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The author's former work, entitled The Democrat, was noticed in our xixth vol. N. S. p. 207. with that disapprobration which a part of its contents demanded. We did not then know who was the writer, nor can we now positively mention his name: but we have heard that Mr. Pye, the Laureat, has amused himself with writing these productions; the latter of which we are pleased to see undisfigured by those blemishes which, in our apprehension, defaced the former.
Art. 63. Lectures on the Nature and End of the Sacred Office, and on the Dignity, Duty, Qualifications, and Character of the Sacred Order. By John Smith, D. D. one of the Ministers of Campbleton. 8vo. pp. 344. 5s. Boards. Printed at Glasgow; sold in London by Vernor and Hood. 1798.
The author of these lectures observes that the times are awful beyond example, and call for repentance and reformation, which should begin with the clergy. Endeavouring to promote this good end, he offers the present volume to the world. It consists of twenty-nine lectures, in which the proposed subject is copiously and solemnly considered and displayed. Several quotations from writers, antient and modern, are intermingled with Dr. S.'s reflections; occasionally, also, are introduced apposite narrations and tales, some oriental, which will hardly fail to engage the attention of the reader. The language, in general, is correct and clear; and at suitable times we meet with considerable pathos and energy of diction and of sentiment. Much good sense, as well as devotion and morality, are contained in the work: yet it appears to us that it might have come forth to greater advantage, and have been more acceptable, had it been compressed into a smaller compass. Though the subjects of the lectures vary, they are still so closely connected, that this circumstance alone will occasion some tautology.
The excellent advice which this author gives has been often delivered, though he exhibits it in somewhat of a novel form, as well as with animation and cordiality. Possibly he may incline too much to the supposed austerity of the ascetic life, or may be rather too favourable to the accounts (often fabulous) which we have of monkish sanc- / tity and superstition; and some of his readers will probably deem. him too strict and severe. Genuine piety and benevolence, with stedfast virtue, ought undoubtedly to form the ministerial character; for the want of which, no punctuality in attending to forms and
offices can ever atone: but that total abstraction from the world, which Dr. Smith at times seems to exact, may excite some hesitation; and it may be asked whether there be not danger of producing, by these means, ostentation and singularity, preciseness and affectation, which will rather disgust than improve those who observe it. Yet some passages might possibly be produced from the charges of the late Dr. Secker, which are nearly on a level with the pre scriptions of Dr. Smith.
Respecting fabricated modes and articles of faith, the Doctor says but little; though some expressions may lead the reader to deem him orthodox. He espouses the maxim of Plato, "never to attempt to handle any question on which it is impossible to decide;" and he attributes religious contentions to a neglect of scripture phraseology: -The inventions of men, (he says,) and not the revelation of God, are the ordinary cause of them. For, if in all disputed points men would satisfy themselves with using only the language of scripture, and not affect to be wise above what is written, all parties might soon be reconciled."-So easy it is with this author to untie the Gordian knot!
We should add that Dr. Smith is an advocate for a learned education, and diligent study. Though he says little of scripture criticism, he pleads decidedly for what he calls repeating of scrmons, by which he means delivering them from memory, with extemporaneous He additions, as they properly occur: he will by no means allow the reading them, which he treats with raillery and contempt. makes some sensible remarks on composition, elocution, and other subjects--but it becomes necessary for us to take our leave, which we do by expressing our pleasure on observing that the good Doctor, amid the abstraction from worldly concerns for which he so earnestly Hi pleads, has just published a View of the Agriculture of the County of Argyll.
·Art. 64. A Dissertation on the Learning and Inspiration of the
The author of this dissertation informs us, in a short advertisement, that, reflecting on the evils produced by a neglect of theological studies, he was led into an investigation of the learning and inspiration of the Apostles.-We shall select the following passage, to the matter of which we earnestly solicit the attention of all whom it may concern, as coming from one who evinces strong marks of
This review of the history of the apostles, of their education, learning, and inspiration, will, it is hoped, convince the reader, that every one who would undertake the office of a public preacher of God's word, should first of all be well satisfied that he is furnished with sufficient abilities to undertake to steer the sacred ark, in which hundreds and thousands, with their eternal interests, are embarked;to undertake this charge, without understanding the art of navi gation, without a chart or compass, or, which is the same thing, without understanding the use of either;-to undertake the cure of souls, without any professional abilities;-to assume the office of teaching and expounding the word of God, without having ever
once read the Bible through in all their lives; without learning enough to give the analysis of any one book in the Bible, or of one chapter; without having ever studied a single text with its context, or even the meaning of the words and phrases of the sacred language; to undertake the office of feeding the flock of Christ, which he purchased with his own, bloed; and then let them perish for lack of knowledge, through the incapacity of their pastor, his - ignorance and inexperience ;-to undertake the most important and most difficult of all services, which has often made the best qualified to fear and tremble;-to undertake this service, as raw and ignorant of theological learning, as they were when creeping through the third or fourth form at school:-This, THIS, of all the presumptions, of which the folly and wickedness of mankind have ever been, guilty, seems to be the GREATEST !!!?
