« FöregåendeFortsätt »
clusion from the external world; a place of unfinished happiness, consisting in rest, security, and hope, more than enjoyment. It is a place which the souls of men never would have entered, had not sin introduced death; and from which there is no exit by any natural means, for those who once have entered. The deliverance of the Saints from it is to be effected by our Lord's power. It is described in the old Latin language, as a place inclosed within an impassable fence; and, in the poetical parts of Scripture, it is represented as secured by gates of brass, which our Lord is to batter down; and barri. cadoed with huge massive iron bars, which he is to cut in sunder. As a place of confinement, therefore, though not of punishment, it may well be called a prison. The original word, however, in this text of the apostle, imports not of necessity so much as this; but merely a place of safe-keeping: for so this passage might be rendered with great exactness." He went and preached to the Spirits in safe-keeping.” And the invisible mansion of departed souls is, to the righteous, a place of safe. keeping, where they are preserved under the shadow of God's right hand, as their condition is sometimes described in scripture, till the season shall arrive for their advancement to their future glory; as the souls of the wicked, on the other hand, are reserved, in the other division of the same place, unto the judgment of the great day. Now, if Christ went and preached to souls of men thus in prison, or in safe-keeping; surely he went to the prison of those souls, or to the place of their custody. And what place that should be, but the Hell of the Apostle's Creed, to which our Lord descended, I have not yet met with the critic that could explain. So clearly does this text affirın the fact of Christ's descent into Hell.”
That clause of the text, which mentions Christ as “ quickened by the Spirit,” is, next considered in the bishop's peculiarly close and acute manner, and he understands it as spoken of our Lord's own Spirit. The word.“ quickened” (it is justly observed) is often applied to signify not the resuscitation of life extinguished, but the preservation and continuance of life subsisting. The exact reading, therefore, of the Apostle's words would be, “ being put to death in the flesh, but quick in the Spirit,” i. e. surviving in his soul, the stroke of death, .which his body had sustained, “ by which,” rather in
w which,” that is, in which surviving soul he went and preached to the souls of men in prison, or in safe-keeping."
This text, it is well known, formed part of the third article of the Church in the reformed Liturgy of Edward VI. as being a proof that Christ did descend into Hell, or " was with the ghosts that were in prison,” but in the revision of the articles, in the reigni of Queen Elizabeth, the article was altered, and this proof rejected. This change of opinion, the learned Bishop aseribes to as undue reliance of the Divines of that time, on the autho. ritv of St. Austin. A masterly character of that father is then drawn; and, though all proper respect is paid to his talents and piety, yet, as a biblical critic he is not to be implicitly followed, because he was too apt to run into conjectures, and to adopt figurative interpretations of difficult passages..
With respect to our Lord's preaching to the disembodied Spirits, the learned Bishop observes, that it could not be either faith or repentance, nor was the end of it to liberate them from purgatorial paius; “but, if he went to proclain to them (and to proclaim or publish, is the same sense of the word,- to preach') the glad tidings, that he had actually offered the sacrifice of their redemption; and was about to appear before the Father as their Intercessor, in the merit of his own blood; this was a preaching fit to be addressed to departed souls, and would give new animation and assurance to their hope of the consummation, in due season, of their bliss; and this, it may be presumed, was the end of his preaching.”
That these " Spirits" were those of the antediluvian world, seems more than implied in the passage under consideration, and it is so understood, explained, and vine dicated in an admirable manner, by the light Reverend author. He controverts tiie harsh and unreasonable notion, that all, who perished in the toon, are to perish ererlastingis in the lake of fire. « But, (bis Lordship observes) the great ditñculty, of which, perhaps, I may be unable to give any solut. on, is this: For wbat reason should the proclamation of the finishjag of the great work of redemptiou be addresseed exclusively to the souls of these antediluvian penitents. Were not the souls of the penitents of later ages equally interesit e in the joyial tidings. To this I can only answer, that I think I bave observed, in some parts of Scripture, an anxiety, if the expression may be allowed, of the sacred writers, to convey distinct intimations, that the antediluvian race is not uninterested in the redemption, and the final retribution. It is for this purpose, as I conceive, that, in the description of the general resurrection, in the visions of the Apocalypse, it is mentioned, with a particular emphasis, that the “SEA gave up the dead tho it were in it;" which I cannot be content to understand of the few persons, tew in comparison of the total of mankind, lost at different times by shipwreck; a poor circumstance to find a place in the midst of the magnificeut images which surround it; but of the myriads who perished in the general deluge, and found their tomb in the waters of that raging ocean."
The conclusion of this profound yet luminous discourse is so beautiful, animated, and consoling, that our readers will be thankful to us for extracting it, though our quotations have already been so large.
