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DANGERS INCIDENTAL TO THE CLERICAL CHARACTER, STATED,
IN A SERMON PREACHED BEFORE THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, AT GREAT ST. MARY'S CHURCH, ON
SUNDAY, JULY 5, BEING COMMENCEMENT SUNDAY.
To Lowther Yates, D. D. Vice Chancellor, and the Heads of Colleges in the University of Cambridge, as a testimony to many of them, of the affection with which the Author retains his academical friendships; and to all, of the respect with which he regards their stations ; the following discourse is inscribed by their faithful servant,
Lest that, by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.
1 Corinthians ix.- Part of the 27th verse. These words discover the anxiety, not to say
Still farther, if there be causes, as I believe the fears, of the writer, concerning the event of there are, which raise extraordinary difficulties in his personal salvation; and, when interpreted by the way of those who are engaged in the offices the words which precede them, strictly connect of religion; circumstances even of disadvantage in that event with the purity of his personal character. the profession and character, as far as relates to
It is extremely material to remember who it was the conservation of their own virtue ; it behoves that felt this deep solicitude for the fate of his them to adopt the apostle's caution with more than spiritual interests, and the persuasion that his common care, because it is only to prepare themacceptance (in so far as it is procured by human selves for dangers to which they are more than endeavours) would depend upon the care and commonly exposed. exactness with which he regulated his own pas Nor is there good reason for concealing, either sions, and his own conduct; because, if a man from ourselves or others, any unfavourable dispoever existed, who, in the zeal and labour with sitions which the nature of our employment or wbich he served the cause of religion, in the ar- situation may tend to generate : for, be they what dour or the efficacy of his preaching, in his suf- they will, they only prove, that it happens to us ferings, or his success, might hope for some excuse according to the condition of human life, with to indulgence, some licence for gratifications which many benefits to receive some inconveniences; were forbidden to others, it was the author of the with many helps to experience some trials: that, text which has been now read to you. Yet the with many peculiar motives to virtue, and means apostle appears to have known, and by his know- of improvement in it, some obstacles are preledge teaches us, that no exertion of industry, no sented to our progress, which it may require a display of talents, no public merit
, however great, distinct and positive effort of the mind to suror however good and sacred be the cause in which mount. it is acquired, will compensate for the neglect of I apprehend that I am stating a cause of no personal self-government.
inconsiderable importance, when amongst these This, in my opinion, is an important lesson to impediments I mention, in the first place, the all : to none, certainly, can it be more applicable, insensibility to religious impression, which a con. than it is in every age to the teachers of religion; stant conversation with religious subjects, and, for a little observation of the world must have still more, a constant intermixture with religious informed us, that the human mind is prone, almost offices, is wont to induce. Such is the frame of beyond resistance, to sink the weakness or the the human constitution, (and calculated also for irregularities of private character in the view of the wisest purposes,) that whilst all active habits public services; that this propensity is the strongest are facilitated and strengthened by repetition, in a man's own case; that it prevails more power- impressions under which we are passive, are fully in religion than in other subjects, inasmuch weakened and diminished. Upon the first of as the teachers of religion consider themselves these properties depends, in a great measure, the (and rightly do so) as ministering to the higher exercise of the arts of life: upon the second, the interests of human existence.
