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Eclectic Review ,
JULY DECEMBER .
Φιλοσόφιαν δε ου την Στωικην λεγω, ουδε την πλατωνικης, η τ» Επικουρειον τα
CLEM. ALEX. Strom. Lib. l.
PUBLISHED BY JOSIAH CONDER, 18, ST. PAUL'S CHURCH-YARD,
FOR JULY, 1817.
Art. I. Christian Essays : By the Reverend Samuel Charles Wilks,
A. M. of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. 2 vols. Price 145. Baldwin and Co. 1817. THE Church of Christ has passed through successive ages under widely different circumstances.
Would it be going too far to say, that the condition most natural to her, in this
evil world,' is as that of the bush burning but not con'sumed ?' that her appropriate dwelling is the shelter of dens
and caves of the earth ;' and that she is then the most suitably vested, when sheep skins and goats' skins' are her clothing? It is at least under these circumstances, that Christianity has produced all its twelve manner of fruit,' and shewn inosi unquestionably that it is a plant from above.
But for a long period, the Church, no where visible as a collected body, but like the seven thousand of Israel, reserved by sovereign grace amid surrounding corruption, has consisted of scattered individuals whose piety, appearing where it did, has been the most striking illustration of the truth, that " with “ God nothing is impossible.” Lights they were, indeed, but so obscured were their own minds by ignorance and prejudice, that, had it been at once presented to them without extraordinary teachings from above, they would probably have shrunk back with horror at the aspect of Christianity itself, such as it was left to the world by the Apostles.
In our own country, for a considerable length of time, and up to a date not very distant, the knowledge and consistent profession of true religion were, as we will venture to assert, almost confined within the enclosures of two or three reviled sects, and every expedient was resorted to,-outrage according to law, and outrage according to no law, which might hedge the hated contagion within the spots already incurably
contaminated. But in these days, ail bounds fave been overpast, all partitions bave been thrown down, religion, the religion of the Bible, has abounded under dividing names; it has appeared with a frequency that attracts attention in every rank
ainong iis : « sign of the Son of Man” has been sirn in the Hearens; and Vol. VII. N.S.
the many, who can see goodness only when it is well dressed, bave been brought to do an homage to the very thing upon which they have long been accustomed to trample. We question indeed if the truth has not at present a greater chance of being listened to with respect, or, at least, whether it has not a wider opportunity of being heard, than at any tine since the early days of the Reformation, when princes, and nobles, and great captains, were bearil to quote the Bible, and to defer to its authurity, and when many of them seemed to think the Gospel worthy even of their acceptation. Compared with times that are past, an unusual number of circumstances appear tending at present to bring the unthinking or little thinking mass within the reach of a vivifying influence. The kingdom of darkness stands exposed on many sides to the beams of day. But as a concomitant effect of these circumstances, those eternally distinct parties, the World and the Church, are undergoing a kind of amalgamation in which the peculiar and stronger features of both are somewhat softened down. The world is civil, conceding, complimentary, and professing. The Church is pleased with the concession, and willing to hope well of the profession, but grieved, and the more as she has the opportuvity of knowing more,) at the evil manners' of her new acquaintance, and often perplexed with the difficulty of drawing the line between zeal and prudence, in improving the golden moments of the world's good will.
A question therefore of the first moment is pressed upon the attention of serious Christians, by the peculiar circumstances of the times. Under what impression, and by what plan of addréss, shall they be most likely, as far as the means are concerned, to improve the concessions towards religion, of a large class of persons, who, while they acknowledge a form of words, are essentially erroneous in principle, and far removed in spirit and temper from any thing that would allow the hope that they are Christians ? It will not for a moment be iniagined that we are here putting in question the means of bringing men to repentance, with those who are not convinced that the proclamation of peace with God, through the sacrifice of his Son, is the only thing that will ever turn a sinner from the error of his way; -- with such persons we have not now to do ;—but those who are agreed upon this essential article, and who are equally anxious for the result, may differ materially in the point they fix upon,
in that space that separates worldly prudence froin unwise zeal. To treat such a question would oliviously lead us out far beyond our limits, and we shall content ourselves at present with directing the attention of those persons who, like Mr. Wilks, are expressly aiming at the conviction of nominal Christians, towards a subject, in their views of which we think there is an