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Christianity ; that its plans will be regulated by the same at: tention to the good of others, the same benevolence and liberality which is the distinguished character of the Gospel.”
The latter of these maxims, in its application, equally refers to our external and our internal relations; and the author illustrates it, at considerable length, in both these respects. His observations uniformly manifest that he has the advancement of religion, and the happiness of his fellow men, much at heart : nor are they less creditable to his talents than to his disposition. We think, however, that he might have given them additional force, by a little more attention to order in the arrangement.
Among the objects which arrest the attention, in considering the best means of promoting religious knowledge in a nation, the instruction of the rising poor claims a conspicuous place.
This is not only important on general considerations, but is peculiarly necessary among a commercial people, as it tends to counteract the evils consequent upon the crowded population of our manufacturing towns, and the associations in the manufactories themselves, and to preserve the poor from that degradation of intellect, which close confinement to a minute department of labour naturally induces. When it is considered, also, that from this class of society our fleets and our armies are supplied, the importance of inculcating good principles cannot be over-rated; and the impolicy which leaves this object to the operation of chance, cannot be too pointedly condemned.
“ But, much as Government is interested in these early impressions on the minds of its subjects, there is no law amongst us which professes to take the instruction of the poor in general under the public care. They are left to imbibe, as they can, those principles, of which to be ignorant, is most dangerous to themselves and others. They are deserted at an age when they most of all require the best lessons to guard them from the impressions of prevailing custom and bad example." p. 37.
It must be admitted that great difficulties stand in the way of a systematic education for the children of the poor; but they should not be presumed to be insuperable. Whatever can be effected by acts of the legislature, by parochial associa. tions, or by patriotic institutions, ought to be attempted ; and the general formation of Sunday schools will be found well calculated to supply the chasm between what is necessary, and what is practicable by such means. We are fully aware of the narrow objections which have been made against Sunday schools, and none with a more assuming nod of self-consequence than thaç which is replied to in the folļowing pa: ragraph.
« It is vain to think of keeping the multitude in a state of stricter subordination, by our endeavours to exclude them from the power of reading. We shall probably, by such means, sometimes cut them off from the Gospel of Christ ; but we must remember that the Gospel of Equality may be conveyed, without the aid of letters, by a short and easy catechism, to the meanest understanding, and the most ignorant among the people. The lowest are capable of comprehending what are called the Rights of Man, and of acquiring expertness in every qualification necessary to render them able agents in commotions, insurrections, and revolutionary tumults.”
A certain measure of preparatory knowledge is absolutely requisite to give effect to the instructions of the pulpit; and if the zeal of the clergy, in preaching the true Gospel of Christ, and the liberality of the opulent in putting Bibles into the hands of the poor, bear a tolerable proportion to the demands of piery, the apostles of infidelity and anarchy will find few followers. Other modes of promoting religion in the nation might be suggested; but that which is now recommended stands chiefly connected with our situation as a commercial nation ; and we presume that the author has restricted his attention to it for this reason.
That the nation possessing an extensive commerce, enjoys, in an eminent degree, opportunities of promoting Christianity in foreign parts, is evident to the slightest observation. The confidence which the relations of trade require for their basis, will, if rightly employed, much facilitate the introduction of religious truth, especially among nations where the superiority of its propagators, in arts, and arms, is at the same time manifest. If we rightly understand our author, when he says that he does not hesitate in concluding, from probable appearances, that the means employed in this great work, will be commercial intercourse, conjoined with that in. portant ausiliary of knowledge, the art of Printing," and connect this remark with his observations on the small success of Missionary endeavours to effect that design-ho appears to us to carry his system rather too far. Nor can we admit the justice of his remark, that Christianity,“ plain and simple as it is, requires an intellect above that of a mere savage, before it can be embraced and properly understood.”'.
The belief of the first principles of our religion is found, by experience, to raise the mind of the rudest learner to a capacity to apprehend the subsequent doctrines; and instances have been produced where the progress of “ savages" has been more rapid, than would reasonably have been expected from the presumed superiority of intellect of the generality of European labourers. Let Conımerce supply the facilities of access and communication, and afford from is revenues the means necessary to support active exertious; let our merchants and mariners forbear to counteract, by their conduct, the influence of instruction on the minds of the uninformed; let the propagation of the Scriptures, and the labours of Missionaries, be duly encouraged ; and as surely as an effect follows its cause, so surely will the Truih have free course and be glorified. The worthy author does not seem also to possess the best information, when he says that “ for the present, all attempts to spread the light of truth appear to be suspended by the rage of war. He cannot, surely, be unacquainted with what is doing in England, although he possibly may with the institutions formed in America, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and the efforts carried on in many parts of Asia, Africa, America, and the West India Islands.
It is impossible to advert to the means possessed by this country of propagating the Gospel in the Heathen world, without calling to mind the unparallelled authority of a body of Britons, who, to the character of Merchants, unite that of Princes, over a portion of the globe which contains many millions of inhabitants. When any man, accustomed to ponder the ways of Providence, and to connect the revealed purposes of God with his administration of human affairs, reflects upon the probable design of this dispensation, can he doubt that it is meant to facilitate the introduction into these regions, of that evangelical truth which is preeminently possessed by the British Islands. Let the importance of India to this country, be what it may, in a commercial and financial point of view, the value of ihe connection, in a religious respect, if rightly improved, is infinitely greater. We sincerely hope that those intrusted with the direction of our Eastern affairs
may the auspicious “ signs of the times” in this instance, and may be induced to offer every encouragement to the free propagation of the Gospel among the Indian nations. They may be assured that the soundest policy points out the diffusion of Christianity, as the surest means of consolidating the parts of their extensive empire by the only common bond, and of securing it both from internal discord and external aggression. From a conviction of the truth of this sentiment we carnestly recommend, not only that the restrictions against the passage of Europeans to India be relaxed in favour of accredited Missionaries, but that inducements be given to their settlement in stations judiciously selected. There are Societies in existence,the characters,condition, and tried integrity,of whose conductors, are a sufficient guarantee for the patriotism of their views, and in them the Company may repose a confidence, which doubtless would never be abused.
Another method of propagating the Gospel, to which our
author has not adverted, forcibly strikes us, in considering the alliance of Commerce with Christianity; and that is, the facility which commercial intercourse atfords for procuring and diffusing versions of the Holy Scriptures. Happily, the way is prepared for this measure also ; and it only remains for the bountiful hand of British benevolence to be more widely opened, for it to be carried into the desired effect. It would, in this view, give us the sincerest pleasure, to observe a venerable Society, which possesses very anıple resources, assume a more zealous and energetic aspect. Why is it, that, with its revenues, the translation of the Scriptures into the Chinese language is, at this day, an unfinished effort, in the hands of other labourers ? —Why is it, that the New Testament does not circulate, in Arabic and Persian, through Mahometan countries, and in Modern Greek, over Turkey, the Archipelago, and a considerable part of the Russian en.pire?
In endeavouring to enforce upon the minds of our readers the promptitude of attention, and union of effort, necessary to realize these beneficent designs, we cannot forbear, long as the article is already become, to give a few extracts from the author's remarks. He very justly recommends union, as a first principle in all such endeavours :
“ The knowledge and abilities, the benevolence and desire of doing good, which qualify men for public services, exist in vast numbers of our countrymen ; but in many instances produce no adequate effect, from the want of union, and of some establishment that might draw, as it were to a focal point, these scattered rays of intellect, and of patriotic zeal. The reserve of Englishmen has by many been remarked in matters of religion ; and that, from the fear of incurring the charge of hypocrisy, they often avoid as individuals, duties of acknowledged obligation. The same persons, when aided by associates, would become intrepid and indefatigable ; and would readily forego, in a cause approved by conscience, both personal ease and present interest. To exertions like these we are loudly called - by the singular course of political affairs, and the general revolution which is taking place in the states of Europ sible as we are, that it is our wisdom to improve this momentous interval, before we are ourselves actually involved, or that our country is made in any degree the seat of war, and the scene of tumult. We shall be still more solicitous, whilst opportunity is granted, to provide some public safeguard, if we attend to an observation founded on experience : during disastrous periods the mass of the people are liable to an epidemic immorality.” Against the contagion of this pestilence, to which'in our turn we also may be exposed, there seems to be no preservative but that of religious principles, infused into the populace by the means of education.
pp. 48-50. Our eminent advantages in Religion, Government, and Commerce, are enhanced by the degradation of other States from the rapid progress of a Power which threatens subversion and slavery to the whole Continept
of Europe. Amidst this disorder and distress, no people in Christendom, excepting ourselves, appear competent to the office of propagating the light of Truth. On this country alone the charge devolves, if her citizens have the wisdom to understand the crisis, and obey the signal. Viewing ourselves thus, as separated from other nations, not only that, like the Jewish people, we may preserve the Sacred Oracles, but that we may also publish them, we shall, if we act under this impression, apply our minds to the stricter union of Christianity with our schemes of traffic. We have dwelt above on the remarkable preparation at this juncture for diffusing the light of the Gospel, from the removal of impediments, the renewed simplicity of its doctrines, the Art of Printing, and those various aids which modern ingenuity has invented to open and enlarge the human intellect ; so that nothing more seems requisite, than the real of a commercial people who profess and practise the religion of Christ. If to us are granted those faculties and opportunities, and we omit the application of them intended by their author, no reason can be alledged why our Trade should not decline, like that of Venice, Lombardy, the Hanse Towns, and Holland. Should this event befal us, it is not improbable that some other part of Europe, reduced by calamity to purer morals and better institutions, may cultivate both Christianity and Commerce with greater success, and become fitted to the office which we would not execute.'
We need only appeal to the length of our article, for the best expression which we can give of our estimation of the value and importance of this little tract. Art. VI. Thoughts on Affectation : Addressed chiefly to Young People.
8vo. pp. 412. price 6s. Wilkie and Robinson 1805. THE anonymous writer of this book is a lady, who in a sim
ple and dignified manner assigns herself to the elderly class. With us she loses nothing by this confession; for the gallantry of reviewers is different from that of almost all other men. Ti'e like an aged woman who entertains us with sense and knowledge, ten times better than a young one who would divert us with follies; and our prime favourites, the Muses themselves, had lost all the light attractions of juvenility, long enough, we presume, before we had the honour to be introduced to their acquaintance.
If the present writer had not given us the information, wie should nevertheless have been quite certain she is not young; Her very extensive knowledge of characters and manners, would have soon discovered to us a person long accustomed to observe the world with that impartial sober attention, in which the judgement is no longer the dupe of fancy and giddy passions. Her acquaintance with mankind has extended to various classes, and especially, as it appears, to a great number of the wealthy and fashionable; and she has exemplified the several kinds of affectation, by many instances from real life so various and so appropriately introduced, that they form ne