« PoprzedniaDalej »
word the heavens shall open and drop down the gentle rain, that the face of nature again may smile. In him rejoice, for his ways are everlasting. To him look, all ye ends of the earth, for he is nigh unto every one. The great deep praiseth him; the earth and all that therein is ; sun and moon, and all the stars of the firmament; fire and hail, clouds and vapours; stormy winds and tempests fulfilling his word. Then, who art thou, O man, that thou shouldest be silent?
. [Concluded from page 232.] IT is our lot, my brethren, to be called to the exercise of the ministry in an age of spiritual disorder. At no time, probably, were the two extremes of lukewarmness and enthusiasm (taking this latter word in its bad sense) more prevalent than at present; therefore, we at this time are peculiarly obliged to guard against them. The former tends to the utter and speedy destruction of religion and the latter, by the introduction of false principles, will infallibly (if it continues to prevail) bring about the same end.
A disbelief of the fundamental points of our faith, ignorance of the essential doctrines of Christianity, and of the nature and constitution of the Christian Church, with a desire to reduce every thing in religion to a level with the human understanding, are among the causes which produce this evil of lukewarmness in many persons : In others it is produced and confirmed by a life of dissipation: and it is also often a fruit of riches and luxury. It is an evil which presses on us, my reverend brethren; an evil we must combat, and endeavour to banish from our own hearts, and as far as possible from our cures, ere we can expect to see the prosperity of our portion in Zi. on; for the heart that is not warmed by devotion, and which will not be roused to the consideration of religious truths, must necessarily sink lower and lower. Every exercise of piety will be weari. some to it, and every remaining sense of religion soon be effaced from it.
And as on the one hand, we are to oppose the evil of lukewarmness; so on the other, we have need to stand prepared to defend our holy religion from the opposite extreme of enthusiasm.
It may be said that there is not the smallest danger to be apprehended from enthusiasm in our church, and I am ready to acknowledge that there is not much danger to be apprehended from this source, as far as I am enabled to judge, within the pale of our Church; but that the Church is in no danger from the exertions of enthusi. asts without, is what I cannot acknowledge; for enthusiasm has be. reaved her of thousands of her children, and is even now daily lead. ing numbers of them astray into the destructive paths of heresy and schism. Various are the shapes and appearances of this enthusi. asm which is alluded to, but none operates more to the prejudice of genuine religion, than that self-sufficient spirit which refuses submission to reguiarly constituted order, and places the conceits of fancy and caprice on a level with the institutions of Christ, and true end undoubted inspiration ; and which produces, not the fruit of pre.
'serving the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace and righteousness of life, but endless schisms, new communions, new modes of worship, and new ministerial offices, in opposition to such as are established by competent authority.
To repel the dangers arising from lukewarmness and enthusiasm, I can recommend no better means than for us all to unite, and put in practice the direction of St. Paul to Timothy Take heed unto thyself and to thy doctrine. For thus, proving to all around us that we are faithful as Christians, and zealous as Ministers, men will be Inore ready to account of us as the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God; and respecting us truly as such, will be the better disposed to receive and practise the instructions we give them. Let us then, my reverend brethren, set ourselves in earnest to the work, and exercise an holy zeal in order to stop the progress of these fatal evils.
To this purpose, let us first attend to ourselves; for nothing, my reverend brethren, gives an infidel or crafty zealot so much advan. tage against the Church, as being able to mark the foibles of her clergy. They pass by those exemplary divines who adorn their profession by their lives as well as their talents, and eagerly fasten on him whose conduct has the least tendency to bring a stain upon his holy calling. And, I conceive, it is not rash to say, that such a man does much more injury to the cause of our holy religion, than the labors of many pious clergymen will do good; especially in an age so captious and unsettled as the present. If the flock be disposed to quit the fold, and run after the voice of any one in the garb of a shepherd, who professes a great and glowing zeal for their welfare, like the false Apostles St. Paul speaks of, who opposed his ministry; what advantage doth such an intruder possess, when he can add to his own pretended solicitude for them, the shameful indifference and unpastoral conduct of their shepherd !
