« AnteriorContinuar »
authorities ;' His attention to inferior concerns ; ' St. Paul on
the Resurrection ;''St. Paul on Prayer, Thanksgiving, and * Religious Joy ;'St. Paul an example to familiar life.'
Although in the first four of these especially, the thoughts are sometimes too much attenuated, and the observations too widely irrelative to the subject proposed, we could with pleasure extract many striking passages Upon the subject of prayer, we meet with the following sensible remarks.
• The success of prayer, though promised to all who offer it in perfect sincerity, is not so frequently promised to the cry of distress, to the impulse of fear, or the emergency of the moment, as to humble continuance in devotion ; it is to patient waiting, to assiduous solicitation, to unwearied importunity, that God has declared that he will lend his ear, that he will give the communication of his Spirit, that he will grant the return of our requests. Nothing but this holy perseverance can keep up in our minds an humble sense of our depen. dence. It is not by a mere casual petition, however passionate, but by habitual application, that devout affections are excited and maintained, that our converse with Heaven is carried on.' pp. 230, 231.
• Under circumstances of distress, indeed, prayer is adopted with comparatively little reluctance ; the mind, which knows not where to fly, flies to God. In agony, nature is no Atheist. The soul is drawn to God by a sort of natural impulse; not always, perhaps, by an emotion of piety, but from a feeling conviction, that every other refuge iso “ a refuge of lies.” Oh, thou afflicted, tossed with tempests, and not comforted, happy if thou art either drawn or driven, with holy David, to say to thy God, “ Thou art a place to hide me
• But if it is easy for the sorrowing heart to give up a world, by whom itself seems to be given up, there are other demands for prayer equally imperative.' p. 232.
Mrs. More devotes a chapter to the consideration of the superior advantages which the present age enjoys' for the at• tainment of Knowledge, Religion, and Happiness. Among these, she particularly insists upon the vast accessions which have been made to the body of external evidence. She opposes the example of St. Paul to the character of wrangling polemics ; and intimates her opinion, that
• There has seldom been less genuine piety in the Church than when intricate and theoretical points in Theology have been most pertinaciously discussed.'
The justness of this remark depends entirely on what are considered as intricate and theological points in Theology. The terms Theology and Metaphysics, have been injuriously applied to the empty conceits and disputations of mere schoolmen upon points unconnected either with real science or with practical religion. Theology, though pre-eminently entitled to
the designation of a science, scarcely admits of theory. Revelation forms the awful boundary of our knowledge. Christianity, as hath been admirably remarked, is a religion of fact and of experience. Intricacies which reason cannot unravel, as well as mysteries which it cannot fathom, attach to the simplest exhibition of its vast phenomena. Although a spirit of pertinacious discussion is not exactly the disposition in which truth should be investigated or maintained, we believe that a neglect of theological studies has proved much oftener fatal to the interests of genuine piety.
Towards the close of this chapter, our excellent Author suffers herself to be almost borne away by the fervour of her patriotism, which rises to the height of the boldest exultation.
Had any patriarch or saint,' she imagines, been allowed ' in prophetic vision, to penetrate through the long vista of
ages,' and to choose in what age and nation he would have wished to have his lot assigned him, it is more than probable' that he would have replied – IN GREAT BRITAIN, IN THE BEGINNING OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.'
She conjectures what would have been the feelings of David, had he seen the glorious accomplishment of his own predictions, in the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, the ple
nary gift of the Holy Spirit,' and ' the wide propagation of the everlasting Gospel in far more tongues than were heard on ' the day of Pentecost :'
• Had he seen, a Bible in every cottage, a little seminary of Christian instruction in every village ; had he beheld the firm establishment of the Christian Church, no longer opposed, but supported by secular powers, after having conquered opposition by weapons purely spiritual ; had he seen a standing ministry continued in a regular succession, from the age of the apostles to the present hour; had he seèn, in addition to these domestic blessings, England emancipating Africa and evangelizing India, commerce spreading her sails to promote civilization, and Christianity elevating civilization and sanctifying commerce.
• This conqueror of the heathen, this denouncer of false gods, this chosen monarch of the chosen people, this fervent lover of the devotions of the Sanctuary, this hallowed poet of Sion, this noble contributor to our public worship, this man after God's own heart, was not permitted to build one single church-we in this island only possess ten thousand!!!
And must we intrude upon this soothing twilight dream of our excellent Author, and remind her that this fantastic vision, composed of so incongruous an assemblage of ideas, is disowned by reality? We possess ten thousand churches,' and, we may add, three thousand chapels of ease! As for all the conventicles, they do not form a picturesque object in the landscape in which the village spire is seen pointing to heaven ;'
they are framed of too rude materials to delight a royal architect! But were the man after God's own heart, indeed permitted to take the survey of this favoured land, at this favoured era, --would be pass by the houses and the burns of religion, to dwell, in accents of felicitation and rapture, on the ten thousand churches which Popery has bequeathed to
Would the mysterious name of Church, even suggest to him a building made with hands; or would the architecture of the building, rather than the purpose to which the structure was consecrated, employ his admiration ? Would he recognise the regular apostolic succession, in the standing ministry of a complicated bierarchy, and in them exclusively? Or would he identify the external prosperity of a human institution, with the firm establishment of the Christian • Church?
