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of the spell should warn you, that there is danger in putting yourself into his power.' While I have confessed that I have read him-read him entire-in order to show that I speak from experience, I cannot but say, that it would give me the keenest pain to believe that my example would be quoted, small as is its influence, after I am in the grave, without this solemn protest accompanying it.”
With one other extract we close our review: * « Nothing in man is great, but so far as it is connected with God.' The only wise thing recorded of Xerxes is his reflection on the sight of his army, that not one of that immense multitude would survive a hundred years. It seems to have been a momentary gleam of true light and feeling. The history of all the great characters of the Bible is summed up in this one sentence; they acquainted themselves with God, and acquiesced in his will in all things; and no other characters can be called great, with any propriety.
* Look at individuals. You walk down on the wharf of one of our large cities. You notice a man apart from all the crowd. He walks with a quick, feverish step, backwards and forwards, and, every few moments, looks away at that dark speck, far off on the dark blue sea. He is waiting for that ship to loom up, that he may see his own flag at mast-head. For nearly three years she has been gone, and comes home now, probably, richly freighted. During all this time, he has followed her, in his thoughts, day and night : when it was dark - when the storm rushed—when the winds moaned-he thought of his ship; and not for a single waking hour at a time has that ship's image been out of his mind. His whole soul went with her; and yet, all this time, he never lifted a prayer to Him who holds the winds and the waves in his hand ; and even now, when his heart is swelling with hopes almost realized, still he thinks not of raising a breath in thanksgiving to his God; thinks of no acts of mercy which he will perform ; feels no accountability for his property. Is such a man, living for property alone, pursuing the real object of life?
“ Look at another man. He is pacing his closet : his brow is contracted; his countenance faded; his eye sunken, and he is full of troubled anxiety. He looks out of the window for his messenger, and then sinks down in deep thought. It would seem as if nothing less than the salvation of his soul could cause such an anxiety. He is a cunning statesman, a crafty politician, and is now waiting to leam the result of a new scheme, which he has planned, with the hope that it may aid him in climbing the ladder of ambition. He eyes every movement in the community, watches every change, and carries within him a solicitude which, at : times, must be agonizing. There are thousands of such minds, trying to make men their tools, regardless of means or measures, provided they can fulfil their great desire-exalt themselves. Are such men pursuing the real object of life? ,
“Look again. - There is a man of cultivated taste and refined feeling. His soul is full of poetry, and his feelings alive to every charm that is earthly. He can look out on the face of the evening sky, or watch the tints of dawn, and admire such beauties; but his soul never looks up through nature's works to nature's God.' He can enter into deep communion with what is perfect in the natural world, but he holds none with the Father of his spirit. Music, too, is his delight. He can eagerly give himself away to the melody of sweet sounds; but, with all this, he stands without the threshold of the moral temple of God, and has no wish to enter in and eat the food of angels. The thorns which grow on Sinai are unpleasant to his soul; but not more so than are the roses which bloom on Calvary. The blending tints of the summer-bow awaken a thrill of pleasure: but the bow of mercy which hangs over the cross of Jesus, has in it nothing that can charm. He lives, plans, and acts, just as he would were there no God above him, before whom every thought lies naked. Is this man-this refined, cultivated scholar-pursuing the object for which he was created ? And if every cultivated man on earth should do precisely as he does, would the world advance in knowledge, virtue, or religion? Man was created for purposes high and noble-such
as angels engage in, and in comparison with which all other objects sink into insignificance, and all other enjoyments are contemptible as ashes.”—Pp. 299– 302.
The Manner of Prayer, An Inquiry relative to the best Means of
discharging the Duties of Public and Social Devotion. By W. Walford, late Tutor in the Academy at Homerton.
London: Jackson and Walford, 1836, pp. 289. Pastoral Appeals, on Personal, Domestic, and Social Devotion.
By the Rev. R. W. Hamilton, Minister of Belgrave Chapel,
Leeds. London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co., 1836, pp. 233. The demand for certain classes of books, may be regarded as a fair criterion of the taste and habits of any particular period. If our information is correct, there is no class of works, on which the trade look more shily, than on treatises of a devotional character. The reputation of an author, or some other extraneous circumstance, may produce occasional exceptions ; but such, we believe, is the general fact. Many events have shown that booksellers are seldom vcry accurate judges of the merit of unpatronized literature; but from the nature of their avocations, they are excellent judges of the description of literature which is likely to secure a demand. If the demand for devotional treatises, or of treatises bearing on devotion, is too small to afford the trader a remunerating profit, it gives a somewhat gloomy view of the religious character and habits of the age. The duty of caring for the souls of others was never, perhaps, better understood, or, in a social form, more effectively embodied, than in the present day: but it may, at least, admit a question, whether the duty of caring for our own souls is seen with all the clcarness, and pursued with all the avidity which have marked the character of Christians in some former periods.
