« הקודםהמשך »
right emotion of the affections, and influences of the Holy Ghost is more every just determination of the will; proclaimed, and his presence more and the folly and impotency of hu- ardently and constantly implored by man reason in matters of religion fervent prayer. without his constant influences. It occurs to us, also, that perhaps This commanding truth is just as more remains to be done as to the much adapted to meet the evils of further illustration of the Scripture a reasoning age, as the doctrine of doctrine respecting the Holy Ghost, justification was to correct those than as to any other great topic. of a superstitious one. As Luther The blessing of justification, oboverthrew the whole edifice of human scured or unknown for eleven or merits and traditions, by the one great twelve centuries, was regained to principle of free pardon through the the church by the immense and reiblood of Christ; so must we “cast terated labours of Luther. Perbaps down imaginations and every high the full doctrine of the Holy Ghost, thing that exalteth itself against the after three centuries more, is now knowledge of God, and bring into to be developed by the joint efforts captivity every thought to the obe- of those who at all imbibe his Spirit. dience of Christ," by the mighty The baptismal controversy has principle of subjection to the teach- opened the subject, and shed much ing and grace of the Holy Spirit. light upon many parts of it. Still
Independently of this argument, the language of the Reformation, drawn from the peculiar current of on the sacrament of baptism and evil in a day like the present, there the kindred topics, has not yet peris a further reason for calling atten. haps been completely and satisfaction to this doctrine. A peculiar torily examined, and the clergy of effusion of the influences of the Spi- our church are far from feeling enrit of God is the blessing promised, tirely convinced of the manner in under the New. Testament dispensa- which all the different statements tion, as the promise of the Messiah of the Scriptures on this wide subwas that of the old. At the Refor- ject may best be understood and mation, the doctrine of free justifi. reconciled. Is it too much to hope cation by faith in Christ, which had that more light may be soon shed been lost for ages, was recovered. on this question, and that human We now need to recover that ap- authorities may be held of less mopropriate blessing of our dispensa- ment and the Divine record be more tion, the doctrine of the operations simply allowed to sway in the arbiof the Holy Ghost. It requires to tration of it? Perhaps it was rebe developed fully, to be enforced served for this late age, when the in connexion with the responsibility glory of the Spirit of God is to be and the efforts of man, tried by the manifested, to vindicate this mystery written standard of the Bible and of grace in the eyes and to the hearts the Bible only, and evidenced by of the universal church.
A great the solid virtues of the Christian step to such a success would be temper and life. Our parishes will feeling our need of his blessed innever be roused, our congregations fluences more deeply, and more never converted, the objections of earnestly uniting in prayer for the human reason never silenced, the actual increase of them amongst souls of men never brought to the us. Luther was the better prepared Saviour, ministers never clothed with to receive the doctrine of justificathe panoply of righteousness, so- tion by his own acute feelings, by a cieties for Bibles and missions never conscience agitated with a sense of vigorous and united, and their efforts sin, by the necessities of his religious never adequately blessed, till the state before God. He never speaks need of our dependence upon the of it but as a man whose entire hope reposed on this free remission. In purity and zeal which have burnt like manner, the doctrine of the in the sanctuary of their temple ? Holy Ghost will never be scriptu- What the jealous watchfulness over rally brought out and made promi- the deposit of the Gospel? What nent but by deep and awful convic- the diligence in educating children, tions of our own ignorance and catechising youth, and diffusing in weakness, of the evil of sin, of the the several subdivisions of Protesimpotency of nature, of the power tant lands the holy truths consigned of temptation of the hourly necessity, in their public formularies? The to our own right perception of truth anwer to such inquiries will, unand our own comfort and holiness, of happily, disclose a decline in the the gracious influences of the Spirit. Reformed Churches. We cannot ex
4. But a fourth inference from the tend our remarks, as regards this involume of ecclesiastical history be- quiry, to any length ; but we may fore us, and one connected with the select, as a specimen, the system of preceding, is, a conviction of the Rationalism, so called, in Germany. decline of the Protestant Churches Let the reader compare the Saxon generally since the period of the Churches in 1826, with the same Reformation, and of their languid bodies in 1526-Luther, with the progress in the course which was present theological professors_the then opened. The great revivers of Confession of Augsburg, or the comDivine truth set before the Protest- ment on the Galatians by him, with ant nations, whom they were the the wretched and almost blaspheinstruments of illuminating, an open mous things called comments of the door. The progress of the Reformed last fifty years—the humble faith ir. doctrines was only begun by them- the authoritative word of Christ of selves. Popery remained to be as- the Reformed age, with the levity sailed and overthrown, by the suc- and unbelief of the present. But ceeding age, in large portions of why do we say compare ? Let the Christendom, and the dawn of grace reader contrast the doctrine of the in various lands was left to be inspiration of Scripture, and the brought on to the meridian day. reverence of interpretation flowing The heathens were to be illuminated from it, and the holy subjection to and the Mohammedan states re- its plain meaning, which elevated duced to the obedience of the faith. and sanctified the first Reformed The truth of Christ was to be ex- teachers, with the denial of all intended also throughout the mass of spiration, the flippant presumption those countries where it had been of criticism, and the wresting of the adopted by the established authori- sacred text to the destruction of ties and incorporated into the public souls, which disgrace the present, creed. Unity, peace, holiness, and the Trinity, the incarnation, and the spirituality were to be permanently descent of the Spirit denied; the doc. established, so far at least as the trine of the Fall set aside ; heathen efforts of human agents could secure philosophers raised almost to a level this blessed result. All things with Christ-the gift of prophecy courted the Protestant communities explained away—the miracles enerto pursue their noble career. But vated, and overthrown as proofs of a what has been the history of the Divine mission; in short, every law three centuries which have since of thought, of sense, of language elapsed ? What have been the ad- outraged; and such improbable reavances and conquests of truth? sonings, and false and misapplied What the measure of zeal in mis- philology, introduced, as no church, sions ? What the labours for .con- no nation, no age can furnish, except verting the world ? What the care the philosophical school of divinity to preserve peace and truth in the erected in the Protestant Church of Protestant countries ? What the Germany in the eighteenth century: of the Church of Christ. [Feb. (see Rev. H. J. Rose of Horshani's, made in the body of our own church; State of the Protestant Religion in how faint is the prevalent notion, Germany :) and can we wonder that in the educated and higher classes, the judgments of God should avenge of what a clergyman should really such defection ?
