« PreviousContinue »
are devoted, our devout preacher finds himself perfectly at home. The reverence which he prescribes to others in this holy place seems to be his own most congenial atmosphere. With proper admonitions to those who verify the observation, (unjust, he hopes,) that "pride, curiosity, and fashion fill the sanctuary," he justly asks,
"When we consider that we are sin ners; that, at best, we must appear before the Most High, covered with imperfections; ought we not to be filled with respect, when in his holy temple? The four and twenty elders of heaven worshipped him not without casting their crowns at his feet. The celestial cherubim chant not the perpetual trisagium, till they have first veiled their faces with reverential awe. The Son of God, when he approached his Father in worship, bowed his knees to the earth. 'Shall man,' then, who is a worm,' shall the son of man, who is a' sinful ◄ worm,' tread the courts of the Most High irreverently; or feel any, but sentiments of profound respect, when in the house of God?" Vol. I. p. 172.
The author forcibly avows an opinion we have before alluded to, and which we repeat for the benefit of those who pour contempt upon one ordinance which is to endure for ever, in comparison with another which only ministers for a time to man in his fallen state. He says,
"There are others, who are often detained from the sanctuary, by the consideration that there will be no
the sanctuary; but it is of secondary importance. Let sober reflection be indulged for a moment, and you will readily perceive, that the leading object, when we go into the tabernacles of God, should be to worship at his footstool." Vol. I. p. 181.
But we hasten to the next discourse, entitled, "The Liturgy;" in which the author has poured forth the treasures, and employed all the powers, of his prolific mind. This sermon leads us to regret that the finishing hand and last thoughts of the writer had not been employed upon more of the discourses in these volumes. It is on Psalm xlv. 13; “Her clothing is of wrought gold." And we must say that our eloquent preacher has wrought his subject to a very high polish, the opus being worthy of the materies on which it is employed. We feel justly.elevated by the circumstance of such high encomiums being voluntarily bestowed on our services by the organ of a church wholly independent of our own, and competent to have adopted any other formularies that had been thought fit. The present American Prayer-book is, with the exception of a few slight variations, the same as our own: and of this invaluable compilation Bishop Dehon remarks, that it is "social; that it is sensible; that it is spiritual; that it is complete; that it is well arranged; and that it is holy."
On the first of these heads, we have a passsage of great pathos and sermon. But, my friends, is it only sublimity, from which we are unto have your ears employed, and your willing to detain our readers by a minds amused, that you are called to single observation of our own. the temple of the Most High? Is it not inducement enough to come hither, that you have sinned against the Almighty, and have need of his pardon; that you have been created, redeemed, and are daily preserved by him, and owe him your adoration and praise? Is it not an affront to your Creator, to prefer any object to the worship of his name? and can any sermon, even if it were clothed with an angel's eloquence, be so worthy of your attention, as the sacred Scriptures which are read? Preaching is an important part of the employments of
"To excite you to join diligently, and with reverence, in the service of the Common Prayer, I need only guide your attention, to the sublime extent of the application of its social character. It is not only in this house, in which you assemble, that in all its parts it is sociably performed; the same. prayers and praises, in the same words, are offered, perhaps at the same hour, with the same faith, by ten thousand tongues, to the same God and Father of all. From all Christian parts of the
globe the Amen resounds, which you here utter; and the Doxology is raised, in which you are here called upon to bear a part. It is not in this age only, in which you live, that this service conveys the devotions of Christians to heaven. In some of the ejaculations it contains, the first disciples breathed their praises and their wishes to the Most High. Its collects have, many of them, for many hundreds of years, been the vehicles of the public devotions of the church. And upon some of its apostrophes has the last breath of distinguished martyrs trembled, whose piety, during their lives, was refreshed with its hymns and its psalms. It is not under the Gospel dispensation alone, that some parts of this service have been used, to express the common devotions of the faithful. There are hymns in it, which were sung by the saints under the Mosaic dispensation; and in the use of the Psalms particularTy, the church of the New Testament is found in society with the church of the Old for in these sacred compositions, not the emotions of David's heart only were vented, but much of the worship of God's ancient people did consist. It is not only in the church militant upon earth, that this service, in some of its parts, is used. We have borrowed from the church triumphant in heaven, their gratulatory anthem, and their perpetual hymn, and have reason to believe, that their voices are in concert with ours, when they sing the song of the redeemed. How sublime is this view of the communion and fellowship of the church, under the Mosaic and Christian dispensations, in different ages and in distant nations, on earth and in heaven, in the use of some part or other of that holy Liturgy, which it is our distinguishing felicity to have received from our fathers! Who would not wish, in the temple, to bear upon his lips those psalms and prayers in which the glorious company of the Apostles, the goodly fellowship of the Prophets, and the noble army of martyrs,' have uttered their devotions to God! How dead must lie be to the finest associations which can affect the mind, who is not animated to a devout and fervent performance of his part of the service of the sanctuary, by the consideration, that upon this same censer, which the church holds out to him, incense hath been put by those hands which are now extended before the throne of the Al
mighty; and that as its smoke ascended, those eyes were lifted up to heaven, which are now fixed upon the visible glory of God and the Lamb." Vol. I. pp. 188, 189.
