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Șermons, on various subjects, Doctrinal and Moral; selected, abridged, and
translated from L'Année Evangélique of F. J. Durand, Ministre du St., Evangile, Professeur Ordinaire dans l'Acudemie de Lausanne, fc.dc. by the Rev. Richard Munkhouse, D. D. of Queen's College, Oxford; und
Minister of St. John Baptist's Church in Wakefield. 8vo. Pp. 395. THI 'HE perusal of this volume has done that, which, till it fell into our
hands, we could hardly have imagined possible to be done; --it has encreased our sorrows for the sufferings of the brave Swiss, and heightened our resentment towards the atrocious wretch, the relentless and bloody tyrant, who has been chiefly instrumental in inflicting them.
Professor Durand, the author of these Sermons, is, it seems, a native of France, but took up his abode, at an early period of his lite, in Swisserland, and now resides at Lausanne, where he exercises the pastoral office “ in good health, and with unimpaired faculties, at the advanced age of seventy six years.” Besides his collection of sermons, entitled PÄnncé Evangélique, and forming nine volumes 8vo, we have also, from the same pen, Statistique Elémentaire de la Suisse, in four volumes: a work, which, to have been favourably noticed by the excellent Historian, Mr. Planta, is no mean testimony to its deserts. That gentleman calls it " elaborate performance, containing much valuable matter," and has extracted from it the Statistical table inserted in his history of the Helvetic cenfederacy. From the discourses, which Dr. Munkhouse, in the volume under our immediate consideration, has selected from Durand, we cannot well be mistaken in the opinion which we are led to form of the character of this venerable author; and of his merits as a sound divine, and truly christian patriot. His doctrines are, what we do not hesitate to pronounce, unexceptionably orthodox. In his manner, there is more of animation than is usually to be found in the pulpit compositions of the English; and yet it is not precisely the lively and impassioned style of the French divines: It appears to be let down a little, (to use a common phrase ;) to be improved and mellowed by the author's long and intimate association with the equally enlightened, but somewhat more sedate, and incomparably more virtuous, inhabitants of the Pays-de-Vaud. We should not perhaps speak so particularly to the style of Durand, were we left to form our judgement of it solely through the medium of a translation; though this, we think, would justify our opinion. But we judge from those extracts from the original, that are introduced into the body of this work, and still more copiously into the preface, which we would particularly recommend to the perusal and serious consideration of our countrymen. It is well written, and rendered exceedingly interesting, by the observations to which the present lamentable state of Switzerland has given rise in the breast of Dr. M. In this he delineates the character of Durand, as drawn from his writings; and deplores, in pathetic language the miseries that have befallen a people, so lately and so justly reckoned among the most innocent and happy on the face of the earth. The preface was composed pending the eventful crisis, when the patriotic Swiss, towards the close of the preceeding year, made their last efforts for recovering their independency. With Dr. M. we have now, alas! to deplore the inadequacy of the means to an end so desirable, and the anal result which he, at the time, feelingly anticipated. And the fai
lure of those great men in their magnanimous attempt, it is to be feared, have rivetted upon themselves, and the whole of the Helvetic Cantons, the degradation and chains of slavery, for ever!
" It is hardly possible for the contemplative mind to revert to the cri. tical state of unhappy Swisserland, without seriously reflecting on the dreadful change which a brave and generous people have been doomed to undergo in the course of a few years. At length, cut to the quick by the injuries which have been wantonly heaped upon them, and suffering beyond all human endurance under the miseries and indignities of their regenerate condition, they have embarked-at least “un certain nombre d'honnêtes gens" have embarked in the laudable, but extremely hazardous enterprise of freeing their country from the grasp of an unprincipled and venal faction, by a manly (would to God it may prove a resolute and efficacious) resistance to an insolently usurped authority, and an unrelenting iron despotism. The eyes of Europe are anxiously fixed upon them; and that heart must be callous indeed--utterly insensible to the interests of humanity, which does not beat high for their success. If the painful recollection of the blessings which they have forfeited, co-operating with a deep consciousness of their deplorable degradation, should rouse the bulk of the Helvetic nations to a sense of duty ;-to a sense, not merely of all those urgent and comprehensive obligations which they owe to themselves, but also of that reverence which is religiously due to the memory of their noble-minded, intrepid, and truly public-spirited ancestors, they may yet happily recover a part, if not firmly re-establish themselves in the possession of the whole of their former political independency. But with. out determined unanimous efforts, or something nearly approximating to unanimity in the glorious cause, (a circumstance alas! less closely connected with our hopes than wishes,) we cannot but tremble in the painful anticipation of the too probable result of those efforts, (which with a view of shaking off the chains of servitude) now agitate and convulse the bosom of that bleeding Country.” Preface p. 12. &c.
