Imágenes de páginas
PDF

Indulgence will only increase their force. The more they have, the more they will require. And by the time, at which you suppose, that they will be most easily overcome, they will have got to such a head, that tenfold labour will be necessary to subdue them. It may be true, that when you are grown older, you may, perhaps, become more thoughtful and steady : but it is not true, that you will become more disposed to religion, than you now are. On the contrary, you will, if possible, be less disposed to it. Your thought sulness and steadiness will reach only to worldly things. Your youthful follies may be over; but your heart will be as far off from God, as it is at present. 13e not then deceived. That more convenient season, of which you speak, will never come. The present season is the most convenient. If you let it slip, you will never have such another. You will find it an easier work to become religious now, in the days of your youth, than you will do, wien your conscience shall be hardened, and sin be made familiar to you. Would that you could be Persuaded of this truth! Would that you could be prevailed on to set about this work in earnest! How much pain, and grief, and shame will you thus avoid What reason will you have to bless the day, in which you truly turned to God! Be persuaded. Be prevailed on. Say not to the Spirit now pleading in your heart, ‘ Go thy way for this time.” Rather say, Come Lord Jesus: “enter into Iuy soul. Take up hy abode there. Make me altogether thine. To day, while it is called to day, let not my heart be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin!’” pp. 85, 86. The seventh is a very solemn and awakening sermon, from the parable of the relapsing demoniac, on the danger of conviction of sin when not followed by conversion. It occurs to us, however, that, under the second head, in which the man supposed to be convinced of sin is shewn not to have been converted, there! is an omission, as to many cases at least, in one particular of the proof. Mr. Cooper relies on these two arguments, which may in numerous instances be sufficient: First, that, amidst all his convictions, the person under consideration has had no sense of the evil of sin: and, secondly, that he has depended only on his own strength and goodness Now we

apprehend, that, in addition to these proofs, one other might have been advantageously stated, - namely, that, even where the evil of sin and the insufficiency of mere human strength have been clearly perceived, and in some measure felt, convictions frequently do not issue in conversion; because there is not, besides all this, a thoroughly sincere desire and resolution to abandon all sin. But, independently of this observation, the whole sermon is well worthy of the attention of those who may have reason to suspect that their characters resemble that which is there described. May the grace of God convert us from the love and dominion of sin, as well as convince us that we are sinners, and grant us “repentance unto life.” Contrary to the intention we have expressed, we find ourselves almost imperceptibly induced to notice many of these sermons in order. The 8th, entitled, “The broken Heart an acceptable Sacrifice,” is throughout very interesting. The 19th sermon contains an useful and seasonable admonition, from the consideration of leebecca's Imposition on Isaac,” on the way in which even good people sometimes deceive themselves, and suffer their judgments to be misled by carnal reasonings, and the counsels of the natural heart. The superior wisdom of the children of this world, in the pursuit of earthly objects, is well pointed out, and contrasted with that of the children of light, in the 12th sermon. The observation of our Lord upon this subject is illustrated by the consideration of the greater degree of diligence and activity, of foresight and circumspection, of decision and singleness of mind, with which worldly men pursue their favourite ends, and which proves them to be wiser in their generation than the children of light. “But surely," says the pious author, “this ought not to be. Consider the differeuce of the objects, which worldly and religious persons are following. Worldly

‘persons are following an object in itself fleeting, perishing, and comparatively worthless; an object, which may never be attained; and which if attained will certainly disappoint their expectation, and must soon be taken from them for ever. But religious persons are following an object in its of substantial, lasting, and of infinite value; an object which they are sure of attaining; and which, when attained wiłł far exceed their hopes, and will never be taken away. With such disproportion in the objects pursued, ought the children of this world to be wiser in their way of conducting the pursuit than the children of light? Ought they, who are seeking merely a worldly treasure, to shew nore diligence and activity, more foresight and circumspection, more decision and singleness of mind in attaining their end, than they, who are seeking a heavenly treasure? Are we not ashamed to think, that we who profess to be striving for an incorruptible crown, a crown of righteousness and glory, should be less active, less earnest, less anxious in our endeavours to obtain it, than worldly men are to obtain the corruptible things of this life? Let us awake from this disgraceful sleep. Let us act in a manner more becoming our pretensions. Let us do more credit to the religion which we profess. Let us be instructed even by worldly men. Though we cannot applaud their judgement or account them wise in respect to the object, which they pursue; nay, though in this respect, we must decidedly condemn their choice and loudly proclaim their folly; yet let us so far benefit by their example, as to copy their diligence, circuluspection, and zeal; and thus learn to exercise in a better cause, and to nobler purposes, that wisdom, which they display in their inferior concerns. Let us renuember, that it is not enough to , seek; we must strive; we must labour to grow in grace and improve our talents; for according to our spiritual growth and improvement, will be our degree of happiness and glory, hereafter.” pp. 185–187.

