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must otherwise one day meet from the chief Shepherd, and bishop of souls. · Surely, my brother, a serious respect to the example which that chief shepherd hath set to all, who are admitted to feed any part of his flock ;--A remembrance of the re. gard, which that good shepherd shewed for his flock, and consequently, of the high importance of human souls, for whom he laid down his life; -A constant remembrance of that account, which every minister, intrusted with his sacred charge, must assuredly one day give ;-and a frequent recollection of the folemn promises voluntarily made, and freely engaged in at the altar, when ordained ;-Surely, I say, if these four points were duly attended to, every minis. ter would not only be exact, but zealous, very zealous, and exemplary, in the happy business of his holy calling!
I hope, these motives will be continually before your eyes: and in particular, I would wish you to set apart one day, at the least, every year, for a serious retrospection of your conduct, during the last year;- for an attentive perusal of the ordination-service, and of the solemn vows you made, when ordained, and admitted to the service of God; and for a solemn inquiry, how careful you have been to follow the example of your great master, and to provide, that some souls at least, committed to your trust, may be able to answer for you on that awful day, when the best will have need to tremble.- Such a practice, be persuaded, will prove very advantageous; and, if performed with due reve, rence, cannot fail of the best fruits.
But perhaps advice of this kind, will come more properly hereafter,-- I will therefore refrain myself; and be ready to attend you through all the duties of your sacred office; which, however, let me tell you, as an apology for my earneftness in this and my foregoing letters, cannot fail to be well performed, if a man enters upon them with that right fense of the nature and importance of the ministerial function, which I have been attempting to give you.- Pardon'. me, my dear brother, not to give you have it already, I flatter myself; otherwise I should not write in this manner: a very different style and method would be necessary.
Permit me then, supposing you ordained, to accompany you to the reading-dejk: and truly this is no despicable offer. Happy would it be, if every young divine would or could take in his hand with him some impartial, sincere, and judicious friend, when he makes his first essay; that his faults and improprieties might be freely and candidly noted;
and himself prevented from continuing in a round of error and absurdity all the days of his life ; error seen and smiled. at perhaps by every body, yet noneno not one, will be found candid and ingenuous enough to point it out to the man himself!--and possibly there is good reason; for very difficult is the office of a reprover, however friendly; and rarely are found the ear open to wise reproof, and the tongue prudent and delicate enough to administer it.
This, however, without all question, would be the wiseft and best method, which young divines could pursue : a method, which indeed it is not in the power of all to pursue; for all have not such acquaintance as are capable of judging, though they should endeavour by all means to acquire such. In default of which, our present times supply us with masters in oratory; there are, who profess to teach it; and good effe&s may well be hoped froin the endeavour. Yet I could wish, that one or more ingenious and able men, would take upon them the useful and honourable employ, to “hear voung pupils read, and to direct them in their practice," rather than merely to give lectures and read themselves. Greater utility would arise from this method, I am convinced: convinced by fact. Some four or five young divines, within my knowledge, have attended Mr. Sheridan's lectures : I was curious to hear them afterwards : I did hear them; but I heard them very little improved, if at all; and I easily found the cause of it to be, that they each had contracted bad habits, of which they were themselves utterly insensible; and which therefore could only be corrected by the directions of a present instructor.
You know our friend Gratio; and you know, that he wants neither voice nor abilities. Yet surely in the readingdesk no man, with so good a voice, makes such terrible work of it. He begins in a canting, crying whine, and never varies from beginning to end ! He heard Sheridan; and gave his just tribute of applause to him. But, he reads prayers just as before ; and whines and cants as musically, as he did, ere he heard that master in oratory. And where lies the fault? not in the master certainly; but in Gratio's ignorance of his defect: he is not conscious of it; and therefore cannot mend it : but let him read to a master, and he will foon be fhewn it; and there wants only that to remove it. This is not peculiar to reading you know; it is applicable to many other cases in life. VOL. XIV. Z .
Where Chm. Mag. March 1808,
Where no bad habits are contracted—but bow seldom is that the case?-hearing a master may be very useful; though perhaps it may be full' as useful to attend the churches of such clergymen as read the service with elegance, propriety, and devotion : this will prove a school of real instruction 10 the young divine.-But preferable to every other method, is the presence of an able and ingenuous friend. Whether I may be able or not, I must not presume to determine sincere however you know I am, and much interested in your honour and welfare : and under this character, you will permit me, after the present digression, to attend you to the Teading-defk, and to offer some general hints for a becoming deportment there. But of this in my next. Believe me ever and affectionately,
Yours, &c. J. G.
OBSERVATIONS ON JEREMIAH xiii. 23. Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?
