« VorigeDoorgaan »
peace He came when the world was in peace. He appeared to establish peace between heaven and earth. He has erected a peaceful kingdom; his subjects are the friends of peace. He is pleased himself, to be called the prince of peace. The legacy which he left to his disciples, was peace. He lives to communicate peace from heaven, an abundance of peace. The peace which he imparts, flows like a river. It is gentle in its progress, and silent in its course. It reflects on its bosom the beauty of the skies. Its banks are clothed with verdure, and decked with flowers. In its winding course, it is sometimes shaded, and sometimes almost hid from view, but it appears again, and affords refreshment; it widens in its channel, and it is directed to the ocean.
Have you an experimental acquaintance with this peace? Does the peace of God dwell in your hearts? Have you peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ? Is it a pure peace, as proceeding from him who is essentially holy? Is it an established peace, as having the promise of God for its support? Is it a settled peace, not much disturbed by the occurrences of time? Do you find that the kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost? Is your peace distinguished from the false security of the sinner? His leads to indolence, does yours make you active? Do you perceive that without diligence in the service of God, this peace cannot be maintained? That it is in the way of duty you must expect its preservation, and in this way, if it should be interrupted, you must have it restored? Do you suspect the peace that may consist with inattention to any of God's holy laws? Has the peace of which we are speaking, a ruling power in your soul? Does it check the risings of improper passions? Or does it lay them if they are roused? Is this peace a preservative from sin? Is its influence perceived for this purpose in solitude? Do you experience its power when you meet with untoward events? Does it particularly shine in adversity? Do you find "when earth reels under you," that it lays hold on the skies? Does this peace fill you with holy gratitude? Have you an overpowering sense of the goodness of God in granting, and continuing this blessing to you? Do you find that the manner of communication enhances the benefit? When you are tempted to any thing which would be prejudicial to it, do you readily resist the temptation? Do you consider it as too valuable to be trifled with, and too tender to be exposed? Do you walk cautiously, as persons carrying a curious machine which is liable to be broken?
Does the peace of God in your soul influence your conduct towards your fellow creatures? Are you kind and courteous to them? Do you studiously avoid giving offence? Does it appear that your principles and practice lead you to promote the peace of society? Do you sustain the honourable character of a peace-maker? Does it appear, if you are at variance with any, that you are willing to be reconciled? Do you, in this manner, exemplify the excellence of that religion which came from the realms of peace?
If you complain that you do not enjoy this serenity of mind, enquire into the cause. You may discover it; and when discovered, do not rest until it be removed.' pp. 49-51.
Mr. Thomson's Sermons discover a mind accustomed to observe the interior of human character, and conversant with the artifices of men of the world. They are best suited to that class of young persons, who are exposed to the fascinating influence of the votaries of pleasure and dissipation, or who are liable to be bewildered in the mazes of a false philosophy. With a masterly hand he has sketched the various forms which temptation ordinarily assumes; has laid open the labyrinths and wily artifices by which the unwary are in danger of being entangled, and thus acts the part of a faithful and truly paternal monitor. The discourses are wanting in simplicity of diction, unless his youthful audience were peculiarly select and intelligent. His small volume, (which we could wish every young person, who is entering the circle of worldly influence, to read with devout attention,) contains two Discourses, founded on Prov. i. 10. Their title sufficiently indicates the design of the Preacher.
The enticements against which he warns his juvenile audience, and which are happily illustrated and exposed in succession, are classed under the following heads: 1. The Attempts made to corrupt and destroy religious Principles. 2. Persuasives to make light of Sin. 3. Promises of Pleasure and Advantage. 4. The specious Names given to sinful Indulgences. 5. The influence of Example, 6. Indirect enticements; such as books, company, conversation, and amusements. Finally: The Purpose of future Repentance.
Mr. Roby's plan, to which we refer last, as the most recent publication, is much more extensive than that of the preceding writers. His principal object seems to be, to fortify the minds of youth against the specious arguments of sceptics and infidels.
