Imágenes de página

upon an extraordinary occasion, which was to guard the temple at the coronation of Joash king of Judah. For at that time they were ordered to encompass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand. (2 Chron. xxiii. 7.) But that was in the temple, where the rest of the people were not permitted to enter. And besides their religious functions they were sometimes employed in other civil offices. So David, when he was making preparations for building the temple, appointed six thousand of them for officers and judges. (1 Chron. xxiii. 4.) Grotius indeed observes with regard to this fact of David, that he declared the people innocent : Which he seems to have concluded from what David says, 1 Chron. xxi. 17. But it does not appear, from what has been said above, that they were altogether blameless, though not equally criminal with himself. And in such a case, the equity of a national punishment is acknowledged by Philo and Josephus, in the passages cited from them by Grotius.


IT will scarcely be denied, that some whose names stand fore most on the lists of theologic fame, have been little influenced by those very truths, which they have laboured, and frequently with triumphant success, both to elucidate and defend. Such writers have given their days Vol. III. No. 8. X x

and nights to the study of the sacred canon, while their souls have reaped no practical benefit; and though the student has risen from his labour, an acute and luminous commentator and critic, yet, if conduct be the test of principle, incapable of exhibiting any just claim to the character of a Christian. By what allurement are those speculative divines to whom I advert, induced to consume the midnight oil over a book, wherein the essential difference between scientific theology and practical religion is so clearly ascertained, and so impressively urged on the conscience 2 Permit me to transcribe an answer to this inquiry, from the writings of an English divine, who flourish coi in the seventeenth century. “Sometimes the sinner seeketh his happiness and content in largeness of knowledge, much learning, and curious speculation about the nature of the creatures, yea, and about God himself. But perhaps it will be found, that these are near of the same nature with sensitive delights. For it is not the excellency or goodness of God himself that delighteth them; but the novelty of the thing, and the agitation of their own imagination, phantasie, and intellect thereupon, which is naturally desirous to be actuated, and employed, as receiving thereby some seeming addition to its own perfection : and that, not as from God, who is the object of their knowledge, but as from the mere enlargement of knowledge in itself; or, which is far worse, they make the study of God and divine things which they delight in, but subservient to some base inferior object : and so, though they delight in studying and knowing God, and heaven, and scripture, yet not in God as God, or the chief good; nor in heaven as heaven ; nor out of any true saving love to God; but either because, as some preachers, they make a gainful trade of it, by teaching others, or because it is an honour to know these things, and be able to discourse of them, and a dishonour to be ignorant: or, at best, as I said before, they desire to know God, and divine truths, out of a delight in the novelty, and actuating, and natural elevation of the understanding hereby. It is one thing to delight in knowing, and another to delight in the thing known. An ungodly man may delight in studying and knowing several axioms or truths concerning Good, but he never delighteth in God himself. So a studious man desires to know what hell is, and where, and many truths concerning it : but he desireth not hell itself, nor delighteth in it. A godly man desireth to know the nature and danger of sin, and Satan's way, and wiles in temptations : but he doth not therefore desire sin, and temptation itself. So a wicked man may desire to know the nature of grace, and Christ, and glory : and yet not desire grace, and Christ, and glory. It is one thing to terminate a man’s desire and delight in bare knowledge, or the esteem, and self advancement that accrues thereby ; and another thing to terminate it in the thing which we desire to know, making knowledge but a means to its fruition. The acts of the understanding

are but preparatory to the acts of the will, and so are but imperfect initial acts of the soul, as having a further end than their own proper object ; and therefore it is, that philosophers place no moral habits in the understanding, but all in the will ; for till they come to the will, (though they be in a large sense morally good or evil, virtuous or vicious, yet) they are but so in an imperfect kind and sense i. and therefore they call such habits only intellectual.” When the Marquis of Rosny was appointed, by Henry the Fourth of France, his ambassador to the court of London on the death of Queen Elizabeth, the elder Servin presented his son to that nobleman, and begged that he would use his endeavours to make him a man of some worth and honesty. Young Servin was a prodigy of genius and understanding ; and among his extraordinary attainments it is recorded, that, “in theology he was so well skilled, that he was an excellent preacher, whenever he had a mind to exert that talent, and an able disputant, for and against the reformed religion, indifferently.” Yet in this very man, says the illustrious historian,” “might be found all the vices contrary to nature, honour, religion, and society; the truth of which he himself evinced with his last breath, for he died in the flower of his age, perfectly corrupted by his debaucheries, and expired with a glass in his hand, cursing and denying God.” Is not this anecdote an illustration, in some measure, of the extract 2 [Ch. Obs.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

He has goodends in view when he solicits admission into holy orders. He has a genuine principle of love to God and Christ, and deep concern for the salvation of himself and his hearers. He takes no sinful, indirect, or suspicious methods to get a living, but submits himself to Providence, and is not eager to enrich himself or his family. He labours with activity in the vineyard, whatever be his station in the church. Godliness is his gain, and serving Christ the fruit of his labours, and the end of his life. He may also be known by his 'doctrine. f He insists much on the dePravity of human nature, and lays before his hearers their pollution, guilt, and weakness, in order to produce those convictions of their misery and danger, which form the foundation of genuine conversion. He insists much on the necessity of divine grace, and the influence of the Holy Spirit, to enlighten the understanding and purify the heart; and directs them to pray earnestly for those blessings which the Lord Jesus is exalted to bestow. He preaches Christ, his person, his offices, his atoning Blood, his merits and interces

