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ing, we should, after all, have little cause to compliment him upon his success. But what has struck us as the marked merit of the present volume, is, that it treats of those doctrines which are in themselves the most offensive to the irreligious, and the most unintelligible, doctrines connected with the spiritual life, the inward warfare, and all that belongs to what is quaintly denominated experimental religion,-in language against which no one can take exception, and which can scarcely fail to be understood. It is a volume which may with confidence be put into the hands of a person unaccustomed to religious reading, without any risk of his requiring a glossary, and with a tolerable certainty that, if he quarrels with the Author, it will not be on account of the cut of his coat, the twang in his tone, the cant of liis expressions, but simply for what he holds and teaches. To religious readers, the truly pastoral instruction contained in these chapters, must render the volume alike interesting and profitable.
The Work is divided into sixteen chapters. The first three, which may be regarded as introductory to the main subject, treat of the cardinal doctrines of Human Depravity, Justification, and Spiritual Influences. Chap. IV. to XVI. illustrate the Christian Warfare as connected with-Believing; Kepentance; Private Devotion ; Public Duty; Persecution ; Religious Declension ; Despondency; Occupation; Retirement; Prosperity; Adversity; the Fear of Death. The Concluding Chapter is on the Claims• of the Christian Warfare.' The general design of the Author has been, to illustrate the effects of Christianity upon the minds of its disciples, considered in the leading diversities of their character and circumstances; to distinguish between the real effects of the Gospel, and those improperly attributed to it; and to shew, that the acknowledged imperfections of Christians furnish no valid objection against their holy religion. “Their defects are in “a process of removal; and their attainments have in them the
seeds of a moral excellence which the future alone can fully “develop?
Having given this outline of the Author's plan, we need only select a few extracts to shew with what discrimination, fidelity, and correctness of sentiment, the various branches of Christian duty and experience are illustrated. And first, we must select the concluding paragraphs of the chapter on Spiritual Influences.
Such then, according to the Scriptures, are the spiritual influences by which the human mind is affected in the present world. Man is a being in whose fate the whole intelligent universe is concerned. The rebellious would have him continue a party to their treason. The obedient would see him recovered to their own state of allegiance and blessedness. And there is war between them on his account. But so great is the compassion of God toward us, that the issue is not left to the possible uncertainties of such a contest. An influence all divine is vouchsafed to the soul, that thus its ultimate felicity and glory may be placed beyond the possibility of failure.
• To all these influences did the Saviour refer, when he said, The mind bloweth where it listeth, thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth. But if this mysteriousness belong to them all, how may we escape delusion? How may we know whether the influences which come upon us are good or evil ? Satan can appear as an angel of light; error can assume the likeness of truth; evil can put on the semblance of good. Are there any means by which we may certainly distinguish between these? When an apostle writes, Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God, it is clearly implied, that the means of conducting such a trial are within our reach.
III. We may observe, generally, that the Bible is cur acknowledged standard of truth, and that THE SPIRIT Which SPEAKS NOT ACCORDING TO THIS RULE, IS NOT OF God. The great design of miraculous powers was to attest the authority of scripture, that, the inspired volume once completed, the church might possess ample guidance to the end of time. And, as if for the purpose of preventing any expectation of additions to that word, as left by the apostles, the power of working miracles ceased with the apostolic age. It is true that pretensions to this power survived that period ; but in every instance, much subsequent to the first century, there is the strongest reason for considering them as the effect of misconception or fraud. And it is important to remember, that supposing these gifts to have passed away with the apostles and their immediate disciples, they must have disappeared, as they seem to have done, imperceptibly. Every argument that may now be resorted to in support of a continuance of miraculous powers, might be urged in support of making additions to the documents of holy scripture; and the church of Rome, accordingly, in urging her pretensions to such power, has only been consistent in laying claim to a spirit of infallibility, and in making her traditions of the same authority with the commandments of God. An argument which should prove that any of the extraordinary gifts of the apostolic age were to be perpetuated, must prove that they were all to be perpetuated, the gift of healing and the gift of inspiration alike. Hence, the next step after an expectation of new miracles, should be the expectation of new Bibles, or that some modern saint should attempt to supply the deficiencies of the Evangelists and of St. Paul. We repeat, therefore, that the word of God is the sole, and the sufficient standard, by which to try our own spirits, and the spirits supposed to have infuence over us.
