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BY THE REV. JOSEPH SUTCLIFFE.
SAURIN'S Sermons, one hundred and sixty- | with the duties they owe to God; we see a me eight in number, are comprised in twelve vo- tropolis, in which it is estimated that not more lumes. I have read them with edification and than one adult out of fifteen attends any place delight. Actuated by these sentiments, Iof divine worship. Ought not ministers so cirdoubted whether I could better employ my cumstanced, to take tha alarm, and to weep leisure moments than in preparing an additional for the desolations of the sanctuary? If impiety volume, to those already before the English and effeminacy were, corfessedly, the causes reader.
of the desolation of Greece and Rome, ought The three Discourses on the Delay of Con- we not to be peculiarly alarmed for our counversion, are a masterly performance, and in try and while our brave wlrriors are defendgeneral, a model of pulpit eloquence. They ing it abroad, endeavour to heal at home the are not less distinguished by variety and evils which corrode the vitals Ought we not strength of argument, than by pathos and unc- to adopt a mode of preaching like that which tion: and they rise in excellence as the reader first subdued the enemies of the cross? If our proceeds. Hence, I fully concur in opinion former mode of preaching has ailed of effect; with Dupont, and the succeeding editors, who if the usual arguments from Scipture have no have given the first place to these Discourses: weight; ought we not to modiy those argumy sole surprise is, that they were not trans- ments according to existing circumstances, lated before. Whether they were reserved to that, fighting the sinner on the ground of ornament a future volume, or whether the ad- reason, and maintaining the rights of God at dresses to the unregenerate were deemed too the bar of conscience, we may vanquish the severe and strong, I am unable to determine. infidelity of his heart? The wand must be By a cloud of arguments derived from reason, opened before he will welcome the balm of from revelation, and from experience, our au- Calvary, and be enraptured with he glory and thor certainly displays the full effusions of his fulness of the gospel. Hence, I am fully of heart, and in language unfettered by the fear opinion that we ought to go back b the purest of man. The regular applications in the first models of preaching; that addressing the sinner and second Sermons, are executed in such a in the striking language of his owr heart, we style of superior merit, that I lament the defi- may see our country reformed, and believers ciency of language to convey his sentiments adorned with virtue and grace. with adequate effect.
But, though our author be an eminent model On the subject of warm and animated ad- in addressing the unregenerate, he is by no dresses to wicked and unregenerate men, if I means explicit and full on the doctrines of the might be heard by those who fill the sanctuary, Spirit: his talents were consequently defective I would venture to say, that the general cha- in building up believers, and edifying the racter of English sermons is by far too mild church. It is true, he is orthodox ard clear, and calm. On reading the late Dr. Enfield's as far as he goes: and he fully adnits the English Preacher, and finding on this gentle Scripture language on the doctrine of assuman's tablet of honour, names which constitute rance; but he restricts the grace to some highthe glory of our national church, I seem un-ly favoured souls, and seems to have no idea of willing to believe my senses, and ready to deny, its being the general privilege of the children that Tillotson, Atterbury, Butler, Chandler, of God. Hence this doctrine which especially Coneybeare, Seed, Sherlock, Waterland, and abounds in the New Testament, occupies only others, could have been so relaxed and un- a diminutive place in his vast course of Serguarded as to have preached so many sermons mons. On this subject, indeed, he frankly conequally acceptable to the orthodox and the fesses his fears of enthusiasm; and, to do him Socinian reader. Those mild and affable re- justice, it seems the only thing he feared in commendations of virtue and religion; those the pulpit. gentle dissuasives from immorality and vice, But, however prepossessing and laudable this have been found, for a whole century, unpro- caution may appear in the discussion of mysductive of effect. Hence, all judicious men terious truths, it by no means associates the must admit the propriety of meeting the awful ideas we have of the divine compassion, and vices of the present age with remedies more the apprehensions which awakened persons efficient and strong.
entertain on account of their sins. Conscious Our increase of population, our vast extent of guilt on the one hand, and assured on the of commerce, and the consequent influx of other that the wages of sin is death, mere evanwealth and luxury, have, to an alarming de- gelical arguments are inadequate to allay their gree, biassed the national character towards fears, and assuage their griefs. Nothing will dissipation, irreligion, and vice. We see a do but a sense of pardon, sufficiently clear and crowd of families rapidly advanced to afflu- strong to counteract their sense of guilt. Noence, and dashing away in the circles of gay thing but the love of God shed abroad in the and giddy life; we see profane theatres, assem- heart, can disperse their grief and fear, Rom. bly-rooms, and watering-places, crowded with v. 5; Luke xxiv. 32; 1 John iv. 18. Nothing people devoted to pleasure, and unacquainted | but the Spirit of adoption can remove the spirit
of bondage, by a direct assurance that we are their reckonings with Heaven. Perhaps their the children of God, Rom. viii. 15, 16. Every religious connexions have hindered, rather than awakened sinner needs, as much as the inspired furthered, their religious attainments. If these prophet, the peace which passeth all under- sincere Christians were properly assisted by standing, to compose his conscience; the Spirit experienced people; if some Aquila and Prisof holiness to regenerate his heart; the Spirit of cilla were to expound unto them the way of God grace and supplication, to assist him in prayer; more perfectly, Acts xviii. 26, they would the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, soon emerge out of darkness into marvellous and the joy unspeakable and full of glory, to light; they could not long survey the history adopt the language of praise and thanksgiving, of the Redeemer's passion, without loving him which seem to have been the general senti- again: they could not review his victories ments of the regenerate in acts of devotion. without encouragement; they could not conThat is the most satisfactory ground of assu- template the effusions of his grace, without a rance, when we hope to enjoy the inheritance, participation of his comfort. They would soon because we have the earnest; and hope to receive dwell with God, because he already dwells “ What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy, with us, adorning our piety with the corres- The soul's calm sunshine, and the heart-felt joy." pondent fruits of righteousness. Revelation Another defect of our author (if my opinion and reason here perfectly accord: Ask, and ye be correct,) is, that he sometimes aims at orashall receive; sedi, and ye shall find. If ye torical strokes, and indulges in argument and being evil, know how to give good things to language not readily comprehended by the betyour children, ww much more shall your Fa- ter instructed ainong the poor. This should ther, which is in heaven, give good things to caution others. True eloquence is the voice of them that ask him. Hence, SAURIN, on this nature, so rich in thought, so abundant in mosubject, was by far too contracted in restricting tives, and happy in expression, as to supersede this grace to a few highly favoured souls. redundant and meretricious ornament. It un
Farther stil, it is not enough for a minister folds the treasures of knowledge, displays the to beat and overpower bis audience with argu- amiableness of virtue, and unveils the deforments; it is not enough that many of his hear- mity of vice, with the utmost simplicity and ers weep undr the word, and form good reso- It captivates the mind, and sways the lutions for tie future; they must be encou- passions of an audience in addresses apparently raged to exect a blessing before they depart destitute of study or art: art, indeed, can never from the house of God. How is it that the attain it; it is the soul of a preacher speaking good impressions, made on our hearers, so ge- to the heart of his hearers. However, SAURIN nerally die away; that their devotion is but as ouglit to have an indulgence which scarcely the morning cloud? After making just de- any other can claim. He addressed at the ductions br the weakness and inconstancy of Hague an audience of two thousand persons, men; afte: allowing for the defects which bu- composed of courtiers, of magistrates, of mersiness anı company produce on the mind, the chants, and strangers, who were driven by pergrand caise is, the not exhorting them to look secution from every part of France. Hence for an instantaneous deliverance by faith. In it became him to speak with dignity approprimany parts of the Scriptures, and especially in ate to his situation. And if, in point of pure the Psams, the supplicants came to the throne eloquence he was a single shade below Masof grace in the greatest trouble and distress, and sillon, he has far exceeded him as a divine. they went away rejoicing. Now, these Psalms With regard to the peculiar opinions of the I take o be exact celebrations of what God did religious denominations, this venerable minisby providence and grace for his worshippers. ter discovered superior knowledge, and admiHencewe should exhort all penitents to expect rable moderation. Commissioned to preach the like deliverance, God being ready to shine the gospel to every creature, he magnifies the on all hearts the moment repentance has pre- | love of God to man; and charges the sinner pared them for the reception of his grace. with being the sole cause of his own destruc
Some may here object that many well-dis- tion (Sermon, Hosea xiii. 9.) Though he asposed Christians, whose piety has been adorn-serts the perseverance of the saints, it is, nevered with benevolence, have never, on the sub theless, with such restrictions as tend to avoid ject of assurance, been able to express them- disgusting persons of opposite sentiments. selves in the high and heavenly language of Against Antinomianism, so dangerous to salvainspired men; and that they have doubted, tion, he is tremendously severe: and it were whether the knowledge of salvation by the remis- to be wished that the supporters of these opision of sins, Luke i. 77, were attainable in this nions would profit by his arguments. It is life. Perhaps, on inquiry, those well-disposed much safer to direct our efforts, that our Christians, whose sincerity I revere, have sat hearers may resemble the God they worship, under a ministry, which scarcely went so far than trust to a mere code of religious opinions, on the doctrines of the spirit as SAURIN. Per- dissonant to a multitude of Scriptures. haps they have sought salvation, partly by May Heaven bless to the reader this additheir works, instead of seeking it solely by tional mite to the store of public knowledge, faith in the merits, or righteousness, of Jesus and make it advantageous to his best interests, Christ. Perhaps they have joined approaches and eternal joy! to the altars of God, with the amusements of
JOSEPH SUTCLIFFE. the age; and always been kept in arrears in Halifax, Nov. 21, 1805.
series of reflections, derived from three sources: SERMON LXXXI. From man;—from the Scriptures ;-—and from
experience. We shall have recourse in order,
to religion, history, and experience, to make ON THE DELAY OF CONVERSION. us sensible of the dangerous consequences of PART I.
deferring the work. In the first place, we shall
endeavour to prove from our own constitution, Isalah lv. 6.
that it is difficult, not to say impossible, to be Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye We shall secondly demonstrate that revela
converted after having wasted life in vice.upon him while he is near.
tion perfectly accords with nature on this head; That is a singnlar oath, recorded in the tenth and that whatever the Bible has taught conchapter of the Revelation. St. John saw an cerning the efficacy of grace, the supernatural angel
; an angel "clothed with a cloud; a rain- aids of the Spirit, and the extent of mercy, bow encircled his head, his countenance was as favour in no respect the delay of conversion. the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. He Thirdly, we shall endeavour to confirm the stood on the earth and the sea. He sware by him doctrines of reason and revelation, by daily obthat liveth for ever and ever, that there should servations on those who defer the change. be time no longer.” By this oath, if we may These reflections would undoubtedly produce a credit some critics, the angel announces to better effect delivered in one discourse than dithe Jews, that their measure was full, that vided, and I would wish to dismiss the hearer their days of visitation were expired, and that convinced, persuaded, and overpowered with God was about to complete, by abandoning the mass of argument; but we must proportion them to the licentious armies of the emperor the discourse to the attention of the audience, Adrian, the vengeance he had already begun and to our own weakness. We design three by Titus and Vespasian.
discourses on this subject, and shall confine ourWe will not dispute this particular notion, selves to-day to the first head. but shall consider the oath in a more extended “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, view. This angel stands upon the earth and call ye upon him while he is near.” On this the sea; he speaks to all the inhabitants of the subject, to be discussed in order, shall our voice world: he lifts his voice to you, my brethren, resound for the present hour; if Providence and teaches one of the most terrific, but most permit us to ascend this pulpit once more, it important truths of religion and morality, that shall be resumed: if we ascend it the third the mercy of God, so infinitely diversified, has, lime, we will still cry, “Seek ye the Lord notwithstanding, its restrictions and bounds. while he may be found, call ye upon him while It is infinite, for it embraces all mankind. It he is near." If a Christian minister ought to makes no distinction between “the Jew and be heard with attention, if deference ought to be the Greek, the Barbarian and the Scythian.” paid to his doctrine, may this command change It pardons insults the most notorious, crimes the face of this church! May the scales fall the most provoking; and extricating the sinner from our eyes! and may the spiritually blind from the abyss of misery, opens to him the recover their sight! way to supreme felicity. But it is limited. Our mind, prevented by passion and prejuWhen the sinner becomes obstinate, when he dice, requires divine assistance in its ordinary long resists, when he defers conversion, God reflections; but now attacking the sinner in his shuts up the bowels of his compassion, and re- chief fort and last retreat, I do need thy invins jects the prayer of those who have hardened cible power, O my God, and I expect every aid themselves against his calls.
from thy support. From this awful principle, Isaiah deduces I. Our own constitution shall supply us tothe doctrine which constitutes the subject of day with arguments on the delay of conversion. our text. “Seek ye the Lord while he may It is clear that we carry in our own breast prinbe found, call ye upon him while he is near."' ciples which render conversion difficult, and I Dispensing with minuteness of method, we may add, impossible, if deferred to a certain shall not stop to define the terms, " Seek ye period. To comprehend this, form in your the Lord, and call ye upon him.” Whatever mind an adequate idea of conversion, and fully , mistakes we may be liable to make on this adınit, that the soul, in order to possess this head, and however disposed we may be to con- state of grace, must acquire two essential disfound the appearance of conversion with con- positions; it must be illuminated; it must be version itself, errors of this kind, it must be sanctified. It must understand the truths of acknowledged, are not the most destructive. religion, and conform to its precepts. We propose to-day to probe the wound, tó First. You cannot become regenerate unless penetrate to the source of our depravity, to you know the truths of religion. Not that we dissipate, if possible, the illusive charm which would preach the gospel to you as a discipline destroys so many of the Christian world, and having no object but the exercise of specuof which Satan too successfully avails himself lation. We neither wish to make the Chrisfor their seduction. This delusion, this charm, tian a philosopher, nor to encumber his mind I appeal to your consciences, consists of, 1 with a thousand questions agitated in the know not what, confused ideas we have formed schools. Much less would we elevate salvaof the divine mercy, Auctuating purposes of tion above the comprehension of persons of conversion on the brink of futurity, and chi- common understanding; who, being incapable merical confidence of success whenever we of abstruse thought, would be cut off from the shall enter on the work.
divine favour, if this change required profound On the delay of conversion, we shall make a reflection, and refined investigation. It can