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works, is 'that faith ness:of the heir work
men should infer the truth and liveliness of their faith from the goodness of their works, rather than, as is, I fear, too often done, the goodness of their works from the supposed truth and liveliness of their faith.
To say, then, that faith is necessarily productive of good works, is both false and dangerous. To say, that a true and lively faith is necessarily productive of good works, is not, strictly speaking, false ; but, as a mode of expression, which, at the best, is unmeaning and which is so liable to be abused, and so likely to mislead the une wary, it ought to be rejected as dangerous. It is remarkable, that the 12th article of our church, which has been referred to as giving countenance to this mode of expression, is not a definition either of faith, or of a true and lively faith ; but is intended to show, what I consider Mrs.. More's application of the expression as hostile to, the necessity of good works. So that, by a strange perversion of the article from its purpose, it is alleged in favour of the very error, against which it was intended as a guard. ? 1 On the whole, faith is of no avail to our eternal salvation, if it produce not a correspondent conduct; and good works are of no avail to this purpose, if they proceed not from faith, or from a right principle, i.e. Christians, from a belief in Christianity, and in others from what, in their case, is equivalent to such a belief, a principle of obedience to the divine will* In this matter then, there need be no dispute. We may allow, that faith is necessary to salvation, and that, generally speaking, good works are necessary to salvation; but it does not follow, that either of them alone will be sufficient for salvation. In the revealed will of God, such things no doubt, are proposed to our belief, as have a natural tendency to pro. duce the effects, which God must have had in view ; but there is no reason to suppose, that the freedom of the hun man mind was intended to be interfered with, either in attaining to the belief of those things, or in the effect of the belief of them on our conduct, when it is attained to.
I consider the erroneous mode of expression, on which
* If a person be actuated by a desire of obeying the will of God, we may venture to assert, that he will become a Christian, as soon as an opportunity of conviction is afforded him. In saying this, I treinble for the fate of such men as Mr. Hume. But, though we may lay down general rules, we must leave the cases of individuals to God, whose“ tender mercics are over all his works,"
desire of promoting a very useful and important purpose, and as being, in fact, nothing more than a figure in rhetoric. In guarding men against the danger of resting in a mere persuasion of the truths of religion, it would be na-. tural, in the warmth of exhortation, to say, “ The faith, which produces no effect on the conduct, is of no use ; it is a dead faith; or rather, it is no faith at all.” Strictly speaking, this cannot be true; yet, so far as it is calculated to impress the conviction, that faith, in order to answer its intended purpose, must be productive of a correspondent conduct, it is subservient to a truth of the most important nature. When it comes to be considered as itself a truth, and consequences are drawn from it as such, no wonder that it tends to mislead. But thus it is, that eloquence, like poetry, though in some respects useful, as well as delightful, bas often contributed to the rise and confirmation of error. What is said at first by way. of comparison only, with the view of exciting sympathy, or promoting persuasion, is afterwards understood as literally and philosophically true. This is the case of the expression in the Homily, to which I have already referred. When such expressions, ceasing to answer their originally intended purpose, are employed for a different one, and become encouragements to wrong practice, it is high time to relinquish the use of them. This is the procedure, which, with great respect for her extraordinary talents and attainments, I recommend to Mrs. More. It has indeed before been recommended to her by Mr. Daubeny, and she has already made her apology for not adopting it, by alleging, that “she conceived herself to bave been misunderstood, and for that reason only misrepresented.” The ground of this allegation, however, is now done away by herself; for, in her recent publication, she has attempted to defend her former position in the very sense, in which it was understood, represented, and refuted by Mr. Daubeny.
I am, Sir, Rempstone, . .
Your's, &c. Aug. 1, 1805.
o am I in tre gather
Lordid she wou
: PRACTICAL DISCOURSES, BY THOMAS A KEMPIS. ·
Translated by Bishop Horne.
Of Religious Conversation. 1. W HERE two or three are gathered together in my
" name, there am I in the midst of them, saith the gracious Jesus. O that Christians when they meet, would shew themselves mindful of the presence of their Lord among them, and not offend him, or one another, by the levity and sinfulness of their conversation : let the redeemed discourse of their redeemer and his word, to edification and consolation; concerning themselves as little as possible with the affairs of the world and worldly men, whom God is to judge. For while we are busy about news and politics, which profit us nothing, we neglect the subjects which are of infinite moment to us all; we forget to talk of our spiritual estate, of the ways and means to advance in grace; and to heal the disorders of our minds. Let the affairs of government be left to those who are placed over us, and who must give account of their proceedings to the King of kings. But let us attend to the concerns of our souls, and the duties of our : stations. Let us be fervent in our desires and aspirations after heavenly things, endeavouring each to go before the other in humility and devotion, and determining with the holy apostle, to know, to think of nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified. So shall all things belonging to the world die in us, through the love of him who died for us; soʻshall the labours of repentance seem light and easy, and the discipline of holiness become daily more and more productive of the fruits of peace and pleasantness. Thus if we live and converse, Christ will come, according to his promise and dwell with us, instructing us how to despise the things of the world, and to love the things of God; how to resist the devil, and to bridle the flesh.
