Page images

all its affecting accompaniments of re- the senses, we should conceive death to morse, and agony, and despair? Death, be utter annihilation. But distinct from my friends, gives the lie to all such spe- the death of the body, there is what may culations of all such moralists; but it only be called the death of the soul -- not a gives evidence and consistency to the death which consists in the extinction of statements of the gospel. The doctrines its consciousness, for the consciousness of of the New Testament will bear to be guilt will keep by it for ever-not a death confronted with the lessons of experience. which implies the cessation of feeling, for They attempt no relaxment, and no pal- that feeling will continue to the last,though liation—they announce the truth in all its the feeling of intensest suffering—not a sevezty; nor do they attempt to strew death by which all sense of God will be flowers around the sepulchre, or throw a expunged, for the sense of God's offended deceitful perfume into the rottenness of countenance will prey upon it and agonize the grave.

Were a physician to take up it through all eternity. He who undermy case, and speak lightly of my ailment, goes this second—this spiritual death, while I knew that a consuming disease does not thereby cease to have life, but was lurking and making progress within he ceases to have the favour of God, me, I should have no confidence in him which is better than life he lives, it is or in his remedies. I should like him to true, but it is the life of an exile from see the malady in its full extent, that the hope and from happiness--he lives, but medicine applied may be such as to meet it is in a state of hopeless distance from and to combat with it. Now, Christ, the the fountain of living waters. God is at physician of souls, has taken up our dis- enmity towards him, and in his own heart ease in all its magnitude. There is no there is enmity towards God. This, at covering or concealment thrown over it. least, is the death of all enjoyment; it is Their account of death accords with our the death of every thi which belongs experience of it. What they tell us of to a right moral state of existence. In death is just what we feel it to be. Not this sense verily the soul is dead, though that thing of triumph, to those void of alive, most perfectly alive, to the corroChristianity and beyond the circle of its sions of the worm that never dies;-in influence, that nature says, but a thing of this sense there has been a quenching of distress, and horror, and unnatural vio- its life, though all awake to the scorchlence. He who is weak enough to be ings of that fire which is never quenched. carried away by the false and flimsy re- Temporal death in such a case is only the presentations of sentimentalism, must be portal to sorer calamities. All who sin led to believe that each man who dies is shall die-but this is not the conclusion only sinking gradually to repose, or wing- of the sentence—but all who die in sin ing his way to an ethereal world. But shall live in torment. Now it promises the Bible talks to us of the sting, and well for our Saviour's treatment of this pangs, and terrors of death ; and what we sore malady, that he hath, as it were, feel of the shrinking of nature, proves placed himself at the source of the misthat it has experience upon its side. And chief, and then made head against it. He those passages are particularly deserving hath combated the radical force and viruour attention in which death is spoken of lence of the disease—he hath probed it to in its moral and spiritual bearings. Death, the bottom, and has grappled with sin in as it appears to the eye of the senses, is its origin and in its principle—he has but the extinction of the life that we now taken it away; for, by the sacrifice of live in the world; but that death which himself upon the accursed tree, he has is revealed to us in the gospel is the effect expiated its guilt, and by the operation and consequence of sin—sin is the root of the Spirit in the heart of the believer of the mischief, and it is a mischief which he is rooting out its existence. Had he Scripture represents as stretching in mag- only put together the fragments of my nitude and duration far beyond the ken of body, and recalled the soul to its former the seases. Had we no other ken than tenement, he should have done nothing

sin, both in its power and condemnation, s petent to awaken this. It loosens the would have claimed me as its own, and spirit's bondage by transforming the asin appalling banishment from Godit should pect of the divinity from the face of an have stepped in with an immortality, but enemy to that of a friend—it changes the an immortality of despair. But the au- sinner's hatred into love; and this affecthor of the gospel has swept off the whole tion, from the central, the commanding tribe of combatants, and has made a deci- place, which it occupies, subordinates the sive charge at the very heart and princi- whole man, and so utterly changes his ple of the disease.

