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tice, the usage of the previous twenty-five years is to determine its admission or exclusion. It is obvious that the power thus given might be used by watchful complainants to prevent all future changes in opinion or worship; and to bar for ever that openness as to inquiry and teaching, on the allowance of which in the past the present holders rest their reply to the allegations against their title. The clause in fact seems to create a creed of usage, in default of a creed of trust; and to supply by an historical test the absence of a dogmatical test. We lament the existence of this feature in the Bill. We think, however that, should it still remain when the Bill has become law, it will be in the power of congregations to prevent, by timely precaution, any future evil that might arise from it. The 'usage” spoken of refers, not merely to “ doctrines,” but to “mode of worship:” and perhaps this phrase may be understood to embrace, not simply the external practices relating to the offering of devotion, but any principle pervading the constitution and affecting the government of the congregation; such as the concession of free teaching to the Minister, the avoidance of creeds and confessions, and the custom of settling differences either by a majority of the Society for the time being, or in any other recognised way. Whether the “usage,” as limited by the Bill to the two particulars of “religious doctrines or opinions, and "mode of worship," would be construed to include all this, we entertain some doubt : but we think the chance of so comprehensive an interpretation would be greatly increased, if congregations were now, each in its own way and for its own governance, to write down its usage in these respects, as a record or declaratory act against future sources of doubt and vexation. A court, we think, would be unwilling hereafter to impose a twenty-five years' creed in the face of a document, bearing date 1844, stating that the Society made it a rule to have no creed. We throw out the suggestion for the consideration of those whom it nearly concerns: but we fear that the blindness and incredulity as to future consequences, which almost always attends the acquisition of immediate relief, will stand in the way of its adoption. We should rejoice to believe that the danger to which it refers is purely imaginary.
ART. VIII.-NOTICES OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
I. Walter Bernard. A Wesleyan Methodist's Inquiries as to the Object of the Sufferings of Christ. Second Edition. London : 1844. pp. 80.
This belongs to a class of religious publications which have been less frequent in the Unitarian than in other Denominations. Trinitarian writers have long aimed at presenting religious emotions and embodying religious controversies in lively narratives of the experiences, inquiries, and conflicts of individual minds. The interest of the story contributes to fix attention, and often touches more closely actual states of thought and anxiety, as they are felt in real life. Jotham Anderson by Henry Ware is an excellent example of the discussion of religious and scriptural doubts in conjunction with the interest of incidents and the delineations of character.
Walter Bernard' is a very successful instance of this kind of religious publication. It exhibits in description and dialogue the troubled passage of a young Methodist, in the humbler ranks of life, from the heated atmosphere of Methodist doctrine and discipline to the peace and cheerful satisfaction, both to mind and spirit, of pure and simple views of the Gospel. The first revolt of nature and reason against vindictive views of God's character and government,—the struggle between the new doubt and the old reverence for orthodox representationsthe coldness and anger of former associates in worship and deeds of Christian beneficence—the long process of painful scriptural investigation-and the clear and good deliverance at last, are all depicted with much tenderness, and sound knowledge of human nature. The difficulties discussed chiefly relate to the efficacy of the sufferings and death of Christ,—and the import of the scriptural expressions on these subjects is fully examined. The work, in short, is an instructive and effective popular Tract on the Doctrine of the Atonement,-and we hope it will
escape the notice of none of our Societies which aim at the diffusion of purer views of the Gospel through the circulation of small and cheap publications. The discussion may perhaps be unnecessarily prolonged, and a little too much Greek introduced, -but those already persuaded are not altogether the best judges of what is enough in such discussions
and we are quite willing to take the Author's testimony respecting the degree of familiarity with Greek which is common with Wesleyan local preachers.
Walter Bernard, when enlightened and converted himself, felt his obligation to bring his new views before his former associates. The occasion is thus opened :
It was rather more than a twelvemonth after the opening events of this narrative, on a lovely evening in the height of summer, that a considerable concourse of people were to be seen moving towards the little valley which had been the favourite haunt of the Wesleyan teacher in his mental struggles and resolute inquiries. And in the midst of these, surrounded by a few attached friends, he now went forth with the multitude whom he had invited to listen to his first public address on the great topics that had long been agitating his soul.
It was a trial of no ordinary severity. The cross was even heavier, when he came to bear it, than he had apprehended; for it was not only the natural fear of man that oppressed him ;—he trembled lest the truths he held so precious should suffer in his hands, and he knew that it was an unsympathising audience he had undertaken to address. His countenance was pale, and his lips were silent. But in his heart there was that high and resolute determination which springs from an invincible faith, and which never fails to carry him who hath it, through the hardest trial and the darkest hour.”
The sermon is on the application of Christ's sorrows and sufferings to the spiritual redemption of those, who seek to perfect their nature by meeting God's needful discipline in the spirit of the Captain of our salvation. It is an admirable popular address to those who, without being resolute against inquiry, have strong affinities with the Trinitarian views of atonement. The close of the discourse, though necessarily wanting the close scriptural interpretations of the former part of the work, is a good specimen of the general manner of the whole.
