Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

yet in a truly Christian spirit for the faith once delivered to the saints. May not u hope be indulged, that this "little leaveu" will silently but powerfully make its way through the m.iss of spiritual ignorance and error, in which it lies concealed, "till "the whole shall be leavened f"

Mr. Mandell's sermons are not characterized by the higher graces of composition. There are no attempts at fine writing1, no exuberance of fancy, or flights of eloquence; but they possess qualities of more sterling worth; they exhibit, in no small degree, Christian simplicity, genuine feeling, pious ardor, and a rich exhibition of evangelical truth. Having been composed amid the seclusion of a college residence, or during intervals of leisure from literary occupations, it is not surprising that they should be more disquisitive, than is adapted for general usefulness. The discourses of men whose halms and occupations are exclusively studious and literary, and who are not brought out into active service, will, for the most part, be found wanting in that %ivi i colouring, that glow of feeling, and that adaptation to all the varieties of human character and condition, which experience and minute observation alone can impart. There will he the same difference between the compositions of the scholar and the pastor, as will be seen in the productions of the artist who delineates nature in his study, rather than from actual observation; for this reason a collegiate residence, especially if accompanied with a high degree of literary ardor, must necessarily be unfavourable to ministerial usefulness.

With this abatement, which applies not to these sermons alone-, bat in a greater or less degree to all the theological productions of academic writers, we do not hesitate to recommend the discourses of Mr. Mandril as, in our judgement, perfectly orthodox in sentiment, eminently adapted for instruction, and such as must commend themselves to every pious reader. The first of the Sermons before us, is, " A Defence of Christian Missions," preached before the University of Cambridge, at a time when the Church Missionary Society had few advocates, and many formidable opponents there. In this Discourse, which is founded on Is. lii. 10, some of the common-place and oft-refuted objections to missionary efforts, are again satisfactorily answered; and a variety of motives adduced, to stimulate the liearers to zealous co-operation. He reminds them of the obligations which we are under to Christian Missionaries . of the encouraging prospects of success which we are now opening on every side; and the rapid approach of that period, when all tin; labours of Christian benevolence must terminate, and when all opportunities of doing good will for ever cease.

The second Sermon, in the order of publication, is entitled, Preparation for Death enforced from the Uncertainty of Lite.

Vol. X. N. S. P

and was occasioned by the death of a junior member of his ovfn college, at a time when an epidemic lever prevailed, and had already committed great ravages in the town and University of Cambridge. It is plain, impressive, earnest, and affectionate; such as the occasion of its delivery obviously required.

In the Sermon entitled, The only availing Method of Salvation, founded on Gal. v. 6, the manifest design of its Author, was, to enter his decided protest against the fashionable doctrine of baptismal regeneration, and to explain the nature and grounds of justification. As both these subjects have been already fully discussed in some former numbers, we shall not at present introduce more than a single extract, in which a somewhat novel argument is brought to bear upon the advocates of Baptismal regeneration.

• Every person is aware that in this country there is one denomination of professing Christians, I mean the Society of Friends, who avowedly reject the outward administration of the rite of Baptism. Now, if we look at their children, and at those children in our Church, who have been baptized in their infancy, we shall scarcely, I fear, discover those marks of moral superiority, those indications of a spiritual principle being implanted in the latter, which, on the supposition that grace is necessarily conveyed by baptism, might naturally have been expected: on the contrary, it may not improbably be found, that the balance in point of external decorum and propriety of conduct, is in favour of the children of that denomination of Christians to which I have adverted. As a plain matter of fact, therefore, we have here no evidence that spiritual grace; is necessarily and infallibly communicated by the simple administration of the external ordinance. Should it liu said, that spiritual grace has nevertheless' been communicated, it would be said in the absence of all proof from experience, or rather contrary to all proof: for in numerous instances, alas! directly the opposite sentiment might with far greater semblance of truth be maintained. For do we not find, that many who have been baptized in their childhood, as they grow up, and when they arrive at years of maturity, absolutely deny the truth of Revelation altogether? What multitudes are there, even in this Christian country, who too fully realize the awful character of " baptized infidels!" So far is it from being uniformly and invariably true that a seminal principle of grace necessarily accompanies Baptism, that no genuine and decisive marks of its presence ever develope themselves, in many instances at least, at any one period of future life.' pp. 10,11.

