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though you are generally left without a due statement of that which alone to fallen sinners gives life and power to the precept; you have the defence of the external system, though you have not the light and glory which render its excellence selfevident. The spirit of writers has
been more Catholic, end there has been less contention about minor points. If there be less originality and depth, there is ordinarily more correctness of expression. Sound criticism of the sacred text has, both on the continent and in this country, been much advanced, and the subject of the evidences of religion has, in consequence of the attacks of infidels, been placed in many new and striking lights.
May we not learn from such a review not to be carried away by mere authority of station. Sincere, affectionate, and ready respect is always due to those in authority ; but let us remember, that it does not necessarily follow, because men have been in high official situations in any church, that therefore their sentiments accord either with the scriptures, or the avowed doctrines of that church to which they belong. Many writers holding important offices in a church, have as we have seen, departed very far from its principles, and there have been many outwardly of a different communion, who have held and defended all its doctrines.
There was all along (not ordinarily in prominent and leading situations, with the exception of Reynolds, Hopkins, and Beveridge, and some others) a class of writers and preachers who continued to uphold and diffuse evangelical principles, with the distinctness and clearness of better days. Some have already been noticed, and such writers as Polhill and Jenks in our own country, and Claude, Venema, Spanheim, Witsius, Vitringa, Turretin, and Franck in foreign countries still fully proclaimed the distinguishing doctrines of the gospel.
The Author has thus, with the utmost plainness and openness, stated his views on a subject, not less diffi cult than delicate. He has endeavoured to give the best judgment, which, after much consideration, he could form, and throws himself on the candour and kindness of readers, who, knowing more than himself, will know also how to make just allowances for such an attempt.
It is delightful to think of the higher and richer song of praise which we may believe, many of those on whose writings we have made these free remarks, are now singing :-unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us to be kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion, for ever and ever.
It will be generally allowed, that there has been an extended revival of scriptural divinity within the last century. Its commencement was, as usual in God's dispensations, with a few individuals.
Dr. Buchanan speaks thus on this subject: It was about the middle of the last century that INFIDELITY, which had appeared long before, first began to show itself in strong and general operation. It was at a time when the light of Christianity was very
feeble, and it was apprehended that this new adversary would totally extinguish it. But behold the provia dence of God! at this very period, there was a revival of religion in England, commencing in the bosom of our own Church. Distinguished preachers arose in succession, men possessing the spirit and eloquence of the first Reformers; and the doctrine of the blessed apostle and evangelist St. John,' was preached with great energy and effect; multitudes of the people bearing witness by their repentance and conversion to its truth and heavenly power. And it was soon found to be the pure and operative faith of the Primitive Church and of the Reformation ; differing as much from mere profession as the substance from the shadow, and bearing the true character which cannot be feigned, namely, righteousness in life, and peace in death. At the very time when the spirit of infidelity was fostering its strength under the name of philosophy, and preparing for the awful revolutions which followed; the spiritual religion of Christ began to revive, and has since produced the most beneficial effects.'
He thus sums up those beneficial effects-(1) An increased knowledge of the Holy Scriptures ; producing (2) a cultivation of the principles of the gospel, and the practice of the virtues of subordination, loyalty, and contentment. (3) The almost universal instruction of the poor : so that it may be truly said, “ the poor have the gospel preached unto them. (4). The more general worship of God in our land ;-(5) the publication of the Bible in new languages, and (6) the promulgation of Christianity among all nations, to Jews and Gentiles.”
It may be well more distinctly to mark the progress of this revival, and let us take the account of an eminent instrument in carrying it forward—the Rev. Joseph Milner : as it regards both his own case and the general state of the Church.
The Author has in his possession a letter from the late Joseph Milner, to Mr. Newton, dated in Sept, 1771, where, speaking of the great evil of mixing the gospel with philosophy, an evil which he had personally felt; he adds, Cambridge Metaphysics I am obliged to for much of that enmity and reasoning that have distressed me.
In vain did I desire, when God shewed me the gospel, in some measure to preserve a good understanding between the Scripture and King's Origin of Evil, Locke, Clarke, and other Metaphysicians, which I had read with greediness, digested with kind affection, and remembered, and still remember, with obstinate retention. The affair of free-will particularly has cost me many a pang. In short, by bitter experience, rather than reasoning, I have been convinced, that if man be saved, it must be by free-grace, in the proper and full sense of the words. What signifies' reasoning against facts ? I found I could not believe, I could not perform duties, I was sure to break every resolution; I could not change my heart, I was bverborne irresistibly, and disappointed in all I attempted. I hope you go on with your people rejoicing in the Lord, and that more and more souls are brought over to know Jesus Christ. Here the gospel is in an infant state, yet has it pleased the Lord to bless my labours in a good degree, and direct them to His own glory: dark myself, I have been made the means of giving light to others; and when I have been myself so little affected with what I have said, that I have been accusing myself of hypocrisy, how have I been astonished at the power with which it has been made to strike others,' 11
01qzul The Author has also in his possession a manuscript sermon of the late Mr. Milner, on Matt. ix. 36-38, (written probably about the same time) in which, urging the duty of prayer for more faithful ministers, he says, "Look now at a parish, for instance, in which ungodliness, ignorance, and wickedness reign-+where the sheep go astray continually, and the shepherd along with them, void himself of any Christian intelligence, and sensibility, and unwilling that his people should have any. The sun shines not on more miserable and more pitiable objects. Pastor and people in this case have scarce an idea of any better situation in religion. In such places, vices of all sorts reign without control, and the Christian religion appears a thing of no importance. You know it is no fancy picture I have been drawing, there are many such parishes in the land." He speaks in another part of numbers of
parishes, nay large tracts in the kingdom, as, still walking in darkness and wickedness
. He then gives some account of the revival of religion, in his day, as an additional motive for prayer- a great and effectual door is already opened in the Church of England, and the light breaks forth as the morning within her pale. Certainly every candid observer must see that there are at present many more useful, intelligent, and laborious ministers than there were twenty, or thirty years ago. Yet the opposition is great, and we are but in the infancy of things. It is observable, that the real good which has been done of late years in this kingdom, within the Church of England, has been effected chiefly through the means of the inferior