Yes, Jesus hath once suffered for sins; the just for the unjust, and oh! would that men understood that he died, not to satisfy Justice,– but Love; to satisfy the promptings of his own and his Father's surpassing love, that men might also learn to love, and, instead of requiring satisfaction for injuries, follow in his steps. If he died to enable God to spare us eternal torments, how could he be an example to us, how could we partake of his sufferings ? Alas! I know too well that until Christians understand this vast, this unutterably important distinction, misery, cruelty and sin never will cease from the earth. While they believe that Jesus died that God might have full satisfaction for the trespasses of men, men will feel themselves justified in requiring satisfaction for the trespasses of one another; they will be merciful in the way that they believe their Heavenly Father has been merciful to them. But when they
begin to see that their Saviour suffered to show them that they must not resist evil with evil, but overcome it by divinest love, when they have learnt that they must cheerfully bear the sufferings of others, that it is only by enduring pain and toil, ingratitude, injustice, privation and woe, that it is only, in short, by sharing the suffering which is ever caused by sin, that they can ever hope to remove sin, and save others from grief and pain—then, and then only, will they become like Christ, and prepared to dwell with him hereafter—then, and not before, will they have learnt the true nature of the reconciliation, the at-one-ment which God sent Jesus to effect. When they practise this lesson, then, and not before, will the fair earth we live on become free from cruelty, suffering, and hate; and most assuredly, not till then can we expect or desire that our falsely called Christian country should succeed in spreading her doctrines through barbarous and heathen lands. The
idolaters and savage tribes of other shores will scarcely learn the great doctrine of Christianity, to love one another, to overcome evil with good, from a creed which has far too much the appearance of painting an innocent son propitiating by his agonies the wrath of a vindictive Father.
“Oh! come to us and give us the right hand of fellowship! join us in our efforts to establish this higher, truer, and brighter view of the meaning of the Sacrifice of Christ. Let all men be made to feel that he died as an example, not as a satisfaction for our sins. Let those near and dear to you be made to feel this in the sanctuary of home. Let your fellowtownsmen feel it as you mingle with them in social life,-let your
fellowcountrymen, yea, let all within the reach of your influence, (and God only knows how far that influence may extend,) let all be impressed by your precepts and example with the glorious truths which the death of Christ teaches. Thus, according to the talents given unto us, we shall each and all aid in bearing away the sin of the world, in showing how evil is to be conquered and sin is to be overcome, not by punishment, not by retaliation, but by enduring, forgiving, self-sacrificing, and at length triumphant love! God grant that his blessing may rest on these feeble words of mine, leading you to meditate upon them, and to act upon your own deliberate honest convictions as you must answer for it before the judgment seat of Christ ! Amen. Let us pray.
" While Walter was speaking, the deepest silence pervaded the assembled multitude; but when the short prayer with which he finished was concluded, the murmur of many voices in earnest disputation rose upon the stillness of the evening air. Several crowded round him, as if anxious to address him, or to hear further on the matter.' But Walter, now that the excitement was passed, overcome by the conflicting emotions that agitated his mind, had seated himself on the rock which formed his pulpit, and covering his face with his hands, heard neither the anxious questions, the angry expostulations, nor the affectionate greetings of those around. Suddenly, silence fell upon all. On looking up, he beheld an old grey-headed man,-loved and respected throughout the neighbourhood, alike for his wisdom, piety, and benevolence, -raising his hand to obtain silence, and then advancing towards him. The venerable patriarch looked at him a few moments and said, “Young man, I shall die happier for having heard you, and I thank my God that He has spared me to this day. Do you see yonder clouds parting away to the light of the setting sun ? even so are the dark clouds of error now dispersing, with which I have striven in my own soul through life, which I have seen hanging heavily over the souls of my brethren-and happy they whose sky is cleared in their earlier days. But your latter end, young man, will be bright and peaceful like yonder scene, for you will live and die in Christ. You will have many and sore trials, but your latter end will be peace. And,' continued the old man solemnly, though in a tremulous voice, after a short pause, lifting up his eyes to heaven, 'I believe, humbly, my prayers will be fulfilled, and that through the unspeakable mercy and love of our Father in Heaven, we shall meet above. Amen. Having put your hand to the plough, you will not turn back. God be with you—Farewell.'
“Walter Bernard was not the only one of the friends around him in whose eyes stood a tear, while they returned the aged disciple's parting salutation ; but he felt that the storms which had tossed his spirit when he first seated himself on that rock, and for many a day since, were at length hushed to rest, and his soul had found its peace.
“ And day by day he felt himself 'strengthened with might in the inner man,' and he preached the word boldly,' and the number of those who hearkened to him gradually multiplied. Christ dwelt in the hearts,' both of preacher and hearers by faith, and being 'rooted and grounded in love,' they knew more and more of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,' and did their humble part, in their day and generation, to make that love effectual in the world.”
II. A Sermon on Flowers. By Rev. Robert E. B. Maclellan.
London : 1844.
Flowers cannot be thought an unsuitable subject for a Sermon by those who remember the words: Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I
that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe
of little faith.' Yet there is a difference between a passing allusion for the purpose of illustration, a touch of truth and beauty, and the erection of the illustration into an independent theme. inclined to think that the most effective pulpit use of Flowers would be not to preach upon them, but to weave them into many a preaching touching God's love, and the spiritual aspects of creation, and the indications of future glory which the Creator hath given here. Far from us, however, be the rejection, or the cold acceptance, of such a theme, and we must think well