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a41 occasions to first principles, forming his decision on comprehensive views, separating what is specious from what is solid, and enforcing morality by no motives which are suspicious or equivocal. He will not see vanity or ambition pressed into the service of virtue, or any approach to the adoption of that dangerous policy which proposes to expel one vice by encouraging another. He will meet with no flattering encomiums on the purity and dignity of our nature, none of those appeals to the innate goodness of the human heart, which are either utterly ineffectual, or, if they restrain from open profligacy, diffuse, at the same time, the more subtile poison of pride and self-righteousness. Mr. Gisborne never confounds . the functions of morality with the offices of the Saviour, nor ascribes to human virtue, polluted and imperfect at best, any pare of those transcendent effects which the New Testament teaches us to impute to the mediation of Christ. He considers the whole compass of moral duties as branches of religion, as prescribed by the will of God, and no farther acceptable to him than as they proceed from, religious motives.
We can scarcely say which of these sermons pleased us best. We consider the first as an admirable one; from which we beg leave to lay before our readers the following extract.
1 There must yet be brought forward another consideration, which places our Lord before us as the foundation of morality. It is to please him, or in other equivalent words, to please God through him, that our views in the discharge of moral duties are always to be directed.
1 The word of God tpeaketh expressly, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. To live unto him •mho died for us, and to do all for the glory of God, that God may in all things be glorified through Jesus Christ, are commands of the same import. They are commands from whose scope and jurisdiction no action of man is exempt. Whatever participates of the nature of morality, be it inward disposition or outward conduct, be it thought, or word, or deed, is completely subject to their controul. To render an action morally acceptable through our Redeemer to God, is it sufficient that the action accord with the literal tenor of the precept? To affirm this proposition would be to atfirm, that the service of formality ranks on a level with the offering of the heart. It would be to affirm, that the constrained submission of fear is equally pleasing in the eyes of our Creator with the zealous gratitude of love. It would be tp affirm, that, if you are honest through policy, it is the same as thoughi.ypii were upright through principle. It would be to affirm,' that'when you are temperate through considerations of health, it ,is the same aa when you keep your appetites under subjection tb' thtt dictiteis' '6F Conscience. It would be to affirm, that motives are ndthiftg1^ tfea£!1wh<eflierati action, verbally consistent with a scriptutal inpipcuoi^ be the' reiult of selfishness or of self denial; of spiritual mindedfless or of pride; whether it be done for the honour of God and' our Lord Jesus Christ, or in conformity to the suggestions of the world, the flesh, and the devil; there is no moral difference in the conduct of the.agent, nor ;my difference as to the manner in which the deed wiU be appreciated,at the great day of account and retribution. To expose such a doctrine, it is not necessary to refer to the Scriptures. In a case so plain, why, even of ourselves judge iue not vihat is right? No* action whatever, though fulfilling the widest extent of the letter of a divine commandment, partakes of Christian mqrality, is included within the limits of scriptural goodness, is in any degree authorised to hope . through the merits of Christ for acceptance with God, except so far as the obedience to the divine commandment has ultimately proceeded from a desire to please our God and Saviour. No other obedience is obedience to the Father and the Son. And on what grounds shall man contendthat obedience, not rendered to Them, shall be accepted and rewarded by Them ."pp. 11, 13. I
The disposition in mankind to seek justification by the works of the law, has been so much flattered and encouraged by the light in which moral duties have been usually placed, that Mr. Gisborne has shewn his judgement by counteracting this error at the outset. We recommend to the serious attention of our readers, with this view, the fourth sermon, on Justification not attainable by acts of morality. We have never seen a publication, in which that important argument is set in a more clear and convincing light.
