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the far wider diffusion of nominal profession, there is a much larger class of persons who have begun to turn their minds, with more or less seriousness, to religious inquiries; but often with little judgment, with no solid basis of theological opinion, and with a disposition to be warped and carried away by whatever may appear most imposing, paradoxical, and stimulating. The extreme system professes to give greater glory to God, and greater privilege to man; to rise to higher measures of love and joy; and to tread on matters of duty and obligation as beggarly elements, which are not to impede the exalted fervours of the believer. This spendid, but not solid, appearance attracts the gaze of the young and ardent inquirer; and still more, perhaps, of those who in later life, after being sated with the world, turn to God, with sincerity of intention, but with a love of excitement, and with little knowledge of the bearings of Divine truth. Then, again, while on the one hand the field for making converts is thus enlarged, the facilities for proselyting are enlarged also. Men and women of family and of fortune, and young clergymen of zeal and eloquence, urge the exciting novelties of the system in parlour and pulpit; books, tracts, and periodical works are prodigally launched upon the world to support it; and even the annual conventions of our religious societies, where Christians should meet for better purposes than controversy, are made schools for inculcating the ultra opinions; while men of sobriety shrink from the unequal contest in a popular auditory, where, not that which is most sound and scriptural, but that which is most catching and epigrammatic-the verbal ringing of a text, rather than its real sensewill, be most likely to create effect, in the impatience of a half-hour's hurried address.
Mr. Wilson touches, with great justice, upon a subject of vital moment in the Christian ministry; on which we shall best state both his
sentiments and our own by quoting the passage. The error which he deprecates is that which we have already, in this very Number, remarked upon, in the case of Dr. Whately, that of not drawing the line boldly and unequivocally between those who serve God and those who serve him not: or, to speak more correctly, and to the exact point at issue, between those who possess that spiritual renewal of heart, that renovation of soul after the image of God, which is the foundation of all true and acceptable service; and those who, whatever their character in other respects, possess it not. Where this distinction is kept prominent-where regeneration, adoption, conversion, and sanctification are really words that mean something; and not terms of course, or of no higher import than baptismal privilege and the mere decencies of morality-the ministrations grounded on this basis will be earnest and heart-searching, and, by the blessing of the Holy Spirit, will lead men really to" examine themselves whether they are in the faith;" to try themselves; not to be content with the popular notion, that, all baptized persons being good Christians, nothing is required but that they should become better Christians, and go on, building upon a self-righteous, sandy foundation, which can sustain no solid structure of scriptural piety or immortal hope. On the other hand, where this distinction is not clearly set forth, though there may be much that in the detail is truly stated, much even of scriptural doctrine and precept, the whole will be radically defective: it will be an inverted pyramid, tottering on a point; neither fixed itself nor capable of sustaining any superincumbent edifice. But let us hear Mr. Wilson, who here, as before, keeps to the scriptural medium between the two dangerous delusions which he so justly exposes.
"The doctrine of the entire renewal and transformation of the heart of man
by a Divine birth, was the strong-hold of our old divines. All our greatest authors,
from the Reformation downwards, call this change by the name 'regeneration.' But, I fear, by our younger clergy this doctrine is less firmly grasped, and less scripturally inculcated. There seems to me growing up a class of ministers who are roused to some activity and pastoral diligence by various circumstances, but who are working more by external machinery than by the doctrine of regeneration, which alone God will bless to the real conversion of souls. I think, also, that, even amongst many of my younger brethren, who do feel the spiritual nature of Christianity, and who preach the fallen state of man, justification by faith only, and holiness of heart and life, by the influences of the Spirit, there is a deficiency on this vital topic of the Divine birth. It is not fully brought out. It is not denied, indeed, nor altogether concealed, but it is not made prominent; it is not urged fully, unequivocally, scripturally. The tendency of the least decline on this point is to lower all the parts of practical religion; to efface the fundamental distinction between the spiritual and the natural man; to break down the barriers between the church and the world, and to check entirely any revival of Christianity.
"The offence of the cross,' if I mistake not, turns chiefly, in the present day, upon this topic, as it did at the Reformation upon justification.
"It is a painful reflection, that, both in Dr. Burton's statements and Mr. Bulteel's, the doctrine of the new birth is by opposite methods weakened and destroyed: in the first, by its being confounded with baptism; in the second, by its being sunk in a sort of imputed sanctification.
