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immortal interests of my fellowcreatures; working while it is called to-day; striving to bring sinners to the Lord Jesus Christ, for my brief candle is soon to go out; and there can be no conversion of sinners in another world.
3. I ought to be unceasingly active in every work of benevolence, making as many happy as I can; relieving the miserable, and doing good to all within my reach: for this light is soon to be put out; and in the other world the miser
able and suffering will be beyond my reach.
4. I ought to use every talent for the glory of God and the kingdom of Christ; working the works of him that sent me while it is day, because the night cometh in which no man can work.
"Whatsoever thy hand findetli to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest."—Eccl. ix. 10.
ON COMMUNION AMONG CHURCHMEN AND DISSENTERS.
Some remarks in your Magazine of December last on ' Ancient and Modern Nonconformity,' induces me to reply, not for the sake of controversy, but to rectify a misconception. After some remarks on Howe's opinion of occasional conformity, and stating that there is no barrier to Dissenters communing with Churchmen at the table of the Lord, your Correspondent adds: • "Whether they would permit any one to be a partaker with them until, in compliance with their custom, he had gone through a preliminary form, and submitted to an examination and sentence not required in Scripture is for them to determine. We suppose the decision would be in the negative.' If your Correspondent will make a point of inquiry, he will find that it is a general practice among Dissenters, for the minister previous to sitting down to the sacrament, to invite all serious persons (who may be strangers to them) of different denominations to join with them in that ordinance. That some of the brightest ornaments of the church have availed themselves of this invitation is a fact known to many; and I need scarcely mention the names of Wilberforce and Mrs.H.
More, the latter of whom was called to account for so doing by some of her friends not quite so liberal in sentiment as herself. A strict communion among the Dissenters is confined now happily to a small number of the baptist denomination.
Perhaps your correspondent will think me needlessly intrusive to correct such a mistake ; but knowing, as I do, that much of the bad feeling existing at the present time between Churchmen and Dissenter arises out of their having but a partial knowledge of each other, for the sake of charity I have deemed it prudent to reply. There is one remark of his, in which I cordially agree, that occurs at the close of the article. 'The fact that so much discrepancy of sentiment exists among good men, who acknowledge the same scriptures for their rule, ought to humble us under a conviction of the weakness of human reason, and make us very tender and charitable towards those who differ from us.' As a partaker (I hope) of divine grace in common I trust with himself, I would subscribe myself His friend and brother, though a
Coneregational Dissenter. Sir—There is an extensive repository of Scriptural interpretation possessed by our church, but not sufficiently appreciated. I mean the contents prefixed by our translators to the several chapters of the English Bible. Taken apart, they form a doctrinal and practical summary of the views entertained by those divines, and thus afford an additional means for ascertaining the real opinions of the founders of our church. Their value is established by the circumstance, that it is on their account, in a great measure, that the Socinians object to our translation.
USE OF THE HEADINGS OF THE ENGLISH BIBLE.
The following selection from the contents of the Book of Job will serve to illustrate what has been said, and perhaps may have the effect of drawing attention to that solid 'Body of Divinity,' which the headings of the chapters contain.
J. T. M.
Chap. 1. Understanding (i. e. knowing) the loss of his goods and children, in his mourning he blesseth God.
4. Eliphaz teacheth God's judgments to be not for the righteous, but for the wicked.
5. The harm of inconsideration. —The end of the wicked is misery. —God is to be regarded in affliction:—The happy end of God's correction.
9. Job, acknowledging God's justice, sheweth there is no contending with him.— Man's innocency is not to be condemned by afflictions.
11. God's wisdom is unsearchable.—The assured blessing of repentance.
14. By sin the creature is subject to corruption.
15. The unquietness of wicked men.
17. The unmerciful dealing of men with the afflicted, may astonish, but not discourage the righteous. His (Job's) hope is not in life, but in death.
