Page images
PDF
EPUB

The real rank of Hoxton Academy will be far more honourably established, by a view of its actual utility to the Church of Christ, than by the application of a term, which does not always imply the qualities most desirable in such a seminary. We might also suggest, that there are not many young men who think too little of their extrinsic recommendations, or whose self-complacency requires to be stimulated by such an ■ expedient. These and other considerations, have doubtless been weighed by the Constituents of this respectable institution, who do not, as we are assured, appropriate the title in questibn.

Mr. C. has chosen for his text, part of the 12th verse of the 4th chapter of the Ephesians, which, agreeably to the views of some critics, particularly Doddridge and Macknight, he translates, in the words of Dr. Marshall) thus, for the fitting out holy persons to the work of the ministry. We would suggest however, in favour of the common version, that, notwithstanding the version adopted by Mr. C. may be plausibly maintained, and especially by adverting to the observable change, of prepositions in the original, yet it seems to give a turn to the Apostle's ideas, less accordant, than the common one, with the strain of the preceding verses, and less supported by parallel passages. For it makes the apostle say, that Jesus Christ gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, in order that they might instrmnentally qualify private Christians for the functions of the ministry; in other words, that Jesus Christ made some persons ministers, in order that they might make others such. This, in a certain sense, maybe true'; but we submit whether the words of the apostle suggest it otherwise than by remote implication. To us it appears, that the apostle, having enumerated various officers in the church, proceeds to exhibit them, not as preparing others to preach, but as uniting and confirming Christians, supporting the credit of the ministty, and thus advancing the interests of the church iu general, by preaching themselves. This view is recommended by the consideration, that it directs us simply to Jesus Christ, as the only one that, in the noblest sense, appoints and qualifies Christian ministers, a consideration the more forcible and pertinent, as connected with that illustrious period, during which, both the authority, and the ability to preach, •vere so obviously derived from the ascended Saviour. But while with a degree of indecision, we submit this statement to the investigation of our readers, we cannot help wishing that Mr. C. had attended, on this occasion, to the following rule, which he has met with in Claude—Never choose such texts as have not a complete sense. It might have been as well, also, to

choose a passage,- whose import was manifest, instead of one, respecting which we must admit, Adhuc subjudice lis est.

Advancing to the discussion of his subject, Mr. C. proposes •to consider Academical Institutionsiri their influence, First, ori the character and habits of candidates for the Christian ministry; Secondly, on the Christian church in general. These institutions are forcibly vindicated from the charge, of being unfriendly to the spiritual interests of those who enjoy their literary advantages. Here, we think, Mr. C. might have noticed, with some emphasis, the principal dangers (and they are not slight ones) against which the theological student must be armed.; and he might have proved that they originate, not in the nature of such institutions', but in the folly and corruption which pervert them from their proper use. We will further suggest, that in the applauses bestowed by Mr. C. on Academical Institutions, his language will perhaps be deemed rather too strong, identifying, more than the case will allow, their tendency, with their actual effect.

On the whole, while we could wish, that a sermon on The Utility of Academical Institutions had presented a richer vein of thought, profounder discussion, a more lucid order, and a closer and more classical style, we cheerfully acknowledge, at the same time, that in this discourse we meet with many sensible and appropriate remarks on a subject which deserves universal attention; its main argument has our full concurrence, and,- to adopt Mr. C.'s expressions, we think it sufficiently clear, that in the administration of Divine' Providence, learning has been rendered a powerful auxiliary, in the preservation and propagation of "pure" and undefiled relirgion" in the world.

^rt. XVII A Sermon preached in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, July \3th 1806, at the Consecration of the Rev. Dr. C. M. Warburlon, Bishop, ef LimcricLTHy the Rev. Richard Graves, D. D. &c. &c. &c.8vo. pp, 42. Price Is. 6d.Watson, Dublin, Cadell and Davies. 1806.