In religion the maxim of trade is reversed, and the supply creates the demand: we have hence been highly gratified by the perusal of the two excellent treatises, the titles of which stand at the head of this article.
The contents of Mr. Walford's volume are less restricted than its title would lead us to expect. The work comprises remarks on the duty of prayer, its pre-requisites, the parts and objects of public and social devotion, the manner and the consequences of prayer.
A truly christianized dignity of manner, calmness of spirit, correctness of sentiment, combined with accuracy and elegance of diction, render this a most delightful book. With regard to the excellency last mentioned, an intelligent reader will frequently observe, that although the sentences are sufficiently long to form a suitable medium for the expression of continued thought, the writer has happily succeeded in retaining the true Saxon idiom of the language. The sentiment of the following passage is highly impressive and useful.
“An obligation of the most forcible and stringent nature lies upon the professed disciples of the blessed Redeemer, to employ his mediation, by presenting to the throne of mercy, in his name, the most perfect services which they are able to bring. It is a very unbecoming return for the inestimable blessings which his condescension, labours, and sufferings have procured for us, to be indifferent, even to the manner in which we attempt to discharge the duties of devotion. No indifference was found in him; his devotional exercises were marked, not merely by deep submission and perfect reverence for God, but his manner was equally distinguished by meekness of wisdom,' and a subdued chasteness both of sentiment and diction. Nothing can be conceived of so remote from inflated language, from swelling words of vanity, from an affectation of ingenious turns or pretty conceits, or from that boisterous magniloquence which too frequently usurps the place of deep and pathetic expression, as the petitions which our Lord Jesus Christ instructed his disciples to employ, and of which he set before them the most exquisite example. Happy and honoured shall we be if we are found endeavouring, in some small degree, to imitate his grace and dignity?"Pp. 5, 6.
In representing the delightful fact " that Almighty love has no greater proof to give of willingness to save," than that which God has actually afforded, Mr. Walford says, “the gift which was bestowed was the gift of himself;" and subsequently he speaks of the infinitely wise God as “ giving himself for man.” While fully convinced of the truth of these statements, we are doubtful whether this is the best mode of putting the subject. We doubt it, because it is a mode which gives occasion to the adversaries of our Lord's divinity and atonement to charge us with maintaining the patripassian heresy. The strictly scriptural statement that God gave for us his Son, who is “ the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,” appears to us to have an equal cogency, while it is less open to the cavillings of unbelief. In considering a treatise less distinguished by accuracy, both of sentiment and diction, we might not have offered what to some may appear as so trifling an objection.
When referring to Wesley and Whitfield, Mr. Walford remarks, “ if it be said, they were not Dissenters, it will remain for those who make the assertion to show how men can be properly denominated otherwise, who themselves set at defiance the authorities of the church, abandoned many of its essential rules, and established large communities of worshippers, who have entirely departed from communion with it.” That both Wesley and Whitfield, as a thousand other clergymen, and even as many bishops have done, remarked freely on the corruptions of the church, is known to every one who is acquainted with their history and writings; but to such persons it is equally known, that they did not ground their partial separation on any dissatisfaction with the church, but that this separation, so far as it went, arose out of the circumstances in which they found themselves placed, and of the tendency of which, in the earlier stages of their course, they had no conception. It is equally notorious, that to the present day, the Methodists have never protested against a single error or corruption of the church, but profess themselves to rank, if not amongst its warmest admirers, at least amongst its cordial friends and zealous supporters. Separatists they are; inconsistent beyond all parallel in the history of the Christian Church they as undoubtedly are; but how they can be Dissenters, a term which implies, not separation merely, but difference of opinion, it is not quite so easy to discern. · It was not bigotry but discretion, a discretion more likely to be exercised in times of rest than in times of agitation, which led our fathers to use a totally different language from
that of the passage on which we are remarking. Before God, and before man, they solemnly protested against the errors and corruptions of the church; and hence they did not choose to nullify their protest by asserting their identity with parties, how respectable soever as Christians, who, instead of joining in the protest, professed an entire satisfaction with the objects against which it was directed. The position which the Wesleyans and the Methodists generally have assumed in the questions now at issue, between the Church of England and the Dissenters, shows that the Methodists, as a body, are not Dissenters, and that the Dissenters, by claiming them, while they seem to enlarge their numbers, really impair their usefulness and reduce their strength:
Mr. Hamilton's treatise consists of three sermons, the first sermon on Private Devotion; the second on Domestic Religion; and the third on Social Prayer. Our author treats these subjects in a style better adapted perhaps to the pulpit than to the press. His sentences are short, axiomatic, and frequently inverted; while the ardour of his mind furnishes him with an imagery powerful indeed, but not always in accordance with the rigid demands of taste. And yet we can readily conceive, that this style is so effective an instrument of public instruction, that the author has no desire to relinquish it altogether; a resolve which, as the pulpit, rather than the press, is his chosen sphere of service, may be excused, though rot perhaps defended. It is evident, however, that the author puts a restraint upon the exuberance of his fancy; for his imagery is, sometimes, rather gathered into clusters, than spread out through the whole surface of the composition. But while literary justice requires a notice of the minor blemish, which has been mentioned, it is equally required by the same justice, to say, that the work before us, is great in talent, sound in theology, and eminently useful in its tendency ; it discovers an intimate acquaintance with the arcana of personal piety; its appeals are cogent, and its quotations from the Holy Scriptures very felicitous. In this last respect, Mr. Hamilton furnishes an advantageous model for the rising ministry. He frequently introduces passages quite out of the ordinary line of quotation, but which are singularly adapted to convey the sentiment which he intends to express: and though the rhetorical embellishments of the work are liable to objection, some of its figurative passages possess considerable merit. The following passage is, in our apprehension, exquisitely beautiful, and serves to awaken regret that its author should not, always, have subjected the exuberance of his fancy, to the same happy discipline. Referring to prayer, he says,
“ This is the duty which precedes all others : with it all religion originates, and in its neglect all religion expires. You need not wonder, then, my dear friends, that I am anxious upon this point. It is every thing to you; it is your life! You have each a lesson yet to learn, each a step yet to take, if you have this to begin. That closet is the only gate of heaven! Angels could not open another! It must witness your agonies, your transports of devotion! It must echo your groans and your songs; for it is the anti-chamber of heaven too! If there you find your dreadest moments, there likewise you shall enjoy your brightest days! Earth has not such another asylum! Heaven is not reflected by such another type! I would blow the silver trumpet as from the walls of a city refuge. I would compel the strangers into a banqueting house of royal festivity. I would proclain as a herald, bow the knee! () ye guilty, this must be your sanctuary ; ye harassed, this your shelter ; ye inquiring, this your oracle : ye weary, this your rest !"-pp. 9, 10.
Mr. Walford and Mr. Hamilton are alike decided advocates for the use of extemporaneous, or more properly, free prayers, in the public offices of religion. There is, however, some difference in their opinions. Mr. Walford thinks that 6 a combination of both the modes of devotion,” the form and the unwritten prayer" would be productive of the best effects,” and that “the responsive form of the litany is well adapted to maintain attention, by giving, as well to the congregation as to the officiating minister, an active part in the service.” Mr. Hamilton, in speaking of forms, assures us, that he is “ happy” in his " exemption from any obligation to use them,” but that he is “ not their bigotted, invariable opponent.” Subsequently he adds,
“ We may deny upon the surest evidence, that precomposed devotions were among the ancient things.' In the Jewish church there were inspired forms, which we still retain and adopt: and when we can find an inspired form, divinely authorized and imposed under the present dispensation, we shall not be found disobedient and recusant. It was in the defection of that church that human devices were attempted; the spirit of prayer being dissipated, it had recourse to rituals, until then unknown. And were directories of prayer common or recognized in the earliest ages of Christianity? What form had the Apostles, when met together in the upper room, days before the Holy Ghost was miraculously given? No ordinal was extant, which could include their case, yet they continued in prayer and supplication. How inconceivable is it, that when Paul and Silas prayed, at midnight and in prison, they should follow only some prescribed rule?' That when Paul kneeled down with the elders of the Ephesian Church at Miletus, weeping sore around him, he confined himself to some set measured phrase? That when he kneeled with his own company on the beach of Tyre, bidding farewell to the disciples, whom he should see no more, and their voice of united prayer mingling with the murmur and the dash of the sea--that beand they should simply recite some often practised, and easily remembered terms of petition.”- pp. 201, 202.
In common, not only with the writers before us, but with many of the most distinguished Nonconformists of other days, we do not assert the absolute unlawfulness of forms. The litany, however, is almost the last of the offices of the Episcopal Church, which on any account would have secured our approbation of its mode of worship. The questionable character, and even the imperfect sense of some of its requests, combined with the vain repetition of its responses, responses less in harmony with the composedness and sacred dignity of Elijah, than with the iterations of the worshippers of Baal, have generally rendered the litany, even to the most candid Nonconform ists, a painful part of the established service. Mr. Walford, however, does not express his approbation of the Church of England litany; he merely commends the responsive form in which it is composed. But the introduction of the best constructed liturgies is not only condemned by its tendency to banish free prayer, and, by this means, to VOL. I. N.S.