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" In this, Sir," I replied, "I beg leave to differ from you; r it was indeed a most excellent answer of AGESILAUS, when : was asked what things he thought most proper for boys to arn : Those things which they ought to practise when they come
be men' A parent, indeed, cannot be too cautious in iarding his little ones against imbibing any doctrine, or :quiring any sentiment, in a state of nonage, which he ould be ashamed of their espousing when they grow up; and is perhaps more to this, than to any other source, that we re to impute the number of grown-up boys among the SIMON RISKS of the day,--that they camot get the better of those sildish frivolities, fanatical absurdities, and derogatory opinins of the Deity they were led to entertain in their youth. s they grow old they get too conceited and rivetted in their irly sentiments to think of unlearning any of their former erors, and instead of becoming as little children in docility of isposition, and a willingness to be taught by those who are ble and willing to do so, put them off in the way Manne, lanne, the high priest of the Otaheitans did the missionaries,
My grandfather told my father, and my father told me, et themselves up as the lights of the world, and are more disa osed to criticise and find fault with what is not agreeable to ie erroneous standard they had adopted, than either to be enefited themselves, or suffer others to be bettered by the disourses of our more rational divines. It were well for the world
the opinions of these men were purely speculative, and in his case the more reasonable and sober-minded Christian could ot do better than leave them to the silence of contempt; but Then the propagation of their dangerous tenets strikes at the oot of vital godliness, and has such a pernicious tendency n the weak and credulous; when the poor Tom BRAGWELLS f the day, are exposed to the poisoned arrows of their disourses; when, in short, the morality of the gospel is trampled n and despised as an unholy thing, parents, guardians, mas ers, and heads of families, cannot be too much upon the lert against such deceitful wiles of Satan, so widely spread broad to entangle the unwary, through the medium of intruments who assume the appearance of angels of light, l'ou said, that you flattered yourself for the honour of the ge we live in, that few such characters now exist; but if our sacred office did not prevent, and you had the opportu-. cities I enjoy in my pedestrian excursions of occasionally mix-, ng with the crowd when they assemble in the church-yard, he meeting-house lane, or the village ale-house, between lermons; and as they return home in the country, w tween
the jervice of the day is over, and hear the vociferation of some of these noisy polemics, (who, it is to be feared, are too plenti2.23
fully scattered in every parish,) and behold the eagerness with which their ravings are swallowed by the willing and credulou auditors, you would acknowledge your mistake, and allow that Simon Frisk is far from being a singular character.
“ The evil, indeed, Sir, is very far from being confined to a fer singular and solitary instances; for seldom I believe a Sunda passes without a considerable part of the good seed sown in th pulpit being picked up and destroyed by those ravenous fowl or choked by the tares sown amongst the wheat by thos betwixt and after-sermon lecturers before it is carried home Every thing, indeed, uttered agreeable to their fayourite dog mas or of mystical import, is approved of, and set downa orthodox; but whenever the better judgment of the preache does not exactly tally with their erroneous notions, or is re pugnant to the fanatical opinions they had formed, it is de claimed against as heterodoxy of the blackest hue.”
“ If this is so much the case in the country," said M. Meanwell, “ I am surprised that the ministers do not tak their hearers to task for it, and by some method of gentle re proof warn the most forward against a conduct so replet with mischief. As to the modest and unassuming part of the congregation, I should imagine a few seasonable hints and words of advice from such a quarter would be sufficient.”
“ With the most boisterous I am afraid," answered I," the minister would have little to say; for such characters forge! ting the admonition of the Apostle, to be clothed with humility, and to esteem every man better than themselves, usually set themselves above their minister, and consequently make themselves wiser than the Apostle; and as to the modest and unassuming part, so completely are the minds of the generality of them warped and directed by these noisy declaimers
, who besides indulge them in their taste for mystery, that any such attempt would likely be imputed to a want of zeal reply; that 'the common and straight forward duties of life were what every body knew, and what signified it to be continually telling them what was so easily understood ;-that to them belonged the mysteries of the kingdom, and if their min isters' did not think fit to dwell on such subjects in their dis courses, there was no harm in their attending to the pious and edifying conversation of those who did.”
“ This propensity of the people for mystery, or things be yond their comprehension, in preference to the plain, sober
, and wholesome dictates of our holy religion," "replied M. DIEANWELL, “is very unaccountable; òut it is far from be ing new, or we would not have read in the Acts of the Apostles of the multitude who gave heed to Simon the sorer
or heard so much about Antony the monk, and Simeon
eligious man who lived in a pillar! as we learn from the histoles of Socrates Scholasticus and Evagrius Scholasticus.” “I do not pretend to be much versed in ecclesiastical his.
rejoined I; “but in our own days we have witnessed he success of Mrs. BUCHAN over the minds of the people, chile her short delusion lasted, and the promptitude which ome evinced to believe in the vagaries of BROTHERS the prohet; and, I am apt to suspect, that so far is this itching after aystery from being eradicated, that, were Simon Frisk to ake up his abode like DIOGENES the Cynic in a tub, and laced in some conspicuous situation, cry out for a few pence s he gave utterance to his ravings in behalf of the necessity f such a mode of mortification and penance, according to the omplexion of the times, he would neither want sustenance nor onverts*.”
“ This is a mournful picture of human nature, indeed," reslied Mr MEANWELI., * and sorry I am to observe that it is o fully confirmed by facts, ancient and modern. That such should have been the state of the world before the Sun of Rightousness arose to diffuse his glorious rays of light and knowledge, or at the time when they were eclipsed by the dark ages of monkish superstition, is not so much to be wondered at, but that this shculd be matter of complaint in the nineteenth century, and in a land of science and philosophy, is surprising indeed, and I am perfectly at a loss how to account for it.”
