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of the man, the secret of his power, the meaning of his work, the history of his life.” Many biographies and histories have been written to gratify this curiosity. To these Dr. Rigg's work is intended to be supplemental and corrective, and be certainly does a great deal to make Mr. Wesley a liring man to his readers. All who wish to know the founder of Methodism as he was, may very advantageously consult his pages.
We ask the attention of our ministerial readers to the extracts we append. They teach a lesson which all Methodist preachers at the present day should be swift to learn, if they mean to be worthy successors of him whose successors they claim to be. The first quotation relates to :
WESLEY'S EVANGELICAL CONVERSION. “Until Wesley learned the doctrine of salvation by grace, through faith, not of ourselves,' but as the gift of God,' he had been a ritualist; and it had been his doctrine that salvation was secured by moral and ritual conformity to what the Church requires. From this time forth he taught that salvation was not by works or rites, but by that faith of the new creation, that faith in Christ and Him crucified,' which unites the soul with Christ through His Spirit, which introdaces the soul into 'newness of life,'' 80 that the believer is made a child and heir of God, and a 'joint heir with Christ.' Faith he was to teach hereafter as the principle and inlet of the Divine and Christian life in the human soul. But this change entirely revolutionised the character and tenor of his ministry. To constrain, by the authority of Christ and His Church-by virtue, very mainly of Church discipline and law-men and women to obey the requirements of the Church had been his vocation heretofcre; he had been an ecclesiastical magistrate, a disciplinary officer, a moral and ritual watchman in the service of the Church; his work had been to carry out discipline and instruction in detail. But now he was to be something very different. It was to be his business to preach salvation through Christ Jesus to all men. His first and chief work now was to point the way to Him. The rest would follow for those who repaired to Him. He was not to be a priest, observing, enforcing, carrying out a ritual; but like the Baptist, whose priestly office was merged in his great prophetic function, he was to be a herald and a witness whose one vocation was to direct sinners away from himself, from the Church, from all else whatsoever, to Christ, as the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.' Faith henceforth was to be his doctrine : he was to teach that men are saved by faith. But · faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. From this hour, accordingly, this ritualistic priest and ecclesiastical martinet was to be transformed into a flaming preacher of the great Evangelical salvation and life in all its branches and its rich and varied experiences. Hence arose Wesleyan Methodism and all the Methodist Churches.”—Pp. 144, 145.
WESLEY THE PREACHER. The chapter devoted to this subject is one of the most interesting in the work. We give the paragraph which traces his wonderful success to its chief source :
"Wesley had been an excellent preacher of his kind, though not as yet Evangelical, before he went to America. His beautiful sermon on the Cir. cuincision of the Heart,' preached before the University of Oxford in 1733, is one of several sermons included in his works which afford decisive evidence on this point. His style also a style which the best judges, such as Southey, have agreed in greatly admiring, and which, indeed, no one who understands and loves clear, pure, pleasant English can fail to admire-seems to have been already formed at that period, although its full power was not as yet developed; it was awaiting development under the inspiration of full Christian tenderness and zeal. But it was not until after he had become Böhler's disciple that, for reasons already stated, preaching came to be recognised and felt by himself to be his great work, or that the characteristic power of his preaching was brought out. It was his perception of the doctrine of salvation by faith which not only transformed him thereafter into a preacher as his first and greatest calling, but which also breathed a new soul into his preaching. When
he began to preach this doctrine, his hearers generally felt that a new power accompanied his preaching ; and at the same time the clergy and the orthodox Pharisaic hearers felt that a dangerous, startling, revolntionary doctrine was being proclaimed. Wherever he preached crowds followed, in larger and larger volume, to hear him ; but, at the same time, church after church was shut against him. As Gambold wrote in a letter to Wesley, it is the doctrine of salvation by faith which seems to constitute the special offence of the cross. This, at any rate, in Wesley's days, was the one doctrine which clergymen and orthodox church-goers would not endure. Short of this almost anything might be preached, but on no account this. The University of Oxford would endure the high doctrine as to Christian attainment and consecration taught in the sermon on “ The Circumcision of the Heart," but it would not endure the doctrine of salvation by faith which, ten years later, the same preacher would have set forth before his university. The reason would seem to be twofold : the Evangelical doctrine of salvation by faith strips men altogether of their own righteousness, laying them all low at the same level in presence of God's holiness and of Christ's atonement, as needing Divine pardon and Divine renewal; and it also teaches the real presence of the Divine Spirit, insists upon the present supernatural power of God to inspire repentance and faith and to renew the soul-the present supernatural power of Jesus Christ to save the sinner. Such a doctrine is spiritual'; it enforces the living power and presence of spiritual realities; it is accordingly foolishness,' and 'a slumbling-block' to the
natural man. The natural man' receiveth not these things of the Spirit of God.' The doctrine of high Christian holiness may be regarded as but another, and the highest, form of moral philosophy, of select and virtuous Christian culture. The doctrine of salvation by faith, through grace, is one which humbles utterly the pride of the human understanding, and of merely human virtue. It was when Wesley became the preacher of this doctrine that he became a truly and fully Christian preacher. It was not a new doctrine ; it was the doctrine of the Apostles, the Reformers, and even of the Homilies and Formularies of the Church of England itself; but in a sepse-bound and heartless age it had been almost utterly forgotten.' To revive it by the ordinance of preaching became henceforth Wesley's great life-work. He became, above all things, himself a preacher, and he founded a preaching institute ;,with preaching, however, always associating close personal and individual fellowship."-Pp. 174 -177.
