« PoprzedniaDalej »
disobedience.' How shall I confess my transgression before thee; what numbers can reach; what words can adequately express them! 'My iniquities have increased over my head, and my transgressions have grown up unto Heaven.' O Lord, I esteem it a wonderful mercy that I have not long since been cut off in the midst of my sins, and been sent to hell before I had an opportunity or a heart to repent. Being assured from the word of God of thy gracious and merciful nature, and of thy willingness to pardon and accept penitent believing sinners on the ground of the blood and righteousness of thine own adorable Son, who died, the Just for the unjust, to bring them to God,' and that 'him that cometh to him he will in no wise cast out,' I do most humbly prostrate myself at the footstool of his cross, and through him enter into thy covenant. I disclaim all right to myself from henceforth; to my soul, my body, my time, my health, my reputation, my talents, or any thing that belongs to me. I confess myself to be the property of the glorious Redeemer, as one whom I humbly hope he has redeemed by his blood to be part of the first fruits of his creatures.’
"I do most cheerfully and cordially receive him in all his offices, as my Priest, my Prophet, and my King. I dedicate myself to him, to serve, love, and trust in him as my life and my salvation to my life's end.
"I renounce the devil and all his works, the flesh, and the world, with heartfelt regret that I should have been enslaved by them so long. I do solemnly and deliberately take thee to be my full and satisfying good, and eternal portion in and through thine adorable Son the Redeemer, and by the assistance of the blessed Spirit of all grace, the third person in the triune God, whom I take to be my Sanctifier and Comforter to the end of time, and through a happy eternity, praying that the Holy Spirit may deign to take perpetual possession of my heart and fix his abode there.
"I do most solemnly devote and give up myself to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, agreeably to the terms of the Gospel covenant, and in humble expectation of the blessings it ascertains to sincere believers. I call thee to witness, O God! the truth and reality of this surrender of all I have, and all I am, to thee; and, conscious of the unspeakable deceitfulness of my heart, I humbly and earnestly implore the influence of thy Spirit to enable me to stand stedfast in this covenant, as well as an interest in the blood of thy Son, that I may be forgiven in those instances (alas! that such an idea should be possible,) in which I may, in any degree, swerve from it. “Done this [2d] day of May, 1809, seven o'clock in the evening, Leicester. "ROBERT HALL." pp. 79, 80.
We have now exhibited Mr. Hall in various aspects, but we must give a specimen of his familiar conversation, his table talk," which was distinguished by great originality and vivacity; and which, had a Boswell been at hand, might have furnished an entertaining and instructive volume. The Rev. Mr. Balmer, of Berwick-upon-Tweed, has Boswellized three or four conversations, from which we copy the following passages. They are presumed not to be above his ordinary style in unbending with any literary and religious friend, and they are not equal to many of his occasional effusions.
"On informing him, that I had been perplexed with doubts as to the extent of the death of Christ, and expressing a wish to know his opinion, he replied, There, sir, my sentiments give me the advantage of you; for on that point I entertain no doubts whatever: I believe firmly in "general redemption;" I often preach it, and I consider the fact that “ Christ died for all men" as the only basis that can support the universal offer of the Gospel. But you admit the doctrine of election, which necessarily implies limitation. Do you not think that election and particular redemption are inseparably connected?'-I believe firmly,' he rejoined, in election, but I do not think it involves particular redemption; I consider the sacrifice of Christ as a remedy, not only adapted, but intended for all, and as placing all in a salvable state; as removing all barriers to their salvation, except such as arise from their own perversity and depravity. But God foresaw or knew that none would accept the remedy, merely of themselves, and therefore, by what may be regarded as a separate arrangement, he resolved to glorify his mercy, by effectually applying salvation to a certain number of our race, through the agency of his Holy Spirit. I apprehend, then, that the limiting clause implied in election, refers not to the purchase but to the application of redemption.'"
