of Sports ;” a work drawn up, according to Fuller *, by Bishop Moreton, in which his episcopal sanction and the authority of government, are given in commendation of ' dancing, archery, leaping, vaulting, may-games, morrice

dances, &c.' As if men were naturally prone to be excessively religious, these rational indulgences' were not only permitted, but authorized. For the purpose of aiding the pious expressions which the solemnities of worship might inspire, the above-mentioned “declaration of sports” was, ordered to be read in the churches ! And because this Swise attempt was not cordially acceded to by many conscientious men, they were, and still are, stigmatised as hypocritical puritans; and so far from being even tolerated, were oppressed and persecuted by the base spirit of a domineering hierarchy. It would have been much more becoming in his lordship to have rejoiced, that his own communion had been purified by the attempts of the men he denounces as hypocrites; attempts which have done more towards its restoration and purity, than all the declamations of its prelates.

The next three sermons are on the declaration of the Sycharites, recorded in John iv. 42; and present us with many interesting reflections on the character of the Samaritans, and the probable causes of their superior knowledge of the nature and design of the Messiah's coming. These discourses are succeeded by two on Christian perfection from Phil. iii. 15, in which we find an instance of antiscriptural explanation, opposed to many explicit statements in both these volumes. His lordship considers “ the righteousness" in which the apostle wished “to be found," as consisting in the exercise of Christian duties ;' and he actually speaks of the merit of it.' (Vol. ii. p. 363.) The entire scope of the Apostle's reasoning is so inconsistent with this idea, that we are surprised how it found its way into the discourses of so orthodox a prelate as Bishop Horsley...The last sermon," the Holy ones and the watchers'', was reviewed in our journal on its first publication, and to that article we refer our readers.t

After this extended survey of the various topics discussed in these volumes, we shall state with great brevity, and without reserve, our opinion of their general character and tendency,

The reader must already have been put in possession of our sentiments regarding the very luminous and im

* Fuller. B. X. p. 74.
+ Ecl. Rev. Vol. ii. p. 386.

phis quality of ion of his view any before hi

pressive diction, in which the Bishop exhibits all his ideas. This quality of style obviously arises from the clearness and comprehension of his views. An enlarged survey of the wide range of truth which lay before him, was united with a distinct perception of each minute portion of that range : while, he could generalize on philosophical principles, he was able to examine individual objects with the most careful and accurate abstraction. He entered on the investigation of biblical subjects with a mind of gigantic power, invigorated by habits of patient research, trained in the discipline of mathematical study, and improved by an intimate acquaintance with the languages and facts of antiquity. And to the honour of Horsley be it re. marked, that every attainment, and every faculty of attaining, were directed to the discovery and illustration of theological truth. He was not contented with being a profound mathematician, or an elegant scholar: these were only subordinate to more important pursuits, in which all the vigour of his mind was enuployed, and to which his vast stores of intellectual opulence were devoted. It was natural, that the consciousness of superior power should occasionally give to the decisions of such a man, a toue of authority which his friends would admire as dignified, and his enemies censure as dogmatical. Still, both parties must unite in acknowledging his transcendant ability: for his very aberrations often discover a stretch of thought, a fertility of resources, an amplitude of illustration, an acuteness of argument, and a style of energetic eloquence, that are seldom combined in the writings of any author, still less in those of a theologian. On the great principles of religion, he is clear, convincing, and highly impassioned; and in his most original and critical disquisitions, where his ingenuily most frequently leads him astray, we gene. rasly discover an invariable regard to those principles, and a habit, strongly marked, of constant deference to the authority of revelation. This we bave noticed with peculiar satisfaction, when any subjecı of unusual difficulty has been presented to his view. It has, in such cases, been apparent that mystery was no barrier in the way of belief, 'if the testimony of scripture was clear and decided. His dis. courses often remind us of Warburton, whom he resembles in his love of the paradoxical, and in the dexterity with which he defends a strange or a novel position. He seems to contemplate, with peculiar complacency, whatever inight start up in the shape of a difficulty: or an objection; and we have sometimes imagined that he has created obstacles. for the mere pleasure of surmounting them. We must however confess, that though he is an undaunted and avowed polemic, he is, at times, most insulting in the taunts and flourishes which precede his attacks; and in his triumphs he has nothing of the clemency of a conqueror : " he spares not, neither does he pity." Especially, when his ecclesi. astical or political prejudices are offended, he too frequently takes leave of truth and candour at once, and has recourse to the asperity and warmth of a mere newspaper declaimer. His language on topics of this nature is generally that of a partisan, who is determined to think what he pleases, and say what he thinks, without any regard to evidence or character. The passages however are few, in which his lordship betrays this excessive irritation; and we hope the bitterness they display was more the effect of constitutional infirmity of temper, than of studied and systematic resentment.

