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REVIEW Sermons, by the late Rev. HENRY MARTYN, B. D., Fellow of St. John's
College, Cambridge, Chaplain on the Hon. East India Company's Bengal Establishment; and late Missionary in Persia. First American from the original Calcutta Edition. Boston : Published for the benefit of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. 1822. 8vo. pp. 386.
To those who love the Gospel of Christ, and who honour enlightened zeal in its cause, the name of HENRY MARTYN will ever be dear and sacred. Such meekness of self-denial, dwelling with such enthusiastic ardour for the well being of others ; such humility of pretension, united with such extent of knowledge and eminence of acquirement; such efforts, with so feeble a frame ; such spirituality, amid surrounding corruption ; such a holy, heavenly spirit, have rarely been exhibited to the wondering eyes of the church and the world. His course, like that of some passing angel, has left a long track of light behind it. .
Already have the pages of our work been occupied with a “brief memoir”* and characters of this “man of God.” Those who have read these, and the larger "Memoir," which has already passed through many editions, must feel some curiosity to know how such a man would preach, and we can now recommend to them a volume that will gratify this desire, so far as respects his style and usual strain of composition. Respecting his manner in the pulpit, those who had an opportunity of hearing him preach, say—“ he was distinguished for a holy solemnity, always suited to the high message he was delivering and accompanied by an unction which made its way to the hearts of his audience. With this was combined a fidelity, at once forcible by its justice and intrepidity, and penetrating by its affection. There was, in short, a power of holy love and disinterested earnestness in his addresses, which commended itself to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” - Preface.
The preface informs us that this volume was originally published at Calcutta, by the “ Corresponding Committee of the Church Missionary Society,” to which institution the avails of its publications there were appropriated. And by the advertisement we learn, that “certain friends to the missionary cause sin Boston) have taken on them all the pecuniary responsibilities” of printing this edition, and given the profits to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
The volume consists of twenty sermons, of unequal excellence, on various important subjects ; and except the last, entitled “ Christian India,” were not intended for publication. The ten first in order were preached in the Old Church, Calcutta, toward the close of 1810; and the others were selected from a parcel of his manuscript sermons in the possession of the authors' friends.
* See Christian Herald, vol. VII. pp. 41 and 65*,
The editors bespeak the indulgence usually granted to posthumous works, and every feeling of our heart inclines us to concede more in this than in almost any other case. Their task was doubtless a ditficult one, but we apprehend a little more labour bestowed upon their melancholy office would have freed the volume from some inaccuracies which mar it pages, if indeed this is the best selection that could have been made from the materials which his remains afforded
As a specimen of these sermons we shall extract a part of the eleventh, “On the New Creature.” The text is 2 Cor. v. 17.After a suitable introduction, in which our author adverts to the imperfect manner in which Christians understand the doctrines of their religion, and the obligation we are under to make ourselves acquainted, not merely with the facts recorded in Scripture, but to discern the distinguishing features of that way of salvation which it points out, he considers, first, the state of a real Christian, and, secondly, the evidence of his being in that state.
"]. The state of a real Christian, or bis situation in reference to God, is thus expressed by the apostle, he is in Christ. To be a Christian is not to have been born in a Christian country and of Christian parents—to have received the sacramental ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper-and to live a moral and honest life, but it is to be in Christ; the strength and peculiarity of which expression suggests the idea of a state very different in nature and importance from the mere external possession of Christian privileges, or the performance of relative duties. To illustrate the meaning of this expression let us contrast it with our state as we are in Adam, partaking of his guilt, andinheriting his corruption. God in his covenant engagements with Adam, treated with him as with the head and representative of mankind. Adam fell, and with him fell the whole human race; every individual as he comes into the world being now considered by God as involved in the first transgression Hence the natural condition of men, whether their lives be more or less stained with actual wickedness, is a state of guilt, as well as depravity, at its very heginning. "We are by nature the children of wrath.'* Such is our state in Adam"-pp 187, 188.
“ Those who do not attend to the Scripture account of this subject are more accustomed to consider God as dealing immediately with ourselves than as in Adam. It will be of use, therefore, to contrast our state in Christ with what may be called the being in ourselves. In whatever degree we depend on our own works for recommending us to the divine favour, or imagine the ability to be holy is originally in oarselves, in that degree a mediator becomes unnecessary for us. We transact our own affairs with God--we stand on our own foundation; and God deals with us accordingly. He beholds us under that law of works which requires perfect obedience, and when once we fail of absolute perfection passes sentence on us as condemned criminals. Alas! how sad and pitiable is the condition of natural men! chiefly pitiable because they know not their case. He that keepeth the whole law and offendeth in one point is guilty of all. One act of dishonesty brands a man a thief; and one transgression of the divine law exposes to its condemning sentence, though they will not believe it.