Jesus in the Midst. By GEORGE CRON. Glasgow : Thomas D. Morison.
THERE is some probability that this work may not receive the attention it deserves. Its title, we fear, is too indefinite to awaken interest. The author thinks it eminently suggestive to those who have made the Bible a study, but if his readers are confined to that class we suspect they will be few, and to some of them the suggestiveness will appear only by reading the preface.
Then the first chapter on the advantage of a plurality of Gospels is not very directly connected with the main subject of the book, which is the scene in the Pharisee's house, where the woman, wbo is a sinner, washes our Lord's feet. For ourselves we wondered to what mansion this could be an appropriate portico. However, we proceeded until we got into the mansion, and then title and introductory chapter were forgotten, and the book was not laid aside until we had reached the end.
In many respects it is a beautiful production, marked, however, by 4 few faults. The language is not always sufficiently stately for our tastı. Colloquial expressions which become a speaker are not always admissable with a writer. In serious composition similies and allusions should dignify the subject, and not demean it. This is not done, in our opinion, by speaking of Simon “getting up a party” for Christ, nor when, to make
more impressive the superiority of Christ to His host at the feast, it is asserted to be “the law of cream to rise to the top." Another slight blemish is the frequent citation of the names of authors who supply an expression used, or a sentence quoted, when neither the expression nor sentence has much originality or distinctiveness in it. " • Did Noah ever forget the flood ?' asks Dr. Thomas, of Homilist renown.” Surely Dr. Thomas need not have been mentioned as the asker of that question to give effect to it, or to save our autbor when he employed it from the charge of plagiarism. But while we mention these things we do not attach undue importance to them; and the main portion of the work is marked with an excellence which can well afford these defects, as we judge them to be.
We say this with a demur to the teaching of the book on two particulars-namely, our knowledge of forgiveness, and the degree of salvation attainable in the present life. The author asserts that all the forgiven have a knowledge of their forgiveness, and asks how they arrive at this knowledge ? His reply is, by a process of reasoning, and only in that way. With this answer we do not agree, and especially are we surprised to see it added, that this is the only answer that will bear to be tested by consciousness, facts, and Scripture. Our consciousness certainly does not assert it to be so, nor do the facts which have come to our knowledge as the spiritual adviser of others, nor the teachings of Scripture as we have been led to understand them. We hold that consciousness, fact, and Scripture alike show to us that a knowledge of our forgiveness comes into our hearts by the operation of the Holy Spirit. Our author himself says : " It was Christ who purchased the benefits of redemption for us, and it is the Spirit who applies them.” Why cannot he hold to this view, as to the communication of forgiveness, which he truly asserts to be one of the chief blessings of redemption ? But in all that is said of our knowledge of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit is altogether left out of the question, and save in the one brief sentence we have quoted the reader would not know from the whole of the treatise that the Holy Spirit had anything to do with our salvation.
The process of reasoning by which we come to know we are forgiven is stated in precise form by our author :
“ All who believe in Christ have forgiveness ;
I believe in Christ;
It was by this process, he tells us, the woman who was a sinner knew she was forgiven. “She had power to reason thus; and if she had, why should the knowledge of forgiveness be conveyed to her another way? If we will not use the eyes which God has given us, it is vain that He will give us another pair. Verily, prayer for another pair would be of no avail." Verily, our response is, our author either wants another pair of eyes or the scales removed from those he possesses ; for since the world stood have sipners ever got a knowledge of their persona forgireness by a mere inference of their own reason? Did the use of the syllogism here given ever remove a sense of guilt from the conscience and make the heart "rejoice with a joy unspeakable and full of glory”?
