« ZurückWeiter »
Let no ill dreams disturb my rest, O when shall I, in endless day,
For ever chase dark sleep away,
And hymns, with the supernal choir,
Incessant sing, and never tire !
Close to my bed his vigils keep ;
Divine love into me instil, Let it not hold me long in chains ;
Stop all the avenues of ill ! And now and then, let loose my heart, , Celestial joys to me rehearse, Till it an hallelujah dart.
And thought to thought with me converse; The faster sleep the senses binds,
Or, in my stead, all the night long,
Sing to my God a grateful song.
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
A Treatise on Love to God, con- neration for the perfections of the
sidered as the Perfection of Chris- Deity, united probably with some tian Morals. By the Rev. James degree of apprehension and humility Joyce, A.M., Curate of Hitcham, in reference to his own frailty and
Bucks. London: Hatchard. 1822. weakness. But he would feel little Lectures on the Pleasures of Relic of that holy and chastised affection
gion. By HENRY FORSTER BUR- which it is the peculiar province of DER, M. A. London: Westley, the revealed word of God to awa1823.
ken; for it is that word alone which
has brought to light the discovery Divine love is a sacred flower, that God is. Love. The conviction which, in its early bud, is happiness, of power will produce awe; the and, in its full bloom, is heaven. To perception of wisdom will command plant this hallowed grace in the bo- reverence: but neither of these will som of sinful man, to cultivate its inspire confidence, unless associated growth, and to ripen it to fruitful. with the demonstrations of benignness, is the great end of all religion ity. It is only the benevolence of and the determination of “ faith unGod, which can enkindle affection feigned.” Nothing can so much in the heart of man. We love him conduce to the attainment of the because he first loved us.. heavenly feelings implied in this When this principle is awakened statement as Scriptural views of in the soul, it is the most powerful the Divine nature and perfections, and influential of all the springs of When Simonides was interrogated religious obedience. It is so in other concerning the character of God, and inferior matters; and as religion and when he required one day furnishes larger materials for the after another to prepare himself support of this principle, it becomes for his reply, we cannot doubt correspondently visible and opethat, as the awful dignity and ter- rative. rible majesty of the unsearchable Take the case of a man really and infinite Being “who inhabiteth having the « love of God shed eternity, and whose name is holy," abroad in his heart." What an anrose dimly to his view through the nihilation, or at least subjugation, cloudy mists of pagan theology, of low and sordid aims and motives he acquired an increasing ve must take place in that man! What noble, disinterested, ardent powers! realities of religion ought to be reWhat “strength to suffer, and what garded as enveloped by a sacred atwill to serve !" Arduous duties mosphere, and to remain unbroken become easy ; onerous burdens and undisturbed by any thing foare rendered light, and acute suf- reign to their holy character. There ferings are “reckoned not worthy has been too much in the incautious to be compared with the glory language employed by some good which shall follow." Gifted with men, with hearts more glowing than this heavenly principle, the Christian judgment enlightened, or taste well has in his possession, not only regulated, to produce this injurious the best stimulant to duty* and identification of Divine truth with the strongest support in trial, but exceptionable associations. Mealso, whatever ministers to the taphors of the least dignified class, true enjoyment of life, and that epithets of passion of the most inChristian has the highest fruition appropriate kind, and associations of of every subordinate blessing in thought iterated and amplified to whose bosom the heavenly flame satiety, and perhaps even to disgust, burns the most brightly.