sion, as the ground of our hope of pardon, acceptance, and eternal life ; yet strongly urges the

necessity of moral duties and

obedience, but by motives taken from the gospel and peculiar to it. He aims to detect the hypocrite, and expose the formalist; to convince and awaken the selfdeceiving sinner. Knowing the terrors of the Lord, he displays them in all their force to persuade men. He urges every motive that may induce his hearers to search and try themselves, and he reproves, rebukes, and exhorts, faithfully declaring the whole counsel of God. He represents religion as an inward, experimental business. He recommends self-examination, secret prayer, constant watchfulness, and an habitual sense of God, in order to obtain the help of the Holy Spirit, to purify the heart, regulate the passions, and promote universal holiness. His grand aim is to save souls. He therefore appears deeply serious, as becomes one who is much in earnest to promote the most important object that can engage the attention of a human being ; and in addressing his hearers from the pulpit, he is no further solicitous to please them, than as he may best edify them. The faithful minister may also

be known by the following marks. He is in labour abundant;

preaches and catechises diligently and earnestly ; performs the public offices with such gravity, seriousness, and fervour of devotion, as plainly shew that his heart is in his work; and spends the remaining parts of the Lord’s day in prayer, reading, meditation, and the religious care of his family.

He is diligent in his private pastoral work. Sensible of the worth of souls, he visits his parish from house to house where he has any hopes of doing good by such visits ; inquiring into their state, whether they sanctify the sabbath, teach their children, and maintain family prayer. He instructs the ignorant; gives or lends them good books; endeavours, especially in sickness, to make and cherish good impressions on their hearts; and watches for their souls, as one who must give an account.

His general tem/her and behaviour are not only blameless and inoffensive, but have an evident tincture of piety and zeal. He is grave in his apparel and language, self-denying, meek, contented, and charitable to the poor. Religion appears in all his converse ; he shuns vain company, and all the places of fashionable amusement ; and makes it his governing aim to adorn the doctrine which he preaches, and to shine as a light in the world.

He treats his clerical brethren with respect and kindness. He is peaceable and moderate, loves those of every denomination who are peaceable and pious, and wishes success to their labours. He rejoices that Christ Jesus the Lord is preached and souls are saved, though by men of different sentiments and persuasions from himself.

THE UN FAITH FUI, MINISTER. He enters into holy orders, either from necessity or sloth,

or from ambition and covetousness. He flatters the great and the rich, be they ever so irreligious, in order to get preferment; and courts their patronage by soothing them in their vices, by espousing their political measures, or by mean compliances that are utterly inconsistent with the dignity of his office. To shew himself approved unto God, a workman, is no part of his study. Gain is his godliness. He serves not the Lord Christ, but his own belly ; and makes it his main care to get as much of this world's goods, and live as much at case, as he can. He may also be known by his doctrine. He dwells much on the dignity and perfection of human nature, nor will he allow that all men stand in need of conversion ; and addresses himself to all his hearers, excepting those who are notoriously wicked, as if they were real Christians and heirs of heaven. He dwells much on the power and will of man, denying, or seldom mentioning the aids of the Holy Spirit. He extols the merit of our own works, and thus leads men to expect salvation as the reward of their own imperfect obedience. He seldom mentions Christ, or only as a teacher of morality. He recommends virtue from such motives as are found in the writings of Heathen philosophers, nor do his sermons abound in scripture quotations. The faith which he preaches is an assent to the truth of Christianity, without relying on the merits of its blessed Author, and deriving strength from his Holy Spirit.

He dwells on mere external forms and duties, such as coming to church, receiving the sacrament, being decent, honest, and occasionally charitable. But he is very superficial in his views of the evil and danger of sin ; he prophesies smooth things, and avoids what would alarm and terrify. He reduces the standard of religion to the inadequate conceptions of nominal Christians. He says little of inward religion, and those secret affections and exercises of which the divine persons of the glorious Godhead are the immediate objects. Selfdenial, the crucifixion of the flesh, humility, and non-conformity to the world, are seldom urged by him, or at least in such vague and indefinite terms, as neither to give offence nor create uneasiness in the breasts of his hearers. His chief solicitude, if he have any solicitude at all, is to display his learning, or his eloquence, or to amuse his hearers with something curious and entertaining ; but on the most important topics he is either silent, or cold and lifeless ; in other words, he does not afficar to be in earnest. The unfaithful minister may also be known by the following rmarks. He does as little as he can without laying himself open to censure and punishment. He is short, slight, and superficial, in his public work, careless how it is done, soon weary of it, and glad when it is finished, and spends the rest of the Sunday in vain company and conversation.

He is careless about private inspection and instruction. When he visits the sick, he hurries through the form without any serious warm addresses to their conscience. His conversation with his parish savours of the world, and earthly things, and he seeks not them but theirs.

He loves sports and amusements, and is oftener seen in the assemblies of the vain than in the church. His dress too often bespeaks the vanity and levity of his mind. He loves the company of the sensual and gay ; or, if his behaviour is regular and decent, there appears little of a devotional, zealous spirit in him, and he spends that time in literary amusement or idleness, which should be employed for the service of his flock. He often censures in public, and sneers in private, at those of his brethren who have more piety and zeal than himself; calls then enthusiasts, however rational they may be, or Methodists, however unconnected they may be with persons of that description, and does what he can to injure their characters, and lessen their esteem and usefulness. [Ch. Obs.


WA. I. Es.

THE vices of mankind have, in all ages, been the principal causes of legislation. The characters of different governments and people appear strongly mark

« AnteriorContinuar »