The next sermon is on the “Tendency of Christian Principles to produce true Contentment,” from the declaration of St. Paul, Philippians, iv. 11, 12 ; and is one of the best and most useful in the volume. Mr. Cooper explains and enforces this truth by the two following considerations. First, that Christianity takes away the natural causes of discontent: secondly, that it fur

nishes very powerful motives for the exercise of a contented mind. The chief causes of discontent are stated

to be pride, self-preference, and

covetousness: and the motives to contentment afforded by the Gospel, are, First, that the disciples of Christ are under the strongest obligations to walk in the footsteps of their divine Master, who, though far more uţged by various evils to discontent, yet betrayed nothing of a murmuring, repining spirit, but manifested at all times an entire submission to the will of his heavenly Father: secondly, that true Christians are firmly convinced, that their lot, whatever it may be, is the lot chosen for them by their blessed Lord and Master; and further, that it is chosen for them in infinite love and mercy to their souls. If we were not afraid of swelling the review, we should have been glad to subjoin, for the benefit of our readers, the practical uses which the author makes of the truths thus explained and enforced. Connected with the subject of the preceding sermon, is that of the 19th, on Rom. viii. 28, entitled, the “Description and Blessedness of God's People,” which is equally

worthy of attention and considera

tion. “The Object and Effect of Christian Hope,” is the subject of the fifteenth discourse, from which we are tempted to extract the following passage, as an instance of the judicious manner in which Mr. Cooper explains those scriptural precepts which might seem to militate against the doctrines of grace.

“But let us, more distinctly see what this effect, of which we are speaking, is: what is meant by a man's purifying himself. This expression may seem to imply that a man i. able to make himself holy, to cleanse his own heart, to sanctify his own nature; and so may appear to contradict the general doctrine of Scripture, which teaches a very different truth. This doctrine is, that sanctification is God's work, and not man's: that the Pro" parations of the heart are from the L** that it is he who cleanseth the heart, by the inspiration of his IIoly Spirit; creates in *

* new heart; and renews the soul after his own image and likeness. Nor is there any thing in the text, which at all opposes this doctrine, or differs from it in the least. We meet with many other expressions of the same kind with that in the text. The Lord himself says, by his prophet Ezekiel, ‘Make you a new heart and a new spirit. St. James, in like manner, says, “Cleanse your bands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts ye double minded :' while St. Paul exhorts us, to “cleanse eurselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.' Do we suppose that these passages contradict the general doctrine stated above? No such thing. The Scriptures cannot disagree with each other. When we meet with texts, which, like those just cited, enjoin us to do something, which the general tenor of the Bible tells us that we cannot do; the way in which we must understand such texts, is this: we must understand them as enjoining us to use those means, which God has appointed for attaining the thing ip question, and in the faithful use of which he has promised that we shall attain it. Let us take this way of interpretation in the present instance; and then we shall see how the text is to be understood, “Every man that has this hope, purifieth himself;' that is, he does not cleanse, renew and sanctify his own heart, for that he cannot do; but he uses those means, which God has appointed, for the cleansing renewing and sanctifying of the heart; and in the proper use of which, it is promised, that the heart shall he cleansed, renewed and sanctified. In virtue of this appointment, in *liance on this promise, he uses these means and thus purifies himself.

“Here then, my brethren, we have another sound for self-examination. Does our hope troduce in us this effect? Does it lead us thus to purify ourselves? In the first place, *we seek after purity? Do we seek, not only to be outwardly moral, but also to be onwardly holy? Do we think it not merely "ough to regulate the conduct, but do we *k also to regulate the motives of our conduct: iu short, not only to have clean hands, * also to have a pure heart? And while **eek this inward purity; do we faithfully and diligently use the means, which God his commanded us to use, in order to attain * Do we earnestly beseech him to '*ause our hearts by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit?" Do we add to our prayers, *chfulness? Do we keep our heart with all diligence; examine with a jealous eye, its **t motives; check its first approaches to oil, and carefully guard every door, by •o sin may euter into it, especially that

Haist. Observ. No. 1 14.