To our view the syllogism of our author does not faithfully represent the teaching of Scripture on this subject. We should give it thus :
God has promised forgiveness to those who believe in Christ;
Therefore I may hope to be forgiven. For after all it is God who forgives, and the act is one that comes from Him in a direct manner. He bestows the blessing upon us, and does not leave us to infer that we have it by a mere process of reasoning. A father makes it the law of his household that any of his children who do wrong shall have their wrong forgiven them if they are sorry for it and amend tbeir conduct. But will a child who is conscious of wrong-doing be satisfied with dealing with his father's laws merely in seeking forgiveness? Will it be enough for him to say, “I am sorry for the wrong I have done, and I will do it no more; and therefore I may infer I am forgiven, without reference to my father personally”? That certainly would not be forgiveness to him. No, with his contrition and practical repentance he might humbly deem himself qualified for his father's mercy, but he would seek to obtain an assurance of his forgiveness from his father's own lips, and till it was given he could have no knowledge that it was right between his father and himself. And so it is with the sinner and God in his attainment of the knowledge of forgiveness. He does not say, “O Lord, I will praise Thee, because from the terms of Thy merciful covenant I may infer I am forgiven "; but, “I will praise Thee, because, though Thou wast angry with me, Thy anger is turned away, and now Thou comfortest me." A sinner comes to a knowledge of forgiveness, not by introspection, not by an analysis of his faith and a consciousness of its genuineness. Many have sought the blessing in this way, but they have sought in vain, and their disappointment has made life a burden to them. But by some means they have been taught the way of the Lord more perfectly. They have been directed to look away from themselves—to forget not only their sins but even their repentance and faith—to look indeed to Christ, and to Him alone ; especially to look to Him in His mediatorial and intercessory work, as bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, and now as our living Advocate with the Father; and following this advice they have found it to be the path of peace to them—they have verified the truth that
“The Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells us we are born of God ;" and then has burst from their lips and hearts the jubilant utterance
“My God is reconciled,
His pardoning voice I hear ;
I can no longer fear.
And Father, Abba, Father cry!' Nor can we acquiesce in our author's teaching on the degree of salvation attainable in the present life. We regard it as somewhat misleading and even dangerous to say that "salvation is more a thing of the future than the present. And especially do we apply this remark to the words of the “saintly Payson,” quoted with approval :—"A large portion of the grace which Christians are to receive will be given to them at the second coming of Christ, or immediately after death. And this will always be in proportion to their prayers and exertions here.” There is a sense certainly in which this is true, but the truth needs stating with more discrimination than our author has exercised. For redemption in its fulness we must wait, we are told, until the Resurrection Day ; but if that be true, surely we may attain to a degree of it here that shall make earth something different to us than a convalescent hospital. When Christ healed the people in the days of His flesh His cures were perfect, and from that we may infer that His spiritual healing will leave the subjects of it in a better condition than that of invalids.
Notwithstanding we do not see eye to eye with the author on the points indicated, we have a word of hearty commendation for his little work, and only wish that from our theological standpoint it had been of such a character that we could have spoken of it as a complete guide to inquirers after salvation. To make it such, in our estimation, the Holy Spirit's work must be more clearly recognised and more fully expounded.
Two Hundred Sketches and Outlines of Sermons, preached in Church
Street Chapel, Edgware Road, London, since 1866. By JABEZ
WE confess to a dislike to works of this description, as we believe that in many cases in which they are used they are pernicious, in most useless, and in very few of any service. Certainly we should never put one into the hands of a young man training for the ministry, unless we were naughty enough to wish to spoil him, or had a desire to test his principle in resisting temptation ; nor yet into the hands of one in full ministerial standing, for we hold most strongly that a man who cannot preach without the aid of other men's outlines is not called to preach at all. The only use, according to our intelligence, which such a work can be of is to suggest "texts, subjects, and modes of treatment." This is the first-named purpose for which the author designs this volume. That it may suggest texts and subjects we admit, but we hope that in very few instances it will be resorted to for modes of treatment, except they be sought for to be shunned. This is the feature of the work we are most dissatisfied with, or we might say the only feature that gives us dissatisfaction. Of course we have not read every sketch of the two hundred given, but those we have referred to are mainly, if not altogether, after models we had hoped had gone into oblivion. They are fine specimens of wordy declamation, but not of clear, thorough, and serviceable exposition of truth. The idea of unity in a sermon never seems to enter into the author's mind; all is discursive and promiscuous. His outlines are not the bud which can be expanded or developed into fruit or flower; their parts have no congeneric qualities, they do not grow out of each other, but are a collection of heterogeneous statements and observations, or they may be taken as exercises in tautological expressions. How the author could affix to his volume the motto, “So they read in the book, in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading," we cannot conceive. Whoever goes to its pages for exposition of Scriptural and saying truth will be disappointed.
Here is the Philippian Jailer for a subject, and Acts xvi., 31–32,