Imágenes de página

present inclined situation; or, lastly, whether he limits its operation to the excavation of vallies, the production and deposition of alluvial gravel evidently composed of the detritus of preexisting strata, and the formation of those beds containing the reliquia of mammalia.

The plates contain figures of fossils arranged according to the different strata; but we must express our regret that they are not all original, nor as well executed as the work deserves they however form a very useful and valuable addition, which will enable the beginner to distinguish the respective beds with tolerable certainty. Errors in orthography, particularly of proper names, are very numerous.

Art. VI. Sermons, for Parochial and Domestic Use; designed to illustrate and enforce, in a connected view, the most important articles of Christian faith and practice. By Richard Mant, M.A. Vicar of Great Coggeshall, Essex, and late Fellow of Oriel College. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. xvii. 767. Rivingtons. 1813.

SOME months ago it fell in our way to examine the labours

of Mr. Mant as a theological controvertist. The ignorance and inaccuracy, together with the lamentable want of judgement, of penetration, consistency, and fair dealing, all aggravated by lofty pretensions, which he betrayed on that occasion, excited a hearty wish that it might not be our lot again to encounter him in any shape. We will fairly confess, however, that, in reading these volumes, we have been much less offended than, from his former work, we had reason to expect. In these sermons, composed when his mind was calm and collected, the author has frequently surprised us, by his agreement with the evangelical, or methodistical, or calvinistical' clergy, on those points which they hold in common, and which distinguish them from other teachers. It is somewhat curious to observe how Mr. Mant, compiler of "Sermons for parochial and domistic use," harmonises with those persons whom Mr. Mant, the Bampton lecturer, so vehemently impugned. For the purpose of illustrating this singular fact, it may be worth while to make a few extracts.

On the subject of man's corruption and consequent inability to please God by thoughts or deeds, Mr Mant thus expresses himself.

Together with a loss of original righteousness, a want of the power to recover the righteousness we had lost, entered into our nature by the disobedience of Adam. The Christian revelation differs materially from the Jewish; in that it represents in a clearer and stronger light the inability of weak and sinful man to keep God's commandments. Perfect obedience to God's commandinents is what we cannot pay. How could we, who are naturally "dead in tresVOL. X.


passes and sins" be "quickened" of ourselves with fresh life, breathe into ourselves a new spirit, and from the seeds of corruption bring forth the fruits of holiness? Vol. I. pp. 36, 256. Vol. II. 32, 80.

While Mr. Mant thus accords with the "evangelical" teachers on the subject of human depravity, he is equally particular and explicit with them in ascribing all that is devout and virtuous in the faithful, to the influence of the Holy Spirit.

As we have our faith by illumination, so by inspiration we have our holiness: they are given to us, both from without. It is Jesus Christ who sendeth us the Holy Spirit, by whom we are regenerated, and renewed, and sanctified, and strengthened, and enlightened, and comforted; by whom we are enabled to " repent and believe the Gospel." It was not more necessary that Christ should die for our salvation, than that he should afterwards supply us with his grace to lead us into the paths of righteousness, and to enable us to persevere therein unto the end.' Vol. I. pp. 37, 328. Vol. II. 80.

On the utter insufficiency of works or virtues to merit the favour of God, on the efficacy of Christ's obedience and death for the pardon of sin and restoration to the divine favour, and on obedience to the precepts of the Gospel, not as a condition of justification, but as the fruit and evidence of true faith, not as the cause but the measure of future reward, it would be difficult to find in the writings of the "evangelical" teachers any thing stronger or more distinct than the following passages.