The great use of this doctrine, the Bishop observes, is this: “ That it is a clear confutation of the dismal notion of death, as a temporary extinction of the life of the whole man; or, what is no less gloviny and discouraging, the notion of the sleep of the soul in the interval between death and the resurrection, Christ was inade so truly man, that whatever took place in the human nature of Christ, may be considered as a model and example of what must take place, in a certain due proportion and degree, in every man united to him. Christ's soul survived the death of his body. Therefore, shall the soul of every believer survive the body's death. Christ's disembodied soul descended into Hell. Thither, therefore, shall the soul of every believer in Christ descend.' Tu that place, the soul of Christ, in its separate state, pos sessed and exercised active powers. In the same place, therefore, shall the believer's soul possess and exercise activity. Christ's soul was not left in Hell. Neither shall the souls of his servants there be left, but for a season. The appointed time will come, when the Re deeiner shall set open the doors of their prison-house, and say to his redeemed, “ GO FORTH.”
After such copious extracts, as we have thought it necessary to make, nothing that we could say on the merits of this uncommon Sermon, would be adequate to its deserts. We are sorry, however, to inform our readers, tbat it is
not to be had in a separate form, being appended to the second edition of the learned Prelate's version of Hosea.
Sermons selected and abridged, chiefly from Minor Authors.
For the Use of Families. By the Rev.S. Clapham, A.M. Vol. II. Vernor and Hood, Rivingtons, &c. 1804. 8vo. pp. 716.
W E reviewed the first volume of this most useful
W work, in our Magazine for June, 1803, (p. 369). It had our complete approbation. We then expressed an impatient wish to see the present volume, which closes the Editor's plan. The public received the former volume in the same spirit with ourselves; and we are happy, for the credit of the times, as well as of Mr. Clapham, that it has already reached a second edition.
In that volume, the series of appropriate sermons com menced with two for Advent-Sunday, and finished with as many for Whit-Sunday. In the volume now before us, we begin with Trinity-Sunday, and end with the twentyfifth Sunday after Trinity; to which set of Sermons, the editor has added eight Discourses on occasional Subjects; 1. On Confirmation ; 2. On the Promise and Advantages of Christ's Presence with his Church; 3. The Advantages and Disadvantages arising from Methodism, exainined; 4. On the Duty and Advantages of Pastoral Visits; this is ad clerum; 5. On Perjury, an Assize Sermon; 6. On the 30th of January ; 7. On Sunday Schools; 8. A Sermon preached before the Sons of the Clergy; and, lastly, subjoined to the whole, follows an Exhortation to attend Public Worship, addressed by a Clergyman to his Parishioners.-In the first volume we enumerated nineteen authors, who furnished the excellent Sermons, which, in a condensed and abridged form, occur in it. To the list of names we then gave, we have to add those of Reay, Lewis, Atterbury, Bp. Hickman, and Lloyd, exclusive of that of Mr. Clapham himself; who supplies two of the course of Sermons, and four of the occasional ones; three of which were never before printed, and one never printed in a volume. He is also the author of the annexed Exhortation.
We feel no small gratification in printing the “ Advertisennent to the reader, prefixed to this second volume; and we are happy in the approbation which Mr. C. is pleased to express of our Work.
. The reader may, perhaps, expect an apology for my deviating in a few instances, from the line I had engaged to pursue. In the second Sermon for the fifth Sunday, in the first Sermon for the seyenteenth, in the first for the eighteenth, the second for the nineteenth, and the twó Sermons for the twenty-second Sun. days after 'Trinity, he will find no relation to the Collect, the Epistle, Gospel, or first Lessons for the day; but he will, I trust, think with me, that the Sermons I have substituted, are possessed of such excellence, he will not wish for any others in their stead.
The Sermons taken from the third Volume of Skelton, which is only to be had in Ireland, are marked in the Contents with an asterisk. .
“My intention was, in compliance with the suggestions of some respectable friends, to have given in this volume, a ske:ch of the lives of the authors composing this selection, provided sufficient materials could have been obtained for the purpose. I have not been negligent of the business I undertook; but not having yet received all the information I expect, I am under the necessity of deferring, for the present, zmy intention, it is probablé, however, that, in the course of a few months--- should I bę blessed with a continuance of life and health---I shall be enabled to carry my design into execution. The account, which will necessarily be short, will be printed to bind with this or the fora mer volume. I have, in the mean while, to make my public ac, knowledgements to the several clergymen who have obliged me by their communications, and to solicit any farther authentic me formation they; or any of my readers, may have it in their power to give.
"Of Bishop Hickman, of Newlin, St. John, Scattergood, Burnett, Reay, Elsmere, and Brook, I have not been so fortunate as to receive any account whatever.
“ The ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN's Magazine and Review is now publishing an entertaining, and interesting Life of Skelton.rs a Magazine and Review ably and judiciously conducted, and ena tirely devoted to the information of its readers, the interests of the Gospel, and the support of the Church. Of all the Monthly Publications, it seems the best adapted to afford entertainment and instruction to a family. Those who admire Skelton's Sermons, and, it is probable, they will be considered by many, the best in this Collection, would, I doubt nôt, by the perusal of his life, be afterwards abundantly more edified by his writings."
Vol. VII. Churchm, Mag. July, 1804. Í We