« AnteriorContinuar »
often been struck with its operation upon the mode of thinking, and consequently upon the phraseology, of many worthy men among the dissenters, who, when they meet a stranger, are not in the habit of asking him, “Where do you worship P’ but “Who do you hear P” Yet I cannot coincide, nor, I apprehend, can the majority of your readers, with your correspondent, either in looking upon the inquiry “ whether the Gospel has been preached in the Established Church,” in a certain parish, in so invidious a light as he seems to view it, or in thinking “there is but one answer to be returned” to it. Suppose the question, instead of being put in the terms in which it now stands, were, “Have the doctrines of the Church been faithfully promulgated from the pulpit o’” It is manifest the information needed by the inquirer is just the same (and it is information which every pious clergyman, who enters upon a new cure, must obtain, in order that he may determine the proper line of conduct to be pursued among his parishioners); yet it is equally evident, that the answer which your correspondent says is the only one that can be returned, is no answer at all. I go as far as the FRIEND to FAIRNFss, or as any man, in my admiration of the Liturgy of the Church of England; yet I should expect to be laughed at, if I affirmed that it was as esficacious as what is usually termed “evangelical preaching,” or what the reading of the Homilies would be, in converting souls from “ the error of their way.” I know a parish of 1500 inhabitants (I should not consider myself justifiable in naming it); I knew almost every individual in it for nearly twenty years: according to the notions of your correspondent, they had “the Gospel constantly and fully preached” during the whole of that time; and yet I am persuaded, that I should far outstep the limits of truth, if I said there were thirty persons in the whole parish who had a correct idea
of the plan of salvation, or a “saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.” I be. lieve I could not be accused of want of candour if I affirmed, that many similar instances might be found. But, on the other hand, there are many congregations, as your correspondent doubtless knows, which stand in very different circumstances. The reason is obvious: in the former instances, the prayers are hurried over in a slovenly, careless, indevout manner; while the mini. ster has no notion that his “duties” require him to see his parishioners any where but in the church, and probably cares but little if he do not see them even there. In some of the latter cases, which I myself have witnessed, you might almost say, the flame of devotion proceeds from the mouth of the reader at the desk, and the divine warmth glows upon the countenance of more than half the congregation; while the zeal of the preacher, as you have happily expressed it in yout of number, “reproduces itself;" and what is taught in the church is seen, known, and felt out of it, in the blameless life, the close "walk with God,” the benevolent conduct of the clergyman, and in the mutual affection of the pastor and his flook. Can there be any thing invidio." “ more offensive in the sight of H* ven” than “negligence and go" ignorance,” in a clergyman's endo: vouring to ascertain whether the Gospel has been thus preached, lived, and felt, by his predecessor; or whether that predecessor wereo Horsley has too forcibly and jusly expressed it, an “ape of PP” tus * * • –L:
But there is another light in which this subject may be contemplat t and in which your correspon". does not appear to have looked ** Not only may a clergyman be.” in the discharge of his general duo, and cold in his pulpit exer”. but he may even oppose the do. trines of the Church while o: upon her provisions, nay, while o is within the sanctuary. Ovg"
the pious, active clergyman, who had such a predecessor, to be aware of it? Would it be of no consequence for him to know, whether he had been preceded by such men, for example, as Mr. Gisborne, or Mr. Venn, or Mr. Dealtry, or Mr. Cunningham (I specify names of authors whose writings develope their theological, and, I might almost say, their moral character), or by such as Mr. Robt. Fellowes, and the celebrated “ i.jtal divine P’” In the one case, he would have to “water” what others had “planted,” and pray to God to “give the increase :” in the other, he would naturally look for a plentiful crop of weeds and errors, and would earnestly implore much discretion and heavenly wisdom, that in so difficult a situatiou he might “rightly divide the word of truth,” and give to “every one,” whether such as were “ignorant,” or such as were “out of the way,” his “portion of meat in due season.” The question, indeed, admits of an easy decision, independently of the preceding illustrations; at least, to me it appears to be simply this:— Is it a matter of indifference whether we pursue a shadow, or possess a substance Whether we retain merely “the form of godliness, without the power,” or have it accompanied by that “power " Your correspondent will probably be startled at seeing this turn given to the point under discussion; yet I believe he will, on reflection, find it perfectly fair. It may be assumed as a fact, which none, I fancy, will venture to controvert, that (both among churchmen and dissenters) the quantity of real religion in a parish, or a congregation, compared with its magnitude, bears an obvious relation, and not far from a uniform one, to the zeal, devotional spirit, and correctness of sentiment, of the minister. Whether it be that the great Head of the church does this, because great advantages will result from thus honouring the shepherd who faithfully Chitist. OBseity. No. 131.
