« AnteriorContinuar »
Letters to a Mother, upon Education.
Dear Madam,-Having offered you some observations on the principal topics comprised under the moral branch of education, I shall presuine, before proceeding to the consideration of the intellectual, to submit some remarks upon the topic prefixed to this Letter. You will, I doubt not, acknowledge its importance. You know that your lessons and precepts will be worse than useless, if not sanctioned and illustrated by your own conduct. You are also aware, that in order to add the benefit of example to the rules which you inculcate, you need to approve things which are excellent from principle, decidedly and cordially, and to exhibit the influence of such sentiments consistently. I doubt not you will allow with me, that one transport of passion, one proud expression, one defect in your own punctuality, will materially retard the process of education, and tend considerably to relax the force of those principles, which you have endeavoured to implant in the mind of your child. You will also allow, that should such deviations from the conduct which you recommend occur frequently, your child may listen to your lessons on good conduct, as a duty, as an employment, as an amusement, but that the practical influence of your recommendations is past all hope. Oh! never may you endure the hopeless anguish and the confusion to which that parent must be doomed, who is conscious that her child is remembering the contrast between her instructions and her own conduct! You will however agree with me, that through the surprise of sudden temptation, the devices and assaults of the enemy of our souls, or constitutional temperament, some event in your own behaviour may very speedily occur, which may reduce you to this la mentable dilemma: and conscious of the weakness of our nature, and dreading the possibility of such consequences, you will, I doubt not, accept the observations which I may offer with a view to prevent such a calamity. The first thing which a parent ought to guard against, is the inculcation of principles and practice, which she has not first fully considered, and which she does not entirely approve. It is very possible to adopt sentiments in religion and morals, and even to give them a superficial approbation; but if these sentiments have not first habitually and thoroughly influenced ourselves, we shall soon act inconsistently with our avowed principles. It is possible to act for a short time from imitation of others, or from the impulse of newly-acquired ideas; but soon or late, all human beings act according to their real character. Nothing is more dangerous, and fruitless, than to attempt to act upon views and sentiments which are not in this highest sense our own.
The advice of Bishop Burnet to the penitent courtier is inestimable. "I warned him," says the prelate, "not to undertake a holy and religious life, unless fully and heartily able to approve and desire it; for otherwise he would feel the restraint so intolerable, as speedily to return to his former courses." The same may be said to every mother who reads treatises of education. The formation of principles is slow and progressive. She who only begins to acquire right habits and principles, relative to education, after she has become a mother, has begun too late; a truth which reflects supreme importance upon the early education of every female, in every station of society.
2. The next evil to be guarded against, is the prevailing inconsistency of human nature, which consists in understanding what is right, but in possessing neither the courage nor resolution to practise it. The source of this inconsistency is our native indolence. The generality of parents know what is right, to a far greater extent than they practise. But the mental effort requisite
to the perpetual selection of our conduct, the self-denial requisite in order to pursue the best measures, amid the solicitations of weariness, ultimately in many instances cause them to discontinue the effort. Then they abandon their procedure to the direction of their native propensities, or sink down into adoption of the common practice, and not unfrequently derive a miserable anodyne from the reflection, that, after all, the best systems of education often fail to secure the desired results; that the character of a child depends more upon natural tendencies, upon destiny, or upon certain uncontrollable causes, than is generally imagined; and support themselves by the remembrance of cases in which the best systems were pursued to no purpose, or of other instances in which no system at all was pursued, and yet the child "turned out" a pattern of excellence, and a prodigy of acquirements. Miserable palliatives of human indolence, are these and all similar reflections !
Yet where is the parent who is not in danger of ultimately adopting them, with whatever motives and views she may commence the education of her offspring. How many have been hindered who once ran well, and have perhaps looked back with a smile of scorn, or of pity, upon those utopian notions, as in their mental degradation they may deem them, which they once entertained; and then they make certain sage reflections upon the folly of attempting to be wiser than our forefathers, upon the vast probability that their maxims are the result of the trial of all systems, and that the attempt to improve is equally culpable as an act of delusion or of presuinption. "So hearts that once beat high for praise,
Now feel that pulse no more.'
How shall such a frequent yet lamentable termination of the maternal career be avoided? To me the only means appear that the mother herself should have been in her time a properly educated child, and subsequently an earnest suppliant before the footstool of God, that He by his Spirit would grant to her perpetually those dispositions which may enable her to approve and steadily to pursue the dictates of an enlightened understanding, and the suggestions of a sanctified prudence. To this you will feel perpetually urged by your sense of the difficulty and responsibility of the charge of educating a child.
