Page images
PDF
EPUB

commended to others. He fell asleep in Jesus, and entered on the heavenly rest, within ten days after the Sabbath alluded to-on the 8th September 1802-being the thirty-fourth year of his ministry. He thus came to his grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in its season fully ripe.

a

Literature.

:

In every

Works Doctrinal and Practical of the Rev. Thomas Houston, D.D., Knock

bracken : in four vols. : Vols. III. and IV. Edinburgh : Andrew Elliot. To these volumes we accord the same warm commendation that was given to the first two, noticed by us some months ago. respect they are worthy companion-volumes to those which have preceded them; and the entire series, now completed, reflects the greatest credit upon their accomplished and indefatigable author. Treating in a style, at once pure and simple, forcible and elegant, of subjects of the most varied and interesting character, all having a very direct practical bearing upon the interests of religion in the individual, the family, the church, and the world, these works are eminently deserving of a much wider circulation than, we regret to think, they are likely to obtain in these days of boasted "progress" and “modern thought,” when the words of inspiration are being everywhere sadly verified—“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine." It is surely a significant sign of the times, and one to be deplored, that writings such as these, so admirably fitted to inform and elevate the mind, to enlarge and sanctify the heart, and to regulate the life, should meet with such a limited demand that the publishing of them is almost certain to be attended with pecuniary loss, while the latest three-volume novel, issued at double the price, and other productions equally ephemeral and unwholesome, can hardly be supplied fast enough to meet the growing, insatiable craving of the public for what is fictitious and sensational and more or less demoralizing.

The first of these volumes contains two distinct treatises, “ Christian Baptism" and "A Memorial of Covenanting." The former is one of the fullest and most satisfactory popular discussions of the subject of Baptism with which we are acquainted. Many of our readers are familiar with M'Crie's Lectures on the same important subject; but the work before us embraces a wider range of topics, and these it treats in a manner eminently adapted to edify and con

a

firm the faith of all who peruse it, and in particular to quicken Christian parents to a conscientious discharge of their solemn obligations, and lead the young to an improvement of the high and holy privilege of baptism. How exhaustive Dr. Houston's mode of treating the subject is will appear from the headings of the various chapters, which are as follows :-(1), The Sacraments of the Church ; (2), Institution of Baptism ; (3), Special ends of Christian Baptism ; (), The Doctrines exhibited in Baptism ; (5), Subjects of Baptism ; (6), The Mode and Place of Baptism ; (7), Preparation for Baptism ; (8), Engagements and Duties connected with Baptism ; (9), Christian Education; (10), Improvement of Baptism and Encouragements arising from Baptismal Dedication ; (11), Abuses of Baptism, Neglect, and Apostasy ; (12), Special directions to persons concerned in the Administration of Baptism ; (13), Salvation and Death of Infants ; Conclusion. A chapter invested with special interest at the present time is the long one devoted to the vitally important question of “ Christian Education," in which, while fully recognising the duty of the Christian State in the matter, the writer insists upon the obligation which rests upon parents and the Church, arising from the baptismal engagement, to see that a thorough Scriptural education be provided for the young, who are the Church's baptised members. In the last chapter, the delicate subject of the salvation of children dying in infancy, on which the anti-calvinism of the day so presumptuously dogmatises, is wisely and tenderly handled, in accordance with the principles expressed in the following sentences—“With reference to the salvation of infants, we must in this, as in every other case, bow implicitly to the authority of God speaking in His Word. Whatever information the Sacred Oracles communicate, whether by direct statement or by legitimate inference, we are bound to receive and cordially believe ; and where the Scriptures are silent we must be content to remain ignorant. To interpose in such a case our own theories, however plausible, or to embrace the sentiments of others, however pleasing or beautifully expressed, is presumption, intermeddling with what God has not seen fit to reveal, and seeking to be wise abcve what is written.” We are delighted to observe the announcement that Dr. Houston is preparing a similar treatise on “The Lord's Supper,” to be published as soon as a sufficient number of subscribers have been obtained.

The second part of Vol. III.-"A Memorial of Covenanting"-we have read with peculiar interest. It was first published about twenty years ago, the main design being to give an account of a renovation of National Covenants by the Reformed Pres an Church in Ireland, with the view of furthering a similar movement on the other

[ocr errors]

66

M

side of the Atlantic. The author, however, has not confined himself to a simple narrative of the proceedings on the interesting occasion, but has embraced the opportunity thus given him to traverse a much wider field. Accordingly, after an appropriate introduction, he presents, in the first chapter, “A condensed view of the nature of Covenanting;" in the second chapter he discusses “The doctrine of Covenant-obligation ;" in the third chapter he takes up “ The history, contents, and uses of the British Covenants ;” and in the next three chapters he treats of the “Continued obligation and renewal of the Covenants”—their “Renovation by the R. P. Church,” and in particular by the Synod in Ireland—and “The effects of Covenantrenovation, and the special duties incumbent on Covenanters." Then follow the “Confession of Sins,” the “Bond of Covenanting,” and a “ Lecture on the Solemn League and Covenant.” The idea of issuing such a “Memorial was a very happy one, and the form it has taken imparts to it a permanent value and importance which a bare narrative would not have possessed.

