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A PREDICTION IN ALISON'S SERMONS. It has not been left to the present day, to tell the world that the sermons of Alison, the celebrated author of a work on taste, are finished pieces of composition : nor is it necessary now to assert, that none can read them without interest and delight. Most of them are occasional discourses, on subjects rather calculated to rouse the feelings of the patriot and the moralist, than elicit the “ sighs of a contrite heart,” or to bring repentant sinners to the foot of the cross. For myself, I must candidly confess, that, generally speaking, I re. ceive more pleasure, and certainly more benefit, from hearing or reading a sermon, filled with the immortal concerns of our fallen race, and the blessed effects of redeeming love, than with all the eloquence of the most profound rhetorician. I would, therefore, say of Mr. Alison, that his discourses are fine specimens of style, and, if enriched with a little more of the peculiar doctrines of the gospel, would be more profitable to the humble, pious Christian, and, I doubt not, be equally acceptable to general readers.

The sermons of the late Right Rev. Bishop Dehon, of Charleston, S. C. accord exactly with my taste. They possess all the advantages of an animated and figurative style, without omitting the “ weightier matters of the law,” which, as an ambassador of Christ, he was commissioned to preach to his people. While they rivet, by their eloquence, the attention of the mind, they silently improve the heart, While these are admirably adapted for social worship, the sermons of Alison are calculated to excite the admiration of the mere man of letters. Nevertheless, if we can picture to our minds the peculiar cast of the times when Mr. Alison delivered these discourses, we cannot doubt that his enraptured audience heard them with the deepest interest. Some of his fast sermons were admirably calculated to rouse the feelings even of those who had less at stake than the subjects of the British empire. The moral world was convulsed to its centre, and felt the mighty efforts of the infidel power. But the preacher was not dismayed. He saw, with prophetick eye, the day dawning afar off, and gave to God the praise, that the dark night of errour and of crime, of irreligion and immorality, were fleeing before the Sun

GOSPEL ADVOCATE, VOL. III.

of Righteousness, rising with healing in his wings. With the spirit of prophecy, as well as in all the charms of eloquence, he predicted the fall of the impious power, and rested in God the hope, that it would speedily be accomplished.

The following extract from his fast sermon, preached February 27, 1806, contains the prediction, which has been so wonderfully and so happily accomplished, under the good providence of God, by the battle of Waterloo. As this extract will be read with interest, I shall offer no apology for requesting you to give it a place in the Gospel Advocate.

CYPRIAN.

of man.

Speaking of the war against Buonaparte, the preacher continues : “ It is a cause in which no doubt hangs upon the soldier's heart, or weakens the soldier's arm. It is no warfare of national pride, or commercial avarice, or military ambition, that now calls him into the field. It is the simple and the sanctified defence of his country ; it is the defence, in our own land, of whatever antiquity has rendered dear, or experience valuable, or religion sacred; it is, in a greater view, the defence of the moral constitution of human nature ; the defence of truth, and justice, and order, throughout the world. Other nations, in the history of man, have been called to the defence of their own freedom ; to us is now committed the sublimer duty of vindicating the freedom of social man, and re-establishing the prosperity of the civilized world.

“ It is a cause, in another view, in which the blessings of the wise, and the prayers of the good, follow us from the remotest habitations

If to act in the presence of many spectators be a motive, even to the feeblest mind, to act nobly-bow lofty are the achievements, which, in these eventful hours, are demanded of this country ? The eyes of the whole European continent are fixed upon it, as upon the champion of their common cause. There is not a country where the heart of the inhabitant does not throb with hope or with fear, at the sound of our name; there is not an altar in the whole baptized world, from which the prayer of the pious does not silently arise for the success of our arms.

