Изображения страниц

meaning, than to meet every objection that the learned folly of proud men may bring against it. Some have asserted that a universal deluge was impossible. Not to insist on those facts which prove almost to certainty, without revelation, that the sea has at some time or other flowed over the highest mountains, nor to dwell upon historical traditions, evidences which have been adduced and forcibly illustrated by various authors, we would meet this objection by a most simple question-Did God make the world and give laws to nature? And is he all-mighty? How then shall we dare to assert, that any thing is impossible with him, or that the laws of nature cannot be altered or suspended by him who gave them? The objection leads at once to absolute atheism!-Again it is said, that the destruction of the whole world by a flood, is inconsistent with the mercy and goodness of God, especially since animals as well as men suffered in this catastrophe. We shall see, perhaps, as we review the narrative, that God's justice, holiness, and hatred of sin, were graciously tempered by love and mercy to the antediluvian world: but if this were not explained, may not God do what he will with his own? Shall the thing say to him who formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? May not he who gave laws to man punish him for transgressing them? If it be just and right for us to put a man to death by the hand of the public executioner, surely the God of heaven and earth must do right in visiting the world for sin, and in extending that destruction to the animal creation which was made for man, and must share his lot, whether of good or ill" Close, pp. 97, 98.

We should readily quote from the following sermon, Mr. Close's remarks on,

"The remarkable Reason assigned by Almighty God for thus renewing his Favour to Man. It is the very reverse of what we might have expected. I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake!' And why? Because righteous Noah and his pious family are no longer sinful beings?-Because the new generations of man shall be holier than the old? No! but for this reason, for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth!' The task of reforming the human race seemed impracticable. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one! Nearly the same language is here used as we found in Gen. vi. 5, where the reason assigned for the deluge was, that every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually,' and though the flood had manifested the vengeance of God against sin, it had not washed away the corruption of human nature." Close, pp. 124, 125.

But in connexion with the fore-

going sentiments, the learned folly of proud man, and the depravity of human nature, we give with pleasure the following extract on the Confusion of Tongues, as at once novel and just.

"How humbling to the pride of man is this short narrative! The scholar, the philologist, and the linguist, may blush to find that the science in which they display their learning and attainments arose from the sin and littleness of man. And when we feel the difficulties which through the diversity of tongues oppose themselves to the diffusion of knowledge, civilization, and religion over the face of the earth, we may remember with humiliation, that these obstacles were occasioned by the natural hardness and pride of the human heart, which conspired to resist the will of God, and which were laid low by the breath of his displeasure. But it is one of the most common operations of the human mind, to extract food for pride from those circumstances which in their direct tendency should create a sense of humiliation and disgrace. Thus, the skins of beasts wherewith the Lord God clothed our first parents, to hide their shame, and in token of their disgrace, are now transformed into the splendid luxury of pompous apparel, and that which was first given us to humble our pride, is now one of the most effectual means of fostering it. And so with regard to the multiplication of dialects and tongues; though we feel the difficulties which it occasions, though it costs men the greater part of their lives to attain a competent knowledge of those languages which various pursuits; yet, instead of feeling are necessary to the prosecution of their these hindrances as so many testimonies of God to the sinfulness of sin, so many marks of his displeasure, and so many memorials of our humiliation, no one science has more tended to increase the vanity and self-importance of mankind than that which appears in a measure to overcome these those families of the earth whom God difficulties, and, as it were, to re-unite himself separated by these natural barriers. I mean not to disparage learning, but the pride of it. I mean not to question the usefulness of such knowledge, or for a moment to doubt that it greatly promotes

that intercourse with nations which must


beneficial to all: but I would have every scholar feel, as he ascends with painful steps, the hill of science, and attains with great labour and toil a limited acquaintance with men of other tongues, that but for the sins of his ancestors, and for the corruption of the human heart which lurks those difficulties would never have existed, within him in common with all mankind, and the whole family of man would have remained unto this day of one language and of one speech. Such a recollection 21

cannot fail to check the growth of pride and to encourage humility, while it cannot damp the ardour of the student, or tend at all to the discouragement of learning." Close, pp. 150-152.

The" sins of believers" had been touched in a bold but sensible manner in the preceding sermon, as is the character of Lot in one subsequent. The especial admonition to the young, which occurs amongst the author's reflections on the subject, we know not how to omit.

