Page images
PDF
EPUB

THEOLOGICAL CONTROVERSIES.

My mind being these many years immersed in studies of this nature, and having also long wearied myself in searching what fathers and schoolmen have said of such things before us, and my genius abhorring confusion and equivocals, I came, by many years' longer study, to foresee that most of the doctrinal controversies among Protestants are far more about equivocal words than matter; and it wounded my soul to perceive what work, both tymnnical and unskilful, disputing clergymen had made these thirteen hundred years in the world! Experience, since the year 1643, till this year, 1675, hath loudly called me to repent of my own prejudices, sidings, and censurings of causes and persons not understood, and of all the miscarriages of my ministry and life which have been thereby caused; and to make it my chief work to call men that are within my hearing to more peaceable thoughts, affections, and practices. And my endeavors have not been in vain, in that the ministers of the county where I lived, were very many of such a peaceable temper; and a great number more through the land, by God's grace (mther than any endeavors of mine) are so minded. But the sons of the cowl were exasperated the more against me, and accounted him to be against every man that called all men to love and peace, and was for no man as in a contrary way.

JOHN TILLOTSON. 1030—1094.

Jonn TittoTson, Archbishop of Canterbury, was born in Sowerby, in Yorkshire, in 1030. His father was a strict Puritan, and carefully instilled his ou-n principles into the mind of his son, and in 1047 sent him to Cambridge to bo under the tuition of David Clarkson, an eminent Preshyterian divine. After leaving college he became tutor in the family of Edmund 1'rideux, the attorney-geneml of Cromwell. In 1001, one year after the accession of Charles II., he complied with the net of uniformity, and consequently soon received a cumcy in the Established Church i after which he rose snccessively, through the many gmdations, till in 1090 he was elevated to the see of Canterbury. He lived to enjoy his new honors but four years, dying in 1094.

The sermons of Tillotson are his principal compositions, and so very popular was he, in his day, as a preacher, that a bookseller gave to his widow two thousand five hundred guineas for the copyright. They were proposed to divines as "models of correct and elegant composition,'' but they will not quite bear snch eulogy. Perspicuity, smoothness, and verbal purity belong to them, but they do not possess mnch richness or vigor of thought. Still, however, his writings niny be read with great pleasure as well as profit.1

1 "The sermons of Tillotson w»;rr, for half a century, more read than any in our language: they FALSE AND TRUE PLEASURE.

Nothing is more certain in reason and experience, than that every inordinate appetite and affection is a punishment to itself; and is perpetually crossing its own pleasure, and defeating its own satisfaction, by overshooting the mark it aims at. For instance, intemperance in eating and drinking, instead of delighting and satisfying nature, doth but load and clog it; and instead of quenching a natural thirst, which it is extremely pleasant to do, creates an unnatural one, which is troublesome and endless. The pleasure of revenge, as soon as it is executed, turns into grief and pity, guilt and remorse, and a thousand melancholy wishes that we had restrained ourselves from so unreasonable an act. And the same is as evident in other sensual excesses, not so fit to be described. We may trust Epicurus, for this, that there can be no true pleasure without temperance in the use of pleasure. And God and reason hath set us no other bounds concerning the use of sensual pleasures, but that we take care not to be injurious to ourselves, or others, in the kind or degree of them. And it is very visible, that all sensual excess is naturally attended with a double inconvenience: as it goes beyond the limits of nature, it begets bodily pains and diseases: as it transgresseth the rules of reason and religion, it breeds guilt and remorse in the mind. And these are, beyond comparison, the two greatest evils in this world; a diseased body, and a discontented mind; and in this I am sure I speak to the inward feeling and experience of men; and say nothing but what every vicious man finds, and hath a more lively sense of, than is to be expressed by words.

When all is done, there is no pleasure comparable to that of innocency, and freedom from the stings of a guilty conscience; this is a pure and spiritual pleasure, much above any sensual delight. And yet among all the delights of sense, that of health (which is the natural consequent of a sober, and chaste, and regular life) is a sensual pleasure far beyond that of any vice. For it is the life of life, and that which gives a grateful relish to all our other enjoyments. It is not indeed so violent and transporting a pleasure, but it is pure, and even, and lasting, and hath no guilt or regret, no sorrow and trouble in it, or after it: which is a worm that infallibly breeds in all vicious and unlawful pleasures, and makes them to be bitterness in the end.

EVIDENCE OF A CREATOR IN THE STRUCTURE OF THE WORLD.

How often might a man, after he had jumbled a set of letters in a bag, fling them out upon the ground before they would fall into

toward! strength or sublimity. Bnt notwithstanding these defects, such a constant vein of piety and rood sense runs through his works, snch an earnest and serious manner, and so much nsefui Instruction conveyed In a style so pure, natural, and unadected, as will justly commend him to high regard."—Kho'i Lctlmrei Rhetor* and Btlla Ultra, Lcct xU.

an exact poem, yea, or so much as make a good discourse in prose! And may not a little book be as easily made by chance, as this great volume of the world! How long might a man be in sprinkling colors upon a canvas with a careless hand, before they could happen to make the exact picture of a man? And is a man easier made by chance than this picture? How long might twenty thousand blind men, which should be sent out from the seversl remote parts of England, wander up and down before they would all meet upon Salisbury Plains, and fall into rank and file in the exact order of an army? And yet this is much more easy to be imagined, than how the innumerable blind parts of matter should rendezvous themselves into a world.

EDUCATION.'