be, and what are the true character But let us look at home: what and dignity of the episcopal funclamentable departures from the tion! Even in our houses of parliaprinciples and doctrines and inci- ment, where is the meek but firm pient triumphs of the Reformation voice of Christianity to be heard, have taken place! Compare Eng. where the sacred principles on which land in the reign of Edward VI. and revelation proceeds admitted, where Elizabeth—that is, in the sixteenth the foundations of the Christian century, the century of the reform faith fairly laid under the superin religion-with England under structure of our policy? We are reGeorge II. and III., that is, in the minded indeed of the errors and nineteenth. We admit, and bless enthusiasm of the Puritans. AllowGod for, the improvements, the large ing this, the faults of others are no improvements, of the last thirty excuse for our own revolt from God. years. But what ought a Protestant, Religion is the stability of states. an enlightened, a free, and powerful Obedience to God is the way to nation, like England, to have been national prosperity. The true phiat this period of time, with the Bible losophy of a Christian government open before her, with her free senate is to act upon the great principles and laws, with the experience of of the Gospel. We thank God for unnumbered deliverances from the what amendment has taken place of hand of God? What especially ought, late years; and we make these reand might, and would have been our flections, that, knowing from whence progress, had we been faithful to
we have fallen, our return to God our Saviour, since the Revolution of may be more entire and immediate. 1688 ? And yet a defection in all 5. The next deduction, therefore, the vital truths of the Gospel sub- which the review of the times of sequently to that deliverance spread Luther suggests, is, the importance through the church; an open dis- of using all means, individually and regard of religion invaded too collectively, for the further revival many of our public men; a fatal of religion in our own circle, and omission of the duty of educating throughout the universal church, our poor paralysed our general especially by prayer to God for the morals; inadequate means of attend- influence of his Holy Spirit to raise ing the public worship of God were up men in church and state to assert too long suffered to continue, and his truth and carry on his cause. national sins have been accumulated, The history before us proclaims, partly by the relaxation of our laws, that a general 12vival of religion can and partly by the non-correction of only be reasonably expected in the many of our flagrant public evils. use of suitable means. It was thus Even now, after so much has been that the glorious brightness of the effected by the revival of religion Reformation was introduced. Efamongst us, how feebly do we pre- forts were made by each sent the image of a Christian nation; his own circle; devout men were how inadequately does a large por- raised up, in answer to the prayers tion of the clergy preach the Gospel; of the faithful; the churches were how vast a mass of our population is filled with holy and enlightened left uneducated; how much have pastors; governments lent their aid ; our Bible and Missionary institu- princes and counsellors of state felt tions been frowned upon; how the influence of religion, and obeyed tardily have any real efforts to ex. that influence; the doctrine of Christ tend the religion of Christ been was diffused by means of schools
amongst the poor; a bold and con- afforded to Luther and his comrades, sistent stand was made against fun- fifteen centuries after the death of damental error in the face of perse- the Apostles, such as to discourage cution ; in a word, men « sought us under the aspect of things first the kingdom of God and his around us in the present day. Whatrighteousness.” Nor were leading ever that great reformer effected, and distinguished characters want- in shaking to its foundation the ing, in the different departments anti-Christian corruption, and prowhere great duties were to be dis- claiming the heavenly doctrine of charged, to marshal the hosts of the Christ, was in a way rather to enfaithful, and lead them on to their liven our hopes of a similar sucpeaceful and holy conquests. An cess three centuries after his labours. open and effectual door was set be. The exertions of individual Chrisfore the church; and she entered in tians are as open to us as to him and triumphed.