It has sometimes been our lot to meet with what are called orthodox divines, whose orthodoxy has appeared only in the clamours of controversy; and to whom the characteristic doctrines of the gospel have seemed rather matters of professional contention, than principles of vital and practical operation. On the other hand, from the influence of these principles we wish the entire complexion of our religion to receive its cast and character; we wish their prominency always to appear, and their importance to be felt in what is implied, as well as in what is expressed; we wish the whole circle of truth to be enlightened by them, so that if we did not contemplate these sources of light themselves, we might look at every other object only through the medium which they supply; in one word , we wish orthodoxy to be always evangelical. We use this antiquated term, because it is really the best and most intelligible exposition of our meaning; and we rejoice that the sanction of Horsley, though we are not prepared to say he intended it, has been given to a style of preaching which goes under that name. We question whether his lordship can be decidedly ranked in the class; still we hesitate not in asserting, that the influence of his religious sentiments leans that way, and that his writings will be cited as an unquestionable prcof, that a man may be evangelical and yet rational-talk much of faith, and yet escape the suspicion of being deemed an enemy to virtue. In the sermogs before us, whatever subject engages our attention, whe. ther we meet with historical research, or philological disquisi.


tion, or speculations of an enlarged and philosophic.cast, we soon find these trains of thought subservient to the illustration of some Christian sentiment, of some fact, or doctrine, or duty, connected with the Christian systein. On this account we think their tendency highly beneficial, and that they will greatly promote the interests of evangelical truth.-At the same time, we cannot extol them as sermons, because they want almost every quality essential to the usefulness, which sermons shouid be designed to promote. There are a few passages, indeed, of uncommon worth, as specimens of direct appeal to the heart and conscience; and we regret that they are so few, because his Lordship was admirably qualified to succeed in hortatory and awakening addresses. But in general they want application, simplicity, and practical improvement; and, on account of the superabundance of criticism they contain, must have been comparatively uninteresting even in the intelligent circles to whom they were delivered. Considered as models of pulpit composition, they are, we think, essentially defective: but as volumes possessing a singular combination of great and rare qualities, and distinguished for ingenious and elaborate dissertation on a variety of important topics, we do not hesitate to rank them amongst the most valuable productions of modern theology. Art. IV. Fifth Report of the Directors of the African Institution, - read at the Annual General Meeting on the 27th of March, 1811.

To which is added, an Appendix, and a List of Subscribers.

8vo. pp. 143. Price. 28. Hatchard. 1811. IT is the fate of this important institution, that the more

good it is accomplishing, the less splendid its reports become. In the opening view of its formation and design, and in the announcement of its first proceedings and its ultimate prospects, though a perfectly unostentatious and even very cautious language was uniformly employed, there was something akin to what may be called the poetry of philanthropy. By its very hature, the project necessarily recalled to the mind some of the most enchanting prophetic visions of poetry; for no sobriety of language, nor solicitude to fix the attention down to humble introductory operations, could prevent imagination from expanding the view from these diminutive commencements to the whole possible extent of the effect to which they tend. A project for insinuating, by slow and gentle methods, a little European knowledge and industry, and a little improvement of whatever cultivation and useful arts are already existing, into the districts along the western coast of Africa,-cannot be set forth in any terms that will not suggest the magnificent idea of a vast continent ultimately pervaded, in all its inhabited regions, by knowledge, social order, and happiness. Under the influence of this perfectly natural association of the ideas of commencement, progress, and final effect, it must have been impossible for any philanthropic and sanguine person, immediately taking a part in the concern, to have seen. carried on board a ship in the river, two or three young negroes, instructed in Lancaster's method, for the benefit of the little savages in the vicinity of Sierra Leone,-nay, impossible to have handled one of the packages of cotton seed prepared to be sent out, --without being tempted to yield the mind to very splendid anticipations, though it might not have seemed to comport with sobriety to avow them in all their magnitude. If avowed, however, they would have been found to be but such, as the feelings excited in the minds of many readers of the former reports of the institution, would have corresponded to.

This last report is of a nature tending to recal the imagination, for a while, from the cities Aourishing in civilization and liberal arts, the intelligent and humane policy, the literary institutions, the Christian religious assemblies, and the peaceful cultivated fields, of the future age of Africa. It even suspends, for the present, the account of the efforts that have not ceased to be made directly toward the object of improving ihe condition of the people on the coast, For the directors confess, that the effect of all such efforts must be very trifling, till a previous object is accomplished-that is, the real abolition of the slave trade. This trade, their last year's report stated that they had discovered to be carried on to a very considerable extent, even by persons of this country ; and it should seem by the present report that a very short time has sufficed to throw back, after the temporary check or withdrawment effected by the Abolition Act, an extremely large portion of the property and enterprize of our virtuous countrymen into this traffic. The most vehement indignation will, of course, be felt at hearing this fact. But why so? It is but very few years, since the legislature of this enlightened and Christian country solemnly sanctioned this traffic as innocent, useful, and necessary; and this they did after hearing, year after year, all that its most indefatigable opponents could find to say against it. The slave-trader could proudly shew, in his justification, the verdict of the assembled wisdom and equity of the nation. And,

« ElőzőTovább »