"The character of Lot abounds with instruction to young persons who have enjoyed the unspeakable advantages of an early religious education. As a young

man, there was much in Lot which was hopeful and encouraging; he forsook the abode of his idolatrous kindred, and accompanied Abram in his pilgrimage to Canaan; he participated in the advantages of family religion;-but the moment he was left to himself and deprived of the society of pious friends, he fell away, and was sunk in the cares and pleasures of this world. Does not this say to those of you, my brethren, who are enjoying the spring time of life, and who are just entering on the world, Take warning from this fearful example; search and see whether the Christian instruction which

[ocr errors]


have received be written and engraved upon your hearts; beware how you place yourselves in situations where you will be deprived of religious advantages and improving society, and be assured that in the many vicissitudes of your future life, whether your path shall be smooth or rough, pleasurable or difficult, there is nothing that can guide your steps and cheer your spirit but the love of God ruling your heart and directing your conduct.' Let it then be the first object which you propose to yourself, to know and serve God, and the next, to choose those for your friends and companions who are like minded with yourself, and are seeking in earnest the kingdom of heaven." Close, pp. 184, 185.

The sermon (xvii.) on Intercession, contains the following well drawn exposition of the interesting and mysterious act of intercession conducted by Abraham before God. "We must quote his words at length, or we shall lose their force and beauty, 'Abraham drew near and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to slay the righteous with the wicked. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?' How large the charity, and how

[ocr errors]

warm the benevolence of the patriarch!
Even in the devoted city of Sodom he
trusted that there must be fifty righteous
at least. Lot's own household would
consist of nearly this number; and no
doubt Abraham hoped that his kinsman
had converted many of the heathen around
him to the worship of the true God. How
little ground there was for this charitable
hope, and how dangerous it is to dwell
among those who do not fear God, we
shall see in the sequel of the story. The
immediate and gracious reply vouchsafed
to his prayer next calls our attention:
The Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty
righteous within the city, then I will spare
all the place for their sakes.' Encouraged
by this ready answer to his petition.
Abraham ventured to extend his request,
And here the mode of his approach, and
the argument which he used, are very re-
markable. He prostrates himself in the
dust before God. 'Behold now, I have
taken upon me to speak unto the Lord,
which am but dust and ashes.' See the
great father of the faithful, the friend of
God, him who was admitted to speak with
the Almighty face to face, see him abased
in his presence! I am but dust and
ashes?' And how ingenious his argument!
God had said he would spare the city for
the sake of fifty righteous, and Abraham
said, Peradventure there shall lack five
of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy
all the city for lack of five? And the Lord
said, If I find there forty and five, I will
not destroy it.' The patriarch's zeal and
love were surpassed only by the willing-
ness of the Almighty to grant his peti-
tions. As Abraham prayed his faith grew
stronger, and he renewed his request:
'Peradventure there shall be forty found
there; and God renewed his mercy, say-
ing, I will not do it for forty's sake."
Still Abraham's heart was full; there
might not be even this number, therefore
he would ask again. Yet he feared that
he should exhaust the patience and good-
ness of God; And he said, O let not the
Lord be angry, and I will speak: perad-
venture there shall thirty be found there.'
Though he advanced in his request, it was
as readily granted him; for God said, 'I
will not do it if I find thirty there.' Again
his prayer was repeated, and again it was
heard, and God said I will not destroy
it for twenty's sake.' Abraham still
thought, perhaps, that Lot's household
might have become corrupt, and therefore
that true piety might be confined to him-
self, his wife and children. Therefore he
said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and
I will speak yet but this once: peradven-
ture ten shall be found there? And he
said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.'
Abraham was now fully satisfied that he
had saved the cities: he felt sure that ten
godly persons must be there, and there-
fore he ceased from his labour of love;
and it is said that the Lord went his

way, and Abraham returned unto his place.'

Thus closed this wonderful interview between Abraham and God, manifested in the person of his Son; and we may observe that the Lord did not cease from enlarging his mercies till Abraham ceased to entreat for them. Had the patriarch continued in prayer till he had brought down the number to Lot himself, who can tell but that Sodom and Gomorrha might have been spared?" Close, pp. 249-252. The closing remark leads the thinking reader to many scriptural reflections. But we must conclude our extracts, and the article, with the appropriate and beautiful deathbed of the venerable patriarch himself, the father of the faithful, in the bosom of his family, as recorded soon after the marriage of Isaac, which forms the subject of Mr. Close's twentieth sermon.