moral system, as to make a new creature To estimate aright the new moral ex- of him. The faith of the gospel is someistence into which Christ ushers every thing more than the formation of a new sinner who receives him, we have only habit-it is the germ of a new heart, and to reflect for a moment on that state of so of a new character. The believer's distance and alienation from which He sensibilities are now awakened to objects emancipates him. Formerly the man to which before he was morally dead. In was either immersed in deepest oblivion other words, he now becomes alive to and unconcern, in reference to that Be- other objects, he expatiates on a new ing who made all and who upholds all, theatre of contemplation, and he rejoices or, if his conscience be at all awake to a in other scenes and in other prospects true sense of the holiness of the law, he than before; he has lost his relish for must view the lawgiver with feelings of what he formerly delighted in, and he dread, and discouragement, and jealousy. now delights in what he formerly had no There is a wide field of alienation be delight; if he is not ushered into life for tween him and his Maker, and the fear- the first time, he is at least ushered into ful apprehensions of God's displeasure a new state of things he undergoes pretowards him engender in him back again ferment from the animal to the spiritual additional dislike towards God. There life; and this life, with the immortality is no community of affection or fondness for which it is a preparation, is not only between them; and pierced as he is by a made clear by the gospel, but faith in the conviction of guilt which he cannot es- gospel may be said to have created it. cape from, he imagines a scowl on the Now all this is the doing of the Saaspect of the Divinity-an awful barrier viour. He has fully exposed the disease, of separation by which he is hopelessly and he has brought to it a radical cure. and irrecoverably exiled from the sacred I cannot trust the physician who dwells presence of the Eternal. His Spirit is upon the surface of my disease, and not at ease—he is glad to find relief, in throws over it the disguise of false cothe day-dreams of a busy world, from louring. I have more confidence to put those solemn realities, the thought of in him, who, like Christ, the physician which so often disquiets him; it seeks an of my soul, has looked the malady fairly opiate in the things of sense and of time, in the face—has taken it up in all its exagainst the disturbance which it finds in tent and in all its soreness—has resolved the things of eternity; and so cradled is it into its original principles-has probed he in this profoundest lethargy, that it to the very bottom, and has set himself while alive unto the world, he is dead forward to combat with the radical eleunto God.

ments of the disease. This is what our We cannot imagine a greater revolution Saviour has done with death—he hath in the heart than that which is produced bereaved it of its sting—he has taken a upon this distrust or apathy being done full survey of the corruption, and met it away. When, instead of viewing God in every one quarter where its malignity with fear, or shrinking from the thought appeared. It was sin which caused the of him, the sinner can calmly gaze on his disease, and he hath extricated it-he reconciled countenance, and be assured of hath put it away—he hath expiated the the complacency and good will that are sentence—and the believer, rejoicing in graven thereupon. Now, a simple faith the sense that all is clear with God, serves in the glad tidings of the gospel is com- him without fear, in righteousness and

holiness, all the days of his life. The sustains him, it is the merit of the exalted sentence is no longer against us; we be- Saviour. It is not a sense of his own hold the Saviour, and the sentence upon righteousness that gives peace to his conhimself—" he bore our iniquities in his science, it is the righteousness of Christ; own body on the tree"_" he who knew it is a hope of being found in him, and a no sin became sin for us, that we might sense of the forgiveness which he has rebe made the righteousness of God in ceived through his hand. In a word, it him.” The sentence is no longer in force is Christ who resolves the mystery ; it is against us, as the Saviour has cancelled his presence that pours tranquillity and it. He has done more than this—he has joy among such scenes of distress; it is not only cancelled the guilt of sin, he has he who dispenses fortitude to the dying destroyed its power-he reigns in the man; and while despair sits on every heart of the believer-he sweeps it of all countenance, and relations are weeping its corruptions—he takes it up as it is around him, he enables him to leave them he makes it such as it should be he all with this exulting testimony, “0. brings the whole man under a thorough death, where is thy sting! O grave, process of sanctification, so that while he where is thy victory!" lives, he adds one Christian grace unto While we hold out this triumphant another—when he dies, he rejoices in prospect to those who entertain the overhope of the coming glory—when he stands tures of reconciliation, we would urge all, at the bar of judgment, he is presented even those who have not yet been visited holy and unblamable in the sight of with a spirit of concern and inquiry, to God and his Saviour. In the whole of bestow one single thought on the great his treatment, I see the skill, and intelli- practical importance of the subject. The gence, and superior conduct of a physi- very sound of such words as life and death, cian, who is up to the disease, and knows judgment and immortality, should reduce where the force of its malignity lies— you to sacredness-should set you to the who has a thorough insight into the pro- work of serious reflection on this subject. perties of the mischief, and has reached We have the vantage ground of your own forth an adequate remedy to counteract it experience on which to stand while we -who to abolish death, has directed the endeavour thus to urge you. For your strength of his attack against sin, which experience at least tells you thus muchis its origin—who has averted the con- that the time that is past, when you look demnation of sin, by an expiatory sacri- back to it, appears as if it were nothing; fice and who has destroyed its power and you may believe from this, that the and influence by the operations of that time which is to come, will come a3 mighty Spirit, whereby he can break quickly, and appear as little, and as undown the corruptions of the human heart, worthy to be suffered to tempt you away and subdue it unto himself.

