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ness of books are affected by the circumstances of their form and size. It must be admitted, that this avenue to the minds of men has not been neglected any where, at any period, since the discovery of printing, and may seem with us to be at present sufficiently occupied by religious productions, native and imported, of every size and character. But in this wide field there is room for successive labours. Much good may always be done by reviving old works, which have fallen into undeserved neglect; bringing into general notice others, which have a limited circulation, and by writing new treatises adapted to the state of opinions, and the spirit, taste, and manners of the times. To conduct and support a publication comprising these objects, is the avowed design of the society under whose auspices the Christian Monitor appears. It is intended to contain, in a series of numbers, original and selected essays and sermons on the leading doctrines and duties of christianity, explanations of scripture, prayers, meditations, and other species of composition on sacred and moral topicks. In regard to theological opinions and questions of party the Monitor professes to be catholick, and to give instruction which the enlightened & serious of different sentiments may approve. It proposes to wear a practical, not disputatious aspect ; to promote improvement, not to foment contention. It will therefore not go out of its way to treat controverted points; and when they necessarily occur, observe the laws of christian moderation. In style and manner it would be so intelligible and affecting, as may be requisite to profit and please the unlearned; and so correct and ele
gant, as not to offend the taste, ner forfeit the regard of more cultivated readers, who, however informed in other respects, have frequently as much need of religious knowledge as the illiterate. We think a religious periodical work of such a character cannot fail to be acceptable and useful to many. It must serve to withstand the causes of irreligion and vice in general, and those, which mark the present times and state of society in particular. It must counteract the effects of ignorance and unbelief, of a disposition to thoughtlessness and levity ; of misguided zeal and an arrogant, censorious, and uncharitable temper in some ; of indifference and coldness in others. In one respect, if the execution comport with the design, it will fill a place hitherto unoccupied by similar publications in this country. The latter ineorporate with their practical instruction speculative principles, which are contested, and particular phraseology, by many deemed exceptionable. This work professes to avoid resting the truth or excellence of christianity upon the certainty or value of those tenets, or the propriety of those phrases which have for ages divided and disturbed the christian world. It must therefore be suited to those, who feel incompetent and indisposed to be controvertists; and who would have a creed, comprising the general and evident doctrines of revelation, unperplexed with the subtilties of metaphysicks and unincumbered with the dogmas of technical theology. One class of persons only cannot endure such a method of teaching and inculcating the christian religion. It consists of those, who regard christianity, when represented without their fecitičar and favourite constructions and inferences, as good for nothing ; and a christian, not belonging to their party, nor using their phraseology, as no better than a heathen. But as the dissatisfaction of these persons with the design of the Monitor is founded on what, in the opinion of its editors, constitutes its merit, the latter cannot be expected to prevent or remove it. We had occasion to commend the former numbers of the Monitor, as adapted to its professed end. We spoke of the first, especially in the second edition, as an excellent manual of devotion ; and of the second, as a happy illustration of the nature and spirit of practical christianity, as they are displayed in the character and conduct of our Saviour. The present number is upon the Means of religion. It treats of the importance and utility of religious means in general, religious consideration, frayer, the religious observance of the sabbath, fublick worshift, hearing the word, reading the holy scrifitures, and religious conversation. These are topicks at once seasonable and important. It is very possible and has been very common in religion to lay undue stress upon instrumental duties and external performances. Enthusiasm has idolized its reveries and superstition rested upon rites and forms. Mankind, wishing for a cheap religion, have substituted the means for the end, the sign for the thing signified, the form for the power of godliness. It is far more easy to be orthodox, than good ; to maintain a grave exteriour, than inward sanctity ; to separate seasons for devout exercises, than to connect piety with the course of ordinary life. It costs far less self-denial to roll the eye, than to lift the soul to God, and to bend our knees, than to
