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THE LIFE OF THE REVEREND THOMAS COKE, D.C.L. By J. W.
ETHERIDGE, M.A. London: Mason and Co. WILLIAM GRIMSHAW, Incumbent of Haworth, 1742–63. By
SPENCER HARDY. London: Mason and Co.
The rise of Methodism, and the revival of religion, in the Church and out of it, with which it was associated, is not only one of the most interesting chapters of Ecclesiastical History, but also furnishes an important species of evidence, analagous to that arising from Luther's Reformation, of the indestructible vitality of Christianity, and God's lasting providence over His Church. With this Methodist revival, Dr. Coke was intimately connected. He was originally a clergyman of the establishment, had been created a Doctor of Common Law in the University of Oxford, had entered into Priests' orders, and undertaken the care of successive parishes. Beginning, however, to appreciate more profoundly the spiritual character of Christianity, and being at the same time brought into contact with John Wesley, he became associated with him in some of the earlier and more important Methodist movements. He was appointed by John Wesley, superintendent, or what is now called bishop, in the American Methodist Episcopal Church. As Manager of the Methodist l'oreign Missions he crossed the Atlantic nine times. He originated a mission to the West Indian negroes. He wrote, at the request of Conference, a Commentary on the Bible, in six quarto volumes. In his old age he started at the head of a company of missionaries for Ceylon; but he died on the voyage, and his body was committed to the Indian
This is the best life of Coke which has appeared, and will repay perusal, not only by Methodists, but by Christians of every denomination.
The Yorkshire village of Haworth, destined in the present generation to be associated with the gifted authors of the Bell novels, was in the last century the scene of the life and labors of William Grimshaw, one of that illustrious band of clergymen, who successfully endeavored, in an age of darkness, to hold forth the light of truth, and to redeem their Church from the reproval of undevout supineness. He co-operated with the Wesleys, and with Whitfield, for the highest welfare of their race; and the glorious results of his life will only be known when the Book of Life is unfolded. O si sic omnes !
A H O M I L Y
The Crucifixion of Christ, an Ever
“ They crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh.”—Heb. vi. 6.
N exposition of the terribly significant context, with a remark or two upon the extraordinary sentence have selected for special attention, will be found in Vol. III. of the “Homilist.” The
apostle, it must be remembered, is here speaking of the impossibility of apostates from Christianity being ever again restored ; and the grand reason he assigns for this impossibility is, that they have "crucified to themselves the Son of God afresh.” The expression “to themselves” is variously rendered. Some express it, as concerning themselves, that is, as far as they themselves are concerned: and others, as meaning that the persons referred to make that dreadful crime of the Jews, that crowning act of the world's depravity, their own, by the spirit of their conduct. This last seems to me the most natural idea, the one most in harmony with the structure of the language and the spirit of the passage.*
Now, although the apostle uses the language to designate the fearful criminality of the apostates in question, it is, I fear, capable of a far more extensive application. I intend looking upon it in two aspects
“ Truly, if these men had it in their power, they would do to Christ what the Jews did under Pontius Pilate.”— Bengel.
ESTIMATES THE CHARACTER OF MAN.
Paul wrote these words long after Christ had died upon the cross, and departed from the earth. Thirty long years had rolled away since Jesus had ascended “far above all principalities and powers,” &c. He was beyond the reach of touch. How then could he speak of men, who had never seen Him, and who never would see Him, until they passed into the great eternity, as crucifying Him ? Is it a mere figure of speech, a poetic flash of ambitious rhetoric ? By no means. The Apostle is touching the gravest of themes, and he is evidently in the gravest mood. It is a veritable, not a figurative act, which he represents as the crucifying of Christ. The truth is, Paul did not consider the essence of a moral act, to lie in the muscular exertion, but in the mental volition. “ As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” This is Heaven's idea of moral conduct. With what clear. ness, force, and constancy, did the Heavenly Teacher insist on this ! According to Him, a man might be a thief, who had never taken a fraction of another's property ; a liar who had never uttered a word of falsehood ; a blasphemer who had never giveŋ utterance to a profane expression ; a murderer who had never struck a blow. Real moral actions are performed, battles are fought, victories are won and defeats endured, crimes perpetrated and virtues displayed, upon those hidden fields of the soul, into which no eye penetrates but God's. In this way the apostle regarded men as being guilty of perpetrating the dreadful act of crucifying Christ who had never seen Him.
