Imágenes de páginas

with him : but if this be his meaning, never was there a more singular or dangerous way of expressing an important truth. The obvious meaning of the words is, that God never gives that bias to our nature, which leads us to improve that spiritual aid, which otherwise we should reject. Dr. H. then must believe, that a bad man, a man whose whole affections are engaged with objects, “ earthly, sensual, and devilish,” can, in this state of mind, and without the least assistance from the transforming hand of Deity, choose that which is good ; or, in other words, that a bad nature can change itself into a good one: a doctrine as irrational as it is unscriptural; and yet a doctrine, which, in this advanced stage of the Church, and of the world, a Christian divine preaches before a Christian University, to a congregation principally composed of Christian Teachers, or of those who were soon to become Christian Teachers; and then unblushingly sends forth this monstrous sentiment to a Christian Public !

We can easily conceive, that the drudgery of sermon-making is among the least important cares of an aspirant to the highest dignities of our ecclesiastical establishment : an aspirant who, as the natural means of bis elevation, does not (and Dr. H. very gravely tells us that he and is brethren do not) assume an air of sadness and melancholy, nor inculcate a cold seclusion from the world, a rigid abstinence from all amusements,

as indispensable to the Christian character ;' but who maintains a free intercourse with the world, and an obedient regard to the world's law. Yet, if in the pressure of these more important concerns, so dangerous a sentiment had escaped this Christian divine, when writing his discourse, we should have thought that the interval between the composition and the delivery, would have furnished him with some doubts in regard to the truth of his position. Or if this interval had afforded no leisure for solemn recollections, yet it might bave been supposed, that when the preacher came to review the commencement service, he would, with tears of grief, have blotted the unhallowed sentiment from his page. Especially might it have been thought, that such regrets would be excited, when he recollected how large a portion of evil such a sentiment, uttered at such a time, was likely to produce; when he called to mind, that many of his auditors and readers would be young men, possessed of a high conceit of the human powers, and indisposed to religious inquiry; yet who were soon to appear as Preachers of the Gospel, and who, in all probability, would go forth, and on the authority of the Dean of Chester, but in defiance of that Almighty Being, whose only legitimate servants they would profess to be, would proclaim to a miserable and deluded multitude-The Ethiopian can ehange his skin, and the leopard his spots : they may do good that are accustomed to do evil.

Dr. H. introduces many other sentiments into his Sermon, on which we intended to remark; but we must content ourselves with referring our readers to Mr. R.'s publication.

The Defence of Extempore (Extemporaneous) Prayer, and of Calvinistic Preaching, is evidently the production of a sensible and intelligent mind. This Pamphlet brings within a small compass a great number of important subjects; and though not professedly a vindication of Dissent, it exhibits a well-drawn outline of the leading principles of our separation. Some persons may think, that Mr. R. sat down to his work with a quite sufficient portion of feeling in exercise ; but really, though we have no desire to become the apologists of acrimony, either in spirit or in language, we must confess, that it is one of the most difficult tasks in self-government, to treat with a mild and subdued temper, the man who, supposing himself to be shielded by his rank in society, indiscriminately scatters his intemperate and ! clumsy abuse on all who presume to differ from him, and of whose character and opinions he appears to know no more than the savage wandering on the deserts of Africa knows of the character and opinions of the inhabitants of Europe.

We were rather surprised at Mr. R.'s classing Blair with Doddridge, Watts, and others, as one of the approved models of sermonizing in dissenting schools. Our own recollection is far from corroborating this statement; and allowing the celebrated Scottish preacher to possess many excellencies, we fear that if our students take him for a model, their discourses will not be much distinguished, either by energy of language, or, by what is far more important, a prominent display of scriptural truth.

It appeared to us that a pious clergyman would feel himself justly aggrieved by Mr. R.'s saying, when speaking of the reformation of the wicked, the instruction of the ignorant, the formation of societies for pious and benevolent purposes, They

are not the fruits, that have been matured within his own 6 inclosure, and they cannot therefore be good or acceptable to • God.' By his own inclosure,' Mr. R. means, no doubt, that section of the Established Church, to which Dr. H. is attached : but the expression is capable of a wider meaning ; and it should have been recollected, that though the Wordsworths and the Mants can discern mountains upon mountains separating themselves from the Biddulphs and the Scotts, yet these latter gentlemen would realize inexpressible grief, did they not believe that they were safely penned in the same fold with their truly formidable opponents.


Art. VI. Eighteen Sermons, by the Rev. Philip Henry, A. M.

formerly of Christ Church College, Oxford: selected from his Original Manuscripts. Also, Two Sermons preached on his Death; the one, by the Rev. Francis Tallents, A.M. Fellow of Magdalen College, Cambridge; the other, by the Rev. Matthew Henry, V.D. M. Now first published. With Notes, by J. B. Williams. 8vo. pp. 383. Price 9s. Conder, London. 1816. THE THE name of Henry is endeared to the heart of every

pious man to whom it is known. The Commentary of Matthew Henry, is unrivalled, and in all probability will remain unrivalled, as a work of devotional and practical excellency; and his life of Philip Henry his father, the highly respectable author of these Sermons, is certainly one of the most instructive and interesting pieces of religious biography that has ever been written. Its character is correctly given by the late Dr. Edward Williams. It is (he says) a beautiful delineation of primitive 'Christianity, and of the power of godliness ;-where social religion, as well as personal holiness, is drawn to the life, and eminently exemplified ;-where, in a word, the doctrine of the • life of God in the soul of man derives a striking proof, and a venerable sanction.'

