Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

A Sermon, delivered at Ashburnham, May 22d, 1806, at the interment of Mr. John Cushing, jun. who expired at the house of his father. By Seth Payson, A. M. Pastor of the church in Rindge. Published by request. Leominster. S. & J. Wilder, 1807.

WHILE the pilgrimage of mortals is through a vale of tears, while "man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward," that religion must be peculiarly dear to him, which affords the strongest consolation under the pressure of calamity, and teaches him in the best manner the heavenly art of educing good from evil. This is the glory of the Christian religion; and surely the views it presents are admirably calculated to animate the desponding mind, and to cheer the drooping spirits. What can be more so, than the assurance of a superintending Providence, ordering all things for the best; than the prospect of an eternal weight of glory, infinitely counterbalancing the evils of time, though secured and enhanced by them; than the example of the wise and good in all ages, and of the divine Author of the religion himself, all of whom were made perfect through sufferings?

Such are the topics of consolation, on which the ministers of the gospel are called frequently to dwell. In the sermon under review we find them presented in a clear and forcible manner, well calculated to command attention, and to convey solace and in

struction.

The text is from the epistle of St. Peter. Brethren, think it not

strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as though some strange thing had happened unto you. After an appropriate introduction, he proposes his plan of discourse in the following words. "We are here taught that those, who are beloved of God, are exposed to severe trials; and that the heavy afflictions, laid upon them, afford no just cause of surprise."

Under the first general head we find the following observations.

"Above all things else is the honour of God and the glory of the Saviour dear to the Christian. To what painful sensations then is he subject in a world, where this glory is neglected, blood trampled under foot, which he this love despised, and that precious knows was the price paid for the ransom of his soul, and which has brought peace to his conscience, and heaven to his heart?"

That the Christian has no cause for surprise on account of the afflictions he is called to endure, is shown from a number of considerations, that are brought into view, collectively, in the following paragraph.

"Forewarned that the Christian's

life is a warfare; that Christ himself was made perfect through sufferings; encompassed with a cloud of witnes ses, who rose out of great tribulation, and now stand with the Lamb on Mt. Zion; assured that the sufferings of time are designed to make us partakers of the divine nature, and that they will so soon be crowned with immortal bliss; under these views, do the severest trials afford any ground to suspect, either the truth of the promises, rather afford ground to welcome the or our interest in them? Do they not hand, which corrects us for our benefit, and has opened so many springs of consolation for the support of his afflicted people? What thanks are due to the Father of mercies for the re

freshing hopes and comforts of the gospel? That God reigns; that he

[merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

viour, rev gospel, 1 on any they wouth all those materials selves see and occupied the attention to con with a view to ascertain selves pemer writers of Church H to the

refugearing upon the particular who as necessary, that, taking a fore thots of his research. But n range, he should penetra

[graphic]

of private history uner by his predecessors; order to form a t concerning the s character of inuivate il peruse will atte writings, which almost com stask far

and less amusing that

fall to the inte The works eftir Jstical historians es

den in splendid character Tres of men who bore a istine mak in the chu

the resend the actions of die bonourable of the holings and bishops, and Full To the work before us known to song," but insured in the book of life, are dawn on their obscurity; and, using that day in which a and impartial judgment of will be formed, and in in the righteous only shall be main everlasting remembrance, they are held up to the regard amiration of mankind, as numents of the transforming ofdine grace.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Lot

deem

the sacred writers, whose hisical details describe men as they are, while their precepts point out what they ought to be. Our author's appreciation of the merits and defects of Wickliff, Luther, Erasmus, &c. will exon of emplify this remark. We mean not to assert, that Mr. Milner has in no instance erred in the view he has given either of facts or characters; or that he has been in no instance biassed in his judgment by his peculiar sentiments in theology; but thus much we feel ourselves justified in asserting, that, in generd, we may safely rely not only on the representation he has given of facts, but on the estimate he has formed of characters. The love of truth evidently constituted a striking feature in our author's mind. That sterling integrity which dares not flatter, and will not deceive, is very conspicuous in his work; nor can any one, who reads it with care, entertain a doubt that the object of its author was, not to gratify his own vanity by composing a book which should enhance his literary fame, or to obtain popularity by accommodating himself to the prevailing taste; but, with simplicity and plainness, to set before his readers the genuine principles of the gospel of Christ, and to exemplify their effects on the spirit and conduct of such as cordially embraced them.

by no ., where ways, we 5, the artful resentations on, by which had been given ding greatly to 1. of Christianity. that Mr. Milner excels in accuracy of n, and soundness of and we are disposed this superiority in this his invariable practice, he in which we fear that historian he will be found Sud nearly alone, of estimatmen's characters and actions the unvarying standard of the and of God." His knowledge of e human heart was deep, his views of religion and of its influence just and extensive; he possessed also an originality and independence of mind which prevented bis servilely copying the plans or adopting the sentiments of preceding writers. His remarks on the different characters which pass under his review, manifest a more than usual share of acute observation, while they exhibit a pleasing spirit of Christián candour and charity. In the impartiality with which he notices the faults and defects of Christians, whose lives in the main were excellent, we recognize an imitation of the fidelity

