Puslapio vaizdai
[ocr errors]

your friend.'

but all this would do no good. The prophets and apostles may say what they will, she has chosen her guide, and will follow it. This is no flattering account of your wife. You will wish to know, what you shall do. This is a difficult question. Be more at home, and endeavour by a mild, but serious deportment, to sustain your dignity there. You may in a cautious and gentle manner make the visits of those who come to destroy your conjugal union and felicity, less frequent and mischievous. Be a more pious, prayerful Ünitarian yourself.

- You have not been so earnest and thoughtful, as you should be. If you are more faithful to your God, he may bring your wife to a sense of her duty. He will, at least, help you bear the evils of your condition. Do not follow her in joining that party. Show a higher regard for religion and for your Saviour. But daily strive to speak to her heart by your tenderness, piety, and virtue; and wait patiently; and let it be your prayer that this trial may be sanctified to you; which is also the prayer of

194-196. We like the following plain expostulation with one of those who are more fond of religious speculation than of a religious life. It forms a part of Letter xxxi.

'Let me exhort you to a religious life. Leave your disputations, debates, &c. and bring practical, vital religion home to your heart and your conscience.

* You do not believe in a devil. Well, I do not say it is indispensable to your salvation, that you should. You ought to receive all the doctrines of the gospel, which you, after patient and faithful search, can find there. Your barely believing or rejecting that doctrine, will not make you happy. If you are on the Lord's side, you have nothing to fear from evil spirits; but if you are not, you can promise yourself but little comfort, whether there be, or be not a devil.

' You believe in a God; then honor, worship, and serve him. Love, imitate, and follow the Saviour, that you may overcome your present enemies, and be guarded against future trouble.

'Say what you will ; do what you may; there will be distinctions and differences between the virtuous and the vicious, righteous and wicked, good and bad. You may explain away the Scriptures, but not these. You may reason against these things, but you cannot put them out of existence. When

you lie on your dying bed, say that you and your friends are Universalists; and that you have lived a sinful and impenitent life. In spite of your doctrines, your feelings and thoughts will be very different, from what they would be, had

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

you been truly pious. And if you leave the world serious and thoughtful, but unprepared, you cannot have that comfort and satisfaction, which conscious virtue is capable of affording. Say, there is no hell; yet your situation must be inevitably different from that of the virtuous. You will understand me here. The question is not, whether a good, pious Universalist can be saved ? (that to me is not so doubtful ;) but whether a base, immoral, irreligious person can be happy ?'- pp. 105 – 107.

This is pungent, forcible, good. And so is a great portion of these Plain Letters.' The writer's apprehension of the nature of vital religion is eminently clear and just, and his views of its duties are serious, practical, and striking. His remarks on various books and authors, though brief, are, in general, discriminating and sensible. Some may think that he speaks too severely of Orthodox machinations; but they would perhaps cease to think so, if they could see as much of them as he has. The actual observation and experience of hard-faced uncharitableness, ignorant zeal, and familydividing bigotry, rouse and must always rouse indignation in a free and honest breast.

Beside the directness, shrewdness, and force which are to be found in these letters, there are touches of an affecting simplicity, which reveal a poetical mind and a feeling heart. We may quote the last letter in the book as a specimen of this quality. The idea itself of addressing a letter to Dr. Watts, has a relish of poetry in it.


TO DR. WATTS. My dear Watts,

Why should I not write to you and express my feelings and thoughts, just as if I knew you among the living on earth; or as though this letter could visit you in the world of spirits ? Let me indulge myself in this pleasing illusion. It cannot injure you, and it will be a gratification to me. You left this sublunary, mortal scene before my birth. But though an ocean separates the places of our nativity; and a century and a tomb seem to increase the obstacles to our intercourse; yet have I a fellow-feeling for you, as though you were by me and my friend. I have read your life; and many of your writings are familiar to me. These things have endeared you to my memory, and strengthened my attachment to you. I was but a poor little village boy, when I first got a sight of your “Divine Songs for Chil



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


dren ;'-divine they were in my eye; though I now perceive errors in them. They were exposed for sale in a shop; but I had not a sixpence in the world, and I went away with an aching and longing heart. But an elder brother had the money; and that pearl, within a few days, became our own. I read it with rapture. You would have been pleased to see us enjoying this mental and moral feast. I never shall forget that day. It scarcely required an effort of memory to treasure up those beautiful hymns. They delighted and impressed my heart. No doubt, before your departure, there were many children, that had learned and loved this little book.

