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opinion; and I feel myself incompe-stituted the interpreter, instead of the tent to decide on the subject. I own judgment; and that you thus disco. I am not very partial to accommoda- ver allusions, and deduce doctrines tion, and thought, while you was and instructions, true and good in preaching, that if you had said the same themselves, but by no means contain important things, from a text in whiched in the text, nor, indeed, easily they were evidently contained, they made out in the way of accommodawould have been more convincing, tion. In this case, your own vigour impressive, and effectual: but then I is principally exerted in the exercise observe, that a great majority is against of the imagination; and, while many me in this respect.
hearers are surprised, amused, and “ The ingenuity, that deduces im- delighted, their understandings, conportant instructions from a text, which sciences, and hearts are not address. seems not to contain any thing to that ed or atfected, by any means in so special point, excites the approbation powerful a manner, as by a plainer and admiration of many: but some subject. think it upwarranted, and that it « What St. Peter says of prophecy, gives too much scope to fancy; and that it is not of private interpretation, tends too much to take men off from is true of every part of scripture: the the plain meaning of scripture, to Holy Spirit had, in every part, one hunt after such allusions, till they for- grand meaning, and conveys one leadget the · Go, and do likewise,' as has ing instruction; though others may, been exceedingly the case in the good by fair inference, subordinately be Samaritan. Your allusions, however, deduced. This is the real spiritual though I own I could not find the meaning,' which we should first of ground of them in the text, were of a all endeavour to discover, as the fourpractical nature and tendency; and dation of all our reasonings and perthus calculated to produce good suasions. We should open, alledge, among those who have a taste for ac- argue, enforce, apply, &c. from this commodation.” p. 69, 70.
mind of the Spirit in scripture; nor is This reply produced a refusal to any passage fit for a text, properly. publish the serinon, and was followed speaking, which does not admit of by another letter from the same friend, such an improvement of it, in its real in which we find the following useful meaning. "But that, which you seem observations.
to call the spiritual meaning,' is fre“ I am fully satisfied, that you are quently no more than a new meancapable even of excelling, in that way ing put upon' it, by a lively fancy, which seems to me most suited to Typical subjects, indeed, have a spi. communicate solid instruction,-to ritual meaning, in another sense, un. produce abiding conviction,--and so der the literal meaning; being into silence objection, by sound speech tended, by the Holy Spirit, to shadow which cannot be condemned, thai they forth spiritual blessings under exterwho are of the contrary part may have nal signs; and some prophetical vi. nothing to say against it; for I have sions are ænigmatical, and the spiriheard you, and others, who are tual meaning is the upriddling of the no more favourable to accommoda. ænigma--parables, and such parts of tion than I am, have heard you, and scripture as Canticles, are of the same hare wondered that you did not un. pature. But in all, the judgment derstand where your forte lay. should be the expositor, not the
“When you take a plain text, full fancy; and we should inquire what of matter, and, from the real mean- the Holy Spirit meant, not what we ing of the text, raise doctrines, draw can make of it. conclusions, explain, illustrate, and " But there are many scriptures, apply the subject, there is great that have no other meaning than the weight in your manner of preaching; literal; and which are to be improved, which the fertility of your invention not by finding out a new meaning and and liveliness of imagination kept in calling it spiritual; but by trying due bounds, render more interesting what useful instruction we can de. to the many, without giving any just duce from the plain sense of the pasground of umbirage to the few. But, sage. To illustrate my meaning, let it appears to me and to others, that me bring forward your text as an in. vou frequently choose texts suited to stance.- Nabopolazar, King of Ba. give scope to the fancy, which is con- bylon, who, in conjunction with Cy.
