« AnteriorContinuar »
do this, but he has the audacity to affirm, that the sentiments of the Church of England are the same, and he adduces as a proof of this the conclusion of the admirable prayer for the Church Militant in our Communion Service. We there implore the grace of God to enable us to follow the example of those who have departed this life in his faith and fear, while the Papists are taught to pray for the salvation of those who have been destitute of both ; yet in the face of this, Mr. Ellison asserts it to be clear, that we “ differ not in principle but only in degree.”
To sum up, however, all his opinions in one, he makes a shameless attempt to explain the creed of Pius IV. which our readers well know comprises all the dogmas of the Council of Trent, and which declares those doctrines to be necessary to salvation, which had hitherto been loosely and variously acknowledged. This formula, which is now the rule of the Romish Church, begins with the Nicene Creed, and Mr. Ellison enters into a jesuitical disquisition on the term “ Credo," which is applied to the ancient faith, and the terms “ profiteor," or “ veraciter teneo," which are applied to the superstitions that have been grafted upon it. But we are left to guess whether a man can be justified in professing what he does not believe to be true; and lest the folly and wickedness of such distinctions should be too apparent, he wilfully, (not to say fraudulently,) neglects to notice the only words that determine the faith of those who yield to the authority of this Vicar of God, and which bind them to that “vera et Catholica fides, extra quam nemo salvus esse potest.”
In this manner every page will present us with some instance of want of candour or want of principle; but enough has been said to show the character and intention of this contemptible work; and whether it is considered as the composition of a literary inan or of a religious one, of a teacher of youth or a preacher to the people, of a Christian minister or a Protestant divine, we hesitate not to pronounce our opinion, that it is disgraceful to the author.
Art. III.-- Sermons on the first Lessons of the Sunday Morning
Service, taken from the Mosaic Scriptures. Being for the Sundays from Septuagesima to Trinity Sunday. By the Very Reverend ROBERT BURROWES, D. D. M.R.I. A. Dean of Cork, and one of the Chaplains to his Grace the Duke of Northumberland, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. London : Taylor. 1829. Price 12s.
There is no species of composition respecting which there exists a greater diversity of opinion than sermon-writing. The subjects most proper to be discussed in the pulpit, the legitimate mode of treating
them, the style, the length, the arrangement, and every minute particular connected with a discourse, are frequently canvassed, and as frequently dismissed, without any visible approach to the conviction of either of the dissentient parties. While some complain of too much morality, and characterize the generality of modern sermons as ethical lectures, adapted rather to the school of Aristotle and Plato than the church of Christ; there are others who object to the constant appeals which are sometimes made to the second person of the Trinity, as throwing the eternal majesty of God the Father materially into the shade. On one hand it is objected, that the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost is seldom, if ever, noticed ; and on the other, that it is so prominently and unduly set forth, as to engender the idea of its acting with resistless force upon the will, instead of co-operating with the exertions of mankind. Some dwell too much on faith, others too much on works ; some are too long, others too short; some are too dull, others too passionate ; some have too much law, and others no gospel; and one and all have this or that imperfection at which good Christian people are more ready to cavil, than to attend with honest and teachable hearts to the salvation of their souls.
Now surely this is not as it ought to be. Let the Christian preacher be the judge of the tone which he ought to assume, of the subjects which suit best with the spiritual wants of his congregation, and of the method by which his exhortations can be enforced with the most beneficial effect. Let him only keep in view the responsibility of his office, and the awful consequence of neglecting to teach the whole counsel of God. He is not to insist entirely upon one doctrine to the exclusion of another; but by a judicious inculcation of sound faith and godly practice, proceeding from love to God, built upon Christ, and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, to put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, and to minister grace to his hearers. A sermon, in fact, is good or bad according to its results ; and consequently, in some degree, according to its adaptation to an end designed. An appeal to the feelings may sometimes do more than an appeal to the understanding; at one time it may be advisable to descant on a topic of Christian morality, at another to illustrate a doctrine of the Gospel ; sometimes to urge the necessity of faith, and at others, of good works. Whatever is said, however, should rest upon the Gospel ; and no doctrine can be fully explained, nor any precept effectually enforced, without the aid of gospel sanctions, of gospel motives, and of gospel authority.