"In the course of our conversation respecting the extent of Christ's death, Mr. Hall expatiated at considerable length on the number and variety of the Scripture expressions, in which it seems to be either explicitly asserted or necessarily implied, that it was intended not for the elect exclusively, but for mankind generally, such as the world,' all, all men,' every man,' &c. He made some striking remarks on the danger of twisting such expressions from their natural and obvious import, and on
the absurdity of the interpretations put on them by some of the advocates of parti cular redemption. He mentioned, especially, the absurdity of explaining the world' John iii. 16, to signify the elect world, as the text would then teach that some of the elect may not believe. He noticed farther, that the doctrine of general redemption was not only asserted expressly in many texts, but presupposed in others, such as Destroy not with thy meat,' &c. and Denying the Lord that bought them; and that it was incorporated with other parts of the Christian system, particularly with the universal offers and invitation of the Gospel."
"With regard to the question of Terms of Communion,' we had repeated conversations. On this subject he spoke with uncommon interest and animation; and seemed surprised at the arguments of those who were opposed to his views. I recollect, in particular, the effect produced on him, when I stated that I had heard Dr. Lawson, of Selkirk, declare, that he would not admit a Roman Catholic, not even Fenelon, or Pascal, to the table of the Lord: Mr. H., who had been previously reclining on three chairs, instantly raised himself on his elbow, and spoke without intermission and with great rapidity for nearly a quarter of an hour; expatiating on the amazing absurdity and presumption of rejecting those whom Christ receives, and of refusing to hold communion on earth with those with whom we hope to associate in heaven. During all this time his manner was exceedingly vehement, his other arm was in continual motion, and his eyes, naturally most piercing, were lighted up with unusual brilliancy.
"It was interesting and amusing to observe how Mr. Hall's exquisite sensibility to literary beauty, intermingled with, and qualified the operation of his principles and leanings, both as a Christian and Dissenter. Of this, I recollect various instances; but shall give only one. While conversing respecting Archbishop Magee, his talents, sentiments, conduct, &c:, I quoted, as a proof of his high-church principles, a remark from a charge then newly published: it was to this effect: That the Roman Catholics have a church without a religion; the Dissenters have a religion without a church; but the Establishment has both a church and a religion. Mr. Hall had not heard the remark before, and was exceedingly struck with it. That, sir,' he exclaimed, smiling, is a beautiful saying. I have not heard so fine an observation for a long time. It is admirable, sir.' You admire it, I presume, for its point, not for its truth. H、 ‘I admire it, sir, for its plausibility and cleverness. It is false, and yet it seems to contain a mass of truth. It is an excellent stone for a churchman to pelt with." "Balmer. May I ask, sir, what writers you would most recommend to a young minister? H. Why, sir, I feel very incompetent to give directions on that head; can only say that I have learned far more from John Howe, than from any other author I ever read. There is an astonishing magnificence in his conceptions. He had not the same perception of the beautiful, as of the sublime; and hence his endless subdivisions.' B. That was the fault of his age. H. In part, sir; but he has more of it than many of the writers of that period, than Barrow, for example, who was somewhat earlier. There was, I think, an innate inaptitude in Howe's mind for discerning minute graces and proprieties, and hence his sentences are often long and cumbersome. Still he was unquestionably the greatest of the Puritan divines."
"After adverting to several of Howe's works, Mr. H. said, in reference to his 'Blessedness of the Righteous: "Perhaps, Baxter's Saint's Rest' is fitted to make a deeper impression on the majority of readers. Baxter enforces a particular idea with extraordinary clearness, force, and earnestness. His appeals to the conscience are irresistible. Howe, again, is distinguished by calmness, self-possession, majesty, and comprehensiveness; and for my own part, I decidedly prefer him to Baxter. I admire, exceedingly, his Living Temple,' his sermon on the Redeemer's Tears,' &c.; but, in my opinion, the best thing he ever wrote, is his defence of the sincerity of the Gospel offer. I refer to the treatise, called, the Reconciliableness of God's Prescience of the Sins of Men, with his Counsels, Exhortations, and whatever other Means he used to prevent them' This I regard as the most profound, the most philosophical, and the most valuable of all Howe's writings."
