« הקודםהמשך »
BY THE RET. JOSEPH SUTCLIFFE.
SAURIN'S SERMONS, one hundred and people devoted to pleasure, and upacquainted sixty-eight in number, are comprised in twelve with the duties they owe to God; we see a mevolumes. I have read them with edification tropolis, in which it is estimated that not more and delight. Actuated by these sentiments, I than one adult out of fifteen aitends any place doubted whether I could better employ my of divine worship. Ought not ministers so cirleisure moments tha" in preparing an addi- cumstanced, to take the alarm, and to weep tional volume, to those already before the Eng- for the desolations of the sanciuary? if impielish reader.
ty and effeminacy were, confessedly, the causes The three Discourses on the Delay of Con- of the desolation of Greece and Rome, ought version, are a masterly performance, and in we not to be peculiurly alarmed for our coungeneral, a model of pulpit eloquence. They try? and while our brave warriors are defend
not less distinguished by variety and ing it abroad, endeavour to heal at home the strength of argument, than by pathos and unc- evils which corrode the vitals ? Ought we not tion :
: and they rise in excellence as the reader to adopt a mode of preaching like that which proceeds. Hence, I fully concur in opinion first subdued the enemies of the cross? If our with Dupont, and the succeeding editors, who former mode of preaching has failed of effect; have given the first place to these Discourses: if the usual arguments from Scripture have no my cole surprise is, that they were not transla- weight; onght we not to modify those arguted before. Whether they were reserved to ments according to existing circumstances, that, ornament a future volume, or whether the ad. fighting the sinner on the ground of reason, and dresses to the unregenerate were deemed too maintaining the rights of God at the bar of severe and strong, I am unable to determine. conscience, we may vanquish the infidelity of By a cloud of arguments derived from reason, his heart? The wound must be opened before from revelation, and from experience, our au. he will welcome the balm of Calvary, and be thor certainly displays the full effusions of his enraptured with the glory and fulness of the heart, and in language unfettered by the fear gospel. Hence, I am fully of opinion that we of man. The regular applications in the first ought to go back to the purest models of and second Sermons, are executed in such a preaching; that addressing the sinner in the style of superior merit, that I lament the defi- striking language of his own heart, we may see ciency of language to convey his sentiments our country relormel, and believers adorned with adequate effect.
with virtue and grace. On the subject of warm and animated al- But, though our author be an eminent modresses to wicked and unreyenerate men, if I del in addressing the unregenerate, he is by mint be heard hy those who fill the sanctuary, no means explicit and full on the doctrines of I would venture to say, that the general cha- the Spirit: bis talents were consequently deracter of English sermons is by far too mild fective in building up believers, and edifying and calm. On reading the late Dr Enfield's the church It is true, he is orthodox and clear, English Preacher, and finding on this gentle- as far as he goes: and he fully admits the mau's tablet of honour, names which constitute Scripture language on the doctrine of assuthe glory of our national church, I seem un- rance; but he restricts the grace to some highwilling to believe my senses, and ready to de- ly favoured souls, and seems to have no idea of ny, that Tillotson, Atterbury, Butler, Chan- its being the general privilege of the children dler, Coneybeare, Seed, Sherlock, Water- of God. Hence this doctrine which especially land, and others, could have been so relaxed abounds in the New Testament, occupies only and unguarded as to have preached so many a diminutive place in his vast course of Sersermons equally acceptable to the orthodox mons. On this subject, indeed, he frankly conand the Socinian reader. Those mild and affa- fesses his fcars of enthusiasm ; and, to do him ble recommendations of virtue and religion; justice, it seems the only thing he feared in the those gentle dissuasives from immorality and pulpit. vice, have been found, for a whole century, But, however prepossessing and laudable unproductive of effect. Hence, all judicious this caution inay appear in the discussion of men must admit the propriety of meeting the mysterious truths, it by no means associates the awful vices of the present age with remedies ideas we have of the divine compassion, and more efficient and strong.