humble our pride. Men can read the scriptures, so as to become accomplished textuaries; and yet be strangers to the spirit breathed in the word of God. They can be pious with the mouth and tongue, and talk earnestly in all places and companies upon serious subjects, and yet grossly sail to live as they profess. “A pharisee's trumpet, says an old writer, shall be heard to the town's end, when simplicity walks through the town unseen.” “ Observed duties maintain our credit, but secret duties maintain our life.” But the danger to the cause of religion among us probably arises from another extreme ; and we have less reason to fear the prevalence of superstition, hypocrisy, and enthusiasm, than indifference, scepticism, and a mistaken liberality. A great number, including some who have the character of enlightened men, able to rise above the power of prejudice, are more inclined to undervalue and neglect the forms and means of religion, than to exalt them into a disproportionate importance. They have a disposition to depreciate instrumental and positive duties; to consider themselves above the need of such assistances to piety, and that if they cultivate its spirit, they have no occasion to trouble themselves about its ceremonies. Hence they look to be religious, without meditation and prayer. They reject the aid of publick solemnities, or attend them without serious-ness. Many are becoming inclined to remove the “mark of discrimination from the christian sabbath, and to blend it in the mass of unhallowed days.” The custom of reading the scriptures, once so general, is falling into neglect, and serious topicks are very much excluded from conversation. The volume under revicw dis
plays the obligation and advantage of some of those exercises, called the means of religion, in a very satisfactory and engaging manner— They are here represented both as holding an important place in the scale of human duties, and as necessary and suitable means for the formation of a virtuous and pious character. These discourses are marked by good sense, just theology, and a style easy, perspicuous, and pleasing. The authorillustrates and enforces the sentiments he advances, not only by apt citations of passages of scripture, but by occasional extracts from the works of divines of venerable name. In reviewing a production of this kind it is not proper to try every expression by the rules of strict criticism ; though in a literary view, and as a specimen of accurate composition, this volume is highly respectable. But whatever is written with a design to make men good should be estimated, not so much by its literary execution as by its tendency to effect its leading purpose. Whoever, be he learned or unlearned, shall read these sermons with a desire of being made wiser and better; of being informed and excited in his duty, will not need to be told that they are entitled to commendation. We present two extracts; the one from the sermon on “religious consideration,” the other from the sermon “on prayer.”
* Behold then the man who imitates the laudable example of the psalmist, and adopts a measure favourable to his recovery from guilt and misery to virtue and glory. Roused from the visionnary dream of lasting peace and comfort, independent of the approbation and favour of his God, be takes a comprehensive view of the nature, circumstances. and relations of his being ; and diligently inquires to what end he was born, and for what purpose he came into the world He contemplates the
heavens and the earth with increased attention, and is penetrated with a sense of the wisdom, power, and benevolence of their glorious author, which he has not been accustomed to feel. He turns his thoughts within ; and, in the curious structure of his bo. dy, and the wonderful properties of his soul, recognizes incontestible evidence of his derivation from an infinite intelligence, to whom he is indebted for existence and all its blessings. He recounts the numerous tokens of parental kindness, which he has received from his heavenly father, in the distinguished rank allotted him among the creatures of God; in the abundant provision made for his subsistence and accommodation; and in the still more illustrious manifestations of grace and truth for his eternal redemption by Jesus Christ. Convinced by these benef. icent arrangements and signal interpositions, that man is formed for more dignity and durable enjoyment than earth can boast, it becomes a question of the first magnitude, whether he have not pursued the shadow to the neglect of the substance, and relied for happiness on possessions and gratifications incapable of yielding it? He there-fore, “thinks on his ways ;” considers with himself, what fruit he has already had, and what he is yet to expect from the course he has taken. Past experience thus called to testify bears witness that no sensual indulgence, or worldly acquisition has afforded the bliss it promised; that forbidden pleasures are always empty in participation and disgusting in review ; and that the gains of ungodliness are invariably attended with remorse and foreboding fear. The more he reflects, the more sensibly does he feel, that nothing below the sun is adequate to the desires and capacities of an immortal mind ; and the more clearly does he see, that “the wages of sin is death”; that beside the pain and sufferings, which it inflicts in this life, and which not unfrequently hasten the hour of dissolution, it entails the most insupportable evils on its deluded votaries beyond the grave.’ p. 37.
* 2. To pray for our connexions and friends, serves to purify domestick and social attachments ; and to inspire principles and views, which exalt the ordinary interchange of civility and kindness into religious obedience.
