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To the Editor of the Christian Observer. To the Editor of the Christian Observer If it be not inconsistent with your Dryden's noble poem, the Religio plan to insert the following ode; Laici, is a two-edged weapon. Dr. written by Mr. J. Montgomery; i Marsh has cut with one of the edges: shall be much gratified by its ap- let us try the other. pearance in the Christian Observer. In tiines o’etgrown with rúst and ignorance, Though originally written with a A gainfal trade the clergy did advance ; view to celebrate the Royal British When want of learning kept the laymen low, System of Education, there is in the And none but priests were authorised to know; ode itself nothing which confines its When what small kvowledge was, in tliem application to that or any other plan And he a god who could but read and spell;
did dwell, for conveying instruction to the ig. The mother-church did mightily prevail; norant.
She parcelled out the Bible by retail;
To keep it in ber power tofdamn or save. “ Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore Scripture was scarce; and, as the market get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get
went, understanding.”—Prov. iv. 7.
Poor laymen took salvation on content, of all that live, and move, and breathe,
As needy men take money good or bad ;
God's word they bad uot, but the priest's they Man only rises o'er his birth; He looks above, around, beneath;
Yet whate'er false conveyances they made, At once the heir of heaven and earth.
The lawyer still was cerlain to be paid. Force, cunning, speed, which nature gave
In those dark times they learn'd their knack The various tribes throughout ber plan,
so well, Life to enjoy, froin death to save :
That by loug use they grew infallible. These are the lowest powers of man.
At last a knowing age began to inquire, From strength to strength he travels on;
If they the Book, or that did them inspire : He leaves the lingering brute behind;
And making narrower search, they found, And when a few short years are gone,
though late, He soars—a disembodied nind:
That what they thought the priests was their Beyond the grave, with hope sublime,
estate; Destined a nobler course to run,
Taught by the will produced, the written In his career the end of Time
word, Is but Eternity begun!
How long they had been cheated on record.
Then ev'ry man who saw the title fair, What guides hin in his high pursuit, Claim'd a child's part, and put in for a share :
Opens, illumines, cheers his way, Consulted soberly his private good, Discerns the immortal from the brute, And sav'd himselt as cheap as e'er he could.
God's image from the mould of clay? 'Tis knowledge :-knowledge to the soul The unletter'd Christian, who believ'd in Is power, and liberty, and peace;
gross, "And while celestial ages roll,
Plods on 10 heav'n, and ne'er is at a loss : The joys of knowledge shall increase. For the strait gate would be made straiter Hail to the glorious plan! that spreads Were not admitted there but men of wit. This light with universal beams,
The Book's a common largess to mankind, And through the human desert leads
Not more for them than ev'ry man design'd. Truth's living, pure, perpetual streams. The welcome news is in the better found; -Behold a new creation rise,
The carrier's not commissioned to expound; New spirit breathed into the clod,
It speaks itself; and what it does contain, Where'er the voice of wisdom cries,
In all things needful ou be kuown, is plain. "Man, know ibyself, and fear thy God?"
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
On the Discouragements and Supports hand of a mighty master.
If we of the Christian Vinister. A Dis do not see so much profound recourse, delivered to the Rev. James mark, yet we observé, what much Robertson, at his Ordination over better suits our own taste, more of the Independent Church at Stretton, that Christian wisdom which cannot Warwickshire. By Robert Hall. fail to instruct, of that zeal which Nottingham, Dowson: London, re-produces itself, of those pecuButton. 1812. pp. 58.
liar doctrines on which man's eter.