“The state of those who have fled from this danger, to be found in Christ, is to be contrasted with the former, in this particular, that God no longer deals with them iminediately in their own persons. The whole method of his proceedings towards them is changed-he regards them in a new light-adopts, and adheres to a new system respecting them He always thinks of them as in Christ-overlooks what they are in themselves—all he gives to them, all he receives from them is through Christ, who is now the sole channel of grace, and the repository of spiritual blessings. Once he looked to them for merit ; now he looks for it in Christ-once he remembered their sins, but he has now forgotten them--former
- Eph ii. 3.
ly every blessing was suspended upon the performance of conditions, but now a l is freely given, or freely promised, and every promise not left conditional, but made and secured in Christ. There is no longer any uncertainty hanging over those that are in Christ, whether at the end of lite they shall be accepted or rejected: for already are they pardoned and justifed—already are they made the children of God by adoption--already they are at peace, and bave everlasting
“If Christ is worthy, then are they worthy Did the Son of God fulfil the Jaw in their stead, and thus obtain righteousness? then they also are perfectly righteous in the righteousness of Christ. Was he filled with the Spirit ? then shall they also receive the anointings of the Holy One Did he rise from the grave, and ascend to his glory ? then they shall rise and dwell with him in heavenly places, and walk with him in white, and sit with him on his throne, and reign with him for ever and ever."-pp. 189, 190, 191.
In considering, under the second head, “ what are the proper evidences of our having made the transition from ourselves to Christ," he states them to be twofold. 1. “There is a divine operation upon him,” for he is a new creature, or, as it is in the original, a new creation.
“: Creation is the work of God, he only can call into being that which had no previous existence, and bid that be which before was not. Religion in the heart is not the effect of our own reason acting by itseif, or the consequence of moral persuasion, but it is a work wrought by the immediate supernatural power of God the Holy Ghost,"--(p. 192)
And is a gift peculiar to those that are in Christ, and takes place on their union with him. Here our author quotes Ezekiel, xxxvi. 26. and various other passages, which express in the plainest terms the “ necessity of a new heart, and the exertion of Divine power to to produce it," and furnish an incontrovertible truth that there is a certain period in the life of every true Christian, at which he becomes the subject of an inward change, the effect of the power of God-such a change as is certainly capable of being ascertained.
The second evidence, that we have “made the transition from ourselves to Christ," is, “ that universal change which ensues in the heart and life.
"The change in the conduct is in most cases remarkable. Observe how all the grosser habits of evil are cast off, and are succeeded by opposite virtues : if the man has been dishonest, he becomes upright; if a drunkard, he becomes temperate ; the sensualist grows chaste; the churl, liberal; the proud man, humble; the vain man, modest; the backbiter, charitable ; and the malicious, [the] envious, and [the] deceitful, kind, generous, and sincere.
" There is a change of conduct towards God. Once he presumed to pass the sabbath as he pleased ; to sanctify or profane it- to be absent from the house of prayer or to visit it, as most suited his convenience or inclination: but now he cautiously excludes both business and amusement from it, and dedicates the whole to holy exercises. He will not occasion others, even heathens, to violate the sabbath by giving them secular employments which are unnecessary, because God's commands are equally binding on them as on is; and therefore we are enjoined to give rest on that day to the stranger That is within our gates. Once he could live without secret prayer, or satisfy his conscience with the dull repetition of a form; but he now regards prayer as one of the most important employments of life. The word of God heretofore lay neglected; but benceforth it is daily perused for the purposes of spiritual instruction. His views of himself are become new. He will not now be heard speaking of the goodness of his heart, or justifying his defects, or presuming upon his comparative innocence for recommending him to God, but with deep self-abasement acknowledging his desert of God's wrath, yet resting his steady hopes on the atonement of Jesus Christ."-pp. 194, 195.
" To the man who is in Christ a new creature, the government of his temper becomes an object of serious attention : for according to bis new views, all disor ders of the temper must be considered as arising from pride, prejudice, or dis. content, and therefore unbecoming a Christian. He therefore labours to be poor in spirit, meek, forgiving; patiently bearing with the perverseness and obstinacy of those with whom he has to deal, and he will really love and pray for those who injure or speak evil of him.
- He defends the ways of the righteous, and shows a decided preference for their company, yet even with the world he is not morose, or forbidding-he is serious, but not severe-pitying sinners, but not despising them--an opposer of all sin, but especially of his own.
“With respect to what he has in his own power, he does not conceive himself at liberty to use his time, fortune, or influence as may suit bis humour ; but bearing in mind that he is not a master, but a steward of these things, he prepares for the strict account of his stewardship which he must give at the end of life before the tribunal of God. His fortune therefore will not be all spent in vanity, while there are any poor in the world who have a claim upon him by their misery, or any iguorant whose spiritual benefit may be any way promoted by a proper application of pecuniary aid ; nor will his time be devoted to excess of business, nor trifled away in unnecessary amusements, but he will employ all in the way that shall appear most to conduce to the glory of God and the benefit of mankind. Such a conduct will undoubtedly subject him to the charge of singularity and preciseness; but unconcerned at the opinions of men, he determines neither to · be guided by the customs nor maxims of the world, but simply to follow the word of God as an all-sufficient rule of life. In short, if any man be in Christ, he is altogether another man, old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become ncu.”-pp. 196, 197. .
The change spoken of in Ezekiel, before referred to, and in Rom. xii. 2. is
--Perfectly distinct from a reformation of life, however extensive that reformation be ; such a change of the heart as presupposes its evil condition, and that though we retain our natural faculties, the heart is in the most abject, corrupted, and forlorn condition—with all the passions affecting objects which are either false or dangerous. This is it which renders a new creation necessary ; there must be a new disposition of the heart. The bent of the will, the direction of the passions, the habitual principles, motives, and ends, must be different from what they were before ; the taste and inclination must be different, the whole state and nature, in short, different. Here is the work of God! man cannot teach the soul; but it is upon it, that God's new creating influence is principally exert. ed, and the result forms a wide line of discrimination between a divine work upon the soul and mere human efforts. The moving principle of the new-created soul in all that it does in a moral point of view, has no longer a regard to character, or the advancement of temporal interest, nor even the fear of hell merely, and hope of heaven, though it is very powerfully influenced by these ; for all these are no more than the motives which naturally impel every man to action, and may exist where the heart is in its pative unregenerate state, but its moving principle is love the love of God, which an unregenerated man never felt."-pp. 198, 199.
But we have already exceeded the prescribed bounds for this article, and can give but a single extract more. It is one which we are persuaded will be profitable for the serious consideration of all.
“Examine, your ownselves brethren; prove your owpselves. Review the text and ask, are ye new creatures? If the question appear strange to you—if the whole idea of the thing seem novel, or, as it is to some, ludicrous, you need not reply; you have manifestly not experienced the new creation. On what then do you ground your hopes of salvation? You say that you discharge your relative duties--doing as you would be done by-giving to all their due that you are no extortioner, no adulterer, no slanderer-having failings, but not worse in general than others; but all ihis is of no consequence in the present inquiry : therefore the question recurs, are ye new creatures? What though you are kine
parents, dutiful children, faithful friends, charitable neighbours, honourable in mercantile concerns, in short, entirely correct in all social and relative duties : nay, that you wait upon God in public and private, and are regular at his house and table; of what use will it all be in the matter of your salvation, if there be not something more, if there be not a new creation of your hearts? In Christ Jesus, says St. Paul, neilher circumcision araileth any thing nor uncircumcision, but a new crealure. Neither is the necessity of this change to be found in the Epis. tles alone, of the obscurity of which some are pleased to complain who have no inclination to study them; our Saviour Christ himself has set forth the same things with equal strictness, when he said to Nicodemus, Ercept a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. And, Marrel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. And where is this change to be wrought on us except on this side the grave ? Death cannot itself alter the habitual temper, nor will God exert his power on the soul which has lost the opportunities which were offered in this world! As the tree falleth, so it lieth. He that is unjust let him be unjust still; he that is filthy let him be filthy still. If a man die, not born again, let him not expect to rise a new creature from the grave.
“Then be persuaded of your danger my dear brethren. Awake from delusion and turn your thoughts inward. Deceive not yourselves with supposing that morality is holiness, or that a reformation in the life is equivalent to a divine transformation of the heart If you would follow the saints of God, you must with them enter in at the straight gate, and walk the narrow road, and experience with them, the heart renewing energies of the Holy Ghost Let not the pleasures of this world tempt you to defer tbe consideration of it to another season : for it may be that on your death-bed this passage shall recur, and you will then regret that you had not earlier yielded to the convictions which it must have produced, If any with reasonable alarm are inquiring what is to be done ? the answer is, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; for since the new creation of the soul is the effect of our being in Christ, the first step in the way of salvation is to apply to him; and happy is it for us, that to warrant us to expect his grace no previous merit is necessary. The way is open, the gift is free, the invitation is couched in terms of unbounded fulness. Wait not till your hearts are better, but apply at once to the Saviour and you shall be created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that you should walk in them. As the scion, engrafted on the stock receives sap from it, and then brings forth fruit, so you, by your union with Christ, shall be holy in heart and life.”—pp. 202, 203, 204.
These sermons are upon the whole, what might be expected. They contain the vital truths of Christianity stated with apostolic simplicity, and urged upon men with primitive zeal and earnestness. They contain little, indeed nothing, of that elassic elegance which some might have looked for from a Cambridge scholar of distinguished standing—but their plainness does the author more real credit than the highest polish could have done. It is the dignified sacrifice of a Christian scholar who loved the souls of men more than their praises.
We hope this volume will be extensively purchased, both for its own value and for the sake of the important cause to which its profits are appropriated.
Had never reached his ear-
And only answered, “here !**