“feeds his flock,” or whatever be the final cause, the fact is notorious, and it is the fact alone that is of consequence to us. With such a fact before him, it must be important for a pious clergyman, on entering upon a new charge, to ascertain the sentiments, and, in some measure, the conduct, of his predecessor: and if so, the terms in which the inquiry is enunciated, provided he confine himself within the bounds of politeness and discretion, will be a matter of small moment. To me, I confess, it appears that the question cannot be culpable, unless it be culpable to feel solicitude respecting the state of religion, or respecting the character and conduct of the teachers of religion, whether
authorised or permitted. What pious layman, whether among churchmen or dissenters, would
not, in these awful times, be delighted to know that all the 11,000 benefices in England were occupied by men who were really “called by the Holy Ghost” to their momentous office And by what singular process is it that a clergyman, whose business (if I may so say) is to “save souls, as one that must give an account,” may not be animated with the like holy solicitude : If he be, his inquiries will be most earnest and minute where he has most interest; for here, surely, “charity should begin at home.”
Should these considerations inpress the mind of your correspondent in the way they do my own, he will be led to revise his judgment, and not denounce the threatenings for “ spiritual pride,” where he ought to point to the reward of faithful anxiety for men's best interests. At all events, this letter may tend to shew that the practice to which he adverts, even if it were very frequent, is not very censurable; nor in “the highest degree injurious to the Liturgy and the Establishment.”
I am, &c.
•To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
It was with no small degree of pleasure that I perused, in your late numbers, the Memoirs of Professor Scougal, whom I have always considered as one of the best of men, and, the best of authors. His Sermons I deem superior to most in the English o In regard to accuracy both of language and method, they have few equals; and the beautiful simplicity of their style, as well as the unaffected piety which they breathe, give them, in my estimation, a pre-eminence above any pulpit discourses with which I am acquainted. I have read no sermons so often as these ; and when I have got through them, I have always lamented that so few of them were preserved. l apprehend they are now become scarce, and cannot but wish for a new edition. His piece, entitled “The Life of God in the Soul of Man,” which is more easily procured, is my vade mecum. The few short prayers which it contains, I regard as some of the finest pieces of devotional composition extant; and I have many times felt a wish that he had drawn up more of the same kind. It was not till I read your late numbers that I was acquainted with his having composed a Liturgy; of which I can easily believe the justice of your account, as “an excellent formulary, zwhich reflects much credit upon the talents and the piety of its author.” Truly sorry I am to find, from your note, that it is now out of print, and happy should I be to procure a copy of it. I cannot help thinking, Sir, that you would do a singular service to many of your readers, if you would introduce a copy of it into your valuable miscellany. It might supply excellent materials for the worship of the family and the closet. Nor can I forbear indulging the expectation, that some dissenters, who are partial to this pious author, but have some prejudice against the national Liturgy, would adopt part of
it, at least, into the worship of their congregations.
There is, it is well known, a disposition in many dissenters in the present day to the use of forms, as having the advantage of extemporary prayer; of the inconvenien: cies and improprieties of which I have heard some of the most sensible and pious among them complain, who yet do not approve any of the Liturgies which have been drawn up by their own ministers, particularly for their want of that simplicity and evangelical savour which best suits the taste of devout worshippers, and for which Scougal's compositions are remarkable. A singular publication has lately appeared, which indicates a surprising revolution in the opinions of dissenters concerning the mode of public worship, entitled, “A new Direc: tory for Non-conformist Churches,” &c. referring to that of the Westminster Assembly in the year 1645; which you mention in your last number as a rule for regulating the worship of the Church of Scotland as well as of English Presbyterians, whose ministers yet continued to pray extempore. The authors of this “ New Directory” would not abolish all extemporary prayer, but they speak with more freedom and severity against the manner in which it is conducted than most church writers have done: they recommend the manner of some evangelical clergymen to imitation, and even propose the language of our Liturgy as an excellent model, while they object to some other particulars in it. Their object is to introduce more of the devotional parts of Scripture into their worship, to be used as forms. To such moderate dissenters as these, I am apprehensive the liturgy of such a man as Scougal would be highly acceptable, and therefore I cannot but wish it to be republished; and as a probabl: means of promoting that objeo, I shall hope to see a copy, or at le" some select parts of it, in the Christian Observer.
