Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

Aights of unhallowed love and spiritual concupiscence; with which some of our modern books of devotion abound *. There are none of those rhetorical flourishes, that pompous imagery, that false glare of human eloquence, with which an affected pedant, or an ostentatious philosopher would have embellished their compositions. There is, on the contrary, an amazing energy of thought, a pleasing fimplicity, a profound respect for the Deity, a solemnity and composure which gives us a noble and exalted idea of the rational and manly genius of true devotion.

To return from this digression. Though some of these compofitions are not calculated to warm and animate the heart, yet they are sober, rational, and manly forms of devotion ; in many respects superior to what we find in former collections. As a specimen take the following prayer for consolation on the death of friends. We make choice of this in particular for no other reason, but because it may be suitable at one time or another to the situation of every reader, and is upon a subject which naturally interests our affections, and suggests the most pathetic supplications.

For Consolation on the Death of Friends. «O most wise and merciful Father, who haft blessed us with comforts, to make our paffage through life more easy, and hast surrounded us with dangers, to make our conduct through it more careful ; give us grace to use the blessings that we are favoured with, as those who remember the uncertainty of their continuance, and the certainty of that account which is shortly to be given of them. Make us truly sensible that we are not worthy the least of thy mercies, whilst they are continued to us; and that thou dost in wisdom and justice remove them from us. Prepare us in our best days to expect these feafons of affliction, and to behave under them as those who be.

* Some writers in their pious manuals seem to be fond of such expreffions as, my sweet Saviour, my dear Jesus, the lovely bridegroom of my foul, the fruition of the Godhead, and the like, which are in reality more suitable to an amorous voluptuary, than the respectful worshipper of a pure and spiritual Being. These rapturous flights of sanctified gallantry have no foundation in the religion of Christ, but owe their rise to the diffolute imagination of nuns and friars, the fanatical brain of Methodists and Moravians, or the fill's conceits of pious, but injudicious writers. The reader will find this kind of impertinence very justly exposed in the Letters froin Philemon to Hydafpes. VOL. XXIII. March, 1767.

lieve

lieve that they are sent to us by thy wise Providence. Bless as more particularly with thy fupporting grace, when Thou touchest us in our most important temporal concern ; when 'Thou takeit froin us our nearest and dearest friends. O be Thou our friend in this great trial of our patience, when all thy own great gifts, of natural affection, of reason, and of religion, concur to aggravate the distress, obliging us to feel the calamities of others, and to admit a compassionate grief for the Jofs that has been sustained. Make us apply the same good gi'ts in the relief as well as the expreflion of our concern. Give us grace not 10 forrow as thole ihat have no hope, but to moderate and express our grief, as those who firmly believe what we profess to believe, and who rejoice in the knowledge of thy holy revelation. Make us earnestly aspire after that happy iminortality, which we hope (and believe) our deceased friend has already attained ; and grant that the very distress, which his removal from us occasions to us, may be applied as an useful ineans to wean us more effectually from all worldly affections, and to enforce a holy resolution of spending the remainder of our days in thy more immediate service. Grant that this just sentiment may not wear off with the present occasion, but may be the constant ruling sentiment of our lives; that we may again hereafter, in a more durable station, rejoin our former partners in piety and virtue, and may receive with them our joint reward ; where our affection to particular persons will either be swallowed up in a total dedication of our fa. culties to Thee, the great source of all comfort and delight; or where, if it will then contribute to our happiness, we shall be blefled with the most perfect knowledge and enjoyment of all our pious and virtuous friends. Dispose of us, we beseech thee, in thy own wise and good method; but bring us securely in the end to thy glorious presence, through the merits and mediation of our Saviour Jelus Christ.'

V. Sermons and Discourses on various Subjects and Occasions.

Volume the 'l bird. By Dr. Willian Warburton, Lord Bishop of Gloucester. 8vo.

Cadell.

Pr. 55.

[ocr errors]

HE litcrary character of this learned prelate is so uni

verfally known, that we shall proceed, without any introduciion, to give our readers a ihort account of these difcourses.

In the first, (which was occafioned by the earthquake at Lilton) the author endeavours to thew, that the general cala

mities,

mities, effected by natural or civil causes, are to be ascribed to God's displeasure against fin; that this doctrine is agreeable to reason and to religion, under the present constitution of things; that it tends most to the glory of God, and to the peace and happiness of man; and lastly, that that vain philosophy, which difcards this principle from its creed, dishonours Providence, and most distresses human life.

• These calamities, we are told, are principally designed as alarms and warnings to a careless, inattentive world; and their moral purpose is rather general example than particular vengeance: for the attaining of which end, it is sufficient for us to believe, that those who suffer are finners deserving punishment; not that they are greater finners than those who have escaped ; possibly much less, as the preservation of these was neceffary for the carrying on some other great and infcrutable design of Providence, in the more general government of the moral world.'

The second sermon was preached before the House of Lords, on the thirtieth of January, 1760. The text which his lordship has chosen on this occasion, is this paffage in Ifaiah, chap. šix. The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; they have also seduced Egypt. --The Lord hath mingled a perverse Spirit in the midf) thereof. This discourse contains several acute and pertinent observations on the spirit and conduct of the parties concerned in the grand rebellion.