nal interests depend. And here we We are always glad to enlighten our are glad to fortify our own views pages with the luminous sentiments by the following pertinent obof this author, who, we conclude, servation of our author: “On prać-, is known to most of our readers, tical subjects, the most common Hitherto, indeed, he has been known thoughts are usually the most imto them chiefly as a defender of portant; and originality is the last the outworks of Christianity, endu- quality we seek for in advice : ed with an extraordinary share of an observation which, as far as the strength and skill, as well as couc properties of his own mind would rage; although, even in this capa. allow him, he illustrates by his city, we discern a wide difference practice in this very sermon, where between our author, and many who we observe much of what Johnson have preceded him in the same terms, quid applauds, “ as a voluntapath. His reasoning does not restry descent from the dignity of sciin mere speculation ; and his elo- ence." quence is that of a heart deeply im- Our author has treated separately, bued with the principles of truth. the discouragements and the supNow, however, he appears in a ports of the Christian minister: somewhat different character: from Under the head of the former, be defending the evidences of natural has distinguished between those disreligion, and hence confirming the couragements which arise from the truth of Christianity in general, be nature of the office itself, and those proceeds to a more explicit slate- which are produced by the varieties ment of its leading doctrines; and of temper, character, and situation after vindicating their importance, in a congregation. Among those his object is to shew in what way which arise from the nature of the these doctrines may be most skilo office, he states : First, that the fully employed in persuading men miods of men are naturally indislo accept the salvation revealed in posed to the reception of Divine the Gospel.
truth; secondly, that the very alIn this address, Mr. Hall has tempt to convince them of their stated, for the instruction of the mi- guilt will frequently excitę disgust; nisters of Christ in general, the thirdly, that even when men are “ discouragements and supports” once properly affected with religipeculiar to their profession; a sub- ous truth, it requires much pains to ject which he has treated with his preserve them from self-delusion usual felicity: and if he has de- and error. Under the second class scended nearer to the level of com- of discouragements, he refers genemon minds in this than in his for- rally to the different topics and mer publications, yet even in his modes of address necessary for the lowest descent we recognise the opposite characters which compose a congregation; and the difficulty of stating the difficulty of preserving preserving a due medium between even those who have made some personality on the one hand, and in- progress in religion from the oppodiscrimination on the other, and of site extremes either of presumption uniting in religious instruction the or despair, wisely remarks, that the requisite degree of seriousness and very consciousness of sin is often affection.
made an excuse for continuance in The supports by which these dis- it. Strange as it may seem, it is only couragements are to be surmounted, one of the many paradoxes which our author thus classes. 1st, The man in his present state exhibits, Christian ministry is of Divine insti- that the very tenderness of conscitution. 2dly, The materials of a ence, in minds of a peculiar stamp, is minister's work are ready furnished made subservient, not to its proper to bis hand, and are of a nature ad. purpose, that of detecting and subo mirably suited to his purpose.
his purpose. duing whatever is wrong, but to 3d!y, It is the dispensation of the that of cherishing a false sensibility, Spiril. And he closes his observa- in which conviction is substituted tions on this point, by adverting to for conversion, and the mere sense the farther encouragement which of our sins for victory over them. the faithful minister derives from We are afraid that cases of this the dignity of his profession, and kind are not uncommon. There the rich reward that awaits him. are, we believe, many persons of
Such is a hasty outline of this strong feelings and acute percepexcellent sermon, of which it is tions, whose notions of religion are pot one of the smallest recommen- tolerably correct, and who could not dations, that it embraces no point be satisfied without occasional and on which orthodox Christians of all even frequent examination of their denominations do not agree.! state before God, who yet live with
The first extract we shall give out any sensible progress in religious from it, will serve both to illustrate attainments, nay, almost without the author's view of that funda- any visible abatement even of those mental article of religion, original evils of which they are conscious, sin, and to afford a good specimen and which they sometimes conscienof the manner in wbich religious tiously deplore. The stated and sentiments may be conveyed, in special periods of prayer and selfplain, and at the same time polish examination recur; the mind is afed, language.
