« PreviousContinue »
of Nature; Noon, or Reflections on Real Life; Evening, or Meditalion in Retirement; Midnight, or the Day of Judgment. Under each of these a variety of topics are introduced, and the descriptive sketches are sometimes enlivened by narrative, and sometimes improved to moral and religious reflections. I he author is evidently a woman of sense, feeling, and piety; and cannot meet with rigorous critics among those who prefer the qualities of the heart to the powers of the fancy. There are many passages however in the volume, which would be worthy of considerable praise in respect even of their poetical merit, if they had 'received all the finishing of which they are susceptible. One extract will shew how Mrs. W. regards the casual incidents that occur in the course of the day, 'and will' perhaps, be a sufficient specimen of her abilities.
'But hark! that sound was Death! the levell'd rube
Art., XXV. Elements of Useful Knowledge, in Geography, History, and other Sciences; drawn up for the use of Schools, in questions and answers, by J. Allbut, Master of Bromsgrove Lickey School. Eighth edit, in 10 parts, Coloured paper, 12mo. pp. 120. Price Ss. 4d. Button, 1806.
"THE author of this little work, drew ir up originally for the use of his _ own pupils; and was only induced by the solicitations of friends to permit a number of copies to be printed off. He is convinced by experience, that children might be taught much earlier than they usually are, the elementary principles of many sciences, ift'iey were sufficiently simplified." 1 he sale of seven large editions of this performance, if a strong testimony of its utility in practice; we must acknowledge, however, that We should not have predicted so mu.h success, 'the other sciences noticed are astronomy, natural philosophy, chronology, grammav, and arithmetic, i he work consists of definitions and explanations, which are toler.ibly correct, but very scanty. The extent of the plan, and we think too the price of the book, demanded a greater amount of information.
Art. XXVI. Thoughtson the Marriages of the Labouring Poor; containing instructions for their conduct before and after entering into that important state; with four authentic and moral stories, illustrating the subject, by Thomas Kelly, 12mo. pp. 90. Price Is. 6d. Kearsley, 1807.
J-i'VERY effort to ameliorate the condition of the middling and lower classes ef society, deserves due encouragement; nor should the obscurity of any projector for this beneTolent purpose prevent a fair examination of his designs and endeavours. The author of this essay appears to be a sound patriot, and he is " poor and friendless, declining in years, and having a family to maintain by his daily labour." Mr. K. first directs his thoughts to the character of the husband. He very properly observes, "that the miseries endured by the labouring married men of the united kingdom, arise principally from their own thoughtlessness and imprudence." He then states what he conceives to be the causes of these miseries, under six heads, viz.—The want of due preparation for the important state of matrimony—the neglect of choosing a proper partner for life— want of economy after marriage—neglect of their children's education— the custom of suffering their families to be idle —the pernicious habit of drinking.
In the second article, 6n the character of the wife, the author states the causes of the failure of" young women's expectations of matrimonial happiness." These are—the neglect of serious consideration and due preparation for matrimony—want of caution in choosing a husband—inattention to the arduous duties of the wife and mother.
In the discussion of these topics, the author offers many salutary hints of caution and direction to the inexperienced of both sexes. He suggests also some good remarks on the education of youth, and strongly recommends parents to pay attention to the particular genius and taste of their children. He reprobates, with merited severity, the custom among tradesmen of employing men in the duties of the shop, and the employment of young women as porters. This practice arises from disgraceful feelings, and leads to the most deplorable consequences. 1 he general interference of the ladies, might effect a complete reformation; but we cannot expect the removal of the grievance from the same principles which introduced it.
The moral stories have too much of the air of fiction in them to pass for authentic marratives, and can answer little good purpose. Mr. K's morality is obviously defective, though his intentions are laudable, and the terms morality, religion, and going to church, often occur. We cannot tolerate his frequent irreverent exclamations; nor approve of Sunday visiting. Equally abhorrent from scriptural truth are the ideas, that a drunkard, and a libertine have " a native goodness of heart;" and that a dying highwayman should be made, in a tone of exultation, to pray, that his present sufferings may atone for his past crimes! Many persons, we fear, deceive themselves with these preposterous and presumptuous notions.