"I allow that the term regeneration may not always have been used with a sufficient reference to that sacred ordinance which seals and signs its blessings -I think this has been the case-but this is no palliation of the opposite and fatal error which I am endeavouring to point out. "The charge brought against the clergy who are called Evangelical-that they divide their congregations, though composed of professed Christians, into two classes -is our glory. We avow the crime: we do it. We must forget the difference between spiritual life and spiritual death, not to do it. It is one of our plainest and most vital obligations. If the Apostles made the distinction, and called on men to examine themselves whether they were in the faith, when the number of nominal believers was so few, shall not we follow their example, when the merely external adherents to a national creed abound, and the vices and ignorance of an unconverted state are well nigh overwhelming all the peculiar doctrines and duties of Christianity itself?" pp. 42, 43.
be our last. The author is addressOne passage more; and it must ing his younger friends and fellowlabourers in the Gospel of Christ.
Mr. Woodd that I would invite your at"It is not to the systematic divinity of
Here an ample field for minor Probably no two minds exactly corredifferences of judgment opens before us. his lovely spirit, to his gentleness towards spond; but it is to his practical divinity, to others, that I would urge your regard. I would guard you against the rash conclu sions, the arguing from metaphorical and doubtful texts, the use of familiar and flippant phrases with respect to the infiinfallibility; the hazardous determination nitely glorious Deity; the assumption of of unfulfilled prophecy; and the overstatements, even in the practical appeals, which, alas! mark the Oxford discourse. this. It is with pain, with reluctance, I say I equally object, perhaps on the whole I more object, to Dr. Burton's ing and fatal than Mr. Bulteel's; whose doctrines they seem to me more deadeninconsideration, and who appears to be errors, I verily think, spring chiefly from most sincere, most pious, most truly devoted to God. But a sense of duty forces me to speak out." p. 69.
"I am persuaded that a deeper religion, a humbler religion, a more spiritual religion, would prevent many of these evils. If we were more personally and intensely occupied with our own hearts, and the disorders and corruptions there; with the infinite evil of sin; with the glory of the Lord Christ in his incarnation, atonement, righteousness, intercession; the all-important work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration; the growth of a Christian in grace and love; the privileges of prayer, meditation, communion with God, and similar capital points, there would be no time, and, what is more, no taste, for novelties, over-statements, inventions. The old religion would give full occupation, abundant comfort, joyful anticipations of heaven. Nay, if this one point-the importance of adding souls to the Lord, the value of souls, the perishing state of souls, the entreaty and commission given us to souls-filled the mind, there would be more than enough to engage all the attention, and fix the whole heart." p. 70.
"The study of the prophecies is in its place most edifying; the new light which may be cast upon it as time rolls on, most important; the fresh uses to which it may be applied, most salutary. What I dread is the dogmatism, the excess as to attention, the rash propounding to our congregations, the erecting into tests of discipleship the details of unknown prophecy. And so as to other doubtful points." p. 71.
Mr. Wilson, we fear, assumes no
grateful office in thus becoming a Mentor to both parties; but he has acted honestly, faithfully, scripturally, and will receive the sincere thanks of every sober-minded Christian, and, we doubt not, the approbation of God. We live in perilous times; and not the least of these perils is, that, the moment a person becomes in earnest respecting his salvation, he is in danger of being surrounded by those who would lead him to doctrinal novelties and excesses, before he has well learned what are the first principles of the oracles of God. This is a snare to be guarded against from the first: it is not easy to escape afterwards: but if such a discourse as that now before us, both in the doctrines it inculcates and the lovely character it pourtrays, should, by the blessing of God, be made the instrument of
leading any yet unperverted to pause, or any already ensnared to consider their ways, it will not have 'been penned in vain. Religion, the Bible, the soul, eternity, the coming of Christ, and future judgment, are not things to be trifled with-subjects for paradox or vain speculations. No: they are matters of serious moment, to be weighed, apart from human systems or human predilections, in the balance of the sanctuary: and the general results of this solemn process, we feel confident, have been scripturally presented to us in this discourse, and in a spirit of faithfulness, yet meekness, which became their everlasting importance. May the blessing of God rest upon the writer, and all his labours for the Divine glory, the promotion of the kingdom of Christ, and the eternal interests of mankind!
THE REV. BASIL WOODD. (Continued from p. 255.)
FROM Mr. Woodd's public ministrations, we next advert to his personal character, which was eminently worthy of the imitation of every Christian minister. His conduct was accordant with his principles; his practice accredited his preaching: and, during a long and active life-muchof which was passed in the eyes of his fellow-men -not a stain is known to have attached to his character. This long course of consistent deportment tended to shed lustre on his religious profession; for even men of the world "took knowledge of him, that he had been with Jesus," and learned to "glorify his Father which is in heaven." It was impossible to meet him, in the most casual manner, without being attracted by his suavity and urbanity. He was neither ruffled himself, nor ruffled others; and, in the midst of surrounding agitation, he would throw oil upon the troubled waters, and assuage the tempest.
But this suavity was not a mere artificial virtue, the smooth surface of varnished insincerity; it was true Christian courtesy, springing from a constant feeling of love to God and to man. Benevolence was his prominent characteristic: had he not been a religious man, he would have been a philanthropist; but Christianity turned his philanthropy into a purer chan
nel than mere worldly beneficence, and taught him to do good to the souls of men while he relieved their bodily necessities. His benignity, being thus grounded upon principle, was habitual and uniform: it shone not less in the cottage of the poor, or in a passing conversation with a beggar, than in his intercourse with his most esteemed and honoured friends. Even to a child he seemed to speak with an air of respect; and a pauper, receiving a tract from his hands, treasured it up as a memento of personal kindness. He inculcated these habits of respect and courtesy in all the intercourses of life. Thus he says, for example, in his tractate on Marriage, "The honour which husband and wife owe to each other, implies respect, attention, and preservation of authority and influence. It is a mutual duty, and of great importance. Unless respect is conscientiously preserved and shewn, the intimacy even of married life may degenerate into that familiarity which breeds contempt. Hence, that respect ought to be cultivated which has a salutary restraint on the temper, the mode of expression, and the conduct. The laws of common civility enforce this in the general intercourse of life; but, alas! the too general licence which is given to the temper and
behaviour within doors shews, that what is commonly called politeness and good behaviour is merely assumed, and that there is very little, or rather no principle in its mixture. The frequent contentions and petulances of the domestic scene too often prove, that neither party is influenced by the love and fear of God. The fact is, that they are no longer under external restraint, and they have not sufficient religious principle to restrain inwardly their own peevish humours.”
What he thus inculcated he himself exemplified; and the consequent habits of kindness and courtesy thence resulting smoothed his passage through the asperities of daily life, and enabled him to effect much good, with less of the wear and tear of irritating friction than is ordinarily experienced by a righteous man in a wicked world. He had seldom any thing to unsay or undo: the chafings of others passed by him unheeded; the passions did not cloud the reason, or chill the affections: and, though he might seem to lose ground sometimes by his easiness, he ever won it back, with additions, by his perseverance.
For our friend was also a persevering
The habit of the present age is to form new plans, new societies, and to neglect the old; but Mr. Woodd always persevered in what he had once undertaken, and thus often in the end succeeded where more volatile spirits would have failed. The difficulties which he sometimes met with, in keeping up his schools, re-establishing decaying institutions, or effecting some valuable object, were such as would have soon wearied out an ardent, impatient mind; but in these cases he usually laboured on with quiet, unflinching perseverance, till he had attained his object. Few men have been more imposed upon, or met with greater discouragements in their benevolent efforts; yet he ever returned to his beloved employment as if nothing had happened; and the only indication that all had not been right was, perhaps, a passing remark to the effect that, in a world like this, we must look to principles, and not results, must be prepared for vexation and disappointment; and that if, with much labour and great sacrifice, we were the honoured instruments of some little good, we ought to feel ourselves abundantly rewarded. He was thus often led to espouse the cause of persons whom every one else had well nigh abandoned; for in such cases, if he could discern any trace of contrition, he would not break the bruised reed, but endeavoured, and often, he believed, with success, to repair past evils, and lead the offender to newness of life. He was, perhaps, sometimes deceived; but he thought it the safer side to be defective in discrimination, rather than in charity ;-a principle which he carried into all things, and not least into religious controversies; frequently lamenting that truth should ever
be clothed in the language of asperity, or that a brother should be converted into an enemy by irritating discussion. While others were admiring the cogency of the argument, or the wittiness of the invective, his first remark always was, that he disliked the spirit; and he would rather, he said, that even truth should not be vindicated, than vindicated in an evil temper.
Yet, while he thus obeyed the injunction, "Study the things that make for peace," he did not forget the remainder of the charge," and things whereby ye may edify one another :" for no man was more firm where he considered principle at stake; his mildness never degenerated into servile timidity; and many occasions might be mentioned, on which he vindicated his views of Christian truth, under very discouraging circumstances, with an honesty and boldness which proved that his aspect of mildness by no means sprang from fear of the world. This conscientious firmness, united with his conciliating spirit, effected much good in quarters where ruder passions would have repelled, or given offence, to no beneficial purpose; so that some, who had the strongest possible dislike to his religious sentiments, avowed that their antipathies would, practically, be much softened, if all who held them exhibited the meekness and candour of Mr. Basil Woodd.
The above features in our friend's character led him to be much appealed to as a peace-maker; especially as he possessed a calm and sound judgment; and, though not much versed in what is called a knowledge of the world, he was usually right in his decisions in matters of importance, particularly those which respected his own sacred profession. By his kind advice he often succeeded in composing serious differences, to the mutual satisfaction of the contending parties. Some of our public societies, as well as many private individuals and families, are thus much indebted to his healing offices. Alas! how are such men needed in this day of rebuke and blasphemy; and, not least, in the church of Christ itself, amidst the unbrotherly contentions which rend the mantle of the Redeemer, and expose the common cause to the common enemy.