“ It can only be accounted for,” replied I, on the princi. ple already noticed, that THE PRESS may be converted either to a good or a bad purpose, and the lamentable consideration that well meaning parents are too apt to be misled in the education of their children by the artifices of men who love darkness rather than light, either to suit their grovelling appetites, or because their deeds are evil. From this singk consideration, you may easily account for the slow progress of Truth, and the tardy improvement of human intellect, that the press affords the ready means of obscuring as well as ens lightening the world, and that a greater number of writers have been found willing to flatter the prejudices, and enslave the minds of their contemporaries, than to do away the one, and liberate the other.”
* Should any of our readers think the OBSERVANT PEDESTRIAN goes too far in this assertion, we would refer them to the success of JOANNA SOUTHCOTT, who, it appears, by her gifts and her offerings, neither wants the means of carrying on her delusions (mental we would charitably hope on her part) nor converts to her doctrine, even among the great!--And, if we 'may venture to make any allusion to the fooleries of a neighbouring nation, in return for the ridicule the Journal de Paris is pleased to bestow on the Gobes Mouches of England, for their kind attentions to "this young lady, seventy years of age," as they think proper to style her, we would refer the Editor of that paper to the blasphemous farce lately exhibited at Nismes ; not by a distempered old woman, as our JOANNA undoubtedly is, but by a minister at the head of his flock, attempting to bribe the ALMIGHTY to give the French nation a living child by the promise of a silver baby! These Gobes Mouches had much need indeed to read the Book of Nature,' in order to form more just and rational ideas of the Supreme Being
“ This may be very true," said Mr. Meanwell, “but when we observe the reception they generally meet with who attempt the latter, it is not surprising that so few are found willing to enter on the ungracious task. If they speak in plain terms they may be thankful if they get off from those they meant to serve with the complaint of the prophet, Who has believed our report ;' and as to the propriety of instruct ing by allegorical representations, mankind seem to be much divided. It was for this reason that I formed rather an un favourable opinion of a work you seem to approve of, the Cheap Magazine, when I saw the prospectus, that I observed it was meant to contain some stories that could not be depended on aş strictly true, as I for one do not think that such a method should be had recourse to, as long as there is a probability of a more simple and direct means being employed with success.
“ In this I agree with you," said I, “ that the most simple and least circuitous method of instruction, is certainly to be preferred where it can be used with an equal prospect of success, but I am afraid this method has been too much dem pended on of late by this wise generation, who do not seem to think it worth while to take into consideration the constitution of the human mind, the people they have to do with, and the example of our blessed Lord and Saviour himself. deed this method of instruction (as Dr. BLAIR observes) was common all over the East ; not only as it was well cal. culated, by arresting the attention of the person at first to thing in which he did not appear to be concerned, to convey imperceptibly to his mind the reproof or instruction of which he stood in need, but as the only medium through which bold truths and seasonable rebukes could be conveyed to the higher authorities and people in power. But for this necessity, arising out of the prejudices of the people and the circumstances of the times, we would not have had so inany beau-tiful parables left on record for our instruction in Scripture. What method, for example, could NATAAN have devised better calculated to reach the conscience of a sinning mone arch, and convince him of the magnitude of his crimes, than the beautiful parable of the Ewe-lamb; and how could the "Widow of Tekvah have gained so much on the affections
e father in behalf of his rebellious son ABSALOM, as by the presentation of the fictitious case in her own family. In r Saviour's time (says the laborious and indefatigable Mr. hn Brown, late minister of the gospel at Haddington,) ? manner of instructing by parables was quite common: he rried it to the height of excellency and usefulness. As pales very often represent truth as a kind of short history; in them, especially those of our Saviour, there may be oft allusion to real facts, which adds no small decorum to the rable :' so that the short histories in the Cheap Magazine, use at least which have an allusion to, or are founded upon ts, must, according to this writer, be reckoned among the ist excellent and useful of such representations. So fully it pears was JESUS CHRIST convinced of the necessity of this ethod of communicating instruction to the people that it is pressly said, all these things spake Jesus unto the multitude parables ; and without a parable spake he not unto them* ;' and this manner of teaching the ingenious Whitby remarks, at Christ thus spake to them in parables, did not proceed m his unwillingness to instruct them, but from their indissition to receive his doctrine delivered more plainly. Of is St. Mark informs us, (chap. iv. 33:) ' He spake the word them in many parables as they were able to hear it. If y thing, indeed, were wanting to convince the most increlous of the propriety of this plan of conveying useful truths the multitude, from their avidity to receive them in such rb, we have it in the astonishing and unexampled sale of HN BUNYAN'S Pilgrim's Progress beyond all his other orks, it being ascertained that no less than 430,000 copies that pleasing allegory had been printed some years ago! was considerations such as these, that made me enter so lly into the views of the publishers of the Cheap Magazine, imediately after I had perused their prospectus, and so far ? I from considering that department faulty, that I am more d more convinced of the utility of the plan of introducing ories of an instructive nature, or of a religious and moral ndency, into their Miscellany, especially when these stories e founded on, or have an allusion to facts.” "Well,” said Mr. MEANWELL, " I must confess that I bee. n to see things in a different light, and cannot help thinking, at, if the generality of our modern publishers would make it point to throw the instruction they mean to convey, especily to the young and inconsiderate, or even to the aged when makes against some long established habit or prejudice, to some agreeable or interesting form, it would be both ore acceptable at the time, and more apt to leave a lasting zpression behind.”
Matth. xiii. 34•