Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

can have no genuine faith in Christianity, and no solid hopes of heaven! -or is it possible that he should never have reflected, The hour which I spend in the pulpit, is all the portion of their existence which the majority of my audience spend in the studies which are to fit then for eternity ? In the progress of our examination, however, the pangs of benevolence, which we felt for this gentleman's audience, found some alleviation in the thought, that strewing the flowers of natural history, though it will not feed hungry minds, is at least an innocent employment, when compared with dispensing deadly poison.

The discourses, which are sixteen, bear the following titles: • On the Spring of the Year. On the Summer. On the Autumn.-On the Winter.On the Omnipresence of God - On the Worship of God.

On the Sabbath.-On the Pharisee and the Publican. On the Attainment of Salvation -On a Peaceable Disposition. On the One Thing Needful.- A Visitation Sermon, preached at St. Andrew's Church, Plymouth. On the occasion of a School Meeting On the Education of Children. -Against Profane Swearing.-On Discontent.

The fifth sermon professes to be on the omnipresence of God : but the preacher who could announce his intention of discoursing on this attribuite of the divine nature, and then deliver the discourse before us, nust either have a strange confusion in his own ideas, or entertain a supreme contempt for the understandings of his audience.

The next sérmon is on the worship of God. That the divine who tells his audience they should worship God for what they may get by him, should afterwards forget to display the only real way of access to God by the Mediator, is far less surprising than lamentable.

The sermon on the Sabbath is intitled to the praise, of justly. opposing Archdeacon Paley's account of the origin of that sacred institution,

The discourse on the Pharisee and Publican displays our preacher's polemical powers. He alludes to the etymology of the word, to shew that the Pharisee “ separated from the established religion" of the Jews. It is possible that he may claim some merit for the novelty of the discovery : with us, however, it is a previous question to determine its truth. We ask, where was their separate synagogue or temple?

What were their schismatieal rites or tenets? It has been more customary to consider them as a sort of high-churchmen; their distinguishing badges were the ceremonies of the established religion outraged; they dealt largely in newrites and maxims, and

represented the fancies and traditions of men as equally binding on the worshipper, with the ordinances of God; they

yet

were ostentations in the outward exercises of imagined piety, while they neglected the great doctrine which was signified by the sacrificial institutions, and presumed to expect acceptance with God for the sake of their own merit; they were also remarkable for a temper proud, bigoted, despotic, and uncharitable. Mr. B. thinks, however, that the damning sin which the finger of Christ points out in the Pharisee, was “thinking himself more religious than others."

• From this parable we learn, that spiritual pride is highly offensive to God, and that whoever pretends to be not as other men are, but boasts of his superior claims to Almighty favour, is in the sight of Heaven, not better, but even worse, than other men.

But is it not most certain that the inspired teachers of religion say, “ let us not sleep as do others;" “ ye were by nature children of wrath, even as others ;? s but ye are res deemed from the ordinary conversation of the world," and made “a peculiar people zealous of good works;"? " who maketh thee: to differ?" What possible reason can we have to hope for everlasting life, unless we do think, and think justly, that we are better than others fall men are not holy;

(without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” But the picture of the Pharisee was drawn to expose the odiousness of a sinner trusting to himself that he is righteous in the sight of God, and intitled to salvation as a matter of right, and thus despising others; while the account of the Publican is designed to reconcile us to the humiliating method in which alone sinners.can hope for acceptance with their offended Judge,to abandon all reliance on ourselves as righteous, and commit our souls to his sovereign and revealed merey. We most deFoutly wish the reverend Pastor had more justly appreciated the value and necessity of this mode of acceptance, than to instruct his hearers that the Publican was more meritorious" than the Pharisee!

