Imatges de pÓgina
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and king,* we find him, in 1646, among those who After the return of the Jews from their captivity, God then affirmed that the Church was the source of all the was pleased to stir up the spirit of Esdras, to collect misery and war by which the country was distracted,

and revise the sacred canon (which by that time bad

been completed by the addition of the Psalms and the and that from her

Prophets); and probably in his time, or soon after, * at first the firebrands came,

was introduced the custom of reading them at their Tbat set this empire in a flame." +

public meetings. That the Scriptures were divided

into lessons, and that the custom was on the SabbathHe was the first in Surrey to take up arms for the

days to read a select portion of the Law (or books of Parliament, and his pen was soon engaged in the same Moses), and another out of the Prophets, appears

He lived to write an ode of congratulation on from sundry passages in the New Testament." The the accession of Charles the Second; and after expe

reading out of Moses, or the Law, was their first riencing many reverses of fortune, marched off the lesson; and the voices of the prophets (which were stage of this vain world” on the 2d of May, 1667.

also read every Sabbath-day) was their second.

This method, then, was the established practice of Few men have witnessed such eventful changes in the Jewish Church in our Saviour's time, and in the public affairs as Wither. He lived, as he tells us, time of the apostles; a practice our Lord often hounder eleven different governments; viz. Elizabeth, noured with his presence, and always joined in ; a James, Charles the first, the King and Parliament practice to which the usage of our own Church is

exactly conformable. And indeed if we compare the together, the Parliament alone, the Army, Oliver

whole synagogue-service with ours in the Church of Cromwell, Richard Cromwell, a Council of State, the

England, we shall find the frame and model of both Parliament again, and Charles the Second.

to be perfectly alike ;-the synagogue-service conWither was an honest and fearless advocate of those sisting, as ours doth, of forms of prayer and two principles which he "opined to be right;" and the

lessons; and afterwards a discourse or sermon, when

any that was a rabbi or teacher was present, and had fact that he indignantly returned to Cromwell, when

any word of exhortation for the people. in the zenith of his power, the keys of his private

Thus we see, the use of reading the Scriptures, and closet at Whitehall, which had been given him as a that too by way of lessons, in the public service, grew mark of special grace, testifies strongly in his favour. up by degrees from small beginnings till it became His political follies proceeded from errors of the head the constant and standing order of the Jewish Church. rather than of the heart; and the ingenuous repentant

Thus it certainly was in our Saviour's time; and bis

presence and practice sufficiently evinced his approspirit which appears in some of the last lines penned

bation. No wonder, then, the Christian Church borby his hand, evidences that fervent piety which breathed rowed this, with many other liturgical rites and custhrough the poems of his earlier and happier days. toms, from the Jewish, and adopted the use of reading

the Scriptures by way of lessons into her public serGarsden, 1839.

vice; with this variation only, that she takes her first lesson out of the Old Testament, and her second out

of the New. ON READING LESSONS FROM THE That this became the early usage of the Christian SCRIPTURES.

Church, and probably as soon as the canon of the

New Testament was settled, appears from many of As to the original of our Church's practice in ap- the ancient fathers, namely, Justin Martyr, Cassian, pointing of lessons to be part of her public service, we

Chrysostom, St. Augustin, &c., as cited by Sparrow, might go back as far as the original of the sacred

Comber, Nicholls, and others. And as this observacanon of Scripture ; for if the book of Job was the

tion cannot but give great satisfaction to the members first extant, and published as some think) by Moses

of our Church, so ought it to undeceive the prejudice for the use and benefit of the Church, it was doubtless

of her opposers, when they observe her treading in the a most proper lesson for the then state and condition

steps of God's people in all ages, and conforming berof the Israelites under their sufferings and afflictions

self to the very example of Christ while he was upon in Egypt, and afterwards in the wilderness. When, earth, and that of his Church in the first and purest after this, the same inspired author had written his

times. Nay, we may add, that by her reformation five books, which we call the Pentateuch, what was

from the Church of Rome she has not only restored the book of Deuteronomy but a kind of prelude to

the primitive custom, which the Romish Church had the Gospel, and an apposite emblem of our second

vitiated, but in some degree has improved the method lesson; not only as it is, for the most part, an exposi

used by the primitive Church in the choice of her tion of the moral law contained in the ten command.

lessons; as every candid observer who shall examine ments, but chiefly as it gives us the spiritual and

the rule she has prescribed by her tables and calendar evangelical interpretation of the mysteries veiled in

must readily acknowledge. the ceremonial part of the Levitical Jaw; and therefore was as necessary for all the people of the Jewish Church to hear or read, as it is for us Christians to

Biography. have lessons set us out of the New Testament, after we have heard one out of the Old.

CLEMENT OF ROME.* Thus stood the canon for many years, except we add the book of Joshua, and perhaps Judges and Ruth.

The threshold of ecclesiastical biography is a situation And this was all the Scripture which David so often of moving interest to the mind, which will pause celebrated in his Psalms as his daily study and delight. awhile to survey the scene presented to it, and con

verse with the persons that immediately encounter it. • Underneath a picture of the crown and sceptre in his “Em

These latter are the disciples and companions of the blems," he wrote these lines : “Grant, Lord, these isles for ever may be blest

apostles, who now stand alone, without the aid and With what in this our emblem is expressed."

countenance of superiors, in the high places of the And he frequently, in the same work, reprobates the sectarian

Church to which they had been ordained. Theirs spirit which had begun to manifest itself.

• Abridged from “ Evans's Biography of the Early Church," + " What Peace for the Wicked." 1 From Wogan. by the editor of "The (Coburg) Church."

As re

was no common charge, they were no common men, under the immediate eye of Cæsar and his governnor could they have earned their honourable commis- ment, she received the first and heaviest strokes of sion by common services of wisdom and piety. As his scourge; and her bishops won by suffering that referred to their predecessors, they appear to us like reverence which their successors exacted by threats. younger brothers, who, being destitute of the privileges The false and horrible charges, which had been inand wealth entailed upon the elder, are left to make vented against the Christians in the former persecutheir way in the world as well as they can.

tions, were now revived ; and as Domitian never ferred to their contemporaries, they are the flower of forgot his interests in his cruelties, and made his their generation, exceeding all in their beauty of holi- revenge minister to his rapacity, the Christian name ness and odour of sanctity. As compared to their became doubly odious at Rome, by supplying a consuccessors, they come before us with all the majestic venient subject for capital charge against any one attributes of founders of families; and more especially whose person was obnoxious or property desirable. excite our imagination and feelings where the Churches, At the head of so calumniated a body, Clement must at whose foundations they laboured, are still seen have been severely tried. To confirm the wavering ; towering with their walls and pinnacles. Ephesus to cheer the despondent; to prepare the martyr for has long ago vanished, and carried away with it much his suffering; to administer comfort to his bereaved matter for reflection, which we might have pleasingly friends; to combat the expostulations of those who associated with our thoughts on Timothy. But Rome wished to drop some badge of their profession, the still survives, and her long series of eventful history importance of wbich they thought light compared leads up to Clement in a frame of mind so affected as with the danger to which it exposed them, or to to regard him with looks of much greater interest adopt the screen of some observance which they were than the few recorded facts of his life are capable of unwilling to consider sinful under such pressing necessupplying

sity; to calm the terrors of the weaker brethren; and, Clement was a fellow-worker with St. Paul in the amid this distraction of the crew, to direct, like a Gospel of Christ; and the Church of Philippi, among good helmsman, a steady look-out upon the course others, was the scene of those services which were of the labouring vessel,-these were the cares of Cleultimately to be transferred with such benefit of expe- ment during this perilous storm. He brouglit the rience to Rome. But the thick veil which obscures Cliurch safe through it, himself unhurt, and with not the history of the early Church, and particularly en- many of his companions, perhaps, lost either to this velopes that of the origin of the Church of Rome in world or the next. uncertainty, hides from our sight all the facts which The relaxation of the violence of this persecution intervene between his sojourn in Philippi and his recalled the attention of Clement and his Church to episcopate at Rome. We can only infer the course

an application which it had compelled them for a time of unblemished life and unwearied exertion by which to neglect; and low as the Church of Rome now he won the suffrages of the brethren, who deemed him seemed to the eyes of the world, never since, perhaps, not unworthy of presiding in a Church where the words has she stood so high in the eyes of her divine Ilead, and works of two apostles were still fresh in memory. nor has she ever since been regarded with greater About three-and-twenty years had elapsed since their deference and respect by her sisters. At the very martyrdom; and two bishops, Linus and Anencletus, moment that her bishop was glad to pass unknown had successively discharged the pastoral office when and unobserved through the streets of that city, of Clement was summoned to its ministrations.

which his successors are sovereigns, she was extendHe thus succeeded (A.D. 92) to a charge of which ing her hand in aid of a great but distressed Church, we can but faintly estimate the exceeding weight; and exercising the charitable office of mediation in but, in despite of all difficulties, the views presented her distracted body. The Church of Corinth had into this father must have been full of brightness. voked her assistance to quell those divisions, which, The kingdom of his Master had given unequivocal however allayed for the time by Paul, had now been signs that it could not be shaken by any powers of renewed after an interval of about forty years, and earth; and many were the signs of decline which the with more miserable laceration than ever. There king of this world was exhibiting to his sight. He were peculiar circumstances, besides the general one went, therefore, on the way of his ministry rejoicing. of the high character and influence of the Church in

He had, however, proceeded but a few steps upon the capital, which directed her appeal in this quarter. his course before the severity of the times called upon An intimacy had existed from the first between the him distinctly as shepherd to be ready to lay down his two sisters. They had been nursed by the same life for the flock. Such a call would be readily heard

apostles Peter and Paul ; and some of the first and cheerfully obeyed by one who had ministered to

preachers at Corinth, as Aquila with his wife Pris. Paul, and liad probably been an eye-witness when he cilla, had come from Rome. Clement himself, too, received, together with Peter, the crown of martyrdom had been among Paul's fellow-workers in Greece ; in the last persecution. Domitian, a close and worthy and even if he had never accompanied him to Corinth, imitator of Nero, now imitated him in stretching forth

yet as he was now probably one among few survivors his hands to vex the Church. The same peculiar of the companions of him who had composed their situation, which, in later days, proved so favourable former difference, this would naturally furnish an to the acquisition and exertion of power, was, in earlier additional reason for their directing their appeal times, one of superior danger and suffering to the hither. One of the deputies was Fortunatus, who Church of Rome. In the capital of the Roman world, had been employed formerly, when they gave the • Philip. iv. 3.

account of the distracted state of their Church to the apostle while he was tarrying in Asia. With him With all the undesigned skilfulness of natural good Clement had probably formed an acquaintance during sense and feeling, Clement, at the commencement of his sojourn in Greece; and delightful indeed in such his letter, draws an affecting picture of the former a case must have been this meeting. They would prosperity of the Corinthians, and follows it up with mutually recall to mind the scenes of their former the hideous contrast of their present state. Shewing conversation with their martyred master; and confirm by instances the evil effects of a spirit of envious strife, one another with recollections, struck out like sparks he exhorts them to repentance, obedience, faith, hufrom mutual collision, of his example and precepts. mility, and charity; enforcing all by a long and bright

The tale of Fortunatus was indeed sufficient to list of examples. He then demonstrates the necessity make every Church and pastor of a Church tremble. of harmony from the analogy of the subordination of After her recovery from her former distractions, Co. the natural world, with all its operations, to Provirinth had enjoyed a season of great spiritual prosperity. dence ; by which means regularity is ensured, and all Every one who had sojourned there was edified with things are at peace with each other. From practice her discreet discipline, and thankfully proclaimed he proceeds to doctrine, the corruption of which naabroad her bountiful hospitality; so that her name turally follows that of practice, and shews by analogy was pronounced in honour and love far and wide. the reasonableness of the resurrection of the body, Subjection to spiritual rulers, obedience to parents, which (it thus appears) was again disputed. Some meekness of deportment, mutual charity, large and also had maintained that works were unnecessary to unadulterated Christian knowledge, a zeal in good faith; he shews, therefore, their necessity. Others, works, a lively apprehension of Christ's sufferings, on the contrary, hold them justificatory; he shews, a full effusion of the Holy Spirit, earnest and con- therefore, their intrinsic vanity. Having thence retinual prayer, singleness and purity of heart, forget turned to enforce the necessity of subordination, he fulness of injuries, unwearied charity, — these had proceeds to the duty of obedience to the apostolic sucbeen the happy bonds of her society.f. But, alas ! cession, shewing how it was ordained for a remedy from all this brightness of purity she returned to wal- against schism. He then recommends charity, laudlow in the mire. It is with Churches as with nations, ing it in terms similar to those of St. Paul; and having their prosperity sows the seeds of their ruin ; and the stirred them up with examples of faithful devotion large enjoyment of excellent gifts and blessings by among the Gentiles, concludes with renewed exhortathe Church of Corinth was too much (as heretofore) tions to subordination, winding up with a solemn for the weakness of some of its members. " They prayer to God, the all-seeing Ruler, the Master of waxed fat and kicked" (Deut. xxxii. 15). Hence spirits, and Lord of all fesh. Great was the reverence sprang dissent, with all its accompanying evils. Those paid by the ancient Church to those who had made in no honour rose against those in honour; those of a good confession of the name of Christ through sufno reputation against those of reputation; the un- fering and imprisonment. Can we wonder, then, at wise against the wise ; the younger against the elder, the powerful effect of this letter of Clement and his even to mutual persecution. The fear of God was Church, fresh as they were from the font of a bold abandoned; the rule of life in Christ was forsaken; confession, which in a manner supplied that authority and each one, amid envying and strife, walked accord- which Paul had derived from his apostolic character ? ing to his own wicked desires.

It was accepted and obeyed; and thus, through God's If any leaven of such uncharitableness were now beautiful economy, the same persecution served the fermenting in the Church of Rome, this awful example, double purpose of confirming the Church of Rome glaring upon them on the eve of persecution, would and reforming that of Corinth. naturally reclaim all her restive members, and Cle- The accession of Nerva suppressed the last sparks ment would have the satisfaction of encountering the of this persecution, and Clement presided over a constorm with his vessel in the best trim, and his crew stantly increasing fold; but the unalloyed enjoyment in the best spirits. It was mercifully provided for and liberty of our happy days was unknown to the Corinth, that Rome should have undergone this trial primitive Christians even at the summit of prosperity. before she admonished her sister. Evil times make The disciple of Christ was placed amidst surrounding the good better, and the bad worse. The distinction idolatry, whose usages crossed him in all the minute having been thus made broad and clear between the detail of daily conversation. Every moment he was two, the former recognise each other, sink all minor discovered, and pointed out for scoffs or ill treatment. differences, and unite in one compact body, while the Not only did he reveal his profession, when he refused latter withdraw in disorder upon their various courses to join parties of friends in the amusements of the of iniquity. All are now of one mind; and the same circus, or declined the offer of a magistracy, which Holy Spirit which bound them together in their suffer- was alike honourable and suitable to his talents and ings, administers to the mutual enjoyment of their fortune, or omitted to put up lights and laurel at his prosperity. It was in this condition that the Church

door in honour of Cæsar, but also when in the comof Ronie, having left her dross behind in the refiner's monest contract he was required to swear by the name furnace, and bright in all the purity of tine gold, took of some heathen god; when, if a carpenter, he refused upon herself to answer her sister's application. She an application to make an image or some appendage had now leisure to look beyond her own sufferings, to heathen worship; if, when a smith, he was called and she empowered Clement to write the reply. Such

upon to gild a statue ; if, when a druggist, he refused is thc origin of the only genuine work surviving of to send frankincense for sacrifice ; if, when a schoolthis confessor.

master, he appointed no holydays for the festival of • 1 Cor, xvi, 17. + See Clement. Ep. ad Cor. 1, 2, 1 A.D. 96. Saturn. In short, every day opened and closed a

series of vexations, if not of dangers; and was a period | dress the words of my text, “God is love :" of at least peuy persecution,

not merely that he possesses the quality of The peaceful administration of Nerva was followed love and benevolence towards his creatures, by the accession of Trajan; but before the treatment

but that he is essentially love itself. It is of the Christians had undergone any change in the

not possible for us, my brethren, fully to counsels of this emperor, Clement had breathed his comprehend the infinite attributes of God, or last, in the third year of his reign. Thus his death

to understand the extent of that love " which appropriately marked the close of the first century of passeth knowledge;" but we may, by the Christian suffering and of Christian glory.

light of God's word, discover various ways

in which God has been pleased to manifest GOD IS LOVE:

himself as a God of love. Sermon,

And, first, let us contemplate the exercise

of his love as exhibited in paradise before By the Rev. RICHARD Morice, M.A.

the fall the earth spontaneously producing Curate of Cheshunt, Ilerts.

every tree that is pleasant to the sight and 1 John, iv, 16.

good for food, watered with fruitful streams, " God is love."

and abounding in every thing that could tend This concise but emphatic sentence conveys to promote the happiness of his creatures. to us a truth which the greatest exercise of Then behold man, made after the image of human intellect, unenlightened by Divine re- God in holiness, and happiness, and heavenly velation, never has, nor ever could have dis- affections and desires, placed in the midst of covered : the admixture of evil with good- this scene of bounty and of beauty, with no of suffering with happiness -- in the affairs of restriction but such as was necessary to prethis life, has thrown over the subject an ob- serve him in this state of happiness — the abscurity and perplexity which the mind of staining from the tree of the knowledge of good fallen man never could penetrate or unfold; and evil; blessed with the frequent presence having the understanding darkened, being of the Author of all his happiness, and enalienated from the life of God, through the joying a hallowed day of rest, a holy Sabbath, ignorance that is in them.” Even the Athe- | in which he would rejoice to pour forth the nians, who spent their time "in nothing else praises of a full and grateful heart, and debut either to tell or to hear some new thing," light in more immediate communion with the proclaimed their ignorance by erecting an Author of his happy being. Endeavour to altar "to the unknown God;" and St. Paul, realise this scene to your minds, my brethren, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, a people in which every thing was proclaimed by the almost equal to the Athenians in civilisation unerring voice of the great and wise Creator and intellectual attainments, asks, "Where is very good, and therefore eminently producthe wise? where is the scribe? where is the tive of pure and unmixed happiness, and say, disputer of this world ? Hath not God made does it not prove that “God is love?” Then foolish the wisdom of this world ? For after the pure image of a God of love was reflected that, in the wisdom of God, the world by from the heart of man, without a cloud of wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by sin to obscure its brightness : but, alas, such the foolishness of preaching" (as the worldly- is no longer our state ; sin has brought wise thought it) “to save them that believe.”

curse upon

the earth, and extended its And, my brethren, even among us, in this withering and blighting influence over the Christian land, who have the advantage of so mind and heart of man (the seat of his unclear and simple a revelation as the words of derstanding and affections), as well as over my text, how unworthy are the opinions en

the visible works of the creation. But even tertained by some of the infinite and eternal yet, how many proofs do we see around us in Creator! Some, like the fool, are saying in the earth of the mercy and love of God ! their hearts, “ There is no God;" living “ The heavens declare the glory of God, and practically without God in the world, ne- the firmament sheweth his handiwork." glecting his word and worship, slighting his But again ; if we have sufficient evidence present mercy, despising his future judg. that God is love from contemplating the conments, and forgetting that" the eyes of the dition of man before the fall, how much more Lord are in every place, beholding the evil cause have we to acknowledge it from con. and the good ;" others, degrading the purity templating his condition since! If Almighty and dignity of his holy law, are supposing, love shine forth conspicuously in the work of by the merit of their own works, to atone creation, how much more bright and espefor their conscious deficiencies ; while others, cially interesting does it appear in the work through want or weakness of faith, are attri- of redemption! Had God left us to the conbuting to the Giver of all good the origin of sequences of sin, it would have been no more their sufferings. To all these I would ad- | than the exercise of infinite justice, and quite

a

consistent with his character as a God of and love, from the hosts of the redeemed, love: but infinite mercy interposed, and de- who will ascribe, from the beginning of the vised a scheme by which reconciliation and dawn of grace in their hearts, till its perfecpeace might be effected: “God so loved the tion in glory, from first to last, "salvation to world, that he gave his only begotten Son, our God who sitteth upon the throne, and to that whosoever believeth in him should not the Lamb: blessing, and glory, and wisdom, perish, but have everlasting life." Truly in and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, This was manifested the love of God towards and might, be unto our God for ever and us, because that God sent his only-begotten ever!" May you and I, my brethren, be Son into the world, that we might live through amongst that happy number; and then shall him. And this, my brethren, is the great and we know by blessed experience "the length, important subject for us all to learn, 'not and breadth, and depth, and height of that merely as an historical fact, but to apply by love which passeth all human knowledge;" faith to our own hearts individually-- that in then shall we know that “God is love." this, especially, is manifested the love of God But not only has the love of God de. towards us, in that " while we were yet sin- vised and completed this great mystery of ners, Christ died for the ungodly." He did redemption, but it has also been made not wait until we were driven, by a sense of known to us in bis revealed word, and in our misery, to seek for reconciliation ; but the various appointed means of grace which while we were yet sinners, wandering farther he has promised to bless : the public wor. from him in the ways of sin, instead of seek ship of his house, the preached gospel, and ing to return. He did not leave us in our that much-neglected, but most strengthdarkened state of ignorance and misery, to ening and refreshing ordinance, prepared devise a way of salvation for ourselves, for for as many as are religiously and devoutthat would have been to leave us in hopelessly disposed, the most comfortable sacra. ness; but, in the counsels of infinite wisdom, ment of the body and blood of Christ. he provided a way by which God could be just, These means of grace, applied by the power and yet the justifier of the ungodly; by which of the Holy Spirit to the heart, which God his holy law might be fulfilled to the utmost, has promised to give to all who seek it in and yet mercy extended to the transgressor prayer, will produce in us an increase of of that law. He did not require of beings grace and spiritual strength, which will ensunk in sin, and alienated from him by wicked able us to resist temptation and sin, and acworks, to produce any works of such sufi- quire those heavenly graces and dispositions cient merit as might entitle them to hope for which will make us meet and fit for the inherestitution to his favour, for that would have ritance of the saints in light. The humble, been impossible ; but “when we were afar and diligent, and prayerful use of them will, off, in due time Christ died for us.”

through God's grace, enable us to realise in Surely, then, here we have abundant proof our own experience the great and precious that God is love: instead of visiting us with promises of the Gospel, by which we may the punishment due to sin, he has provided become partakers of the divine nature; and for us, in Jesus Christ, a full, perfect, and will afford abundant proof to us, that God, sufficient atonement for sin, that whosoever who has appointed them for us, and enjoined believeth in him should not perish, but have them on our observance, is love. Are there everlasting life. Herein, indeed, is love ; | any present who undervalue these means of “not that we loved God, but that he loved grace, or consider them only as forms, which us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation common consent and the customs of society for our sins.” And, my brethren, if we are require to be observed occasionally, as conbrought to love God sincerely, if our hearts venience may allow? O, be assured there is are indeed set upon heavenly things, it is not something far more important in them; do because there is in us any natural inclination not deprive yourselves of the privileges they to love God, although he is love itself, but it are calculated to afford, and increase your is " because he first loved us." This is an condemnation and guilt, by rejecting or underinexhaustible subject-one which even angels valuing the very means which, by prayer and desired to look into : the great mystery of a supply of the Spirit of Christ, are calculated man's redemption, by which the powerful to effect the gracious purposes of a God of constraining, influence of God's love in Christ love. Jesus to a perishing and sinful world works But another evidence that God is love is in the heart of man repentance of sin, faith in afforded by the character of God's law, the Lord Jesus Christ, and love towards God, which our blessed Lord has summed up as is a subject which will never be exhausted containing unreserved love to God, with all throughout eternity; but will continually be our heart, soul, mind, and strength ; and calling forth increasing praises, and devotion, the exercise of love towards our neighbour, ,

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