axares, King of Media, subverted the lents likewise, if properly exerted, Assyrian empire, is supposed to be that I have long wished to discuss the meant by the dasher in pieces; and subject with you. your accommodation of this title to I should hint to you, 1. The prothe French was fair-But the latter priety of commonly taking plain and part of the verse is a challenge to the full texts, which evidently contain inhabitants of Nineveh, to do their the substance of what you mean to utmost to withstand this fierce con- set before the people. For taking difqueror; with an intimation, that it ficult texts has been so abused, that would be all to no purpose. Keep the judicious persons are almost always marition; watch the way; make thy ready to ascribe it to a bad motive. loirs strong; fortify thy power mightily. 2. Of first inquiring after the primary For, as the Lord hath not spared the meaning and intention of the text, by offending Israelites, but had punished examining the context accurately; and them by the Assyrians, who cruelly then considering what subordinate entreated them; so, he would not uses may be made of the general subspare the Assyrians, but would deject. 3. To aim at keeping judgment stroy Nineveh by the Babylonians, and imagination in their proper who would fully avenge on the Assyć places ; --- judgment as expositor, rians their cruelties to Israel. Now, imagination merely to illustrate and I think, the accommodation of this, give animation to the decisions of the to our watching, praying, and using judgment. 4. To be upon your all means of averting the wrath of guard, when thoughts, which strike God from a guilty land, with hopes your fancy by novelty, occur to you; of success, must appear far-fetched to they are seldom so solid as brillianti those who study the Scriptures care and sometimes have little but novelty fully; and who would say, The in- to recommend them, as a sober restruction was good, but what right view may often convince us.” p. 73. had the preacher to put such a sense The sermons are eighteen in numon the words ? At this rate we may ber, upon the following subjects : 'make the Scriptures mean what we Christ the Way, from John xiv. 6.
please, by putting our own sense on Christ the Truth, from John xiv. 6. 'any passage; and there will remain Christ the Life, from John xiv. 6.
no certainty in interpreting Scrip- The Gospel a faithful Saying, from . ture, but it will be equally easy to Tim. i. 15.-Christ the Chiefest prove error as truth from thence.' among Ten Thousand, from Cant. v. In fact, I thought I could see, that 10.-The Ascension of Christ, from you had some difficulty in making the Psalm lxviii. 18.-Christ the Head, allusion out; and was too much en- from Ephes. iv. 15, 16.-The Holy gaged in that pursuit, to bring it so Ghost the Comforter, from John xiv. much home with energy to the heart 26.-Faith working, from James ii. 22. and conscience, as you would have - The Love of God and Man, from done, if you had said the same things ] John iv. 11.-Christian Graces, from the words of Joel for instance, from 1 Peter iii. 8.-Christian Loyal. chap. i. ver. 12-14, or 17: or those of ty, froin Matth. xxii. 21.- The Isaiah, chap. i. 16–18. Nor let it Pharisee and Publican, from Luke be forgotten, that many bearers of the xviii. 14.-On the Times, from 2 gospel, love best to have evangelical Kings vi. 15.--The Barren Fig-tree, truths proposed without much appli- from Luke xiii. 8, 9.-David's Curses tion, for reasons best known to themthe Believer's Prayers, from Psalm selves, or rather to the Lord.
cix. 12, 13,--God's Sword and Bow, " My dear Sir, I am so deeply from Psalm vii. 12.—and on the Conconvinced, that this way of accome fession, from 2 Cor. i. 13. modation is capable of very danger. As a specimen of the Author's comous abuses, and has been so abused position we extract the exordium to to very bad purposes, by those who the third Sermon: the text is, John make divisions and deceive souls, that xiv. 6. I am--the life. 1 grieve when any person of real « In the various elements of fire, piety and respectability, gives any water, earth, and air, animated na. countenance to it; and I have so ture breathes and exists; and these high an opinion of your integrity, elements are suited to the innumerabenevolence, desire of glorifying God, ble creatures destined to inhabit them. and of doing good, and of your ta. If the order, which the God of Na. ture hath' appointed, be inverted, his inclination; he is eager after hapanimation and beauty are suspended piness, and naturally inquires, Who or destroyed; and, in proportion to will shew me any good ? Every one is this inversion, disorder, and mischief ready to answer the question. Is there ensues.
youth, beauty, rank, and talents ? “ Could we soar, with eagles, the Come with me,' says the man of the trackless paths of air, and ascend to world, I will shew you what happithe limits of our atmosphere, respira- ness or life is.' He takes the intion would become difficult, and quirer by the hand to the assembly of would quickly cease; por has the fashion; initiates him in the dissi. Author of our being given us the fa- pated amusements of the times,-the culties or members suited to such a theatre – the course—the gamingflight. Were we to descend with table—the luxurious repasts and en. great Leviathan the depths of the sea, snaring gratifications in which Dives the same consequences would follow. revelled, or the impure joys in which We should almost instantly perish, Herod indulged, and the reproof of because we do not possess organs, en- which cost the Baptist his life. Alas ! abling us to exist in so dense an ele. it is not life, but death, to which such ment as water. The birds soar to panders lead the way. The dead are heights, and enjoy existence, where here; living in pleasure, they are dead our faculties and powers would be while they live. destroyed; and the inhabitants of the “ Others, of a more sober cast, will mighty waters glide in safety, where introduce the inquirer into what they man cannot approach them; both the deem life, through the avenues of one and the other have all the enjoy-, worldly commerce, and the busy ment and support which their nature scenes of merchandise and traffic. peeds, and which the all-wise Creator This is the life of trade or business, intended.