fected to sorrow, and even laments
under strong emotions its own de« The Gospel presupposes a charge officiences and aberrations; but this guilt; it assumes as an indubitable fact, the very sorrow, perhaps, only serves to universal apostacy of our race, and its con. sequent liability to perish under the stroke forsaken of God, and almost to re
induce the belief that they are not of the Divine anger; nor can you acquit yourself of the imputation of handling The concile them lo the recurrence of the word of God deceitfully, if, from false deli- same errors; under the false precacy, or mistaken tenderness, you neglect sumption, either that by the lastrathe frequent inculcation of this momentous lion of their tears those errors are truth. You will find it, however, no casy divested of half their guilt, and may matter to fasten the charge on the consci- be numbered among the pardonable ence ; which, when it seems to be admitted, weaknesses of a heart in the main will often amount to nothing more than a right with God; or that a time may vague and general acknowledgment, which leaves the heart quite unaffected. To con- lamented evils will at length issue
come when their sorrow for those vince effectually is, indeed, the work of a superior agent." pp. 8,9.
in that'" repentance unto life which
is not to be repented of,” but with The next passage we shall notice which these habitual deviations can is that in which the author, after
now scarcely be reconciled eren by themselves. But it is time that our render it impossible for him to escape by author should speak for himself on losing himself in the crowd. At the day of this point.
judgment, the attention excited by the sur“The conscience, roused to a just sense of rounding scene, the strange aspect of nature, the danger to which the sinner is exposed the dissolution of the elenients, and the last by his violation of the laws of God, is apt to tramp will hare.no other effect than to derive consolation from this very uneasiness;
cause the reflections of the sinner to return by which means it is possible that the alarm, with a more overwhelming tide on his own which is chiefly valuable on account of its character, his sentence, his unchanging des. lendency to produce a consent to the over- tiny; and, amid the innumerable millions tures of the Gospel, may ultimately lull the
who surround him, he will mourn apart. It mind into a deceitfnl repose. The number is thus the Christian minister should endeawe fear, is not small, of those, who, though
vour to prepare the tribunal of conscience, they have never experienced & saving and turn the eyes of every one of his hearers change, are yet under no apprehensioos se
on himself." pp. 16–18. specting their state, merely because they can
The following just and ingenious remember the time when they felt poignarit observations on composition we reconvictions. Mistaking what are usually the commend to the altention of all preliminary steps to conversion, for conversion itself, they deduce from their former
preachers of the Gospel.
apprehensions an antidote against present fears; “May I be permitted to remark, though and from past prognostics of danger, an it seem a digression, that in the mode of omen of their future safety. With persons conducting our public ministrations, we are, of this description the Hashes of a superficial perlaps, 100 formal and mechanical; that, joy, arising from a presuinption of being als in the distribution of the maller of our serready pardoned, accompanied with some mons, we indulge 100 lilile variety, and exslight and transient relishes of the word of posing our plan in all its parts, abate the God, are substituted for that new birth, and edge of curiosily, by enabling the hearer to that lively trust in the Redeemer, to which anticipate what we intend to advance. Why the promise of salvation inseparably be. should that force which surprise gives to longs,” pp. 11, 12.
every emotion, derived from just and affectIn a subsequent passage, the author, ing sentiments
, be banished from the pulpit, while he justly reprobates all that when it is found of such moment in every inay be deenied personal in addresses other kind of public address. I cannot but from the pulpit
, thus strongly and imagine the first preachers of the Gospel pointedly enforces the necessity of appeared before their audience with a more introducing such delineations of with the narrow trammels to which, in these
free and unfettered air, than is consistent character as shall serve to display latter ages, discourses from the pulpit are each man to himself.
