Obrazy na stronie

the prayers must be abandoned? Would not, at least, an outward reformation be produced? Would he not find some way to restrain those violences of passion, or those excesses of other kinds, which may now be so ready to burst forth? Would he not say to himself, Does this become one who has been kneeling down, and is soon to kneel down again, with his domestics and his children, to adore God with them, and to pray with them against every thing which would displease God, and render him unfit for the heavenly world? I will not say that this would cure whatever was wrong; but it would surely be a great check to sin; it would give great additional force to conscience; and would produce a watchfulness which might prove highly beneficial. Let us consider, lastly, the influence which the practice of family devotion may have on the peace, harmony, and welfare of the whole family collectively.-I know nothing more likely to secure the general harmony of a family, than that they should all kneel daily together before the same throne of grace, confess their sins in the presence of each other, lament in common the evil of discord and contention, and rise from their knees with holy desires and mutual blessings on their lips. Will not this form a bond of union, which those do not possess who never meet around the same throne of mercy? If, after this, they should indulge bitterness or resentment, they will at least be self-condemned. And what can contribute so much to the genuine happiness of a family, as to entertain a humble hope that they are living together as fellow-christians, and that they enjoy the blessing of God? Peace of conscience is the grand source of happiness. Let the mind be calmed by piety and prayer, and we shall feel disposed to be content with our lot, and cheerfully to enjoy the mercies of God. What can also better promote the due discharge of the duties

of our stations, than when each has been kneeling down with the other, imploring grace for that very end; when the duties of each have been set before him, and the failures of each have been deeply confessed and lamented?

Such are some of the benefits which a due discharge of family devotion may tend to produce. But yet much depends on the manner in which the service is performed. To that point I will now direct your attention.

1. The first thing necessary is, that it be not made a mere matter of form, but a rational, lively, and spiritual service.-If domestics and children are merely required to hear a chapter read, and to kneel down while prayer is addressed to God, there is danger lest the practice be come a mere lifeless ceremony. To prevent this, all the members of the family should be taught the use and benefit of prayer, and made to see that it is calculated for their good. A short and familiar address on the subject, made in an impressive manner, might also tend to excite an interest and engage their affections in the exercise. Were a master sometimes to remind them, for instance, of the danger of a merely formal worship; were he to explain to them the privilege and the benefit of worshipping God aright; were he to contrast the glory of heaven with the vanity and misery of this world; such addresses would tend to awaken their attention and kindle their devotion.

2. Family worship should also be made interesting and pleasant to all who engage in it.-We are always interested in what we perceive to concern us; and if religion be brought home in a familiar manner to our feelings, and to our every day's business and habits, it will not fail to become interesting. The Bible, therefore, should be read with such a plain and short comment, that it may be understood; and this comment should be practical, that is, enter fully into the ordinary oc

currences of life, and convey instruction which may be capable of being brought into use many times in the day. The prayers also ought to be such as will interest them, and as will serve, if possible, to express their own feelings. They often feel the vanity of life, and are burdened with its cares and disappointments: let the prayer be adapted to such a state of mind. In like manner, 'let the devotions be suited to the state of a family. Private devotions are adapted to private, and public devotions to common or public wants family devotions should have respect to family wants; should comprise prayers for family concord, and for grace to enable each one to act well in his particular station: and if any one is sick, or in distress, petitions suited to that state should be introduced, and are well fitted to interest the mind.

Tedious and critical expositions of Scripture, and long prayers, are not suited to a family composed of persons of different ages and characters. In some, the attention is soon fatigued; and when that is the case, no good can be expected.

The head of a family should be considered as the father of it; and his prayers should be suited to that character: they should breathe an air of tenderness and kindness. All who kneel down with him, should feel that he has their good at heart. This feeling will be much promoted by kind addresses in private. Above all, he must be careful to set them an example of the good effect of prayer on his own heart and life. Its value must be seen in the peace and happiness he enjoys, especially in the time of trial. They will then be led to believe that religion is attended with real benefit, and will desire themselves to possess what they see to be so useful and amiable in him.

I have now only to request, that those heads of families who may .have hitherto neglected this service, would consider on what ground they can justify their neglect. Is

it not reasonable to serve God; and is it not likely to be beneficial? Let them consider, that it is the want of religion which causes so many families to be disunited and miser able; husbands complaining of wives, and wives of husbands; masters complaining of servants, and servants of masters. Where there is a general want of principle, we cannot look for domestic peace and union, or a faithful discharge of duty. And those expect too much, who expect principle without religion. Religion was intended by God for the peace and welfare of families, as well as of individuals; and if masters would secure these blessings, they must promote religion in their families by every reasouable method. Let them remember, that they will have an account to give to God of the souls committed to their care. May he enable them to render this account in such a manner, that they may stand acquitted before him in that day! Now to God the Father, &c.

