« PreviousContinue »
judicious remarks: nor should the precious labours of the great Lightfoot on the subject be forgotten. Benson, more eminent for patient industry than for genius, throws much light on the historical part of the book. Four volumes of Sermons by Le Fauckeur, a French Protestant minister of the 17th century, may be considered as containing one of the best commentaries, as far as they go; but they do not rench beyond the 12th chapter. Biscoe,s Discourses on the Acts are extensively known, and justly celebrated. But still it is* our opinion that there was room for such a book as Mr. Brewster's; and we are happy to see him present the public with two volumes of expository sermons. There is little criticism in the work; but it is not the worse for this. The facts and events are narrated in a manner well suited to engage the attention of the congregation to whom he delivered them from the pulpit, and to whom he dedicates them as a memorial of attachment, on his removal to another charge. The reflections which he liberally intersperses, arise naturally from the subject; they might sometimes have been more explicit in point of doctrine, but they are calculated to impress the history effectually on the mind, and to render that impression beneficial. . Mr. B. improves as he advances in the work. Novelty, the reader is not to expect; acuteness of remark, and profoundness of reasoning or observation, are not qualities which distinguish these volumes; but they will impart instruction to the general mass of readers, and produce what is most devoutly to be wished, a more accurate knowledge of the sacred Scriptures.
The Lectures arc twenty-eight in Number ; and in the Table of Contents, their chronological order is expressed by a reference to the years of the Christian aera, and of the Roman emperors. .
Mr. B.'s manner of writing may be perceived by the following paragraph:
• Though " a great and effectual door, (as St. Paul writes to the Corinthians) had been opened to him at Ephesus, yet, he adds, there are many adversaries*" The very best days of the Church must expect such interruptions. The very best of men must look for opposition. No one will wonder at this, who knows the power of the grand adversary of the ■ world, or the reasons why he is permitted to " go up and down seeking whom he may devourf." A violent tumult arose in the city, in consequence of the complaint of Demetrius, a maker of silver shrines, little models of the temple of Diana at that place, that his employment was likely to be destroyed by the great increase of Christian worshippers. The celebrity of this great goddess, and the temple erected in honour of her at Ephesus, (considered, from its architecture and magnificence, as one of the
* 1 "Cor. xvi. 9. f \ Pet- v- 8
seven wonders of the world) are well known in history. These circumstances are artfully dwelt upon by Demetrius, to induce his fellow-citizens to espouse his cause. Interest, interest, in all ages, is that which taketh the greatest hold of the human heart; yea, many strong men have been slain by it. "Sirs! ye know that by this craft we have our wealth; besides, look at your celebrated goddess and her temple—both will be despised, if ye check not these Christians in time—their doctrines are spreading rapidly threughout all Asia. Who will worship or visit the great goddess Diana, if these things are suffered to go on?" How often have we seen this deception practised? How often has religion, venerable, divine religion been made a pretext for all kinds of enormities? How often ha* ambition, how often ha3 hypocrisy, fought under this banner? When, O ! when, will that hour arrive, that this child of Heaven shall be reverenced for her own sake! We must wait, in the confidence of faith, for the completion of all God's promises. We are referred by the Evangelist St. John to such a moment of supreme felicity, when he said, " I heard a great voice Out of heaven, saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall bz with them, and be their God. And he that sat upon the throne, said, Behold! I make all things new*." Vol. II. pp. 156—158.
We are much pleased with the distinct and scriptural manner in which our worthy author corrects an important mistake—■ a mistake which, we have lately found occasion to tamenr, some of his brethren have ventured to sauction.
■ The Apostle bears witness to the pure benevolence of the Churches of Macedonia, who, " to their power, yea, and beyond their power, were willing of themselves, praying us, with, much intreaty, that we would receive the gift; and this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their otvnsclves to the Lord, and to us by the Will of Godf." This, this is indeed true charity. Liberality, munificence, generosity, are all high sounding words, but if a man give not himself first unto the Lord, his gifts, his alms, and his donations, return into his bosom without a blessing.
* I mean not to disparage this heaven-born principle of charity. God is love. Christ is love. The very soul of religion is love. But men are apt to adopt only one branch of charity, and thus deceives themselves in the performance of an important duty. The favourite principle of the present day is benevolence. This, it is expected, will do much for us. And so undoubtedly it will, when it becomes an outward expression, that our whole body, and soul, and spirit, are devoted to God in the purest sense of religious adoration. But if our charitable contributions, whether public or private, are intended to recommend ourselves, and claim any merit whatever on their own account, if they have any worldly end in view, or lead us to imagine that we are very good, because we are very charitable, the professors of such affected philanthropy must be told, that they have yet to learn the first elements of a Christian life. The only way to judge of the disposition of our minds, is to try our conduct by the Apostle's rule—Have we first given ourselves to the Lord? If we have not, or if we are not dis
* Rct. xxi. 3,5. f 2 Cor. viii. 3, &c.
posed to make this necessary and indispensable offering of our hearts, we must be assured that all other gifts are vain. This alone is a genuine proof of our Christianity. We may perform many good works from a variety of motives apparently good, sometimes perhaps arising from prudence of inind, sometimes from constitution of body; but if they spring from any other motive than a religious dedication of ourselves to God, through Him, who presenttd himself as a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice for us, they will not, they cannot be an acceptable memorial before the throne of grace.' Vol. I J. pp. 176—178.
Mr. B. is a more strenuous advocate for his church, than he has been a laborious student on the subject of church government; and various assertions on this head, he would fiud it difficult to support against a skilful antagonist. We do not think it necessary to eoumeiate or discuss these questionable statements; but we must mention a sentence in the first leaf, which we were obliged to desire our reader to repeat a second and a third time. A veteran of our corps then snatched the book from his hands, hurried on his spectacles, and in ac-^ cents of astonishment read thus: Christians " should reject with indignation those insinuating temptations, which the great deceiver of mankind, under the specious, but false appearances of civil and rdigioiis liberty, throws in their way;" and, after pausing a moment, and knitting his aged brows,he eagerly exclaimed, "Surely there is not so much of either in the world, that any one needs trouble himself to cry them down! If our commentator were transported to Constantinople, and shut up in the Seven Towers for three years, I'll engage he would come home loud in the praises of civil li~ berty; and if we could get him confined in the Spanish Inquisition, to spend a month in the affectionate embraces of the pincers and the screws, and under the instructive discipline of ecclesiastical torture, 1 have no doubt but he would exclaim, when he met us, on landing at Falmouth, l! Gentlemen, highly prize the religious freedom which you enjoy in this happy island! It is one of the most precious blessings that God bestows on man."
Art. VIII. Travels in Scotland, by an unusual Routt; with a Trip to the Orkneys and Hebrides; containing Hints for Improvements in Agriculture and Commerce; with Characters and Anecdotes. Embellished with Views of striking Objects, and a, Map including the Caledonian Canal. By the Rev. James Hall, A. M. 2 Vols. 8vo. pp. 640. Price 11. fis. Johnson. 1807.
TT is to be presumed that m'ost travellers design to pick up something on their road; and it appears that Mr. Hall's principal object was to pick up stories and jokes. New or old, funny or flat, decent or smutty, none that came in his way, seems to have come amiss-. Yet he had evidently no small stock of these on hand before he set out; and therefore we can only account for his tour, on the conjecture, that, by constant use at home, they had become stale; and that, being unable to pass his time without conviviality, or to support conversation without anecdotes, he was reduced to the necessity of trying what every nook of Scotland, and its neighbouring islands, could supply, for the recruit of his store. This speculation appears to have succeeded so well, that he resolved to turn it to public, as well as private account: for which, however, we do not give him much credit, because it required no sacrifice. His new commodities certainly could not keep fresh a longer time than it would take to print a book; and therefore he might tell them for a bottle of wine, as many times as the companies who procure hiin as a:jester would listen, and, when they would serve this purpose no more, might sell them for twenty-six shillings, to as many persons as cannot find a sillier way of wasting their money and dissipating their time.
Now, in compassion to the miserable creatures for whom his book is calculated, we could pardon him for publishing all the tales that he found along the roads which he travelled ; but when, in addition to these, he recites so many which he carried thither, we really think there is room to complain. Our memory does not enable us to say, how many of his anecdotes the Rev. Mr. H. has derived from the rich compilation of Mr. Joseph Miller; but we can testify that a great part of his collection has no more to do with the author or his journey, than with the moon, or the man in it. His object seems to have been, by any means, and by all means, to make up * book. Of this fact, and of the useful information that they can expect to obtain from his performance, the reader may judge, when we declare, that Mr. H. occupies 270 pages, in octavo, retty closely printed, with what he saw, or heard, or recolected having seen, heard, or read, in travelling_/rowz Edinburgh to Perth, the direct distance of which is less than forty miles, and as well known as the road from London to Canterbury. He has, indeed, introduced Stirling, St. Andrew's, and Crief, into his itinerary; but the only purpose of this zig-zag route seems to have been, that of describing places and people formerly known by him. It is not to be supposed that he could afford always to travel so much at leisure. The greater part of his' previous stock of information was so iroprovidently lavished at the outset, that, like Indians on a scouting party, he was'nearly reduced, for daily subsistence^ to the game that he could shoot, or snare, during the remainder of his tour. Accordingly, we find him coasting Scotland from Dundee to Cape Wrath, visiting the Orkneys and the Hebndes, (or, as he calls them, in the mumpsimus fashion, Hebrides) iandisg at Fort
William, and travelling to Glasgow and Edinburgh, in much less than twice the space of paper that he had filled between the latter city and Perth! Weil did .rEsop judge, in chusing to carry the bread-wallet on a journey! How much more rapidly a traveller may advance as his budget empties, was never more strikingly demonstrated than by Mr. Hall.
In whatever degree our author might be burdened till he had found means to dispose of the greater part of his old jokes, it seeiViS to have been the only sort of travelling provision with which he, or his ponpy, was encumbered.. We do not mean positively to assert, that he had never seen, heard, or read, any thing about the ancient history of Scotland; or that he has not occupied some pages of his book with disquisitions on the subject; but as the circumstances which he states, and the conclusions which he draws from them, vary greatly from any good authoritv, we apprehend that he must have picked them up, along with his modern anecdotes, on the road.
The following is Mr. H.'s account of the Picts:
'That side of the country was, for a long tract of years, under the dominion of the Picts or Plights, called also Vichts, Wicks, or Wiggans, who, in comparison of the Celts,, or Irish Scots, inhabiting the inland, mountainous and western coasts, were a refined and polished people. The Pictish empire, if I may be allowed to use this magnificent term, in Scotland, was divided into two, dominions, that of the Picts to the south of the Grampians, and that of the Picts extended from the river Dee over the lowlands of Aberdeenshire, Bamff, Murray, Inverness, Sutherlandshire, Caithness, and the Orkney and Shetland Isles. Both the northern and southern Picts sprung from Scandinavia, more particularly Norway. , 'The term of Picts, Peights, (the name by which they are called among the people of Scotland, who have a world of traditions concerning them at this day), Vichts, Wicks, and Wiggans, all literally signify Pirates, or Robbers. When the king or chief of any northern and maritime nation and tribe was desirous of making provision for any spirited youth among his sons, he furnished him with a number of ships and brave followers, and committed him to the ocean, and his own valour and fortune. From situation, the people of those countries were fishermen and navigators. The sea was their natural element, to which they looked for subsistence and bettering their condition, more than to the land. They made reciprocal incursions, not only into each other's borders, but in process of time, and of courage inspired by successful adventure, into Scotland, England, Belgium, and'the shores of Aquitaine. Passing up the Rhine, the Garonne, and other rivers in Germany and Gaul, they planted colonies in all these regtons: in Scot» land, under their Wicks, or Wiggans; in Ireland and Aquitaine, under dieir Thagens, or Thanes; and, finally, after various predatory irruptions, even into Italy, and under the names of Cimbri, Teutones, Goths, Huns, and Vandals, they overturned and totally annihilated the Western Roman. Empire.' Vol. I. pp. 32, 33.
In this passage, the author has indeed wrought great marvels. He has settled the hitherto uncertain etymoSgy of .thet.