from eternity by its pleasures, which are This is no matter of mere idle declama- but for a season, as the period of your life tion; there is many a minister of Christ that is already gone. The very moment who could give you experience for it. of your final farewell, if you are not preHe can take you to the house of mourn- viously cut short by death, which is a ing, to the chamber of the dying man. very possible thing, that moment will He can draw aside the curtain which come, and old age will come, and the last covers the last hours of the good man's sickness will come, and the dying bed existence, and show you how a good man will come, and the last look you shall can die. He can ask you to bend your ever cast upon your relations will come, ear, and catch the last faltering accents and the agony of the parting breath will of praise and piety. What meaneth that come, and the time that you will be joy in the midst of suffering—that hope stretched a lifeless corpse before the eyes in the midst of approaching dissolution of your weeping relations will come, and that elevation in the midst of cruelest the coffin that is to enclose you will come, agonies? It is not his own merit that I and that hour when the company assemVOL.1.-7


[ocr errors]


bles to carry you to the churchyard will the divinity class. Mr. Chalmers, lowcome, and that moment when you are put ever, did not neglect the peculiar studies into the grave will come, and the throw- more immediately requisite to qualify ing in of the earth upon it, all—all will him for the important and varied duties come on every living creature who now of the pastoral care. In due course he hears me.

And in a few little years the was licensed as a probationary preacher, minister who now addresses you, and and after serving a short time as an assisteach one who now listens, will be carried ant, he obtained a presentation to the to their long home: now all this will living of Kilmany, over which cure he

Yes, and the day of reckon- was regularly placed in 1802. This is a ing will come; and the appearance of considerable port town on the northern the Son of God in heaven, and his shore of the Frith of Forth; which, from holy angels around him will come; and its situation, afforded ample scope for the opening of the books will come; and ministerial diligence. Mr. Chalmers the appearance of every one of you before spent some years here, without attracting the judgment-seat will come; and the any particular notice beyond the bounds solemn passing of the sentence which is of his parish, or producing any visible to fix you for eternity will come; and if reformation in it upon the principles and you refuse to be reconciled to God in the manners of the people. His studies in name of Christ, now that he is beseech- fact were more directed to political econoing you to repent, and if you refuse to my than to practical theology; as his first turn from the evil of your ways, and to literary performance evinced. It will do and to be what your Saviour requires seem extraordinary to most persons, that you to be and to do, I must tell you what a man of learning, regularly educated for the sentence is, “ Depart from mu, ye the ministry, and holding a benefice cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for in such a country as Scotland, should the devil and his angels."

have the spirit of religion to acquire,

after exercising the teacher's office in a TEE PULPIT GALLERY.

large parish for some years. The case
however, though truly lamentable, is by
no means singular. During a course of

study on several branches of theology, THE REV. THOMAS CHALMERS, D.D.

connected with certain articles which he Professor of Divinity in the University of had engaged to write for an EneyclopæEdinburgh.