Instead of presenting our readers any extracts from the volume before us, which would convey but an inadequate conception of the work, we shall give an epitome of the course of Lectures. They are twenty in number, and divided into four classes.
Introductory Lectures.-On the Nature and Importance of real Religion. On the Spirit of Religious Inquiry. On the Source of Religious Knowledge. On pretended Divine Revelations.-Evidences of Revealed Religion.-On Evidences of the Genuineness and Authenticity of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. On the Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures: particularly, the Evidence arising from Miracles. On the Evidence arising from Prophecy. On the General and Internal Evidences. On the Futility of Objections.-The Dispensations of Revealed Religion.-On the Dispensation with Man in his State of original Innocence; or, the Covenant of Works. On the Mediatorial Dispensation: or, the Covenant of Grace. On the Adamic Dispensation; or, the Covenant with our First Parents after
their Fall. On the Covenant with Noah. On the Abrahamic Covenant. On the Mosaic Economy. On the Christian Dispensation. On the Future State.-Concluding Lectures.-On the complete Sufficiency, and the absolute Authority of the Scriptures. On the Duty of searching the Scriptures. On the Regard due to things Secret, and things Revealed.'
Though the subjects of which Mr. R. treats, have been frequently discussed both in the pulpit and from the press, they are so clearly stated, and so happily illustrated in these lectures, that, accompanied with a warning and affectionate address, they could scarcely fail to interest and instruct his youthful charge. They are enlivened by short and striking anecdotes, narrated with ease, yet in language not unbecoming the dignity of a religious address, or the office of a Christian minister. We doubt not that they produced a considerable impression as first delivered; but from the comparatively abstract nature of some of the topics of discourse, they are likely to prove yet more instructive, and permanently useful from the press.
Art. VIII. Letters on the Constrained Celibacy of the Clergy of the Church of Rome, addressed to an Irish Divine of that Church, by his Friend, a Layman of the Church of England. 8vo. pp. 406. Price 10s. London. 1816.
THAT a volume of four hundred pages should be written
and published for the purpose of proving that the laws of a professedly Christian and Apostolic Church, which prohibit its ministers from contracting matrimony, and impose perpetual celibacy upon them, are erroneous and pernicious, is a circumstance which must surprise every person whose knowledge of religious obligation is derived solely from the Scriptures, and who, being unacquainted with the polity of the Romish Church, should learn the fact that such a book is in existence. We do not say this from the least disrespect towards the present Author, or with any view of disparaging his work, which is ably written, and very efficient for its purpose; but to engage the attention of our readers to the remarkable feature of that corrupt community which forbids to marry, which is so copiously delineated and so effectually exposed in these curious pages. We cannot but declare our persuasion, that in the laws and practice which are here examined, a pregnant cause will be found, of many of the oppressions and mischiefs which the world has so long endured, but which, in its progress to the attainment of the freedom and other blessings worthy of its aspirations, it will be taught to endure no longer. They have been the great instrument in producing the esprit de corps which has rendered the Romish Hierarchy so subservient a body to purposes the most tyrannising. A priesthood comprising many myriads of regular and VOL, XI. N.S.
secular clergy, all cemented by common principle, and devoted without reserve, to the promotion of an ecclesiastical dominion, restrained from the conjugal ties of life, and shut out from its common relations, is not to be viewed with indifference by persons who wish well to mankind.
This Layman of the Church of England, is well prepared for the attack which he has made on one of the strong holds of Popery; and we think that his Correspondent must have felt the force of the facts and reasonings which he has urged against constrained Clerical Celibacy, and which, in accommodation to the practice of the Romish divines, he has principally drawn from the traditions and acknowledged documents of their own Church, though the authority of the Scriptures is not overlooked, nor its testimonies neglected.