the apprehensions which awakened persons Our increase of population, our vast extent entertain on account of their sins. Conscious of commerce, and the consequent influx of of guilt on the one hand, and assured on the wealth and luxury, have, to an alarming de other that the wages of sin is death, mere gree, biassed the national character towards evangelical arguments are inadequate to allay dissipation, irreligion, and vice. We see a their fears, and assuage their griefs. Nothing crowd of families rapidly advanced to afflu will do but a sense of pardon, sufficiently clear ence, and dashing away in the circles of gay and strong to counteract their sense of guilt. and giddy life; we see profane theatres, assem- Nothing but the love of God shed abroad in the bly-rooms, and watering-places, crowded with heart, can disperse their grief and fear, Rom. v. 5; Luke xxiv. 32; 1 John iv. 18. Nothing the age; and always been kept in arrears in but the Spirit of adoption can remove the spirit their reckonings with Heaven. Perhaps their of bondage, by a direct assurance that we are religious connexions have hindered, rather than the children of God; Rom. viii, 15, 16. Every furthered, their religious attainments. If these awakened sinner needs, as inuch as the inspire 1 sincere Christians were properly assisted by prophet, the peace which passeth ali unuer- experienced people; if some Aquila and Prisstanding, to compose his conscience; the Spirit cilla were to expound unto them the way of of holiness to regenerate his heart; the Spirit of God more perfectly (Acts xviii 26), they would grace and supplication, to assist him in prayer; soon emerge out of darkness into marrellous the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, I light; they could not long survey the history and the joy unspeakable and full of glory, to of the Redeemer's passion, without loving him adopt the language of praise and thanksgiving, again: they could not review his victories which seem to have been the general senti- without encouragement; they could not conments of the regenerate in acts of devotion. template the effusions of his grace, without a That is the most satisfactory ground of assu- participation of his comfort. They would rance, when we hope to enjoy the inheritance, soon receive because we have the earnest; and hope to " What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy, dwell with God, because he already dwells The soul's calm sunshine, and the heartfelt joy." with us, adorning our piety with the corres- Another defect of our author (if my opinion pondent fruits of righteousness. Revelation be correct), is, that he sometimes aims at oraand reason here perfectly accord: Ask, and ye torical strokes, and indulges in argument and shall receive; seek, and ye shall find. If ye language not readily comprehended by the bet. being evil, know how to give good things to ter instructed among the poor. This should your children, how much more shall your Fa- caution others. True eloquence is the voice of ther which is in heaven, give good things to nature, so rich in thought, so abundant in mothem that ask him. Hence, Saurin, on this tives, and happy in expression, as to superseile subject, was by far too contracted in restrict- redundant and meretricious ornament. It uning this grace to a few highly favoured souls. folds the treasures of knowledge, displays the
Farther still, it is not enough for a minister amiableness of virtue, and unveils the deformito beat and overpower his audience with argu- ty of vice, with the utmost simplicity and ease. ments; it is not enough that many of his hear. It captivates the mind, and sways the passions ers weep under the word, and form good reso- of ali audience in addresses apparently destitule Jutions for the future; they must be encou- of study or art: art, indeed, can never attain raged to expect a blessing before they depart it; it is the soul of a preacher speaking to the from the house of God. How is it that the henrt of his hearers. However, SAURin ought good impressions, made on our hearers, so ge- to have an indulgence which scarcely any other nerally die away; that their devotion is but as can claim. He addressed at the Hague an authe morning cloud?. After making just de- dience of two thousand persons, composed of ductions for the weakness and inconstancy of courtiers, of magistrates, of merchants, and men; after allowing for the defects which bu- strangers, who were driven by persecution siness and company produce on the mind, the from every part of France. Hence it became grand cause is, the not exhorting them to look him to speak with dignity appropriate to his for an instantaneous deliverance by faith. In situation. And if, in point of pure eloquence many parts of the Scriptures, and especially in he was a single shade below Vassillon, he has the Psalms, the supplicants came to the throne far exceede him as a divine. of grace in the greatest trouble and distress, and