occasionally, though, we would hope, It is, to our view, far from an not often, force themselves on theatextraordinary circumstance, that tention even in the present age of good there should at times have prevailed sense and good taste, and, wherever among Christians very signal miscon- they occur, must awaken the regret ceptions on the subject of this prin- of every judicious Christian. Those ciple. Its natureand operations, and allusions and analogies by which the variations of its influence in dif- the pleasures of religion are cursorily ferent individuals, will readily ac. set forth in the Bible, have been by count for this. Accordingly, we some writers extended with a painhave seen at one time too close ful minuteness ; and with reference an analogy attempted between this to the subject before us, such forms holy feeling and the movements of expression have been occasionof earthly affection; and at another, ally applied to the great Object the opposite extreme regarded as of religious love and obedience, as the most Christian state of the soul, must greatly pain any man who feels and all the active energies of reli- that he cannot meet the same Being gious love made to subside into the at once on terms of adoration and of calm quietude of what is called a familiarity. These irreverent allucontemplative piety.
sions and unhappy illustrations are On each of these errors, we pur- far from exalting in our conceptions pose to make a few remarks. the mysteries of our most holy
The first is one which cannot be faith ; and it too often happens too severely reprobated. The great that the least eligible points of the
resemblance remain the longest on How energetically does the Apostle describe the influence of this principle !
the mind; and every violence offered “Hayatn tou Xpotou ouveyou quas:""ouveyon"
to good taste adds further, as is so constringit ; constrictos tenet; metaphorice. convincingly proved in Mr. Foster's tenet desiderio : “ an intensity of desire well-known Essay on this subject, which bears us away as a torrent." The to the strength of the natural disafsame word is employed by Herodotus, in fection of the heart to the peculiar describing the effect of the plague; the doctrines and duties of the Chris. fever of which was accompanied by a tian dispensation. This error has thirst, at once so pernicious and craving, not escaped the observation of that, although the patient knew that to
Mr. Joyce*, who notices likewise
M satisfy that thirst would be instant death, yet, if water was to be obtained, he es • Mr. Joyce has attributed a failing caped to the fountain, and swallowed it of this kind to that justly eminent phi. eagerly. It constrained him to drink, even losopher and Christian, the Honourable to his destruction.
Robert Boyle, in his Treatise on Sethe difficulty of wholly avoiding the men of whom we speak did not it ; since, in attempting to de: detect the fallacy of their notions, scribe the operations of love to however specious their appearances God, we find few or no terms pro- These errors mayappear amiable; but vided but such as have been em- neither the state of the church nor ployed in expressing the work of the world has ever been such as ings of earthly affection. The to allow a single minister or private phraseology must therefore almost individual thus to sit down in quietnecessarily present in a similar as- ness, absorbed in seraphic speculapect, at some points, two subjects, tions, and to make no effort for the which are essentially different from extension of heavenly knowledge each other. But still a prudent se around him. Least of all will the lection would prevent far the greater pressing wants and golden occapart of this inconvenience, and the sions of modern times tolerate that expressions, instead of degrading listless inactivity, that indifference the subject, may be themselves en to the spiritual necessities of others, nobled by being brought into a more which invariably, sooner or later, sacred employment.
creeps over the habits of such as bury The otber error to which we have themselves in a religious seclusion, alluded is that of regarding the per- and, to avoid the perils, great we fection of the Christian character as allow, of intercourse and contact consisting in complete abstraction, with the world, place themselves in and consequently allowing all the equal peril from the guilt of sins of active energies of the soul to sink omission, while they conceal those into a sort of passive enjoyment of graces which were imparted for a the Divine goodness often perhaps light as well to “shine before men" without any reference to the inter- as to illumine and cheer their own vention of a Redeemer, or, indeed, minds. A candle will not long burn 'to any specific Christian doctrine. under a bushel ; but even if it could,
The soul is invited to an absorbing its appropriate place is where it may sense of the mercies of the Deity, "give light to all that are in the and in that it rests. This was a house;" and it is not the praise of conspicuous part of the delusive the city in the valley, but of “ the doctrines of the Mystics* ; and it city set on a hill," that it “cannot cannot be denied that it does pre- be hid." These are not our own sent certain attractive features with illustrations; they are the familiar, which some estimable characters but expressive declarations of that of the Christian church have been Saviour, who, while he demands deeply smitten; though we are sur- from us the most ardent feelings prised that the enlightened minds of of love and gratitude, points out
the most accurate mode for the deraphic Love. There is another justly
monstration of our affection; and celebrated writer who is at times open
who, when he terms his people “the to this charge; we mean the excel. lent and generally judicious Dr. Watts.
