« VorigeDoorgaan »
in laying hold of the good things of other men, Paul: " Yea doubtless ; and I count all things but does not always succeed in deteriorating them to loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ his own standard. When our readers shall have Jesus my Lord.' If there is any iext in the perused the passages which we are about to quote Bible which exhibits what Canon Smith would from these discourses, side by side with extracts have considered enthusiasm,' it is this ; yet he from those of Dr. Isaac Barrow, they will be able manages to take the glow from it; by confining to account for the perplexity under which we the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus wrote last month ; as for instance at p. 294, to the social benefits conferred by the Gospel—its where, having spoken of the genuine Sydney effects upon our temporal concerns. We say he Smith, we added :
confines it to this; for though what he predicates “ We are far from saying that in this volume of it does not necessarily exclude something else not there is nothing which rises above this manner of predicated; yet that something else, though the address. On the contrary, we have been pleasing-| highest object of the Gospel, is not touched upon ly surprised at much that is contained in these by him ; the inferior, the secular, blessing engrosssermons, which ever and anon advance into the es all his attention ; he does not intimate chat St. territories of religion to an extent which was not Paul referred to anything higher : and he forbears to be predicted from the ordinary style of Sydney to give the Apostle's own reason why he was not Smith's Reviews, Plymley Letters, popular pam- ashamed of the Gospel of Christ-not because of phlets, and, we may add, colloquial intercourse. its excellent effects upon our temporal concerns ; There is a recognition of various truths of the but because it is the power of God unto salvation Gospel which might have surprised some of the to every one that believeth.' We know that in author's Holland-House acquaintance, and led offering these remarks, we subject ourselves to rethem to ask whether their facetious friend had buke, as though we wished unfairly to lower the become a fanatic. In truth there is some discrep-tone of the volume. We only wish to speak the ancy, or inconsistency, which it is not easy to words of truth; our desire would be to give to reconcile."
every passage the highest spiritual construction The reconciliation is now to our minds easy which it is able to bear; but if we find ourselves enough. Sydney Smith paid no attention to the limited in one page by what we read in another, ological study; he was not a diligent reader of what can we do, as honest men, but state what the word of God, as is evinced by his strange appears to us to be the actual result of the whole ? blunders in reference and quotation; he had no When we meet, for instance, with the words gosdoctrinal system, except that of having none; he pel, redemption, and salvation, we should not be had no taste for writing sermons ;-we mean dis- justified in giving to them a meaning which Canon courses for the pulpit, embodying Christian doc- Smith would have deemed enthusiastic;' and trines and precepts, as distinguished from mere then palming this meaning upon him. essays upon human life and manners ;-no under- “But let us see how the sermon on · The Exstanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as the cellency of the Knowledge of Christ,' bears out power of God unto salvation; or if he understood our estimate. The reader should weigh each senit as a matter of theory, he was apparently skepti- tence in the balance of the sanctuary to ascertain cal in regard to it. Everything approaching to the momentum of the whole. In the very first true religion in the heart, and evinced in the life, line, for example, the excellency of the knowledge he scoffed at as rant and fanaticism ; and, whether of Christ Jesus my Lord,' is called . This eulofroin distaste, or from a consciousness that divinity gium upon our blessed religion.' Here at once was not within the range of his attainments, he Christ Jesus' is made a sort of abstraction for evidently eschewed it ; so that wherever we find religion ;' and all that relates to the Redeemer in any remark in his discourses of a more than usu- his Person and Offices is quietly but effectually set ally doctrinal character-the doctrine being sound aside. Try the experiment with another of the --we strongly suspect that it is borrowed. Apostle Paul's declarations respecting Jesus
Our task will now be to exhibit a few specimens Christ, and Him crucified.' He says, I know of Sydney Smith's obligations 10 Dr. Barrow, whom I have believed ; and am persuaded that he confining our collation to that one writer, and to is able to keep that which I have committed unto three of our author's discourses.