21. Sometimes the wicked do so prosper, as (that) they- despise God.—Thejudgmentof the wicked is in another world.
22. Man's goodness profiteth not God.
23. Job longeth to appear before God, in confidence in his mercy.— God, who is invisible, observeth our ways.—God's decree is immutable.
25. Man cannot be justified before God.
27. The hypocrite is without hope.—The blessings which the wicked have are turned into curses.
28. There is a knowledge of natural things, but wisdom is an excellent gift of God.
32. Wisdom cometh not from age.
33. Elihu excuseth God from giving man an account of his ways, by his greatness.—God calleth man to repentance by visions, by afflictions, and by his ministry.
34. God omnipotent cannot be unjust.
35. Comparison is not to be made with God, because good or evil cannot extend unto him. Many cry in their afflictions, but are not heard for want of faith.
36. Job's sins hinder God's blessings.
38. God by his mighty works convinceth Job of ignorance and imbecility.
ftrbieto of Books.
SERMONS preached in St. James's Church, Hull. By the Rev. William Knight, M. A. Minister of that Church. 8vo. Pp. xvi. and 436. Seeley, 1837.
SERMONS, Doctrinal and Practical. By the Rev. Robert Wood Kyle, B.A. Trinity College, Dublin. 8vo. Pp. xxviii. and 440. Houlston, 1837.
SERMONS, Doctrinal and Practical. By the Rev. J.E. Riddle, M. A. of St. Edmund's Hall, Oxford. 8vo. Pp. viii. and 342. Hatchards, 1838.
Unquestionably a very considerable improvement has of late years taken place in the general strain of pulpit instruction, and a vastly increasing demand for the publication of sermons. This is indeed attended with some inconvenience to us who are often compelled to pass over with very brief notice, instructive and interesting volumes, on which we should gladly enlarge; but it is impossible not to rejoice that in such numerous cases, sound and scriptural instruction is from time to time imparted and favourably received by the hearers, as to encourage the preacher to hope that what has been welcomed from the pulpit will not be neglected when issuing from the press.
The volumes now before us differ in various respects from each other. Their style, their mode of arrangement, and their applications of Scripture evince independence and originality; but the views they communicate are essentially the same. There is more of sober argument in Mr. Knight, and more of lively originality in Mr. Kyle, while Mr. Riddle may perhaps excel in continued application; but each of them are workmen who need not to be ashamed, and who in their several spheres give promise of great and extensive usefulness.
Mr. Knight is a son of the late highly-esteemed Rev. S. Knight, formerly Vicar of Halifax, and author of ' Prayers for Families.'
His present publication consists of twenty-fivediscourses delivered in a newly erected church in the suburbs of Hull, and dedicated to the congregation who there worship together. The Fourth Sermon, intitled the Holy Spirit an internal Intercessor, may perhaps afford a suitable specimen of the Author's general style. The text is Rom. viii. 26, 27. "Likewise also the Spirit helpeth our infirmities," &c.
This text, Mr. K. observes, speaks—
I. Of Certain Infirmities Incident To Christian Believers.
These infirmities nare immediately connected with the exercise of spiritual prayer; and they are Ignorance as to matter, and Inefficiency as to manner. First, Ignorance as to matter. "We know not what we should pray for as we ought." I have heard this passage adduced as an argument against forms of prayer. The apostle says, "We know not what we should pray for," whereas, says the objector, to us of the Church of England, ' You do know what to pray for, for your prayers are made ready to your hands.■ We may well wonder that any sensible reasoner should risk the credit either of his own judgment, or of the cause which he advocates, by adducing such an argument as this, for such a purpose. There are many things which it is acknowledged on all hands that Christians know they may pray for; things which the inspired writers tell them to pray for, and which every believer coming to the throne of grace is perfectly aware that he ought to pray for. Then why not embody these things in condensed and systematic forms, as* well as repeat them over and over again in the same general phraseology? I am not arguing against extemporaneous devotion; I advocate it; I practise it; and, in its place, I consider it to be important. But, truly, brethren, it is a narrow prejudice which denies that the spirit of prayer can be effectually thrown'into its forms.