For the Christian Observer. ON MR. SIMEON'S DEFENCE OF CERTAIN


An attempt to remove the difficulties which conscientious persons, and particularly young academics preparing for holy orders, find in understanding or approving some expressions in our Liturgy, is laudable, and, if successful, a most acceptable service to the church. This attempt has been made by Mr. Simeon, in the sermons which he delivered from the Univer sity pulpit in November, 1811.

It will readily be admitted, that if great acquaintance with the Scriptures, and an extraordinary degree of piety, are the qualifications requisite for such a purpose, he might have been expected to succeed in the attempt. Yet I confess my difficulties are in no degree lessened by what he has advanced.

The expression, in the Burial Service, of our "sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life," which

he admits, according to the spirit of the words, to imply our sure and certain hope that the soul of the person about to be committed to the grave, will rise to eternal life (p. 44); and the direct assertion of our hope that he rests in Christ; and our thanksgiving to God for having taken his soul to himself-are a stumbling block to many members of the church, and have a tendency to produce this error, than which few can be more pernicious, that, whatever a man's life may have been, yet, if he die in communion with the church, his case is hopeful.

Mr. Simeon thinks that such expressions precisely accord with what we continually read in the Epistles of St. Paul.

In 1 Cor. i. 4-8, and iii. 3, the Apostle, speaking of persons who were "carnal, and walked as men," says, that they came "behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall confirm you unto the end blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." Now, if the persons of whom such glorious things are spoken were unconverted and ungodly men, the parallel between our burial service and St. Paul's declarations would be complete. But if they were real Christians, there is no ground for Mr. Simeon's opinion, that the language of our Liturgy in the burial service precisely accords with the passage quoted from St. Paul to the Corinthians. And that they were real Christians, the Apostle expressly affirms, in the same verse in which he complains that they were not spiritual, but carnal; for he adds, that they were "babes in Christ." The young converts at Corinth were transported by a lively zeal, which in some of them was mixed with a degree of party spirit, though their general coduct was honourable to the Gospel.

Mr. Simeon next quotes Phil. i. 3, 7, where St. Paul expresses his confidence that God, who had begun a good work in them, would perform

it unto the day of Jesus Christ, and adds, "even as it is meet for me to think this of you all." Yet, says Mr. Simeon, the Apostle afterwards cautions these very persons against strife, and vain-glory, and self-love: therefore they were some of them ungodly and unconverted. This inference is not indeed expressed in so many words, but it is implied in the nature of Mr. Simeon's argument, which has no force but upon the supposition that godly men need no such cautions.

In the Baptismal Service we thank God for having regenerated the baptized person by his Holy Spirit. Mr. Simeon infers, that, in the opinion of the compilers of our Liturgy, regeneration and remission of sins accompany baptism: and supposing that we entertain the same opinion, we may properly use this form of thanksgiving. But is this opinion generally held by orthodox clergymen? I think the contrary appears in Bishop Hopkins, (p. 42,) vol. ii. Pratt's edition; and in Bishop Bradford's Short Discourse, circulated by the Bartlett's Buildings' Society. Mr. Simeon (p. 49) intimates that it is a doubtful point. In what sense, then, does he utter this thanksgiving, which speaks of it as a certain point? He recurs to his general principle, and appeals to the holy Scriptures, which, he says, in a very remarkable way accord with the language of our Liturgy. "By one spirit,' says St. Paul," are we all baptized into one body, and have been all made to drink into the same spirit." 1 Cor. xii. 13. Does Mr. Simeon really think that all baptized persons, however insincere and hypocritical, have drunk into the spirit of Christ? Or are all these persons spiritually regenerated? I cannot believe that he is capable of such a misinterpretation. Yet his argument implies it. I understand St. Paul to mean, that all who are partakers of the Holy Spirit, of which baptism is the outward sign, are united into one body, without any distinction of Jews or Gentiles, bond or free; and

I think it is the general explanation. Mr. Simeon applies these expressions to all the visible members of Christ's body, and refers to 1 Cor. xii. 27: "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular:" taking for granted that these words," ye are the body of Christ," include all who profess faith in Christ; which I do not admit, since the persons addressed by St. Paul, in this Epistle, are those of whom the Apostle declared, in chap. i., that Christ would confirm them blameless unto the end.

In 1 Cor. x. 1-4, St. Paul, speaking of the whole nation of Israel, says, "They were all baptized unto Moses, and all drank of that spiritual rock, and that rock was Christ." Mr. Simeon does not shew the application of this passage to his purpose. The rock is called spiritual; but they were not all spiritual partakers of the waters that flowed from it. It is also said, that the rock was Christ, i. e. was a type of Christ, the source of living water. This is the only sense in which the rock was Christ. The form of expression is common in Scripture: "This bread is my body," i. e. typifies or represents my body.

