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manding combination of character, as the Philosopher, and the Christian instructer; and his addresses, designedly adapted to persons of elevated rank and of proportionate influence in society, and to young men preparing to act distinguished parts in life, have been already cited as models, both of language and sentiment, by Journalists whose opinions have extensive currency. They have not scrupled to venture the assertion, that they know, in fact no sermon so pleasing, or so likely both
to be popular and to do good to those who are pleased with 'them. And they close their panegyric, with a sentence which we are persuaded Mr. Alison himself, equally with ourselves, must contemn for its flippancy, as well as reprobate for the temerity of the insinuated comparison which it contains of the elegant Essayist, with a prelate of powers so vast, and of attainments so comprehensive, as were combined in the Bishop of St. Asaph. We will quote their words.
'It is a fine thing, we make no doubt, to compose a learned commentary on the prophet Hosea, or a profound dissertation 'on the intermediate state of the soul;-but we would prefer,
doing what Mr. Alison has done in the volume before us: and we cannot help envying the talents by which he has 'clothed so much wisdom in so much beauty-and made us 'find, in the same work, the highest gratifications of taste, and 'the noblest lessons of virtue.'-Edinb. Review, No. 46, p. 440. One would imagine that nothing but the consciousness of possessing that sort of credit with the public, that will procure for all the sentiments they may be pleased to utter, unhesitating acquiescence, could have reconciled them to the imbecile extravagance of this sweeping encomium.
The defect in Mr. Alison's sermons to which we have alluded, is not of partial extent, nor of slight importance. It amounts, we are constrained to say, to a systematic exclusion of the grand peculiarities of the Christian system. It is an attempt-say his encomiasts, to lead us on to piety, through the purification ' of our taste, and the culture of our social affections-to found the 'love of God on the love of Nature and of man :' but we feel compelled to characterize it as an attempt to conduct the process of moral education and of religious instruction, with a careful avoidance of every principle, every motive, and every sanction, which is peculiar to the religion of Jesus Christ. We do not say that not a casual reference is made to any of the doctrines of Christianity, or that the name of the Son of God, as the Saviour of the World, is not occasionally introduced with becoming reverence. We do not mean to cast any imputation upon Mr. Alison's personal belief, or upon the purity of his design. But we must seriously submit to him the consideration, whether, by the style of address which he has adopted in these
Discourses, he may not have inadvertently countenanced the dangerous presumption, that to persons in the higher ranks, or in the more respectable conditions of society, a modification of religious truth is to be offered wholly different from that Gospel which the Poor are to have preached unto them. The persons whom Mr. Alison addressed, were, perhaps, such firm believers in the doctrines of revelation, that they needed neither instruction nor exhortation, in respect to the objects of faith: yet this belief had been found so inefficient in supplying sentiments of piety, or motives of action, that the Preacher was compelled to have recourse to auxiliary and confessedly inferior principles. Despairing of the efficacy of appeals to the conscience, adapted to a common audience, of the power of inducements drawn from the love of the Redeemer, from human impotence, or from the promise of Divine influence, Mr. Alison would try the effect of the sentiments of moral philosophy, and the persuasive influence of taste! But in his thus becoming all things to all men, have the design and the hope which inspired the apostolic exemplar, been retained? Has his object been, that he might by any means save some? Or is there any object below that of saving his hearers, with which a Christian minister has found it possible to content himself? Let us not be understood as objecting to the style of these Discourses independently considered: Rather let all the magic of eloquence and the splendours of diction be reserved for themes of infinite interest. But is there, then, any style of sentiment or of language, which would require the exclusion of the grand topics of Christianity from a sense of their incongruity? Is it safe, is it decorous for the Christian philosopher, in descanting upon themes of the most attractive or commanding interest, to pre-occupy the minds of his readers with associations of thought and feeling uncongenial as it should seem, with the genius of the Gospel?-to dissociate the enthusiasm of the patriot, or the emotions inspired by the contemplation of nature, from those corrective principles, without which our noblest passions and our sweetest pleasures are fraught with danger and impurity? Or has Mr. Alison found, on analyzing the principles of taste, that the emotions of imaginative pleasure cannot exist in combination with the element of spiritual life, the hidden principle which unites the heart to Christ?
We know we have pronounced that name, which, though it is exalted, and ought to be endeared, above every name, would produce on the minds of some, the same effect as the name of Allah is fabled to have on the unhallowed spells of enchantment. There is a false devotion, to which the mind is sometimes wrought by the power of sensation, and with which the touching beauty, or solemn magnificence of nature, is adapted to inspire
the contemplative mind. The same excitement of feeling is sometimes produced by the power of music, and by the pompous ritual of the Roman Catholic Church. The feelings thus excited, being of that deep and indefinite nature, that they will not attach to the determinate forms of sense, refer themselves to invisible objects, and become embodied in vague sentiments of devotion, the character of which depends on the circumstances by which they are suggested. We term that a false devotion, which is thus produced, because it has no necessary connexion with the state of the heart, or the habitual tendency of the character. It has no reference to the revealed character of the Divine Being, nor does it partake of the nature of enlightened obedience to his will. It has nothing in it distinguishing, but in common with the whole class of sentiments to which it belongs, the benevolence, the melancholy, the sensibility of mere taste; it is altogether factitious; it may consist with any system of religious belief, or disbelief; it is a mere ebullition of feeling, which leaves behind it no moral residuum.
