Page images
[ocr errors]

however, of the mode of interpreta- enable us thus to interpret bis word, tion recommended in this volume is, anů graut us "a right judgment in inserted in the Appendix, is an ana. all things!" lysis of the Epistle to the Ephesians, and an analytical introduction to tbat to the Colossians, to which A Sermon, preached in the Parish we can now only refer our readers.

Church of Lancaster, on Thursday, We have, perhaps, dwelt some

August the 25th, A.D. 1814, at the what longer upon this publication,

Primary Visitation of the Right because we consider that at a time

| Rev. George Henry Lord Bislop when the most laudable zeal pre

of Chester, and published at the Vails amongst us for the distribution

Request of his Lordship and the of the Divine Records of our faith, it

Clergy. By THOMAS DUNHAM is peculiarly important, that correct

WHITAKER, LL. D. F.S. A., Vicar views respecting their meaning and

of Whalley, and Rector of Heyinterpretation should also be disse sham, in Lancashire, London: minated. There can be no doubt,

Murray. 1812. that errors of various kinds abound Ir we should form our opinion of upon this momentous subject. In visitation sermons in general, by. the course of our labours, it has many specimens which have come been our anxious endeavour to before us within the last few

years, correct them; and to point out we should be inclined to consider what, according to our bumble, yet them as of very doubtful utility. deliberate judgment, appears to be it has been too much the fashion io the true and scriptural method of convert the pulpit on such occasions interpretation. We are happy, into a theatre of Joose attack and therefore, in having an opportunity unprofitable discussion. We should of noticing a work which contaius be sorry to use the language of reso much valuable information and buke, and would on no account direction upon this important point, expose ourselves to the suspicion of and cordially recommend it to ge- uncharitable censure: but it is im. neral perusal. There appears to be, possible not to feel that some of at present, too general a disposition ihese sermons, and certain other to neglect the systematic study of compositions, which have been offi, the Bible; and to undervalue the cially addressed to the clergy in labours of learned and pious mien, particular districts, deserve little who have given their days and their commendation either for the sube this sacred work. But let jects on which they treat, or the us not be deceived, or mistake confi. spirit in which they are written. dence for superior illumination, or If we wished to collect examples of indolence for dependance on Divinę doctrines misunderstovu, of charges teaching. It is as true now as in misapplied, of assertions without the days of Solomon, that if we foundation, of most miserable con . expect to attain heavenly wisdom, fusion with respect to the tenets of we must seek for her as for silver, particular parties, and of statements and search for her as for bid trea- ridiculously absurd about some of bures, and that, in the study of the ibe institutious or events of the day, Sacred Oracles, we must not only we know full well ia wbat guarter pray for the Spirit of wisdom and to seek them; and we cannot but understanding, but bring to our aid lament that opportunities, which all the stores of knowledge which might be so valuable for the illus, we can collect, and accompany tration of great Christian principles, them with the spirit of experience and the enforcement of Cbristian, and discretion, " of love and of a duties, should ever be abusedlo in-. sound mind.”. May the great Au. flame bostility, and. 10 viglule, the thor and Source of truth hiinseil, sacredness of truth.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

It is with no ordinary feelings of when required to state, whether the satisfaction and pleasure, that we sun moved round the earth, or the turn from such discourses in the earth round the soa; " Sometimes very candid and powerful sermon of one, and sometimes the other." Dr, Whitaker. We have here the may be, that these effusions proceed production of a gentleman, a Chris only from one of these causes ; # sian, and a scholar; of one who is may be that they are the offspring accustomed to think much, and 10 of all combined. We have no he think well; who possesses know- sitation, however, to say, that nej

. jedge, and acuteness, and charity; ther singly nor conjoiully have they a man of clear views and of liberal any acquaintance with Ds. While • sentiments, who maintains his own aker.

principles with an evident convic To imagine that the principles tion of their truth, and in a spirit of and spirit of this sermou will appear moderation which is peculiarly va- in the same light to all readers as Jvable, because it is extremely rare. they do to ourselves, would be to If we should begin our observations suppose that misconception, and by stating what Mr. Whitaker's prejudice, and bigotry, are banished sermon does not contain, we should from the world. On some points

