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tice in this Sermon. There are some very just and beautiful passages, and sentiments in it; and the views of divine things which it contains are in the main scriptural, hut we have not discovered enough of originality in it to induce us to give extracts; and we feel assured, that when its excellent Author reads it in print, he will forgive us for saying that it has not added to his already high and valued character.
The fifth Sermon is from the pen of the Rev. C. Elrington, D.D. F.T.C.D. Vicar of St. Mark's, Dublin.
Dr. Elrington has chosen for his text, a passage of Scripture most peculiarly calculated to give an opportunity of preaching the Gospel, and proclaiming the free grace of God in Christ“ Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.”—Isaiah lv. 6.
He opens his discourse with noticing the strains of surpassing beauty in which the prophet expresses the blessings of the Gospel, which were the subject of his vision; and justly observes, that it was not to dazzle the eye, or to amuse the fancy, that the prophet presents these splendid pictures ; but to awaken the slumbering faith of his countrymen ; to rouse the voice oi conscience, and to lead them to repentance.
We should have expected that the nature of the text, and of the whole beautiful animated chapter from which it is taken, would have inspired any man, with an affectionate, hopeful, gra- , cious spirit in addressing his congregation ; and would have almost forced the minister to preach the Gopel rather than the law. But there is really no calculating upon the dark colours in which some persons see the objects before them. When one man thinks he sees the sun shining in its brightness, another thinks that there is nothing to be seen but one dark cloud. We thought certainly, that Is. lv. 6. 7. contained the most cheering invitations, and offers of grace; but Dr. Elrington sees in them only solemn injunctions to duty. We should have thought, that in handling such a text, the preacher would have been led to proclaim mercy to the very chief of sinners; but our Author is raiher led to scold his congregation for duty neglected. He begins by calling his people (repeating it twice), a " listless languid flock,” for, says he,
“ Listless indifference, and languid apatby, are the characteristic marks of our congregations at the present day. Does the minister of God address the voice of exhortation? Does he insist upon the necessity of repentance, and amendment? These are considered as the more periodical efrisions of professional duty ; as the tbreadbare cant of priestcraft. Does be unfold the word of God? Does he from the Sacred Volume, select the admonitions, the warnings, the threatenings which it contains ? These are considered but as the metaphorical language of Eastern poetry, as incapable of being literally understood; as calculated for the dull and carpallyminded people of Israel.” p. 85.
If these bere enumerated are the only subjects brought before his congregation, by a preacher: if he only exhorts to duty, insists upon the necessity of repentance and amendment, or selects out of the Sacred Volume admonitions, warnings, and threatenings of vengeance, we shall not be surprized that he has a listless languid flock. There is left out of his catalogue, that which can
overcome the listlessness and languor of the natural heart of man; that which our blessed Saviour alludes to, when he says, “ I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me;" that which St. Paul speaks of, when he says to the Corinthians, “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them that are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God,
This is exactly the want we complain of in this Sermon; it savours not sufficiently of the grace of Christ, which is God's appointed means for the reform and the salvation of a ruined world. We admire the high toned morality which it contains. We would commend the honesty and faithfulness of reproof which it exhibits; but we should wish to see these darker shades relieved by the due proportion of light, and employed with the view of fixing the eye more intensely, upon the illuminated figure of mercy and love.
We trust Dr. Elrington will take our remarks in good part, and not be offended when we express our earnest wish to see some of the austerity and frown removed from his manner of handling his subjects; we feel perfectly assured that the change would much contribute to prevent him from having to complain of a listless and languid flock. It is quite curious, how this Sermon presents throughout the gloomy side of the picture—we shall make some extracts.
‘But, my brethren, there is another consideration implied in the exhortation of the prophet, one of infinite importance, that the Spirit of God does not always strive with man; that the means of grace may be withdrawn; that there is a period after which there will be no ear to hear, nor voice to answer; that our return to the Lord must be while be is near, while he may be found.” p. 95.