THEN may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil. TF we understand this text in its full extent, as implying 1 as great an impoflibili:y, that they, who have been ac. customed to do evil ihould ever do well, as it is for the native Blackamoor to change his skin, or the Leopard his spots; which is indeed an utter impossibility. If, I say, we understand the words in this strict literal sense, why then farewel the comforts of the gospel of Christ ;--- farewel the glad tidings of pardon and peace to the penitent.-Sinners are in a desperate case indeed.- Chrift hath died in vain : all preaching, and all offers of his grace and mercy, are mere babblings, idle, and insignificant !
This, with all christians, should be a very sufficient argu. ment to prove, that the passage is not to be understood in this general and unrestrained sense. But indeed we have another argument--and that a pretty strong too, to plead against this interpretation and that is, “matter of fact." The experience not of christians only, but of others also, in almost every age of the world, undeniably assuring us, that inany who have been accustomed, who have learnt, as the original is, to do evil,-(understand the phrase in as strong
& sense as you please,-) that many such have, on the other hand, learnt, and accustomed themselves to do well. It would be endless to produce instances.--Therefore, not to dwell upon individuals, I would only ask, what can be so strong as St. Paul's words to some of his converts, whom he speaks of not only as accustomed to, but even dead in trespasses and fins-náy, he ranks himself in the same de. gree; even when we were dead in sins, he quickened us together with Christ—and writing to the Corinthians, he mentions some of the groffest crimes, whereof, he says, they once were guilty, though now reformed" Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor idolaters, nor effemi. nate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieyes, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”—Here, it must be al. lowed, is a list of some of the worst vices to which, men can accustom themselves—but these Corinthians, guilty of them, were not given up as desperate---No; the apostle adds, "and such were some of you; but ye have been washed; but ye are fanctified; but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God." This testimony, it must be acknowledged, is decisive,
Having then shewn, what is not the true sense of the text, it may be time to inquire what is.
Now, in the first place, I would observe, respecting the, eastern style in general, that it is high and figurative; abounds; with strong metaphors, and allusions ;, which must be re-, duced a good deal, before, we determine their precise mean.: ing. Again, I observe of the prophetic style, that as it is perhaps the most sublime of all the eastern writings, so are the figures, metaphors, and allusions in it, not less bold, than they are beautiful and expressive. But they make it difficult to be understood, and should render us cautious in our rea. sonings upon it. An example of this you have in a passage from Isaiah, respecting the change of disposition, signified, by the taming of the wildest favages. In another place, this fame prophet has these remarkable words; “ The stars of heaven, and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine."-Which they, who are unacquainted with the genius of the prophetical writings, and their frequent reference to hieroglyphical ideas, would not readily understand, in its true and undoubted meaning of the total destruction of the civil and ecclefiaftical polity of the Jews.
I produce thefe examples, only to fhew how figurative the prophetic style is, how lofty and elevated, and confe. quently how much we shall misake, by understanding any fuch passages in a merely literal fense.Now read the pala fage in hand from Jeremiah, under these restri&tions, and you will perceive, that it is an high and exaggerated expreffion of the prophet, in his great warmth for the caule of God implying only, that “after all the messages which God had sent by him to the Jews; after all the mercies which God had thewn to them, they were fo hard and un. grateful, that he could scarcely entertain a good hope of them:-and he strives to arouse, to awaken, to stimulate them, by the strongest words and arguments poffible, -“ Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots no, they cannot-and I fear there is almost as little reason to suppose, that you who are fo accustomed to do evil, to tranfgress and rebel againt God, will ever learn to do well, will ever obediently return to him, and leave your idols and your iniquity.”This is as much as we can fairly draw from the text; for that it includes not an absolute denial of the poffibility of their return, every other chapter in Jeremiah's prophecy clearly proves; in which he is con tinually exhorting them to repent, and to return to God, who will abundancly pardon: and in which he ufes confequently every argument, drawn from every considerarion and from every passion, which he conceived might become effe&tual. Nay, and the very last verse in this same chapter, is itfelf an undeniable testimony, that he meant not to fpeak of that he did not by any means belieyè the case of those, to whom he addresses himself, to be defperate, and all hope of their amendment vain. Upon this verse I could be con. tent to rest the whole of the argument: for nothing can be moré full and more pathetic, than the prophee's expostulation in it ; which surely would have been ridiculous and abfurd, had it been as impoffible for them to be made clean, or to repent and reform, as for the Ethiopian to change his skin. " I have seen thine adulteries, saith the Lord, and thine' abominations on the hills in the fields”-that is, thy Spiritual adultery, by which is meant idolatry throughout the prophets--Woe unto thee, O Jerufalem, wilt thou not be made clean; wilt thou not be purified and pardoned, when shall it once be ?” The original is remarkably emphatical “ when once?” as if the tender mercies of God would not allow him utterance while he vents only his paternal de. fires for their return in broken wilhes, and earnest longings,