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it will not strain, cause it to be skimmed, and perhaps despised, or hated. Such a thing as a free and unlimited reception of all the parts of Scripture into the mind, is a thing most rare to be met with, and when met with, will be found the result of many a sore submission of Nature's opinions, as well as of Nature's likings.-pp, 21-24.
The exordium of the second oration, which is on the manner of consulting the oracles of God, is in these words:
God, being ever willing and ever ready to second and succeed his Word, and having a most longing anxiety for the recovery of all men; when his Word fails of converting the soul (as it doth too often,) that failure cannot be due to any omission upon his part, but to some omission or transgression upon ours. If any one, however, incline to refer the failure to a want of willingness, or a withholding of power, upon the part of God, whereof it is not given unto man to discover or remove the cause then in this his opinion, such a one must needs remain beyond the reach of help. If he thinks that, notwithstanding of revelation, we are yet in the dark as to the putting forth of divine powerthat in a sinner's conversion there is an element still undisclosed-that the information delivered in the Scriptures is not enough, and the means there prescribed not adequate, and the divine blessing there promised not to be surely calculated on; but that over and beyond all, there is something to be tarried for-then, for one so opinioned, there is nothing but to tarry. For, except by what is revealed how are the councils of the Eternal known? and if revelation do not discover the way in which God may assuredly be found, what mortal or immortal can?-and if there be a gap between our present habitations and the Holiest of all, who can fill it up? and if one possessed of all God's revelations do still hold himself unaccomplished for the finding of God, who in heaven or earth can help him?-and, in short, if employing God's revelation as God himself directs it to be employed, and in the spirit proper to each taking every measure therein appointed, we may nevertheless be remote from success, and nothing sure of our aim, then, what less shall we say, but that this book, the light and hope of a fallen world, is an idle meteor which mocks pursuit, and may be left to seek its way back into the hiding place of the Almighty's council, from which it hath come forth to man in vain!
But if, upon the other hand, any one believe that God's favour cometh not at random, nor by a way unknown, but may be calculated on in the way that God him
self hath revealed it to proceed, and doth distil like the dew falling unseen, and rest upon every one who longeth after it, any who believes that our backward state cometh not of any darkness in the Word, or abstinence in the spirit of God, but of our own withdrawing from the light and fighting against the truth-who giveth to God thankfulness and praise, taking to himself all the blame-then, with such a one, we are happy, we can freely discourse, and, by God's blessing, we hope to help him onward in the way everlasting.
Yet, for the sake of disabusing the others who stand looking for a dawning they know not whence nor when, let me interrogate any Christian, how he won his way from former darkness to present light? Not by knowledge alone of what the Word contains. True. By what then? by earnest prayer. But what taught him, what encouraged him to pray? Was it not certain revelations in the Word? Not by confidence in his knowledge or his strength, but by distrust of both. True. But what taught him to distrust himself? Was it not certain revelations in the Word? Not by bold and urgent endeavours of his own, but by humble endeavours rested upon hope of heavenly aid. True. But what taught him to bridle his impetuosity and expect superior aid? Was it not certain revelations in the Word? And, to sum up all, how doth that Christian know, save by the image of righteousness revealed in the Word, that he is not yet in the bondage of his sins, but standeth sure in the liberty of Christ? Why then, in the name of plain and honest dealing, will you hesitate to acknowledge and asseverate for the behoof of lingering and mistrustful men, that in God's revelations, rightly used, there is a reservoir of knowledge and direction, ample enough to feed the fam ished spirit of the world, whence every sinner may derive to himself a satisfying stream to refresh his present faintness, and to follow his footsteps through the tedious wilderness of life.-pp. 29, 30.
In the following quotation, Mr. Irving sets the duty of consulting the oracles of God in a new and most interesting point of view.
