Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

which lately occurred in the dying hours of my venerable friend and father in the Gospel, the Rev. T. Scott. During five weeks of suffering, from the violence of the fever which terminated his life, there was one expression he was frequently repeating, which occurs in our Burial Service: “Suffer me not in my last hour, for any pains of death, to fall from thee.” One of his sons observed, “ I never thought of that petition so much before; but it now has become greatly endeared to me; and the circumstance has made me admire, more than ever, that excellent book in wbich it is found, and its adaptation to the condition and trials of the servants of God in all the circumstances in wbich they may be found.”

To conclude, Sir, my prayer for you all sball be, as well as for myself, that while the Bible, and the Bible only, is the foundation of our hope, we may live and die in the temper and spirit of our Reformers; and that, in the last struggle of nature, we may none of us " for any pains of death fall from God.”

ADDRESS at the Tenth Anniversary of

the PRAYER-Book and HOMILY SOCIETY, Thursday, May 2, 1822.

MY LORD,

I.

OBEY the call of my friends around me, in rising to move, that the Report which you have heard, should be printed under the direction of the Committee; and I think I shall anticipate the general feeling of this meeting when I say, that every attempt to give circula

I tion to a Report so much surpassing any reasonable expectation that could have been formed, must be calculated to serve the best interests of this Society, and to promote pure and undefiled religion in our Church. Surely, my Lord, this Society can no longer be considered as a small institution. We have been accustomed in former years to fear, lest our Anniversary should be unable to call up those powerful emotions of the heart, which the larger and more extensive institutions had awakened.

But the Report now read assures me, that this Society will

[blocks in formation]

quickly claim its fair proportion of regard in the breasts of the members of our Church. For if we consider that the life and vigour of all our great institutions for the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, the Propagation of the Gospel, and Missions, depend on the personal Christian piety, the perpetual love, purity, self-caution, zeal, and holiness, which pervade the members of them—and that if these principles decay, all such Societies will fall prostrate and lose the divine blessing; we shall see that a meeting like the present, for nourishing in our own hearts the spirit of our Reformation, and diffusing the Prayer-Book and Homilies of our martyrs and first founders, is feeding the source whence all charity flows.

And indeed, my Lord, it seems to me to be an extraordinary commendation of this Society, that it is the ONLY ONE IN THIS EMPIRE, WHICH CONFINES ITSELF TO THE CIRCULATION OF THE AUTHORIZED

FORMULARIES OF OUR CHURCH, Other much older and more venerable Societies, embrace this object in connection with others. But this is the only Institution, which exclusively circulates the Formularies of the Church of England. And need I remind your Lordship and this meeting of the great importance of incessantly referring to all these original documents? Need I say that in the infirmity of our present state, there may arise new and various fashions in theology: need I say that declensions from the spiritual and life-giving doctrines of our Reformation are above all things dangerous ? The fact is, that the prosperity of any church depends, under God's blessing, not only on the professed tenets and avowed platform of its public formularies, but also on the spirit and temper which pervade its members in each age, on the honesty with which its real doctrines are inculcated, and the living energy and purity of its instructions. To keep therefore the original books of our Reformed Church before the

eyes of our people, to circulate them as widely as possible, is amongst the most likely means of reviving pure Christianity, of rekindling those sacred fires of love to our dying Saviour, which once burned in the bosoms of those holy martyrs by whom these Formularies were drawn up, and to bring back a worldly and temporizing divinity to the high standard of that blessed Reformation, of which our Church was the glory and the boast.

And in this view the attention which this Society has given to the Book of Homilies, is of the highest importance. This work was almost forgotten. It was common to decry it, as unsuitable to the present times. Its style was censured as antiquated and obscure. Many churchmen did not scraple to express their dissent from some of its chief statements. This Society has brought this almost forgotten book to light, has broken it up into tracts, has circulated it amongst our people. Every one may now read how our Reformers preached. We may now study their own exposition of their own articles.

We may turn, from modern commentators, to the original and authorized document itself. The volume of the Homilies is sufficiently copious; every student may read for himself, and determine who are the men that adhere to the reformed doctrines, and who they are that with the most vehement claims of churchmanship, in fact depart from them. If, for instance, I desire to know the doctrine of the Church on original sin, on the fall of man, on bis impotency to any thing spiritually good, on salvation by grace, on justification by faith only, on the person and operations of the Holy Spirit, on the authority and sufficiency of Holy Scripture, on prayer, on love to God, on activity in every good word and work; I look to the brief language of the Articles first, and then I turn, not to the opinions of modern divines, but to the full and adequate and authoritative exposition of that language in the Book of Homilies. If I am an honest man, I am satisfied.

But this is not all : the circulation of the Homilies amongst our people has a direct tendency to check any dangerous errors, which may mingle themselves in the theology of our

« AnteriorContinua »