Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

what is here said of it.

The subject is the second advent of Christ to judgment. The text is from Rev. i. 7. Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him Even so. Amen.*

Besides his talent for preaching, which, from the beginning, promised (and has now produced) great things, Mr. Horne had obtained so high a character at Oxford, for his humanity, condescension, and piety, that his reputation came to the ears of a criminal in the Castle, under sentence of death for one of the many highway robberies he had committed. The name of this man was Dumas; he was an Irishman by birth; and his appearance and address had so much of the gentleman, that he was a person of the first rank in his profession. This man having heard of Mr. Horne, as a person remarkable for his sense and goodness, requested the favour of his attendance; to which, on a principle of conscience, he consented; though the office was such as would probably put the tenderness of his mind to a very severe trial. And so it proved in the event; his health being considerably affected for some time afterwards. I do not find among his papers any minutes of this affair preserved in writing:† and though he gave me a large account of it, to which I could not but listen with great attention, I cannot recollect so much of it as I wish to do, at this distance of time. This I know, that he used to think anxiously with himself day and night, in what manner he should address this unhappy man, and what kind of spiritual counsel would be most likely to succeed with him; for he found him, though ready and sensible enough in all common things, deplorably destitute of all religious knowledge. To the best of my remembrance he always chose to be quite alone with him when he attended; and by repeated applications, and

* See Sermons, vol. i. Discourse 6.

constant prayer, recommended by his mild and engaging manner, thought he had made some considerable impression upon his mind. In the last conference before his execution, he thanked Mr. Horne very heartily for his goodness to him, and used these very remarkable words: "Sir, you may, perhaps, wonder at what I am about to tell you; but, I do assure you, I do feel at this moment no more sense of fear, than I should do if I were going a common journey." To this Mr. Horne answered, that he was indeed very much surprised; but he hoped it was upon a right principle. And so let us hope: though the criminal was scarcely explicit enough to give due satisfaction, whether this indifference proceeded from Christian hope or constitutional hardness.

I relate it as a singular occurrence, that when the mind of Mr. Horne was first filled with the design of commenting upon the Psalms, he should meet with a traveller in a stage-coach, who was in principle the very reverse of himself. The man gave his judg ment with all freedom on all subjects of divinity, and among the rest on the use of the Psalms in the service of the Church. The Psalms of David, he said, were nothing to us, and he thought other compositions might be substituted, which were much more to the purpose than David's Psalms. He happened to be speaking to a person who could see deeper than most men into the ignorance and folly of his discourse, but was wise enough to hear him with patience, and leave him to proceed in his own way. Yet this poor man was but the pattern of too many more, who want to be taught again that David was a Prophet, and speaks of the Messiah where he seems to be speaking of himself; as the apostle St. Peter taught the Jews, in the second chapter of the Acts, and thereby converted three thousand of them at once to the belief of Christ's resurrection.

A letter of July the 25th, 1755, informed me that Mr. Horne, according to an established custom at Mag

But the prayers he composed for the dalen College, in Oxford, had begun

occasion are in one of his MSS.

to preach before the University, on

the day of St. John the Baptist. For the preaching of this annual sermon a permanent pulpit of stone is inserted into the first Quadrangle; and, so rong as the stone pulpit was in use (of which I have been a witness) the Quadrangle was furnished round the sides with a large fence of green boughs, that the preaching might more nearly resemble that of John the Baptist in the wilderness; and a pleasant sight it was: but for many years the custom hath been discontinued, and the assembly have thought it safer to take shelter under the roof of the chapel. Our forefathers, it seems, were not so much afraid of being in jured by the falling of a little rain, or the blowing of the wind, or the shining of the sun upon their heads. The preacher of 1755, pleased the audience very much by his manner and style, and all agreed that he had a very fine imagination: but he was not very much pleased with the compliment. As a Christian teacher, he was much more desirous that his hearers should receive and understand, and enter into the spirit of the doctrines he had delivered; but in this he found them slower than he wished, and laments it heavily in a private letter. Two sermons on the subject of St. John the Baptist were printed, and many others succeeded which were not printed: for the author, at last, on a review of what he had done, thought it more advisable to throw the matter out of that form, and cast an abridgment of the whole into the form of Considerations.*

If there be any Christian reader who wishes to know what a saint is, and aspires to be one himself, let him keep before his eyes that beautiful and finished picture of St. John the Baptist, to the executing of which but one person of the age was equal.

