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Toller's Sermons On Various Subjects.
of salvation, and to understand that the doctrine of the cross is the only hope of men. Should it be thought that the constant introduction of this topic infringes upon the beauty, the order, or the excellency of a discourse, let it be known that this itself is beauty, order, and excellency. If any should think that it disturbs the rules of composition, let them know that no rules can be so sacred as to justify its exclusion from a service intended to instruct men in the way to eternal life. A sermon without Christ is like a statue without life, or a picture of a man instead of the man himself. As there is not a village in the kingdom, but from which there is a road, either direct or indirect, to its metropolis; so there is no text in the scripture, in preaching from which a zealous warmhearted minister will not find a way to Christ. If the captives in Bafeyhm could say, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning ; if I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I do not prefer Jerusalem above my chief joy;" surely a Christian minister, when preaching to perishing sinners, should never forget Christ and redemption through his blood. Is he not infinitely more both to him and his congregation, than that city could be to them? What would the apostle Paul have said, had he heard a man professing to be a minister of the Gospel address a number of sinful mortals without so much as once mentioning the glorious doctrine of the cross 1 He would have preached himself immediately after the conclusion, and before they had left the place would have told them of the Saviour and his death, as the only way of pardon and peace for guilty men. What will Christ himself say to preachers, who are so afraid lest they should break certain rules of composition as to exclude him from their sermons? When he sent out his apostles, it was to preach the gospel—good news— glad tidings—the love; the grace, the mercy, and the goodness of God, displayed in the salvation of men through his own death. A minister who can frequently preach without adverting to this snbject, should examine his own heart, and try and prove his own state, lest in the end the evil spirit leap upon him, and drive him out of his office naked and wounded."
Sermons on Various Subjects. By the Rev. T. N. ToLLtcn. To which is prefixed a Memoir of the Author, by Robert Hall, A.M. London, B. J, Iloldsworth; and Dash and Son, Kettering, pp. 332, 8vo. pr. 10s. bds. 1824.
It is almost impossible to commence the notice of any work to which Mr. Hall's name is attached, without uttering the thousamltht-ime repeated lamentation, that his publications, like angel's visits, are " so few and far between." With the exception of two or three ephemeral pamphlets, which have no other claim to perpetuity, than the magic of the pen by which they are written, nothing has he published since his incomparable Sermon on the Death of the Princess Charlotte in the year 1817 ;—a period in our apprehension of awful extent, whether we consider on the one hand the good which might have been effected; or on the other, the inevitable approach-of that period, when age shall enervate the powers of his mind, or the hand of deatli at once cut short his labours.
The author of this volume of Sermons which has just made its appearance, was little known beyond the circle of his immediate connexions. His reputation, however, as a preacher always stood very high, though he seldom visited the metropolis, or travelled at any considerable distance from his own residence. The system of his life was eminently uniform and tranquil, distinguished by few of the events and vicissitudes which are adapted in the recital to amuse, or to agitate the reader. The Sermons themselves will be more highly cherished as a relic of friendship, to revive in some measure the impression which their delivery first produced, than as possessing anyvery superior claims on the ground of their own intrinsic excellence. They are, indeed, not destitute of very considerable merit; but not being written with the most distant view to publication, Jlxia being posthumous, they are not legitimate subjects of minute criticism. We believe that Mr. Toller never published any thing, excepting a few papers in some of the Magazines of the day; and who would not regret, that the memory of a man, possessing such hold of the affections of ail to whom he was known, should be permitted to pass into oblivion without some more palpable and lasting memento, than what the tear or the - recollection of friendship would supply.
The avidity with which this volume of Sermons will be received by the immediate friends of the deceased, will be much more widely extended through the Memoir, which the tribute of friendship has so generously prepared for the occasion. Before we take any further notice of the Sermons themselves, we shall give a few extracts from this captivating article, which will confer an immortality on the subject of it, equal to what the most .sanguine friends of the deceased could desire.