him against that day.' Is this enthusiastic ?' The first which we select for notice, is that en- The pious Apostle' (as Sydney Smith terms titled " The Excellence of the Christian Gospel," him) gloried in Christ; counted all loss for Christ; from Philippians iii. 8: “ Yea doubtless, and I knew. Whom he had believed ;' not merely what count all things but loss, for the excellency of the he had believed ; not simply our blessed religion ;' knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” On this but its divine Author, our prophet, priest, king; sermon we remarked last month :
who is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanc"One solution which has occurred to us of the tification, and redemption ; whom having not seen, seeming discrepancy in his sermons is, that in we love ; in whom though now we see him not, yet speaking of the Gospel, or its essential peculiari- believing we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full, ties, (so far as he touches upon them,) he does so of glory." in an extenuated sense ; meaning little more by After these remarks, we gave illustrative ex-. the Gospel ihan a code of moral conduct. He tracts ; but expressed ourselves much puzzled to would keep down everything to this, so as to pre- understand how the merely secular or temporal vent what he calls enthusiasm. The proof of our benefits of religion could be accounted “ the excelremark is rather to be gathered from the general | lency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus ;” and strain of his discourses, and from what they do after quoting Sydney Smith's account of the “adnot include, than from particular passages which vantages of religion,' we added that “ The pious. may be briefly quoted. As an illustration, how- Aposile (as the canon calls him) would not have. ever, we will give some account of the sermon known his own words in this free paraphrase." entitled, “The Excellence of the Christian Gos- The solution is now evident to us. This dis.. pel ;' from that glowing declaration of the Apostle I course upon Philippians iii. 8, is copied from one. of Barrow's, entitled "The Profitableness of God- for a text that suited their sermon, to choose * Parliness," froin I Tim. iv. 8, “Godliness is profit-thians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers able unto all things, having the promise of the life in Mesopotamia ;" which had Sydney Smith done, that now is, and of that which is to come." Bar- though his text would have been irrelevant, he row's line of argument was striking and appropri- would not have needed to turn it inside out. ate ; namely, to show that even as concerns the To show fully the extent of Canon Smith's ob life that now is, “Godliness is profitable ;' but it ligations to Dr. Barrow in this discourse, we should becomes almost nonsense when made to illustrate be obliged to quote the whole; but a few para. quite another passage; a passage of as apparently graphs will suffice as a specimen. The sermon opposite a character as was consistent with both was preached at the Cathedral of St. Paul ; so being true ; for in Philippians iii. the Apostle is that, not only in addressing his village congregaspeaking not of "the temporal advantages of tion, but in the few discourses which it was his Christianity," but of the severe trials which had duty to deliver in the Metropolitan church, in rebefallen him in this life for the excellency of the turn for the large emoluments of his canonry, ho knowledge of Christ, for whom he counted all did not deem it worth his while to think out a things but loss; but, walking by faith and not by topic on so dry a subject as divinity; but was sight, he consoled himself for his present secular content to mangle one of Dr. Barrow's sermonsdisadvantages, by a realization of the countervail- the second of the first volume; as if his balloon ing value of spiritual and eternal blessings. (See alighted upon almost the first which presented itverses 9-11, and 20, 21.) Sydney Smith had self. His reply, in his off-hand manner, would better have adopted the satirical suggestion of perhaps be, “Oh, I took the second, because I another facetious prebendary, one Laurence Sterne, had already used the first." who advised clergymen, when they were at a loss Dr. BARROW.
SYDNEY SMITH. “I hath been ever a main obstruction to the “It has ever been one of the principal obstrucpractice of piety, that it hath been taken for no tions to Christianity, that it has been considered as friend, or rather for an enemy to profit ; as both unfriendly to worldly advantages, for Christianity unprofitable and prejudicial to its followers: and seems to smother and slacken the industry of men, many semblances there are countenancing that by charging them to be content with a little ; by opinion. For religion seemeth to smother or to disparaging secular wealth, and praising spiritual slacken the industry and alacrity of men in follow. feeling ; by debarring men of what seems to be the ing profit many ways : by charging them to be readiest instruments of profit-violence, exaction, content with a little, and careful for nothing ; by fraud, and flattery, and by limiting the use eren diverting their affections and cares from worldly of those instruments which are good-care, vigiaffairs to matters of another nature, place, and lance, and desterity ; by paring away the licentime; prescribing in the first place to seek things tious use of wealth, and always taking part with spiritual, heavenly, and future ; by disparaging conscience whenever it clashes with interest." all secular wealth, as a thing, in comparison to virtue and spiritual goods, very mean and inconsiderable ; by checking greedy desires and aspiring thoughts after it; by debarring the most ready ways of getting it (violence, exaction, fraud, and flattery :) yea, straitening the best ways, eager care and diligence, by commending strict justice in all cases, and always taking part with conscience when it clasheth with interest."
