Page images
PDF
EPUB

these doctrines are introduced in their proper situation and connexion. They are brought forward as the appropriate and only support of Christian morality, and as perfectly dissinet from any mere civil and social principles of conduct. Earnest for those divine truths, by the combined and harmonious impression of which his own mind had been convinced, he shuns not to declare the whole counsel of God. Knowing also that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, he disdains the policy of those who, in order to secure its effectual reception, think it necessary to superadd some contrivance of their own. Aware, like St. Paul, of the unfounded prejudices which worldly minded men entertain against the doctrines of grace, he contents himself, like St. Paul, with bearing a simple and manly testimony against their objections. Regarding it probably as neither necessary nor advisable to follow them into the perplexities, in which their reasoning involved themselves, he proceeds to point out the necessary connexion between those doctrines and a holy life.

After observing that a man may know whether he is in the favour of God by ascertaining whether he have faith, he adds: • Some will ask, how shall we know whether we have faith and the spirit of God, or no. This thing may be known by the fruits, and by the works, and motions, that they shall perceive in their hearts. If they perceive that they be glad to hear God's word, to read it, to study it, be glad it goeth forward for God's glory only, do believe it to be true, and that God will perform and bring to pass all things promised or threatened in his word, that he will reward good men, and punish evil men in the world to come; if they shall perceive a readiness, a towardness to be obedient to do God's commandments, yea, to do it indeed for God only, to the uttermost of their power; if these things they perceive in themselves, they be sure signs that they be in the favour of God, have faith and the spirit of God, and shall have life everlasting.' pp. 40, 41.

It will of course be understood, that our general approbation of his writings and of the other articles in this work is not given without some grains of qualification; we do not undertake to maintain the truth of all the assertions, still less to prove their mutual consistency. In the following extract, we find the reformer's views of predestination stated in a manner, which most of those who hold the doctrine will approve.

Methinketh the Apostle doth speak these words, to stop the ungodly mouths of carnal men, which say; "If we be elected and chosen of God to immortal glory, what maketh matter what we do? Do what we will, we shall at the last come to that glory and bliss. If we be not chosen and predestinated to be saved, what skilleth of our works? They shall not profit us to obtain life everlasting in joy. If we do all the commandments, that God hath commanded to be done, at the end we shall be re

jected and damned, if we be not predestinated of God to be saved by Christ Jesus through faith." That no man should speak so ungodly, or reason with himself on this manner, and condemn good works, despise to live holily, and care not how he live, whether he keep God's commandments or no, St. Paul saith, that God hath elected and chosen us to be holy before him in love, that is to say, whosoever will be holy, and give themselves to serve God, to keep his commandments, to live a life pure and clean from all vice and sin, to believe in God, to trust Christ only to be his Saviour, Redeemer, Justifier, Deliverer from sin, death, hell, and eternal damnation, and give himself to love God above all things in this world, preferring God's glory above all earthly things, and to deserve good to every man, studying alway to seek the glory of God and the profit of other men, according to the will and pleasure of God, for whose sake only, good works, that God commandeth in Scripture, are to be done; which works they do, that be chosen and elected of God to eternal salvation. Who be elected of God to salvation, who be not, we cannot tell; but by the outward works that they do.

Signs of God's predestination are these. First, God of his goodness electeth, and chooseth whom he will, only of his mere mercy and goodness, without all the deservings of man; whom he hath elected, he calleth them for the most part by preaching of the Gospel, and by the hearing of the word of God, to faith in Christ Jesus: and through faith he justifieth them, forgiveth sins, and maketh them obedient to hear his word with gladness, to do that thing that God's word commandeth them to do in their state and calling. Wherefore, to hear the word of God with gladness, to believe it, to know that it is the mean by the which God hath ordained to bring to salvation them that believe, to order their lives according to the commandment of the word of God, to do all good works commanded in the Scriptures to the uttermost of their power, these be the signs of salvation.' pp. 30, 31.

