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Reviews of Religious Publications.
A WOMAN'S THOUGHTS ABOUT WOMEN. every sentiment it contains.
London: Hurst and Blackett.
THIS is an admirable book. We would strongly recommend every woman to read it. In thus speaking of it, we do not of course mean to endorse every line or even
There are many things in it of which we might be told, and that not unfairly perhaps, that men are not the most competent judges; and, therefore, we should not presume to endorse the whole. There are also, it must be confessed, just one or two state
ments (in how many books are there so few?) we
fied. Not that they are intended, we are sure, to convey a wrong impression; but they are, perhaps, ealculated to be misunderstood.
Without, however, offering any opinion upon many of the questions raised in this volume, which we would rather leave to the decision of the writer's own sex, and, without pledging ourselves to every particular expression that may be found in it, we can safely recommend a "Woman's Thoughts about Women," as a book full of common sense, weighty thought, and high moral and Christian sentiment. Our authoress premises that her "thoughts" do not "concern married women," but "single women," from "seventeen upwards." A glance at her pages will show that they "concern" women as women, though they may have been specially intended for those only to whom they are addressed.
The first chapter is on "Something to do." Occupation is "the grand pabulum of the human soul." The tacitly preached-up doctrines of "lovely uselessness, fascinating frivolity, delicious helplessness," "any woman of common sense must repudiate as insulting, not only her womanhood, but her Creator." "Pleasure is the mere accident of our being, and work its natural and most holy necessity."
Idleness our authoress considers to be the cause of those “foolish affairs" by which "papa is displeased, and mamma somewhat shocked and scandalized."
They have literally nothing whatever to do, except to fall in love," is the verdict passed upon the condition of young ladies brought up without occupation.
For our authoress's opinion of what women can do, aud where their sphere lies, we must refer our readers to the chapter itself. They will also find the subject of the "Equality of the Sexes" treated of somewhat vigorously; we do not, of course, say with what success. In the second chapter on "Self-dependence," will be found some remarkable cases of its successful exercise on the part of women. That by "self-dependence" is
not meant anything like "hoydenishness or coarseness," may be seen from the following passage :
"Perhaps the line (between 'brave selfreliance and bold assumption') is most easily drawn, as in most difficulties, at that point where duty ends and pleasure begins. Thus, we should respect one who, on a mission of mercy or necessity, went through the lowest portions of St. Giles's, or the Gallowgate; we should be rather disgusted if she did it for mere amusement or bravado. All honour to the poor sempstress or governess who traverses London streets alone, at all hours of day or night, unguarded, except by her own modesty; but the strongminded female, who would venture on a solitary expedition to investigate the humours of Cremorne gardens or Greenwich fair, though perfectly respectable,' would be an exceedingly condemnable sort of personage."
We only do not quote at any length from the next two chapters, on "Female Professions" and "Female Handicrafts," because our space forbids us to make extracts of sufficient length fairly to represent them. One sentence, however, we must transcribe: "Happily, men are now slowly waking up, women more slowly still," (we don't endorse that comparison, but we do this sentiment!) "to a perception of the truth, that honour is an intrinsic and not extrinsic possession; that one means of livelihood is not of itself one whit more 'respectable' than another; that credit or discredit can attach in no degree to the work done, but to the manner of doing it, and to the individual who does it."
Mistresses and servants, read, mark, learn (or at least weigh well) the chapter on "Female Servants". Mothers, too, will find in this chapter many a wise hint on the management of children. We wish we could find room for large quotation here, but we hope that the whole will be read by many, in the volume itself.
Chapter VI., "The Mistress of a Family," contains some graphic delineations of domestic scenes; a few words on the treatment of servants, which we know are not uncalled for in some cases,
at least; and an apology for "followers" of a certain sort, and under certain conditions, are well worth consideration.
We have heard one who is a competent judge declare that the doctrine set forth in the chapter on "Female Friendships is a rule with more exceptions than the authoress appears to think. We believe that our oracle is right.
Most persons are ready enough to denounce the senseless and mischievous "Gossip," which is too common in almost every station of society. In the chapter on that subject, our readers will find some wholesome reprobation of the senseless habit. They will also find an amusing story of the way in which two virtuous people found themselves in sensibly gliding into the very course of conduct they so heartily disapproved. Let us all beware of turning gossips after that!
We are happy in believing that few of our readers will be addressed in the chapter on "Women of the World." If, however, there should be any of our sisters who would fain exchange the quiet and sobriety of our nonconformist (call it puritan if you will) home-life, for the glare and glitter of the world, let them read this chapter, and they will find good reason for contentment.
Our authoress goes to the root of the matter, when she shows in her chapter on "Happy and Unhappy Women," that happiness is not a thing of our circumstances, but of ourself-and that most of those who are unhappy, are they "whom fate has apparently loaded with benefits," but denied only the vague fine something-the capacity to enjoy them all.
We can quite understand a woman's hesitation in entering upon the subject (Chapter xi.) of "Lost Women," yet we do her all honour for the firmness and delicacy with which she has handled her subject. We quite agree with her that "no young girl" ever" can long be kept ignorant" of this "deplorable phase of womanhood," "which meets us all, in books, newspapers, and daily talk," and that any view of life which entirely avoids it, however "pretty and pleasant, would be false, and being false, useless."
Nobly does she preach the doctrine of Christ's having come to seek and to save the lost; nobly does she call upon her own sex to follow Christ's example, and nobly does she vindicate such divine charity, from being a thing either "incorrect, indelicate, or unfeminine."
Let these words of hers be well weighed by us all-men and women alike :
"It may often be noticed, the less virtuous people are, the more they shrink away from the slightest whiff of the odour of unsanctity. The good are ever the most charitable; the pure are the most brave." We think the apostle must have held a similar doctrine when he wrote to Titus-"Unto the pure, all things are pure."
We could wish that the substance of this chapter were printed, in the form of a separate tract, and distributed amongst the members of that deplorable class to which it refers. It is heartrending to think of thousands of immortal souls going straight down to perdition, because Christians at large have a sort of latent scepticism about the possibility of their recovery, and because it has become unfashionable to recognise the existence of such a class, either in the utterances of the pulpit or the doings of womanly charity and kindness.
"We have no right, not even the most sensitive of us women. . . to shrink with sanctimonious ultra-delicacy from the barest mention of things which, though happy circumstances of tempera. ment or education have shielded us from even being touched or harmed thereby, we must know to exist. If we do not know it, our ignorance-quite a different thing from innocence-is at once both helpless and dangerous, narrows our judgment, exposes us to a thousand painful mistakes, and greatly limits our power of usefulness in the world."
The volume before us concludes with a chapter on" Growing Old," which for good sense and exquisite feeling is not to be surpassed.
It may be that the extreme loneliness which, viewed afar off, appears to an unmarried woman as one of the saddest of the inevitable results of her lot, shall by
that time have lost all its pain, and be regarded but as the quiet, dreamy hour between the lights,' when the day's work is done, and we lean back, closing our eyes, to think it all over before we finally go to rest, or to look forward, in faith and hope, unto the coming morning."
We gather from the tenor of this book, that its author is one of the class to whom she speaks-a "single woman; " and that she has passed through the various stages of life, from seventeen upwardsaye, even to "Growing Old." She makes no concealment on the subject she has no need to do so. She is happy in the state in which God has placed her; she has nothing scornful to say of her own sex, or bitter of human life; or contemptuous of "the harsh, practical, yet not ill-meaning world." She does not denounce married life, though she has seen a good deal of married wretchedness. She is bold to avow that "the woman was never born yet who would not cheerfully and proudly give herself and her whole destiny into a worthy hand, at the right time, and under fitting circumstances, that is, when her whole heart and conscience accompanied and sanctified the gift." Yet such a relationship is not essential to happiness. "There never was an unhappy old maid yet, who would not have been equally unhappy as a wife." The real secret of true happiness has a deeper source. "I will put it to most people's experience. whether, though they may have known sincere Christians who, from various causes, were not altogether happy, they ever knew one happy person, man or woman, who, whatever his or her form of creed might be, was not in heart, and speech, and daily life, emphatically a follower of Christa Christian?"
The question of female character is one, the importance of which it is impossible to exaggerate. The character of society is largely determined by the character of its women. It was well said that, while the child is the father of the man, the woman is the father of the child.
| this subject in all its length and breadth. It might seem cowardly for a man to expose the foibles or point out the dangers of the other sex,-it certainly would be painful.
From delicacy and a most becoming chivalry, the pulpit cannot enter upon
Discourses to women, with rare exceptions, are notable failures. If they are faithful, they are in danger of appearing coarse. If they avoid this appearance of evil, they too often run into "flattery and flummery," about "weaker vessels" being also "porcelain vases."