We do not, however, like his speaking of himself as a Protestant, early instructed to ground his religious opinions almost exclusively on the Bible.' On what besides the Bible are they grounded? We had imagined that it is on the Scriptures entirely, to the exclusion of all other authorities, that the religious opinions of Protestants rest. The Author, we are aware, was managing an argument which might require him to notice the decrees of Councils and the opinions of Fathers; but these, it is evident, are of no higher value than as they are parts of the argumentum ad hominem, addressed to a Divine of the Church of Rome, by whom their authority is in course admitted. This qualified reference to the Bible, may, we are afraid, be construed as importing a concession which no Protestant should ever permit himself to sanction. The whole cause of Protestantism is exposed to peril, if the Scriptures be not maintained as the only standard of religious obligation. It is therefore of the first importance, that this principle should be seen occupying its proper place in the writings of every opponent of a system which finds the basis of its authority in human opinion, in the decrees of Popes and Prelates.
The first of these Letters contains an examination of some passages in Ward's Errata of the Protestant Translations of the Bible, in which the calumnies of that intemperate writer are properly exposed. In the second letter, the Author engages in the proof of his position, that the matrimonial union of man and woman, is a requisite and innocent state, which he establishes by scriptural evidence, to the following effect: that it is a state instituted by the Creator; countenanced and honoured by our Saviour; represented by one inspired Apostle as favourable to moral edification, and domestic felicity; and by another considered as expedient and generally indispensable for the preclusion of crimes which exclude men from salvation. Having adduced the sentiments of the Fathers, and of other ecclesiastical
authorities, acknowledged by members of the Roman Catholic Church, in favour of the state of matrimony, this Layman produces, in his third letter, the following canon of the Council of Trent, on which he founds a most powerful appeal to the conscience of his correspondent; an appeal with the effect of which we confess we should like to be made acquainted.
"If any one shall say that the state of matrimony is to be preferred to the state of virginity or celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in a state of virginity or celibacy than to engage in matrimony, let him be anathema*; that is, cursed and devoted to destruction."
• Does not this canon, my friend, seem to imply a very unbecomingly contemptuous disregard of these important and acknowledged facts, that matrimony was instituted and honoured by Almighty God; that celibacy is repugnant to his manifest designs; that the latter was inculcated, in apostolic times, by heretics and heathens alone; and that a prohibition to marry was pointedly reprobated by St. Paul? Is not this damnatory canon quite incompatible with the spirit of Christianity, and irreconcilable with the doctrines of both the Old and New Testaments, in denouncing as accursed, those who, with a full view of the pollutions and enormities notoriously occasioned by constrained celibacy, venture to maintain, under the sanction of the Most High, that the state of wedlock, prescribed by Him, is preferable to that which was apostolically announced to be conformable to the doctrines of devils? Tim. iv. Does not this canon, my friend, place you in a most embarrassing dilemma?Perhaps you may discover some ingenious plausible method of extricating yourself from the perplexing dilemma to which this canon evidently exposes you. For my part, I am totally at a loss to conceive how you can avoid being gored by one or other of its horns. If you assent to the doctrine of the Tridentine prelates, it me that you must internally contemn the command of God, referred to by our Saviour; besides disrespectfully depreciating and disparaging that union of man and woman, which has long been held by your Church to be a sacrament," a visible sign of inward invisible grace, instituted or appointed by Christ, for man's sanctification." On the contrary, if you be restrained by becoming veneration for your Creator, from the crime of presuming to contemn his commands; and, by respect for your Church, to which, according to Mr. Nicole, you owe greater respect than to your natural parents, from impliedly disparaging one of its distinguishing tenets; I think you must inevitably dissent from the doctrine in question. But if you do so, if you tacitly maintain with me, that it is better and more blessed to obey, than to disobey the recognized command of the Almighty, respecting sexual union, and the propagation of the human species;
* "Si quis dixerit statem conjugalem anteponendum esse statui virginitatis vel cælibatus, et non esse melius ac beatius manere in virginitate aut cælibatu quam jungi matrimonio, anathema sit. C. 2. Sess. 8."