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It would be a fool-hardy attempt to exculpate from the charge of preaching a defective Christianity, all who have obtained the name of Evangelical Preachers, either in the Church or out of it. There have been, and probably there are, in both, some individuals whose body of divinity wants proportion of parts, and whose rickety system, from the unequal distribution of nourishment, exhibits knotty points, and limbs distorted. But healthful vigour and symmetry constitute, not only the Evangelical doctrine, as it is portrayed in the Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy, of the Church; but also as it is displayed in the public instructions of her Evangelical Ministers, in general. Whoever peruses the discourses of Mr. Venn, of Mr. Gisborne, of Mr. Cooper, and of many others (and so far as sobriety of doctrine is concerned, they are a fair sample) will find that piety to God is not substituted for benevolence to men; nor purity of Faith for holiness of life; that though the Saviour's Atonement is laid down as the foundation, good works are the superstructure that rises upon it, and adorns the whole building. He will find that the love of God which is enforced, is the principle which inspires love to the human race, and teaches Christians to fill up every relative duty, in its proper place, as an act of obedience to the blessed Saviour.
The effects of Evangelical Preaching, in a parish which has not been accustomed to see those doctrines brought into the foreground of religious instruction, are generally soon conspicuous. The first general effect is that of some degree of astonishment, as upon persons who are made to feel impressions, to which formerly they have been strangers. Men are roused from a state of insensibility to behold, on the one hand, dangers immeasurable and of infinite alarm, and on the other, hopes altogether new and of boundless expansion. In this state of conflicting motives, the minds of men are generally for some time absorbed, by the new views of time and of eternity, that burst upon their eyes. In the still and awful silence of meditation, they commune with their own hearts. The fears that gather and multiply around them, from the consciousness of having violated a law so tremendous, that the infliction of its penalty upon the surety of sinners, though he was possessed of the Divine as well as of the human nature, brought upon his soul the agonies of unutterable wo, harrow up their minds, and the angry cloud that lours over them threatening to burst, presages irretrievable ruin. On the opposite side the Gospel of reconciliation presents a sky, serene and mild, and opening through the blood of Jesus, a new and living way to the favour of God and to the blessings of the Kingdom of Heaven. Some by a gradual approximation to this fountain of life, come at last to drink of its healing waters, and experience their cleansing efficacy, as well as their invigorating powers. They take up their rest in the Saviour as their righteousness, their sanctification, and their redemption. The internal change that has passed in their minds, though perhaps its progress has hardly been perceptible, marks the soul to have been fertilized by the influence of Heaven. Where formerly all was either sterile and waste, or luxurious only with briars and thorns, a freshness and verdure, show that there is no longer a curse upon the ground, but that it has received the blessing from God. A new direction as well as a new force is given to all their powers. If they are heads of families, the worship of God becomes a regular part of their family economy. In those houses in which no knee had knelt, and no tongue had been taught to adore the Giver of all good, an altar is consecrated to the God who had fed and led them all their days, and to that Redeemer who, by his precious blood-shedding, has restored them to the favour of God and to the hope of Glory. Their families present an appearance of order and of sentimental dignity, to which formerly they were strangers. By becoming spiritually-minded, their appetites and passions become more tame and subjugated ; and by intimate converse with the oracles of God, even their intellectual powers, assume a more vigorous tone, and the whole of their deportment acquires a consistency and an elevation, formerly unknown. These effects are often so marked and incontestible, that the cause cannot wholly escape observation. The happy influence of Evangelical truth, in resuscitating those energies, which alone can give to society a healthy and animated principle of virtue, bas often been confessed. By the labours of a Clergyman, whose life and doctrine conspired to hold op a picture of genuine Christianity to his parishioners, it has often been found that in the lapse of no long term of years, a change has been effected, worthy of the Prophet's sublime description. “ The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice even with joy and singing ; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon : they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.”-And all this has been effected, without noise, bustle, or tumult. The silent in fluence of wholesome doctrine combined with that of pious example, like the united influence of the sun and
soft showers, has, by the blessing of God, converted a dreary wilderness into a field waying with luxurious fruits.
The causes that have contributed to expose the Evangélical Clergy to obloquy and reproach, have been many. One of these is the striking contrast that appears between their system of divinity, in which the Saviour is the righteousness, the wisdom, the sanctification, the redemption, the light and the life of a guilty world, and that of the Pelagians, in which man is considered as a creature, naturally the ally of virtue, in whose bosom good dispositions and correspondent feelings spontaneously rise, and in whose soul the love of God and of his species naturally glows, though some rude blasts of passion may unhappily, at times, check their luxuriant growth, and stunt their otherwise towering size. To such a system as the latter the incarnation of the Son of God, for the purpose of our Redemption ; the bitter cup which for our sakes he drank off; the crown of thorns that for us he wore; the blood he shed, and the excruciating agonies that pierced his soul; the life he laid down; the Atonement he made to the justice of God for our sins; the promises of pardon offered us in his name; the promise of his Spirit to convince us of our sins, to purify us from them, and to create in us clean hearts; cannot even be appended, because the two systems can nerer be reconciled. An Atonement made by the blood of Him who is God as well as man, for persons who possess good hearts, and who have always led good lives; the Spirit of God to regenerate and sanctify characters naturally pious and holy, are contradictions so flagrant that the ingenuity of an archangel could hardly find any to be their parallel. Every Evangelical Preacher, lays the axe to the root of the tree which human pride has planted, and sedulously watered, and it is no wonder if all who live under its shade are alarmed for their safety, and join in the cry, “ they who have turned the world upside down, are come hither also.” Whea a man has been all his life rearing a baseless fabric, and consecrating it as the temple of his sanguinary virtues, whoever attacks it threatens to expel him from the sanctuary of his own goodness, and to level the beautiful dome with the ground. “ I hate him," said the impious monarch of the prophet, “ for he doth not prophecy good concerning me, but evil.” “We have found,” says the orator Tertullus, as the advocate of the Jews against St. Paul, " this man a pestilent fellow.” If we carefully search the Scriptures we shall find this to hare been the cause of universal alarm, which summoned to arms the men of the world, against the preaching of the Prophets and Apostles. The preachers threatened to rob them of that, compared with which, their other trappings and gildings were but trash-the shrine that enchased their canonized merits.
The strictness of Evangelical Religion and morality is nearly as offensive to the men of the world, as the penitent and humble spirit which it breathes. The de. votion it requires is that of the heart undivided, of the whole affections, and powers of the soul. It allows of no competition between God and the world, of no compromise between general obedience and the occasional indulgence of some particular and favourite gratification. requires not only clean hands, but a pure heart. It proscribes the general maxims and principles of the men of the world, as a system founded in rebellion against God, and as consecrating those passions and pursuits which