Against these two methods of commu ning with the word of God, whereof the one springs from the religious timidity of the world, the other from the religious timidity of Christians; the one a penance, the other a weakness; we have little fear of carrying your judgments: but you will be alarmed when we carry our censure against the common spirit, of dealing with it as a duty. Not but that it is a duty to peruse the word of God, but that it is
something infinitely higher. Duty means a verdict of conscience in its behalf. Now conscience is not an independent power, at the bidding of which the Word abides to be opened, and at its forbidding to continue sealed-but the Word, let conscience bid or forbid, stands forth dressed in its own awful sanctions. "Believe and live"-"Believe not and die." If conscience have added her voice also, that is .another sanction, but a sanction which was not needful to be superadded. When my Maker speaks, I am called to listen by a higher authority than the authority of my own self, 1 should make sure that it is my Maker who speaks-and for this let every faculty of reason and feeling do its part; but being assured that it is no other than his voice omnipotent, my whole soul must burst forth to give him attend. ance. There must be no demur for any verdict of any inward principle. Out of duty, out of love, out of adoration, out of joy, out of fear, out of my whole consenting soul, I must obey my Maker's call. Duty, whose cold and artificial verdict, the God of infinite love is served withal, is a sentiment which the lowest relationships of life are not content with. Servant with master-child with teacherfriend with friend-when it comes to the sentiment of duty, it is near its dissolution; and it never thrives or comes to good but when it rests upon well-tried trust and hearty regard; upon a love to persons, and a confidence in our worth. And in the ties of nature, to parents, to children, to brethren, to husband and wife, there to be listened to out of cold constraint of duty argues nature gone well nigh dead. There is a prompter consent, a deep sympathy of love, an overstepping of all the limits of duty, a going even unto the death, which hardly satisfies the soul of such affection. What theu shall we say of that closest of all relations -creature to Creator-which hath in it the germ of every other: the parental, for he formed us; the patronal, for he hath upheld us; the friendly, for in all our straits he hath befriended us; the loyal, for our safety is in his royal hand; and, which addeth the attachment to very self, "for we are ourselves his workmanship!" To bind this tie, nothing will suffice but strong and stubborn necessity. Duty, in truth, is the very lowest consception of it -privilege is a higher-honour a higher, happiness and delight a higher still. But duty may be suspended by more pressing duty-privilege may be foregone and honour forgot, and the sense of happiness grow dull; but this of listening to His voice who plants the sense of duty, bestows privilege, honour and happiness, and our every other faculty, is before all these, and is equalled by nothing but the stubbornest necessity. We should hear
His voice as the sun and stars do in their courses, as the restful element of earth doth in its settled habitation. His voice is our law, which it is sacrilege, worse than rebellion, worse than parental rebellion, to disobey. He keeps the bands of our being, together. His voice is the charter of our existence, which being disobeyed, we should run to annihilation, as our great father would have done, had not God in mercy given us a second chance, by erecting the platform of our being upon the new condition of probation, different from that of all known existencies. Was it ever heard that the sun stopped in his path, but it was God that commanded? Was it ever heard that the sea forgot her instability, and stood apart in walled steadfastness, but it was God that commanded? Or that fire forgot to consume, but at the voice of God? Even so man should seek his Maker's word, as he loveth his well-being, or, like the unfallen creatures of God, as he loveth his very being and labour in his obedience, without knowing or wishing to know aught beyond.