Mr. Woodd was also an humble man : for though few persons had been more respected, almost to flattery, he evinced a constant spirit of self-abasement, both before God and before man; as those well know who have heard him speak of his own ministrations, or of the state of his heart, or his spiritual deficiencies; or have bowed the knee with him before the Throne of Divine Mercy;-a throne, he would say, and therefore demanding deep humility in the worshipper, even though a Throne of Grace. If, indeed, further proof were wanted of his humility, it would be found throughout his daily intercourse, and especially in his condescension to men
of low estate; for, many as are the mourners around his tomb among the rich, they are far outnumbered by those among the poor.
It were easy to speak of the defects of this excellent man's character-for what human being, what disciple of Christ, has not defects as well as sins?-but who would have the heart to dwell upon the defects of one who was ever ready to cover the defects of others? And in truth Mr. Woodd's defects sprang very much out of those milder qualities of his nature which rendered him more prone to verge to the extreme of indulgence than of severity: he judged, perhaps, too much of others by himself; and his failings were the weaknesses of a good man, not the overflowings of ungodliness. But the strongest proof of the general excellence of his character was the universal tribute of respect and regard paid to it by all who knew him. In the extensive and wealthy parish of Mary-le-bone, in which his chapel was situated a -a parish equal to, or exceeding, in riches and population our largest extrametropolitan cities-he was so generally beloved and respected, that, after several new parochial churches had been built, and evening lectures opened in all of them, which induced the vestry to withdraw the pecuniary assistance which they had rendered towards a third service at several of the private chapels in the time of extreme exigency, Bentinck Chapel was made an exception, on account of the general veneration for Mr. Woodd's character and the important services he had long rendered to the best interests of the parish; having been the first clergyman to institute an evening service many years ago, when scores of thousands of the inhabitants were wholly destitute of church accommodation. And when at length the vestry thought they could no longer with propriety support an evening service at one private chapel, after the others had been closed by the withdrawing of their assistance, friends spontaneously stepped forward, from their high respect for Mr. Woodd, and contributed funds to support the lecture in a manner most honourable to themselves and their beloved pastor.
It may be said that the foregoing excellencies sprang from a natural unstudied loveliness of character; and true it is, that under any circumstances Mr. Woodd would probably have exhibited much that was amiable and of good report among men; but it would be wholly unjust thus to disparage the blessed effect of those sacred principles upon which his character was moulded. He had been early nurtured in the ways of God; his first lispings had been the language of prayer; his first lesson his need of Christ as a Saviour from his sins, and a pattern for his conduct; his first and his last book was the Book of Life: there were his doctrines, and there his duties; and thanks to the care of a pious Curier Orsery No 353
mother, and afterwards to the influence of true religion in his own heart, his mind had never been debased and polluted by the flippant and contaminating books which corrupt the tenderness of youth. From a child, as he had known, he had loved the Holy Scriptures; he set the Lord always before him; he early gave evidence of being born again, not only emblematically in the waters of baptism, but spiritually by the regeneration of the Holy Ghost; and being justified by faith, having peace with God, and enjoying the high behests of adoption and grace, he walked worthy-not meritoriously or undividedly, or without much sin and imperfection, but in the main truly, and with sincere purpose of heart-of God his Saviour. His amiable deeds were the offspring of a renewal of soul after the image of Christ; fruits not of nature's growth, but springing from a branch grafted into the Living Vine, and thence deriving support and nourishment for the holy and amiable deeds of an exemplary and godly life.
Among these deeds must be especially enumerated, that which forms the next particular in the present notice—namely, his connexion with religious and charitable institutions. There is scarcely any species of benevolence which adorns our metropolis, in which, during the last forty years, the name of the Rev. Basil Woodd has not been conspicuous. But, not to dwell upon all, which were tedious, allusion shall be made only to his efforts in behalf of schools, and some of the chief religious societies. No one individual probably has done so much for the general aggregate of these institutions as Mr. Woodd; that is, taking into account the length of his services for nearly half a century, and his numberless charity sermons, and public and private efforts in their behalf. As long ago as the year 1786, his name appears on the books of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, the Board of which he unremittingly attended for five-and-forty years, unless unavoidably prevented; and he had the satisfaction of forming two or three district associations and considerably benefiting its funds. He was afterwards equally assiduous in promoting the labours of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, when its claims became known to him; and it was with the greatest veneration that he ever spoke of these two institutions as the oldest of our religious societies, and as honourably engaged in prosecuting the work of Christian philanthropy, while all was darkness and coldness around. Nor, it is trusted, will it be thought a blemish in his character, that he loved them the better from their being connected with the apostolic communion of the Established Church.
But it spake well for Mr. Woodd's spirit of scriptural charity and expansive 2 R