Some such characters it is to be feared may be found ; and it is a great cause of grief to think that there should exist an unfaithful, unfruitful, sensual, worldly minded minister of religion. Our blessed Lord informs us that offences, i. e. hindrances and impediments to religion, must needs come ; bilt woe, saith he, to that man by whom the offence cometh. How dreadfully accumulated then must that woc be, when the object of it is found in the service of the sanctuary, and placed as a guard to protect the altars of God. Alas! what must be the feelings of that unworthy minister of Christ, and steward of the mysteries of God, whose conscience tells him he is guilty of such offences !
Yes, my reverend brethren, the minister who expects to be es. teemed as such, and who hopes to make a proper impression on the hearts of his hearers, must shew by his conduct that he is himself deeply impressed with the truth and importance of those doctrines he delivers. If he has not a sincere faith, an unaffected sensibility of his own spiritual wants, a steady reliance on the sufficiency of God's grace, and an humble dependence on his mercies; and unless his life be led in correspondence with these principles, he will in vain endeavor to infuse them into the minds of others. He will have no
right to expect the blessing pronounced by the Apostle on him who converteth the sinner from the error of his way, and turneth many unto righteousness.
Let us then take heed unto ourselves, and endeavor to be as lights in a crooked and perversc generation; not only directing men in the right path, but going before them as practical guides, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, as ye have us for an example.
Let us, also, my reverend brethren, take heed to our doctrine.
This is a subject on which I shall not dwell, as I cannot suppose that my reverend brethren need any instruction thereon, in my powe er to give ; yet I will make one remark-The accusation has been urged against us, that the pulpit and the reading desk are too frequently at variance. I sincerely hope the reproach is unjust; yet we should certainly guard against deserving it ; for it has been made, not indeed, perhaps, in these express words, but in others, no less injurious to the cause of that religion we profess. It is asserted sometimes by the enemies of our Church, that we do not preach the gospel of Christ. In our devotions we profess to be what the scriptures constantly declare us to be, sinners, who have no health in ourselves; and who can only obtain the divine favour through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ. Our preaching, therefore, ougbt never to contradict our prayers, but to be in strict conformity to them; and while we have the principles of the doctrine of Christ so plainly set before us in our liturgy and articles, we need only take care that our instructions are agrecable to them, and we may be assured, that however our enemies may accuse us of not preaching the gospel, we shall be acquitted from the charge by our Chief Bishop and Pastor, the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In fine, the best defence we can make against the enemies of our Church and profession, and the most effectual reproof we can give to the usurpers of our office, is to guard our character by an ever increasing piety, an unadulterated faith, and an extensive charity; and of this charity, countenancing and flattering error is no part. Let us be uniformly exact in every part of our duty-firm and constant in our belief of those heavenly doctrines which the spirit of God has dictated, and exemplary in all our conduct. Let ambition, pride and avarice be far from us, and though it be lawful for us, as well as others, to desire the comforts and conveniences of life, let us convince mankind that our chief object is to advance the gospel, and promote its influence on the hearts of men. Let us üll seek to be, above all things, enriched with the gifts of the spirit, with primitive piety, and with simplicity of heart; that we may make daily progress in the great work and labour of love, which we have entrusted to us. . Would we all thus act, our Church would soon regain her original splendour--we should have the heart-felt joy of reflecting, that we were forming the minds of our hearers to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, so that when we should be called to give an account of our stewardship, we should be enabled to do it, with an assurance of receiving the blessing and approbation of our Divine Lord and Master.
And, my respected brethren of the laity, let us request you to strengthen our hands, by shewing that you are truly interested in the cause of religion. It should be the object of the leading members of our Church, by example and precept, to attach their less informed brethren to its constitution, worship, doctrine, and ministry; and to induce them to be firm and constant in their attendance on the ordinances and worship of the sanctuary.
The strict and conscientious performance of Christian duties, by the leading members of our Church, could not fail of quickly producing the happiest effects on the whole body of the Church; and in my mind, it is vain for us to expect to see that portion of our Lord's vineyard proper in our hands, which he has committed to our care, till our lives and our professions, our doctrines and our conduct, correspond.
