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narration, would be unimpaired, and the aversion too frequently felt by youth to formal lessons of morality, would b« obviated; while the desired end of instilling virtuous sentiments, would be with more certainty accomplished.
We must, however, not withhold our commendation from bur Author's "Reflections" themselves. They contain, indeed, little depth of observation, or originality of remark; but this, considering that they are designed for youth, to whom all things are as yet new, is not a reasonable objection j and as they are far less tedious than we feared they would be, when we anticipated ceaseless changes rung on "we should;" and "let us therefore," we think them highly deserving praise. The history likewise will be read with great pleasure. The original authors seem to have been well understood, and a judicious selection has been made from the facts recorded by each. Mr. M. needs only a hint that luxuriance of style is very apt to degenerate into affectation. But it is time to introduce our Author in his own person.
We shall extract for the notice of our readers, the account of Constantine's conversion to Christianity, his character, and tbe "reflections" on them. Speaking of the battle between Maxentius and Constantine, Mr. M. says,
* This battle is rendered memorable by the supposed conversion of Constantine to the Christian faith. The statement of this remarkable occurrence which has been made by Eusebius, a cotemporary historian, who affirms that he received it from the Emperor himself, is to the following effect. As Constantine was marching at the head of his army into Italy, to encounter Maxentius, full of solicitude about the issue of the contest, he retired to implore protection of the God of the Christians. Scarcely were these private devotions ended, when he observed in the heavens a splendid appearance, which resembled a cross, with this inscription in Greek characters, "Conquer by this." All the augurs and pagan priests attached to his camp agreed to pronounce it an inauspicious omen, and were greatly terrified by it, but on the mind of Constantine it produced a far different impression. He was led by it to solicit the instruction of several Christian pastors; who explained to him more fully the doctrines and evidences of their religion, by which he professed himself so fully convinced, that from that time he renounced the worship of idols, and avowed himself a Christian. A banner was thenceforward displayed in his army, emblazoned with an emblem and inscription similar to that which had led to this important change in his sentiments. On entering the city of Rome after the defeat and death of Maxentius, he rejected all the homage and applause of the multitude, pointing to this standard, as representing that by which alone he had obtained the victory. When his own statue was afterwards erected in the capital, he caused an emblematical represent- tation of the cross to be introduced, with this inscription, "By the influence of this victorious cross, Constantine has delivered Rome from tyranny, and restored to the Senate and people their ancient gk>ry.»p.S96.
*It is painful to be under the necessity of stating that the latter years of Constantine were characterized by a series of arbitrary and oppressive measures. The most credible witnesses have attested, that he put to death the Empress Fausta his wife, Crispus one of hi* sons, and Licinius his nephew, besides many distinguished senators, on the slightest suspicion. Though the most extravagant terms were employed by his flatterers, both before and after hie decease, to describe his exemplary piety, and Christian zeal, there is too much reason to believe that with him Christianity was rather a matter of state-policy, than an operative principle; that his opinions were continually vacillating, and his conduct in many instances grossly inconsistent with his profession. He did not submit to Christian baptism, till he became hopeless of recovery from the disease in which he died, in the thirty-second year of his reign.' p. 400.
The following are the corresponding Reflections.
'On the reality of Constantine's conversion it is not our province to determine; but multitudes of facts might be collected to justify the assertion, that those impressions are very suspicious, to say the least, and often prove most fallacious, which are made by dreams and visions, and phantoms of the imagination. How far a rational and scriptural conviction of the truth and excellency of the Christian religion, might be afterwards produced in the mind of this heathen Emperor, by the perusal of the word of God, and the instructions of the pious men whom he consulted, we cannot determine; but the story of the blazing cross, and the use of this symbol as a military standard, savours more of the anti-Christian and fanatical spirit in which the crusades originated, than of the "words of truth and soberness," which the Holy Ghost teacheth. The religious character of this prince would have been contemplated by sincere Christians with far greater pleasure, if instead of displaying his zeal and piety by instituting fasts and festivals, ceremonies and rites, which Christ has not ordained, he had "shewn out of a good conversation, his works with meekness and wisdom." Christian charity, however, which" hopetheven against hope," should teach us to attribute many of these inconsistencies of character to the shades of superstition which still beclouded his mind, and from which his spiritual guides themselves were by no means exempt; whilst they cannot be considered as forming the least excuse for the doctrinal or practical errors of those, who are placed in more favoured circumstances, and possess means of knowing the way of God more perfectly." pp. 404, 5.
Art. VII. Memoirs of the Abb( Edeewortk s containing his Account of the Death of Louis the Sixteenth. By Henry Sneyd Edgeworth; cr. 8vo. pp. 224% price 7s. Hunter. 1815. t t
THESE Memoirs consist chiefly of three or four letters'tif the Abbe, and his account of the execution of Louis the Sixteenth. Exclusive of what relates to the King's pedigree, they containl ittle information that was not long since known by all who have either read or heard of the French revolution.
Art. VIII. The Weekly Monitor; A Series of Essays on Moral and Religious Subjects By a Layman. 12mo. 1815.
'HPIIE Weekly Monitor was originally published in an Ame•*• rican Newspaper, but no reader will regret that it is now * reprinted in a more permanent form.' A great part of the work consists of quotations from English Divines, and it breathes throughout a spirit of genuine devotion. Upon the whole, however, it is a more favourable specimen of AngloAmerican piety than of erudition.
Art. IX. The best and most effectual Method of Preaching Christ. A Discourse, preached before the Half-Yearly Association of the Hampshire Independent Churches, Sept. 20, 1815, at Newport, Isle of Wight. By T. Durant, Poole. 8vo. pp. 31. Price Is. Conder. 1815.
A MONG the important advantages derived from county •*"*• and other associations of Dissenting Ministers, we may reckon the opportunities which their half-yearly meetings afford, of employing the talents of the various preachers in diffusing theological knowledge, and exciting among their brethren a spirit of enlightened zeal and holy philanthropy. Hampshire has long maintained a distinguished eminence in this respect, and many valuable sermons have been published at the request of the Independent Association in that district. The subject of Mr. Durant's Discourse, is of the highest importance to the interests of true religion, and at the present moment it is peculiarly seasonable. We are indeed taught by Apostolic example, to rejoice if Christ be preached, though the spirit and the manner of preaching Him be justly censurable. Under these circumstances, however, our rejoicing cannot be free from feelings of regret. We must deplore the sad admixture of human sinfulness and infirmity, and grieve that the best cause, through the injudicious and unworthy zeal of its advocates, should be doomed to suffer misrepresentation and reproach. An enlightened, holy, and powerful ministry, is one of the greatest blessings that can enrich the Christian Church It is the best security against error and a spirit of delusion; it annihilates sectarian prejudices where they exist; and keeps them at a happy distance where they have never been indulged. By its mighty operation, good principles are widely diffused and luminously displayed in the consistent and blameless deportment of those who arc brought under their influence.
The Sermon before us fully answers to its title. It states clearly what it is to preach Christ in the best and most effectual method; and did it glow in the same degree as it shines, were it as impassioned in the style and manner as it is perspicuous and comprehensive in the exhibition and statement of the truths it recommends, it would possess all the qualities of a perfectly good Sermon, and be itself an impressive illustration of its subject. The following extracts, we conceive, are fair specimens of the entire composition of the Discourse, and at the same time exhibit sentiments which are both interesting and weighty.
After stating that the best method of preaching Christ crucified, supposes a simple, lucid, and consistent statement of facts, the preacher remarks,
• The statement should be full and unequivocal. Some men, indifferent, or decidedly hostile, to the peculiarities of the gospel, demand that exclusive attention be paid to practical religion, and that doctrines be but sparingly, if at all introduced, on the prin. ciple, that the great fault of mankind lies rather in their hearts than in their understandings. There the fault does lie: but the conclusion, in their conception of the terms, is not legitimate. We admit that, in every case, there should be attention, if you please exclusive attention, to practical religion, as the end of preaching: but full and unequivocal doctrinal views of Divine truth are the great means of effecting it..* And do not the objectors act on this very principle? Do not they derive some of their most powerful motives, fromlhe doctrines of Divine omniscience, the resurrection, and judgement? In this we commend them. In this they pursue the path trodden and consecrated by inspired men. And it were no difficult thing to shew, that the New Testament scarcely enforces one duty, or class of duties, without the use of an evangelical doctrine.
» This assertion, if admitted to be just, will, in a certain degree, decide the question between the evangelical clergy in the establishment, and many of their respectable opponents. From conversing with gentlemen on both sides, I have concluded, that the difference does not consist so much in doctrinal sentiments, as respecting the mode of stating them, and the space which they should occupy in public ministrations. It is, in charity, and even in justice, to be hoped, that serious men of both classes aim at the same object. But whether of the two is more likely to effect it? Does one insist on the fitness of things, the excellency of virtue, &c? so does the other. Does he address himself to the self-love of mankind, and shew that virtue and religion are conducive to personal happiness? so does the other. Does he strongly urge the authoritative claims of God? or does he minutely describe all the branches of christian duty? so does his evangelical neighbour. So far they stand on a level. But the evangelical minister now leaves his opponent, and employs further and more powerful means of effecting his purpose. lie And that scheme of Christianity may be justly inspected, which does not give sufficient importance to the person and work of Christ, to admit this evangelical mode of enforcing the duties of morality and religion. Ni'w. if doctrinal views are to be used and presented in this practical Form at all, by what authority are we limited to a few doctrines? And why are others revealed with at lca>t equal prominence and frequency I But—"You must avoid controverted doctrines!" Yet, are there any truths—is even the basis of all religion the being of God—uncmitroverted? We need not indeed, present them in a controversial 'orm—but we must present them: nor dare we dilute the bold and striking peculiarities of the gospel, to render them more palatable to the vitiated taste of mankind. The gospel, comprehending all that God has communicated, is the proper and destined instrument of enlightening, sanctifying, and saving mankind "Sanctify them by thy truth :> thy word is truth i" Is it not fair to presume, that God has chosen the fittest instrument for the accomplishment of this?"Are we wiser than He?" Can we select or devise means better adapted to the attainment of these important objects?' pp. 14—17.
The following remarks are just, and deserve the serious attention of a certain class of preachers and hearers.
We must Vary And Adapt the mode of addressing lie gospel to the different intellectual and moral circumstances of o t* hearert. We have not different kinds of truth to communicate*; but different modes of communicating it are necessary. Manner and style may vary, frmn a simplicity level to the capacities of a child, through allthe intermediate stages, up to the highest pitch of argumentative or brilliant and impassioned eloquence. There must, as far as our powers admit, be adaptation to the different natural or acquired tastes of men. We must thus "become all things to all men." We must, if possible, touch the feeling, rouse the sluggish, and reason the argumentative into conviction. See the different addresses of Paul. To the Lycaonians, Acts xiv. bold ur.d impassioned; to Felix, Acts xxiv. plain and pungent; to Festus,
unfolds the plan of redemption; makes a new appeal to the heart; awakens its most generous feelings; constantly presents that into which angels desire to look; and beseeches, by the mercy of God, by the blood of a Saviour! Laying aside scriptural precedent, which every man should consider authoritative what minister, truly wise, would not, on the most obvious principle of expediency, employ these, in addition to all that are ordinarily employed by those who are termed moral, in distinction from evangelic.il, preachers? The very principles of'philosophy, properly understood, recommend it. And an Appeal to facts, which every man may, and every observing man must perceive, and on which every man of common understanding can decide, will settle the question But when will truth be substituted for declamation, and facts suprsede destroy the force of ingenious cavilling!