This is Heaven's method of estimating moral character, and on it I offer three remarks :
This method of judging character commends itself to our sense of justice as obviously right. Suppose the contrary ; suppose that character
determined only by our overt acts, without any reference to the motive that prompted them ; would not the verdict upon our conduct clash with our sense of what is reasonable and
the right? We know, for instance, from consciousness, that outward actions, which often appear good to others and have apparently a good tendency, spring from motives that conscience cannot approve—and we know the reverse.
We know also, that overt actions, both good and bad, amount to very little, compared with what their authors would do if they had the capacity and the means. Moreover, we instinctively associate the intention or motive of a man with his actions. We condemn the actions of some and laud those of others, simply because of the character of the intention which we suppose prompted their performance. The same with our own conduct. Our consciences approve not of any act we put forth because it seems good to others, but simply because it was intended as good by ourselves. * If the whole world condemn our conduct, conscience will smile upon us, if the motives which have controlled us be pure.
But should our actions, on the contrary, awake the hosannahs of the age, our consciences will damn us if they have not sprung from motives in accordance with our convictions of the true, the beautiful, and the good.
Secondly: This method of judging character urges the most vigorous discipline of the heart. The productions depend upon the soil, the streams upon the fountain. Look well therefore to the soil ; keep the fountain pure. “Keep thy heart with all diligence," &c. The parts which the actor on the open stage performs with such striking effect before the gaze of applauding thousands, he has, many times before, acted over and over again in solitude. So with overt crimes. Those deeds of atrocity that shock for a time the feelings of a whole age, the perpetrator has acted several times before, in the hidden regions of his own foul heart. Be earnest then in the culture of the heart. Let life's unremitting prayer be :—“Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Thirdly: This method of judging character suggests unexpected revelations on the day of judgment. All men
* Dr. Wayland's Moral Science, Section III.
will appear in new and strange lights then. We are told that we are to give an account of all things done “in the body. Whether this little preposition was intended to express the idea we are attaching to it or not, the idea itself is undeniably true. What we have done by the body is trifling indeed, compared with what we have done in it. All that each man has done in his body will be revealed in the eternal sunlight of retribution. What is the history of your conduct ?— The mere catalogue of your outward muscular deeds ? I tell you nay, it includes the unexpressed wishes, the inarticulate longings, the unwrought purposes of the heart. And what is the record of your outward life to this? What ?- What is one short verse of the Bible to the great thousand-chaptered book itself? It is for all, on that great unsealed book, that you will have to answer when you are called to give an account of all the things done in the body. Great Heavens ! What revelations there will be at the day of judgment !
Another aspect in which I shall look upon this language is :
II. AS INDICATING THE ENORMITIES WHICH CORRUPT MEN
In the history of this world which teems with crimes, the crucifixion of Christ stands forth with pre-eminent enormity. Political tyrannies under which empires have groaned, through the round of many centuries ; Religious superstition and Priestcraft with their bloody inquisitions, their torturing racks, and fires of martyrdom; War-hell's chief offspring, which has desolated the fairest portions of the globe, dyed oceans with blood, and hurled millions into eternity-all these are an aggregation of crimes whose enormity no finite intellect can estimate. But great as they are, are they to be compared with the crucifixion? No! sooner compare atoms in the sunbeam to the cloud-capped mountains that block out the great sun itself. Every sinful passion you can conceive of was brought out and worked to its utmost tension to accomplish this crucifixion. I may say that