contined. The sublime emotions with which "A loose and indiscriminate magner of they were fraughi, would have rendered applying the promises and threatenings of thein impatient of such restrictions; nor the Gospel, is ill-judged and peruicious; it could they suffer the impetuous stream of is not possible to conceive a more effectual argument, expostulation, and pathos, to be juethod of depriving the sword of the Spirit weakened, by diverting it into the artificial of iis edge, than adopting that lax geuerality reservoirs, prepared in the heads and partiof representation, which leaves its hearer no- culars of a modern sermon. Method, we thing to apply, presents no incentive to self- are aware, is an essential ingredieut in every examination, and, besides its utter inefficiene discourse designed for the instruction of cy, disgusts by the ignorance of human mankind, but it ought never to force itself nature, or the disregard to its best interests, on the attention as an object apart; never it infallibly betrays. Without descending to appear to be an end, instead of an instru. such a minute specification of circumstances, ment; or beget a suspicion of the sentiments as shall make our addresses personal, they being introduced for the sake of the method, ought unquestionably to be characteristic, not the method for the sentiraents. Let the that the conscience of the audience may feel experiment be tried on sonse of tbe best spethe hand of the preacher searching it, and cimens of ancient eloquence; let an oration every individual know where to class him- of Cicero or Demosthenes be stretched upon self. The preacher who aims at doing good a Proct ustes' bed of this sort, and, if I ato will endeavour, above all things, to insulate not greatly mistaken, the frame and enthu. lis hearers, to place each of them apart, and siasm wbich have excited admisation in all apes, will instantly evaporate: yet no one a fool is the priest, and folly the perceives a want of method in these immor- oblation." The mind which in tal compositions, por can any thing be con- preaching could fall into a strain ceived more remote from incoherent rhap like this, myst view the awful realsody." pp. 19, 20.
ities of another world through a On this passage, however, we medium to which our sight cannot would remark, that, after all, it be adjust itself, Jongs, perhaps, only to a few minds
Another offence, scarcely less to of a superior description to treat a be condemned in ministers of the subject with perspicuity and consis- Gospel, is the useless and pedantic tency unless they are confined within display of learning, which justly
the limits of prescribed divisions; excites a suspicion that Christianity and that the majority of our congre. is viewed more as a mere exercise gations, whose minds have scarcely of the understanding, than as a sy: escaped, if ever to escape, from the stem of which the maio object is 10 nursery of instruction, require all save the soul from impending ruin, the aid of such leading-strings to And it is curious to remark, with prevent their ideas from running in. what exultation infidels have exio confusion, and to enable them to posed defects of this kind in the incomprehend the scope of a serinon. judicious advocates of the Gospel,
On the subject of seriousness, as a who display, not their tenets, but grand requisite in preaching, the themselves ; and have thence taken author has not only considered "jest- occasion to involve in one sweeping ing and undisguised levity" of any condemnation, the sincerity of the kind, as a breach of that sobriety advocate, and the truth of his creed. which becomes the Christian mini. Even Rousseau complains to this ster, but has included under the same effect of the Christians of his day :censure, " whatever in composition "Qur libraries are full of books of or manner is inconsistent with the divinity, and we are every where supposition of the speaker being in over-run with casuists. Formerly, earnest; such as sparkling orna. we had saints, but no casuists. ments, far-fetched images, and that Science extends itself, and reliexuberance of flowers which seems gion decays. All the world are evidently designed 10 gratify the for teaching how to act well, but fancy rather than touch the heart.” nobody is willing to learn. We
- We need scarcely say how much are, in fact, all become scholars, and we coincide with the author, in the have ceased to be Christians*." judgment he has expressed on this --And in another place he thus point. There can be no doubt, writes : “ No, it was not by means that levity of any kind, on an occa- of so much artifice and study, that .sion so solemn as that which has the Gospel spread itself over the for its object the salvation of the universe, and that its captivating soul, cannot fail to bring into ques- beauty penetrated the hearts of men. tion the sincerity of the preacher. This divine book, the only one neWho, for example, can believe that cessary for Christians, and the most the ingenious South, notwithstand. useful even to those who are not, ing the general correctness of his need only to be read and reflected doctrine, the force of his arguments, on, to inspire the soul with a love and the nicety of his discriminations, of its Author, and a desire to obey could have felt a deep interest in its precepts. Never did. virtue the truths, he preached, when, after speak in so pleasing a style; never - attempting to prove, that devotional was profound wisdom' espressed exercises in which the heart is not with so much energy and simpliinterested, are the “ sacrifice of city. It is impossible to give over fools," he adds, " and God is never more
Weary of sacrifice than when * Essay on the Sciences,