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“ Messiah's Deity makes him the proper object of divine worship, for
“ Nevertheless, though this be the foundation, yet Christ being the
WOODWARD'S ESSAYS, &c.*
We may be well excused a detailed review of this volume, as we
* Essays ; Thoughts and Reflections; and Sermons : on various subjects.
originality; intended for general instruction, it is to the great, and direct, and obvious principles of gospel teaching and practice they direct the mind; they are too sober to admit the glaring bues of imagination—too plain to call for the researches of abstract reasoning—too awfully important to allow of speculative inquiry.* The truths that are the proper province of the preacher are too generally familiar to be productive of excitement; and we fear that the public and even the religious taste has been too long pampered on high-spiced viands to be satisfied with the plain banquet of unconnected sermons, however evangelical, when unaccompanied by the eye, the voice, the animated gesture, of the preacher.
And yet, notwithstanding all this, we venture to predict that the volume of Sermons which has called out these observations will be popular, and that with as much assurance as we stake our critical character that it will be found deserving of such popularity. Mr. Woodward is well known as an evangelical preacher of high celebrity, as one whose doctrine is deeply spiritual in its nature, elevating in its motives, and uncompromising in its morality. Actively and usefully employed in a country parish, where he has repaid the passive resistance that, by withholding his income, has reduced his resources almost to privation, by the unremitting pains and attention of a friend and a pastor, while his visits to the metropolis have only served to increase the admiration with which he has been heard. Except occasional sermons printed at the request of the congregations before which they were preached, and essays published in the Christian Observer and Examiner, this is the first time Mr. Woodward bas come before the public, and we rejoice in anticipating the success of our excellent fellow-labourer. Mr. Woodward is eminently an original thinker; and hence every idea, the most common, that passes through his mind, receives its tinge from his peculiar modification of thought; and duties the most obvious, and truths the most familiar, are enforced, or displayed, or illustrated in a manner so new as to force attention, and so striking as to add conviction to attention. This originality of mind renders Mr. Woodward occasionally a little too speculative. Thinking for himself, he not unfrequently deviates from the common road, and sometimes wanders into the tangled ways of speculation, farther than some would deem secure. But Mr. Woodward never differs from the mass, because he likes to differ; which is the besetting sin of some original minds, who hoist the standard of independent thought rather too openly. It is the natural course of free and conscientious reflection, which he pursues with un
• We have known an excellent and Christian person confess that she had been so accustomed to exciting sermons that the plain Gospel was distasteful to her mind.
+ We use the term in no exclusive sense, but to avoid a periphrasis, and to express what will be generally understood by our readers.
prejudiced sincerity, even though in some instances it has practically interfered with his interests, and in others, has subjected him, from those who can but half understand him, to imputations most alien from his principles. Be it added, too, that Mr. Woodward never suffers speculation to approach the pulpit; that region he keeps unpolluted from any thing merely human; and warns, and points, and teaches, but as the word of God leads him by the hand. While his Dissertations and Essays exbibit a bold and vigorous imagination, bis Sermons display that imagination enlisted in the service of his God, subjecting every thing 'to his will and his glory; decorating his service with all the glory that belongs to it, or illustrating its extent and blessedness hy all the combined influence of reason, and observation, and feeling
It is difficult to read, it is impossible to hear Mr. Woodward, without feeling the conviction that he enjoys the communion he describes, lives in the beatitude he would recommend, and is himself the humble and separated servant of his God, whom be knows, and on whom he depends.
In speaking as we have done of this volume, we are far from pledging ourselves to approve of all the sentiments it contains, or of the manner in which all these sentiments are expressed. We think our valued friend occasionally carries his speculations a little farther than is perfectly safe ; and, occasionally forgetting that the great mass of readers are exoteric to the mysteries of the Gospel, states his views in a way that probably may mislead. Among these we would, notwithstanding Mr. W.'s ingenious and beautiful defence of such considerations, class his is
Essay on the Varieties of Condition in a future state ;” those “On the Omnipotence of God;"* and, perhaps, some few passages in the admirable “ Essays on the Lawfulness of Retaining Riches."
We are not quite sure that Mr. Woodward has caught the connection, in his observations on John, xii. 20-28, between our Lord's observations and the preceding request of the Greeks to be introduced to him; at least the connection subsisting in our mind was that of their desire to have a personal interview with him who had been that very day hailed as a King ; and that our Lord's remarks tended to lower their, perbaps, ambitious hopes, and to spiritualize their desires, by setting before them the im
We have heard this Essay censured, but we really think the censure arises from misconceiving the author's meaning ; perhaps from his mode of expressing himself. It is clear that every emanent attribute must be limited by the nature of its subjects; and hence, in one, but assuredly an improper sense, the omnipotence of the Supreme may be said to be limited by the necessity there exists for its exercise being upon creatures. No one would deny the omnipotence of God, though it is plain even that omnipotence could not annul the truth of axioms, or create a being equal to himself.
portance and necessity of his death, for the attainment of the objects associated with his kingdom.