To conclude-By the Providence of God we are this day assembled to consult upon the proper measures to be taken, for the furtherance of the holy cause we have in hand. May God vouchsafe to bless us : In all our proceedings may we preserve a single eye to his glory; and may our councils issue in such measures as will be productive of unity, peace, and concord, among ourselves; and the promotion of true and genuine piety in the hearts of all orders in our Church. To this end let us address the everlasting rnd ever blessed God, in that form of words adopted by the supreme ecclesiastical authority :
LET US PRAY. 6. ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who, by thy Holy Spirit, didst preside in the council of the blessed Apostles, and hast promised through thy Son, Jesus Christ, to be with thy Church to the end of the world, we beseech thee to be present with the council of thy Church here assembled in thy name and presence : save them from all error, ignorance, pride, and prejudice; and of thy great mercy, vouchsafe, we beseech thee, so to direct, sanctify and govern us, in our present work, by the mighty power of the Holy Ghost, that the comfortable-gospel of Christ may be truly preached, truly received, and truly followed, in all places, to the breaking down the kingdom of sin, satan, and death ; till at length the whole of the dispersed sheep, being gathered into one fold, shall become partakers. of everlasting life, through the merits and death of Jesus Christ our Saviour.--AMEN.
SKETCH OF THE LIFE AND CHARACTER OF
DOCTOR HAMMOND. THIS most learned and pious divine was the youngest son of Dr. John Hammond, physician to Henry, Prince of Wales, and was born at Chertsey in Surry, August 18, 1605; and so great was the esteem which that excellent prince had for the doctor, that he stood godfather to his son, and gave him his Christian name. By his mother's side he was descended from the learned Dr. Alexander Nowel, Dean of St. Paul's. He made so rapid a progress in the rudiments of learning, under his father, who was himself a profound scholar, as to be sent to Eton school while a mere child. Here his sweetness of temper and behaviour were so remarkable, that during
the whole time of his continuance, he was never engaged in any quarrel; and at the time allowed for play, he would frequently step away from his companions into places of privacy to say his prayers, Tokens these of his future pacific disposition and eminent piety. At the age of thirteen he was found qualified for the university, and was accordingly sent to Magdalen College, Oxford, where not long after he was chosen a demy, and as soon as his age would admit, was elected fellow.
On taking his first degree, he began to apply himself to the study of Divinity ; but on second thoughts he returned for a time to human learning, and when he resumed his purpose, instead of having recourse to modern systems, he thought it best to search for primi. tive truth in the primitive writers, in which course it were to be wished that all theological students would take him for an example. In 1629, being then 24 years of age, agreeable to the statutes of his college, he entered into holy orders, and shortly after took his degree of B. D. During the whole time of his abode in the university, he usually spent thirteen hours a day in his study, in consequence of which he not only became acquainted with all the sufficient systems of philosophy, but read over all the classic authors; and upon the more considerable, wrote, as he passed, scholia and emendations, and drew up indexes for his private use. In 1633, at the request of Dr. Frewen, the king's chaplain, he supplied his place at court, where he gave so much satisfaction to the Earl of Leicester, that he presented him to the rectory of Penshurst in Kent, which living was then void. We now turn with pleasure to contemplate the laborious student in his rural retirement, as an exemplary parish priest.
In the discharge of his ministerial duties, he was remarkably zealous and diligent. He preached constantly every Sunday, and took great pains in the composition of his discourses, not to refine them into elegant obscurity, or to decorate them with learned quotations, but to render them intelligible and instructive to the capacities of the most common of his hearers. He adopted the judicious custom of the pious Dr. John Donne, dean of St. Paul's, which was at the close of every Lord's day to fix upon a subject for his next discourse, by which means he had an entire week to collect his materials, and to arrange them in proper order. He did not, however, content himself with this ordinary course of his ministerial duty, but read pray. ers either in his house, or in Church, for his people, every day. His family concerns were superintended by his mother, who was a woman of primitive piety, and to whom he paid a more than common degree of filial obedience. The holy eucharist he administered once every month, though it had usually been celebrated only four times a year. The money received at the offertory he put into a common treasury, employing it for such charitable purposes as occurred. A considerable part of it was laid out in apprenticing poor children. But his own charities, arising out of his own income, were widely diffused, and as wisely regulated. For the relief of the poor he set apart a tenth of his income; and whatever losses he might sustain himself, still the indigent pensioners on his bounty had no reason to complain, for they were as punctually and fully relieved as if his