"The wages of sin is death," as St. Paul says, meaning evidently to point out the great relation between the thing done, and the recompense received for doing it: not such is that "eternal life," which he contrasts with the death of the sinner: "but the gift of God," he adds, "is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Here is no debt, no obligation, no wages; nothing which man can claim; nothing more than it pleases God of his infinite mercy freely to bestow. He is indeed graciously pleased (so infinite is his mercy) to promise us "eternal life," as a recompense and a reward of our diligence in serving him: and even to declare, that that recompense shall be conferred upon us in different degrees, and shall be greater or lèss in proportion to the diligence with which we serve him. But whilst this most gracious promise should have the effect, as it was doubtless intended to have, of stimulating our exertions, and making us more ardent in our love, and more active in our service of God; we should beware of so considering it, as if it was intended to make us regard any thing in ourselves, as the meritorious cause of that recompense. If we reject that name (of Jesus Christ) whither shall we turn? on what foundation shall we rest our hopes? what powerful plea have we prepared to present at the judgment seat of God? what offering to conciliate his affection? what atonement to propitiate his anger? Christian morality assumes to itself no merit: it sets up no arrogant claim to God's favour: it pretends not to 66 open the gates of hear ven:" it is only the handmaid in conducting the Christian believer in his road towards them. We insist continually upon the utter in

competency of mankind to purchase salvation by their own merits or deservings; and preach unto you salvation through the alone merits of Jesus Christ.' Vol. I. pp. 53, 63, 54, 66, 92.

These extracts, taken from many passages of similar import, may suffice to show the resemblance of Mr. Mant's doctrine to that which is held by those who are stigmatized as the 'Calvinistic, self-called Gospel preachers.' But without pursuing this subject farther, it is time to give a more particular account of these Sermons.

Few of the modern writings of the national clergy, in the opinion of Mr. Mant, were adapted to parochial and domestic instruction. He resolved, therefore, to supply this deficiency, and publish a collection of plain discourses on some of the most important articles of faith and practice, in which the truths of the Christian faith are so proposed as to be made the foundation of Christian practice; and the duties inculcated are of such a character, and are inforced by such motives, as become the followers of Christ.' In prosecuting this undertaking, he has availed himself largely of the works of some of our most valuable divines'---Andrews, Beveridge, Barrow, Mede, and Jones. The sermons, in all thirty-one, are on the following subjects:

Comparative value of the world and of the soul: The gospel, the only foundation of religion and moral duty: Eternal life, the gift of God in his Son: On the divinity of the Word: The son of man, the saviour of that which was lost: The love of God, the motive to man's salvation: The sufferings of our Saviour unexampled: The humility and patience of our Saviour: Christ crucified, a motive to holiness, and a pattern for imitation: Insufficiency of works of righteousness to purchase salvation: Obedience to Christ necessary to the salvation of Christians: Effects of disobedience exemplified in the punishment of Saul: Deceitfulness of sin and efficacy of repentance, exemplified in David's fall and restoration: On the existence and divinity of the Holy Ghost: Necessity, evidences, and means of receiving the Holy Ghost: The fruits of the spirit exemplified in the character of Joseph: The spirit of God manifested by his fruits : Pride a worldly quality, irreligious, and irrational: Uncleanness inconsistent with a profession of the Gospel: The danger and sinfulness of covetousness exemplified in Ahab: Malice incompatible with the Christian character: The doctrine of grace a motive with St. Paul for humility and diligence: Efficacy and requisites of prayer: Self-deceit of those who are hearers, but not doers of the word; Necessity and benefits of baptism: Necessity and benefits of the Lord's supper: The duty and advantage of church communion: Spiritual blessings no privilege for sin, exemplied in the punishment of the Jews [?] in the wilderness: The uses of affliction: The death of the righteous: The glory which shall be revealed.

Without stopping to remark on the phraseology of these ti

[ocr errors]

tles, some of which, it must be confessed, are sufficiently strange, we would observe that the general denomination of the sermons given in the title page is somewhat deceptive. The discourses, for the most part, have no connexion with each other. Of the most important articles of Christian faith and practice,' it must be a very imperfect view,' in which no distinct space is allotted to the atonement of Christ, faith, repentance, conversion, justification, the love of our neighbours, progress in purity and virtue, the general judgement, and the future punishment. But though it is evident that Mr. Mant has failed in filling up his professed plan, yet we readily allow that the topics on which he treats, are of great moment, and his matter is sufficiently plain. In doctrine his errors are by no means numerous, and he evinces a laudable anxiety to place morality on its proper basis---every where insisting on its inseparable connexion with piety. His manner is rather earnest. The subjoined extract will show how he illustrates scripture doctrine.