, say, that it deals out no invective the most honest and upright and against Dissenters ; that it does not devoted minds can never be brought aitempt to widen the divisions which to coincide; and, perhaps, if we vahappily prevail about charch go- should analyse every sentiment of vernment; that it does not exbibit this publication, we should be code to public scorn and contempt any strained to acknowledge that there order of men by the imputation of might be room for discussion beprinciples which they disavow and Iween the author and ourselves: but abbor. The reader will find in this we must add, that we could, in such address no vulgar declamation about a case, desire nothing better than to the horrors of Calvinism; no pro- conduct the argument in the spirie scription of persons, whom it is the and temper of which he has fur: fashion to reprobate under the title nished so good an example. of Evangelical Clergy, Schismatics The text is, Acts vii. 20. "Sirse within the Church, &c.; no wanton ye are brethren, why do ye wrong and unprovoked insults upon Bible one to another?" Societies; no canting and whining The preacher begins by a rapid about the dangers to be encountered sketch of the general benefits of by this Protestant Church, and this Christianity, as a rule of temper Christian State, on account of the on. and conduct, and proceeds by a fettered circulation of the Scriptures very easy and natural transition to of truth. No! should this article the rancour and fierceness wbich fall into tbe bands of any person men making profession of Christia whose delight is in dainties of that anity so often exhibit in debating or description, he must travel elsewhere. its principles. His object is, rather The author of the sermou before

to shew the disposition with which us belongs to a higher class of in- doctrines sbould be canvassed, that tellect. Whether it be poverty of to enlarge upon the doctrines them. matter, or bitterness of spirit, or the

selves: yet he justly considers it * mere imuncence of genuine folly, subservient to his plan, in state the which makes the pulpit' and the subject of a most important debate press groan under such precious lu- which for some years has agitated cubrations as have now been men. the Church of England. tioned, we cannot exactly decide :

"One great source of this evil," he old we should be disposed, on the ground

appears io have been with many of impartiality, 19 answer the, at least a very crude conception

, and words of a very young philosopher, comerse a very confused statement of the

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


[ocr errors]

question. Before you venture tn "attack 'shew something of his manner of Calvinist, said a prelate, Bisttop Horsley, reasoning. who to the infinite loss of theological learn ing is now no more : at least take time to appear to be revealed in insulated passages

If "any system of doctrines whicly may understand it. From iaattention to this fair of Holy Scripture, can clearly be proved 40 and fundamental canon of controversy, the be inconsistent with the moral attributes of principles of the debate have been perplex the Almighty, then are we warranted

ed, while the unskilful assailants under llais cluding, nay, we are bound to conclude that sweeping term, have attacked without dise tinction, 1st. The peculiarities really be be applied to the present subject, I would

our interpretation is wrong. Now as a test to longing to that system : 2dly. Some of the ask tliis plain question ; Supposing that the genuine doctrines of Christianity, which are everlasting destinies of a race of inferior received by Arminians thenselves; and Silly. inural agents were placed at the disposal of A load of imputed traslı which belongs only

a inan, what feelings would such a conduct, to the dregs of Antinomianism. « But the real peculiarities of the great conclusions would it lead 10, with respect 10

as these propositions suppose, excite; what theologian and profound seasouer, (for such his character as a just and merciful being? he was), who gave name to this systein, if One answer, and one ouly, can be retumed he may be permitted to state them for himself, are limited to the following proposia sumption in favour of any opinion ibat it has

to such a question, and it is no small pre tions.

the common sense and feeling of mankind " That, by a sovereign act of his will, the

on its side. But this analogy is attempted Almighty did from all eternity predestinale to be eluded by arguing, (and sorry I am io * certain portion of the human race to ever say that the opinion has received ioo much lasting happiness, without any antecedent countenance from theologians, untinctured respect to their future claracter und con with Calvinism), that ibe oral attributes of dact.

the Almighty are of two high avd truuseenda « That in the fulness of time he sent liis'

ant a nature to permit our reasoning from Son into the world, to offer himself as a these qualiljes, as they exist imperfectly in propitiatory sacrifice for the elect alone. ourselves, to the same qualities as they are Chat, whom he had predestined to happiness conceived to subsist with transcendant ex: as an end, he predestined to boliness as a cellence in the nature of the Supreme means. That in consequence he bestows

Being with the same limitation his grace and Holy

“ This, I fear, is equisalent to saying, that Spirit, as the instrumemal cause of faittio we can form no idea of the moral attributes re pentance, and obedience upon the elect.

of the Divinity whatever, an opinion in whichi Next, that grace is efficacious, a softer these reasoners will find themselves unwaterm for irresistible, whence it follows, that

sily symbolizing with Bolingbroke himself. the will of man is wholly passive in the woik.