"To complete the history of this pious family, we may observe, that the death of Abraham is recorded, by anticipation, in the former part of the next chapter: his history closes here, though in fact he survived the birth of Esau and Jacob fifteen years. His death is simply told (ver. 8.) Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. How calm and peaceful his departure! How the mind lingers in such scenes of domestic harmony! For whether we consider the marriage of the pious children, or the death of the resigned and venerable parents, all seems equally peaceful and happy. Draw near, my brethren, and consider this beautiful picture; learn how to begin life, and how to conclude it: learn how to live, and how to die! How many ideas crowd upon our minds, in the contemplation of such a scene! The shock of corn fully ripe, is gathered into the heavenly garner! The old man, full of years, dies amidst the lamentations of his children; and those children, witnessing his holy life and blessed death, set out on their journey to the same land of eternal rest. Their connection, formed in a spirit of prayer, in dependence upon the Divine blessing, and in expectation of his promises, meets with the favour of God. He smiles upon the morning of their days; and when they in their turn become aged and infirm, he receives them also to himself! How happy would be the history of man, if generation after generation lived thus in the fear of God, and died in the hope of a blissful eternity! Who does not give utterance to the secret desire, Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his! O then, if such an aspiration now rises in your heart, cultivate the feeling, cherish it; it is of God,

it is the working of his Spirit striving within you; pray that the impression may ripen into deep conviction of sin and lively faith in a Saviour. For if you would die the death of the righteous, you must live the life of the righteons; you must be reconciled to God by the blood of his dear Son; you must be influenced by the love of Christ in your daily conduct, you must walk with God on earth, or you cannot dwell with him in heaven. And if you would have a calm and happy death-bed, you must seek God now, while he is near to you, and will be found of you. Would you have the evening of your days tranquil and serene, you must give the morning of your life to the service of God; you must work while it is day, for the night cometh, when no man can work. Keep before your eyes the example of Abraham, and Isaac, and their pious families; tread in their steps, and you shall participate in their blessings. Set God always before you, and he will direct your paths; in all your ways acknowledge him; form your plans in dependence upon his favour and protection. Say not within yourselves,

To-day, or to-morrow, we will go into such a city, and buy and sell, and get gain: for that ye ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that,' Living thus a life of holy dependence upon him, and devotedness to his service, walking in his fear, and giving him your heart, when you come to die, you shall have peace; and be it sooner or later, you shall fall asleep in Jesus, and awake to a joyful resurrection!

"O my brethren, in contemplating so beautiful a history as that before us, so many examples of domestic piety-how obvious is the remark, that true godliness is suited to adorn every rank and station in society, and every period in the life of man. It adds fresh beauty to the bloom of youth, and is a crown of glory to gray hairs !-it softens and sweetens the hour of affliction, and moderates the excitation of prosperity: it teaches to live, and it teaches to die: it shews how to abound, and how to suffer need: it diffuses peace and contentment through a household, strengthens the natural ties which bind us to each other, yet prevents a dangerous recoil when they are burst asunder. Masters and servants, parents and children, rich and poor, all learn to fulfil their various duties with alacrity and satisfaction, when religion is their teacher. O that these considerations may be blest to all our hearts! May some, who have hitherto sought their enjoyments in the bewildering draughts of earthly pleasures, or in the maddening vices of the flesh, seek now a better portion, a happier lot; may they seek peace with God through a Saviour, and implore his blessing on themselves and their kindred! And may we all be more than ever impressed with this truth, that to live to God, is to live well,

and happily, and wisely-and that so to live is the only thing that can bring a man peace at the last!" Close, pp. 308-312.

In conclusion, we have to observe, and we hope without offence, on these two useful and respectable writers (whose respective public callings as pastors, in very important posts of instruction, demand the congratulation of all friends to the church, and to genuine Christianity); that, if Mr. Close has to learn from Mr. Buddicom, in the full and laborious analysis of his subject, Mr. Buddicom may also learn something from Mr. Close, in the terse and clear enunciation of his matter. Both, however, are highly practical and experimental: and both, we are happy to acknowledge, are zealous and effective warriors in the cause of our common Redeemer, lifting together the banner of the cross; wielding the sword of the Spirit in a mind and with a courage borrowed, we doubt not, from its Divine Author; faithful alike to every doctrine and every precept coming within their grasp; and their feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.

