Page images

much in the suffering Christian, were only for a time. Not long struggling against the power of prior to his death, he observed, unbelief and our great spiritual 'All my doubts and fears are re.. adversary, as in a rejoicing Chris. moved. I have no doubts now. tian? When consolations, such Satan is not permitted to harass as were once enjoyed by him, are my mind.'* To myself he said, the experienced, a person may be said last time I saw him, “The sun is to walk by sight, when they are beginning to shine out from bewithdrawn, to walk by faith. It neath the cloud : I do enjoy the rarely happens that young Christ. peace of God; I do feel the supians are exercised with such temp- port of the peace of God. The tations as our friend experienced, day previous to his death, being and which tended to produce the fully convinced that his departure depression alluded to. In fact, for was drawing nigh, all that he enthe last four or five years, as I treated was, that prayer should be have gathered from several deeply made for his support; expressing interesting conversations with him, at the same time, in a very emhis views of the infinite majesty, phatic manner, that he was sup. power, and holiness of the Divine ported, and that he should be Being have been becoming deeper supported to the end. On various and deeper; while, in consequence, encouraging texts of Scripture like Peter at the miraculous being recited to him, it was evident draught of fishes, he was more and that his mind was stayed on the more penetrated with a sense of truths contained in them. Thus, bis own thorough unworthiness and when that verse was mentioned, debasement. At such times to (Isa. xli. 10) Fear thou not, for I enjoy support, requires that God am with thee~ be not dismayed, he should speak peace to the soul : it quickly caught the sentiment, and is not reason, argument, or per- with animation observed, · Dis. şuasion that can calm the surges mayed! no; I am not dismayed; of the mind. But, while it is a I have nothing to fear : all is well glorious sight to see the soul thus -all is well.” Such was his desupported, it is the next in glory to lightful language to the end : and behold the soul, when, to use the though the bodily conflict was bold language of David, (Psalm severe, his soul was evidently in xlii. 7, 11.) Deep calleth unto deep peace. at the noise of thy water-spouts : In all that has been said of our all thy waves and thy billows are friend, let us not forget the langone over me : saying also with guage of our text. While he has David, Why art thou cast down, O thus been placed before you, hear my soul, and why art thou disquieted him calling upon you to consider, within me? Hope thou in God; What the Lord hath done for his for I shall yet praise him, who is soul. His has been the work ; and the health of my countenance, and to Him be the glory. my God. Such a sight, others, as well as myself, have been privileged

* Mr. Lea died on Saturday Dec. 6,

1828, in the eighty-second year of his to see. Few are aware of the

age. On the day before his death he extent of his inward conflicts : repeated the first two verses of the indeed, he has told me that he was

Hymn, afraid to speak of them, for fear Cheer up, my soul ! there is a mercy seat.' they might operate as a stumbling

and when his Granddaughter supposing block to those unacquainted with

him to be at a loss was commencing the

next stanza which speaks of temptations, similar trials.

fears, &c. he intimated that it no longer These fears and these distresses applied to his case.

FEB. 1829.


A Series of Sermons, preached in

St. John's Chapel, Bognor. during the Summer of 1827. By the Rev. Henry Raikes, A. M. 8vo. Pp. xvi. and 282. Hatchards. 1828.

These are very superior Sermons.

as. They are short, clear, full to the point, and containing more origin nality than we bave met with for a considerable period, without any of that crudeness and those eccentri

tri cities which are so often mistaken for novelty. The volume is introduced by an appropriate preface, from which we learn that the discourses are printed nearly as they were preached, and are published to meet the wishes of a congre. gation affectionately desirous of some memorial of the Author's late ministry among them. The discourses are thirteen in number, and treat of the holiness, justice, jealousy, mercy, and love of God; on man's will by nature, his weakness, justification, and its blessedness, eternal life the gift of God, &c. We shall not however detain our readers by any observations of our own, but shall proceed at once to insert various extracts which will, we conceive, convince them of the intrinsic value of the work itself.

The following striking passages occur in Mr. R's. first Sermon on the Holiness of God; how widely do such sentiments differ from those of mere moral or rational divines !