What at this day are the feelings of such a man, as Dr. Munkhouse represents his reverend author, and as we may well suppose him, from the volume before us, to be, it is not difficult to conjecture. " To add to his sorrows, (Dr. M. proceeds) he has yet perhaps to witness the irretrievable subjugation of the once virtuous and gallant Swiss to a foreign power!-God forbid! if I may judge from those glowing expressions of patriotism which pervade his writings, an event like this would hardly fail to hasten and embitter the last moments of a long life, dedicated (as I am taught to believe) to the service of God, to the interest of a government by which he has been long protected and cherished, and to the edifi. cation of those committed to his pastoral care. His object all along ap. pears to have been a faithful discharge of his duty. He disclaims every motive to assiduity and labour in his holy profession, save that of benefiting mankind by free cominunications of knowledge, and by a strenuous inculcation of religious and civil obligations. Of the warmth of his attachment to the people among whom he dwells; of his reverence for, and admiration of their policy and laws, the most satisfactory proofs are easily to be collected from various passages in the volumes under consideration. That he hath not been ungrateful for the manifold blessings bestowed by providence on that once happy Country, (blessings long enjoyed by him in common with the native inhabitants) in the general temperature of the clime, the fertility of its soil, and the beauty and magnificence of its scenery, is abundantly manifest.-That he hath not been a careless observer of the morals and manners of the people : that he hath remarked in the present generation, and with a truly apostolical
zeal remonstrated against the falling away from the pyrity and simpli. city of the faith of their forefathers, no one who looks into his writings can possibly be ignorant.—That he hath also remarked, and exposed to the utmost of his ability, and, together with every serious christian, and real patriot, deprecated from his heart, the baneful progress of philosophism; and even as it should seem, some years anterior to the publication of this third edition of his Sermons, that he was not altogether unsuspicious of the secret workings of Illuminism, is highly probable. In all these cases, doubtless he contemplated, with the most painful emo. tions, the alarming change that was taking place in the religious, moral, and political sentiments of the people : and, impelled by a sense of duty to God, and to his neighbour, he not only openly and pointedly expressed his fears for the probable event, but employed and insisted upon such arguments, and suggested such expedients, as might, if duly attended to, and timely adopted, lessen or avert the approaching danger.” (ibid.)
The Sermons in this selection are twenty-seven in number, on the fola lowing subjects. The Danger of false Philosophy.--The fear of Man. -The Variety of Religious Opinions. - Jesus Christ having the words of Eternal Life.-On Superstition. The Hearer Convinced. The Strait Gate. The Centurion.- Jesus Christ demanding an entrance into our Hearts.- The Character of Christ's Sheep.—The Woman of Canaan. -The Choice of Asaph.-The Sinful Woman fleeing for succour to Jesus Christ.-The Danger of Relapsing into Sin.---The Incompatibi. lity of the Two Services of God and Mammen.-The Crime and Punishment of Ananias.–St. Peter Healing the Lame Man.-The Advice of Gamaliel.-Paul before Felix.-The Excellency of the Gospel.-St. Paul's wish for Agrippa.-The Neglect of Salvation Punished. The Example of Christ.—The Happiness of Dying in the Lord. On the Immortality of the Soul.--The last Judgement.--The Promises of Beatitude. These are all treated in an ingenious and masterly manner. The length of our quotations from the preliminary remarks, which we were unwilling to suppress, leaves us but little room for extracts from the Sermons themselves. We will however lay before our readers one Extract, taken from the eighteenth discourse on Acts, v. 38, 39. “ The advice of Gamaliel,” which we look upon as affording a fair and impartial specimen of the general style and merits of the whole.
" The revolutions of time, and the completion of events, have fully justified the sage advice of Gamaliel. • The stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.' And the Al. mighty hath clearly demonstrated, by a lengthened series of signs and wonders, that the religion of Jesus Christ is His work. Every effort indeed has been made, all the obstacles, that the most malevolent ingenuity could possibly devise, have been thrown in its way, to impede its progress. Its sublime precepts, however hostile they may be, and assured. ly are, to the corrupt propensities of the flesh; and the purity of its worship, calculated as it was to put an end to the absurd ceremonies, and impure feasts of paganism, as well as to the ablutions, sacrifices and atonements, of the Levitical law, produced the effects which they were intended to produce. The pride of priests, the insolence of philosopliers, and of all those who assumed the air of superior learning and worldly wisdom; all the most wayward and domineering passions of the heart of man, were adverse to it from the period of its promulgation. They were all with one accord intent upon its' oyerthrow. They vented Vol. V. Churchm. Mag. for October, 1803. L1
the most atrocious calumnies against the primitive converts to Christią. nity. They denounced them as hostile to the interests of mankind, but especially of the Romans, whose destruction they were accused of striving to accelerate by their efforts, supplications and prayers. Their very virtues were calumniated, Their mutual love and inviolable at. tachment were misrepresented as an odious conspiracy; their miracles, as the effects of diabolical incantations, and themselves as barbarous and unholy men. Still this blessed religion withstood the rage and hatred of its adversaries. It obtained conquests, great and manifold as they were rapid, and myriads of faithful followers crowded to range themselves under the victorious banners of the gospel of Jesus. Unsuccessful and baffled in these first attempts, the implacable enemies of Christianity had next recourse to intolerance and persecution. They every where endea. voured to dismay its advocates by unheard of cruelties. They wantonly erected the Cross, the Stake, the Gibbet, and the Scaffold; while unnumbered martyrs, under the most ignominious treatment, and amid the most agonizing tortures, expiring in the sacred cause, gave evidence to its truth, and attestations to its power.