salt of the earth,” cannot intend, There are reprehensibly familiar allusions if they are to be the appointed to be found occasionally in some of his means of preserving any from corwritings; but they occur chiefly in his poe- ruption, that they remain undiffused try, where greater freedom (but not lie through the mass of immortal beings cence) may be tolerated. He, however, by whom they are surrounded. An in his more mature years, greatly regretted attentive observation of the exsuch improprieties of language.
hortations to active duty, which are The Mystics were not, however, all
so abundantly distributed in the of them of this more philosophical class; for many of them were open to the charge
sacred volume, will clearly expose of indecorous familiarity,and of humanizing
the unscriptural character of that
the unscriptu religious conceptions.
absorption of soul, which would go far towards disqualifying the Chris Our readers will now beanxious to tian for a fulfilment of any of their learn something of the volumes beobligations.
fore us, the first of which has called Before we pass from the consider- from us these remarks. Mr. Joyce ation of these preliminary matters, has afforded us great satisfaction: he to the volumes before us, we may writes with clearness and feeling: observe, that out of this last error, the heart and the understanding of which, when divested of its plausi- the reader both accompany him with bilities, we cannot help regarding pleasure to his conclusions; though as indicative of a very morbid state there is occasionally an iteration of of the spiritual understanding, and his sentiments, which is wearisome, even of the affections themselves, and dilutes instead of strengthening has sprung not unnaturally a third them. His style is pure and polisbmistake, the most extravagant of ed, and his sentiments always good al]—we mean the supposition that and often great. His subject is it is possible for the soul of the “Love to God;" a principle which, Christian to attain such an over- however frequently the detail of its whelming desire for the promotion outward movements and operations of the Divine glory, as even to ac- has been made the subject of reliquiesce in its own condemnation gious investigation, yet has appeared and extinction from happiness, if to our author not to have been, at such were the will of God. But least in some of its bearings, suffieven to picture such a monstrous ciently explained and insisted upon, supposition as that the attributes and, in others, to have been left and perfections of the Godhead can nearly untouched. The principle receive no obscuration, but rather of love to God, when properly unan increase of glory, from the eter- derstood, throws great light not only nal punishment of one of his faithon the degree, but on the nature of ful and devoted worshippers-for our happiness in a better state of this the individual is necessarily ad- being, and, considered as a principle mitted to be is to put a case, as which, in the early ages of the impossible in fact as it is absurd in world, was found in the Jewish theory, as derogatory to the Divine writings, and in them alone, but benevolence as it is destructive of which has never been equalled by Christian confidence*.
* There are certainly two very remark- favour of God; that therefore the state able instances in holy Scripture, which, if opposed to this involves in it, not only not carefully examined, may seem to lend separation from God, but absolute enmity indirectly a support to this error--the cases to Him; and how can this be made to form of Moses and of St. Paul, the one praying a just object of desire with any true ser! to be blotted out of the book of life: vant of God ? Besides, the law of God, the other “ wishing to be accursed from spiritual as it is in its nature,and extensive Christ,” if the salvation of the objects of as are its requirements, only exacts that their solicitude could be advanced by that we love our neighbour as ourselves, but exclusion. But a little careful examina. this would be loving him infinitely more ; tion will convincingly shew, that such an and it has been well observed that even interpretation of these desires as would Christ (of whom Moses is supposed to be amount to a final abandonment of ever- a type, and St. Paul an imitator, in these lasting bliss, is altogether inadmissible. It instances) was not willing to suffer more is not necessary to dwell now on the cri- than a temporal death for his people, and tical meaning of the terms employed in thus the limit to our obligation is, not to the original: our readers will probably re- devote our souls to destruction, but to collect several papers which appeared in "lay down our lives for the brethren." our last year's volume (see pp. 134, 264, Such expressions are clearly meant only as and 336) on this subject : but we will figurative optatives, plain enough in their only remark, that one of the constituents spirit, but not intended to be construed of the bliss of heaven is the presence and to the letter.