“ For voiding which prejudices, and the recom- " For a remedy to these prejudices, and for a mendation of St. Paul's project, I shall, as I said, justification of the assertion contained in my text, propose some of those innumerable advantages, by I shall mention some of those worldly advantages, considering which the immense profitableness of both general and particular, which render appapiety will appear."
rent the excellence of the Christian religion." "First, then, we may consider, that piety is "First, then, it appears that the Gospel is exexceedingly useful for all sorts of men, in all ca- ceedingly useful for all sorts of men, in all capacipacities, all states, all relations ; fitting and dispose ties, states, and relations; inasmuch as it disposes ing them to manage all their respective concern- them to manage all their respective concerns, and ments, to discharge all their peculiar duties, in a discharge all their peculiar duties, in a proper, proper, just and decent manner. It rendereth all just, and decent manner. It renders superiors superiors equal and moderate in their administra- equal and moderate in command, mild in conversatione ; mild, courteous, and affable in their con- tion, and benign in demeanor." verse; benign and condescensive in all their demeanor toward their inferiors."
" It is therefore the concernment of all men, “It is, therefore, the concern of all men who who, as the Psalmist speaketh, desire to live well, (as the Psalmist says) desire to live well, and and would fain see good days : it is the special would sain see good days-of all who have any interest of great persons, (of the magistracy, the considerable interest in the world, to consider the nobility, the gentry, of all persons that have any Gospel (independently of all other considerations) considerable interest in the world,) who would as the best instrument of their security, and the safely and sweetly enjoy their dignity, power, or undisturbed enjoyment of the accommodations of wealth, by all means to protect and promote piety, their state. It is in all respects, then, the best as the best instrument of their security, and undis- wisdom and policy; that which will as well preturbedly enjoying the accommodations of their state. serve their outward state here, as save their souls 'Tis in all respects their best wisdom and policy; hereafter. All the arts and tricks, all the sleights Dr. BARROW.
Sydney SMITH. that which will as well preserve their outward and resources of worldly cunning, signify nothing state here, as satisfy their consciences within, and in comparison of this one plain, easy way, of sesave their souls hereafter. All the Machiavelian curing and promoting our interest ; it is so excelarts and tricks, all the sleights and fetches of lent even in this point of view, that but for it, all worldly craft, do signify nothing in comparison to things would be lost." this one plain and easy way of securing and furthering their interests.”
"If, then, it be a gross absurdity to desire the “If, then, it is the greatest of all follies to covet fruits, and not to take care of the root, not to cul- the fruit, and not cultivate the stock from whence tivate the stock whence they sprout; if every it springs—if a ruler would have his subjects loyal, prince gladly would have his subjects loyal and if a master would have his servants observant, if a obedient, every master would have his servants parent would have his children grateful, if a man honest, diligent, and observant, every parent would would have his friend faithful-if every one would have his children officious and grateful, every man have those with whom they converse just and sinwould have his friend faithful and kind, every one cere-if to bear any relation to men of this stamp would have those just and sincere, with whom he be happiness, then is the Gospel most excellent, doth negotiate or converse ; if any one would even in this world, for from the Gospel do these choose to be related to such, and would esteem good dispositions and sound practices ever protheir relation a happiness; then consequently ceed.” should every man in reason strive to further piety, from whence alone these good dispositions and practices do proceed.”