But the greatest work of his life, of which he now began to form a design, was a Commentary on the whole Book of Psalms. In the year 1758, he told me how he had been meditating on the Book of Psalms, and

[blocks in formation]

had finished those for the first day of the month, upon the following plan :* 1. An analysis of the Psalm, by way of argument. 2. A paraphrase on each verse. 8. The substance digested into a prayer. "The work said he) delights me greatly, and seems, so far as I can judge of my own turn and talents, to suit me the best of any I can think of. May be who hath the keys of David, prosper it in my hand; granting me the knowledge and utterance necessary to make it serviceable to the church!" Let any person of judgment peruse the work, and he will see how well the author has succeeded, and kept up the spirit of it to the end. His application of the book of Psalms is agreeable to the testimony so repeatedly given to it, and the use made of it, in the New Testament. This question is stated and settled beyond a doubt, in a learned preface to the work. The style is that of an accomplished writer; and its ornaments distinguish the vigour of its imagination. That all readers should admire it as I do, is not to be expected; yet it has certainly met with great admiration; and I have seen letters to him, from persons of the first judgment, on the publication of the book. It will never be neglected, if the church and its religion should continue; for which he prayed fervently every day of his life. When it first came from the press, Mr. Daniel Prince, his bookseller, at Oxford, was walking to or from Magdalen College with a copy of it under his arm, "What have you there, Mr. Prince ?" said a gentleman who met him. "This, Sir, is a copy of Dr. Horne's Psalms, just now finished. The President, Sir, began to write very young: but this is the work in which he will always live.” In this Mr. Prince judged very rightly; he will certainly live in this work: but there are many others of his works, in which he will not die, till all learning and piety shall die with him.

His Commentary on the Psalms

This plan he afterwards thought proper to alter, and, as it is judged, for the

better.

was under his hand about twenty years. The labour to which he submitted in the course of the work, was prodigious; his reading, for many years, was allotted chiefly to this subject; and his study and meditation to gether produced as fine a work, and as finely written, as most in the English language. There are good and learned men who canhot but speak well of the work, and yet are forward to let us know that they do not fol low Dr. Horne as an interpreter. I believe them: but this is one of the things we have to lament: and, while they may think this an honour to their judgment, I am afraid it is a symptom that we are retrograde in theological learning. The author was sensible, that, after the pleasure he had received in studying for the work, and the labour of composing and correcting, he was to offer what the age was ill prepared to receive. This put him on his guard; and the work is in some respects the better for it, in others not so good; it is more cautiously and correctly written, but, perhaps, not so richly furnished with matter as it might have been. Had he been composing a novel, he would have been under none of these fears: his imagination might then have taken its course, without a bridle, and the world would have followed as fast as he could wish.

The first edition in quarto was pub lished in the year 1776, when the author was vice-chancellor; and it happened, soon after its publication that I was at Paris. There was then a Christian University in the place! and I had an opportunity of recommending it to some learned gentlemen who were members of it, and understood the English language well. I took the liberty to tell them, our church had lately been enriched by a Commentary on the Psalms; the best in our opinion that had ever appeared; and such as St. Austin would have perused with delight if he had lived to see it. At my return the author was so obliging as to furnish me with a copy to send over to them as a present; and I was highly gratified by the approbation with which it was

received. With those who could read English, it was so much in request, that I was told the book was never out of hand; and I apprehend more copies were sent for. Every intelligent Christian, who once knows the value of it, will keep it to the end of his life, as the companion of his retirement: and I can scarcely wish a greater blessing to the age, than that it may daily be better known and more approved.

(To be continued.)

The true and Apostolical Mode of imparting Religious Knowledge, and of propagating the Gospel, exemplified in an Eulogium on the Society (in England) for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

[The author of the following extract,

the Rev. Christopher Wordsworth, D. D. this country, except through the medium

Dean of Bocking, is but little known in

of the Christian Observer, in which he is censured on account of his opposition to the British and Foreign Bible Society. We trust our readers, however, will not be deterred by this circumstance from a candid perusal of the following extract from a Sermon preached by him before a Committee of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. The superior claims of this Society above those of more modern origin, are set forth in this eloquent address, with great simplicity, clearness, force, and candour. The true and apostolical mode of imparting reliGospel, finds in this writer a powerful adgious knowledge, and of propagating the

vocate.]

WHEREFORE, brethren, if your de sire be to do good, and to communicate; if ye seek the edifying of the Church; if it be your care, as ye have opportunity to do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith-then we say, Come hither. Bring your gifts to this treasury of the Lord. Lay your offerings upon this altar. Promote, with your best efforts, that special object for which we are met together this day. I fear no contradiction when

I affirm, that let the pretensions and claims of other institutions be what they may, to you there is none which can enter into any comparison with that now before us: to all, I mean, who are true patriots, wise citizens of the world, and conscientious members and lovers of the Church of England. "I speak as to wise men, judge ye what I say."

1. This Society, discerning the importance of a solid foundation, begins wisely with man in his infancy. To promote the erection and good government of schools for the children of the lower orders of the people, has ever been an object of its most anxious regard and concern. And in this one department only, the benefits derived to every corner of our land, and indeed to the Christian world at large, from the aid, the influence, and the example of this institution, are inestimable.