I have often thought, that the responsibility of certain offices, might well induce the considerate almost to wish they had never sustained them. Of this kind are the monarch, the general of an army, the minister of the gospel, and the parent. But the heaviest weight of responsibility devolves upon the last-named office. The responsibility of the monarch is comparatively supportable, because it is diffused upon the different orders of which the constitution is composed: that of the military commander, because he acts frequently as the agent of counsels in which he had no part: that of the minister of religion, because the generality of his hearers see him only, and see him in his best circumstances, namely, while occupied in his public engagements: but the parent is the immediate, and sole origin of the character of the child. The influence of the parent is perpetual, from morning till night, from the dawn of life till the character is complete: it has a greater effect upon his present and future happiness, than any other cause whatever. How awful then to think, that when the parent is laid low in the grave, the child must either be walking in the way of happiness, or toiling in the path of misery, as the effect of the parent's influence! and still more awful to reflect, that the future everlasting condition of your offspring greatly depends upon yourself! 1 will not pursue this agonizing topic further than to request that you will in every instance act towards your child with a view to your own reflections in after-life, and your emotions in the last interview with him at the final inquest before the Judge of quick and dead.—I am, dear Madam, &c. CLERICUS.
ON THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES.
No. III. THE OMNIPRESENCE OF GOD.
ONE cause of the increase of crime, and all that carelessness which men in the present day manifest about the rectitude of their conduct in the sight of God, arises either from ignorance, or a misapprehension of that attribute of the Deity, which is to form the subject of the present article. My view of it is simply this: that God, in all the perfections of his nature, is always, night and day, present in every corner of the universe; so that wherever any thing is, God is there also; and consequently, that he is always beside us, reading our thoughts and scrutinizing our actions. Now I cannot but think, if this definition be true, that there must be a great mistake somewhere. Is it credible, that creatures formed of dust, and depending every moment of their existence on the mercy of their Creator, would dare to tempt that mercy, to insult that Creator, and disobey all his commandments in his very presence? Can we, consistently with the principle of self-preservation which is lodged in every breast, conceive it to be possible, that men, otherwise careful and prudent, would knowingly do every thing likely to bring them to eternal misery, if they knew and believed that He, who has the power to cast them soul and body into hell, was looking at them, and watching their every movement? I must confess I do not think it possible. Yet let it be borne in mind, that whether men believe or disbelieve this doctrine, it is indeed the truth: and if there be one of us who is living a life, which he would be afraid to live were God before him in all the splendours of his infinite majesty, let him carefully peruse these pages, wherein I hope to prove that in very truth this is the
The subject thus opened for discussion requires that I should, first, prove the omnipresence of God; and I think it will be well if I then proceed to state the effects which the doctrine thus proved ought to have upon the bad and good.
1. I appeal to the Bible, that great standard of truth, which to this day is accepted as the word of God; though some wise men after the flesh have vainly attempted to prove that it is not so. at Psalm cxxxix, 7-12: "If I climb up into heaven, Let us look, then, thou art there," &c. It is clear that the object which David had in view, when writing this Psalm, was to establish the truth of the omnipresence of God. He therefore supposes the possibility of his ascending into the regions of infinite space, and soaring far above the limits of human perception; and yet he asserts that he should not have passed the boundaries of the Almighty's kingdom; or of descending into the lowest of all depths, or of extending his search on every side to the utmost verge of possibility; and still his conclusion is, that the arm of the LORD would be there to guide him, and that he should there find manifestations of the presence and power of God. I might quote many more passages; but every attentive reader must have observed, that this truth is inseparably interwoven with the whole of the Bible.
2. The interesting facts, which those who make the insect world their study are perpetually bringing before us, prove beyond the possibility of doubt, that no place is too small for the Almighty to manifest his power therein. Microscopes have shown us, that a drop of water contains thousands of inhabitants, all perfect in their structure, capable of motion, and doubtless of enjoying the life which God has given them. To produce such amazing specimens of ingenuity, must not their Author be everywhere? and to preserve them alive, must he not be always present? On what other
system can we account for their existence? Larger animals seem in some degree to be dependent on man, and to look to him for daily support and sustenance; but these minute beings are placed beyond the reach of man, and thrown altogether on the protection and assistance of an Omnipresent Being; and therefore I conclude that their existence and happiness prove that the Almighty is ever present.