capacity which the mind possesses of adapting
itself to almost every situation. This quality is But we have a disadvantage to contend with perceived in numerous, and for the most part additional to this. The consequence of repetition beneficial examples. Scenes of terror, spectacles will be felt more sensibly by us, who are in the of pain, objects of loathing and disgust, so far lose habit of directing our arguments to others : for it their efiect with their novelty, as to permit pro- always requires a second, a separate, and ar fessions to be carried on, and conditions of life to unusual effort of the inind, to bring back the conbe endured, which otherwise, although necessary, clusion upon ourselves. In constructing, in exwould be insupportable. It is a quality, however, pressing, in delivering our arguments; in all the which acts, as other parts of our frame do, by an ihoughts and study which we employ upon them; operation which is general; hence it acts also in what we are apt to hold continually in our view, instances in which its intiuence is to be corrected; is the effect which they may produce upon those and, amongst these, in religion. Every attentive who hear or read them. The further and best use Christian will have observed how much more of our meditations, their influence upon our own powerfully he is affected by any form of worship hearts and consciences, is lost in the presence of which is uncommon, than with the familiar re- the other. In philosophy itself, it is not always turns of his own religious offices. He will be the same thing, to study a subject, in order to sensible of the difference when he approaches, a understand, and in order only to teach it. In few times in the year, the sacrament of the Lord's morals and religion, the powers of persuasion Supper; if he should be present at the visitation are cultivated by those whose employment is pubof the sick; or even, if that were unusual to him, lic instruction ; but their wishes are fulfilled, and at the sight of a family assembled in prayer. He their care exhausted, in promoting the success of will perceive it also upon entering the doors of a their endeavours upon others. The secret duty dissenting congregation; a circumstance which of turning truly and in earnest their attention has misled many, by causing them to ascribe to upon themselves, is suspended, not to say forgotsome advantage in the conduct of public worship, ten, amidst the labours, the engagements, the what, in truth, is only the effect of new impres popularity, of their public ministry, and in the sions. Now, by how much a lay frequenter of best disposed minds, is interrupted, by the anxiety, religious worship finds himself less warmed and or even by the satisfaction, with which their pub stimulated by ordinary, than by extraordinary lic services are performed. acts of devotion, by so much, it may be expected, These are dangers adhering to the very nature that a clergyman, habitually conversant with the of our profession : but the evil is often also aug. offices of religion, will be less moved and stimu- mented by our imprudence. In our wishes to lated than he is. What then is to be done? It convince, we are extremely apt to overstate our is by an effort of reflection ; by a positive exertion arguments. We think no confidence with which of the mind; by knowing this tendency, and by we speak of them can be too great, when our setting ourselves expressly to resist it;' that we intention is to urge them upon our hearers. This are to repair the decays of spontaneous piety. zeal, not seldom, I believe, deteats its own purpose, We are no more to surrender ourselves to the even with those whom we address; but it always mechanism of our frame, than to the impulse of destroys the efficacy of the argument upon,ourour passions. We are to assist our sensitive by selves. We are conscious of the exaggeration, our rational nature. We are to supply this infir- whether our hearers perceive it or not; and this mity (for so it may be called, although, like many consciousness corrupts to us the whole influence other properties which bear the name of vices in of the conclusion; robs it even of its just value. our constitution, it be, in truth, a beneficial prin- Demonstration admits of no degrees : but real life ciple acting according to a general law)-we are knows nothing of demonstration. It converses to supply it by a deeper sense of the obligations only with moral evidence and moral reasoning; under which we lie; by a more frequent and a In these the scale of probability is extensive; and more distinct recollection of the reasons upon every argument hath its place in it. It may not which that obligation is founded. We are not to be quite the same thing to overstate a true reason, wonder at the pains which this may cost us; still and to advance a false one : but since two quesless are we to imitate the despondency of some tions present themselves to the judgment, usually serious Christians, who, in the impaired sensibi- joined together by their nature and importance, lity that habit hath induced, bewail the coldness riz. on which side probability lies, and how much of a deserted soul.
it preponderates; to transgress the rules of fair Hitherto our observation will not be questioned; reasoning in either question, in either to go bebut I think that this principle goes farther than yond our own perception of the subject, is a simiis generally known or acknowledged. I think Iar, if not an equal fault. In both cases it is a that it extends to the influence which argument want of candour, which approaches to a want of itself possesses upon our understanding; or, at veracity. But that in which its worst effect is least, to the influence which it possesses in deter- seen; that, at least, which it belongs to this dismining our will. I will not say, that, in a subject course to notice; is in its so undermining the strictly intellectual, and in science properly so solidity of our proofs, that our own understandcalled, a demonstration is the less convincing for ings refuse to rest upon them; in vitiating the being old: but I am not sure that this is not, in integrity of our own judgments; in rendering some measure, true of moral evidence and proba- our minds as well incapable of estimating the proble proofs. In practical subjects, however, where per strength of moral and religious arguments, as two things are to be done, the understanding to unreasonably suspicious of their truth, and dull be convinced, and the will to be persuaded, I be- and insensible to their impression. lieve that the force of every argument is diminished If dangers to our character accompany the ex. by triteness and familiarity. The intrinsic value ercise of our public ministry, they no less attend of the argument must be the same; the impres- upon the nature of our professional studies. It