Such ways of education as arc prudenlly fitted to the particular disposition of children, are like wind and tide together, which will make the work go on amain: but those ways which are applied cross to nature are like wind against tide, which will make a stir and conflict, but a very slow progress.

The principles of religion and virtue must be instilled and dropped into them by such degrees, and in such a measure, as they are capable of receiving them: for children are narrowmouthed vessels, and a great deal cannot be poured into them at once.

Young years are tender, and easily wrought upon, apt to be moulded into any fashion: they are like moist and soft clay, which is pliable to any form; but soon grows hard, and then nothing is to be made of it.

Great severities do often work an effect quite contrary to that which was intended; and many times those who were bred up in a very severe school, hate learning ever after for the sake of the cruelty that was used to force it upon them. So, likewise, an endeavor to bring children to piety and goodness by unreasonable strictness and rigor, docs often beget in them a lasting disgust and prejudice against religion, and teacheth them to hate virtue, at the same time that they teach them to know it.

FORMATION OF A YOUTHFUL MIND.

Men glory in raising grent and magnificent structures, and find a secret pleasure to see sets of their own planting grow up and flourish; but it is a greater and more glorious work to build up a man; to see a youth of our own planting, from the small beginnings and advantages we have given him, to grow up into a considerable fortune, to take root in the world, and to shoot up into such a height, and spread his branches so wide, that we who first planted him may ourselves find comfort and shelter under his shadow.

WORLDLY INFLUENCES.

How easily are men checked and diverted from a good cause by the temptations and advantages of this world! How many are cold in their zeal for religion, by the favor and friendship of the world! and as their goods and estates have grown greater, their devotion hath grown less. How apt are they to be terrified at the apprehension of danger and sufferings, and by their fearful imaginations to make them greater than they are, and with the people of Israel to be disheartened from all future attempts of entering into the land of promise, because it is full of giants and the sons of Anak! How easily was Peter frightened into the denial of his Master! And when our Saviour was apprehended, how did his disciples forsake him and fly from him! and though they were constant afterwards to the death, yet it was a great while before they were perfectly armed and steeled against the fear of suffering.

HENRY VAUGHAN. 1021—1005.

HtsRT Vauohax, the " Silurest," as he called himself, from that part of Wales whose inhabitants were the ancient Silttrts, was born on the banks of the Usk, in Brecknockshire, in 1021, anil in 1038, at the age of seventeen, entered Oxford. He was designed for the profession of the law, but retiring to his home at the commencement of the civil wars, he became eminent in the practice of physic, and was esteemed by scholars, says Wood, "an ingenious person, but proud and humorous." He died in 1695.

Yaughans first publication was entitled "Olorlscanus,1 a Collection of some Select Poems and Translations."' In his latter days he became very serious, having met with the works "of that blessed man, Mr. George Herbert." He then published his " Silex Seintillans,2 or Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations." Of the poems of this author, Mr. Campbell speaks rather too severely, when he calls them the production of "one of the harshest even of the inferior order of the school of conceit." True, he is very often dull and obscure, and spends his strength on frigid and bombastic conceits; hut occasionally, and especially in his sacred poems, he exhibits considerable originality and picturesque grace, and breathes forth a high strain of morality and piety. His best piece, I think, is the following upon

1 That la, "The Iscan Swan," the adjective " Iscanu*" being formed from Iaca, the Latin name of his favorite river Usk.

J "The Spark -emitting Flint" Read, an article on Vuoghan'8 poetry In the Retrospective Review, EARLY RIS1N0 AND PRAYER.

When first thy eyes unveil, give thy soul leave

To do the like; our bodies bui forerun
The spirit's duty: true hearts spread and heave

Unto their God, as flowers do to the sun:
Give him thy first thoughts then, so shalt thou keep
Him company ail day, and in him sleep.

Yet never sleep the sun up; prayer should

Dawn with the day: there are set awful hours

'Twixt heaven and us; the manna was not good
After sun-rising; far day sullies flowers:

Rise to prevent the sun; sleep doth sins glut,

And heaven's gate opens when the world's is shut.

Walk with thy fellow-creatures; note the hush
And whisperings amongst them. Not a spring

Or leaf but hath his morning hymn; each bu9h
And oak doth know I ix. Canst thou not sing?

0 leave thy cares and follies! Go this way,

And thou art sure to prosper all the day.

Serve God before the world; let him not go

Until thou hast a blessing; then resign
The whole unto him, and remember who

Prevail'd by wrestling ere the sun did shine;
Pour oil upon the stones, weep for thy sin,
Then journey on, and have an eye to heaven.

Mornings are mysteries; the first, world's youth,

Man's resurrection, and the future's bud,
Shroud in their births; the crown of life, light, truth,

Is styled their smr; the stone and hidden food:
Three blessings wait upon them, one of which
Should move—they make us holy, happy, rich.

When the world's up, and every swarm abroad,
Keep well thy temper, mix not with each clay;

Despatch necessities; life hath a load

Which must be carried on, and safely may;

Yet keep those cares without thee; let the heart

Be God's alone, and choose the better part

Vaughan's prose writings are more easy and natural than his poetry, as will be seen by the following beautiful piece upon

THE PLEASURES OF THE COUNTRY.

This privilege also, above others, makes the countryman happy, that he hath always something at hand which is both useful and pleasant; a blessing which has never been granted, either to a courtier or a citizen: the}- have enemies enough, but few friends that deserve their love, or ihnt they dare trust to, either for counsel or action. O who can ever fully express the pleasures and happiness of the country-life; with the various and delightful sports of fishing, hunting, and fowling, with guns, greyhounds,

« PreviousContinue »