« PreviousContinue »
to-morrow shall not drive it out. Methusalem with all his hundreds of years, was but a mushroom of a night's growth, to this day: all the four monarchies, with all their thousands of years, and all the powerful kings and all the beautiful queens of this world, were but as a bed of flowers, some gathered at six, some at seven, some at eight, all in one morning, in respect of this day."-Vol. iii. p. 326.
In respect of the resurrection, he says:—“Our flesh, though glorified, cannot make us see God better, nor clearer, than the soul above hath done, all the time, from our death to our resurrection. But as an indulgent father or a tender mother, when they go to see the king in any solemnity, or any other thing of observation and curiosity, delight to carry their child, which is flesh of their flesh, and bone of their bone, with them; and though the child cannot comprehend it as well as they, they are as glad that the child sees it, as that they see it themselves;—such a gladness shall my soul have, that this flesh, (which she will no longer call her prison, nor her tempter, but her friend, her com. panion, her wife,) that this flesh, that is, I, in the reunion and redintegration of both parts, shall see God; for then one principal clause in her rejoicing and acclamation, shall be, that this flesh is her flesh; in my flesh shall I seo God." - Vol. iv. p.
239. “Oh, what a Leviathan is sin, how vast, how immense a body! And then what a spawner, how numerous! Between these two, the denying of sins which we have done, and the bragging of sins which we have not done, what a space, what a compass is there, for millions of millions of sins !" -Vol. iv.
370. Donne is one of the most colossal figures in our group; a solemn, tender, and mighty spirit; never speaking in anger without being himself most rebuked; never ruffling into passion, except from the ground-swell of his own deeply
moved soul; a Protestant, because he had seen through and used up Rome; an earnest penitent, and a weighty and convincing counseller against sin, which he had known, and out of which he had been himself mercifully brought.
Donne, it will be observed, belongs entirely to the first of our three periods,—that of tranquillity in the churcn. He is essentially a preacher of James the First's age. All the pedantry of his style, all the frequent Latin quotations, and reference to books of learning, belong to the same period. And the same characteristics are found in our second and later example of this age, Bishop HALL. Joseph Hall was son to an officer in the
and born at Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire in 1574. He was blessed with a pious, and indeed saintly mother, who from his cradle destined him for the sacred ministry. We possess an interesting memoir of his life by himself, in which its various events are traced up to God's good providence, and commented on with simple and earnest thankful. ness. After being Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and rector of Halstead, in Suffolk, he was noticed for the power of his preaching by Prince Henry; and becoming attached to the Court, he was appointed first Dean of Worcester, then in 1627 Bishop of Exeter, and in 1641 Bishop of Norwich. This last date will suggest to us that troublous times were close at hand. In those, Bishop Hall had his full share. In that same year, he was committed with the other bishops to the Tower. In the following March, the sequestrators came down to Norwich, and laid their hands on all he possessed. Shortly after, he was driven out of his palace, and, after remaining several years in exile and poverty, died in 1656.
Hall is one of the brightest and holiest saints of the English Church. Simple and childlike in character, living evermore in close communion with God, and continued recognition of Him,-his great abilities and earnest eloquence are seasoned with never-failing odour of Christian experience, and personal proof of his sayings. His “Con. templations upon the principal Passages in the Holy Story," are the best known of his works; and have been often reprinted in forms accessible to every one. These little volumes every Christian young man should, if possible, have in his library, however small it may be. There is a vividness and reality about them, a directness of practical inference, and a sweetness of pathos, which, even set off by their quaintnesses and conceits, go straight to the heart, and make them a very favourite study with all who know them. The same characteristics are found in his sermons. After what I have already said, I need hardly add, that they are full of the cross of Christ, and of the various doctrines and experiences which flow from it, in their purest and holiest form. Hall went through deep troubles, and we see the fruits of them in the deep sayings and feelings of his spiritual mind.
Still he was a very bountiful giver forth of the conceits and quaintnesses of his age: and the reader continually finds expressions, aud even trains of thought, which offend against what would be now thought good taste in the pulpit. Believing however, as I do, that this conventional good taste bas been the ruin of our English preaching, I own I should like to see, not exactly in the language of those days, but in the plain dealing of those days, and of this holy and earnest preacher, our common life, and common faults, brought out and dealt with as they are in Bishop Hali's
His sermons, as those of old Latimer in the age before, present us with a perfect picture of the life and faults of the day, go through whole shelves of modern English sermons, and where will you find the least reflection ot' the habits or vices of our time ?
But I must hasten on, and give you a few specimens of the style and power, and faults which I have been describing.
In a sermon preached before the House of Lords, entitled “The Blessings, Sins, and Judgments of God's Vineyard," he
· Lay now all these together, And what could have been done more for our vineyard, O God, that thou hast not done? Look about you, honourable and Christian hearers, and see whether God hath done thus with any nation. Oh, never, never was any people so bound to a God. Other neighbouring regions would think themselves happy, in one drop of those blessings, which have poured down thick upon
Alas! they are in a vaporous and marish vale, while we are seated on the fruitful hill: they lie open to the massacring knife of an enemy, while we are fenced: they are clogged with miserable encumbrances, while we are free briers and brambles overspread them, while we are choicely planted: their tower is of offence, their winepress is of blood. Oh, the lamentable condition of more likely vineyards than our own! Who can but weep and bleed, to see those woful calamities, that are fallen upon the late famous and flourishing Churches of Reformed Christendom? Oh, for that Palatine vine, late inoculated with a precious bud of our royal stem; that vine, not long since rich in goodly clusters, now the insultation of boars and prey of foxes! Oh, for those poor distressed Christians in France, Bohemia, Silesia, Moravia, Germany, Austria, the Valteline, that groan now under the tyrannous yoke of anti-christian oppression! How glad would they be of the crumbs of our feasts ! How rich would they esteem themselves with the very gleanings of our plentiful crop of prosperity! How do they look up at us, as even now militantly triumpbant, while they are miserably wallowing in dust and blood, and wonder to see
the sunshine upon our hill, while they are drenched with storm and tempest in the valley !
“What are we, O God, what are we that thou shouldest be thus rich in thy mercies to us, while thou art so severe in thy judgments upon them? It is too much, Lord, it is too much, that thou hast done for so sinful and rebellious a people.
“2. Cast now your eyes aside a little; and, after the view of God's favours, see some little glimpse of our REQUITAL. Say then, say, 0 nation not worthy to be beloved, what fruit have ye returned to your beneficent God? Sin is impudent: but let me challenge the impudent forehead of sin itself. Are they not sour and wild grapes that we have yielded ? Are we less deep in the sins of Israel than in Israel's blessings? Complaints, I know, are unpleasing, however just; but now, not more unpleasing than necessary. Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of contention ! Jer. xv. 10. I must cry out in this sad day, of the sins of my people.
"The searchers of Canaan, when they came to the brook of Eshcol, they cut down a branch, with a cluster of grapes, and carried it on a staff between two, to shew Israel the fruit of the land; Numb. xiii. 23. Give me leave, in the search of our Israel, to present your eyes with some of the wild grapes that grow there on every hedge. And what if they be the very same that grew in this degenerated vineyard of Israel ?
“Where we meet, first, with oppression, a lordly sin, and that challengeth precedency, as being commonly incident to none but the great; though a poor oppressor (as he is unkindly, so he) is he a monster of mercilessness. Oh, the
shrieks and clamours of this crying sin! What grinding of faces, what racking of rents, what detention of wages, what inclosing of commons, what engrossing of commodities, what griping exactions, what straining the advantages of