The six Sermons on the Advent of Christ, are on the following subjects.

< I. On the antecedent testimonies relative to the Advent of Christ.

II. On the nature of the office which Christ came to fulfil.

III. On the reception which Christ experienced.

IV. On the spiritual Advent of Christ,

V. On the Nativity of Christ.

VI. On the final Advent of Christ,'

In the general Introduction to these discourses, the Author states modestly, and with great candour, his reasons for the observance of Advent Sundays; reasons which, however unsatisfactory they might appear to those who maintain High Church principles, form the only rational basis on which the practice can rest.

« We do not,' says our Author, ' plead for the propriety of their observance on the ground of mere usage and antiquity: neither do we profess to derive from the Holy Scriptures any positive warrant for their institution; nay more, we are not unwilling to allow, that occasionally they mny have been perverted to purposes widely at variance with their original design, may have been wasted in giddy revelry, or so regarded as to foster a spirit of formality and pharisaic pride: yet when all this is conceded, they still appear to admit of a defence quite sufficient to satisfy any fair and unprejudiced mind.

'With respect, then, to the present observance, it is evident, as already hinted, that its specific intention is, to bripg to recollection the vastness of our obligations to the best Benefactor of mankind, to recall our thoughts to that state of humiliation in which he at first appeared, and also to furnish a perpetual memento of his glorious Advent at the great day. Contemplated in these points of view, must it not be acknowledged, that it is a service highly appropriate, that it is a becoming expression of grateful feeling, the obvious dictate of piety and wisdom? Every one will allow, that it is proper to notice in a particular manner, the anniversary of his own birth, or of any remarkable interposition of Providence; surely then it cannot be wrong to commemorate, with devout gratitude, the arrival on earth of that illustrious Person, who assumed our nature in order to accomplish our deliverance, and who is the Author of all our mercies. Rather, shall we not be thankful for any appointment which is calculated to bring his astonishing goodness before our view? These remarks, however, it'may be here proper to observe, are to be regarded as strictly defensive. '1 hey are by no means intended even indirectly to convey a charge against those who differ from ourselves on a subject confessedly of minor importance. Their sole aim is to show, that there is nothing in this department of our ecclesiastical constitution, which is inconsistent with the purity and simplicity of the gospel, and that the objections which are sometimes urged against it, are not entitled to much consideration. We conceive that we are acting thoroughly in conformity with the precepts and the spirit of Christianity, while we thus submit ourselves even to the "ordinance of man for the Lord's sake.'"

If such were always the spirit of forbearance and conciliation in which controversies on religious subjects, whether they relate to ~ doctrine or discipline, were carried on, how much nearer would good men approximate to each other, than they now appear to do; and what a cheering hope would he inspired, that ere long we should all come in the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, unto perfect men; "to the measure of "the stature of the fulness of Christ."

In one of these discourses, which abounds with judicious reflections and impressive admonitions, the following remarks occur on the present state of that Church to which the preacher belongs, and for which he cherishes a truly filial solicitude. They are well worthy of the most serious consideration of all the friends of the Establishment; since they distinctly point out the quarter froin which danger is chiefly to be apprehended by the Members of the national Ecclesiastical Establishment.