The time when .the writer of this Memoir was first introduced to his acquaintance, was about the year 1796. Mr. Hall remarks,
"At the time referred to, wo were engaged to preach a double lecture at Thrapston, nine miles from Kettering; and never shall I forget the pleasure and surprise with which I listened to an expository discourse from 1 Peter ii. 1—3. The richness, the unction, the simple majesty which pervaded his address, produced a sensation which I never felt before: it gave me a new view of the Christian ministry. But the effect, powerful as it was, was not to be compared with that which I experienced a few days after, .on hearing him at an half-yearly Association at Bedford. The text which he selected was peculiarly solemn and impressive: his discourse was founded on 2 Peter i. 12—15. "Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up, by putting you in remembrance: knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle; even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me," &c. The effect of this discourse on the audience, was such as I have never witnessed before or since It was undoubtedly very much aided by the peculiar circumstances of the speaker, who was judged to be far advanced in a decline^ and who seemed to speak under a strong impression of its being the last time he should-address his brethren on such an occasion. The aspect of the preacher, pale, emaciated, standing apparently on the verge of eternity, the •simplicity and majesty of his sentiments, the sepulchral solemnity of a voice which seemed to issue from the shades, combined with the intrinsic dignity of the subject, perfectly quelled the audience with tenderness and terror, and produced such a scene of audible weeping as was perhaps never surpassed. All other emotions were absorbed in devotional feeling: it seemed to us as though we were permitted for a short space to look into eternity, and every sublunary object vanished before " the powers of the world to come." Yet there was no considerable exertion, no vehemence displayed by the speaker, no splendid imagery, no magnificent description: it was the simple domination of
truth, of truth indeed of infinite moment, borne in upon the heart by a mind intensely alive to its reality and grandeur. Criticism was disarmed; the hearer felt himself elevated to a region which it could not penetrate; all was powerless submission to the master spirit of the scene. It will be always considered by those who witnessed it, as affording as high a specimen as can be easily conceived, of the power of a preacher over his audience, the habitual, or even frequent recurrence of which would create an epoch in the religious history of the world." t
"It would be great injuitice to the memory of my invaluable friend, while speaking of his ministerial qualifications, not to mention his striking superiority in the discharge of the devotional part of his public functions, his almost unrivalled eminence in prayer. His addresses to the Supreme Being united every excellence of which they ajc susceptible: they were copious without being redundant, fervent without extravagance, elevated without the least appearance of turgidity or pomp. He poured out his whole soul in an easy, unaffected flow of devotional sentiment; adoration seemed to be his natural element; and as he appeared to lose consciousness of any other presence but that of the Deity, he seldom failed to raise his audience to the same elevation, to make them realize the feelings of Jacob, when he exclaimed, " How awful is this place!" If this encomium admits of any abatement, it must be on the ground of their length, which was not unfrequcntly equal to that of his sermons. Nor was he less admirable in family devotion: many a time have I been surprised at the promptitude, ease, and grace with whioh he would advert to the peculiar circumstances of the family, or of its principal members, with an allusion sometimes to minute incidents, withoutonce impairing the solemnity, or detracting from the dignity which ought ever to accompany a religious exercise. His petitions in behalf of each individual were stamped with something exclusively proper to his situation or character, so that while he was concurring in an act of social worship, he felt, ere he was aware, as if he were left alone with God."
"It is remarkable, that though he invariably delivered his sermons from notes, to which he strictly adhered, his style of composition was eminently colloquial; it had all the careless ease, negligence, and occasional inaccuracy, which might be looked for in an extemporaneous address. He appears never to have turned his attention to composition as an art, and the force and beauty with which he sometimes expressed himself, was the spontaneous
Toller's Sermons With Hall's Memoir.
effect of a vivid imagination, accompanying the truest sensibility. His most affecting illustrations (and the power of illustrating a subject was his distinguishing faculty) were drawn from the most familiar scenes of life, and after he became a father, not infrequently from the incidents which attach to that relation. An example of this will afford the reader some idea of the manner in which he availed himself of images drawn from the domestic circle. His text was Isa. xxvii. 5. 'Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me.'—' I Ihink,' said he,' I can convey the meaning of this passage so that every one may understand it, by what took place in my own family within these few days. One of my little children had committed a fault, for which I thought it my duty to chastise him. I called him to me, explained to him the evil of what he had done, and told him how grieved I was that I must punish him for it: he heard me in silence, and then rushed into my arms, and burst into tears. I could sooner have cut off my arm than have then struck him for his fault: he had taken hold of my strength, and he had made peace with me.'
