Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Considering the reputation enjoyed by Dr. Raffles as a preacher, and the multitude of his admirers, we are surprised to find that the descriptions contained in this volume of the character and style of his public services are so few. The following is an account written by an American gentleman for a religious newspaper :-“ At the appointed hour of service, a large, portly man, with full and ruddy countenance, and in full clerical dress, ascended the pulpit. After a hymn, he read the 24th chapter of Matthew, with great pertinency and pathos of expression, in silvery and subduing tones. From the first opening of his lips, he seemed moved from his inmost soul. I could have imagined, though ignorant of the cause, that the deep fountains of feeling were opened within him, and that some mighty sympathies were working there. And I thought, too, that the congregation were ready to be with him in feeling. But I knew not the occasion. “Is that Dr. Raffles,' said I, in a whisper, to the gentleman on my right? • Yes, sir,' was his answer. After the usual introductory services, and a prayer which breathed the soul, and which seemed a fellowship with heaven, the following text was announced. Therefore, be ye also ready, for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man cometh.'

'Nearly twenty years have rolled away since I have had the pastoral charge of this congregation,' said the preacher, and these were his first words after reading the text,—and never have I been called to mingle my tears with the bereaved of my charge in any instance for a work of death so astounding to private and public sympathy as in the late and ill-fated doom of the Rothsay Castle.' And here, at the end of the first sentence, the secret was all opened to me, and I felt myself at once a mourner with the mourning, for I had passed in full view of the scene of death, and heard the story, for the first time, this very day. Three members of Dr. Raffles' church were of the number who perished, and this evening it had devolved on the pastor to stand up before a mourning people to tell the story, and try to impress them with the practical lesson of the awful event. And he did tell the story in the outset, the simple story, as the exordium of his sermon. He briefly noticed the character of those they mourned, traced the pathway of their spirits through the stormy waves of the ocean to the haven of eternal rest; and then applied himself to the proper theme of his text, in application to his hearers—“Be ye also ready. Never did I see an audience so perfectly spellbound by the voice of a man. Occasionally, in the progress of the sermon, the Doctor was powerful beyond description; bis thoughts and manner, and the tones of his voice all befitting each other. The interest of the occasion was itself intense, and when the ' Amen’ was pronounced, the perfect stillness which had reigned for the hour was succeeded by the singular bustle which an instantaneous change of position in every individual of a great congregation, after having been long chained by eloquence in fixed and motionless attitudes, produces."

An attendant on the ministry of Dr. Raffles could not fail to remark his strong attachment to the doctrines of grace. The Saviour, and redemption through his blood, were constantly exhibited in his preaching. It was a favorite saying of his, that in every sermon there ought to be something which would teach any ignorant person who might happen to be present the way of salvation through the atoneinent of Christ. When a friend, in conversation with him, expressed the opinion that people were pretty well enlightened on the doctrines, and needed to have the practical truths presented to them, he admitted the latter part of the statement, and then said, “If I were preaching a sermon such as you speak of, before I closed I would give it a twist, so as to bring in Christ and his great salvation.” A consideration which greatly favors this view is, that though the exhibition of the particular truth which the anxions sinner most needs to know may seem to do no good at the time it is presented, yet very frequently its saving effects are experienced years afterward. Prayer should be incessantly offered by the people of God, that the Holy Spirit would apply the truth lodged in their souls to their conversion and salvation.

We do not think that Dr. Raffles' preaching was characterized by frequent forrnal exhibitions of the denunciations and threatenings of the Word of God against the impenitent. Whether he erred in this we pretend not to say. The explicit ness and frequency with which the terrors of the Lord should be declared depend on the state of the congregation.

It should be borne in mind that, though conscience of itself often teaches most powerfully precisely what the law declares in regard to the punishment due to sin, and more effectually than any preacher can, yet, when the question is asked, “How shall man be just with God ?” both reason and conscience are silent. Is it not then pre-eminently the official duty of every

ambassador of Christ to show what the Bible teaches on this subject? Though he inay leave some things unexplained, yet is he not solemnly bound so to instruct his hearers in regard to free justification through faith in Christ's righteousness, that it will not be his fault if any of them do not clearly understand it? And then it is to be remembered that the cross is not really held up, the gospel is not really preached, unless it is exhibited in such a way as is adapted to make the sinner conscious of his danger, and his wants, and extinguish every hope he may entertain of salvation out of Christ. When David exclaims, “Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me so that I am not able to look up," and again, “ While I suffer thy terrors I am distracted,” he says all that is necessary to show us that he believed in a future state ; the idea of an eternity and its retributions is wrapped up in his words. And in like manner the terrors of the law and all those considerations which address themselves to men's fears, are as sumed to have an existence, and are really taught when the glad tidings are proclaimed to men.