With regard to the peculiar opinions of the they went away rejoicing. Now, these Psalms religious denominations, this venerable minisI take to be exact celebrations of what God did ter discovered superior knowledge, and admiby providence and grace for his worshippers. rable moderation. Commissioned to preach Hence we should exhort all penitents to expect the gospel to every creature, he magnifies the the like deliverance, God being ready to shine love of God to man; and charges the sinner on all hearts the moment repentance has pre- with being the sole cause of his own destrucpared them for the reception of his grace. tion (Sermon, Hosea xiji. 9). Though he as
Some may here object that many well-dis- serts the perseverance of the saints, it is, never. posed Christians, whose piety has been adorn- theless, with such restrictions as tend to avoid ed with benevolence, have never, on the sub- disgusting persons of opposite sentiments. ject of assurance, been able to express them. Against Antinomjanism, so dangerous to salvaselves in the high and heavenly language of in- tion, he is tremendously severe: and it were spired men; and that they have doubted, whe to be wished that the supporters of these opither the knowledge of salvation by the remission nions would profit by his arguments. It is of sins (Luke i. 77), were attainable in this much safer to direct our efforts, that our hearlife. Perhaps, on inquiry, those well-disposed ers may resemble the God they worship, than Christians, whose sincerity I revere, have sat trust tó a mere code of religious opinions, disunder a ministry, which scarcely went so far sonant to a multitude of Scriptures. on the doctrines of the spirit as SAURIN Per- May Heaven bless to the reader this addihaps they have sought salvation, partly by tional mite to the store of public knowledge, their works, instead of seeking it solely by and make it advantageous to his best interests, faith in the merits, or righteousness, of Jesus and eternal joy! Christ. Perhaps they have joined approaches
JOSEPH SUTCLIFFE. to the altars of God, with the amusements of Halifas, Nov. 21, 1805.
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. THAT is a singular oath, recorded in the 1 appeal to your consciences, consists of I know tenth chaptes of the Revelation. St. John not what, confused ideas we have formed of saw an angel ; an angel . clothed with a cloud; the divine mercy, fluctuating purposes of cona rainbow encircled his head, his countenance version on the brink of futurity, and chiineriwas as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. cal confidence of success whenever we shall He stood on the earth and the sea. He sware enter on the work. by him that liveth for ever and ever, that On the delay of conversion, we shall make a there should be time no longer.' By this series of reflections, derived from three sources. oath, if we may credit some critics, the angel -- From man ;--from the Scriptures ;--and announces to the Jews, that their measure was from experience. We shall have recourse in full, that their days of visitation were expi- order, to religion, history, and experience, to red, and that God was about to complete, by make us sensible of the dangerous consequences abandoning them to the licentious armies of of deferring the work. In the first place, we the emperor Adrian, the vengeance he had al-shall endeavour to prove from our own constiready begun by Titus and Vespasian. tution, that it is difficult, not to say impossible,
We will not dispute this particular notion, to be converted after having wasted life in but shall consider the oath in a more extended vice. We shall secondly demonstrate that review. This angel stands upon the earth and relation perfectly accords with nature on this the sea ; he speaks to all the inhabitants of head; and that whatever the Bible has taught the world: he lifts his voice to you, my breth-concerning the efficacy of grace, the supernaren, and teaches one of the most terrific, but tural aids of the Spirit, and the extent of mer. most important truths of religion and morali-cy, favour in no respect the delay of converty, that the mercy of God, so infinitely diversion. Thirdly, we shall endeavour to confirm sified, has, notwithstauding, its restrictions and the doctrines of reason and revelution, by daibounds. It is infinite, for it embraces all man-ly observations on those who defer the change. kind. It makes no distinction between the These reflections would undoubtedly produce Jew and the Greek, the Barbarian and the la better effect delivered in one discourse than Scythian.' It pardons insults the most noto divided, and I would wish to dismiss the hearrious, crimes the most provoking; and extri- er convinced, persuaded, and overpowered cating the singer from the abyss of misery, with the mass of argument; but we must proopens to him the way to supreme selicity. portion the discourse to the attention of the auBut it is limited. When the sinner becomes dience, and to our own weakness. We design oustinate, when he loug resists, when he de- three discourses on this subject, and shall confers conversion, God shuts up the bowels of fine ourselves to-day to the first head. his compassion, and rejects the prayer of those • Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, who have hardened themselves against his call ye upon him while he is near. On this calle.