any discoveries in the schools of hea- Mr. Joyce proceeds to exhibit then philosophy, nor ever professed this interesting subject to his readto be surpassed or superseded by ers under a three-fold aspect. He subsequent revelations from Heaven, first develops the several disposiit furnishes an additional and power- tions included in the principle of ful testimony in favour of the Divine love to God; such as an admiration authority of the sacred writings. of the Divine perfections; gratitude
Such a subject as this meets us for the operation of those perfections with peculiar" attractions.' It is for our personal benefit ; a supreme truly a delectable theme. But our regard for the glory of God; a conauthor shall express our meaning ; stant desire of the Divine favour ; for he has felt the delightful exemp- a habit of communion and intertion which the subject claims from course with God; a desire of simithe influence of any thing like hostile litude to Him; a delight in his seror bitter feeling. It is not of a vice; and a love to our fellow-creacontentious jurisdiction."
tures ;-to each of which points "In pursuing this discussion, it is some a distinct chapter is devoted. He gratification to think that it is less likely then describes the manner in which than most others to occasion angry con- this principle improves our controversy. Unlike those doctrines which cantions
ceptions of future happiness. His are admitted by some and denied by
chapters are entitled, The Pleasure others, the principle of love to God is acknowledged to be essentially necessary
derived from the Exercise of Afby every denomination of Christians, how
fection ; The power of Moral Excelever they may differ in their exposition of lence in awakening Affection ; This the Scripture. Some varieties of opinion Power increased in proportion to eertainly may arise as to the degree and our own Improvement in Holiness : mode of its operation, and the best evi- The Exercise of Affection in Headence of its existence in the heart; and ven; and, The Happiness derived even these points of inquiry have proved from this Exercise. From the ges inflammatory to the irascible nature of man", fond of his own speculations and
neral consideration of the subject, in impatient of contradiction and rebuke;
these two parts, an argument is debut it was in a church less tolerant than rived in the third, in support of the our own, and in times less favourable to Divine inspiration of the Scriptures. Christian mildness and philanthropy. It There is something so elevating in is to be presumed, that at this later period the views of that heavenly occupaof the church, as we have acquired more tion in which the affection of the experience of the futility and mischief of glorified spirits shall find its full and indulging anger in theological discussions final, but unending exercise, and of any kind; no one will forget the glaring impropriety of gratifying feelings of ani.
ng Mr. Joyce has, with so much elevamosity, and employing bitterness of ex
ex tion and purity, “ thought on the pression, when he is engaged in explaining heavenly vision," that it was with and recommending the holy principle of difficulty we persuaded ourselves to love to God. The very nature of the sub- fall down on the third division of ject should disarm all violence, and suggest his work, and to leave that “anithe necessity of reasoning with modera- morum concilium cætumque divition and temper. To talk or write of num" to mingle with the schools divine love, with emotions of rancour in
of pagan philosophy. We could the heart, is so gross and palpable an in- have willingly closed the volume consistency, that one might expect the most fiery disputant to be ashamed of it.
before we entered on this last At any rate, if he fell into the error, his investigation, which would have own work would reproach him most, and been placed more satisfactorily in no adversary needs be at any pains to ex any part of the work than in pose his folly.” Joyce, pp. 10, 11. that which it occupies. Independ
« • Witness the persecutions of Fene- ently of the incongruity of going to lon, after his publication of Maximes des the disciples of the Pythagorean or Saints.'"
Platonic systems with inquiries for · Christ. Observ. No. 259.