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unconnected digressions, but they must be short and extreme-
ly agreeable. The progress of the picce should be enlivened
by proper shifting of scenes ; the different parts connected by
easy and natural transitions; the whole animated and adorned
by a spirited, elegant, and perspicuous style. To cut short
our observations, which we have already extended too far, the
life of De Thou might have been, if we may use a familiar
phrase, a good story agreeably told ; but in the hands of
Mr. C. it becomes an uninteresting one, and is made still
more tedious by being told unskilfully:
Art. IV. Sermons, Controversial and Practical, with Reflections and

Tracts on interesting Subjects. (Heretofore published in Ireland only)
by the late Rev. Philip Skelton, Rector of Fintona, &c. Republished
by the Rev. Samuel Clapham, M. A. Vicar of Christ's Church, Hants,
&c. Vol. I. 8vo, pp. 519. Price 98. Vernor and Hood, Longman

and Co. 1808. AN immense proportion of the things called Sermons, are

consigned to the dust and oblivion they deserve. « They have had their reward,” for a “ numerous and respectable list of subscribers” has been published. There are others, which share not this fate.' They are excellent on account of the learning which they display; or they are elegant dissertations on men and manners; or they touch upon some important points of biblical criticism; or the vitality of something in the thought and expression, operates against all decaying tendencies. We do not wish that they had never been published, but we do wish, that they had not been called Sermons; and we think our feelings are accounted for by the justest reflections, on their unsuitableness to effect that infinitely momentous purpose, to which they ought to have been exclusively and carefully adapted. With our ideas of a ser. mon, there is always associated a feeling of the peculiar sacredness and importance of its design; and we are accustomed to expect that, when immortal beings are addressed on subjects relating to their eternal destination, every part of the address will present the impression of that design. If similar sentiments are entertained by the preacher himself, we shall discover their influence in the dignified simplicity of his style, the energy of his appeals, and the rejection of puerile ornaments and degrading illustrations. The selection and

arrangement of subjects, will exhibit the pre-eminence of those doc. trines, in his estimation, which form the basis, and

are incor. porated with the entire structure, of Christian truth. Should such a preacher communicate nis discourses to the public, through the medium of the press, we shall be reminded, as we read them, of the sentiments we both entertain. They will

not be mere critical elucidations, or academical essays, but Sermons, still retaining the peculiar character of thạt species of composition. Their effect will be such, that, while our views are enlarged by the discoveries of truth, our affections will be excited by the impassioned language of persuasion; we shall be in the presence of God again, and rise from the

perusal, with feelings inferior only to those, with which we left his temple.

26 Are all such teachers ?--Would to heaven, all were !”. These general principles, according to which we endeayour to determine our opinion of particular discourses, are less

offended by the works of Skelton, than by most nodern ser. mous. If we may trust Mr. Clapham, indeed, he is " in his reasonings as clear as Sherlock ; in his warnings as solemn as Secker ; in his piety as engaging as Porteus; in his exhora tations as vehement as Demosthenes ; for it would be impossible to find an English author, with whom he can in this essential quality of an orator be compared.” (Pref. viii.)

This boastful enumeration of excellences will not perhaps excite great expectation, or produce much disappointment; as the world has not now to learn, that Editors no less than authors are often troubled with excessive partialities, and that an absurd extravagance of panegyric may be accounted for without accusing them of interested motives or an intention to deceive. We very readily, however, ascribe to the author of this volume the merit of that “ essential quality" of eloquence, without which a printed sermon is of all vapid things the most vapid. Energy of thought and of language, is the characteristic feature of Skelton's discourses. His reasonings are often incorrect; his style is frequently defective in per' spicuity and precision ; but the “ thoughts that breathe and words that burn," in his compositions, at once display the solemn convictions of the preacher, and tend to awaken å corresponding tone of most important feelings in the reader's mind.

While we thus unite with the Editor in commending the "vehemence of Skelton," we shall now state our opinion of the prevailing complexion of his religious sentiments, A reflecting reader would naturally infer, that a writer, so impassioned and energetic as Skelton, would confine his vehemence to subjects of peculiar importance; and not spend his strength for nought on a moral essay, or a declamation against schismatics. With the exception of a few sermons and reflections in this volume, which might have been very advantageously omitted, we have no ground of complaint against the choice of subjects. The Sermons are twenty in number; their topics and texts are as follows.

The Origin of Faith, Rom. i. 17. Infidelity is of the heart, Heb. ü. 12. Belief in God dictated by Reason, Rom. iv. 3. Stand fast in the Faith, 1 Cor. xvi. 13. The true Christian both dead and alive, Col. ü. 8. The benefit of Meditation, Psalm xix. 14. The efficacy of example, Matt. v. 16. On Conformity to the world, Rom. xii. 2. The Wisdom of the World, Luke xvi. 8. The Punishment of Profligacy, Prov, i. 24-26. The Seductions of Arianism, Matt. vii. 15-16. A Friendly Remonstrance with the Dissenters, 1 Cor. i. 10. Vanity of Vanities, Eccl. i. 14. On Marriage, Gen. i. 18. How Happiness is to be attained in Marriage, Epb. v. 31. On Confirmation, 1 Cor. xvi. 13. The Duty of Bishops, Titus ii. 15. Compassion to the French Protestant Refugees recommended, Heb. xiii. 2. Sermon for the Magdalen Asylum Matt. xxii37-40.