This is a most effectual method of inducing christian forbearance, condescension, and charity, in the treatment of those, with whom we are destined to live and converse. Without it, though we prescribe rules to ourselves, and say to the selfish and o passions, “hitherto shall ye come, but no further,” we may, notwithstanding, be transported beyond the bounds of moderation, and involved in the crimes and miseries of unreasonable animosity : With it, religion is made the umpire of our conduct, and the question comes home to our bosoms ; how can we be unjust or censorious to those whom we are accustomed to commend to the guardian care and grace of God The many petitions, in which we have plead for mercy in their behalf, will react upon our own hearts, and,calling into exercise our benevolent sensibilities, furnish the strongest incentives to that anectionate and conciliating deportment, which beside its conformity to the gospel of Christ, and the attendant prospect of a future reward, is adapted to engage the confidence and esteem of all within the sphere of its influence. Than this practice, what can more effectually ensure a uniform and faithful discharge of the various duties, which result from the conjugal, parental, filial, fraternal, and otherintimate relations of human life. It sanctifies, cements, and endears the union between husband and wife. It encourages and directs parents in the instruction and vernment of their household. It heightens the gratitude, c -ility, and submission of children. It excites and aids brethren to “dwell together in unity.” That family, whose heads and members bear each other in inind at their secret devotions; and, frequently appearing before God in company, jointly call upon his name for a supply of their individual and collective wants, must, of course, be impressed
with a sense of their respective obliga. tions, which will pervade every domes. tick transaction, alleviate every burden, and increase every joy. pp. 66,67. - ART. 70. .A wreath for the Rev. Daziel Dow, fiastor of a church in Thompson, Connecticut ; on the fublication of his familiar letters in answer to the Rev. John Sherman's trectise of one God in one fierson only, to c. By M. O. F. Utica, Merrell & Seward. 1806. 8vo.
BY reverting to the nineteenth and twentieth articles of our Review for the current year, the theological reader will readily dis." cern the purport of this controversial tract. Its author, a warm friend of Mr. Sherman and of his unitarian sentiments, endeavours to support them ; presses on his antagonist the protestant rule of the perfection and sufficiency of scripture ; and, it must be confessed, detects a number of errours," not to say absurdities, in the “familiar letters.” A. O. F. appears to think that he is justified by the example of the letter-writer in approaching him without any ceremony. He is sometimes serious and sometimes ludicrous, but uniformly severe ; so full of sarcasm and personal reflections,and dealing his blows with so heavy a hand, as makes us almost quake for the lacerated feelings of the Rev. Daniel Dow.
we should have been altogether unable to account for the imperfect and unsatisfactory manner in which the task has now been performed, if it had not been for a statement in the prefatory advertisement, which removes all blame from the editor, to attach it to a higher quarter. It is there stated, that recently after the death of the author, his grandson, to whom the whole of his papers had been bequeathed, made a voyage to London, for the purpose of preparing and disposing of a complete collection of all his published and unpublished writings, with memoirs of his life, brought down by himself to the year 1757, and continued to his death by his descendant. It was settled, that the work should be published in three quarto volumes, in England, Germany, and France ; and a negociation was commenced with the booksellers, as to the terms of the purchase and publication. At this stage of the business, however, the proposals were suddenly withdrawn, and nothing more has been heard of the work in this its fair and natural market. “The proprietor, it seems, had found a bidder of a different description, in some emissary of government, whose object was to withhold the manuscripts from the world, not to benefit it by their publication ; and they thus either passed into other hands, or the person to whom they were bequeathed received a remuneration for euftfiressing them.” Hf this statement be correct, we have no hesitation in saying, that no emissary of Government was ever employed on a more miserable and unworthy service. It is ludicrous to talk of the danger of
disclosing, in 1795, any secrets of state, with regard to the war of American independence ; and as to any anecdotes or observations that might give offence to individuals, we think it should always be remembered, that publick functionaries are the property of the publick, that their character belongs to history and to posterity, and that it is equally absurd and discreditable to think of sufftressing any part of the evidence, by which their merits must be ultimately determined. But the whole of the works that have been suppressed, certainly did not relate to republican politicks. The history of the author's life, down to 1757, could not well contain any matter of offence; and a variety of general remarks and speculations, which he is understood to have left behind him, might have been permitted to see the light, though his diplomatick operations had been interdicted. The emissary of Government, however, probably took no care of these things; he was resolved “to leave no rubs nor botches in his work;’ and, to stifle the dreaded revelation, he thought the best way was to strangle all the innocents in the vicinage. This self-taught American is the most rational, perhaps, of all philosophers. He never loses sight of common sense in any of his speculations; and when his philosophy does not consist entirely in its fair and vigorous applica: tion, it is always regulated and controuled by it in its application and result. No individual, perhaps, ever possessed a juster understanding, or was so seldom obstructed in the use of it by indor lence, enthusiasm, or authority. Dr. Franklin received no regular education; and he spent the great