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80 active, so candid, so enlightened, and so pious as that of Mr. Buckminster resulted. It will be apparent from the following sermons, that the foundation of all his opinions was laid in the belief, that the great design of the gospel is, to produce a moral influence on the human character—to raise it from the degradation and ruin of sin, and fit it for the

pure and intellectual bappiness of heaven. From this simple principle--s0 obvious, so undeniable, and yet so often forgotten-all his views of christianity took their character. It necessarily follows from it, that all the doctrines and views of the gospel-as far, at least, as they regard man-are to be con

sidered in the light of motives and means ; of no intrinsic value, except as they are auxiliary to this great end. Christian faith, therefore, derives none of its efficacy from the number merely, much less the mysticism and obscurity of the articles we believe. ineness and its worth are to be determined by the energy and permanence of our practical persuasion of those truths, which supply the strongest and most affecting motives and encouragements to repentance and a holy life.

These, in the view of Mr. Buckminster, were, the paternal character of God-his constant presence and overruling Providence—the connexion of his favour always and only with moral goodness—the pardón of sin to the penitent through Jesus Christ, his mission to enlighten and redeem

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assist our sincere exertions—the just and impartial retributions of eternity to all the human race, according to their deeds. These,

, surely, are views, which, every christian wilí acknowledge, enter largely into the grounds and support of his faith, and hope, and charity. They are, beyond all question, those, on which the writers on vital religion—who are most universally acknowledged to have caught the true spirit of the gospel-chiefly insist. And who will say, that any man, whose understanding acknowledges, and whose heart is imbued with these truths, will want any essential characteristick of a true disciple of his Saviour ?

It was the great object of the ministerial labours of Mr. Buckminster to produce, under the influence of these views, the practical religion of the heart and life, as it is explained in the teaching and illustrated in the example of our Saviour. How near this purpose was to his heart, is very strikingly displayed in the closing passage of his sermon on the mutual influence of knowledge, piety and charity. “It is the constant object of my wishes and prayers, and may it be the effect of my preaching, under the blessing of God, to contribute to the formation of that noblest of characters, the christian, whose love, as the apostle describes it, abounds more and more in knowledge and in all judgment,

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approves the things which are excellent, and who remains sincere and without offence, till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” These are the words, with which he closed his earthly labours in the desk of instruction.* His people bear him witness now and, I trust, will hereafter bear him witness before the throne of God—that all his preaching justified this declaration, and all his life harmonized with this

prayer. It is impossible, that a man, who entertained such views of the nature of religion, should be exclusive or intolerant. Mr. Buckminster was eminently charitable towards those, who differed from him on speculative points. He felt, with all wide observers of human character, that great errours of the understanding, on almost every subject, are consistent with uprightness of heart. How, indeed, can any one fail to acknowledge, that this may be so in religion, who remembers, that even the disciples of our Lord were confessedly full of prejudice and misapprehension before their Master's death? Mr. Buckminster could extend his affection towards good men of every sect and communion. He could acknowledge in a Fenelon, with all his zeal for transubstantiation and Papal infallibility, one of the

* This sermon was delivered before the society for promoting christian “knowledge, piety and charity,” and afterwards altered and adapted to his own people, and preached on the Lord's day before he was seized with his last illness,

purest and most lovely exemplifications of the christian character, which the world has seen since the days of St. John. He did not, however, conceive, that any part of his or any other man's goodness consisted in, or was necessarily connected with his errours. He was, therefore, a steady opposer of what he believed to be the corruptions of christianity-not only because the gospel is rendered incredible by them to so many intelligent men-but because they lessen, in the minds of many good persons, that joy and peace in believing, which the religion of Christ is fitted and intended to impart.

Of what Mr. Buckminster was, and of what he did, these sermons are now to be the only permanent memorial. If the effect, which some of them produce, when read, might be anticipated from their effect, when delivered, it will not often be surpassed. The remark of Quinctilian, however, on the eloquence of Hortensius, is, in some degree, true of the compositions of every fine speaker. There is a certain charm thrown over his thoughts by his manner, while speaking, which, when we read them, we seek for in vain.* But, though something of that interest will, no doubt, be lost, which particular passages derived from the liquid voice, the eloquent eye, the illuminated countenance, the indescribable animation, the variety and frequent pathos of the manner of Mr. Buckminster,

*

Apparet placuisse aliquid eo dicente, quod legentes non invenimus. Lib. IX. c. 3.

there are still several sermons in this collection, which will gain by being read more than they will lose; and merits will be discovered, which were overlooked, or not distinctly seen, amidst the general splendour of his eloquence.

They will, perhaps, be considered as, upon the whole, the most successful attempt yet made to unite the peculiar excellencies of the English and French pulpits. The best English sermons are, no doubt, very powerful performances. There are to be found in them some of the ablest defences of christianity, the most just and rational statements of its peculiar doctrines, the most complete delineation of the virtues and vices, the most learned and judicious illustrations of the scriptures, the best and weightiest maxims of habitual conduct, and the deepest and most intimate views of the nature and spirit of devotion. They have almost every merit as dissertations and essays; but, considered as addresses intended for an actual audience, they certainly have many important defects. They often fail of making any other, than a very intellectual hearer, feel his own personal interest in the truths, they inculcate. They are wanting in directness and closeness of application. They are studiously unimpassioned, to a degree, which makes them often appear cold and unimpressive. Some exceptions are to be made for the sermons of Taylor and Barrow, and several writers of later years ; but the

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