sin, be it what it may, by which we are most easily beset? Do we avoid, as much as we are able, such places, and persons, and employments, as are most likely to prove temptations to us? Do we faithfully attend on all the ordinances of God? Do we use then as means of growing in grace, and humbly expect in the use of then, to have our spiritual strength increased, and our souls more and more conformed to the divine inage aud likeness? In a word, do we now live in the spirit, walk in the spirit, mind the things of the spirit, and bring forth the fruits of the spirit: and after all our endeavours, do we still lament our little progress in holiness, and grieve, that notwithstanding we daily strive to grow perfect even as God is perfect, we yet remain so imperfect, are so far short of what we ought to be, and have so little of the mind which was in Christ Jesus? “Such is the effect which true Christian hope will have upon us... If, what we call our hope, does not lead us to do these things, it is not Christian hope; and to suppose that it is, is greatly to deceive ourselves. God grant then that we may have clear evidence on this point! Grant that we may not cherish a vain confidence, a foolish selfconceit, an arrogant presumption, in the place of that true, solid, humble, heart-purifying hope, which in the end, “maketh not ashamed.” pp. 234—237.

We wish we could do more than merely notice the two next sermons, “On the Office of the Holy Spirit. and the Danger of grieving him,” and “On the reciprocal Duties of Ministers and People;” but we feel compelled to proceed to the 18th, which contains an able and interesting exposition of Isaiah lxv. 1, proving “ conversion to God.” whether considered with reference to the Gentiles of old, or to unenlightened and irreligious individuals in the present day, to be “a real change of heart.” The following just and animated description of this great truth as it respects ourselves, is well executed.

“But, my brethren, there is another way of applying the text, in which we are still more deeply concerned. While this prophecy receives its grand accomplishment, in the general conversion of the gentile nations, it is also fulfilled in the particular conversion of every individual simuer. The preaching of the word is still the appointed instrument, which God usually blesses for bringing back sinners to himself; and whenever this glorious work is done; whenever the proud seil-righteous pharisee is brought to pray, ‘Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?" whenever the unjust and worldly publican is led to snite upon his breast and cry for mercy: whenever the dissolute and sensual prodigal is prevailed on to confess his sins, and seek reconciliation with his offended Father: whenever any one of these instances occur, then is the prophecy again fulfilled. With respect to all such returning sinners, it may be truly said, “God is sought of them that asked not for him: he is found of them that sought him not.”—Blessed are those to whom the words can be thus applied! Blessed are those who are now secking the Lord; though in times past they sought him not: for they that seek shall find!— But what shall we say of ourselves? Is this blessedness ours ? Can these words be thus applied to us? Can God say of us, ‘I am sooght of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not?' Jn short, are we penitent, humbled, converted sinners? This is a point on which it concerns as to examine ourselves with seriousness and importiality. It is a great, and invaluable poore that we have been born in a country, where the true light shiweth. We have reason indeed to blos God that he has conferod tois mercy on us. But let us remobor, that this privilege in itself is not on too. With all the outwara splendor of to oo el shining around us, we may be all deikress winin. With respect to the actual con ition of our souls, we may be in no better a state, than if we belonged to a country still sunk in heathetism and idolatry, Christians in name, we may yet be Gentiles in heart. No outward dispens, tion can of itself chauge the heart. By nature all are Gentiles. Pride, selfishness, aversion from God and holiness, love of sensual gratifications and an idolatrous attachment to the world, are dispositions which naturally reign in every child of Adam. But till these evil dispositions are broken, and in a measure subdued, there can be no true religion in the soul. The heathen, bowing down before his idols of wood and stone, is as near to the kingdom of heaven, as the merely nominal Christian, who though he call himself a servant of Christ, and attend on the ordinances of the Gospel, still keeps his na'ural carnal heart. For what is the difference between them? In their outward circumstances indeed they do not exactly agree: but in *rt, they are the same. They both

alike are ignorant of the true God: they both alike love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil: they both alike are under the dominion of selfish, sensual, covetons desires; they both alike are strangers to Christ the hope of glory. In a word, they both are descended from the corrupt stock of Adam, and consequently both bear his image, and inherit his depraved and fallen nature. Grace only can change the heart: and till a man undergo this change, let his name, his country, his professioa, his privileges, be what they may, he is still but “in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.’ This is a truth extremely offensive to the carnal mind: and we may almost judge of our own state, by the feelings with which we hear this truth asserted. The natural man listens with impatience to the spiritual doctrine ef the renewal of the beart. It appears to him foolishness: and thus either excites his ridicule or provokes his wrath. But it is a doctrine, to which the experience of all real Christians without any exception, bears witness. In whatever other respects they may differ, in this one point they aii agree. They all agree in declaring, that by the power of the grace of God, working to gether with his word upon their hearts, they have been brough into a state very different from that in which they naturally were. They have now a spiritual discernment of the scriptural truths which once appeared foolish ness unto them; they feel the constrainin influeuce of motives, to which they were for merly strangers: they experience hopes on fears, joys and sorrows, of which they ope had no conception.” pp. 379–233.