2. Wherefore have we renounced the world, but to place our hope in God, and our hearts in heaven? Fly therefore all such earthly connections and acquaintance, as must continually engage you in a course of vain conversation, contrary to your profession, which is more adorned by the silent rhetoric of a good example, than Fol. IX. Churchm. Mag. Aug. 1805.
by the most curious display of learning and ingenuity: The consequences of much secular and trifling discourse are dissipation and littleness of spirit, to remove which and restore the soul to its proper frame and temper, many prayers and tears will oftentimes be found necessary. Whereas the fruits of a religious conversation are the love of God, the edification of our neighbour, hatred of sin, the mortification of our lusts, and the renovation of the whole man in the image of his Saviour. For as he is near to them that call upon him, so he vouchsafes his presence to those who converse about him ; quickening the slothful, strengthening the weak, assisting the strong, crowning the victorious: terrifying by his judgments, exhorting by good examples, comforting by promises, exhilarating by grace, and afterwards satisfying with glory. So merciful, loving, and gracious is our dear master, that if any one will but prepare a place for him in his heart, he will shew him the light of his countenance. These are the blessings promised to those who read and meditate, who pray and sing praises to God, whether alone, or with their brethren.
3. Love not to speak of things which are too high for you, lest the devil tempt you through vain glory. Better is it to talk of death and judgment, of heaven and hell, with such other subjects as breed compunction of heart, than to be busied in curious speculations, which like the tops of mountains, are lofty and barren. Weak minds are quickly puffed up with subtleties and refinements; when it would profit them more, to inspect their consciences, and confess their sins, of which in the mean time, they remain ignorant. How are the hours suffered to pass away in idle gossiping, which would be so much clear gain, if spent in silence and prayer ? Lift up your eyes to heaven, and beg forgiveness for your offences, which they shall ever obtain, who seek after grace, and keep it when found.
4. When you think or do any thing that is right, take none of the praise to yourselves, but ascribe it whole and entire to God, from whom descend the showers of spiritual as well as témporal blessings. All the perfections of mind' and body are the gifts of him who is perfect in: knowlege, and whose loving kindnesses are more and greater than we are able to express. What ingratitude then is it, to waste that time in vain and foolish talking, which should be employed in praising God? This we
Mr. Polwhele’s Illustrations of Scriptural Characters. 107 neglect to do, and yet expect to be praised ourselves for every the least appearance of good that is in us; nay, we are pleased to be commended for virtues, wbich our ową heart tells us all the while, we are not possessed of. Let us cleanse ourselves also from this kind of corrupt communication, and imitate the blessed apostles of the Lord, who were really holy and good, but who, attributing nothing to themselves, sung evermore the angelic song, Glory to God in the highest. They who take the glory to themselves, imitate Lucifer in his crime, and their punishment will be like his.
5. Let not men boast of any spiritual gifts and graces which it may please God to bestow upon them; because they are not bestowed upon them for their merits, but out of his mercy; nor possibly for their sakes, but those of others. He who shall endeavour, instead of promoting the edification of his brethren, to raise himself a name by them, may soon expect to hear the dreadful sound “Take from him the talent, and give it to him who hath ten, and hath made a right use of them all.” He will be accounted worthy of greater favours, who is thankful for the least, judging himself unworthy of any. Spiritual visitations are vouchsafed to the humble, for the mutual consolation of many; but they are withheld from the proud, who talk of them out of vain glory. He who dasheth from him the flatteries of man, shall receive the honour which cometh from God only. Seek therefore your consolation rather in prayers and tears, than in disputes and speculations. Study well the book of con. science; disperse the fantastic shadows of pride ; and let there be oil in your vessels, that your conversation may be with grace, until grace be changed into glory, and discourse into vision.
Mr. POLWHELE's ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIP
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
SIR, IN TN the reviewing part of your number for Feb. 1809,
you gave some account of Mr. Polwhele's “ Illus trations of Scriptural Characters, from the four Gospels." Having lately had the pleasure of reading that work, it P2