« ZurückWeiter »
rily obliged to stop here, with earnestly recommending this excellent pamphlet to general perusal and to a most liberal distribution, for though the fast be over, it should not be forgotten; the occasion for which it was appointed remains, and the humiliation it was designed to excite, is so much our duty and interest that every exhortation of this kind cannot be read without advantage.
THE CHILD JESUS, THE PATRON OF EARLY PIETY. A Ser. mon preached on Sunday, the 31st of July 1803, in the Chapel belonging to Mr Bancroft's charitable institution, Mile-end New Road, before the Master, Wardens and Court of Assistants of the Worsliipful Company of Drapers; being the day on which the School was opened for the maintenance, as well as Education and Cloathing, of one hundred boys. By
the Rev. Thomas Thirlwall, M. A. chaplain to the charity 4 to. p. p. 18. of this excellent institution a particular account is given at page 234,
V of this month's magazine. The sermon before us, though printed at the request of the Trustees, is not published, a circumstance rather to be regretted considering its intrinsic excellence. It abounds with what the French writers on pulpit eloquence call onction; but without any of that inflation of language, and affectation of fine sentiment which too many have been led to admire and to imitate as the pure models of pathetic preaching. From that expressive and appropriate text, St. Luke ch. ii. v. 52. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and Man,” Mr Thirlwall takes a brief, but perspicuous, and most interesting view of our Lord's early history, as furnishing a solemn obligation on every disciple of the blessed Jesus to be eager in dispensing to others the light of that instruction which he has received himself.
But in speaking particularly of the progressive improvement made by our Lord in piety and knowledge, Mr. Thirlwall wisely takes care to keep his divinity also in the sight of his hearers.
" The lofty encomium" (says he) " which my text bestows on him at that period, and the finished character which it exhibits, naturally direct our attention to the means, by which he attained this exalted praise. When I thus speak of the Son of the most high God, of the Saviour and Redeemer of mankind, it is with impressions of the profound. est reverence. He certainly stood not in need of previous culture and discipline to fit him for glory. The rays of divinity shone around him from the first hour of his birth, with a native original lustre, What is. therefore recorded of his early piety was not to explain to us the spotless innocence of his life, but to furnish to mankind an example and pattern for their imitation, to set before us the beauty of holiness, and invite us to pursue the same path, which he has gone before us, in the attaina ment of every imitable excellence.”
The necessity of early cultivation and discipline is thus beautifully represented and enforced.
“Were it necessary after what has been urged, I might appeal to the testimony of experience. Other creatures arrive at that stature of pertection, which Providence allows them, without exertions, but the whole of inan's existence is a state of discipline and progression. Youth is his preparation for maturer years, and his whole life a preparation for the
next. The soil is given us, but the cultivation and improvement of it depend, ander God, on our own labour. The neglected ground is certain to be over-run with the rankest weeds. Experience teaches, that where a foundation is not laid in the early period of life, little proficiency is to be expected; both in the natural and the moral world a plentiful harvest depends on a kindly spring. Autumn blossoms seldomi ripen into fruit. If the soil is not softened and prepared at that critical season, if the early pushes after knowledge, receive a check, if the fair buds and blossoms of true wisdom wither and decay, there is but feeble hope they will afterwards revive and flourish and quicken into fruit."
It is with great reluctance we are forced by the narrowness of our limits to debar ourselves the pleasure of extracting more copiously from a discourse which afforded us fresh delight when we gave it the second perusal.
God and our Country : A Sermon preached at the Parish Church of Giggleswick, in Craven, Aug. 14th : also at Trinity Church, Leeds, Aug. 21st 1803, by Rowland Ingram, B, D. Master of Giggleswick School, and late Fellow of Sidney College, Cambridge. Published by request,
pp. 15. TN the present arduous situation of public affairs, it must be matter of
· great satisfaction to every friend of his country to observe the ex: ertions, which all classes of men among us, in their several stations, have made, and are still making, to rouse the energies, and to direct the efforts of the nation in its just defence. In the exertions of this kind, it was impossible for us to consider with indifference, those numerous and animated exhortations from the pulpit, which, even before they were elicited by the voice of authority, in the appointment of a day of public fasting and humiliation, were employed to awaken the people to a sense of their danger, to excite in them the sentiments proper to their situation, and to urge them to the performance of the duties, both civil and religious, which necessarily result froin it.