subject, to be discussed in order, shall our From this awful principle, Isaiah deduces voice resound for the present hour; if Provi. the doctrine which constitutes the subject of dence permit us to ascend this pulpit once
• Seek ye the Lord while he may | more, it shall be resumed: if we ascend it the be found, call ye upon him while he is near.' third time, we will still cry, Seek ye the Dispensing with minuteness of method, we Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him shall not stop to define the terms, Seek ye the while he is near. If a Christian minister Lord, and call ye upon him.' Whatever mis- ought to be heard with attention, if deference takes we may be liable to make on this head, ought to be paid to his doctrine, may this comand however disposed we may be to confound mand change the face of this church! May the appearance of conversion with conver- the scales fall from our eyes! and may the spi. sion itself, errors of this kind, it must be ac- ritually blind recover their sight! knowledged, are not the most destructive. Our mind, prevented by passion and preju. We propose to-day to probe the wound, to dice, requires divine assistance in its ordinary penetrate to the source of our depravity, to reflections ; but now attacking the sinner in dissipale, if possible, the illusive charm which his chief fort and last retreat, I do need thy indestroys so many of the Christian world, and, vincible power, O mny God, and I expect every of which Satan too successfully avails himself aid from thy support. for their seduction. This delusion, this charm, 1. Our own constitution shall supply is to
day with arguments on the delay of conver- These two points being so established, that gion. It is clear that we carry in our own no one can justly dispute them, we may prove, breast principles which render conversion dif- I am confident, from our own constitution, that ficult, and I may add, impossible, if deferred a conversion deferred ought always to be susto a certain period. To comprehend this, pected; and that, by deferring the work, we form in your mind an adequate idea of conver- risk the forfeiture of the grace.- Follow us in sion, and fully admit, that the soul, in order to these arguments. possess this state of grace, must acquire two This is true, first, with regard to the light essential dispositions; it must be illuminated; essential to conversion. Here, my brethren, it must be sanctified. It must understand the it were to have been wished, that each of you truths of religion, and conform to its precepts. had studied the human constitution ; that you
First. You cannot become regenerate un- had attentively considered the mode in which less you know the truths of religion. Not that the soul and body are united, the close ties We would preach the gospel to you as a disci- which subsist between the intelligence that pline having no object but the exercise of spe- thinks within, and the body to which it is culation. We neither wish to make the united. We are not pure spirit; the soul is Christian a philosopher, nor to encumber his a lodger in matter, and on the temperature of mind with a thousand questions agitated in the this matter depends the success of our reschools. Much less would we elevate salva- searches after iruth, and consequently after tion above the comprehension of persons of religion. common understanding; who, being incapable Now, my brethren, every season and erery of abstruse thought, would be cut off from the period of life are not alike proper for disposing divine favour, if this change required profound the body to the happy tenperature, which reflection, and refined investigation. It can leaves the soul at liberty for reflection and not, however, be disputed, that every man thought. The powers of the brain fail with should be instructed according to his situation years, the senses become dull, the spirits evain life, and according to the capacity he has porate, the memory weakens, the blood chills received from heaven. In a word, a Christian in the veins, and a cloud of darkness envelopes ought to be a Christian, not because he has all the faculties. Hence the drowsiness of been educated in the principles of Christianity aged people: hence the difficulty of receiving transmitted by his fathers, but because those new impressions; hence the return of ancient principles came from God.