• Is a man prosperous, high, or wealthy in “ If a man be prosperous and wealthy in condicondition? Piety guardeth him from all the mis- tion, the Gospel guards him from all mischief chiefs incident to that state, and disposeth him to incident to that state, and while it disposes him to enjoy the best advantages thereof. It keepeth enjoy its best advantages, it keeps him from being him from being swelled and puffed up with vain swelled with conceit, and transported with fond conceit, from being transported with fond com- complacence in his fortune. It reminds him that placence or confidence therein ; minding him, that his lot is the gift of God, that it depends upon His it is purely the gift of God; that it absolutely disposal, that it may be soon taken away from him, dependeth on his disposal, so that it may soon be and that he cannot otherwise than by humility and taken from him ; and that he cannot otherwise gratitude, and by the good use of it, be sure to than by humility, by gratitude, by the good use of retain it. It preserves him from luxury, sloth, it, be secure to retain it; minding him also, that forgetfulness of God and himself; it maintains he shall assuredly be forced to render a strict among the floods of plenty a sober mind.” account concerning the good management thereof. It preserveth him from being perverted or corrupted with the temptations to which that condition is most liable ; from luxury, from sloth, from stupidity, from forgetfulness of God, and of himself; maintaining among the floods of plenty a sober and steady mind."
The discourse continues in the same manner ; ; best of Barrow's matter is omitted. We will give but we have quoted enough. But much of the an illustration from another sermon. Dr. BARROW.
SYDNEY Smith. “ On the duty of Prayer.
“On the necessity of Prayer. “1 Thess. v. 17.-Pray without ceasing. “1 Thess. v. 17.-Pray without ceasing. " It is the manner of St. Paul in his Epistles, “It is the manner of St. Paul in his Epistles, after that he hath discussed some main points of after he has discussed doctrines, lo propose rules, doctrine or discipline, (which occasion required in the observance of which the life of a Christian that he should clear and settle,) to propose several consists : these he ranges not in any formal mangood advices and rules, in the observance whereof ner, but freely scatters them as they are suggested the life of Christian practice doth consist. These by the Holy Spirit which guided him." he rangeth not in any formal method, nor linketh together with strict connexion, but freely scattereth them, so as from his mind (as out of a fertile soil, impregnated with all seeds of wisdom and goodness,) they did aptly spring up, or as they were suggested by that Holy Spirit which continually guided and governed them.''
“ Pray without ceasing. For understanding " Pray without ceasing ! For understanding these words, let us first consider what is meant by these words I will first consider what is meant by the act enjoined, praying ; then what the qualifica- praying, then what is meant by the qualification tion, or circumstance adjoined, without ceasing, adjoined, of praying without ceasing. doth import.
“ The word prayer doth, in its usual latitude of “ The word prayer in its usual meaning, comacceptation, comprehend all sorts of devotion * * prehends every sort of devotion. It includes the It includeth that praise which we should yield to praise we yield to God, implying our admiration God, implying our due esteem of his most excellent of his perfections, of his works, of the wise dispenDr. BARROW.
SYDNEY SMITH. perfections, most glorious works, most just and sations of his providence and grace; it includes wise dispensations of providence and grace; that that thanksgiving by which we express an affeethanksgiving whereby we should express an affectionate remembrance of our obligations to God for tionate presentment of onr obligation to him for the numberless benefits; it includes acknowledgment numberless great benefits we receive from him; of entire dependence, of subjection to his power that acknowledgment of our entire dependence and pleasure ; it includes possession of faith, and upon him, or our total subjection to his power and avowal of service; it includes humble acknowledge pleasure ; together with that profession of faith in ment of guilt and misery due from grievous sinners. him, and avowing of service to him, which we do We must ask in prayer supply for our wants, owe as his natural creatures and subjects ; that succor for our distress, direction for our undertakhumble confession of our infirmity, our vileness, our ing, pardon for our offences. All these religious guilt, our misery, (joined with deprecation of performances prayer comprises ; according to which, wrath and vengeance,) which is due from us as our whole body of divine service is called prayer, wretched men, and grievous sinners ; that petition and temples consecrated to the performance of all of things needful or convenient for us, of supply in holy duties, are called houses of prayer." our wants, of succor and comfort in our distresses, of direction and assistance in our understandings, of mercy and pardon for our offences . . . All these religious performances, prayer, in its larger notion, doth comprise ; according whereto in common use, the whole body of divine service, containing all such acts, is termed prayer; and temples, consecrated to the performance of all holy duties, are styled houses of prayer."
