Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ample as are the materials for declamatory invective or sorrow-
ful contemplation; still, the general character of the times is
not declension, not deterioration, but improvement and incipient
revival. In this opinion, we are happy to find that Mr. Wilson
To this duty of humiliation and prayer',
entirely concurs.
he remarks, Christian ministers may be yet further encouraged
by considering the revivals of religion which are actually com-

[ocr errors]

For, are there not sufficient indications of a powerful operation already begun by the Spirit of God in the church, to inspire the warmest hopes as to the future? Are not the authentic accounts from our American brethren, enough to warm the most fearful heart? Is not our God awakening multitudes there to a concern for their salvation, by the instrumentality of truth? Is not a cry raised for pardon and Do not their holy, grace, by numbers, pricked to the heart for sin. consistent walk, their sincere love to Christ, their activity in every good word and work, testify the reality, as well as the Author, of the change? And have not these revivals been granted in the path of duty, and by the use of means; especially by, what is the subject of these pages, the arousing of ministers to humiliation, diligence, and zeal? Has not this awakened state of the minds of ministers led to a new strain of preaching, a new fervour in proposing Christ in all his glory to a sinful world, a new boldness in applying truth with penetrating discrimination to the consciences of each class of hearers? And is it not in this way, that God has vouchsafed his peculiar grace? And in our own country, what means this new anxiety about the holy ministry, this new attention to the state of our flocks, this new spirit of confession and humiliation, this new inquiry as to the best means of reviving primitive Christianity and promoting a union of hearts, which has been gaining ground now for some time? .... What had Richard Baxter, at the time when he lived, to encourage him in his address to the clergy, compared with what invites and impels us? What was there in the close of the seventeenth century, to animate in the attempt to convert the world, compared with what we see in the nineteenth?

[ocr errors]

The position of every thing in the church and the world, compared with the word of prophecy, indicates expectation, the promise of new blessings, the accomplishment of all the glorious predictions of the Divine mercy and grace. The times are assuredly drawing on. The fated apostacies have hung over the eastern and western nations for twelve centuries, with all that energy of spiritual delusion which the Scriptures describe. Divine prophecy, shining as a lamp in a dark place, concurs with the indications which we have already noticed in the church and in the world, to excite expectation, to animate to effort, to humble in confession of sin, and to lead to determined reformation of life and conduct in the ministers of religion. The times All is in which we are cast, speak for themselves. All is movement. big with expectation. All portends the Divine judgements upon the We live in no orwicked, and unwonted blessings upon the church. dinary period. Unusual circumstances of encouragement, demand un3 F 2

usual duties. If God is at work; if the machinery of religious dissemination is prepared; if the Holy Scriptures are diffused; if the artifices of the great enemy are known; if the grace of the Holy Spirit has already begun to be implored, and revivals of religion to be granted; and if the whole aspect of the world is that of "fields white already to the harvest"; then, surely, this is a time when " the priests, the ministers of God, should weep betwen the porch and the altar"; and should afterwards address themselves to the peculiar duties of the new and important period at which they have arrived. For things are in suspense. Hope is not possession. The present appearances may die away and expire, after a transient excitement. God may roll all back, if we do not heartily repent as a people.' p. xxix-xxxii.

Dr. Smith, in his admirable essay introductory to the republication of Jonathan Edwards's Narrative, takes a similar view of the aspect of the times, and of the favourable presage afforded by the general solicitude for the revival of religion among ourselves. The tendency of this extensive movement', he remarks, 'is unutterably important; its object is unmixed good.' But he, too, seems to think that the impulse will require to be watched and guided with peculiar jealousy and caution. And his wise directions on this subject are adapted to be at this crisis peculiarly useful. He lays it down as a fundamental axiom, which cannot be lost sight of without imminent danger, that knowledge is the basis of faith.' Defrauded of its proper nutriment, the principle of faith becomes vitiated and weakened, so as to render the evidences of sanctification extremely dubious, and to debilitate the affections, leaving the mind the easy prey of error or enthusiasm. We have the highest authority for deprecating a zeal not according to knowledge', an ardour not directed by wisdom. A motive is drawn from the very circumstance of the general combination to diffuse through the earth'our religion', to enforce a renovated and most scrutinizing jealousy, and an active and vigilant care to exalt the character of that religion, by refining it from its feculence, and improving all its qualities.