In Gal. iii. 27, St. Paul speaks yet more strongly, says Mr. Sinieon: "As many of you as are baptized into Christ have put on Christ:" i. e. we are told, all that had been initiated into his religion by baptism had put on Christ. This phrase, of putting on Christ, occurs only twice; and its meaning in Rom. xiii. 14. is, the putting on the character, the virtues, and graces of Christ; in Gal. iii. 27, it is the putting on of his righteousness. And does Mr. Simeon imagine that all baptized persons are clothed with Christ's righteousness? Or does he think that the Apostle, in this verse, speaks of any but the spiritually baptized? Now it is very true that such persons have put on Christ; yet one may scruple the use of the passage where we thank God for having reCHRIST. OBSERY. No. 128.

generated the baptized person, uncertain as we are whether that person have been spiritually baptized.

St. Peter says (Acts ii. 38, 39.), "Repent, and be baptized, for the remission of sins." No doubt, the sins of him who repents and is baptized, are forgiven. But I wonder that Mr. Simeon should quote this passage; still more that he should produce from 1 Pet. iii. 21, a part of a verse, which, if quoted at length would have been at variance with his opinion: "Baptism doth now save us:" i. e. all baptized persons are saved, as all the persons in the ark were saved from the deluge. The Apostle, foreseeing such a perversion of his meaning, adds, "not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God." These words Mr. Simeon has not quoted. I have been much pleased with Grotius's note: "Non hic repudiat aquam, sed ostendit in baptismo quid præcipuum sit, docetque fidem interiorem exteriori professione dum quis baptizatur expressam id esse quod in baptismo nos salvos facit." Who would have expected that Grotius would be a more spiritual, as well as a more judicious, commentator on this place, than Mr. Simeon ?

Speaking of the barren or unfruit ful professor of Christianity, St. Peter says, "He hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." 2 Pet. i. 9. Does not this, says Mr. Simeon, very strongly countenance the idea, that the remission of our sins, as well as the regeneration of our souls, is an attendant on the baptismal rite?

That it is so in the case of believers, is not denied. But the question is, whether regeneration and remission constantly attend baptism; whether Simon Magus, e. g. was a partaker of regeneration and remission; whether in the case of an unfruitful member of the church; when it is said of such a one, that he was "purged from his old sins," nothing more is meant than a typi 3 S

cal purification. I again refer to Grotius's comment: " Non meminit, inquit, baptismi in quo professus fuit se vitia omnia velle deserere et spopondit se sanctè victurum."

[ocr errors]

My objection to Mr. Simeon is, that he attributes to the opus operatum the pardon of sin and the regeneration of the soul. Having communicated my remarks before the publication of his sermons, he inserted the note in p. 46: He does not mean to say, that the Apostle ascribed salvation to the opus operatum, the outward act of bap tism." I would ask, then, for what purpose he quoted from St. Peter, "Baptism doth now save us?" He was not contending with any who deny that baptism is a type of our salvation; but with those who cannot admit that the remission of our sins, as well as the regeneration of our souls, is a constant attendant on the baptismal rite. "He only meant to say, that, in reference to these subjects, the Apostle did use a language very similar to that in our Liturgy." Allowing a resemblance in the language, there is an important difference in its application. The hope expressed by our church, that all who die in her communion rest in Christ, &c., has a resemblance to St. Paul's declaration of his confidence that he which had begun a good work in the Philippians, would perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ," even," said he, " as it is meet for me to think this of you all." The word all, in the burial service, is applied to many who never shewed any sign of grace, and, as far as we can judge, died in their sins. In St. Paul to the Philippians, by "you all" must be understood all the saints in Jesus Christ. If by

these words he had meant all visible members of the church, would he have expressed a confident hope that he which had begun a good work in them, would perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ? I think not, unless he judged them all to be true believers.

I cannot help thinking that Mr. Simeon, in his zeal for the perfection of the Liturgy, has undesignedly abandoned the genuine interpretation of Scripture. Thus he can reconcile himself to the idea, that the Apostle thanked "God for things which, if pressed to the utmost meaning of the words, might not be strictly true." (p. 46.) He probably alludes to Philip. i. 3, in which he has, however, not shewn that the Apostle has employed words which, if pressed to their utmost meaning, might not be strictly true.

Mr. Simeon has also, in my opinion, failed in his defence of the damnatory clauses of the Athanasian Creed; first, in supposing that the clauses at the beginning and the end, are stronger than that which occurs about the middle; and which he thus explains: He that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity. But the expression is, he must thus think: and therefore, if he do not, he cannot be saved. The Latin, ita sentiat, agrees with his interpretation; but what do we subscribe? Surely the English, not the Latin copy. Secondly, he thinks that the first clause relates not to the whole Creed, but only to the doctrine of the Trinity; and the last, only to the incarnation :-an opinion for which I see no good ground.


« PoprzedniaDalej »