I conceive the apostle to be here alluding to particular seasons in the history of the soul's private experience; and, I think, the subsequent clause of the verse justifies this view. It refers to the want of liberty in prayer; a circumstance which marks the occasional rather than the habitual aspect of the renewed mind. That there are times when believers are so beset with temptations, so powerfully and so painfully pressed down under a sense of their wants, or so greatly harassed by the internal conflict, as not to know what they most need, is a fact which cannot be controverted: perhaps every child of God knows something, at one period or another, of this experience. At such times the mind labours to ascertain the precise character and extent of its wants, but seems to be destitute of the power to do so. Its language is, 'I would pray, but truly I am so ignorant of my spiritual state, that I am unable to judge what are the blessings, most suited to me. I am conscious that my necessities are very many; a sense of my spiritual poverty greatly oppresses me; and yet there is so much darkness resting upon my mind that I feel as if I were disabled from making out a case to lay before God; and hence, if I attempt to pray, I should, perhaps, only put myself in a situation of those supplicants unto whom it is said, "Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss."'
But again—The infirmities of which the apostle makes mention, include Inefficiency as to the manner of prayer. "We know not what we should pray for as we ought." The soul's groanings indicate infirmity. Were there no infirmity there would be no groaning; all would then be liberty and satisfaction. He who knows not what to ask for as he ought, is restrained in expressing himself; he utters incoherent petitions, and repeats the same thoughts and words over and over; he pauses, and then, perhaps, he says what is irrelevant, or inappropriate, and then he pauses again. The consciousness of such prayer, both during the time it is going on, and in the after review of it, has a tendency to mortify and deject the mind; and yet in how many instances of this nature is prayer the uplifted hand which knocks at the gate of heaven, and which moves the Father of mercies to hear and to bless. He who inhabitetb eternity hath not said, 'To this man will I look, even to him who worships me with enlarged and varied thoughts, with lofty, and flowing, and well-arranged language;' but " With him will I dwell that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word."
The author then proceeds to notice, in the second place—
The Assistance Which Believers Are Privileged To Receive From The Holy Spirit, In Connexion With Their Infirmities In Prayer. "the Spirit helpeth our infirmities." "The Spirit maketh intercession for us." Observe here, the Spirit is not said to supersede our infirmities, but only to help them, and his help comes in the form of intercession. We must be careful to define and to keep up the important distinction which there is between the intercession of Christ and that of the Holy Spirit. Christ intercedes for his church externally; the Holy Spirit intercedes for her members internally. Christ's intercession is carried on in the heavenly courts; the Holy Spirit's is exercised in the earthly temple. The former goes immediately to the throne; the latter passes intermediately through the soul's experience. A believer left to himself, under the infirmities to which the text alludes, would make nothing at all out in prayer; but the Spirit, coming in to his help, gives efficacy to the breathings of devotion, and clothes the sighings of the contrite heart with a power which bears them upwards. His visitations, at these times, are of a very peculiar nature, and are, as it appears to me, associated with some of the deepest intricacies in the dispensations of Almighty grace. It might be supposed that if this Sovereign and Divine Agent saw fit to interpose his help at all, he would impart it so fully that all the infirmities of the Christian supplicant would, at once, be removed, and his prayers become the copious and delighted effusion of gospel liberty. Whereas this is not the case—"the Spirit maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered." The infirmity remains, and is sanctified by the influence which reaches it. The groanings are not hushed, but they are made a vehicle into which the Comforter throws his interceding voice in its passage to the skies.