This is all true, and this awful lesson is assuredly taught in these words ; but why does not the preacher delight more to tell his hearers of the time when the Lord is to be found, than of the time when he shall not be found: of the time when he is yet near, rather than of the time when he shall have turned away? Why does he not take occasion to speak of the incarnate God of love as now waiting to be gracious ; standing at the door and knocking? Does he think his gloomy view more likely to be efficacious ? Paul seems to have thought otherwise, when he said, “ the love of Christ constrains us." —We must give another instance of this preference of the dark and gloomy :
“The most awful declaration of God's hatred to sin remains yet for our consideration. Even the work ol man's redemption, the offering of the Son of God for the crimes of the whole world, to satisfy the justice of the Almighty, and atone for the violation of his laws. In the solemn melancholy service of this day, (Sunday before Easter), you have heard the affecting recital. Does the awful sacrifice present us with any marks of that tenderness which cannot punish, of that mercy which always spares ? Assuredly not. It exhibits a being of infinite purity, proclaiming to the astonished world by the most expressive action, bis abhorrence of iniquity ; and must make bis frail and erring creatures tremble at bis severity even while they are in the arms of his mercy.” p. 99, 100.
Again we say, this is all true; the sacrifice of Christ does, in the most emphatic language speak the Lord's righteous indignation against sin. But is this all it speaks ? does it speak no love to the sinner? Is it preaching the Gospel to the people, to tell them that the death of Christ presents us with no marks of a tenderness which cannot pupish, of a mercy which always spares, and tell them no more about it? Is it preaching the Gospel to say that God so hated sin, as to pour out his indignation upon his own Son, and not to say, 'that God so loved the world that he gave his Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have evera lasting life?' Is it dividing the word of God aright to speak of the death of Christ as a proof of God's “ severity,” and not even to hint of its being the great proof of his love ? and does the Author really think that this use of the death of Christ, is the one which will be efficacious in turning sinners from the error of their ways ? We are certainly of a far different opinion; and we believe that the history of preaching, in every age of Christianity, will bear us out in the sentiments we entertain ; and if Dr. Elrington would try the other course, we have no doubt that he would soon be brought to agree with us ; and it would give us most sincere pleasure if, on a future occasion, we were permitted to see the same energy exerted in putting forward the love of Christ, which is displayed in this sermon in declaring the terrors of the Lord. But before we conclude our review of this sermon, we have one unpleasant task to perform, in noticing what we conceive to be erroneous doctrine at the conclusion of it. Whilst there is in the sermon no call to the sinner to look unto Jesus and be saved; no invitation to come and wash in that fountain which is opened for all sin and uncleanness; no pointing out Jesus as the way and the truth and the life, by whose blood the sinner may have boldness to enter into the holiest; there is an invitation to all the listless and languid flock, without distinction, to come on the approaching Sabbath, to the table of the Lord.
“ This day you have been summoned to renew your vows of obedience to your God, to claim, on the anniversary of your Redeemer's triumph over sin and death, the benefits of tbat mysterious sacrifice. Cold must be that heart, insensible to every call of religion, which determines to reject such an invitation.
“Whatever mistaken notions as to the duty of receiving the holy sacrament have crept into the church, the most lukewarm Christian acknowledges the necessity of obeying the command of God on that great festival. Commence then the work of preparation, that ye may come holy and clean to such a heavenly feast, and be received as wortby partakers of that holy table.” p. 101.
What! are those whose characteristic marks are listless indifference and languid apathy, really welcome guests at the table of the Lord ? What! are those who “say to the Almighty, who say to the blessed Son of God himself, who calls to them that they may have life, . We will not come; we have loved the world, and after it we will go :' who offer up themselves, their souls and bodies, at the shrine of the prince of this world :" are these indeed summoned “to claim on the anniversary of the Redeemer's triumph over sin and death, the benefits of that mysterious sacrifice ?” Is there no danger of such “receiving the sacrament unworthily,” and only “ eating and drinking condemnation to themselves ?” Yes : but our Author, in the full apprehension of this, recommends a week's preparation, “that ye may come holy and clean to such a heavenly feast, and be received as worthy partakers of that holy table.” So that it would seem, that these persons who are offering themselves, their souls and bodies, at the shrine of the present world, may by their preparation make themselves holy and clean. This is certainly the meaning that would be conveyed by these words to any of Dr. Elrington's hearers; but we have no hesitation in saying, this is not the doctrine of Scripture, nor of our church. It was not the doctrine of that servant of God who said, “ if I wash myself with snow-water, and make my hands never so clean, yet thou shalt plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.” (Job ix. 30, 31.) It was not the doctrine of David, when desiring to appear before the God whom he had offended, he addressed himself to that God, “thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean ; thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than show.” It is not the doctrine of our church; for though the words used are a quotation from our liturgy, they are quoted imperfectly, most important words having been onitted. The sentence in the liturgy runs thus : “ Search and examine your own consciencesthat ye may come holy and clean to such a beavenly feast, in the marriage garment required by God in the holy Scripture ; and be received as worthy partakers of that holy table.” According to Dr. Elrington, a week's preparation will make a man holy and clean : according to our church, a man appears holy and clean, when he is in the marriage garment required by God in the holy Scriptures; that is, when he is “ sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God; (1 Cor. vi. 11.) and to set at rest the doctrine of our church upon the point, we have only to refer to the 10th article, which says, “ the condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works to faith and calling upon God.” We shall have occasion to recur to this subject of the sacrament, when we consider the sixth sermon.
