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teach it forcibly, yet wisely, and avoid equally the presumptuous explanations with which some divines have ventured to disfigure it, and the mischievous inferences which others have not scrupled to draw from it. Mr. Champnes has treated this important article of our faith with his usual discretion, whilst admonishing his hearers to look for salvation only by Christ, through whose intercession with the Father they have hope of eternal life.
Having explained the words of his text (1 Cor. viii. 6), our pious author thus speaks:—
Herein is the comfort of the doctrine of the text especially manifested: for hence we deduce a most consolatory truth, that all Christianity consists in the coining to God by Christ. If, therefore, we believe in God, it is by Christ. If we love God, it is in Christ. If we pray to God, it is through Christ; and if we praise God, it is in and by Christ: so that every duty we perform to God is fulfilled by the mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord.
We come to God as the personal Father of all the faithful followers of his word; as a God and Father who acts by a Mediator, whose merit is as great as the Father's power. What then can we ask of such a Father, and by such a Mediator, which he is not able and willing to grant? Is it pardon for sins, or the gift of the Spirit, or everlasting salvation? Who would distrust this merciful Father, when we remember not only his sufficiency, but his love to us, and our relation to him through Christ? Who may be confident, if not the children of such a Father; if not the pleaders of such a merit? If, then, we believe in God as an all-sufficient fountain of grace, we believe in Christ as an all-sufficient mediator: and if we so believe as to obey the commands of the Father, and to follow the example of the Son, we have nothing to fear, past, present, or to come; for thus speaks our Lord: "Let not your hearts be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me." What consolation is there in this injunction 1 With what joy in believing are our hearts rilled, even when the tear of sorrow is falling by reason of earthly vicissitude, while we are thus enabled to come unto God by faith and obedience, by prayer and praise, in the name of this Lord and Mediator; by whom, through that spirit who helps our infirmities, and whose grace he sheds on us abundantly, we are made meet for the service of God, and are put into a capacity to please him; are recovered from sin to holiness; reconciled to God, and restored to the image of God.— Vol. I. pp.80, 81.
Upon the doctrine of grace, again, our zealous preacher will be found most orthodox, intelligible, and judicious. Whilst some theologians have expounded this doctrine so as to render its recipients altogether passive under its irresistible operations, and whilst others have contended for its indefectibility, there have been some divines whose endeavour it has been to reduce the gospel to a system of pure rationalism; and though they may not have ventured to deny the prevenient and sustaining grace of God's Spirit, they have yet appeared to forget the necessity of his operations upon our hearts for the production of righteousness, and so have counselled us to rely upon our own unassisted prowess for the subjugation of our rebel appetites. Between these errors our prudent author has steered a safe course, beseeching his hearers, as a fellow-worker with God, "not to receive his grace in vain." He is discoursing upon 2 Cor. vi. 1, and thus divides his
I would then apply my subject, first, to your christian character, as disciples of that gospel which in mercy has been dispensed to you to correct the errors of your natural man, to strengthen your spiritual man, and to perfect both unto the attainment of eternal life. Secondly; I shall appeal to your consciences for the answer to the solemn question, whether " you have, or nave not received the grace of God in vain," should there be found, in your profession of faith, more of the " form than of the power of godliness."—Vol. I. p. 88.
Under the latter division our author applies to the consciences of his hearers for an answer to the question, whether they have received the grace of God in vain. Having spoken of the public worship of God as a criterion by which to examine their christian state, he searches into the mode by which God's word is, by many Christians, abused to the destruction of his grace, and thus expostulates with the perverters of the gospel, who would make it subservient to their interest, their humour, or their passions.
Apply the gospel, as the faith of a christian, to the rich man. He hears, with repugnance, that it is so difficult for him "to enter into the kingdom of heaven;" and thinks it hard for him to be shut out of the happiness to come, merely because "he trusts in his riches" to preserve him from the troubles, and to provide for him the enjoyments, of this present life.—Apply the word of God to the voluptuous man, whose whole mind is employed in pleasure. He shrinks from the thought that his appetites should lead him into the same condemnation as him who has perpetrated the crime, which he himself only contemplated in the lust of the eye. Talk to the covetous man of the duties of charity, and of the displeasure of his God that will certainly await his want of it; yet he cannot easily reconcile it to his sense of things, that the wrath of the Almighty should fall upon him, unless he give to others, who, he thinks, have no claim upon him, what he has acquired by hard labour; or, perhaps by some other means not quite so justifiable. Let the man of vengeance be told that, according to the scripture, he will be condemned eternally, if he forgive not those who have injured him; and although he thinks it beyond every thing miserable to be cast out for ever from the presence of God, still, he cannot see why he should run so fearful a risk, merely for resenting an injury, which, in his notion of things, he did not deserve: for his honour, and the opinion of the world, must be considered: but the honour of God and his religion, and the sentence of everlasting death, appear, in his case, by far too strongly insisted upon.— Vol. I. pp. 105, 106.
