Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

influence his conduct. In reference to the blessed results which should follow from the all-sufficient atonement offered upon Calvary, and the promulgation of the Gospel in the world, our Saviour himself prophesied :

6 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die*.” “The very circumstance which might have been supposed to tend most forcibly to render our Lord's doctrine displeasing to mankind—namely, his crucifixion—is here expressly adduced as the very means of drawing men to him. How inexplicable was the conduct of the Almighty in this plan of reducing the world to the obedience of Jesus Christ ! How utterly opposed to all the natural suggestions of the human heart ! Let us suppose the problem had been given to find a method of bringing men to embrace a new religion. How different would have been the projects of the wise and learned from that simple result which is here announced by our blessed Saviour! I hear the votary of natural reason, the adorer of human learning and intellect, exclaim, · Let your new religion be invested with the characters of deep philosophy; let it appeal to the dialectics of the logician and the subtleties

• The following remarks on this passage are transcribed from the author's " Christian Missions."

of human science. Thus will it make its way in the world. Ah, no_And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.'- I hear another exclaim, - Adorn it with the splendid diction of Greece and Rome; introduce it to the notice of mankind in the trappings of an overpowering eloquence; clothe it with the thunders of a Demosthenes, or the golden periods of a Tully; so will you attract converts and invite disciples.” Ah, no- And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.'— I hear still another, the admirer of earthly grandeur, exclaim, 'Decorate your new religion with the splendour of rank, the refinements of eloquence, the magnificence of royalty ; let it charm the eye, and captivate the heart by its external pomp; so shall it become popular, so shall it win universal suffrage and approbation.' Still wrong: the ways of God are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts : he needed nothing splendid, or eloquent, or philosophical: the cross of Christ (including, of course, all that is intended in that comprehensive expression) was enough; and I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.”

vii. By the due administration of the sacraments,

and attention to the rites, services, and discipline of the Church. The remarks which have been made on ac

quiring a correct and impressive enunciation, apply with peculiar force to reading the various services of the church; which lose much of their beauty and solemnity,and therefore much of their efficacy, if hurried over with an indistinct and slovenly articulation. It is sometimes observable that persons who know how to deliver their sermons with considerable energy, are deficient in the animation and devotional reverence requisite in reading the Liturgy. This must arise either from an ill habit, or from a most indecorous egotism ; and in either case ought to be corrected. For if the Liturgy be not read audibly, distinctly, and solemnly, the congregation, taking their estimate of the prayers from the indecent carelessness with which they are pronounced, or rather run over, by the minister, will learn to think them. cold and unaffecting, and will thus acquire an habitual distaste for what, under better auspices, might have been a source of great spiritual profit. Secondary as such circumstances may appear, they are not unimportant; for the majority of persons in every congregation are greatly influenced in their devotions by the external accompaniments and adventitious adjuncts of public worship.

But it must not be for a moment supposed that the mere art of reading is sufficient to give the rites, sacraments, and services of the church,

a justly impressive effect. The attentive pastor will take care that they be performed at the most convenient time, under the most appropriate circumstances, and with suitable preparation. Much may be done in such respects by a clergyman who is anxiously interested for the welfare of his flock. Let the sacrament of baptism, for instance, be always administered in as solemn and public a manner as possible. Let the holy communion be conducted with unaffected devotion; and to prepare the people for it, in addition to the usual sacramental sermon, let a clergyman preach frequently, or even statedly, upon the subject on the Sunday or holiday preceding its administration*. This practice has been found of great utility in leading persons to serious reflection who would not, and indeed ought not, to have ventured to approach the holy table under the momentary impression of an eucharistic sermon. Again :

[ocr errors]

* Can any adequate reason be assigned for the very general omission of the exhortations contained in the Prayer-book, and appointed to be used in announcing the intended administration of this sacrament? These solemn exhortations might be of great service in exciting attention to this sacrament, and in guarding the members of the church against false and injurious opinions respecting it. The second exhortation is so much in the peculiar style of Latimer, that the author has often thought it may very probably have been written by him.

the benefits arising from a well-regulated examination for Confirmation are amply worth securing, even at a very considerable sacrifice of time and labour. Some good may likewise, in many instances, be effected by a judicious distribution of appropriate tracts among the persons who come to church, often alas! most heedlessly, to celebrate some ecclesiastical rite or sacrament, There are a variety of good ones suitable for this purpose on the Baptismal, Funeral, and Marriage Services; on Confirmation and the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and every other necessary topic. In parishes where the clergy consider themselves obliged, by the custom of the place, to join funeral parties, much might often be done to check the unreflecting levity so frequently prevalent on such occasions, and to impress a more salutary and appropriate feeling on the attendants and spectators. In short, every ceremony, sacrament, and service of the church may be rendered by a truly pious and attentive parish priest an instrument for encouraging a spirit of devotion among his people; and for incidentally strengthening the bulwarks of the Establishment to which he belongs.

But especially ought catechising to be mentioned as a most important means of religious utility. On this, as it would be impracticable

« AnteriorContinuar »