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seemed to wind at its own sweet will,' coming whence you knew not, going whither you could hardly tell ; now lingering in some deep pool, and now flowing swift and clear through bright fields, now shady with over-hanging wood and rock, but always bearing you with it toward the eternal ocean."
Let not our readers go to these volumes for the conventional great sermon of thirty or forty years ago, with its exordium, statement, discussion, and peroration, all expressed in sounding diction and tinctured with puritan piety or quaintness; all here is simple and purpose-like. The true elevation of the style is in the spirituality, earnestness, and poetry of the preacher's soul. He could not be trammeled by skeletons and faultless arrangements; he had a deep and solemn work in hand,—to win souls, a work that had direct relations to eternity. With a vividness almost distressing he realizes the nearness and stern reality of the great verities of spiritual life; and insists, with endless iteration, upon the paramount importance of a right state of heart. We have opened upon the sermon 66 Secret Faults.” He urges an honest and thorough knowledge of our own hearts, and lifts his voice against the overwhelming self-complacency of numbers of religious people: “Most men are contented with a slight acquaintance with their own hearts. Men are satisfied to have numberless secret faults. They do not think about them either as sins or as obstructions to strength of faith, and live on as if they had nothing to learn.” “We are apt to shrink from any honest attempt to know ourselves as an unpleasant task, and we fall back upon our self-love. We hope the best, this saves us the trouble of examining: selflove answers for our safety. We think it sufficient to allow for certain possible unknown faults at the utmost, and to take them into the reckoning when we balance our account with our conscience; whereas, if the truth were known to us, we should find that we had nothing but debts, and those greater than we can conceive, and ever increasing."
A marked feature of these sermons is their subdued and sad tone. If he rejoices, it is with fear and trembling; if Christ's yoke is easy, he always reminds us that it is a yoke; the life of religion is a continuous battle with self, the world, and Satan, and it will take every moment of our time and tax our every resource to overcome. It is a very great and arduous thing to attain heaven. He would have us live ever under “the Great Task-Master's eye.” He “ ever rests in the thought of two, and only two, absolutely and luminously self-evident beings,—himself and his Creator. His congenial themes are: “The world our enemy ; 66 Self-denial the test of the righteous;” “The Scriptures a record of human sorrow.” “ It must be admitted,” says Mr. Vaughan, “ that the sterner and more awful aspect of the Divine mind and character is that habitually in the sermons. The holiness of God, his hatred of sin, the mysteriousness of His dispensations towards man, the solemn responsibility of those to whom He reveals himself, the guilt and danger of transgressing His laws or mistaking His revelation of himself, seem ever to be weighing on the preacher's mind.”
It must strike the reader that in the earlier volumes there is a great lack of teaching concerning the person of Christ. But in the later volumes this deficiency is supplied. “Perhaps as time went on and the system and the party failed to achieve all that they had promised, and the preacher's life was lived more and more alone, the need was more deeply felt of those eternal verities concerning the Son of God which alone give the soul its ground of access and its assurance of an unfailing sympathy and relief in doubt, sadness, and temptation.” But the office and work of the Holy Spirit is always clearly and fully recognized. His sermon on Rom. viii. 9, is the most comprehensive and eloquent statement of the work of the blessed Spirit that we have ever read ; and if an objectionable phrase or two were deleted, we could desire to see it reprinted as a tract and circulated by tens of thousands. He speaks of the Holy Spirit's office as the regenerator of man's soul, and says: “Being then the sons of God, and one with Him, our souls mount up and cry to Him continually. This special characteristic of the regenerate soul is spoken of by St. Paul: “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father.' Nor are we left to utter these cries to Him in
way own, but He who sent the Spirit to dwell in us habitually_enables us thus to cry.
Christ left His sacred prayer to be the peculiar possession of His people and the voice of the Spirit.
