Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

SERMON XXI.

2 TIMOTHY, Ch. I. ver. 13, 14-and Ch. IV. ver. 3, 4.

Hold fast the form of sound Words which thou hast heard of me

in Faith and Love which is in Christ Jesus—That good thing which was committed unto thee, keep by the Holy

Ghost which dwelleth in usFor the Time will come when they will not endure sound Doc

trine, but after their own Lusts shall heap to themselves Teachers, having itching ears, and they shall turn away their ears from the Truth, and shall be turned unto Fables

In this very adventurous and inquisitive Day, when men spurning their kindred-earth, on which they were born to tread, will dare, on airy (or balloon) wing to soar into the regions of the sky; were it the pleasure of our Almighty Creator to purge any of us mortals of our terrestrial dross, and to place us, in good earnest, upon some distant orb, from which with clear and serene view, corporeal as well as intellectual, we could survey this world of ours—what a strange scene would it appear? Itself in the rank of worlds, dwindled into a small mole-hill; and men, the little emmets upon it, bustling and driving and crossing each other, as if there were no settled walk of life, no common tie, or “ Form of sound words to be held fast of all, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus?"

In our intellectual view, from this eminence of station, we should behold one set of men, who boast of the all-sufficient and transcendent power of Reason, as their rule and guide; but yet all wandering through different tracts, although in the same pursuits of Happiness and Peace! Another set of men would be seen who call themselves the Special Favourites of Heaven, and say they are guided by a glorious Inward Light, communicated, (or, as they pretend communicated) immediately from the everlasting Fountain of all Light! yet we should not see them walking together in unity, or pursuing any common path or way; but fiercely contending concerning their Inward Light; some calling their's the good Old-Light, and others calling their's the true New-Light. To whom, an old divine of our church, spoken of in the note below, were he now living would say—“There is no Light among you—the Devil hath blinded you all!”

But, Thirdly, we should find another set of men, and those of truly respectable and venerable name, professing themselves guided only by a sure and written Form of Sound Words, revealed and given to them for their Instruction, their Guide, and their Salvation, by their Almighty Creator himself-Yet, alas! they would be seen, perhaps, almost as irregular and eccentric in all their motions as the rest! This is a sad view of things-and as the Poet says

« In Pride, in reasoning Pride, the error lies,

“ All quit their sphere and rush into the Skies.!" And would to God, therefore, that, in all Religions and in all Sciences, this accursed root of Bitterness and Contrariety could be wholly plucked out of the

Christian world. For until Humanity and divine Charity can have their sway, until our Faith is exercised in Love, and the Truths of God are held in Righteousness of Life, there will never be a total harmony among men!

However strong our Reason, however enlightened our Souls, however ardent our Faith; unless that spirit of Love and Humility be in us, which was in Christ Jesus, all besides will be of little value.

With good reason, therefore, does St. Paul admovish his beloved Timothy to let his Faith be exercised in Love, and “ to hold fast the Form of sound Words which he had heard of him;" for even in those early days, some had begun to depart from the foundation laid by Christ and his Apostles; following “ vain babblings,” being like withered leaves, sticking to the tree, only to be blown away by the first wind of doctrine; still desiring to hear some new thing; led by the ear and not by the heart, or as it is strongly expressed in my text,“ heaping to them“selves Teachers, having itching Ears, &c.

A venerable old Luminary of our Church, soon after the Reformation, preaching even before princes and nobles, has a most severe stroke of irony against this itching Humour, according to the honest and indignant (although perhaps blunt) Satire of the Times. It is to the following effect

“ All is Hearing, now-a-days-No Fruits—The Ear is all! and if it were not for our Ear-mark, no man could tell we were Christians*!"

* This quotation was made from the strong impression which the sen. timent made upon the Author's memory many years ago, on reading over the works of the old Divines of the Church of England; and be thinks the words are those of Bishop Andrews. But as the Author never had time to make any regular common place notes or entries of his reading; and this Sermon kaving been thrown together and committed to press on so short a notice when he was at a distance from home, he could not then be sure that he had quoted the exact words, as they stood in the original Sermon, whosoever preached it. The Author must confess, that, in his situation, his reading was only a dipping into books, as occasion required and time would permit; for he does not remember, his ever having read any book regularly through, without skipping from place to place, except perhaps, Robinson Crusoe, Thompson's Seasons, and Young's Night 'Thoughts, a night at a time, as they first appeared. And in this collection of his Sermons into volumes, where he has fallen into the sentiments of former Divines (for there is nothing new in the Divinity of the Gospel) he cannot be certain, that he has retained any thing more, than the general sentiments of those respectable Divines, upon whose writings and sentiments of Orthodoxy, he endeavoured to form himself in his youth, and which he hath never scrupled, freely to make use of in his Pulpit Compositions.