"B. Do you think highly of Dr. Owen?' H. No, sir, by no means. Have you read much of Owen, sir; do you admire him?' B. I have read his Preliminary Exercitations to his great work on the Hebrews; his exposition of particular verses here and there; his book on church government; and some of his smaller treatises. I do not greatly admire him, nor have I learned much from him.' H. You astonish me, sir, by your patience. You have accomplished a Herculean undertaking in reading Owen's Preliminary Exercitations. To me he is intolerably heavy and prolix."" Pray, sir,' I said, 'do you admire Macknight as a commentator?' 'Yes, sir,' he replied, I do, very much; I think it would be exceedingly difficult indeed to come after him in expounding the Apostolic Epistles. I admit, at the same time, that he has grievous deficiencies: there is a lamentable want of spirituality and elevation about him. He never sets his foot in the other world if he can get a hole to step into in this; and he never gives a passage a meaning which would render it applicable and useful in all ages, if he can find in it any local or temporary allusion. He makes
fearful havoc, sir, of the text on which you preached to-day. His exposition of it is inimitably absurd.' The text referred to was Ephesians i. 8. 'Wherein he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence; and the wisdom and prudence' are explained by Macknight, not of the wisdom of God, as displayed in the scheme of redemption, but of the wisdom and prudence granted to the Apostles to enable them to discharge their office.
"Mr. Hall repeatedly referred to Dr. -" (query, Chalmers ?)" and always in high admiration of his general character. The following are some remarks, respecting that extraordinary individual. Pray, sir, did you ever know any man who had that singular faculty of repetition possessed by Dr. -? Why, sir, he often reiterates the same thing ten or twelve times in the course of a few pages. Even Burke himself had not so much of that peculiarity. His mind resembles that optical instrument lately invented: what do you call it?' B. You mean, I presume, the kaleidoscope.' H. Yes, sir, it is just as if thrown into a kaleidoscope. Every turn presents the object in a new and a beautiful form; but the object presented is still the same. Have you not been struck, sir, with the degree in which Dr. possesses this faculty? Do you not think, sir,' I replied, that he has either far too much of this faculty, or that he indulges it to a faulty excess?' H. Yes, sir, certainly his mind seems to move on hinges, not on wheels. There is incessant motion, but no progress. When he was at Leicester, he preached a most admirable sermon, on the necessity of immediate repentance; but there were only two ideas in it, and on these his mind revolved as on a pivot.'" pp. 118-122.
The following are specimens of table talk communicated by other friends. "On the return of the Bourbons to France, in 1814, a gentleman called upon Mr. Hall, in the expectation that he would express himself in terms of the utmost delight on account of that signal event. Mr. Hall said, I am sorry for it, sir. The cause of knowledge, science, freedom, and pure religion, on the Continent, will be thrown back half a century; the intrigues of the Jesuits will be revived; and Popery will be resumed in France with all its mummery, but with no power, except the power of persecution.' This opinion was expressed about six weeks before the issuing of the Pope's bull for the revival of the order of Jesuits in Europe, 7th August, 1814.
"A few years afterwards, Mr. Hall, on an allusion being made to the battle of Waterloo, remarked, I have scarcely thought of the unfulfilled prophecies, since that event. It overturned all the interpretations which had been previously advanced by those who had been thought sound theologians, and gave new energy to the Pope and the Jesuits, both of whom seemed rapidly coming to nothing, as the predictions seemed to teach. That battle, and its results, seemed to me to put back the clock of the world six degrees."" p. 124.
"On being asked if he had read the Life of Bishop Watson, then (in 1818) recently published, he replied that he had, and regretted it, as it had lowered his estimate of the bishop's character. Being asked, why? he expressed his reluctance to enlarge upon the subject; but added, Poor man, I pity him! He married public virtue in his early days, but seemed for ever afterwards to be quarrelling with his wife.'
"He did not like Dr. Gill as an author. When Mr. Christmas Evans was in Bristol, he was talking to Mr. Hall about the Welch language, which he said was very copious and expressive. How I wish, Mr. Hall, that Dr. Gill's works had been written in Welch.' I wish they had, sir; I wish they had, with all my heart, for then I should never have read them. They are a continent of mud, sir.'
"John Wesley having been mentioned, he said, The most extraordinary thing about him was, that while he set all in motion, he was himself perfectly calm and phlegmatic: he was the quiescence of turbulence.'