" But I would ask, how we arrive at the ?" And lastly, that they who have once received this Divine gilt can never fall." conceptions we have of these attributes in

the Deity. Surely thus:--We experience

certain qualities in our own nature, very We have been much accustomed imperfect it is true, but still existing, which

we denominate justice and inercy. We dis-, to see these great questions settled cern palpable symptomas of the same qualiand concluded in the compass of a ties, though still ito a degree far short of few flippant pages. But this author perfection, in God's natural and moral go is a man of real learning and talent, vernnent of the present world. At the same! and does not, therefore, profess to time we are assured in the Word of Godis confute and overthrow with such that these attributes belong to his nature in hasty and sweeping decision: those, a degree absolutely perfeot. We are the in general, wbó talk loudest about ious therefore to acquire not adequate idens,

but the best which our limited understand demonstration, are the worst qualified to demonstrate. Mr. Whitaker ings can attain to, of these perfections; and

how is the process to be conducted? We contents himself with a few general begin with our own nature, analyse these reflections ; but they are 'weighty qualities as they exist in our own hearts, re: and judicious, and far more to the innve every imperfection (of wllich in our purpose than volumes of angry disa selves we discern so large a portioni), and pulation. The following exract will superadil to the whole an idea of invity. CHRIST. Odseky. No. 156.

15 r.

Pp. 2, 3.

On the moral attributes of the Deity, us, as a Governar, and, Judge, is we can only reason with safety in this analu clearly revealed. He will reyder to gical inethod, and the result must necessarily every man according to his works. be, that the ideas of these qualities in the He that believeth and is baptized, Divinity and in ourselves differ only in de shall be saved, and he that belier. gree; that, speaking in all humility, they eth not shall be damned. No anaare homogeneous in both, do not differ, that is, as time from space, or mercy from jus. logy can be drawn from the provis tice; anil consequently, that a conduct which dential dealings of the Almighty, we should instantly pronounce to be unjust while we continue upon earth, to and cruel in man, would in a much higher the case of future rewards and pudegree be liable to the same imputation in a nishments, and for this reason : being of whose nature we predicate infinite justice and goodness. But neither are we

“ The symptoms of irregularity, and arbi compelled to resort to this mode of defence trary appointment visible in the Divine ati by tře apparent sense of any considerable ministration at present; are parts of a terd. and connected portion of Holy Scripture." fectified at the last day, by that final act of

poral scheme only, and will be completely pr. 4,5.

distributire justice; when to whom much He proceeds, next, to consider the bath been committed, of him shall the more support wbich the Calvinistic sys- be asked! On the contrary, a previous and tem is supposed to derive from the arbitrary allotment of the final destinies of eighib and nioth chapter of the moral agents, is by the very terms incapable Epistle to the Romans; and con- of being rectified, aud in spite of all that tends, that the argument of St. Paul sophistry and subtlety cap urge, gives up has no reference to the personal and the Author of it (I use the expression with final acceptance or reprobation of humility and reverence, thoogli for the purs individuals. "It is certain, indeed, pose of removing the charge), to impostas that in some respects, the dispensa. and merciful Being." pp. 6, 7.

tions inconsistent with all our ideus of a just tions of God are strictly arbitrary, or dependent upon his sovereign Such is the reasoning of Dr. Wbit. will alone : thus be determines the aker on this abstruse subject. period in which we shall severally To us it appears, that not a exist, the country in which we shall little confusion arises on this subject, live, the constitution of the body, and especially in the explanation of and the general character of the the ninth chapter to the Romans, by miad: thus also, he confers upon notions radically erroneous with reone country many temporal or spi- spect to the Divine will. The Suritual privileges, which belong pot preme Being never acts upon a printo another. These and similar ap- ciple of caprice: the determinations pointments, are settled by the will of his will are according to the eter, of God, and are independent of nal laws of holiness and equity; they human interference. Such, accord- violate no 'rule of infinite wisdom ing to the reasoning of St. Paul, was and of infinite purity. When we the nature of the Divine proceedings read that he hath mercy on whom with respect to Jacob and Esau; the he will have mercy, and whom he language of the thirteenth verse, will he hardeneth, or leares to the (chap. ix.) does not apply to the hardness of their hearts, must we of persons of Jacob and Esad, but to necessity conclude that the words iheir posterity; and it has reference imply an arbitrary resolution, inde not to their eternal, but to their pendent of circunstances: He bas, temporal state. To these earthly laid down the terms on <wbieb alone dispensations it is, that the high he will have mercy. It is bis willia expressions of the Apostle must be receive the peniteat, as it is also bis: understood to refer; they are in- will--and it is just in both cases deed mysterious and incomprehen. in leave to their own devices them, sible. But with respect to the con- who, like Pharoah, are deliberately dition of a future world, the man-: impenitent. per in which God will deal with Let us now follow the reverend

