Page images
PDF
EPUB

bear; and whether they obtained the Christian. And this point is the it as a stigma of reproach from their more important in proportion to the enemies; or whether they assumed liability to two different errors very it on their own authority by way of common in the present day. Many necessary distinctiou between them- persons are apt to substitute attenselves and the world; or whether tion to the external forms of religion, they were divinely commissioned and an open avowal of their creed, to adopt it; be asserts, that “we for the spirit and temper, the heamust regard ourselves as most im- venly mindedness and the deadness peratively called to inquire into the to the world, required by the Gocondition, character, and obliga spel; wbilst a still larger number tion connected with so sacred a consider their baptism and educamark,"..

tion as of necessity constituting The author's observations on the them, to all desirable purposes, place where this distinctive badge the disciples of a crucified Master. was first attained, are a fair speci- And though this sermon does not men of his manner of writing: - in every part keep fully in view

that broad line of distinction wbich “ The origin of the Christian name, in reference to the place where it first must ever subsist between nominal arose, affords one instance of the

and real religion, yet the following

many signal and instructive triumphs of Di. spirited and discriminating applivine grace in the progress of Christ- cation of the subject to ihe conianity-Antioch, the mistress of an em- science will sufficiently atiest the pire once large and celebrated in the author's clear and scriptural sentiannals of heathenism, is recorded, in ments upon this point. the verses preceding the text, as the first heathen city which embraced the

“ To be a Christian is, as we have Gospel. - This city, once held in sway by a tyrannical and persecuting Epi- not only by His sharing our bnman na

seen, to be allied to Christ; and this, phanes, was seen to admit into its bosom

ture, but by our own participation in a few unprotected preachers of the

His divine nature. It is to have His Christian faith. Antioch, the seat of learning and the arts, but infamous for Spirit within us ; to be made in the the must flagitious vices, and the prac. and inestimable privileges of the breth

image of God; to aspire after the lofty tice of most abominable idolatries, lis.

ren of Christ, a share in His righteoustened with attention to the humbling

ness, an admission through Him into the and self-denying doctrines of the religion of Jesus: and so great was the number presence of the most holy God, a fel

low-inheritance with Him in eternal of converts, that here they gained their first Gentile settlement, and a name in. glory. To be a Christian, is, we have dicating their existence as a religious doctrines of the Cross, which lay low

further seen, to believe the humbling community. • They which were scat

the pride of man, and bring us, as needy tered abroad, upon the persecution that

supplicants, to the Throne of Mercy; arose about Stephen, travelled as far as

it is, ever to follow the self-denying prePhenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch.

cepts, the meek and lowly example, of And some of them, when they were come

our Saviour.-Compare then, my brethlo Antioch, spake unto the Grecians,

ren, this character with that of too preaching the Lord Jesus. And the

many in the world, calling themselves hand of the Lord was with them: and a

Christiaus. Are they Christians, who are great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.'” pp. 2, 3.

too proud to confess, and much too fond

to forsake, those very sius, from which The difficulty of Mr. Hoare's Christ came to redeem them į still, subject consisted in shewing, with however, perhaps, trusting in them

selves, to be saved by works of rightesufficient clearness, the difference

ousness which they have done, not acbetween the mere profession, and cording to that mercy which He hath the power of religion; and in con- purchased for us by His own blood? Decting, in the strictest union, the Are they Christians, who choose, in new name with the new nature of preference to bimself, the things which Christ has taught

' ns to despise; who quently, but improperly urged, of are lovers of pleasure, more than lovers intense occupation in a worldly of God? Are they. Christians, whose calling, as leaving no time for the ambitiou terminates in the poor and low attainments of this present state; the following passage, in which the

duties of the closet, we meet with who seek the honour of men, not that which cometh of God only? Are they author not only exposes the futiChristians, who follow closely and pre. lity of this excuse, but describes the cisely, not the rule of the Gospel which beneficial effects produced, on the they have in profession assumed, but the general habits, by the conscientious practice and opinions of men, which application even of a small pot. they have professed to forsake? In tion of time, daily, to the purposes. short, are they Christians, whose exam. of devotion. ple is not Christ, but the world; and who, when both are clearly and plainly