In these lax days of latitudinarianism and superficial divinity, we had need keep a watchful eye upon those points of christian faith where error is easy, and mistake perilous. Of this sort is the doctrine of justification; what it is; when it takes place; by what means it is to be sought; whether it be prospective as well as retrospective; and whether its benefits can be forfeited: — these, and many more knotty difficulties, have ever helped to render justification qucestio vexatissima. Whilst some theologians have perverted the truth by teaching justification by inherent grace, others have as injuriously confounded justification with sanctification; whereas the verity of the gospel should compel us to acknowledge that "God doth justify the believing man, yet not for the worthiness of his belief, but for the worthiness of Him that is believed," * and that good works must ever "be added as necessary duties required at the hands of every justified man."* "Such is the office of God in our justification, from whom we receive it freely, by his mercy, without our deserts, through true and lively faith." "But then," (we quote from the Homilies of our Church,) "how can a man have this true faith, when he liveth ungodlily, and denieth Christ in his deeds? Surely no such ungodly man can have this faith and trust in God." Our excellent preacher has well observed these distinctions, when he writes thus:—
There is nothing more positively asserted in the word of God than this; that no deed or work that is done by us, without faith, can lead us to heaven. For as the man who runs out of the course in which the race is set, wins no prize, though he runs ever so fast: so the christian who does good moral deeds, without faith, cannot look for reward from God. We are enjoined " so to run, that we may obtain." But " without faith it is impossible to please God." But if he, with his faith, proves his sincerity, by doing those good works which it prescribes, then they become acceptable with God. For, notwithstanding man is not justified by his works; yet, if he has faith, lie must have good works also, or his faith is unprofitable to him: and, having no evidence, God is not thereby glorified; for the faith that justifies by grace, is the faith that" worketh by love,' and not an inactive, barren, speculative faith, which St. James calls a "dead faith."—Vol. I. pp. 131, 132.
The atonement wrought by Christ is another article of the christian faith, which infidels have rejected, and believers have misrepresented. The sober statement of Mr. Champnes on this vital topic is entitled to much commendation. He is satisfied to establish the doctrine upon the testimony of God's word, neither too curiously searching into the reasons of the mystery, nor yet with such as talk about "molten lead."-j- When we consider how the doctrine of the atonement is embodied in the entire system of Christianity, and enters essentially into the whole experience and hopes of the disciples of the cross, we shall be prepared to demand the most scrupulous nicety of exactness at the hands of such ministers of God as attempt its explanation; and to warn them of the peril and the presumption of carrying their speculations beyond the clear statements of holy Scripture, and of being "wise above what is written." The consequences of such forbidden lucubrations, and extravagant hypotheses, have been greatly injurious to "the truth as it is in Jesus;" and the enemies of our faith, gaining an easy victory ove"r their rash opponents, have raised a shout of triumph, as if they had demolished the very citadel cf Christianity itself. Such lamentable and fond fancies would cease to vex the Church, were men content to follow the wise example of our pious author, who contents himself with plainly laying down the scriptural grounds on which the
• Hooker's Discourse of Justification.
t See Christian Remembrancer, May, 1831.
atonement rests, the principles which it comprehends, and the means by which its advantages may be secured.
Our author's views of the calling and election of sinners are admirably developed in the Eighth Sermon of the second volume under review. He discards, indeed, all pretensions to elaborate profundities, as most unsuitable to the office of a public preacher, whose duty consists "less in the effort of rendering his flock learned in the abstract theory of mystery, than in that of teaching them a practical wisdom in those things which belong to their salvation." His text is Matt.xxii. 14, —" Many are called, but few are chosen ;" and he writes thus—
The reason, therefore, for this difference between the many and the few is this. It is the Lord's mercy to call both. It is his singular mercy to choose any. They therefore who are called, and are not worthy of their calling, bear the just punishment of their neglect and contempt: and they who obey the call, must not ascribe it to themselves, but to the grace of God, who gives them "the spirit to work in them, both to will and to do;" and to strengthen their faith, and promote their obedience.—Vol. II. p. 348.