But we must not enlarge our ex tract, so as to include the confessio of the worldly and the self-righteou characters, not only our limits, bo the general circulation which w doubt not that this volume has a ready experienced, admonishingt that it would be uniiecessary 1 dwell much longer on its content We shall only add, therefore, on th point, that the last sermon is from Heb. iv. 11, on the “Motives Diligence and Earnestnes in R. ligion,” and close our quotations b the following view of the nature the Christian life, or the life of faitl in order to prove the necessity. labouring in it.

“It is,” observes Mr. Cooper, “a coat of thinking and acting, directly contrary all our natural ideas, desires and Propensitio

It requires us to walk, not by sight, not by sense, which we are all prone to do: but by faith, “as seeing him, who is invisible,” and living on the word and promise of an unseen Saviour. It requires us to keep this faith in constant and lively exercise: when we are prone to distrust and unbelief. It commands us to be humble and lowly in our own conceit, when we are naturally proud and high-minded. It requires us to crucify the flesh when we are prone to indulge it: to mortify the deeds of the body, when we

are disposed to gratify them; to abolish the

whole body of sin, when we are inclined to spare and favour it. It bids us daily to deny ourselves and to take up our cross, when we love to please ourselves and to avoid the cross. It commands us not to love the world, and the things of the world, when we naturally love nothing so well. It enjoins us not *o fear man, not to value his favour, not to regard his anger and reproach, nor to be led away by his example, when we are naturally disposed to do all these things.-This is what the life of faith requires; and, need I ask, whether much labour is necessary, for enabling us thus to oppose all our natural ideas, and to act directly contrary to all our natural inclinations? Does it require no exertion, rather does it not require great and constant *xertion, thus to swim against the stream, to stem the powerful torrent of inbred corruption, and so to overcome the course of this Presentevil world, as to be enabled not only to make a stand against it, but even to move in on opposite direction? Let those who are making the trial, be asked the question. Say to those, who are now living the life of faith; who, while they are trusting to be saved by grase through faith, are yet striving to bring the body under, and to keep it in subjection; who are endeavouring to overcome their natural love and fear of the world; who are *iming to submit their will, in all things to God's will, and to bring every thought into "ubjection to the obedience of Christ; who * wrestling ‘against principalities, against Powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world; against spiritual wickedness in high places.”—Say to such persons; 'What think you of this matter? Is there ouch labour required in doing these things? * you find the life of faith an easy work o' They will tell you, that thus to live by faith, “the most difficult of works: that it re'** great and continual labour, unwearied "gence, unceasing watchfulness; and that Youthis labour, and diligence and watcholes, they would find it impossible to keep **wund, much less to make any progress

in the way to heaven. This is the testimony” which such persons will give. And such are the persons, whose testimony can be of , any value in the case: for they only, who have made trial of the way of faith, can tell us what it is, and what labour is requisite for walking in it. On their testimony then, as well as on the general testimony of Scripture, we fully conclude, that, without labour, we can never enter into that rest, which “remaineth for the people of God.” pp. 312–314.

Such are the principal subjects of discourse in the volume before us; of which, after what we have already observed, it is almost unnecessary to express our entire and cordial approbation. Would God, that the sound instruction contained in these sermons, and in those of Mr. Cooper's preceding volumes, were heard from every pulpit, and from every family in the land The salutary effects of such instructions could scarcely fail to be generally perceived and felt in the religious improvement, and the increasing happiness of those who might i. thus placed within the sphere of their influence. We doubt not, indeed, that much good has already resulted from Mr. Cooper's pious labours, and we trust that he will be encouraged to persevere in them. Some, perhaps, may be disposed, from the unassuming title of this and the former volume, to think they are merely elementary, and calculated only for the poor and uninstructed. But the truth is, that Mr. Cooper has succeeded in delivering, as Bishop Pearson modestly observes of his most learned and invaluable work, some of “the most material conceptions in the most plain and perspicuous manner;” so that we may justly say of these discourses, “indocti discant; ament meminisse periti.”

In our review of the former volume, we expressed a wish that the style of the sermons it contained had been somewhat less ministerial, and better adapted to the less authoritative instruction of a family. There is a difficulty upon this point,

« AnteriorContinuar »