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to impress upou them the necessity of adhering to that infallible standard. In the execution of this design, the author has displayed an intimate acquaintance boll with the spirit and letter of the sacred writings; a clear and vigorous understanding; and a laudable zeal to rescue the great doctrines of Christianity from perversion and peglect. We shall proceed to lay before our readers an abstract of this interesting work, accompanied with such observations as the sentiments of the writer, and the circumstances of the time, inay seem, in our judgment to require.
In a short preface we are informed, that
“ The author reverences no party, except that whiclı sincere Christians, with all their differences, compose; and appeals to no authority, except that which all profess to acknowledge.” “ 'Though cordially attached to the Establishment of which he is a member, and tirinly believing that its articles and liturgy furnish the best human means of salvation through Christ, he has never. theless always recurred, with satisfaction, to the consolatory reflection of St. Paul, amongst the parties which harass the Church, and the dissensions which exist amongst her most zealous members: some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of good will. What then ? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached ; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.”
If we rightly comprehend our author's meaning, he has not expressed himself with perfect accuracy in the latter sentence. Disseusions do not exist among those who are indeed zealous members of the Church: Such persons " are perfectly joined together, in the same mind, and in the same judgment. But dissension does unhappily exist between the sincere members of the Church who are anxious to preserve her pristine integrity, and those ponessed inembers of ii, who wish to alter her wbole spirit and character, and to interpret her public formularies in a sense erbich they were rever intended to convey. So long as the latter party continue to prosecule their unwarrantable designs, so long the true sons of ihe Church of England must resist their aggressions. We think, also, that the quotation fionn St. Paul does not apply very happily to the case. The Apostle is here describing to the Philippians the state of the Church at Rome during this imprisonment in that city. De informs them, that some who preached the gospel were acuated by a sincere altachment to the carise, and others by 10 better motive than strife and enmity towards himself. Still, however, as these hypocrites preached sound doctrine, the Church was edified by ther labours; and the Apostle, laying asile all personal cousi
derations, derations, rejoiced in this beneficial effect. But it must always be observed, that he does not, in the slightest degree, attempt to vindicate their duplicity; nor does he intimate that any diversity of doctrine prevailed among them.
Iu entering upon the body of the work, we find it divided ito eight chapters, each treating of a distinct and very momentoms subject. The first chapter contains some judicious remarks on the nature and importance of the preacher's office.
" The Church service,” we are truly reminded, “ will not prove generally efficacious, unless the preacher brings the doctrines to which the Liturgy refers, and which the Scriptures inculcate, to the hearts of the congregation.”-." It is by an harmonious correspondence between the two parts of the service, by the unison of the sermon with the Liturgy, that true Christians, under the Divine blessing, are formed."
Arduous as the preacher's duty is, our author yet contends, that great literary attainments are not always essential to the Success of his labours. In his general sentiments on this head we perfectly coincide. But he goes too far in saying, that" a person of refined taste will be obliged to maintain a severe conflict between his duty and his habits, before he can so far forget himself as to be useful to others from the pulpit.” Surely the most accomplished scholar of the age may edify the most illilerate congregation without forgetting himself, or offending against any just principles of composition. lle must not give thern a sermon which would become an acaden ical pulpit, but he may write with neatness, simplicity, and force : and if he is debarred from shewing the extent of his learning, he may at least display the purity of his taste. We are, indeed, of opimon, that a sermon of this kind, if it were replete with scrip. tural doctrine, and delivered with earnestuess, would have a much better effect on the minds of uneducated men, than a coarse appeal to the passions, couched in such language as they themselves might be expected to use. The siyle we here recommend is not, perhaps, so well adapted to seize the atten. tion of an accidental hearer, nor to work up thie sinner's mind to a state of agitation and dismay; but these objects, we apprehend, fall not within the province of a sober and apostolical preacher of God's word. They may suit the conventicle, but are unbecoming the sanctity of the Church. We cannot con. ceive why the purity of Plato, the elegance of Xenophon, and, upon proper occasions, the grandeur of Isocrates, should be banished from the style of the pulpit, provided no particle of their false philosophy be ever mingled with the wisdou from above. Still , however, we may safely recomiend this chapter to the attention of our readers, as contaiving a just view of the preacher's office, and of the principles on which it may be most effectually performed.
“ What was said to the early converts in their separate congregations at Rome, or Corinth, or Thessalonica, or Ephesus, is, in fact, said to all Christians; and whatever changes may have taken place in external and temporal circumstances, the spiritual condition in which Christians are placed is still essentially the same. Even the obvious fact, that some epistles were written for specific purposes, and to refute particular errors, only renders them the more fit for the general imitation of preachers, as well as for the edification of Christian assemblies. Every minister will, no doubt, find certain points on which his own congregation may require peculiar correction ; every age of Christianity has its besetting sins, which must be recurred to us often, as the Judaizing propensity is assailed by St. Paul, or the Antinomian heresy by St. James. But whatever doctrinal subject a preacher may find it necessary to insist upon, St. Paul furnishes him with a pattern of the method in which it may be inculcated most effectually, and most suitably to the general character of the religion which he teaches ; so that each epistle may be considered in the light of a set of discourses, containing the ground-work of all ministerial instruction." P. 25.
