« PreviousContinue »
RELIGIOUS CIRCULATING LIBRARIES.
IN reading that most useful part of your work the Review, I am often tempted to feel some little discontent with my lot, which will only allow me to purchase a very few of the books you recommend, the extracts from which only heighten my desire to see the whole, and even raise some degree of envy towards my richer neighbours, who have it in their power to become possessors of all they wish. Think ing the other day over this subject, it struck me as surprising, that numerous as the readers of religious publications now are, there is not (I believe) in this Christian country a single religious circulating library;" and while almost every town contains circulating libraries for novels and romances, the Christian (if not wealthy) is obliged to be content with the few religious works he can purchase, or borrow from his friends. At first sight, perhaps, it might be thought difficult to collect a sufficient number of religious works suited to the purpose; but when you take into consideration the numerous biographi
cal works, voyages, and travels (especially to the East and the Holy Land), which either directly or indirectly throw light on the Scriptures, together with the principal theological publications of the day, and some of the standard works of former days, histories and reports of the several religious and philanthropical societies, it is obvious that a very respectable library might be easily formed; and by keeping down the subscribing price to one guinea per annum (which the bookseller could afford to do, as books of the above description are not depreciated in value by time, as novels and romances are), I have no doubt that it would answer exceedingly well, be of very great use to both clergy and laity, and be a great means, under God, of diffusing right ideas of vital Christianity, not only in London but throughout the empire. By either inserting this letter or any part of it, or by making the proposition known in any way you think best, you will oblige
Your constant reader,
W. L. T.
WITHIN a very extensive range of observation, I have seldom noticed, among the clergy of the Established Church, that critical attention to the reading of the several parts of the service, which, upon very sufficient grounds, I consider as both becoming and requisite. Many of them have appeared to me to regard the manner of reading the prayers and lessons not merely as a matter of secondary consideration, but as one of trivial consequence; and yet there is certainly not wanting sufficient reason for affirming, that, if viewed with reference to effects, it would be
found, upon the whole, but little if at all inferior in point of importance to preaching.
Several prayers in the Liturgy of the Established Church are distinguished by a peculiarly fervid, and, I will add, pure spirit of devotion. Others contain a truly admirable statement of momentous evangelical doctrines. To these, and various other particularities, which it seems superfluous to specify, the mode of reading should unquestionably be carefully adapted. They cannot otherwise be reasonably expected to produce their natural effects. And I feel but little hesitation in adding, that
by reading them in such a manner as is calculated to render them abortive, something very like the guilt of mocking the Most High is incurred. As for the Scriptural lessons which for the most part comprise much diversified matter, reading them in a drawling, monotoПous, unsuitable manner, has really a tendency to deprive them, in many instances, of their wonted efficacy. The sword of the Spirit will seldom cut deeply when feebly and unskilfully wielded.
If the exhortative, supplicative, denunciatory, narrative, imperative, and other essentially dissimilar parts of the service be read
in the same unvarying, spiritless tone of voice, it is certain that no inconsiderable portion of the congregation will be disposed to draw very unfavourable inferences with regard to the reader, in more respects than one: while, on the other hand, it is certain that correct reading, especially when accompanied by well-managed psalmody, will always have the effect of rendering a large portion of the congregation much more susceptible than would otherwise be the case, of those salutary impressions which the clergyman's subsequent discourse from the pulpit may be calculated to make.
BALAK AND BALAAM.-NUMBERS, XXII.—XXIV.
UPON the hill the Prophet stood,
King Balak in the rocky vale; Around him, like a fiery flood,
Flashed to the sun his men of mail,
'Twas morn-the guilty sacrifice
Sent up its ruddy flame to Heaven;
The curse was on the apostate's tongue;
To heaven their evening anthem sung. He saw their camp like endless clouds
Mixed with th' horizon's distant blue; Saw on the plain their marshall'd crowds, Heard the high strain their trumpets blew.
A sudden spirit on him came,
A sudden light was in his eye, His tongue was touched with hallowed flame, The curser swelled with prophecy. "How shall I curse whom God hath blest, With whom he dwells, with whom shall dwell?"
He smote his pale hands on his breast;
"Then, be thou blest, O Israel!" "Come down, deceiver," cried the King; "I bade thee curse, not bless my foes:" A shaft was laid upon the string;
The Prophet from the dust arose. "Be Israel cursed," was in his soul,
But on his lip the wild words died;
He lingered, till on Israel stole
The night: again the curse he tried.
