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Art. IX. Gumal and Lina; or the African Children. An instructive
and entertaining History, designed chiefly for the Use of Young
author, Lossius, has obtained some celebrity. He seems to have fully acquired the happy art of engaging the attention of the young, to whose benefit he has almost exclusively devoted his pen, by the interest he infuses into his narratives. The moral truths which he aims to convey, are enforced in a style that is perspicuous and simple; and the introduction of them seems to arise naturally from the circumstances wherein those who utter them are described as being placed. In the present performance, the principles of natural and revealed religion are laid down with a plainness which renders them easy of comprehension, and the story, which connects the several discourses upon them, is calculated to interest the affections, by the domestic nature of its incidents, and to amuse the imagination, by the novelty of description which results from the local peculiarities of the quarter of the globe made choice of by the author for his scene of action. Mr. Moens has preferred taking his translation from the French of the Rev. J.L. A. Dumas, rather than iminediately from the German original, as that gentleman has improved upon his model, by many valuable additions to the moral and religious parts of the work. With these, and a few trifling alterations, and occasional abridgements, it is now for the first time presented to the English public. A sketch of the story, and a few extracts illustrative of the style, will enable our readers to form their own opinions of the merit and tendency of this little work.
Gumal, the son of Chilum, an African Prince, is carried off by Stadsi, the Prince of a neighbouring nation, in revenge for the loss of his only son, who died fighting by his side against the father of Gumal. On the day that Stadsi had determined to sacrifice the young prince to the manes of his son, he is rescued by Lina, the daughter of Stadsi, who is herself compelled to become the companion of his flight, to avoid her father's cruelty. The perils to which the children are exposed on their unknown route, are described with much interest, and the younger class of the readers of this little work will sympathize in the delight they are made to feel, when they are rescued from them by an aged and benevolent European, whom religious motives have induced to take up his abode in that country, He brings the youthful wanderers into a beautiful and sheltered valley, where Gumal finds an old negro who had formerly served in his father's family. A train of natural incidents, related in the course of the work, converts the solitary hermitage into a thriving colony, in the bistory of every member of which the reader previously becomes interested. The following passage which is descriptive of the feelings that are inspired in .the bosoms of the children, wben they for the first time hear of the existence and power of the Supreme Being, will afford no unfavourable specimen of the Author's style.
« The sun was already sunk beneath the mountains; its last rays inflaming the west, gilded the edge of the clouds, and coloured the tops of the opposite mountains; the air was cool, and the fruitful dew moistened the yet burning earth, when the old man, accompanied by Pedro, conducted the children to the evening arbour, which was situated in a beautiful plain, upon a little hill, froin whence they enjoyed a delightful prospect towards the western hemisphere. Froni this spot the children had often seen the setting of the sun, but never did it appear so beautiful, never had they observed it with so much attention and delight. The eyes of the two old men, fixed upon this grand sight, drew theirs towards the same place, and long did they look at it without being weary. The whole face of the country had changed its aspect. As the twilight increased, the heavens became more extended, and the ethereal arch seemed to deepen. The shades of the mountains shed a sweet obscurity over the landscape, which here and there was yet enlightened by the last rays of the setting sun; already the veil of night enveloped the neighbouring forest in darkness, the sweet warbling of the birds decreased gradually; a solemn calm reigned throughout all nature. How awfully grand is this profound and universal repose! But, still more so the aspect of the starry heavens. Already the lustre of some of the stars shone forth ; increasing every moment in numbers, as twilight gave way to darkness. What a sublime spectacle for these young people! Now Gumal, then again Lina, discovered a new star which surpassed the others in size and in beauty ; filled with joy they communicated their discoveries to each other. “ Look," said they, “ do look well, what a number of stars glitter on all sides ! See, yonder, that group which forms a crown, and there that group in which the stars seem close together." For a long time the old men beheld with secret joy the innocent happiness of these two children; but at last Pedro bade them cast a look to the other quarter of the heavens. O wonderful! a silver globe arose majestically from behind the mountains, and illumined the country by its sweet and peaceful light. At this unexpected sight they stood enchanted for a few moments. Never did the rising of the full moon appear to them so beautiful. Lina danced for joy, and Gumal said to the old man ; “My father, did God also make this beautiful moon?”
Yes, my child, he made it; and not only the moon, but also those innumerable multitudes of stars which you behold.”
“ But, dear father," said Lina, “ the moon never appeared to.me so beautiful ; never did I see so many stars.”
“ That often happens, my dear girl, to most people. How many
are there who see the sun rising and setting almost every day, who behold the moon and stars in heaven, without paying any attention to this magnificent spectacle, although they have as good eyes as you! Whence is this?" " I do not know,
father.” -“ Last night,” continued the old man, " the heavens shone with as much lustre as they do now; did you observe it?"
“ No father, I sat down with Gumal, near to good Pedro, and we were talking of our garden, but I did not even think of looking up to heaven."
“ It was, then, for want of attention that you did not see yesterday, nor before, this grand scene, as you have done to day. Accustom yourself, my dear, to consider every thing which surrounds you with more attention ; try to find out its aim and usem - its end and origin; then
you will gradually grow wiser, more intelligent, and you will learn to know God in his works." " Vol. 49. Another extract which we shall make from this excellent little
will not fail to prove interesting to many of our readers, who will be glad to imitate the happy method adopted by the Author, in conveying religious truths to children and dependants.
« Geronio continued his instructions upon the truths and precepts of the Christian religion ; this useful and truly sublime knowledge he taught them in leisure moments when the family was together. Lina, who seldom quitted the old man, made rapid progress in Christian knowledge, and in the practice of every thing good and useful. In proportion as her heart received the mild and blessed impressions of the religion of the Saviour, her example had a powerful influence upon Agatha ; who from time to time corrected her faults, whilst her wild and rude temper gradually softened, and she daily experienced the blessings of living amongst virtuous persons.