QELDOM have we enjoyed the pleasure of perusing a discourse on any similar occasion, that exhibited sp happy a combination of eloquence and learning, of argument ana moderation, as that which Dr. Graves's sermon presents to us. His subject is derived from the last three verses of St. Matthew's gospeK Having first considered the passage as devolving authority and obligation on the apostles,for the government of the church of Christ, in connexion with a standing ministry of the gospel; he urges on his'brethren " the unspeakable importance of that religion, the diffusion and advancement of which they are peculiarly called to promote:" and in recommending to them, " fully to expound, and diligently to irapress, t-he whole system of revealed truth, -the entire counsel, of God," he dwells on the text as a proof of the deity of the Son and the Holy Ghost; closing with a practical use of the' doctrine, with regard to its influence on the salvation of sinners.

In the first branch of his discourse, Dr. Graves does not, as is too customary, rest the connexion of that authority, which was committed by Christ to the apostles, with the solemn exercise in which he was engaged, on bare affirmation. He enters into proofs that the apostles delegated their authority to others, in the instances of Timothy and Titus. That they could, and did, delegate it to any person, was certainly a point of importance to the preacher's argument: but we augur from his manifest good sense, that he would hardly expect decided opponents to submit, except he also demonstrated the office of anevangelist to have been more permanent than that of an apostle; and to have been local, not moveable like the latter.. He takes notice of this objection, (in a note p. 12.) as stated by Dr. Doddridge, in connexion with the distinction which that author endeavoured to establish, between parochial and diocesan bishops: but we thiuk that it is the latter point only, which Dr. G.'s arguments tend to subvert. The high degree of respect and esteem, which he, at the same time; testifies for Dr. Doddridge, affords a pattern, as rare as it is commendable, of controversial candour and benevolence,. He does not indeed scruple to acknowledge, that " the sentiments and almost the., words" of one of his paragraphs, are adopted from that excellent writer's sermon " On the temper and conduct of primitive ministers."

We abstain from farther remark, in order to gratify our readers with a specimen of the author's mode of practical application, from the close of his discourse.

"To impress a due sense of the strictness of Christian morality, amidst a dissolute world: to teach men to curb all emotions of pride and revenge, where to indulge them is praised as dignity and spirit; to teach them to be sober, and temperate, and chaste, where splendid luxury is admired, the excess of criminal indulgence applauded, arid licentiousness practised without shame and tolerated without reproach: to excite a lively and fervent piety, in opposition to the lethargic influence of general carelessness and irreligion; to inspire an ardent emulation in imitating the excellence of that Jesus whom we adore, and in seeking with singleness of heart the approbation of our God, in the entire system of our lives, whatever sacrifices of power or pleasure, obedience to his heavenly will may cost us: to teach men to rise superior to the sneers of the worldly-minded, the scoffs of the infidel, the temptations of interest, the seductions of pleasure, and the torpor of indolence: to teach them to move forward, humbly, steadily, unwearied, unseduced, unterrified, to move forward in the narrow way and to the strait gate, that leadeth to eternal life} in the way oi inflexible integrity, unaffected piety, active benevolence, and calm resignation, fl<5f» withstanding the temptations, the vicissitudes, the erroneous principles, and the contagious examples of a corrupted world. All this, my reverend brethren, it is our duty to teach, and thus to premonish, if we would fulfil the injunction of our divine .Lord, * and teach men to observe all things what* Soever he has commanded.'

"These sound principles, we are called on to inculcate, not merely by Our doctrines but by our examples, that not only by our lips, but our live* we may glorify our God: lest* « While we preach to others, we should ourselves be cast away/ Oh ! my friends, if the inspired apostle, St. Paul, felt this awful apprehension, notwithstanding all the inspiration with which be was enlightened; all the miraculous powers with which he was endowed ; all the success of his labours in the dissemination of the Gospel, and all his sacrifices of every earthly good, Gracious Godlhow strict should be our Scrutiny into our hearts and lives, how incessant our circumspection, how deep our humiliation, how unwearied our efforts to improve, not only other* but ourselves, to purify our own motives, to check our own wrong desires, quicken our exertions, kindle our zeal, and enlarge our benevolence 1 Oh! should it be found, that like pillars gilded over, but at the heart unBound, we only appear to adorn and support the sacred edifice of the church of Christ, while in reality we incumber and endanger it, how shall we escape that fearful hour, when every man's* ' work shall be made manifest/ for, says the Apostle, ' It shall be revealed by fire,* that fire which will brighten and purify the solid ore, but consume the worthless dross with fiames unquenchable. For which awful hour, do thou, oh God most holy, oh Lord most mighty, do thou prepare us; for thou only knowest the hearts of all the children of men."