Necessity, therefore, I say, strong and eternal necessity is that, which joins the link between the creature and the Creator, and makes man incumbent to the voice of God. To read the Word is no ordinary duty, but the mother of all duty, enlightening the eyes and converting the soul, and creating that very conscience to which we would subject it. We take our meat not by duty-the body must go down to dust without it-therefore we persevere because we love to exist, So also the word of God is the bread of life, the root of all spiritual action, without which the soul will go down, if not to instant annihilation, to the wretched abyss of spiritual and eternal death. But while we insist that the Scriptures should be perused out of the sense, not of an incumbency, but of a strong necessity, as being the issued orders of Him who upholdeth all things-we except against any idea of painfulness or force. We say necessity, to indicate the strength of the obligation, not its disagreeableness. But, in truth, there is no such feeling, but the very opposite, attached to every necessity of the Lord's appointing. Light is pleasant to the eyes, though the necessary element of vision. Food is pleasant to the body, though the staple necessary of life. Air is refreshing to the frame, though the necessary element of the breathing spirit. What so refreshing as the necessary of water to all animated existence? Sleep is the very balm of life to all creatures under the sun. Motion is from infancy to feeblest age the most recreating of things, save rest after motion. Every necessary instinct for preserving or continuing our existence, hath in it a pleasure, when indulged in moderation
ties, and the oppressive weight of sleep, the mind in her remoter chambers keeps up a fantastical disport of mimic life, as if loath for an instant to forego the pleasure she hath in conscious being. Seeing, then, not even the sleep-locked avenues of sense, nor the worn-out powers of thought and action, nor slumber's soft embrace, can so lull the soul that she should for a while forget her cogitations, and join herself to dark oblivion; seeing that she keeps up the livelong day a busy play of thought, feeling, and action, and during the night keeps vigils in her mysterious chambers, fighting with the powers of oblivion and inertness a battle for existence-how should she be able for any instant to do without the presence and operations of her Creator's laws-from which being at any instant exempted, she is a god unto herself, or the world is her god? From their authority to be detached, however brief a season, is for that season to be under foreign control, and rebellious to the Being of whom her faculties are holden, and by whom her powers of life are upheld. His laws should be present in our inward parts, yea, hidden in our hearts, that we offend him not. They should be familiar as the very consciousness of life. Into the belief being received, they should pass into the memory, grow incorporate with the hidden sources of nature; until the array of our purposes and actions learn to display itself under the banners of the Supreme; until instinct, blind instinct himself, have his eye opened and purged by the light of Heaven and come forth submissive to Heaven's voice!-pp. 33-36.
and the pain which attends excess is the sentinel in the way of danger, and, like the sentinel's voice, upon the brink of ruin should be considered as the pleasantest of all, though withdrawing us from the fondest pursuit. In like manner attendance on God's law, though necessary to the soul as wine and milk to the body, will be found equally refreshing: though necessary as light to the eyes, will be found equally cheerful: though necessary as rest to weary limbs, will be found equally refreshing to our spiritual strength.
A duty, which is at all times a duty, is a necessity, and this listening to the voice of God can at no time be dispensed with, and therefore is a stark necessity. The life of the soul can at no time proceed, without the present sense and obedience of its Maker's government. His law muşt be present and keep concert with our most inward thoughts; from which, as we can never dissolve connection, so ought we never to dissolve connection with the regulating voice of God. In all our rising emotions; in all our purposes conceiving; m all our thoughtful debates, holden upon the propriety of things; in all the secret councils of the bosom-the law of God should be consentaneous with the law of Nature, or rather should be umpire of the council, seeing Vature and Nature's laws have receded from the will of God, and become blinded to the best interests of our spiritual state. The world is apt to look only to the executive part of conduct-to the outward actions, which come forth from behind the curtains of deliberative thought; and as these have stated seasons, and are not constantly recurring, it hath come to pass, that the Word of God is read and entertained, chiefly for the visible parts of life; being used as a sort of elbow
monitor to guard our conduct from offence, rather than a universal law to impregnate all the sources of thought and action. My brethren, doth the hand ever forget its cunning, or the tongue its many forms of speech, or the soul its various states of feeling and passion? Is there an interval, in the wakeful day, when the mind ceases to be in fluctuating motion, and is bound in rest like the frozen lake? I do not ask, is it always vexed like the troubled seabut doth it ever rest from emotion, and remain steadfast like the solid land? Doth not thought succeed thought, impression impression, recollection recollection, in a ceaseless and endless round? And, before this pleasant agitation of vital consciousness can compose itself to rest, the eye must be sealed to light, and the ear stopped to hearing, and the body become dead to feeling, and the powers of thought and action, done out, surrender themselves to repose. Nay, even then, under the death-like desertion of all her faculVol. VI.-No. 3. 21
In the third oration upon obeying the oracles of God, this eloquent preacher meets and disposes of a current objection in the following effectual manner:
There prevails universally against divine institutions not only a strong reluctance, but also a delusive prejudice that they are an invasion upon the liberty of man's estate. The question is conceived to be, whether we shall be at our own liberty, or at the disposal of God—a question between freedom and compulsion. This prejudice we shall first expose, and bring the fair statement of the question before you. Then we shall account for the reluctance which we feel to the law of God when we enter into its obedience. Then set before you the fatal result of persisting against it; and close this oration by contesting it with your demurs and opposi
The portion of truth which one can for himself examine is so mere a scantling of what is needful for the service of his life and has in it such instability when not under the helm of authority, human or di
vine, that men have found it necessary to lay up and patronize a store of common truth, out of which each man may be furnished ready to hand when he comes to need it, without the trouble of discovering for himself. This common store consists of the customs established, the opinions popular, the laws instituted, the private duties expected, and the manners approv ed. These are a grand legacy transmitted from successive generations, the accumulated wealth of the wit and wisdom of our fathers-in which to become conversant we are for nearly a third of our life regarded as under age, wards of our parents, and incompetent in great matters to act for ourselves. If we set any of these traditions aside, following our own inventions or giving scope to our personal freedom, we are eyed with suspicion or punished as defaulters, and, in capital matters, banished from good society, from our native land, and from life itself. Thus it fares with human kind; they are knit generation to generation. Our fathers bind us, and we shall bind our children. No man is free. All men are constrained by an authority over which they have no control, and are in their turn controlling others who have yet to be.
