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FOR THE CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE. Mr. Editor,
I PROCURED a copy of the annexed Sermon from the reverend Preacher, who delivered it at the opening of the Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of Maryland. I take the liberty to request a place for it in your Magazine, in the hope that the sound truths which it contains will render it acceptable to your readers.
A SERMON, Preached at the opening of the Convention of the PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL
CHURCH, in the State of Maryland, on Tuesday, in Whitsun Week. June, 1806. By the Rev. John Kewley, Rector of Chester Parish, Kent county, Maryland.
I CORINTHIANS, iv. 1. Let a man 80 account of us, as of the Ministers of Christ, and Stew
ards of the mysteries of God. THE reflecting mind cannot fail of discovering in all the proceedings of God with man, the marks and characters of infinite wisdom and goodness. These glorious attributes eminently appear in that method of grace which he hath devised and executed for the purpose of making men acquainted with his will, of restoring them to his image and favour, and of making them eternally happy with him in the life to come.
While man retained his original rectitude and innocence, he could see and converse with his God, and live. God himself vouchsafed to be his instructor and guide. But when by disobedience he lost his primitive perfection, no longer was he capable of enjoying this glorious prerogative. The sight of God was too pure, too bright and dazzling for human eyes then to behold-his voice too tremendously awful for human ears to hear. No flesh could stand in his all-glorious presence; no pulse, but must have ceased to beat at the sound of his almighty voice. Therefore, in condescension to human frailtv, in compassion to human want, and in mercy to human misery, God in times past, spake unto our fathers through the medium of holy inspirations, visions, dreams, angelic messengers, and signs from heaven. In this manner he commissioned men, from time to time, to exercise the prophetic office, and to declare the purposes of his grace and mercy. Thus God from the beginning, gradually unfolded, through the instrumentality of men, divinely constituted his ministers, the designs of his wisdom, for the restoration of our fallen race.
Ever mindful of the human family, God in fullness of time, sent forth his only begotten son, by whom also he made the worlds, who was the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, to take our nature upon him, and to accomplish and perfect in that nature the redemption of mankind. He sent him forth to seal a covenant of grace and mercy between an offended God, and offending man with his own blood ; to publish to man the terms and conditions thereof; and to confirm and establish that covenant in his Church which
is his kingdom on earth. In the exercise of his divine commission, our blessed Lord appointed officers to transact the affairs of his spiritual kingdom in his name, and by his authority, and he determined the mode in which his kingdom should be supplied with a succession of officers and ministers, even till he shall come again in glory to receive the faithful observers of the covenant into everlasting habitations.
These officers are those persons whom the Apostle in our text calls the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. They are ambassadors of God, duly authorised to publish his holy word to man, and to whose declarations men are bound to pay attention. For Christ hath said unto them, he that heareth you, heareth me, and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me. They are stewards in God's househoid on earth, to distribute to each their portion of food in due season. To them is committed the ministry of God's word, and administration of his sacraments. It is their office to declare the terms of the cov. enant of grace, to admit to the external privileges thereof, and to perform and confirm all instituted federal acts between God and man. They are authorized to pronounce the pardon and absolution from sin in the name of Christ to the believing and obedient penitent, and on them also a duty is imposed of declaring God's judgments against the disobedient and impenitent. From Christ alone these powers can be derived ; and only in that order appointed either by himself or the ministry of his Apostles. The best and holiest of men, however high in office, or however great their civil power may be, cannot confer them; neither can popular prejudices, nor the erroneous, but too generally received notions respecting the Christian ministry; nor the sanction nor example of men professing the most exalted pi. ety, excuse any one from the guilt of sacrilege, or preserve him from the condemnation due to the gainsaying of Core, who presumes to set aside apostolic order, and to usurp, without a proper and valid appointment, the Episcopal, Priestly, or Diaconal office. • God is manifested to us both in the works of nature and in his holy word, as a God of order, and not of confusion. True religion has from the very beginning been conducted and conveyed from one gen. eration to another to another in an orderly manner, through a regular ministry or priesthood : And whenever any extraordinary mes. senger was sent, he was invested with the power of manifesting his mission, by some miraculous signs or operations. The order of priesthood, from Adam to Moses, was hereditatary in the first born son : Hence the profaneness of Esau in selling his birth-right. From Moses to Jesus Christ, a peculiar family was dedicated to the priest. ly office ; and during the apostolic age, that mode of conveying down the ministry of Christ's Church, was determined and fixed, which was to continue to the end of the world; which ministry is an hon. our, which no man taketh unto himself, but he that is called of God as was Aaron, • God, therefore, now as well as of old, communicates the blessings of his grace, and the knowledge of his will to the world, through the