“ It is a cause, in a greater view, in which the unchangeable laws of the Almighty are with us. The world has seen other conquerors and other despots. It has wept before the march of temporary ambition, and bled beneath the sword of transitory conquest. But nature has reassumed her rights; and, while conquerors have sunk into an execrated grave, and tyrants have perished in the zenith of their power, the race of men have raised again their dejected heads, and peace, and order, and freedom, have spread themselves throughout the world. Such, my brethren, will also be the termination of the tragedy of our day, and such is the confidence which they ought ever to inaintain, upon whom the Almighty hath lifted up the light of his countenance.' We are witnessing, indeed, the most tremendous spectacle which the theatre of nature has ever exhibited, of the pride and ambition of

For years, our attention has been fixed upon that great and guilty country, which has been futile in nothing but revolution, and from which, amid the clouds that cover it, we have seen at last that dark and shapeless form arise, which, like the vision that ap. palled the king of Babylon, hath its legs of iron, and its arms of brass.' We have seen it extend its terrifick shadow over every surrounding people, and the sinews of man to wither at its approach. We see it now collecting all its might, and thinking to change times and laws, and speaking great words against the Most High. Yet, while our eye strains to measure its dimensions, and our ear shrinks at the threatening of its voice, let us survey it with the searching eye of the prophet, and we shall see, that its feet are of base and perishable clay. Amid all the terrours of its brightness, it has no foundation in the moral stability of justice. It is irradiated by no beam from heaven ; it is blessed by no prayer of man ; it is worshipped with no gratitude of the patriot heart

an.

. It may remain for the time or the times that are appointed it. But the awful hour is on the wing, when the universe will resound with its fall; and that sun which measures out, as with reluctance, the length of its impious reign, will one day pour his undecaying beams amid its ruins, and bring forth, from the earth which it has overshadowed, the promises of a greater spring.

“ There are limits in the moral as well as in the material system to the dominion of evil; there are limits to the guilt and injustice of nations, as well as of individuals. There is a time when cunning ceases to delude, and bypocrisy to deceive; when power ceases to overawe, and oppression will no longer be borne. Even now that period seems to be approaching. It is impossible that man can become retrograde in bis progress ; it is impossible that the hands of the oppressed can longer beckon the approach of a power which comes to load them only with heavier chains; it is impossible that the nations of Europe, cradled in civilization, and baptized into the liberty of the children of God, can long continue to bend their free-born heads before the feet of foreign domination, or that they can suffer the stream of knowledge, which so long has animated their soil, 10 terminate at last in the deep stagnation of military despotism. Even the country itself which has given it birth, cannot long submit to its rule; it bleeds in the hour that it triumphs; it is goaded to exertions which it loathes; its laurels are wet with the tears of those who are bereaved of their children. The virtuous man shudders when he beholds the crimes and the guilt of his country ; and the heart of the pious man faileth him, when he looks forward to the things that are coming upon those banners which are raised against the rights of man, and which are unblessed by the voice of heaven." Alison's Sermons, i. p. 180—184. Boston Ed. 2 vols.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE GOSPEL ADVOCATE.

Several years ago, a small work was published by a Presbyterian mechanick in Scotland, entitled, " A Letter from a Blacksmith to the

Ministers and Elders of the Church of Scotland," &c. and has since been republished several times in this country. The object of the writer appears to be to improve the publick worship of the Scottish church, by the use of a Liturgy. He likewise recommends the reading of a larger portion of the scriptures than is customary, and shows the necessity, and usefulness, of a precomposed form of prayer. The Blacksmith is desirous of promoting sound practical piety in the heart, rather than that evanescent blaze enkindled by the passions. He is willing to adopt all lawful ineans which are likely to promote this grand design. The evils attending extemporary prayer, arising either from the contending interests of various sects, or deficiency in ministerial attainments, are forcibly, and sometimes humourously pointed out. And be strongly urges, by judicious examples, the decency and propriety of weighing well in our hearts and minds, every petition which we intend to offer to God. «They who have preferred extemporary worship, to a precomposed form, must be convinced, by the writer's reasoning, that the prayer of the minister is, to all intents and purposes, a form to the people, by which they must pray, if they pray at all ; and that all the petitions and praises they offer in their psalmody, are, unquestionably, so many forms of prayers and praises used by the congregation. The good sense, and strength of argument pervading this little work, will recommend it to every unprejudiced reader, and will, I trust, procure for it a more general circulation among those, whose minds are not entirely at rest on this important subject.