* My friends," said the old man, “how infinitely good is God towards us, in uniting us so affectionately one with another! Enjoying in common the bounties of nature, how many opportunities have we to excite each other to virtue! And what a happy prospect does eternity present to our view, after we shall have finished the journey of life, which God has appointed for us in this beautiful spot of his earth!
“ This blessing, my dear children, we owe to Jesus; it is he who has discovered unto us the great design of Divine mercy towards men; it is that blessed Saviour who has taught us the only means of acquiring that wisdom and that perfect happiness which we can never enjoy in this world. * And this is life eternal,' said the Redeemer, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.' You no doubt remember our first conversations upon the existence, nature, and attributes of God? Well, Jesus has not only confirmed all these important truths, which nature and the voice of conscience teach all men ; but moreover, he has delivered us from the yoke of superstition, that is, from all the false ideas which men had förmed of the Divinity: he has taught us to adore God in a reasonable manner, to rejoice in him, to love him with all our soul, and to fix all our hopes upon him.”
“ You see, dear children, that the Christian religion is plain and easy ;
that it does not occupy the mind alone; but that it is also a religion which engages the heart and affects our feelings.
« Tell me, Gumal, do you think that a truth can be very interesting to us, if it does not influence our happiness ?”
No, I think it must soon become indifferent to us if it does not make us happier. That truth—there is a God—would soon cease to interest us, it it did not convince us that the God of the universe, is also our God, our Creator, Father, Friend, Benefactor, and Judge !"
“ But, Lina, if that Almighty God, after having created you, had taken no further care of you, but left you to yourselt, should you then have rejoiced in thinking of him?"
“ Perhaps," answered Lina, “ I should have had a deep veneration for that great Being ; I could not but admire his Almighty Power, so visible in nature ; but if I thought that he, being so far distant from me, did not interest himself in my lot, then my heart would remain insensible, and I could not rejoice in God.”
“ But being convinced that he interests himself in all your concerns, that you are the object of his Divine love, and that he will render you happy, does not this fill your heart with gratitude ?”
“Oh! my father ! that is my greatest happiness."
“ It is this assurance that Jesus has given us. He has taught us to see in God, not only the Creator and Sovereign of the universe, but also our preserver and benefactor. He has manifested unto us the relationship which exists between God and us; and to make us the more sensible of this connexion, Jesus has told us, that for his sake God is our Father. The whole of his doctrine is included in these words, which tell us, that all which a good and wise father is to his children, that God is toward us. o
friends! never forget this consoling truth; let your hearts be deeply affected therewith, and it will teach you the most important part of the doctrine of Jesus Christ."' ' Vol. 11. p. 116.
Our readers will perceive from these extracts, that the volumes before us are replete with moral and religious instruction. While so many of our youth of both sexes are sent to the Continent, into the midst of folly and immorality, we rejoice that we can receive any thing from it, to counteract at home the ill-effects there is too much reason to fear we may expect from the return of those who go abroad without any motive which can authorize a hope that they will be benefited by their travels. The Translator, who is a foreigner, has performed his task very respectably; there appears at the first reading a little stiffness in ihe style, but this afterwards disappears.
Art. X. The Doctrine of Regeneration practically considered: A
Sermon preached before the University of Oxford, at Saint Mary's on Monday, February 24, 1817. By Daniel Wilson, M.A. of St. Edmund-Hall, Oxford ; and Minister of St. John's Chapel, Bed
ford Row, London. 8vo. pp. 56. Price 2s. Hatchard. 1817. THE THE perusal of this Serinon reminded us of Paul preaching
at Athens;—not that the learned Oxonians are characterized by a passion for telling or hearing some new thing; on the contrary a thing must be old, very old, to conciliate reverence at Oxford: but the doctrine of Regeneration practically considered in its connexion with the inward renewal of the heart, would scarcely seem we apprehend, to a University audience, a doctrine less strange than the strange things which Paul declared at Areopagus. We cannot but take pleasure that one such sermon as the present, should have been pronounced from the chair which has been wont to resound with academical orations of so different a tendency. How little attention soever it might command from the philosophers of our modern Athens, and at no place did less success attend the preaching of the Gospel by the great Apostle than at the metropolis of ancient wisdom, --still, we are glad that the occasion was afforded for this explicit, but judicious and comprehensive exhibition of the doctrines of Christ, and that the manner in which that occasion was improved has left nothing to regret-except that it is perhaps not likely to be again afforded to the preacher.
Mr. Wilson abstains in this Discourse, from all attempts to adjust the controversy which continues to divide the Established Church, by childish appeals to human authority, or hy ingenious hypotheses, or by taking it for granted that the opposite parties mean the same thing. He makes no attempt to reconcile the doctrine of Regeneration with this formula or with that dogma, or to accommodate it to the fastidious prejudices of those who sicken at a methodistic phrase. He speaks out plainly and boldly; yet is there nothing in the manner of his exhibiting the truth calculated unnecessarily to aggravate the offensiveness of the doctrine. The air of the Preacher is that of a man earnestly contending for the faith which he knows to be of God, not as imbodied in an isolated position, but as consisting of an 'harmonious system of facts, the mutual dependence of which renders it perilous to compromise one doctrine connected with the Christian scheme.
The principal design of this Discourse, is to insist on the necessity, the reality, and the magnitude of that moral change in the faculties of the soul, in which all personal religion originates, and which is the commencement of sanctification, " the incipient principle of that holiness without which no man