It is true, no doubt. God is love; and let the whole creation thankfully receive this definition of his nature. But still remember, that this notice of his nature comes late in the volume of the Bible. Many and many a recorded truth must be read, many and many a page of the sacred book must be turned over, before you come to this; and if we find at last that God is love, remember that it is the gospel God God reconciled in Jesus Christ, who makes this gloriovs revelation of his

being. These were the things which, a former times, many kings and prophets desired to see, and did not see them; these were the things hidden from the foundation of the world, but which God has revealed in his Son ; and if man, justified by faith in Christ, and made a member of his body, can recognize God by this token if he can say, yes, my God is love, I know it, and have felt it, and rejoice; it was not thus that God appeared to the patriarchs of old; it was not thus that he was manifested even to his people Israel; it is not thus that he is to be contemplated by the ungodly at present, nor is it thus that he will be seen hereafter, when he comes to take vengeance on a wicked and disobedient world, a world which has despised his overtures of peace, and neglected the ministry of reconciliation.-Pp. 4, 5.

Though it be true therefore, in general, that God is love, and though it be true in particular also, that God is love to some ; we must not confuse the attributes of our Maker, nor consider good and bad as alike the objects of his love. There must be some other attribute which regulates the exercise of this, and wbich must be borne in mind in order to check our licentious abuse of it. It is even essential to that love in God which we rejoice in ; it is essential in order to prove its greatness, its vastuess, its superiority to every other form or kind of benevolence or affection, that we should show that it is not a love which cost him nothing, which overcame no difficulties in its exercise, which went forth to its work without a struggle, and accomplished it without an effort; but we should see and know that there were obstacles opposed, and difficulties to be overcome, which no love but the love of God could possibly have surmounted, And these obstacles evidently do exist in that attribute of God which the prophet so forcibly expresses in the text. They exist in the boliness of God; in that purity of nature which revolts from sin with abhorrence; which is incompatible with sin; which cannot endure it, or be reconciled to it under any circumstances, or in any persons; and which therefore must make the sinner as unlovely in his sight, as unfit an object for the love of God which he presumes on and expects, as it is possible to conceive. “Thou art

of purer eyes than to behold evil, and Surely, when Adam flies from his canst not look on iniquity.” It seems Maker's presence, be shows that the from these words as if sin was something dispensation of love is closed, and has so horrid, so offensive to the eye of God, given way to one of a sterner character; that he was unable to behold it. It and when he vainly endeavours to seems as if his eye turned away from it, conceal his shame from the sight of as from some object of terror or disgust; God, he does but represent in actions and we are thus compelled to feel, that what the Prophet says in words, and whatever may be the love or the good- evince that conviction which was ness of God, either as offered to man originally written on his heart, that kind in general, or as possessed by those God “is of purer eyes than to behold who know him as a reconciled Father evil, and cannot look upon iniquity" in Jesus Christ, there is another quality For surely, if this sense of God's holiin his nature with which we are con ness had not been imprinted on the

cerned, before we can make his love nature of man, if he had not retained it • our own, or boast of it as our privilege. from the moment of his creation, if he --Pp. 6, 7.

had not known and felt by a sort of In the same strain our author

instinct, that sin was irreconcileable to

God, he would not have thus fled from proceeds.

his presence! It would have seemed, But the clearest, the most undeniable

we might think, more natural, under marks of character, are those derived from actions. These, as marks, are too

circumstances like his, to have sought

for forgiveness by tears and supplicanumerous to be mistaken, too decided

tion. It would have seemed natural to be overlooked; and these marks we

to have had recourse to that love and shall find, without exception, bearing

mercy which had never been known to the most perfect testimony to this quality

be withheld, if it had not been that man of holiness in God, by his hatred to sip.

felt in bis heart a deep, an insurmountThe first of these in point of time,

able conviction, that the holiness of God and the first with regard to its conse

was a gulf which could not be passed quences, is the sin of Adam and of Eve.

by a sinner.—Pp. 9–11. If any being in the form of man could be conceived dear to God, if any