The second chapter relates to Predestination. “ The only inquiry,” says the Author, “I have in view, is, whether the Christian minister is coun:enanced by St. Paul in preaching that doctrine?” The precise meaning of this question might, perhars, have been rendered more clear to the reader's apprebension, if we had been previously informed whether predestination is here used in the Calvinistic sense, or in the sense adopted by our Church. Predestination, considered with respect to faith in Christ, and obedience to his laws, as it is maintained in our XVIlth article, is a wholesome and scriptural doctrine. Absolute Predestination, as taught in the school of Calvio, is a “ dange rous downfall," leading either to security or desperation. Our author himself seems perfectly aware of this distinction, and view's the whole question in the true light. We only mean to observe, that in speaking of subjecis which are peculiarly liable te misconstruction, it is always expedient to begin with an accurate definition of the terms.
In opposition lo the horrible doctrine of irrespective decrees, a body of scriptural proof is produced; so judiciously selected, and so neatly compacted together, that we could hardly abridge the reasoning without injuring its force. We will, therefore, content cuiselves with recommending to the particular attention of our readers the whole of this argument, from the 33d to
the 50th page inclusive. The general conclusion is this exe pressed :
“ When all these circumstances are weighed together, I think it must be acknowledged, that the preacher of absolute decrees gives too implicit confidence to human interpretation, and teaches the doctrine of Calvin for the doctrine of St. Paul. If it be so, it is no light matter. It is not a question of trifling importance whether we disseminate just and worthy notions of the Divine attributes. The general impression which the Scripture leave upon our minds is this, that God desires his creatures to entertain a rem verential love of his goodness, as well as a reverential awe of his justice, in his administration of the moral government of the world; and does not call upon us, in studying the ternis of our acceptance with him, or in meditating upon his counsels, to abandon our notions of right and wrong, or the results of that gift of reason which he has permitted to survive the fall. Scripture, in short, throughout, aims at the heart. Christ, in the most unqualified terms demands the love of mankind on the part of the Creator; a love which the doctrine of absolute decrees, in all minds of common mould, cannot fail to petrify." P. 57.
In the next chapter the Calvinistic doctrine of personal election to eternal life, is confuted by scriptural evidence. It is shewn that those persons who are called "elect" in scripture, are those who had been admitted to the privileges of the Christian dispensation. To affirm
“ That works have no concern with any man's salvation, is a kind of sophism, which the illiterate cannot be expected to unravel; and though in one sense it is the truth, it is by no means the whole truth of Scripture. In short, the dangers arising from the doctrine of predestination, under any of its modifications, are so plain, so practical, and so favoured by the slothful and self-excusing principles of human nature, that it ought to be read in St. Paul with the plainness of the command to believe in Christ, or to love our neighbour, before it is inculcated to a congregation. It matters not that a pious Calvinist disclainis the natural results, or an acute disputant can explain them away; it is notorious that the illiterate enthusiast believes, and the sinner flatters himself with expecting, that, if he is one of the elect, he shall somehow or other be finally snatched out of the fire; and if he is not, that no exertions of his own can ever avuil. Thus the real conclusion and the practical evil of the doctrine of election nieet together.” P. 83.
The next point of inquiry is the scriplural doctrine of the corruption of human nalule; a subject which Calvinistic writers have for the most part grievously misrepresented. They delight to insinuate that the sin of Adam produced such a radical depra. sity in his nature, that his posterity are wholly incapable ut makject
ing any virtuous effort. The Scriptures by no means warrant such a conclusion. At the same time,
i. Unless it is clearly understood and felt that mankind are in. competent to justify themselves in the sight of God, the doctrine of justification by Christ's death cannot be sincerely or cordially received." P. 92.
The depravity of our nature must be constantly preached, as it is revealed in Scripture; but mankind must not be represented as a mere mass of wickedness and corruption. Our author truly observes, that
“ It is no just inference, that because salvation is not of works, therefore man is only given to evil thoughts and evil deeds; or, because he is very far gone from original righteousness, therefore he is become the image of Satan." P. 118. “ Mankind after the fall were still the work of God, and the ob
of their Redeemer's love." P. 120. The view which is here given of the doctrine of original sin, appears in all respects sound, judicious, scriptural. We will venture, however, to correct a misapprehension under which the author seems to labour, respecting the opinion of our Reformers on this important subject. In arguing against the Calvinistic doctrine of the total depravity of human nature since the fall, he observes,
“ St. Paul is better authority than even the Homilies, excellent as they usually are; and their language on this point has no counterpart in his writings. I do not find him declare the consequence of the fall in terms like these : Man instead of the image of God, was now become the image of the devil; instead of the citizen of heaven, he was become the bond-slave of hell, having in himself no one part of his former purity and cleanness, but being altogether spotted and defiled, insomuch that now he seemed to be nothing else but a lump of sin.'
Again, “ Man is of his own nature fleshly and corrupt--without any spark of goodness in him, only given to evil thoughts and evil deeds." P. 107.
Our author then proceeds to remark, that this " strong language of our Reformers is ueither copied froin Scripture nor sanctioned by experience."
The passages here cited are unquestionably Calvinistic; but we apprehend, that although they occur in the Homilies of our Church, they cannot strictly be said to convey the sentiments of our Reformers. Cranmer *, Ridley, and Latimer had finished
* Ridley and Latimer were burnt in October, 1555. Cranmer