The first five Sermons relate to the subject of faith : its origin, nature, and influence, form distinct topics of investigation, and might have included a series of most interesting discussions; we confess however, that we do not discover either, philosophical accuracy or scriptural simplicity in the statements of this worthy divine. His mind appears to bave been amazingly perplexed in its ideas and distinctions respecting the nature of faith. He considers it in two points of view; as “ rational” or “ historical,” and as “ divine" or “ saving:" the one kind always precedes the other, preparing the mind for the possession of it, and constituting its basis. A few extracts from the first sermon will perhaps display his meaning more distinctly

• Having spoken on the evidence of Christian faith, as purely rational, human, and historical ; I shall now proceed to take a short view of that faith as efficacious and divine. This method appeared highly proper to me, because we must freely believe as men and rational creatures, whose faith God will not force, ere we can believe as Christians. The spirit will not inspire that which it is the peculiar Office of right reason to inculcate ; but will improve by graće that which we have already acquired in a due use of the natural faculties and revealed instructions afforded us. So far as our faith in Christ is founded on rational evidence only, it is merely human and historical. So far as its assent is rendered strong and powerful in the understanding, by the evidence of the Spirit, and impressed effectually on the heart and will by the grace of God, it is called a lively, operating, saving or divine faith, which never takes place in any man before the human or historical faith hath laid a foundation for it.'

" It is one thing barely to believe, and another to believe in a lively manner.-He who believes historically as a rational creature, hath entered the porch of faith ; but cannot pass into the temple, nor warm himself at the altar, without believing with all his heart.' pp. 9, 10, 11.

These notions of faith are continually interwoven with the author's disquisitions on this subject, and are connected with other sentiments more directly hostile to the simplicity and purity of Christian truth. We cannot but respect his convictions of the importance of “ saving faith," and those energetic addresses to the heart and conscience which indicate the force of his impressions, but we are compelled to state some conclusions deducible from his opinions, which appear in our view to affect the duty and responsibility of men. Admitting, for the sake of inquiry, the distinction which he has adopted, might it not be inferred that man is physically unable to be lieve - with the heart unto righteousness;" and that, of consequence, his obligation extends no further than to that “ historical or human faith,” which is in his power, but is unconnected with future happiness? We are persuaded that this very distinction respecting the nature of faith, has lulled thousands into a fatal lethargy concerning the spiritual requisitions of the Christian revelation. They learn to imagine that a vague and indefinite assent to the truth of the gospel, and an attendance on the public services of religion, is all that they can do, and therefore all that they ought to do ; thus determining the extent of moral obligation by their limited disposition to comply with it. It is to be regretted that such false conclusions have been too often warranted by injudicious applications of the doctrine of divine influence, and by the unauthorised restriction of ministerial exhortations to those external duties and observances, wbich are not inconsistent with secret disaffection to the truth and purity of the gospel. We have frequently observed, notwithstanding the decisive, tone assumed by the sacred writers on the necessity of divine influ. ence, how unconscious they seem of any thing like embarrassment and perplexity, when they “ beseech men to be reconciled to God." We find no metaphysical explanations and distinctions in their writings, attempting to harmonize the apparent discordances of a systematic theology ; but a plain and confident assertion of all the obligations of man. There are no exhortations to a mere historical faith,” or, ip fact, to any thing short of that cordial and spiritual reception of divine truth which is connected with final salvation. Hence their statements of faith are simple and intelligible ; the object to which they direct its operations is the gospel itself, which by the purity of its truth is made to communicate a holy influence to the mind that receives it. This exercise of mind is therefore regarded by them, pot as the requirement of a lowered standard of moral obligation, adapted to the impotence of our nature, and designed as a merciful succedaneum for the more rigid obedience which the law demanded; but as the instituted method of becoming interested in the divine favour. Such a faith, in consequence of the peculiar sacredness of its object, forms the only principle of acceptable obedience; it purifies the heart and works by love," while

it leads the mind which possesses it, to an entire renunciation of all meritorious claims derived either from itself or its infuence, and to an exclusive dependence on the perfect atonement of Jesus Christ.

We have been more minute in stating these views on the subject, because the writings of Skelton abound' in imperfect and confused representations of the nature and design of faith, Many of his illustrations lead us to conclude, that only that belief of the gospel which is denominated “ human, histori- . cal, acquired by a due use of our natural faculties," is obligatory on the part of man; and that the Christian system of requirements is so accommodated to his weakness, that if he exert his own energies, in believing and doing as much as

he can, then he may warrantably expect the operation of disi vine grace to enable him to rise higher in the attainment of moral excellence.. Now it seems to us, that the demands and claims of the gospel directly require all that " strong and powerful faith” which is termed " saving and divine ;

that the extent of this obligation is in no degree affected by athe moral indisposition of our nature; and that the impressive conviction of guilt and wretchedness, which such a statement of truth is adapted to inspire, will compel the anxious mind to an immediate and cordial reception of the message of mercy:

So far as the opinions of Skelton are unconnected with those explanations which we think inaccurate, we are more than pleased with the animated and glowing eloquence with which he unfolds them; especially when describing the influence of Christian faith on the heart and conduct. The vigour of his fancy is often apparent in the rich luxuriance of imagery, by which he illustrates the spiritual nature of genuine religion, and which indicates not only the fertility, but what is of infinitely greater importance, the devotion of his mind. This remark indeed applies to the whole volume. The author appears to have been deeply impressed with the responsibility of his character. Such is the peculiar complexion of his style, that we should imagine him to have been one of the first order of orators, if his living eloquence corresponded with the solemn and interesting tone of his printed discourses. His manner often reminds us of Massillon and Bourdaloue ; not only'in his direct appeals to the conscience, and the frequent introduction of apostrophes and exclamations, but also in that indescribable kind of ambiguity which he sometimes contrives to throw about the doctrines commonly termed orthodox; and which an accurate and reflecting reader must feel to be utterly incapable of distinct and definite comprehension, The sermon on the seductions of Arianism" illustrates the

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