"My late esteemed friend possessed a high relish for the pleasures of society. An inexhaustible fund of anecdote which he was wont- to relate with a dry and comic humour, rendered him, in his livelier moments, a most fascinating companion. A great versatility of features, combined with much power of imitation to give a peculiar poignance to the different incidents of his story. His imitations however were specific, not individual, seldom if ever descending to personal mimickry, an illiberal art, more befitting the buffoon than the Christian or the gentleman. Mr. Toller's indulgence of tjiese sallies was occasional, not habitual; they formed at times the seasoning of his conversation, not the staple commodity; and never were they carried so far as to impair the dignity of his character, or the reverence inspired by his virtues. They were invariably such as a virgin might listen to without a blush, and a saint without a sigh."
We can scarcely keep our hands off this fascinating Memoir; our limits, however, for the present will only permit us to make one other extract, which is a comparison or contrast, whichever term is most appropriate, between Mr. Toller and Mr. Fuller.
"It has rarely been the privilege of one town, and that not of considerable extent, to possess at the same time, and for so long a peiiod, two such eminent men as
Mr. Toller and Mr. Fuller. Their merits as Christian ministers were so equal, and yet so different, that the exercise of their religious functions in the same place, was as little adapted to produce jealousy, as if they had moved in distant spheres. The predominant feature in the intellectual character of Mr. Fuller was the power of discrimination, by which he detected the minutest shades of difference among objects which most minds would confound: Mr. Toller excelled in exhibiting the common sense of mankind in a new and impressive form. Mr. Fuller never appeared to so much advantage as when occupied in detecting sophistry, repelling objections, and ascertaining with a microscopic accuracy the.exact boundaries of truth and error: Mr. Toller attached his attention chiefly to those parts of Christianity which come most into contact with the imagination and the feelings, over which he exerted a sovereign ascendancy. Mr. Fuller convinced by his arguments, Mr. Toller subdued by his pathos; the former made his hearers feel the grasp of his intellect, the latter the contagion of his sensibility. Mr. Fuller's discourses identified themselves, after they were heard, with trains of thought; Mr. Toller's with trains of emotion. The illustrations employed by Mr. Fuller (for he also excelled In illustration) were generally made to subserve the clearer comprehension of his subject; those of Mr. Toller consisted chiefly of appeals to the imagination and the heart. Mr. Fuller's ministry was peculiarly adapted to detect hypocrites, to expose fallacious pretensions to religion, and to separate the precious from the. vile; he sat as "the refiner's fire and the fuller's soap :" Mr. Toller was most in his element when exhibiting the consolations of Christ, dispelling the fears of death, and painting the prospects of eternity. Both were original; but the originality of Mr. Fuller appeared chiefly in his doctrinal statements, that of Mr. Toller in his practical remarks. The former was unquestionably most conversant with speculative truth, the latter perhaps possessed the deeper insight into the human heart.