The author expresses his wishes that the example of the Bishop of London, in delivering popular discourses in these perilous times, may be imitated by some of those learned dignitaries, who are capable of becoming the glory and defence of the English church: adding that, if they think to discharge their duty by their pens, they will find themselves greatly deceived. Books and pamphlets, however excellent, will comparatively have little good effect on the generality of people, who have neither abilities nor time to read them; and very few of those learned infidels, against whom these writers principally direct their arguments, will condescend to look into their writings. The preaching of popular discourses has ever been thre great instrument of Providence to convert mankind. St. Paul preferred it, for its utility, before all miraculous gifts. He called it the power of God unto salvation.
Art. 65. Naval Sermons preached on board his Majesty's Ship the
We have here ten discourses, composed with elegance and spirit, and ingeniously adapted to the hearts and minds of the audience to whom they were addressed. The texts and the subjects are appropriate to the concerns and duties of mariners. As an instance of the pleasing manner which the preacher employs to keep up the attention of his hearers, we will lay before our readers the following passage in the discourse on Eccles. xliv. 7. These were honoured in their generations, and were the glory of their times.
The naval character nurtured by a commercial and enterprising spirit, in attaining its present greatness, has not been insensible to the co-operating power of religion. A spirit of devotion, a constant attention to the duties of a Christian, has appeared a distinct feature among the most renowned of the profession. The hardships and perils which attend it, would often break down the firmest courage, but for the consolation which religion affords. For we may say of
the hardy mariner, in the words of the son of Sirach: A little or nothing is his rest; and afterward he is in his sleep, as in the day of keeping watch: troubled in the vision of his heart, as if he were escaped out of a battle.
Amid the various characters that present themselves before me, I shall select the two following, as examples for your comfort and encouragement :
When the period arrived, in which it was ordained, that new light should dawn on the intellectual world, from the discovery of the western hemisphere; and the trackless waste of the great Atlantic ocean was to be explored by the skill and exertions of your profession; it pleased God to raise up a man, who has been honoured in every succeeding generation. A character whose history it becomes all those who go down to the sea in ships to study with grateful attention.
At the early age of fourteen, Columbus began his career on that element which bore him to so much glory. A mind, capable of deep reflection, was united to the modesty and diffidence of true genius. By nature sagacious, penetrating and resolute; he was grave, though courteous in his deportment; circumspect in his words and actions, irreproachable in his morals; and "exemplary in his attention to all the duties and functions of religion." [Robertson's America, book ii. p. 101.]
After experiencing variety of disappointments, he at length obtained patronage, sufficient to execute, though at the greatest risk and danger, one of the most extraordinary and daring exploits, that the human mind had ever conceived. Deeply impressed with devout sentiments, he publicly implored, in the midst of his brave followers, the guidance and protection of Heaven; and the next morning, before sun-rise, stretched in search of unfrequented and unknown seas.
Having suffered the utmost agitation and fatigue, with a mind that almost despaired of accomplishing the object of his voyage; he at length was confident of being near land. Public prayers for success were immediately offered up. The sails were ordered to be furled, and every ship to lie to; keeping strict watch, lest they should be driven ashore in the night. During this interval of suspense and expectation, no man closed his eyes; all kept on deck, gazing intently towards that quarter where they expected to discover land.
About two hours before midnight, Columbus, standing on the forecastle, observed a light at a distance. A little after midnight, the joyful sound of Land! land! was heard: but, having been often deceived, every man waited, in the anguish of uncertainty and expectation, for the return of day. As soon as the morning dawned, all doubts and fears were dispelled. The crew of the headmost ship instantly began the Te Deum, as an hymn of thanksgiving to God; and were joined by those of the other ships, with tears of joy, and transports of congratulation.
Such is the cursory view of this extraordinary event, as related by the elegant historian. It is admirably adapted to confirm you in the practice of Christian duties, and to induce you to place the ut
most confidence in the wisdom of your superiors. It shews the blessings attendant on perseverance and devotion, with the rewards, that, even in this life, so often await the confidence of a pious mind; and it also holds up to your emulation the virtues of a distinguished charac ter, who has eminently adorned the profession to which you belong."
The other example is that of Capt. Cook.
To the qualities already mentioned, by which these sermons are distinguished, we must add that they are extremely orthodox.
Art. 66. A Treatise on the Influence of the Passions, upon the Hap-
As we noticed the original work of Madame Stael onits first appearance *, we shall have little farther to remark on it. This translation appears to be executed very properly. In turning over the volume, two passages occurred to us, in which, we think, Madame Stael has not been very correct in her facts. She says; After having sung the sweetest lessons of morality and philosophy, Sappho precipitated herself from the summit of the Leucadian rock. Elizabeth, after having subdued the enemies of England, fell a victim to her passion for the Earl of Essex. These instances of general wisdom, and personal indiscretion, are hardly applicable. Sappho never wrote any piece that could be reckoned moral; at least we possess no fragments of that nature; and if we can depend on the accounts of her list works, they would not have furnished quotations for any woman of cha racter. As to Elizabeth, it is well known that Essex was not ker first, nor second lover. We have seen a much more remarkable instance of the qualities of a great Princess, combined with the errors of a frail woman.
Madame Stael has found a better text in the events of the momentous revolution in France, from which she makes forcible appeals to the breasts of contending parties:-but what, alas! avails fine writing, in a dispute which must be determined by cold iron instead of the goose-quill?
Art. 67. A View of the Moral and Political Epidemic, which has
* See M. R. vol. xxii. N. S. p. 582.