'Here may I be permitted to remark, that notwithstanding the gloomy forebodings which have been occasionally expressed, there seems no just grouud to apprehend the downfall of that venerable ecclesiastical fabric, which has been erected in these realms: at the same time, it must not be dissembled, that there is a sense in which, with perfect truth it may be said respecting it, that Christ stands at the door and knocks. Let us listen to the call, and if, in any instance, the sacred tire on the altar appears to languish, let it be the first and great concern of the parties to whom it's charge is consigned, that it may revive and burn with increasing brightness. It is not enough to say, (hat all it well, or to imagine, that the matter is to be established by mere asseveration, or mutual compliments amongst those immediately responsible. These are not the times when questions in religion are to be decided by bare authority, in a dictatorial oracular tone and temper, and by lavishing abuse on those who chuse to differ. The only real remedy seems to be, that we make ourselves thoroughly acquainted with our own acknowledged principles, that we be prepared to state and enforce them, in a plain and practical manner, with earnestness, with fidelity, with affection, with an anxious desire to promote the spiritual welfare of those committed to our charge, and then we need entertain no apprehensions, that " Ichabod," (" the glory is departed") will be ever inscribed on the walls of our temples. fJothiug short of this, however, will be found sufficient to secure their final stability, or effectually to withstand the force of those turbulent waves which dash against them. It is not by hard speeches, and hvtemperate railings, and injurious insinuations,—it is not by torpor and apathy, and a cold, heartless, uninteresting method of performing her services,—much less is it by harassing and opposing those zealous and active individuals, who are not conscious of aiming at, or of deserving any other character than that of consistent sons of the establishment.— Nor again, is it by attempts to show, tor example, that the only spiritual . dvent of Christ, which in these times we are warranted to expect, necessarily takes place at Infant baptism, that we must ever hope to advance the real interests of that Church to which wc belong. AH that is wanted is, the revival of that zeal which has been suffered to decline, together with an active, faithful publication of the important truths contained in our Articles and Homilies, which have been too much lost sight of. No innovation, or adoption of untried theories i» necessary, but simply the return to those principles, and the spirit of that system in general, from which it cannot be denied, there has been in many instances, a lamentable departure.'

Yet we presume that the penalty of this manly avowal, would be, that the preacher would be denounced by the quarter part of bis learned audience as an enemy to the Church, a furious innovator, a wild enthusiast," a friend of publicans and sinners." Nor will the salutary advice given to the candidates for the clerical profession, which immediately follows, be much more palatable.

'I would wish particularly to call the attention of the younger part of my audience to this point, because with many of them will rest, in a very great degree, the vast responsibility of advancing or of impairing the interests of true religion, in that Church which our pious forefathers founded in these realms, which was once regarded as the glory of the Reformation I am anxious that they may make themselves minutely acquainted with her doctrines and her discipline, so that their regard to her may not rest on the mere prejudices of education, er other ground equally indefensible, but on a thorough conviction of her substantial excellencies: for notwithstanding the cavils and objections from various quarters, with which she has been occasionally assailed, her constitution is well adapted to advance and to perpetuate, upon a large acale, the great ends of pure and practical Christianity. She possesses, within herself, as is evinced by recent facts in her history, if I may so speak, a principle of resuscitation: and there is nothing besides now wanted, under the divine blessing, in order to promote the wide diffusion of spiritual religion in all her borders, but ministers of correct knowledge and fervent zeal, showing "inund speech, that cannot be condemned," and earnestly desirous to " make full proof of their ministry." Much, very much, however, it may be pardonable to repeat, depends upon their qualifications, not only as it respects themselves, not only as it respects those who are the present witnesses of their conduct, but especially as it respects the growth or the declension of genuine Christianity,—the salvation or destruction of immortal souls, in that sphere where it may be their lot to labour.'

Though we may not exactly agree with this pious clergyman on tie 'substantial excellencies of the Church of England,1 and her tendency to promote, ' on a large scale, pure and practical 1 Christianity,' yet we do concur with him as to the necessity of a 'priuciple of resuscitation,' a' wider diffusion of spiritual religion 'in all lii borders,' and a larger supply of ministers of correct knowledge and fervent zeal. Adverse as we have been considered 10 the existing ecclesiastical establishment, and opposed as we undoubtedly are to every form of hierarchy, as militating against the sole authority of Jesus Christ, none would more sincerely rrjoice than ourselves in such a revival of religion within .the National Church, and such an augmentation of (nous, <!<•ministers to serve at her altars.

« AnteriorContinuar »