3. And pursuing the same train of argument, I would seriously inquire, what it is that supports life in the human species? That they themselves have nothing to do in its preservation, may be inferred from their ignorance and carelessness. By far the largest portion of mankind know nothing at all about the structure of their bodies, and the many and various mechanical contrivances which contribute to their health and safety. It has been said, that if it were possible for a man to see the internal motions of the various muscles and nerves and joints which are produced by the action of walking, he would be struck with so great fear and astonishment, that he would not dare to advance another step. Surely such a fact as this is of itself enough to prove that man is not the supporter of his own life, and consequently that he owes his preservation to God. And since the whole creation teems with life, and every portion of the universe bears the impres of Divine protection, let us not be deterred from confessing, with the apostle, that “in Him we live and move and have our being." And since the withdrawal of his protection for one moment would make the whole population of this earth lifeless corpses, and shroud the universe in a pall of gloomy darkness, let us confess that our great Preserver is ever present, of which even the breath with which we make the confession is a proof.
4. But I would further insist, that all the instances which I have quoted in illustrating those attributes of the Deity which have already passed under consideration, are of themselves sufficient proof of the omnipresence of God. How could Noah have been seen among so many thousands of rebels, had not the Almighty observed with unceasing watchfulness the doings of his people? What secured righteous Lot, and withheld the torrent of the Divine indignation from bursting forth till he was in safety, but the decree of that wondrous Being who was watching his footsteps? How could the Israelites have received the wanted succour just when all hope seemed withered and gone, had not their Protector, the keeper of Israel, been unremitting in his care of them? In truth, to confess that God is the moral governor of the universe, is to confess that he is omnipresent; for how else could he administer justice and judgment among all the sons of men, whose dwelling-places are so numerous, and whose sojournings are over the wide expanse of earth and its remotest regions? We find men willing to confess, that when a heinous crime, such as that of blood-guiltiness, is perpetrated, God is a witness of it. Now let me ask, if this does not prove that he is always present? The still hour of midnight, or the loneliness of the forest, or the tracklessness of the desert, is no security for the murderer from the eye of God. How then is it possible that such a Being can be less able to perceive us when we are in the same situations, though in the performance of different actions? God does not coine from heaven for the purpose of seeing crimes committed; but as he is always in every corner of the universe, it follows of necessity that he must see them and since we confess that every one will bereafter be judged according to his deeds, it would be absurd to deny that He who is to be the Judge is a spectator of all actions, for how else could he be acquainted with them?
MY SCRAP BOOK.
"The Bee that wanders, and sips from every flower, disposes what she has gathered into her cells."-SENECA.
SECOND ORIGINAL LETTER OF THE REV. ROBERT HALL TO THE REV. WILLIAM BUTTON.
My dear Brother,
Leicester, 9th Feb. 1814. I ought sooner to have replied to your last Letter, but a variety of engagements, as you rightly conjecture, together with the difficulty of making up my mind, prevented me. I am truly concerned to hear of Mrs. Button's affliction. I hope it will not be unto death, but to the glorifying of God. Her loss (which it is my earnest prayer the Lord may prevent) would be most severely felt by you and the whole family.
This, my dear brother, is a state of trial, and it is appointed for us through much tribulation to pass into the kingdom. O that our afflictions may be sanctified, and prepare us effectually for that world where the inhabitants shall no more say, “I am sick."
Our house is a house of mourning: last Saturday, my dear boy, aged one year and four months, died, after an illness of a few hours; at least we had not the least apprehension of danger, till a very few hours before he expired. It took place in the stillness of the night: it was a most solemn night: it reminds me of that night, "much to be remembered," in which the first-born of Egypt were slain. Mrs. Hall is almost inconsolable; and the wound is most deeply felt by each of us. He was a most lovely and engaging child. My poor wife is in other respects indisposed, and I have often painful foreboding that her continuance on earth will be but short. Let me beg an interest in your prayers that these complicated trials may be sanctified to all the parties concerned.
I have heard nothing from Mr.
the Sermons. I conjecture he has dropped the idea, which gives me no manner of concern. Indeed I am not in a state of mind at present to take much interest in any sublunary concerns. I thank you for Mr. Kinghorn's pamphlet, which I shall read with attention: but shall not promise to review in the ***. I think very meanly of that publication, nor do I suppose a review any book in that, can be of any benefit to an author. Be this as it may, there are plenty of persons ready to review among the regular correspondents, of which I am not one; and have besides an extreme aversion to reviewing.
I was extremely concerned to hear of the death of my dear and honoured friend, Mr. Palmer*. May the good-will of Him that dwelt in the bush rest upon you and yours. I desire to be most affectionately remembered to Mrs. B. and your whole family, and remain, Your affectionate Brother,
The Rev. Samuel Palmer, of Hackney.
Of the Gift of Tongues.-The confusion of tongues was the casting off of the Heathen. Gen. xi. For when they had lost that language in which alone God was spoken of and preached, they lost the knowledge of God and religion utterly, and fell to worship the creature instead of the Creator. Rom. i.
Two thousand two hundred and three years had now passed, since that sad and fatal curse upon the world, the confusion of languages; and millions of souls had it
plunged in error, idolatry, and confusion: and now the Lord, in the fulness of time, is providing, by the gift of tongues at Sion, to repair the knowledge of himself among those nations that had lost that jewel by the confusion of tongues at Babel.
The manner of exhibiting this gift was in tongues of fire, that the giving of the Holy Ghost at the initiating of the Christian church, might answer and parallel the giving of the Law at the initiating of the Jewish; and so it did, both in time and manner; that being given at Pentecost, and in appearing of fire; and so likewise this, as was said before. Lightfoot, vol. i, p. 751.
Jewish hypocritical Prayers reproved by our Saviour, Matt vi, 5, "Because they love to stand praying in the synagogues and corners of the streets." This Sermon upon the Mount, is much in reproof of the Jews' Talmudical traditions, by which they made the word of God of none effect. This verse reproveth one of their tenets, for their highway oraisons; for which they have this tradition in their Talmud. Rabbi Josi saith," On a time I was walking by the way, and I went into one of the deserts of Jerusalem to pray: then came Eliah, of blessed memory, and watched me at the gate, and stayed for me till I had ended my prayer. He saith unto me, Peace be unto thee, Rabbi. I said unto him, Peace be upon thee, Rabbi and Master. Then said he unto me, My son, why wentest thou into this desert? said unto him, To pray. He said to me, Thou mightest have prayed in the way. Then said 1, I was afraid, lest passengers should interrupt me. He said unto me, Thou shouldest have said a short prayer. At that time learned of him three things: I learned that we should not go into the desert; and I learned that we should pray by the way; and learned that he that prayed by the way must pray a short prayer."
Thus far their Talmud maketh them these letterspatent for hypocrisy; fathering this bastard upon blessed Elias, who was not a highway prayer, or one that practised his own devotions in public; for he was John Baptist's type for retiredness. Ibid. p. 1024.
"Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matt. v, 4. They are the words of Him who was himself a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and who was also acquainted with happiness too; with the joys of religion, with the refreshments of angels, with the antepasts of glory, and with the peace of God which now passes all understanding, and shall hereafter satisfy all desire. He had tasted of both cups, the cup of trembling, and the cup of salvation. He had tried both the miseries of human nature and the glories of the Divine; and so, well knew what proportion the consolations of God have to the infelicities of man; and how little the sufferings of this present time are, in comparison of the glory that shall be revealed to them that with meekness bear them, and with fruitfulness improve under them. Norris's Serm., vol. i,
FRIENDSHIP, LOVE, AND TRUTH. WHEN Friendship, Love, and Truth abound Among a band of brothers,
The cup of joy goes gaily round,
Each shares the bliss of others.
The flowers that shed their leaves to-day
On halcyon wings our moments pass,
Old Time lays down his scythe and glass,
How grand in age, how fair in youth,
FAITH IN A STORM AT SEA.
"God is our hope and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm xlvi, 1.
With her canvass split, the bark was driv'n
By the lightning flashing the mast was riv'n,
But the chief was brave, and the crew were stout,
The bark rode safe; for the winds were laid,
INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY ON NEGROES.
THE REV. Mr. Düring, in a letter from Sierra Leone to the Committee of the Church Missionary Society, says, "Most of those with whom I live, I have seen brought from the holds of slave ships. I have seen them rise, from the chains of the slave dealer, to become industrious men and women, faithful subjects, pious Christians, affectionate husbands and wives, tender fathers and mothers, and peaceable neighbours. Considering these things, I have always thought myself among the happiest of men, in serving in this way our Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood cleanses even the soul of an Ethiopian from all sin; and in being connected with our Society, which is evidently instrumental, in the Lord's hand, of much good to distant nations, especially to the afflicted sons of Africa.” — Church Missionary Report.
THE HOLY BIBLE, with Notes Explanatory and Practical for the use of Families. Intended to assist the Understanding in the perusal of the Sacred Volume, and to furnish a body of Evangelical Truth founded on its contents. Selected from the Writings of esteemed Biblical Critics of various Denominations, and interspersed with original remarks. By Ingram Cobbin, A. M. London. In Weekly Numbers, and Monthly Parts.
