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Rector of Chelwood, Somerset ; and of Great Chalfield ;
and of the Dutch Soc. of Sciences, Harlaem.
“ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom
PRINTED BY JOHN AND JAMES KEENE, BATH, FOR LONGMAN, ORME, AND
AND COLLINGS, BOOKSELLERS, BATH.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE BATH JOURNAL.
Widcombe Cottage, near Bath, 220 July. Sir,
As you considered my few remarks on Pulpit INSTRUCTION, and ExTEMPORE PREACHING,* deserving a column in your Journal, I would fain offer to you, for insertion in the same vehicle of public intelligence, five plain discourses, (lately written and preached in my parish church,) on the subject of our blessed Lord's “Sermon ON THE MOUNT.” They contain (what the eminently pious and profoundly learned Dr. Whitby called his “eustegao portides) my “last thoughts" on a topic, the most important that can exercise the intellect of man-PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY—and are proffered to you as an illustration (and this, perhaps, was due to your readers) of the observations that I hazarded, respecting the manner and matter, which, in my very deficient judgment, (and I write the words under an honest conviction of their propriety) should characterize the PULPIT INSTRUCTION, of the ministers of Christ's Gospel. I may be wrong in my views of this concerning subject, (for, I utterly abjure, myself, what I equally deny to every uninspired human being-any claim to infallibility,) and others may forin a different, and, possibly, a more correct opinion respecting it than I have done; but, should such be the case, if I be not " convicted in my own conscience," of voluntary error, in this very serious matter; I humbly trust that the mistake will be excused in His sight, who is not only, Himself, the sun of truth; but the dispenser of its rays, to all his intelligent creatures; in more or less measure, according to his good pleasure, and according to their capacity of receiving them. Of aught else, “I am not careful.” I approach too nearly the GRAND ASSIZE, to heed the verdict of a lower court-but, should any one of your readers
* See Appendix for this Letter.
think it worth his while, to offer a criticism upon; or to advance objections against, the spirit, or the matter, of the papers, with which I now trouble you; and should do this with calmness and good temper, and in Christian charity ; his observations would meet with my respectful attention; though, possibly, not with a settled conviction of their weight.
“The Bible, the Bible, the Bible," writes Chillingworth, "is the Religion of Protestants," and it might well be added—the Religion of the universal race of lost mankind. There alone must be sought for, and will be found, “the words of eternal life;" those doctrines of faith, and laws of moral righteousness, which, if received in their simplicity, and practised in their purity, will (through the mediation and atonement of an all-sufficient Redeemer)
save the soul alive.” They are both, written, in the sacred page, as it were with a sun-beam; fresh (so to speak) from the hands of the Saviour, and his inspired Apostles.—“ Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God,” said Peter, “and Jesus answered, and said unto him, flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven;" and,“ upon this rock, will I build my church.” HERE is evangelical faith in its primeval simplicity; and “Do this and thou shalt live," comprehends, in one short dictum, from the lips of Christ himself, all the MORAL OBLIGATIONS, of immortal and responsible man.
It is true, sir, that man in his fondness for novelty, and in his desire to substitute the ready creations of Fancy, in the room of the painful, because constant, exercise of the moral principle; has complicated and obscured the original form of EVANGELICAL PAITH; and divested, in a great measure, EVANGELICAL OBEDIENCE of its uncompromising character; but, however, he may “add unto,"
“ diminish from," the fountain of light and life; its stream (issuing from, and confined to, the BIBLE, exclusively,) flows on clearly, calmly, and refreshingly; unclouded and untroubled by the admixture of human imaginings; and offering to “the poor
in spirit”-to “those who mourn” for their sins—to “the meek”to “ those who hunger and thirst after righteousness”-to "the merciful"—to “ the pure in heart”-to “the peace-makers”-to
those who are “reviled," and “persecuted for righteousness sake" -its “ waters of comfort"_" cleansing them from all unrighteousness”—and supplying them with heavenly grace in life; with hope in death ; with spiritual peace here below; and with an humble and well grounded trust, of rest hereafter. If I read the BOOK aright, sir, God's promises in Christ, are confined to this heavenly frame of spirit and disposition; and to this evangelical course of conduct in life; and withheld entirely from characters of an opposite cast. “ If a man seem to be religious, and bridle not his tongue,” from passing judgment on his brother mortal's convictions of conscience, or motives of action—"If a man seem to be religious," and saith to a believer in the Saviour, equally sincere with himself, “stand apart, for I am holier than thou”—“If a man seem to be religious,” and do not “add to his FAITH,” (whatever form it may wear) MORAL VIRTUE, and EVANGELICAL CHARITY
.“ that man's RELIGION,” (if I read THE BOOK aright, I repeat)
Your obedient servant,
[We should most readily insert the discourses in question, in our Journal, but, as we understand that they will be speedily published, we submit, that it might be more desirable to our readers, to have an opportunity of seeing them together, rather than in separate portions. We are glad these sermons are to appear in a permanent form. This is a time when the sound and sober ministers of the Gospel should be at their post-especially those, whose names give influence to their precepts--to warn the people against either of the two excesses, which are, at present, drawing multitudes from the path, in which scripture and reason direct us to walk.-E. B. J.]