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anxiety to represent themselves (since they did not choose to quit the ministry of the Church,) as not only not inconsistent, but the only consistent members of her communion. They would endeavour so to interpret her formularies, as to suit their own hybrid notions of Church-fellowship and subordination; and to convince the public (who too often on these occasions show a most lamentable indifference) that these were the sentiments of the Church of England. Others, who, without any definite opinion on the original controversy, wished to reconcile a nominal communion with the Church with a participation of the most hostile errors, readily joined this confederacy, and the result is, a combination, which might rival that of Horace's painter, and which styles itself-the Evangelicals.
Of this party, the Christian Observer is decidedly the accredited organ; necessarily partaking the incongruities of its constituents. At one time we read much of “our venerable,” “ our beloved Church;" at another, principles, societies, and schemes are advocated, which would all tend to the utter subversion of that, or any Church at all. Wesley and Romaine are mentioned with equal approbation, and equally regarded as representatives of the Church. Final perseverance, and universal redemption, are vindicated in a breath; popery, like one of its own saints in a storm, is coaxed and belaboured alternately. But we will content ourselves with a brief comment on the following passage, which occurs in the Preface to the work now
The preface to the first volume states, that the work thus announced had been received with a large measure of public favour, and with the most honourable testimonies to its usefulness, and promises of support, even some “ in quarters where the conductors were not sanguine in expecting them.” Tories alleged that it was Whig, and Whigs that it was Tory; Calvinists that it was Arminian, and Arminians that it was Calvinistic; some Dissenters called it High Church, and some High-Churchmen thought it too conciliating towards Dissenters: a proof, it was inferred, that truth, and not party, was the object which its supporters wished to follow.—P. ix.
With respect to the object which the supporters of the Christian Observer wished to follow, we pronounce no opinion; we have no desire to impeach the sincerity of their motives. But we certainly cannot deduce from these data, that truth was the object actually followed. We should rather infer (what is abundantly confirmed by the perusal of almost any number of the Christian Observer,) that its general principles, especially on Church unity, were fluctuating and confused, and such as no systematic view of Christianity could recognize. Of its knowledge of the Church, it may be sufficient to say, that our readers will find in the number for September, 1829,
“ Letter from a High Churchman,” which is introduced with much parade of commendation; the writer of which was of so "high Church"
a family, that his father could not bear to hear “the Revolution” (shades of the seven Bishops !) named in his presence! The same high churchman, brought up among men of his own sentiments, and "dignified Clergymen," "had formed no idea that there still existed amongst us a class of Christians, who might be considered to possess real and vital religion!” He discovered at length that there were such-at the table of a DISSENTER! Who this high churchman was, who so quietly acquiesced in opinions unconnected with real and vital religion, is a matter of little consequence. His opinion may be safely allowed all the weight that belongs to it. But do we read this in a publication professing to be “conducted by members of the Established Church ?” Did not the address to the Editor of the Christian Observer” confront us, we should be tempted to suppose that some bungling stitcher had transposed the respectable cover of
Church publication, to the back of some schismatical magazine. The great evil on which we would insist is, not so much the unsettled and irregular character of the Christian Observer, as its identification of all this chaos with the plain, broad, simple, and consistent opinions of “ the Established Church.”