“ Praying incessantly may import the maintain- “ Praying incessantly may mean, a ready dispoing in our souls a ready disposition or 'habitual sition to devotion, that which in Scripture is termed inclination to devotion ; that which in Scripture is the spirit of supplication : this in common language termed the spirit of supplication. This, in moral amounts to a continual practice, a man being said esteem, and according to current language derived to do that to which he is ever prompt, as it is said thence, amounteth to a continual practice; a man of the righteous man that he is ever merciful, being reckoned and said to do that, to which he is and lendeth ;' because he is constantly ready to ever prompt and propense; as it is said of the supply his neighbor with needful relief. My righteous man, that he is ever merciful and lendeth, heart,' says David, is fixed : I will sing and give because he is constantly disposed to supply his praise ;' fixed--that is, readily prepared, and neighbor with needful relief; although he doth steadily inclined to devotion. So should ours connot ever actually dispense alms, or furnish his stantly be! If there be from coldness, from slugneighbor with supplies for his necessity. My gishness, from distraction, any aversion to prayer, heart, said David, is fired; I will sing and give we should by consideration and care labor to praise : fired, that is, readily prepared, and steadily remove them, rousing in our spirits, and kindinclined to devotion. So should ours constantly ling in our affections, fervor towards spiritual be. If there be (from stupidity of mind, from cold- things." ness of affection, from sluggishness of spirit, from worldly distraction) any indisposition or averseness thereto, we should, by serious consideration and industrious care, labor to remove them; rousing our spirits, and kindling in our affections some fervency of desire toward spiritual things."
“ Praying incessantly may denote a vigilant at. "Praying incessantly may denoto a vigilant attendance (with earnest regard, and firm purpose) tendance with an earnest regard and firm purpose employed upon devotion : such attendance as men employed upon devotion : such attendance as you usually bestow on their affairs, whereof although bestow in your affairs, where, though the prosecuthe actual prosecution sometimes doth stick, yet tion sometimes stops, the design always proceeds: the design continually proceedeth; ... as we as we say that such a person is building an house, say that such an one is building a hoose, is writing or writing a book, or occupying land, though he is a book, is occupying such land, although he is at at the moment following some other business, his present sleeping, or eating, or following any other main design never sleeps, and his purpose continbusiness; becanse his main design never sleepeth, ues uninterrupted. This is that which is so often and his purpose continues uninterrupted. This is enjoined under the phrase of watching about that which is so often enjoined under the phrase prayer. Watch ye, therefore, and pray,' says of watching about prayer. Watch ye therefore, our Lord. Continue in prayer, and watch in the and pray always, saith our Lord. Continue in same,' saith St. Paul. “Be ye sober, and watch prayer, and watch in the same, said St. Paul. Be in prayer,' saith St. Peter. Which expressions ye sober, and watch unto prayer, saith St. Peter. import constant and careful attendance upon this Which expressions import a most constant and duty, that we do not make it a matter of small careful attendance upon this duty; that we do not consideration or indifference, of curiosity, or make it a matter of small consideration or indiffer- chance, to be transacted faintly, and with slight ence, of curiosity, of chance, to be transacted endeavor, just as the humor takes you ; but that, drowsily or faintly, with a desultorious and slight accounting it a business of choice nature, and endeavor, by fits as the homor taketh us; but weighty moment, you adhere to it immovably, rethat, accounting it a business of the choicest na- gard it without distraction, and pursue it with ture and weightiest moment, we do adhere thereto diligence unwearied."
Sydney SMITH. with unmovable purpose; regard it with undistracted attention, pursue it with unwearied diligence.”
" Praying incessantly may signify, that we do “Praying incessantly may signify that you emactually embrace all fit seasons and emergent occa- brace all fit seasons for devotion; as a tree is said sions of devotion. This in moral computation to bear that fruit which it produces in the season, doth pass for continual performance : as a tree is and a man is accounted to work in that trade which said to bear that fruit which it produceth in the he exercises whenever he is called upon. Pray,' season; and a man is accounted to work in that says St. Paul, 'in every season.'" trade, which he exerciseth whenever he is called thereto. The sense is, in several precepts parallel to that in hand, plainly expressed. Pray, saith St. Paul, with all prayer and supplication.