In all its progress hitherto upon earth, and in its best actual state, throughout the purest churches and their most sanctified members, our religion presents not an appearance of healthiness and vigour correspondent to its Divine birth and its heavenly nutriment. But we are sending forth our religion to the world. The impulse of the Omnipotent will not allow it to lie longer hidden in the closet, or to operate only within the boundaries of our particular communities. It must be presented to the nations in its honours, or in its weakness and poverty; and we may reasonably expect, that not merely its essential nature, but its special qualities also, as derived from us, will be impressed upon those who receive it. What a view of responsibility rises here before us! It is not allowed us to glide through life, and pass into the pre

sence of our Judge, laden merely with our own burden; to answer for the weakness of our faith, the torpor of our religious affections, and the comparative sterility of our practice; and then to have no other account to render. Awful as must be our personal concerns at that tribunal, we must appear there with a weighty increase of amenableness. Persons whom we have never known, who speak barbarous tongues, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the earth; children of men yet unborn; yea, whole tribes and nations; will have deduced the mould and stamp of their religion from the visible character of ours. O, how desirable that we should be able to say with the highest degree of conscientious sensibility, "Be ye followers of us, as even we are of Christ!"" PP. ix. x.

[ocr errors]


We had written thus far, when a tract fell into our hands, containing the substance of a discourse upon the subject of Revivals of Religion, by the much respected Secretary to the London Missionary Society. In this tract, it is remarked, that 'a ' revival of religion supposes, either that religion has fallen into ' decay, or that it has not reached that vigour and elevation at 'which it might be expected to arrive. In both senses, it is a ' phrase of a comparative nature: it implies that there is some 'standard, or period, with which we are disposed to compare 'the present line of things.' Accordingly, it is remarked, the present conviction of the necessity of a revival of religion in this country has been occasioned, 'not so much by indications of a 'declension of religion in this country, compared with its state ' in former periods, as by reports from America, of the extraordinary measure of Divine influence which in many parts of that ' interesting land has attended the work of God.' To these accounts, Mr. Wilson, we have seen, alludes; and appended to Mr. Burder's Pastoral Discourses, will be found a highly interesting collection of Facts and Documents relating to the late 'revivals of religion in America'. Upon the subject of those revivals, it is not our intention to enter. They are of a very extraordinary character; and though attended by less extravagant manifestations of impassioned feeling and physical agitation than those of a former period, described in Edwards's Narrative, yet, it is evident, that the excitement produced has in some instances risen very high, so as to justify their being described as 'extra'ordinary and mysterious moral phenomena', the immediate result of supernatural communications'. Now we must confess, that, however animating and delightful these accounts may be, we should deprecate their being made a standard of the revival for which, in this country, Christians should be looking and supplicating. Ought it to be said, because similar phenomena have not been exhibited among ourselves, that therefore no revival of religion has taken place? Most entirely do we concur with Mr. Orme, in the conviction, that 'the state of religion in

[ocr errors]

'the mass of its professors-those who, in the judgement of 'their fellow-creatures, are deemed genuine believers,-requires to be revived and re-invigorated; brought back to the primi'tive standard, and increased to the apostolic fervour. But this is not at all what is meant by revivals in the American sense, the word being almost exclusively applied to conversions of an extraordinary character. Revival converts', is the phrase employed to describe those who have been thus 'awakened', and who are represented as having been, up to that time, totally destitute of religion, 'unregenerate'. The re-invigoration of piety must be ascribed, it is true, to the same efficient cause, as its production in the human heart; and it is ordinarily effected by the same means; but they are things totally distinct, and cannot be confounded without the greatest impropriety.

