網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

reduce a question to these points, and to propose them accurately, requires not only an understanding superior to that which is necessary to decide upon them when proposed, but oftentimes also a technical and peculiar erudition. Agreeably to this distinction, which runs perhaps through all sciences, what is preliminary and preparatory is left to the legal profession; what is final, to the plain understanding of plain men. But since it is necessary that the judgement of such men should be informed, and since it is of the utmost importance that advice which falls with so much weight should be drawn from the purest sources ; judges are sent down to us, who have spent their lives in the study and administration of the laws of their country, and who come amongst us strangers to our contentions, if we have any, our parties, and our prejudices ; strangers to every thing except the evidence which they hear. The effect corresponds with the wisdom of the design. Juries may err, and frequently do so; but there is no system of error incorporated with their constitution. Corruption, terror, influence, are excluded by it; and prejudice, in a great degree, though not entirely. This danger, which consists in juries viewing one class of men, or one class of rights, in a more or less favourable light than another, is the only one to be feared and to be guarded against. It is a disposition, which, whenever it rises 'up in the minds of jurors, ought to be repressed by their probity, their consciences, the sense of their duty, the remembrance of their oaths.

And this institution is not more salutary, than it is grateful and honourable to +hose popular feelings of which all good governm re tender. Hear the

momentous in

language of 11

confer upon

terests, in the last peril indeed of human life, the accused appeals to God and his country, “which country you are.” What pomp of titles, what display of honours, can equal the real dignity which these few words

those to whom they are addressed ? They show, by terms the most solemn and significant, how highly the law deems of the functions and character of a jury; they show also, with what care of the safety of the subject it is, that the same law has provided for every one a recourse to the fair and indifferent arbitration of his neighbours. This is substantial equality; real freedom : equality of protection ; freedom from injustice. May it never be invaded, never abused! May it be perpetual! And it will be so, if the affection of the country continue to be preserved to it, by the integrity of those who are charged with its office.

VI.

[Preached at Durham, at the Visitation of the Right Reverend Shute,

Lord Bishop of Durham.]

1 TIMOTHY IV. 13.

Till I come give attention to reading, to exhortation, to

doctrine.

Next to the lessons which proceeded from our Lord himself, I know nothing that can well be imagined more interesting to a believer in Christianity than letters of advice and instruction from an original missionary of the religion to one whom he had associated with himself in the office, especially from the most active and zealous of its teachers; to a disciple and colleague favoured with his highest confidence; from the chiefest of the apostles to the most beloved of his converts.

It might be expected that the apostolic character would flow in pages which were dictated by Christian zeal united with personal affection. They came from a mind filled at all times with the momentous truths of the religion it had embraced, but now in particular excited by sentiments of the warmest friendship for the person whom he addressed ; by a sense, as it should seem, of responsibility for his conduct, and by the most ardent desire for the succeer of his ministry. Still more important would this ce

ndence become, if

any

of the letters shouli

appc

heen written under

circumstances the most trying to human sincerity of any in which mankind can be placed—the view of impending death; because we should presume, that under

1 such circumstances we were reading the mind of the author without reserve or disguise—the thoughts which most constantly dwelt in it, and with which it was most powerfully impressed, without the admixture of any thing futile or extraneous.

The account which we have given does nothing more than describe the epistles of Saint Paul to Timothy, and the last part of the account belongs to the second of these epistles. “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith : henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day.” In this situation of mind, and under the solemnity of these impressions, the apostle sat down to exhort his friend and his disciple. And what is there which can come with more weight to the votaries of Christianity, and above all, to the teachers of that religion, in every age of its duration, than admonitions so delivered, and from such authority? Nor do the admonitions themselves fall short of the occasion “ Watch thou in all things; endure afflictions; do the work of an evangelist; make full proof of thy ministry; preach the word; be instant in season and out of season ;

! reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine.” These are the lessons of a master in Christianity: every word is ponderous and significant.

The peculiar circumstances under which these two epistles were written,-partaking of the qualities of a private correspondence, displaying those strong emotions of mind which the author's interest in the subject, the

[ocr errors]

VOL. VII.

K

native earnestness of his temper, and the pressing dangers of his situation, conspired to produce-these circumstances, I say, give to them a character in some measure distinguishable from the rest of Saint Paul's writings. They are, more than any of his epistles, methodical. They embrace three objects; they have three parts: they are doctrinal, economical, personal. But these parts, whilst each exhibits sentiments and precepts which can nowhere be excelled, are intermixed, not to say confounded, with one another. The writer is at one moment impressing upon the mind of his disciple the important propositions which constitute the religion that he taught : in the next, is called away perhaps from his train of reflection by some circumstance of local urgency, which the then state of the new society, or, it might be, of that particular church, forced upon his attention. He passes from both these topics to rules of personal conduct, adapted to the office which Timothy sustained ; and the delivery of these rules formed per

! haps the proper and immediate occasion of his letter.

This description accords with what might be expected in private letters between real parties, on real business. The subjects which possess the mind of the writer are seen in his letter; but seldom with the same degree of order and division as when a writing is prepared for public inspection. If this difference be observable even at present, when the advantages of method and order are understood, and when method and order themselves are become so habitual as to have pervaded every species of composition, the observation will hold still more true of the writings of an age and country in which much of this sort was unknown'; and of an author, the energy of whose thought was not wont to be confined by rules of art, and whose subje mowered all the lesser con

« 上一頁繼續 »