The text of the sermon before us, which we consider as holding an honourable place among the exhortations referred to, is taken from Psalm xcvii. 1. The Lord is king; the earth may be glad thereof; yer, the multitude of the isles may be glad thereof. The design of it is to im. press the conviction of “a continually acting and over-ruling Provi. dence," and thence to deduce the consolations, of which we have peculiar need, and the duties, which at present are especially incumbent upon us.
*As the subject of a superintending Providence has been so often and so ably treated, it required considerable address to give it an air of originality. This, however, by a judicious selection and concentration of ideas, Mr. Ingram has effected; and, while he has rendered his pages in no ordinary degree replete with meaning, he has happily succeeded in producing those sentiments of admiration of the divine counsels, and of resignation to the divine will, which it was his evident intention to produce. In order to give our readers an opportunity of judging whether our opinion is well-founded, we shall present them with a few extracts.
It is our wish, however, that they would peruse the Sermon itself, and promote the perusal of it among those of their friends, who are capable of serious reflection. We speak with this limitation, because we do not consider this Sermon as calculated for the use of every class of hearers or readers, or as being what is commonly called a popular Sermon; a cir. cumstance, which, in our opinion, is creditable to the taste and judge ment of those, at whose request it was published.
After speaking of the superintendance of Providence over the material world, and over the counsels and operations of the human mind, the preacher proceeds thus :
“ To impress mankind with a firm and practical persuasion of the reality of this divine agency upon the spiritual part of their frame, was an object worthy of revelation itself., The inquiries of a few philosophers could but ill have served to procure a sufficiently general reception to a truth of so much consequence, and, at the same time, so remote from vulgar or superficial observation ; even though (which is by no means probable) human philosophy had ever been able to investigate it, unassisted by the light of scripture. On this, as on various other subjects, divine revelation and rational inquiry go hand in hand together, confirming and illustrating each other's testimony. Let us not mistake the raptures of the enthusiast, or the fervors of a distempered brain, for the exclusive operations of God's holy spirit ; but rather let us mark its chaste and sober operations in that uniform and established order of things, and under that general influence of the divine counsels, which extends, far and wide, through the whole compass of human life ; ac. cording to which virtue is rendered more virtuous, and vice is instructed to correct herself, from experience of the evils she necessarily brings upon her own head.
« If, then, the minds of men are individually under the perpetual controul of their Almighty Creator, so also are the designs and machinations of men united in society, and joined together in national bodies, Whether these designs be virtuous or vicious, they are permitted to prosper as far, and no farther, as infinite wisdom and goodness shall determine. Systems of human arrangement are, in this view, of little consequence. It matters not whether such national bodies be guided by the despotic will of one mortal ruler, by the concerted measures of numerous authorities existing under the direction and prescription of established laws, or (if it were indeed possible) by the unanimous concurrence of their several members. Supreme above the highest aggrandisement of human power, “ laughing to scorn" the most subtle schemes of hunan policy, “the Lord is king, and the earth may be glad i hereof." We have, in this assurance, a broad basis of confidence, upon which we may at all times stand unshaken. We have here a source of comfort and encouragement, which shall never fail; yet one, which can never cease to be needful to us, under the various changes and chances of this mortal life.”
After proceeding in this strain, he adds:
" But, if we are sincerely anxious to avail ourselves of the trust and consolation, which these soothing as well as elevating reflections are cal. culated to inspire, it becomes us seriously to consider the only ground upon which we can hope to secure them. Neither in the common ada ministration of nature, nor in the gracious promises of God's revealed word, are any hopes of favour, support or protection held forth to us, independently of our own sedulous endeavours to render ourselves de
serving of them. If we would really apply to our comfort the persua. sion, that the Lord is King, we must be diligent, in whatever station we may be placed, to perform the duties of his subjects.”
After briefly mentioning the duties of men in “ seasons of peace and tranquillity,” and in the opposite extreme of adversity amidst the “ ca. lamities of a ruined country,” he thus states those, which are more peculiarly incumbent upon us at the present moment:
« We can scarcely imagine a third state more widely distant from either of these, than that, which is, at this present juncture, our own. PoffefTed, as a nation, of the most transcendent advantages; born to as much liberty, as is compatible with public safety, or as any good man can wish for; secure, except from the punishment of guilt, both in our persons and in our property; the administration of justice in our courts.
