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Hymns and Poems, Evangelical, Doctrinal, and Experimental; designed only for the poor, needy, helpless Sinner, fyc. By Daniel Herbert, Author of two Volumes addressed to the same Characters. Palmer.
By " Hymns and Spiritual Songs," " Hymns Evangelical," and the like, we understand such poetical compositions, as are fully and alone expressive of the affections of a renewed mind, pouring forth its grateful praises to Jehovah—for the gift of Christ—the knowledge of his person and righteousness—the enjoyment of his great salvation; and for the innumerable benefits accruing to the believer in Jesus, from a personal participation in the blessings of the covenant ordered in all things and sure.
It is a well authenticated fact, in the church of Christ, that the writers of hymns and spiritual songs have been and are eminently blessed in their labours for the promotion of melody in the heart to God. The estimation in which Mr. Herbert's first and second volumes are. held, is determined by the rapid sale in the course of a few years, of several large editions of each. However prepossession in their favour, or prejudice, may influence the opinions formed of the volume now lying before us, we earnestly recommend it as not being behind the earlier productions of its esteemed author, either in respect of doctrinal correctness, or experimental and practical application. A great part of the hymns are* not adapted for public worship, but many of them whose metre forbids the use of the harmony of sound, are well suited to assist in private the music of the soul.
As a further recommendation of this little volume, and to give the reader a specimen of the work in general, we have selected a poem, which for its singular simplicity, blended with rich experience of interest in Christ and his redemption work, received our cordial approbation.
ANTICIPATION OF HOME.
Although time's wheels go round so fast,
I would not slack their pace; There's nothing in this world will do
When Jesus hides his face;
0! what a wretched land it is,
Your prospects may be fair to-day
How soon God cut across my plan
And overturned my scheme;
However fair they seem! I felt no wish to stay.
Vol. IV.—No. 43. 2 B
I thought my pleasure was secure
The man who has no help in God,
I thought a little while ago
I found I had almighty arms
I thought the Lord was just about
To call my soul away,
When I look'd back for three-score years,
No word, no thought, no deed That would afford one grain of hope
In such a time of need.
No, blessed be the Lord, I saw
My debt of sin was paid,
And I was not afraid.
Was finished for me,
On Calvary's blessed tree.
When Jesus shines upon the soul
It lightens every trouble;
At best, an empty bubble.
To go—I knew not where;
That Jesus would be there.
He call'd me back again;
And took away my pain.
This poor, polluted land;
And heal me with his hand.
My poison'd load of flesh;
The world crowds in afresh.
And if it grant a transient scene,
It is but to deceive me;
There's few that will believe me.
And infidels deride;
For whom the Saviour died.
My friends have been so kind;
Twas that distressed my mind.
Oh ! how I pleaded with my God
To let me reach my home;
I wished to have my tomb.
I go to quit this place,
I'll own 'tis all of grace.
I'm discontented still,
Ten thousand worlds can't fill.
The worldwon't do when Jesus smiles,
There's none can satisfy the soul
And yet my foolish, wicked heart,
How oft it strays away;
And toiled both night and day.
Essays on Grace, Faith, and Experience, wherein several Gospel truths are stated and illustrated, and their opposite errors pointed out. Fourth Edition. By Samuel Ecking. Palmer and Nisbet.
Not having met with these Essays till the publication of the present edition, we were in progress of reading them, with the various additional pieces, " The Confession of Faith," " Observations on Sandeman and Cudworth," "Four Sermons," &c. when being referred in a note to " The Considerations on the Faith of Devils," towards the close of the volume, we found sufficient matter to claim our notice, and to confirm our opinion of the author's sentiments. The circumstance of the latter piece being written only a short period before his decease, will fully shield us from the charge of taking an incorrect or partial view of the opinions maintained throughout the work.
It appears that some objections had been brought against his description of the faith of God's elect, as included in the following proposition: "whosoever among men believes what devils do about the Son of God, is born of God, and shall be saved"—to establish which the final labours of his pen were employed. The disputed sentiment occurs in the essay on faith, wherein the writer expatiates at large on what appears in a condensed form in his reply, entitled, pa. 167, " The Faith of Devils considered." On turning our attention to the subject, which forms a key to the whole composition, we need only quote the concluding remark of the editor in his preface. "His death, which happened soon after, prevented its being published at that time; but it is now presented to the public, exactly copied from the manuscript which he left behind him."
From a close and rigid scrutiny of Mr. Ecking's arguments we are bold to declare, that the faith he pleads for as being the faith of God's elect, the " like precious faith," is no more than a natural act. We grant that he allows it is effected by the operation of the Spirit of God upon the mind, (and so does the advocate of Sandemanianism!) but this is done to the neglect of the necessary distinction between the external influences of the Holy Spirit on the unregenerate, and his internal operations experienced only by the called of God according to his purpose. As instance: when quoting the great apostle's definition, " Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," Heb. xi. 1. he remarks, "how plain, how rational, how worthy of the God of intelligence!" To whom is this plain, but to those who have an understanding given them of the things that are spiritual and true? Is it not mper-rational? and consequently, above the highest stretch of mere human reason to comprehend? And if it were given for the information of man, considered only as an intelligent creature,.what need have we of the engagement and promise of the Holy Ghost to lead into the knowledge of supernatural truths?