“ Every one (saith the Psalmist) that is godly “Every one,” says the Psalmist, that is godly will pray unto thee in a time when thou mayst be will pray unto thee when thou mayest be found. found. * * * Thus, when we have received any My prayer is made unto thee in an acceptable singular blessing or notable favor from God, when time.' Thus when you have received any singuprosperous success hath attended our honest enter- lar favor or notable blessing from God, when sucprises, when we have been happily rescued from cess has attended your honest enterprises, when imminent dangers, when we have been supported you have been happily rescued from danger, when in difficulties, or relieved in wants and straits; you have been supported in any difficulty or then is it seasonable to render sacrifices of thanks- relieved in want, then it is highly seasonable to giving and praise to the God of victory, help, and render sacrifices of thanksgiving to the God of mercy ; to admire and celebrate him, who is our mercy ; to celebrate him who is our strength and strength and our deliverer, our faithful refuge in our deliverer, our faithful refuge in trouble, our trouble, our fortress and the rock of our salvation. fortress, and the rock of our salvation. To omit To omit this piece of devotion, then, is vile ingrat- devotion under such circumstances is base ingratiitude, or stupid negligence and sloth. In survey- tude or stupid sloth. In surveying the glorious ing the glorious works of nature, or the strange works of nature, or the awful events of Provievents of Providence; then is a proper occasion dence-then is a proper occasion to send up hymns suggested to send up hymns of praise to the pow- to the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of the er, the wisdom, the goodness of the world's great world's Creator and Governor." Creator and Governor.”
“ When we undertake any business of special “When you undertake any business of special moment and difficulty, then it is expedient (wisdom moment and difficulty, then is it expedient to sue prompting it) to sue for God's aid, to commit our for God's aid, to commit your affairs into his affairs into his hand, to recommend our endeavors hands, to recommend your endeavors to the blessto the blessing of him, by whose guidance all ing of Him by whose guidance all things are things are ordered, without whose concourse noth- ordered, without whose consent nothing can be ing can be effected, upon whose arbitrary disposal effected, upon whose disposal all success depends. all success dependeth. * * * When we do fall When you fall into doubt and darkness, not knowinto doubts or darknesses, (in the course either of ing what course to steer, or which way to turn, our spiritual or secular affairs,) not knowing what (and to which of you all, does not this sometimes course to steer, or which way to turn ourselves, (a happen?) then is the time also to consult the great case whích, to so blind silly creatures as we are, oracle of truth, the mighty counsellor, the Father must often happen,) then doth the time bid us to of lights, and saying with the Psalmist, Show consult the great Oracle of truth, the mighty me thy ways, oh Lord! lead me in thy truth, and Counsellor, the Father of lights, seeking resolu- teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation. tion and satisfaction, light and wisdom from him; Order my steps in thy word, and let not any iniquity saying with the Psalmist, Shew me thy ways, o have dominion over me." Lord, lead me in thy truth, and teach me ; for thou art the God of my salvation : Order my steps in thy word, and let not any iniquity have dominion over me."
" When any storm of danger blustereth about “When any storm of danger threatens, then on us, perilously threatening, or furiously assailing the wings of ardent devotion you should fly to us with mischief, (so that hardly by our own God for shelter and relief. When any strong strength or wit we can hope to evade,) then with temptation invades you, which by your own the wings of ardent devotion we should fly unto strength you cannot grapple, but are likely to sink God for shelter and for relief. * # * When also under it, then is it needful that you should seek (from ignorance or mistake, from inadvertency, from God a supply of spiritual force and the sucnegligence or rashness, from weakness, from wan- cor of Almighty grace. When from ignorance, tonness, from presumption) we have transgressed or mistake, or rashness, you have transgressed our duty, and incurred sinful guilt; then (for your duty and incurred guilt, then for turning avoiding the consequent danger and vengeance, for away vengeance and for disburthening your conunloading our consciences of the burden and dis- science, with humble confession in your mouth, comfort Thereof) with humble confession in our and serious contrition in your heart, you should mouths and serious contrition in our hearts, we apply yourself to the God of mercy; deprecating should apply ourselves to the God of mercy, dep- his wrath, and imploring pardon from him. If recating his wrath, and imploring pardon from you confess your sins, he is faithful and just to him ; remembering that promise of St. John, If forgive you your sins,' &c." we confcss our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, &c."