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A VERY general idea prevails on this side the Atlantic, that gambling, duelling, and some other disgraceful and barbarous practices, are more prevalent in the United States than among ourselves. The following extracts, however, from a Charge lately delivered to the Grand Jury of West-Chester, by the Hon. William Jay, first Judge of that County, clearly evince that these crying evils are more correctly appreciated by the American legislature than our own. We rejoice, indeed, to hear that public lotteries are shortly to cease; and hope that ere long, instead of young men being urged on to that composition of cowardice, foolhardiness, and infidelity, miscalled an affair of honour, they will be restrained from it, if not by the fear of God, yet by its being enacted among ourselves, that every man, in any way accessary to a duel, is thereby excluded from all offices of honour, trust, and profit.
"It is made my duty by statute, to call your attention particularly to offences against the act prohibiting private lotteries, and the act for the suppression of duelling. Gambling of every kind has an unfavourable influence on the moral character. It excites a spirit of avarice too eager to be satisfied with the slow avails of patient industry; and offers temptations to fraud, too numerous and too powerful to be often successfully resisted. Lotteries are a species of gambling the more dangerous from the facilities they afford to almost every individual in the community, of hazarding small sums in the expectation of receiving enormous returns. The evils resulting from private lotteries are, undoubtedly, to be apprehended in nearly an equal degree, from those established by law; and we have reason to re
joice, that the power of granting lotteries is by the late amended constitution, taken from the legislature.
Gentlemen, when we seriously reflect on the declaration made by the Almighty, at that awful moment when the retiring waters of the deluge proclaimed him an holy and avenging God, At the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man ;' and when we call to mind the assurance of the Gospel, that the murderer shall not inherit eternal life, we cannot but shudder at the temerity of the duellist, and at the fate which awaits him. I will not now comment on the absurdity of seeking reparation for trifling or imaginary evils, at the hazard of even life itself. The folly of the duellist is lost in the contemplation of his enormous guilt. But suffer me to remark, that to denominate an act honourable, which originates in the most malignant passions; which equally outrages the precepts of our religion and the laws of our country, and which is generally perpetrated by men of dissolute character; is an abuse of language that can be tolerated only by those whose moral sense is as depraved as that of the duellist himself. The ́ more we reflect on the nature and tendency of this crime, and on the necessary and indeed avowed disregard of moral obligation on the part of those by whom it is committed, the more persuaded shall we be of the prudence of the law in excluding from all offices of honour, trust, or profit, and from all participation in the election of public officers, every man who, by being in any way accessary to a duel, evinces a want of that moral principle without which he cannot safely be intrusted with the rights of citizenship."
REVIEW OF BOOKS.
WE have, on a former occasion, expressed our decided opinion in favour of the first part of this work, which then appeared under the name of the Family Expositor*, and we are happy now to announce the publication of the succeeding parts. We have often regretted, that no short, cheap, and portable commentary has yet appeared, for the use of those who have neither time to read, nor money to purchase, large and expensive publications. Family Bibles are, indeed, continually advertized in the form of sixpenny and shilling numbers; and such is the general anxiety to acquire works of this nature, that some hundreds of persons subsist by travelling round the country at stated periods, and supplying our towns and villages with them. It is often a work of years before the desired commentary is obtained, and when obtained, it is almost invariably, we might indeed add necessarily, a most expensive book, and not unfrequently calculated to mislead, rather than direct the sincere inquirer. We are, therefore, happy that the pious author has thus far completed her undertaking, and we trust the public encouragement will be such, as to allow its appearing in a subsequent edition at a lower price. It might, in some cases, be a very material accommodation, if the volumes were sold separately, or even divided into still smaller parts. Inconveniences, indeed, arise from the selling of works in separate volumes, but the increased demand would, we apprehend, in the present instance, far more than counterbalance the sacrifice. Our extracts on the former occasion, af
*See Select Review, p. 121. SEPT. 1823.
forded an opportunity to judge of the commentary on St. Matthew, and we shall therefore call our readers' attention, exclusively, to the subsequent parts of the work.
Mark, i. 3. This prediction will be found
in the 50th chapter of Isaiah, 3rd verse.
"The voice of one crying," denotes earnestness, fervency, and zeal in his ministry.