Here then is the difference between the Christian Observer and the Christian Remembrancer. We are of decided Church principles, and we advocate them decidedly. In an age when indifference passes current for liberality, it is no wonder that decision should be confounded with bigotry. For this we are prepared. We see the vastness of the interval which separates the qualities thus identified by a superficial and precipitate philosophy, and we write for the approbation of those who agree with us, and for the consideration of the candid portion of those who do not. As Christians, we do not find acrimony towards Dissenters consequent on our repudiation of what we, in conscience, deem their errors. We would have them consider whether they have sufficient warrant for what they do; whether the blemishes (supposing they should be so admitted) of the Church of England are such as absolve their secession from the serious charge of schism. If they, in conscience, think they do, we have nothing more to say. May all who profess and call themselves Christians be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life! Meantime, we find in our Church, not an infallible mistress, but a pious and affectionate mother, under whose nurture and admonition we have grown from 66
v-born babes," and who will not be chargeable if we attain not to “ the perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." “ Built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone,” the Church of England is at once orthodox in her creed, and primitive
in the spirit of her discipline. There is no argument admissible in favour of secession from her, which would not go to dismember every professing visible Church. Believing this, we cannot reject the consequence, that whatever tends to prejudice the authority or influence of the Church, tends in like proportion to the injury of that pure religion of which she is the ark. We can as readily separate the interests of the Church of England from those of the Church of Christ, as we can distinguish between the welfare of a limb and the welfare of the body. All religious schemes, however well intentioned, which tend to lower the standard of her scriptural claims, we are antiquated enough to regard as injurious, because we are not only lovers of our Church, but we have cultivated a habit little likely to dazzle, and consequently to attract, that of estimating all things by their general tendencies.
Personal, therefore, as this question may appear, we feel that it is only so by coincidence. It is most important on all accounts that it should be known what are, and what are not, the principles of the national Church. Without this understanding, men may throng her banners who reject her sentiments, or they may relinquish her communion for some merely imputed delinquency. We would not be understood to throw the responsibility of every opinion to which we may give currency on the Church of these realms; but we would be understood to say, that we endeavour, to the utmost of our power, to afford an accurate reflection of the sentiments of that Church. We write not without mature study and deliberation ; we have examined the opinions we have embraced. It is therefore more probable that they should be justly collected from our pages, than from those of a publication emanating from sources so heterogeneous as supply the channels of the Christian Observer. Nor are these remarks at all irrelevant on the present occasion: we are about to recommend the work on our table to all Christian families ; but we could not extend this recommendation to the publication wherein it originally appeared; and it is right that the grounds of this distinction should be explained.
To come, then, to what is more immediately the subject of this article, the volume of Sermons now before us. It gives us great pleasure to say that, in the perusal of this work, we have been most agreeably disappointed. We have read “ Family Sermons” in the Christian Observer, whose character has been any thing but scriptural, or such as could have been expected from “Members of the Established Church." But those which
present volume appear carefully selected, with a view to conciliate consistent churchmen. We could almost award them unqualified praise : there is only one exception to their excellence-some passages on regene
ration, which we cannot quite approve; yet even these are equivocal, and very different from what we should have expected from that quarter. Thus in the Eighteenth Sermon, " The Heavenly Inhabitants," we read that they felt, “even after their regeneration,” the infection of sin. We cannot but think that any divine of the present day, would be cautious in using the term, and that therefore it is here intended to separate regeneration from Baptism. Again, in Sermon XXVII. “ The Joy in Samaria,” we have these observations
We next learn that the people of the city of Samaria, having attentively heard the word of God, and received it by faith, were baptized. They were not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, but hastened to confess him openly before men, by a compliance with his own appointed sacrament, by which all who should receive him as their Saviour, were to declare their belief in him in the presence of the church and of the world. It is not enough that we have a firm persuasion of the Divine inspiration and infinite importance of Christianity; we must be willing to take up the cross of our Saviour, and, whatever reproach may await us, remain firm and consistent in our profession of his name before mankind. In the present age no such peril or persecution assails us for calling ourselves Christians as threatened the first disciples of Christ; we are not exposed to pain or infamy or death for the sake of our professed religion; and to be baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, even in infancy, has become so general that it is often complied with as a customary rite, with scarcely any consideration of its meaning and importance, either on the part of those who present a child for baptism, or of the baptized person himself when he comes to years of reflection. But very different was the case at the time when these Samaritans became candidates for admission to this holy sacrament; for, in coming to the font of baptism, they solemnly recorded their belief in the Saviour, their reliance upon his atonement, and their determination to live to his glory. They declared by the very act their earnest resolution, through the grace of God strengthening them, “ to renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh; to believe all the articles of the Christian faith, and to keep God's holy will and commandments, and to walk in the same all the days of their life.” And with regard to ourselves, who were baptized in our infancy, our baptism is of no spiritual value to us, yea rather it will increase our condemnation, if, having thus named the name of Christ, we do not depart from iniquity. We may say of it as the Apostle said of the Jewish rite of circumcision, that of itself“ it availeth nothing, but a new creature :” it is only an outward and visible sign and seal of an inward and spiritual grace; which grace is the washing and regeneration of the soul, by virtue of faith in the atonement of Christ, and through the renewing influences of the Holy Spirit.—Pp. 335—337.