As a fable has a moral, so a sermon should have an application. There is not a single article of Christian faith or Christian duty from which some good practical lessons may not be derived ; and the more they can be made to bear upon the immediate wants of the congre
gation addressed, the more profitable will be the result. Every portion of the Gospel should come in for its turn of illustration; and though it may be requisite to recur with greater frequency to those particular topics, concerning which a pastor may perceive especial wandering in his flock, none are to be wholly neglected or treated as apparently indifferent. “We are justified by faith.” This is a fundamental truth, and ought never to be lost sight of. But if the changes are rung upon the words Sunday after Sunday, without a single hint at the equally important truth, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord, we shall be led almost imperceptibly to believe that there is no such' passage in the Scriptures.
Such then is our idea of a sermon; or, rather, of the objects which a preacher should constantly keep in view in all his sermons. Adapted to the wants of those in whose interest he is more nearly interested : aiming at the correction of their besetting sins, and the encouragement of the opposite virtues ; rectifying their mistaken notions, but at the same time keeping them steadfast in every branch of doctrine and discipline alike ; his discourses could not fail to produce a beneficial effect. We would add, that they should not be so long as to be tedious, nor so short as to indicate neglect; so laboured as to be pedantic, nor so slovenly as to be vulgar; so rhetorical as to tickle the ear without touching the heart ; nor so quaint as to savour of affectation; but plain, energetic, and scriptural expositions of the Book of Life.
In order thus to acquaint his hearers with the whole scheme of their religion, a preacher cannot, perhaps, do better than follow the course of the Church Service for the subjects of his admonitions and exhortations. During one year the Gospels or Epistles, and the Lessons from the Old or New Testament through another, will furnish the means of a connected series of doctrinal and practical instruction, capable of every variety of appropriate application. Of the advantage of such a system we have sufficient proof in the volume now before us. The subjects of the Sermons are taken from the Lessons, selected from the Pentateuch, for the Sundays between Septuagesima and Trinity. The Creation, the Fall of Man, the Deluge, and the successive series of events recorded in the Mosaic history, are rendered subservient to the inculcation of scriptural doctrine, and forcibly applied to the encouragement of practical godliness. For a specimen of doctrinal illustration, we subjoin the following description of the effects of the fall.
Little, indeed, of the remains of such a constitution do we perceive in the world about us : little of it do we find when we look around upon our fellows, or pry narrowly into ourselves. For us the earth produces nothing spontaneous but the thorn and the thistle : all that is necessary to the support and the comfort of human life requires premeditating care and laborious industry.
Even these are not exerted with a certainty of success; but through causes, which he cannot control, the harvest often disappoints the toils of the tiller. The tribes of animated nature live in hostility towards each other, and in rebellion against him who has been styled the lord of the creation. Where is his dominion over the lion or the tiger, the shark or the crocodile, when those classes which have been most domesticated sometimes turn upon their master, and infix their fatal venom even in the hand which feeds them? In the little world of man, the subordination of the parts seems to have been lost, and the harmony of the system to be destroyed. Our bodily frame, subject to decay, to sickness, and to death, re-acts upon our spiritual in sadness and vexation : passion often usurps the seat of reason, and the will rejects the counsels of the understanding. How are we to reconcile this view of the natural and the moral world with what has been told us, that “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good?" The origin of evil was indeed a difficulty often started by heathen philosophers, to which, unacquainted with God's revealed Scriptures, and not assured of a life to come, they could give no satisfactory solution. Some were inclined to suppose an evil being, of equal power, still counteracting the good which God created. The chapter whence the text is taken makes such unsupported and objectionable supposition unnecessary. Every thing that came from the hand of God, it admits, was good: and then it shows us how man had abused the liberty which God had bestowed on him, and transgressed the commandment which God had given. This leads us to the true account of the origin of all evil. Moral evil came by man's sin, and natural evil came for his punishment.-Pp. 22, 23.
If we have any fault to find with Dr. Burrowes, it is with his applications. They are, for the most part, too short; and the little which is said so well, makes us lament that there is not more of a similar character. After reading the conclusion of the Sermon, on the Call of Abraham, our readers will coincide in opinion with ourselves.