We use our privilege of calling on Almighty God, in express words, as 'Our Father. We proceed accordingly in that waiting, trusting, adoring, resigned temper, which children ought to feel ; looking towards Him rather than thinking of ourselves ; zealous for His 'honour rather than fearful for our own safety; resting in His present help, not with eyes tremulously glancing towards the future ; His name, His kingdom, His will, are the great objects of his desire and make his portion, being stable and serene, and complete in Him,' as beseems one who has the gracious presence of His Spirit within him.” We have looked carefully into these volumes to discover how much his “ Catholic Theology” is obtruded here, and are pleasingly disappointed to find that he cared more about enforcing cardinal truth than preaching the sacraments.
And we cannot find a germ of the Ritualism of the present day. In the sermon on “Infant Baptism” he of course pleads for the Popish view, and says at the conclusion ; “We have had the sign of the cross set on us in our infancy,—shall we ever forget it? It is our profession. We have had the water poured
upon us : it was like the blood upon the door-posts, when the destroying angel passed over. Let us fear to sin after grace given,
worse thing come upon us.” Upon the “Eucharistic Presence” he thus speaks : “0 my brethren, let us raise and enlarge our notions of Christ's presence in that mysterious ordinance, and we shall understand how it is that the Christian, in spite of his infirmities, and not forgetting them, still may rejoice with joy unspeakable.' For what is that which is vouchsafed to us at the Holy Table when we commemorate our Lord's death? It is • Jesus Christ before our eyes, evidently set forth crucified among us. Not before our bodily eyes. So far everything remains at the end of that Holy Communion as it did at the beginning. What was bread remains bread, and what was wine remains wine. We need no carnal, earthly, visible miracle to convince us of the presence of our Lord Incarnate.
We are allowed to draw near, to 'give, take, and eat, His sacred Body and Blood as truly as though, like Thomas, we could thrust our hands into His side.”
There is hardly a sermon but has passages and paragraphs of the most exquisite writing, of choicest rhetoric and imagery, of true poetic prose, such as these three short extracts : “Let us pray Him to give us the beauty of holiness, that what beauty of person is to the outward man, so that through God's mercy our souls may not have strength and health only, but a sort of bloom and comeliness; and that as we grow older in body, we may year by year grow more youthful in spirit.” 6. The planting of Christ's Cross in the heart is sharp and trying ; but the stately tree rears itself aloft, and has fair branches and rich fruit; and is good to look upon.” “ All images of what is pleasant and sweet in nature are brought together to describe the pleasantness, the sweetness of the grace of God. As wine enlivens, and bread strengthens, and oil is rich, and honey is sweet, and flowers are fragrant, and dew is refreshing, and foliage is beautiful; so, and much more, are God's gifts in the Gospel, enlivening, strengthening, and rich and sweet and fragrant and all excellent.” One of the most beautiful and powerful sermons in the series is the one on the Invisible World." From this discourse we offer our readers a lengthy extract, and we are sure we need not apologize for its length : “ Such is the hidden kingdom of God; and as it is now hidden, so in due time shall it be revealed. Men think that they are lords of the world, and may do as they will. They think the earth their property, and its movements in their power; whereas it has other lords besides them, and it is the scene of a higher conflict than they are capable of conceiving. It contains Christ's little ones whom they despise, and his angels whom they disbelieve; and these at length shall take possession of it and be manifested. At present all things to appearance continue as they were from the beginning of the creation,' and scoffers ask, • Where is the promise of his coming ?' But at the appointed time there will be manifestation of the sons of God, and the bidden saints shall shine out as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. When the angels appeared to the shepherd it was a sudden appearance — Suddenly there was with the angels a multitude of the heavenly host. How wonderful a sight: The night had before that seemed just like any other night, as the evening on which Jacob saw a vision seemed like any other evening. They were keeping watch over their sheep; they were watching the night as it passed. The stars moved on: it was midnight. They had no idea of such a thing when the angel appeared. Such are the power and virtue of hidden things which are seen, and at God's will they are manifested. They were manifested for a moment to Jacob, for a moment to Elisha's servant, for a moment to the shepherds. They will be manifested for ever when Christ comes at the last day; then the world will fade away, and the other world will shine forth.