It is further said, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." Man's heart, by nature, is very
unprepared and disinclined to embrace the doctrines of Christ: yet nevertheless we are called upon to prepare and receive him ; for although the preparation of the heart be from the Lord, yet he requires the exercise of our faculties, and the use of our endeavours; and it is the duty of every faithful minister thus to awaken the attention of his hearers, to show them the evil of sin, and their misery without Christ, John Baptist began his ministry in the less populous parts of Judea, in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Cæsar.
Ver. 6. John lived and behaved himself
suitably to the doctrine he preached. He wore a coarse garment made of camel's hair, and his common diet was of the meanest sort, locusts and wild honey, which were plentiful in the wilderness.
Ver. 7. The great thing John aimed at in his preaching, was to point out the promised Messiah, and to show the people that there was one of far superior authority, power, and dignity, who would shortly appear, of whom he was only the forerunner, and for whom he was utterly unworthy to perform the meanest offices, even to the untying of his shoes.
Ver. 8. I, says the Baptist, am come to
baptize you with water, as an outward sign of inward purity; but He alone, whom I preach, can baptize with the efficacious influences of the Holy Spirit, to confirm his doctrine, and to cleanse you from your iniquities. Ministers can only wash with the water, but Christ cleanses the soul by the operation of his sanctifying grace.
Ver. 35. Private prayer is commended to us by the precept of Christ, see Matt. 6th chap. and 6th verse; and by his frequent example he teaches us, that our duty is not discharged without it. And let us observe, that Christ particularly chooses the opportunity of morning; he even arose a great while before daylight, to set about this work, showing us that the morning is peculiarly suited as the fittest and best season for private duties; for then our spirits and our minds are freshest and freest, before the distraction of the day break in upon us.
Mark, iii. 31-33. The mother of Christ,
although a blessed and holy woman, yet was not free from failings and infirmities. It was a fault in her to interrupt our Lord so unseasonably, when he was preaching to the people. Accordingly, when one told him that his mother and his brethren called, he replied, "Who is my mother and my brethren?" Christ did not mean to neglect his mother or disregard his kindred, but only showed that he preferred his heavenly Father's business, and therefore could not attend to them at that time. Here we learn where our first duty lies.
Ver, 34. Our Lord, looking at and pointing to his disciples, said, Behold these are they whom I have taken into the nearest relation to myself; whose eternal welfare lies so near my heart, that no consideration of earthly kindred can make me desist from doing what is necessary to promote it.
Ver. 35. Here let us observe how exceedingly dear obedient Christians are to the Lord Jesus Christ. He prefers his spiritual kindred before his natural. Alliance by faith is more valued by our Saviour, than alliance by blood.
Mark, xiv. 32-42. Being arrived at Gethsemane, which lay at the foot of the Mount of Olives, our Master retired for prayer to an adjoining garden. It is remarkable, that in a garden our first scene of human misery began; and Christ now chose a garden as the fittest place in which to commence his expiatory pains and agony. He was made sin for us, therefore was thus sorrowful; well knowing the weight and malignity of the sin for which he was to suffer; the bitterness of that cup, the very dregs of which he was to drink for our sakes. Peter, James, and John, had been eye-witnesses of his glorious transfiguration, and were now to behold his terrible agonies. Although the whole of that melancholy history is fully related by St. Matthew, yet we must not here pass over so interesting an event in total silence, being a subject on which we cannot too often meditate.
Let us take a view of the Son of God in his state of humiliation for us miserable sinners. See him prostrate on the ground, breathing out his soul in most vehement, importunate prayer. Such is the fervour of his spirit, that he prays himself into an agony. Does it not make us blush to think how unlike we are to Christ in our prayers? What dreadful drowsiness, dulness, and formality! How often do our lips move, whilst our hearts are colder than ice! The sleeping disciples, too, present us with a sad instance of the frailty of human nature; but how gentle the rebuke of the gracious Saviour, and how wise and faithful his words of advice! We may possibly be inclined to wonder how the disciples could sleep at such a time; but without casting any reproaches on them, let us take heed
to ourselves, and attend to our Lord's injunction; to "watch and pray lest we enter into temptation." Jesus had not retired to this garden to hide himself, or to shun his approaching sufferings, but to prepare himself by prayer to meet his enemies and his painful death.
Ver. 43-50. The hour of sorrow which Jesus had often mentioned was almost come. A great multitude with swords and staves arrive, and the treacherous Judas, as their leader, gives the signal as agreed upon, bidding them take care he did not slip ont of their hands. Wretched Judas! his sin was attended with horrible aggravation. He had been a witness to the miracles which Christ wrought by his divine power, therefore did not sin through ignorance. We see in this awful example, the danger of allowing any one secret or open sin: none can say how far it may lead him. Had Judas been told that his love of money would have induced him to sell his Saviour, he would probably have said with Hazael,
Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?" On the seizure of our Lord, Peter, remembering his promise to venture his life for his Master, rashly struck the high priest's servant on the head; but Christ, who accepted the affection, reproved the action; for, to resist a lawful magistrate, even in an unlawful act, is discountenanced by the Gospel. On our Lord's quietly resigning himself into the hands of his enemies, all the disciples, who just before had protested they would sooner die than forsake him, yet now, when put to the trial, all deserted him and fled away. So little do the best and holiest men know their own hearts, until great trials and temptations assail them.
Ver. 66-72. All the evangelists give an account of Peter's denial of his Master; and if we compare them diligently together, we shall find he was known of many, through the report of the maid. Here let us observe what contemptible means God often useth to take down our pride and self-confidence. Peter, a great Apostle, is here humbled by means of two maid-servants. We may also further observe upon this sad story, how one sin draws on another. Peter first told a lie, and then, to support his denial, he began to curse and swear. Hence let us learn and endeavour to resist the first beginnings of sin, for then have we most power; sin is as it were in the bud: but if we yield to Satan in the first temptation, he will certainly assault us with more and stronger ones. Moreover, if we would avoid being fed into temptation, let us carefully refrain from bad company. The high priest's fireside was no proper place for Peter; there was his entrance into temptation. Let us next remark the difference between the transgressions of the wicked and the righ
teous, as to the effects and consequences of them. Judas sins, repents, and hangs himself. Peter repents, goeth out, and weepeth bitterly. Judas repented unto death; Peter repented unto life. Christ looked on Judas after his treason, and reproved him too; yet neither that look nor reproof softened his heart. Peter, after he had wept bitterly, never more returned to the commission of that sin, but afterwards confessed Christ openly, and sealed that confession with his blood. May Peter's sad fall be a warning against presumptuous confidence, and his restoration an encouragement to all back
sliders to look unto Jesus for restoration to the favour of God, peace of conscience, and power to stand in the evil day.
Luke, xii. 16-21. The design of our Saviour in this parable, is to show the folly and vanity of an insatiable desire after the things of this world. Our Lord here meant not only to give a check to the man who came about his estate, while he was in no care about his spiritual concerns and the things of another world; but also to enforce a necessary caution on us all, to beware of covetousness.-The parable does not intimate any unjust ways used by this man to increase his estate; but Christ condemns his over-anxious desire after money, and the sensual purposes to which he meant to apply it. We learn hence, that it is an instance of the greatest folly imaginable, to spend our time in laying up treasures upon earth, and in the mean while to neglect to be rich towards God in faith and good works; regardless about a share in those treasures that are incorruptible, undefiled, and fade not away. Through many years, this poor deluded man promised himself the satisfaction of enjoying his riches, in the midst of pleasures; but God said, "This night shall thy soul be taken away from thee." Thus Belshazzar was struck with terror, by the hand-writing on the wall, in the midst of his jollity. Our Lord makes an awful application of this parable to his disciples, saying, "So is every one that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God." It is the unspeakable folly of most men, to mind and pursue the wealth of this world, more than the salvation of the soul, and the glories of eternity.
In the following note the author seems to consider the passage as referring principally, if not exclusively, to ministers; we apprehend it applies to all professing Chris
Luke, xii. 45-48. Christ here declares, that a dreadful sentence of wrath hangs over the negligent, unfaithful stewards of his household. A careless, insincere minister of the Gospel, although he preaches it
to others, yet because he lives as if he believed it not, will be punished at the coming of Christ to judgment. He may not dare indeed to commit violence with his hand, in our land of liberty and protection: but he may, with the virulence of his tongue, vilify and scandalize his more faithful brethren, Such men are apt to associate with the worldly and the sensual, whose hands they strengthen by their own bad example. -The 46th verse declares, that Christ will surprise such unfaithful servants in their sins, by coming at an hour they look not for him, and will punish them with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. Under the law, a distinction was made between sins of ignorance, and presumptuous sins; and criminals were to be beaten more or less, according to the degrees of their faults. So he who has a clear knowledge of his duty, and of what his Lord requires, and yet sins against light and the convictions of his own conscience, will proportionably be punished with the heaviest strokes of divine vengeance.
John, v. 4. This water had not always this healing virtue in it, only at certain times when it was troubled or put in motion. How often this was the case, the Scripture hath not told us. The water did not cure more than one at a time, that is, only the one person who first got in after the stirring up of the water; but that person was instantly cured, whatever was the distemper. The angel stirred the water, but left the diseased persons to put themselves in. In like manner, God has put virtue into the Scriptures and ordinances of religion, for he would have us healed in the use of these; but if we do not make a due improvement of them, it is our own fault. Ministers must stir up the gift that is in them; but when they are cold and dull in their ministrations, the waters settle, and are not apt to heal.
Ver. 7. The lame man takes occasion to set forth the misery of his case: 66 Sir," saith he, "I earnestly desire to get into this pool, but am now ready to despair of being so happy; for I am poor as well as lame, and have no one to wait on me, or put me in. I am so slow in my motions, that, while I am coming towards the pool, another de
scends before me." How mildly this man
speaks of those about him, without throw-
waited so long in vain, yet still he continued
time or other help would come. In like manner it is our duty to wait on God, and attend him in all his ordinances, with an humble hope and teachable temper, praying to be washed from the guilt of our sins in the blood of the cross, and to be renewed
in heart and mind by the Holy Spirit; that the ordinances, thus made effectual from above, may be as the pool of Bethesda to us, who are all by nature spiritually impo tent, lame, blind, and diseased.
John, xiii. 10. Our Lord here further explains himself, and corrects Peter's mistake, who ran from one extreme to another. The Jews washed their feet on coming in to dinner, and sometimes bathed, and then came into the dining-room with or without sandals. In the latter case, their feet might be soiled with the shortest walk, and the soles of their feet would need washing again. The spiritual meaning of which is, that souls which are washed in the blood of Christ, "justified and sanctified in the name of Jesus, and by the Spirit of God," need not to be justified a second time from sins repented of and forgiven; but as the feet of those walking but a few steps after washing may be dirty again, so in our daily walk we contract fresh defilement, and have therefore need of a daily washing by repentance, and of fresh applications to the blood of Jesus, by repeated exercises of faith. Christ adds, You, my Apostles, are now clean; you are justified, (that is, I have forgiven your sins, and accepted your persons;) but this remark does not extend to you all.'
We have taken these passages from the Gospels very much as they occurred, without any previous examination, and we should be happy to furnish our readers with an equal specimen from the two remaining volumes; the following are, however, all that we can at present find room for :
Rom. ix. 22-24. If God, who has an absolute right and power over all his creatures, by taking a severe method with some,
makes known his displeasure against sin, and his power to take vengeance of sinners, what objection can there be against his justice in this? Moreover, he generally exercises great patience towards them, in the midst of their provocations, giving them all necessary time for repentance: but by
hardening themselves in sin, they grow ripe
of the Gentiles into the church, seem par-
here spoken of, were the spirits of good men departed out of this world, and now with God in glory; especially those who had gone through great difficulties and persecutions for Christ's sake, and had been faithful unto death. Though slain in this glorious cause, they were no losers; for they were now clothed in white robes, which signified their being perfectly justified, sanctified, and made happy in heaven: they had been engaged in war, and, as conquerors, they now carried palm-branches in their hands, the well-known emblem of victory.
Ver. 17. They were under the care and conduct of Christ, the Lamb of God, who, as their shepherd, fed them, and led them to fountains of living water, that is, put them in possession of every thing that was pleasant and refreshing to their souls; whilst that God whom they had faithfully served, acted, as it were, the part of an iLdulgent Father, and wiped away every tear from their eyes, comforting them with every reviving consolation.
A Letter on the Means and Importance of converting the Slaves in the West Indies, to Christianity. By the Right Hon. Sir G. H. Rose, M. P. Pp. 87. London. Murray. 1823.
WE have long been in the habit of regarding our West India colonies as placed in a most critical situation; and the determined perseverance of other nations, especially the French and Portuguese, in the Slave Trade, some distressing instances of which will be found in our present month's Intelligence, is continually accumulating combustibles for a most awful and treinendous conflagration, which the most trifling circumstance may ere long enkindle, and the limits of which no one can foresee.
With such feelings, we cannot be indifferent to any propositions which may lead either to avert or diminish the impending danger, and we have, therefore, read with great satisfaction the pamphlet of Sir G. H. Rose. Its object is to demonstrate the importance of religious instruction being given to the slaves, and the practicability of communicating that instruction, either by missionaries, specially devoted to that service,