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pen, or the supervision of Mr. Abbott. We have admired his copiousness and tact in illustration, and though we have seen defects in style, doctrine, and judgment, they have seemed to us to be exceptions, not the rule. We find no difficulty in sustaining interest, and no despair of deriving profit, from such books. They can hardly be read by any one, without leading him to self-examination, serious and deep thought; a good result, whether produced by what we approve wholly or in part only. We should be sorry to think, that any could read them, without seeing more clearly his own deficiencies of character, and mourning over his sins; a still better result, though not the best. And here we may mark one of the defects of Mr. Abbott's writings. They often come short, and are apt to come short, of the highest and best moral effect, - that of convincing the sinner that he has something to do and can do something towards his reform, showing him what it is definitely, and then stimulating him to its performance. Their effect is oftener depressing than stimulating, and we fear would so be felt by many, who need to be stimulated and encouraged more than to be depressed.
This defect arises partly from too great amplification, want of definiteness, want of strong impression with clear instruction as to this or that duty. It arises still more perhaps from the author's peculiar views. He may not regard it as a defect. He may think that all men ought to be depressed; that a conviction of guilt, sorrow for sin, and a loathing, trembling abhorrence of it, humiliation and self-condemnation, are the beginning, and must be the beginning, of that thorough change and new life, which are essential to all. To a great degree, we believe it; to so great a degree, that we are not inclined to divert attention from what we approve in it, to what we disapprove. Men do need to be convicted of sin, all men. They must be brought not only to resist sin, but to abhor it, to see in it no charm, but feel that to them, as to God, it is an abomination. They must understand what the Apostle meant, when he spoke of sin as "exceeding sinful.” Such a knowledge of it, such conviction and habitual contemplation of it, are salutary, are indispensable to thorough repentance and Christian progress. It is plain that no obdurate offender can be roused and rightly impelled, until he is brought to this conviction, and humbled and abased by it. It may be that no common offender, no sinner, that is, no man,
is led to enter upon a decided Christian course, to see the necessity of it, and resolve upon it with all the strength that God has given or promised, without a new and vigorous impulse from convictions of this kind, pertaining to himself and his own sins, and not to men in the mass, or sin in general. It is this that the Scriptures often denote by conversion; and this we would urge upon all, using only the qualification which Mr. Abbott has well expressed, that “conversion is not a change completed, —it is a change begun.” If his friends would regard more than they do the importance of the distinction there conveyed, and if our friends would consider more than they do the importance of the duty there implied, something would be gained on both sides. to become Christians, must make a beginning at some period of their lives, - often an emphatic, marked beginning in their convictions and purposes, their motives and efforts, so marked that it may well bear the name of a new birth, and they be called new creatures, we consider one of the fundamental truths of the Bible, and one of the clearest lessons of reason and life. Obviously the doctrine has its qualifications, and the duty its distinctions, as applied in Scripture to Jews and Gentiles, and applied now to those born under the light and influences of Christianity. But the principle is not changed. Its importance is not lessened, nor indeed its necessity. We have more reason to desire, than to fear, its application to ourselves or to any around us.
In all this, however, every one sees, there should be great discrimination and definiteness, strict truth as well as earnestness. It is the want of discrimination, not the vehemence of appeal or closeness of application, that we regret in most preachers and writers of Mr. Abbott's stamp. That he himself uses more discrimination and independence, though not enough, is one reason of our interest in his books. To show this trait, and to avail ourselves of views so just and important, we make a few extracts here from the concluding Chapter of “ The Corner-Stone.” They are directions suited to every one who wishes to become a Christian.
“Become wholly a Christian, if you mean to become one at all. Do not try to come and make half a peace with God, or to seek a secret reconciliation. If you have been in sin, renounce it entirely. If you have been in error, abandon it openly. Do not be ungrateful or cowardly enough to wish to conceal your new attachment to the cause of God, or to avoid an acknowledgment that you have been in the wrong. Take the side of God and duty openly, distinctly, fearlessly. This is your duty; and, besides, it is your happiness. A half Christian is always a most wretched
“Be a humble Christian. Do not fancy yourself an extraordinary instance of religious zeal, or look down with affected wonder on the supposed inferiority of those who have been longer in their Master's service. You may be as ardent, as devoted, as pure and holy as you please ; but do not draw comparisons between yourself and others, till you have been tried a little. Remember that the evidence of piety is chiefly its fruits, and that well grounded assurance can come only after years of devoted, and tried, and proved attachment to God.”
“Do not waste any time in trying to determine at what precise time you became a Christian, nor distress yourself because you cannot determine it: nor perplex your mind and impede your religious progress, because you cannot positively ascertain whether you are really a Christian or not. If the service of God looks alluring to you, press forward into it, without stopping to consider the difficulties of determining how you came where you are.
“ There is perhaps no more common source of perplexity and discouragement to the young Christian than this. He thinks he must be able to tell precisely when he began to serve God, or else he can have no evidence that he really has begun to serve him at all. But that time cannot be determined. In a very large number of the cases where it is supposed to be determined, the period which is fixed, is probably fixed by mistake. Deposit a little seed in a place of warmth and moisture, and watch it as narrowly as you please, and see if you can tell when it begins to vegetate ? Equally impossible is it, in most cases, to determine the precise period when the first holy desires sprung up in the human heart: and it is useless, as well as impossible. The only question of importance is, whether the seed is growing, - no matter when, or how, it began to grow.
“Or rather, I should perhaps say, the only question is, by what cultivation we can make the seed grow most rapidly: for important as it is, that every Christian should know what are his condition and prospects in reference to God and eternity, there is undoubtedly such a fault, and it is a very common one, as pursuing this inquiry with too great earnestness and anxiety. Many a mind wears and wastes itself away, and exhausts its moral energy, in fruitless endeavours to determine its own spiritual state, when peace and happiness would soon come, if it would only press on in the work of duty.”
“Do not exaggerate the religious differences between yourself and others, or overrate their importance. Be willing to see piety wherever you can find it, and be bound to all who possess it by a common sympathy. If they differ from you in this or that article of belief, do not fix your eye obstinately upon that difference, and dwell upon it, and dispute about it, till you effectually sunder the bond by which you might be united. Look for piety. Wherever you find it, welcome it to your confidence and sympathy. In all your efforts to do good, too, aim at the direct promotion of piety, not at the eradication of religious error.
Your attacks upon error will only strengthen it in its entrenchments; but piety, wherever you can make it grow, will undermine and destroy error, more surely than any other means you can employ.”. The Corner-Stone, pp. 353, 354, 357.
Supposing the books, whose titles we have taken, to be well known to most if not all of our readers, we have thought it needless to give a formal account of them, or to observe any order in the extracts we may make. Our remarks
them as a whole, we will not prolong. Of the first, " The Young Christian,” we can speak with more unqualified approbation, than of the other. The one relates to Christian Duty, the other to Christian Truth. It might be expected, therefore, that we should find more to agree with cordially in the first, than in the last; for though their author does not make either of them unnecessarily or offensively doctrinal, he could not easily conduct an inquiry or an exhortation on the principles of Christian truth, without building it on his own peculiar opinions. Those opinions, so far as they appear in these volumes, are mild Calvinism. We do not recollect any extreme opinion, or very harsh expression. There is certainly no appearance of bigotry or bitterness. There is occasional boldness of thinking and speaking, and we have no doubt the writer follows the advice given to his readers ;-—"Be independent; use your own reason, your own senses, your own Bible. Be untrammelled; throw off the chains and fetters which compel so many minds to believe only what they are told to believe, and to walk, intellectually and morally, in paths marked out for them by human teachers.” In the exercise of this independence, he excludes much that we have been led to expect in publications from similar sources, but which we are glad not to find. He introduces very much to which we heartily respond, and which we would help to recommend and disseminate. The duties of confession, prayer, faith in Christ, and personal
improvement, are variously elucidated and strongly enforced in “The Young Christian.” In the Chapters on Difficulties in Religion, and the Evidences of Christianity, there is also much excellent matter. It would not be difficult to find objectionable passages, nor difficult to quote unobjectionable pages. We have not disposition for the first, nor room for the last. The book may be placed profitably in the hands of any one, who has the habit or the power of discrimination, but without this restriction, for the reason intimated above, we cannot recommend it. It is designed for young readers, but not children. We can take but one extract from it, and that we choose because it gives useful advice much wanted at the present moment, and equally pertinent to Christians, doubters, and opposers. It closes the Chapter on the Evidences of Christianity. There are unbelievers, to be sure, with whom we should take a different course from that recommended in the second paragraph ; but for the most part we do not doubt, that unbelief is in the heart more than in the mind; and this is a truth which cannot be too much considered by any class.
~ 1. Do not think there is no other side to this question. There are a great many things which may be said against the Bible, and some things which you, with your present attainments in Christian knowledge, perhaps, cannot answer. But they do not touch or affect the great arguments by which the authority of the Bible is sustained. They are small, detached difficulties. Then let your mind rest, calmly and with confidence, upon the great but simple arguments on which the strong foundations of your belief stand.
“2. Never be inclined to dispute upon the evidences of the Christian religion. The difficulty with unbelievers is one of the heart, not of the intellect, and you cannot alter the heart by disputing. When they present you with arguments against Christianity, reply in substance, “ What you say seems plausible, still it does not reach the broad and deep foundations upon which, in my view, Christianity rests; and consequently, notwithstanding what you say, I still place confidence in the word of God.'
“3. Notice this, which, if you will watch your own experience, you will find to be true. Your confidence in the word of God and in the truths of religion will be almost exactly proportional to the fidelity with which
interest in your progress in piety, neglect prayer, and wander into sin, then you will begin to be in darkness and doubt. If you are so unhappy as to get into such a state, do not waste your time in