Imágenes de páginas

abilities may serve, and whose conduct may adorn it. That statesman, indeed, betrays the most sacred trust, who perverts the ecclesiastical patronage, committed to his care for the bet of purposes, into a mere engine of state; and who neglects a superior interest for the paltry purpose of procuring votes in parliament. But this wretched and narrow policy will, in the end, prove fatal to himself. The church that is not respectable, will not long be respected-;, and, though we may nos carry to such an extent as some have done our ideas of the al.. liance between church and state, yet we are persuaded that the civil and ecclefiaftical conftitutions of this country are so interwoven and connected, that the one could not sustain an injury without materially affecting the other.

Our attachment to the interests of religion, and of the established church in particular, has inadvertently led us into this digression. We return with pleasure to the volume before us, which does honour to the episcopal bench. Independent of the excellence of the composition, these discourses are distinguished by an earnest, though rational piety ; by a spirit of charity and good humour, which pervades the whole; by strong, popular, and well arranged arguments to enforce the belief and practice of religion, and by a number of excellent observations and useful precepts for our conduct in life.

The discourses contained in this volume are, 1. Cheerfulness a distinguishing Feature of the Christian Religion. 2. On the Christian Doctrine of Redemption. 3. The same subject continued. 4. Self-communion recommended. 5. On the Character of David. 6. Purity of Manners no less neceffary to a Christian Character than Benevolence. 7. A Difcourse for the Anniversary of the Sons of the Clergy. 8. Early Piety enforced. 9. Partial Faith and partial Obedience not permitted by the Christian Religion. 10. A Sermon before the House of Lords, on the 30th of January, 1778. II. The superior Excellence of Christian Preaching, and the Causes of it. 12. A Discourse for the Annual Meeting of the Charity Schools. 13. On the Government of the Passions. 14. On the Character of Jesus Chrift. 15On the Thanksgiving for his Majesty's Recovery. 16. The one Thing needful. 17. On the various Opportunities for doing good. Of these were particularly pleased with the ist, 6th, 8th, and 17th, which, we think, are not inferior to any compositions of the kind that ever came under our inspection.

Our readers will doubtless be gratified by a few extracts. The two following are from the first fermon, and will sufficiently justify our commendation of it. .

Tirat future state of existence, of which Chriftianity first gave us a clear and distinct view, alfords a prospect to us that cannot well

ness a distian Doctrine of munion recommnners no less A Dif

the Annu preaching, and 778. 11.

fail to chear and enliven our hearts, and even bear us up under the heaviest pressures of affliction. Without this support, there are, it must be owned, calamities sufficient to break the highest spirits, and to subdue the firmest minds. When the good and virtuous man is unjustly accused and inhumanly traduced; when enemies oppress and friends desert him; when poverty and distress come upon him like an armed man; when his favourite child, or his beloved companion, is snatched from him by death; when he is racked with incessant pain, or pining away with incurable disease; when he knows, moreover, that he can have no reft but in the grave, and supposes that this rest is the absolute extinction of his being; no wonder that he sinks into melancholy and despair.' But let the divine light of immortality break in upon him, and the gloom that surrounds him clearz up. Let this day-star arise before him, and it will shed a brightness over the whole scene of his existence, which will make every thing look gay and chearful around him. He is no longer the same being he was before. A new set of ideas and sentiments, of hopes and expectations, spring up in his mind, and represent every thing in a point of view totally different from that in which they before appeared to him. What he had been accustomed to consider as insupportable misfortunes, he now fees to be most lalutary chastisements. This world is no longer his home. It is a scene of discipline, a school of virtue, a place of education, intended to fit him for appearing well in a far more illustrious station. Under this conviction he goes on with alacrity and steadiness in the paths of duty, neither discouraged by difficulties, nor depressed by misfortunes. He is a citizen of a heavenly country, towards which he is travelling : his accommodations on the road are sometimes, it must be owned, wretched enough; but they are only temporary incon. veniences; they are trivial disquietudes, which are below his notice ;for at home he knows every thing will be to his mind. The blessings which there await hiin, and on which his heart is fixed, inspire him with an ardour and alacrity that carry him through every obstacle. Even under the most calamitous circumstances, he supports hime self with this reflexion, more pregnant with good sense and folid comfort, than all the vast volumes of ancient philosophy or modern infidelity, that “ these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, shall work for him (if he bears them with Christian patience) a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