ministry of men, who are separated to this work and office, agreeably to the instituted order; and who are accountable to him for the due discharge of the duties thereof. To such a ministry his spirit is promised, and to their ministrations graces are attached. But neither the assistance of his spirit, nor any other blessing, has he promised to usurpers of this office ; who like Korah, Dathan and Abiram, constitute themselves priests and ambassadors of God. Being led by a spirit which refuses to be tried by the rule of the spirit of truth, they are rebels against that order which Christ ordained; and which his Apostles, by the direction of the Holy Spirit, confirmed in the Church.
That we, my reverend brethren, are in possession of a ministry instituted by Christ and his Apostles, is what I conceive no protes tant either of the Episcopalian or Presbyterian denominations will deny. We having derived our orders from the British Bishops ; who are the acknowledged Bishops of a Church and nation, which took special care at the reformation to preserve that Episcopal succession, which she received with the Christian religion. This is a fact which is proved by the most authentic records.
Against the lawful and valid ministers of God's word and sacraments, a woe is denounced, if they preach not the gospel, or if they shun to declare the whole counsel of God. To them is applicable what was said to the prophet Ezekiel I have set thee, O Son of Man, a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked man, thou shalt surely die, if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn’the wicked of his way to turn from it ; if he do not turn fram his way, he shall die in his iniquity ; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
Highiy responsible then are we, my reverend brethren, to our chief Bishop, for the safety of the souls he hath committed to our care. Have we not therefore cause to be alarmed, when we see no improvement in the morals and manners of our flocks, nor benefits resulting from our labours. Surely on such occasions, we ought to be jealous of ourselves, and to be stirred up to greater exertions. We are indeed the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the myteries of God; and so ought we to be esteemed. But yet it is our duty to make full proof of our ministry, by speaking the things which become sound doctrine ; by building up the Church ; by defending her, as far as in us lies, from the attacks of her enemies; and by seeking the improvement and salvation of ourselves, and all who hear us.
All the truths of the gospel without exception are objects worthy of the consideration of Christians, and ought all to be proposed and explained by Christian ministers to their hearears. But yet there may be, and indeed are, occasions where it is necessary that some particular subjects should be more peculiarly and frequently enforced than others. Thus when in times past, certain sectaries maintained doctrines subversive of the obligations of morality; to coun?
teract their errors, it was deemed expedient to insist, in a more par. ticular manner, on the excellence of moral virtue. And should a doctrine be preached which tends to lead the people to suppose they can attain salvation without obedience to the positive institutions of Christ, it then would become the ministers of Christ to vindicate their injured master's wisdom; and shew that no one has any ground to expect salvation, who turns his back upon the ordinances of Christi and that no promise is made that a man shall attain the end of his calling, who wilfully neglects the means appointed to conduct him thereunto. :
When we observe the essential doctrines of our holy religion per: verted by misconstruction ; then, instead of concealing, or receding from any part of these doctrines delivered in scripture, we should be more diligent in exposing the popular errors respecting them ; and more frequently and strenuously enforce them in the true and genuine sense of the gospel. When, for instance, it is maintained, that man is justified by faith alone, the fruit of good works being either overlooked or disparaged, we should then insist more strongly that we are indeed justified by faith only ; but that this doctrine is not intended to signify that faith produces justification, in the manner that a charm or talisman is supposed to cure diseases, without any real virtue; but that faith includes obedience to the whole religion of Jesus Christ; and that belief and practice must be united to compose that genuine faith, which is the appointed means of justification; our own works or deservings being utterly unavailing to obtain it of themselves; and that the outward act considered indepentenly of the inward principle, from whence it proceeds, is as nothing in this affair. For whatever real value there may be in any action, must be derived from the motive, the intention and good disposition of the agent; a true justifying faith is that which worketh by love ; the genuine and necessary effects of which are repentance and every good work.