It must be allowed that our author, advancing toward the argument he strives to establish, has wisely proved the fallacy of sundry descriptions of faith which obtain in the professing world. He has exposed with great effect, the notions of those whose religion (which is no religion) consists of much ado about the fluctuations of hope, fear, and the various passions, when those exercises may be traced to the influence of natural convictions, and are often the result of incorrect views of the truth, unhappy dispositions, &c. But a summary of his sentiments is given in his defence of the proposition above stated, from which we take an extract:—
"Having shewn, in general, what devils do believe; let us again advert to the obnoxious proposition, " Whosoever among men believes what devils do about the Son of God, is born of God, and shall be saved." One would have thought that whatever disgust arose in the minds of the religious in reading this proposition, that some degree of reverence would have been paid to the scripture produced in favour of it, 1 John v. 1. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God." From which it plainlv appears, that the proposition of the Essay-writer, and that of the apostle John, must stand or fall together; and that if the one stands in need of correction, the other does 30 also; for it can hardly be supposed, after what has been said above, that any one will deny that the devils believe that Jesus is the Christ. The objector, therefore, is driven to this alternative^ viz. either to confess that what devils believe, without being profited by it, is the same that believing sinners are begotten again by, and saved from wrath through, or, that what constitutes the essence of justifying faith, and saves us, is the manner of believing. In regard to the former, I would know, whether the saved sinner believes any truth that devils do not believe? If they do, what is it? Is it replied, that men see and believe that devils have nothing to do with salvation, whereas every believer sees and believes his own salvation contained in the report? This, I presume, is the most formidable objection. I ask then, do not devils believe this also? Do not they know that their own salvation is not contained in the record, but that the salvation of all that believe is? I can hardly suppose any one will deny this. And as to the latter, I call upon the objector to shew, that there is any other manner of knowing and believing a truth, among intelligent creatures, than by understanding it, and being persuaded of its reality and truth."
And the following :—
"But why do people make objection to that which is so obvious in the scriptures? The reason is plain. Self-righteousness and unbelief are at the bottom. The work which Christ finished in his death, reported in the word of truth, is not thought, in itself, sufficient to justify the ungodly, and to give the mere sinner peace and joy as soon as he believes it. The objection goes upon the supposition, that there must be, if not good works, yet some good dispositions in the mind to make our believing of the right sort. So that upon this plan the seriousness, heartiness, steadfastness, &c. of the person's mind in believing, distinguish his faith from all other kinds; in short, makes it justifying faith. It will be allowed, that man is a sinner, and undeserving of the favour of God, but then it is thought that grace either common or saving rectifies the will, and enables the person sincerely, heartily, affectionately, and humbly (though very often doubtingly) to believe himself a christian, and that God is very fond of him. There are various ways of expressing these things, from the "sincere desire to believe," up to '' the appropriating act of faith,'' which teaches men courageously to conclude that Christ is theirs, and they are his, without the least evidence of either. These dispositions, workings of the mind, or acts of faith, are often considered as concurring requisites with the work of Christ, to acceptance with God :—and to raise, cherish and teach the proper use of them is the great work of our modern demagogues. Hereby a different meaning is given to the scripture terms, grace, faith, Christ, righteousness, gospel, and spirit, than is affixed to them in the apostolic writings; and this difference, let it appear in what form soever it may, the apostle teaches us to call a perverted gospel. And though persons may boast of their sincerity and pious designs in opposing the revealed truth, yet it is impossible that ever it should be opposed from any other principles than that pride, enmity, and deceit; which are manifest in the devil's opposition to it."
We pass over the illogical and unscriptural reasonings of the first quotation, to notice the second more particularly. When the writer affirms, " The objection goes upon the supposition, that there must be, if not good works, yet some good dispositions in the mind to make our believing of the right sort;" he plainly disallows the spirit of faith, which it is the province alone of the Lord the Spirit to communicate in the regenerating act. We know of no good works, or good dispositions 'to make our believing of the right sort,' besides such as are implanted when the sinner is begotten to a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. But these are indispensable to the life of faith;—as necessary to be received previously to the act of faith, as the possession of natural life should precede the exercise of corporeal motion. The manner in which a ' sincere desire to believe,' and ' the appropriating act of faith,' are in a multitude of instances reasoned against and ridiculed by our author, prove him to have been ill-qualified for a guide of the blind, an instructor of the simple, and a teacher of babes. The faith of the Syrophenician woman, of the centurion, of him who cried, " Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief!" and Thomas's, " my Lord and my God!" are irrefragable testimonies against the philosophizing systems of the day. The bruised reed is not to be broken, neither is the smoking flax to be quenched, though the father of lies finds abettors in his work among those whose creed is in some respects assimilated to the doctrine according to godliness.
Our opinion of Mr. Ecking's sentiments, thus glanced at, precludes the necessity of adverting to the remaining subjects which make up the volume.
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, S;c. Sfc. R. Baynes.
With some degree of anxiety we have waited, since its announcement, for the appearance of this publication, and now take the earliest opportunity of noticing it. The impression made on our mind by its perusal is of the most grateful and profitable kind, and the pleasing duty devolves on us of instancing those parts which more particularly have gained our admiration. The author wisely takes up the subject on gospel principles, and, from the commencement to the completion of his valuable work, his arguments are in strict accordance with the scriptural basis on which he Duilds. And in what he advances of a conjectural character we discover, with scarcely an exception, every speculation on the interesting enquiry subdued and chastened by a close adherence to the testimony of the declared will of God.
Having treated severally on the existence, nature, and ministry of the angels, the author produces abundant evidence thereto from the Old and New Testaments,—dwells on their ministering to the Virgin Mary—to Joseph—to the shepherds, &c.—and enlarges with considerable effect on "the diligent attention which the holy angels paid to the blessed Redeemer at his birth—in his infancy—in his suffering and sorrowful life, unto his crucifixion,—and at his resurrection and ascension." There area variety of other topics connected with the consideration of the "ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation," for which we can with pleasure refer the reader to the volume under review.
In proof of the scriptural ground occupied by our author, we take an extract from the section, " the holy angels minister spiritually:"—