Subsequently exposed to yet more dangerous, if not severer, trials; to the artifices of error, the sophisms of heresy, the intemperate heat of enthusiasm, the contagious progress of superstition, and to the reiterated attacks of infidelity; this ROCK OF AGES has nevertheless blunted, broken, shivered to a thousand pieces all the darts of hell and death, and accumulated trophies upon trophies in unimpeded and endless triumphs.
Still it continues, and so long as the world endures this amiable religion shall continue, to overwhelm its adversaries with confusion.
So long shall it continue the joy, the comfort, the delight of the meek, and gentle, and believing. It shall dry up the source of their tears; it shall sweeten the bitterness of their present exiled suffering state. For ever shall it remain a resource and consolation for the afflicted, the oppressed, the sick, and the dying. For ever shall it exist a strong and impregna. ble rampart for states and kingdoms that are submissive to its laws. For ever shall it remain an overflowing fountain of national strength; of individual happiness, and public prosperity.” p. 257, &c.
The taste of our readers must widely differ from our own, if they are not hence induced to become better acquainted with the contents of this book. Dr. Munkhouse in his preface, to which we would again direct their attention, has the following remarks respecting the present volumé, and his intentions of publishing another from the same author, should he meet with sufficient encouragement- ---It may not (he says) “ be improper to premise a doubt as to the propriety of making a sélection from a work avowedly systematical; professing, as it does, to provide a course of Sermons for all the Sundays and Festivals of the Evengelical year. But as the subjects of those Sermons bear no uniform relation either to the appointed Collects, Epistles, or Gospels, (I must not be understood to include the Festivals in this observation) their appropriation is not materially disconcerted by this selection. It may, however, be noticed by the way, that an arrangement of subjects is intended to be preserved in the following discourses. And should the reception of them be such, as to induce me to publish a second volume, I am prepared with a like number of sermons, the subjects of which are generally adapted to the service of our Church-from Advent to Trinity Sundan, inclusive ;- -a period which embraces the whole of the great Fasts and Festivals. In this case, the contents of the present volume would easily apply to the Sundays after Trinity, and thus be made to extend to the recommencement of the Evangelical, or Liturgical year, with Advent Sunday," Pref. p. ix.
We shall be glad to congratulate Dr. Munkhouse on the republication of this, and the speedy appearance of the promised volume. The one before us is ushered into the world under the patronage of Dr Katcliffe's trustees, to whom it is dedicated in a grateful acknowledgement of their munificence towards Si. John Baptist's Church in Wakefield.
An Exhortation to the due observance of the approaching National Fast: in.
an address from a minister to his parishoners. By Edward Pearson, B. D. Rector of Rempstone, Nottinghamshire, 8vo. p. p. 16.
2s. 6d. a dozen. Spragg. IF Fever this nation had a peremptory cause to be seriously affected,
and to be deeply humbled before the throne of Heaven for its manifold transgressions, it is at this present moment. We are prepared, it is true, to meet an invading enemy at all points, and the united hearts and hands of the people afford a most animated and encouraging picture to every lover of his country. Still it becomes us to consider the condition in which we are placed, as perilous and as a scourge sent by the Almighty to punish a guilty land. That our iniquities have been heinous, in proportion to our prosperity, cannot well be denied by any observer of society; it is proper, therefore, that every individual, should be pressed to examine his own character and conduct as having contributed in some degree to the accumulated evil. This is the sentiment also of the respecto able and well known author of the exhortation before us, concerning which we may well say that as "a word in season how good is it?" Mr. Pearson sets out with stating in his peculiarly, clear, and impressive manner the right and obligation of ministers to direct the attention of their hearers to those duties which they owe to their king and country, but which practice some have foolishly if not wickedly stigmatised with the epithet of political preaching. Having established this point he comes to the consideration of existing circumstances, and the great necessity there is for a general fasting and religious mourning. Most ju. diciously has the worthy author made this a particular and not a general address. His word of exhortation comes home to the conscience of every individual, and this is the only way of bringing about a universal seriousness and repentance.
“ If there be any one” says he, “who, admitting the general truth, that the nation is chastised for its offences, and that such chastisement is a call to repentance and amendment, but that himself is exempted from the call; to him I would say, are you quite sure that no part of the guilt, which has brought down the judgements of God upon the nation, belongs to you ? have you no sins to repent of, no omissions of duty to regret; no transgressions of duty to deplore ? can you look over the cata. logue of sins, for which God has denounced punishments against nations, and say, as in the presence of that Judge, to whom the secrets of your heart are open,
" I am free from these?" These close questions are followed up by such a variety of yet closer ones, that it is impossible to go over them seriously without feeling a deep and awakening penitence for our past conduct.' We are necessa