"He spoke of Whitfield as presenting a contrast in the mediocrity of his writings to the wonderful power of his preaching: of the latter there could be no doubt, however; but it was of a kind not to be represented in writing; it is impossible to paint eloquence.'" p. 125.
From Cambridge Mr. Hall removed to Leicester; where, after recovering his health, he presided over a large and increasing congregation till the year 1826; when, in consequence of the death of Dr. Ryland, of Bristol (the son of his old preceptor at Northampton), he was induced to return to the scene of his early labours, where he remained till he was taken to a better world. During these years, his own religious advancement of character became conspicuous in the increasingly spiritual character of his discourses. In reference to these we need add nothing to the valuable specimens which appeared in our volume for 1831; to which our readers may turn back, as well as to various other papers in that volume, including our Review of several discourses published on occasion
of his death, for such other memorials as are requisite to fill up the present brief sketch. It would be quite unnecessary for us, after these recent notices, to follow Dr. Gregory where he goes over the same ground; more especially as the outline we have just given will doubtless incite not a few of our readers to repair to Dr. Gregory's own interesting narrative ; where they will find, as well as in Mr. Foster's sketch of Mr. Hall's character as a preacher, much to instruct and gratify them. Of the volumes themselves, to which the memoir is subsidiary, we need say nothing; unless, as before remarked, we should devote a future paper to the subject. It is enough to say, that they are the collected works of Robert Hall; the impress of that powerful, elegant, and devout mind which for so many years stood at the highest elevation of intellectual fame, and gave force to the most sacred strains of piety, clothed in the richest garb of more than classical eloquence. The majority of our readers are, doubtless, well acquainted with the more popular of Mr. Hall's publications; but in these volumes they will find treasures which few of them have yet surveyed; including memoirs, reviews, prefaces, letters, detached pamphlets, and above all, sermons; most of these last snatched from oblivion, and given to the world, by his admiring hearers.
VIEW OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS.
WITHIN a few hours of the time from which we are writing, the first Reformed Parliament-so in name, may it prove so in reality-will meet for the consideration of some of the most important questions which ever came under the deliberation of a legislative assembly. We are about to be governed, we may say (for whatever may be the popular complaints of the power of the Crown or the Lords, it is demonstrable that, so far from being inordinate, it has become utterly unable to withstand for any long time, the violations of the third order of the realm; so that the prerogative both of legislation and execution, has virtually merged into the fiat of the House of Commons, and that unto the fiat of the people,)— we are therefore, we say, about to be governed by a representative body chosen by a far larger proportion of the public than ever had a voice before in selecting the national representatives. If the mass of the electors have acted as become Christians and Britons, all will be well; but knowing how much of a wrong spirit has gone abroad in various quarters; what theories of spoliation and subversion are extant; and how readily even some well-meaning men are seduced by specious declaimers, it is not without anxiety that any Christian can look to this first great experiment of the results of the new system of legislative suffrage. Never was the crisis more solemn; and never did an assembly meet within the walls of St. Stephen's chapel, which more emphatically needed the prayers of every friend of religion, every lover of his
country, that God would be pleased to prosper its consultations to the glory of his name, the good of his church, and the safety, honour, and welfare of our sovereign and his dominions.
Among the subjects which must speedily come before the notice of the great council of the realm, we will only at present refer to a few which more peculiarly call for the attentive consideration of the religious part of the community, more especially the clergy, and members of the Established Church. Every Christian patriot is indeed interested in all that concerns the welfare of his beloved country, in every part of its arrangements, domestic and foreign; nor even in a religious view, will he of necessity consider all secular questions as beneath his notice; for besides their general bearing upon the national prosperity, they, in almost every instance, involve considerations of high moral and religious importance. The regulation of courts of law and justice, the extension or diminution of parliamentary suffrage, voting by name or by ballot, the corn laws, free trade, the Bank and East-India Company's Charter, and other points of approaching discussion, though more immediately secular questions, might all be easily shewn to be connected with matters which no Christian of enlarged mind can look at with indifference, even in regard to their ultimate moral and spiritual bearings.