God's sparing us, therefore, shews that we are not shut out from all possibility and hope of recovery.... Here then is consolation for the many, and great joy for the few, that God has thus graciously placed within our reach a remedy and a ransom for us; the benefit of which will result unto us, as soon as we repent and believe the gospel. . . . From what has been said, then, we perceive that although "many be called and few chosen," yet the many have equal access to God's love with the few.—Vol. II. pp. 249, 250.
So much for doctrine. The hortatory and practical parts of these volumes are equally deserving of praise for their simplicity, their impressiveness, and their wisdom. It is, perhaps, in this portion of a discourse that a preacher's taste, and tact, and usefulness, are most severely taxed. His exhortations are liable to become too refined for every-day practice on the one hand, or to degenerate into commonplace on the other. The golden mean lies between these extremes, which he only will hit who can impart originality to old truths without the mischief of paradox, and can rouse the sleeping faculties of his hearers to the energetic business of a christian warfare, without the aid of bombastic rant, or the blistering appliances of spiritual cantharides! Some preachers seem to us like men walking upon stilts, and their rules of piety are as utterly impracticable as their measures of duty seem to be transcendental and unattainable. Such divines evidently go upon the principle of asking a great deal, that they may be sure to get something. Deluded men! they do but dispirit their hearers; and whilst they misrepresent the claims of Christianity soberly construed, they furnish sinners with a ready excuse for their faults, teaching them to adopt the legal maxim,—" Lex non cogit ad impossibilia." * Not so our judicious author. Earnest, uncompromising, and holy, he is every where practical, sober, and plain. He never offends us with the
• 1 Inst 92, o.
sourness of the recluse, nor disgusts us with the asceticism of methodistic gloom, nor burdens us with the frivolous detail of necessary yet minor obligations, which fatigue our divided attention, and yet afford us no master principle of duty whereby to regulate our lives. He is calm, yet not dull; pious, yet not enthusiastic; strict, yet not puritanical; grave, yet not sad; affectionate, yet not fond; simple, yet not unadorned; chaste, yet not unimpassioned. Take, as an example of his manner, the following extract from the valedictory sermon:—
"Be not then of a doubtful mind;" but pray to God to give you grace; to settle and establish you in the firm and unyielding belief of all those doctrines of the christian religion, which I may have imperfectly, though "with earnest desire that you may be saved" by them, expounded, or inadequately applied. Namely: the being and attributes of God. The creation of man, in a state of innocence. The effect of sin, in his fall from that state; and the sentence pronounced against him of rejection and death, in consequence of that fall. The exposure to the same punishment in which his fall placed us ; and the sufferings and sorrows, both natural and spiritual, which we were doomed to endure. The marvellous concurrence of the mercy of God, and the meritorious righteousness of his beloved Son, displayed in the scheme of redemption, by which we have been recovered from the execution of that sentence, with the hope of pardon and everlasting life. The extraordinary gifts and operations of the Holy Spirit; his sanctifying and enlightening influence; and the quickening aids by which he "worketh in us both to will and to do" those things in which consists our spiritual life.—The indispensable duties which we are enjoined to fulfil in obedience to the precepts of Christ, and in our hope of acceptance with God, through his merits and mediation: together with those most important facts, the resurrection from the dead, the future judgment, and eternal retribution.—Vol. II. pp. 372, 373.
Take another example from the same discourse, admirably illustrative
of the anxious spirit of our author, and of his paternal assiduity in the
punctual fulfilment of his pastoral office.
What can sooner make a minister tremble, than the thought that those whom the Lord has committed to his care, may, by their carelessness, live in spiritual death; die unto eternal death; and sink for ever into the lowest depths of everlasting condemnation, misery, and woe? Nay, fellow-christians, and fellowcandidates for heaven, I tremble for myself, lest, by some inefficiency in my exertions; some inadequateness of application, on my part, of the saving truths which I would have taught you; I may have been wanting in power to convey to you a due impression of the eternal importance of those truths to your present and your future happiness. And this may well be a ground of fear to any minister, when the infinite depth of the divine counsels, and the interminable extent of the range which they take in the work of salvation, are contemplated with that reverential awe and humble-mindedness, with which it becomes a being of dust and ashes to approach and survey them: and much more, when he takes upon himself to explain and enforce them.—Vol. II. pp. 355, 356.
We dismiss these sermons with our hearty commendations; and whilst our parochial Clergy thus exercise their talents for the edification of the souls entrusted to their charge, they must be held " very highly in love for their work's sake ;"—or, whatever be the harvest which they may reap here, they will pursue the duties of their high calling with unabated ardour, and increasing diligence, anticipating the arrival of
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