The subject of the next discourse, is the conference of our Saviour with the young man who wished to know what good thing he should do to inherit eternal life. It is very evident, we think, that the answer of Jesus was intended to excite his conscience, and to call up to his recollection the sins of his life. The young man, however, confidently pretended to be sinless ; and the direction, Sell all thou hast,'&c. was given to detect him to himself as guilty concerning the “first and great commande ment,'

"inasmuch as his love to God was not supreme, and could not withstand the attractions of opulence. Now Mr. B. represents the case to be, that the way to eternal life is to keep the con mandments, that the fulfilment of the law is our plea and ground f acceptance with God: not once throughout the sermon on "" the attainment of salvation," does he think it needa Vol. IV

3 R

ful to mention the sacrifice of Christ. Mr. B., notwithstanding, would be thought to maintain, as a part of his creed, that we are justified by faith ; and therefore he alludes to the doctrine in terms, at the close both of this sermon and of the preceding one. But the misfortune is, that the tendency of the whole sermon, in both these cases, if not irreconcileable with that of the conclusion, is widely different from it; the doctrine of works is taught laboriously and at length, while that of faith is hurried over as an irksome duty; the first is made very prominent and distinct, the latter is noticed in a manner so exceedingly vague and indefinite, that a very attentive hearer might retire from Mr. B.'s instructions completely ignorant of this important doctrine, and careless about its meaning. We shall quote the entire perorations of both sermons; and this narrow compass includes all the information concerning the means and ground of divine favour, which Mr. B. thinks proper to communicate to his bearers.

• We must conclude therefore that all attempts to evade the practice of good worke, is an attempt to deceive ourselves, and to defraud the Al. mighty of his reasonable service. The only true way to eternal life is to crust in the doctrine, and the merits of Christ; the proof of that confidence is obedience to his commands. Without charity to mankind, all our religion will be imperfect, and though faith be the foundation of all our expectations, yet it will not avail without the fruits of obedience.' p. 185.

• To conclude, Let no man doubt of his salvation, who earnestly and assiduously works with fear and trembling, and relies on the promises and the grace

of God and his Saviour.' • He will be justified, who first confesses, and then forsakes his sids; but he never can be justified, however proud of his own attainments, who voluntarily closes his eyes on his own faults, and at the same time vainly boasts that he is not as other men are.' pp. 166.--7

Mr. B. seems to suppose that it is customary with many preachers to assert the sufficiency of faith, and some mystical impulses, so as to deny the necessity of moral rectitude. This is, we believe, a very rare, though a very dangerous practiçe; but to err in the opposite extreme is not the true way to correct such an error.

After the estimate which we have briefly given of Mr. Bidlake's theology, our readers will not be surprized when we inform them, that the source whence it is derived is the Apocrypha, rather than the epistles of St. Paul. While many a corùial reference is made to the uncanonical books which keep company with Bel and the Dragon, the preacher more than once protests against deriving doctrinal conclusions from a writer so obscure as Paul.

The style of the sermons is perspicuous and often elegant; but blemished with such illogical expressions as “ how infinite,"'how unlimited," We shall conclude our observations with a favourable specimen of it, which we are sorry to say will not at all improve the opinion our readers may have formed of Mr. Bidlake; they have probably never attended to a declaimer who pleaded so strenuously against the doctrine of human depravity, ivho so ingeniously depreciated the obligations to virtue, and palliated the sins of men; one would think he was rehearsing, in expectation of being employed as advocate for the unhappy criminals at the last day.

• We are reasonably alarmed at the recital of capital crimes, but hear little of the unassuming virtue of private persons, that constant light that cherishes life. Yet enquiry will enable us to find every where individual merit to counterbalance the general depravity. If then the catalogue of vices be at once numerous and dark, yet a bright contrast agreeably relieves the contemplations of the moralist. When we reflect on the nature of man, the variety of his pursuits, and the difficulties of his attainments ; when we recollect that many errors spring even from an excess of virtue, that they are irrregularities of desires implanted in him for wise and gra. cious purposes by an Almighty Providence ; when we observe that even the pursuit of good will sometimes lead him into error; that the boundaries of virtue are sometimes not clearly defined, and sometimes deceptive ; that the path of rectitude is often intricate, and that his abilities are naturally weak, and perpetually fallible ; that the powers of virtue are as liable to fail as the strength of the body; we must conclude, that there is as much goodness to be found in the world, as can be hoped from the nature of things; and that it is reasonable to expect much peccability from beings, whose powers are finite and variable, whose understandings are contracted and indistinct, whose passions are vehement and intoxicating. pp. 227–8. Art. XIII. An Essay on Light Reading, as it may be supposed to in.

Auence moral Conduct and literary Taste. By the Rev. Edward Mangin, M. A. 12mo. pp. 58. 6d. Carpenter. 1808.

judicious and well-principled Treatise, or Series of Essays, on the

moral character and influence of English Literature, would be a very valuable and a very interesting work. Its investigation should not be confined to the standard and principal writings on theology and ethics, but should extend to all the departments of literature which can affect the moral principles of the student. The Histories, the Biographies, the Essays, the works of Poetry and Fiction, and in a few instances more abstruse productions, would furnish ample scope for the exercise of moral criticism. A work of this kind, if properly executed, would supply one of the principal advantages that are to be expected from a domestic tutor; it would serve as a sufficient guide through the mazes of a whole library, and a young person, well provided with its corrective and precautionary instructions, might be committed to his own option in a course of miscellaneous reading

Small as the extent is to which Mr. M. has attempted to perform this service, we would rather commend his good intentions, than extol his success. His regárt is confined almost exclusively to novels, of which he notices but a few, and those on which the moral comments are most obvious ; his consures on Fielding and Smollet, on Goethe, and on Cumberland, are however too forcible and just, to be in danger of reproach from us because they are neither new, profound, nor discri. ninative. His observations on Richardson are little more than commonplace and unqualified praise ; it did not occur to Mr. M. that some of that writer's situations and descriptions are at least as exceptionable as those of the novelists whom he condemns, and that, not to specify other defects in his morality, he repeatedly sanctions duelling in the most effectual though indirect manner, by example, though he solemnly protests against it in theory. The pains Mr. M. has taken, to shew that the more recent productions of this foolish class are base and ridiculous to the very extreme of possibility, appear to us quite superfluous ; nor do we feel much more grateful to him for the applause he has thought fit to bestow at considerable length on Goldsmith, Cowper, and Langhorne, It needs not a very captious reader to discover much that is morally objectionable both in the prose compositions of the latter author, and in the trage y of Douglas, which Mr Mangin most unscrupulously commends.

We are obliged to him, however, for the following portrait, of the accuracy of which we have not the smallest doubt: it is a valuable though frightful exhibition of human character.

* I have known a man who, as a duellist and a gamester, had steeped his hands in the blood of more than three fellow creatures, and, by his success at the hazard-table, reduced several to beggary ; whu by his arts had betrayed many females to ruin ; by filial disobedience had de pi: ed his parents of the repose and reverence to which « ld age looks for its best earthly recompence who by the ferocity of his disposition had alienated his relations, friends, and acquaintances, and acquired the hatred of his tenantry and domestics; who, although he had squandered hundreds from ostentation and caprice, never bestowed a guinta to relieve distress, nor heaved one sigh of compassion when imploring misery has stood within his view : ind this man has often been seen melted into tears at the theatre, and still more frequently when engaged in the amusement of reading tender novels.'

On the pernicious effects of novel reading, Mr. M. has many good remarks, and the general tendency of h:s book is highly commendable. Alt XIV. The Georgits of Publius Virgilius Maro, translated into

English Blank Verse By James R. Deare, LL.B. Vicar of Bures,

Suffolk. 8vo. pp. 138. Price 7s. boards. Longman and Co. 1808. MR. Deare is one of the most faithful translators that we have met with ;

he has given the genuine sense of his author almost in equivalent words, and almost in similar versification : the current of his translation, nevertheless, is generally easy and clear ; his words are musically arranged, and his pauses are weli varied. We shall transcribe the descrip tion of Arista us's descent to the submarine palace of Cyrene, both in the original and in the English version, as a specimen highly honourable to Mr. Deare's reputation.

• Jamque domum mirans genitricis, et humida regna,
Speluocisque lacus clausos, lucosque sonantes,
Ibat, et, ingenti motu stupefactus aquarum,
Omnia sub magna labentia Aumina terra

« AnteriorContinuar »