and, so far as the body's existence * The earth, the element of which for a few short uncertain years may man was formed, and with the dust of be concerned, it may and does, somewhich he mingles when consigned to times, subserve the end. But this the grave, is replete with lite: with makes no provision for the immortal myriads of the works and creatures part of man. What shall it profit a of Jehoval. Analogy has led philo- man, if he shall gain the whole world, sophers to conclude the same, of the and lose his own soul? A man's life conunnumbered stars and planets, with sisteth not in the abundance of the things which the great arch of Heaven is be- which he possesseth. The larger class spangled; and it seems probable, that of society labour and earn their daily creatures, formed to exist with com- bread, by the sweat of their brow. fort in any one of these, would be de. This is indeed, more immediately the stroyed by transportation, were that way, which God hath ordained ; and, possible, to another. But this is mere so far, they are living and acting acspeculation, and, therefore, not to cording to the dictates of nature and amuse you unprofitably, we will ap- right reason. But these, as well as ply the subject to mankind; who, others in the higher ranks, are though sharing, in some sense, similar generally deceived in their ideas powers and faculties, are yet almost of happiness, and careless of improvinfinitely diversified in their actions ing life, to those glorious endis which and pursuits. So various, indeed, and God intended; nay, not unfrequently opposite are the views of different they surpass their superiors, in blase persons, that one can scarce breathe phemy, dishonesty, intemperance, or live in the element of another. To and uncleanness. do it with any degree of comfort, the "There is little difference, however, one or the other must undergo a suit. in these respects. Every order of able modification or change, in his persons in the world, must meet upon nature and atlections.
one and the same ground, as sinners. “A man is entering into life; ad. The ways of sinning are variously movancing in years and knowledge; dified, refined, and subtilized; but coming forward upon the stage of so- there is no difference in the general ciety, on which he is to act a part, character :- There is none that doeth and in some particular department of good. which he is to move :-He consults " Yet, not to lose sight of my first
idea upon this subject, though we all meet upon one common ground as LIV. A DISSERTATION, Moral and sinners, abusers of the means of life
Political, on the Influence of Luxand the faculties of nature,—we live
ury and Refinement on Nations; with and more in different spheres and
Reflections on the Manners of the stations; and let the labourer, the
Age at the Close of the 18th Century, man of business, or of fashion, invert
By ADAM SIBBET, A. B. Rector of the order of things, and abandon their
Clarendon, in the Island of Jamaica. several stations,--they will indeed physically exist, but must be consia
YONVINCED that there is just dered as unable to act with propriety,
reason to lament over the lux. or exist with comfort, because out of
ury and profligacy of the times in their proper element. The husband
which we live, and that the increase mian excels in and enjoys the labours of the field. but would ill acquit or threatening aspect upon the strength
and continuance of these have a enjoy himselfat court, or uponChange. The courtier would be equally at a determined to lend our aid to make
and prosperity of the country, we are loss, in the alteration of his station and employments; and the man of tions as have a tendency to check the
as public as possible all such publicacommerce would share in similar un. fituess, if transposed into either of the growing evil, and effectually to adother situations, without a suitable religion. Such is the tendency of
vance the interests of morality and change or preparation, in his faculties this dissertation, in which the Author and understanding, for the purpose. .: These observations are not alto- sipation as having been the ruin of
traces the influence of luxury and disgether foreign to the object I have in Babylon, Tyre, Greece, and Rome; view, from the short text I have ad- and that such will be its effects in all vanced :--I am-the Life. To enter into the ideas suggested, by which I ages, and in all countries. To the am to point out further two different great, to heads of families, and to the and opposite classes, which, in a spe; of their regard, and calculated to pro
young, he offers advice well worthy cial sense, may be said to divide and mote the national welfare. comprise all mankind. They are the carnal and the spiritual world; and these persons may truly be said, to live each in their peculiar and appro
EXTRACTS. priate element. A spiritual person THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY IN- . cannot exist, cannot find any comfort
STRUCTION. or sustenance in a carnal atmosphere; “ The inexperience of youth, there. and if, led by the strong current of fore, the peculiar flexibility of the tentemptation, he breathes in it for a der mind, naturally open to every time, he becomes distressed, and impression, can only be preserved hastens out of it as soon as possible. from vice by being imbued and On the other hand, the carnal, natu: strengthened with sound principles ral, and unconverted man, cannot and holiness. And this great work is breathe and live with any sort of com- to be commenced at a very early fort, in a spiritual atmosphere, and period of life; for the principles if he be, by any accident, drawn into which we embrace, and the habits we it, he generally makes as speedy a contract, even in childhood, are ditretreat as he can. The man who lives ficult to be eradicated, but as we adin pleasure, in sin, in the world, has vance a little further in our course, no idea of the life of faith, the life of and as our observations evlarge, and grace, or the life that is in Christ our mental faculties begin inore and Jesus. This, however, is the life which more to expand, the sentiments that the text leads us to consider, and on we then adopt, and the attachments which we shall spend the residue of that we make, have such a degree of our present opportunity.”. P. 39–44. influence upon us, that our character
To the Sermons are subjoined what is almost entirely formed upon them. the Author calls Helps to Prayer, be. The impression, at least, which is ing short expressive forms of devo- now given, whether on the side of tion, and the whole makes a volume virtue or vice, is often decisive and
generally predominates during the
remaining part of our life ; and when VOL. I.