The sensible are well combined with the spiritual properties of our Liturgy, and allusion is made to its from which its treasures have been comprehensiveness, to the rich mines collected, and to its arrangement. Its variety is also touched upon.
"In this view of it, our Liturgy is as shades of the deepest verdure, and a well furnished garden: in which are flowers of the liveliest hue; waters flowing from perennial fountains to fertilize and delight, and seats, at which, at proper intervals, we may rest and be refreshed." Vol. I. p. 202.
But we must favour our readers
with another long quotation in reference to these hallowed services, which will combine and embody many of the foregoing excellences.
"Interesting is the scene, when a congregation are assembled, as a people whom the Most High bath redeemed, to worship him in his holy temple. How solemn the moment, when they are about to present themselves before the Almighty! To collect their thoughts, and excite in them a due solemnity, the service opens with some passages of Scripture, peculiarly impressive. To these follows an address, in which the Minister, while he sets before them the great purposes of their assembling together, aims chiefly to excite in them humility, and confidence in Almighty God, their heavenly Father,' and invites them to accompany him, with their hearts and voices, to the throne of the heavenly grace.' After this decent preparation, they are ready to bow before his footstool. With what shall they begin? Angels, ye, first and last, utter only adorations! Spirits of the just made perfect, ye break forth, at every approach to your Creator, in acts of praise! But sinful men, should they not first propitiate their Maker, before they offer him any oblation? Accordingly, the first act of our devotion is the confession of our sins; a confession so comprehensive, that under some one or other of its general clauses every
fault, with which a man can charge himself, may be included; and so very affecting, that his heart must be dead to all religious emotions, who is not humbled by it before his God. To the pious penitent, who has made this confession, how joyous would it be, could he hear immediately from the throne of the Almighty, Thy sins be forgiven thee!' This he cannot hear, till Jesus shall personally present him to the Father. But, behold, for their comfort and encouragement, while they continue in the flesh, God hath given power and commandment to his ministers, to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins.' This declaration, therefore, the priest, rising from before the throne, makes to the people, direct ly after their confession. And of the comfort of it, every Christian who is conscious that he truly repents, and unfeignedly believes the Gospel,' should with faith avail himself, to the quieting of his conscience, and perfecting of his gratitude and joy. Being now reconciled to God, according to the promises declared to our race in Christ Jesus, we, as children adopted anew into his family, extend our affections, and lift our grateful eyes to him as our Father;' and address to him that summary of our homage and desires, in which he, who purchased our forgiveness, hath taught us to pray. Our spirits being relieved from the burthen of their fears, and revived by the tenor of this prayer, which his Son hath authorised us to address to our Maker; we rise upon our feet, and with hearts glowing with devotion, in a most ancient doxology, an animated hymn, and a portion of the sacred Psalms,ascribe everlasting glory to him, in language of inspiration celebrating his praise. This first part of the service, how beautiful it is! How proper the order; how natural and significant the transitions; how happy our minds when we sit down; how well prepared to listen to the instructions of God's holy word! A lesson is read from the Old Testament. At the close of it, we rise, and cherish the flame of our devotion by celebrating, in suitable hymns, his character, and works, and grace. There is then read a lesson from the New Testament, and by this arrangement, the Law and the Gospel, the Prophets and the Apostles, are brought, at a suitable time, to adorn and bless our service; and the important truth is