• Taking this perfect and unerring volume as our guide, we may be assured that the influence which disposes us to make light of sin, under whatever disguise this may be done, is not of God. The Spirit of God is holy, the angels in heaven are holy, and all that descends to us from them is in accordance with their nature. The divine word sufficiently describes what that work upon the heart is, which it is the design of all heavenly influence to promote. That which we may expect to be done within us, is that which we have distinctly promised, and portrayed before us. The whole of this we should seek, and nothing beyond this should we for a moment anticipate. Whatever tends to produce distrust of the word of God, to nourish spiritual sloth, to impair a habit of devotion, to lessen our christian usefulness, to turn the mind from what is certain to what is doubtful, from truth to speculation, from doctrines that lead immediately to our sanctification to others which have no such immediate bearing ;-whatever shall serve to puff up with spiritual pride, though under the garb of a monastic humility; or to make our own prominence and power a favourite object, though under the persuasion of a zeal for God; and, finally, whatever is found to alienate our affections from our fellow-men, and especially from our fellow-christians,-all such things are manifestly the offspring of our own earthly nature, or the result of influences still more opposed to God and goodness.
* The subject of this chapter forcibly reminds us of THE IMPORTANCE WHICH IS ATTACHED TO HUMAN NATURE IN THE ECONOMY OF THE UNIVERSE. It is a fallen nature, every way stained and polluted; but its destiny calls forth the never-slumbering watchfulness, and the never-ceasing activity, of the good and evil through every known region of spiritual existence. The ruined archangel, and his embattled host, have long since made the destruction of man the great object of their policy. To prevent this, the Son of God becomes incarnate, and a sacrifice; the hosts of heaven array themselves, and go forth to meet the enemy in our cause; and the Spirit of the Highest descends to earth, deigns to take up his abode in the human heart, and supplies the weapons, the skill, and the strength, which must render the faithful more than conquerors through Him who hath loved them. Surely the results about which such wonderful agencies are employed, and thus employed, must be beyond all our thought momentous ! To be among the lost, or the saved, must be an event of unspeakable, of inconceivable magnitude. Were all the power, the opulence, and the pleasures of the earth at our bidding, should we deem them valueless ? Were all its evils to break at once upon us, should we affect to be unmoved? If this would not be, then be it remembered, that to be uninfluenced by what the Almighty has said as to the worth of our spiritual nature, and the danger to which it is exposed, is to do more strangely. It is to hazard an infinite loss, and to choose an infinitude of evil in its place! What an emphasis do these considerations give to that scripture,—What shall il profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall he give in exchange for his soul?' pp 72-76.
In the first page, we meet with this remark, well worth remembering : "On earth, the individuals who aspire to the greatest 'good, generally impose upon themselves the greatest labour.' Following up this axiom, Mr. Vaughan, in more than one place, exposes the criminality of that subtle, specious, respectable sin, -indolence.
Sloth is another foe of public duty we have to mention. The love of ease has been frequently described as the besetting sin of human nature. It is certain, that we every day see, and feel, the impediments which it places in the way of usefulness. If our plans may be accomplished with little effort on the part of others, we indulge the hope of success. But if much sacrifice be required, our anticipations generally decline, until they reach the point of despair. It is the same, in a great measure, when looking to ourselves. We dare not confide in our own perseverance, if it should be put to a severe test, any more than in that of our brethren.
• How many intellectual men pass life away without any thing deserving the name of labour! And this, perhaps, is their conduct, while professing to regard their ability to do good, as a matter of which an account must be given hereafter. They read, they talk, they luxuriate—but they shrink from real exertion. They look, probably, to the Redeemer of men, expecting ere long to receive from his hand a place in heaven: but they are idlers in his cause on earth. The same kind of delinquency frequently occurs in the instance of the man of business—the individual whose province is in practical affairs. He might bring his discernment, his experience, and his leisure, to the aid of many an important object. But it is easier to beguile himself with trifles, than to apply himself to duty. He is more concerned to provide personal amusement, than to benefit either the church or the world. pp. 168, 169.