Though gifted with remarkable fluency, yet it was not often that Dr. Raffles appeared as a speaker on the platform. He had a great dislike to speech-making. The only duty, his biographer tells us, he would willingly undertake at a public meeting, was that of chairman. For this he was peculiarly well qualified by his admirable tact, by his universal popularity, and by his thorough knowledge of business.

This volume is a large one, and many of its details are more especially interesting to Dr. Raffles' personal friends, and those with whom he was associated in the work of his life; nevertheless it contains much that is of interest to the general reader, and we feel indebted to the author for the instruction and entertainment which we have derived from its perusal. The public was informed by Dr. Schaff, on his recent return from Europe, that when he was present at the last annual convention of the Congregationalists of England, that body manifested the most cordial interest in the coming council of the Evangelical Alliance to be held in this country next fall. Were Dr. Raffles living he would be second to none in sympathy with it. At the meeting for the formation of the Alliance, which was held in Liverpool, in 1845, he joined in the movement with his whole heart, and he ever afterward watched its progress, and did all in his power to promote its success.

Art. IV.-The Relation of Adam's First Sin to the Fall of

the Race.

The Epistle of Paul to the Romans. By J. P. LANGE, D.D.,

and the Rev. F. R. Fay. Translated from the German by J. F. HURST, D.D., with additions by P. SCHAFF, D.D., and the Rev. M. B. RIDDLE. New York: Charles Scribner & Co. 1869. The portion relating to Romans, v. 12-21, from page 171 to page 199 inclusive.

In a recent number we called attention to this work, and its great value. We have nothing to unsay of the high commendation then bestowed upon it. It is, in our view, foremost among the volumes of this series of Lange's Commentary which have yet appeared, and a thesaurus of learning and suggestions in regard to the exegesis of this epistle, which no student of it can afford to be without. We mentioned that in the comment on Rom. v. 12-21, Dr. Schaff freely controverts the views, and what he considers to be the views, advanced by this journal and its conductors. He also canvasses, at con siderable length, the views of various parties, schools, theologians, exegetes, and commentators, in regard to this passage, and the doctrine of original sin as determined or affected thereby. His obvious design is to note every thing of import

ance relative to the subject that has been maintained by any prominent commentator, divine, or school of theology. We therefore avail ourselves of the opportunity thus afforded, to dispel some current misconceptions respecting the subject, and to say some things which we judge the present occasion opportune for saying in support of what we deem the scriptural view. It is a very small part of what we intend, to correct mistakes of Dr. Schaff concerning any principles entertained here or elsewhere. Indeed, as will soon appear, in most essential points we welcome him as an ally. We simply improve the opportunity presented by his unique and encyclopediac survey of the subject, to repeat in a form suited to the exigency, the standard answers to objections, which have been oft refuted only to reappear and reassert themselves, as if they were alike unanswered and unanswerable, since, until answered again, they will assume the air and authority of incontrovertible truths. We refer to this portion of Lange's Commentary, as giving Dr. Schaff's analysis of original sin, because, whatever others have contributed to it in the original text, or as translators and annotators, the final exegetical and doctrinal shaping of the whole is effected by the comments and discussions of the editor-in-chief. He winds up his able summation of the case with the following just and striking statement, which will not be forgotten or ignored by any competent thinker on the subject :

"Most evangelical divines are divided between the Augustinian or realistic, the federal or forensic, and the Arminian theories, or they look for a still more satisfactory solution of the difficult problem by a future Augustine, who may be able to advance, from a deeper study of the Scriptures, the knowledge of the church, and reconcile what now seem to be irreconcilable contradictions. It should be remembered that the main difficulty lies in the fact itself—the undeni. able, stubborn, terrible fact—of the universal dominion of sin and death over the entire race, infants as well as full-grown sinners. No system of philosophy has ever given a more satisfactory explanation than the great divines of the church. Outside of the Christian redemption, the fall, with its moral desolation and ruin, remains an impenetrable mystery. But immediately after the fall appears in the promise of the serpent-bruiser, the second Adam, and throws a bright ray of hope into the gloom of despair. In the fulness of the time, according to God's own counsel, he appeared in our nature to repair the loss, and to replace the temporary reign of sin by the everlasting reign of superabounding grace, which never could have been revealed in all its power without the fall. The person and work of the second Adam are the one glorious solution of the problem of the

« ElőzőTovább »