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who is called " immortal," from the immortality of the subjects to which he has tuned his lyre. It is Handel who has almost caught a portion of the inspiration of his themes, and has sung the songs of angels in strains scarcely unworthy of them. It is Handel whom the connoisseurs in this fascinating art, forgetting the exclusive worship of Jehovah inculcated by his own harmonious lessons, have assembled to commemorate, in strains which belong alone to the Author of the language he harmonized.
Let us turn next to poetry, and we shall find how immense its debts are to religion, or to those superstitions which were the shadow of it. How are the Iliad and Odyssey ennobled by their mythological machinery; by the scales of fate, the frown of Jove, the interpositions of Minerva! How does Virgil endeavour to throw around his scenery the fictitious splendour of the popular superstition in the storm of Neptune, and the descent to Tartarus! And why does Milton, inferiour perhaps in the embodying of his ideas, and in the accomplishment of his vast designs, to these his elder brethren of Greece and Rome, yet take the first place in the procession of bards? It is because he borrowed a lustre from celestial truth, which superstition did not supply. It is because he copied the heaven and hell which the ardent, though erring, imagination of Homer and Virgil fancied. It is because, spurning at the interest which the development of human passions, and the history of human crimes communicates, he climbed to heaven for the theme of some sublimer bung. And finally, whence is it that Cowper, though unpopular in many of his topicks, though careless in the structure of his verse, though somewhat overcharged in his satire, though sometimes dark, low, prosaick, is ye» the delight of thousands who stand condemned by his verse? It is not merely his true English spirit, his ardent love of liberty, his bold and idiomatical language, his strong vein of sense, his variety of imagery, his love of nature; but it is what has been called, by a somewhat reluctant panegyrist, the " magick of his morals." It is because, if we may so say, he writes in the spirit of one whose lips had been touched by a coal from the altar of his God. It is because he never fails to introduce the Creator into the scenes of his own universe. It is because he sets the imagination roaming £ar beyond the bounds of space and time. It is because he draws so largely upon the fountains of Scripture, apd so continually addresses man in the language of God.—But the length to which these observations have extended, warns us to dwell no longer Upon this copious topick, than to ask, if religion be thus essential to the highest enjoyments of taste, shall any pretenders to taste be found among the impugners of religion? Is not this throwing away the lamp which would light them to their chosen treasures? Is it not trampling under foot a number of associations calculated to yield them that harvest of pleasure they most desire? We know, indeed, that the gratifications which religion thus yields to the refined taste are among its very smallest fruits. But still we urge the point, because we wish to show the irreligious, that they arc but clumsy architects of their own little fabrick of happiness; that they are not worse Christians than philosophers; and that the enemy of religion is the enemy of taste. We urge it also to show those of the young who may conceive that religion is caleulated to give a sort of torpedo touch to the more refined sensibilities of our nature, to extirpate by a sort of Vandal attack, all the gratifications of taste, to disenchant the scenery with which the creative hand of painting and poetry surprises and delights us; that religion is strong even at her supposed weak point; that she is rich even where she is confessedly the poorest; that she is the friend of all innocent pleasure, the ally of genius, the living fountain, not less of our daily gratifications, than of our eternal joys.