It is evident, that they have been injudiciously confounded under an equivocal phrase; and consequently, very different sentiments are found to prevail as to the best methods of promoting the desired revival. Mr. Wilson has some admirable remarks upon this subject, in which he seems to have caught the very spirit of Baxter himself. Addressing his brethren in the ministry, we must begin,' he says, with ourselves. A 'revival of Christianity must take its rise with the ministers of Christianity. A revived Christianity is a revived exhibition of the glorious person of Christ.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It is heat and controversy which inflame and divide the Church. Wide differences of judgement must exist on a multitude of points gathered by the feeble reason of man from the Holy Scriptures. But these are of little consequence, if the commanding doctrines and the true spirit of Christianity are chiefly enforced, and if non-essential matters are not dogmatically and fiercely urged. Dear brethren, let the Bible be our religion, our rule, our standard,-the Bible in all its parts, the Bible in its unutterable mysteries, the Bible in every subordinate statement, and the Bible, softly and graciously yielded to, and imprinted on a spirit of wisdom and meekness. When this is done, surely our God will descend upon us; the Spirit of Grace will glorify his own truth; and the elements of the conversion of the world, accumulated in the diffusion of Bibles, and Missionaries, and Teachers, will be ready to burst into life and efficacy at the Divine command. Let the Holy Saviour, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Scriptures, be our motto and watchword in all we undertake or hope for.'

It is the more immediate object of Mr. Hinton's tract, to press upon private Christians of every class and order, the duty of 'universal personal endeavour' to convert their friends and neighbours. Private Christians, he contends, have many advantages over ministers of the gospel, even in the most fa'voured circumstances.' This is true to a certain extent; and there is much reason to fear, that parental and domestic respon

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

sibilities have been too extensively disregarded, under the idea of its being the exclusive business of the minister to teach religion, to convert and to save men. Mr. Hinton goes so far as to deprecate 'the idea, that ministers are to be the chief work'ing hands in a revival of religion.' Perhaps it may be as well that such an idea should not be entertained by private Christians, as it might lead to a neglect of their personal and relative duties. But the ministers of religion themselves will suffer no harm by adopting what we are inclined to regard as the more just opinion; that, as the declension of religion has always originated with its teachers, with them its revival must take its rise. That a revival of domestic and social religion is equally needed, must be admitted; and we can have no doubt that reformed families would be the result of the faithful and persevering labours of reformed pastors.'


The re-publication of Baxter's invaluable manual for the Christian Pastor, at this time, we cannot but hail with the highest satisfaction. It is a volume of which every minister of religion, every candidate for the sacred office, every private Christian who wishes to cultivate a missionary spirit in his own bosom, ought to possess himself. Of the re-publication of Edwards's Narrative in its present form, we have some hesitation in expressing our approval. We cannot but think that an abridgement of the original, had the execution of it been confided to the learned and judicious Author of the Introductory Essay, would have been far more acceptable and better adapted for usefulness.

With regard to the other publications referred to at the beginning of this article, our opinion has been sufficiently intimated; and the popularity of the writers within their respective circles, supersedes the necessity of our adding a formal recommendation of productions of so useful and practical a character.

Art. VI. A Selection from the public and private Correspondence of
Vice-Admiral Lord Collingwood: interspersed with Memoirs of his
Life. By G. L. Newnham Collingwood, Esq. F.R.S. 8vo. 2 vols.
pp. 795. London, 1828.

THE best regulated machinery will sometimes be out of
order; and Reviews, with whatever of care and diligence
their movements may be calculated and superintended, will
sometimes be either premature or procrastinating. We plead
guilty to apparent negligence on the present occasion; but, in-
stead of wasting time in unseasonable explanation, we shall at
once proceed to give a general description of these most inte-
resting and important volumes; simply premising our expres-

« AnteriorContinuar »