Though Mr. Gisborne for a series of years has distinguished himself as the able opponent of the doctrine of expediency, yet on no occasion has he exerted more ability in this cause than in his present work. We recommend it to the thinking part of the public to forget for a moment that they are reading a sermon, and conceive themselves attending to the; arguments of a sober and enlightened philosopher. To purify the sources of morals, and to detect the principles of a theory, which enables us to err by system and be depraved by rule, is to do good of the highest sort; as he who diminishes the mass of human calamity by striking one from the list of diseases, is a greater benefactor to mankind than the physician who performs the greatest number of cures. It is in this light we look upon the labours of the present author; to whom we are more indebted than to any other individual for discrediting a doctrine, which threatens to annihilate religion, to loosen the foundation of morals, and to debase the character of the nation. We recommend to universal perusal the admirable discourse, on the evils resulting, from false principles of morality. . .: .:
"The two discourses which propose to illustrated theu character of Nebemiah, contain the most valuable instruction, adapted in particular to the use of those who occupy the higher ranks, or who possess stations of commanding influence and authority. It evinces just and enlarged views of the duties attached to elevated situations, and breathes the purest spirit of Christian benevolence. The sermon on the love of money displays, perhaps, the most of the. powers qf the. orator, and demonstrates in how masterly a manner the author is capable, when he pleases, of enforcipg 'the terrors of the Lord- It contains some awful passages, in which, by. a kind of repeated asseveration of the same truth, and the happy reiteration of the same words, an effect is produced resembling that of repeated claps of thunder. We shall present our readers with the following specimen.
* Fourthly. Meditate on the final condition to which the lover of money is hastening. The covetous, the man who is under the dominion of the love of money, shall not inherit the kingdom of God. In the present life he has a foretaste of the fruits of his sin. He is restless, anxious, dissatisfied: at one time harrassed by uncertainty as to the probable result . of his projects ;at another, soured by the failure bf them; at another, disappointed in the midst of success by discerning, too late, that the same exertions employed in some other line of advantage would have been more productive. But suppose him to have been, through, life, as free from the effects of these sources of vexation as the most favourable picture could represent him. He shall not inherit the kingdom of God. He may not have been a miser ; but he was a lover of money. He may not have been an extortioner; but he was a lover of money. He may not have been fraudulent: but he was a lover of money. He shall not inherit the kingdom qf God. He has had his day and his object. He has sought, and he may have accumulated, earthly possessions. By their instrumentality he may have gratified many other appetites and desires. But he did not seek first the kingdom of God; therefore hie shall not obtain it. He loved the world; therefore he shall perish with the world. He has wilfully bartered his soul for money. In vain is he now aghast at his former madness. In vain does he now detest the idol which he worshipped. The gate of salvation is closed against him. He inherits the bitterness of unavailing remorse, the horrors of eternal death.' pp. 145, 146.
If we were called to specify the discourse in the present volume, that appeared to us the most ingenious and original, we should be inclined to point to the eighteenth, on Suspicion.
Having expressed our warm approbation of this performaiice, justice compels us to notice what appear to us its prin? cipal blemishes ; which, however, are so overbalanced by the merit of the whole, that we should scarcely deem them worthy of remark, were it not requisite to vindicate our claim to impartiality. Against the sentiments, or the arrangement, of these discourses, we have nothing to object: the former are almost invariably just and important, often striking and original; the latter is natural and easy, preserving the spirit of method even where it may seem to neglect the forms; equally remote from the looseness of a harangue, and the ostentation of logical exactness. With the stvle of this work, we cannot say we are quite so much satisfied. Perspicuous, dig* nified, and correct, it yet wants something more of amenity, variety, and ease. Instead of that flexibility which bends to accommodate itself to the different conceptions which occur, it preserves a sort of uniform stateliness. The art of transposition, carried, in our opinion, to exceNS, together with the preference of learned to plain Saxon words, give it an air of Latinity, which must necessarily render it less intelligible and acceptable to unlettered minds. It is indeed but fair to remark, that the discourses appear to have been chiefly designed for the use of the higher classes. But while we allow this apology its just weight, we are still of opinion, that the composition might have assumed a more easy and natural air, without losing any thing of its force or beauty. Addresses from the pulpit should, in our apprehension, always make some approach to the character of plain and popular.