has been said, that literary trifling upon the Scrip
tures has a tendency, above all other employments, j and progressive assistance to their principles, men to harden the heart. If by this maxim it be de- who are withdrawn from the business and the insigned to reprove the exercise, to check the free-tercourse of civil life find themselves in some meadom, or to question the utility, of critical re sure deprived. Virtue in them is left, more than searches, when employed upon the sacred voluine, in others, to the dictates of reason; to a sense of it is not by me to be defended. If it mean simply duty less aided by the power of habit. I will not to guard against an existing danger, to state a deny that this difference renders their virtue more usual and natural consequence, the maxim wants pure, more actual, and nearer to its principle; but neither truth nor use. li is founded in this obser-) it renders it less easy to be attained or preserved. vation: when any one, by the command of learn Having proposed these circumstances, as diffiing and talents, has been fortunate enough to clear culties of which I think it useful that our order up an obscurity, or to settle a doubt, in the inter- should be apprised; and as growing out of the pretation of Scripture; pleased (and justly pleased) functions of the profession, its studies, or the situawith the result of his endeavours, his thoughts are tions in which it places us; I proceed, with the wont to indulge this complacency, and there to same view, to notice a turn and habit of thinking, stop; or when another, by a patient application which is, of late, become very general amongst the of inferior faculties, has made, as he thinks, some higher classes of the community, amongst all who progress in theological studies; or even has with occupy stations of authority, and in common with much attention engaged in them; he is apt to rest these two descriptions of men, amongst the clergy. and stay in what he deems a religious and merito- That which I am about to animadvert upon, is, rious service. The critic and the commentator do in its place, and to a certain degree, undoubtedly not always proceed with the reflection, that if a fair and right consideration; but, in the extent these things be true, if this book do indeed con to which it prevails, has a tendency to discharge vey to us the will of God, then is it no longer to from the hearts of mankind all religious principle be studied and criticised alone, but, what is a very whatever. What I mean, is the performing of different work, to be obeyed, and to be acted upon. our religious offices for the sake of setting an erAt least, this ulterior operation of the mind, en-ample to others; and the allowing of this motive feebled perhaps by former exertions of quite ano- so to take possession of the mind, as to substitute ther nature, does not always retain sufficient force itself into the place of the proper ground and reaand vigour to bend the obstinacy of the will. To son of the duty. I must be permitted to contend, describe the evil is to point out the remedy; that, whenever this is the case, it becomes not only which must consist in holding steadfastly within a cold and extraneous, but a false and unreasonaour view this momentous consideration, that, how- ble, principle of action. A conduct propagated ever laboriously, or however successfully, we may through the different ranks of society merely by have cultivated religious studies; how much so- this motive, is a chain without a support, a fabric ever we may have added to our learning or our without a foundation. The parts, indeed, depend fame, we have hitherto done little for our salvation; upon one another, but there is nothing to bear up that a more arduous, to us perhaps a new, and, it the whole. There must be some reason for every may be, a painful work, which the public eye sees duty beside example, or there can be no sufficient not, which no public favour will reward, yet re reason for it at all. It is a perversion, therefore, mains to be attempted; that of instituting an exa- of the regular order of our ideas, to suffer a conmination of our hearts and of our conduct, of alter-sideration, which, whatever be its importance, is ing the secret course of our behaviour, of reducing, only secondary and consequential to another, to with whatever violence to our habits, loss of our shut out that other from the thoughts. The efpleasures, or interruption of our pursuits, its de- fect of this in the offices of religion, is utterly to viations to a conformity with those rules of life destroy their religious quality; to rob them of that which are delivered in the volume that lies open which gives to them their life, their spirituality, before us; and which, if it be of importance their nature. They who would set an example to enough to deserve our study, ought, for reasons others of acts of worship and devotion, in truth infinitely superior, to command our obedience. perform none themselves. Idle or proud specta
Another disadvantage incidental to the charac- tors of the scene, they vouchsafe their presence in ter of which we are now exposing the dangers, is our assemblies, for the edification, it seems, and the moral debility that arises from the want of be- benefit of others, but as if they had no sins of ing trained in the virtues of active life. This their own to deplore, no mercies to acknowledge, complaint belongs not to the clergy as such, be- no pardon to entreat. cause their pastoral office affords as many calls, Shall the consideration, then, of example be and as many opportunities, for beneficent exer- prohibited and discarded from the thoughts? By tions, as are usually found in private stations; no means : but let it attend upon, not supersede, but it belongs to that secluded, contemplative life, the proper motive of the action. Let us learn to which men of learning often make choice of, or know and feel the reason, the value, and the obliimito which they are thrown by the accident of gation of the duty, as it concerns ourselves; and, their fortunes. A great part of mankind owe in proportion as we are affected by the force of their principles