The inefficiency of this sentimental religion is not the only reason for which it is to be deprecated. The mind learns to rest with complacency in the vague and imperfect notions which it finds most favourable to the indulgence of imagination, and in the fancied security induced by the possession of such undoubted claims to the rewards of piety; it excludes as unnecessary to its own peace or safety, if not as unworthy of its regard, those considerations which respect the very first principles of Christian truth. The religion of the New Testament, though it may be professedly honoured, is felt to be at variance with their habits of association; and the name of Christ falling upon their ear, in their moments of most devout feeling, would be discordant, would sound as if it belonged to a lower and less refined order of sentiments: nay, it is possible that to the mind of the philosophic enthusiast, the name of a Saviour, would come connected with the bare idea of Methodism.
Now we submit it to Mr. Alison, whether the views and illus'trations' to which he has confined himself, may not have a tendency to encourage in his readers the dangerous errors to which we have adverted. The concluding reflections to his Essays on the Principles of Taste, always appeared to us to be a defective sequel to his philosophy; but we had hoped, that in his Sermons, we should find this deficiency supplied. Our disappointment has been proportioned to the high estimate we have formed of Mr. Alison's powers of mind, and to the opportunity which his fame and influence afforded him of so beneficially impressing the minds of his readers. It was not a common impression which Mr. Alison ought to have contented himself with producing. It was not a small purpose to which his great
talents ought to have been limited. But what moral tendency can we attribute to expressions like the following?
Nor ask for a reward to your labours. To be thus employed is itself happiness. It is to be fellow-workers with the Father of Nature, in the prosperity of his people. It is to give men to society, citizens to your country, and children to your God.' p. 216.
• Of that illustrious man (Nelson) whose memory is now present to every heart, and whose loss has dimmed the eye of public exultation, I have not the confidence either to attempt the praise or to deplore the fall. I remember that there is a silence more impressive than words; and still more, that there is a veil drawn by the hand of Heaven, between the “ spirit that enters into the joy of his “ Lord,” and those feeble accents of mortal praise that follow its ascension.'
nature, in these hours has lessons to us all—which come to us with that gentle and unreproaching voice, wnich delights while it instructs us, and which marks the fine education of Him who is the Father of our spirits.' p. 336.
• In the character of our Saviour, on the contrary, there is always something above the world :-a superiority alike to all that is great and all that is weak in man ;-a forgetfulness of himself which results rather from nature than from effort, and which assimilates him, in our opinion to some higher and purer order of existence.' p. 116.
• There are emotions which every where characterize the different seasons of the year. In its progress, the savage is led, as well as the sage, to see the varying attributes of the Divine Mind ;-and in its magnificent circle, it is fitted to awaken in succession, the loftiest sentiments of piety which the heart can feel.' p.
431. We shall quote only one passage more, containing a misapplication of Scripture, which borders at once on bombast and impiety. We believe it has no parallel in the volume. • These days, too, are over.
“ He hath blown with his wind, and “ they are scattered." The cross is again triumphant in the sky, and in its sign the faithful have conquered. The might of the gospel hath infused itself into the soldier's arm; and, while the foe is prosa trate upon the ground, the mild, but thrilling voice, seems again to be heard from Heaven, “ I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest."
We could enumerate many other passages of an equally equivocal meaning, or of a description equally exceptionable. It is, however, to the general strain of these Discourses, that our animadversions are designed chiefly to apply; and it is rather what is excluded from them, than what they positively contain, that renders them objectionable. We could have forgiven the philosopher for having attributed to the impressions of material beauty, a moral efficiency in meliorating the character, (which is, however, altogether chimerical,) had he at the same time referred to the necessity of a change of heart, to the production of which, any agency short of Omnipotence is inadequate. We could have allowed him to exult in the dignity of human nature, if this exultation had been tempered by the acknowledgement, that man has fallen from God, and through sin has become a mighty ruin, which none but the Almighty Creator can restore. We could have admired the exalted eloquence with which the Preacher descants upon the magnificent works of creation, and by which he would win his hearers to ennobling contemplations, if he had but consecrated the loftiest sentiments of piety,' to the mysteries of Redemption, and reserved his most persuasive eloquence, as the minister of Christ, for beseeching men to be “reconciled “ to God.” The ministry of reconciliation is not, we lament to say, the ministry to which these pages are devoted. That they eontain much wisdom clothed in much beauty, we do not wish to deny; but we are reminded that there is a species of wisdom, which is foolishness with God. They display indeed a captivating splendour of style, by which they may dazzle the imagination; but when estimated according to their practical value, they can be considered only as a splendid trifle.
Art. V. 1. De L'Interêt de la France à l'Egard de la Traite des
Nègres. Par J. C. L. Simonde de Sismondi. 8vo. pp. 52. price 3s.
Londres. Schulze et Dean, Poland-street. 1814. 2. A Letter to his Excellency Prince Talleyrand Perigord, &c. &c. &c.
on the Subject of the Šlave Trade. By William Wilberforce,
Esq. M, P. 8vo. pp. 83. Price 3s. Hatchard. 1814. IT is astonishing,' remarks the eloquent Author of the first of
these pamphlets, that the great interests of Europe which are to be discussed at the Congress of Vienna, have hitherto oceupied so little of the attention of political writers. The circumstances under which that Congress is proceeding to deter• mine the fate of the Universe, are so novel and unforeseen, that even the most skilful statesmen cannot be supposed to possess a
deep knowledge of the interests of each government. There appears, indeed, to prevail in the public mind, a degree of apathy as to the result of those deliberations, to be accounted for only by that weariness of expectation, and that distrust of ebange, which the calamities of Europe have induced. It is not to be disguised, that the blessings of Peace have not as yet been realized. That confidence, which is one of its most pre
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