صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
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THERE are very many truths the reasons of which lie hid from the human understanding. It is, therefore, no valid argument against a thing's being fact, that we do not comprehend it. For we are continually, in the ordinary duties of life, compelled to act upon events, which we know are certain to occur, though we see not the precise means by which they will be brought about. The husbandman, for instance, sows his seed in hope, though he does not understand how it will spring up, how the warmth of the sun and the moisture of the ground will operate to produce, from the little particle he has inserted in the earth, first the blade, then the ear, and then the full corn in the ear. He would be thought strangely unwise, if he should refuse to cultivate his farm until he comprehended exactly the process of fructification.

It appears to me that this is an important principle to be remembered by those who are charged with the instruction of the young. And though I would by no means have a child made a kind of machine, to learn its lessons by rote, yet I am sometimes inclined to think that in modern education rather too little is allowed to authority, and rather too much to reason. If you never teach a young mind any truth that it cannot understand, it will grow up indisposed to receive every thing beyond the grasp of its own judgment; "I cannot comprehend it," will be taken as a presumptive proof against truth: and a habit of scepticism will be formed most seriously injurious to the individual's future welfare. I shall probably be thought old-fashioned in holding these


PRICE 14d.

sentiments, and far behind the march of intellect in these enlightened times: but yet I cannot help avowing my serious apprehensions, that the now-favourite systems of instruction are fast sowing the seeds of that self-willed disregard of government, and contempt of dominion, which the apostles Peter and Jude speak of as characterising the last evil days. (2 Pet. ii. 10; Jude, 8.)

But it is not so much with respect to education in mere human learning that I now make these remarks: I would particularly apply them to that authority with which the truths of revelation ought to come, and with which, from their very nature, they are invested. For what is revelation but the voice of God, speaking by authority that which by reason we never could discover? If it were not above our mind, God, who never, as we see, resorts to a miracle when natural causes will produce the desired effect, would indisputably, we may fairly judge from analogy, have left it to ourselves to work this knowledge out. And therefore the great point to ascertain, respecting any proposed revelation, is whether it really comes from God. This being once settled, every thing contained in it should be received with implicit faith. The declaration, "thus saith the Lord," should check every tendency to perverse disputations, and satisfy every doubt.

And yet there is a spirit at work utterly at variance with the spirit of confiding faith which revelation demands. For example, some men take great pains to divest, as much as possible, the miraculous events recorded in Scripture of supernatural agency. They by no means deny that a miracle was wrought, but they are so anxious to find out natural

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the advantages he ought to have by being born in a Christian land. One of those advantages is, that, like Timothy, he should from a child have known the Scriptures, being trained in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and prepared by discipline to admit those truths, of which, as his carnal reason revolts against them, it is found most difficult to convince a heathen. The individual who is born of Christian parents ought, like a domestic animal -it is his privilege" to bear the yoke in his youth," and should not be left to be afterwards captured, if it might be, from a state of mature wildness.

concurring causes, and so curious in defining
how those causes operated in aid of the Divine
purpose, that they almost leave it to be inferred
that the Deity could not by his mere word
have effected his will. Surely, when Christ,
about to cure the blind man, first anointed his
eyes with clay, he had it in his mind to teach
such reasoners, that, in the presence of crea-
tion's Lord, all created powers are needless,
and may stand aside. Other persons are
equally laborious to extract from every doc-it is his privilege
trine its mystery. They are perpetually
occupied in systematising and professing to
make clear those deep things into which the
angels are humbly desiring to look. They
do not reject the Gospel truths, but they strip
them of almost every thing above the measure
of their own minds. They erect a standard in
themselves, and to that they refer. Now the
evil tendency of this spirit it is not difficult to
Its results, when fully developed, are
Socinianism or infidelity: but where it stops
far short of these tremendous apostacies, it
produces a continual distrust of God, a dis-
inclination to credit whatever is not com-
prehended, a cleaving to the dust, a walking
by sight and not by faith, altogether opposed
to the spirit of the Gospel, and which is equally
dishonourable to God, and injurious to an
individual's own soul.