dia projected by Dr. Brewster, he began

to suspect the correctness of his former “ A warrior in the Christian field

views of the Christian religion. In fol. Who never saw the sword he could not wield." lowing up this doubt, he soon discovered


the reason why his preaching against

vice had been so inefficacious. At kilThis celebrated ornament of the church many he laboured for more than twelve and of letters is a native of the county of years, and after his removal to Glasgow, Fife, Scotland, where his ancestors have where he had been invited to take charge long been distinguished and respected as of the Zion church, he published an adsubstantial agriculturists. After receiv- dress to his former parishioners, in which ing a grammatical education in the coun- he gave an account of the great change try, he removed to the college of Edin- that occurred in his ministerial conduct burgh, where he was marked as a diligent while resident among them. After minstudent; but did not evince any extraor- istering at the Zion church about three dinary vigour of intellect. Though des- years, Dr. Chalmers was transferred to tined for the ministerial office, he rather the more extensive charge of St. John's preferred the lectures of Professor Robi-parish, in Glasgow, where he continued son, who filled the mathematical chair, to to labour with the most beneficial effect those of Dr. Hunter, who presided over for several years, until he accepted the

NO, I.

chair of moral philosophy in the Univer- gifted and most powerful men, raised up sity of St. Andrew's, from whence he and qualified for great service to the was removed in 1828 to the professorship church of Christ; but they are very difof divinity at Edinburgh.

ferent in their style and character of mind. The popularity of this eminent divine As to the use of the English language is not an ephemeral admiration, gained and purity of composition, Mr. Hall, the by the art of an insinuating address, or most elegant writer of his day, stands the glare of a specious eloquence. His confessedly vastly superior to Dr. Chalappearance in the pulpit is rather repul- mers, whose corruptions, neglects, invensive than inviting. The inflexibility of tions, and bad taste, make his finest dishis features—his small pale eyes nearly courses at times unintelligible. But this half elosed_his tone, at the commence- is an introductory and very inferior point ment, low, and almost drawling—his As to power of mind, I should think Dr. utterance, naturally rough, made much Chalmers the more daring and vigorous, more so by his broad Scotch accent-his and Mr. Hall the more delicate and acute gesture, though earnest, not remarkably reasoner. Dr. Chalmers is bold; Mr. expressive-his action, often inelegant Hall beautiful. Dr. Chalmers seizes and unappropriate, may almost prejudice one idea, which he expands by amplifia stranger against him. But he must be cation and reiteration through a discourse; a very superficial observer, a very care- Mr. Hall combines and works up a less and insensible hearer, whose atten- variety of arguments in support of his tion is not soon arrested and fixed. The topic; never loses sight of his point; eye kindling into unusual brilliancy-the touches every subject briefly, and with countenance beaming with intelligence, exquisite taste; and leaves an impression the whole man labouring to give utterance upon the mind more soft, more pleasing, to mighty conceptions :-all force the but perhaps not much less powerful, than hearer to confess the preacher's power, his great contemporary. Dr. Chalmers and to feel that he is in the presence of a gives only one or two projecting truths, master-spirit of the age.

and leaves his subject confessedly incomThe forte of Dr. Chalmers is generally plete : his sermons are composed of many thought to be in his mighty power for separate thoughts slightly linked to one illustrating the external and internal evi- another; and like the reaches in the madences of Christianity, and the identity jestic course of the Rhine, which succeed of the whole system with the principles each other by breaks, and expand upon of sound philosophy. From the pulpit the eye with extraordinary beauty when and through the press he has proved, most you enter them, but are succeeded by a clearly and triumphantly, that all which narrow flow of the stream at each interis sound and true in philosophy leads to val, his sermons are a succession of bold religion; that all which has a contrary and magnificent truths wrought out with tendency is, by the showing of philoso- strength, and then left by the preacher, phy herself, false and hollow.

that he may press on to the next mighty Having placed a portrait of Dr. Chal- | idea. Mr. Hall's sermons are a beautiful mers in our group at the commencement whole; less daring in the general parts, of this volume, and associated him with but more closely connected; coming on the late Rev. Robert Hall, we will close the mind with greater conviction, and this sketch by an article from the expanding his one important subject at "Church of Ireland Magazine,” in which once before the view; as the wide and these two eminent men are placed in juxta- fair lakes of Switzerland spread their position, written, it has been thought, by varied, and complete, and connected beauthe present bishop of Calcutta.

ties before the eye of the spectator. Dr. “ To compare Mr. Hall with ANO- Chalmers, in short, is more impassioned, THER SPLENDID Genius of our age, Dr. Mr. Hall more sublime; the one declaims, Chalmers, is a difficult, and perhaps an the other argues; the first storms the invidious task. They are both highly mind, the second charms it and unfolds all

« PreviousContinue »