Page images
PDF
EPUB

uninstructed minds, it is a fault to be avoided with the greatest caution. Mrs. C. Smith writes about Harold's conduct to his brother Tosti, Vol. 1. p. 6.6, without relating any.particulars of it, as if Harold and Tosti were some familiar acquaintances of the ladies at school; and in the same volume, p. 381, the coarse stratagems of Richard III. to gain an elective risrht to the throne, are said " to be so well known" (to whom are they known ?) " that the detail is hardly necessary." In Vol. II. p. 336, we read of the. Duke of Albemarle, without ever being told that he is the famous General Monk, who was advanced by Charles to that noble rank, for his services in promoting the restoration.

Errors of the press, we are sorry to say, are become so common, and Errata are considered =o unnecessary, that a Reviewer would have little to do but to copy these blunders, if he were to think it his duty to set up as Corrector of the Press. We pass over many errors of this kind, in the present work; but there is one which puzzled us so much that we shall copy it. (Vol. I. p. 101) (' The Pope gave his blessing to this motley assemblage, and Constantinople was appointed as the place of meeting for departure."

We have noticed some mistakes which cannot be ascribed to the press: such as, in Vol. I. p. 161, " The first victims that ever suffered, in England, for religious opinions were, in the, year 1171, whipped and branded, &c. &c.'' This ought not to have been so positively affirmed, since it is recorded, in ancient stories, and in Polychrcnicon, that some persons suffered, in England, in the tenth general persecution, about the year A. D. 301. In Vol. If. p. 115, we are told, " The executioner had placed bans of gun-powder by which Latimer was destroyed;" but Fox, whose account is minutely faithful, says, that it was a brother of Ridley's, not the executioner, who performed this act of kindness.

Mr. Hume appears to have been the principal guide of Mrs. C. Smith, down to the period of the Revolution ; and Mr.. Belsham has had the honour of conducting the fair Contimiator to the peace of Amiens. From Mr. B. we have a long extract, verbatim, in Letter 142. We are sorry to find Mrs. Smith has. followed her philosophical historian, not only so far as to adopt his political prejudices, but, what is much worse, to countenance his sceptical sentiments in religion and morals. In Vol.11, p. 12, the Reformation'is represented as being occasioned by the rashness and impetuosity of Luther's temper, and carried oh, by him, under the influence of" pride and obstinacy, which were gratified by his being elevated as a founder of a sect, and a reformer of abuses." He is also called a " presumptuous Reformer," in a manner calculated to mislead;

younger minds; though we are willing to hope Mrs. C. Smith rather means that he appeared presumptuous to Henry VIII. than to affix to him that epithet as expressive of her own sentiments. In the same volume, p. 114, she speaks of the learned and courageous Philpot, the Archdeacon of Winchester, in the most degrading terms. His intolerance we certainly do not mean to justify ; but this Lady, who offers no plea for Fhilpot, could say, when Lord Clarendon, a favourite character, is charged with the fault of intolerance, " in such an age, and under such influence, his conduct in that respect admits of excuse."—We would hope the expression, p. 61 of this volume, which intimates that prophecies have .often been the immediate cause of the events they foretold, was not intended as an unfavourable inuendo against the prophecies of Scripture; but it is so much in the manner of Hume, that it has a suspicious appearance. We entirely disallow the commendation given to Elizabeth, (Vol. II. p. 124) for her prudence in concealing her " religious opinions,! and conforming to the established modes,'' which is an implied censure on the noble army of Martyrs, in the English Church* We cannot pass by, without the severest censure, the impious charge against Religion, (p. 178 of the same volume,) as being '* the fruitful source of so many miseries and dissensions." Unhappily Religion has been the occasion of miseries and dissensions; but a mind taught to think with Apostles, rather than Infidels, would sureiy have recollected the question of St. James, " From whence come wars and fightings among you ? come they not hence, from your lusts which war in your members?" Her partiality for the latter, we fear, is manifested when she speaks of the " boldness of Hobbes's sentiments being disgraced by dogmatism." Could any thing, then, disgrace the boldness of sentiments which set themselves against the Lord and against his Anointed? "True religion and sound morality are so intimately connected, that we are by no means surprised to see the restrictions of the latter slighted, wherever the foundations of the former are attacked. We must acknowledge, however, that we felt a little surprised at the following remark on Charles VII. of France (Vol. I. p. 333) : "The peculiar character of Charles, so strongly inclined to friendship and the tender passions, rendered him the hero of that sex whose generous minds know no bounds in their affections." Is this a sentiment by which the work before us is peculiarly calculated for our young and impressible females? God forbid that our daughters and granddaughters should he so boundless in their affections, as to admire an unprincipled and libidinous debauchee, in any rank of life. The scrupies of Elizabeth respecting the reception o.f Mary Q. of Scotland, are said to be those of punctilious honour and delicacy, though it is acknowledged that there were strong grounds to suspect Mary of being implicated in the murder of Lord Darnley, with Bothwell, whom she soon afterward married. We need not wonder, after this, that the poor Puritans are unmercifully lashed, and that even their prohibition of cruel sports, such as cock-fighting, and bearbaiting, is ridiculed rather than commended. In defiance of the charge of puritanism, we must close this work with avowed dissatisfaction; we regret that we cannot recommend it a* an unexceptionable present to young women; but conceive it, on the other hand, to be our inevitable duty to caution all who read it, against imbibing prejudices most injurious to their *eal interests. Rather than they should imbibe such prejudices, we would have them live and die ignorant of all the' transactions that are recorded in these volumes.

Ait. XI. Dialogues on the Doctrines and Duties of Christianity, intended for the Instruction of the Young, and to lead them to the Study of the Sacred Scriptures. By Mrs. John Jackson. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 600. price 15s. bds. Rivingtons. 1806.

HTHE gentle sex never display more of their characteristic loveliness, than when rearing the young to vigorous maturity. Those who so perfectly command all the avenues to the soul, axe evidently called to impart the first lessons of wisdom and virtue; and when their fascinating powers are employed to imbue the tender heart with the sacred tincture of Religion, all that is lovely in gentleness is exalted by all that is venerable in dignity. Nor can females more effectually serve their own interests, than by extending the influence of that Revelation, which alone exalts them to their true rank in the scale of behig, inspires the benevolence which befriends their weakness, and cheers them with the prospect of that immortality which shall compensate the disadvantages of their present condition. We have, indeed, seen female champions for irreligion and infidelity; but wc have ever regarded them with a surprize bordering on honor, and have been amazed at that uncommon hardihood of depravity, which enabled them, to triumph over the delicacy of physical constitution, and to bivak through so many moral impediments, before they could vie with men in impiety and licentious independence.

We sincerely venerate the intentions of the lady who here attempis to convey the doctrines and duties of Christianity to youthful minds, by means of dialogues, in which the sacred scriptures themselves are the chief respondents; but we are compelled, in spite of ourselves, tQ own, that she attempts to. teach what she has not well learned. It is not copious quotations from the sacred books which can establish the claim to an accurate acquaintance with their contents, or a heartfelt adoption of their principles; and though the fair authoress seems to pique herself on being the humble disciple of Mrs. H. More, we are persuaded that this lady understands too well the sentiments and genius of the gospel to be proud ofhaving been her teacher.

The plan of this work was first suggested by Dr. Watts's Scripture History; but as it is designed to go far beyond that useful book, and to enter into the grand doctrines of revelation, it has led Mrs. J. out her depth, and caused her to expose, rather than, illustrate, the attributes of Deity, the permission of sin, the freedom of the will, the redemption by Christ, and the influences of the Holy Spirit. The definition of a ' scriptural mystery,* though supported by a quotation from a divine, is a mere vulgar error. The word in the sacred writings signifies a secret, without any supposition of incomprehensibility.

When Mrs. J. says, " we cannot but be led to observe that the connection pf everlasting life with obedience still exists, as at the time when Adam received the law," we grant this is a sacred truth, but in a sense with which she gives too much reason to suspect that she is unacquainted; for she completely fails in pointing out, that connection which forms the delicate pivot on which all evangelical obedience moves. Our suspicions are confirmed by the text which she makes herpupil adduce in proof of her observation. Matt. xix. 17. 'If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments,' p. 119.

Whoever attends to the scope of the narrative, will perceive that our Lord uses the law, as the apostle says, for a schoolmaster to lead us to himself, that we may be justified by faith. The genuine import of this instructive, yet much mistaken passage, is placed in a striking point of view- by the hand of a master, in a Volume which, we formerly recommended to public notice *. But the two grand features of doctrinal popery, which are the meritorious efficacy of human efforts to procure the divine favour, and the mystical virtue of ritual observances to convey salvation, are betrayed in almost every dialogue of the work; such, however, is the vagueness and obscurity of the style, that we will not confidently charge Mrs. J. with holding them knowingly. The views of faith especially, as far as we can understand them, are grossly incorrect and unscriptural. But to point out every In. stance of erroneous sentiment and mistaken application of scripture, would be tiresome both to ourselves and our readers.

P Eel. Rev. Vol. Ii p, V%

To afford a specimen of the plan and sentiments of the work, we quote the following passages:

"Since the scripture, which acquaints us with the efficacy of repentance, furnishes us with those forcible exhortations which are most proper to excite it; wc will resort to them, for those motives to this duty, which cannot fail to prevail, but from our want of attention to their force. Acts iii. 19. Isaiah xliv. 21, 22. Malachi iii. 7. 2 Peter iii. 7. Ezekiel xviii. 21, 22.

PUPIL.

"Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." " I have formed thee, thou art my servant; 0 Israel, thou she It not be forgotten of me; I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgression-, end as a cloud thy sins: return unto me, for I have Redeemed thee." •—Return unto me, and I -will return unto you, saith the Lord. The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."—*" If the wicked will turn from all his sins that lie hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that 'which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. jill his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him; in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live."

PRECEP.

It is necessary to observe here, that although we are warranted by these texts to believe, that on our repentance we are forgiven and accepted of God, "for Christ's sake, in whom we have forgiveness ofsins*," we should never forget, that as we obtain this forgiveness only through him, so our very repentance is induced and furthered by his Sp'rit. We confess that " no man can come unto Christ except the Father draw him\;" and if we fear lest the gracious and merciful means of coming to the Father, should not be afforded us, the ensuing verse tranquillizes our hearts, harmonizing with the gracious and universal invitation of our Lord; " Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest \J" St. John vi. 45.—Vol. II. pp. 72—74. ."

PUPIL.

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

PRECEP.

Repentance therefore is necessary to us all, and it is also necessary that we should not mistake the nature of this duty, by supposing it to consist in mere sorrow for sin, for, to repent is to forsake sin, as well as to be sorry for it. Ezek. xiv. 6. Acts xxvi. 20.

'' PUPIL.

"Repent, and turn yourselves from idols." "Repent, and turn to God."

PRECEP.

And St. Paul has clearly explained to us, that repentance is not mere sor»ow, but the effect of godly sorrow for sin. 2 Cor. vii. 10.

PUPIL.

"For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation, not to be repented of"."

fp .—. g — _. _

* Eph, i. 7. f St. John vi> *• t St.Matt' xi- 28' JercW- xxxi. 33,

« PreviousContinue »