A topick not less important than this remains still to be noticed. It appears, (if indeed it could ever be disputable,) incontrovertibly from this essay, that the beauty and sublimity of all objects depend much upon the associations with which they are connected. Now this proposition is so extensively true, that even religion may be disfigured by the medium through which, or the society in which, it is seen. It is indeed true that the really philosophical will learn, as in certain optical illusions, to correct the effect of a refraction such as this; and not charge upon the object the defects of the medium. But since all men are not philosophers, and therefore this sort of correctness cannot be expected, how ill do those serve the interests of religion who show it to the world through a medium which must distort its proportions, or change its complexion; or who present it in society by which it cannot fail to be disgraced! This subject admits of much enlargement. It may, however, be sufficient to hint at some of those disfiguring processes to which we have referred. Some thus degrade it, for instance, who teach its truths in a vulgar, canting, or needlessly technical phraseology. Others do it like dishonour, by associating it with absurd peculiarities, unauthorised demands, or capricious prohibitions; who send it abroad in a large-brimmed hat, cut off the lappels of its coat, or deny it a bow to its neckcloth. But far deeper are the wounds which those inflict upon it who display it to the world shorn of those moral graces, those charms of temper and affections, which are some of its appointed passports to the heart. Are there not some who teach the world to associate frowns with religion; who clothe its neck with the thunders of disputation; who invest it with the porcupine coat of an irritable temper; who throw into its eye the glare of envy, and into its cheek the hue of jealousy; who arm it with the knife of controversy, and satire, and censoriousness? We dare not trust ourselves to complete the sketch. It is a sort of portrait wholesome neither to conceive nor to contemplate. Rather would we call upon the friends of religion to present her to the world in all the native " beauty of holiness." How sublime are the associations with which she is transmitted to us, both in the language of Scripture, and in the person of Christ! Let then the guardians of these " oracles of God," and the followers of this master, adhere to the language of the one, and endeavour to reflect the image of the other. It is a rule of eternal obligation, both as to the language in which we describe, and as to the portrait which we exhibit of Christianity, " see that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount:" see that all be cast in the moulds of heaven. Whilst we reproach the enemies of the Gospel with their aspersions upon religion, as if offensive to taste, let us beware of supplying any ground for them. If her lessons are to have universal currency, we must teach them in the universal language of intelligence and good taste, and not in the patois of a party. If she is to be raised to the throne of the world, her soldiers must muster, not under the petty flags of faction, but under the mighty banner of the Cross. She must be presented to the world invested with her own infinite and immortal attributes; and we trust that, led by the hand of God, they will see the star, and worship.
We here take our leave of Mr. Alison, and of the topick to which he has directed our attention, with some regret that our limits do not admit of a wider excursion with him. His boot would be improved, we think, by one or two additional chapters on the unnoticed parts of his subject to which we have adverted; by a general abbreviation of the chapters already in our hands; by the simplification of some of his sentences; and, above all, by his treating at length, as he is bound, both in the character of a philosopher and a clergyman, upon the topick so inadequately touched by us—the importance of religion to the most exquisite enjoyments of taste. These defects, however, with the exception of the last, are but small spots in a brilliant performance. We should be glad to learn by a volume of sermons from the same hand, that the author thinks as justly upon theology as on belles-lettres; that he is an equally formidable enemy to all prejudices and errours; 'and that, (if we irtay venture upon the allusion,) having slain " the lion and the bear" of unsound philosophy, he is as terrible an assailant of the " giant" enemies of religion—infidelity, wojldliness, dissipation} and mdifference.
The sentiment from the divine Herbeht^
Sweet day, so cool, so culm, so bright,
Bridal of earth and sky,
For thou, alas! must die.
Sweet rose, in air whose odours ware,
And colour charms the eye,
And thou, alas! must die.
Sweet Spring, of days and roses made,
Whose charms for beauty vie,
Thou, too, alas! must die.
Be wise then, Christian, while you may*.
.For swiftly time is flying;
To-morrow may be dying.
A MORNING HYMN ON EASTERJJAY.
BY THE SAME.
Hark! the shrill herald of the morn,
And bids them all arise,
To bless our longing eyes.
At this the fainting shadows die,
Before the morning-star;
Back to their deu repair.
Tis this the weary sailor cheers,
Which morning bids to cease:
And all be light and peace.
'Twas this that drew repentant tpars
His Master to disown;
And sought th' Abjured Sun.
Whene'er the bird of dawning crowsj
And mark'd us out the road;
To think betimes of God.
Smote by the eye that looks on al^
Arise to weep and pray;
"The Lojkd is risen to-day."
From the celebrated Poem of the late Dr. Porteus, Bishop of London, entitled,
First Envy, eldest horn of Hell, embrued
Ah! why will kings forget that they are men?
New pains for life, new terrours for the grave:
AN EVENING HYMN.
T.o be used when composing oneself to Sleep.
BY P. DODDRIDGE, D. D.
Interval of grateful shade,