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The Sermon is summed up by affectionate and faithful appeals severally to the servants of the most high God,” to “ the sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty,” and to “ the hearers of the gospel of the grace of God:” on which, and on the manner in which Paul fulfilled his ministry, we cannot extend our observations. Nature and Grace; or a Delineation of the various Dispositions of
the Natural Man, contrasted with the opposite Character of the Renewed Mind. By Mrs. Stevens. Seeley and Co.
We have been profited and much refreshed in the perusal of this volume, and are, as the consequence, desirous that our readers may receive a similar benefit. In a powerful and pleasing style the writer discusses a variety of topics, placed in contrast for the purpose of delineating the various dispositions of the natural man, as opposed to the character of the renewed mind; namely, idolatry and faith, self-confidence and confidence in God, pride and humility, despair and hope, &c. &c.
The boundless provision of grace for the supply of poor sensible sinners, is traced to the covenant love of Jehovah in his trinity of persons; and the true state of man by nature is scripturally defined, and enforced with considerable fervour. One this principle we unite “ in the hope,” expressed in the advertisement to the volume, “ that the eternal Spirit may acknowledge the offering to those who are pursuing the life of faith.”
The grace of hope, as “ one of the most precious covenant gifts," is considered in respect of its origin—its operations—and its end.
“ Hope is styled good, because it is legitimate, and the gift of God; and it is ascribed to grace, because it proceeds from the unmerited favour of the Lord. The whole of its character corresponds with this origin; for as it proceeds from God in Christ, so it is intended to lead to God in Christ; and therefore christian hope rises above all created objects, and enters into the revealed Jehovah, as its rest and only centre. This is effected through the Spirit's teaching, who effectually breaks a man off from his false refuges, by shewing him, that in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and that truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel. Human depravity, weakness, and insufficiency are felt, and the soul is made to quit all those expectations which heretofore were content to repose in earth. The spiritually discerning mind, contemplating. Jehovah's perfections, beholds a glorious contrast to all created things, and finds somewhat in the Lord that commends itself to his judgment and his affections; so that, looking upon Jehovah's truth, holiness, unchangeableness, and power, he exclaims--here my soul can rest, here hope may abide, and the result must be sure. Never, however, let us lose sight of that method by which the eternal Name is made the source of hope. It is not for a polluted creature like man to lay hold upon the divine glory, without the propitiation which introduces the soul into God's complacent presence. The divine perfections are a terror, when viewed independently of redemption, for our God is a consuming fire, and it is a fearful thing to fall into his hands : hence, when the scriptures present the hope of a believer to view, they show how it is encouraged and generated through him in whom God is well pleased, even Jesus the Saviour, On this account Christ is called " our hope ;" and thus the nature and efficacy of his work, as available for man, is emphatically described, “ which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;" agreeing with the testimony of
St. Peter, first Epistle i. 3. “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” In these two passages the Holy Spirit comprehends the whole of a christian hope, leading up the mind to the everlasting kingdom, and showing how it is Jesus glorified, who is the foundation of all the cheering prospects by which the redeemed are animated here! He is within the veil, as the justified head of his blood-bonght people. He there occupies the mediatorial throne, being crowned with honour and glory. He there transacts all the concerns which relate to the establishment of his saints; and being, in his resurrection, publicly acknowledged the triumphant deliverer, in whom all the spiritual seed shall be justified, they also glory in him, and possess a hope that cannot make ashamed, for it is founded in the covenant and abideth in the Lord Jesus. Abstract notions, however, are not enough : the Holy Spirit is not satisfied with proclaiming the provision, and obtaining man's assent to its truth and excellency, but he gives the individual assurance of the heritage, by revealing the gift in the heart, through lively faith, and in vital union with the Son of God. So it is described as “Christ in you, which is the hope of glory;" and the confident expectation of the saint is made to be able to justify its character, giving " a reason for the hope" that is in him. Herein we must confess, that christian hope possesses a glorious peculiarity, and that its origin is high, sublime, and wonderful.”
