網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

• shall see the Lord.' The Preacher begins by shewing the importance of taking fundamental and governing principles as our guide in religious inquiries, as without them we shall in vain attempt to adjust inferior topics, or to come to any satisfactory decision respecting points of real difficulty.

If we begin by plain and unembarrassed principles, and under stand clearly, and feel deeply, the real corruption of our nature, and the surpassing holiness of God, together with the necessity of the powerful, though imperceptible work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart, we shall arrive at substantial truth ; while, if we first listen to captious objections, and attempt to solve all the difficulties which may present themselves at the outset, we shall be in danger of failing ; we shall be apt to lower the mighty transformation of the heart to our feeble views, dispose of its real force by some plausible evasion, and probably remain strangers to the substance of the blessing.'

In the next paragraph, the Preacher's boldness assuredly borders upon temerity, when he ventures to intimate so fanatical notion, as that natural reason is incompetent to appreciate the subject! It is eminently,' he remarks, a thing of the Spirit

of God, which, after all our efforts, will appear as foolishness

unto us, unless it be spiritually discerned. Nay, in a subsequent part of the 'Discourse, he goes the length of inqniriug.

o whether the reasons which cause some at least to differ from this view of the subject, and to contend that regeneration and the new birth are never to be spoken of as distinct from the sacrament of baptism, may not, in a great degree, be resolved into, what I must consider, a most inadequate conception of the nature of the inward renewal of the heart itself? Do they not object to the simple and scriptural application of these words, because they object to the strong language in which the radical recovery of man is delineated, and to the incalculable moment which is ascribed to it? Do they not object to them, in common with many similar, or nearly similar figures, by which this inward life of God in the soul is represented and enforced? Would they not be disposed to wave their objections, if these particular words were employed in a sense agreeable to their own view of a change of heart; and persevere in them, if, abandoning the mere words, the same degree of spiritual and vital religion were enforced under any other? Indeed is it not natural and almost necessary, that, as they take an incomparably lower view of this inward change itself, they should protest against a separation between it and the external rite? And is not this the main reason why such a separation is represented by them as forced and extravagant ! I must be allowed, at least, to state my conviction, that the strong and vivid conception of what the commencement of real and universal religion is, forms a most important pre-requisite to the conclusions which I am endeavouring to establish ; and that it is not, in the majority of cases, a mere term which is in dispute, but the decision of the nature and importance of that incipient transformation of nian, on

[ocr errors]

which all religion rests, and which has ever been a main topic of controversy between the worldly and spiritual members of the visible church of Christ.' pp. 45–47.

The recent controversy really respects two different, and we presume to assert, unconnected points, the nature of the Christian ordinance of Baptisin, and the nature of regeneration and conversion. There can remain no doubt, however, on the mind of an intelligent person, after reading Dr. Mant's two Tracts, and the quantity of trash which has since issued from his party on this topic, that the nature of Christianity itself is the ultimate subject of dispute, and that the real object of the secular party, in magnifying the importance of Baptism, is to get rid of the doctrine of a radical ehange of heart as universally requisite; á doctrine which no phraseology can reconcile to the prejudices of unconverted nature.

With regard to Baptism, we have had occasion to express our sentiments at length, and to point out the very obscure notions which have on all sides been maintained, in some cases without suspicion, respecting its true signification and efficacy. • If Mr. Wilson's Sermon is in any respect defective, it is in point of explicitness and clearness, with regard to his views of the rite itself, and of its practical bearings. There appeared to us to be somewhat of a reserve in this respect, like that of a person who did not feel himself quite unfettered; it was perhaps a judicious reserve. He nevertheless distinctly affirms, that 'if spirituality is wanting,' outward rites, how great soever their importance as means of assisting the affections, are utterly worthless before God.'

