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of Christ, which is declared to be, “ to the Jews a stumblingblock, and to the Greeks foolishness,” is to them that believe “ the power of Gd, and the wisdom of God.”—1 Cor. i. 24. The reception of divine truth demands not hurnan learning, but ! poverty and humiliation of spirit. The learned are required to become as fools, and to enter the kingdom of heaven as little children. While to learning is reserved the honour of defending the outworks of religion, it is the happy privilege of none but the meek and lowly, whether learned or unlearned, wise or ignorant, rich or poor, to enter in and be saved.
After these extended remarks on Mr. Richmond's mode of preaching, which the importance of the subject seems to justify, we may now be permitted to ask, how are we to account for that prevalent disposition to represent ministers of Mr. Richmond's sentiments as preaching about nothing but exterminating decrees, predestination, election, and reprobation; and incessantly occupied in proclaiming doctrines without practice, a God without love, and a faith without morality ? Surely, it is time to awake from this illusion, which first creates a phantom, then combats it, and afterwards gains an imaginary triumph over a no less imaginary opponent. Men should not be charged with consequences which they disavow; much less be accused at one moment of relaxing all the obligations of moral virtue, and at the next of enforcing them beyond the bounds of reasonable strictness. If, by the above language, it is meant to attach the charge of high Calvinism to that portion of the clergy, who are here intended to be specified, high Calvinism is most unequivocally not the prevailing creed of those to whom the term is often so indiscriminately and ignorantly applied. Many are known to disclaim the title of Calvinist altogether. Few, very few are disposed to climb its Alpine heights; and the general persuasion seems to be, that in the construction of the doctrinal articles of our church, there is a sufficient approximation of sentiment to prove a resemblance to the views of Calvin, and yet a sufficient distinction to shew that there is not an identity. Party names of any kind are highly objectionable and offensive in a cause so sacred as that of religion, because they seem to give to erring man the honour and preeminence that belongs to God alone. “ Be not ye called Rab
ye are brethren: Call no man your father upon the earth, for one is your
Father which is in heaven : Neither be ye called masters, for one is your Master, even Christ.”—Matt. xxiii. 8--10. But if a term be employed to designate the religious creed of
the clergy in question, that of modified Calvinism is, perhaps, the most appropriate. They conceive the Reformers, in the composition of the articles, to have discovered that happy medium of doctrine, which is free from objectionable extremes, which gives to grace its freeness, and to man the responsibility belonging to a moral agent ; and while it ascribes to God all the glory of salvation, charges the sinner with the guilt of his own condemnation. The sentiments of that distinguished Prelate whom we have already quoted, are, on this subject, entitled to notice. “ It has been the fashion,” he remarks, “ of late, to talk of Arminianism as the system of the Church of England, and of Calvinism as something opposite to it, to which the church is hostile. That I may not be misunderstood in what I have said, or may have occasion farther to say upon this subject, I must here declare, that I use the words Arminianism and Calvinism in that restricted sense in which they are generally taken,-to denote the doctrinal part of each system, as unconnected with the principles either of Arminians or Calvinists, upon church discipline and church government. This being premised, I assert, what I have often before asserted, and by God's grace I will persist in the assertion to my dying day, that so far is it from the truth, that the Church of England is decidedly Arminian, and hostile to Calvinism, that the truth is this—that upon the principal points in dispute between the Arminians and the Calvinists—upon all the points of doctrine characteristic of the two sects, the Church of England maintains an absolute neutrality; her articles explicitly assert nothing but what is believed both by Arminians and Calvinists. The Calvinists, indeed, hold some opinions relative to the same points, which the Church of England has not gone the length of asserting in her articles ; but neither has she gone the length of explicitly contradicting those opinions ; insomuch, that there is nothing to hinder the Arminian and the highest supralapsarian Calvinist from walking together in the Church of England and Ireland as friends and brothers, if they both approve the discipline of the church, and both are willing to submit to it. Her discipline has been approved it has been submitted to—it has been in former times most ably and zealously Jefended by the highest supralapsarian Calvinists. Such was the great Usher; such was Whitgift ; such were many more ;burning and shining lights of our church in her early days (when first she shook off the papal tyranny,) long since gone to the resting-place of the spirits of the just."*
* Charges, p. 216--218.
If, by the charge of holding “a faith without morality,” it is intended to arraign the doctrine of justification by faith, are those who make this charge aware that they are impugning one of the articles of their own church, which expressly asserts this doctrine ?- That it is illustrated at large, as we have already proved, in the book of Homilies !—That it forms a characteristic ground of distinction between the Protestant and Romish churches ; and is one of the fundamental principles of Christianity itself? Once more let us appeal to the authority of Bishop Horsley :-" That man is justified by faith, without the works of the law, was the uniform doctrine of the first Reformers. It is a far more ancient doctrine,- it was the doctrine of the whole college of apostles. It is more ancient still, --it was the doctrine of the prophets. It is older than the prophets, -it was the religion of the patriarchs."*
Nor can we omit the insertion of the following admonitory hint from the same quarter :—" Take special care,” says that distinguished prelate," before you aim your shafts at Calvinism, that
you know what is Calvinism, and what is not ;-that, in that mass of doctrine, which it is of late become the fashion to abuse, under the name of Calvinism, you can distinguish with certainty between that part of it which is nothing better than Calvinism ; and that which belongs to our common Christianity, and the general faith of the reformed churches : lest, when you mean only to fall foul of Calvinism, you should, unwarily, attack something more sacred, and of higher origin.”+
After this almost involuntary allusion to polemical divinity, but which the nature of the subject, and the peculiar circumstances of our own church, seemed to render unavoidable, we cannot close this chapter without a few reflections.
It may check the pride and asperity of religious controversy, to remember that amidst the various attempts to unite mankind, at different periods, within the bounds of one common uniformity of opinion, whether under the name of Luther, Calvin, or Arminius, or under the various subdivisions of the present day; all have alike failed in the establishment of an universal standard. But it well deserves our notice, that, while each denomination claims a preference for its own peculiarities, God has given his blessing to all, wherever their aim has been holy, their efforts earnest, and the essential truths of Christianity have not been violated.
* Charges, p. 33.
☆ Charges, p. 226.
Where, then, God withholds not his blessing, man must not withhold his charity; and though union cannot exist without the essentials of religion, which are--faith in Christ, and a conformity to his image, in a renewed heart and holy life-if these be secured, the union is not only practicable, but a necessary consequence: for, if we are members of Christ, we are members one of another. The more we imbibe the genuine spirit of Christianity, which is a spirit of love, the more shall we be divested of the shackles of party distinction; and be convinced, that the religion which is from above, is a religion, not of names, but of principles; not of forms, but of realities ; not “the letter, which killeth, but the spirit, which giveth life.” “God is love; and be that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.” -1 John iv. 16. “1 he spirit of Christianity is Christianity. If this be wanting, the glory is departed, and nothing remains worth contending for."*
CHAPTER VIII. His talent for extempore preaching--authority and expediency of
this mode considered-Family letters--Commencement of the editor's acquaintance with him--Public institutions—Vindication of their character, necessity, and usefulness.
The principles on which Mr. Richmond formed his ministry have been laid before the reader in the preceding chapter; in which were stated, both the scriptural nature of his doctrines, and the impressive manner of his delivery. He never failed to attract a crowded congregation, and seldom preached without the most decided proofs of a divine power accompanying his ministrations. He also possessed many natural endowments, which in no small degree contributed to his success. an eloquent speaker; but his eloquence was not laboured and artificial—it was the simple and glowing expression of a mind deeply impressed with the importance of his subject, full of affection, and intent on imparting the same feelings to those who heard him.
He used to refer his friends, who conversed with him on the subject of preaching, to the advice of his college tutor : “ Don't use terms of science. The people have no abstract ideasthey cannot understand comparisons and allusions remote from
* See Cecil's Remains.
all their habits. Take words of Saxon derivation, and not such as are derived from Latin and Greek. Talk of riches, not affluence-of trust, not confidence. Present the same idea in a varied form, and take care you understand the subject yourself. If you be intelligent, you will be intelligible."
Mr. Richmond's successful application of these useful rules is well known to all who had opportunity of hearing his sermons. Though never offensively colloquial, he was well understood by the most illiterate of his congregation ; nor was he satisfied till he had explained an idea in every possible variety and point of view. On this account, he sometimes seemed, to persons unacquainted with his design, to employ a needless number of words. It was once pleasantly said, by one who heard him—“An excellent sermon, but with too many various readings."
He was also singularly felicitous in imparting interest to what, in familiar phraseology, is called a dry subject. He was once known to preach an hour and three quarters,* on the incidental evidences of Christianity. On this occasion it was said, by a sensible man who heard him—“ This is indeed a magnificent sermon! I always thought Mr. Richmond a good man, but I now know him to be a great man.”
Mr. Richmond, as we have before noticed, possessed a fine taste, and an almost enthusiastic admiration of the beauties of nature. From these he often selected illustrations, and embellished his subject with allusions to them.
He used to say, “ 'There are three books to be studied—the book of creation, the book of providence, and the book of grace. They confirm and illustrate each other."
These natural talents were consecrated to the service of religion, and gave an interest to his preaching, equalled by few, and excelled by none.
The editor would not be supposed, by these remarks, to lose sight of the influence of the Holy Spirit, without whom "nothing is strong, nothing is holy.” He knows that “the Gospel is a mighty engine, but only mighty when God has the working of it.”+ Yet is it most evident, that God is pleased to make human agency, the natural endowments and temperaments, as
* This sermon was one of a course of lectures on the evidences of Christianity, preached at Olney, by the neighbouring clergy. Mr. Richmond took his plan from the “Horæ Paulinæ,” and applied Dr. Paley's principle to every book of Holy Scripture, with great ingenuity and success. It is much to be regretted that nothing remains of the sermon, except a few short heads of discourse, used by Mr. Richmond at the time of preaching.
† Adams' Private Thoughts.