Yes it is now generally acknowledged amongst us, that while the welfare of states most depends on a contented, industrious, and virtuous peasantry, this condition of things is best secured, their own happiness, and that of their families, is best promoted, by inuring children to the yoke of discipline, and by imparting to them the blessings of a Christian education, and training them to habits of useful industry? Do all now understand, that it is the baneful and foolish delusion of a shallow, pretended philosophy, which would withhold instruction from the young, under the plea of keeping their minds unbiassed, and free from I know not what prejudices? Do all agree, that the poor man, not less than the rich, is to understand, that he was born for nobler purposes than to pass a few short years here, drudging and toiling among the clods of his kindred earth; that he too has within him a divine particle of God's holy and immortal spirit; that he has a Father and Master in the heavens; that, therefore, his mind likewise must be raised, ever and anon, to high and heavenly things; that he too is to have an eye open to see, and an ear to hear; that his feet must be shod with the preparation of

the Gospel of peace; that he must take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God; fighting under the banner of the Author and Captain of his salvation, and remembering that the aim and end of all his earthly pilgrimage is this, that he too should one day spurn this lower world, and leave it behind him, passing through the everlasting doors of heaven, and welcomed there, all his toils being now over, by the joyful acclamations of the angels that stand before the presence of God, and by the glorious Church triumphant, and by the heart-piercing words of Jesus, his Master and King, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord?" Are these things, I say, in good degree, acknowledged and felt, and acted upon by all; then, let it not be forgotten, that very much of this wisdom has been derived from the labours of this Society. It led the way, when these duties were comparatively little understood.

Its members have ever been in the first ranks to contend for and to establish these great truths; and its charitable labours have every where confirmed the voice of reason, by the sure test of experience. And therefore let it be your care, that it may go on as heretofore, rather with continually increasing ability and zeal, testifying throughout our land a dutiful obedience to the merciful charge of our Lord to his Apostle, "Feed my lambs ;" and accomplishing, to the best of its ability, the word of prophecy spoken of the day of the Messiah, "to the poor the Gospel is preached."

2. Therefore, again, as the next great step to this blessed consummation, has God given from heaven his holy Scriptures, for our instruction and consolation: his law to be a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our paths; the word of his Gospel, to make us wise unto salvation? Has he spread a table for us in the wilderness, and prepared manna, angel's food, to be our refreshment in this earthly sojourn? Has he opened a fountain of living waters, sweeter than honey to the throat? Is it his will

that all should be built up in his holy faith, should walk in the paths of his commandments, and so, in the end, attain everlasting life? Then, here likewise, let not this our Institution be deprived of its due tribute of praise.

More than one hundred years has the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge faithfully laboured in this vineyard, co-operating with the divine purposes of mercy. It saw many hungry for the bread of life, their soul meanwhile fainting within them, by reason of their adversity, and it compassionated their destitute condition. Therefore, it called aloud to all who feel for the sorrows of humanity, and who feel a concern for the welfare of Christ's Church, to bring in their aid, to remedy the most pitiable of all necessities, a dearth of the word of God. This call it has ever since continued to prefer; and, thanks be to the Almighty Giver of all good, not without distinguished

success.

Here then you see a second leading branch of this Society's Christian and beneficent designs. It stands forth, with the book of the holy Scripture in its hand, testifying that these are the words whereby we must be saved. Its desire is, that all should know the Lord, from the least unto the greatest, and hear his voice, and meditate thereon day and night and while it seeks that all from their tender

years should know letters, it ne ver ceases likewise to testify aloud, that all learning is vain, the foundation of which is not laid upon that volume, which alone is able to make men wise unto salvation.

Therefore, in pursuit of these charitable purposes, it enters the cottager's abode, there to reposite this precious boon. And here, it says to the weary labourer, is the sweetest solace of all thy toils, and the surest guide to contentment on earth, and to all that share of happiness to thee and thine, which is ever allotted to man here below. Learn, therefore, in these leaves to commune with thine own heart, to sit meekly at the feet of thy Saviour, listening to his voice;

and obey the injunction of God, by his servant Moses, to the people Israel, "These words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."* By the friendly aid of this Institution, the seaman likewise, as he ploughs the trackless deep, is invited to fix his eye on the load-star of Christian hope, to gather fresh strength to encounter the storms and billows of life's tempestuous sea, to steer his course by the unerring compass of God's word, and so to reach in the end that haven of everlasting peace, where his soul would be: and the soldier it inspires with strength unknown before, while he is armed with the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God; and marches under the shelter of that shield of faith, whereby he is able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. To the prisoner it seeks to point out the way, how, though his body be in chains, yet his immortal spirit shall be no longer bound for ever, but shall receive the fulfilment of that gracious promise of God's word, "If the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed:" and to the sick man's bed it brings the glad tidings of that physician, who shall pour wine and oil into the wounds of his afflicted spirit; and by whose might and grace, even while the outward man is perishing, the inward man shall be renewed day by day.

3. But further: what is it, in the estimate of the wise Christian, that stands next in importance to the word of God? It is, surely, his worship. Is it fit that men should lift up holy hands to God in supplication? Is it his desire, that they should pray with the heart, and pray with the understanding also? Yea, is it a joyful and pleasant thing to be thankful? And does the Lord himself call us to go into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise? Here

Deut. vi. 6.

« AnteriorContinuar »