The nature and extent of the religious change which is described in the Scripture as a renewal of the whole man, depend upon the previous question-What is the true condition and character of that being who is the subject of this change? We believe it will be found that scarcely a theological error has infested the Christian Church, which may not be traced up to a denial or disbelief of the Scriptural account of the inherent depravity of our nature. We believe that this is in fact, not only the root of irreligion in general, but the true origin of Socinianism, as well as of several other speculative corruptions of Christianity, the connexion of which with this

particular doctrine is apparently remote. Persons conversant with the varieties of the symptoms which the moral disease of our nature exhibits, must have remarked that against this particular doctrine, all the pride and malignity of the unregenerate heart has been especially excited; that the individual has been brought with greater facility to acknowledge liis actual demerits arising from his own misconduct, than bis participation in that universal deprayity from which the Gospel proffers

Vol. VII. N. S.

? I

the means, as well as discloses the infinite price, of redemption. They have also found, that this one obstacle removed, all specu lative difficulties respecting the Gospel scheme have vanished. • The real state of our fallen nature, Mr. Wilson judiciously remarks, involves every other topic.' It is, comparatively speaking, of no use, to proceed to the explanation or defence of other controverted topics, till this point be gained. A Socinian denies the divinity of Christ ;--and why? There is no occasion, on his hypothesis, that the Saviour should be more than man; and all the reasoning in the world will never convince him that Jesus Christ " is the true God and eternal life,” until he is brought to feel that “the whole world lieth in wickedness," and that therefore

" the Son of God is come.” On the contrary, how orthodox soever the form of a man's belief, he cannot, until he feels himself to be a sinner, cordially appreciate the righteousness of Christ. He may become an apologist, perhaps an angry apologist, for the Deity of the Saviour, but that faith which does not originate in a deep sense of the personal necessity of salvation, as arising from the moral imbecility and essential corruption of our nature, must be pronounced spurious. Mr. Wilson's Discourse is peculiarly valuable, as it fixés 'the attention on this important practical view of the subject; and on this account especially we earnestly recommend the perusal of it to all our readers. The change,' he remarks, which is the commencement of true religion, 'must be no trifling one.'

It must penetrate and renew every faculty of the soul. Whenever the necessity of it is undervalued, the glory of the Saviour fades from our view. Our religion is in danger of becoming little more than a merely natural religion; and although there may be a formal denial of scarcely any one article of our faith, nay, though there be a readiness speculatively to assert and maintain nearly all of them, yet it is no longer the practical religion of the Bible, actually founded on the sacrifice and animated with the grace of Jesus Christ. Living faith in that Saviour, love to him, and a delight in speaking of his mercy and copying his example, must be the fruit of a new nature. When this begins to take place, all is practicable in religion. Then, and then only, the glowing language of the Apostles relating to Christ, is not interpreted away by a frigid gloss, nor merely admitted with a general acquiescence, but understood and welcomed as the natural and appropriate utterance of enlarged gratitude and love.' pp. 28, 29.

Art. XI. An Attempt to delineate from Scripture the Beginning,

Progress, and End of the Work of Grace in the Soul of Mar. By a
Clergyman of the Church of England. 12mo. pp. 117. Price 28.
Bacon and Co. Norwich; Seeley, London.
THE
HE title of this pamphlet sufficiently explains its design.

The principles which it unfolds, are in strict accordance with the Calvinistic interpretation of the Articles of the Church to which the Author belongs. The diction throughout is of the plainest order, occasionally quaint. We cannot therefore commend the pamphlet for excellency of speech; though we must award the Author the tribute of approbation due to the seriousness and Christian zeal which be manifests.

The following short extract from the ninth chapter. The . Believer's rule of life,' contains a correct statement of a subject which has been frequently misrepresented, and often abused.

• The whole Bible is a revelation of Jesus Christ, and nothing else; hence the believer's rule of life is the whole revealed will of God; no one part, to the disparagement of, or in a way of pre-eminence over another, but the whole together; this is the one perfect

, transcript of the Divine mind; which the enlightened understanding approves, the renewed affections love, and the corrected will bows to.' p. 97.