to their practice; that is, to that these considerations, we shall desire, and desiring wonderful accession of strength and energy which endeavour, to extend their influence to others. goul dispositions receive from good actions. It is This wish, flowing from an original sense of each difficult to sustain virtue by meditation alone; but duty, preserves to the duty its proper principle. let our conclusions only have influence enough " Let your light so shine before men, that they once to determine us upon a course of virtue, and may see your good works, and glorify your Father that influence will acquire such augmentation of which is in Heaven.” The glory of your heaforce from every instance of virtuous endeavour, renly Father is still, you observe, the termination as, ere long, to produce in us constancy and resolu- of the precept. The love of God; that zeal for his tion, a forined and a fixed character. Of this great honour and service, which love, which gratitude,
which piety inspires, is still to be the operating and neglected talents, knowledge which doth not motive of your conduct. Because we find it con lead to obedience, and talents which rest in useless venient to ourselves, that those about us should be speculations, will be found, in the day of final acreligious; or because it is useful to the state, that count, amongst the objects of his severest disreligion should be upheld in the country: to join, pleasure. Would to God, that men of learning from these motives, in the public ordinances of the always understood how deeply they are concerned church, for the sake of maintaining their credit in this warning! It is impossible to add another reaby our presence and example, however advisable son which can be equal or second to our Lord's adit may be as a branch of secular prudence, is not monition : but we may suggest a motive of very either to fulfil our Lord's precept, or to perform distant indeed, but of no mean importance, and to any religious service. Religion can spring only which they certainly will not refuse its due regard, from its own principle. Believing our salvation the honour and estimation of learning itself. Ir. to be involved in the faithful discharge of our reli- regular morals in men of distinguished attain. gious as well as moral duties, or rather that they ments, render them, not despised, (for talents and are the same; experiencing the warmth, the con- learning never can be despicable,) but subjects of solation, the virtuous energy, which every act of malicious remark, perhaps of affected pity, to the true devotion communicates to the heart, and how enemies of intellectual liberty, of science and litemuch these effects are heightened by consent and rature; and, at the same time, of sincere though sympathy; with the benevolence with which we silent regret to those who are desirous of supportlove our neighbour, loving also and seeking his im- ing the esteem which ought to await the successmortal welfare; when, prompted by these senti- ful pursuit of ingenuous studies. We entreat such ments, we unite with him in acts of social homage men to reflect, that their conduct will be made the to our Maker, then hath every principle its weight; reply of idleness to industry, the revenge of dut then, at length, is our worship what it ought to be; ness and ignorance upon parts and learning; to exemplary, yet our own; not the less personal for consider, how many will seek, and think they find, being public. We bring our hearts to the service, in their example, an apology for sloth, and for inand not a constrained attendance upon the place, difference to all liberal improvement; what a with oftentimes an ill concealed indifference to theme, lastly, they supply to those, who, to the what is there passing.
discouragement of every mental exertion, preach If what we have stated concerning example be up the vanity of human knowledge, and the dantrue; if the consideration of it be liable to be over- ger or the mischief of superior attainments. stretched or misapplied; no persons can be more But if the reputation of learning he concerned in danger of falling into the mistake than they in the conduct of those who devote themselves to who are taught to regard themselves as placed in its pursuit, the sacred interests of morality are not their stations for the purpose of becoming the ex- less so. It is for us to take care that we justify amples as well as instructors of their flocks. It is not the boasts, or the sneers, of infidelity; that necessary that they should be admonished to re we do not authorise the worst of all scepticism, vert continually to the fundamental cause of all that which would subvert the distinctions of moral obligation and of all duty; particularly to remem- good and evil, by insinuating concerning them, ber, that, in their religious offices, they have not that their only support is prejudice, their only orionly to pronounce, to excite, to conduct the devo- gin in the artifice of the wise, and the credulity of tion of their congregations, but to pay to God the the multitude; and that these things are but too adoration which themselves owe to him: in a clearly confessed by the lives of men of learning word, amidst their care of others, to save their own and inquiry. This calumny let us contradict; souls by their own religion.
let us refute. Let us show, that virtue and ChrisThese, I think, are some of the causes, which, tianity cast their deepest foundations in knowin the conduct of their lives, call for a peculiar at- ledge; that, however they may ask the aid of printention from the clergy, and from men of learn- ciples which, in a great degree, govern human life, ing; and which render the apostle's example, and (and which must necessarily, thercfore, be either the lesson which it leaches, peculiarly applicable powerful allies, or irresistible adversaries, of eduto their circumstances. It remains only to remind cation, of habit, of example, of public authority, them of a consideration which ought to coun- of public institutions,) they rest, nevertheless, upon teract these disadvantages, by producing a care the firm basis of rational argument. Let us testify and solicitude, sufficient to meet every danger, to the world our sense of this great truth, by the and every difficulty; to remind them, í say, for only evidence which the world will believe, the they cannot need to be informed, of our Lord's influence of our conclusions upon our own consolemn declaration, that contumacious knowledge, I duct.