An illustration of this occurs in the Report of the House-of-Commons Committee, on the question of the renewal of
But our present remarks shall be confined to points more directly within the range of a religious publication, and respecting which it is very important that Christian men should come to an early and decided understanding.
The first that presents itself to our minds is the overwhelming topic of church reform, on which we have already written so much that we fear we might repel many of our readers if we again dilated upon it in a manner proportioned to its importance. We need only recapitulate what we have often urged in detail, especially in our last volume; comprising our views under two heads: first, what a proposed church reform ought to be; and, secondly, what it ought not to be.
We will take the negative side first; for we lament to say that a spirit has gone abroad which threatens not the amendment of the church, but its extinction; and that this unholy flame has been fanned by some of whom we had hoped better things, but who have suffered their radical politics to pervert their better judgment in matters of far higher than mere political importance. If our readers will refer back to our Number for this very month of last year, they will find us stating (see p. 103), that as we had been sketching a plan of " cathedral reform," which we considered "ample, practicable, and efficient, yet not one of spoliation, or revolution," and as we were about to propose a very extensive system of church reform in general," to which we trusted the same epithets would be appropriate, we were most anxious, "considering the revolutionary spirit of the present times," "to lay a solid basis for improvement, by shewing the security of the foundation on which the whole structure reposes." We added, that it was "precisely because we felt intensely the importance, necessity, and scriptural sanction of an established church, that we wished to see its breaches repaired:" it was "because we dreaded and deprecated
the East-India Company's Charter, where the subject of the pilgrim tax in India is touched upon. The committee refrain from giving any opinion upon the question, on account of its being under the consideration of the proper authorities; but even their silence is condemnatory, and much more so are the facts to which they allude; so that we cannot doubt that if the religious or let us say only the moral, the patriotic-members of the House of Commons will keep their eye on the matter, this foul blot will be speedily effaced, and British coffers no longer be polluted with the blood-stained exactions of the most cruel and licentious idolatry. Those who understand little about a commercial charter, may feel much, and do much for the abolition of the horrid rites of Jaggernaut.
subversion, that we desired reformation;" and this not for the sake of upholding "secular interests," but in order that, by the Divine blessing, "the glory of God and the salvation of men might be increasingly promoted:" in a word, that church reform should be solely with a regard to religious efficiency. In reviewing therefore Dr. Dealtry's Charge, on "The Church and its Endowments," and in extracting some passages from a tract which had been recently published by the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, on the scriptural sanction and practical value of a national religious establishment, we endeavoured to guard against those systematic attacks which we foresaw were coming upon the church, not merely on account of what required amendment, but on account of what is in itself excellent and scriptural.
It is highly important, then, that the friends of religion in the Established Church should keep distinctly in view what the projected changes ought not to be, as well as what they ought to be. They ought not to be such as would subvert the Church of England as a national establishment, under the notion that church establishments are unscriptural; which is the special ground of objection now urged by the Dissenters of almost every denomination. We can only repeat, what we have so often said, that though we believe it to be the duty of the friends of the Church to act honestly and boldly as regards Reform, advocating no abuse, and endeavouring to supply every defect; yet that all their proceedings, whether by petitions to the Legislature or otherwise, should recognize this fundamental point, of the value and scriptural sanction of a church establishment, and the manifold blessings which, by the mercy of God, we enjoy under our own.
And if on all former occasions we so thought and so wrote, much more do we feel the necessity of so writing at the present moment; for we lament to state that, during the last year, the spirit of many, even of the better portion of the Dissenting communions, has greatly changed in regard to our venerated Church. We say it more in grief than in anger,grief, on account of our common Christianity,-that, among too many of those Dissenters who adhere in the main to the same code of doctrine as their brethren of the Establishment, there has been evinced of late a spirit of sectarianism, of bitterness, of political partizanship-not to say of contemptuous triumph-which augurs no spiritual good, either to them or to the friends of the Church; unless, indeed, it lead the latter to greater watchfulness over their own spirit, that they do not imitate so bad an example. Look at the conduct of some Dissenters, of Evangelical name, in regard to the late elections: see how strenuously they have exerted themselves