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

author in his observations about the his Word;'must ever bave been left to con. human will. After confessing the jecture. This dreadful calamity has fallen obscurity and difficulty of the sub. with peculiar weight upon the will of mañ, as ject, he proceeds in these terms:

applied to spiritual' things. - What is the

extent of the slock which it has received by 1." In the first place, therefore, it must be the fall, whether in this single direction of observed that no small perplexity has arisen its powers it has been reduced to utter inacfrom the very terins of the dispute, de libero, tion, or what portiou, if any, of its general and de servo arbitrio; whereas had the energies it retains, 1 shall not now inquise. question been stated de arbitrio sive de nullo -Suffice it tỏ say, that since Arminians arhitrio, the controversy, would have pros

themselves consider the will of fallen man ceeded on its own merits. Since, if man as a distempered urgati, boll the's and their has the faculty of will at all, it must be free: alitagonists agree in the necessi!y of an bealfor in what does this quality consist, but in ing hand to restore it to the exercise of its the power of making elections, of chusing functions. In the nature and application of and rejecting; if, therefore, it have lost this the remedy, however, they are wholly at facully, it is not in a state of servitade, but issue: for while both admit that Divine grace of non-existence, at least, in a state of sus

must precede and excite the will to spiritual pended existence. One of the best of our objects as well us attend its progress, the puets, from inattention to the difference be. disciples of Augustine, whon in this article tween an abstract quality and a concrete

Calvin las implicitly followed, contend that being to which it belongs, has fallen into a the recipient is passive as a stock-that the confusion of ideas, which will precisely illus- will is moved by suinesling analogous to a trále ng queaning on the present subject ; mechanical impulsead, that it does is no * Obedient slumbers that can wake and degree co-operate in the workio iis weep: Now a sluinberer (the concrete) can facully cannot in strictness be said to exist awake, and continue to exist, though not

where it does nut act, it would have been in the state of a slumbérer; but of the ab

more ingenuous, as well as more consistent stract slumber it cannot be predicated that it to maintain at once, that the will of man has awakes at all. Ceasing in slumber, it ceases

no concern whatever in the work of justifito be. And ihus precisely, if the will is no cation--that, as it fad antecedently been longer in a condition to exercise its proper

aunihilated by sin, it was subsequently and functions, if it can no longer elect, chuse, wholly superseded by grtice:- Tuis, howă reject, it can with no proprieig be said to be

ever buld, would, at least, have been intelli in a state of bondage; it is becomie a non- gible.". pp. 7–9. entity.-Thus'much for the terms of the

“ Whalever disabilities have been incurred question. And with respect to the fact, by the will consequence of original or acThat we do really possess such a facultyi tual transgression, it is the first office of that a power neither mechanical nur corpo. grace to remove to restore that disordered real has an absolute command of every muy facally to its intermitted functions, that is, lo cle in the human bods, (une perhaps only restore it to its existence in the heart; and in excepted); that whatever may be allowed for consequence of that freedum which is necesa the operation of notives, we naturally refer sarily incident to the exercise of the will, to nothing, suspect nothing beyond this fa to accompany. it through the whole of its culty, as exercising a proper co-action over progress, and to prevent il, by its powerful its operations, we have the same evidence as yet resistible operations, from falling, su far of our own existence, namely, consciousness as is consistent with rural agency." p. 9o itself, one of those first principles ai wbick, The controversy on these points! if all bypothetical reasoning do not modesidy bas certainly been maintained with stop short, it will soon be lost in the maze of a sufbcient portion of acrimony :scepticism and error.

and the preacher therefore employs We are dealt withi, says Bishop Butler, the second part of his sermon to reas if we were free; therefore we are freean inference which if we attempt to 'evade,

commend a more peacefui and Chriswe are driven upon the impiety of admitting

tian spirit. " ibat man is deceived ni the constitution of Among the reasons wbich bave his nature by its Author. Every faculty, lended to aggravate the misehnet's! lowever, of that nature bears marks ot solie of religious debate, he adverts pars) great and original disorder ; the cause of ticularly to the spirit and Habiis of wlich, bad it not pleased God to reveal it in, the ages-tió superticjal reading and

OL2:: 1.7

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »