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joins this mode of preaching upon ministers at the present day. This is rendered highly probable by what has already been seen in the practice of the apostles. But they recommend it by precept as well as example. Paul, in giving his advice to Timothy, says, "Preach the word," 2 Tim. iv, 2; which means, as the preceding context strikingly shows, Explain and enforce the Holy Scriptures: for that context says, (chap. iii, 15,) "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God [that is, the minister of the gospel] may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all [that is, all these] good works." And again, (chap. ii, 15,) "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth:" or, as the Vulgate has it, recte tractantem verbum, veritatis— "rightly handling the word of truth." The "word of truth" here, doubtless, means the gospel. And "rightly dividing," or handling it, signifies that we acquire right views of the gospel, and correctly impart them to others. Finally, we maintain that the interests of the church demand the more general adoption of this kind of preaching. We are sorry to say it, but we do think that the great mass of the people in our country are lamentably ignorant of the Scriptures. How many plain passages are not comprehended! How much is misconstrued! How very defective is their view of the scope and tenor of the several sacred writers! How often have we heard remarks like this!" I formerly believed the sentiments of such a denomination, but now I am convinced that this people are right, because they have the most Scripture on their side:" as though we were to be guided, not by the meaning of Scripture, but by the amount quoted. And who has not been astonished at the ease with which many people, intelligent enough in other matters, are led astray by religious errors the most gross and palpable that ever deceived the human mind? And we regret to add, that much of the preaching of the present day leaves the people just about as ignorant of the Bible as it finds them. If we were going to compare apostolic with modern preaching, we could not do it better, perhaps, than by saying, that in the former God spoke much, and man little; but in the latter God speaks little, and man much. How many sermons do we hear in which no Scripture is explained, not even the text! Custom makes it necessary to take a text; otherwise, I do not know but we should dispense with the Bible altogether! But having paid it this compliment, we bid it farewell, and, reversing Paul's rule, the sermon is composed, not of the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth, but which man's wisdom
teacheth. The pulpit teems with dissertations, moral essays, learned disquisitions, and splendid orations: but, alas for the starving people! "there is a famine of the word of the Lord." May we not trace to this cause the spiritual debility and declension of many of the churches, as also the carelessness and stupidity which characterize the irreligious? But let the church be "fed with the sincere milk of the word, and they will grow thereby." "Commend them to God, and to the word of his grace, and it will be able to build them up, and give them an inheritance among all them that are sanctified." The impenitent cannot stand before this kind of preaching. "The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." It was this Scriptural mode of sermonizing, in opposition to the artificial, this desire to instruct rather than to amuse, that distinguished the preachers of the Reformation from those who had preceded them. The reformers were "mighty in the Scriptures." They preached Jesus Christ and him crucified; they preached justification by faith; and instead of referring their hearers to "popes and canons, to fathers and founders," for ultimate authority, they took the liberty to direct the people, both for law and gospel, to the word of God. The consequence was, that whereas before, the effect of preaching was transitory and feeble, and the world was growing worse under it; now, when such men as Luther, and Melancthon, and Zuingle, and Calvin, came forth, Bible in hand, proclaiming the pure, unadulterated truths of the gospel, their auditors listened as for eternity, went away new creatures, and resolved by whole nations to reform. "The old papal popular sermons," says a graphic writer, "had gone off like a charge of gunpowder, producing only a fright and a black face; but those of the newe learninge, as the monks called them, were small hearty seeds, which being sown in the honest hearts of the multitude, and watered with the dews of heaven, softly vegetated, and imperceptibly unfolded blossoms and fruits of inestimable value." Such are some of the reasons why, in our pulpit ministrations, we should make it a point of prime importance to instruct the people in the Scriptures. But as we can impart such instruction only in so far as we possess it, therefore, all these reasons bear with equal force in favor of our acquainting ourselves with the sacred record. Yes; if it be important that we should imitate apostolic usage, and obey apostolic precepts in the principal business of our profession; if it be important that ignorance be removed, error exposed, sinners con
verted, and the church of God built up on their most holy faith; for all these reasons, it is important that we should search the Scriptures. It was from reading his Latin Testament that Luther imbibed the principles of the Reformation: and by a striking coincidence, it was while studying his Greek Testament that Mr. Wesley's heart caught the flame of that revival which has since spread through Christendom. Let us then study our Bibles, that we may contribute to perpetuate those principles, and to diffuse that flame, until it shall brighten into the universal light of millennial day.
ART. VIII.-The Life of the Rev. Charles Wesley, M. A., some time student of Christ-Church, Oxford: comprising a Review of his Poetry; Sketches of the Rise and Progress of Methodism; with Notices of Contemporary Events and Characters. By THOMAS JACKSON. 2 vols., 8vo., pp. 608, 586. London: published by John Mason. 1841.
THE evidences of a divine hand in the affairs of the world are both numerous and striking. Every evolution of the wheels of Providence exhibits a species of power and intelligence altogether above the mere resources of nature; and gives evidence of the presence of that all-pervading Spirit which is the source of all rational existence and moral order throughout the universe. The complicated machinery of the universe is under divine control. God does not act the part of a mere indifferent spectator of its various turnings and shiftings, but his hand behind the screen is working out some grand result in all its multifarious revolutions. When kingdoms or empires rise or fall; when new light marks out the pathway of succeeding mental developments, and constitutes a new era in the march of mind; when some splendid achievement changes the aspects of society, and opens new sources of happiness and improvement to the whole race, the true Christian philosopher will say in the language of inspiration, "Who knoweth not in all these, that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?"
But the doctrine of a special providence is equally marked in the Scriptures, though not so generally admitted as that of a general superintendence of the affairs of the world. It is not, however, always easy to determine when an event is to be attributed to the special interference of divine agency; and when it is the result of those general laws by which God ordinarily works.
That peculiar form of Christianity called Methodism, whatever opinions some may entertain with regard to the legitimacy of its origin, or its beneficial tendency, must be, on all hands, admitted to have exerted a very wide influence upon the opinions and destinies of mankind. And hence, whatever it is, it certainly is not one of those trivial matters which scarcely deserve a passing notice; but is, on the other hand, obviously a thing of so much interest and prominence as to be entitled to the gravest consideration, not only of the Christian, but also of the historian, the philosopher, and the politician.
In determining whether a special divine agency has been concerned in originating and sustaining a system of reform, we would naturally be led to inquire into the suitableness of the time selected for its manifestation-the adaptedness of the means employed in. its execution and the adjustment of the system itself to the ends proposed.
So far as our plan and space will permit, we shall in this article test the providential claims of Methodism by these principles.
As to the period when Methodism had its origin, upon the supposition that it is really an improvement upon other forms or systems, and designed by the great Head of the church as an instrument of the revival of evangelical religion; what period since the reformation from popery could have been selected more appropriate than that in which the Wesleys began to excite public attention! At this period, it is universally admitted, vital godliness had suffered a most melancholy decline, both in the Church of England and among the Dissenters. To this point we have the testimony of some of the brightest ornaments and most learned divines, both of the national Establishment and the dissenting churches. Several of these may be seen in Jackson's "Centenary of Methodism."
In the volumes before us we have a multitude of facts which tend directly to the same point. The lives of the clergy of the Establishment were often grossly immoral, and from these men the Wesleys, and their coadjutors, often met with the most violent and scandalous persecution. Nor were the Dissenters always clear in these unchristian and barbarous transactions. The clergy of the Establishment were often found at the head of an infuriated mob, urging them on to deeds of the most brutal violence, against unoffending men, women, and children, in the exercise of their natural and civil rights! These same servants of the altar were often found at the card-table, in groggeries and stews, and sometimes
administering the sacred rites of religion in a state of intoxication! Now when such instances as these become so common as not to shock the public mind; when "the prophets prophesy lies, and the people love to have it so;"-"Like priest like people ;"-"The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint ;" then it must be admitted there is imminent need of a reformation in the Church, and that there should be some who have the moral courage, and the zeal for God, to stand up in defense of true religion.
No one at all acquainted with the state of religion and morals at the period referred to, will pretend to doubt the necessity of reformation. Mr. Southey says, "There was never less religious feeling either within the Establishment or without, than when Wesley blew his trumpet and awakened those who slept." If, . indeed, the licentiousness of the clergy, and the stupid ignorance and abandoned wickedness of the people, of the sixteenth century, called for the burning zeal and intrepidity of Luther, did not the same causes call as loudly for the fire and faith of the Wesleys in the eighteenth? And if God had designed, by some new and striking evolution of his providence, and through an extraordinary instrumentality, to awaken a slumbering world before the cup of its iniquities should be filled, such a demonstration of his power and goodness might have been expected about this period of time. Then "darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people;" and why should it be considered, by those who acknowledge a superintending power, as incredible, that an instrumentality somewhat extraordinary in its character should be employed to roll back the tide of moral gloom which was sweeping over the fairest portions of God's heritage?
But let us next proceed to notice the instrumentality in the revival of religion which, it seems, was so much needed.
John and Charles Wesley were the sons of the Rev. Samuel Wesley, rector of Epworth, and Mrs. Susannah Wesley, daughter of Dr. Samuel Annesley, a pious and learned Nonconformist minister. John was born June 14, 1703; and Charles, December 18, 1708. John, when a little more than six years of age, narrowly escaped being consumed in the conflagration of the parsonage at Epworth. In allusion to this deliverance, he often called himself "a brand plucked out of the fire." Such was the nature of Mr. Samuel Wesley's official duties that the early training of his numerous family devolved principally upon his inimitable companion. Under her wise and pious guidance they early acquired habits of study and of patient thought, and John, especially, was serious and circumspect in his life. The brothers passed