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The enemies of Christ's Religion sought in vain for any such confession : no instance of the kind was found. They were driven to absolute silence. The Jewish historians (especially Josephus, already referred to,) would gladly have availed themselves of the slightest ground of falsehood against them. The chief priests and scribes, who so earnestly strove to keep down the increasing reputation of the Christian faith, would have eagerly brought forward any evidence to cast discredit on the Gospel history, but none whatever was to be found. The facts were too well known to be doubted. The numberless witnesses of Christ's miracles were still living at Jerusalem. The faith in consequence spread around on every side, until it finally attained that prodigious extent at which it has now arrived." P. 105.
The second part of the volume comprises eight Lectures on the Liturgy. From the first, which is wholly introductory, we select the following remarks, in vindication of our excellent Form of Prayer from one of the most backnied objections urged against it; namely, that it is too loug, and rendered so by vain and useless repetitions.
“ When you hear any one complain of the tiresome length of Divine service, or of things said over and over again in our public prayers, you may be sure he yet wants that true relish for devotion, which would prevent his feeling these as objections to our Liturgy. No man in earnest to receive any worldly favour, or to obtain pardon for a crime, ever thought the expressions, which his friends recommended him to use, either too long or too full. On the contrary, if you notice the language of a person in such a situation, he endeavours to weary out his benefactor or his judge with his petitions. He repeats the same things over and over again ; and he never leaves oft, so long as he is permitted to address him, until he thinks he has prevailed, and has obtained a promise of the favour or the pardon, for which he has entreated.
We see, in fact, that a pious man is always the last to complain of the length or repetition of our prayers. Few are pious, and therefore inost men complain; or if they do not express their weariness, thicy are inattentive and uneasy while at church, and feel relieved when the service is at an end. Look round during our public devotions, and observe, how few seem at all interested about the solemn business, which brought them there. Or, what is much better, instead of watching the negligence of others, look into your own hearts, and you will own the difficulty of keeping up your attention to the prayers. Confess that you too often neglect to repeat the prayers at all, or if you repeat them, that you do not think of their meaning. Acknowledge that your thoughts are constantly wandering away upon other matters ; upon the merest trifles ; nay, too often upon schemes of desperate wickedDess. The Tempter has power to draw you away from your duty
to God, unless you exert yourselves to resist him. The bad de. sires of your own hearts are constantly seducing away your thoughts from God; and at the very moment you are assembling in his presence, your corrupt dispositions may be plotting some new vice, some scheme of wickedness, which, if you recollect yourselves a moment, you know must bring you to condemnation." P. 123.
The second Lecture contains observations on the Daily Service, leaving the Creed for separate consideration. In the third, after briefly noticing the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels, he proceeds to the Occasional Services. In his Remarks on the Catechism, we think he has somewhat underrated it. As a summary of the principles of the Christian Faith, it never bas, or can be exceeded. It is true, that numerous expositions of it have appeared ; but they have not proceeded from any general conviction that its terms were obscure, and required explanation. They are rather to be considered, as the result of the performance of the important duty of catechising ; in which, after satisfying himself that the Catechumens have the words of the Catechism impressed upon their memories, the Catechist will of course make use of those words as a test on which to found that more lengthened and familiar illustration of the doctrines and precepts of our holy religion, which for the sake of his infant pupils, as well as others who may attend them, he will deem it expedient to deliver. No form of words can be devised which will be equally intelligible to all capacities : but few forms can be pointed out, which offer less difficulties to ordinary understandings than the Church Catechism.
The Offices for the Visitation and Communion of the Sick, afford Mr. Locker an opportunity of making the following forcible appeal to the consciences of his hearers, on the danger of delaying repentance.
“ In the hour of sickness and misfortune alone, our hearts are properly humbled to an entire dependence upon God for mercy and for assistance; and this is the time, when we are disposed to Listen most earnestly to some pious clergyman, or to some sincere friend, on the great affair of salvation. In such moments the hardest heart may sometimes be overcome by the sense of approaching death, or by the force of some solemn remonstrance; and many a man, who has unexpectedly recovered from a sick bed, has had to bless God all his life after, for sending him such a warning of the dreadful danger of continuing in sin. Many a man, who has spent his life without the fear of God, has been spared long enough, in his last illness, to make his peace with his offended Redeemer; and, though short the season for preparation, has gone into his presence with an humble hope of mercy through the atonement of Christ, and has received the Sacrament on his death-bed, and felt that his devout service was accepted. But be cautious, I earnestly entreat you, how you put off to the future that reformation, which is required of you now. Do not deceive yourselves with the hope that a death-bed repentance will set all right, and cancel the heavy debt of sin, for which you will assuredly be called to account. The resolution to put off repentanco is a dreadful defiance of God. He has mercifully shewn favour to some, by affording them time and help, even at their latter end, to regain his pardon : but can we presume to reckon, that we shall be so spared ? See how few are spared. See how many are cut off in the midst of their sins, especially in our profession ;--our companions are continually summoned away from us at a sudden warning. Those mistaken men, who would make you believe, that the Lord converts whom he pleases, without any exertions of their own, and would persuade you that this conversion is effected in a moment, even at your last hour, fatally deceive you. True it is, that salvation is the free gift of God, and conferred on us through the merits of Christ alone. But it is given to the faithful, and we know from Scripture, as well as from our own experience, that it requires our most earnest exertions to overcome sin, and to recover his favour ; and if we do all we can, then only, we are taught to believe, he will graciously accept us. But, at the close of a careless life, we can have little hope of doing this, when our minds are clouded with age and infirmities, and our bodies tortured with pain. We cannot expect forgiveness, unless we sincerely repent and return to God, while he gives us the opportunity, as well as the means, of working out our salvation through Christ." P. 164,
The fourth and fifth Lectures are on the Creed ; the sixth and seventh briefly explain the Ten Commandments, and the eighth and last is on the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. In the following passage, Mr. Locker meets one of the most common objections against partaking in this Sacrament, in a inanner wbich shews him to be well acquainted with the character of those whom he was addressing, and skilful in adapting his language and arguments to their peculiar feelings and capacities.
* One, who now sits among you, has explained to me, what I believe to be the chief cause of your neglect of this solemn service. When I asked him, why so many refused to go to the Sacra. ment, he said he knew several that did not like to go, because, if they did, they thought they must give up all their pleasures from that time forward, or else offend God more than by staying away. He owned that he was once of the same mind, and long hung back for that reason. Nothing, my friends, can be a greater mistake. I am very anxious to set you right about this matter. There are, I know, some among us, and very worthy men they are, who have gotten a notion, that religion forbids all mirth and amusement; who think they give offence to God, if they take part in the innocent diversions and lively conversation of their shipmates; and fancy it is their duty to be always gloomy, and to be for ever talking about religion.
My excellent friends, you little think, without intending it, how much injury you may thus be doing to the cause of piety. I am sure you would be truly concerned to know, that any young man was discouraged by the very endeavours you use to bring him to God. But when the young and the lively are told, that religion does not allow of such pastimes, you make them believe that religion is one thing and pleasure another. You bring them to say, if religion is to make us dull and melancholy as you are, we will follow our pleasures,—we will think of religion hy and bye ; and so you shut their hearts against devotion, and all the teacher can do afterwards will be in vain to bring them back to God.
I should well deserve your reproaches, if I said any thing which might seem to treat lightly the sacred duties of religion. I believe you are well persuaded, that my sincere desire is to promote it by those observations I am now making. Let us show our younger friends that religion, so far from forbidding innocent enjoyments, is the friend to happiness; that it deprives us of no real pleasures; that, by preserving us in the favour of God, our hearts are always contented and happy; and, when they perceive this, they will be ready to follow our advice, and take the benefit of our assistance. Solomon says, a merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance. I can truly say a cheerful countenance may always proceed from a religious heart; and, so far from religion making a man dull and dismal, the most pious persons of my acquaintance are not only the best-tempered, but the happiest people I know.” P. 241.
We add one more passage, because it proves that the author, though earnest in his exhortations to his hearers to perform this solemn and most important part of their duty, is also careful to impress upon their miuds the necessity of due preparation, and to instruct them how they ought to prepare themselves.
“ I am very anxious,” he says, " to see every one of you there, because it is not only a bounden duty, but the performance of it is a means of your becoming better men. Every man, who is not a hypocrite, must be the better for it. I began by assuring you, that there is no man here, who may not fit himself to appear there worthily next Sunday, if he earnestly sets himself to prepare for it by prayer and self-examination. But let no man look upon the Holy Sacrament as a light matter. Let no man
M VOL. XVII. FEBRUARY, 1822.
presume to come without having thought seriously upon what he is going to do. You must examine your
souls. You must pray for help to feel and know your own sinfulness. You must forgive, from your heart, any who have done you wrong; for how else can you dare to ask forgiveness yourself? What are the crimes, that any one has committed towards you, compared with yours, before God? Every man knows something worse of himself, than he knows of his neighbour ; and if he deals honestly with himself, he will confess it to God, and humbly pray that it may be forgiven.
Perhaps some of you may be staggered by this account of your self-examination. You may think you cannot do this; that you cannot bring your minds into this religious disposition. As your sincere friend, it is my duty to tell you that you must do it. You are commanded to come to the Lord's table by Christ himself. If you do not go, you disobey God; if you go unprepared, you insult him. You see, then, you have no choice; you dare not let it alone. After what I have told you there is no excuse; you cannot plead ignorance any longer. You cannot say I will go another time; that is trifling with God's mercy : you must go now,
and prepared. How do you know he will ever give you another opportunity ? Remember our Lord's own solemn words : “ Sinner, this night thy soul may be required of thee.”
If you firmly believe, that our Lord Jesus Christ laid down his life for your sake; if you can kneel before him and truly say, you rely upon his mercy and help, earnestly begging pardon for all your past sins, resolving to do your best endeavours to sin no more, and to give yourself up to his service in future; if you can heartily and honestly do this, you are in a fit state to go to the Sacrament. Here no learning is required; it is not necessary to be a scholar to understand this: the most ignorant, as well as the, wisest here, may equally approach the altar. Though you may not be able to read, if you now rightly know the use and meaning of it, and the benefit you will receive from it, you may go with a fixed hope, that your humble service will be accepted by your mer. ciful Redeemer.“ Though your sins be red as scarlet, they shall be made white as wool;" though your past lives have been stained with heinous crimes, do but bring to God's altar a heart deeply penitent, a faith steadily fixed on the atoning sacrifice of Christ,God has promised you his pardon sealed with the precious blood of your crucified Saviour." P. 253.
It is not often that we find Mr. Locker chargeable with any error of sufficient importance to require specific observation : but we cannot refrain from pointing out one, into which he has probably been inadvertently led ; and which is a blemish that we would willingly see removed from the page which it disfigures. In the fifth Lecture on the Liturgy, speaking of the lifting up of the brazen serpent by Moses in the wilderness, he says, that it was referred to by our