This discourse is dedicated to the Archbishop of Cashel, at

whose request it was published.

Art. XVIII. The Spirituality of the Divine Essence: A Sermon preached before the associated Ministers and Churches of Hampshire, Sept. 24, 1806, and published at the united Request of the Minister and Congregation of Fareham, where it was delivered. By John Styles, (West Cowes) pp 44. Price Is. Williams and Co. 1806.

"XTfTE have rarely been so much pleased with the sermon of A juvenile preacher; Mr. Styles's venerable hearers, we think, had little reason to regret that it " devolved upon him to begin anew the system of Theology." His exordium, short as it is, we deem worthy of notice; it is strictly appropriate, and, without any unnatural effort, impresses and attracts the attention. Under the head of explaining the doctrine, Mr. S.'adduce* from Charnock, Saurin, and others, some of the most forcible arguments in its defence, and distinguishes the Infinite Spirit from all others, by his eternity, self-sufficiency, immensity, simplicity, omnipotence, omniscience, immutability, holiness, and benevolence. We doubt whether it was expedient to extend this division in such a manner, especially as these attributes are ad*

* 1 Cor. ix. '27. \ 1 Cor. iii. 1?.

ttucea1, 2dly, in conjunction witli the marks of design, and with the declarations of scripture, to establish the doctrine. The arguments, in this part of the discourse, are urged with great force and ability. The author is fully convinced of the immateriality Of the human soul, but he is also aware that its proofs are not so unquestionable as those which apply to the spirituality of the Deity. Whatever doubt there may be that matter is essentially incapable of thought, it is evident that it is not essentially intelligent and active. But the Deity must be essentially intelligent and active. Every being which does derive its powers* from organization, is a work of art presupposing an artist who. does not.

The discussions in this part should have been more enlarged,, at the expense of the first division; but this would have rendered the discourse still less suitable for a mixed assembly. It was difficulty we own, to treat such a subject properly in a ser-» inon on such an occasion; Mr. Si deserves our esteem, for the modesty with which he acknowledges the difficulties of the subject, and the imperfections of the sermon ; his general success, however, is creditable to his talents.

The 3d head, designed to exhibit the importance of the doctrinet represents it as affording exalted ideas of the divine perfections, tending to the destruction of idolatry, and prescribing the nature of acceptable worship. Under the 4th division, enforcing the improvement of the doctrine, Mr. S. mentions, with increased freedom and animation> the influence it should possess over an assembly of worshippers, the terror it should strike into the heart of a hypocrite, the effect it should produce on human conduct, the consolation it affords to the Christian, the sufficiency of God alone to gratify the desires of tlie soul, and the value of a Redeemer, the image of the Invisible God, who hath exhibited and declared him unto us. These considerations Confound spirituality with omnipresence and the other divine attributes; but to this we are not disposed to object.

Our limits preclude any considerable extract from this interesting discourse, and we quote the following paragraph, rather to excite our readers to peruse the whole sermon, than to satisfy that curiosity which it will sufficiently reward.

* If from this mofnent thou shouldest be followed through every avenue in public and in private, when thou art walking in the fields, conversing With thy friends, transacting thy business, or gratifying thy lusts, if from this mofnent thou shouldest be followed by a mysterious stranger;—if he were constantly with you, preserving an awful silence, witnessing your every action, following you even to the recess of iniquity, not as a companion in guilt, but as a severe inspector of your conduct; would not you be alarmed, would not the sight of this mysterious unknown, wherever you were, fill you with uneasiness j—would it not lead you to more circumspection of behaviour; though it would not

« PreviousContinue »