" The true reason why so many perset before them, will choose the course

sons in the world can find no time for which makes for their present interest,

the retired devotions of the closet, rather than that which tends to the amoupts, after every excuse, to this, that glory of Christ, or assimilates them to

they daily mispend or waste that porHis Divine image? My brethren, exa

tion of their time which they might demine yourselves conscientionsly, and as

vote to religious purposes, and the salif before God, by these tests; and ac

vation of their souls. What, then, is cording as conscience decides, so place necessity of giving in each day some

the remedy ? Teach them the strict yourselves, or not, amongst those who time, some thought and attention to their were, in the first ages of a pure church, 'called Christians,'

spiritual concerns; and they will then pp. 16, 17.

look for moments which may be so emThe next sermon presents to us ployed; and soon will find themselves “the Christian in his closet," from able to dedicate to retirement, and to the words of the Psalmist, “Stand in God, what else had been employed on awe, and sin not; commune with trifling pursuits, idle company, sinful your own heart upon your bed, and pleasures, or vain amusements. Thus be still.” (Psa. iv. 4.) From this dis- ed. We shall live nnder the impression

will a sober economy of time be induc. course we quote the following just that every moment has its value for description of the nature of True

some important purpose; and what is religion, as demanding retirement more, that every moinent, as it passes, for the purpose of keeping alive hastens to a darable record on high, its salutary impressions.

from which it will, with its employment, “The nature of Christ's religion is such,

again appear, either for us or against as both to need, and to court retirement for religions purposes, we should then

us, at a future day. Valaing onr time Its principal seat is within the soul; also be led to employ it discreetly in where in secret it exerts its influence temporal affairs. A real and effective on the thoughts and affections, and pre. industry for both worlds would grow up sides over the springs and first move. together; and increased usefniness to ments of life. Where then will the onr family and friends would result from Christiau more readily be found, than

a plan, which still test room for profit. where the heart may have its freest able retirement, self-recollection, preexercise, and the thoughts their fullest paration for heaven, and delightfal conscope; and the mind, collected within

verse with our God and Saviour." pp. itself, may watch the growth of its own 37, 38. spiritual principles? Privacy, the soli.

The next sermon, on " the Cbristary place, and lonely hour will be dear to the religious man for such

tian in his family,” affords us the

purposes, And bearing the imperative command, picture of a well-ordered house

Keep thy heart with all diligence," he hold, exemplifying not the prowill much desire, aud often plan, the fessed priuciples only, but the resecret opportunity for examining his newed dispositions, of those who heart, and discerning its thoughts and are placed at its head; where reintentions. pp. 24, 25.

gular instruction is accompanied In reply to the excuse too fre- and enforced by a consistent sober

example; where a sober cheerfulness with his bigh and holy profession; and and a cheerful seriouspess bespeak would tremble at the thought, that his the repose of a good conscience; presence should prove a carse in his and where the glory of God and house rather than a blessing. And if

in the humblest domestic station, he the everlasting benefit of men are

will study to adorn it with a meek and the commanding principles of action. quiet spirit, which in the sight of God Whoever has witnessed the power is of great price. He will remember, of religion, as evinced in the chase that even the little maid in the house tised babits and devotional regula- of Naaman the Syrian, was qualified to rity, yet real enjoymenļs, of a truly prove a blessing to her master: and for Christian family will not wonder himself, he will desire that his characthat, within this sacred enclosure, ter may agree with. tbat of the Psal. the vanities of the world are super. tion, yet do I not forget thy command

mist; 'I am small, and of no reputa. seded by the higher resources of

ments.'" pp. 56-58. intelligence and piety. lu these scenes of domestic retirement, the

It was to be expected that Faworldling and the infidel might mily Prayer would be advocated find ibeir most unanswerable relu- in a sermon of this kind, and that tation; and the sincere, though at weight given to this necessary featimes dejected, servant of Christ, ture in the Christian's life which it his best earthly encouragement and deserves. We are glad to be able support. The intluence of example, to furnish our readers with an exin producing these salutary effects tract, which, if duly considered, upon a small community united can scarcely fail to produce coounder the same roof, is well- victiou as to the obligation of this described in the following quota. important, but even to this day too tion.

