« PreviousContinue »
Art. II. – A Sermon preached before the King's Most Excellent
Majesty, in the Chapel Royal at St. James's, on Sunday, July 4, 1830. By CHARLES JAMES, Lord Bishop of London, Dean of his Majesty's Chapels Royal. Published by his Majesty's Command. London: B. Fellowes, Ludgate Street. 4to. 1830. Price 28.
The learned and eloquent author of this excellent Sermon has performed a delicate task with admirable propriety. Looking to the solemn occasion on which it was preached, when His Majesty, “ for the first time as Sovereign of these Realms, partook in the most holy ordinance of our Religion in presence of the Chief Pastors of that Reformed Church, of which He is the Chief Governor upon earth, and to whose doctrine and discipline His Majesty," we are here authoritatively told, * “ was pleased to declare his firm and cordial attachment; ?-we are persuaded that the office of Preacher could not have been assigned to any man more able and willing to do the work of an Evangelist than the Dean of His Majesty's Chapels Royal. The text is taken from 1 Cor. x. 16, and the Sermon is an orthodox, plain, and very appropriate exposition of the nature, the benefits, and the obligation of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The Bishop's style is remarkable for its simplicity, its perspicuity, and its earnest
The child may understand, the man must feel, the weight of his arguments, and the efficacy of his persuasive eloquence; and we are willing to hope that the effect of his pious address upon
the heart of Him, whom the Almighty has called to the throne of these Realms, may be manifested by his steady and uncompromising support of the interests of that Church, the consolations of which he wisely sought so early an opportunity to enjoy.
Has the Bishop of London, then, said any thing new upon the familiar topic under his discussion ? No, indeed ; and we like his Sermon the better on that account. We hate novelties in religion, and we despise the vanity of an author who is perpetually striving to dazzle us by what is new, rather than to instruct us to walk in the old paths, as much as we pity the itching ears of those unstable and gaping dupes, who mistake paradox for piety, and sound for sense, and who are taught to prefer “the lean and flashy songs,” which pulpit declaimers, with their “scrannel pipes of wretched straw,”' palm upon their fond admirers as the sacred effusions of the Great Spirit of Wisdom, to the words of soberness and truth.
Our excellent author has taken occasion to reprobate the notion of Bishop Hoadley, that the Eucharist is simply a commemorative rite : and we beg leave to adorn our pages with an extract from that part of his Sermon.
* Dedication to the King.
It (the Eucharist) is the appointed method of celebrating the most important fact in the Gospel history, the most vital doctrine in the Gospel scheme; the atonement made for the sins of the world by the death of Jesus Christ. But it is more than this: it is more than a simple tribute of respect and gratitude to our greatest benefactor—although even in that light it assumes a sacredness of obligation beyond all common acts of devotion—it is the solemn renewal of that covenant of grace and pardon, which was sealed with the blood of Christ. It is indeed a commemorative feast; it is a symbolical celebration of the wonders of redeeming love; but it is something, as far as man is concerned, more sacred, more affecting, more beneficial than all this. It is the means of joining the faithful communicant to Christ in that intimate and mysterious union, which is indispensable to the perfectness of the Christian character, and to the availableness of Gospel privileges.—Pp. 9, 10.
Having shewn that the Eucharist is to the faithful recipient the channel and conduit of an inward grace, from John vi. 53, 54, 56:and having insisted, moreover, upon the necessity of the influence of the Holy Spirit to bless the means of grace to our edification, “ in answer to our importunate entreaties;”—having demonstrated that he, who is most sensible of his own defects of faith and holiness, is especially bound to have recourse to the methods ordained by God, in compassion to human weakness, for the revival and enlargement of Christian graces and desires; and that this solemn ordinance, at all times grateful and salutary to the believer's soul, is more peculiarly “ medicinal and restorative,” when our affections towards God have become cold, and our piety has become languid ;—the Preacher states, with his usual wisdom and peculiar emphasis, that “there is no diversity of religious character, which can render unnecessary a sacramental communion with Him who is the light and the life of the world.”
It is alike indispensable for growth in grace, and for confirmation in godliness; for him who is but just awakened to the great interests of his soul, and for him, who walks in the meridian light of Christian knowledge, and in the matured strength of Christian motives and hopes.-P. 17.