objects; hence the obstinacy in their sentiTo have contrary dispositions, to follow a ments; hence the almost universal defect of religion from obstinacy or prejudice, is equally knowledge and comprehension; whereas peoto renounce the dignity of a man, a Christian, ple less advanced in age have usually an easy and a Protestant:-The dignity of a man, mind, a retentive memory, a happy conception, who, endowed with intelligence, should never and a teachable temper. If we, therefore, dedecide on important subjects without consult- fer the acquisition of religious knowledge t ll ing his understanding, given to guide and con- age has chilled the blood, obscured the under(luct him :--The dignity of a Christian ; for standing, enfeebled the memory, and confirmed the gospel reveals a God who may be known, prejudice and obstinacy, it is almost impossible John iv. 22; it requires us to prove all things, to be in a situation to acquire that information and to hold fast that which is good,' 1 Thess. without which our religion can neither be V. 21.-The dignity of a Protestant; for it is agreeable to God, afford us solid consolation in the foundation and distinguishing article of the affliction, nor motive sufficient against temptaReformation, that submission to human creed: Lion. is a bondage unworthy of him whom the. Son If this reflection do not strike you with suffihas made free.' Inquiry, knowledge, and in- cient force, follow man in the succeeding pevestigation, are the leading points of religion, riods of life. The love of pleasure predomiand the first step, so to speak, by which we are nates in his early years, and the dissipations of to seek the Lord.'
the world allure him from the study of reliThe second disposition is sanctification. The gion. The sentiments of conscience are heard, truths proposed in Scripture for examination, however, notwithstanding the tumult osa thouand belief, are not presented to excite vain sand passions: they suggest that, in order to speculations, or gratify curiosity. They are peace of conscience, he must either be relitruths designed to produce a divine influence yious, or persuade himselt that religion is al. on the heart and life. He that saith, I know together a phantom. What does a man do in him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a this situation? He becomes either incredu. liar. If you know these things, happy are lous or superstitious. He believes without you, if you do them. Pure religion and un examination and discussion, that he has been defiled before God and the Father, is this, to educated in the bosom of truth; that the relivisit the fatherless and the widows in their af- gion of his fathers is the only cne which can fliction,' 1 John ii. 4; John xii. 17; James i. be good ; or rather, he regards religion only 27. When we speak of Christian obedience, on the side of those d fficulties which infidels we do not mean some transient acts of devo-oppose, and employs all his strength of inteltion; we mean a submission proceeding from lect to augment those difficulties, and to evade a source of holiness, which, however mised their evidence. Thus he dismisses religion to with imperfection in its efforts, piety is always escape his conscience, and becomes an obsti. the predominant disposition of the heart, and nate Atheist, to be calm in crimes. Thus he #rtve triumphant oper vice.
Wastes his youth, time Aies, years accumulate. notions become strong, impressions fixed in the often, when retired to the closet to examine brain, and the brain gradually loses that sup- your conscience, have worldly speculations inpleness of which we now spake.
terrupted your duty! How often, when pros. A period arrives in which these passions trated in the presence of God, has this heart seem to subside ; and as they were the sole which you came to offer him, robbed you of cause of rendering that man superstitious or your devotion by pursuing earthly objects ! incredulous, it seems that incredulity and su. How often, when engaged in sacrificing to the perstition should vanish with the passions. Let Lord a sacrifice of repentance, has a thousand us profit by the circumstance; let us endea- flights of birds come to annoy the sacred servour to dissipate the illusion; let us summons vice! Evident proof of the truth we advance ! the man to go back to the first source of its Every day we see new objects: these objects errors; let ug talk; let us prove; let us rea- leave ideas; these ideas recur; and the copson ; but all is unavailing care; as it common. tracted soul, unable to attend to the ideas it ly happens that the aged talk of former times, already possesses, and to those it would acquire, and recollect the facts which struck them in becomes incapable of religious investigation. their youth, while present occurrences leave Happy is the man descended from enlightened no trace on the memory, so the old ideas conti- parents, and instructed, like Timothy, in the nually run in their mind.