Indolence is not an unfrequent occasion of difficulty, when endeavouring to meet the ordinary duties of our station in the spirit required by the Gospel. ...... Now, where there is any marked leaning toward this vice, along with a spirit of piety, there is another sphere added to the many which constitute the warfare of the Christian. And indolence, be it remembered, when leading to the neglect of manifest duty, is not only a sin, but one which is sure not to exist alone. If it refer to worldly duty in the first instance, it will not fail to extend itself to religious duty; and it will put the mind in search of a multitude of vain excuses, in the hope of sheltering its delinquencies. Thus a proneness to deceit becomes the never-failing associate of idleness.
• As the frauds and wrongs practised on society may be traced, in most instances, to the fact that some men, while they must eat, will not work, so nearly all the corruptions of Christianity are to be ascribed to the circumstance that men, while concerned to obtain the rest of the future world, are bent on seeking it by some easier or more agreeable process than that which the scriptures have prescribed. Hence the substitution of vagrant fancies in the room of laborious selfexamination, of airy speculations in the place of practical holiness. It is the great policy of the worldly idler to render a little effort as productive as possible; and it is precisely thus with the spiritual idler. Their system, accordingly, is to put the easiest and cheapest services in the stead of the more difficult and costly. And every one must perceive that it requires much less effort to censure Christians than to excel them; to condemn the world than to effect its improvement. VOL. VIII.-N.S.
Indeed, there is scarcely another vanity so seductive as that which tells a man, that by loudly denouncing other persons, he is giving prominence to some conceived superiority in himself. We want something more, as the evidence of unusual sanctity, than a disposition to seem very angry with the real or the imaginary irreligion of our neighbours.
· The substance of what we here say is this ;-idleness, the pest of the world, is equally, though under other forms, the bane of the church; and that it much behoves the Christian to guard against its creeping and insidious power in all its shapes. It is the chief ally of our natural depravity, the foe of all duty, and especially of those duties which re. quire peculiar watchfulness and exertion.
Nor has the Bible, in condemning indolence, spoken in vain. Religious men, in every age and nation, in proportion to their scriptural piety, have been distinguished by their industry, activity, and commercial enterprise. Separated from the paths of forbidden and intoxicating pleasures, they have sought their main occupation in useful and honourable pursuits, generally bringing to their plans that steadiness of character which, under the blessing of Providence, is usually allied to success. pp. 275, 276.
One of the most valuable chapters in the volume is that which treats of religious declension, as distinguished from apostasy. To the former, the uncouth word 'backsliding' has frequently, and we must think very improperly, been applied; and we regret that Mr. Vaughan should have sanctioned it. The sin referred to in those passages of the Old Testament where our Translators have used this word, is clearly that of an open and wilful defection from the faith, a relapse into idolatry and vice, apostasy from Jehovah. To speak of declining piety' as 'backsliding, is to sanction a pernicious misapplication of Scripture, that has tended to afflict many a person of tender conscience, and to embolden many a hypocrite and wilful transgressor, by confounding those states of heart and character which Mr. Vaughan has with so much correctness distinguished. Still more strongly must we object to the common but most pernicious misapplication (p. 214) of Rom. vii. 14, as descriptive of any individual emancipated', as the Apostle declares he had been, by the principle of spi“ritual life in Christ Jesus, from the rule of sin and death. If we have any fault to find with Mr. Vaughan, it is, that he does not discover so much of a critical intimacy with the sacred text as becomes every expounder of THE BOOK.
The most beautiful chapter, perhaps, is that on the Fear of Death; and as we can make room for only one more extract, it must be taken from this.
ss distir most pernicioudividual emane. Pot spi
- Through the Redeemer's sacrifice, death becomes to the Christian as one in a various catalogue of things which must work together for his good. So complete, indeed, is the atonement which has been made