“Let these beyour thoughts in this spring season, when the whole face of nature is so rich and beautiful. Once only in the year, yet once does the world which we see show forth its hidden powers, and in a manner manifest itself. Then the leaves come out, and the blossoms on the fruit trees and flowers, and the grass and the corn spring up. There is a sudden rush and burst outwardly of the hidden life which God has lodged in the material world. Well, that shows you, as by a sample, what it can do at God's command, when He gives the word. This earth, which now buds forth in leaves and blossoms, will one day burst forth into a new world of light and glory, in which we shall see saints and angels dwelling. Who would think, except from his experience of former springs all through his life, who would conceive two or three months before, that it was possible for the face of nature, which then seemed so lifeless, should become so splendid and varied ? How different is a-tree, how different is a prospect, when leaves are on it and off it? How unlikely it would seem before the event, that the dry and naked branches should suddenly be clothed with what is so bright and refreshing ? Yet, in God's good time, leaves come on the trees. The season may delay, but it will come at last. So it is with the coming of that Eternal Spring, for which all Christians are waiting. Come it will, though it delay; yet, though it tarry, let us wait for it. Therefore we say day by day, Thy Kingdom come, which means, O Lord, show Thyself, manifest Thyself; Thou that sittest between the Cherubim, show Thyself; stir up Thy strength and come and help us! The earth that we see does not satisfy us; it is but a beginning, it is but the promise of something beyond it, even when it is gayest with all its blossoms on, and shows most touchingly wbat lies in it, yet it is not enough. We know much more lies hid in it than we see. A world of saints and angels; a glorious world ; the palace of God; the mountain of the Lord of Hosts; the Heavenly Jerusalem; the Throne of God and Christ,—all these wonders, everlasting, all-precious, mysterious, and incomprenensible, lie bid in what we see.
What we see is the outward shell of an Eternal Kingdom; and on that kingdom we fix the eye of our faith. Shine forth, O Lord, as when on Thy nativity Thy angels visited the shepherds ; let Thy glory blossom forth as bloom and foliage on the trees; change with Thy mighty power this visible world into that Divine world which as yet we see not; destroy what we see, that it may pass and be transformed into what we believe. Bright as is the sun, and the sky, and the clouds, green as are the leaves and the fields ; sweet as is the singing of the birds; we know that they are not all, and we will not take up with a part for the whole. They proceed from a centre of love and goodness, which is God himself; but they are not his fulness; they speak of heaven, but they are not heaven; they are but as stray beams and dim reflections of His image; they are but crumbs from the table. We are looking for the coming of the day of God, when all this outward world, fair though it be, shall perish ; when the heavens shall be burnt and the earth shall melt away. We can bear the loss, for we know it will be but the removing of a veil. We know that to remove the world that is seen will be the manifestation of the world that is not seen. We know that what we see is a screen hiding from us God, and Christ, and His saints and angels; and we earnestly desire and pray for the dissolution of all that we see from our longing after that which we do not see."
This extract will convey an adequate idea of the preacher's purity and quiet power of style; his fresh and original thinkings; and his deep and searching spirituality. The influence of his evangelical training is very evident; the truth once thoroughly known, its influence will remain even when it is denied in conduct, or rejected in theory. Most of these sermons a Methodist might preach. Now and again we meet with a caricature statement of what Evangelicals hold; and his Roman allusions occasionally disfigure his pages; yet, for a thoughtful and cultured Christian man, we can conceive of no greater enjoyment than a few quiet hours in communion with this devout and eloquent preacher. We think in this closing extract all our readers can heartily join:“ What can this offer comparable with that insight into spiritual things, that keen faith, that heavenly peace, that high sanctity, that everlasting righteousness, that hope of glory, which they have who in sincerity and love follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ? Let us beg and pray Him day by day to reveal Himself to our souls more fully, to quicken our senses, to give us sight and hearing,