Mr, K. then closes with some words of improvement and application—
First. The Blessed Consequences Of Having The Assistance Of The Holy Spirit As An Internal Intercessor. The Spirit's pleading, although it be embodied in unutterable groanings, cannot fail to draw down upon the humble and contrite soul the blessings of covenanted grace. The Holy Spirit, the Son, and the Father are the contracting parties in the scheme of human redemption; and each party must needs take cognizance of every branch of the work appropriated by the other parties. Hence, when the Spirit intercedes, the Father must of necessity accept his intercession. The unity of design which runs through the dispensation of mercy prohibits the possibility of a failure in this point, as much as it does in the point of Christ's atonement. "He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." Here, however, it must be remembered that blessings imparted are not always blessing apprehended. The showers of heaven are not the less fertilizing, because they fall at midnight; neither are the communications of grace the less real or the less beneficial in their results, because they reach the soul during seasons of spiritual gloom. The believer may groan in prayer, and his groaning may pierce the skies, and bring down upon him a rich visitation of mercy—and still he may continue to groan. The visitation itself may be unperceived by him, while it is working its blessed effects in the hidden recesses of a disconsolate heart. In God's time, however, its results will be made manifest.
First, in the way of caution, I would say, Beware of judging of the excellency or of the efficacy of prayer by the medium through which it passes. You say, 'What a beautiful prayer such an one offered up.' I am not over fond of the expression—but letting that pass, and admitting it to have been so, do you remember, on these occasions, in what the essence of prayer consists? Oh! it is the spirit that prompts, not the language that embodies, to which the Holy One gives heed. The true beauty of prayer, whether as to import or expression, is simplicity.
Secondly, The passage furnishes some salutary hints, and some important inferences, as to the variations which characterize Christian experience. The holiest and the happiest of men, the most vigilant, prayerful, consistent, spirituallyminded believers are subject to occasional interruptions of their internal peace, and to the operation of painful doubts and misgiving fears: not that these are actually experienced in every individual instance; but the Lord's people are always liable, in the all-wise discipline of grace, to be thus visited by their heavenly Father. The clearest stream may be muddled by an incidental disturbance, and the brightest sky may be overshadowed by a passing cloud.
Lastly. The text gives great encouragement to those Christians, whatever may be their standing in the church of the regenerate, or whatever may be trie peculiar cast or character of their experience, who want language in which to embody their feelings at the throne of the heavenly grace.
Mr. Kyle's Sermons are published by subscription, and the
long and respectable list of subscribers clearly evinces the high estimation in which his pulpit labours are esteemed. His talents are evidently considerable, his imagination lively and vigorous, his style ardent and at times somewhat overwhelming, yet his conclusions are not perhaps always entirely satisfactory. Thus for instance in perusing his Third Sermon on the Cities of Refuge, we were struck with the following passage.
And herein, my brethren, we see what is our character in the eyes of God. We stand before Him, every one, from the least to the greatest, denied with the taint of blood. 'What I' some may perhaps may be ready to say, 'the taint of bloo I! No I we deny it. You may accuse us of many other sins;—we may have many other things to answer for ;— but in this we are assuredly guiltless. Would that in all things we were as innocent as in this: then might we fearlessly encounter death, and have boldness in the day of judgment.'
Thus is man ever ready to judge by outward appearance; thus ever ready to look away from the real nature of his offence against God. But think again, my dear fellow-sinners, and judge ye whether we have not all of us need to cry, 'Deliver us from blood-guiltiness, O God.' There is not one amongst us who is not ready to tax the Jews with murder,—with the foulest murder, in slaying the Lord Jesus; and, in so doing, we accuse them justly: but His blood is not on them alone, nor are they the only criminals answerable for that monstrous crime. It is true that they were the immediate actors in that deed of horror: but countless is the num. ber of those whose instruments, and helpers, and partners they were. For He had never descended to earth,—had never exposed Himself to persecution,—had never bowed His head in death, but that sin was in the world ; and whilst the wicked hands which crucified and slew Him were the immediate performers of that atrocious wickedness, it was sin,—it was the sin of the world,—it was our sin—that slew Him. Yes, my dear brethren, our sin; and tremendous as this makes our guilt to appear, it is in this that our only hope can be found ;for if you could shew me one individual whose sins did not press upon the Saviour in Gethsemane and on Calvary,—if you could shew me one transgression which had not its share in shedding His precious blood,—you would shew me a sin without forgiveness, and a sinner without hope; and though eighteen nun