The following contrast between could be conceived precious in his sighi. the declarations of God and the senit must have been man in his original timents of men is finely drawn. purity, just as he came forth fresh from Nor need we pretend our ignorance the hand of his Maker, with all the of the real state of things in the world. glory of his Creator's power resting on The opinion of the world on the subject him. And yet, mark the effect which sin, of sin is diametrically opposite to God; one single act ofsin, produces on the in- and in no respect does the world show tercourse between man and his Creator. its true character of enmity to God more As soon as Adam had sinned, his

openly than in this. Our Maker, by nature flies from the Being whom he his revealed word, by his dealings with had been accustomed to love and rejoice men, by all he says, and by all he does in. Pressed down by a consciousness --by his general laws, and his private of guilt, man feels a sort of instinctive dispensations-declares his hatred of dread of appearing before a God of sin. The world by its opinions and holiness, and shrinks from a presence its fashions, by its examples and its for which he knows he is unfit.“ They practices, denies it. Scripture repreheard the voice of the Lord God walk

sents sin as the object of God's abing in the garden in the cool of the day :

the day: horrence in all persons and under all and Adam and his wife hid themselves cirumstances--the world asserts that from the presence of the Lord God there are circumstances which justify amongst the trees of the garden.”

sin, and persons in whom it is excuseThe Deity, on the other hand, no able; and the world has gained access longer looks down rejoicing on his

to every heart with this lie; and the works, and says as before, “Behold it

world has spoken peace to every conwas very good :" but, looking down on science, by assuring us, in open contrathe earth as tenanted by an unholy diction to the word of God, that we creature, and unfit to receive the bless shall not surely die ; for that there are ings it was accustomed to derive from circumstances to be pleaded in our his love, he says, “ Cursed is the behalf, or there are peculiarities in our ground for thy sake!”

nature to be considered, or there are examples to be urged in our defence, holiness is never referred to, and every any one of which are amply sufficient to possible means is made use of to avoid obtain pardon for our transgressions its observation.-Pp. 25-28. against God.

But how different is their bebaviour The world, I say, asserts that there when they look towards tbeir Maker? are circumstances which justify sin. Here, how careless, how neglectful, box Strong temptation, for instance, is con at ease they seem to be. They obey, tinually named as an extenuation of our or not, just as it suits their convenience. faults. The dishonest man pleads the They feel no compuuction when they distress which prompted his crime as have erred. They feel no misgiving taking away its guilt. The young plead when they refuse obedience. They seem the passions of their age as diminishing to imagine that God must be satisfied the sin of indulgence. The violent and with what they choose to give; and that angry speak of the provocation which their will, not his will; their convenience, excited their resentment, as an excuse not his honour, are the things to be confor their having yielded to it. The rich sidered. In this way they sin wilfully, imagine that their plenty justifies the they sin continually, they sin without indolence and luxury in which they live. feeling, they sin without regret; they The poor suppose that poverty and suf despise the laws of God, they neglect fering will excuse their discontent and his sabbaths, they profane his name, neglect of God. Each man, in short, they forget him as absolutely as if he finds something in his own case which did not exist, and say that they do no takes off the criminality of his sin; and harm; and then, having thus heaped each man ventures to imagine “ that insult upon insult, and added defiance God is not of purer eyes than to behold to neglect, they think that they may the evil” which is done under such come at any moment they choose, at circumstances as his own. .

some convenient sabbath, or at any hour But even this is not the worst. The when trouble sends them to seek comfence being once broken down, all fort, and be sure of the fullest acceptance manner of trespass is committed on the from their neglected, their dishonoured, holiness of God. Having accustomed their offended Maker! themselves to lose sight of the fear of Surely these men never can have God in one respect, men soon lose their heard that his name is Holy L-Pp fear of him in all. They begin by sup- 32, 33. posing that particular circumstances

In treating of the knowledge of justify sin, and they end by thinking

God, Mr. R. impressively exclaims, that no justification at all is wanted. They live loosely, they live profanely,

when we think what that judgment they live in forgetfulness of God, and in

must be which will be executed by a neglect of his laws; they observe nothing

God of knowledge, to whom all our except that which prudence, or fashion,

hearts are open, and all our desires or habit recommend as expedient;

known, and whose justice is as strict as they live as it were without God in the

his knowledge is accurate; well may we world, and the language of their hearts,

cry with one, who, like the world, knew if not of their mouths, is this :-" How

more than he chose to practise, “ Alas! doth God know? and is there knowledge

who shall live when God doeth this?” in the Most High?

