur, will often be of singular advantage. These will be benefits of a general nature.
The more particular benefit to be gathered from the leading merit of the work-its adherence to the bible, rather than to human systems-need not be insisted on, though it is in truth the most important of all. When to these considerations we add the instances of younger clergymen unfixed in their practical sentiments of piety, whom this work may tend to guide and ultimately to save, we are yet more strongly convinced of the advantage it
afford to those who when truly enlightened, are the most operative agents of virtue and religion. Nor will the advantages which the church in general may
derive from this publication be inconsiderable. To say nothing of the supply which it furnishes for devotional reading, we can conceive of nothing more appropriate for the family party on a Sunday evening than courses of sermons selected from it. They would be short, striking, and attractive. But, in addition to this, the standard of right judgment as to the doctrines of the Reformation which these volumes will tend to raise and maintain throughout our people, and the diminishing of all party-spirit which they will promote, are advantages very important. A narrow, exclusive temper, which magnifies names and interests, we conceive to be very destructive of the real spirit of Christianity, very embarrassing to the sincere inquirer after truth, extremely remote from the genuine tone of the Holy Scriptures, and adverse to the progress of the heart in practical piety. And yet nothing is more easily, nothing more insensibly imbibed. It grows on our fallen nature, and adheres to it.
it. Few, few are the examples where a man is good, and yet wholly free from some petty ends which circumstances of comparatively trifling importance have led him to espouse. To have a work, then, so superior to this exclusive temper as the one we are reviewing - a work, too, which is likely to exercise such a controul over the public sentiment, is a matter of sincere congratulation.
Still we are aware that numbers in this country will be ready to accuse, pur author of belonging to a party, and will be with held from even looking into his work from that very consideration. A word on this topic shall close our observations, already, as we fear, too extended. And we are the rather disposed to venture on a remark or two on this point, because we are much inclined to suspect that an exaggerated representation of what is called a religious party in the church, deters many from acting fully and conscientiously on their principles. It is said, then, that such clergymen as our author constitute a party; but with what truth, let the volume we have been reviewing, testify. Are there any sentiments maintained by these divines
different from those inculcated in our Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy? Is there any attempt on their part to screen their friends, or calumniate others ? Is there any backwardness to enter on fair argument and manly discussion on disputed questions? Is there any jealousy of the measures conducted by other hands, and in another manner from that adopted by themselves? Is there any reluctance to acknowledge the merits of an opponent? In short, is there any one characteristic of what can with fairness be termed a party-spirit ? We answer most fearlessly with respect to the great body of those to whom the charge is supposed to be applicable, that there is no ground for the accusation. We invite, moreover, those who may doubt this assertion, to examine the work before us in this view. Let them refer to the texts which they imagine to uphold their own system, and they will find them illustrated with the same fulness of detail, and the same impartiality, as those of the apparently opposite tendency. They will find nothing concealed, nothing omitted, nothing unfairly stated, (allowing always for human infirmity) nothing uncharitably urged, no Shibboleths of a sect, no peculiarity of language, no subjection to a human leader, no fastidious measurement of phrases, no subterfuge or adroitness in argument; but all open, and candid, and scriptural, and holy, If, indeed, men should so far forget the main features of our reformation, or the leading doctrines of our church, or, yet more, the chief truths of Revelation, as to infix the odium of a party on those who soberly and faithfully discharge their ordination-vows in teaching those principles, we must admit, and even glory, in the fact, whilst we repel the inference. Undoubtedly the clergy, who are thus accused, preach the doctrines of original sin, the corruption of our nature, the inability of man to any thing spiritually good, salvation by grace, justification by faith, regeneration by the Holy Spirit, the necessity of repentance, love, and universal obedience. But they preach these truths, and those other more deeply inscrutable ones of the Holy Trinity, and the Divine purposes in redemption, not in harsh and isolated propositions, but as they lie in Holy Scripture, and accompanied with all the attendant and preparatory and consequent truths which surround them there. And, in doing this, they incur not any just charge of a party-spirit. These truths stand on a broader bottom. They are not peculiar to a narrow sect, but common to the whole universal church of Christ in every age-just as the opposite tenets of the native power of man ; his ability to choose and do of himself what is spiritually good; salvation primarily by grace, and afterwards, in some measure, by good works; justification by a concrete faith including obedience; regeneration exclusively and uniformly conferred