The most that a Christian minister can do, as a rule, is to make his appeals to the common human nature of both sexes, so comprehensive that each shall draw conclusions from them appropriate to their particular case. It wants a woman to speak faithfully and fully to her own sex-and to so speak with propriety. Here is a woman, a real woman-a wise woman-giving her sisterhood her matured "Thoughts about Women." We earnestly recommend her book as intrinsically valuable in itself, and as an excellent supplement to the teachings of the pulpit.
THE APOCALYPSE FULFILLED, IN THR CONSUMMATION OF THE MOSAIC ECONOMY, AND THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN. By the Rev. P. S. DESPREZ, B.D. Second Edition.
London: Longman and Co.
Glasgow: Thomas Murray and Son;
THE Apocalypse may well be termed the grand enigma. If it was not an enigma, as some contend, to those to whom it was originally addressed, it has certainly been an enigma to all succeeding ages, and still remains an enigma to ourselves. We doubt not that it will eventually be solved, but the time for solution is not yet. We are prepared, however, to welcome any thoughtfully written work having this object in view, and have great pleasure in directing the attention of those interested in apocalyptic studies
to the two volumes whose titles we have given above. Both are evidently the fruit of much patient thought and painstaking research, though the conclusions to which their studies have led the respective authors are as wide asunder as the poles.
In each of these volumes, the early date of the Apocalypse is accepted as the correct one. It was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. But according to Mr. Desprez, it was fulfilled within a few years after it was written; while, according to Mr. Bland, its full accomplishment is yet to come. Mr. Desprez finds it to relate exclusively to the Jews, and to be, in fact, an amplification of our Lord's predictions in Matt. xxiv. and xxv. Mr. Bland finds it to have reference to the Christian church at large, but especially to that portion of it within what were once the bounds of the Roman empire. Mr. Desprez maintains that all the New Testament predictions regarding Christ's second appearing have already been accomplished, and that we have no warrant to look for any future coming. Mr. Bland looks for a future coming, but his mode of interpretation would make that coming figurative, and not literal.
self, and which, for 2,000 years, was the only religion vouchsafed to man.
"As a sequel to this indisputable fact, follows the gathering of the elect at the same period. The two events are inseparably connected in Scripture. If our Lord came, as he said, before that generation had passed away-if he came, es he said, to destroy that city and people, and close the age-if he came, as he said, before his disciples had gone through the cities of Israel, and if some who heard his words did not taste of death till they saw the 'Son of man coming in his kingdom,' then He also gathered his elect at the same time. . . I look upon this book, then, as its title imports, as the apocalypse of Jesus Christ; as the revealing and unfolding of those scenes and events which accompanied his coming. One note rings through all its seals, trumpets, and vials; and the note struck, is the Lord is at hand.'... One cry is distinguishable in the midst of sounds of terrific vengeance taken upon a particular land, and city, and people, and that- Behold, he cometh with clouds.' The book contains no new prophecy distinct from those uttered by our Lord. .. The key to the Apocalypse, and the only key, is the closing of the Jew
The substance of Mr. Desprez' views may be given in his own words: "The prin-ish dispensation, the gathering of the elect,
and the coming of the Son of man."
ciple," says he (p.vii.), "upon which I have conducted this investigation, is founded on that most clear, universally expressed, and scriptural truth, that our Lord came, as he said, to destroy Jerusalem, and to close the dispensation. No doctrine of Christianity stands on more ample evidence, and none is capable of more complete and definite proof. The reason why it is not more generally insisted on is, that we are accustomed to look at the destruction of Jerusalem, and the close of the Jewish dispensation, in the same light as the destruction of any other city and people. This is a false point of view. That awful consummation was the grandest event, both in its nature and consequences, which has rolled along the stream of time. It was the breaking up, not of a dynasty, but of a dispensation; not of a city and nation, but of a religion-a religion established by God him
Such is the view entertained by Mr. Desprez. Our readers, doubtless, will feel serious objections to it rising in their minds. It leads to conclusions from which they will recoil. The second advent has already occurred! The resurrection is past already! It was a resurrection of souls from Hades, and not of bodies from the grave! It was, therefore, invisible! The resurrection of Christians now takes place at death, when the soul is immediately invested with the spiritual and glorious body, fashioned like unto Christ's. The judgment is going on now! Christ has already delivered up the kingdom to the Father! The world, for aught we know, may never have an end! The race of man may continue to exist and multiply through interminable ages, &c. &c. Our readers will feel that they are not prepared for such conclusions, and that