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Humbly-for knowledge strives in vain to feel
EXTRACT FROM A NEW-YEAR'S SERMON. SIR, I SEND for insertion in the Christian Reformer, if you deem it worthy of a place, the following extract from a sermon delivered to a society of Protestant Dissenters in one of the Midland counties, on January 6th, 1828.
N, C. “ The past year has been calculated to teach us the shortness and uncertainty of human life. Of the precarious tenure by which we hold our dearest comforts, many before me have been strikingly reminded both by their observation and by their experience. Parents, children, friends and companions, those to whoin this house of God was once their exceeding joy, and whose presence diffused a happiness over every circle in which they moved, have been cut off and laid low in the dust. In this mortal state we shall behold them no more! But they sleep in Jesus : and we trust, that when the trumpet sounds, they will awake to their reward in the realms of light. In the progress also of that fresh portion of our time which has just elapsed, not fewer than six Christian ministers of our own denomination have completed their earthly journey, and entered upon the path which leads directly to the tribunal of their Judge ;-six ministers, marked indeed by a difference of age and by a variety of endowments, but all of them respectable, and even eminent, in their stations ; all of them known, and most of them intimately known and tenderly beloved, by him who thus glances at their names, and sighs over the wreck of so many hopes and joys.
“ I allude to the pious and affectionate Mr. Wawne, of Bridport ; to the simple-hearted and engaging Mr. Worthington, of Manchester; to the acute and eloquent Mr. Small, of Cosely; to the enterprising and fearless Mr. Little, of America; to the inquiring and truly venerable
Mr. Broadbent, of Warrington; and to the friend whom we all regarded with reverence, who so often brought cheerfulness and comfort to our habitations, and whose image will long live in our bosoms, the meek, the gentle, the candid, the heavenly-minded Mr. Scott, of Cradley.
"At the beginning of the last year, the greater number of these excellent men were in health and activity, rejoicing to be employed in the vineyard of their great Master. They have now all finished their work : they have been summoned from a world which they enlightened and adorned, and are gone-may I not say it without presumption from blessing to be blessed. And who can assure any of us, that before this year yields up its account, the term of our probation will not be at an end, and our destiny fixed for ever? Oh ! let not the lesson be lost upon you or me ; let it be deeply engraven on our hearts. While we are more than ever thankful to God for the gospel of his Son, for the momentous instructions which it imparts, and for the consolatory and transporting hopes which it inspires, let our fervent prayers ascend to the mercy-seat, that we may not be thus admonished and warned in vain. If these visitations of Providence serve effectually to convince us that this world is but a fleeting show; if they prevail with us to walk in all the ordinances and command. ments of the Lord blameless; if they engage us to be uniformly devout and holy and faithful and benevolent, to improve our talents and to dispatch our work ;--if this be their happy consequence, we may behold the desolations of time and the triumphs of death around us without alarm, humbly trusting, that when our pilgrimage too is over, we shall be in some degree prepared for that life which will not be measured by circling years and ages, and in which there will be no change except from glory unto glory."
PETITION OF ROMAN CATHOLICS IN FAVOUR OF PROTES
AMONGST the Votes of the House of Commons during the last Session of Parliament, we perceive with pleasure the following petition (No. 1851). The Protestant Dissenters may learn from it, that so far are all Roman Catholics from being persecutors, that mauy of them are desirous of
liberty for all, even though their prayer should for a time turn to their own detriment. The Roinan Catholics who signed this petition have gained one emancipation, namely, from bigotry; and we hope and trust that this is an earnest of their gaining another,-that is, emancipation from civil disabilities, The Votes of the House of Commons were never so full of the noble sentiments of religious liberty as last year. The result cannot but be good.