The strong and uniform attachment shewn by Mr. Milner. to those truths which are peculiarly entitled to the appellation of evangelical ought not to be omitted in the enumeration of his merits as the historian of the church of Christ. With res

exercises a special providence toward those who put their trust in him, and that his wisdom, power, and goodness are continually employed in preparing them for future glory, are truths, which need but to be realized, to raise the mind above the evils of time, and to fill it with all joy and peace in believing."

that he had therefore to contend with the various difficulties which must be encountered by those who pursue a path hitherto unattempted. It was necessary that he should be thoroughly acquainted with all those materials which had occupied the attention of former writers of Church History, with a view to ascertain their bearing upon the particular objects of his research. But it was also necessary, that, taking a wider range, he should penetrate recesses of private history unexplored by his predecessors; and that, in order to form a true judgment concerning the sentiments and character of individu

The subject is then applied to the occasion, which produced it. The deceased is represented as a very worthy man; and his profession, as a merchant, leads to a train of useful reflections on the importance and advantages of commerce. The consolations of the gospel are more particularly addressed to the bereaved, and the author concludes with seriously applying the lessons of Provals, idence to his audience large.

at

On the whole, we have been

happy to find that the discourse, we have been reviewing, comported with the character, its author has sustained, as a man of sense, and a Christian; and we cordially recommend it to the perusal of our readers.

he should peruse with attention original writings, which before had been almost consigned to oblivion; a task far more laborious, and less amusing than commonly fall to the lot of authors. The works of other ecclesiastical historians exhibit indeed, in splendid characters, the lives of men who bore a distinguished rank in the church; they record the actions of the great and honourable of the earth; of kings, and bishops, and

Milner's History of the Church of councils. In the work before us,

Christ.

[blocks in formation]

names "unknown to song," but inscribed in the book of life, are drawn from their obscurity; and, anticipating that day in which a true and impartial judgment of merit will be formed, and in which the righteous only shall be had in everlasting remembrance, they are held up to the regard and admiration of mankind, as monuments of the transforming power of divine grace.

But it is not only on account of his patient industry, and unwea ried research, that Mr. Milner de

serves the grateful thanks of the church of Christ, but likewise for his strenuous endeavours to correct the opinions of mankind on many important points, by leading them to form their decisions according to truth, and not according to the false criterion of worldly estimation. We deem those parts of his work by no means the least valuable, where he has combated, and always, we conceive, with success, the artful and insidious misrepresentations of Hume and Gibbon, by which a general currency had been given to sentiments tending greatly to the depreciation of Christianity. We think that Mr. Milner particularly excels in accuracy of discrimination, and soundness of judgment; and we are disposed to attribute his superiority in this respect to his invariable practice, a practice in which we fear that as an historian he will be found to stand nearly alone, of estimating men's characters and actions by the unvarying standard of the word of God. His knowledge of the human heart was deep, his views of religion and of its influence just and extensive; he possessed also an originality and independence of mind which prevented his servilely copying the plans or adopting the sentiments of preceding writers. His remarks on the different characters which pass under his review, manifest a more than usual share of acute observation, while they exhibit a pleasing spirit of Christián candour and charity. In the impartiality with which he notices the faults and defects of Christians, whose lives in the main were excellent, we recognize an imitation of the fidelity

of the sacred writers, whose historical details describe men as they are, while their precepts point out what they ought to be. Our author's appreciation of the merits and defects of Wickliff, Luther, Erasmus, &c. will exemplify this remark. We mean not to assert, that Mr. Milner baş in no instance erred in the view he has given either of facts or characters; or that he has been in no instance biassed in his judgment by his peculiar sentiments in theology; but thus much we feel ourselves justified in asserting, that, in general, we may safely rely not only on the representation he has given of facts, but on the estimate he has formed of characters. The love of truth evidently constituted a striking feature in our author's mind. That sterling integrity which dares not flatter, and will not deceive, is very conspicuous in his work; nor can any one, who reads it with care, entertain a doubt that the object of its author was, not to gratify his own vanity by composing a book, which should enhance his literary fame, or to obtain popularity by accommodating himself to the prevailing taste; but, with simplicity and plainness, to set before his readers the genuine principles of the gospel of Christ, and to exemplify their effects on the spirit and conduct of such as cordially embraced them.

The strong and uniform attachiment shewn by Mr. Milner. to those truths which are peculiarly entitled to the appellation of evangelical ought not to be omitted in the enumeration of his merits as the historian of the church of Christ. With res

« AnteriorContinuar »