If it will not, Mr. Editor, occupy too many of your columns, I respectfully solicit the insertion of the following extract, on the alleged unlawfulness of forms of prayer. The Gospel Advocate has a consi; derable circulation in the part of the country where I reside, and I am not without hope that, some of my neighbours may be induced to look into the Blacksmith's letter, who, otherwise, might never have known, that so excellent a letter had ever been written and published.

“ I shall not,” says he, “dwell long upon the last objection ; I mean, " that forms of prayer are unlawful, because I believe it never will be offered by men of sense and learning; and it is losing time and pains to reason with such as are destitute of both. I shall only beg leave to observe, that they who say that forms of prayer are unlawful, in fact say, that God Almighty commanded, that our Saviour attended, used, and taught his disciples, an unlawful way of worship ; for that he did so, I bave proved already, and our own Directory for publick worship acknowledges, that our Lord's prayer is not only a pattern for prayer, but is itself a most comprehensive prayer.' Here I cannot help observing, with regret, that wherever our Directory directs well, there our clergy have despised our Directory; for instance, it recommends that the Lord's prayer be used in our publick worship ; that ordinarily a chapter out of each testament be read at every meeting. The first is neglected by most, and the last by all of them. It directs that our worship begin with prayer, but now it begins with praise ; that the minister, before worship, shall solemnly exhort the people to the worshipping of the great name of God; but at present we rush into a very solemn part of worship, without a word of previous exhortation, and, I fear, very often, without a serious thought. It is easy to find out the reason why the Lord's prayer, and the reading of the Scriptures, have been jostled out of our service; they have been forced out to make room for Mass John's* more masterly performances ; but why the other alterations have been made, the clergy, who direct all things, can only tell. To them I leave it, and return to my subject.

“ If forms are unlawful, we are unlawfully baptized, for that is done by a form; and all the extemporary prayers wbich we use upon that occasion, are not essential to the sacrament, and are additions of men. We administer the Lord's supper in an unlawful manner, for we do it by a form; I mean the words of the first institution. We are dismissed every Lord's day with an unlawful blessing ; for one of the solemn forms with wbich the apostles conclude their epistles, is al. ways used upon that occasion ; so that nothing can be more inconsistent with ingenuity and common sense, than for us to cry out against forms, when the most solemn and important parts of our religion and worship are performed in that way, and when we neither baptize, nor communicate, nor bless our congregations in a lawful way, unless forms be lawful ; nor do these things in the best manner, unless doing them by a form be the best.

“ But further: if forms of prayer be not acceptable to God, and a useful way of worship for ourselves, we grossly offend every time that we meet in church; for it is impossible to sing eighteen or twenty lines of a psalm, but we offer some important petition by a form; and some psalms might be pointed out that are almost continued prayers ; so that unless we will affirm, that our prayers are acceptable to God, and useful to ourselves when they are sung, but otherwise when they are said by a form, we must allow, that we are inconsistent with ourselves when we cry out against forms; that our ministers impose upon us, when they spirit us up against that way of worship, that they may have the better opportunity to gratify their own vanity, to manufacture our prayers after their own manner, and to mix them up with their own private opinions.

" If extemporary worship be preferable, what good reason can be given why the ministers do not sing psalms extempore in our names, as well as offer extemporary prayers ? for we are as much concerned to join in the last as in the first; a blunder in the one is as dangerous as in the other, and we could as well go along with him in our hearts, when he sung an extemporary psalm, as we can do when he says an extemporary prayer. This inconsistency in our worship has not escaped the observation of our rethren, for many of them have warmly insisted upon it, that the Spirit of God is restrained by using the psalms of David ;t and therefore proposed that we should sing as well as pray extempore ; and upon the supposition, that publick worship in the

* Presbyterian Preachers in Scotland. . + Heylio's History of the Presbyterians.

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