Further on this subject we quote a seasonable reproof to the believer in Christ, who encourages his doubts and cherishes his fears, by retaining false views of the grace of which he is possessed :
“ There are times when hope is greatly depressed, and the believer is agitated by temptations to doubt and despond. But I would ask, to what source shall we ascribe this evil ? We cannot justly charge it upon God, for he delighteth in the prosperity of his servants, and plenteously prepareth for the fullest experience of that joy in him which is our strength. We cannot charge it upon the grace of hope, for this being a fruit of the Spirit has not such defects attendant upon its own existence. It must therefore arise from some other sources, and it can be chargeable upon none but the believer himself. We have a thousand arguments by which we sometimes labour to justify our want of lively hope; but they are all unsound and unacceptable. Hope is established for the sinner in a free and sovereign covenant, it is secured for him in the truth of the Son of God. When first invigorating the soul, it led to an appeal for mercy, as a sinner; and if there could be sufficient warrant for this appeal in the beginning, so must there be in the end of pilgrimage, for the foundation of hope is the same. It is therefore more upright, and more our duty to examine into the causes for our depression, with a view to criminate ourselves, rather than the covenant provision, and to be persuaded that such a state can never exist in a christian, without something that is materially wrong in his spirit or conduct. Perhaps it arises from mere temptation to unbelief: but this is wholly inconsistent with the method of the great redemption. Or it may spring from relaxation in means and discipline: in this we are exceedingly culpable. Or it may spring from associating with the world: this is wholly condemnable. Or we have perhaps committed some trespass, which we do not bring to the blood of sprinkling, or for which we are not sufficiently humbled : this is an awful grieving of the Spirit. No wonder then that hope is depressed, and that instead of going on our way rejoicing, we are continually dejected and sad. But the fault is not in the grace itself, nor in the Lord of the grace: and the proper life of one who is sincerely devoted to God, and living in fellowship with him, will be that of lively hope and confident expectation. It is, however, a subject of great consolation, and should be one of gratitude, that the Lord's child cannot be deprived of hope; it is imparted to him as an essential part of his regeneration; and as he who is
born of God can never die, so none of those parts, which form his new existence, can be destroyed. Hope may unhappily be buried long in a mass of infirmity, and laid under a load of human inconsistency, but it lives and will work its purifying way, until it appears in its true and lovely character, enriching and establishing the soul."
It would be a pleasure to us to make other extracts, but our limits forbid. A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Archdeaconry of Derby, at
Derby and Chesterfield, July 26 and 27, 1827: and published at their urgent request. By the Rev. S. Butler, D.D. F.R.S. &c. Archdeacon of Derby, and Head Master of Shrewsbury School. Longman and Co.
THERE is so much to commend in this “Charge,” that we hold ourselves justified in not scrutinizing it so closely as to enlarge on those things with which we cannot agree. The main design of the reverend Author is expressed in the following passage :
“If we, the most intellectual beings in this earthly creation, cannot understand the process by which the meanest objects around us, whether animate or inanimate, first came into being, nor even that by which our own wills act upon our own bodies, how vain must be our search into the nature of superior beings, how more than vain, how daring and presumptuous must some enquiries be into the nature of that august and eternal One, by whose breath both we and they were created, and at whose pleasure we exist or may be extinct for ever. All that is necessary for us to know of the Deity is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures, and as there are some things even there which are difficult to be understood, so there are others which are altogether past finding out. We know they must be true, because they are revealed to us, not for the exercise of ingenious speculation, but for the trial of our christian faith. We believe them, because they are contained in the word of truth, which cannot lie; we admit them to be above our understanding, and we believe that the difficulties and contradictions which they seemingly involve, are owing, not to the impossibility of the fact revealed, but to the limitation of those faculties which God has given us in our present imperfect state, and which will be purified and exalted in a future and more perfect state of being. We believe that at present we see as through a glass darkly, but that then we shall know even as we are known ; and that all difficulties will then be made smooth, all doubts removed, and all seeming contradictions reconciled. But till that great and awful change shall take place, till our faculties shall be enlarged, our views exalted, and our natures purified, there are many things which we never can know, and upon which the more we reason the more only shall we perplex both ourselves and those that hear us.
“The christian religion enjoys two main objects, faith and practice. These which God hath joined man cannot put asunder. If we believe the gospel, we must practice the duties it commands, otherwise we can only be said to believe in word, and not in truth. This mere inactive, unoperative faith, in the words of the apostle, is dead. Christ himself has said, why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say ? Faith, therefore, must produce works. Works again, which are not performed upon principles of faith and obedience, however good they may be in their tendency, cannot avail to our salvation. For then we should set our own merits above the blood of our Redeemer; and if this could be, then it would have been annecessary that Christ should have died for us. Could we work out our own salvation by our own deservings, or could there be any means, or any other name under heaven by which we might be saved, but that of Christ Jesus, his precious blood-shedding would have been superfluous; so that we must either acknowledge the utter inefficacy of all that we can do merely of ourselves, to save ourselves, or deny the necessity of his sufferings and death. But though our works must be ineffectual unless they proceed from faith, they are as necessarily the consequence and test of a true and lively faith, as good fruit is the criterion of a good tree, and it is therefore impossible to separate the one from the other.'