Deep thunder pealed around the hill;
The thunder paused, the blast was still. Broad in the east, a new-born Star,
On cloud, hill, desert, poured its blaze;
And on it fixed his shuddering gaze.
To triumph, weep, forgive, and die.
The heavens before his presence reel. "He comes, a stranger to his own,
With the wild bird and fox he lies,
What blood shall for his blood be poured!
Again Jehovah be thy Lord!"
SOME ACCOUNT OF THE LATE REV. JOHN
"THY way," says the Psalmist, "is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known." But amidst the various dispensations of Almighty God, few appear more mysterious than the removal of so many of his faithful Ministers, at the very moment when they appear most pre pared for extensive usefulness, and when, according to the usual course of nature, it might reasonably be expected that they should long continue to instruct and edify the church. Such removals are accompanied, indeed, with the most salutary lessons; they teach us the vanity and the uncertainty of life; they warn all, however eminent their talents, important their station, and extensive their prospects of usefulness, to cultivate habitual preparation for the coming of their Lord; and they often impress more strongly upon the minds of a bereaved and afflicted family and people, those lessons which had previously been regarded with comparative indifference. But the full explication of these dispensations must be left to that world, where we shall no longer see through a glass darkly, but shall know even as we are known.
Remarks of this nature are obviously suggested by the case before us. It has pleased God to remove the subject of this memoir at the early age of twenty-six, when he had only just as it were entered upon the ministry, and been employed so long as to see some fruit of his labours, and excite in the minds of those connected with him the hope of great and lasting useful
1, 1796. When only three years old, he was deprived of his mother; but that loss was eventually supplied by the kind and tender attentions of his mother-in-law, who, with his affectionate father, still survives to lament his loss. Young Escreet was observed, till he was about seven years of age, to be somewhat hasty in his temper; but this irritability of disposition was about that time removed, and during the whole succeeding period of his life he was distinguished for his mildness and gentleness. When eight years old, he was placed under the care of the Rev. John Scott, then master of the grammar-school in Hull, with whom he continued till prepared for college. He was early intended for the ministry; and though the subject was rarely mentioned to him, he seemed not to have the least interest for any other pursuit. His studies were prosecuted with diligence and alacrity, though occasionally interrupted by the delicate state of his health, while his amiable disposition and deportment exited the admiration and affection of his superiors. When eleven years of age, the attention of the family was attracted to his regular and uninterrupted retirement for devotional purposes. This, indeed, had been his practice from the time he was seven; but he was now observed to retire to a room which he considered out of the hearing of the family, and to employ in general nearly two hours in an evening in fervent prayer, reading the Scriptures, and meditation. "There," says his sister, "have I heard him, and my own heart has been much affected. O how sweetly he communed with his God! how fervently he breathed out his soul! how earnestly he prayed for each by name!" It is impossible to pass over this circumstance without observing,
how strikingly the promise was fulfilled in his case, they that seek me early shall find me.' His early devotion was accompanied with eminent meekness and piety; was the means, under God, of preserving him from dangers and temptations in succeeding years; was followed by an early ripeness in Christian graces and heavenly dispositions; and terminated by an early removal to heaven; which, however we may lament as our loss, is his exceeding gain.
He was at this period in a very delicate state of health, and found an affectionate and constant attendant in his mother-in-law. When she was attacked by the scarlet fever, he in return became a frequent and unwearied visitor to her sick chamber. On one of these occasions she said to him, I never see any of that temper now, John," alluding to his former irritability. He replied, "No; but you don't know how much it costs me to subdue it."
He regularly attended the ministry of the Rev. T. Dikes and the Rev. J. Scott, and received great benefit from their faithful instructions. So diligent was his attention, and retentive his memory, that he used to bring home the divisions and subdivisions of the sermons, even when they were numerous, without noting any thing down at the time. After, however, retiring for prayer, he frequently wrote what occurred to his recollection; a practice strongly recommended by his affectionate tutor.
In this regular course of study and devotion he persevered, with occasional interruptions from the delicate state of his health, which often compelled him to retire to his uncle's in the country, until he was entered, at the age of seventeen, at Trinity College, Cambridge, and commenced his residence in the year 1813. Here he pursued the same regular, studious, quiet course which had distinguished his earlier
years; a course which, while it leaves little to record, afforded an important and salutary example to those who had the opportunity of observing it, and well deserves the imitation of others. His society was very limited. Those, indeed, who apply themselves diligently to study in our universities, have no time for idle calls and a numerous acquaintance, and nothing is more dangerous to
the young student than the claims of former school-fellows and companions. Reading men have seldom much time to bestow upon a new comer; non-reading men are a disgrace to themselves and a pest to others.
In the absence, however, of other information, a few testimonies from those who were favoured with his intimate acquaintance may not be inexpedient.
"I met with him," says the Rev. E. White of Gosfield, "accidentally at Mr. C.'s rooms at breakfast, and was much struck with the piety I perceived in him, connected with so much amiableness, solidity, and judgment." A friendship then commenced which continued until death; and in a funeral sermon, preached at Stisted, March 23, 1823, Mr. White remarks, "All the nine years I have known him I never heard him speak an idle word. In College he was my counsellor, my friend. His prayers often animated me. My loss is almost irreparable.”
A similar unreserved testimony is given by another of his intimate and valuable friends, who dwells particularly on the advantages. derived from his religious conversation. A few of these young friends were in the habit of meeting together on the Sunday afternoon, to read the scriptures and converse upon them, to the no small benefit and edification of each other.
Mr. E.'s progress in his studies, and his consequent success in the University, were very materially im
peded by a complaint with which his eyes were affected. He was entirely disabled for ten weeks in his first year; but, notwithstanding, he appeared in the second class at the Trinity examination. The next year he succeeded to the first class, but was obliged to absent himself from college the ensuing year, three months of which he spent at Leeds, under the care of the late distinguished and excellent William Hey, Esq. from whose kind and skilful attention he received material benefit. Instead, however, of making this complaint an excuse, as many would have done, for relinquishing his studies, we find him embracing the earliest opportunity of resuming them; and accordingly, on his return to Cambridge, he was elected Scholar, obtained rooms in college, and was found in the list of Wranglers at the time of taking his degree in Jan. 1818.
After commencing B. A. Mr. E. remained at college to prepare for examination as candidate for a fellowship. During this period various proposals of a highly advantageous kind were made to him. He was offered an appointment as tutor in a nobleman's family; or to undertake the care of a church in Switzerland; or to be nominated as principal of a college in Nova Scotia; or to go out as chaplain to India. He was rather inclined to accept of the latter proposal; but a deference to the wishes of his father, who had watched his progress at the university with delight and satisfaction, and who stated that he would rather his son had one hundred a year in England than a thousand in India, induced him to decline the proposal. The propriety of this decision was confirmed by the opinion of his medical advisers, who considered it highly improbable that he should long survive if exposed to an East Indian climate.
During this period, Mr. E. occa
sionally recorded the feelings of his mind for his own private edification. A few fragments of this nature found among his papers, which were evidently not intended for any eye but his own. The following extracts will doubtless be read with interest, and, we trust, with edification also.
"Jan. 13, 1819.-WEAKNESS OF MY NATURE.-I feel my own weakness more and more. I can do nothing without God's help. If he leave me to myself, I must certainly perish. I would, however, lie a suppliant at his feet and implore his grace.
"Jan. 17.--1Sam. ii. 30. Those who honour God he will honour.' My sabbath has been not near so profitable as the last. I feel a strange distance from God. Why? On the preceding Saturday night, instead of reading, I devoted more time to devotion, which I neglected to do last night. In the former case, I was richly repaid; for the latter I suffer loss.
"I have just parted from White and Bull. God bless them in the matter of the senate-house, and direct all their goings.
"Nov. 4. SINGLENESS OF EYE DESIRED.-We have this day formed a small committee for collecting subscriptions among the members of the University for the Bible Society, of which I am Secretary. May the Lord prosper us in our work, and give me a single eye to his glory! this attainment! every thing.
How difficult is Self cleaves to
"Nov. 6.-OUR GOD'S STRENGTH. feel an indisposition to prayer, arising from a sense of our own weakness, we should be the more encouraged to go, trusting in God; agreeably to what the Apostle says, When I am weak, then am I strong.'
"Nov.7.--RESOLUTION.--I have this day attended the sacrament, and resolved again to devote myself