"Nor were the characters of these eminent men, within the limits of that moral excellence which was the attribute of both, less diversified than their menial endowments. Mr. Fuller was chiefly distinguished by the qualities which command veneration, Mr. Toller by those which excite love. Laborious, zealous, intrepid, Mr. Fuller pressed through a thousand obsta- cles in the pursuit of objects of public interest and utility: Mr. Toller loved to repose, delighting and delighted, in the shade of domestic privacy. The one lived for the world: the other for the promotion
of the good of his congregation, his. family l duction of the press can stand forward
and friends. An intense zeal for the advancement of the kingdom of Christ, sustained hy industry that never tired, a resolution not to be shaken, and integrity incapable of being warped, conjoined to a certain austerity of manner, were the leading characteristics of Mr. Fuller: gentleness, humility, and modesty, those of Mr. Toller. The Secretary of the Baptist Mission attached, in my opinion, too much importance to a speculative accuracy of sentiment; while the subject of this Memoir leaned to the contrary extreme. Mr. Fuller was too prone to infer the character of men from their creed, Mr. Toller to lose sight of their creed in their character. Between persons so dissimilar, it was next to impossible a very close and confidential intimacy should subsist: a sincere admiration of each other's talents, and esteem for the virtues which equally adorned them both, secured without interruption for more than thirty years, those habits of kind and respectful intercourse, which had the happiest effect in promoting the harmony of their connexions, and the credit of religion."
Time's Telescope for 18*34, or a Complete Guide to the Almanack, Sfc. fyc. to which are prefixed, Outlines of Historical and Physical Geography, and an Introductory Poem of Flowers, by Bernard Barton. Pubtished Annually. London, Printed for Sherwood, Jones, and Co. pp. 450, pr. 9s. bds. 1824.
We have; for some years past, annually called the attention of our readers to this entertaining and instructive publication; and we have, on former occasions, borne our testimony to its merits in terms so unequivocal and decisive, that we may be allowed to excuse our? selves, in. the present instance, from saying more in its favour, than that the volume before us ably supports the high honours which have been gained hy its predecessors. If there be any of our readers unacquainted with these, we "beg leave to refer them to the bird's-eyeview, which is presented of them in seven closely printed pages prefixed to the volume before us. These seven pages consist of "Notices of Time's .Telescope," extracted from the Periodical Journals for a series of years past. And we cannot but regard it as a singular occurrence, that the work should have passed through the fiery ordeal of criticism about seventy^seven times, without meeting any tiling but unqualified commendation. What other pro
and challenge a competition, in this respect, with Time's Telescope?
The Introduction to the present volume presents us with Outlines (if Geography, historical and physical, obviously sketched by the hand of a master. This portion of the work extends to more than a hundred pages, and furnishes a mass of important and valuable information interesting to every reader. Under the head of historical Geography, we were pleased to meet with a succinct account of Captain Parry's voyages to the Polar regions, interspersed with ^a sketch of the biography of that intrepid naval officer. Among the numerous biographical notices scattered througlvout the oth'jr department of the work, we must particularly specify those of Dr. Drake, Dr. Jenner, and otir much esteemed friend, Bernard Barton, the Quaker Poet, the delightful effusions of whos.e muse have greatly enriched the volume. Hiving somehow or other missed this worthy gentleman for several month's past, and hearing nothing of him, we began to apprehend that some mischief had befallen him, and consequently were not a little gratified on discovering that during his, secession from our literary circle, he has been usefully employed in preparing materials for the feast of the lovers of genuine poetry during the approaching year. His " Flowers," and the elegy "on the Death of Itobert Bloomfield, the Suffolk poet," bear ample testimony to his talents as a poet, and his virtues as a man; we therefore hail with pleasure a renewal of our acquaintance. -
The Christian Remembrancer, for s?/cA us believe the Truth as it is in Jesus, fyc. Designed us a pocket companion. By a Membe'r of the Societv Of Fimends. Woodbridge, B. Smith; Darton, London, pp. 220, 32mo, bds- pr. Is. 3d. or Is. 6d. bd. 1823. Third Edit, enlarged. Tins small volume has had the misfortune to be shoved aside by several of its more athletic competitors in the scramble for priority of notice; and we regret the circumstance, because its unassuming pretensions and its intrinsic merit, certainly entitle it to better treatment at our hands. The work received its just meed of commendation from the Evangelical Magazine on its first appearance in 1820, and we are glad to see it now arrived at a Third Edition.