Now in every syllable of this do we most cordially concur, except where it is said, " by virtue of faith in the atonement of Christ.” “He that BÉLIEVETH and is baptized shall be saved." We know it is faith which will make baptism available to salvation ; but regeneration may be no less real, should faith never ensue. By regeneration we understand that act of the Holy Spirit which enables us to will and to do. This is what is covenanted on the part of God in baptism. And although it is most true that the outward sign will avail nothing where the inward grace has not been employed, it is not the less certain that such grace has been given because it has been rejected and overborne.
Perhaps, however, we ought to be satisfied with the following observation elsewhere
In baptism, we were buried with him; and, as he rose from the grave, so by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, we are raised from the death of trespasses and sins, to a life of righteousness, the prelude to an eternal life of glory in heaven.-P. 294.
Were it not that the sacramental dignity of Baptism is a doctrine so distinctly affirmed in Scripture, and the depreciation of it is connected by the most perfect chain of consequences; with the utmost horrors of Calvinism, we should scarcely touch on what, to minds not habitually theological, may scarcely appear to be blemishes. But that Calvinism is not the doctrine of our author appears in many just and beautiful passages, some of which we shall, with great pleasure, exhibit to our readers.
In Sermon VIII. “Job's seeing God,” we have the following true and sober observation:
Whether a voice was heard, or an appearance was seen, it was only an instrument which the Almighty saw fit to employ in holding sensible communion with his servants of old, for special ends; and, such manifestations being altogether of an extraordinary nature, and having long since ceased, should any person in these later ages profess to be favoured with new revelations from God, he would either be deceived himself, or be attempting to deceive others. And though in the case of Job, who lived long before the volume of Revelation was closed, probably before the age of Moses, when nothing of it is known to have existed except in tradition, God conveyed his instructions in a peculiar manner,
speaking to him out of the whirlwind;" yet the knowledge which Job thus acquired, important as it was, was only of the same kind which each of us may possess by means of the assistances graciously afforded us in the word and the providence of God. It was not so much a new or miraculous knowledge of God which he had obtained, as a practical conviction and application of those truths respecting him which he had known before, but which had not been before brought home to his heart and conscience with their due force, so as to produce the fruits of repentance, humility, and submission to the will of God.—Pp. 93, 94.
In Sermon XVII. the horrible doctrine of personal reprobation is indignantly crushed.
A large part of the Bible seems written to convince us, that if we perish, it is wholly in consequence of our own sin and folly; that God waiteth to be gracious; that he willeth not the death of a sinner; that so far from taking advantage, as it were, of the first occasion for inflicting punishment, he reprieves, invites, remonstrates, and holds out the free offers of mercy to the last. Though he is a Judge strong and powerful, he is provoked every day. Though his wisdom could in one moment confound our folly, and his strength triumph over our weakness, yet, like that heavenly charity which springs from himself, he “suffereth long and is kind.” He pities our ignorance; he bears with our waywardness; he deigns even to conciliate our affections; and it is not till after innumerable provocations, that he at length “swears in his wrath that we shall not enter into his rest."-P. 207.
To the same effect, in Sermon XXI. on “ the Prodigal Son.”
In proportion as we feel like the prodigal, we have scriptural reason to trust that God will be merciful to us, and for the sake of his blessed Son, will hear our