Let no man, therefore, in the pride of his heart, revolt from the traditions of God as an imposition upon the freedom of his estate. If the wisdom of God take no hand in the ordination of our life, then the wisdom of our fathers will do it all. But for us we shall be the same governed and shackled creatures as before. We may change the place of our residence for a country where God's traditions are unknown, and thereby change the degree or form of the bondage, but the necessity of it for peace and enjoyment will still remain. We may change our sphere in life to one where God's traditions are trampled under foot, and find a momentary release, but soon the habits of our new condition will become as peremptory as those of the old. In truth, there is no deliverance. Society is beforehand with us; and along with its beautiful fields and happy inventions and manifold conditions of comfort, hands down to us as the price of these a thousand laws and restraints upon the freedom of our conduct.
happiness and honor reside. For the wisest men being little acquainted with the secret workings of their own heart, whose mysterious organization is deep seated beyond our observation, are still less able to comprehend another's nature, so as to prescribe with infallible certainty for its government. The best they can do is to point out some palpable errors to be avoided, some gross delinquencies to be shunned, some common rights to be revered, some noble actions to be honored, some base ones to be disgraced. They can buoy some few of the shoals and rocks of life, but the tides and currents which pervade it, are beyond their management. They can construct ports and havens for us to touch at, but the manning, and equipping, and propelling the vessel, is with God alone. He who gave the soul her powers,and to all his works their properties,can alone sweetly accommodate them with ordinances.The best attempts of lawgivers are but bungling artifices for compassing coarse designs, aiming at the security of some visible and external good, and that attaining not without great waste of private liberty and happiness; whereas God, being perfectly acquainted with our most inward principles, and with all the shortest and safest ways to happiness, can, with no more effort than is necessary, carry us through all the departments and degrees of excellence. He therefore is the only fit lawgiver; His statutes the only liberty; all other obedience being an acquiescence in that of whose perfect rectitude we are nothing sure, has in it a servility, -but this is honor, this is exaltation to fulfil all our powers for the purposes for which they were given, and after the rules of Him who gave them.
The question therefore, of a religious or an irreligious life, when thus opened up, no longer shows itself to be a question of liberty or of compulsion, but of one kind of authority against another. There are two competitors for our service, God and the world; and the question is, which will we obey. Will we yield to the sovereignty of the various laws and customs which, upon coming to man's estate, we find established, time-serving what has in it no wit but the wisdom of man, and no stability but the power of man, and which we had no say whatever in constructing, and which accommodates itself but ill to our conditions; or will we yield to the sovereignty of those institutes which have in them no seed of change, softly framed to sway the heart, and to insinuate into all its corners the harmony and peace of hea ven, which supply the deficiencies of our wisdom, and stay the swervings of our life, and conduct us at length to the unchangeable happiness and honor of the life to
Such being the hereditary bondage of all ages and of all nations, those are the happiest who have had the wisest and most virtuous ancestors, to derive to them only wholesome restraints upon the uncertainty of individual judgment and the waywardness of individual will ;-those being the most blessed of all who have been favored with laws and institutions from the perfection of wisdom which is in Him who knows the bounds of man's capacity, and the limits within which his
And yet, though the question when thus accurately stated stands beyond all reasonable doubt, and leaves us without excuse in preferring human authority to divine, such is the antipathy and resistance of human nature to God, that his statutes which rejoice the heart are obstinately withstood, while to the ordinances and customs of men we willingly yield our necks. There be multitudes with whom the voice of the Lord of Hosts hath no sway against the voice of fashion; and the saintly graces of the Spirit of God no chance against the graces of accomplished life. Multitudes with whom the calls of low sensual instinct prevail against the calls of the Almighty to glory and honor. And multitudes to whom life's commonest drudgery is an enjoyment compared with the obedience of a godly custom, or a christian precept.-pp. 44-46.