' But you would be glad to know how many millions since, not only in Europe, but in America also, are repeating those hymns. What a satisfaction must it be to you that you have enlightened, warmed, and nourished so many youthful minds! If you could look down from your celestial abode, and hear so many feeble and lisping voices chanting your strains; if you could hear so many pious and affectionate mothers expressing their fond solicitude, and lulling their pretty babes to sleep with singing your cradle hymn; and then could you enter our churches, and find your psalms and hymns lying in every pew;-O it must delight you! I have compared you with some of the poets of the present day, who are by too many accounted greater poe

But how awful are the manifestations of their superiority of genius! The wise and pious father will not give their works to his child, any more than he would give him a stone for bread, and a serpent for a fish. And no careful mother would recommend them to her pure and delicate daughter, any more than she would deliver her into the hands of the libertine. I often think of these things, and call your rank an enviable, a glorious one. Johnson thought it presumptuous to

, write

your life, and give you the lowest place in the scale of the muses. Perhaps it was his love of singularity and obstinacy, that made him speak with so much decency, as he did, concerning you, and your literary merits.

But the voice of time, and unadulterated nature have done you justice. Youthful innocence, and virgin purity, and holy affection, have all ranged themselves on your side. Some of those poets, whom Johnson praised, are but little read and known. They are locked up in libraries, as interdicted fruit, and the worm is feeding sweetly on them, and they are covered with the dust of time.

Johnson, doubtless, would have done differently, if, instead of trying to assist men in singing the praises of God, you had taught them to sing the praises of his church; or employed your

than you.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

on us.


genius and time on a subject of less importance. But I suspect you had, while living, -- you certainly have now, --some learned, and many pious persons for

admirers; and


also are imitating you in devoting their talents and their muse to holy purposes.

We have taken the liberty to alter many of your hymns, because we have different views of the doctrines they inculcate. We have lately found a letter of your own, which expresses your disapprobation of some of your earlier performances. If there were errors in your creed, you will be glad to find them corrected; if not, you will look with a charitable and pitiful eye

'I do not approve all your poetry. You would suspect me of flattery, if I said I did. I leave out many of your psalms, and more of your hymns; not thinking them proper helps to a Unitarian's devotion. I think you one of the best men that ever lived; but your goodness did not make your opinions certain and true. I was sorry for the mention you made of Locke in one of your Lyric Poems; but I trust, that 'fair charity, sister of faith,' * and yet greater, has, long ago, showed you that excellent man, and that you have embraced him in all the ardor of spiritual love. I imagine, I can see plainly by your writings that you

had a tender and benevolent heart; and that if language of seeming severity and harshness fell from your lips, it is to be attributed to that deep interest you felt in the cause of true religion, and the welfare of immortal souls. Your Sermons, Treatise on the Passions, Guide to Prayer, Improvement of the Mind, Solemn Address to the Deity, Orthodoxy and Charity United, are still printed and read with much avidity. Your Solemn Address, and your Orthodoxy and Charity United, I have read with great pleasure and profit. We often sing your Indian Philosopher, and sympathize with that sorrow, which, we imagine, was the occasion of it. Some of your hymns are in the Roman Catholic Manual. We all get something from you. I trust you are now reaping the rich reward of your humble piety, and your very useful life.

'I am hoping to have the privilege, some time of seeing you, where I can tell you much better, than I can now, with what high and affectionate regards I am your friend.'

* See his poem on Mr. Locke’s “Annotations upon Several Parts of the New Testament." I allude to these lines

- Sister of faith, fair charity,

Show me the wondrous man on high"implying much doubt, whether that excellent man was in heaven; and that doubt was occasioned by a supposed error in Mr. Locke's faith.'

We think our readers will agree with us, that the extracts we have laid before them are patterns of a fabric, which, though without the gloss of more finished and delicate goods, may be approved as stout, serviceable, and by no means coarse homespun, which promises to wear well.

Art. III. - Essais Théologiques. - Du Système ThéologiART

que de la Trinité.

Par M. CHENEVIÈRE, Pasteur et Professeur, à Genève. Premier Essai. Theological Essays. -- Essay First, on the Trinity. By

M. CHENEVIÈRE, Pastor and Professor at Geneva. Geneva and Paris. 1831. 8vo.

pp. 259.

WE referred to this work in our last number but one, and intimated our design to give a more particular account of it. It is deserving of attention as being the first serious attempt on the part of one of the clergy of Geneva to assail the hereditary doctrines of the Orthodox church. These doctrines, as we have had occasion to say before, disappeared from the Genevan standard, and for a long series of years have been maintained only by a small minority in that communion. Yet they have not been assailed. They have not been made the subject of public controversy. It is only recently that the attempts to revive Calvinism, and to destroy the reputation of the established ministry, have seemed to render necessary a departure from the anti-controversial policy, which has been so long the settled course of that body. The first considerable publication with this view was the Examination of the Doctrine of the Scriptures concerning the Person of Jesus Christ, Redemption, and Original Sin,' by M. de Luc, an aged layman, son of the celebrated naturalist of this name, who with great zeal has devoted the powers of his cultivated and mature mind to religious inquiry. The work of M. Chenevière is of a' more extended and elaborate character, being designed to appear in successive parts, or small volumes, each treating in a systematic way some one of the leading doctrines of controversial theology. To do this the author is well qualified by his excellent clearness and soundness of mind, and his extensive scholarship ; and we think that the works which he may

« AnkstesnisTęsti »