[To be continued.]
CASTELLIO'S TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE.
PSALM lvisi. 9. Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living and in his wrathHere there seems to be a confusion of ideas, and an obscurity through which hardly any meaning can be discerned. But according to Castellio, the sense is perfectly clear: As your pots which have not felt the thorns, so may they be bruised and vexed in wrath, The passage thus rendered becomes a simple and apt comparison, As earthern pots which have not been burnt, and consequently easi. ly broken, so may the wicked be demolished by one touch of God's displeasure. In confirmation of this rendering, it is worthy of remark, that the same comparison occurs in Psalm ii. 9-Thou shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
Again, Psalm Ixviii. 30. Rebuke the company of spearmen, the mul. titude of the bulls, with the calves of the people, till every one submit hemself with pieces of silver; scutler thou the people that delight in war.
Bulls and calves, are no doubt here used metaphorically for men; but still the figure appears to be unnaturally, and not very intelligi. bly applied. And besides this, what is to be understood by submitting themselves with pieces of money? It is certainly difficult to say. But Castellio, by turning the metaphor into a comparison, and giving the latter obscure phrase quite another sense, makes the whole clear and manifest. Rebuke the company of spearmen, the multitude of those who, being covered with much spoil of silver, are as bulls among the calves of the herd; scatter thou the people that delight in strife Here also we have an apt and striking similitude, representing the character of the unruly, the turbulent, and the ambitious; who to gratify their pride, and thirst of gain, stir up strife and contention, and as bulls amid the smaller herd, tyrannize over their weaker fel. low-men.
But whatever may be thought of the two foregoing instances, in what follows there can be no doubt where the reference is. Psalm lxxii. 16. There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains ; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon : and they of the city shall nourish like grass of the earth. To say the least, the expression is here aukward and flat, and but little worthy the dignity of the subject, which is David's prophetical panegyric on the reign of his son Solomon. But according to Castellio, the verse runs thụs; He shall be like handfuls of corn cast into the earth, whose fruit on the mountain's top waves like Lebanon, and the city shall flourish as the grass of the field. Thus we see the blessing of Solomon's reign depicted by a double, or rather triple similitude; an abundant crop of corn on a fruitful hill, waving in the wind, like the pines of Lebanon, and the city Jerusalem flourishing like the grass. These are beauties which at the utmost are but faintly discernible in our Bible translation ; scarcely have we a glimpse of this happy image of national prosperity.
THE CHRISTIAN'S FORTITUDE IN The guilty soul shallview with dread, THE HOUR OF DEATH.
The ghastly monster's fatal dart; WHY should my soul start back with While levell’d at his impious head, fear,
Immortal anguish strikes his heart. At the grim form of ghastly death? Not so the saint whose pardon'd guilt What tho the dreaded monster near, Inspires his breast with joys divine ; Should strike his dart and stop my The saint around whose fainting head, breath?
Immortal bliss and glory shine. My soul secur'd by sovoreign grace, This be my lot when death's cold hand . May death's worst terrors then defy: Shall seize this feeble mortal clay; May all its horrors boldly face, With joy I'd wait the great command,
Rejoice in life, nor dread to die. Nor in this prison wish to stay. Fir'd with the hopes of heav'n, I view With horror let the sinner die,
Its ten-fold horrors with disdain: And headlong, plunge into despair; My Saviour's death my hopes renew, My hopes, secur'd, shall reach the sky, Who spoil'd its sting, and left its And angels shout my spirit there! pain.