Art. XXVII. Hints for Religious Conversation, with the afflicted in mind, body or estate; and with such others as stand in need of spiritual assistance. By the Rev. Mr. Richards, formerly of Trin. Coll. Oxon. The sixth edition, with an Appendix, &c. pp. 48. Price Is. Williams and Co. 1807.
'"PHIS pamphlet comprises several other tracts in the appendix, beside the excellent hints of Mr. Richards. These are, Directions for promoting religion in ourselves and others, by the same author—Bishop V\ ilson's materials for talking familiarly with children and ignorant persons—Sir J. Stonhouse's various means of doing good spiritually and bodily—Bishop of Durham's means of facilitating the religious instruction of the poor. To these are added several suitable forms of Iprayerfor visitation of the sick, some of them from the church service, and others from Sir. J. Stonhouse. 7 he whole collection is evidently designed, and will prove very useful, as a companion and guide for the benevolent Christian. Recommendations of other tracts and larger works, suited to the circumstances of different persons, are properly supplied in various parts of the publication.
Art. XXVIII. The Youth's Museum; or Dialogues and Essays, for the amusement and instruction of the rising Generation. By Adam Taylor, 24mo. pp. 68. Price 6d. Longman and Co. 1806.
'"PHE author of this little book first composed most of these papers for a periodical work; and at the request of several parents and tutors, he has collected them together, and added a few original pieces. There are eleven separate numbers, and among them will be found a true. story, an enigma, a fable, and dialogues. We deem every thing of importance which affects the mind of an immortal being, at the most impressible period of its existence; and therefore notice this work, as harmless, and adapted to amuse and perhaps instruct the'youthful reader. The wood cut should have been better executed, as the subject is interesting.
Art. XXIX. Plan lit Forledr'tngiied den qffentlige Guds dyrkelse, &c. A Plan of Improvement in thepublic Worship. An Essay, by P. O. iioisen, Bishop of Loland and Falster. Copenhagen. 1806.
SINCE the year 1685, when a new church service was enacted by Christian V., and made universal throughout the Danish dominions, no material alteration has taken place in the public worship of that country, except that the exorcism formerly used in the ceremony of baptism has been abolished. The Danish clergy have long felt the necessity for a new ritual, which might be better suited to the greater refinement of religious views, as well as the progress of civilization among the inhabitants. The attempt was made several years ago in the dutchies of Sleswic and Holstein t to accomplish this desirable end, and a new Agend-Bucl, or ritual, was published and authorized for those states in the year 1796. It is now invariably used there, except in some districts, where, we understand, the peasantry and lower classes of the people resisted its introduction. The author of the present plan, has partly availed himself of this local ritual. Having completed his performance, he submitted it to the Danish government, requesting that, before any final resolution was formed on the subject, it might be printed, in order that intelligent divines in all parts of the country, might have an opportunity of expressing their opinion, and suggesting any corrections or improvements. To this modest and judicious proposition, the Danish government, with it< usual eagerness to promote the moral advantages of the people, immediately assented. It instantly ordered that the bishop's plan should be printed; that N. E. Balle, D.D. and bishop of Zealand, F. Miinter professor of divinity at the University of Copenhagen, and Mr. C. L. Lassen of the Royal Danish chancery, should be a committee for examining the plan, together with the observations which others might communicate, and judging how far it might be worthy of general adoption; that all observations whatever, must be transmitted to that committee before the end of September, 1806; and that the result of this committee's discussion should be presented to his Majesty before the end of the year. Hence it is confidently expected that a new and improved liturgy for Denmark and Norway will be published in the course of the present year; and it is generally wished, we understand, that the greater part of Dr. Boisen's suggestions may be adopted.
In a short introduction, wherein the author makes some pertinent observations on the great importance of the public worship, he at length meets the objection of the impropriety of innovations in religion. "Let none," he says, " call such an alteration, an alteration in the faith. Let us make a distinction between the true Christian religion, and the public worship. The former is eternal and invariable; the latter can and may, and ought to be altered, it has often been altered, and is different from ours in many other countries, where the same God is adored. We should worship him in spirit and in truth. The heart with which he is worshipped should be pure, humble, and pious. But the manner in which the heart is to express its devotions externally may, and should be altered, as mental illumination advances, as language, manners, and customs are changed." The principal features of the plan are briefly these: The author proposes throughout, new prayers, which, upon the whole, must be considered incomparably preferable to the old ones; they all turn upon practical religion, without interfering with the peculiarities of theological systems.
Instead of prescribing certain fixed prayers for every Sunday, or day of worship, the author proposes a copious set of prayers treating of different subjects, and adapted to various occasions (for instance: the mercy of God; the justice of God; the providence of God; the. atoning death of Christ; Christ the pattern of our imitation ; we should do to others, as we wish they should do unto us; on new year's day; after harvest, &c.) out of which the clergyman is every time at liberty to choose such as he may think the most applicable to the day, and to the subject of his sermon. Thejauthor disapproves of the constant use of any certain prayer or prayers, on more than one account, especially because he supposes that an unvaried repetition of the same service lulls attention to sleep, and is injurious to rational devotion. He particularly wishes that the Lord's prayer should never be used more than once in one service; as he is of opinion that too frequent a repetition derogates from its dignity and impression.
The order of Baptism is materially altered. In conformity with his main principle of securing attention by variety, he proposes a set of different formulae, which may be applied as circumstances direct. He differs widely from the framers of the old form, in his opinion of this rite; having objected to the mystical, and often grossly superstitious ideas that have been associated with it, he conceives that its true object and end is to act as "a strong motive to the child in future, to seek the knowledge of that religion, unto which it has been consecrated; as an impressive admonition to all present, that they do not set evil examples, or give scandal to the child, but contribute as much as lies in their power to its Christian improvement. It is a most solemn obligation on the parents to educate the child to become a good Christian, &c." p. 203. The author warmly recommends that parents should be sponsors themselves.
Confirmation is not in Denmark administered by the Bishops, but by the clergymen of each parish, once or twice a year. It is preceded by a regular course of instruction for six months or more, as circumstances may require; and this instruction is esteemed one of the most important duties of the clergy.
The Danish laws, as well as the Swedish*, direct that no person shall be admitted to the Lord's supper, nor allowed to take oath, to marry, or to fill any employment under government, who is not confirmed. In the order f°r tn's institution, the author has proposed but few alterations.
The Lord's supfier. For the administration of this sacrament, the author has composed a set of forms, which differ materially from the ancient ritual. The striking distinction is, that instead of running upon the peculiar dogma of the Lutheran system, the real presence, the form proposed takes for its object the words of Christ: Jo this in remembrance of me. The firasentia realis is not contradicted, but is passed over with silent neglect.
The form of solemnization of Matrimony has also undergone a great alteration, the nature of which may be conjectured from the foregoing remarks.
With respect to the lurial of the dead, the author makes some just and ingenious observations on the propriety of maintaining certain solemnities on this occasion; and very seasonably exhorts his countrymen to keep their church-yards with more neatness and decency; for this point of decorum is notoriously neglected in Denmark. We are rather surprised that our reformer should have made no greater alteration in this service. The old form is very short, and very dry. When the coffin is deposited, tbefore the grave is filled in, the minisMr throws a little earth on the coffin, and pronounces these words: " out of earth thou art come; unto earth thou shalt return ; from the earth thou shall again arise." These are all ihe words used on the occasion. Instead of which the author only proposes to substitute the following sentence, as more consoling to the feelings of the spectators: "Jesus Christ died; but he liveth; our brother also liveth." But is this all that may be said to the purpose on that solemn occasion? When should the hearts of men be more open to religious im.pressions, than when they accompany their departed friends to the grave, when they not only acknowledge and believe, but see and feel, the vanity of all that is earthly? Surely a short and suitable address of prayer, consolation, exhortation, and serious admonition, could never have a better chance, than at such a moment, of producing the most beneficial effects. This deficiency is the more remarkable as it is in opposition to the author's main principles; that of providing a variety in the service, and 'that of securing a suitable practical effect.
f For this article we are indebted to a highly respectable clergyman of the Lutheran church; we have not an opportunity of ascertaining exacdy how far the Bishop's predilection for practical religion has superseded his direct reference to the doctrines of scripture, and whether superstition in the old ritual has in no instance been supplanted by indifference in the new.
* See Eel. Rer. Vol. II. p. 1056.