We hasten to present our readers with a few passages from some parts of this Volume, which have never yet been before an Irish public, commencing with an Essay on a too usual offence against Christian principle; which has been rescued from the collected works of the late excellent William Hey, of Seeds, into which it found its way by a whimsical mistake, arising from the identity of signature :
“ The generality, however, justify this custom on a broader principle : • Not at home' is, in a word, with them a white lie. If, however, we admit this plea, we renounce the cause of truth altogether. A white lie is, in fact, another term for pure falsehood. It is falsehood unmixed with any other principle. But, however paradoxical it may appear to some, I will venture to assert, that it is only by strictness in this very instance; it is only by an undeviating adherence to truth in indifferent matters, and, consequently, in what are termed trifles, that the lover of truth can evince the sincerity of his attachment. I may abhor a slanderous lie, a boasting lie, a dishonest lie. But if I practise lies which bear no other character than that of simple deception, I show, in the above instances, only that I hate ill-nature, that I hate vanity, that I hate dishonesty ; but not that I hate or disapprove of falsehood. This is surely too evident to need enforcement; and, consequently, it appears, that the thorough-paced white liar is (I will not say that he will admit it-his favourite expedient may be resorted to) wholly devoid of the principle of truth.”
“ That sincerity and politeness are not, indeed, always reconcilable, we freely grant: and we have already noticed one instance in which they are not so. But whence does this arise ? Not, surely, from the contrariety of the two, but from the intervention of counteracting causes : just as two pure and congenial liquids may refuse to blend ; or, by their blending, may produce a noxious compound, if committed to an impure vessel. But is it, therefore, necessary, or wise, to throw both, or either of them, the fault is in the vessel, and not in the liquids : and you have only to cleanse the former, to produce the effect you want.
" Let us, then, apply this principle to ourselves. The Christian virtues are all harmonious and congenial : but Christian virtues can live and centre only in a Christian beart. If we find, then, in ourselves, any obstruction to their kindly blendure and harmonious exercise, shall we renounce them altogether? Or shall we, if that were possible, le contented with being virtuous by halves? Shall we not rather look to our own hearts, and purify the medium in which they refuse to blend ?
“ But, in reality, truth and politeness are so far from inconsistent, that it is, perhaps, the union of these two virtues which gives the last finishing to the Christian character. For let it be observed, tbat, reconcilable as we
admit them to be, the sole principle on which they are so, is that which, in all ages, has been the acknowledged criterion of true goodness, namely, that we be inwardly what we would appear outwardly. What, in fact, can follow from a sincere desire to please, accompanied by a no less real hatred of all false pretences, but a constant endeavour to cultivate kind, and benevolent, and charitable affections; that so, as far as is possible, we may live in the habitual exercise of love without dissimulation ? Nor is this mere speculation. I have myself known, in living persons, the united disinclination to falsify or to offend, produce a general softening of the character. I have seen it lead to the closest self-discipline, to the exclusion of hasty prejudice, of capricious dislike, of unnecessary singularity, and in constant daily action, as an influential corrective, and governing principle.
“ One more observation, and I have done. Will it be thought visionary, if I suggest that a wise and delicate regard to truth, naturally imparts a peculiar grace to polished conversation ? and that not merely by its native dignity and simplicity, but by a certain dexterity and felicity of address, which imperceptibly results from it. Blunt truth and blunt falsehood at least agreed in one thing, they are both straightforward; they require no choice of terms, no suitableness of manner, no fitness of occasion. Every animal endued with speech, can offend by truth, or flatter by a lie. But there is, in intellectual things, as in corporeal substances, a line of beauty. And this, probably, derives its claim to preference, from the same source in both: the curved or undulating line, or movement, bespeaking ease and softness; not, as it were, advancing to its destined point, with a directness which implies necessity, nor with a defiance of obstruction, which implies resistance; but, (to exemplify what could not perhaps be otherwise described,) flowing like a gentle river, which moves only where it can move with grace; which yields to every obstacle, but which still pursues its course, deriving, from impediments themselves, at once its extended utility and characteristic beauty.”
“ If all can, as I said before, look back on scenes in melancholy contrast with the miseries that surround them, what must these reviews present to her, whose home was the abode of peace, of order, of family endearment, of every blessing, and every fruit of true religion ? When, like the prodigal, she comes to herself, and when, in ihat far country, she remembers her father's house, and yet cannot say, I will • arise and go to my father ;' when, amidst the desolation that surrounds her, home and its recollections rush upon her memory and heart; its cheerful industry, its peaceful evenings, its nights of rest, and happy Sabbaths ; when scenes like these, which, contrasted with the present, are clothed in all the sunshine and smiles of Paradise, appear only to remind her that they are forfeited and lost; when, in one of those waking dreams, in which misery is apt to fly from itself 10 seek relief, imagination transports her back, and places her in the midst of the well-known circle, father, mother, brothers, and sisters, and all seem to