ON OUR DUTY TO GOD AND MAN.
A SERMON, PREACHED AT THE ASSIZES, AT DURHAM, JULY 29, 1795; AND PUBLISHED AT THE
REQUEST OF THE LORD BISHOP, THE HONOURABLE THE JUDGES OF ASSIZE,
AND THE GRAND JURY,
To the Honourable and Right Reverend Shute, by Divine Providence, Lord Bishop of Durhan, the following Discourse, as a small but sincere expression of gratitude, for a great, unsolicited, and unexpected favour, is inscribed, by his faithful and most obliged servant, W. PALE Y.
For none of us liveth to himself.-Rom. xiv. 7. The use of many of the precepts and maxims themselves unable to make laws as fast as occaof Scripture, is not so much to prescribe actions, sions demand them: they find themselves perpeas to generate some certain turn and habit of tually called upon to pursue, by fresh paths, the thinking; and they are then only applied as they inventive versatility of human fraud, or to provide ought to be, when they furnish us with a view of, for new and unforeseen varieties of situation. and such a way of considering, the subject to Now should religion, which professes to guide which they relate, as may rectify and meliorate the whole train and range of a man's conduct, inour dispositions; for from dispositions, so rectified terior as well as external, domestic as well as civil; and meliorated, particular good actions, and parti- and which, consequently, extends the operations cular good rules of acting, flow of their own ac- of its rules to many things which the laws leave cord. This is true of the great Christian maxims, indifferent and uncontrolled; should religion, I of loving our neighbours as ourselves; of doing to say, once set about to imitate the precision of huothers as we would that others should do to us; man laws, the volume of its precepts would soon and (as will appear, I hope, in the sequel of this be rendered useless by its bulk, and unintelligible discourse) of that of the text. These maxims be. by its intricacy. The religion of Mahomet, as ing well impressed, the detail of conduct may be might be expected from the religion of a military left to itsell. The subtleties of casuistry, I had prophet, constituted itself into the law of the almost said the science, may be spared. By pre states into which it was received. Assuming the senting to the mind one fixed consideration, such functions of legislators and magistrates, in cona temper is at length formed within us, that our junction with the character of interpreters of the first impressions and first impulses are sure almost Koran, and depositaries of the supplemental laws of being on the side of virtue; and that we feel of the religion, the successors of the Arabian likewise an almost irresistible inclination to be go- have, under the name of traditionary rules, comverned by them. When this disposition is per- piled a code for the direction of their followers in fected, the influence of religion, as a moral insti- almost every part of their conduct. The seventytution, is sufficiently established.
five thousand precepts of that code* serve only to It is not in this way, but in another, that human show the futility of the attempt; to prove by exlaws, especially the laws of free countries, proceed periment that religion can only act upon human to attain their objects. Forasmuch as their ulti- life by general precepts, addressed and applied to mate sanctions are to be dispensed by fallible men, the disposition; that there is no ground for the instead of an unerring and omniscient Judge, the objection that has sometimes been made to Chrissafety, as well as the liberty, of the subject
, re- tianity, that it is defective, as a moral institution, quires, that discretion should be bound down by for the want of more explicit, more circumstantial, precise rules both of acting, and of judging of ac- and more accurate directions; and that when we tions.—Hence lawgivers have been obliged to place by the side of each other human and divine multiply directions and prohibitions without num- laws, without understanding the distinction in ber: and this necessity, for such I acknowledge it the two methods by which they seek to attain to be, hath drawn them into a prolixity, which their purpose, and the reason of that distinction, encumbers the law as a science to those who stu we form a comparison between them, which is dy or administer it; and sometimes perplexes it, likely to be injurious to both. We may find fault as a rule of conduct, to those who have nothing to do with it, but to obey it. Yet still they find * See Hamilton's translation of the Hedaya or Guide. 3 U