[To be continued. ]
Biblical Researches and Travels in Russia; including a Tour in the Crimea, and the
Passage of the Caucasus; with Observations on the Stat, of the Rabbinical and Karaite Jews, and the Mohammedan and Pagan Tribes inhabiting the Southern Provinces of the Russian Empire.-By E. Henderson, Author of “ Iceland,' &c. London, Nisbet.
(Continued from page 464, Vol. iii.) At Pultava Dr. Henderson fell upon traces of an hero of a different character from Napoleon, and who about an hundred years before (1709) had, like him, broken his hastily-collected empire against the Colossus of Russian greatness, “ It was at this spot where Charles tbe Twelfth of Sweden, after a series of the VOL. IV.
most remarkable successes, with which he had been uninterruptedly favoured for the space of nine years, at once lost the fruit of them all, in the disastrous battle of the 27th of June, 1709, when be wus obliged to abandon his brave, but vanquisbed warriors, and take refuge, with a few select followers, in the dominions of the Grand Seignor. The memory of this event is still perpetuated by a large tumulus, twentyfive feet in height by a hundred in circumference round the base, which has been raised on the field of battle, and to which the inhabitants repair annually to celebrate the victory of the Russians, and perform a mass for the souls of the slain.--page 166, 167. : Heroes are not in our line, and we cannot profess ourselves at all attached to the class; but we confess that although one use of them,
“ From Macedonia’s madman to the Swede,” has deservedly been
“ To point a moral, or adorn a tale,” we do not think their usefulness limited by this purpose. The penetration and energy of the mind of Macedonia's madman' is sufficiently proved by the site of his own favourite city Alexandria; and had it not been for the peculiar character of Charles XII. and his rising power, which threatened destruction to Russian tranquillity, the power and resources of that vast empire might never have been developed, or at least would not have been so firmly and so speedily consolidated.
We shall not carry our reader along the journey which conducted Dr. Henderson from Pultava to Kief; but supposing him and ourselves to have traversed it to find ourselves in that ancient and interesting city the former metropolis of southern Russia. This place is not only remarkable for its antiquity, for its 400 churches, * for its far-famed Petcherskoi monastery, the residence of the Annalist Nestor, and the scene of the ascetic severities of Hilarion and Anthony, but as the place where the general baptism of the Russians took place in the year 989.
“ On the preceding day, the idols had been either broken in pieces or burnt; and Perun, the chief of the gods, a huge monstrous piece of wood, with a head of massive silver, and a beard of gold, had been tied to the tail of a horse, and drawn to one of the highest precipices, whence it was thrown into the Dnieper. Whatever violence was thus offered to the objects of idolatrous worship, it does not appear that any coercive measures were employed to induce the people to submit to baptism. They flocked in crowds to the margin of the Dnieper, to which Vladimir and the Greek priests repaired in solemn procession, and, on a sign being given, the whole multitude plunged into the river, the adults standing up to the breast and neck in the water, while such as had infants supported them above it in their arms."--page, 191.
Of the Petcherskoi monastery and the catacombs, our Author gives a detailed account, sufficient to shew the very degraded state of religion in Russia, and how closely allied the Greek Church is
* It is conjectured by Professor Krug, that quadraginta not quadringinta is the true reading, which would certainly lower the devotional character of Kief,