and his contemporaries. The exIn like manner we cannot, from traordinary simplicity and efficacy reason or Scripture, expect the of the Bible Societies place us on wide diffusion of the Gospel now an elevation which the progress of without means being employed, and the arts, connected with the power suitable instruments being formed of the press, the wide diffusion of by the great Head of the church. general education, and the reThese will vary in their particular sources and commerce of Christian characters, according to the cir- countries, enable us to employ to cumstances for which they are to an extent far beyond any thing be adapted. We cannot expect a known by the Reformed leaders. Luther, or Melancthon, or Ponta- We have only to labour at the nus, or Frederick to reappear, any diffusion of this one fundamental more than their individual proceed- blessing, in order to prepare for the ings or writings to be repeated. We reception of every other. Mismight almost as well look for the sions again are far more within the wonders of Pentecost, and of the mi- reach of the present age, than they raculous propagation of the Gospel, were of the newly reformed one. The to revisit the church; and yet in a powers, quite unparalleled, of small proper sense, both the prodigies of individual contributions and efforts, the one, and the amazing labour united by voluntary and recog. and success of the other, shall nized principles of association, are bless and are blessing these later the offspring of our own times, and ages. We have not the gift of have only yet begun to produce tongues, but we have a far greater their astonishing effects. Again, variety of languages acquired by the free constitution and moral ordinary exertion. We have not energy of our own land, and the apostolic preaching and miracles, diffusion of similar blessings in other but we have multiplied copies of Protestant countries, prepare a way the Holy Scriptures, which repro- for the piety and decision of rulers, duce that preaching and those mi- and nobles, and statesmen, and racles in every tongue. We have scholars, and merchants, and artists not a pacified world united under to evince themselves. Further, the one sceptre, but we bave the same disposition to inquire into the world accessible by the relations Christian records, manifested by of commerce and the art of navi- the chief heathen nations, especially gation. We have not that extra- in India, encourages our expectaordinary machinery of Providence tions of a vast diffusion of the rewhich aceompanied the first esta- ligion of Christ. The spirit of disblishment of Christianity, but we covery and commercial enterprize have similar aids in the progress of also needs only to be consecrated ordinary events. Nor are the means to religion, to open new channels for communicating the blessings of of essential importance. Nothing the Gospel. The horrors of West- can be expected without it. The India slavery cannot be separated joint labours of the various religious in our minds from that total want bodies by which the work of the of religious feeling which has oc- conversion of the world must be casioned them, and that increase carried on, can only be held toof the extent of the spiritual church gether by a deep and genuine which we trust will accompany Christian benevolence. Subordinate their suppression. And, in our matters must be left to their subornational establishment, the rapidly dinate importance. Secondary or augmenting number of devoted and doubtful truths must not be eleenlightened ministers is an omen
vated into the exclusive tests of a of untold blessings. Each faithful party. Novelties in religion must clergyman is a pastor to the truly be diligently avoided; and the plain, pious, and an evangelist to the old, acknowledged doctrines and formal and unrighteous; whilst the precepts of Christianity must be Bible and missionary institutions strongly insisted on, and insisted on afford, to'a considerable extent, the in the temper of love. The differmeans of exciting every part of the ent divisions of Christians must country from occasional languor, pursue each its own course of inand propagating a higher tone of terior discipline and external bereligious charity and love. These nevolence, with mutual good-will, advantages in our English Church, mutual prayers, mutual sympathy; aided by the effects of a full tole- neither wasting time in controverration, and the labours of the va- sies or mere circumstantials, nor rious bodies of sincere Christians confounding all order by a vain atwhich that toleration nourishes, tempt at amalgamating in one unionly require to be more adequately form body the heterogeneous mass employed, to raise our own popu- of Christendom. The scheme—the lation to the true Christian charac- vain, the narrow-minded schemeter; and, in doing this, to promote of promoting union by a forced unithe temper and propagate the zeal formity, must not again be obtruded which will extend Christian missions on the Christian Church. It is on every side. To all these means inconsistent with the infirmity of there must, however, be added a man, and tends to irritate the divifervent perseverance in prayer for sions which it may succeed for a the blessed influences of the Holy time in concealing. The plan of Spirit of God, with a deep prac- the reformers, which for twenty tical conviction that all depends, in years seemed to promise a ground a ruined, lost world, on his supreme of concord—the convoking of a grace and benediction, not only to general and freely elected council give efficacy to the labours used —was not more visionary than the for the illumination of the world, enterprise of reducing all the modes but also to preserve clearly and of Christian profession to one unistrongly at home, the holy fire of form standard. We thank God that love and truth by which all foreign considerable advances have been missions ought to be animated. made towards a substantial and
6. And this thought immediately scriptural union, wholesome, enleads to a further inference from the lightened, and pure. The present volume of church history now be- day is distinguished for a more fore us; the danger of false candour noble and catholic temper than was and undue concessions, whilst we prevalent in former times, partaking aim at sinking subordinate points less of the acrimony of party, and and cultivating a spirit of union and more of the inspiration of truth love. For to cherish a temper of and love. There is far less dispobenevolence and Christian love is sition than formerly to confound