Page images
PDF
EPUB

nour stations of no small importance, fered from each other, in various deare fully sensible of their obligations grees, in respect of their theological to her disinterested, intelligent and opinions. Happy they who, like pious counsels. For a considerable these estimable persons, have their iime her bodily privations and suffer- “Witness in Heaven and their record ings were severe : for many years be on high :" in this persuasion, and in fore her death, she had totally lost the state of mind and conduct which her sight; yet her presence mind, it nourishes, truly happy; inasmuch her cheerful disposition, and her quick as while they, remember, they, at the ness of intellect, wonderfully supplied same time, emulate the honoured the loss. Her devout submission, deadduring several months of lingering « Farewell, pure spirits! Vain the praise and acute disease, was exceedingly

we give; instructive. She delighted to think and

The praise you sought, from lips anto converse on the paternal character

gelic flows; of God, and on his promises of par Farewell! The virtues which deserve to don, of support, and of immortality

live, in the gospel. Her humility was un Deserye an ampler bliss than life feigned and profound; but it was im

bestows." * possible not to perceive that lier mo

N. ral and religious attainments were of no ordinary rank. As her whole life adorned her Christian principles,

Brief Notes on the Bible, which were strictly Unitarian, so in

No. XXII. the approach of her dissolution, she “ Though I am rude iu speech, yet I am fully experienced the consolation and

not in knowledge.” 2 Cor. xi. 6. vigour that they afford. “ You should never dismiss from

Fragment of a second Dialogue, your memory one relative, or one T

VRINITARIAN.-- Well, I have friend, or one good man, who has de never thought of questioning served, while he lived, your affection that the Bible only, which you parade and esteem.” + They who feel the such a reliance on, is the rule of faith ; force of this sentiment, will not think but why set yourself, in your construcan apology to be requisite for the no tion of the sacred volume, in such tices thus laid before the public. flat opposition to the judgment of men Friendship is soothed and gratified, surpassing you in understanding, in and a rising race may be admonished knowledge, in ancient and modern and encouraged, by these recollections. lore, in all the acquirements requisite The virtues of those who have pre to a just interpretation of the Scripceded us belong, in a very interesting tures, such as you cannot assume to sense, to the generation which imme. possess ; in opposition to the collectdiately follows : nor does

it frequently ed wisdom of councils, hierarchies, happen, even where no offspring is left theologists and divines of successive to weep over a parent's grave, and to ages; in the vain presumption that imitate his excellencies, that there are your mind, forsooth, is more enlightnot some young persons who are par- ened than theirs, and that a comparaticularly concerned in such represen- tive handful of a secttations of departed worth. Upon the

Unitariun.-You have taken heart, reader, to whatever stage of life hie it seems. Bear with my interrupting has reached, let one fact be impressed: you to inquire, Is it the multitudes, all the individuals whose names have the genuine, abounding piety, or the passed in review, cherished the re- superiority of intellect, within the pale LIGIOUS PRINCIPLE; while they dif. of orthodoxy, which you thus build

your profession upon ?

T.-On all combined. The greatest * The recitation, and, occasionally, the names, the profoundest scholars, the composition of devotional poetry, cheered

most conscientious seekers after truth, some of her solitary moments.

t George Walker's Sermon on the Shenstone. Elegy in Memory of a death of Dr. Currie.

Private Family in Worcestershire, VOL. XVII.

5 c

have not merely acquiesced in, but P.S. I should feel obliged to any from age to age upheld by argument, correspondent, who would assist me the doctrine of the Trinity, and ex- in a difficulty of recent occurrence. pressly repelled that of Unitarianism, Although the great family of Chrisif not as unscriptural, yet as lagging tians has consisted of Gentiles, yet far short of the sum and substance of Jews were the first disciples of Jesus, Revelation.

and whatever numbers fell off at the U.-It is pretty obvious, however, crucifixion, a multitude continued that if there have been such occasions stedfast, and many converts were made to uphold the doctrine by argument, amongst them by the apostles. In the impugnment of it is not to be course, they would be put out of the treated as an innovation, or, if you synagogues, and be under a necessity like the expression better, as a no- of associating separately, which would velty, either of this or of the preced- naturally produce intermarriages, and ing generation. And could no names a kind or degree of insulated commuof at least equal celebrity with your nity: What became of them all and champions be adduced, in support of of their descendants ? How is the an opposite conviction? No confes- striking fact accounted for that there sors? No martyrs ? What, if I should are no Jewish Christians by descent? surprise you with one unconsidered, And where am I to find the latest hisbut irresistible, authority?

torical notice of them? T.-One that you might think so!

B. Still, the weight of such immense majorities might, if candour or modesty held the balance, be allowed soine in. Female Writers on Practical Divinity. Auence in the scale.

No. II.
U.-A decisive one?
T.-That, indeed, might be requir-

MRS. MORE AND MRS. BARing too liberal a concession ; but the

BAULD. solid and voluminous vindicationsU.- Let me spare you the task of Inormy last communication 1 ex

pressed my intention of not noticenumerating writers and their works, ing more of the works of Mrs. More, by admitting to the extent all that you as I conceived that their plan and are prepared to say of their supera- tendency were very similar to those bundance and shrewdness. Pile their of Practical Piety, but I have, since bulky toines, like Pelion upon Ossa, that time, been led to give particular to Heaven's gate, which they never attention to her Essay on St. Panl, can obstruct. I care not what glosses which demands our consideration from the schoolmen have put upon the its excellence, and from the rank it Scriptures. They are open before us, holds among works of the class of our blessing and our guide. What which I am now treating. has learning to do with the main ques Great advantage may be gained from tion, the gospel having been preached, the attentive study of any one chaas it ought to be unceasingly, to the racter, for “ the noblest study of poor? Never has a plain subject been mankind is man.” Eminent persons so confused by human trash as the form the most interesting study. We sublime, but simple, doctrines of that love to observe in what respects we gospel. I abandon all conjecture. I resemble them, and in what we differ found myself upon knowledge-yes, from them, and to what their supesecurely, but unvauntingly, upon riority is owing. We make ourselves knowledge, and am at no loss what to one with them, learn to enter into denominate primitive Christianity. I their feelings, to understand their moknoio—that Jesus was the first Chris- tives of action, and while we thus tian. I knowwhom he worshiped. feel, our admiration for their virtues I knowwhom he taught and enjoin- and our regret for their failings may ed us to worship. And I know-that be attended with most beneficial effects Jesus was a confirmed, a consistent upon our own hearts. If these are and an exemplary Unitarian,

the consequences produced by bioT.-Mercy on us !

graphy in general, how worthy of atBREVIS. tention must be the study of the mind,

character and history of such a man an inseparable connexion, and should as the Apostle Paul! He is not raised always be considered as depending on so far above us as to prevent our tak- each other. Let us hear what Mrs. ing him for an example. He was More says on this subject. “Let us subject to error, exposed to the influ- close our frequent reference to St. ence of strong passions, during the Paul as a pattern for general imitation, earlier part of his life, and he had not by repeating one question illustrative the privilege, enjoyed by the other of those opposite qualities which ought apostles, of personal intercourse with to meet in every Christian. If the our Saviour. We may, without reser- most zealous advocate for spiritual vation, take him for an example; and influences were to select, from all the if, with this desire, we peruse the en- writers of sacred antiquity, the most Jarged history of him, here presented distinguished champion of his great to us, we may reap great advantage, cause, on whom would he fix his for, to iniluce us to do this, was it choice? And if the most strenuous written.

assertor of the duty of personal actiMrs. More has in this work paid vity in moral virtue, were to choose her usual attention to perspicuity and from all mankind the man who most accuracy. She has divided her Essay completely exemplified this character into chapters, in each of which some in himself, where must he search? characteristic quality of the apostle's Would not the two antagonists, when mind is expatiated on. By this ar- they met in the field of controversy, rangement, his various and, as some each in defence of his favourite tenet, think, incompatible virtues cause no find that they had fixed on the same confusion, but are each suffered to man,-Paul, the Apostle of the Genmake a separate impression on the tiles? If, then, we propose him as mind of the reader. One chapter is our model, let us not rest till someon his heavenly-mindedness, another thing of the same combination be on his attention to inferior concerns; forined in ourselves.”—II. 344. one on his inflexible integrity, ano Many of the reflections presented ther on his respect for constituted to us in this work on the different chaauthorities ; thus shewing us that racteristics of the Apostle's mind, in those qualities which are often deem- all probability occur to all who real ed contradictory, may be beautifully his writings with attention and inteblended in the Christian character rest; but they are, notwithstanding, without losing any of their original highly useful for instead of our iinforce. Our Authoress has done wisely pressions being weak and transitory, in not laying so much stress on the as they sometimes would be, they are doctrines of St. Paul as on his prac- made permanent and tangible by the tical religion, the effects of which were manner in which they are connected exemplified in himself. He was ob- together, and one virtue made to lead liged by his office, and by the circum- on to the consideration of others. stances which gave rise to his writings, “ The most interesting part of his very to explain and to reason upon points diversified character," his tenderness of doctrine, but he invariably ended of heart, is thus beautifully treated with a practical application of them. of: “ Among the peculiarities of It is a great mistake to denominate Christianity, it is one of the most him the writer on Faith, in distinction striking, that they who, in scripture from James and others who are called language, love not the world, nor the writers on Good Works. What did things of the world, are yet the perPaul mean by the “ faith” on which sons in it who are farthest froin mishe wrote so much? Surely, not only anthropy. They love the beings of the simple assent of the understanding whom the world is composed, better to the doctrines and facts contained in than he who courts and tlatters it. the sacred records : he cant also They seek not its honours nor its fathe effect of this belief upon the heart, vour, but they give a more substantial and its practical application as a rule proof of affection,—they seek its imof life ; and, therefore, these two provement, its peace, its happiness, points, which are so often preached its salvation..... St. Paul's zeal up in opposition to each other, have for the spiritual welfare of whole com

munities did not swallow up his ardent pen. Who is there, of whatever sect attachment to individuals, nor did his or party, that has read her Essay on regard to their higher interests lead the Inconsistency of Human Expectahim to overlook their personal suffer- tions, her Address to the Deity, her ings. He descends to give particular Summer Evening's Meditation, her advice to one friend respecting the Thoughts on Devotional Taste, who management of his health. In his does not long for more of the elogrief for the sickness of another, and quent, elevated and tender breathings his joy at his recovery, he does not of such a mind? Her Thoughts, &c. pretend to a feeling purely disinter- includes some remarks on sects and ested, but gratefully acknowledges establishments, a subject though 80 that his joy was partly for his own often treated of, yet not exhausted. sake, “ lest he should have sorro: We shall see how the one subject upon sorrow.” These soft touches leads on to the other. The Essay beof sympathy for individuals particu- gins with stating religion to be consilarly dear to him, in a man so like. dered under three different views :minded with Christ, in the instances as a system of opinions, in which the of Lazarus and Jolin, are a sufficient faculty of reason is employed; as a refutation of the whimsical assertion principle regulating the conduct, when of a lively genius, that particular it becomes a liabit ; and, lastly, as a friendships are hostile to the spirit of taste, in which sense it is properly Christianity.”—Vol. II. Chap. i. called devotion. The Authoress then

Much more could I write on this proceeds to give the following descripsubject, and many beautiful and strik- tion of the spirit of devotion. ing passages could I adduce from this “ There is a devotion, generous, work, but my limits will not allow liberal and humane, the child of more me to indulge my inclination. I must, exalted feelings than base minds can therefore, here conclude my remarks enter into, which assimilates man to on the productions of Mrs. More, higher natures, and lifts him above convinced that my readers will concur this visible diurnal sphere.' Its pleawith me in a feeling of gratitude for sures are ultimate, and when early the services she has rendered to reli- cultivated, continue vivid even in that gion by her literary labours. I trust uncomfortable season of life when she has already received part of her some of the passions are extinct, reward in the knowledge of the utility when imagination is dead, and the of her efforts; for I am convinced heart begins to contract within itself. that no one can rise from the attentive Those who want this taste, want a perusal of her works, without feeling sense, a part of their nature, and that his conscience has been awak should not presume to judge of feelened, his sensibilities touched, and ings to which they must ever be stranhis heart, for a time at least, made gers. No one pretends to be a judge better. If the brief notice which I in poetry or the fine arts, who has not have taken of her productions should both a natural and a cultivated relish lead any to a more careful study of for them; and shall the narrow-minded them, the chief purpose for which it children of earth, absorbed in low was written will have been answered. pursuits, dare to treat as visionary,

It is now my duty to take a cursory objects which they have never made view of soine of the fewtoo few themselves acquainted with? Silence fruits of the genius of our first living on such subjects will better become female poet, Mrs. Barbauld. Her them. But to vindicate the pleasures powerful cloquence, her chaste enthu- of devotion from those who have neisiasm, and her devotional feelings, ther taste nor knowledge about them, make such an inpression on her read- is not the present object. It rather ers, that deep is the regret they feel, deserves our inquiry, what causes have that her powers of writing should not contributed to check the operation of have been more frequently employed. religious impressions amongst those Nor is this regret felt only by those who have steady principles, and are whose love and respect for her private well disposed to virtue.” Among the character lead them to look with par causes which operate to check the tial interest on the productions of her spirit of devotion, are mentioned, the

habit of disputing on religions sub- devotional pieces which are placed at jects, ridicule the superstitious fear the end of the volume. They are taken of superstition,” which mnany enter- from the Psalıns and the Book of Joh, tain, and the “ reproach which has the objectionable parts being omitted, been cast upon devotional writers, that and are thus in the highest degree they are apt to run into the language adapted for family worship. It is of love." The remarks on the first much to be regretted that this valuof these causes are so forcible and able litile volume is out of print, and just, that I should readily be pardoned, I believe that I express the general if pardon were needed, for inserting wish wlien I beg for its republication. them.“ In the first place, there is I must not quit this subject without nothing more prejudicial to the feelings stating that the Essay has not my enof a devout heart, than a habit of dis- tire approbation. I think that thouglı puting on religious subjects. Free it professes to treat of devotional inquiry is undoubtedly necessary to taste, and not religious principle, it is establish a rational belief; but a dis- still too imaginative. Though I do putatious spirit, anıl fondness for con- not believe that Mrs. Barbauld could troversy, gives the mind a sceptical approach such an awful subject with turn, with an aptness to call in ques. improper familiarity, yet there is too tion the most established truths. It much of the language of poetry and is impossible to preserve that deep romance, instead of that calm, though reverence for the Deity with which warm, that sedate, though aniinated we ought to regard him, when all his tone of feeling, which the theme deattributes, and even his very existence, mands. become the subject of familiar debate. It is curious to observe the differCandour demands that a man allow ence in the style of writing of Mrs. his opponent an unlimited freedoin of Barbauld and Mrs. More. Both have speechi, and it is not easy, in the heat the same end in view, both are forci. of discourse, to avoid falling into an in- ble and eloquent, and yet this force decent or a careless expression; hence and eloquence are of totally different those who think seldomer on religious kinds. Mrs. More awakens and imsubjects, often treat them with more presses us, and we listen to her warnrespect than those whose profession ings with an awe which would make keeps them constantly in their view." us believe that we are on no equality

As the ear loses its delicacy with her. We stand reproved under by being only obliged to hear coarse her solemn exhortations. But with and vulgar language, so the veneration Mrs. Barbauld it is different. She for religion wears off by hearing it meets our ideas, and seems to express treated with disregard, though we our- what had passed through our own selves are employed in defending it; minds, much more forcibly than we and to this it is owing that many who ourselves could have done. We have have contirmed themselves in the be- a fellow-feeling with her in all that lief of religion, have never been able she says, and it is thus that we are to recover that strong and affectionate carried away by her fervour of feeling, sense of it which they had before they and are tempted to overlook all errors, began to inquire, and have wondered and all that borders on extravagance, to find their devotion weaker when in consideration of the justice with their faith was better grounded.” which she paints our passions and Having tlus considered the various emotions, and touches every chord of causes which contribute to deaden the feeling in our bosoms. This is more spirit of devotion, our Authoress pro- especially to be said with respect to ceeds to “inquire in what inanner it her poetry. Who has not felt in readis affected by the ditferent modes of ing her sublime Address to the Deity, religion,” and thus introduces her re- that he meets with liis own aspiramarks on sects and establislıments, tios, clothed in finer language than which are so connected together, that he could have found, and illustrated it would be doing injustice to them to by loftier imagery than his own imaquote any part, and I shall therefore gination could have furnished him refer my readers to the Essay itself. with? Mrs. Barbauld has employed her pen Before I conclude, I must take noin a most useful way in compiling the tice of one who, had she lived, would

« PreviousContinue »