But before we quite close this review, there is one remark we are reluctantly compelled to make, and which we earnestly press on the attention of the able and respectable rector of St. George's, Liverpool. His ingenious disquisitions turn in great part on the cruel bondage of the children of Israel; on their redemption from a state of temporal and spiritual subjection; on the displeasure of the Almighty with their oppressors; and on the jubilee which so remark ably accredited, and no less remarkably secured to them, the blessings of personal freedom. One of his sermons is on the words, "Now, therefore, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me, and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them." And yet the respectable author has con trived, from the beginning to the end of his volume, with a dexterity which is quite extraordinary, to

avoid even a remote allusion to the parallel case of a far greater multitude, in the present day, held in a worse bondage by Christian nations; who, by their refusal to "let the people go," are imitating the perverseness and obstinacy of the Egyptian tyrant; and whom at least the Christian minister should not be slow to warn of the fatal consequences of their crime by that example. Let us consider what might have been the case in Egypt, had the priests, the ministers even of their idol temples, lifted up their voice against the abominations which were rousing the wrath of Heaven; which had already led to unequivocal displays of the Divine displeasure; and the renunciation of which was necessary to stay the coming and menaced vengeance. Even heathen story supplies us with similar interferences and warnings on the part of the pretended interpreters of the mind of their false gods; and with the loud calls which even they sounded, in the ears of their countrymen, to penitence and prayer. But in the present instance, we find a Christian minister, even when the subject invites him to it, nay, almost forces it upon his notice, amid the variety of his excursive observations, and the rich exuberance of his parallelisms, not having a single thought, a single note of sympathy to bestow on the eight hundred and thirty thousand human beings, (note the number,) in

own dominions, whose lives, by Christian taskmasters, some of whom may perhaps have been listening to these discourses, are now made bitter with hard bondage; aye, a far harder bondage, we affirm it without hesitation, than the children of Israel were called to endure in Egypt. He has no admonition to address to the slaveholders of Liverpool, who may have surrounded him and been hanging on his lips; no friendly warnings to give to them. We witness no attempt to imitate the uncompromising fidelity of the Baptist, in

leading his admiring hearers to see and feel, that vain would it be for them to listen to his voice, and to receive his baptism, unless they first parted with their bosom lusts, their peculiar their darling sin.

We are aware of the ready, and we doubt not often sincere, reply which may be made to this remonstrance. We may be told, that to allude to slavery in the pulpit, is to introduce politics there. We will not do Mr. Buddicom the injustice to suppose that, with his acute and penetrating mind, he can give any weight to such a consideration. The planters of Demerara deemed it to be a meddling with politics, on the part of the martyred Smith, even to allude to Pharaoh at all. With them it was an act of sedition, to insist on the sanctity of the Sabbath; and it would have amounted to absolute treason to have told the Whites around him that no whoremonger hath any inheritance in the kingdom of God, but, on the contrary, shall have his portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. And in Jamaica itself, neither bishop nor priest would deem himself justified so far to "meddle with politics," as to denounce the gross violations of the Sabbath which prevail there; (the authorised Sunday market, and Sunday labour, which shut out their slaves from even a fragment of bodily repose, and still more from the blessed light of Christian instruction;) or to speak, except by inuendo, of the awful state of open and lawless concubinage in which every class of the community, from the highest to the lowest, is at this moment living. And yet who are the efficient maintainers of this dreadful system? Who are they whose sordid resistance of all effectual reform has hitherto mainly contributed to this state of darkness and crime? Are they not some of the very men who may be looking up to the pulpit of St. George's, and seem to be eagerly drinking in the words of eternal life which flow from the lips of its minister? And

is no word to be addressed to them on this awful state of things, the work, in effect, not of the managers and overseers of the West Indies, but of our West-India planters, of our West-India mortgagees, of our West-India merchants, who crowd the churches of Bristol, and Liverpool, and Glasgow, as well as London; and who accredit themselves even with evangelical clergymen, by subscribing, to churches and chapels, to schools and asylums, to Bible societies, and missionary societies, a fragment of the profits which are wrung from the Sabbathless, and God-less Negroes of their plantations, and by the exaction of which their lives are wearing down with a fearful rapidity.

We are aware of the difficulties which faithful ministers of the Gospel have to encounter, in the due discharge of their duty to the souls of their hearers, even in ordinary circumstances. But when the rich and the powerful, the contributors to all their charitable objects, their hospitable entertainers, perhaps their patrons, with much of Christian-like suavity of manner, and much of Christian-like piety of conversation, are to be told "Thou art the man," then indeed these difficulties increase. And if, in addition to all this, the preacher himself should have an amiable, and it may be pious brother, deeply embarked in slave-holding speculations, or should have married the wealthy co-heiress of some West-Indian planter or merchant, all whose temporal comforts and luxuries are the direct produce of slave labour, the case becomes almost desperate. Then indeed, even their impatience of the subject may become manifest. Then, not content with silence, they may even begin to revile those as enthusiastic, or extravagant, or intemperate, who are weeping in secret places over their obliquity, as well as over the habitations of cruelty wherewith the earth is filled. Nay, they may even frown, as we hear some do, on every attempt,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »