« AnteriorContinuar »
their immortal labours at least four years before the publication of the second book of Homilies, in which the above passages occur. Their Homilies had been published in 1547, and whatever is found in them is indeed the doctrine of the Reformers. When the Protestant Religion had been restored by the accession of Queen Elizabeth, it was thought expedient that the Liturgy and Articles should be revised, and on this occasion the second book of Homilies was added. The persons employed in this work were divines of the Church of England, who had fled to the Continent upon the persecution of Queen Mary. Some of them, during their banishment, might in all probability have been tinctured with the doctrines of the Genevan school; we can hardly therefore expect that the book of Hoinilies co posed by them, should be so perfectly free from Calvinistic errors as that which was published at the very beginning of King Edward's reign. We must remember, also, that the ino books of Homilies are recommended to us in the 35th Article, with especial reference to the times in which they were composed. They are said in general terms to “ contain godly and wholesome doctrine."
“ The very expression,” says Dr. Hey, “seems to be opposed to any high pretensions; seems to say, they may not be perfect, they may not be above criticism, but they are good and usefut.” Hey's Divinity Lectures, Book iv. Art. 35, Sect. 2,
Much solid edification is doubtless to be derived from these compositions; but we must not consider their authority as equal to that of the Liturgy and Articles; nor, in point of historical fact, can the second book be said to exhibit the theology of our first Reformers.
In the fourth chapter, the general doctrine of the necessity of Divine grace is first established; and the author then proceeds to examine some questions which arise from it. “ First, to whom is the offer of grace extended? Secondly, is it bestowed irresistibly?" Twenty pages are employed in answering the first of these questions; and we think that this part of the treause merits great attention. The question itself is thus decided : “Grace sufficient to salvation is given to all who are dedicated to Christ in baptism." Having confirined this position by abundant quotations from the writings of St. Paul,
in March, 1556. The second book of Homilies was certainly not published before 1560. Wheatley says in 1563, the year of the Convocation.
“ Let us now," says our author, “ hear the preacher * of spe-' cial grace.
The reign of sin consists not in the multitude, greatness, or prevalency of sins; for all these are consistent with a state of grace, and may be in a child of God, in whom sin doth not, nor cannot reign; but in the in-being of sin without grace, whether it acts more or less violently, yea, whether it acts at all or no; yet if the habit of sin possess the soul without any principle of grace implanted which is contrary to it, that man may be said to be still under the dominion of sin. This mortification then of sin, as to its reigning power, is completed in the first act of conversion and regeneration. The difference between this language and St. Paul's is evident at the first glance. The Calvinist makes grace
the test of holiness; the Apostle makes holiness the test of grace. The one appeals to an implanted principle of grace against the prevaJency of sin ; the other makes the existence of sin a proof of the absence of the spirit.” P. 135.
It is further observed, that the doctrine of special grace implies the necessity of " some test of God's favour, and of the feconcilement of Christians to him, beyond and subsequent to the covenant of baptism." Here the subject of baptismal rege. peration naturally presents itself, and is explained by our author with his usual abiliy and judgment. We had enteitained some slight apprehension that the clamour of the times had warped his views of this important doctrine, because we had met with several passages in bis work, (e. g. pages 91, 97, 117) in which the word regenerate, &c. was used in an unscriptural sense. At any other time this would hardly bave deserved sorice.
Many sound and excellent writers have fallen into the same error, who would, doubtless, lave used the phrase with greater accuracy, could they have foreseen what ise would ha.e been inade of ther language in the present days J is a solutely pecessary that ali ko boid the doctrine of our Cliurch, upon the subject of regeneration, should in future contine the wird to its precise theological sense. We wish our author had adopted this precaution, lest the adversary should attirm that he is mconsistent with himself. The correction of his oversight in this respect, would constitute one of the most essential improvements of which the book is capable; and as his own sentiments on the doctrine accord precisely with our own, he cannot, we hope, be displeased with this suggestion.
Having settled the universality of grace, he proceeds to consider the second question proposed, “ Whether it is irresistible ?" Our readers will already have anticipated the account which is
* The passage here quoted is from “ Hopkins on the New Birth."
given of this point by so discreet and powerful an opponent of of the Calvinistic scheme. He proves most abundantly from the sacred writers, that the spirit may be quenched; and that what is called final perseveralice (arising immediately from the doctrine of irresistible grace) is in direct opposition to the decla. rations of Holy Writ.
“ St. Paul affirms, that to our safety our own sedulity is required, in as decisive terms, as if our safety depended upon our sedulity alone. And every discreet follower of St. Paul will be no less careful to prevent his flock from believing, that they have apprehended or attained, or are already perfect, till they have reached the end of the race that is set before them." P. 165.
The fifth and sixth chapters comprise the grand doctrines of justification by faith and good works, as they stand in connection with each other. Ou the former point, our author truly observes, that
“ It is in the nature of the Roman Catholic Religion silently to undermine the true notion of christian justification; and such must be its effect as long as pardons, masses, auricular confessions, with penance and satisfaction for sins, are supposed available, however its language and professed tenets may be purified by the influence of the Reformation. The prevailing language of later generations is equally destructive to the true doctrine of the Gospel, though more favourable to good morals, and is not the less to be guarded against for coming under a more specious form. A rude age has recourse to a severe ritual, and trusts to the effiacy of penances, and ceremonies, and gifts to the Church, or ostentatious charities. An intelligent age sees the vanity of these, but justifies itself by its supposed morality. Now error is never eradicated with more difficulty than when it is nixed with truth-and as it cannot be doubted, that a strict compliance with the moral law is necessary to form the Christian, a door is easily opened for the erroneous belief that it is able to justify the Christian." P. 179.
The preacher therefore is recommended, while he preserves inviolate the fundamental point of justification by faith alone, to keep always before the minds of bis hearers the scriptural sense of the words, and the absolute necessity of obedience. As there is no Epistle of St. Paul in which the doctrine of justification by faith is not inculcated, so is " there none in which it is not insisted on as an argument for holiness.” The Apostle therefore
“ Was not afraid of exalting the merits of works by declaring their necessity; or of derogating from the all-sufficiency of Christ, by asserting that without holiness no man shall see the Lord." P, 200.
Nothing Nothing can be more correct and sensible than the general instructions delivered in the seventh chapter, upon“ intercourse with the world." It is shewn that the true spirit of Christianity in this respect, is as far removed from the austerity of the puritan, as from the licentious morals of the man of fashion. We would gladly produce citations from this chapter; but where the whole is judicious and admirable, it is difficult to make selections, and our readers must now be sufficiently acquainted with the style and doctrines of the work before us. We hasten, therefore, to close an article which has already trespassed too Jong upon their attention.
Our author, in conclusion, observes, that if the sum of the whole be faithful to the general tenor of St. Paul, which he is prepared to maintain, it follows that there are two characters of preaching widely differing from each other, and equally removed from the spirit and practice of the Apostle. T'he first class comprises those teachers who maintain the Calvinistic theory, (against which the drift of the whole argument seems to be especially directed): the second consists of those who neglect, or very imperfectly inculcate, the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, and reduce the Gospel to a dry and lifeless system of morality. Neither of these extremes are sanctioned by apostolical autho. rity, and to this alone should the modern preacher appeal.
“ The principles of the Gospel can alone support the moral duties of the Gospel *—without the constant enforcement of those principles, which ought to be lively faith, degenerates into a cold observance of outward forms; and what ought to be Christian practice, is merged in a blind deference to the customs of society.”
It is ever to be remembered, therefore, by Christian preachers, as a fundamental rule of their professional labours, that
“ Doctrine has a constant tendency to decline into error, unless it be frequently referred to its original standard, and proved by its resemblance to bear the real impress of that spirit, which is the source of all truth and holiness."
One passage, however, occurs in the conclusion, (p. 250), which we can not dismiss without a brief observation. argue that a strict Calvinist cannot be attached to our Articles and Establishment, would prove a very slight research into eccle. siastical history.” These words stand in need of some qualifica
* See some matchless observations on this subject in Bishop Horsley's primary Charge to the Clergy of the Diocese of St. David's. 1790.
tion. A Calvinist may certainly endeavour to adapt the lastguage of our Church to his own sense, as multitudes unhappily do in the present day; but this will not alter the character of The Church itself. If a Calvinist is “ attached to our Articles," he inust put a false interpretation upon them. They cannot be made to bear a Calvinistic sense, without doing violence to the natural force of the expressions, and contradicting the known sentiments of those who compiled them. We have been compelled to make this remark on a former occasiou *; but as the point is of great consequence, we may perhaps be excused for adverting again to it.
If we have given a faithful account of this short but substantial treatise, our readers will at once perceive that it is the pro duction of no ordinary mind. Piety, candour, and solidity of judgment, are conspicuous in every page ; and the general inpression which the work is likely to produce, must be highly favourable to the real interests of Religion. It was composed, we understand, during the short intervals of leisure which a laborious avocation affords; and this circumstance, we must confess, has raised our opinion of the author's ability and zeal. We trust that it may recommend him to the attention of those, who are able to place him in a more prominent station. Our Church, assailed on all sides by open adversaries, but far more dangerously by professed friends, stands in need of all the strength, learning, and activity of her faithful sons. Among this number, we carnestly hope and believe, the author of “ Apostolical Preaching" may be classed. May he continue steadfast in the course he has so wisely chosen ; unconnected with religious party, (the bane
pure religion) and unmoved by the seductions of the age. May the future labours of his life redound to the honour of the Church of England, of which he has already proved himself a zealous and powerful defender.
Art. II. A Tour through Part of Istria, Carniola, Styrin,
Austria, the Tyrol, Italy, and Sicily, in the Spring of 1814. By a young English Merchant. 12mo. 279 pp.
78. Gale and Fenner. 1815. THE regions through which our traveller has passed afford an infinite field for contemplation in a classical, in an historical, and in a political point of view. It is not only their splendid echifices, their exquisite scenery, and their azure sky, that should
See British Critic for Feb. 1816, No. xxvi. Art. 1. p. 116. i