. Having promised our readers a more detailed account of Mr. Shirreff's resignation of his office as minister of the parish of St. Ninian's, in Stirlingshire, and of his acceptance of the call of the Baptist Church in Glasgow, to become their Pastor, we now redeem our pledge; and that they may have the whole of this interesting ease before them, we
shall begin by laying before them, extracted from the Stirling Journal of
Thursday, Oct. 9th,
THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE
Yesterday, the Presbytery of Stirling met for the dispatch of ordinary business. The principal matter of discussion was the resignation of Mr. ShirrefE, and this circumstance being generally known, the Session House was crowded at tlte hour of meeting. It was no small disappointment, however, to many, to find that notwithstanding the expectation entertained, that Mr. Shfrreff was to enter into a detailed explanation of his reasons for retiring, the meeting broke up, without the Rev. gentleman^ in the most distant way, entering upon the subject.
The meeting-being constituted by prayer, the minutes of previous meetings were read, and some matters of minor importance adjusted. That part of the minutes being read, which referred to the appointment of a Committee to confer and deal .with Mr. Shirreif, the Moderator called upon them for their report, according to the instructions given them at the last meeting of the Presbytery.
Dr. Moodie, as moderator to the Committee, rose to deliver verbally the report of himself and the other members. He stated, that the Committee had met at various times with Mr. Shirreff; had entered at length upon the different points in his letter of resignation; but that all their efforts were ineffectual in producing any change on Mr. Shirreff's mind, so as to Induce him again to return to the discharge of his important duties. That no opportunity might be lost for the accomplishment of so desirable an object, the Committee had made a point of meeting with him that morning previous to their assembling. The result however was, that Mr. Shirreff then, as on former occasions, declared his mind to be unchanged, and that he still continued to adhere to the sentiments expressed in his letter of resignation.
Dr. Mylne having expressed a wish that a written report should be given in, the same was agreed to; but in substance, it differed in no respect from the above.
Dr. Small considered it would be very proper, before proceeding with the report of the Committee, to enquire of Mr. Shirreff, whether he still continued in the same state of mind. The proposition being agreed to, the question was accordingly put, when Mr. Shirreff rose, and after shortly bearing testimony to the highly creditable and conscientious manner in which the Committee had represented the Presbytery, stated that he still adhered to the sentiments expressed in his letter of resignation.
Dr. Knox got up, and spoke nearly as follows—This is a cause of some importance—of importance, however, more in appearance than in reality. It has a local, a temporary, but no general, no permanent importance. It may make an impression in St. Ninians and the surrounding district, but it will make no impression on the church of Scotland. It is the splashing of the oar in the great ocean, which is soon effaced- and forgotten. When Mr. Shirreff gave in his resignation, I gave it as my decided opinion that it ought speedily to be accepted of. I am convinced my opinion was right—experience has proved it—the almost unanimous voice of the public has sanctioned it. You would thereby have conferred a blessing on the parish of St. Ninians,—for it is a blessing to any parish to have the ordinances of religion duly administered. You would have conferred a blessing on the surrounding district; you would have turned men's minds away from frivolous questions to substantial piety. You would thereby have done no injury to Mr. Shirreff. He retired from the church in the full possessu *> of his faculties,—he retired with an ample competency, acquired in that church which he was now labouring to subvert. He would have retired to prosecute such schemes as his conscience or caprice might suggest to his mind.
A scrimp majority of the Presbytery, however, thought otherwise. A mere trifle was converted into an object of consequence. The new born (1 hope heaven born) zeal of Dr. Moodie threw a veil of mock solemnity over this trifling occurrence. Our Moderator stood and gaped as if the heavens were going to fall upon him. A mole-hill was converted into a mountain. It was moved and carried, that two months should be given to Mr. Shirreff for secret meditation and prayer. No one was to intrude upon his privacy— no one was even to speak to him. What a pity it was that it had not been also moved and carried, that Mr. Shirreff should not, during those two months, speak to .any one:—but speak he did, and went about supplicating certain members of the Presbytery hot to accept of his resignation tendered in June, till the 8th of October.