All those that go not forward from virtue to virtue, and increase daily in virtue, (we may learn) not to be builded of God. For the building of Christ increaseth daily, and is made more and more the habitation and dwellingplace of God by the Holy Ghost, by whom they increase; which will not suffer them to be idle, unprofitable to others, or evil occupied; but moveth and stirreth always to do the will and pleasure of God, and suffereth not his to be idle or evil occupied.' pp. 76, 77.

From Latimer we have eleven entire Sermons, beside extracts. Seven of these form a commentary on the Lord's prayer. The composition is remarkably simple and unaffected, and the style of a very popular and attractive kind; there is no rhetorical management to excite extraordinary, interest, which yet his equable unpretending eloquence is generally sure to create. What eminently qualifies him for a public teacher, is his distinct view of the bearing and inAuence of religion upon every condition and occurrence of life. This faculty, joined to a happy genius, and an observant experienced mind, fills his exhortations with pointed and familiar illustrations. We shall introduce a few speci

mens of his style and sentiments; but his extensive acquaintance with scripture, which is common to most of the elder writers, the liveliness of his address, his gravity of advice, and solemnity of reproof, can be felt only from an unconfined and repeated perusal.

There be new spirits started up now of late, that say, after we have received the Spirit, we cannot sin. I will make but one argument. St. Paul had brought the Galatians to the profession of the faith, and left them in that state: they had received the Spirit once, but they sinned again, as he testified of them himself. He saith, "Ye did run well.” Ye were once in a right state; and again," Have ye received the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the righteousness of faith?" Once they had the spirit of faith, but false prophets came (when he was gone from them), and they plucked them clean away from all that Paul had planted them in; and then said Paul unto them, "Oh! foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?" If this be true, we may lose the Spirit, that we have once possessed. It is a fond thing, I will not tarry in it.' p. 434.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. In the petition afore, where we say, "Forgive us our trespasses," there we fetch remedies for sins past, for we must needs have forgiveness, we cannot remedy the /matter of ourselves, our sins must be remedied by pardon, by remission. Other righteousness we have not, but forgiving of our unrighteousness: our goodness standeth in the forgiving of our illness. All mankind must cry for pardon, and acknowledge themselves to be sinners, except our Saviour, who was clean without spot of sin. Therefore, when we feel our sins, we must with a penitent heart resort hither and say, "Our Father, which art in heaven, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them, that trespass against us "

Mark well this addition ("As we forgive them that trespass"), for our Saviour putteth the same unto it, not to that end, that we should merit any thing by it, but rather to prove our faith, whether we be of the faithful flock of God, or no. For the right faith abideth not in that man, that is disposed purposely to sin. For whosoever purposely sinneth against his conscience, he hath lost the Holy Ghost, the remission of sins, and finally, Christ himself. But when we are fallen, so we must fetch them again at God's hand by this prayer, which is a storehouse; here we shall find remission of our sins' p. 601.

Addressing such as are tempted to refrain from prayer on account of their sins, he says,

So

When Christ commanded us to call God, "Our Father," he knew we should find fatherly affection in God towards us. Call this (I say) to remembrance, and again remember, that our Saviour hath cleansed, through his passion, all our sins, and taken away all our wickedness. that as many, as believe in him, shall be the children of God. In such wise let us strive and fight against the temptations of the devil, which would not have us to call upon God, because we be sinners. Catch thou hold of our Saviour, believe in him, be assured in thy heart, that he with his sufferings took away all thy sins.

• Consider again, that our Saviour calleth us to prayer, and commandeth

us to pray our sins let us and withdraw us from prayer, but our Saviour maketh them nothing. When we believe in him, it is like as if we had no sins. For he changeth with us, he taketh our sins and wickedness from us, and giveth unto us his holiness, righteousness, justice, fulfilling of the law, and so, consequently, everlasting life. So that we be like, as if we had done no sin at all: for his righteousness standeth us in good stead, as though we of our own selves had fulfilled the law to the uttermost.' pp. 484, 485. The faithfulness and zeal of this venerable man are well known; among many instances, is the following:

St. John Baptist, that hardy knight, and excellent preacher of God, he said this petition right with a good faith; "Our Father, thy will be done." Therefore he went to the king saying: "Sir, it is not lawful for thee so to do." See what boldness he had! How hot a stomach in God's quarrel to defend God's honour and glory! But our chaplains, what do they now-a-days? Marry, they wink at it, they will not displease: for they seek livings, they seek benefices, therefore they be not worthy to be God's officers.' p. 545.