But, if I may pursue the allusion, it is not the Ear-mark but the Heart-mark, by which at the great Day of Accounts, we shall be known and acknow. ledged as belonging to Christ's Sheepfold in the other world; nor is it the despising sound doctrine, the following vain fables and still seeking something new, that can denominate us of His flock in this world.

The publication of these Sermons having been so long delayed, for the reasons given in the Preface to Vol. I. " the Author is not now able, ow. ing to the growing infirmities of age and his failure of sight, to search into the books of his former reading, nor to cite verbatim, the passages or pages of those respectable writers, by whose works he may have benefited himself many years ago.”

Bishop Andrews was a great Divine, and probably a popular preacher, according to the prevailing taste of King James's days. when Pedantry, scraps of Latin, Redundancy of Metaphors, Repetitions, Quibbles, Pons, and other witticisms, were in vogue. But I never could read much of him at a time. I was determined, however, the other day, after eighteen years interval, to look into the good Bishop's huge Folio Volume of Sermons, to satisfy myself whether he was the real author of the witty passages which I had quoted as his, from memory; namely, “ All is Hearing nowa-days, no Fruits; the Ear is all; and, but for our Ear-mark, no man could tell we were Christians." I searched his Index, and thought the

All other marks of our faith, therefore, are vain and delusive, unless we have that Scripture-mark of hearts glowing with Love-a transcendent Love, flowing forth in fervent Piety towards God, and universal Good will towards Man!

most probable place to find it was in his Ash-Wednesday Sermon, preached before King James, March 6, 1623," against unfruitful hearing,” page 238, &c.—But I missed it on my first day's search; it being hid behind a long Preamble about Fruits and Hearing, Hearing and Fruits-always laying in-never bringing forth

The following is a specimen of the good Bishop's manner, and contains the passage, nearly verbatim, as I had cited it from memory

Bring forth.” Here, at the very first, we shall have some of his strictures, according to the fashion of his day. “All, in carrying in: little in bringing forth. For, to take our age at the best, and our ordinary profesa sours in the prime of their profession, and this is our vertue ; we carry well in; we are still carrying in: but nothing, or as good as nothing comes from as, nor bring wee forth. So, this word comes very apposite to our times. All our time, is spent in HEARING; in carrying in repentance-seeds, and other good seeds many. All, in bearing in a manner; none, in doing what we beare: none, in bringing foreb repentance, or any o:her good fruit.

" At Atbens, they said to Saint Paul : Nova quadam infers auribus nostris. It is our case right, infers auribus : but, it is an infers without a profers ; any profers at all. In at our eares, there goes, I know not how many Ser. mons: and every day more and more, if we might have our wills. Infers auribus ; into the eares they goe; the care and all filled, and even farced with them: but there the care is all.

“It puts me in minde of the great absurdity, as Saint Puul reckons it. What, is all bearing? (saith he) All bearing? Yes: all is bearing with us. But that all should be bearing, is as much as if all one's body should be nothing but an eare, and that were a strange body. But, that absurdity are we fallen into. The corps, the whole body of some men's profession; all gollinesse with some, what is it, but beuring a sermon? THE BAR IS ALL, THE EARE DOTH ALI. THAT IS DONE ; AND BUT BY OUR EARE-MARKE, no man should know us to be CHRISTIANS! They were wont to talke much of auriculur confession : I cannot tell, but now, all is turned to an auricular profession. And (to keep us to proferte), our profession is an inning profession. In it goes, but brings nothing out, nothing comes from it againe.

" But, Proferte, bring forth (saith Saint Jobn;) be not always loading in. And there is reason for it. As there is a time for, Exiit qui Seminat sems. nure semen suum (in the Parable) wherein the sower gosth forth and care. VOL. II.

38

« ZurückWeiter »