Imágenes de páginas

our blessed Lord around us, while we behold yet many, who are igno· rant of themselves, and, consequently, indifferent to those truths, which alone can yield true comfort to the heart of the child of grace, and compared with which he will count all things else as dross. We cannot too often reflect, that whatever support the Christian meets from the contemplation of the great and precious promises of the Gospel, are all given in answer to prayer. Nor should we forget, that his first attention to the mighty concerns of the soul, sprang from the fulfilment of the divine word in favor of the prayer of faith. Had it not been for an interest in the breasts-of others toward us, moving them to implore the mercy of God upon us, that we might be translated into the kingdom of his dear Son, should we not yet have remained in total ignorance as to the value of our souls? Then let us remember, with affectionate sympathy, the awful situation of our fellow creatures, who are immersed in the pleasures of the world, and are "treasuring up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath.” We ought never to suffer a day to pass, without bearing them upon our hearts at the throne of grace, and, as often as opportunity will permit, we should endeavor, in love to their immortal souls, to bring their minds to the contemplation of eternal scenes.

Very much land remains to be possessed, and in order to the accomplislıment of the divine purposes, in the final triumph of the Gospel over all the powers of darkness, the Lord is daily showing us, on every liand, that his wisdom and goodness will accelerate the joyful period of Immanuel's dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth, through the instrumentality of his own dear people.

What an infinite condescension is this! How ought we to prize the privilege of co-operating with God in his operations upon the hearts of men! O let us cease not to praise and adore the riches of his grace, in all we see of his stately goings among us! Let us be willing personally to communicate whatever of talent or property we may possess, toward the furtherance of the truths of the blessed Gospel around us, assured, that whatever exertions we may use, in dependance on divine strength, will be amply recompensed to us by a review of their glorious results in that day, when we shall sce as we are seen, and know even as we are known. Your's affectionately,

1. T. C.


As all judgments are by comparison of several known things, it becomes necessary to adopt a correct standard of measurment, if we would have our judgment of any value, or make any approach to justice. 'No doubt multitudes of people live so far at random, as never to form any decided opinion of their own character; they neither ficar the clamors of conscience, nor the threatenings of the divine law. But others have some real or pretended rule of calculation, by which they estinate the coinparative value of their own actions, and pass sentence on those of others.

Since the apostasy, it is probable that no man is perfectly exempt from erroneous opinions concerning himself. Every source of information, except the volume of inspiration, assists him in multiplying and perpetuating wrong notions of human nature in general, especially of his own. If I were requested to name the most futile of all the means of self-deception, it might be a question of very difficult solution: but I would set down, as a very common one, the habit of comparing ourselves with our neighbors and associates. 'Sell-love improves every man's character wonderfully in his own estimation. To assist him in imagining bimself much better than he is, he first looks at the most profligate persons within his knowledge, and exults in the belief, that he is conot like other men.” If the examples around him are of the worst kind, he may possess a very corrupt heart, may exhibit a shamefully profligate life, and still, finding, at least thinking he finds, depravity superior to bis own, his ready conclusion is, that he is quite safe. According to this mode of measurement, the morals of a person, a family, or a neighborhood are reckoned pure, and exalted, when they exceed those of the place where the man has formed his opinions, and whose practice composed bis standard. Hence, one who sustained a reputable character in one community, would, on removal to another, be deservedly ranked with the lowest of the populace.

l'he mischiefs resulting from comparing ourselves with our neighbors, are without number. One who estimates his character by such a measure, is never nearer the truth, at the close of his feeble comparison, than wben he began. There may be here and there a man, whose leisure and inclinations dispose him to moral contemplation, and who, by peculiar circumstances, may be so far induced to attend to the subject, as to see the fallacy of human opinion in general. He may even have a delight in the study of ethics so great, and pursue it with so much ardor, as to enjoy the reputation of a sublime moralist, a man of superior virtue. But such examples are always rare. Were they numerous, and their influence an hundred fold greater than it ever has been, in any small city, or district, still, they would be sadly deficient in all the grand points which most concern man to know. They could teach him very few duties which he ought to do. If in one particular be fancies himself to exceed the measure chosen as a standard, he is then inflated with a notion of his excellence his eyes are closed on his faults, he sees only the defects of others. The instantaneous conclusion then follows, that he is quite good enough.