If this spiritual ordinance be necessary for “all sorts” of Christians, so is it indispensable for all “s conditions of men.' A constant application to the source of spiritual wisdom, through the appointed means of access, and especially through the communion of the body, and of the blood of Christ, is equally necessary for every man, be his external circumstances what they may. The king upon his throne, and the peasant in his cot, are alike pensioners upon the bounty of heaven, and must be alike strengthened by aid from above, to enable them to think and to do such things as be rightful. This solemn truth is most appropriately enforced upon his royal auditor by the Bishop of London. We are sure of pleasing our readers by a copious extract touching this very point.
If the poor and humble members of the family of Christ desire the help of the Spirit, to enlighten, and sanctify, and console them, in order that, amidst all the discouragements of their hard condition, they may turn to good account the single talent entrusted to their care ; surely the rich, and the mighty, and
the learned, may not disdain the aid of Him, who alone can enable them rightly to appreciate the value of things temporal, compared with things eternal ; who alone can repress the risings of an ambitious spirit, convince them of the vanity of earthly grandeur, and of the insufficiency of this world's wisdom; and yet teach them the awful responsibilities which rest upon those, to whom these talents are given in charge. In exact proportion to the number and strength of those ties, (and with whom are they not too numerous and too strong ?) which bind our affections to this world, and interrupt the steadiness of our progress towards a better, should be our anxiety to profit by all the memorials and
aids, in which the beneficent Author of religion has made provision for its continuance; for its application to the understandings and consciences of men, and for its revival in the forgetful heart.
If a man abide not in me,” said our blessed Lord, “he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered ;” but how can they, whom the world endeavours to persuade, by a thousand pressing arguments and ingenious devices, to make it their abiding place, the place of their repose, their trust, their desire; I ask, can they be effectually strengthened to resist it, and to adhere to, and abidé in Him who has called them out of it, but by the most sincere and continued efforts and strivings towards Him through the Spirit? To them surely it is of unspeakable importance, that they should, from time to time, solemnly renew their oath of allegiance to the King of kings and Lord of lords, and be united to him by visible symbols; that they should offer, in the faithful use of them, a solemn pleading for pardon, and receive his own pledge of their sanctification; that they should oblige themselves, by that solemn act, to enter upon a life of holiness and charity, and to copy his example, in devoting themselves to the good of mankind. Compared with the richness of that consolation, which a sincere and devout mind will experience in the performance of such an act of worship; and compared with the conscious dignity of a soul thus taken into communion with its Saviour, the pleasures, the riches, the honours of this world, fade into insignificance and worthlessness !--Pp. 18, 19, 20.
Fain would we quote the peroration of this good Sermon, _“What then is the conclusion ?" but we have already exceeded the limits which we usually assign to single discourses, and therefore forbear to make any further extracts. It is fit for general perusal, as being worthy of the Royal Auditor, the solemn occasion, and the learned Prelate. We rejoice that his Majesty commanded the publication of this Sermon, and we sincerely thank the Bishop of London for the pleasure which we have experienced, in this our official notice of his pastoral labours.
Art. III.--Hours of Devotion for the Promotion of true Christianity
and Family Worship. Translated from the original German by the Rev. E. I. Burrow, D.D. F.R.S. & F.L.S. London: Rivingtons. 1830. 8vo. pp. xvii. 574. Price 14s.
There is a striking, and somewhat anomalous, distinction between the devotional, and the expository, divinity of the Germans.
While most of their Scripture commentaries are strongly tainted with the Neologian leaven of scepticism and doubt, their works on practical religion are marked by a warmth of piety, and elevated tone of Christian feeling, which is manifestly produced by the genuine influence of the gospel on the heart. It is sufficiently easy to trace the origin of this characteristic difference, if its prevalence is a proof, that in these days also, no less than in the early ages of Christianity, its truths are sometimes hidden from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes. Profound research and vast literary acquirements, accompanied with an ostentatious desire of displaying them in support of novel opinions, have given rise to a variety of speculative theories among the professed Theologians of the continent, into the merits of which the humbler Clergy have little inclination, and less ability, to inquire. The German pastors are, for the most part, men of primitive habits, devoting themselves exclusively to the discharge of their parochial duties, and taking the Bible in its plain and simple sense, as their guide in the performance of them. Hence a class of works exists to some extent in the country, calculated to assist devotional reflection, and characterized by a spirit of the most heartfelt piety. Many of them, indeed, are liable to exception on some important points of Christian doctrine, and are more unguarded in expression than sound judgment would always warrant; but, in other respects, they are so well adapted to assist the mind in the essential duties of religious reflection and self-examination, that any attempt to introduce them to the English reader, in a translation divested of those sentiments which are open to objection, cannot be otherwise than beneficial.