It is true that the Gospel never teaches us to disregard the understanding, for that would be to open a door to every superstition. We are to have our mind so ripely furnished as to be able to answer him that " inquireth a reason of the hope" that is in us; but reason must be kept in its due place; it must not usurp that dominion which belongs not to it; it must be, not the mistress, but the handmaid of faith.

Let me then persuade parents and instructors in divine things to be careful in laying at solid and substantial foundation; let them inculcate implicit submission to whatever they can prove to be the voice of God: and the result will assuredly, under his blessing, be that teachableness and humility of mind which he delights to bless. Then will that character be formed which the divine Saviour best loves to see the character of a little child, which he set before his disciples, for a pattern to them, if they would enter the kingdom of God. Thus shall" our sons be as plants grown up in our youth; and our daughters be as cornerstones, polished after the similitude of a palace."



I MUST here more particularly advert to a practice, which may be truly considered as first and last in the arrangements of the Christian family; and that is, family prayer. This is indeed the only stated occasion on which the Christian can acknowledge God in his family; and this is the proper opportunity for

Now I attribute much of this evil to the mode in which religious instruction is first of all conveyed. The truth is not spoken with authority. The Scripture is rather treated as a witness which may be cross-examined, than reverenced as a judge from whose decision there is no appeal. The mind is not made sensible of its own imperfections, nor properly trained to follow the guidance of wisdom superior to its own. You find many professedly religious parents keeping for a long time their children in ignorance of fundamental truths, and at last, when they do communicate them, fencing them about with reasons, and supporting them with worldly arguments, as if they had nothing but such miserable crutches upon which to stand. If the child, as is very often the case, does not see the force of the diffusing religious instruction through his house. As reasons thus alleged, it naturally follows that he doubts or disbelieves the doctrines they were intended to establish. And the evil principle thus implanted is in after-life fostered by the habit, common among many instructors, of speaking to the understanding rather than to the conscience. The effect of this is, at the best, but the cold assent of the opinion, instead of the warm faith of the heart, whereby, as the Scripture tells us, "man believeth unto rightman believeth unto righteousness," and then with the mouth maketh confession unto salvation.

If religious truth be addressed to the reason merely, a person is well nigh deprived of all

we have here a subject of great moment, and, through a too frequent neglect of the duty, calling for the most serious admonition, permit me, my brethren, to premise my observations on it, with one remark of general application. It is this; that if we acknowledge the duty of assembling the members of our household night and morning, for the purpose of social worship and hearing the word of God, no consideration whatever of its singularity, or of its inconvenience, should be suffered to interfere with its performance. Domestic arrangements might very soon be made to bend to this object; they ought to do so; and it is a fact, that no families are so well ordered as those which begin From Archdeacon Hoare's Sermons.


senator, and was a professor of oratory in the city of Carthage. At this time he was not only an idolater, but also a persecutor, and a studier of magic: with such chains does Satan bind his captives. His conversion to the faith of Christ took place when he was about fifty years of age. The instrument, under God, of effecting this change was Cæcilius, a presbyter of the Carthaginian Church; and so gratefully did the new convert regard him, that he took his name in conjunction with his own, and thus bore the appellation of Thascius Cæcilius Cyprianus. This was in the year 246: and Cyprian immediately gave one forcible proof of his sincerity; for his property, which was considerable, he sold, in order to distribute the money among the poor. Divine grace had so remarkable an influence upon his mind, that he willingly left all, and followed Jesus. In vain did his wife endeavour to repress his too great liberality, as she conceived it. It was his delight, in imitation of his blessed Master, to go about doing good-to make the widow's heart to sing for joy, and thus to have the blessing of those that were ready to perish come upon him. Cæcilius, the parent of his new life, rejoiced over the growing fruit of his faith; and, when he was on his deathbed, entrusted his wife and children to his care.

and end the day with family prayer. A family with- | originally a heathen, and a man of rank, being a out prayer has been well compared to a garment without hem or selvage." And to decline the charge of singularity, did it really fall upon us for acting up to the dictates of plain duty, were the part only of cowardice, and of a double mind. But I must deny that it is singular at all amongst those whose example, or whose opinion on subjects of religious practice, are of any weight. So far from this, I would boldly say, that amongst persons duly aware of the importance of practical religion, and feeling for the souls of their relatives and inmates as for their own, the neglect of family prayer were indeed the highest and most unwarrantable singularity. The great Archbishop Tillotson has strongly remarked; "The setting up of the constant worship of God in our families is so necessary to the keeping up of religion, that where it is neglected, I do not see how any family can in reason be esteemed a family of Christians, or indeed to have any religion at all." And one greater than any uninspired teacher has commanded us; "Thou shalt teach" these things "diligently to thy children, and shalt talk of them, when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and upon thy gates." The true Christian will, I am persuaded, be found in the practice of that which has had the concurrence of the wise and good in every age of the Church; nay, which the very example of ancient heathens might be adduced to confirm. He will devoutly acknowledge the God of his fathers in family worship. He will see no reason whatever for expecting from God a continuance of his domestic blessings, without the stated domestic returns of praise and prayer. As in private he would express his private wants; and his public ones, in public; so in the family he will supplicate for family favours. Do children desire the safety and preservation of their parents; or parents, the health and welfare of their children? Are the members of a household mutually interested, that each, in the morning should go forth in strength to his respective labours, that they should meet in peace after the toils of the day, and repose at night in a blessed security from the perils of darkness? The Christian openly avows the obligation, to ask of God, in presence of each other, these common blessings. He relies on the promise of his Saviour; "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." He seizes with avidity the sacred opportunity of family worship, for fixing, both in himself and in all belonging to him, those kindred dispositions towards God which are our best incentive and guide to love and harmony amongst each other.

The pagans were annoyed at losing such a man as Cyprian, and reproached him with having debased himself by believing the childish fables which were taught (they said) by Christianity: but he had learned to give an answer to those that required of him a reason of the hope that was in him, and was not moved by their accusations from his avowed stedfastness. He found also in his own heart another obstacle to his Christian profession. Indeed, it appeared (he says of himself) most difficult for him to be so born again as to lead a new life, and become another man with the same body. How could he practise temperance, who had been accustomed to fare sumptuously every day? But (he adds) when the life-giving water had washed away his former sins, then he found that which had heretofore been impossible, now by divine assistance easy. And thus, "so fast," Pontius, his deacon, assures us, "did he grow in piety, that he appeared to have arrived at perfection almost before he began to learn."

The zeal and consistency of Cyprian speedily attracted the attention of the Church. In the year 247, he was made a presbyter; and in 248, the see of Carthage having become vacant, he was consecrated its bishop. The general rule of the apostle Paul respecting ecclesiastical offices was, "not a novice, lest, being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil." But Cyprian's mature piety was held to justify a departure from this admonition. His unaffected humility made him decline the offered post. But refusal was impossible: his house was literally besieged; and at length he was compelled to yield, though with extreme reluctance, to wishes so imperatively expressed. Five presbyters had, however, opposed his exaltation; and the Christian kindness with which he afterwards treated them evidently shewed him possessed of that divine charity which "is not easily provoked, and thinketh no evil."

The tenour of his life from this period was peculiarly

He values at once the duty itself, and the happy holy. Sanctity and grace shone in his very counte effects attending its performance."


THE LIFE OF ST. CYPRIAN, BISHOP OF CARTHAGE.* THASCIUS CYPRIANUS was an African, born at Carthage about the end of the second century. He was

* See Cyprian's Life by his deacon Pontius; Milner's History of the Church, Cent. III.; and Clarke's Succession of Sacred Literature, art. Cyprian and Gregory Nazianzen,

nance. His visage was grave, and yet pleasant: his gravity was not austere, nor was his cheerfulness too smiling; but, by a happy mixture, his character was so well tempered, that it was hard to say whether he inspired most of reverence or of love. His dress was plain worldly pride had not inflated him, nor did affected poverty render his appearance mean.

Soon after Cyprian became a bishop, a storm of persecution fell upon the Church. This was one of those needful corrections with which the Lord has ever found it good to exercise his children. Long peace had introduced corruptions, which Cyprian, in

one of his treatises, enumerates and mourns over; and, therefore, God acted only in pursuance of his usual plan" If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments, I will visit their offences with the rod, and their sin with scourges." About the year 249, the emperor Philip having been slain, was succeeded by Decius. His enmity to the deceased prince combined with his heathen principles to make him pour upon the Christians the most fearful persecution they had ever experienced. The bishop of Rome suffered martyrdom; but, alas! many, like the corn of which our Saviour speaks, which having no root, when the sun was risen with a burning heat, withered away, were induced to abjure the faith. Cyprian acted as became a faithful pastor. He wrote to the Roman clergy, expressing his holy joy that their bishop had witnessed with his blood such a good confession; and in letters to other Christians in prison, he endeavoured to animate them to the same patient endurance to the end. He continued for a little while at Carthage; but when it was become an unsafe residence for him, and the people had repeatedly demanded that he should be thrown to the wild beasts, he judged it prudent to retire and conceal himself. He left Carthage about the year 250. It was by no means through fear that he took this step; but he embraced the liberty which Christ left to his disciples, when persecuted in one city, of fleeing to another: and, indeed, occupying a station of such importance, he felt it to be his duty to reserve himself for better times and further usefulness. Had he stayed, he would have been, his deacon tells us, in his own judgment, guilty of presumptuous sin.

Never was Cyprian more laboriously occupied than during his retirement. He watched with the most anxious care the state of ecclesiastical affairs in Africa and Italy; and in both these countries he had deservedly obtained extensive influence. He maintained a constant communication with his own clergy, and wrote to them such directions, admonitions, and encouragements, as he judged needful. In addition to the terrors of the persecution, and the grief occasioned by the defection of so many professing Christians, among whom were several clergymen, Cyprian had now to contend with a strife occasioned by the laxity of certain presbyters, in re-admitting to the communion of the Church irregularly, and without sufficient evidence of repentance, persons who had through fear denied the faith. These lapsed individuals procured also recommendatory papers from some who were afterwards martyred, and who were therefore thought entitled to consideration. The excellent bishop, well aware of the evils that would hence result, wrote with much earnestness to desire that such irregularities might be stopped, till, on his return, every thing could be properly settled. "It was quite unprecedented," he said, "to transact these things without the consent of the bishop; and even in lesser offences a regular time of penitence was exacted of the members: a certain course of discipline took place--they made open confession of their sins, and were re-admitted to communion by the imposition of hands of the bishop and his clergy." Cyprian was always very careful to insist on due subordination and discipline. "Let them know," he had previously written to his clergy, "that they must be instructed and taught by you; that the doctrines of Scripture require subordination in the people to their pastors; that they should cultivate an humble, modest, and peaceable demeanour; and that those who have been gloriously bold in the avowal of their faith, should be equally exemplary in all the branches of Christian conduct. The harder trial yet remains: the Lord saith,

He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.' Let them imitate the Lord, whose humility never shone more than at the eve of his passion, when he washed his disciples' feet." Cyprian has been accused of pushing too far the episcopal pre

rogatives but there is no proof that he exceeded the powers of his predecessors: and certainly, though he knew he had the fullest right to "rule" in the Church, his addresses were almost invariably couched in terms which bespeak the affection of a father, and not the ambition of a despot. He admonished the laity of his jurisdiction with the utmost kindness, shewing that his heart bled for the condition of the fallen, but that there was danger in rashly re-admitting them to communion. And when his absence was protracted, and he feared that a sickly season might carry some of them off, he desired "that any of the lapsed penitents whose lives might be in danger, should, by such church-officers as were authorised, be re-admitted into the Church." And he begged his clergy to deal very tenderly with the rest of the fallen Christians. The grace of the Lord, he reminded them, would not forsake the humble. These exhortations were not without effect. The clergy generally fell in with his views, and inculcated on the people patience, modesty, and real repentance, and sought continually their bishop's counsel and authority. Cyprian, who was ever careful to maintain a brotherly communion with the Roman Church, wrote to the Clergy there a full account of the troubles with which he had been exercised. The Gospel appears to have flourished at this time much among them, and they returned him a wise and affectionate answer, approving of his measures, and encouraging him still to persevere in the course of conduct he had adopted.

The following extracts from two letters, written about this time by Cyprian to his clergy, will serve to shew the spirit by which he was animated: "Dear brethren, I salute you. By the grace of God, I an still safe, and I wish to come soon to you—that our mutual desire, and that of all the brethren, may be gratified. Whenever, on the settlement of your affairs, you shall write to me that I ought to come; or, if the Lord should condescend to make it plain to me before, then I will come to you; for where can I have more happiness and joy, than there, where God appointed me both first to become a believer, and also to grow in faith? I beseech you, take diligent care of the widows, of the sick, and of all the poor; and supply also strangers, if any be indigent, with what is needful for them, out of my proper portion, which I left with Rogation the presbyter. And lest that should, by this time, be all spent, I have sent by Naricus another sum of money to the same presbyter, that you may the more readily and largely supply the distressed. Though you have been frequently admonished by my letters to shew all care for those who have gloriously confessed the Lord, and are in prison, yet I must repeatedly intreat your attention to the same thing. I wish circumstances would permit my presence among you; with the greatest pleasure and readiness would I discharge these solemn duties of love and affection towards our brethren. But do you represent me. A decent care for the interment, not only of those who died in torture, but also of such as died under the pressures of confinement, is necessary. For, whoever hath submitted himself to torture and to death, under the eye of God, hath already suffered all that God would have him to suffer. Mark also the days in which they depart this life, that we may celebrate their commemoration among the memorials of the martyrs...Their memorials are here celebrated; and I hope shortly, under divine Providence, to be able to celebrate them with you. Let not your care and diligence be wanting for the poor, who have stood firm in the faith, and have fought with us in the Christian warfare. Our affectionate care and attention to them are the more requisite, because neither their poverty nor persecution has driven them from the love of Christ."

It must not be imagined that the commemoration of the martyrs here mentioned was celebrated with that

superstition which afterwards grew to such a head in the Church of Rome: it was at this time but a thankoffering to God for bestowing such rich grace upon men, whose faith the survivors desired to "follow, considering the end of their conversation, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."

Another trouble came upon Cyprian, in his retirement. Felicissimus, a person of discreditable character in the Church of Carthage, had long been secretly an enemy to the bishop. He, pretending especial tenderness to the lapsed, contrived to obtain some influence over several of the people, and induced them to communicate with him on a certain mountain. Five presbyters joined him; and though the leaders of this faction were, in obedience to Cyprian's direction, excommunicated by the faithful clergy, yet the schism continued, and one of the five was by them most irregularly constituted bishop, in opposition to the true prelate. A primary agent in this business was one Novatus, a presbyter, whose life was scandalously immoral. This man passed over the sea to Rome, and there, with extreme inconsistency, connected himself with a priest named Novatian, a man of austere and rigorous temper, who disapproved the receiving back into the Church of those who once had lapsed, however sincere and deep their penitence. From this beginning arose the sect of the Novatians, who distinguished themselves by their extraordinary strictness. Novatian procured himself, by very uncanonical means, to be chosen bishop of Rome: but his election was not allowed; and, as his party seemed daily losing ground in Italy, Novatus returned to Africa, where the Novatians found many adherents.

At length, after an absence of nearly two years, Cyprian repaired to Carthage. The violence of the persecution had by this time abated, and he was able to hold a council for the general settlement of ecclesiastical affairs. In this synod, the consecration of Novatian was pronounced schismatical and invalid, and Felicissimus, with his five presbyters, was condemned. In the case of the lapsed, a proper mean was found between indiscreet levity and the rigour of the Novatians. Tried penitents were restored, and a further time of probation appointed for dubious characters; yet so that every method prompted by Christian charity was employed to facilitate their repentance and re-admission. Thus did Cyprian, with singular wisdom and zeal, endeavour to heal the wounds inflicted on the Church by persecution and by schism. Some of his opinions will be deemed extravagant in the present day: and indeed it must be admitted, that his expressions were not always defensible. But, then, it ought to be remembered, that he thought it a frightful evil to rend the body of Christ; he, with St. Paul, esteemed it a mark of carnality when divisions arose: and, besides, actual schism was in his days a new thing. No instance had previously happened of separation from the general body of the Church, except in the case of fearful heresies: it had never before been held that slight inconveniences and differences in matters of discipline would justify so violent a measure. Cyprian's zeal must therefore be forgiven.