Holy Scriptures from his infancy! Having couLet us farther remark, that the soul not secrated his early life to the study of truth, he only loses with time the facility of discerning has only, in a dying and retired age, to collect error from truth, but after having for a consi- the consolations of a religion magnificent in its derable time habituated itself to converse sole promises, and incontestable in its proofs. ly with sensible objects, it is almost impossi- Hence we conclude, with regard to whatever ble to attach it to any other. See that man is speculative in our salvation, that conversion who has for a course of years heen employed becomes more difficult in proportion as it is in auditing accounts, in examining the nature delerred. We conclude with regard to the of trade, the prudence of his partners, the fide- light of faith, that we must seek the Lord lity of his correspondents; propose to him, for while he may be found, and call upon him instance, the solution of a problem; desire him while he is near.' We must study religion to investigate the cause of a phenomenon, the while aided by a recollected mind, and an easy foundation of a system, and you require an conception. We must, while young, elevate impossibility. The mind, however, of this the heart above sensible objecis, and fill the man, who finds these subjects so difficult, and soul with sacred truths before the world bas the mind of the philosopher who investigates engrossed its capacity. them with ease, are formed much in the same This truth is susceptible of a much clearer way. All the difference between them is, that demonstration, when we consider religion with the latter has accustomed himself to the con- regard to practice. And as the subject turns templation of mental objects, whereas the on principles to which we usually pay but other has voluntarily debased himself to sor- slight attention, we are especially obliged to did pursuits, degraded his understanding, and request, if you would edily by this discourse, enslaved it to sensible objects. After having that you would hear attentively. There are passed our life in this sort of business, without subjects less connected, which may be compre. allowing time for reflection, religion becomes hended, notwithstanding a momentary absence an abyss; the clearest truth, mysterious; the of the mind; but this requires an unremitting slightest study, fatigue; and, when we would attention, as we lose the whole by neglceting fix our thoughts, they are captivated with in the smallest purt. voluntary deviations.
Remember, in the first place, what we have In a word, the final inconvenience which already hinted, that in order to true converresults from deferring the study of religion, sion, it is not sufficient to evidence some partial is a distraction and dissipation proceeding from acts of love to God: the principle must be so the objects which prepossess the mind. The profound and permanent, that this love, though various scenes of life, presented to the eye, viged with some defects, shall ever be the make a strong impression on the soul; and the predominant disposition of the heart. We ideas will obtrude even when we would wish should not apprehend that any of you would to dirert the attention. Hence distinguished dispute this assertion, if we should content our. employments, eminent situations, and profes-selves with pressing it in a vague and general sions which require intense application, are way; and if we had no design to draw conclunot commonly the most compatible with salva- sions directly opposite to the notions of many, tion. Not only because they rob us, while and to the practice of most. But at the close actually employed, of the time we should de- of this discourse, unable to erade the consevote to God, but because they pursue us in quences which follow the principle, we are defiance of our efforts. We come to the Lord's strongly persuaded you will renew the attack house with our bullocks, with our doves, with on the principle itself, and deny that to which our speculations, with our ships, with our bills you have already assented. Hence we ought of exchange, with our titles, with our equi- not to proceed before we are agreed what we page, as those profane Jews whom Jesus Christ ought to believe upon this head. We ask you once chased from the temple in Jerusalem. brethren, whether you believe it requisite to There is no need to be a philosopher to per- love God in order to salvation? We can scarceceive the force of this truth; it requires no ly think that any of our audience will answer evidence but the history of your own life. Ilow in the negative; at least we should ferr 10