Our last extract shall be from the sermon on the petition 'Give us this day our daily bread.'

• And here we be admonished of our estate and condition, what we be, namely beggars. For we ask bread, of whom? Marry, of God. What are we then? Marry, beggars, the greatest lords and ladies in England are but beggars before God. Seeing then that we all are but beggars, why should we then disdain and despise poor men? Let us therefore consider, that we are but beggars. Let us pull down our stomachs, for if we consider this matter well, we are like as they be afore God. For St. Paul saith, "What hast thou, that thou hast not received of God?" Thou art but a beggar, whatsoever thou art, and though there be some very rich, and have great abundance; of whom have they it? Of God. What saith be, that rich man? He saith," Our Father, which art in heaven, give us this day our daily bread;" then he is a beggar afore God, as well as the poorest man.' pp 564, 565.

Of the Catechism it is the less necessary that we should say much, as it has lately been twice offered to the learned world. We have the satisfaction to find that it has been compared with the original edition of 1553, and cleared of same mistakes which appeared in the later editions. This tract is published separately, and is worthy of general notice, as it is admirably calculated for the diffusion of plain and edifying religious instruction.

We sincerely rejoice in the encouragement which the conductors of this publication have received, not only from the public, but from some distinguished prelates of the Church of England;" and we readily bear testimony to the impartiality which they have hitherto manifested, and in which they profess their determination to persevere.

Art. XII. A Vindication of the Nature and Effect of Evangelical Preach ing; in a Letter to a Barrister: occasioned by the First Part of his Hints to the Public and the Legislature. With a Postscript: containing Strictures on his Second Part. By John Styles. 8vo. pp. 148. Price 3s. 6d. Williams and Co. 1808.

IN

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the opinion of many, the Barrister' has had too much attention paid him. He is thought to have derived an importance from the zeal of his antagonists, which he never could have obtained by his own; and their eagerness, arising from indignation at his effrontery and contempt of his powers, might appear, it has been apprehended, like the effect of alarm and consternation. The reasoning of his Hints. being so palpably sophistical, and the style so revoltingly scurrilous, they have been supposed incapable of affecting the minds of enlightened men with any other sensation thau that of disgust; and by some it was therefore deemed the sounder policy, to let them fret away their little hour unmolested, till they sunk into inevitable oblivion. Whatever might be the wisdom of this policy, and we are strongly inclined to question it on the general principle that discussion is always favourable to truth, it was soon superseded: several writers hurrying forwards, either from a just concern for personal character, or a Jaudable ardour to defend the Christian faith. But although these writers had been induced, by regard to such a principle of policy, to restrain their feelings, there would still have been reason to abandon it. The persons who favoured it, had formed a true estimate of the Barrister's book, but a false one of his party. The pamphlet was justly thought so unworthy the regard of intelligent men, that it could have no chance of obtaining, on the ground of its literary merit, an extent of sale which could alarm any one except its publisher. It should have been remembered, however, that this book referred to a subject of religious controversy; that it was favourable to the views of a restless, insidious party, and that it flattered the prejudices of the world,' as the sacred writers term it, or of the irreligious and profane, who form the majority in every na tion upon earth. It should have been remembered that the party, whose interests it was covertly to promote, and who were to recommend it among the people whose tastes it was adapted to gratify, were in possession of a very extensive and formidable influence. They had several periodical works in their hands; and not a few individuals of their number had exhibited talents and acquired fame. Besides, almost the whole periodical literature of the age, and a large proportion of the talent, might be regarded as auxiliary to the party in question, whenever an opportunity offered of striking a blow at evangelical principles. Churchmen who dis

« PreviousContinue »