inculcated, that, throughout the Bible, there is but one scheme carried on, issuing in the redemption of the world through Jesus, the Son of God. To the lesson from the New Testament, there follow appropriate hymns, in which we express our adorations and joy. And then, having heard the Scriptures, we, in the presence of each other, of the world, and of God, with great propriety rehearse a summary of the truths, which have been received from revelation; by our Amen, declaring our assent to them, and our resolution to maintain them. Knowing in whom we may believe, and what are our interests, and for how great mercies we are indebted to the Most High; we, after a reciprocation of holy wishes between the priest and the people, venerable for the antiquity of its use, and for its Christian courte ousness, prostrate ourselves again before the Almighty, and in a series of prayers engage in acts of supplication; in which spiritual blessings are magnified above temporal ones; the church is regarded more than the world; the less is sought after the greater: and sometimes, as in the Litany, which was originally a separate service, but now is incorporated into the Morning Prayer, there is a regular transition from invo cation of mercy, to deprecation of evil; and from deprecation of evil, to supplication of favours: in all which, the concerns of the soul are remembered before those of the body; the concerns of the church before those of the world; the concerns of the world, and the powers whom God hath ordained to rule it, before those of individuals: and yet, there is not a thing, needful for the body, which is forgotten; nor an individual, who may not find a petition adapted to his own case. As we draw towards the close of this service, we are called upon to exalt our gratitude to the highest point of fervour; and to expand our charity to the utmost extent. In a prayer for all sorts and conditions of men, we, as we would ask an alms for the dumb beggar, supplicate appropriate mercies for all our race. And in a general thanksgiving, which burns with the holiest and most ardent spirit of praise, we honour God for all his mercies to us, and to all men. An excellent summary, from the pen of the pious Chrysostom, of all for which the Christian can be solicitous, follows: and the benedictory prayer, which the spirit of inspiration hath hallowed,
closes the daily service." Vol. I. pp. 202-206.
After such a noble epitome of our services, we are prepared for an important observation which occurs in the course of this admirable and splendid sermon.
"It has been objected to the Liturgy, that it is too long. But when, with serious deliberation, we have considered the matter, we shall discover unexpected difficulty in selecting the parts with which we would most willingly dispense; and shall perceive, that no part can be removed from it, without impairing its strength, disturbing its proportions, and diminishing its fulness." Vol. I. p. 198.
We dare not trust ourselves with any further wanderings in this garden of sweets, this mine of choice gold though we are sensible no single quotations can do justice to the beauty of the whole discourse. We must add, that here, as too frequently in other sermons, our fervent Bishop blemishes his finest statements with the intrusion of single unguarded expressions. Thus he somewhat rashly ventures the observation, that no sacrifice more perfect in holiness hath been prepared to be offered to God in this world, since the fall of man, except the sacrifice of his adorable Son." (p. 209.) What sacrifice can, in the proper sense of the expression, be compared, with any degree of propriety, to that one perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction which He made upon the cross for the sins of the whole world? Surely not the service of our Liturgy, however excellent.
Two discourses close this first head; the first a very neat and well conceived one upon PSALMODY; the other upon PUBLIC INSTRUCTION. Of the latter, truly we must say, "though last not least." Both are set forth with the energy of a man speaking with the most cordial and entire devotion to his subject. The following important statement, on the ends of preaching, ought not to be passed over by us.