. It now occurs to me to notice an inquiry that was made some months ago, by one of your correspondents, concerning the author of the forms of devotion drawn up for the Westminster scholars. I do not recollect that any answer was given to that inquiry, which I rather wonder at. I am strongly inclined to think that the author of those forms (widely different from Scougal's) was Dr. Heylin, Prebendary of Westminster, who published some Lectures on the New Testament, which, I learn from the preface, were delivered “ to the King's Scholars at Westminster Abbey.” The style and the sentiments of both performances appear to be very similar. I am, Sir, respectfully yours, a disciple of sco UGAL,
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
The paper in your number for July, signed PARENs, has determined me to prefer a request to your able and }. correspondents, from some
adies engaged in the tuition of the young, for advice and assistance which may enable them to discharge an important duty towards their pupils, of whose souls they feel that they are charged with the cure. We cannot satisfy ourselves with merely endeavouring to impart to our pupils literary instruction or ornamental and elegant accomplishments, nor even with assisting them to form just sentiments on common subjects. We wish, indeed, to educate them for useful wives, mothers, and housewives; but we are anxious to do this on Christian principles. We know the dangers and temptations to which they will be liable, and, viewing them with tender affection, we long to communicate to them that knowledge which is “life eternal;” to engage them to “take the Saviour's yoke upon them,” and to give him their hearts. We contemplate a future meeting with them in that day when “the judgment shall be set,” and dread the idea of
their not being able to “stand before the Son of man.” We feel our own responsibility, and tremble. Impressed with the difficulty of our task, and with our own insufficiency for its due performance, we are anxious to know by what methods we may best gain their attention to the awful concerns of religion. Knowing the levity of their minds, we fear to disgust them. We are sensible that religion ought not to be viewed as a gloomy thing, or as unfriendly to enjoyment: on the contrary, we wish to point them to it as a source, and the dnly source, of true happiness. But in pursuing this object we have many obstacles to contend with. Many of our pupils have not been religiously instructed at home; the parents of some of them, by their conduct at least, produce this impression, that religion is, in their esteem, a matter of small moment; and we are aware that the human heart is of itself too susceptible of a bias opposite to that which we wish them to take. Permit me then, Sir, in my own name and that of my friends, to request some of your correspondents, through the medium of your valuable publication, to present us with a matured, tried, and practicable plan of religious instruction adapted to general use. One point, which I would wish particularly to be attended to, is a method for rendering the Lord's-day a day of enjoyment and interest in such seminaries as ours. The usual business and amusement of other days being precluded, the great desideratum is, how we may so employ its sacred hours, before and after public worship, as neither to profane the Sabbath nor to induce our pupils to feel, if not to exclaim, “what a weariness is it!” We would wish so to employ the day that they may associate pleasure with the idea of its return, and retain on their minds an impression of it as a privilege equally delightful and beneficial. I greatly wish that some of your correspondents would suggest a general plan, capable of being varied, ac
cording to circumstances; by which the morning before public service, the intervals of it, and the evening, which in some places is very long, may be rendered pleasant and profitable to a number of young people of different habits and dispositions. They would thereby render a most important service both to pupils and teachers.
Perhaps some lady who has made an experiment of this kind, and who has happily succeeded in it, will extend her usefulness by kindly detailing her plan in your pages.
Since writing the above, I recollect to have met with some valuable hints on this subject from a well known female pen, which so happily unites classical taste with instruction, adapted at once to enlighten the understanding and impress the heart; I mean Mrs. More*. They appeared to me the most appropriate and excellent I have met with ; and it occurred to me at the time I read them, that if that excellent author would kindly add a few examples which might illustrate her own admirable rules, she would confer a great obligation on many who wish to follow her, though with unequal steps; to catch, if that were possible, her mantle; and to imbibe and impart a portion of her spirit.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
Two Sundays have passed since my arrival, for the first time, in this metropolis, I have attended diviue service at several churches, and am grateful that the Lord of the harvest has been pleased to send forth labourers into this vineyard, both able and willing to bear the burden and heat of the day. But I must confess, Sir, that I felt not a little surprised that the congregations in these churches should have so far * I am not sure in which of Mrs. More's excellent works the rules referred to above are to be found. I should be glad to be in. formed where I may again meet with them,
departed from the custom of our wise Reformers (set forth in the rubrics) as to remain sealed during the most solemn parts of our admirable Liturgy, and even at the Lord's Prayer. I am aware, Sir, that the heart is not influenced by the position of the body: nevertheless, I think that kneeling at prayer evinces a due reverence for, and humble dependance upon, that awful Majesty we address, better than any other posture. Let those persons who think the external forms of worship unworthy their attention, turn to the 41st verse of the 22d chapter of the Gospel by St. Luke, where they will find kneeling sanctioned by the practice of our Lord himself. A remark on this subject in your excellent paper will oblige a LAY Mexiber of the
London. CHURCH OF Ilie LAND.
-To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
As I have reason to think that many of your readers may not have seen the following beautiful hymn; and even of those who have read it, many may be glad to peruse it again, I copy it for insertion in the Christian Observer. It has generally been called “Luther's Hymn; ” but there is good ground to believe, that it was written by Mr. Christian Frederick Richter, a physician of piety and eminence, who composed most of the hymns of the church of Hall, where he resided. theoGN is. *TIS not a hard, too high an aim, Secure, thy part in Christ to claim : The sensual instinct to controul, And warm with purer fires the soul. Nature will raise up all her strife, Foe to the flesh-abasing life, Loth in a Saviour's death to share; Her daily cross compell'd to bear. But Grace omnipotent—at length, Shall arm the saint with saving strength; Through the sharp war with aids attend, And his long conflict sweetly end,