It would be no difficult task to sketch the outlines of a life so amiable and useful; the small publication however to which we have just referred, renders it quite unnecessary, as it contains ample information on the subject, and is easily procured. Lest there should be some of our readers who are still unacquainted with it, we think we should seriously fail in our duty, were we to omit this opportunity of giving it our most cordial recominendation.

Mr. Philip Henry was eminently qualified to endure with a right spirit the severity of the times in which he lived, the arbitrary and cruel measures which were then pursued. Persecution, in all its hateful forms, and harassing effects, stimulated greatly the devotion of his heart, and developed the high cellencies of his character. We are prepared indeed to expect much from a man with whom the following was his settled principle,' and which he took all occasions to mention. In those things wherein all the people of God are agreed, I will spend my zeal; and wherein they differ, I will endeavour to walk according to the light that God hath given me, and charitably believe that others do so too. The testimony of one of his most intimate friends says, ' I never knew a man, in all my acquaintance, in whom I have seen so much of God as in good Mr. Henry; whose holy, humble, heavenly, gracious conversation hath been to me no small confirmation of the truth of the Christian religion.'


[ocr errors]

The outlines of a sermon, preached in the year 1669, will illustrate his liberality and moderation amid political ferment. It was a day of treading down, and of perplexity; when Nonconformists in general were charged, especially from the pulpits, with being a factious and turbulent people, hurtful to kings and provinces, and their meetings declared to be held for the purpose of sowing discontent and sedition.

The text was, Psal. xxxv 20. Against them that are quiet in the land." Whence he taught this doctrine:

That it is the character of the people of God, that they are a quiet people in the land. This quietness he describes to be an orderly, peaceable subjection to governors and government in the Lord. We must maintain a reverent esteem of them, and of their authority, in opposition to despising dominions ;-We must be meek under severe commands, and burdensome impositions, not murmuring and complaining as the Israelites against Moses and Aaron; but take them up as our cross in the way, and bear them, as we do foul weather ;-)

-Wc must not speak evil of dignities, nor revile the gods;—We must not traduce their government, as Absalom did David's.

« The people of God make his word their rule, and by that they are taught, (1). That magistracy is God's ordinance, and magistrates God's ministers; that by him kings reign, and the powers that be are ordained of him. (2) That they as well as others are to have their dues, honour, fear, and tribute. (3) That their lawful commands are to be obeyed, and that readily and cheerfully. (4) That the penalties inflicted for not obeying unlawful commands, are patiently to be undergone. (5) That prayer must be offered for kings, and for all in authority, yea, though they persecute. Peaceable prayers bespeak a peaceable people.

• The means he prescribed for preserving quietness, were to get our hearts filled with the knowledge and belief of these two things, 1. That the kingdom of Christ is not of this world; many have thought otherwise, and it hath made them unquiet. 2. That the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God; he needs not our sin to bring to pass his counsel. We must mortify unquietness in the causes of it. We must always remember the oath of God; the oath of allegiance is an oath of quietness. And we must beware of the company and converse of those who are unquiet : though deceitful matters be devised, yet we must be quiet still ; nay, be so much the more quiet.'

This specimen of the spirit and principles of Mr. P. Henry, will not fail to prepossess our readers in favour of the volume before us. Every one who has been charmed and edified by what he does know of him, will wish to know more, and will welcome the present publication, as a valuable memorial of departed worth. His son informs us, that 'through an excess of modesty and self-diffidence he never published any of his Ć

labours, nor prepared any of thein for the press. The Editor however remarks, that since the excellency of these composi

[ocr errors]

tions is calculated, with the Divine blessing, to benefit man• kind, it would seem unjust any longer to withhold them from

general perusal.' They were carefully transcribed by the Editor from Mr. Henry's own hand-writing. No alterations have been made, except what appeared to be absolutely need' ful—such as occasionally completing a sentence, and substituting, in a few instances, a word in more common use for one now become obsolete.'

These Sermons are not of a finished character. Some of them are rather copious outlines of what would attain a much higher degree of perfection when elucidated by the fertile mind, and spoken by the fluent lips of the preacher. His ordinary method was to deduce one or two doctrines from the text, and to amplify and improve it. His style will not be expected to accord with modern taste ; nor can we recommend his mode of arranging his thoughts to the imitation of modern preachers. The excellence of these discourses is of a different order ; it consists chiefly in the pertinent introduction, and close application of Scripture ; to which we may add, the peculiar point of many of his sentences, such as the following: It is one thing f to purpose; it is another thing to resolve. A purpose is a weak resolution; a resolution is a firm purpose.' i Cold wishes are desires in the heart, but they are not desires of the heart.'

We should look upon the Scriptures as written to us--thee • and me. If one be asleep a great noise will not awake him so

soon as calling him by his name.' Indeed, Mr. Henry was pre-eminent in this respect; and a chapter is devoted in the account of his life, to miscellaneous sayings, which cannot fail to please its readers.

Matthew Henry, speaking of his father as a preacher, says,

that • he adapted his method and style to the capacities of his hearers, fetching his similitudes for illustration from those things which were familiar to them. His delivery was very graceful and agreeable; neither noisy and precipitate on the one hand, nor dull and slow on the other. His doctrine dropped as the dew, and distilled as the soaking rain, and came with a charming pleasing power, such as many bore witness to, that have wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.'

The publication before us will confirm the truth of these remarks, and justify the sentiment of his venerable friend, the Rev. F. Tallents, who, at the age of seventy-seven, preached bis funeral sermon. His preaching was plain and pleasant, warm and savoury, full and overflowing, such as few could reach, and greatly blessed by God.'

The volume contains, besides the Sermons, a fac simile of Mr. Henry's hand-writing, and a considerable number of Notes

« AnteriorContinuar »