der than a
Among the books of this class, that, of which a partial translation is before us, has been pre-eminently and deservedly successful abroad, and will meet, we trust, with a proportionate attention among ourselves. It was originally published in weekly sheets, through a period of eight years; and the papers have been since collected, and remodelled for the use of families, and the furtherance of private meditation. In this form it has passed through twelve editions; and the subjects of which it treats are admirably calculated to dispose the mind to serious and salutary meditation. They are given in the form of contemplations ; and bear in many respects a strong resemblance to a work which has long been popular in our language, and entitled, “ Reflections on the Works of God,” &c. Many, indeed, of the topics which come under discussion, rank higher in importance than those in the work of Sturm; and, neither in matter nor in manner, are they at all inferior to the treatises in that publication. Taken as a whole, they form a valuable compendium of Christian duty, wherein young and old, rich and poor, the joyous, the suffering, the healthful and the sick, will be enabled to elevate and sanctify their minds, by devotional exercise and Christian meditation.
That self-examination, and the constant habit of meditation on the past, and preparation for the future, is a duty of paramount import
ance to the Christian, no serious person will venture to deny; many sound and judicious aids to direct the thoughts into a proper channel, have been recommended for this purpose. From the subjoined Table of Contents it will readily appear that the topics proposed for reflection comprehend a varied field of instruction; and though they may not equally suit the particular situation or disposition of each individual, they contain much that will be useful to every Christian, and will serve as a guide under circumstances for which these may not specifically apply. It is not so much in the contemplations here digested to the hand, as in the habit which they are calculated to induce, that their true value will be found to consist.
1. Reflections on the New Year. 2. Family Devotion. 3. On Public Worship. 4. Domestic Peace. 5. Contentment with our Condition. '6. The Power of Prayer. 7. Faith and Works. 8. Works and Faith. 9. In one Virtue all Virtues. 10. Lukewarmness. 11. The Divine Name. 12. The Omission of Good. 13. Appearance and Reality. 14. The Conflict of Duties. 15. Man and his Actions. 16. Who is my Neighbour?. 17. Detraction. 18. The Ill-tempered Man. 19. Discretion in Speech. 20. Conscientious
21. The Young Man. 22. The Young Woman. 23. Inward Good, outward Grace. 24. The Danger of Social Pleasures. 25. On Increase of Knowledge. 26. Steps in Creation. 27. The Starry Heavens. 28. The Comet. 29. The Speech of Men. 30. The Greatness of God in small things. 31. Is a Lingering or a Sudden Death to be preferred? Part I. 32. Is a Lingering or a Sudden Death to be preferred ? Part II. 33. On Apparitions of the Dead. 34. The Sick Man. 35. Immortality. 36. The Appearance of Jesus on Earth. 37. The Destruction of Jerusalem. 38. The Persecutions of Christianity. 39. The First Churches. 40. The World and Solitude.
The reflections introduced into these treatises bespeak no ordinary mind; and the resolutions, or rather instructions, built upon them, are such as in practice would evince the real Christian. To these reflections and instructions a prayer, in unison with the truths and duties inculcated, is usually annexed, dictated by a heart which must have been warmed with the liveliest devotional feelings. Where all is equally good, selection is difficult; we shall, therefore, make a few random extracts, and recommend the entire work, as an invaluable appendage to the closet of the Christian. The reflections on the New Year, with which the volume opens, are singularly beautiful.
There is something unusually solemn in the beginning of each NEW YEAR. It is, as it were, the festival which we dedicate to our silent hopes, our most secret wishes. Here the joyous early ringing of the bells announces the commencement of the period; there clarions, and trumpets, and sacred songs, greet the first morning of the year. The sprightly host of youths, rejoicing, hail the dawn; friends and acquaintance, in mutual love, wish each other happiness. Dutiful children pray more devoutly for the health of their parents,—the suffering, for their benefactors,—the people, in the temple, for their rulers.
To all the boundary between two years is most important; to the king upon his throne, as well as the beggar under his roof of straw; to the industrious father of a family amidst his workmen, as well as to the anxious mother beside her children; to the grey-headed veteran in his easy chair, as well as to the youngster, who, full of buoyant expectation, longs to launch forth into a stormy world.