Another blemish which strikes us in tins work, is the frequent use of interrogations, introduced, not only in the warm and impassioned parts, where they are graceful, but in the midst of argumentative discussion. We have been -struck with the prevalence of this practice in the more recent works of clergymen, beyond those of any other order of men. With Demosthenes, we know, interrogation was a very favourite figure; but we recollect, at the same time, it was chiefly confined to the more vehement parts of his speeches; iu which, like the eruptions of a furnace, he broke out upon and consumed his opponents. In him, it was the natural expression of triumphant indignation: after he had subdued and laid them prostrate by the force of his arguments, by his abrupt and tesibie interrogations he trampled them in the mire. In calm and dispassionate discussion, the.frequent use of questions appears to us unnatural: it discomposes the attention by a sort of starting and irregular motion ; and is a violation of dignity by affecting to be lively, where it is sufficient praise to be cogent and convincing. In a word, when, instead of being used to give additional vehemence to a discourse, they are interspersed in a scries of arguments as an expedient for enlivening the attention, and varying the style, they have an air of undignified flippancy. We should scarcely have noticed these little circumstances in an inferior work; but we could not satisfy ourselves tq let them pass without observation in an author^, who, to merits of a more substantial nature, joins so many and such just pretensions to the character of a fine wrjter. ... ...';.. ■
Art. IX. /f Discdune, preached in the Episcopal Chapel, Cowgate, Edinburgh, Feb. 9, 1809; being the day appointed by His Majesty for a General Fast. By Archibald Alison, L. L. B. Prebendary of Sarum, &c. and Senior Minister of that Chapel. 8vo. pp. 23. Price Is. Constable and Co. 1809.
TN the countless multitude of -single sermons which are ever crowding on public notice, we are fortunate enough, ngw and then, to meet with a few choice nursiings of genius, which it is the duty of every friend to literary taste to seize with anxious care, and preserve from the oblivious region, whither, from one cause or another, they are all rapidly hastening.. One of this chosen number we have now to introduce to the attention of our readers. It is written-in language uncommonly pure, appropriate, and elegant; flowing in the most animated style of eloquent pulpit declamation: while the thought, though not remarkably profound or novel, is conducted with simplicity, splendour, and dignity; conceived, "too, under a manly high-toned independence of judgement and of feeling. The author, we need not say, has long been distinguished in the higher walks of polite literature. His ingenious Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste are familiar, we suppose, to most of our classical readers; and should certainly lie known to every lover of refined philosophical discussion.
The discourse has for its text, Matthew xvi, 3, "Can ye not discern the signs of the times?" The view he takes of it will appear from the following passage.
* It is not,' says Mr. Alison, < in obeying the ritual of a prescribed devotion; it is not in merely following the multitude into the house of God, and joining in words which the heart neither weighs nor feels, that the solemn duty of days like the present can be performed. It is in raising our thoughts to the administration of the universe; in contemplating the laws which the Almighty has given to the social world; in marking, amid the calamities of nations, the operations of his justice, and of his wisdom; and, in thus learning the signs of his will, to learn the path of our duty. From the distractions and the miseries of the World, religion calls us into the temple of God; and the voice of our Saviour there meets us to say, that, amid all the desolations around us, there are signs of the care and the providence of heaven, and that they are exhibited for our instruction.
* If ever there was a period when the signs of the times were solemn and portentous to mankind in general, and to the inhabitants of this country in particular, it is doubtless the present. We are spectators of the greatest and most awful events upon which the eye of man has ever gazed. We have been witnessing for years the progress of that mighty stream of conquest and of desolation, which has been, spreading over the fairest portions of the civilized world. Year after year, we have seen it rolling forward its sanguinary tide, unchecked, and unexhausted; and burying
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