« PreviousContinue »
for heaven; alleviate, by your sympathy and kindness, those heart-breaking sorrows which no human arm can remove; and be assured, that when the days of darkness come upon you or your children, as come they must, if yours be the common lot; He, who remembers the giving a cup of cold water in His name, will not suffer you to go unrewarded. But there was a yet nobler sense in which God's faithfulness to his promises was proved. Though few souls were given to my father as the seals of his ministry during his life, he did not despair. His faith in the efficacy of divine truth never for one moment wavered. One of the last acts of his life, when the shadows of the dark valley were already gathered around him, was to dictate a letter to a man who had lived more than sixty years as if he had no soul to save; and for fifteen years had not entered the sanctuary for public worship. What a hopeless subject! But God seeth not as man. Three years since, I revisited the scenes of my youth; and I heard the voice of this aged man in prayer. He had become a Christian, a consistent, devoted Christian; and the evening sacrifice arose from his family altar. His wife, who had long been a professor of the religion of Jesus, and who had mourned in hopeless sorrow over him whom she had no power to save, grasped my hand, and said with tears, "Oh! L do you not rejoice with me?" Indeed, I did; and ah! I thought, if there be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, with what new transport must the glorified spirit of the faithful pastor have received the tidings, "Behold! he prayeth." Minister of Christ! ready to despond, perhaps, at seeing so little fruit of your labours, take courage! "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand," remembering who has promised that in due season we shalt reap if we faint not,
SPIRITUAL AND FORMAL RELIGION.
THERE are but two kinds of reli-
pride and spiritual despotism. There is a religion that worships God, and another that worships the altar; a religion that trusts in Christ, and another that trusts in the sign of the cross, the wafer, and the holy water; a religion that brings every thought into subjection by love, and a religion that yokes the body to the car of Juggernaut; a religion of broad phylacteries, and garment-borders, and Rabbis; a religion of gnat-straining, and camel-swallowing, and cleansing of the outside of the cup and platter, and garnishing of prophets' tombs, and of the fathers' sepulchres. There is a religion, whose justification and whose whole
essence is faith, and a religion whose whole material, inward and external, is form; and it makes but little difference what the form may be. A man may drown himself in a puddle of mud, if he pleases, as well as in the ocean. The fetisches, and the hooks, and the amulets of dirt, and the crocodiles and lizards, and the sacred fires and rivers, of one vast class of devotees of this monstrous god of form and merit, are just as noble as the beads and scapularies, the altars and the crosses, the dead bones and pilgrimages, the saints and virgins, the wafer and the water, the masses and absolutions, the anointings and enrobings, the enshrining of martyrs and the damning of heretics, that constitute and characterize the devotion of the other. The mending of the fish's tail in the house of Dagon, was just as good a mark of religion, just as noble a work of piety, just as lofty an elevation of spirit, as the washing of pots and cups and brazen vessels in the temple. The primacy of the Pope, and the burning of heretics, is just as good as the assumption of the exclusive divine right of ordination, and the consecration of all dissenters to the uncovenanted mercies of God. that, whether it be the spitting to the left when a dog meets you, or the crossing of your threshold with the right foot foremost, or saying
God bless us," when a man sneezes, or the eating porridge in Lent, and fish on Friday; whether it be the exaltation of the altar, or the cross, or the Church Liturgy; whether it be the brazen serpent, or the blood of St. Januarius, or the water of baptism; whether you flagellate yourself according to St. Dominic, or fast and wear sackcloth with Dr. Pusey; whether you deify and adore the image of
the Virgin, or the sign of Christ's passion, or any tradition of the ritual, the Pope, the Cathedral, or that tremendous talisman of Popery and Prelacy, THE Church; if this be your trust for salvation, it is all one; your God is an idol; your Saviour a figment of your own depravity; your religion is form without faith, and in opposition to it.
This formalism without faith is the religion of nature; it is the creature instead of the Creator; the altar instead of the altar's God. It is Paganism, and Judaism, and Mohammedanism, and Buddhism, and Popery. It is the natural movement of the fallen soul in search of some religion, but at enmity against humility and faith. This formalism itself appears in various modes of enshrinement, according to its own taste. There is a material formalism, and a spiritual formalism. The material formalism is for the grosser nature; the spiritual, for the higher and more refined. The spiritual formalism professes to adore its rites, because of their spiritual beauty; and it sees a spiritual beauty only in connection with those rites. It professes to present the poetical side of religion to the soul; but it is merely the mint, anise, and cummin of poetry, as well as of the law; it cannot rise to the higher themes of inspiration. It is the poetry of that which is seen and temporal; not that which is unseen and eternal; it is fast and feast-day poetry; the poetry, not of devotion, nor of feeling, but of superstition and of sense. It is just as if Raphael, instead of employing his genius on the subject of the transfiguration, had spent his life in illuminating missals, and painting the dresses of the priests and friars.
Review of Books.
THE CONVICT SHIP A Narrative of the Results of Scriptural Instruction and Moral Discipline on board the Earl Grey, during the Voyage to Tasmania. By C. A. BROWNIK, M. D. Author of " England's Exiles," &c. pp. 324, 12mo. Smith and Elder, Cornhill.
WE cannot think with some, that the days we live in are worse than the former days. We must deeply lament the still fearful prevalence of abounding iniquity and ungodliness; but still, we believe, that the good leaven spreads in all directions, and advances to the leavening of the whole lump.
In proof of this, we turn to the gratifying fact, that now, beyond all former days, we meet with a sprinkling of truly Christian characters, in all directions, and often in the most unlikely quarters; and that to a much greater extent than was known in former years. The army and ze navy, we had almost said, abound with many godly men, both amongst the officers and the subalterns; and as God was pleased to magnify the riches of his grace, and to shew the exceeding greatness of his power by the conquests made even in Cæsar's household; so now, in the palace, in the camp, in the strongest holds of sin and Satan, there are those who shine as lights in the world, and shew forth the praises of Him, who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light. Amongst our soldiers engaged in the Chinese war, there are not wanting nen of God, whose chief solicitude it is to carry forward the conquests of the Cross in the regions of darkness: and we chance to know, in correspondence with a relative who took part in the Affghan war, that there were pious officers, who went up to Cabool with two camel loads of Bibles and Testaments to distribute amongst the natives.
We have here before us not the least interesting proof of what we re now stating. We have an account of a Convict Ship, and of the onderful effects produced by the pious surgeon who had charge of the wow, to the penal settlements. We do not know when we have taken so interesting and touching a book. It is interesting as a matter of toy or narrative; but still more interesting, as exhibiting an extensive k of grace in the most unpromising soil, but in the use of those apons which God is pleased to make mighty and effectual to the ing down of strongholds. It was the cry of old, reiterated in the s of the convicts, that brought them to ask what they must do to be faved: O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help." Christ, held forth heartily and affectionately in all the fulness and freeness of his salvation, made conquests of these poor prisoners, and they were seen in numbers sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in their right mind. We envy not the man who can read the details without meltings of heart. Truly may it be asked, What hath God wrought!
In giving our readers some specimens of the work, we scarcely know what to select, where every part is so thoroughly interesting. The following address from J. R., a convict, to Dr. Browning, before they disembarked, stating the sentiments of the whole crew without a single exception, is well calculated to shew the effects produced by this good man's labour:
TO DR. COLIN A. BROWNING, R. N.
Honoured Sir, The thought of being separated from our friends casts a gloom over the mind; but to be parted from one who has taken such a deep interest in our present and eternal welfare is peculiarly painful.
'As an Officer, a Gentleman, and a Christian, from the first moment you came among us in the yards of our respective hulks, your manner to us has been that of a fond and affectionate father to his long-lost and prodigal offspring. You addressed us, though a disgrace to our friends and our country, and degraded in our own and the public estimation, as fellow-sinners, and as subjects of God's moral government. To ensure the instruction of our minds, you daily poured on our hearts a flood of comfort and consolation from the encouragements of the Gospel to the chief of sinners. Your fervent prayers we hope have been heard and answered, and your instructions applied. You clearly showed us from Scripture and our own experience, the effects of disobedience and of a profligate life, and the connection that subsists between sin and suffering.
'By your unwearied exertions, the Word of God, which comparatively few could then read, is now no longer a sealed book to any one of us. Self government and an implicit compliance with the lawful injunctions of our superiors have been inculcated, and strongly recommended to our observance. Nor have our social and relative duties been overlooked or forgotten in the midst of your multifarious vocations: for whatsoever things are true, honest, pure, lovely, and of good report, have been set before us, and impressed upon our minds.
Confessing our unworthiness before God, we desire with heart-felt gratitude to bless Him for preserving us from the fury of the thunderbolt, the storm, and the tempest; from the rage of conflicting elements, and the power of disease: but in an especial manner we praise Him for making known to us by His word and Spirit, the way of everlasting life, through the mediation of His dear Son, our only hope and Redeemer; and as we know your aversion to every thing like adulation—your conviction that all spiritual illumination and improvement are alone effected by the eternal Spirit are fully aware of the dread with which you regard the very thought of referring to any creature that which is to be wholly attributed to the Almighty power of the Holy Ghost, we would, while we thank God for your instrumentality, desire to unite with you in rendering to Him all the glory of all the saving work which He hath been graciously pleased to accomplish in any of our hearts during our passage from England to these Colonies.
'We would congratulate you on your recovery from your late illness and imminent danger, and pray to God to perfect, in his goodness, your health, and to comfort your soul with the joys of His Holy Spirit.
'We beg to express our warmest thanks for your patient, careful, and successful attention to the sick; for your earnest efforts to instruct our minds, to enlarge our understandings, to extend our knowledge, to improve our morals, and to persuade us at all times, particularly during our present unfortunate situation, to be most attentive to our respective duties. For these, and for every other act of kindness experienced at your hands, we feel sincerely grateful: and deplore that any one of us should, at any time, have caused to your mind the slightest uneasiness; or should have done or said anything to meet your disapprobation, or demand your censure.
'Whilst we lament our misconduct and misfortunes, we confess the justness of our sentence, and beg leave to profess our affection and loyalty to our Sovereign, and attachment to her Government; our resolution, by a willing submission to the laws of her representative in the Colonies whither we are bound, to approve ourselves as reformed from our vices and follies; and we earnestly implore that Divine grace may enable us to submit in a proper form, to do all things as unto Christ Jesus.
We also beg to acknowledge the kindness of the Admiralty in providing for our wants and comforts on our way hither.
'Honoured Sir, we cannot take our last leave of you without feeling a deep sense of sorrow that our crimes were the cause of our meeting, and must also be the cause of separation, and that to opposite sides of the world, in all human probability, never to meet more on this side the "grave!" Oh, may we all, through rich and free grace, meet in heaven!
We beg to be affectionately remembered to the kind and Christian friends and benevolent Societies who aided you in making so careful and liberal provision for our spiritual wants. May you all partake largely of the blessings, the peace, and the joys of the Holy Ghost in Christ Jesus: to whose care we commit you, and wish you, with all our hearts, a safe and happy return to the bosom of your beloved family, and to your friends.
And that the peace of God may rest and abide on you all, now and for evermore, is the unanimous and earnest prayer of us all: in whose name, and by whose permission, I am, honoured Sir, your most obliged, most dutiful, and obedient Servant,
'J— R. Inspector of Schools.'
Another letter we must give:
This chapter I shall close with Extracts from a letter which one of the prisoners put into my hands as he was about to step over the ship's side into one of the boats appointed to convey him and his companions to the shore. He appears to have availed himself of the light of the midnight lamp, and to have occupied his last hours on board (which he was neither able nor disposed to give unto sleep) in attempting to give utterance to a heart which was too full for utterance, and whose emotions and language must be found to be far beyond the sympathies of those who have not felt the plague of their own hearts, nor experienced the sweet influence of pardoning mercy and divine love, and are therefore morally incapable of understanding the sentiments and feelings of a poor convict who has obtained forgiveness, and peace, and life, through faith in the blessed Redeemer, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, and who has been enriched with new covenant blessings, and the promise of a continued supply from the divine and inexhaustible treasures which are laid up in Christ Jesus, for the benefit of all His saints through the endless ages of eternity.
* * * *
"Allow me to thank you most sincerely for every expression of kindness I have received from you. I acknowledge with grateful love to the ever-blessed God, and trust I ever shall, that to Him alone belongs the glory and the praise for every new covenant blessing bestowed upon the undeserving and the guilty, such as we poor sinners are,-through whatever channel He may be pleased to convey His precious and free gifts, the tokens of His everlasting and unchanging love: yet I must thank you for all the kind and anxious care you have exercised towards us all, and towards myself, as an individual. It might have been with us as with many poor men in the like situation with ourselves; having no man that would naturally care for our state,' as God's creatures, and as offenders against His holy laws. But thanks be to the Lord for the manifestation of His abundant goodness! Oh, sir, if I know my heart at all, I feel that it overflows, as it were, this night, with sincere gratitude and love to my Lord and your Lord, to my Father and your Father, for all His goodness to my soul and body, and to us all, from the time we first stepped upon the decks of this highly favoured ship!
"What shall I render unto the Lord for having made you the instrument of good to my soul, and to the souls of many of my poor dear companions in affliction! I am sure, dear kind friend of us poor convicts, your heart will respond, we shall bless and praise the Lord for ever!