His lordship has drawn the following character of king Charles the First-He had many virtues, but all, of so unfociable a complexion as to do him neither service nor credit.

• His religion, in which he was fincerely zealous, was overrun with fcruples : and the simplicity, if not the purity, of his morals, was debafed by cafuistry.

• His natural affections (a rare virtue in that high ftation) were so excessive as to render him a slave to all his kini : and his social, so moderate as only to enable him to lament, not to preserve his friends and servants.

• His knowledge was extensive, though not exact ; and his courage clear, though not keen : yet his modesty far surpassing his magnanimity, his knowledge only made him obnoxious to the doubts of his more ignorant ministers : and his courage, to · the irresolution of his less adventurous generals.

• In a word, his princely qualities were neither great enough nor bad enough to fucceed in that most difficult of all attempts, the enslaving a free and jealous people.'

The third sermon was preached before the Incorporated ciety for the Propagation of the Gospel in foreign Parts. We

have

O 2

have given a short account of this discourse in a former Re

view. *

The fourth is an illustration of these words of Solomon, Anfwer not a fool, &c. t • The cause alligned, says his lordship, of not answering, forceably infinuates, that the defender of religion should not imitate the insulter of it in his modes of difputation ; which may be comprized in fophiftry, buffoonery, and fcurrility. For what could so much aslimilate the answerer to his idiot-adversary, as the putting on his fool's coat, in order to captivate and confound the rabble ?

• The cause afligned of answering, plainly intimates, that the sage should address himself to confute the fool upon the fool's own principles, by shewing, that they lead to conclusions

very wide from the impieties he would deduce from them. And if any thing can prevent the fool from being wise in his own conceit, it must be the dishonour and the ridicule of having his own principles turned against him ; while they are thewn to make for the very contrary purpose to that for which he had employed them.

in the fifth sermon the author endeavours to expose the egregious folly, and to unmask the extreme corruption of heart, which can aflume the buffoon, or the philosopher indifferently, to laugh at misery and death, and make a mockery both of law and religion.

In the fixth, which was preached before the king in 1765, we have a comparison between worldly and spiritual pursuits.

- In private stations, he says, the deserving candidate for the world's favour is eternally crossed by those two capital enemies of merit, Ignorance and Envy. It is hard to say, whose malignancy is most baleful. For if Ignorance be less actixe, its ill influence operates soonest. Rising merit requires early protection and support. Ignorance is the winter of the moral world; which fixes the finer and gentler spirits in a torpid inactivity; and either destroys, or greatly retards the earliest and most vigorous productions of the human mind. And those natures of a more hardy texture, which can struggle through its inclemencies, scarce ever attain to half their growth or maturity : while those, who, by a rare felicity in their early cul. ture, escape the severity of this frost of Ignorance, no sooner begin to rife high in the view of men, than they are assaulted from the quarter opposite, from the dog-star rage of Envy.

• Nor are the deserving to expect better treatment from the patronage of their judges ; from those whose condition enables

* See Vol. xxii. p. 393.

+ Prov. xxvi 4, 5

them,

thein, or whose ftations intrust them to.confer these rewards, They are often ignorant; and as often corrupt. And even such of them who have good intentions, are cominonly of so narrow ininds and contracted views, as never to seek, or never to reach, a merit become eminent; but content themselves with giving that to mediocrity, which is due only to superior talents : while the corrupt are even vigilant to suppress merit, as a thing troublesome to them, both in their natural dispositions and civil pursuits.

• If we turn from private to public life, we shall find, that the ambitious adventurer has ftill more formidable dangers to -encounter. Here, every man has every other leagued again him ; and all ranged under the banners of those leading p2rfions, malice and selfithness, Malice will leave no means of calumny and flander untried or unemployed, to arrest him in his course : and selfishness will secretly put in practice every · art of fraud and hypocrisy, to divert and draw him from the goal.

. Such is the common issue of human affairs : and hence hath arisen, in every age and place, that uniform complaint of defeated virtue, and of merit neglected; of integrity vainly struggling with corruption, and of wisdom fuccumbing under the bauble of folly.'

His lordship proceeds to shew, that, in the pursuit of spiritual acquirements, all things are as promising and easy, as they are discouraging and difficult in the disastrous projects of worldly ambition. Instead of anxiety, toil, labour, oppofition, oppreflion, and final disappointment, here, says he, all is peace and pleasure ; joy in believing, divine assistance in obtaining, and full security in possessing.

In the seventh discourse we are told, that the wedding garment in the parable means nothing but faith in Christ; and that justification by faith alone is the constant language of the Gospel.

The eighth is a short discourse on the benefits of heresy,

The ninth is a fermon which was preached at Bristol, November 29, 1759; the day appointed for a public thankfgiving for victories obtained by the British arms.

In the tenth the learned writer endeavours to prove, that the demoniacs mentioned by the evangelical historians were seally pofleffed with devils. He observes, that the punishment of the tempter was predicted at the fall, and that we find the accomplishment of this prediction on many occasions. These words of our Saviour-I bebeld Satan as lightning fall from heaven

give us, he says, ' a strong and lively picture of the sudden frecipitation of that prince of the air, where he had long held his empire, and hung like a pestilential' meteor over the sons

« AnteriorContinua »