Commentaries upon the Holy Scriptures have recently been greatly multiplied. In this we cannot but sincerely rejoice: it exhibits one striking and delightful "sign of the times," that "the knowledge of the LORD" increases, as it is destined to "fill the earth as the waters cover the sea." Many of the Commentaries recently published, on the whole and on parts of the Bible, possess that merit which entitles them to the confidence of the
Christian public. That which is being published by the Religious Tract Society will be an incalculable blessing to the British Empire and to the world: but we think in many respects this of Mr. Cobbin's is preferable for families and the poor. We give it our
cordial recommendation, on account of the soundness of its doctrinal exposition-the intelligence which is communicated by its notes-and the piety which breathes in its reflections. We purpose again referring to this valuable work, and in the mean time entreat the Editor to take special care to secure accuracy in the printing.
GREEK PRESCRIPTION FOR THE SOUL, Taken from the description of Mount Athos, and translated from the Greek into English.
A CERTAIN brother went to a physician, and asked him, whether he knew of any medicine by which sin could be cured? The physician answered, Yes, brother: know and hear, that one of miraculous power may be found. Go, and take the root of spiritual poverty and the flowers of humility, the leaves of patience and the branches of prayer; nix them together, and pound them in the mortar of obedience. Add to them a spoonful of holy thoughts: afterwards put them in the saucepan of conscience, and water them with the drops of flowing tears. Then kindle under it the fire of divine love; and when it has boiled sufficiently, pour it out into the dish of discretion, and mix it up with thanksgiving. Then sup it up with the spoon of compunction, and wipe thy mouth with the towel of confession. Thus shalt thou wipe away and evacuate the multitude of thy sins."-Palæogr. Græc. p. 507.
How different this prescription from those given by the inspired servants of Christ! Here is not one word of the blood of atonement, which alone cleanseth from all sin.
NINEVEH, the ancient capital of Assyria, has been made famous in the records of history, both sacred and profane. Every believer in the promises of the Gospel, will feel profound awe and pious satisfaction, while contemplating "the goodness and severity of God," in his dispensations towards that vast, populous, and guilty city.
We present our readers with a representation of the "TEMPLE OF THE SUN," once so celebrated for its splendour and magnificence in idolatrous Nineveh.
Nineveh was founded by Ashur, the son of Shem, and grandson of Noah, Gen. x, 11. Precisely to fix the date of its foundation is impossible but it could not be long after, if not before, the building of Babel. It was situated upon the eastern bank of the river Tigris, opposite the present Mosul, about 280 niles N. from Babylon, and 400 N. E. from Damascus, in latitude 36° 20' N. longitude 43° 10' E. In the time of the prophet Jonah, whose divine mission thither is believed to have been in the reign of Jeroboam II (2 Kings xiv, 23) king of Israel, and of Pul, father of Sardanapalus, king of Assyria, Nineveh was a very great city, of three days journey in circuit (Jonah iii, 3). Strabo says, that Nineveh was much larger than Babylon, whose circuit he estimated at 385 furlongs, about 48 miles. Diodorus Siculus states, that Nineveh was an oblong paralleloVOL. II.
gram, extending 150 furlongs in length, 90 in breadth, and 60 miles in compass; and that it was surrounded with a prodigious wall 100 feet high, and so very broad that three chariots abreast might drive on it. It was defended with 1500 towers, 200 feet in height.
At the time of Jonah's mission, Nineveh was so populous, that it was reputed to contain more than 120,000 persons who could not distinguish their right hand from their left (Jonah iv, 11), which is generally explained of young children; and as they are reckoned one-fifth of the inhabitants, it is computed that the population of that city amounted then to 600,000 people.
A succession of warlike princes had established the greatness of Nineveh on the ruins of the neighbouring states; and the greater part of Asia had submitted to the Assyrian power. By this growing prosperity, the rulers and the people became dreadfully corrupted: rapacity, cruelty, murder, and oppression, marked the progress of their conquests. Shalmaneser and his armies exterminated the kingdom of Israel (B. C. 721 years; 2 Kings xvii), and Sennacherib determined the same concerning Judah, under Hezekiah (2 Kings xviii, xix); but under the walls of Jerusalem, the angel of the LORD blasted in death, during one night, the Assyrian besieging army of 185,000 men, B. C. 710 years.
Nineveh was spared for a season, on account of the
humiliation of the king and the people after the