We of this kingdom have been repeatedly stigmatized by the other nations of Europe as a melancholy, dejected, gloomy people. • The charge, I fear, is upon the whole but too well founded ; and the proofs too visible, and sometimes too dreadfuil to be evaded or denied. It behoves us therefore, surely, to enquire a little into the true causes of this national malady; and to consider, whether one of these causes may not be a contemptuous disregard, or, at least, a


[ocr errors]

cold indifference for that most pure, and holy, and enlivening rea ligion, which contains the only true remedy for our disease. Initead of this, we have too commonly recourse to a very different mode of relief, to those pernicious cordials of unbounded pleasure and endless diffipation, which, though like other cordials, they may raise our spirits for the moment, yet afterwards sink and deprefs them beyond recovery, and leave the unhappy patient infinitely more in distress and danger than they found him. If this be the case, we know what we have to do. We muft fly to a totally opposite regimen; to that purity of mind, that sanctity of manners, that felf-government, that moral discipline, that modesty of desire, that discreet and temperate enjoyment of the world, that exalted piety, that active benevolence, that trust in Providence, that exhilarating hope of immortality, which the doctrines and the precepts of the Gospel so powerfully impress upon our souls, and which, as we have seen, are the best and most powerful preservatives against all depression of spirits. It is here, in short, if any where, true chearfulness is to be found. To those, indeed, who have been long dissolved in luxury and gaiety, that moderation in all things which Christianity prefcribes, may, at first, appear a harsh and painful reftraint; but a little time, and a little perseverance, will render it as delightful as it is confeffedly falutary. Be prevailed on then, for once, to give it a fair trial; and accept, with all thankfulness, that most gracious invitation of our blessed Redeemer, “ Con;e unto me all ye that travel and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burthen is light.”.

: The following are from the fourth fermon, which was preached at St. James'.

i Nothing is so apt to wear off that reverence for virtue, and abhorrence of vice, with which all well-principled men enter into the world, as a constant commerce with the world. If we have had the happiness of a good education, our first judgments of men and things are generally right. We deteft all appearance of bafeness, artifice, and hypocrisy: we love every thing that is fair, open, honest, and generous. But how seldom does it happen, that we carry there sentiments along with us, and act in conformity to them, through life. How seldom does it happen, that we are proof against the freedom of conversation, or the contagion of example, which insensibly corrupt the fimplicity of our hearts, and distort the uprightness of our opinions.' We are aware, perhaps, of the open attacks upon our virtue, which every one may fee, and guard against, if he pleases; but it is not every one that sees those more fecret enemies, that are perpetually at work, undermining his integrity. It is scarce poflible to be always with the multitude, without falling in with its fentiments, and following it to do evil, though we never in



tended it. The croud carries us involuntarily forward, without our fceming to take one step ourselves in the way that they are going. We learn, by degrees, to think with less abhorrence on what we see every day practised and applauded. We learn to look on bad examples with complacency; and it is but too easy a transition, from seeing vice without disgust, to practising it without remorse. We quickly find out the act of accommodating our duty to our interests, and making our opinions bend to our inclinations. We lose sight of the honest notions we first set out with, and adopt others more pliant in their stead. The issues of life thus corrupted, the infection foon spreads itself to our actions. We are enslaved by habits, without feeling the chain thrown over us, and become guilty of crimes, which we once could not think of without muddering. It is, therefore, of the last consequence, to step aside sometintes from the world, in order to compare our present way of thinking and acting with our past; to try and fift ourselves thoroughly; " to search out our spirits ; and seek the very ground of our hearts ; to prove and examine our thoughts; to look well, extremely well, if there be any way of wickedness in us; that if there be, we may turn from it into the way everlasting.”

If Providence has cast our lot in a fair ground, has given us a' goodly heritage, and blessed us with a large proportion of every thing that is held most valuable in this world, rank, power, wealth, beauty, healtı, and strength; though we may then, perhaps, be less difpofid, yet have we more occasion for self-coinmunion than ever. Reflexion will, at that time, be particularly needful, to check the extravagance of our joy; to preserve us from vanity and self-conceit; to keep our pampered appetites in subjection; to guard us from the dangers of prosperity and the temptations of luxury, from distipation and debauchery, from pride and insolence, from that wanton cruelty, and incredible hardness of heart, which high spirits and uninterrupted happiness too often produce. Instead of these wild excelles, religious meditation will turn the overflowings of our gladness into their proper channels, into praises and thanksgivings to the gracious Author of our happiness, and a liberal communication to others of the blessings we enjoy; which are the only p oper expressions of our thankfulness, and the only suitable return for such diftinguithing marks of the divine favour.'

In enforcing the purity of a Christian lise, in the sixth fermon, our excellent prelate thus proceeds:

• In whatever fense, then, we understand the expression of charity covering our sins, the sensualift can never avail himself of that protection, becauf- he act in direct contradiction to the very first princ'ple: of true Christian charity. “ Love worketh no ill to his neigh



[ocr errors]

bour,” says St. Paul; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law; and therefore he who works such ill to his neighbour, as the voluptuary does every day, (by destroying the innocence, the peace, the com. fort, the happiness, temporal and eternal, of those very persons for whom he professes the tenderest regard) must be an utter stranger to real philanthropy. Though he may feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and visit the fatherless and widows in their affli&tion; yet, if to gratify his own pasiions, he plunges those who have never offend, ed him in misery and disgrace, he is a hurtful member of society, Nay, perhaps his very liberality and good-nature serve only to ren. der him the more hurtful. They throw a luitre over the criminal part of his character, and render him an object of admiration to the croud of servile imitators, who, not having the sense to separate his vices from liis accomplishments, form their conduct upon his example in the gross, and hope to become equally agreeable by being equally wicked. And, as if it was not enough to have these patterns before our eyes in real life, they are once more served up to us in the productions of some modern writers, who, to the fond ambition of what they call copying after nature, and of gaining a name, are content to sacrifice the interests of virtue, and to lend a willing hand towards finishing the corruption of our manners. Hence it is, that in several of our most favourite works of fancy and amusement, the principal figure of the piece is some profesTed libertine, who, on the strength of a plezing figure, a captivating address, and a certain amiable generosity of disposition, has the privilege of committing whatever irregularities he thinks fit, and of excusing them in the easiest manner imaginable, as the unavoidable effe&ts of constitution, and the little foibles of a heart intrinsically good. Thus, whilft he delights our imagination, and wins our wifećtions, he never fails, at the same time, to corrupt our principles. And young people, more especially, insted of being inspired with a just detestation of vice, are furnished with apologies for it which they never forget, and are even taught to consider it as a necessary part of an accomplished character.'

From these specimens our readers will see that the style is plain, yet, in general, chaste and correct - Perfectly free from all affectation, and yet neither deficient in vivacity nar elegance.

2. Horatii Flacci, quæ supersunt, recensuit et Notulis inftruxit Gilbertus Wakefieid, A. B. 2 Vols. Imall 8vo. 1os. 66.

Boards. Large Paper 18s. Kearsleys. 1794. JT is difficult to point out a more interesting writer among

the Roman poets, than Horace, both on account of the variety of his talents, and the elegance of his compositions. It is 110t, iherefore, surprizing that so many commentators

« AnteriorContinuar »