This leads me to remark, in the fourth place, that Jesus Christ is the only foundation on which we can build, inasmuch as it is he who renders our services acceptable to Almighty God. Notwithstanding the weakness of our nature be strengthened and supported by the divine grace, no service, that we can offer, is of itself worthy of being received by infinite perfection. The sacrifice which ought to be offered to him, if it would claim acceptance with him, is a sacrifice without blemish. But what is the human offering, that can aspire to this distinction? What is the offering that we can make, which is not debased by much unworthy mixture, whether of thought, word, or deed? Whose heart, if diligently communed with, will venture to reply, that no mixture is blended with the motives, which prompt him to the service of God; or with the manner, in which that service is performed? Whose heart will not tell him, that there is much in it, which renders it unfit to appear before an infinitely holy God? To render the offering of such a heart an acceptable sacrifice, there is needed mediation of one, who knows not and never knew sin. In Christ Jesus was that mediation. He made a propitiation for us, by dying for us upon earth: he maketh intercession for us in heaven, where he ever sitteth for that purpose on the right hand of God. He formerly submitted to be our victim, the sacrifice for our sins, when he shed his most precious blood upon the altar, the altar of the cross, to redeem us from the penalty, which our disobedience deserved: he now ever liveth above as our high priest; receives our worship and other offerings to Almighty God; clothes them, imperfect as they are, with perfect righteousness; pleads for them, undeserving as they are, his own all-suffering merits, and so makes them acceptable unto his father. "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous ; and he is the propitiation for our sins." He is the foundation on which we must build our hopes, that our sins will be forgiven, our

services accepted, and ourselves admitted into favour by God.' Vol. I. pp. 38, 40.

In the ensuing passage may be observed the purity of his moral code. Having remarked that it is needless to be surprized at the opposition of the maxims of the world to those of the Gospel, he proceeds as follows:

The mind of the child is soon impressed with the necessity of entertaining, what is called by the strange inconsistency and perversion of language," a proper pride." As young persons make

their entrance into life, they are instructed to "take pride" in distinguishing themselves, and surpassing their fellows. The force of early instruction and of general example co-operates with the propensities of a vicious nature, prone to weakness and vanity; till, as we grow up, we make no scruple of professing that we "pride ourselves" on a variety of things which we speak, think, or do. Nations are only aggregates of individuals: and it is natural that the feelings of the several members should be transferred to the body at large. If a bountiful Providence exempts us from miseries, to which our less favoured neighbours are exposed, and showers on us peculiar blessings, we represent ourselves as placed on a proud eminence:"-if Almighty God crowns our army with victory, it is celebrated as a "proud day" for England :-if we are reminded of our national demerits and offences, we do not perhaps deny the charge; but advert. ing to some more pleasing trait in the national character, or to some splendid act of national benevolence, we thank God, with the same pharisaical humility, that we have something to be "proud of."

[ocr errors]

'Now whatever may be intended by this quality of "pride," which we inculcate and adopt as a principle of action, and a ground of self-congratulation, our language at least is certainly not in harmony with the language of Christianity; but it has, I apprehend an ob vious tendency to confound in our minds the distinction between right and wrong; and to diminish our abhorrence of a quality, which is totally inconsistent with the temper recommended by the Gospel, and which the Gospel explicitly condemns. Look to the constituent parts of that character which our Saviour proposes as the model for a Christian's imitation, and on which he promises especial blessings, in the beginning of his sermon on the mount; and you will find that it consists of dispositions, in which pride has no portion. The first three blessings are pronounced on the "poor in spirit;" on "them that mourn ;" and on "the meek" and the qualities which follow, are all of a kindred temper. Look to the example of our blessed Lord, whose life is especially proposed as a pattern of humifity, patience, and meekness. Look to the conduct of his apostles, who in imitation of their master, were made (in the forcible language of St. Paul)" as the filth of the world, and the off-scowring of all things." Look to the character which our Saviour gives of pride, where he enumerates the moral defilements of the heart of man, and classes it with adulteries, thefts, and murders. Look to the portraits which St. Paul exhibits of the reprobate condition of the heathen world, and of those " perilous times, which should come in the last

« AnteriorContinuar »