long-suffering. But come at length it will, when Revenge shall array herself to go forth, and Anguish shall attend her, and from the wheels of their chariot, ruin and dismay shall shoot far and wide among the enemies of the king, whose desolation shall not tarry, and whose distruction, as the wing of the whirlwind shall be swifthopeless as the conclusion of eternity and the reversion of doom. Then around the fiery concave of the wasteful pit the clang of grief shall ring, and the flinty heart which repelled tender mercy shall strike its fangs into its proper bosom; and the soft and gentle spirit which dissolved in voluptuous pleasures shall dissolve in weeping sorrows and outbursting lamentations; and the gay glory of time shall depart; and sportful liberty shall be bound for ever in the chain of obdurate necessity. The green earth with all her blooming beauty and bowers of peace shall depart. The morning and evening salutations of kinsmen shall depart, and the ever welcome voice of friendship and the tender whispering of full-hearted affection shall depart, for the sad discord of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. And the tender names of children, and father and mother, and wife and husband, with the communion of domestic
not believe that " we grow christians as we grow men;" yet he states so abruptly what he only intends for an illustration, that he would almost lead us to suppose that the chances are equal, that any child shall turn out saint or sinner, according to the discipline to which it is subjected.
love, and mutual affection and the inward touches of natural instinct, which family compact, when uninvaded by discord, wraps thy live-long day into one swell of tender emotion, making earth's lowly scenes worthy of heaven itself-All, all shall pass away; aad instead shall come the level lake that burneth, and the solitary dungeon, and the desolate bosom, and the throes, and tossings of horror and hopeless
ness, and the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched.
'Tis written, 'tis written, 'tis sealed of heaven, and a few years shall reveal it all.
From this censure we pass gladly Be assured it is even so to happen to the
to recite some paragraphs towards the peroration, which are as forceful in their expression, as they are fearful in their pictures, and tremendously momentous in their application.
despisers of holy writ. With this in ar rear, what boots liberty, pleasure, enjoyment-all within the hourglass of time, or the round earth's continent, all the sensibilities of life, all the powers of man, all
the attractions of woman!
We merely point out to the censure of his readers, without quoting from page 47, an example of Mr. Irving's loose and exaggerated statements, which, taken separately, might very much endanger his character for orthodoxy. He surely never learned from his bible or catechism, that naturally our "enmity is as strong to the world's institutions as to the institutions of God:" indeed he does
Obey the Scriptures or you perish. You may despise the honour done you by the Majesty above, you may spurn the sovereignty of Almighty God, you may revolt from creation's universal rule to bow before its Creator, and stand in momentary rebellion against his ordinances; his overtures of mercy you may cast contempt on, and crucify afresh the royal personage who bears them; and you may riot in your licentious liberty for a while, and make game of his indulgence and
Terror hath sitten enthroned on the brows of tyrants, and made the heart of a nation quake; but upon this peaceful volume there sits a terror to make the mute world stand aghast. Yet not the terror of tyranny neither, but the terror of justice, which abides the scorners of the most High God, and the revilers of his most gracious Son. And is it not just, though terrible, that he who brooked not in heaven one moment's disaffection, but launched the rebel host to hell and bound them evermore in chains of darkness, should also do his sovereign will upon the disaffected of this earth, whom he hath long