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If the subjects which the author has chosen, though always amusing and curious, be not constantly of equal dignity and importance, the most fastidious critics must allow that they have been treated in a very original and entertaining manner. Not one of his various productions deserves the chilling epithet of dull or dry; and though some may call the style quaint, and deem a few of the n.aterials queer and gossipping, they must grant that his writings, and (those who have enjoyed it) his conversation, afforded much information, seasoned with a very peculiar kind of wit, and relating to illustrious personages and eminent individuals ; information, too, which few, if any, had equal opportunities either of gaining or communicating.
Art. VI. Sermons on various Subjects. By the late Rev. Benjamin
Choyce Sowden ; of Emanuel College, Cambridge, and Minister of the English Episcopal Church at Amsterdam. 8vo. pp. 419.
78. Boards. Johnson. 1798. AMONG the great number of sermons which annually issue n from the press, we are sorry to see so few distinguished by that gospel simplicity, and that brotherly charity, which are so suitable to the Christian preacher; and without which the most eloquent and popular orator is but “a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.”—The volume before us, however, we can fairly say, honorably ranks among tbe chosen few. It consists of twenty-four excellent discourses, on the most important Christian duties and doctrines. The style, though not laboured, nor always perfectly correct, is generally elegant, easy, and perspicuous; and the good and benevolent heart discovers itself in every page. We are told that these sermons were not prepared for the press by the author himself; and that it does not even appear that they were composed with any farther views, than the instruction and edification of the audience to which they were delivered. The author, had his life been prolonged, would probably have given to them a higher degree of polish, as we live in times when style is culo tivated with a peculiar, and perhaps exaggerated solicitude. Of this he was, undoubtedly, capable. It is well known, how much he was esteemed by the professors and men of letters at Amsterdam; not only on account of his moral and social qualities, but also of his knowlege, taste, and genius.”.
The subjects of the discourses are :
The suitableness of Religion to the nature of man. The difficulties of Religion no reasonable objeciion to it.—The superiority of the hopes of the Christian, when compared with those of the Deist.God no respecter of persons.—The usefulness of good examples. -The character and reRey. Nov. 1798. X
ward of Job.--On sanctifying the name of God. On the inscription af Athens «ö to the unknown God.”—On the Love of God (an excellent Sermon).-The joy arising from a practical regard to Religion.--Conte siderations on the circumstances of Christ's agony.—The Christian's hope. -The reality, necessity, and consequences of Christ's ascension considered. - Philosophical views of a future state, as revealed in the Gospel.-Religion and virtue our sovereign good.-The immoderate love of pleasure. -The necessity of combating sin in its beginnings. The art of numbering our days.-Our Lord's commendation of the unjust steward explained. The vanity of expecting true happiness in this world.
From the last sermon, we may give a favorable specimen of the worthy and amiable author's style and manner. After having shewn, from the doctrine and example of Solomon, the vanity of human happiness, he proceeds and concludes thus :
• But to the experience of Solomon, let each of us add his own. Let each recall to mind the events and sentiments of past life. Can you not recollect a period, when you ardently wished for the very circumstances which Providence has since allotted you? Did you not then regard them as the summit of human happiness ? Did you never fondly imagine that when these wishes were gratified, you should have nothing further to desire ? Were these opinions justly founded? Do your present sentiments exactly correspond with them? Do the objects of experience confirm the suggestions of hope ?
Let imagination realize every ideal scheme of happiness, which you have ever proposed to yourselves ; and with all the advantages you could be supposed to acquire, you would still be as short of com. plete felicity, as discontented with the present, and as anxious for the future, as you are with those you actually enjoy. And you would be astonished to find a similarity so striking, between what, in this respect, you had imagined so widely different.
A remarkable instance of the unsatisfactory nature of all worldly prosperity, and a confirmation of Solomon's inaxim, is afforded by the Emperor Septimius Severus. “ Omnia fui et nihil expedit.“ “ I have been all things, and all is of little value," was his declara. tion after having been raised from an humble station, to the imperial throne of Rome and the sovereignty of the world. · From what has here been asserted, think not that we mean to conclude that all conditions of life are absolutely equal with respect to the happiness they afford ; that therefore they who enjoy the most valuable temporal advantages, should regard them with contempt and indifference, and that they from whom they are withheld, ought not to endeavour to acquire them, or to improve their condition and circumstances. Such a conclusion would be as contrary to the dictates of religion as to those of common sense.
- Nothing, except the grossest stupidity and ingratitude, can render us insensible to temporal prosperity and to the external means of happiness, when Providence thinks fit to bestow them upon us. When our cup overflows with blessings, and we are surrounded with every thing which can render life not only comfortable but de
lightful; shall we, because imperfection is the indelible character of every worldly advantage, give way to melancholy and sorrow, or suffer gloomy discontent to suppress and render vain every motive to gratitude and joy? Forbid it, Reason—forbid it, Religion.
• Those to whom Providence has granted a large share of the good things of life, should cultivate a sense of their real value, and survey with humble gratitude the difference which God has made between them and others, to whom these blessings are denied ; while by affability and benevolence they should endeavour to lessen the inequality. Worldly prosperity, though it cannot of itself confer solid happiness, may yet be the means of greatly increasing partial and relative bliss. Though it do not constitute that permanent good which shall follow us beyond the grave, yet it is of high value, as it tends to render our present existence comfortable and desirable.
. Those from whom Providence has withheld worldly advantages, or to whom they have been but sparingly dispensed, may lawfully endeavour to acquire them; may by honest industry labour to improve their condition, and to render the future path of life more pleasing than that through which they have already passed. Nay, this is an essential part of our duty-we ought not to neglect the acquisition of any good, except when it is incompatible with a greater good; nor ought we to endure any evil which we can possibly avoid, unless it be the sole means of preventing a greater evil, or of acquiring a greater good. Self-love, therefore, which within certain limits, is a lawful, because a natural passion, should teach us to exert all the efforts of honest industry for the acquisition of temporal prosperity, and of whatever may im; 'rove the happiness of our lives.
• The love of our neighbour also, which we are commanded to regulate by the love of ourselves, is another motive to engage us to this duty, and should prompt us to avail ourselves of every innocent method of acquiring worldly prosperity. The more we are blessed with wealth, the better are we able to relieve the indigent: the more we are elevated in rank, the better are we able to succour the oppressed : the more learning and knowledge we have acquired, the better are we qualified to inculcate the duties of religion--to display the beauties and advantages of virtue..
• From this view of the futility of our expectations of complete happiness in this world, we should learn to hear with patience the inconveniencies of our present condition, which no alteration of circumstances here can entirely remove. Many render themselves insen. sible to present advantages from the desire of greater. The eager anxiety with which they long after new acquisitions, prevents them from enjoying what they actually possess. Their intense desire of rising to a more elevated station of life, disqualifies them from relish. ing the sweets of that which is allotted to them.
But from the view here exhibited of the vanity of every earthly wish, you may learn the folly of overlooking present happiness, in the idle hope that some future period of life will afford you more complete satisfaction; thus bartering the enjoyment of actual good, for the empty shadow of vain expectation. X 2
• Hence also permit me to exhort you to fix your views and hopes on the felicity of another and better state, and to seek that good from eternity which you cannot reap from time. For what complete happiness can you expect from this life, if the future is to resemble the past—if, in the years that remain, you are to experience the same disappointments, the same mixture of evil with its boasted good, which you have so often weighed in the balance and found wanting.
"To conclude, as year after year passes away, and experience convinces us more and more of the imperfection of all earthly felicity; let this remind us that this world is only a state of trial and preparation for a better. Hence let us cultivate resignation and gratitude to that God, who has set before us the prospect of more perfect happiness; who, by the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, has begotten us again to a lively hope of an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, eternal in the heavens. Of this let us endeavour to render ourselves less unworthy, by setting our affections more and more on things above. Amidst all the disappointments and sorrows, which await us in the cloudy and uncertain scene of this life, let us console ourselves with the ex. pectation of a brighter and more glorious state, where no fallacious hope shall ensnare, no smiling appearances shall betray, no insidious joy shall sting; but happiness perfect in its kind shall be the reward and companion of virtue ; where we shall be continually improving in the latter, and increasing the former, through the infinite ages of eternal duration.'.
It gave us pleasure, in reading these sermons, to observe that most of the author's texts are taken from the New Testament;
the Christian's special code. On the whole, we recommend these discourses to the perusal of all denominations of Christians; with the greater confidence, because Christians of every deno. mination will find much in them to admire, and very little (we believe) to clash with their respective creeds.
: ART. VII. M. de la Pérouse's Voyage round the World. : Article continued from the Appendix to Review, Vol. XXVI.
, (published October 1st, 1798). W e now resume our account of the narrative of M. de la
V Pérouse ; the continuation of which was intended for the last month : but an accident intervened which prevented its insertion. · On leaving the coast of Chili, the voyagers steered for Easter Island; where they anchored April 9th, 1786. Their remarks, during the very short time of their stay at this island, differ in some particulars from the accounts given by Captain Cook. They estimate the number of inhabitants at 2000. The num
ber of females seen in each of the voyages was small. in proportion to the number of the males.-M. de la Pérouse expresses himself dissatisfied with the drawing made of the monuments at Easter Island by Mr. Hodges (who accompanied Capt. Cook); which, Ke says, was a very imperfect representation of what they (the French) saw: but it is to be observed that M. de la P. was here only a single day, and it is very probable that Mr. Hodges might have designed from originals never seen by the French officer, as numbers of them were found in different parts of the island. Goats, sheep, and hogs, with the seeds of orange, lemon, and cotton trees, of maize, and of other plants which M. de la Pérouse thought likely to flourish in the island, he gave to the natives..
From Easter Island, the voyagers sailed for the Sandwich Islands; and though they pursued a track not before fre. quented, for a distance of nearly 2000 leagues, no new land was discovered. In this passage, they caught, almost every day during six weeks, as many Bonetas as furnished a complete allowance for the ships' companies; and, which was most remarkable, the same shoal of fish had followed the ships for 1500 leagues ; ' several that had been wounded by harpoons retained a mark on their backs which rendered it impossible to mistake them.' These fish did not quit them till they anchored at the Sandwich Islands; and M. de la Pérouse con. jectures that, but for this stoppage, they would have accompanied him till they came to a temperature which they could not bear.
An assertion of the French editor, in this part of the work, demands some notice. M. de la Pérouse having mentioned the death of Captain Cook, M. Milet Mureau says, in a note, it is incontestibly proved that the English commenced hostilities.' We do not wish to enter into, nor to encourage, any discussion on this subject : but we think it extraordinary that the following fact should be adduced by M. Mureau in support of such a charge : before the commission of any other crime than that of stealing the boat, two guns had been fired upon two great canoes which endeavoured to make their escape.' This is, at least, allowing that the theft of the boat preceded the firing of the guns.
The French frigates remained only 48 hours at these islands; from which, nevertheless, they procured considerable refreshments. Two English ships, commanded by Captains Portlock and Dixon, were at this very time among the islands : but they were not seen by M. de la Pérouse, nor did he hear of any other ships being there.
Ich editor; use having him a note; ies.