We observe with pleasure the warm acknowledgment made by Dr. Houston of the valuable works of some of the more recent fathers of our Church on the subject of Covenant-obligation. “Such truly eminent men,

,” he remarks, “as John Brown of Haddington, Dr. M'Crie, the historian of Knox and Melville, and Stevenson and Paxton, have emitted vindications of the doctrine of continued federal engagement, which opponents have never been able to answer, and they themselves willingly endured privations in maintaining this important doctrine.” Side by side with such vindications we rejoice to see placed the admirable work of Dr. Houston ; and it is much to be desired that they were all more widely known and candidly studied. If all who are really concerned for the highest well-being of our country in these perilous times could only be brought to consider calmly, seriously, and without prejudice, the questions of Covenant-obligation and Covenant-renovation in the light so fully shed upon them by these unanswered and unanswerable writings, might we not cherish the hope—the conviction—that the friends of Britain's Covenanted Reformation would not long remain so few.

The first half of Vol. IV. is entitled “Spiritual Consolation," and consists of, first, a brief, interesting sketch of the Life, Testimony, and Martyrdom of James Renwick, the last and not the least illustrious of the noble army of Scottish martyrs; and second, a collection of Renwick's “ Letters," which we need hardly say are full of “strong consolation " to sufferers for Christ's sake and the gospel's. The Letters are sixty in number, and are addressed chiefly to Sir Robert Hamilton. "Dr. Houston informs us that “the only edition of them

[ocr errors]

that has hitherto been published was edited by the Rev. John MMillan of Pentland, son of the Rev. John M Millan of Balmaghie, and was issued at Edinburgh in 1764—more than a century ago." In his preface, M.Millan writes of them in the following terms, which the present editor cordially endorses, as will all who peruse them :“As these 'Letters' need not human commendation, so neither will the detraction of any who are so disposed blast their reputationthey are above the one and despise the other. They will recommend themselves to all who have their senses exercised to discern good and evil, and who can savour the things that are of God. Whoever have any acquaintance with the sweet breathings of the Spirit of God, and have placed their satisfaction so entirely in the light of his countenance, lifted up upon their souls, that they cannot enjoy themselves when they do not enjoy God in Christ, will here find exemplified in an eminent manner, what a heaven the saints sometimes have, or may have on this side of glory.” We had marked one or two passages for quotation, which reminded us much of Rutherford, but we find we have not room for them.

“Spiritual Consolation” is followed by a condensed account of the life of the Rev. John Livingstone, to which is prefixed a very interesting historical introduction. And the volume ends with a seasonable and ably-written essay entitled “The Races,” in which the deplorable evils connected with the demoralising amusement of horse-racing are fully exposed and unsparingly denounced. It is truly lamentable to think that this debasing practice is not only patronised by multitudes of the highest in the land, as well as by the scum of society, but that it is largely supported by annual grants out of the national treasury. " If the whole amount of the money that is yearly expended in various ways on races in these countries were stated, it is believed it would far exceed all that is raised in the same period for supporting the ministry, building churches, for disseminating the Scriptures, and extending Christian missions over the world. The sums appropriated out of the national treasury for Queen's cups, and the contributions and subscriptions for prizes of other kinds at the races, form a large amount, which, if applied to some really useful purpose, would do incalculable good. As it is, this money is clearly a talent mis-spent and abused. It is applied to injure society in many ways, to promote wasteful and extravagant habits, and to destroy the property, morals, and happiness of vast numbers,—the victims of folly and vice.” Here is a matter for those reformers who are bent on schemes of disestablishment and disendowment! It might be as well if some of their zealous efforts were directed towards disestablishing and disendowing the race-course, and other vicious institutions hurtful to

[ocr errors]

morality, before they try their hands further upon our national protestantism.

We prize very highly these excellent works, and would rejoice to know of their being extensively circulated. And while sincerely congratulating their venerable author on the successful completion of his undertaking, we would express the hope that he may be spared for many years to carry on his important labours in the Church, and that he may be cheered and rewarded by receiving frequent testimony to the good that is being done by his valuable writings.

In the Days of thy Youth: Sermons on Practical Subjects, preached at

Marlborough College, from 1871 to 1876. By F. W. Farrar, D.D., F.R.S.,
Canon of Westminster, and late Master of Marlborough College. London:
Macmillan and Co., 1877.

[ocr errors]

It has become customary for the Head-master of an English school to publish to the world some of the sermons delivered from Sabbath to Sabbath to the boys under his care. Now that he has resigned the mastership of Marlborough College, Canon Farrar has followed in this matter the precedent set him by such men as Dr. Vaughan and Bishop Cotton. He gives us, under the appropriate title of “In the Days of thy Youth," a volume of the discourses addressed by him to the pupils of Marlborough. The book is one which will enhance the high reputation of its author. The sermons it contains are full of a hearty sympathy with the feelings and aspirations of boys—a sympathy which is mingled all through with a genuine and deeplyfelt concern for their best welfare. Dr. Farrar's acquaintance with boys is intimate and long-continued. In 1855, when he was still very young, he was appointed assistant-master in Harrow, and since then -in Harrow first of all, and then during the five years he was master of Marlborough—he has had ample opportunity of becoming conversant with their minds and thoughts. Some of our younger readers may be acquainted with one or other of his descriptions of school-" Eric, or Little by Little,” and “St. Winifred's, or the World of School.” We know of no pictures of School-life, with its hopes and dangers, better fitted than these to fill the mind of a boy with high and ennobling thoughts, with a love of what is good and a batred of all that is wicked and base. In this volume of sermons, written in that beautiful diction with which many have become familiar through the author's “Life of Christ,” there is much to admire, much that will do good to all into whose hands the volume may fall. As evidence of the variety and the appropriateness of the subjects from which Dr. Farrar addressed his boy audience, we give one or two of the titles of the

His first discourse after his inauguration as head-master is

sermons.

« PreviousContinue »