Some highly cultivated understandings are as readily duped in moral speculations as the weakest minds. The conclusions of science, and the expanded intellect acquired by long familiarity with scientific pursuits, may unquestionably secure their disciples from many wrong notions and vulgar errors. But in the judgment concerning moral evil, its extent, danger, and remedy, the head is the slave of the heart. What the latter wishes to have true, must be believed and practised. And this is without any suspicion of a bias, arising from evil propensities in the heart itself. When a man is perpetually drinking from an overflowing fountain of pollution, which not only satisfies him for the present, but effectually destroys all relish for purer aliment, and pre-,

vents him from seeking any; what hope can be entertained that such a vitiated appetite will ever correct itself? As well might the polar mountains of ice produce heat enough to dissolve themselves, or the sands of the desert nourish a vegetation fitted to protect them from the action of the sun. I can declare, in the most unqualified manner, that some of the basest persons who have fallen within my observation were thoroughly persuaded of their own goodness; they could clamor loud and long for "virtue, dignity, and self-respect,” as if themselves were the constituted guardians of all right, and no other sanctuary were found for any exalted sentiment, but in their own bosoms.



CXXVI. The Memoirs of the late Miss Emma Humphries, of Frome, England,

with a Series of Letters to Young Ladies, on the Influence of Religion, in the formation of their Mural and Intellectual Character: and to Parents, on the Religious Education and the Bereavement of their Children. By T.

East. Boston: S. T. Armstrong. 1819. Pp. 236. To the real philanthropist an affecting spectacle is presented by the manner in which the largest portion of the human family are employed., Immense numbers have no other apparent principle of action than the immediate gratification of sense. To them, enjoyment, and the ungoverned dominion of passion and appetite, are synonimous terins. On their scale, man is a mere animal; inost brutes are greatly bis superiors; his expected heaven, if be wish for one, would be the Mahomcdari paradise. Others, of a sterner temperament, exult in the idea, that they are not slaves of the lowest appetites, but felicitate themselves greatly in their capacity of affording a bolder exhibition of genius. Their fellows tremble, and their foes are crushed, by their bloody achievements; whoever comes in contact, or within the circle of their influence, is compelled to become a slave, an instrument, or an enemy. We pretend not to delineate the forms, nor number the crimes, the natural offspring of human depravity. Let it suffice to remark, that the number of those who act, even apparently, from motives of strict integrity, is small. The genuine effusions of disinterested benevolence are still more rare.

It is often urged, as a meritorious claim, that such an one does little harm; that his good deeds will cancel bis faults; that if he have produced much suffering to his family, to his neighbors, or the state, nevertheless, he has procured some advantages;-—and that, on settling the account of profit and loss between the world and himself, the balance will standin his favor.” This miserable plea, consisting at best in the negative merit of not having committed so many crimes as some others, is the prop which supports the expectation of thousands, that they sball obtain a seat in beaven.

However, amidst the numbers whose lives and labors possess an influence on the condition of society, it is peculiarly gratifying to observe here and there an individual, who is not content with reluctantly performing just so many of the common duties of life, as may denominate him a peaccable citizen;-duties which he cannot omit without incur

ring the chastisement of human laws. A few honorable exceptions, to the general apathy on the subject of reforming this world of sin and misery, deserve a thankful acknowledgment. It gives us sincere delight to witness the efforts of a mani, who strenuously endeavors to proin.te the happiness of the species, and who looks not only at the present generation, but whose calculations regard each successivo series of events, and provide for the welfare of the remotest posterity.

But all cannot act a splendid part, in the task of' meliorating the condition of a world. In the inmense variety of means to be used, which, accompanied by the divine blessing, must level in the dust the altars of paganism, and extupate the beresy of nations professing Cbristianity, all the instruments of illuminating the understanding, moving the affections, and improving the character, inust be successfully employed. The talents and the occupations of the thousands hereafter to be engaged in such labors of love, must be no less diversified. The parent, while training his child to the love of God and his service, is as truly, though silently, advancing the final triumph of the Gospel, as the missionary now in the field of arduous and immediate conflict.

In the little book now lying before us, a small space only is occupied by the biographical article. Miss Emma Humphries was born at Frome, England, July 3, 1802. In the early stages of childhood ushe discovered signs of mental superiority; and as she advanced in life they became more conspicuous." Her prominent excellencies were of a high order; a delicate taste, an acute understanding, and a heart susceptible of the tenderest emotions." But these qualities, however valuable, are little suited to command the applause or imitation of those, who are too busy to attend to their highest interests. Her instruction, in part, depended on the writer of the memoirs. Placed in a school at Shepton Mallet, in 1813, for aught that appears in the narrative, she continued at that place till her death, Dec. 29, 1815. During the short period of thirteen years and a half, we are not to expect very abundant materials for biography when confined to simple narration. Our readers may be aware of this; and be willing to know that respecting Miss Humphries the memoir occupies only 23 pages. The author considered the sketch drawn up in remembrance of his friend, as "supplying bim with a text for a series of addresses to young ladies and their parents.”

The first in the series are addressed to young ladies, won the attention which should be paid to religious impressions when at school." We shall give such extracts as may enable our readers to judge of the performance, and of the subjects generally, which are liere discussed. On the article of choosing companions at school, its difiiculty, necessity, and danger, Mr. East canvasses some objections often urged against experimental religion.

“Many powerful temptations will assail you, which will require the greatest fortitude to resist. It will be insinuated that religion will make you melancholy; and this insinuation may probably receive some confirmation from the occasional feelings of your own inind At times the powers of the world to come' awaken emotions of terror, and produ'r an awful apprehension respecting your final destiny, unattended by those consolatory promises of Mercy, which impart



the joy, which is unspeakable. In this state of mental dejection, when fear is the predominant passion, and its corresponding image is impressed on the couptenance, the assertion may appear to be founded on experience. But this is an illusion, and if you reflect on the obvious design of these sensations, it will instantaneously vanish. In the economy of divine grace, it is wisely ordained, that the voice of terror SHALL PRECEDE the voice of peace. You must feel the wound before you will apply to the healing virtue of the cross. You must be roused from your spiritual lethargy, to survey the extent of your moral danger, before you will be impelled to propose the question, in comparison with which every other sinks into insignificance, 'What must I do to be saved?'

“Come then, a still small whisper in your ear,

She has no hope, who never had a fear." Under these peculiar emotions, in which all personal religion has its origin, but which no spirit can sustain; it may be suggested, that a more cautious and diligent attention to the exercises of secret and public devotion will afford relief. But you must guard against a mistake which may turn the means of deliverance into the strong holds of bondage. The mere forms of religion possess no inherent power to mitigate the sorrows of the heart. They are the only waters of Siloam, whose efficacy depends on the descent of the invisible Agent. They are as 'the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord,' and not the Messenger of the covenant,' healing the sick within the walls of his sacred temple. They are the sign posts which point to the city of refuge, rather than the city itseif.” pp. 45–47.

“Another formidable objection is sometimes urged against religion, on account of its disqualifying persons of your rank from associating with the more respectable part of society. But this objection, like the other, will appear on examination, destitute of force. It is true that the Gospel, like the illustrious Redeemer when on earth, descends to the lowest orders, expanding their intellects, elevating their affections, adorning their characters, and diffusing its sacred odors over their obscure and lonely retreats. This, to an ingenuous mind, must be a source of peculiar delight rather than a reason why it should be contemned. Is it wise to refuse an admission into heaven, because many of the poor are on the road! Will you resolve to relinquish the prospect of future happiness without a sigh, because they are likely to attain to it? Must He 'who feedeth the young ravens when they cry,' and supplies the wants of the wild beasts of the forest, consign over to endless misery all the sons of poverty and woe, before you will condescend 10 ask for mercy? If in another and better world, you should become the associate of some who were poor and despised in tnis, do you suppose that you will feel yourself degraded by their presence?" pp. 48, 49.

"That many in the higher circles of life; are not only destitute of religion, but discover a peculiar degree of satirical aversion, when it is the subject of allusion or discussion, is a fact, which observation compels one to admit. In their estination it deserves the same fate as its Author, and though they sometimes condescend to enter the place that is dedicated to his service, and bow when his hallowed name is mentioned; yet they give a decided preference to the exhibitions of the theatre, and would rather amuse themselves with the most insipid and contemptible sports than receive the cunsecrated emblems of his dying love. That religion should disqualify you from mixing in their company, efects no discretlit on its character; as a glorified spirit, if compelled to assume a human form, would subject himself to no censure, when re-entering the abodes of felicity, for avviding the touch of an impure hand, whilst sojourning here."

pp. 49, 50. “To suppose it possible for you to acquire such fixed habits of picty as those which have been recommended, without exposing yourself to the occasional satire of those who treat religion in every form with contempt, would be romantic. The human heart, when unrestrained by disine grace, uniformly discovers its positive aiersion to the things of the :, rit.' This aversion is coeval with its capacity for discernment and feeling. li exudes its venom as early as ci: cumstances will permit. If you expect to avoid its influence, by coucealing

« AnteriorContinuar »