perhaps be thought impertinent, or uninstructive, to say that a Roman presbyter, who had joined the Novatians, being at this time condemned to martyrdom, was asked, in his last sufferings, whether he still persisted in his opinions. The dying man replied in the most explicit terms, that he now saw the matter in a new light; that he repented of having encouraged the schism; and that he departed in the communion of the general Church.

When the persecution recommenced, Cyprian seems to have been impressed with the idea that Antichrist was about to be revealed, and that the end of the world was at hand. But his spirit, strong in the faith of Christ, shrunk not at the prospect. "How shameful (says he in one of his letters) must it be for a Christian to be unwilling to suffer, when the Master suffered first; to be unwilling to suffer for our own sins, when he who had no personal sin suffered for us! The Son of God suffered, that he might make us the sons of God: and shall not the sons of men be willing to suffer, that they may continue to be esteemed the children of God? Antichrist is come, but Christ

is also at hand. The enemy rages and is fierce, but the Lord is our defender; and he will avenge our sufferings and our wounds. .... O what a glorious day will come, when the Lord shall begin to recount his people and to adjudge their rewards; to send the guilty into hell..... and to bestow on us the reward of faith and of devotedness to him! What glory! what joy! to be admitted to see God; to be honoured: to partake of the blessedness of eternal light and salvation with Christ the Lord your God; to salute Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the patriarchs and prophets, apostles and martyrs; to joy with the righteous, the friends of God, in the pleasures of immortality! When that revelation shall come, when the beauty of God shall shine upon us, we shall be as happy as the deserters and rebellious will be miserable in inextinguishable fire."

Cyprian had the boldness to write, about this period, an epistle to a notorious persecutor, named Demetrianus; in which he freely exposed the injustice of the heathens in charging, as they did, the miseries of the times upon the Christians. The times were indeed miserable: and in addition to every other calamity, in 252 a dreadful pestilence broke out in Africa. The terror of the inhabitants was extreme: the common offices of nature were neglected, and multitudes of dead lay unburied in the streets of Carthage. In this crisis, the bishop assembled his Christian flock, and instructed them, from the examples of holy Scripture, to be zealous in works of piety. They were not, he told them, to shew mercy and love, like pagans and publicans, only to their own; but to act as children of that heavenly Father, who sends his rain upon both the just and unjust, and thus to overcome evil with good: they would in this way give a practical refutation to the calumnies heaped upon them. The spirit of the pastor seemed to animate, on this occasion, the whole Church. The Christians administered, to their power, to the necessities of the sufferers, and many whose poverty prevented them from giving money gave something more--they supplied this want by their personal services. At this time Cyprian wrote, to cheer his flock, his beautiful little treatise on Mortality. "The kingdom of God, my dearest brethren (says he) shews itself to be just at hand. The reward of life, the joy of eternal salvation, perpetual gladness, and the paradise that was lost-all these things come into our possession now that the world passes away: heavenly and eternal

Encouraged by the success which attended his endeavours in Africa, the bishop of Carthage used his influence to restore peace and union in Italy. Nor were his labours unavailing. Still, it must be confessed, that when Felicissimus, foiled at home, crossed the sea to Rome, and raised a party against Cornelius the bishop there, Cyprian's spirit was unduly moved by the wretched man's audacity. An epistle written upon this occasion does not exhibit his usual modera-glories succeed earthly, fading trifles. What room is tion and meekness.

In the year 251 Gallus succeeded Decius in the empire. He at first allowed the Church a little rest, but afterwards rekindled the persecution, though not with the same fury as his predecessor. It may not

there for anxiety, solicitude, or sadness, unless faith and hope are wanting? If indeed a man be unwilling to go to Christ, or does not believe that he is going to reign with him, such a one has good reason to fear death for the just shall live by faith.' Are ye then

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