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Higion, Bishop Sherlock, in his elegant and masterly discourses, has illustrated the great doctrines of the Gospel, with a force of manly reasoning to which few works in our language, or indeed in any other, can be found equal. Archbishop Secker, a prelate of distinguished piety, abilities, and virtue, laboured successfully in the same cause, and summoned his Clergy to co-operate with him in disseminating the peculiar doctrines of Christianity. That elegant scholar and writer, Bishop Lowth, by his beautiful translation of Isaiah, the Evangelical Prophet, contributed to give to Evangelical sentiments a decided prominence. The pious and venerable Bishop Wilson, threw the weight of his devotion and learning into the same scale.
His works contain a treasure of practical religion, rising upon Christian principles, and enforced more by their simplicity, than they could have been by the embellishments of more finished composition. Bishop Horne trode the same path and consecrated his distinguished talents to illustrate and enforce the doctrines of the cross. The elegant and excellent Bishop Porteus employed all the graces of eloquence, as well as the ornaments of the milder virtues, to adorn the Gospel of his Saviour. Bishop Horsley brought the vast stores of his learning, and the Herculean strength of his mind, to support the essential doctrines of the Gospel, when they were attacked by the Champion of Socinianism, Dr. Priestley. From his tempestuous hand, the javelin flew, and with thundering vengeance stretched in the dust, the hapless warrior (as the blustering Hector was felled by the stone of Ajax) his sophistry deserting his slackened hand,
“ His load of armour, sinking to the ground,
It were easy to bring forward many other great names among the Bishops of the Church, who have been distinguished as much by their piety as by their learning. We do not mean to contend, that every one of those respectable prelates whom we have mentioned was, in every article of what we have stated to be the doctrines of evangelical religion, perfectly evangelical ; though we believe the greater part of them were so. On the doctrine of Jus. tification by faith alone, the sentiments of some of them were perhaps not sufficiently decisive. But in all of them, there is such a pointed reference to the doctrine of Reconciliation by the Cross, to the Mediation and offices of Christ, and to the Influences of the Holy Spirit, as it will be difficult to find examples of, in the writings of those prelates, who wrote after the times of Bishop Beveridge, till the eminent revival of religion, which began with Whitfield and Wesley. Some writers also, whose sentiments have, in various instances, been antievangelical, have contributed to the spread of Evangelical doctrines, by their forcible statements of some particular truths, intimately connected with that system. We have already seen how Bishop Warburton, in his Divine Legation, establishes the doctrine of Justification by Faith alone. In his “ Doctrine of Grace," he shows, in the outlines of his work at least, the same solidity of judgment, united with a mind susceptible of the richest combinations of general and scriptural learning. Speaking of the forfeit of the Fall, and of our corrupted nature, he observes, “An Atonement, therefore, for the offended Majesty of the Father was first to be procured, and this was the work of the Son; and then a remedy was to be provided for that helpless condition of man, which hindered the Atonement from producing its effect, and this was the office of the Holy Ghost: so that both were joint-workers in the great business of reconciling God to man.”* He then observes, that the office of the Holy Spirit is to establish our Faith and to perfect our obedience, “and this he doth by enlightening the understanding, and by rectifying the will.” No man could more justly, or more forcibly, state the great plan of Redemption. But alas ! he soon leaves this foundation to raise a superstructure upon another.
Dr. Young is a writer of a very different kind. In his Night Thoughts, he has compressed the great doctrines of Christianity into his poem, and, by this means, given poetry a dignity to which otherwise it could not have risen. It thus becomes the vehicle not only of strong and sublime feelings and sentiments, but also the instructer of the ignorant, the comforter of such as mourn, the purifier and refiner of the passions, and the powerful ally of the Christian Ministry. Few works, in our language, have displayed a happier union of piety and genias, powers more expansive, an imagination more bold and soaring, ratiocinative faculties more vigorous, or a humility of mind more disposed to stoop and to adore the wisdom and love of God in the mystery of Redemption. Dr. Young, therefore, occupies a distinguished place among those writers who have adorned and disseminated the doctrines of the Gospel.
Mr. Newton, the history of whose eventful life is recorded by Mr. Cecil, as well as by himself, stands high in the religious world, as a faithful expositor of that experimental piety, of which he himself was so bright an ex
ample. In him, religion shone with an attractive simplicity, and godly sincerity; and when he drew her character in the pulpit, he exhibited his own likeness in the different walks of life. His writings have few adventitious ornaments. They generally please the serious mind, because they are the mirror of truth. They have had extensive circulation in the Church, and though many pious men may wish that the peculiarities of Calvinism had been less apparent in them, it will be generally allowed that they have had very considerable influence in their circle, to invigorate the tone of practical religion, and to display the genuine principles of Christianity.
Mr. Milner, of Hull, by his sermons, and especially by his Church History, has done much to extend the knowledge of those doctrines, by which the Christian Religion is distinguished from every other. His writings display an active and vigorous mind, awake to the high and important ends of the Christian Ministry. Able to enter the lists with the most hardy of the sons of scepticism, he successfully repels their unhallowed weapons from the Christian Temple, and while he ministers at the Altar, knows how to defend it. In Ecclesiastical History he has marked out a path untrodden before him. By removing the rubbish with which other Ecclesiastical historians had blocked up the way, he conducts his reader, from the stormy regions of conflicting passions and interests which swell the surrounding scene, to the quiet habitations of the just, where is heard the voice of joy and melody. While other historians display only; or mostly, the mould that covers the surface, he explores the mine, deep and rich, and from thence strews the ground with ingots of the precious ore, dug from its bowels. The labours he left unfinished, his brother, the Dean of Carlisle, has under
taken; and, in his hands, there is no fear that the work. manship will be unworthy of the materials.
Cowper, the Poet, in whom the rare assemblage of every grace that softens, and every virtue that adorns, the Christian ; of every energy that elevates the poet, and of every accomplishment that embellishes the man of learning, were found united, has consecrated his heaven-strung lyre, to celebrate, in strains rapturous as those of the Seraphim, the wonders of Redemption. The fire of this poet of Christianity, kindled at her altars, and rekindling them, lights up the kindred flame in every breast that is taught to glow with the genial heat of pure Religion. Callous indeed that bosom must be, on which the tender warblings of his love to God and to men can descend, without awakening some corresponding feelings. As the dignity of Milton's mighty Muse, in Paradise Lost, gåve to his truly Evangelical sentiments a currency, which even those who had embraced an opposite Creed seldom ventured to dispute, the charm of goodness that makes the reader lose the poet in the man, and the author in the Christian, in the page of Cowper, has made him a distinguished and successful advocate of vital Christianity.
Mr. Scott, by the persevering efforts of a life dedicated to the service of his Redeemer, has made the truths of Chris. tianity to circulate by various channels. By his Essays, his Sermons, his Refutation of Paine, and by his Commentary on the Bible, he has established his character, as a scribe well instructed in the mysteries of Heaven. In his Remarks on the Bishop of Lincoln's Refutation of Calvinism, he exhibits a zeal that is tempered with charity and candour; a love of truth consistent with the respect that is due to his Diocesan ; and the pious mind, that cannot adopt all his deductions, must yet rise from the perusa!