On what immediately follows the above we have only to remark, that Dr. Butler's reproof may well be applied to two classes of the present day religionists—those who have a zeal without knowledge," and those who pretend to superior knowledge, but are wanting in “ temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity.” A Sermon occasioned by the lamented death of the Right Hon. George Canning, by the Rev. Alexander Fletcher, of Finsbury Chapel. Preached to his Congregation, on Sunday, August 19, 1827.
As an oration on the mystery of divine providence in the government of the world, and, particularly, in raising and removing for wise purposes men of eminence in their day and generation, this may be perused with some pleasure: but contemplating it as the address of a christian minister to the people of his charge, we observe the neglect of the weightier duties of his sacred calling with surprise and regret.
CHAPEL OPENED—On the 17th July, the New Baptist Chapel, at Knowl Hill, near Maidenhead, was opened for public worship, when three Sermons were preached, by Mr. George COMB, of Soho Chapel, Oxford Street, from 1 Cor. i. 18. Mr. William House, of Clement's Lane, from Ps. cvi. 4. Mr. William COLEMAN, of Colebrook, from Zech. iv. 7.
The services of the day were truly interesting; the Lord's blessing was upon them; the people felt a lively interest in this new cause; and a liberal collection was received at the doors.
A debt of about £230 has been incurred; the people are poor, they love the truth, rejoicing in a free grace gospel; their minister's labours are very disinterested, and we consider it a case loudly calling for pecuniary assistance.
LITERARY INTELLIGENCE. Mr. EBENEZER PALMER, Paternoster Row, has in the press an Uniform Edition of the WORKS OF THE ENGLISH AND SCOTTISH REFORMERS, uuder the careful revision of the Rev. THOMAS RUSSELL, A. M. Editor of Dr. Owen's Work3. It is intended to publish the First Volume early in December. Also,
THEOLOGICAL ESSAYS, Second Edition, with additions, by the Rev. ISAAC MANN, A.M.
AN ANTIDOTE TO A SPREADING ANTINOMIAN DELUSION, by the late Rev. John BRINE.
LYRICAL ESSAYS, on Subjects from History and Imagination, by • CHARLES Swain, Esq.
JUST PUBLISHED.—THE REASONS OF THE LAWS OF MOSES, from the “More Nevochim” of MAIMONIDES. With Notes, Dissertations, and a Life of the Author. By. JAMES TownLEY, D.D.
THE EXISTENCE, NATURE, AND MINISTRY OF THE HOLY ANGELS, briefly considered as an Important Branch of the Christian Religion, contained in the Volumes of Divine Revelation : with Observations on the Spirituality of the Christian Religion, and on that Vitality which abounds in Nature and Providence.
Spiritual Magazine ;
« There are Three that bear record in heaven, the FATHER, the WORD, and the HOLY GHOST: and these Three are One."
1 John v.7. « Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
(For the Spiritual Magazine.) REFLECTIONS ON THE SONG OF SOLOMON.
“ A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse."-Canticles iv. 12. THE Song of Songs, which is Solomon's, surpasses every mortal strain, because its subject is sublime; and because “ a greater than Solomon is here.” The contents of this inspired book pertain to Jesus and his bride; and the sweet flowing language in which their mutual loves are set forth, is such as, if viewed and comprehended by faith, will excite the warmest admiration. Throughout this precious volume metaphors from nature are pleasingly interspersed, which are like clusters of myrrh and frankincense, and as beds of spices to the renewed soul. Herein are contained the genuine marks of inspiration, and traces of the Holy Spirit's work. If it be read by the mere eye of sense, the figures with which it abounds will doubtless generate levity and contempt, from their apparent meanness; but when these lively figures are perused by the spiritual eye of faith as referring to the inimitable pattern of perfection, Jesus, and the bride, his church, a beauty will be seen in every page, transcending all description.
The subject matter of the whole is, Christ, and his bride, the church: he their living head, and they the members of his mystical body. In the chapter containing our text, the Redeemer of Israel is exhibiting the graces of his church in terms borrowed from nature, adapted to her finite capacity; and is dilating on the glory, beauty, and comeliness in which he had adorned her, in a way consistent with his grace and wisdom, in the most animated figures, so fitly chosen as to call
Vol. IV.-No. 42.