Art. XII. Extracts of Letters from the Rev. Robert Pinkerton on his

late Tour in Russia, Poland, and Germany ; to promote the Object of the British and Foreign Bible Society. Together with a Letter from Prince Alexander Galitzin, to the Right Honourable Lord

Teignmouth. 8vo. pp. 68. . Price 1s. 1817. THESE Letters are peculiarly, interesting. They form a

narrative of a journey of about seven thousand miles, through 'parts of Europe, the least frequented by English tourists, and for a purpose as novel as the object to which it relates is transcendent in comparison with those that usually occupy the details of the traveller. It is a pleasing relief to turn from the petty cavillings and ignorant prognostications, which have in this country connected themselves with the progress of the Bible Society, to witness the development of its genuine character, its glorious tendency, and its vast ef'ficiency in foreign lands, where it is almost universally hailed as the dispenser of the greatest blessing.--And who are its opponents? May we venture, for the consolation of Bishop Marsh and Mr. Demonstrator Norris, to whisper their names? They consist of a wourthy son of the Emperor Paul, and his Highness the Primate of Poland, and his Holiness the Pope ! ' A triumvirate that forcibly reminds us of one mentioned in the

e New Testament, with which, indeed, they may be suspected to have some alliance.

Our readers will not misunderstand our allusion to the first of these illustrious personages. The Emperor Alexander contigues to manifest an increasing interest in the cause of the Bible Society, and to take an active part in its promotion, by affording all possible aid in the formation of local institutions If his conduct originated merely in political 'motives, it would

evince singularly just views and a sound understanding ; but it seems to indicate the operation of higher motives, of purer, feelings, than the inducements of secular policy. His ex., ample has had almost the force of a law throughout his vast dominions, and in the only instance in which it failed to inAuence, his personal intervention terminated the embarrassment. It is but an act of decent propriety and gratitude, to do justice to the important nature of the services so promptly rendered to the Society by his Imperial Majesty ; but if, putting aside every other consideration, we simply contemplate the signal facilities afforded by this means for carrying into effect the evangelizing of that immense empire, by the diffusion of the sacred Scriptures in all the barbarous dialects of the wild nations and tribes which it includes, we must view the interposition of Divine Providence in raising up so efficient an instrument for this purpose, as an indication that we are on the eve of witnessing the unfolding of vast designs, of events and changes having the most favourable aspect on the social happiness of mankind.

There is a very interesting account of Mr. Pinkerton's mission to the districts inhabited by the Tartars, to the ancient Tartar capital, where the palace of the descendants of Djinge Khan still presents the decaying remains of Asiatic luxury, and departed royalty, and to the synagogue of the Caraite Rabhies, where he obtained a sight of a beautiful copy of the five books of Moses in pure Tartar. On visiting the capital of Gallicia, he learned that out of a population estimated at three millions, 20,000 are Protestants, the rest being Catholics and Jews. The Protestants are divided into twenty-four congregations, of which three are Calvinistic; but all three are at this time without a pastor, and one half at least of all the Protestant families are without Bibles. The formation of the White Russian Bible Society, at Moghiley, on the Dnieper, the head-quarters of the Russian army, was attended with cir: cumstances of a rather novel nature.

· Yesterday, about noon, the Field Marshal, Prince Barclay de Tolly, accompanied by a numerous suite of brave Generals and Officers, together with the most distinguised men in the city, both ecclesiastical and civil, of all confessions, upwards of 200 in number, assembled in a large hall of the Archbishop's Palace, in order to lay the foundation of the White Russian Auxiliary Bible Society. The sight of these heroes, the deliverers of Russia, and of Europe, assembled to give glory to the God of battles, by promoting the dissemination of his word among their numerous companions in arms, (a host of upwards of 400,000 men,) produced, in all present, a new and most pleasant train of thoughts and combination of feelings. After a concert of vocal sacred music, the venerable Archbishop rose, and pronounced an eloquent speech, in which he fully explained the

« 上一頁繼續 »