« السابقةمتابعة »
explained "as shortly as possible, enforcing it afterwards as largely and warmly" as he could, in order to influence the daily practice of his hearers. Herein not only the young persons, but all present were considered, which was found to be a most effectual mode of getting at the hearts of parents, who were brought out by interest in the performance of their children. The continuance of this exercise was at least an hour: towards the middle a solemn pause was made, and the young were questioned as to what they had heard, which was repeated again at the end. "The young people," says Mr. Walker, in a letter to Mr. Adam1 on the subject, "are without fear or shame; and at that age so quick, that if any thing I have said hath slipped them, (which is very seldom) I find it hath been through my defect rather than their fault." "I have had," he continues, "the unspeakable pleasure of seeing many of them brought into a very serious way under this means; particularly I remember in the first year, about fifteen of them, whom I had seen in the beginning of the season trifling and laughing, while I was speaking to them." Mr. Adam's plan was something similar to this; and when he did not catechise, he read on the Sunday afternoon, one of the most instructive of the Homilies, 2 explaining and enforcing its most material parts.
1 Christian Observer, 1802.
2 Wherever the Homilies have been circulated and explained, they have been made most useful. To the truth of this, the agents of the excellent Prayer Book and Homily Society can amply testify. Instances are perpetually occurring of their being blessed of God to the conversion of souls, particularly among the lower classes, who read them with the keenest enjoyment, entering with much relish into the unadorned style of their composition, which
In this work he was happily encouraged by Mr. Basset the good archdeacon of Stowe, whom he called " industrious labourer in Christ's vineyard, exerting himself to the utmost to revive the antiquated doctrines of the church of England; for which he does not escape scot free; but he is a stout champion for the truth, and has grace enough to fear nothing."
Mr. Walker not only found the church catechism, of which he was one of the ablest expounders,3 a valuable manual of instruction, but he also used with great effect the seasons appointed to be kept in our establishment. These have been long too much neglected and forgotten. We will take for an example the admirable improvement made at Truro of the time of Lent. In preparing his people for the solemn service of Ash Wednesday, Mr. Walker addressed to them the following striking consideration in defence of the ritual for that day.
"The second thing proposed was to say something of the office for Ash Wednesday, and this I have chosen purposely to do beforehand, that some prejudices relating thereto being removed, no person may be deprived of the most awakening service of that day, by an unaccountable mistake of the design of the office. You have already heard the design of this holy season, and it hath been intimated how exactly it was observed in times of greater piety; that during these days of mortifica
renders them so suitable to plain capacities. They say they can understand them better than many of the other pious, but less simple tracts distributed among them.
3 Vid. his lectures on it.
tion, as the best Christians were humbling themselves before God by a willing exercise of self-denial, so notorious and public offenders were brought to open penance. We are told in the entrance of this office of commination, or denouncing of God's anger and vengeance against sinners, that this was a godly discipline; and so it must be allowed to be extremely apt to reclaim the impenitent, (more especially when to be shut out of the church was scandalous as well as inconvenient,) and to affect others who being admonished by their example, might be afraid to offend. The error of the church of Rome had brought this piece of discipline (as it had also corrupted itself in all pious institutions) to be no more than an empty ceremony of sprinkling ashes over the heads of the people, as an admonition to repentance-repentance in the mean time, the very substance of the thing, was entirely dropt; and for this reason our prudent reformers kept nothing of this formality but the name. It was no easy matter to restore the godly discipline of penance, even in the days of the reformation: how much less then, in the days of overgrown vice in which we live! But still, if notorious offenders might not be brought to open shame, some attempt might be made to lead them to repentance. With this view the office before us was chiefly [drawn up,] although the sentences of God's wrath will be found no way unprofitable upon the hearts of those, who by the grace of God are now free from the terrors of them. You must
needs own that whatever may contribute to the saving of a sinner, by awakening him from the dead and eternal sleep in which he lies, must be the most cha
ritable and useful service that can be done him. Now surely the most direct way to alarm sinners, and to arouse them from their security, is to lay before them, in the plainest manner, the terms which God's law denounces against them-God's jealousy, anger, and vengeance, from which nothing can save them, but a speedy and sincere repentance. Here then you see, how properly the denunciations of God's cursings against sinners are read before them. The sentences for this purpose, are for the most part taken out of the twenty-seventh chapter of Deuteronomy, where you may find that the people of Israel assembled, the one half on Mount Gerizim, the other half on Mount Ebal, were to hear the threatenings of God's law read to them, and to acknowledge the justice and equity of God, the righteousness of his commandments, and the punishment denounced against the breakers of them, to be most certain and unavoidable, by adding their Amen to the end of each of them. This was done in order to make them afraid of breaking those laws, which they themselves had pronounced to be so righteous, and withal the punishment due to the breach of which, they had declared to be so just and right. In conformity to God's own direction to the Israelites, what more proper method could be found out of working upon hardened sinners at this time, than to represent these very curses and denunciations of God to them-than that we should with one mouth declare and acknowledge in their ears, the righteousness of God, in the vengeance threatened against them if they remain impenitent ? [We are also more especially bound to do this,] as the denun
ciations of wrath cannot but be righteous, and will most assuredly take place on them, whether we declare and believe it or not. When therefore we add Amen to any of the curses read in this office, we do but this plain thing-only acknowledge the justice of God in the punishment threatened against the breakers of his laws, in order to make ourselves and others more sensible of the great hazard we run if we be disobedient. This is so very plain a thing, that one might imagine it could not be mistaken; but, however, it is mistaken. It is said, that the saying Amen at the end of these sentences of God's law, is cursing our neighbours, than which nothing can be more uncharitable, and it were better to be absent from the church than join in it. This would be very certain if it were true. But let it be remembered that God himself enjoined this very service to the Israelites, and commanded them to say Amen at the end of these very sentences. first sight, that there can be what the God of love enjoins. We may not charge God so foolishly as this. But in truth, people are strangely out of the way, when they conceit that by saying Amen after these sentences, we do pray God to curse and take vengeance on the wicked. Nothing is further from the thing intended than this; for the word Amen doth not originally and properly signify our wishing or praying for any thing, but our affirming and giving consent to the truth of it. It is very often translated verily in the gospels. Verily, verily, say unto unto you, is frequently our Saviour's language; but the original words are Amen, Amen, meaning no
We may be sure then at no want of charity in