"Preaching has a higher object than the gratification of your taste. There are assigned to it more glorions purposes than the mere entertainment of your minds. It is its office to proclaim to you the only living and true God, and to make you acquainted with his character and laws, that you may believe, duct as becometh the offspring of such and, believing, may govern your cona Being, the subjects of such a King. It is its office to raise before you the cross, to shew you the sacrifice upon it, 'which taketh away the sins of the world,' and to entreat you to take of its blood, and sprinkle it upon all your raiment, that, when the destroying angel shall execute the vengeance of the Almighty upon a guilty world, it may be to you the token of everlasting pre. servation. It is its office, to open for you the oracles of truth; and thence to bring to you the true knowledge of the foundation and excellency of every vir tue; the motive by which it should be consecrated, and the extent to which it should be carried; and thence, also, to bring the probe which shall convict your hearts of sin. It is its office, to go before you into the tomb, with the bright torch which it receives from revelation; to disperse the blackness of darkness which hangs over its entrance, to shew you the place where Jesus lay ; to wipe away the tears which are falling upon the mouldering relics; and, when the blood throbs at the heart, amidst the horrors of the scene, to restore it to its sober, equal flow, by reminding you, that Jesus is risen, and that this awful dominion, with its awful king, thall be finally overturned. It is its office, to draw aside the veil which conceals from view the eternal world; to shew you hell, and all its torments, and beseech you to escape them; to shew you heaven, and all its glories, and entreat you to enter." Vol. I. pp. 226, 227.
The Bishop applies his remarks on Psalmody; first, to those who are singers; next, to those who are not. He shews himself to be felicitously gifted with the pleasing and often important faculty of being able "nugis addere pondus." We earnestly long for some Episcopal Charge in our own country, of weight sufficient to soften or suppress the excessive dissonance of sackbut, horn, and serpent, which have
sometimes crashed upon our ears, instead of the soft," significant, and delightful sounds," which the Bishop mentions, as "beautifying the services of God's temple." To talk of such things to us in Eng land, at least in many parishes, is like talking of water to a parched traveller in an Arabian desert.
We proceed to the Second Part, or Series of Sermons, commencing with the twentieth and twenty first, on Advent, and proceeding through the various sacred seasons of the church to the end of Ser mon LIV.
powers of a strong mind, and to have shewn an equal measure of ease in playing with his subject, and of force in grappling with it. We shall not be backward to offer any qualification we may deem expedient to these general and high commendations, as they may be called for by any particular extract; but we shall principally give such passages as we doubt not will rivet the attention of our readers by their force, win them by their beauties, and, we trust, warm and animate their piety by their fervour.
The two sermons on ADVENT state the ends and the evidences of our Saviour's mission. The evidences mentioned, are,-first, the general expectation of such a person; secondly, Christ's correspondence to that expectation, in his answering the wants of the Gentile world— in his fulfilling the predictions of the Jews—in the positive testimony, particularly of miracles, which he brought with him, and to which he himself appealed. The most remarkable point touched upon in these sermons, is the case of the Jews; in expounding which, Bishop Dehon gives his most clear verdict in favour of the interpretations of prophecy strongly offered and acted upon by the many pious, able, and disinterested benefactors of that despised but sacred nation at the present day. The Bishop evidences that his eye was fixed upon passing events, which, he says, shew us
After every abatement hitherto made on account of the unfinished state of these discourses, and the almost extemporaneous flow of thought and expression which they exhibit, and by consequence the frequent recurrence of a certain wildness and uncontrolledness of style which we have intimated not to be wholly abhorrent, in our notion, from American genius in its best state; we must still say, we look on this series, as a whole, with very high sentiments of satisfaction, and even admiration. The great mysteries of the Gospel involved in the Advent, Nativity, Circumcision, and other events of our holy Redeemer's life and death are set forth in a manner calculated to exalt our thoughts upon these several subjects to no ordinary pitch. A strain of eloquence, a richness of imagery, a fulness, and we may say exuberance, of matter, in which rather the modus than the copia is wanting, clearly characterise the style" the extension of Christ's kingdom, of the preacher. Many discourses and the gathering to him of the people. upon each several sacred occasion, To the occurrences in the East, one cau seem rather to give fresh wings to hardly refrain from applying the prohis invention, than to weary and phetic words, I am sought of them exhaust it. Sometimes longer on the wing, and sometimes for a shorter period, he seems neither cramped in his lesser flights, nor overlaboured in his larger; and though he has evidently thought much more intensely on some topics than upon others, he still seems to have carried to all the collected
that asked not after me; I am found of them that sought me not.'" Vol. I. p. 237.
And he adds,
broken down, God hath not cast away "But though the wall of partition is his people. The inscription on the yet be fulfilled: THIS IS JESUS THE cross, though Pilate meant not so, shall