rts, the wonder of strangers; our King, one, whose name is sufficient to silence the voice of faction, and to unite our various parties in one common sentiment of love and duty; our character and our influence eminently high in the scale of nations ; protected in the freest possession of our faith, and in the pious exercises which it enjoins; at ordinary times, froni the mere want of reflection, we little estimate the value of the numberless blessings we enjoy. And it is extremely possible, that these our proud and signal distinctions (if contiuued to us in one uninterrupted flow of peace and prosperity) might not only have ceased to be valued as they ought, but, so fatal is the magic of prosperity, might have become to us a dreadful snare. Our power might have betrayed us into anibitious views of empty aggrandisement, our wealth into vo. luptuousness and general profligacy, our petulant cavils at existing av. thorities into disaffection and civil uproar; God and another world might have ceased to have any part in our thoughts, whilst we ima. gined our earthly hill so strong, and that it was exclusively good for us to be here. To what degree these, or any of these unfavourable symptoms have actually shown themselves amongst us, it may nearly concern us to call to our recollection; exercising candour, indeed, and charity, one towards another, but investigating each his own conduct with scrupulous exactness.”.
Though our limits call upon us to refer to the Sermon itself, for the remainder of this statement, we cannot deny ourselves the gratification of transcribing the concluding part of it:
" Let no man, then, be ashamed to bring to the most solemn test of religious contemplation, as in the presence of Almighty God, the pa. triotic efforts, which he feels himself spontaneously prompted to make. It is indeed the grand defect of our ordinary conduct, that we do not sufficiently sanctify the customary business of life by considerations of that responsibility to Heaven, which attaches to every action. It is from this habitual negligence, that'important duties are often postponed, often forgotten, lotten performed imperfectly, cursorily, and with all that apparent wearisomeness, and listlessness, which evidently bespeaks them to be the offspring of some supposed necessity and compulsion, rather than a free-will offering. Hence, too, so much of our time either passes totally unoccupied, or is devoted to such frivolous and unmeaning pursuits, though short of positive criminality, that, if ever we attempt, in the hour of private reflection, a serious retrospect, we dare scarcely name them to ourselves. In proportion, then, as the present crisis is awful and solemn, let us regulate our conduct upon more steady and searching principles; and it will be happy for us, if these principles,
operating, in the first instance, to the well directed work of our imme. diate security, be suffered to take such root in our hearts, that they may hereafter flourish unimpaired, in the regular duties of peace and tranquillity, for the remainder of our lives. Then shall we have abundant cause to bless God, not only for those mercies, which we more readily consider as signal tokens of his immediate favour, but for the mercies also of his severest judgments. The most terrible denunciations of his wrath, we, through our thoughtlessness, may render fit and neces. sary; but we view them only in their worst aspect, when we do not ac. cept them as gracious calls to recollection and amendment.
scrious Address to the Public, upon the present Times : but more par:
ticularly to the Religious part of it. 8vo. pp. 68.
IN a very modest advertisement prefixed to this seasonable
tract, the author observes that she would not have obtruded himself upon the attention of the public, if he had observed any other, among the numbers that are so much better qualified for the task than himself, to have undertaken it before him. It is only from a strong conviction of the want of some such address, that he has ventured upon it, as a duty owing from one who has probably more leisure to communi. cate the result of his reflections upon the times than any whose sentiments on the subject may be very much the same as his own, and whose abilities to convey those sentiments are superior."- "Of the EXECUTION of his design, the public must be the best judges : in whatever way, however, they may decide upon the composition of this little book, or however they may listen to its contents, one consolation 'no man taketh from "him'--the grateful reflection that he has endeavoured to discharge his duty; and that no meaner consideration impelled him to trouble them than an earnest solicitude for their safety. Let none be disposed to question the purity of his ends, however they may condemn the inadequacy of his means."
Such a declaration as this would be sufficient we think to disarm the severest critic of his frown, and dispose him to judge favourably even of a less meritorious performance than the present. After drawing a just, but melancholy picture of the state of Europe, and shewing the perilous condition in which this nation is now placed, the author enforces The necessity of a general reformation in a variety of instances too prominent to be denied, the neglect of the study of the holy scriptures-of family prayer of the reception of the holy Sacrament of a devout observance of the sabbath--of a proper behaviour at public worship the sad degradation of female manners and the neglect of the religious instruction of the rising generation. On each of these important topics we meet with many very impressive observations, and much excellent admonition.
One extract from this valuable performance will abundantly prove its sterling merit, and afford a sufficient inducement to our readers to peruse the whole.