in the Sacrament of Baptism; the consistency of worldly gaieties with a religious life; the somewhat meritorious conditions of the Gospel covenant; continuance in a state of grace dependant on our own will, &c. &c. are not tenets of a party, but common to the fallen heart of man, and opposed in every age to the spiritual and holy religion of the New Testament. : Of course, a difference of judgment on most of these points will here arise. Our appeal, then, is to the Holy Scriptures, to the doctrines of our church, to the judgments of all our eminent divines, and to the common understanding and consciences of men. We ask who adopt naturally, and without effort, the language of holy Scripture? We inquire, who express their sentiments to their people in the very words of our church, as the most appropriate and affecting? We ask which doctrine saves the soul? Which has the attestation of God in the influences of his grace? Which brings men to the state and temper inculcated in the Bible as essential to the true Christian? Which sanctifies and comforts in life, supports in death, and has the anticipations and foretastes of eternity? On the other hand, we inquire whether the course of doctrine which we are now opposing, is not, generally speaking, cold and uninfluential?. Whether it does not proceed on little more than the principles of natural religion? Whether it consists not with a dead repentance, a lifeless faith, and a worldly life? Whether it does not leave the mass of mankind unmoved in their sins and vices, and substitute a form of religion for the power? And whether it does not, in fact, express itself in any language rather than that of holy Scripture and of our church?—But we forbear to urge these inquiries. The fact is, the mighty doctrines of grace are impressed on the very surface of our Bibles and Prayer-books; and it is in vain to confound the great principles of spiritual death or life, of acceptance with God or condemnation, of a heavenly or a worldly life, of the elements of
grace or nature, and the preparation for heaven or hell—with the minute and petty insignia of a party occupied in inconsiderable pursuits, and unconnected with the vast and eternal interests of mankind. Nor can any church long be preserved where a general discrepancy between the doctrine of her formularies, and the actual instruction of her ministers, shall prevail -the golden candlestick would be removed—and, the Divine blessing being withdrawn, the salvation of men would flow in some other channel, and be conferred on some other ecclesiastical community. Nor is it possible, as we think, to conceal the fact that the mass of our people can and do distinguish between the healing doctrine of Christ their Saviour, and the miserable tenets of clerical moralists. With all their incapacity of accurate distinction, and their liableness to be seduced and betrayed, there is a plain common sense, and a solemn judicature of conscience, which enables the pious among them to discern the instruction which exhibits a Saviour from that which conceals him; the life-giving doctrine of justification from the gloomy terrors of the law; the peace and consolation and purity and spirituality of the doctrine of the Holy Ghost, from the coldness and hopelessness of human efforts; the inviting and urgent calls to holiness of life from the tame inculcation of mere ethical precepts. It is not difficult to predict the danger of our church just in proportion as she loses her hold on the divine blessing on the one hand, and on the hearts of our population on the other. But we hope better things; we speak thus, because, to attach the odium of party to the great truths of the Gospel, is, in our judgment, as mistaken in fact, as it is ruinous in policy, and uncharitable in sentiment. Rather would we include under the class of sincere ministers of our Saviour all who desire to love and serve him, even though they should differ from ourselves in these, or any other remarks which we have offered. And we conclude by expressing our conviction, that if any one to whom we may appear to have spoken strongly on this subject will begin his inquiries into religion in the temper of the work we have been reviewing (let No. 964 afford an example), he will become a witness to what we have advanced. The entrance on religious knowledge is by due humiliation for sin. As we know ourselves, all becomes plain. The light of the pure heavens is not more adapted to the natural eye than the truths of Scripture are to a humble faith. The road lies open to the diligent traveller. Salvation by grace through faith is as a balm to the wounded conscience. The duties of holiness are the delight of the regenerated heart. The service of the Redeemer is perfect freedom to the liberated captive of sin. This, this is the key to all sound theological knowledge. Other methods may produce theoretical consistency of opinion, but can never lead to practical conclusions and a holy efficacy on the heart and life. Religion must be vital to be valuable or productive. Nor do we hesitate to say, that he may hope to gain a the right path, to whom the work before us, and others of a similar character, shall, in their broad features, be satisfactory and pleasing.
Art. VII.—Memoirs of her most excellent Majesty Sophia Char
lotte, Queen of Great Britain, from Authentic Documents. By John Watkins, LL. D., Author of the Life of Sheridan, &c.
Embellished with Portraits. 8vo. London. Colburn, 1819. THIS is a book six hundred pages in length; a mathematical line---length without breadth or thickness, as far as regards the miatter. But the writer is not to blame. He had, probably, an engagement to fulfil with his bookseller. The fault was in the woman whose memoir he probably undertook to expand into a volume of extra size. If a woman, placed by Providence in a highly exalted situation, with the power of keeping in constant agitation the scene around her, and multiplying the changes and chances of life by the licence and disorder of the passions, will, nevertheless, so conduct herself as to give rare occasion to such occurrences as are usually called interesting in high society, and which furnish topics to the retailer of anecdotes; if she will abstain from all those interferences which are calculated to implicate her in ambitious contests and political intrigues; if she will content herself with living the regular life of a virtuous mother in the quiet circle of her family, an object of love and honour, and, in some degree, of imitation, or, at least, of that respectful conformity which not seldom passes into habit, sometimes into principle, shrinking from the contagion of glittering depravity, and renouncing and repelling all tainted intercourse, she cannot be the subject of attractive and eventful biography. The late Queen's character is her memoir, and the uniform ex