Who shall dare to show his face when In fact, we are not aware of the in

all the secrets of his heart shall be disfluence which is exercised over us in

closed, when the forgotten errors of his this respect, nor of the consummate art

youth, the secret faults of his impeniand indefatigable diligence with which

tence, shall be brought up in memorial the world has laboured to conceal from

against him; and sins which he dared our apprehensions the essential holiness

not to utter with his mouth, shall be of God. His other attributes are some

published in the hearing of an assembled times acknowledged as conducing to the

world ? peace of society, or are used in some My brethren, there is but one refuge perverted or distorted form for the from all these fearful attributes of the purpose of affording consolation. The God with whom we have to do. There justice of God is held out as a source of is but one, but there is one; and that terror to the lawless and the violent. The one is sufficient for all who will fly to it. love of God is spoken of as the source of Whether we consider the holiness of comfort. The mercy of God is named God, which abhors every sort of inias the universal source of hope; but his quity ; whether we consider the justice

of God, which is pledged to condemn has not found it a message of mercy to it; or whether, as now, we consider the himself? What believer is there, among knowledge of God which discerns it, and all the multitudes added to the church, notes it for accusation ; there is but one w es not found that the gospel comes refuge from the wrath to come, and that hadremedy for all his sorrows, with is the name and the mediation of Jesus á cure for all his evils, whatever may Christ. We fly from the holiness of God have been his circumstances or bis as from a consuming fire, and rejoice in trials? Who is there, that has ever the hope of being found in Christ, not opened his Bible with a faithful and having our own righteousness, but the inquiring spirit, but has found his heart righteousness which is of faith. We fly whispering within him while he read, from the justice of God, for we feel we “unto you is the word of this salvation have no defence to make in extenuation sent?of our guilt, and gladly plead the merits Here, also, we see the mercy of God of our Lord, as having died in our acting freely, for not even the sinner is behalf.-Pp. 69, 70.

excluded. Though he come lateOf the divine mercy he thus

though he come stained with every sin

that the world abhors-still if he do but speaks,

come with a broken and a contrite But the great, and true, and perfect heart, mercy is not closed to him. exercise of mercy in God, is that of his When the very persecutors and slayers forgiving those who believe the gospel of our Lord heard Peter say, “let all Here mercy has her perfect work, and the house of Israel know assuredly that is glorified. Here mercy and truth are God hath made that same Jesus, whom met together, and reconciled in the ye have crucified, both Lord and mediation of Jesus Christ. The exer- Christ ;” and when pricked in their cise of the widest mercy is here made hearts by conviction of sin, and terrified compatible with the strictest justice; at the thought of the guilt they had for God is shown to be just, even terri- incurred, they cried out in a sort of ble in the exactness of his justice and agony of despair, “Men and brethren, the severity with which he requires what shall we do?” we do not hear satisfaction for his law : and still the their prayer rejected with any stern justifier of them that believe in Jesus. denunciation of vengeance. We do not

Here alone, then, that mercy in God, hear the apostle declaring that mercy which willeth not the death of a singer, was closed against them for ever, and acts freely and accomplishes its object; that there was no hope remaining. But because it here finds his justice satisfied we hear him say, “Repent and be bapby the sufferings of our Lord, and has tized every one of you, in the name of regard to man as justified through him. Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, Here it does act freely, and here it does and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy act perfectly; and hither, therefore, we Ghost. For the promise is to you, and would beg you to look, in order to know to your children, and all that are afar the real character of the mercy of God. off, even as many as the Lord our God Here we see it acting freely, in the shall call." wideness of its invitation. For who is In the gospel, therefore, there is excluded? What man can say, that his mercy for the vilest of sinners, even as country, his rank in life, his employ there was mercy for those who crucified ment, his circumstances, cut him off our Lord; if they reject not the offers from the hope of mercy; the mercy and callings of God. The mercy which which is offered in Jesus? When the is offered here may be had by all, if they apostles were finally sent out by our do but come and seek it in the way Lord, with the ministry of reconcilia- which is ordained ; and if any fail of tion, as the heralds of God's mercy in mercy, it will not be from any unwilthe gospel, we know how wide, how lingness on the part of God to show it, unlimited was their commission. “Go, but from their own want of faith to teach all nations," was the charge they receive it. Pp. 114—117. received from their Master; and his

The Sermon on the love of God providence speedily bestowed the means,

contains much that is original. and gradually opened the door for performing his command. In the progress It would seem from this, :(says our of this work, in the immense variety of author, referring to a previous statement) persons who have come under the in- that the love of God cannot be satisfactluence of the gospel, who is there that torily proved from the circumstances

« PreviousContinue »