much neglected, duty. " In addition to precept, the force of

« But I must here more particularly example is not to be forgotten, in keep-advert to a practice, which may be truly ing up family religion. The reflecting considered as first and last in the ar. Christian is aware of the strength of rangements of the Christian Family; this most important engine in society, and that is, Family Prayer. This is inthis magnet, as it were, of secret at- deed the owly staled occasion on which traction felt through all the system of the Christiay can acknowledge God in haman motives, and buman condict. his family, and this is the proper opporIt bas this most peculiar advantage, tunity for diffusing religious instruction that, as the highest may influence the through his bouse. As we have here a lowest by the force of example, so even subject of great moment, and through the lowest may benefit and improve the a too frequeut neglect of the duty callhighest rauk. This, which may be ing for the most serious admonition, every where exemplified, is never more. permit wé, Diy brethren, to premise my powerfully felt, than amongst the seve- observations on it, with one remark of ral branches of the same lamily. The general application. It is this, that if features of the mind, as it is said of the we acknowledge the duly of assembling body, become assimilated in our fre. the members of our household night quent intercourse with each other. And and morning, for the purpose of social ibis influence will more especially de- worship and bearing the word of God, scend from the higher to the lower no consideration whatever of its singubrauches. It is often observable, that larity, or of its inconvenience, should the character of the master will be that be suffered to interfere with its perforof his whole household.--Kpowing, in

mance. Domestic arrangements night short, how much may depend upon it, very soou be made to bend to this ob. the Christian will ever be careful tó ject: they ought to do so; and it is a guard both what he says, and what he fact, that no families are so well ordered does, within the circle of the family. as those which begin and end the day If at the head of it, he would be with family prayer. A family without ashamed to appear before its yonthful prayer has been well compared to a or lower members, bat in consistency garment without bem or selvage.' Aud to decline the charge of singularity, "Where two or three are gathered todid it really fall upon us for acting up gether in my name, there am I in the to the dictates of plain duty, were the midst of them.' He seizes with avidity part only of cowardice, and of a double the sacred opportunity of family wor. mind. But I must deny that it is sin- ship, for fixing, both in himself and in gular at all amongst those whose exam. all belonging to bim, those kindred disple, or whose opinion on subjects of positions towards God wbich are our religious practice, are of any weight. best incentive and guide to love and So far from this, I would boldly say, harmony amongst each other. He values that amongst persons duly aware of the at once the duty itself, and the bappy importance of practical religion, and effects attending its performance." pp. feeling for the souls of their relatives 58-61. and inmates as for their own, the nego lect of family prayer were indeed the This entire sermon is so excellent highest and niost unwarrantable singu. that we are at a loss whence to larity. The great Archbishop Tillotson make any further selection: our has strongly remarked; “The setting up of the constant worship of God in our readers, 10 do justice to it, must families is so necessary to the keeping read the whole. We limit ourselves ap of religion, that where it is neglected to the author's picture of a family, I do not see how any family can in rea- distinguished by the favour, and son be esteemed a family of Christians, earthly presence, of the Saviour. or indeed to have any religion at all.' And one greater than any uninspired “ And may I not remark, my brethteacher bas commanded us; Thou shalt ren, in drawing my observations to a teach' these things diligently to thy close, what would be the comfort of children, aud 'shalt talk of them, when families, what would be the strength of thou sittest in thine house, and when the domestic tie, ard the sweetness of thou walkest by the way, and when domestic happiness,' that only bliss thou liest down, and when thou risest of Paradise, which has survived the fall,' up. And thou shalt write them upon

if this delineation of Christian duties the posts of thy house, and upon thy might form even in a remote degree a gates.'