“A Petition of the there undersigned Roman Catholics of the Midland counties, was presented and read ; setting forth, that a numerous class of their fellow-subjects, Dissenters from the Established Church, are equally with the Petitioners deprived of liberty of conscience by the operation of the Test and Corporation Acts; that while the Petitioners are exerting themselves to procure their own emancipation from the proscription of which they are the victims, they entertain an anxious desire that all classes of their fellow-subjects may enjoy the same rights of which they are in pursuit themselves; that, accordingly, the Petitioners respectfully but earnestly entreat the House, that the said Acts may be forth with repealed, and thereby a numerous class of His Majesty's subjects restored to those rights to which the Petitioners conceive that every citizen of the United Kingdom is entitled ; that whereas it is sometimes asserted, that the said Acts are the bulwarks of the Established Church, the Petitioners consider it not very complimentary to that Church, that it should be the only establishment in Christendom that needs such bulwarks; and, moreover, they believe this argument to be totally irreconcileable with the practice of the legislature in annually passing a bill to indemnify those who violate the pro. visions of said Acts against the penalties which they legally incur by such violation ; that whereas it has been asserted that the emancipation of the said numerous class of their fellow-subjects may retard or endanger the emancipation of the Petitioners, the Petitioners beg leave to state in the "first place, that they have no apprehension of such consequences; and in the second, that were such consequences probable, this circumstance would not deter the Petitioners from their present application to the House, inasmuch as they urge their own question, not so much as a question of sectarian relief as on the broad ground on which alone they wish to succeed, namely, the inalienable right of every
British subject to liberty of conscience; wherefore the Peti. tioners repeat their prayer, that it
may appear to the House wise and just to repeal the said Acts, by which, among others, that liberty of conscience seems essentially violated."
REBUKE OF COURT FLATTERY,
Bishop WARBURTON, in one of his Letters to Hurd, (" Letters from a Late Eminent Prelate to One of His Friends," 8vo., 3rd ed., 1809, pp. 318,319,) of the date of January 6, 1761, says,
« On this occasion I will tell you what (though perhaps I may have told it you before) I said in the Drawing-room to a knot of courtiers, in the old King's time (George II.). One chanced to say he heard the King was not well. Hush, said Colonel Robinson; it is not polite or decent to talk in this manner
the King is always well and in health : you are never to sup. pose that the diseases of his subjects ever approach his Royal Person. I perceive then, Colonel, replied I, there is some difference between your Master and mine. Aline was subject to all human infirmities, sin excepted; yours is subject to none, sin excepted.
RELIGIOUS PARADE AND DISPLAY OF THE PRESENT AGE.
A very interesting and useful discourse on this subject bas been just printed by Mr. Kentish, of Birmingham, * which we recomiend to our readers. The following " Appendix" to it, contains an exemplification of the preacher's meaniug and a practical application of his rea. marks.
Some features in the moral character of the age, may be viewed with alınost. unmixed pleasure. At the same time, circumstances exist in respect of the profession of Religion, that ill accord with the grandeur and simplicity of
The Silent and Unmarked Progress of Truth: a Sermon preached, October 16, 1827, at Wolverhampton, before a Meeting of Ministers. By John Kentish. 8vo. pp. 26. Belcher and Son, Birmingham; R. Hunter, London.
the avowed end. The placards which so often meet the eye,
in the crowded street, and on the public road, the singular matter and phraseology of advertisements inserted in diurnal, weekly and monthly papers, the theatrical semblance and appendages of not a few edifices dedicated to Christian worship and instruction, the theatrical tokens of applause, or its reverse,* exhibited at meetings convened for the most important of purposes-all these have so much of a worldly aspect, that they cannot gratify the man who discerns the things wbich differ,' who knows the genius of the kingdom of God, and who is sensible that it cometh not with show and observation.
“ Those public and oral discussions of theological or ecclesiastical topics, to which a miscellaneous audience is invited and admitted by the sale of tickets, are, on the same principle, to be strongly disapproved Essential, no man will pronounce them, so long as the press is free : and by means of a free press debates of high import might fairly be conducted to their natural issue. Within the other arena of controversy we cannot well expect precision of statement, method, closeness and pertinency of reasoning, and mutual courtesy of spirit and of manners. Such a stage is but too friendly to unhallowed and secular feelings; to digressive and unbecoming sallies; to passion, prejudice, and basty judgment. Indeed, within such an arena, wherever we find it, the readiest combatant and speaker will scarcely fail of being honoured, at least by the suffrages of most around him, with the palm of victory."
*“Of a still grosser impropriety than even this, a curious example. is recorded in Johnson's Life of Bishop Sprat.” [Mr. Kentish refers to the following passage: “Burnet is not very favourable to his (Sprat’s) memory; but he and Burnet were old rivals. On some public occasion they both preached before the House of Commons. There prevailed in those days an indecent custom; when the preacher touched any favourite topic in a manner that delighted his audience, their approbation was expressed by a loud hum, continued in proportion to their zeal or pleasure. When Burnet preached, part of his congregation hummed so loudly and so long, that he sat down to enjoy it, and rubbed his face with his handkerchief. When Sprat. preached, he likewise was honoured with the like animating hum; but he stretched out his hand to the congregation, and cried, 'Peace, peace, I pray you, peace. Lives of Poets, 8vo., 1783, II, 274,5.]