of 500 8vo. pages.
the mind has once got its bias, it is a most arduous task to draw it to a THE BANEFUL INFLUENCE OF IM. contrary direction. The vast im
MORAL WRITINGS. portance, therefore, of attending dili
“The epigrams of a buffoon, the gently to the formation of tbe mind and principles of the juvenile part of will be read with avidity in frivolous
whining elegy, and the limsy novel, the nation, is highly expedient in all times, while Homer and Milton, and places and in all
times, particularly in Demosthenes, and Burke, will be the present, in order to resist that spi- néglected: for luxury and vice have rit of scepticism and levity which so
a tendency to corrupt and debilitate universally prevails.” p. 119.
the mind as well as the body, to con
taminate our intellectual taste as PUBLIC AMUSEMENTS.
well as our moral perceptions; and, “ The public amusements of a na
when we want energy and purity of tion have a considerable influence soul to comprehend the vast and upon the general manners and taste grand, or to be charmed with the deof a people. But their effects upon true genius, we from the mere de
licate and elegant compositions of the
juvenile part of the community pravily of our faculties, delight to are so very important, that they require to be regulated with the feed upon the disgusting garbage, or greatest circumspection.” That the the impertinent concerts of the liteamusements in our own country are
rary profligates of the day, the im. not so regulated is obvious, if this moral and puny writers of a degenewriter's evidence upon the subject of rate age; and there is nothing per. operas is well founded, alluding to haps so fatal to the morals of a nation them, he says, “ The performers of
as corrupt and vicious literary pro. the ballet have now so far overstept Auence over a large space, and affect
ductions, as they diffuse their in• modesty,' that a gentleman can hardly carry his family to see them, all ranks and descriptions of men." without being often hurt by the extreme indelicacy of their manners. However the fashionable world may
OF INTRODUCING commend their elegance and their
PERSON'S TO PUBLIC grace, they should also consider, that
AMUSEMENTS. the licentiousness of their attitudes and actions is often such as greatly to “ In ages of great refinement, the affect decency, and, consequently, an young are generally introduced into otfence of a very capital kind against the world at too early a period of our public manners. The voluptuous life, as every thing then is forced, dances of India, as described by Ray- unnatural, and premature. That aminal, and the present rites of Pagan able diffidence and modesty, which antiquity, where modesty was often always prevails in virtuous societies, so audaciously violated, could not far and which spread so many charms surpass the indelicate gestures, the over that interesting time of our ex. studied levity, and the wanton airs of istence, are generally considered as the modern dancers of the Opera the most attractive graces of youth, House. Are not such exhibitions are seldom to be seen in luxuriant hostile in the highest degree to that ages.”. delicacy which is so friendly to every Again, the writer observes, “The virtue! Are not they calculated to self-sufficient school-boy, and the pert irritate, to inflame, to corrupt, and miss, are introduced into the beau to taint our British youth, yet rosed monde so early, that they become old
over with the virgin crimson of mo- in the ring of pleasure before they desty,' and to destroy that immacu- are five and twenty. But, perhaps, late purity of soul, which should be there is nothing more injurious to equally unsullied by the utterance of physical strength and moral purity obscene words, and the view of un- than this pernicious practice, for the becoming actions." p. 147.
constitution is broken and debilitated by the vigils of dissipation before it is properly established, and habits of levity and debauchery are contracted at a time of life when the mind should