just picture of our own households ?“The true Christian will, I am per. See the faithful Abraham. While he suaded, be fouud in the practice of commands his children, and his house. that which has had the concurrence of hold after him to keep the way of the the wise and good in every age of the Lord,' he is blessed with a son, who church; nay, which the very example shews a pattern of obedience to all sucof ancient heathens might be adduced ceeding generations; and who is ready to confirm. He will devoutly acknow. to yield even his life at his father's will. ledge the God of his fathers in family See him further blessed with the conju. worship. He will see no reason what. gal affection of his obedient' partner ever for expecting from God a continu. in life; whose daughters they are, who ance of his domestic blessings, without to the latest posterity shew forth the the stated domestic returns of praise same chaste and enduring qualities, and prayer. As in private he would ex. and walk in the steps of the devout press his private wants; and his public Sarah. In the same family was the ones, in public; so in the family he will trusty Eliezer, Abraham's steward; supplicate for family favours. Do child whose recorded prayer, on an interestren desire the safety and preservation of ing occasion, well displayed the lessons their parents; or parents, the health and he bad learned at home; “O Lord God welfare of their children? Are the mem of my master Abraham, I pray thee, bers of a household mutually interested, send me good speed this day, and shew that each in the morning should go forth kiudness unto my master Abrahain.' in strength to his respective labours, Instances of a like nature might very that they should meet in peace after readily be multiplied : nor, in perusing the toils of the day, and repose at night the history of the good Centurion of in a blessed security from the perils of the text, though contained within nardarkness? The Christian openly avows row limits, could we err in imagining to the obligation, to ask of God, iv presence ourselves the , calm cheerfulness, the of each other, these common blessings voice of joy and health in the dwelling He relies on the promise of his Saviour of Cornelius, encompassed by his devout household, and gathering around him, different religious persuasion might, in pious converse, "his kinsmen and mutatis mutandis, apply to his own pear friends.'

circumstances. As an illustration " In the history of our blessed Lord of this remark, we refer to the folHimself, amongst many sad and sicken

lowing passage. ing tales of His unworthy reception, we read of one family in which He was a welcome guest. • Jesus,' we are told, betray harshness and pride towards any

“ He (that is, the Christian) will not loved Martha, and her sister, and who differ, in whatever shades, from Lazarus. He was often with them, and

his own profession. He will not refuse joined their social meal. What must

the land of Christian fellowship, far and have been, we justly think, their peace wide, in plans of general benefit. He at home; what their heavenly con

will be too strongly, though humbly, converse, their warmth of heart, and glow fident of his own stability and that of of sympathy and love in such society! his church, to fall into mean suspicions, And yet, is it not possible for us to have and needless jealonsies. He will be gethe same spiritual blessing on our own houses? May we not call down the pre- spect. His will be a' charity,' which

nerously watchful, and openly circumsence of the same Jesus? Has he not in at once rejoiceth in the truth,' and yet most condescending terms assured us, thinketh no evil.' Above all things, he • If a man love me, he will keep, my will desire a return, or must I rather sayings ; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make say an approach, to that state of things,

which not even Apostolical times could our abode with him? How much do we in letting go such a friend, such an in the same thing, and there shall be no lose in neglecting his gracious offers, fully exemplify, when, in the name of

our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall all speak mate, from our hearts and our dwellings!

divisions amongst us; but we shall be what tender mutual regards, what joy, perfectly joined together in the same what peace do we lose, what an anticipation even of heaven itself-of which, union, most heavenly concord; when

mind, and the same judgment.' Blessed when Jesus could give no higher de

shall its reign commence amongst Chrisscription to his disciples, he called it

tians? Even so, come, Lord Jesus! his Father's house, painted as it were

come quickly.'” pp. 86, 87. its domestic joys, and said, ' In my Father's house are many mansions: I But what most pleases us in the go to prepare a place for you.”” pp. 64 discussion of this subject is, that --66.

the author does not represent the The next Sermon presents us religion of the Church of England with “ the Christian in his church," as consisting of a certain set of abor, as the author explains it, « in stract principles distinct from the the exercise of those virtues which realities of life. It might have been become him as a churchman." And suitable enough, in a « concio ad here, whilst Mr. Hoare has evinced. clerum,” to dilate upon our Articles an honest preference towards his of faith, their fulness and consistown communion, and does not ency, and their agreement with the scruple to avow that in his opinion letter and spirit of the Scriptures; the Church of England “ exbibits but in writing for ordinary Chris to the world a code of ceremonies tians, such a line of discussion was no less remarkable for the simpli- less called for. Here then we have city of their structure, than the truth divested of its abstract and dignity of their origin,” or boldly didactic form, and are enabled at to ask where can we find error avoid- once to see our own conformity or ed, and excellence retained, better contrariety to its dictates. Here than in our own sacred institutions ? we bave principle carried into acbe still maintains and inculcates an tion, and action supported by prinenlarged charity towards those who ciple. Here we have an exbibition differ from him, and, avoiding all which the mind can realizė, which controversial views of the subject, connects immortal hopes with virhas said much that a person of tuous energies, and the gift of sal

« PreviousContinue »