Above all, my beloved brethren, let us look to that quality for which from the Prophets and the Apostles, for which in the Jewish records and in the Christian, Gospels, Abraham hath obtained high and highly merited praise : let us look to that characteristic faith, of which from his first call in Chaldea even to his death in Canaan he was so illustrious an example. That his faith "was imputed to him for righteousness was not written," as the Apostle says, “ for his sake alone: but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” “ Fear not, Abram," said the Lord ; “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." And in the heavenly mansions the Christian Scriptures represent him residing in the enjoyment of the rewards of a life spent in the service of his God. But what is the office there which the parable of our blessed Saviour assigns to him? To comfort him who in this world had misery, to denounce torments prepared in another life for those who consign to vain and selfish uses their good things in this, and to proclaim the sufficiency of Moses and the Prophets to the Jews as preachers of repentance. Such a task our Lord well knew was appropriate to the character of the patriarch. Let not the wholesome lesson be lost on you, my brethren: be warned, my beloved, by these terrors to avoid those sins against which he denounces punishment; be led by his suggestions to do good and to distribute; to read Moses and the Prophets, and, in the greater extent of your light and your duties, to study Christ and his Apostles. May you with readiness of mind, with meekness of spirit, receive that word which is able to save your souls: and may God of his infinite mercy graft it inwardly in your hearts, that it may bring forth in you the fruit of good living to the honour and praise of his name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.-Pp. 79, 80. .
A pleasing feature in these Sermons, is the incidental refutation of infidel objections, which are exposed with a force of argument, that nothing but the most determined obstinacy can possibly resist. Take the following instance :
Abraham withheld not from God the dearest object of his affections : those who know they would act differently, wish the condemnation by his example erased from the volume which yet they would be thought to hold sacred. They would tell us, accordingly, that this temptation was not necessary to try the man who had so often been tried before ; that the demand was too cruel to be supposed by Abraham, or by any person, to have come from a merciful God; that the temptation was a soliciting to violate the natural law of parental affection, and the record a justification of the barbarous superstition of human sacrifice. To what extent are these objections to be pushed? Are we to reject this chapter from the Book of Genesis? or the Book of Genesis from the Pentateuch? or the Pentateuch from the Canon of authentic Scriptures? Or can it be intended to set aside the whole of the Old Testament as a narrative of incidents that cannot be believed, in order that the New Testament may then be rejected as resting on this for a foundation, by references to its histories, its types, and its prophecies? Those who would not go so far, should be informed that the Canon of Scripture has by a variety of documents and testimonies of great weight been established: that the Pentateuch has been proved to be the work of the well-known Jewish legislator; and that the character of Moses vouches for the fidelity of his narrations. It is not for the petulant smatterer in moral criticism to garble the writings of the inspired historian, and say what chapters he will believe, and what other chapters, supported by the same external evidence, he will reject: what chapters he will admit to be historical, and what, from an unwillingness to believe the facts they relate, he will pronounce must be allegorical. When the authenticity of the book is proved, all that it contains must with submissive reverence be received, and with implicit fidelity believed. All rests on the same authority, the inspiration of Him whose power was adequate to the creation of a world, and whose wisdom is competent to regulate it. Until man has by him been made acquainted with the whole scheme of his providential administration, it is not for a creature of limited views and fallible judgment to pronounce what is suitable to God's system, or what is at variance with his attributes.—Pp. 85-87.
We might proceed to make a variety of extracts from these excellent Sermons, in which sound doctrine, earnest exhortation, close reasoning, depth of pathos, and forcible application are severally exhibited. The language throughout is simple, yet eloquent; and the style nervous, chaste, and dignified. In a word, the volume is calculated to instruct the ignorant, to reform the evil-doer, to confirm the Christian, to silence the gainsayer, and" to vindicate the ways of God to man."
Art. IV.---Analecta Theologica; a digested and arranged Compen
dium of the most approved Commentaries upon the New Testament. By the Rev. W. TROLLOPE, M. A. one of the Masters of Christ's Hospital. Vol. I. London: Cadell. 1830. 8vo. Pp. x. 603.
In the course of our literary career, it has been our lot not unfrequently to hear it affirmed, -not very graciously, nor, indeed, with