We do not wish to dwell on this invidious topic. Perhaps we have misunderstood our Author, and have taken her words in a more restricted sense than they were intended to convey Perhaps the ten thousand churches' was a phrase indefinitely used, although involving in that case a considerable under-statement, in reference to the vast number of edifices which in this island are consecrated to the worship of the true God. If so, we entreat her forgiveness for so undesigned a misrepresentation. We share with our Author in the exultation which the animating prospects of the present day are calculated to excite, especially in the minds of those individuals, who remember the former days of comparative inaction and hopelessness. But let us not extend the illusions of self-love to our country, and call the glittering abstraction of excellence---England How long have the emancipation of Africa, and the evangelizing of India, ranked among the works of supererogation achieved by England ? Can the unwearied labours of a small body of indivi. duals, or the efforts of a few despised sectaries, who were, for a long time, the only agents in these immense fields of exertion, procure, thus easily, for their country, the honours of an Emancipator and Evangelist; when the very Government of that country so long exbibited itself in the form of decided opposition to their benevolent exertions, opposing interest to justice, and impious prudence to the authoritative dictates of Christianity ? Who are the evangelists of India? Who were they, when in the ten thousand churches' of England, the cause of Christianity in India scarcely obtained an advocate, and England despised the missionaries who, tolerated by her Government, went to spend their lives there, in the service of their Divine Master?
But we must lasten to the concluding chapter of the work before us, which contains a' cursory inquiry into some of the
? causes which impede general improvement.' It abounds with judicious observations on a variety of topics, and deserves to be read with particular attention.
On reviewing the account which we have given of these volumes, we feel as if we had awarded to their Author something less than the praise which this last effort of her pen appears to us pre-eminently to merit. To mete out the commendation or the dispraise which the Author might deserve, has not, however, been the object which has chiefly employed our solicitude. But we have very inadequately fulfilled our duty and our intention, if we have not given ihat character of the work, wbich will induce our readers to do their utmost in aiding in its circulation. We do not expect that it will attain the popularity of some of Mrs. More's former productions ; it is of a less inviting title and character: but those persons, on whom her influence has, through her former works, been beneficially exerted, will esteem the Essay on St. Paul as, perhaps, the most valuable of her labours. We consider Mrs. More as addressing herself, in this instance, more particularly to the religious public, to whom her reputation will ultimately be found to be indebted for its permanence; and to whom these volumes will be, we think, peculiarly acceptable.
We had intended to notice very briefly a few colloquialisms and verbal improprieties, which we earnestly wish to see removed from such a work : e. g. 'clubbed their opinions ;' 'patched up a code ;' tally with a dovetail correspondence;'
did not ito (such a state) pant for the blood of Christ ;'-and, as liable to a graver objection, ' deified humanity. These, and some rather excessive redundancies of expression, (as at p. 28.) we only advert to, as blemishes of style of easy avoidance, which detract nothing from the excellence of the work itself.
Art. IX. Memorial on Behalf of the Native Irish. With a View to
their Improvement in Moral and Religious Knowledge, through the Medium of their own Language. 8vo. pp. 80. Price 3s. Gale and
Co., Conder, London. 1815. No chieftain was ever more worthy of the gratitude of the
Celtic tribes, than the amiable and excellent Author of this Memorial. We do not indeed trace his atlinity by having the Muc, or the O, or the Ap, prefixed to his name; but we entertain, uotwithstanding, very little doubt of his relationship, since he presents to our view all the peculiarities of the Celtic character, purified by religion, cultivated by literature, and rendered subservient to the happiness of man by an enlarged philanthropy. Were the Celtic tribes to erect monuments to the memory of their benefactors, the Welsh would no doubt fix upon Jones and Charles; the Highlanders, upon Lord
Chatham and Dr. Samuel Johnson ;- the former, for maintaining their political rights,—the latter, for being the means of giving them the Scriptures in their own language :* --but both the Irish and the Highlanders, with the enthusiasm by which they are distinguished, will unite in regarding Mr. Anderson one of their first and firmrest friends.
It cannot be denied, that the operations of the Society for the support of Gaelic schools, have given an impulse to the mental pow. ers of the Highlanders, as in point of education, which it does not
seem they had obtained at any former period. These schools present ., one of the most gratifying scenes we have ever witnessed ; and
we have known a confirmed opponent-a proprietor of extensive estates, become a warm and steady friend by the argument wbich he himself deduced from the happy effects of one of the schools situated on his own lands. Nor does this present any thing wonderful ; for, by teaching the Highlanders to read the Scriptures in their own language instead of disgusting them with unintelligible sounds, they are delighted with the knowledge which they acquire, and the warmth of feeling and acuteness of mind by which they are naturally characterized, are discovered in the ardour and rapidity with which they receive instructions of their teacher.
It is more than time that the public should be awakened to a full sense of the singular absurdity of that preposterous system of education, which has been tried in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, the professed object of which is to communicate knowledge, while its direct tendency and effect are to retain the human mind in perfect ignorance; and which bears the semblance of charitable exertion, by the thousands of pounds that are expended in its support, but which really accomplishes no other end than that of persuading the community to believe that much is done towards enlightening their neighbours, when they are all the while walking in thick darkness. If Mr. Anderson was not the first to discover the palpable absurdity of a system, which has imposed on the understandings of very wise men, he has had the credit of inducing the public to pursue in the lIighlands a very different plan ; and though this gentleman, in his beneficent labours, does not seek the praise of men, we cannot forbear expressing the gratitude which he has merited from the Highlanders, from the native Irish, and from all who are anxious for the progress of knowledge.
The Memorial before us is a very interesting pamphlet; containing a statement of what has been done towards the instruc. tion of the native Irish, through the medium of their own
* See a letter of Dr. Johnson's in the Memorial.